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.

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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