Has “Shark Week” Jumped Itself?

As far as afflictions go, the one I am forever doing battle with is one that seems downright quaint and dare I say . . without entering the hyperbolic chamber . . . stoic?

I can’t lie.

And I’m not just talking about my hips either. Nah . . that there refers to all five foot eleven-ish of my great white self. I don’t lie and I banish those who do so willingly. Which is why I’ve made the decision to Dear John entire programming blocks for Discovery Channel’s money mako, otherwise known as Shark Week, rather than keep it on for every television viewing minute of my day as I’ve done for many years.

Yep, the truth always makes the scene with me, for better and most times for worse. The lowdown that Shark Week has run on me is just plain dirty business, and Imma have to call it out because Gloria Gaynor taught me how. Because the cold hard truth is that throughout my relationship with Shark Week, I’ve had to deal with the ‘others’ who have threatened to uproot the good thing we have going. Time after time, I’ve looked the other way. Until now . . .

Shark Week has always been one of my favorite times of the television year. Shark Week is what Herman Melville would’ve come up with if he’d been a television executive. It’s what Quint would’ve starred in if he’d been born inside another time, where getting paid didn’t rhyme with whiskey and peanuts. Shark Week is why Peter Benchley wrote, Stephen Spielberg imagined and John Williams scored.

But the current iteration leaves me more melancholic than a nurse shark who can’t find a nice doctor to marry. Shark Week has been changing in a slow drip evolution whose acquittal is simply a byproduct of its immense popularity. To paraphrase a favorite Pat Riley quote (I’ve got tons of ’em) . . Shark Week is suffering from the disease of more.

When Tory, Kari and Grant from Mythbusters did an episode to commemorate the twenty fifth anniversary of Shark Week back in 2012, I was totally down with it. Back then, their build team constructed a replica of a Megalodon in an episode titled Sharkzilla. As far as cross promotional unions go, this one made sense for several reasons. Both shows are on the same channel. The episode was consistent with what both productions are about. And science . . it was about science.

Celebrity show crashers to el semana del tiburon are nothing new. And truth be told, I tuned in to last year’s episode when gold medalist Michael Phelps raced a great white shark. It was the highest rated Shark Week telecast ever, because like me, peeps tuned in to see whether Phelps could in fact beat a real shark . . and if he got eaten, well . . bonus!

Of course, the entire premise was snake oil in the water, seeing as how great whites usually don’t move in a straight line unless they’re chasing Blake Lively. So with that flawed premise in mind, I tuned in to fifty seven minutes of mostly fluff . . and then was treated to a race between Phelps and a shark out of a Pixar flick. I didn’t blame the show for stealing an hour of my life as if it were a State of the Union address. It was my fault for having trusted gimmickry, when the truth of the matter is that the good stuff about Shark Week? Ain’t got a big name stapled to the marquee.

Shark Week 2018 is a baton death march (Not a typo) of one celebrity shark host handing off to the next. And for every episode that entertains me, there is a Hyde-like other half that rankles my gills. Nay . . that pisses me off.

Shaq and sharks is great fun. The dude is too much fun and he is a mega celebrity whose personality is bigger than any fish in the sea. And the “Shaq Shark Cage” was cool. But Aaron Rodgers, while arguably the best quarterback in football, didn’t move the needle for me in the least. Ronda Rousey’s appearance was incredibly entertaining because the girl was simply not fazed in her swim with the big fishes. It was almost eerie how chill she was, and it showed me the side of her persona that catapulted her to the top of her profession: fierce, determined, relentless. Fascinating stuff.

And then there’s Guy Fieri. Fuck. Is it not enough that this fucking guy has hijacked the Food Network? The episode featuring Triple Dick was an exercise in cruel and inhumane punishment . . for the few minutes I lasted before turning the dial. And no . . I ain’t even tuning in when those Shark Tank suits hijack an hour’s time with their schtick, thank you very much.

Shark Week, for me, used to be about learning; it was about adventures in remote locales and strangers who enriched me with their knowledge inside an hour’s time. These strangers were marine biologists, oceanographers and scientists who translated their passion for the deep blue sea into something that mattered. These peeps weren’t in it to further a brand or cross promote the fuck out of a show that didn’t need the publicity in the first place. Nope, these peeps were just real deal modern romantics who wanted to explore space, from right here on earth. Peeps who devoted their lives to working with the top down, and the results make life better for the inhabitants of land and sea. Win? Meet win.

And don’t even get me started on the Shark After Dark show that serves as a wrap up of the day’s programming. The format is more derivative than The Strokes. Here’s an idea: Ditch the dime store comedy and fill that hour with fucking sharks, why don’t cha?!

Alas, we live in a time where no good idea goes unpunished. Where a good thing gets shipwrecked to the excesses of glamour and glut. Because sometimes too much of a good thing? Is too much. So I’ll just pick my spots from now on. I’ll tune in to the shows on Shark Week that float my fin, and I’ll find something else to watch when the big names try to upstage the real stars.

It’s plenty safe to go in the water. Dry land? That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish . . .



Going 4th with my Oval Fixation

Warhol Nixon

In honor of Independence Day, I felt like jumping into the pool of patriotism and taking a swim. And then the feeling passed and I decided to compile a list of my favorite Presidents. Which is basically the same shit, really.

Before I get to this Presidential list ‘o mine, I’ve a couple thoughts about the 4th of July that have been running around inside ‘me noggin and so Imma clearinghouse their asses before they get my straggling voices all riled up.

Beautiful funny fourth of july memes 117 best 4th of July images on Pinterest

Independent (Day) Thinking: 

  • If John Adams had a blog, it would be called Shit Happens
  • Note to all those “Buy American” peeps out there. When y’all are blowing shit up to celebrate our independence . . just know that fireworks were first invented in medieval China.
  • The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were not meant to be subverted, retrofitted and reconfigured to contemporary whims and agendas. Just. Saying.
  • Fireworks wouldn’t work in space, which is really too bad . . .
  • You say “May the 4th be with you” and I say “Go 4th and prosper”.
  • Joey Chestnut’s win in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest reminds me that I have never actually watched the fucking thing. Because it’s grosser than a Senator’s secret Instagram page.
  • I’m still hoping there will be a Nas cover to Yankee Doodle Dandy 
  • Ben Franklin be like . . “Bitches be crazy!”
  • Is it wrong that of all the things I could have given thanks to yesterday, I chose Sam Adams? The beer, not the founding father.
  • Apologies to the Cowboys and Yankees, but the real America’s Team is the Tampa Bay Rays. Many of their fans have given up, they’re always shipping their best talent away and they’re broke.

As far as my Commander and Chief is concerned, the First Dude has to be bold and decisive. My President must love sports, beer and ’80’s music. My President is tough yet compassionate; he’s flexible as per the big picture and firm as to the details. My President understands that being fair and open minded isn’t a weakness but an impenetrable strength. So with all of those qualities in mind, my favorite President will in fact be a fictional character. Of course.

I’ve divvied up fictional Presidents of tube and silver screen into three categories. There is the Ridiculous . . those Presidential turns that rival November 2016. There is the I Can See That . . those slightly more feasible renditions. And then there is the Sublime . . those fictional characters I would really vote for (and maybe, just maybe . . did).

Special thank you to my Canadian counterpart, Dale “Q-ditty” Rogerson of A Dalectable Life for helping me compile this list. And to anyone who has a problem with this list? Please direct your complaints here.

The Ridiculous: 

Kevin James- Yes, Kevin James played President Will Cooper in the movie Pixels. Yes, it was an Adam Sandler flick. Duh!

Mark Cuban- He played President Marcus Robbins in Sharknado. I mean . . in a movie that is one long commercial, how in the hell did they whiff on the name? Baskin Robbins people . . it’s not that hard!

President Machete

Lynda Carter- Not because her President-Olivia Marsdin- was an alien or that she ruled the world in Supergirl  . . nah. What makes this turn utterly ridiculous is that Lynda Carter IS Wonder Woman!

Aaron Eckhardt- I’ve watched White House Down numerous times because I love B movies that think they’re A movies. That is all.

Jamie Foxx- If quoting Abraham Lincoln and wearing Nikes make you President, my neighbor would be running things. So .  . no.

Danny Glover- Of all the names they could’ve slapped on Glover for his turn as Prez in 2012, they go with Thomas Wilson? Impeached!

Bill Pullman- Thomas J. Whitmore is a very Presidential name. Being a former fighter pilot and Gulf War vet is great stuff. Too bad it all happened in Independence Day. 

Gene Hackman- I have very few rules to which I abide with no deviation, but one of them is that Gene Hackman will never be my President.

Kevin Klein- In the movie Dave, Klein basically played a stunt double.

Martin Sheen- Sorry West Wing fans, but all I know about this show and President Josiah Barlet is that Sheen really thought he could’ve been President. A television celebrity as President? How ridiculous is that?!

I Can See That: 

Cherry Jones- She played President Allison Taylor in 24; which just so happens to be one of my favorite shows ever. (The Kiefer Sutherland 24). She falls into the middle because her character was loosely based on Hilary Clinton. Which is sublime and ridiculous. It’s sublime for its idealistic nature and it’s ridiculous because Hilary won an election. Too soon?

Alfre Woodard- As Constance Payton in State of Affairs, there really is nothing not to like. She has the name, she rocks the look and she has the Presidential vibe. But I never watched the show, so there’s that.

99 Problems

Jeff Bridges- He’s my favorite actor, so it pains me NOT to put him in my imaginary Oval Office. Couple reasons why. Jackson Evans? Sounds like a furniture store that does taxes. And another . . The Contender was totally based on Monica-gate and it wasn’t very good, at all.

James Earl Jones- His President Douglas Dilman attains the office without being elected in the 1972 political thriller The Man. The plot was eerily prescient, as Gerald Ford would so just that less than two years later when he replaced Nixon. But I never saw the flick, so outside of his magnificent voice . . I ain’t solid enough on President Dilman to elect him to my highest office.

Harrison Ford- He shows his Chuck Norris side as President in Air Force One. And that’s about it.

And now for my Fantastic Four.

The Sublime: 

4. Michael Douglas- As President Andrew Shepherd, Douglas is quite fetching as Oval Office Boss. He rocks the look, talks the talk and knows all about the science of women’s shoes. But he’s bottom four because it’s a completely unbelievable role served by by Rob Reiner.

3. Geena Davis- Okay . . I never saw her play MacKenzie Allen in Commander in Chief. But this is Geena Fucking Davis we’re talking about. So she’s in, even if I have to stage a coup to make it happen.

2. Tom Kirkman- You may notice there is a Sutherland vibe to this Presidential post of mine. Because while the current administration consorts with the “Red Menace” , I prefer the red maple leaf. Much friendlier, and they know their beer.

Designated Survivor’s President Kirkman is an idealist of the very best kind. It’s why I do not hold it against him for story lines that have little reality to them. Here’s a President who’s willing to admit when he’s wrong. He listens, and then he goes with his gut. He relates to those he disagrees with. He trusts and verifies. He ain’t against bombing your ass if you fuck with his peeps, but he realizes this isn’t a paint ball contest so he will exhaust all other possibilities first.

I hope the show has one more season in it, somewhere. Because I want me some more President Kirkman.

David Palmer

1. Dennis Haysbert- There is no doubt that Hollywood takes itself way too seriously when it comes to politics. And the idea that Haysbert’s turn as President in 24 was the catalyst for Barack Obama’s ascent to the Oval Office is a tad bit simplistic, to put it nicely.

But there is little doubt that Haysbert owned the role. President David Palmer was a Boss who understood delegation on a doctorate level. And he was so damned efficient! I mean, why mobilize a couple hundred thousand troops to a danger zone when you can just dial up Jack Bauer and get shit done in less than a day?

Palmer was eloquent without being preachy. He made the tough decisions look simple. And he could speak an apple right out of a tree and hand you a glass of ice cold juice in double time. You could argue that giving his ex-wife a key role in his administration was crazy, but I say it shows how secure an individual he was. To navigate all the sharks inside his own administration and the Macbeth-like scenarios she was spinning? That there is power used to its best possible outcome.

And you can say that writing in David Palmer was a wasted vote. And you can say I’m a dreamer. But hey . . I’m not the only one.





There’s a reason the important things are priceless

I’m an ad man’s worst nightmare.

That’s because I know better. Whereas some peeps tend to suffer from a curious hyper-extension of their common sense when it comes to consumerist coitus, I tend to stick to the less common part of the equation. The part that knows it’s being sold a bill of goods. It utilizes deduction and forsakes seduction, to the by and large of buying large.

It ain’t easy, seeing as how the sell is everywhere we look. I can find myself provoked by something as innocuous as a shampoo bottle. And yeah . . I can be lured by that most unromantic of fruits, the fiber supplement. But for fuck sake . . do I really need glaciers to sell me on the fact that I need water to survive?

Morgan Freeman sells us on the God-like qualities of owning a Visa card. As much as I love listening to Freeman narrate basically anything at all, I find these ads disarming because, really . . a twenty thousand dollar credit line ain’t God-like enough?

As much as I steel myself against this never ending storm-sell, I’m certainly not immune to its insidious nature. And that’s okay, because I lose battles so that I might win the wars in this psychological warfare whose science has vanquished consumers much brighter and more well informed than yours truly.

So as far as ads go- print, online, television- I simply judge them, harshly. I understand the elemental design of ads, so I don’t resist them since resistance is futile. Ads play our psyches like Gatsby. It’s like when you think you’re ignoring all those billboards as you plummet along with a million and one other thoughts inside your brain . . until you find yourself knocking down a Whopper whilst wondering where the craving for artificially enhanced bovine came from. Therefore, judging ads harshly is a guerrilla tactic which allows me to recognize and filter the come hither of various products on my terms.

My method utilizes the rational implications of consumerism rather than giving in to the temptation whose subversive one night stand effect  oftentimes results in buyer’s remorse. It’s all about taking ownership of my impulsive nature rather than ceding it to companies who simply want to use me and then kick me to the curb.

Take Subaru for instance. Their commercials piss me off to such an extent that it’s unlikely I’ll ever buy one of their cars. There are many endeavors to which I might feel one with the universe. Buying a Subaru ain’t one of ’em. And sorry GMC  . . but you ain’t making me feel like a “Boss” with your big engine. I ain’t buying your penis-pill cowboy jive.

I haven’t popped the top off a Budweiser since high school, because all those great commercials leave me wondering why they didn’t put some of that dough into making a better tasting beer. And Corona has built an entire campaign on a fucking lime wedge tactic that has nothing to do with flavor (obviously) and everything to do with keeping flies out of bottles!

I think the sermonizing is what rankles me most of all. The idea that a product is going to make me a better person is insulting. If you’re going to pick my pocket, just pick my pocket. Don’t tuck a social contract in its place. And for this, I turn to a couple of big time preachy posers. Starbucks and Chick-fil-A.

The fast food chicken giant sermonizes in the public square, which is why I haven’t stepped foot inside an establishment in years. I would much rather they had a glut of McDonald’s-like commercials out there that made clogging your arteries look cool. It’s preferable to using their standing as an industry giant to marginalize an individual’s lifestyle. I’ll have a Big Mac from time to time, in spite of the purely fictional thirty second spots. But I won’t stand for a company’s boss to play Jesus just because he can, no matter how tasty a sammy they’re peddling.

On the flip side, we have Starbucks. I ain’t down with their message either. The idea that a barista is gonna teach me about race is akin to my mechanic teaching me about Aristotle. There is irony to what happened this week when a couple of black men were arrested without cause in a Philadelphia Starbucks. There’s a lesson to be gained too. I partake of their stuff from time to time because I dig their desert drinks. That’s it, that’s all. I won’t buy anything with their logo because I’m not a Starbucks volunteer. I endeavor in the micro with no dutiful obligation to the macro of it all, because I recognize that I am enjoying a sweet drink that won’t make a great good fuck of difference to anyone but me. I understand that I am not saving the world when I decide to add five pounds worth of sugar to my ass.

There’s no price tag involved when it comes to being one with the universe.