Sweet Nothings

Ramblings as Election 2016 Finally Comes to a Conclusion

I don’t think I’ve posted a single thing about this election for the last six months. I’ve sat by and watched a whole bunch of posts come from both sides, and I’ve digested much of it. Regardless of the outcome tonight (or whenever this thing is figured out), I’ve decided I’d like to say a few things.

This has sucked. I think I watched all three debates in 2012. I watched about 15 minutes’ worth this fall. It angers me too much.

I can’t believe how judgmental so many people have been based on which side one supports. If you’re voting for Donald Trump, you must be a bigot. If you’re voting for Hillary Clinton, you must be a liar. It’s completely asinine.

I’ve been particularly curious and confused about how much of this labeling seems to come from the blue side, which has always seemed to me on the surface to be very much against judging others. You know, some folks will remind you it’s not right to judge somebody by his or her skin color, sexuality or gender — agreed — but apparently it’s OK to make a negative judgment against somebody based on nothing more than presidential preference. Perplexing.

Speaking of a presidential preference, we all have different reasons for picking someone. We don’t all have the same priorities we’d like to see a president stand for above others. Don’t tell me I have to value social issues above everything, and I won’t tell you that you have to value fiscal issues above everything. We all arrive at our priorities differently.

As for me, I usually pick my candidate based on who’s going to give away the least amount of “free stuff” — I use that semi-sarcastically, because nothing’s really free — to people at the expense of hard workers. I don’t like the way government benefits often end up being used as permanent crutches rather than temporary pick-me-ups. Have you ever noticed signs that advise folks to not feed wild animals? It’s because they’ll become dependent on handouts and stop fending for themselves.

I also don’t understand why my generation (and the one that follows) feels a false sense of entitlement that college should be paid for them. (I could go into a longer aside about my relationships with many who have been very successful without college, or how there’s an enormous skills gap that grows with the you-have-to-go-to-college myth, but I’ll digress for now.) I knew what I was getting in for, planned accordingly and cleaned out my debt ahead of schedule. I’m not bragging, but it’s not difficult.

I’m in the media business. At times during this election, I’ve been ashamed to be in the industry. I don’t want to portray too much of an insider’s take, but I think a lot of the national media’s news judgment — basically, what the higher-ups deem to be the stories worth the most attention — has been sketchy and occasionally biased. But folks not in the industry need to understand that most journalists — those are the people writing and reporting the facts, not the blowhards yelling all their hot takes and one-sided opinions — are doing a good job.

Facts are facts. Opinions are opinions. Somewhere along the line, the line that separates them became very blurry. It’s too bad that the national media has lost a lot of the public’s trust — it’s definitely not the media that Walter Cronkite helped build — but they’ve made their own bed to a large degree. Consumers haven’t helped themselves, either. It’s fascinating to see all the Facebook posts that come from ridiculous, clearly biased sources, and yet folks treat them as gospel. People have lost their abilities to grasp the context of what they consume.

I’ve heard that there’s some notion that white people need to recognize a perceived white privilege. Am I privileged? Of course. I’m privileged that my great-grandparents immigrated and decided to settle in small-town America, where you work to build your own character to keep up with your last name. I’m privileged that my grandparents and parents worked hard to build homes and provide for their kids. I’m privileged that I’ve had two parents who’ve stopped at nothing to give my brothers and me a chance at successful lives. And I’m privileged that I went to public high school, learned from terrific teachers and had as many opportunities as I wanted to get ahead of the game.

I wish everyone could have the privilege of two great parents (or, at the very least, parental figures), but sadly that’s not always the case anymore. I always wonder what kind of effect its decline is having on our society.

Finally, there aren’t enough people up for civil discussions these days. People want to dismiss Trump’s campaign for all sorts of reasons, but they don’t want to recognize the conditions that have allowed him to reach the verge of the presidency. The same goes with people dismissing Clinton’s campaign for being criminally corrupt while not looking at why she has so much support.

If a topic is broached in a respectful manner, I’ll discuss anything. It’s disappointing that we have so many racists and sexists still out there, but it’s just as disappointing that others claiming to stand on moral high ground sling around “racist” and “bigot” just because someone disagrees with his or her opinion. That creates just as much of a counterproductive divide as does being prejudiced itself.

I know I can’t relate to a black man who gets pulled over for no reason, but I can listen to him. I know I won’t agree with a lot of folks on gun control, but we can talk. I like learning why people think the way they do, because it usually sheds light upon my own thoughts. Disagreements don’t have to be disrespectful. Unfortunately, they usually are on Facebook, so this post will probably be one-and-done for me.

If you made it to the end of this, God bless and don’t fill in the wrong bubble today.

About That Time I Won Powerball … on Twitter

Powerball’s $1.5 billion jackpot brought out the very best in this world — and my ability to be a hilariously dickish, deadpan prankster with a knack for Photoshop.

I decided a few hours before the Powerball drawing Wednesday night that I was going to make social media believe I’d just hit the big one. So I took a selfie — sounds gross now that I read it back to myself — with the ticket I actually bought. I thought it would be very important for me to actually be holding the ticket with at least part of my face in it. Gotta sell believability, and boy, my face is believable (among other things)!

I loaded the photo into my computer and dialed it up in Photoshop. I saw that it was going to work perfectly, since A) the flash on the camera washed out most of the background color on my ticket, and B) I had eight of the 10 possible digits on my card (and, of course, you can just flip a six upside down to make a nine).

I transcribed the numbers as that way-overdressed dude in Florida — why in the hell does he need to be wearing a tuxedo to read a few balls? — gave me six numbers that, of course, were not on my ticket. Not important. I typed those babies into Notepad, ordered them and got to work.

Speed was key. If I waited even an hour, it would have lost its potential oomph.

I originally planned on posting it with a bunch of exclamation points — I imagine if I’d actually won, I’d have no real words (and certainly wouldn’t be posting to social media) — just to Facebook to dupe friends. I decided to open it up to Twitter as a social experiment (read: late-night self-amusement). That turned out to be a good decision.

I don’t remember who Retweeter Zero was, but God bless him or her. Here are some of my favorite tweets that came in shortly afterwards.

I gained many cousins of different races.

(Not really clear on the whole “peanut daughter” thing.)

That’s some damned good tan retention by this white guy, yeah? Anyway, props to this guy for not settling with the cousin bit.

This is a good time to say that I had to whip out Urban Dictionary a few times during this whole charade. Turns out “wybo” is (or at least was in 2008) “an exuberant and strident indication of excitement or joy.” Wybo, indeed.

I also had more interest from ladies than I have for basically my entire life.

… and interest from a non-lady.

I had a lot of folks who really wanted me to turn on my geotag so they could see where I live. (In my Twitter bio, I make no bones about the fact that I’m from Beacon Falls, Conn.)

I saw numerous robbery and criminal references, some of which have been deleted by kids who probably realized they shouldn’t joke about that these days.

(That was one of the tweets that got a hearty laugh out of me.)

This brings us to my second visit to Urban Dictionary. “Finna” is an “abbreviation of ‘fixing to.’ Normally means ‘going to.’” That’s pretty much what I figured.

Moving on … two different ladies offered their bank account numbers to me.

I did not take up either on their offers.

Anyway, this guy was really mad that I could have won $1.5 billion without any real effort.

This guy isn’t really sure how Powerball works.

These ladies were saying something.

OK, back to Urban Dictionary! I had to check to see if “big head” meant anything in particular, or if they just thought my head was big because of the close-up. It seems more like they think I was full of myself because I allegedly won. Oh well. I did, though, find out that “wyd” simply means “what you doing?

I decided to turn off my direct messages for people I wasn’t following because it looked as though it might have gotten wild. (In hindsight, I wish I’d left them on. That would have been thoroughly memorable.)

Anyway, before I flipped that switch, this gentleman slid in.

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Some very nice folks lent me their advice on how to proceed with life.

My name would have been all over the place, I tell you.

All of that mostly happened within the first half-hour or so. I pretty quickly realized that I was going to have to call off the dogs a lot earlier than I’d planned. Actually, things didn’t go over on Facebook as well as I thought they might. All the gullible old people were already sleeping; a lot of the younger folks know my penchant for shenanigans. I got a few, but Twitter was the gold mine.

Still, I came clean.

Some people responded with the equivalent of “say it ain’t so!”

This fellow was not happy at all.

(I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure by “FUCKS” he means “white guys who know how to use Photoshop.”)

Once nice girl saw people starting to call me names in anger over their wool-covered eyes and came to cheer me up.

A few folks were so impressed by my Photoshopping that they’d like to use my services (though I’m not sure either realizes what’s happening).

Some news reporter out in Oklahoma City got in on the game.

One fellow was very conflicted on his race relations.

This all brings me to my new friend Austin Calhoun, who experienced a true roller coaster of emotions as this all played out in front of him.

Thanks, Austin. Go ‘Dawgs.

Finally, here are just some funny things I saw (and tweeted myself).

Thank you, YouKnowNothnNickey.

This should be a fun next few days while my phone buzzes off the hook. People will retweet anything, you know.

 

Sunday Six, Fitness for Regular Folks Debut at Rep-Am

One of the fun parts of being a sportswriter is that there are plenty of opportunities to do some fun stuff. Believe it or not, getting paid to watch and write about sports isn’t always the fun that some folks might make it out to be. So when we get chances to do something different, we have to take advantage.

Over the last few months, I’ve launched a couple of new weekly features for my newspaper, the Republican-American, and our website. They’re fun.

The first one is called the Sunday Six, which shockingly runs Sunday mornings on our commentary page (as well as a section on one of our blogs). Our world — at least the media world — is overrun by lists these days, and I’d be damned if I didn’t get involved myself. So every weekend, I choose a (usually timely) topic and rank the top six items of that topic. A podcast on our website accompanies each list with some debate among weekly guests.

I try to stay away from the trite, mainstream nonsense that usually pollutes sports cable TV — you know, top six quarterbacks and top six free agents and that sort of stuff — but rather have a little fun with things. My debut piece was about the six worst fashion statements in sports, and since then I’ve tackled topics such as short tempers, WrestleMania matches, fruit and Garth Brooks.

Yep, that’s right: I get outside the sports world in the sports section. Now that’s having fun.

The newest of the two features is called Fitness for Regular Folks, a weekly column in which I share some insight on how a regular guy like me has gone about getting back into some shape. (I’m down about 70 pounds from my peak weight thanks to P90X and good eating, among other things.)

I don’t claim to be an expert, but I often see fitness articles written from that expert point of view and sometimes experience a little bit of a disconnect. My goal is to share some of the tips I’ve picked up (mostly by myself) and what’s worked for me. I also produce a short video to accompany each column.

Between the Sunday Six and Fitness for Regular Folks, I’ve got a couple of regular features for our newspaper that go beyond the ordinary types of stories we often see that might only pander to small segments of our audience. It’s all about giving people content to which they can relate, right? (Not that they can relate to me. I’m weird. But still.)

Remembering Roger Brennan

Over the years, I’d see people mark the anniversaries of their parents’ or grandparents’ deaths — nowadays, mostly on Facebook — and almost invariably the remembrances included something to the effect of, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you,” or “I miss you more every day.” I used to roll my eyes a little bit at those words. They’re just being dramatic, I used to think to myself.

I want to take back all my private eye rolls.

Today is the first anniversary of the passing of my grandfather, Roger Brennan. It’s not as though today caught me by surprise — our family has talked about it here and there over the last few weeks — but it just seems impossible that it’s been a whole year since it all happened.

Have there been days when I haven’t thought of my grandpa? Yeah, probably. But they’ve been few and far between. Now I get it.

Continue reading Remembering Roger Brennan

The Animated Grinch Is 1,000 Times Better Than Its Remake

I just want to make sure we’re clear on this.

I was brought up in a household that held “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” — yes, the original animated version released in 1966 — as sacred during the Christmas season. I’m glad my dad made sure I watched this several times a year throughout my formative years so that I couldn’t be corrupted by the 2000 live-action remake with Jim Carrey.

That’s not to say Carrey’s version was bad or anything, because it was OK. But there will never be a live-action remake of an animated Christmas special that will ever be as good as the original. Ever.

Continue reading The Animated Grinch Is 1,000 Times Better Than Its Remake