Monday, May 04, 2015

Giving in to the Dark Side (you know you would)

The more I think about the mythology of Star Wars the most unrealistic aspect of The Force is that any Jedi could keep from turning to the Dark Side. Look at what Vader does in Episode IV (better known as Star Wars, the first movie from 1977, subtitled "A New Hope") when an Imperial officer dismisses the importance of The Force: He uses telekinesis to lift and choke the man (and clearly could have killed the officer) with nothing more than a gesture.

If most of us had that power in our daily lives, how would everyone we encountered who pissed us off not find themselves hoisted by invisible hands and struggling for breath?

Obviously the tale told in Episodes I through III (as Anakin Skywalker transforms into Darth Vader) show the appeal of the Dark Side to underscore how impressive the Jedi are to stay on the good side of The Force, but how can we empathize with these better-than-thou types?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Poop

Parenting reality:

On more than one occasion I've changed our son's diaper, only to have him poop in that fresh diaper only a few minutes later, necessitating another (stinkier) diaper change.

The initial reaction used to be: Well, what I just did five minutes ago was kind of a waste.

The reaction now is: Hey, at least he didn't poop on me in the middle of me changing him.

Changing two diapers where nothing is actively being expelled from your child is always far easier than cleaning up what gets expelled in that window after the dirty diaper is removed and before the clean diaper is applied.

Nothing done is a waste of effort if the outcome could have been much worse, especially when it comes to baby poop.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Woof, woof

A few months ago, as my mother-in-law was watching our toddler son (while he was home from daycare due to a fever), she taught him the sound dogs make. Presumably this was from a book we have that also has buttons corresponding to animal sounds, where the dog sound is one of them.

Now when he sees a dog on TV he (at least some of the time) says "woof, woof" (or more accurately, "wuhf, wuhf"). Given that we don't have any pets it was particularly interesting he could identify them and remember that.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Why Super Bowl XLIX lingers

From the department of things only interesting to me:

Although it has been two months since the Super Bowl I find any allusion to pro football makes me think back to this most recent "Big Game"—specifically to the end, when the Seahawks were on the verge of victory, and due to what one either considers a phenomenal defensive play by the Patriots or a ridiculously stupid call by Seattle's coaches it was New England who took home the Lombardi Trophy.

I wrote about the specifics more than sufficiently back after the game; we don't need to re-hash those details again. What holds any worth at this point is pondering: Had Seattle scored the winning touchdown (as seemed very likely before gave up an interception) would I still find the game popping to mind in this way?

I must conclude I would not. If the Seahawks simply scored from the one-yard line and, as they clearly intended, did not leave the Patriots time to mount a drive to at least tie with a field goal, it would be something that faded from active thought as the previous year's trouncing of the Broncos did. When Seattle was up by a large margin against Denver there was no drama, no consequence to any drive they had in the entire second half. There was nothing to consider again.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Vanna White Keeps It Spinning on 'Wheel of Fortune' After All These Years

I'm not one who would consider himself a fan of Wheel of Fortune, but I have seen the show on and off since I was a child; these days I tend to see because it comes on after Jeopardy (when I see that) and it's perfectly acceptable to leave the TV on that channel as background while washing dishes or some such activity where I'm not actively paying that much attention. Its longevity undoubtedly stems from that passive involvement capacity (and the fact it doesn't involve the same level of actual knowledge as the show preceding it in syndication); you can watch it without the sound and still be able to play along.

Over my decades of experience with the show I've seen it transform from when the dollar amounts on the wheel were much lower, where the contestants had to "spend" their winnings from the round on a bunch of cheesy prizes, and where the tiles on the board were triangular and needed to be spun by Vanna. But while much has advanced—the dollar amounts have increased significantly, the contestants win the cash or trips or cars, and the tiles have gone to digital screens mimicking the old look—there is one part of the show that has not progressed as one might expect: Vanna is still by the board.

So let's acknowledge one thing:

If Wheel of Fortune were created as a new game show today, with the same technological capabilities that the existing show demonstrates (where the "tiles" can light up and display any letter, rather than need to be turned as was the case in earlier decades), it seems there would be no need for Vanna White. That's not a knock on her; it's merely the truth.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Attention shoppers: It's the Ramones

I understand that everything three decades old or older is considered pretty anodyne from a cultural standpoint, regardless of how controversial it may have seemed in its heyday.

Still, to hear (as I did on a recent evening) the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" playing in a Vons grocery store seems like something that should hold at least a tinge of being a tiny bit taboo.


There are other Ramones' songs where the lyrics are such that your grandmother wouldn't balk while shopping ("I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend"—another of their "I Wanna…" tracks), but "Sedated" is not sedate enough to be acceptable for all contexts.

I'm not suggesting that most people are actually paying any sort of attention to the music playing over the public address while shopping; it's merely filling in the background sound so it isn't eerily quiet. I get that. I'm among the tiny minority who notices such things at all. I know.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Getting grungy with 'Fresh Off the Boat'

In a recent episode of the new sitcom Fresh Off the Boat ("Success Perm"), the main character, Eddie, sees his cousin when the family visited. This cousin had turned him on to N.W.A. years earlier (the show takes place in 1995), which led to Eddie's love of rap. So when the cousin showed up, now into grunge, puts in a CD by Live and plays "Lightning Crashes," Eddie thought it was crap. (Eddie was right.)

The cousin dismissed Eddie's criticism as him being too immature to appreciate the emotion of grunge.