Red vs. Blue: Which Pill Would You Swallow??

redblueAt first glance it’s just another meme. You know…those pictures you see all the time on social media that take an amusing or sarcastic jab at some element of politics or pop culture. We have a quick glance, chuckle for a moment, and then move on. Maybe we take an extra second to re-post if we find it particularly amusing, but then we still go on with our day. But this one is different. This one makes you stop & think. Unrealistic?? Perhaps outside of science fiction it is, but then again if you look back at the history of sci-fi and see how many elements of the genre have come within the grasp of reality then it may not be so easy to brush off. At the very least it is an interesting philosophical query.

 

I posted this meme on my Facebook page and received a variety of responses. What I found really interesting were the questions raised by the (possibly intentional) ambiguity of the text, and the different age based viewpoints.

 

The second half…jump to age 45 with $50 million is pretty straightforward. One’s answer likely depends on current age. I will be turning 45 this cashyear anyway, so it wouldn’t be a big leap for me. If you’re someone my father’s age or even a person just a wee bit older than me like my brother from another mother The Owl, then going back in time a decade or two or three…especially with a fattened bank account…may be intriguing. If you’re someone in your 20’s or 30’s is $50 million worth leapfrogging the next decade or two?? Hindsight…as we all know…is 20/20, so for me personally I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have minded skipping over those years with a big wad of cash waiting for me on the other side because nothing really notably great happened in my life during those years, but I realize that I am an exception to the general rule. For many people those years are when they achieve professional success, meet someone special & get married, and have children. So is $50 million worth skipping all of that happiness?? And even for those older folks who’d actually be going backward to age 45, the question I have is would they still be dealing with many of the same issues they faced in their 50’s & 60’s?? Illness. Loss. Romantic failures. Would they still be facing surgery, divorce, & death of loved ones, albeit with an extra $50 million to soften the blow?? Is $50 million enough to relive some of your most painful memories…events that the money might not alter??

 

thinkIt is such a question that muddies the waters of the first half of the conundrum. It says that if you take the blue pill you go back to age 10 and “restart your life with all the knowledge you have now”. First of all, that’s both a lot of power and a pretty heavy burden for a ten year old kid to carry around. Definitely a double-edged sword. Secondly…and this is really important…would I be starting at age 10 now in 2017, or would I be going back to 1982 when I was actually ten years old?? I don’t think I’d have any desire to be 10 nowadays, but if I could go back and relive my life in the 80’s I might be interested. However, even then there are huge questions. If all the sudden I’m a child in the early 80’s “with all the knowledge” I took back from the 21st century do I have a responsibility to stop the assassination attempt on President Reagan?? How about the Challenger explosion?? 9/11?? Would I be able to prevent or atleast delay the earthly departures of my mother and my beloved grandparents, or would I have to relive the sadness all over again?? Should I try to contact Sly Stallone and tell him to stop after Rocky II?? Would I have the ability to kill the “careers” of the Kardashians, Pauley Shore, Justin Beiber, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, & Taylor Swift before they ever happen?? Oh sure…I’d be able to do a lot of cool stuff. I’d be able to invest in things like Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, & Facebook in their infancy and bet on every sporting event knowing the outcome in advance, which was an angle that some took when commenting on my social media post. With all that knowledge one could make atleast the $50 million…maybe even more…way before age 45. I’d obviously know which people to embrace as friends and which people to avoid. I’d be able to make smarter decisions like eating healthy, being more confident with the opposite sex, and watching only the best TV shows & movies. But would it be worth it if you had to also go thru much of the same pain & heartbreak life has already thrown at you??

 

Obviously this is all hypothetical. As cool as Back to the Future is there is no such thing as a time machine. Earning millions of dollars is more complicated than simply swallowing a pill. We really shouldn’t question God’s will anyway. Yet it is undoubtedly an intriguing question. Which pill would you swallow??

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 4.17

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

 

 

 

laugh2An acquaintance of mine recently opined that I have no “street smarts” because I don’t know how to lie. It was most certainly not meant as a compliment, but I took it as one. If a person thinks they are insulting another by calling them too honest I think that means they’re doing the whole insulting thing wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

playboySo I hear that Playboy is already bringing back nude photos, just a year after making the decision to get rid of them. What a shocker!! lol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t have a dog in the fight, and I honestly do not know if new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is qualified or not for thedevos position. DeVos was confirmed by the Senate a few weeks ago in a 51-50 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tiebreaker. What I would honestly like to know is whether or not very many of those who were vocally denouncing DeVos could name any of the recent Secretaries of Education under Presidents Obama or George W. Bush. Perhaps some do have valid concerns & informed opinions, but the pushback against DeVos mostly feels like opposition for opposition’s sake by people who just really don’t like Donald Trump. I am sure there will be a similar fight over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, who is eminently qualified for the job but will be opposed simply because of his conservative values. Atleast in the case of the Supreme Court though the debate is legitimately important, whereas fighting over an Education Secretary seems silly since education decisions should largely be made on the local & state level anyway. If a big chunk of these bureaucratic positions at the federal level were eliminated tomorrow would it make any difference?? Does the Secretary of Education really have that much influence on a child’s school experience??

 

 

hfPerhaps 74 year old Harrison Ford ought to think about giving up his hobby of flying before he kills himself or others.

 

 

 

 

 

It is endlessly fascinating to me when small town nobodies who’ve never achieved anything in their sad little lives use social keywarmedia to disparage others that have actually gone out and made an impact on society.

TAGS Episode Guide: Ranking (Not Quite) Every Episode of One of America’s Most Beloved TV Shows…The Top 25 – Part 1

tags15I have made the decision to break down the Top 25 into two parts. I strive always to make these little productions of mine eminently tags16readable but am all too aware that I occasionally get…carried away. At any rate, as we enter the hallowed ground of what I consider to be the very best episodes of TAGS my heart is filled with joy…because these stories were created in the first place, because decades after they stopped being made we can still enjoy them, because I have this forum that allows me to relive the memories and share my thoughts with the masses. As always, if you need to catch up with previous entries you may do so here, here, here, here, & here. Thanks for reading, and please stay tuned for the Top 10.

 

 

 

 

 

25     The Bank Job   (S3E13)

Barney becomes amusingly obsessed with the idea that the bank is lacking in security & ripe pickings for a robbery. In order to prove his point he goes undercover as a mb1cleaning lady and somehow manages to get himself locked in the bank vault. We are introduced to Gomer Pyle, who is recruited to torch open the vault to save Barney. The resourceful deputy escapes all by himself though, by busting thru the wall of the adjacent beauty salon. After all of that hullabaloo someone tries to rob the bank for real, and of course Barney (inadvertently) saves the day.

 

 

24     Citizen’s Arrest           (S4E11)

Immediately after Barney cites Gomer for an illegal u-turn the dimwitted deputy does the same exact thing, prompting Gomer to make a citizen’s arrest. Andy tries to mb2calm down the ensuing brouhaha by having Barney write himself a ticket, but he refuses to pay the fine, opting instead to lock himself in jail and eventually resign. When Gomer finds out from Opie how serious the situation has become he calls in a fake robbery hoping Barney will leap into action. The ruse works until Barney tickets Gomer again, this time for the false alarm. As Barney & Andy are leaving the filling station Barney once again makes a u-turn, eliciting a hilarious reaction by Gomer. At the end of the episode Andy puts Barney’s latest resignation in a file with previous ones, an amusing tip of the cap to what was a recurring joke within the show. Continuity isn’t a TAGS strength, and Barney’s length of service as a deputy changes multiple times. Here it is said that he’s had the job for ten years. Barney’s middle name also changes a few times.

 

 

23     The Manhunt (S1E2)

In only its second ever episode TAGS gives us a remarkable example of why it is so good. When an escaped convict is believed to be somewhere in the vicinity of mb3Mayberry the state police arrive. However, they look down on Andy & Barney and refuse their assistance in apprehending the criminal. Andy & Barney decide to do their own investigation and, despite a hiccup or two, eventually lead the arrogant state cops right to the perp. There are really funny moments with Andy & Barney, as well as Opie, Otis Campbell (his first appearance), & Emma Watson (her first appearance). We also briefly meet Mayor Pike, see Barney’s mother for the first & last time, and find out that Barney carries only one bullet because he has a tendency to accidentally fire his gun at the floor. Andy being the smartest guy in the room despite others seeing him as merely the country bumpkin sheriff of a one horse town is a bedrock of the show.

 

 

22/21  Andy’s English Valet (S3E26) & The Return of Malcolm Merriweather (S4E28)

mb4aMany people of my generation may remember actor Bernard Fox as eccentric Dr. Bombay on Bewitched. However, my fondness for him stems from his memorable TAGS appearances as quirky Englishman Malcolm Merriweather. In Season 2 Malcolm is passing thru Mayberry on his bicycle and is employed to do some housework for Andy to pay off a fine he receives for causing an accident. It seems like a great plan at first since Aunt Bea is out of town taking care of her ill sister, but Malcolm ends up driving Andy nuts. In Season 4 Malcolm returns to Mayberry and Andy thinks it’d be a fine idea for him to help out around the house again to ease Aunt mb4bBea’s burden. However, Aunt Bea, whose ego is almost as fragile as Barney’s, isn’t on board with that and Malcolm selflessly finds a way to get himself fired. Malcolm Merriweather would return one more time in Season 6 to hilariously tussle with Ernest T. Bass.

 

 

 

20     Barney Gets His Man (S1E30)

Barney decides to ticket a pedestrian for littering, unaware that he is a dangerous escaped convict. Spooked by the sudden appearance of the state police the criminal mb5tries to run, but Barney inadvertently captures him, becoming a hero in the process. However, when word gets back that the perp has escaped again Barney becomes petrified that the guy is headed back to Mayberry for revenge. During yet another manhunt Andy decides to restore Barney’s confidence by covertly helping him re-capture the escapee. A car chase…rare in Mayberry…opens the episode.

 

 

19     The Loaded Goat (S3E18)

Some things could only happen in a small town. When farmer Cy Hudgins runs a few errands he decides to bring his goat Jimmy along. After being tied to a post just mb6outside the courthouse Jimmy gets loose and is drawn to the sound of Barney playing the harmonica, but Barney runs him off. There is an underpass being built nearby, and frequent explosions are heard throughout the episode. Jimmy finds the building where the dynamite is being stored and eats some of it. Everyone freaks out because all the sudden this goat is an incendiary device that could cause a catastrophe at any minute. In the midst of everything Otis shows up and antagonizes the animal, which is h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s. Eventually Andy comes up with the idea of luring Jimmy out of town by having Barney play the harmonica. Tremendous stuff from Barney, Andy, & Otis. It is hinted that Wally from the filling station might be Mayor Pike’s brother, a storyline element that was never followed up on. I’m not an explosives expert, but I’d be willing to bet the central premise…the idea that the goat might explode…is probably far-fetched, but I can live with that.

 

 

18/17     The Guitar Player (S1E3) & The Guitar Player Returns (S1E31)

mb7aJames Best is beloved by many for his portrayal of slightly unethical, cluelessly inept Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard. Way before that though he guest starred on a couple of outstanding Season 1 episodes of TAGS. In his first appearance Best portrays Jim Lindsey, a local musician who doesn’t understand how talented he really is. When Bobby Fleet & His Band with a Beat (a fantastic name) passes thru Mayberry Andy finds a way to get the band & Jim all in one place for an impromptu audition. After Jim is offered a spot in the band they all take off for their next gig. Jim returns to Mayberry seven months later (in real time anyway) a big star. He’s had a falling out with the band and become a solo act. Soon enough though suspicions are raised when Jim isn’t paying his bills. It turns out that he’s broke and is too proud to go crawling back to Bobby Fleet. As always Andy steps in to fix the problem. A couple of mb7binteresting notes. Fleet made three appearances in Mayberry (one more than Jim Lindsay ironically enough) and was portrayed by three different actors. Also, this episode marks the final appearance of Ellie Walker, who disappeared afterward, never to be heard from or spoken about again. I suppose my love for these two episodes owe an awful lot to my affection for James Best & The Dukes of Hazzard, and I’m alright with that.

 

 

16     Barney’s Uniform        (S5E8)

Barney tickets another litterbug, this time an employee at the grocery store. The guy doesn’t appreciate the ticket and tells Barney that he is going to beat him up the mb8next time he’s not on duty. As a solution Barney decides to wear his uniform all the time, which Andy finds strange. Character actor Allan Melvin makes his 7th of eight TAGS appearances, this time playing the store clerk with a nasty attitude. As always Andy comes to the rescue by recruiting the local martial arts instructor to pose as Barney to scare off the bad guy. Barney always makes us laugh, but he also evokes a certain pathos, therefore he is extended some latitude that other cowards might not be given.

 

 

15     The Cow Thief (S3E5)

Cow theft is another quintessential small town problem that just endears Mayberry to us even more. After a rash of such robberies remains a mystery high strungmb9 Mayor Stoner brings in an investigator from the state capitol. Barney is at first alarmed & offended by the mayor’s actions, but ends up trying to kiss up to the investigator. Meanwhile, Andy becomes suspicious of local troublemaker Luke Jensen and decides to set a trap to catch him in the act. It turns out that Luke is putting shoes on the cows when leading them away. Andy figures out what the big city investigator couldn’t, a common theme throughout the series. There is a rather poignant moment when Barney decides to stand by Andy and ignore the mayor’s admonitions…a wise choice indeed.

 

 

14/13    Barney and the Choir (S2E20) & The Song Festers (S4E20)

mb10aI feel like these two episodes are often confused due to similar…and in some ways contradictory…storylines. In Season 2 Barney volunteers to sing in the town choir when they find themselves in need of a tenor. The problem is that Barney couldn’t carry a tune in a pickup truck. Choirmaster John Masters (an underutilized secondary character) enlists Andy’s help to force Barney out of the group, but everything they try hilariously backfires until Andy…as always…finds a unique way to solve the problem without hurting Barney’s feelings. I’d love for my church choir to do a rousing rendition of Welcome Sweet Springtime, aka good ol’ 14A. A couple of seasons latermb10b Barney is still in the choir, but despite being tone deaf he’s been tapped to perform a solo. That is until John Masters overhears Gomer Pyle singing to himself and gives him the solo. When Gomer finds out that Barney is heartbroken about losing the solo he fakes laryngitis, but the ruse is discovered and Barney, Gomer, & Andy end up singing the song Santa Lucia together as a trio.

 

 

12     The Haunted House           (S4E2)

Opie & a pal accidentally lose a baseball in a local house that is allegedly haunted. When Andy gives Barney the task of retrieving the ball the anxious deputy tricks mb11Gomer into going with him. Barney & Gomer together are comedy gold, but of course they are ineffective at getting the job done, so Andy decides that the three of them will head back to the old Rimshaw place to take a look around. Once there weird things happen, totally freaking out Barney & Gomer. It is eventually revealed that a local moonshiner is running a still out of the house, with the knowledge of our favorite drunkard Otis Campbell. Andy discovers the still at the end of the episode. To my recollection this is the only time TAGS ever did a quasi-Halloween-ish story, and it is said to have become the inspiration for one of Don Knotts’ better known films…1966’s The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.

 

 

11     Man in a Hurry (S3E16)

Businessman Malcolm Tucker’s car breaks down as he is passing thru Mayberry on his way to a big meeting in Charlotte. Unfortunately for him it’s Sunday, and Wally mb12doesn’t work on Sundays. Gomer is at the filling station, but contrary to his alleged mechanical prowess a year later, here he is said to only know how to pump gas & inflate tires. Mr. Tucker becomes really frustrated and doesn’t understand Mayberry at all. He can’t even make a phone call on the party line because the Mendelbright sisters have it tied up all day. Andy graciously invites the exasperated businessman home for supper, and slowly the hospitality of the Taylors, Barney, & Gomer and the laidback pace of the town erode his defenses, helping him to relax just a bit. When Gomer brings his car back with a repaired fuel line (who fixed it…Gomer?? Goober?? Wally??) Mr. Tucker decides to stick around by pretending there is something else wrong with the vehicle. This is an episode that perfectly sums up what Mayberry is and who its citizens are. It makes one want desperately, especially thru the prism of our modern broken society, to find such a community and settle down there forever. Sadly we understand that to be an impossible dream, which is why we still watch TAGS a half century after it stopped production.

Winning & Musing…A Fond Farewell to Football

With the conclusion of the Super Bowl it’s time to tie a bow around the football season and put it to bed. Sports fans now enter a bit of a dark period. Personally I don’t get into hockey or the NBA until the playoffs start in a few months, and the NBA has really rubbed me the wrong way with some of the recent political rhetoric emanating from a handful of their players & coaches. The Daytona 500 is in a few weeks, but I haven’t watched hardly any NASCAR for the past couple of years for various reasons. College basketball is sporadically interesting but we’ve still got a ways to go before conference tournaments then March Madness really grab our attention. Pitchers & catchers will report soon enough, but the baseball season itself doesn’t begin until April. We’ll get thru this abyss as we always do though, and to that end let’s tighten up some loose ends and discuss football one more time until next season rolls around.

 

 

 

 

football-introducing-the-science_1For anyone who may be wondering, I finished up our Pigskin Picks of Profundity with a record of 54-49 (a 52% winning percentage), while Zach went 38-65 (37%). We didn’t bet any money or have any other kind of wager, so it was just harmless fun. Thanks again to my nephew for participating and I am already looking forward to next season.

 

 

As far as our Bowl-a-Palooza picks, I was 18-23, while Zach was 21-20. He did a much better job than me of choosing winners in some of the 225px-Yale_Bowl_aerialmore highly touted bowl games.

 

 

51A few post-Super Bowl thoughts:

*In contrast to many positive comments I saw on social media I wasn’t impressed with the rendition of America the Beautiful sung by cast members of Broadway smash Hamilton. I had mixed feelings going in because of that particular show’s unwarranted attack on Vice President Mike Pence awhile back & my affection for actress Renee Goldsberry, who won a Tony award for her role and who I fondly recall from her days on soap opera One Life to Live. It is an incredible honor to be asked to perform on a mega stage like The Super Bowl, and in my opinion one should respect a beloved song like that by singing it right, not attempting to be a Mariah Carey clone and definitely not altering the lyrics. I thought it was self-serving & ill-mannered, which I guess is a Hamilton thing.

*I couldn’t tell you anything at all about any of the commercials. There haven’t been more than a half dozen memorable Super Bowl commercials in the past decade, so I have kind of stopped paying attention. In the past I have been known to catch up by watching them online, but at this moment I really have no desire to waste my time.

*I cringed a little during Bill O’Reilly’s pre-game interview with President Trump when they were discussing Russian leader Vlad Putin. O’Reilly asked Trump about Putin being a killer and Trump said something to the effect of “America isn’t so innocent”. Dear Mr. President: We just had 8 years of a Commander-in-Chief constantly chastising our nation and apologizing to the world on our behalf. We thought we’d gotten rid of such douchebaggery.

*I didn’t see Random Cookie Cutter Country Dude’s singing of the national anthem, although I have read comments saying he did a good job. Way to go Random Cookie Cutter Country Dude!!

*Objectively speaking it was a great game. A game tying touchdown in the final minute. The first overtime in Super Bowl history. The biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. Unfortunately my fervent loathing of Tom Brady & the New England Patriots precludes me from enjoying any of it. I will never acknowledge Brady as the “greatest QB of all time” and I refuse to recognize the Patriots “dynasty” as anything more than the corrupt sham that it has been since Day 1.

*I chose not to watch Lady Gaga’s halftime show. However, it is my understanding that it was quite entertaining and, contrary to the hype, devoid of offensive sociopolitical commentary. I admit when I am wrong, and I may have unfairly pre-judged the performance. Unlike the commercials I may actually take time to retroactively watch the halftime.

*It was great to see President & Mrs. Bush (41) do the coin toss. Not that long ago both were in the hospital, which at their advanced age cannot be taken lightly.

*As much as I detest the Patriots it was HYSTERICAL to see NFL Commissioner Fidel Goodell get mercilessly booed out of the building when presenting the Lombardi Trophy. Sadly Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft chose not to take the high road in his comments and came across like a petty & bitter old fool despite having just won the biggest prize in his sport.

 

 

12 of the 25 teams in my pre-season college poll finished the season ranked…four of them within two spots of where I predicted. I was spot on in25 assessing #1 Clemson, who went on to win the national championship.

 

 

pro-football-hallThe Pro Football Hall of Fame has chosen kicker Morten Andersen, RB Terrell Davis, safety Kenny Easley, Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, defensive end Jason Taylor, RB & fantasy football legend LaDainian Tomlinson, & QB Kurt Warner as its next class of inductees. Seems like a solid group, with the exception of Jones, who I’ve always perceived as a real prick. Not making the final cut were former commissioner Paul Tagliabue (who I would’ve voted for before Jones), safety John Lynch, offensive tackles Joe Jacoby & Tony Boselli (both should’ve gotten in), safety Brian Dawkins, former Steelers’ guard Alan Faneca (he’ll get there eventually), center Kevin Mawae, cornerback Ty Law, and receivers Isaac Bruce & Terrell Owens. TO will get there someday, but the powers-that-be sometimes like to make guys pay for being assclowns by having them wait a few years. One has to wonder if Randy Moss is in for the same treatment a year from now.

 

 

Random football opinion…

I like big plays as much as anyone, but if a team has the ball on third down and has three or less yards to go I am not a fan of passing the ball. runballOld-fashioned smash mouth football is a trademark of many champions, and if you can’t ram the ball down the defense’s throats on 3rd & short perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the offensive philosophy.

 

 

nfl-footballLooking back at my NFL prognostications I can only chuckle:

*I predicted only 4 of 8 division winners correctly, and 6 of 12 (two in the NFC, four in the AFC) playoff teams.

*My Super Bowl matchup was Arizona over Kansas City. Atleast the Chiefs made the playoffs…the Cardinals finished 7-8-1.

*I really pegged the Carolina Panthers wrong, opining that “Super Bowl losers have a pattern of regressing the following season…I don’t think that’ll happen to Carolina though”. The Panthers were a dismal 6-10.

*I said that “the Dolphins have a new head coach, and though the change may pay dividends in the future I don’t think we’ll see an immediate improvement.” Miami went from 6-10 in 2015 to 10-6 & a playoff berth a year later.

*The NFC West?? Nailed it!!

*I predicted that Tom Brady’s four game suspension wouldn’t have much of an effect, and that was spot on. New England opened the season 4-0 and ultimately won the Super Bowl. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will get lost in the shuffle and his significant contribution will be criminally underappreciated. Hopefully he’ll get traded to a situation in which he’ll have the opportunity to shine as a starting QB.

*Of my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers I said “I’m not nearly as sold as others on the Super Bowl worthiness of my Steelers, but I do believe they’ll win the division. We’ll see if their secondary…an Achilles heel now for several years…can gel into something good.” Brady shredded that defensive backfield in the playoffs. I have begun to have serious doubts about the coaching prowess of Mike Tomlin, and the potential retirement of Ben Roethlisberger may foreshadow dark days ahead in the ‘Burgh, circa 1985-91.

*Sooooo…are we thru trying to convince the masses that Chip Kelly is an NFL coach?? He needs to go back to college ASAP (as a coach…not a student).

*I had the Arizona Cardinals going 11-5 and winning the Super Bowl. Instead they had a losing record in a terrible division. What happened??

*Conversely, I said that the Atlanta Falcons “look good on paper, but only 18 wins in the past three seasons indicate that appearances can be deceiving”. Apparently appearances weren’t deceiving. They have to be kicking themselves right now. They had the Patriots by the throat and the Super Bowl won, only to let it slip from their grasp. I’d like to say that they’ll learn from the experience and finish the job next year, but history tells us that is far from a safe bet.