From Boaty McBoatface To Footy McFooty Face – Intelligent Inspired Creative Advice From The Internet

(Image Credit The Natural Environment Research Council/New York Times)

A wise person once commented computers, machines and the like will only be as inspired and intelligent as the wise humans who create, utilize and manage them.

At this point we should probably consider walking back enthusiasm towards receiving consistent, high-quality intelligence and inspiration from the Internet and, by extension, the human race.

At least when it comes to asking the Internet for creative advice.

Last Friday an investor group led by former U.S. National Soccer star Landon Donovan opened up a poll on their Soccer City San Diego Facebook page asking the Internet to select the ten best prospective names for their prospective Major League Soccer squad.

The name with the most votes at this writing is Footy McFooty Face.

By a wide margin.

If this has a familiar tone it comes as a result of your remembering last year the U.K.’s Natural Environment Research Council asked the Internet to come up with an intelligent, inspirational name for a multi-million dollar British Navy research ship.

The winning name was Boaty McBoatface.

By a wide margin.

No, the R.R.S. Boaty McBoatface is not going to be hitting the high seas anytime soon. The R.R.S. Sir David Attenborough (named after the famed naturalist) will be once it completes construction at a shipyard in Liverpool. However, one of three high-tech remote controlled yellow submarines just began its first mission a few days ago bearing the very name of Boaty McBoatface…and one of the “Boaty” trio may ultimately achieve the first-ever under-ice crossing of the Arctic Ocean.

(Image Credit The Natural Environment Research Council/The Guardian)

Indeed, the British Science Ministry threw cold water on the idea of having a $240 million-dollar vessel named Boaty McBoatface…agreeing instead to honor (?) three robot subs. They obviously decided completely rejecting the very Internet they solicited creative advice from was not the best case scenario.

The worst case scenario is of course the point here. How many more times will marketing and social media “experts” sacrifice themselves into the deep end of the Internet pool soliciting creative advice?

Consider within this decade alone:

Singer Justin Bieber’s people rejected the Internet’s selected destination for his next world tour – North Korea.

Austin, Texas officials passed on renaming their Solid Waste Services department the Fred Durst Society of the Humanities and Arts (after the lead singer of the band Limp Bizkit).

Slovak officials balked on naming a pedestrian and cycling bridge near their border with Austria after action movie star Chuck Norris.

Mountain Dew drank in the early responses towards selecting a name for their new apple-flavored beverage and promptly pulled the plug on “Dub The Dew” after “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong” took the lead.

Many more examples exist. With recent ones resulting in the popularity of Boaty McBoatface and Footy McFooty Face…face it…humans still have not learned asking the Internet for creative input often brings more heartburn and humiliation than help.

On a couple of occasions those who solicited the Internet for its opinion did try to make lemonade from lemons:

The singer Pitbull actually went ahead and honored the Internet’s selection for a Walmart location to hold one of his concerts…in Kodiak, Alaska.

Singer Taylor Swift and her sponsors donated a combined $50,000 to Boston’s Horace Mann School for the Deaf after becoming the Internet’s selection to host one of her concerts. Each student was given a free ticket for her next local appearance.

And in the case of Boaty McBoatface not only do three submarines now bear that proud (?) moniker but the U.K.’s National Oceanography Centre has designed both cartoon and life-size inflatable versions to educate children about marine research.

(Image Credit The Natural Environment Research Council/Metro News)

The Internet was constructed by humans (not God or Amazon as was previously rumored). It only makes sense it would showcase the most superior intelligence humanity can offer…as well as display the wackiest, most mischievous, silliest and supremely outrageous behavior humanity can provide. When you ask open-ended creative advice of the Internet diverse feedback is logically what one should expect.

I do wonder since queries of the Internet continue maybe at least a couple of these marketing and social media “experts” are doing this on purpose. You know that old adage…there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Is it possible these examples of creative advice are precisely what they’re looking for by continuing to inquire of the Internet?

Nah, nobody’s that intelligent.

Advertisements
Posted in Humor, Life, News, Opinion, Thoughts | Tagged , , , , | 79 Comments

CSI: Comma Scene Investigation – Curious Case Of The Oxford Serial Killer Comma

Chalk outlines are likely being drawn around this blog as you read this.

A team of CSI’s – Comma Scene Investigators – has surely initiated a forensic review of each line from each post and outlining where commas are considered missing.

If I ever was taught the ways of the Oxford Comma as a youth I don’t recall.

Which isn’t that egregious a crime since I don’t recall what I had for dinner last night.

You could even build a case around the probability I never even heard of the Oxford Comma until a few days ago when word came from Maine a class-action lawsuit about overtime pay for truck drivers could cost the dairy company in question an estimated $10 million.

That’s a lot of moo-la.

Oakhurst Dairy’s description of what was exempt from overtime pay was even written following the comma guidelines set forth by Maine’s legislature…guidelines that specifically say don’t use the Oxford Comma.

The Oxford Comma is also known as the Serial Comma. Serial Killer Comma is more appropriate in this instance for its alleged criminal absence will kill some short-term profitability for Oakhurst if they do eventually lose this on appeal. (This decision reversed a lower court decision siding with the company)

An employee was not to be eligible for overtime pay if they were involved in:

The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:

  • Agricultural produce;
  • Meat and fish products; and
  • Perishable foods.

 

The prosecution’s punctuation play was with no comma after “shipment” it meant the dairy drivers have been eligible for overtime. A comma after “shipment” would have made it clear (maybe) the law disallowed OT for distributors of perishable foods…AKA dairy drivers.

Maine’s Legislative Drafting Manual not only states to shun the Oxford Comma (the final comma used before a coordinating conjunction in a list of three or more items as provided within Oxford University style guidelines) but adds this piece of evidence about commas in general: “The most misused and misunderstood punctuation marks in legal drafting and, perhaps, the English language.”

(Did they need two commas in that sentence? Perhaps…)

While I never knew I was committing a crime in the eyes of some I remain more surprised at the anger and comma-calling surrounding this subject. There appears to be a lot of folks out there who swear by the Oxford Comma…and swear at you if your opinion of its requirement differs.

The band “Vampire Weekend” released a single a few years back titled “Oxford Comma.” They swore over its very existence.

Consider me up-to-speed now…the debate has apparently been quite passionate on this topic for a long time. It’s a tad embarrassing feeling as if I’m last on the (crime) scene considering I possess a degree in Journalism.

I think after looking into this the two factions can be described as follows…

Team Oxford Comma claims using an Oxford Comma 100% of the time takes out any and all ambiguity you might have in being understood. Total comma clarity.

Team Comma Sense (of which I am a member…now) claims the use of any comma is defined from sentence to sentence and overuse of commas can lead to less effective communication. No comma redundancy.

The conversation has apparently been swirling around for ages but I swear before the court of public opinion it’s the first I’ve heard of it.

I’m surprised someone from Team Oxford Comma hasn’t called me out before now.

I’m not surprised an American legal document is being picked apart for its punctuation.

We Americans do seem to be taking up loud, passionate positions and discoursing away on everything these days. Some subjects would appear to be universally important to most…but importance is indeed relative.

I am proud to be a member of Team Comma Sense but look forward to any debates…arguments…to the contrary.

Do you feel I’ve committed a crime by not lawyering up with Team Oxford Comma?

Do keep in mind for any closing argument the evidence needs to be beyond a shadow of a doubt to secure a favorable decision, verdict or conviction.

Posted in Blog, Blogging, Humor, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

March Madness – Married To The Mayhem

(Image Credit Wunderdog.com)

The recent theatrical release “Table 19” opens with Anna Kendrick as a former maid-of-honor, recently fired from that role but invitation still in hand…questioning whether to RSVP to the wedding-in-question. She eventually makes the most of her invite and (spoiler alert) – with a little luck – goes from the disappointment of being seated at the least desirable table at the reception to putting the wheels in motion towards starting a family with the man she loves.

68 teams will also RSVP their invitations in the affirmative to this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament and (spoiler alert) – with a little luck – look to make the most of their invites as well.

Why do so many get hitched each and every March to the marvelous mayhem this event provides? As easy as B-A-S-K-E-T-S…

 

B

Brackets, Brackets, Brackets – The Tournament’s schedule…the bracket…is the coat of arms of March Madness. Millions upon millions of brackets are ruminated upon and eventually completed (pencil and eraser recommended in the early stages). Even if there’s no wager on the line bragging rights are available against yourself, your family, your co-workers…even your pets. Your pets have as good a chance at winning a bracket contest as you do. I consider myself knowledgeable as far as college hoops are concerned and I’ve only picked two Tournament champions in the last decade. By the Final Four the people still eligible to win bracket pools are often those that picked squads based on their favorite colors or their perceived superiority of school mascots…or they really did let their pets pick. Hardcore fans look at predicting March Madness as a winning proposition either way. If their bracket busts badly they’re still having a blast watching because that means the Cinderella stories are even more plentiful. One pet peeve…sport a bracket of integrity. Do one bracket. Own it. Enter as many contests as you’d like but don’t hedge on your original selections.

A

America Loves Underdogs – We root like crazy for ‘em. We heart any story where the little guy or the unfavored emerge victorious. March Madness seedings bring clarity to even the most inexperienced fan as to who should defeat who. Underdogs and favorites are clearly defined.  We know by the end of the first round the entire nation will be talking about a player 99% of the country hadn’t heard of before the Tournament started. We know by the end of the second round the entire nation will have four days to chat up a team 99% of the country hadn’t been aware of before the tournament started. Surprising and spectacular stars emerge every March.

S

Shared Experiences – Watching the Tournament and participating in bracket competitions bring people together regardless of whether their politics are red or blue (yes, even now…). People of all ages feel universally connected to something much bigger. It is the ultimate live, unscripted reality show. Stories generated from the competition are positive, often heartwarming ones. Many people watch the Olympics for the same reason – the human interest stories. The emotions openly expressed by the participants while navigating wins and losses throughout March Madness similarly reflect what we all experience internally every day just navigating life.

(Image Credit Peanuts.Wikia.com)

K

Knowledge (And The Absence Of It) – The basics of basketball are (contrary to the above) easily grasped. I think we can all identify with the concept of taking a ball and trying to put it in a target. Many growing up had a basketball as a treasured, on-call pal when no one else happened to be around…yours truly included. It’s an easy game to take in and doesn’t take long even for those with the shortest attention spans. Further, filling out a bracket and predicting results with predictably unpredictable outcomes provides a great, common equalizer for those who don’t follow college hoops at all. It is easy to get engaged and even play along with the play. (Trust me – those “experts” holding court about who’ll win on the court haven’t seen a third of these teams play an entire game. None of us knows exactly how events will unfold.)

E

Endless Endings – The first weekend of March Madness provides for a relentless tsunami of a viewing schedule with overlapping finishes stretching from early afternoon to late night. Memorable conclusions stream into waiting rooms and watering holes alike. Games are on at work…games are on at bedtime. And they mean everything to those participating…which makes watching as many as you can even more special. A #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed…but we can’t wait for the moment they do. As CBS Sports’ Seth Davis is fond of saying “History repeats itself…until it doesn’t.”

T

Time Of Year– Most of the nation is trying to wake up from its winter hibernation…even when Mother Nature sometimes struggles to fully cooperate. Filling out a bracket, watching the games and tallying the results have become hand-in-hand with the hope spring is right around the corner. The timing on the sports calendar also fuels the fire and passion of March Madness as the Super Bowl is distant in the rear view mirror (except for Atlanta of course)…while months of NBA and NHL playoffs have yet to begin. Major League Baseball’s Opening Day even waits until most of the Madness has subsided.

S

Sudden Death, Sudden Victory – The overwhelming finality of it all…for both winners and losers. A nation fattened up courtesy of playoffs and series in other sports is presented instead with a rollercoaster of stripped down, lean, one-and-done competition. Do-or-die contests have great appeal for a viewing audience otherwise used to seeing teams get multiple chances to win a championship.

 

March Madness comes down to survive and advance. Teams that successfully adapt and adjust to each previously unscheduled opponent in front of them…as well as have luck staying healthy and benefiting from results that clear a slightly easier path…get a shot at winning it all.

I recently heard someone comment “Luck is a construct for the untalented.” I don’t believe that. Certainly not in the case of March Madness. We all need luck towards achieving objectives and the eventual NCAA Tournament champion most certainly requires it. You don’t survive a field of 68 without good fortune.

The classic English writer Charlotte Brontë wrote in her novel “Villette” that “Life is so constructed that an event does not, cannot, will not match the expectation.” I don’t believe that. Certainly not in the case of March Madness. The core expectation, the very essence of March Madness is being beautifully unpredictable. Frenzied, fan-tastic mayhem.

(Image Credit GoComics.com)

RSVP in the affirmative to March Madness if you haven’t already. You’re guaranteed a great seat at any table (or nest) of your choice.

And…it never disappoints.

(Image Credit NCAA.com)

Posted in Basketball, College Basketball, College Sports, Comics, Entertainment, Life, Media, NCAA, Peanuts, Sports, Television, Thoughts, TV | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

The Woodpecker Appraisal

In 24 hours an appraiser arrives to assign value to our home as part of a refinancing “journey.”

An hour or so ago…a woodpecker assigned itself to our cherry tree.

Or maybe it’s a plum (tree).

I initially thought nothing good can come from this coincidence. You want everything to go smoothly at an appraisal. Make sure there’s nothing unusual going on nearby. Draw no unnecessary or unusual attention to your environment. Clean. Straighten. Repeat.

At one end of the spectrum the bird is banging away 24 hours from now and that repetitive, rhythmic sound will be unsettling during the appraisal.

At the other end of the spectrum the bird brings the whole tree down during the appraisal…a tad more unsettling.

Thank heavens the house doesn’t have wood siding.

Perhaps some background on the family tree of the cherry (plum) tree is in order here…for example, it had a living mate at one time.

When we bought our home about twelve years ago we also inherited two cherry (plum) trees curbside between the front yard and the street. They provided some spectacular blooms each spring, followed by a relative handful of cherries (plums) either devoured by the local bird society or gathered up by my wife and I.

Until the spring of 2012 that is.

The winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11 were two of the worst in recorded history around here. 70-plus inches of snow both of those seasons. Brutal. The winter of 2011-12 was the exact opposite. The snow blower never even left the bullpen that go-round. It was cold at Halloween but that winter…not at all.

Apparently the weather trifecta planted the seeds for the cherry (plum) trees to pollinate so vigorously in the spring of 2012 we can safely rate their fertilization activity as “XXX.”

(You may be wondering by now why I’m not sure about cherry/plum. One of the two trees failed to bloom a year ago and was put out of its misery. The consultant for the tree service, while agreeing the tree lived a long and…fruitful…life…couldn’t figure out why the developer put actual fruit trees so close to the street as the surface tends to radiate heat and bake them out in the summertime. He also couldn’t figure out why I was calling them cherry trees as he insisted they were plum trees.)

In the late spring and throughout that summer of 2012 my wife and I were picking up on average 50 new cherries (plums) a day off our property, many far removed from being intact as they were but birdy leftovers if not outright victims of physics – gravity versus ground.

Our bird community enjoyed this all-you-can-eat buffet early in the process but clearly struggled with dining out as the warmer months slogged on. We inadvertently committed them all to Weight Watchers for the balance of the year as my wife and I picked up hundreds of pounds of fruit in various stages of decomp.

Picking fruit off the ground daily is rather labor intensive, proportionate to one’s age and physical condition of course.  I considered myself to be in reasonably good shape but being bent over for a 1/2 hour straight a couple of times a day revealed a whole mess of muscles I didn’t know were available. My wife felt the strain of this never-ending harvest as well.

We were going to trim the cherry (plum) trees back anyway but the situation got so sticky we had a tree service come out sooner and trim both back to stop the carnage…better leveraging our chances of not having any reoccurrence in the years to come.

Back to the present day now with the one remaining cherry (plum) tree now under appraisal from a woodpecker…mind you the VERY FIRST woodpecker we’ve ever seen or heard in these parts…a day before the home appraisal.

This remaining cherry (plum) tree is still very much alive so the objective was to keep both woodpecker and tree alive…for at least 24 hours.

Off to Ye Olde Internet to find out how to deal with the woodpecker…

“All species of woodpeckers are at least somewhat protected by federal and state laws. This means intentionally killing woodpeckers is illegal.”

Immediately learning this was helpful in that I no longer needed to waste my time chasing solutions that could lead to its demise. I was simply trying to get it to find another tree to hang with.

“Just because you see a woodpecker pecking on the tree does not mean that there will be damage.”

More helpful news…the tree might not suffer any long-term damage after all. So…why was this bird even out there in the first place?

“Woodpecker holes in trees happen for a variety of reasons. In many cases woodpeckers are going after insects in the tree which means not only do you have a woodpecker problem, you may have an insect problem. Other types of woodpeckers may be creating holes in your trees so that they can get at the sap. Other reasons a woodpecker may be pecking on trees is to build nests, attract mates and even store food.”

I’ve never seen any insects on the tree (flying around the fruit on the ground was another story entirely). There is sap on the tree on occasion. Geez, I would feel bad if the little dude or dudette was just hungry…or trying to find companionship. Maybe a temporary solution?

“Decoy predators, such as plastic hawks and owls, can be used but stop working quickly once the woodpecker determines they are not actually a threat.”

Clever woodpeckers.

“The best way to stop woodpecker damage is to keep the woodpecker from getting to the tree in the first place.”

Clever Internet.

“Loud noises such as hand-clapping, a toy cap pistol and banging on a garbage can lid have been used to frighten woodpeckers away from houses.”

“Hi there Mr. Appraiser…”

“Yes, I am VERY happy to see you.”

“Noooooo, it’s not a real gun.”

“How DID you know “Stomp” is my favorite musical?”

Fortunately, after what sounded like forever the little one ceased its loud, highly focused excavating operation and moved on.

Until tomorrow? We’ll see.

Before it departed I kind of got a picture of it in woodpecking mode. (Zoom function only…the woodpecker is at the base of the tree on the right-hand side)

Though the woodpecker apparently did not appraise our tree at a particularly high value here’s hoping in 24 hours the appraiser does the opposite with our home.

Knock on wood.

 

Have you ever experienced any unforeseen realtor/appraiser challenges?

Have you ever hosted woodpeckers?

Are cherry and plum trees really all that similar?

Posted in Blog, Blogging, Home, Humor, Life, Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 55 Comments

At The Center Of It All – America Hugs It Out

(Image Credit David Hale Sylvester)

Twenty-four hours ago I had never heard of David Hale Sylvester.

Twenty-four hours ago people he was high-fiving and hugging had never heard of him either.

A story by Jenice Armstrong in the Philadelphia Daily News got me up to speed on “Big Dave” (as his friends call him…6-3, 260 Lbs., all muscle) who bills himself as the “HumanHigh5.”

Dave was in Lebanon, Kansas yesterday high-fiving and hugging strangers. Why? On 9/11 he lost a friend working in the World Trade Center. A second friend was also working there but managed to get out safely. A third was out of his WTC office on a business trip to Japan. A fourth overslept that morning.

Shortly after the memorial service for his buddy he decided to trek across the US on his bike to raise awareness and money for charity.

He’s still at it having biked across 15 states and 21 foreign countries. Last year he drove around the US, stopping in places touched by gun violence…high-fiving and hugging folks. This year he wants to bike across all 50 states, high-fiving and hugging as many people as possible.

How did the intersection of Lebanon, Kansas and Valentine’s Day come into view on Dave’s radar? Another friend mentioned to him last month how frustrated America seems to be with itself lately – Dave takes it from there:

“A friend was talking about how divided we are as a nation and how we need some good news. I got the idea of being in the center of the country on Valentine’s Day and giving hugs and high-fives to everyone.”

Lebanon, Kansas is the geographic center of the lower forty-eight states. Mayor Rick Chapin on Dave’s plan:

“Anymore, not too much surprises me. He’s traveled quite a bit of the world spreading unity. You’re always a little skeptical but everything seems OK. The premise is good. We are pretty divided right now. One side sees it one way and another sees it the other way. This may not help but it won’t hurt.”

Lebanon only has a couple hundred residents or so but they’ve seen other visitors on-location of late as its unique location makes for a symbolic storyline…where the country divides in half.

This is not my first “visit” to Lebanon…the little town is featured on the CW series Supernatural as the adopted home of Sam and Dean Winchester, living there in a former base of a secret society known as the “Men of Letters.”

A man of hugs, on Valentine’s Day Dave wasn’t in Philadelphia serving as a personal trainer at a fitness center. He was instead in the middle of the country serving as an example…looking to make strangers feel good…as well as those learning of his visit.

Getting people to smile. Giving them some peace.

Dave summarizes it in six words:

“We just need a good story.”

Posted in Culture, Faith, Family, Life, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Okay Google Or Alexa: What The Hell Happened Last Night? – Super Bowl LI

Google used last night’s Super Bowl LI to promote its Google Home device. You’ve probably seen them already – those cute little smart speakers promoted to be able to do sooooo many things to improve your existence.

Their ad logically featured someone saying “Okay Google…”

Which logically proceeded to activate and confuse units in Google Home homes across Earth who could pick up that start-up instruction from whatever device the commercial was airing on.

Just a month ago a morning news anchor in San Diego was relaying a story about a Dallas family where a 6-year-old ordered a $170 dollhouse and four pounds of cookies via Alexa, the start-up voice assistant for Google competitor Amazon’s Echo device.

Which logically proceeded to activate and confuse units in Amazon Echo homes across San Diego who could pick up that start-up instruction from whatever device the newscast was airing on.

“Okay Google or Alexa, who are the greatest head coach and quarterback in NFL history?”

“The greatest head coach and quarterback in NFL history are Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.”

Let there be no doubt if you also ask me this morning who the greatest head coach and quarterback in NFL history are it would be New England’s Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, who helped orchestrate the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history as the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime.

The first overtime in the history of the game no less.

On February 5th, 1922 the first edition of Reader’s Digest was published. Still going strong today its long history includes featuring abridged versions of stories, turning novels into novellas if you will.

On February 5th, 2017 more history was made in Houston as Belichick and Brady added yet another title to resumes already reading they’re the winningest head coach-quarterback combo in NFL postseason history.

For me any post about Super Bowl LI has to be written in condensed format – too many storylines.

There’s just no way to describe what took place in NRG Stadium last evening. No, I’m not talking about Lady Gaga and her array of drones (things in the sky when she jumped off the roof, not her dancers…although she and her troupe were excellent).

I’m talking about New England scoring 31 unanswered points to capture a game even Google and Alexa were reporting lost.

If Reader’s Digest ever runs a story about this Super Bowl you can be sure the whole story will be published. A condensed version ain’t gonna get it done.

Of course to keep the delicate balance of nature in check…for every miracle comeback it is most often accompanied by a heaving, gagging, retching sound…cue Atlanta.

On Christmas Eve a massive sinkhole the size of a football field damaged a regional sewer line affecting over 300,000 people in Macomb County, Michigan. A public works chief worried about a massive, collective trip to the bathroom for residents during the Super Bowl halftime as the line is not yet repaired and more homes than the original three could be cratered.

Fortunately, initial reports are that suburban Detroit region did not simultaneously flush away the night.

Like those Falcons did.

As great as New England’s effort was to come back and win this game it also has to be said this was one of the biggest collapses not just in the history of the Super Bowl, or the NFL, or sports…but in history.

All.

History.

The irony is a lot of criticism today is about how the Falcons didn’t play it safe and conservative toward the end of the game…which is what teams usually get blasted for when they get caught from behind…being too safe and conservative.

Look, in an implosion of this grand magnitude we can all size up blame from now until the start of training camp.

On second thought don’t ask Google or Alexa how this all went down…too much information to process.

Posted in Football, Humor, Life, News, NFL, Pro Football, Pro Sports, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Riverdale – A Nice Place To Visit And You Just Might Want To Live There

(Image Credit Katie Yu, The CW Network)

My first full-time gig after graduating from college was managing a movie multi-plex. That experience in itself is truly worthy of a blog post or two down the road but for now I just want to extract one moment in time. I’m standing in the lobby near our ticket-taking usher one winter afternoon when a patron comes out from one of the theatres and says, “Geez, could you turn the heat up in there? It’s freezing.”

Neither the usher nor I moved off our spots.

Precisely one minute later a second patron comes out of the same theatre and says, “Hey, could you turn back the heat in there? It’s a furnace.”

We’re all different. People are unique.

One person’s “hot” is often another person’s “cold.”

My mind occasionally drifts in the direction of this moment whenever I set out to offer opinions in highly subjective areas most often followed by the word “critic.” Food…Music…Book…Film…TV.

We each know what we like; we all know what we don’t like.

There are a ton of choices out there. We can’t possibly take in everything people recommend we consume. Choices have to be made regarding trying new experiences based on preconceived notions.

Yet, allow me to tell you about one choice you might want to sample…even if your first inclination upon hearing what it is leaves you more inclined to move off this spot.

Last Thursday evening the CW raised the curtain on their new show Riverdale.

A couple bullet points to get us started:

  • The main characters are drawn from the world of the iconic Archie comic strip.
  • This series has already been compared to several others including Twin Peaks, Dawson’s Creek, The O.C., Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars.

Still here? Good.

I thought some of you might have taken off upon hearing this show references a comic strip almost 80 years old.

I thought others might have departed upon hearing those other show references.

Look, it would be v-e-r-y easy to dismiss Riverdale as just another youth-centric CW show. The stars are all attractive and look at least a tad older than the high school students they’re portraying. There is all sorts of teen angst hovering in the air within the small town’s borders…and a very dead body floating between the banks of the small town’s river.

riverdale-river

(Image Credit Diyah Pera, The CW Network)

But the debut episode really clicked with me. An awful lot was stuffed into the opening hour. It was witty. It introduced intriguing characters within a visually stylish setting. You could cut the atmosphere in that town with a knife. There’s way more than just one mystery to be solved. And it was so…self-aware.

The creators took all the stereotypes you could potentially pin on this show before giving it a look and got them “dealt with” in the pilot. The attitude I came away with of the writing was…”Here’s what you thought you’d see…but now that THAT’s out of the way…”

Some observations from others:

“Pilot episodes are difficult enough as an entry point but ones that truly capture the world of a series – almost instantly – are even harder to come by. And Riverdale does that here, keeping true to its source material but with a twist.”

LaToya Ferguson, A.V. Club

“Dares are about attitude, not aptitude. They’re about taking a ridiculous challenge and going with it, not necessarily how well you execute. The CW’s new drama series Riverdale is a crazed dare of a TV show and while it may defy conventional qualitative norms when it comes to things like narrative coherence and character consistency, it is utterly committed to the strange thing it’s doing.”

Daniel Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

“As predictable or artificial as the show can seem, when you take stock of it – even in its dark themes and situations – it is vital and inviting, fundamentally true to its characters and hard to put down.”

Robert Lloyd, L.A. Times

Riverdale in fact is the sum of all trends: franchise extension, comic-book adaptation, theory-baiting crypto serial, edgy Y.A. romance and densely ironic deconstruction. Riverdale is keenly aware of this: coded within its solidly satisfying juvie pulp is a sly spoof of itself and the business of reinvention.”

Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly

A final observation…someone directly associated with the show…Sarah Schechter, head of production for Riverdale:

“It’s not just for teenagers: it’s for people at every age because being a teenager is one of the few universal experiences we all have.”

Riverdale. I planned for a day trip but now I’m staying…to tour some more.

Posted in Culture, Entertainment, Media, Opinion, Review, Reviews, Riverdale, Television, TV | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Not A Dry Ice In The House – A Brief History Of Poor Decision-Making

My wife’s birthday is later this week and after all these years the question gets more challenging as each one approaches…what to get Kathy this time around.

Inspiration came in the form of something that happened over the weekend. The specifics aren’t nearly as relevant as the result. I figured out what she would appreciate most.

A sincere apology. Not just for one thing.

For many things.

Sunday night I asked my wife to come up with all the really dumb, idiotic, stupid things I’ve done since we met.

That went on for a while.

The list has since been pared down (she requested that qualifier) to a reasonable number (at my request) and it is now time to issue her this very public, very heartfelt all-inclusive apology for the ten most questionable decisions I’ve made since we married…in no particular order.

The Tire

We came out one morning to find a car tire a little low on air. I eventually located the head of a small nail on the edge of the tread. I swore up and down to my wife I could easily remove the nail and the tire would be just fine until I could drive the vehicle to the shop for repair. I decided to do just that.

A half-hour later the spare was on and the now-completely-flat tire was resting in the trunk as I headed off for the repair shop.

The Ladder

I had the day off from work but my wife did not. I wanted desperately to take a look at our gutter drains in one location to see if I could clean out some leaves before the next scheduled round of steady rain rolled in. I knew there was some type of blockage up there. My wife insisted we should put it off until the end of the day so she could steady the ladder. I indicated it should be my decision to make and off she went to work.

Later that morning I went off the ladder from about a height of seventeen feet. Somehow I was not injured. No, I didn’t tell her it happened that night…hell, I didn’t tell her for two years.

The Deck

We had lawn underneath our deck that required mowing with a push mower. I needed to lower my head about a foot to avoid smacking it against the deck’s base. I insisted to my wife I’d always remember to avoid hitting my head on it…and also announced I had decided I didn’t have to do it separately because I was determined to maintain my nicely mowed rows.

At no point did I ever think I was going to black out but it did leave a mark for a while…both times…OK, the two times she knows about.

The Cars

We had a horrible ice and snow storm early one January. Our two automobiles were encased like fossils in the Ice Age. The morning the weather broke I told my wife to stay warm while I got them cleared off. To expedite things I used a snow brush from one of the cars to crack the ice off. I decided to use the scraper end, not the brush end.

Several friends felt we could go to adjusters once we had our next hail storm and they’d have to insure us for all the dents on the hoods and trunks. Years later the trade-in values reflected the morning in question.

The Codeine

I got so sick one day…by nightfall my temperature was a robust 102. Fortunately, the doctor had evening hours and I was prescribed codeine syrup. I told my wife I was well aware of its effects and if I had to get up in the middle of the night to not worry. I could certainly decide on my own if I was OK to go to the bathroom.

She found me on the bathroom floor. She said she heard a noise – “did you fall?” I have tried to convince her since that night I simply got tired and laid down. She remains to this day completely unconvinced.

The Movie

My wife wanted absolutely no parts of a Johnny Depp movie called “Mortdecai.” She begged me to wait for it – if we had to see it at all – to come on cable and didn’t want to spend time and money on it at the theatre. I insisted we could both benefit from seeing a funny film. My decision was final.

We now have a name for the look my wife gives me when she’s thoroughly disgusted with me. It is known simply as the “Mortdecai Look.”

The Sticker

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania required owners of vehicles to renew their registrations annually. This involved – after payment – sending a sticker to owners to affix to the license plate in question. One day I was home first and got the mail. The sticker was here and I decided I could handle the simple task of making our car legal for the twelve months ahead.

We found out just how serious the Commonwealth was making sure their stickers stayed put as we tried in vain to remove the newly-arrived sticker…newly-affixed to the wrong car. Pennsylvania has since eliminated the sticker aspect of registration renewal – there is no truth to the rumor my action was in any way responsible for its discontinuation.

The Face

We had a Zero Turning Radius mower to cut the majority of our lawn with. When we bought it the advice was to not operate it in wet conditions on uneven terrain. After a light rain one afternoon I insisted to my wife it would be OK to mow. Not agreeing with the decision, she grudgingly came outside to do some gardening.

When she got to the massive rose bush I had skidded into at the edge of our driveway I tried my very best to assure her I was OK even though my face felt like half the skin was gone. She gave me the once-over and calmly stated, “You’ll be fine.” Two years later she admitted she thought the cuts would never heal.

The Rose Bush

No, not THAT rose bush. We had a couple small rose bushes that resided happily side by side for years thanks to my wife’s loving care. She was working at the time. I was not. Fall was nearing conclusion and they desperately needed their annual trim, a technique called deadheading. She took great pains to train me on exactly what needed to be done but didn’t feel very confident in letting me fly solo. I defended myself vigorously and assured her the rose bushes were in good hands. I could make the decisions about just how much to cut from each.

After reviewing my work, she didn’t talk to me for a couple of days. Surprisingly, the rose bushes were not dead. I might as well have been.

The Dry Ice

My wife’s parents sent us a gift from Omaha Steaks one Christmas. We had never gotten anything from the company before but were impressed how frozen the food was considering how far it travelled. After we got everything out of the big Styrofoam cooler all that remained was a large packet of dry ice. I noticed the label said “Do Not Touch.” I apparently forgot that moments later when my wife said she wanted to keep the cooler and I decided to reach in and take out the packet.

Medical and science professionals alike compare injuries like this as very similar to a burn and often require medical attention. Fortunately, I was able to peel both hands off the dry ice. My wife told me to get it out of the house so I wouldn’t injure myself further…once I was able to wear gloves again of course.

Should anyone be able to identify with these or similar incidents please outline your experiences in the comments section. It’s always nice to know you’re not the only one who has made a poor decision or two…or ten…in life.

To my wife Kathy: “Happy Birthday and I’m sorry…again.”

Posted in Family, Home, Humor, Life, Personal | Tagged , , , , | 65 Comments