Clearly school is not hard enough

I came across this story of some 12-year old kid in North Carolina who was set to graduate from both high school and college simultaneously, and the first emotion that emerged from my brain as if it were a slot machine, was annoyance.  I don’t know why, but stories of overachieving little kids don’t really impress me so much as I question the difficulty of contemporary education in America, and wonder if we’re collectively lowering the bar of intelligence on a societal level if kids whose balls haven’t even dropped are becoming capable of tackling collegiate level coursework.

Sure, it’s just an associate’s degree, and pretty much anyone can get an associate’s degree, but it doesn’t change the fact that the narrative doesn’t change that a 12-year old went to, and got a college degree.  There is a possibility that this kid might be somewhat of a genius, but at the same time there’s also a possibility that the level of education in Salisbury, North Carolina might be questionably low.

I recognize the names of Salisbury and Rowan-Cabarrus, because their names are on signs that I blow past going 80 mph on I-85 while traversing through North Carolina, between the greater Charlotte and Greensboro regions.  Needless to say, it’s in the middle of fucking nowhere, which leads me to believe what mastery of counting pine cones and the velocity of a NASCAR on a windy day can translate into a 5.45 GPA.  Seriously, what the fuck kind of grading rubrics exist now to where kids don’t just get 4.0s but seem to routinely exceed the royal fucking A into these ridiculous 4+ GPAs?

Either way, I don’t know why, but tryhard kids just kind of bother me.  It has nothing to do with the fact that as a father myself, these are ridiculous bars to hope my own children can strive for, as much as I feel at the root of all these stories is some very passive-aggressive humblebragging by either the kids or their likely insufferable parents, who eat up the notion that their children are making the news.  This kid is right up there with one of those overachieving tryhard high school seniors who applies to every Ivy League and blue blood school and gets in.  It’s just annoying to me.

Clearly, school is not hard enough these days, because when I was 12, all I cared about was Power Rangers and Final Fantasy IV, much less having any aspirations of any sort of education past the sixth grade.  Sure there’s an easy joke about how nothing seems to have really changed nearly three decades later, but we also didn’t have a pandemic that gave all children basically unlimited time to see just how high they could tryhard.

Kenny Omega: The Blet Collector(?)

As much as I clown on AEW, I have to say that one of the things they’re doing that actually has me pretty fascinated is the way they’re booking Kenny Omega.  Which shouldn’t really be surprise that he’s got a compelling storyline, seeing as how he’s one of the VPs of AEW as well as one of the foundation blocks in which the promotion was built on.  But with his cross-promotional victory over Rich Swann of TNA/Impact, Omega adds two more blets to his expanding collection of championships, adding the TNA and Impact unified world titles to the AEW championship as well as the AAA (Mexico) championship, which basically says he is the top guy for three different promotions.

I’ve always been fascinated by belt collector storylines, because historically it’s so rarely done, primarily because more often than not, it requires a degree of cross-promotion, which is a lot like asking a Klansman to partner up with a Black Panther to save the planet.  It’s been attempted within a single promotion a handful of times, with Lance Storm coming to mind with his torrid 2000 run collecting the WCW United States, Cruiserweight and Hardcore titles in quick succession.  And as much as I liked the Miz’s run in 2010 where he was toting around three blets, the tags were unified and kind of count as one.

TNA tried to kind of run a blet collector in like 2015 when they had Kurt Angle win every single blet within the company as well as the IWGP World Championship, but so often times is the case with TNA, nobody noticed, nobody cared, and it fell flat pretty quickly when he started rapidly shedding blets, and New Japan doesn’t officially recognize the reign with the IWGP championship because of one of the many spats they had with Antonio Inoki over it.

One of the most famous blet collectors of all time was Ultimo Dragon, who once held a mind-blowing ten blets at one time, thanks to the infamous J-Crown tournament in 1996, where it was a tournament held in Japan where all participants were respective champions from varying promotions, where every blet was on the line and as participants advanced through the tournament, they would collect the championships of everyone they defeated.  In the end, the Great Sasuke would win the tournament, collecting eight blets in the process, but in a return match against Ultimo, who went in as the WCW Cruiserweight and NWA Middleweight champion, would lose, giving him ten blets in total.

In more recent years, Austin Aries became a blet collector, in a more traditional way, in the sense that throughout 2018, he actually did bounce around the indies and beat champions and eventually made his way to Impact, where he collected two blets from them, meaning as big league as TNA/Impact thinks they might be, their titles have on multiple occasions, been gathered by guys outside of their promotion.  But at the peak, Aries collected a total of six blets, and as is often the case with Aries’ career, he took himself too seriously, and kind of sabotaged his own career.

Needless to say, the blet collector doesn’t happen often, and when it does, it typically tends to sour pretty quickly and to disastrous result.  However in spite of the history of the gimmick, AEW is taking a stab at it with Kenny Omega, but in spite of my oft-criticisms of the promotion, I actually wonder if they might be able to do better with it than all preceding attempts?

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It always amuses me when the Braves suck

Man, talk about lowered expectations.  Many sources prior to the start of the season had the Braves pegged to win the NL East again, and potentially challenge the Dodgers and the Padres for National League supremacy.  After all, they came so close during the pandemic year that didn’t count, having a 3-1 series lead on the Dodgers before choking monumentally and failing to make a completely winnable and validating World Series against the Rays that the Dodgers won instead, that surely they could be contenders again this year, right??

Admittedly I haven’t been paying that much attention to baseball or sports in general because of new dad, but I have tangenally been keeping track of Braves scores most nights, and I’m pretty sure they’re either in last place in the NL East or at least the bottom half of the standings.

But not only did the Braves drop both games of a doubleheader yesterday, and not only did they get shutout of both games yesterday, they got fucking no-hit in the second game, even though it was a shortened seven-inning game.

Sure, there’s all sorts of asterisks and MLB is not officially counting it as a no-hitter, but the fact of the matter is that the Braves had an absolutely humiliating and pathetic day of futility yesterday, and it seldom fails to amuse me when any team, much less the Braves has a day in which they get owned so hard.

Not only did the Braves get no-hit in the seven-inning second game, they got one-hit in the seven-inning first game, with the one hit coming in the sixth inning, which is the only thing preventing me from being all like well actually . . . the Braves DID get no-hit for nine straight innings on the same day technically . . .  But come on – 14 innings of one-hit baseball?  That’s fucking turrible and pathetic, no matter what way you look at it. 

And this was the weekend where the Barves relaxed a little bit more of the attendance and let more fans into the stadium; imagine the excitement of all the fans who are getting to see live baseball in Atlanta for the first time in over a year, all giddy and thrilled to have a pleasant day at the ballpark again… and then they get to sit on their hands and slog through two straight games of the Braves getting completely demoralized and humiliated, where they get one-hit and no-hit in successive games.  Complete hilarity.

Regardless, it’s still April, and there’s still a ton of time for the Braves to get their shit together and do something.  Even if they don’t, I really won’t care that much, because I’m pretty content where I’m at with my sports fandom.  My kids come first, and only if they actually become a contender will maybe I come back to give a shit, but until then, I can sit back from afar, judge and laugh at the Braves and any other team, gets owned.

We were there first

I think?  Who really knows when this show was actually filmed, and whether or not it happened before my wedding.

Anyway, just finished watching The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.  At first, I thought it was just okay, and that it felt more like a transitional Marvel property show, that helped tie up a lot of loose ends throughout Phase One, as opposed to something that was sowing seeds for future potential phases.  Like WandaVision laid down a lot of groundwork for future plots, and I had expected similarly from the adventures of Sam and Bucky, and what I would expect from most other future Marvel television shows on Disney+.

But then the fifth episode happens, and shit suddenly gets very real, the plots get very deep very quickly, and by the time I finished the sixth and final episode of the series, I’m thinking, damn, this show was really god damn good.

Anyway, if I keep trying to write about the show, I’ll inevitably end up spoiling something, so I’ll refrain from going on about the show, except for the fact that it was really good, I enjoyed it, and it was yet another outstanding edition to Marvel’s screen adaptation equity.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler, but the above image is a scene from one of the episodes, that looked just a teensy-bit familiar to me.  Had to rewind, pause, and summon mythical wife to come take a look too.

But adding to the list of Georgia locations that are filmed and delivered as somewhere else, the Historic DeKalb Courthouse where I got married, was used as, well, a courthouse of some sorts, for a government hearing in the Falcon and the Winter Soldier.  At least it was actually used as its historic roots once were.  But it tickled me all the same, to see a place I’m quite familiar with, being used in an outstanding piece of television.  Multiple times.

How about y’all just get better at baseball instead?

I don’t pay a tremendous amount of attention to baseball anymore these days, but I came across this particular article in Sports Illustrated about how recently retired Jay Bruce basically retired because the shift killed his career, and how they opined that shifting should be made illegal in baseball.

Now as far as sports columnists go, I actually really like Tom Verducci.  He’s a well-versed guy who has good insight, adapts to the times, and has always had a fairly pleasant, readable tone in his writing throughout all the years that I’ve known of his existence, but I have to say that his opinion that the shift should be made illegal is one of the dumbest things that I’ve ever read.

In short, the shift is when baseball fielders position themselves heavily on one side of the field, because a batter might have a very predictable tendency to hit to that side of the field, thus optimizing their chances at being able to field a hit ball and get them out.  Good examples of the shift in action are this fictional instance known as the DeVanzo Shift from Artie Lange’s Beer League, and this hilariously similar but actually real instance known as the Joey Gallo Shift from the Houston Astros.

There is absolutely nothing illegal about teams shifting their fielders, and as a result over the last decade, the strategy has been adopted all over the league and employed on a countless number of mostly-left hand hitters, although there is no shortage of righties that hard shifts work on as well.  And as the number of teams employing shifts has gone up, the careers of many pull-happy hitters have gradually begun plunging down metaphorical toilets all over.

So instead of suggesting a not-illegal tactic be made illegal, here’s a wild and crazy suggestion for baseball players being victimized into retirement by the shift: get fucking better at baseball.

Learn to hit the other way.  Learn to drop a good bunt down the opposite field.  Pop your hips early and hit the ball where they ain’t; accept singles as not making outs instead of looking like a fucking idiot swinging for the fences, but then hitting a hard grounder to a shortstop playing in shallow right field 75 feet away from they’d normally be positioned.

Verducci suggesting MLB ban shifting is a sad pro-players suggestion that shields a league full of overrated assholes who get paid millions to play a kids game so that the league can make billions to exploit broadcast it.  Seriously, the league minimum last I checked was a hair under $500,000 a year, so even the shittiest 26th man on the roster is still making half a million dollars, but still can’t hit the ball to the opposite field, so the league should just change the rules?  Fuck that shit.

Players who can’t adapt to defensive strategies all deserve to have their stats and value plummet, because as often times as baseball can metaphorically be compared to life, it really is a story of adapt or die.  It’s ironic too, because so many baseball players get to the biggest league in the world, because at some point, they’re taught and demonstrated good hitting acumen, which usually involves being able to hit baseballs to various parts of the field except pull-side, but somewhere along the path of the majors, whether it’s poor coaching or aspiration of greed, guys end up these pull hitters who are eaten alive by shifts.

Guys like Pete Rose and Ichiro Suzuki are the greatest all-time hitters and played for eons respectively, because they were guys who could always hit to all parts of the field, even if they weren’t putting up gaudy home run numbers.  Meanwhile jobbers like Jay Bruce are calling it quits because they can’t produce because the shift is killing them, and all I can think of how sad and pathetic it is that there are guys that would rather quit, instead of perhaps going back to the cage and breaking the rust off of the ability to possibly hit the other way instead.

Like I said, I typically enjoy Verducci’s writing and opinions, but this one was a total stinker.  Instead of banning the shift, how about baseball players collectively just get better at playing baseball, and learning to hit baseballs to more parts of the field except their pull side?  That, right there, would be some real Moneyball shit, in the sense of it being an underutilized strategy to exploit.  

I’d love to see an MLB squad rebuild, with a mentality of building a team of good spray hitters, and then when the stars align, they go on a 98-win season, dinky-hitting all their opponents to death and march through the playoffs and bust open the World Series with all sorts of drag bunts, opposite field singles and triples down the line.  And after a few years of other teams copying that game-breaking strategy, maybe Verducci will write an article about how opposite-field hitting should be outlawed.

90 Day Fiancé season 8 thoughts

It’s been a while since I wrote about 90 Day Fiancé, but then again it’s also been a while since I’ve actually watched an entire season from start to finish.  It’s not that I haven’t watched almost every season that’s been produced, it’s just that so often times, I fall off the wagon at some point, be it my life being busy, or the episodes aren’t always available on Plex or the TLCgo app when I’m ready to watch, but I haven’t watched a season from start to finish in a while until now.

Including the uncomfortable and cringey Tell All episodes, to which I have decided to spent a little bit of time to write about season 8, because seeing as how I actually watched it all, might as well share some thoughts about yet another successful season of one of the true anchors of TLC.

I think one of the most miraculous things about season 8 is that all across the board, the show actually managed to make ALL of the Americans and their friends and family seem like the assholes among each couple, while the mail-order spouses all somehow seem like the people us viewers end up feeling sympathy for throughout the season.

Usually in seasons past, there’s always one or two mail-order spouses who are clearly in the game for a green card, and/or are insufferable demons who make viewers scream at their screens at why some pathetic American schlub is putting up with it, and that they need to flex their leverage at the fact that they control the citizenship routes.  Like Mohamed or Anfisa, people who come from other countries who are miserable and easy to dislike.

But season 8 actually manages to execute, where all the Americans look like assholes or are the worse of each couple, and I’m left hoping that some of these people actually throw their hands up and go back to their home countries.  I’ll try to break it down by each couple, and maybe power rank by trainwreck-ability or something.

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Among the few things that I afford myself to indulge in on my birthdays is that I often feel like writing something, if for anything at all, the fact that it is my birthday.  Otherwise, I make little deal about it, I rarely talk about it, and almost nobody at work knows it’s my birthday, nor do I have any real intention to bring it up.

Usually, around this time of year, I have this ironic sense of dread of something bad somewhere in the world occurring, like a bombing, a fire, or some sort of massive loss of human life, that has so often times taken place around my birthday every single year.  But over the last few years, and especially this one, there seems to be a massive shooting that occurs somewhere in the United States on a weekly basis, to where all the shooting incidents that have happened within the past week alone seems to overshadow the notion that anything turrible happening is limited to just the radius of days surrounding my birthday.

Needless to say, expecting something turrible to happen around my birthday has kind of lost its meaning over the last few years, because turrible shit seems to happen all the time throughout this god-forsaken country.

Narrowing down the world to just my own little concentrated space, things are certainly brighter and more positive, in spite of the fact that I loathe my job, and feel a little bit trapped and held hostage by the fact that no matter how much I want out, they still hold the ultimate trump card solely because of the paternity time that I am entitled to, and plan on utilizing when my second child is born later in the summer.

But speaking of children, I can’t really complain.  My first daughter is still basically everything I could have ever wanted in my offspring, and it’s a daily joy to spend time with her and watch her grow, develop, learn and become increasingly mobile and intelligent on a regular basis.

Life as a father and a husband is about everything I could have imagined it to be, and sometimes I still bring myself to a point of disbelief when I’m spending time with mythical wife and my child to know that this is where I am in life, and as much as my sister gives me grief about it, having taken so long, I am here at least now, and I take a little bit of comfort in knowing that I’ll have both of my kids before the age of 40, and knowing that my life will be mostly complete in that regard, is a pleasant thought.