Connect or Disengage: Perspective on Social Media

By now most of us have developed a love/hate relationship with social media. What started out as a fun way to keep in touch with friends far & wide has somehow deteriorated into a dystopian experiment gone horribly awry, because that’s what humans too often do…we take something perfectly delightful and ruin it with greed, politics, envy, pettiness, & lack of self control. Some folks have the wherewithal to disengage completely, although oftentimes the people who leave are the ones with class, intelligence, good humor, & a moral compass. Isn’t it sad that the exact people who have something decent to offer to the medium, the ones who we really want to continue connecting with, are the ones we tend to run off??  Many that remain tread lightly because we sure don’t want to offend people who may disagree with our worldview, and God forbid we piss off the power behind the curtain that has suddenly become quite bold in censoring opposing views and using misguided algorithms to erroneously parse language deemed hurtful. 

Even considering all that, most of us choose to stay. Why?? Well, I think I may have the answer. I stumbled upon a post from an old high school acquaintance, and what she wrote pretty much hits the nail on the head, so much so that all I can do is second that emotion.

“Thank you for seeing me. I know people use Facebook for different things, and plenty of people might argue that the platform is unhealthy or biased or for ‘old people’.

I don’t love Facebook but I’d say the lot of you have provided more than half of my social need for human connection over the past decade, and moreso during this pandemic. So thank you for listening to my musings and sharing your majestic human stories with me. 

Thank you for the pictures and stories of your children, grandchildren, & dogs. Thank you for the videos of you roller skating, swimming in a river, twirling fire nunchucks, or jumping on a trampoline with your kid.  Thank you for sharing your moments of accomplishment, your railing rants, your art, your music, and your poetry. You guys are totally awesome as a digitally aggregated community that pretty much exists in my phone and my mind.” 

Can’t put it much better than that 🤷🏻‍♂️.

A few of you are friends, neighbors, & family that I see or talk to with some frequency, while many are former classmates or co-workers that I haven’t seen in person in decades. Some are acquaintances that I’ve met thru various social interactions and would enjoy getting to know better. Hell, there are atleast a half dozen people on my friends list who are dead, but it feels like as long as their Facebook page is still there they remain present in some intangibly tangible way. Regardless of how we met or how often we interact I hope you know that I’m glad for it. A year ago I expanded my social media presence to Instagram. All I do there is post memes. It’s less interactive than Facebook, but I find it oddly enjoyable. I peruse Twitter occasionally but it’s much less interesting. Ditto for Tik Tok. Sometimes I’ll run across a funny video or two, but overall it is overrated and God knows there’s little chance I will ever actually post a video myself. 

I suppose the point is that we have a choice when it comes to social media. Those that have left it in the dust have their reasons and I respect that. For those that remain, we can choose to get down into the muck and participate in meaningless arguments. We can choose to moan & whine about ‘FB Jail’, ‘fact’ checkers, community standards, and all the other associated negativity. Or, as my old classmate so eloquently states, we can be thankful for the connection, the stories, the photos, the music, the laughter, & the community. It’s up to you. 

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 4.21


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

 

 

 

 

Social media was quite delightful when it first began, but now it kind of makes me sad. Not only is it fertile soil for all sorts of misunderstandings & arguments, but too often it proves just how willfully ignorant some people can be. When that ignorance shows itself one is left with a choice…do I call someone out on their BS (thus igniting one of those unnecessary & frustrating squabbles), or do I take the high road and let someone wallow in their obliviousness?? Either way it is unavoidable that one thinks less of that person going forward and that’s too bad.

 

 

Am I the only one who misses former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany?? Biden’s spokesperson Jen Psaki is such a downgrade. It reminds me of when Prince Charles divorced Diana and married Camilla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I rather enjoyed a thread in a Generation X group I’d recently joined on Facebook. The question revolved around fretting about whether or not we’d ever have a Gen X President. Quite frankly such things don’t matter all that much to me…I just want the best person for the job (something we Americans have struggled with in recent decades). Some mental giant gushed about the idea of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a possible Millenial President, and it took all my powers of restraint not to post a response that likely would’ve landed me back in FB Jail. I can’t even take fans of that woman seriously. If you cannot see that she’s a total imbecile there’s very little hope for you and I’d suggest sterilization. At any rate, what occurred to me as I responsibly interacted with more sane members of the group is that we Americans tend to prefer an older President (Joe Biden is the oldest person ever elected)…especially conservatives. Wherein there are exceptions…younger folks like JFK, Clinton, & Obama…they tend to be Democrats. One could probably do an in depth analysis of the reasons, but who has time for that?? It just seems like liberals are more slavish to the cult of personality, make decisions based on emotion, choose idealism over pragmatism, & value style over substance. They like political candidates who are charismatic and good public speakers. They probably couldn’t list ten legit things accomplished by Bill Clinton, but they’ll rhapsodize about him playing saxophone on Arsenio Hall. They will never admit that they voted for Obama almost exclusively because of the color of his skin and his oratory skills despite his total lack of meaningful experience. They probably can’t name many of his accomplishments while in The White House either. Joe Biden was elected (allegedly) almost entirely because of Trump Derangement Syndrome and not because of anything he’d ever done. Conversely, Republicans nominate/elect people like the Bushes, Richard Nixon, John McCain, & Mitt Romney. I’m not sure what to make of that.

 

Sometimes something is just funny. Simple as that. Nothing sinister. No deeper meaning…just humor. Parody, dark comedy, sarcasm, satire…it’s all good. Some things might be funnier than others, and what I find amusing may be different than whatever makes you laugh, but intent matters. One might not see the humor in what another finds funny, but they should atleast be smart enough to understand that the other person meant it in good fun. I find people who take themselves & everything else so damn seriously to be quite tedious.

The 2020 Sammy Awards – Part II

Annnnnddd we’re back!! The 2020 Sammy Awards continues with some amusing comments from our host Bill Murray, and if you missed Part 1 now would be the time to catch up.

 

 

It’s time for our next award, and to do the honors it is a pleasure to welcome a jack-of-all trades. He’s best known as a rapper, but he’s also tried his hand at pro wrestling, acting, cooking tasty vittles with his pal Martha Stewart, sports commentating, and pitching all sorts of products in commercials. Please welcome to the hizhouse Snoop Dogg!! And the nominees are:

 

The Twitter Award for Best Water Cooler Topic

 

Harry & Meaghan

America’s fascination with the British Royal Family endures, except she’s not British and apparently neither are royal anymore. I have no idea how any of that works. Anyway, the younger son of Prince Charles and the late & nearly deified Princess Diana married marginally famous American actress Meaghan Markle in 2018. In 2019 they had a son. In 2020 they ditched the whole royal thing and moved to Canada then California. I don’t know. I don’t care. Whatever.

 

Hamilton

I’ve never been to New York, but if I ever make it there I’ll be sure to catch a Broadway show or two. Fortunately with technology & a plethora of entertainment options many of the best plays & musicals can be viewed from the comfort of our own living room nowadays. Hamilton has been a sensation ever since it opened in 2015, and in July 2020 a filmed performance was made available on Disney+. I watched it and found the show quite entertaining, with a plethora of catchy tunes.

 

Jeopardy GOAT

Back in January 2020 Jeopardy aired a week long battle between its three greatest champions: Ken Jennings (appeared initially in 2004, winning 74 games & $2.5 million…both are still records), Brad Rutter (after his first appearance in 2000 he came back for multiple Tournament of Champions events and ultimately won over $4 million), and James Holzhauer (won over $2.4 million in 33 games in 2019 then won that year’s Tournament of Champions). The GOAT tournament was won easily by Jennings, with Holzhauer winning just one game and Rutter being practically invisible.

 

Toilet Paper Shortage

No one knew what to expect at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were told that if we simply self-quarantined for a couple of weeks everything would be fine. That, of course, was a big fat lie, and one of the byproducts was a toilet paper shortage that is still kind of a thing 9 months later. We encounter this issue almost every winter when the local meteorologist announces a big snowstorm is coming. People rush to the grocery store and panic buy as if they’re going to be trapped in their house for weeks, and toilet paper is always at the top of the shopping list.

 

J-Lo & Shakira

2020 can be divided into two eras…pre-pandemic and mid-pandemic, with the former feeling like it belongs in a previous decade. The Super Bowl took place pre-pandemic, and the halftime show featured Jennifer Lopez & Shakira in a provocative performance that had Boomers longing for the good ol’ days of folk music & The Rat Pack. Churchy types immediately condemned the two women to the fiery pits of Hell and doused themselves in holy water just for watching it on TV. Their music isn’t really my cup o’ tea, but I wasn’t especially offended by it.

 

Murder Hornets

2020 was such a terrible year that people began wondering what might befall us next. Like the plagues described in the Biblical book of Exodus we were prepared for anything from frogs to locusts to the killing of our firstborn children. It is my understanding that murder hornets are actually real, but fortunately they didn’t swarm the United States like some sort of cheesy 70’s horror movie…yet.

 

The Last Dance

Full disclosure…I haven’t seen the 10 part documentary about the end of Michael Jordan’s dynasty with the Chicago Bulls. I have no excuse. I’ve had plenty of time to watch it but just haven’t. Someday I will though…I hear it is quite good.

 

State of the Union

On February 4, 2020 President Trump gave what we now know was his final State of the Union address. I don’t usually watch, but that night I did and, objectively speaking, thought it was a good speech. Trump isn’t the best public speaker in the world, but I thought he was quite effective. He probably introduced too many special guests during the nearly hour & a half speech and it felt a bit gimmicky, but it’s a small nit to pick. I was especially touched when he presented Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom because Rush had just announced his lung cancer diagnosis the day before. I know a lot of people had an issue with it, but since previous recipients include Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas, blues legend BB King, cellist Yo Yo Ma, college basketball coach Dean Smith, actor Robert Redford, and Satan’s favorite talk show host Oprah Winfrey I see no problem with giving it to Rush Limbaugh. After the speech was over Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously tore up her paper copy on national television, and whether you cheered her on or thought it was a childish act showing no class likely depends on your political leanings.

 

Tiger King

Yeah, I haven’t seen it either. I guess it was on Netflix, and it spawned Halloween costumes & landed one of the people featured a gig on Dancing with the Stars. I briefly thought about checking it out, but I’m not usually one to follow the crowd.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Toilet Paper. Oh the memes!! One of the few silver linings in the early days of the pandemic were the parody songs & memes. Okay, I get it…toilet paper is important. But is it that important?? Why were people hoarding it?? If you run out can’t you use paper towels or notebook paper or leaves off the tree in your backyard?? Is toilet paper more valuable than food?? And why the panic buying?? Did people honestly believe that the grocery stores were ever going to shut down?? Restaurants can close. We can live without retail shops, movie theaters, & bars for a bit. But people have to eat, so there was never any reason to go crazy over toilet paper, yet people did and it was kind of hilarious.

 

To present our next award we are pleased to welcome the nation’s unlikeliest Governor. Straight from the hills of West Virginia you better follow the f#*&(@g guidelines for Gov. Jim Justice!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

App of the Year

 

Twitter

At the moment The Manofesto hasn’t been banned, but stay tuned.

 

Facebook

It seems like more & more social media platforms are popping up, but as much as people keep threatening to ditch Facebook the truth is most haven’t and won’t until something better comes along, which hasn’t happened…yet.

 

Words with Friends

It’s like an old friend you may not talk to for awhile but you know will always be there. I might go days without playing a game…or I may have five games going at once.

 

Zoom

Seriously…had anyone even heard of Zoom before 2020?? It has apparently been a thing since 2011, but really hit its stride this past year, making working from home much easier. Just make sure you’re dressed appropriately and not doing anything naughty on camera.

 

Amazon Music

I’ve always loved music, but this past year it has really been a vital part of everyday life. No matter what kind of sadness or chaos surrounds us, no matter how lost we may feel at a particular moment in time, music can always soothe a troubled soul.

 

Instagram

I finally joined the Instagram party in August 2020. I use it strictly for funny or thought provoking memes, though I am aware there are other ways one can utilize it. There are those who use the platform quite effectively, and I envy the proficiency they display.

 

Spades Royale

I’m still playing Spades. I was especially thankful for it in 2020 when the game provided brief intervals of relaxation and centered me during a rather stressful & lonely stretch of time.

 

TikTok

Like Zoom this is something that burst on the scene in the absence of normalcy. I’ve never used it and likely never will, but any technology that can provide amusement in an increasingly unamusing world deserves kudos.

 

Pinterest

Social media has become a landmine where relationships can be destroyed & lives negatively impacted by one provocative post, but the most controversial thing you’ll find on Pinterest might be a list of banned books or a recipe that doesn’t seem particularly appetizing. It isn’t really a place I can waste hours of time, but it’s good for an occasional brief distraction.

 

FB Messenger

I actually use Messenger more than Facebook now. I’d much rather interact with people on Messenger than on the phone or even thru text.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

Zoom. I haven’t had the pleasure of using it because my job isn’t important like that, but I am aware that it has become a valuable tool and may permanently alter how business is conducted, even post-pandemic.

 

 

We couldn’t think of a better person to present the next award than Buzz Lightyear himself. He has been tickling our funny bones for decades on TV shows like Home Improvement & Last Man Standing, and has starred in memorable movies like the Toy Story series, Galaxy Quest, and the Santa Clause trilogy. Please grunt in appreciation for Tim Allen!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Buzzword of the Year

 

Social Distancing

Hopefully it’s something we can stop doing in the near future, but staying home and keeping six feet apart when forced to be out in public was a defining characteristic of 2020.

 

“With an abundance of caution…”

When you hear that phrase you know some event is about to be cancelled and something you’ve been looking forward to isn’t going to happen.

 

The New Normal

I don’t like the “new normal”. I want my old normal back!!

 

Hydrochloroquine Phosphate

Did I spell it correctly?? I hope so. Apparently it’s a medication that’s been around for awhile treating other conditions and showed some promise in minimizing COVID-19, but as soon as President Trump sang its praises the media and all their leftist buddies started hating on it. After all, we wouldn’t want to screw poor Bill Gates out of the billions he’s probably going to make from a government approved vaccine.

 

Contact Tracing

I’m not sure exactly what it is or how it works, but the whole idea seems a bit creepy.

 

Essential Employees

Is it better to be considered essential and have to put your health at risk going to work, or be classified as non-essential meaning you can hole up in the safety of your home but you lose the ability to provide for yourself & your family?? Whatever one’s thoughts might be on the subject there is no denying that 2020 made it clear what is really important and who is truly responsible for making our lives better.

 

Defund the Police

It’s a stupid idea no matter how you present it. Are there bad cops out there?? Sure. But you don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. If someone wants to talk about police reform I’m all ears. Nothing is perfect and it’s a great idea to implement positive changes. However, I’m sick & tired of the hatred that has been shown toward law enforcement.

 

Flatten the Curve

When all of the craziness began last spring the goal was allegedly to calm things to the point that hospitals weren’t overwhelmed. That has been proven to be a lie, as hospitals in most places have been more than capable of handling COVID-related spikes.

 

Asymptomatic

So even if you’re not sick you may still be sick. Alrighty then.

 

PPE

Personal protective equipment. Masks, face shields, etc. Hey, if it helps that’s awesome, but Good Lord…I feel so bad for folks that have to wear that stuff for 8-12 hours every time they go to work.

 

“These unprecedented times…”

Yeah, yeah…we know. We got it. You can quit saying it everytime you want to sound self-important and reflective. None of us expected to be living thru a global pandemic.

 

Quarantine

Human beings need interaction. We are social creatures. We crave contact, whether it be a handshake, hug, high five, or the communal experience of sitting in a crowded restaurant or attending a show at a packed theater. Sure it’s nice to sit at home reading a book or mindlessly scrolling thru our phone, but someday it’s going to be glorious to be out & about again enjoying life as it is meant to be.

 

Herd Immunity

I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV, so I will refrain from offering an uninformed medical opinion. But it is interesting to ponder the idea of how things may have turned out if we’d skipped all of this panic and just let things play out like we usually do with the latest dangerous illness. Would the death toll have been much worse?? Have all of the steps we’ve taken (destroying the economy & people’s lives in the process) actually helped?? We’ll never know, will we??

 

Panic Buying

We’ve already talked about toilet paper. I remember going to the grocery store back in May of last year before I encountered my own health issues, and the bare shelves really struck me. Yes, there have been some shortages and some interruptions in the supply chain, but anyone who thought grocery stores were going to shut down and we wouldn’t have access to food or other necessities has probably watched Red Dawn too many times.

 

Distance Learning

More than ever this past year I have been confronted with the loneliness that comes with being single & childless, but I must admit that I’m glad not to have kids in school in the midst of all of this, and even happier not to be a schoolkid myself. Kudos to the parents, teachers, & students who have somehow kept things going. I know it can’t be easy.

 

Contactless Delivery

My father has been kind enough to pick up groceries that I order online while I’ve been laid up, and he commented that I spend more buying stuff than he does. It dawned on me that it is because I’m not eating out like I usually do. Having said that, I do occasionally order Chinese or a pizza, and most places offer the option of paying online and having the delivery person just leave the food at your door. It is a sign of the times…both resourceful & sad.

 

Super Spreader

As time has dragged on people have become weary of everything that has happened. They just want their lives back. So folks have begun to rebel, whether it be college students gathering for a keg party, churches ignoring protocols to worship together, or families having a birthday party or celebrating Thanksgiving. Unfortunately it only takes one contagious person to spread The Sickness to everyone they may have encountered at such an event.

 

 

and The Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

Social Distancing. It seems like an oxymoron, and I suppose it kind of is. Last St. Patrick’s Day I went to a local restaurant for some tasty Irish vittles, and they had a popular local band there doing an acoustic set. It had been announced that the next day all bars, restaurants, & various other businesses would be closing for awhile. At the time no one knew what we might be facing, but there was a vibe there that night. I was by myself but struck up a conversation with a couple sitting next to me. I enjoy live music and became a bit verklempt because I had a feeling I might not be able to have that experience again for a bit. I enjoyed the energy in the room even if I didn’t personally know anyone. In a strange way I have felt almost lucky these past several months because I haven’t been missing anything. I’ve been laid up & unable to go anywhere, but there hasn’t been anywhere to go anyway. Someday in the not-too-distant future I will be healed and able to get back out & about, and I hope soon thereafter normalcy will return. I don’t want to stay six feet away from people. I want handshakes & hugs. I want to go to a crowded bar or the local theater just up the street and enjoy live music. I want to feel good vibes again. And when that day comes I just might weep.

 

 

 

 

Let’s take another break. Please stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of The Sammy Awards…coming soon!!

 

 

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 2.14

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

 

 

 

 

 

I’m really not all that excited about Stephen Colbert taking over for David Letterman. Sure I think Letterman is long overdue for retirement. He stopped colbertbeing brilliant about a decade ago. But Colbert just doesn’t frost my cupcake. I thought maybe Conan O’Brien or even Jay Leno might get the call. It’s odd how late night TV has gone from pretty solid to kind of mediocre so quickly. Jimmy Fallon is doing a variety show completely centered on himself instead of The Tonight Show. Late Night with Seth Myers is bland and has the worst sidekick in the history of late night television in Fred Armisen. Jimmy Kimmel is cool but needs to start doing real time shows on Friday night. Craig Ferguson departing CBS’ Late Late Show doesn’t move my dial one way or another, but the decision on who will take over that slot is huge. If it’s another whiff like Colbert that waters down the whole concept of late night TV even more, but if they somehow pull an awesome rabbit out of the hat it could save the genre.

 

 
So I’ve been following something called “Pickup Lines” on Twitter and here are a few of the funniest/weirdest:
If you were a transformer, you’d be Optimus Fine.
You must be the square root of two, because I feel irrational around you.
Hi, I’m writing a paper on the finer things in life and I was wondering if I could interview you.
Is your name Ariel?? Because I think we mermaid for each other.
Are you my homework? Cause I’m not doing you but I definitely should be.
Interested in making some magic together? My wand is at the ready.
If you were a triangle you’d be acute one.
Know what’s on the menu? Me-n-u.
Do you like Pizza Hut? Cause I’ll stuff your crust.
You look familiar. Did we have class together? I could’ve sworn we had chemistry.
Would you like to get into a philosophical quandary over coffee?
There are Skittles in my mouth. Wanna taste the rainbow?
Are you from Tennessee? Cause you’re the only ten I see.
If you were a Dementor, I’d become a criminal just to get your kiss.
You must be from Pearl Harbor, because baby, you’re the bomb.
Cheesy?? Of course. Would anyone actually use these?? God I hope not. But they are good for a chuckle or two so if you do the Twitter thing check it out.

 

 

Has anyone ever noticed that TV characters rarely sit on the couch?? They’ll sit on the arm of the couch, or lean on the back…but not often do they actually sit on the couch like a normal person. Weird.

 

 
Speaking of Twitter, I recently saw a tweet from a lovely young lady that said something to the effect of “I don’t want a nice guy. I want a man.” I was left tough guywondering what the heck that even means. Do the two have to be mutually exclusive?? I completely understand that most women aren’t attracted to wimps. They want a man in their life that will take care of them and protect them. I get it. But just because a guy is “nice” doesn’t mean he isn’t a real man. Another acquaintance of mine on Facebook was publically pondering the question “Why am I so turned on by guitar players, marines, bad boys, heroes, and dominant men??”. I politely replied that it was because she had been unduly influenced by TV, movies, & pop culture. Is it any wonder why the divorce rate is so high in America?? I actually feel sorry for women. They grow up desiring some kind of rock star/50 Shades of Grey/Fonzie hybrid that just doesn’t exist. They end up in loveless marriages with narcissistic posers who ignore them at best and oftentimes treat them much worse. A cynical opinion?? Sure. But nonetheless likely a pretty accurate assessment.

 

 
I think hyphenated surnames are arrogant & pretentious. Pick one name and go with it.

 

 

I was watching an episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher awhile back because despite being a Godless liberal who is wrong about most everything cartermaherMaher can be kind of funny and his show oddly informative. Maher was interviewing former President Carter and asked him if…if…Republicans are able to capture both houses of Congress and then win The White House in 2016 (a tall order to be sure) does he believe that they’ll try to repeal Obamacare. President Carter said yes, but he then added a very interesting statement. He said Republicans would try to repeal Obamacare but it’d be difficult because by then so many people would depend on it. And I thought to myself “There it is!!”. That lone statement explains not only the Democrat playbook, but also the very reason why we should be careful about government programs in the first place. They sound good. They always sound like a really fine idea. An idea that helps people. Who doesn’t want to help people?? But what happens is that folks become dependent on these programs, which does two things. It negatively impacts our economy and it robs people of any kind of motivation to work hard, be self-reliant, and solve their own problems. Why help yourself when Big Government will take care of you?? It also ensures Democrats long & repeated terms in political office because who are most people going to vote for…the person who’s going to give them free stuff or the person who wants to take their free stuff away?? None of this is news to anyone who has been paying attention, but I thought it was fascinating to hear a former President outright admit it.

 

 

 

I recently tried chai tea for the first time. They were giving out free samples at a local grocery store. I wasn’t impressed and think I will stick with regular tea.

 

 

 

There has been a lot of debate…for some odd reason…on social media lately about whether or not it is safe to give dogs ice cubes. My Rocco has been roccochomping on ice since he was a baby (he is 6 years old now) and has never had any adverse effects, so I think the idea that it causes harm is a myth.

Happy 4th Birthday Manoverse!!

On April 5, 2009 I published my first entry here at The Manofesto. I had actually been blogging since July 17, 2007, but seo-scoop-4th-birthdaythe first couple of years the blog was part of my MySpace page.

 

My my how things have changed over the years.

 

When I look at the things I wrote on MySpace and even in the early days here at The Manofesto I have to chuckle just a bit. No one will ever mistake me for Steinbeck, Twain, Hemingway, or Bradbury, but I do think that my writing skills have improved over the years. I suppose a large part of that is a function of the old “practice makes perfect” philosophy, but there are other factors as well. Certainly there is a maturation process. I began putting a lot more thought & effort into everything once I had my own domain. The MySpace thing was more of a journal with lots of free association and not much kvetching about form & style. I was going through some things personally back in 2007-08, and writing in many ways was my deliverance. It gave me a purpose. This blog still serves in that capacity, albeit less so than in those dark days.

 

I have to give a shout out to two dear friends who The Manoverse has seen me mention a few times over the years. It was slackmy buddy Slack who urged me to start a MySpace page in 2007. I had thought MySpace was the territory of teenage girls, and as a 30-something man I was hesitant to go there. But Slack assured me that it was the thing to do and I am glad I did. bowlMySpace has long since gone the way of 8-tracks, landlines, & VCRs, but for a couple of years it was not only a good way to stay connected with friends & family but also a decent enough creative outlet. Eventually though I began to crave more and tire of what I perceived as the limitations of the MySpace blogging feature and it was my brother The Owl who gently nudged me in the direction of starting an actual standalone blog with its own domain. That has proven to be one of the best decisions I have made in the past decade.

 

I still experience moments of frustration. There are stretches when I have what isn’t quite writer’s block but more of a general malaise where I have ideas but just become lazy. I am a notorious procrastinator and waste way too much time on pointless activities. I would be far better off if I spent more time reading & writing. During the past 4 years I have written 256 little ditties here, which averages out to 5.3 posts per month, meaning I am posting about once a week. I’d feel better the-writer-writing-3647594-640-428about my efforts if it were more like 2 or 3 times per week. I’d also like very much to see The Manoverse expand. There are currently 50 citizens subscribed, which I’d love to get into triple digits. If I may be arrogant for just a minute I must admit that I sometimes become frustrated when I read other blogs that are far less interesting or well-written than what is produced here yet notice that they have hundreds of followers and a plethora of comments on each post. Perhaps I am doing something wrong in the PR department. However, having said all that I still get immense pleasure out of the writing process even if I might be the only person on the planet reading my stuff.

 

So that’s it. I just wanted to mark the occasion and celebrate a bit. I sincerely appreciate anyone who does visit the site and especially those who take a moment to comment on the things they read. It has been a fun journey, one that I do not intend to end anytime soon. As a matter of fact I’m just getting started.

The State of The Manofesto 2013

As a new year dawns it is once again time to take stock of things here at The Manofesto and make some plans for the future, or atleast the next several months.

 

2012 was a good year. I achieved some internal goals in relation to the site, and even more importantly I have found that I have an increasing hunger to write. Sometimes I’ll be at church or out running errands and just can’t wait to get home to write. That’s not to say that I Still-Life-With-Inkwell,-Quill-And-Bookscouldn’t be more productive or don’t endure funky little lulls where the words just aren’t coming to me, but I have found that those moods have evened out a bit more and inspiration flows more steadily now, rather than seizing me like some sort of fit of insanity only to be followed by weeks or months of malaise. I am fortunate enough to have a job where oftentimes I have time to write, which is a fringe benefit I am in a unique position to appreciate.

 

I have been pleased with several of the things we’ve gotten done here in the past year, but better things are on the horizon.

 

football-introducing-the-science_1The Pigskin Picks of Profundity were a lot of fun to do, even if my career in the prognostication arts won’t ever make anyone in Vegas quake in their boots. In the classic sports film Tin Cup Costner’s characters says that “sex and golf are the two things you can enjoy even if you’re not good at them”, but I would argue that picking football games could legitimately be thrown into that mix as well. Next season the tentative plan is for my eldest nephew Zach to join me in a slightly altered, Siskel & Ebert-esque version of the PPP’s. I have no doubt he’ll smoke me like a Virginia country ham. We’ll also get back on track with the Winning & Musing feature, which has sort of been put on the backburner during football season because this site is supposed to be an eclectic cornucopia of ponderation and not specifically sports-centric.

 

Thinking_ManIn the “everything old is new again” department I have decided to bring back two old favorites. A couple of years ago I discontinued Random Thoughts, choosing to exclusively utilize Twitter for pithy contemplations of life. However, I have found that sometimes 140 characters just doesn’t cut it. There are times when I have something more to say, yet not enough to warrant a standalone entry. So I think what I would like to do is have a regular feature where I pontificate on various minutiae. The details are not concrete at the moment, but I’ll work it out soon. Do I have enough discipline to commit to a consistently scheduled column?? A year ago I would have leaned toward “no”, but I kept up with the football picks pretty good so I think I can expand upon that. Secondly, a feature that I quickly canned when I brought The Manofesto to WordPress from MySpace a few years ago was the Person of the Month. Again, at the time I just didn’t have the focus to maintain such an obligation, but I am confident it won’t be a problem now. It is likely that we’ll actually do two persons of the month…a good & a bad, or in pro wrestling parlance a face & a heel. I’ll have it all figured out by the end of January.

 

Back in November the Presidential election really kicked me in the gut. I was quite despondent for a few days and pretty much ready to throw in the towel. I’ll even admit that my faith in God was shaken. We all know that the Jews…aka Israel…are God’s chosen people, but let’s face it…we Americans have always fancied ourselves His special silver medalists. After the events of November 6, 2012 I am not so sure that is the case anymore. While I still believe that each of us can have a relationship with Him on an individual basis if we so choose, it is clear to me that God has lost His patience with our nation and has decided that if we want to head down the wrong path then far be it for Him to stop our descent.cross-and-flag And really, who can blame Him?? The United States began to marginalize God and push Him out of various aspects of life a half century ago, so we deserve everything we get. But, though The Great Experiment may have finally crashed & burned, life goes on and we just have to re-adjust our focus and pick & choose our battles. That being said, don’t expect to see much of anything political here for the time being. I have been refraining from posting political stuff on Facebook & Twitter as much as possible and don’t really have any desire to write about such things here. I had already backed off a bit for most of 2012, but now I think a wise strategy is wholesale retreat. I still retain my beliefs, but am well aware that I am a combustible engine in a hybrid world. If the majority of the country wants to engage in class warfare, yield to economic mediocrity, embrace “alternative” (i.e. abhorrent) lifestyles, sacrifice traditional values & American exceptionalism, and spend their lives with their hands out expecting Big Government to hold them gently & whisper softly in their collective ear that everything is going to be just fine then hey, who am I to argue?? I’ll still get up every day, go to work, enjoy my life as much as possible, and write thought-provoking pieces at The Manofesto…..just not about sociopolitical topics.

 

Speaking of God…

I did make my triumphant return to church last spring after a one year absence. I have embraced it as the social gathering that it has become and enjoy it on that level. If some spiritual enlightening trickles down in the process it is a lovely but unexpected bonus. The duty of developing a relationship with Jesus Christ is on me, not a bunch of very nice people who nevertheless pretend to be something A Bible studythey aren’t for a couple of hours every Sunday morning. As a matter of fact, I need to stop being one of those lukewarm dabblers myself. Having said that, I am fully aware that a year ago I stated that I was going to begin a Bible study here at The Manofesto and have not followed thru. I have been on the cusp of a breakthrough with that particular task on multiple occasions but for some reason the inspiration never fully materializes. I think the idea is of sufficient significance that it is worth waiting on God’s green light and not forcing the issue, but my intention is to get the ball rolling in 2013. We will also continue with both the Sermon on the Mount & Fruits of the Spirit series, both of which I have neglected.

 

The other primary focus here in 2013 will likely be The Bookshelf. My apartment is filled with books that I have either never read, half read, or would need to read again in order to intelligently express an opinion here because it has been far too long since I originally read them. Right now the plan is to concentrate on three authors: Shakespeare, Twain, and Dickens, all of whom I enjoy immensely. Since I genuinely believe that Shakespeare is best experienced in a live performance rather than in a william-shakespearebook, and since I live in a town whose idea of comedy is Honey 353L12408_6M43ZBoo-Boo and tragedy is when the last pack of cigarettes in a carton is gone, my plan is to find the best possible performance of each play on video and watch it in conjunction with reading the play. As with all of my other long term projects I may not finish until I am old, grey, & arthritic, but I’ll get there eventually. In addition to those three authors I am sure there will be a smattering of others…a little Bradbury, maybe some Steinbeck, and possibly even some Faulkner, Heinlein, or more Stephen King. I have some biographies & non-fiction books that might be worth writing about too. I am also going to dive into James Bond. I must admit that I have never watched a single one of the nearly 2 dozen Bond films, but not long ago I ran across a set of the original Ian Fleming books on eBay for a terrific price and snapped them up. I think they’ll be a nice little diversion from the tedium of the daily grind.

 

cropped-eaglecleanlogo.gifAs always these plans are subject to change, but I am pretty comfortable with the blueprint I have in my head. I would really love to see The Manoverse experience some significant growth this year and know that the first order of business in meeting those expectations is to provide a reason for people to want to come here to spend a few minutes of their browsing time each day. Folks are busy…jobs, kids, social obligations, etc. But I know that most people spend atleast a little while online on a daily basis decompressing from the pressure cooker, and I would love it if The Manofesto became a favorite destination for anyone looking to chill out & maybe learn something interesting at the same time.

 

 

 

 

Another State of The Manofesto Address

A little over a year ago I began this adventure in blogging. I am not vain enough to think these things I write have had any sort of significant impact on society, but hopefully they have made a few people laugh, given others pause for reflection, and inspired some to dig further into a thing or two or three that piqued their interest. In the introduction to The Manofesto (found on The Welcome Wagon page) I made mention that this is a work in progress. To some degree I am “stuck in my ways”, in some cases to my detriment and in others to my everlasting relief. However, I am all for growth and progress, and the time seems right for The Manofesto to evolve, to take that next baby step. To that end, I want to address a few changes on the horizon.

First of all, in the 10th edition of Random Thoughts, published nearly one year ago (7/11/2009), I wrote “I seriously doubt if I will ever get into Twitter…..but never say never.” I am glad I put the “never say never” stipulation in there, because it has been laid upon my heart that now is the time to become a part of Twitter Nation. I am not sure why I have been so reluctant. I suppose I figured that anything I had to say could be said here or atleast on my Facebook page. Plus, when an entity’s most renown supporter is Ashton Kutcher it is underwhelming at best. But two thoughts occurred to me. First, Jesus commanded his disciples to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”, and He also said “come…follow Me…I will make you fishers of men”. Now I know that it is highly unlikely that Christ was referring in any way to Twitter, but I also am open to new ways to spread The Good News and if I at some point tweet a thought or a scripture that touches even one person and points them down the correct path then hey…why not??

The second thing that occurred to me was that Twitter is a good fit for Random Thoughts. In fact, it seems like the perfect marriage. Therefore, beginning on July 4th 2010 I will be utilizing Twitter for my pithy comments & quick jabs and will be closing the Random Thoughts section here at The Manofesto. I will transfer all archived Random Thoughts to the Potluck section. This will enable me to react quicker to events rather than having to wait sometimes several days or even weeks until I have enough thoughts to justify a blog entry. It will also allow me to use the blog to focus on lengthier, more substantial subject matter, something I feel is a necessary step. We’ll still have some fun writing about movies and sports and other pop culture minutia, but I feel like the majority of what I write needs to be a bit meatier.

The final new development (for now) that I want to address is a possible talk show version of The Manofesto. Now this is not something that is going to happen soon, like the Twitter thing. This is something that I am in the process of pondering and exploring, but something that I feel strongly will happen in the not-too-distant future. My college pal Deb, whose blog Real Widows is linked here, has recently gotten together with a fellow “widster” and started a show on BlogTalk Radio. I have done a cursory assessment of what BlogTalk has to offer and it seems user friendly enough and something I could manage easily. Also, I have been talking with my friend The Owl for awhile now, encouraging him to do his own podcast. Whether we will end up doing something together or separately remains to be seen. I know we both have a lot of opinions about things and share a similar desire to spread Jesus’ teachings to the masses, so we’ll see what happens. I may even talk some other friends into joining in or atleast contributing on occasion. Much more prayerful consideration needs to be put into this particular idea, but I feel confident in saying that eventually there will be yet another outlet through which I unleash my unique perspective.

Please be sure to start “following” me on Twitter beginning 7/4/10, and stay tuned for more information down the line about how plans for the show on BlogTalk Radio are progressing.

 

Random Thoughts 10

I seriously doubt if I will ever get into Twitter…..but never say never.

 

A study has found that individuals “with unpopular names are more likely to engage in criminal activity”. Oddball names are “connected to factors that increase the tendency to commit crime, such as a disadvantaged home environment, residence in a county with low socioeconomic status, and households run by one parent.” The study goes on to say that “adolescents with unpopular names may be more prone to crime because they are treated differently by their peers, making it more difficult for them to form relationships.” Allow me to translate: if you think you’re being cool by naming your illegitimate baby Loquanda, FayNeNe, Donquavious, Shataniana, or adding Da/De to common names like Shawn, John, etc……well, you’re not. You are starting that child’s life already behind the curve and reinforcing stereotypes rather than proving them wrong. Maybe we should call this The Orenthal Theorem.

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he would jump at the chance to drive in the Indianapolis 500 if there were not a conflicting NASCAR race on the same day. – Atleast he couldn’t finish 38th…..there are only 33 cars in the Indy 500.

 

An update on The Stimulus: it’s still not working.

 

The U.S. Agriculture Department would be given the power to regulate all food sold in schools, including vending machine snacks, when Congress renews child nutrition programs. Agriculture Committee work on child nutrition will begin with a draft that gives the USDA the authority to oversee all food in schools, so nutrition programs are not “undermined” by junk food in vending machines. There has been “pushback” from schools that count on revenue from vending machines to pay for student activities. – I’m a solutions oriented guy..…so I suggest the government just ban vending machines from schools and pay for all student activities by raising taxes. Why waste time when that’s where Hussein Obama is headed anyway.

 

ESPN’s newest on air talent, Michelle Beadle, makes a favorable first impression. She’s reminiscent of a perkier, younger, somewhat less sultry Ellen Barkin.

 

The past several weeks have seen the deaths of actors David Carradine, Karl Malden, and Farrah Fawcett, singer Michael Jackson, Japanese wrestling legend Mitsuharu Misawa, sidekick Ed McMahon, infomercial guru Billy Mays, retired boxer Alexis Arguello, impressionist Fred Travalena, and former NFL QB Steve “Air” McNair. I’m not one to put celebrities up on a pedestal, but what a brutal month. May they all rest in peace.

 

Speaking of McNair…..as much as everyone wants to put him up on a pedestal because he was a star athlete (misguided hero worship that usually begins in junior high), the simple fact seems to be that he was just another guy cheating on his wife with a much younger woman. It’s likely that she had the attitude shared by young women everywhere, an overly romantic and idealized view of love. She probably thought he was going to leave his wife and they’d live happily ever after. She found out she was wrong, flipped out, and now they are both dead. Very sad story, and all too common.

 

An employee at a New Jersey chocolate processing plant died after falling into a vat of hot chocolate. He was dumping raw chocolate into the vat for melting when he fell in from a nine-foot high platform. – Wow…what a tragically awesome way to go.

 

I’m not so sure that Sarah Palin resigning as Governor of Alaska was such a wise move. Time will tell.

 

ESPN’s Mike and Mike were recently contemplating ways to make baseball’s all star game matter, lamenting the fact that it currently doesn’t, and trying to figure out why. It’s quite simple really. Baseball itself has become increasingly irrelevant. The game is populated with cheaters, junkies, and thugs. Babe Ruth was a beer guzzling, woman chasing, hard partying character…..Barry Bonds and his ilk are just a steaming pile of garbage. Clean up the game and it will regain its significance.

 

Michelle Obama showed off her more expensive taste in fashion by carrying a $6k black alligator manila clutch while strolling the wooded landscape outside of Moscow, Russia. – I’m not a woman and admittedly know nothing about purses…but how ostentatious is that??