Category Archives: Weekly Rant

Weekly Rant – Not just silly, but stupid

Back when I was a kid we watched a lot of television in the evenings intended for family viewing. Shows like Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, I even remember watching old movies like Abbot and Costello and the Monkees. All of these wire similar in that they were funny most of the time and other moments serious. Overall lighthearted shows that were fun to watch then and I’m sure I would still enjoy then today. Well, maybe not so much the Monkees, but I’d be willing to give them a chance.

Many sit-coms I watched as a kid were silly, funny, some a little over the top, but they concentrated on one of a handful of characters with a great supporting cast. I can’t point to one older show I used to watch and think… wow, this is just stupid.

Then there are the shows my favorite daughter likes to watch. It started with the Hanna Montana days and The Amanda Bynes show. These shows played a lot on older plot lines from the shows I used to watch so I’d know what was going to happen long before it happened. The shows were funny and often times silly. Playing on the success of these shows many other shows spawned off. Drake and Josh came directly from the Amanda Bynes show. It was alright, but sometimes dipped into the “are they really doing that” realm, but was still a watchable, even if predictable, show.

Yes, I watch a lot of TV with my favorite daughter. Often times against my will and many times while I’m sitting and writing. As my favorite daughter would say. “DON’T JUDGE ME!”

Recently she’s started to watch a number of newer shows on both Disney and Nickelodeon. From shows like Big Time Rush that plays on the story lines from the Monkees, but dipping into the really dumb humor. Not just dumb, but downright stupid. Even then there are still points in the show that I feel are alright as this a band doing silly things. I get that. It’s what they’re trying to do.

But then I see some newer shows she’s watching. Each character no matter how minor has an over the top personality and does things that no real person would do. Not just silly or dumb things, but stupid and annoying. To the point it makes the shows unwatchable. At least to me. When my favorite daughter would watch Hanna Montana she would laugh, giggle, and sometimes even think. These new shows I’ll watch her as she watches the shows and she doesn’t laugh, she more wrinkles her face in confusion. I finally had to ask.

Me: Are you even enjoying this show?

MFD: Not really. This is kind of dumb.

Me: Dumb? How so?

MFD: People don’t act like that. This is just stupid.

I don’t think she’s canceled any of her recordings, but it’s nice to see that she’s at least steering away from these shows. Much like some reality shows I can feel my IQ dropping the longer the television is on. There’s no moral. There’s no point. There’s little entertainment. I see almost nothing of conversational value.

Who are these shows hoping to attract? Is there really a generation of kids out there that feel this is quality entertainment? That this is a good way to spend their time? I used to think that all movies and TV shows were aimed at 13 year old girls (and sometimes boys) but now I see these shows and can’t understand what their target audience is.

I try to avoid television as much as possible. I really do. But it’s not always that easy. I think I’ll throw another book at my favorite daughter and see how she responds. Perhaps I need to write faster to she’ll have more to read. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I’ll go write something.

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!

Advertisements

Weekly Rant: Coming up Next

You know what I love about sporting events. You never know what’s going to happen. Oh, sure, you can assume Team A is going to beat Team B because the score is 7 – 0, but there have been those miracle upsets. Basically it’s the element of surprise. Will there be an upset? Will the team come out of this slump and win? Should I cheer for the underdog in this event?

Then we get televised sporting events. For the most part these are broadcast live. You still don’t know what’s going to happen until it actually happens. If it’s a close game you’ll be on the edge of your seat cheering for your team to hold it together long enough to win.

I won’t go into NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.

Then there are times you’ll go to the movies. There might be a trailer for a movie you want to see and the trailer will entice you. It’ll hint at just enough to pique your curiosity and give you just enough that you need to go see that movie.

On the flip side, there are trailers that sum up a movie in 2 minutes, give you all the best lines, and then you feel no compulsion to go see the movie whatsoever. What’s the point when they pretty much showed you the build up, the conflict, resolution, and ending? Do they not know how to make a trailer that doesn’t give away the movie?

Then we get back to television. There are so many shows on now days that if you record something you might accidentally hear about this, that, or the other thing if you’re not careful. It’s not always easy. Some people like to save up an entire season and it can all be blown away by one stray tweet or facebook post. But for the most part, regular television is safe in that you usually don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens.

There there’s all the reality shows on television. Nearly any reality television at this point. Be it a cooking show, housewives, Kardashians, property buying/renovation, etc. If you watch the first 30-60 seconds of the show, they’ll show you all the good parts of the show. Then they’ll show the ‘coming up’ on the first commercial break. And again on the next commercial break. Before it gets to the end of the show you’ll know everything that’s going to happen 15 minutes before it happens and it’s very anti-climatic. They’ll show the exciting parts all at the beginning and what’s the point of watching the show.

The wife and I were watching TV last night and a backyard renovation program came on. In the first 30 seconds of the program they showed the before of the back yard, the demolition, the construction, and the finished job. I blinked and thought, well, there’s 30 minutes I don’t need to waste.

This is becoming more and more common in a lot of different shows. I have to wonder, they’ve got 20 minutes or so of program to fill a 30 minute time slot (yes, some shows have crazy amounts of commercials). They’ll spend 5 minutes of their programming to show you what’s coming up next. If you didn’t record the program, you’ll know and you can skip that next segment of the program. Do they have so little content that they need to fill it in with ‘coming up’? Is their show so uninteresting that they need to give away all the excitement that might build up? Why bother making the program if you’re just going to give away all the good bits before they happen?

As a writer, it’s all about the element of surprise. You want to hint at things and build up and then slap the reader in the face. If I put something at the beginning of my book that said “Coming up in 150 pages, you’ll see Character X kill Character Y in a surprise twist that pits a man against his long lost brother. The rest is all build up so just skip ahead 150 pages to see his incredible death as the sword pierces his heart and suffer the anguish as Character X realized what he’s done.” Well, what’s the point in reading the story? Even reading the climax? You now know what’s going to happen. The rest is all just BS filler now because there’s no surprise. No excitement. Where’s the fun in that?

I do my best to steer clear of reality television. I try to DVR all I can. I do my best to fast forward when I see “Coming up!” I really do. It’s not always that easy. I think this is why I like watching something on NetFlix or DVD that I know nothing about. Like Cowboy BeBob that I just started watching. I know nothing about this show. I know it’s Anime. It’s gotten some great ratings. It looks interesting. So I started watching it. I can tell you that I’m not hooked just yet, but I’m going to give it a few episodes. I got hooked on Full Metal Alchemist rather quickly.

What do you do when you’re watching a program? Does the ‘Coming Up Next’ portion bother you? Do you skip ahead? DVR? NetFlix? Avoid TV? I’d love to hear from you.

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!

Weekly Rant: Google Infusion

I used to be a huge fan of Google. My home pages are all set to Google. As a search engine it was the cleanest and easiest to use. I loved it for years. Sadly it had its sights higher than just a simple search engine.

Now when I look at anything these days, it’s got Google all over it. Gmail made sense. It allows Google to push ads. I got that, I understood it. I embraced this new product by Google. Google Maps, sure. I like Google maps. It’s still a simple tool to use. It’s evolved over the years to include Street View and all that. I’m good with that. Google Reader? I love this app on my phone, tablet, and even the web page. It makes keeping my RSS feeds straight and I’m happy with how it works even if they seem to push an app change on a weekly basis that makes me need to figure it out all over again, but I still like it.

Google Docs? This is a very useful tool. I’m not sure why no one else had developed something like this, but I do like what Google Docs has allowed Mike Plested and I to do with our collaborative efforts.

Google+. Well, ok. This is kind of what Facebook used to be. I guess I can understand this, but do I really need another social media outlet? I like Google Hangouts and all that, but it seems to be something that wasn’t needed that’s just invading my space.

My phone and tablet are both Android. I liked them being Android. I liked the Android market. I liked what I could do with my phone. Then I got a push and now I’ve got Google Books, Google Play, Google Music. Suddenly I went from having an android phone to having a google phone. Why? Why is Google all over my phone? I mean, I understood the little Google Search bar my tablet had, but did Google really need to invade my phone so much?

Even when Google started pushing ads on my searches, I was okay with it. But they’ve started to go over the top. Now when I do a Google search, I get my results and when I go to click that first link…BAM! Ads pop in just before I can click anything and unless I sit and wait I’m usually clicking on an ad for something I didn’t intend to go to. Why? Why not just have the ads on the side like it used to?

Am I wrong here? Is Google going over the top? Do I really want Google Goggles when they come out so my entire life is all Google all the time? When will this end? Will Netflicks soon become gFlicks? Will Starbucks become gBucks? Will Google start to push into the real world and be in everything I do? When will they stop trying to conquer the world? If their apps remained as simple as they started out I think I’d like Google much more, but the longer I’m using their apps the more they’re morphing into something that I’m no longer a fan of. What happened to simple? What happened to clean and streamlined? Google is a search engine. Why do I need Google Chrome as my web browser? Why can’t Google remember I said ‘no’ the first time it asked if I wanted to install it? Why doesn’t it realize it’s already my homepage and quit asking me? I want my Google to be the same Google it used to be.

Maybe I’m just getting old and crotchety and want things the way they used to be. Maybe I don’t want everything I used to be Google. Just because it lives on the internet doesn’t mean I want it to be Google run. Can’t we roll back some of these Google developments? Do we really need Google cars that drive themselves? I think it’s wonderful they’re working on that, but why isn’t anyone else? Where are the automated cars that drive themselves from Yahoo? Or WebCrawlers? Or DogPile? Why is Google the only ones to be so far reaching and all these other search engines are just search engines?

I’m going to Google Google and see just how far their reach is. This might take a while, so I’ll do this in my spare time. I’m sure their reach is far greater than I think it is. Could Google be the start of SkyNet?

Until Next Time?

GOO GOO!

P.S. For a list of everything Google (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Google_products)

Weekly Rant: High Fructose Corn Syrup

Growing up as a kid in Minnesota I got to experience many things. One of those was a pancake feast. We (My step-dad, mom, brother, step-brother, and I) drove out to a farm a friend owned (my step-dad’s friend, not mine). Driving out to the farm we’d pass a large number of Maple trees each with two ‘taps’ and buckets hanging from each tap. Usually one on each side of the tree. The trees lined the road to the farm which made for easier collection.

Getting to the house you could smell the cooking of the syrup. They would have a massive cooker set up to boil down the sap and make it into syrup. I’m not 100% sure of the process, but I do remember everything being set up outside and them stirring the vat with a large, metal oar several times during our eatings of pancakes.

Outside there were rows of picnic tables, bottles of pop (some call it soda), and a row of bar-b-qs all cooking hams and sausages. Even those couldn’t undermine the small of cooking maple syrup, but they did try.

Once the meats had been cooked and a BBQ freed up, a large griddle came out and was placed over the coals and the pancake cooking began. More pancakes than you can shake a stick at. And pans of syrup were heated. Tubs of freshly churned butter were placed out. This was, after all, a dairy farm that doubled with the maple syrup production. As plates of hot pancakes were doled out, hot syrup was poured into gravy boats and plates of meat put on the tables. Everything 100% natural, no additives, no preservatives. Just like nature intended.

This morning I was going to have some toaster waffles. I looked at the syrup. #1 ingredient. High Fructose Corn Syrup. I had a bowl of cereal.

I stopped drinking soda, but I guarantee that back when I was a kid the #2 ingredient was sugar, not High Fructose Corn Syrup. I think this is why I still like cereal in that they use sugar instead of that other stuff.

I remember when I stopped drinking soda. I used to keep drinking it because it was sweet, but it had a different mouth feel. Something more slippery and not nearly as thirst quenching. What was the point of drinking a soda if all I was going to do was get MORE thirsty? I want to drink something to help with that thirst. If it’s sweet, all the better. I stopped drinking soda. I would order tea at a restaurant, but only if it was unsweetened.

One day I discovered “Mountain Dew ‘throwback’”. I thought, Hey, I used to drink Mountain Dew all the time, let me see what’s different.

OMFG! The taste and feel was amazing! I’d forgotten what old Mountain Dew tasted like. I’d gotten used to that weird feel and average taste. This blew my mind. I looked at the ingredients. The #2 ingredient? SUGAR! That’s right! None of that high fructose bleh! This was the real thing.

I used to love things like cream soda and root beer. I can remember going to the A&W and getting a big frosty mug filled with heaven. If you drink one now, it’s terrible. The taste is gone. It’s because there’s no more sugar in it. When I was in Palm Desert recently I had some home brewed cream soda, root beer, and sarsaparilla. It wasn’t made with anything artificial. It was the real thing. Sugar enhances the flavor much like adding a little salt to your food will enhance the flavor of some foods you eat. It activates different parts of your tongue. It’s feels right because it dissolves completely in water. Maple syrup feels right because it’s natural. That’s the way it’s supposed to feel and taste.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is artificially sweet. It’s thick. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t taste right. Why? It’s unnatural. It’s made in a laboratory. It’s converting molecules to make it sweet. But it’s not sugar. It’s an abomination. Sure there are health concerns, but I’m not sure they’re founded. Beyond those, it’s just not right. It’s made some of the things I’ve loved as a kid, maple syrup, soda pop, and turned them into things I no longer care for. Sure they may be cheaper, but this is an instance where cheaper hasn’t made the produce better.

I’ll spend the extra money to find things made the way they were intended to be made. Sure, science has given us some great things. This has given us a cheaper alternative to real sugar, but there really is no substitute. Sure it helps the corn industry, it makes some products we like less expensive to make, but the sacrifice in quality is something that needs to be taken into consideration. For that reason I’ve stopped consuming HFCS. Not because I think it’ll affect my health, but because I think it’ll affect my taste.

The saddest part is that most people who read this probably have never know soda without HFCS. Do you remember what Soda used to taste like? Have you compared a ‘throwback’ to the current model? Sweet is fine, but for my money it’s got to actually taste good.

How do you feel about sugar versus HFCS? Have you tried and compared the difference? If you’re in the United States this is more of an issue than the rest of the world, but I’d leave to hear others weigh in as well.

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!

Weekly Rant: You’re just not that important.

The other day I had an epiphany. No, really. I have these from time to time. What came to my mind as another person bumped into me at the grocery store right after someone bumped me with their cart (neither apologized) was that I wasn’t that important to these people. I was so insignificant that I didn’t even deserve an apology for them running into me. And you know what, you’re not that important either.

I had to think hard about this. Who is the most important person I know? I know a lot of people and many of them are considered important, but if something happened to that important person, I would still carry on. If something happened to me! Hey, I’m the most important person I know. If something happens to me then I’m in trouble. So the most important person in my life is me.

This may sound selfish, but hey, it’s my life and yes, I’m concerned about it.

But I also consider myself a considerate person. I care about others and try to look out for other people. I apologize when I run into someone and I always try to make sure that I excuse myself when I get in someone else’s way. Many times this ‘excuse me’ when passing between a shopper and the products on the aisle goes unnoticed and that’s because…you guessed it, I’m not that important to the person I just passed in front of. Odds are they didn’t even hear what I said because I’m so unimportant to them that my words may have been a smelly breeze.

Some people take their own self importance to new levels where you might consider them rude, arrogant, self serving. Take driving for example. How often have you been in traffic and you’re in a long line for the exit ramp. You saw a long way off and got over in time to make your exit. But there are those people who insist on cutting in at the last minute. Why? Because their time is more valuable than yours, that’s why. They’re much more important than you are and where they need to get to is that much more important.

When I start to look at things from another’s perspective, it all starts to make sense. People aren’t jerks on purpose, they just think they are the most important person in that place in time. Those people that bump into you are the store? They didn’t even see you because you are that unimportant to them. What they’re there for is far more important than anything you could possible be there for and you’d best just stay out of their way.

There are also people who might be the nicest people you know. They might go to the store and they become so focused on what they need to get that they don’t even think about the other people around them. Odds are they don’t even see you. You might as well be a tree in their way because you aren’t what they need. How often have you bumped into a person I the store and didn’t even see that it was a friend from high school that you haven’t seen in 10 years? You probably passed by that person a dozen times in that same store and never even noticed them. This means you too suffer from I’m-more-important-than-you-itis.

Like I said, it affects everyone now and again. It affects some more often than others. Some don’t even know they have this condition and will insist they’re not trying to be rude, or inconsiderate, or inattentive.

Does this excuse this behavior? In my mind, no. I understand that living in a large city like San Diego you’re exposed to people on a constant basis and 99.9% of those people live lives that you know nothing about. That doesn’t make them any less important in this world than you. Oh, I know from time to time you’re in too big of a rush to care if you just cut someone off on the freeway, but it’s little actions like these that lead to bigger actions by the important person that you just cut off. Then you wonder why this person is so upset. You are, after all, in a hurry. You have somewhere to go, don’t you? They’re just in your way. They’re slowing you down. They not as important as you are.

Like I said, I’m as guilty as anyone of being one of these people from time to time, but I do make an effort to not be ‘that guy’ and be a little more considerate, a little more patient, a little more understanding. But there are times when enough is enough and one too many ‘important’ people will bump me and I’ll feel the need to say something. The last time this happened I turned and said ‘excuse me’ in a loud, rude tone and the little girl who could barely push the shopping cart looked at me, turn, and hugged momma. Yeah. I got an evil eye from mom. Made me feel so much less important.

So take with you that I understand that you’re the most important person in your life. Just take a moment when another person cuts you off, bumps into you, ignores you at a stop sign, that they are the more important person to them and where they need to go and what they need to do is the most important thing they could possibly be doing. If you take with you this understanding, what that person does will irk you just a little less.

Now go! And be un-important in the most important way you can!

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!

Weekly Rant: Hip-Hop Music

Welcome to the start of something new. This will be my weekly rant where I’ll pick a topic (or you can send me a topic) and I’ll rant and rave and carry on. Don’t get me started about using your turn signal! Oh, wait. That’s actually the point of this weekly rant, isn’t it? Maybe I’ll cover that in a future rant, but today I want to rant on hip-hop music.

Now I’m not going to go all “This ain’t my music so it’s crap music.” My father never really liked the music I listened to, but he appreciated that I liked it and that was enough. He would play his music and hope it would rub off on me and much of it did. I’m glad he played his music when he did. On my music shuffle you can find things from Metallica and Slayer to Tom Petty and Cajun Zydeco to Steve Martin playing the Banjo and Benny Goodman. I cover a wide range of musical tastes.

Then there’s my daughter’s music. I must sigh here. Hold on.

SIGH!

I do NOT like Nicki Minaj. I do not like 90% of the garbage that my daughter listens to. For the most part the lyrics are inane, senseless, and sometimes illogical. Sure, some of what I listen to might fall into that category when it comes to lyrics, but at least there’s a good guitar riff, a beat you can tap your foot to. Not incessant thumping of a bass that rattles the windows. Yes I used to listen to music. I used to listen to music VERY LOUD! I loved going to loud concerts. But I was going and getting my youthful aggression out. There were lyrics I could sing and they made sense to me.

If I listen to a hip-hop song I’m guaranteed that I’ll hear the same lyrics rehashed over and over. Throw your hands in the air. Raise your drink in the air. Let’s party. And of course every variation of sexual innuendo and double entendre possible. Sure there are occasional clever lyrics that catch my attention (Like a sprained ankle, boy, I ain’t nothing to play with) but for the most part it slides into the typical junk lyrics that will be repeated over and over until you’ve lost your mind.

Then there’s a new breed of song out there that’s driving me nuts. It’ll be a half-way decent song. They lyrics will be something I can relate to. The person singing will actually have some talent. Then some angry rapper will jump in and totally screw up a perfectly good song with lyrics that are the total opposite of the song’s intention. This leaves me with a WTF moment as I listen to a perfectly good song get ruined by someone that has no idea what the song is about.

Let’s take for example the Maroon 5 song. Here’s the chorus.

I’m at a payphone trying to call home

All of my change I spent on you

Where have the times gone

Baby it’s all wrong, where are the plans we made for two?

Touching, right? This is a song about a guy who’s lost his girl. He’s sad. He’s spending all the change in his pocket trying to call her and perhaps try to mend things. Then we get this.

I’ll be out spending all this money while you sitting round

Wondering why it wasn’t you who came up from nothing

Made it from the bottom

Now when you see me I’m stunning

And all of my cars start with the push up a button

Telling me the chances I blew up or whatever you call it

Switched the number to my phone

So you never could call it

This keeps going and going and gets worse. Wait a minute. What? Did you read the lyrics before? Where did this angry part come from? Switched the number so you never could call it? That’s not what this song is about at all. This isn’t about the singer being so great he do need you no mo. This is a song about missing the one you love. Then we go back to the chorus and it’s jarring to go from “I miss you” to “F*& YOU!” back to “I miss you” It hurt my head when this song comes on. I keep wondering why did they bring this person in to rap in the middle of this song? Did the person get the meaning and they’re being ironic on purpose? Is this the lover that left the main singer? What’s going on here? Did someone not get the memo? Did they just take the first thing this person rapped and said “Oh, he’s famous, we need to include what ever he raps because his fans love him”?

Please, if you’re going to rap in the middle of the song, at least make it relate to the song. It’s like the B.O.B song airplanes where B.O.B is busying singing about how life sucked when he was a kid and he came up from nothing to get to where he was and he did it by wishing on airplanes like they were shooting stars and they helped him get through a troubled time. Then Eminem raps in the middle of the song. At the end of his rap…

cuz he never risked sh!t he hopes and he wished it but it didn’t fall in his lap so he ain’t even here

he pretends that…

[chorus]

Airplanes in the night sky like shooting stars

I could really use a wish right now…

Wait a minute. Did Eminem read B.O.B.’s lyrics? Did B.O.B. read Eminem’s lyrics to realize he’d just been dissed? HARD! In the middle of HIS SONG? Did the record produce listen to what each artist had created separately to understand that these two pieces didn’t match up? Is anyone noticing this but me? I explain this to my favorite daughter in the hopes that she’ll understand the irony, but so far I haven’t been able to get her to deviate away from her current listening trends. I will continue to try. I will continue to analyze. I will continue to rant until Hip-hop starts putting out songs that I can understand and follow along with.

Sure, there are a few songs that I like, but they’re far and few between.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you.

Until Next Time!

WOO WOO!