Friday Fives – the reality of it all

 

What is something you swore you’d never do, but ended up doing later in life?

Geesh, everything. When I was about 6 or 7, my only goal to growing up was to never get married or drive. Driving was the worst, it seemed. My mom had a stick shift. I noticed once it going to the store a couple miles away she would shift, like, 27 times. Man, did that seem dumb. WAY too much work.  Thanks, I’ll take my bike. I thought driving was supposed to make things easier. And getting married? Dumb! Room-mates are dumb, girls are dumb… there was simply no upside.

What’s something that got extremely popular that baffles you

The reality competitions. Not the reality shows, mind you, but the competitions. I don’t much watch the reality shows, either… but I get the appeal. I like to know how people would react to certain situations… and compare them to how I might act. That is why I loved Punk’d. I thought it was cool to see super successful, beautiful, and rich people be put in super awkward situations. How would they react. At a certain level of success, you are surrounded by ‘yes men’. People who fawn over you and praise you every move. As we know, this is often the downfall of super successful folks who are only surrounded by yes men.

Look at Michael Jackson. How did he not have people who said “listen, Michael, I know you love kids. I know you sleep with kids and you say it is innocent and natural. However, you have already been once charged and arrested for suspicion of having sex with little kids. So, it would be best for you to NOT sleep with little children. I don’t care what your motivation is, you can not do that anymore for any reason at any time.

I also really like aspects of the reality competitions for talent. I like the democracy of it. If you have a tremendous gift, you don’t have to be well connected or rich or have years of training. If you are willing to stand out in the rain or heat for a few hours, these people will give you a shot to show your gift. That part is super cool. To me, it defines what makes America great. Problem is, that is all programming now. We don’t have cable anymore, so I am stuck with the networks. They suck. 80% of their programming is these shows. They do it because there is virtually no overhead. Problem is, most folks (you and I included, btw) are marginal talents at best

Ok, last thing on that. When I see these kids get their hearts broken on national tv, they will say “he just didn’t know what he was saying. I AM better than all those others. I am the next Idol – or whatever. That is bad parenting. Your parents gave you too much self esteem. This is what your answer should be, always – “I appreciate the feedback. I am going to get better and I am going to practice my ass off. I will be back next year, and the year after that. This is important to me, and I will do everything in my power to make that happen. I will see you in one year, America.”

Simon Cowell was absolutely right in dealing with these people. Sure, he played that character up because it was good TV. But, his point was “I am not the villain here. The parents are for sending this kid out when they knew he had no ability”.

What is something that has peaked and is on its way out?

I think all of these reality show are. Do you know why they are so ubiquitous? It is because of the writers strike a few years ago. The networks knew they were going to lose access to their scripted shows for a long time… so they doubled down on these competitions. Then, they saw how cheap it was. You don’t need actors, scripts, unions… any of that shit. Put a microphone out on the street and watch people react. You don’t have to pay them dick, and people watch the shit out of it.

There is a new aspect of that, though, which I really don’t like. Because we are skipping through commercials, the networks have to do product placement. I get that, it’s our fault for skipping the commercials. We broke the social contract. Shows like ‘Undercover Boss’ and ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ are just thinly veiled one hour commercials for mega-companies. What is the take away from every single ‘Undercover Boss’? “Wow, that company really does take care of their employees. Its nice to see someone finally acknowledge the proletariat for a chance. You dumb ass, you just watched a 60 minute commercial for ‘Marriot’. If they are going to do this, they should at the very least not have commercials.

Lastly, on that topic, let me talk to the advertisers for a second here. Hi, come in please and have a seat. Its about your commercials. I DO fast forward them. You know why? It is because they are too fucking loud. I don’t have a DVR anymore, so I can’t zip past commercials. So, I mute them. Some time ago, Congress passed some law that said commercials can’t be louder than the programs. It made no difference. I can prove it, too. Being a musician, I have very and complicated sound meters. Every time the commercials are about 30% louder than the program they are sammiched in.

What’s something you would do if you were the first inhabitant of a new planet?

Food, shelter, fire. Then… or maybe ever before that, ascertain the skill sets of the people around me. Who can cook? Who can grow gardens? Who can build? I was chatting about this with my amazing and wonderful neighbor Jared* (for the purpose of privacy, we’ll call him ‘Jared’. Plus, it’s his name). We were talking about a neighbor who has a survival bunker. He wants no one to know about it. NO ONE. My guess is if the zombie apocalypse comes he doesn’t want a bunch of moochers. To me, that is the worst possible plan. If I am down there, I want diverse skill sets. Who can build, who can weld, who is a really good shot, who wants to handle security, who wants to handle maintenance. We can’t do shit on our own, and it’s a fool’s errand to believe any differently.

What something unwritten that people should know as a rule?

Be kind and nice and helpful. Every single person you encounter is going through serious shit in their life right then. Maybe a love one died, maybe their husband left them. Maybe they have cancer, or just got written up at work. Maybe they are suicidal… or homicidal. Everyone could use a kind word and a smile and a dumb joke. You know the ‘Golden Rule’, but this is better. I wish I could give it attribution. It’s the ‘platinum rule’. Not just ‘treat others as you would like to be treated.’ No. Treat others as THEY would like to be treated.

I keep a clipping on my mirror from a recent Psychology Today. It’s from a article by this gal. It is, without question, my guide to life. I have just never seen it said to perfectly.

“a bare minimum of one kind act a day should be our self imposed cover charge for living in this world”.   That is, in every sense, the social contract.

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