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JB's Seventh Annual "Airing of the Grievances" Blog

 

If you would have told me in December of 2017 that I would still be doing an “Airing of The Grievance” blog seven years later I would have not believed you. I did it on whim just to be onery that very first time. As it has turns out it has been a fun way for me to end each year since then. I would have never bet that this tradition would have taken hold. Now that I am retired, and not as pissed off as much, as well as a little more relaxed, I may run out of material and who knows how many these I have left so enjoy.

For those with great hopes that there would be a “Rip the Filter off Completely” retirement edition this year, I will sadly have to manage your expectations. It seems restraint and good manners this holiday season have overridden my normal caustic proclivities and have temporarily prevented a “burn down the house-go out in a ball of flames” blog in the near term. No worries though I will be working on that one, so that when I pass away It can be shared after my death behind a pay wall in one last effort on my behalf to raise money for the Animal Shelter from the grave. I will  be posting my Manifesto to Higher Education at that same time as well. (Lots of thoughts on that topic these days if you catch me seven drinks deep).

For returners to the blog, you know the drill. This is about having a little fun during the stressful times of the holiday.  For new folks to this space, it is not for the delicate, compassionate, or empathetic. It is also not for those of you who need handled with kids gloves or are tight asses, in general. If you identify in any sort of these ways, you may want to consider this your TRIGGER WARNING and leave now. If you are hyper sensitive, or are somehow in denial of the fact, it is time for you to exit and keep scrolling. You know who you are, as I am sure people have let you know multiples times that you carry around the defective sensitivity gene. The whole idea of this blog pretty much assures that someone will be offended by something in it. If not minimally taking exception to my thoughts outright. But those thoughts are just that---MINE. You are welcome to produce your own blog if you don’t agree with me. This one is for people with a sense of humor.

My general policy has always been to attempt to leave politics out of this (or at least not hit it directly like a cable news network or newspaper). I try to have three or four primary topics and finish up with some smaller things that simply annoy me and I feel like bitching about to get off my chest.  LAST CHANCE-----LEAVE if you going to have hurt feelings or are a “Canceller”. If you stay just to be a voyeur, knowing you will be frustrated, it speaks volumes about you (and I don’t mean in a good way). If you do stick around, you may actually learn something (whether you old and out of touch or young and disconnected, or you are finally just trying to cure your hypersensitivity through shock therapy). Buckle up and put a helmet on-----we will get started as soon as everyone signs their non-disclosure forms.

In retirement I have had a little more time on my hands. As such, I have utilized some of this well-earned rest catching up on tv shows and movies. Having the additional time, coupled with the “actors” dumbass Hollywood strike (because those people need more money) I have been reunited with the idea that there is a tremendous amount of crappy television being produced. Not even getting into the issue of having to subscribe to seven different streaming services if I want any chance at all to consume what little good tv and live sporting events are left out there and available for my viewing entertainment.

One of the shows I have allowed myself to be sucked into pretty deep, as I am knocking down some Cheetos and cigars is Dateline (and Dateline: Secrets Uncovered). Overall, it’s not a horrific show. I just can’t take the fake drama of all of it in my  old age. That Canadian host dude (Keith Morrison), who has the great wavy gray hair and that deep baritone voice is interesting despite the fact that he could somehow make your morning constitution feel like a life or death situations.  I do also like  how they start each show with something like: “Colchester (or add any small town in America’s name here like Quincy who actually had an episode aired) is a sleepy town” thing.  I am all for making small towns famous---even if is for abductions of small kids and homicides gone wrong.  I like that the show is predictable, and that for an hour or two there will be a story told where a boatload of bad sh#t happens to real life people. Its fascinating. In the end, they generally catch the killer and he/she denies all of it in the prison interview after being convicted or awaiting an appeal trial (remember everyone inside is innocent).

I just can’t take some of the certifiable relatives/friends they parade out for these hosts to speak. They almost always have no clue that their dead friend or relative was living on the edge of life, sailing hard and fast towards “Bad Decision Bay”.  Really, you didn’t see that Jenni was “riding the lightening” of life before she was abducted while hanging around a three time felon at all hours of the night? Or you didn’t realize Little Frank had been exhibiting psychopathic tendencies and anti-social disorders, as well as general bad behavior, for the last decade. I am always stunned by the surprise and denial they express in those they interview. “He was a good boy before he chopped her body into little pieces. I just can’t believe he was capable of forceable assault and strangulation.”  Really? I am sure in kindergarten he was a sweet kid and was the teachers favorite but that changed quickly in Double Jeopardy.  

One of the other things that drives me absolutely batty is the fake “B-roll” camera footage they produce to “enhance” the story. I can’t take watching one more cop pretending to be diligently banging out a report on his/her office computer to make sure we all know how hard working they have been to solve the biggest crime they have ever tackled in their career. It is important for us, as the audience, to know that they never gave up on this case (even at the expense of their own family and marriage (#UltimateSacrafice #NeverGiveUp #ForTheFamily). You know every cop and detective back at the station is making fun of their happy asses when the show actually airs. I don’t need to see the lab scenes with the fake DNA testing either.  Lets keep it real.

Even worse, almost inevitably in each episode, the obligatory grave side shot of the grieving families and friends, who were left behind to pick up the pieces and keep Jenni’s memory alive. Cue the dramatic background music. I am sure those folks truly are sad. It’s a bad break that she wound up in a river serving as an appetizer for some oversized catfish, but shame on you NBC for leveraging that grief by trying to recreate the cemetery scene in Steel Magnolias to score cheap sympathy points. Just stop. FAKE FAKE FAKE!!!!! I can’t take it anymore. I like you Dateline, but lets clean things up a little bit now that I have time to watch. My physician is prescribing more sincerity from you and your team moving forward. Maybe some more real life gory crime scene photos would be a nice touch.

Also, here is a pro tip from watching that show. I am throwing this one in for free. Don’t kill anyone. Especially if you know them. The Dateline crew may be high on the fake drama, but they do a fine job sharing and explaining how the technology out there today is crazy good enough to catch you if decide to whack someone that rejected you or no longer loves you. I don’t care how smart you think you are and how you have gamed out the perfect murder. Your toast. They WILL catch you, putting your friends in the awkward position to be interviewed by these people while being forced to choose to either throw you under the bus or lie for you. Don’t be that person. Friends don’t let friends interview on Dateline.

Speaking of fake television. These “House Hunters” or “Home improvement” television shows are becoming too much for me and way over the top. I don’ t know any person who can afford a $1.2M house near the beach on a teachers salary while married to a stay at home Dad. It is giving too many people out here in the real-world false hope. It is causing frictions in marriages and relationships about reasonable expectations. Maybe these people won the lottery or maybe they are trust fund babies. I don’t have a clue. I certainly don’t know where the producers find these folks, but this stuff almost never works for those of us outside the Hollywood bubble.

Then there are the people that aren’t buying, but renovating or flipping house out in “Home Improvement Fantasy Land”, Having worked many years with facilities management at a university,  I have never been part of a project that goes as smoothly, in terms of being on time and on budget as these shows do. They seem to be almost immune to bad luck, unforeseen circumstances, and inflation. Everything is a great big old bargain and it always works out in the end with everyone happy. It is like a  true Festivus Miracle each week. If you are a prisoner stuck in Shawshank then “hope” may very well be the best of things, but if you are out here contemplating on how to get your Dream House, I am not sure that this false since of reality being strewn around is very healthy for us “everyday Janes and Joes” of the world facing a dream crushing alternative. Remember that reality and expectation are the jackass cousins to hope. Maybe there should be a disclaimer at the end of each show that reads something like: “Trying this at home could lead to divorce, bankruptcy, and general discomfort.”

One last thing on bad retirement television experiences. As if the Bachelor and Bachelorette weren’t already appointment cesspool TV, we now have created the borderline, elder abuse version in the guise of the Golden Bachelor. ABC developed a pool of desperate candidates to choose from to put together this train wreck and wound-up singling out this poor widower Gary, as the ultimate victim here. Preying on an old dude looking for late in life love.

They went about accomplishing this by throwing him in with a pride of lionesses who happened to be  fairly well preserved for the amount of gas left in their collective tanks. Think about the retirement residencies at “The Villages” in Florida without the cameras and rose ceremonies. I often wonder what the STD rate is on these shows (I know what they are in the Villages and they make a collage campus look a monastery down there).

Of course, it draws in all of us recent AARP adjacent retirees, living with our crazy pets, that think there is still hope for us to get our own “Final Rose” from someone special. It motivates us to consider joining a dating site (which is as close as we can get to this little experiment baked in loneliness)  to conjure up and concoct our own back story of woe and hardship to elicit pity, sympathy, and charity that will somehow miraculously connect us to our soul mate this latest time around the track. The harsh reality is, however, that there is no hometown date to meet the dog, no “Miracle on 34th Street” moment, no rose ceremony, and certainly no “Fantasy Suite” night for us mere mortals outside of Beverly Hills.

Just another season of false hope for us armatures, languishing in the dating desert without an oasis in sight. No sour grapes here though. I wish the best for Gary and Teresa. I mean what could go wrong meeting your husband/wife this way. As long as the money keeps rolling in, I am sure it will all work out just fine in the end. Truely love at first site (of the Royalty Checks). Clearly, the actors strike to end so I can get back to some real television before I need to see a therapist. Until then I think I need to turn back to some NCIS reruns so I can adjust my attitude a little.

Next up to the plate on my mind this year is the world’s rapidly changing technology. If Artificial Intelligence (AI) doesn’t scare the hell out of you then you are not seeing or reading the same stuff I am. We can all be pissed about the “self-checkouts” at groceries and the Big Box stores (even though it seems to appeal to people’s new found love NOT to be connected in anyway to other human beings). Those things, however, are just the tip of the ice berg and outliers compared to ChatGPT and other Artificial Intelligence. You will be happy to know that I WILL NEVER USE ChatGPT for this blog or anything else that I write moving forward (You will be able to prove that by the inevitable grammar or spelling mistakes you find while reading  this----that have no doubt slipped through my otherwise strong editorial editing skills).

I seriously worry that at some point we are going to dumb down society, as well as every future generation by relying on this technology, that there will be a point of no return. Hell, we may already be there. Why would someone want a machine/computer speak for them? Not this guy. I think I am WAY funnier than some algorithm. I thank God everyday I am at my age because I think this next thirty years there is an even chance that we are going to be living out a real-life version of Blade Runner (Millennials look it up if you haven’t seen it—Harrison Ford).

As long as we are talking about technology and connection (or lack thereof) lets add communication to the mix. I have learned that if you want to talk to anyone under thirty that you essentially have to get the Snapchat app and use its messenger function. I love my niece (and I only have one so she is very important to me) but I have found that if I text her all I get back is crickets. I can Snapchat messenger her and the responses are almost immediate. I am picking on her because I know she can take it, but she is emblematic of an entire generation who considers this a perfectly functional way to operate.

Let’s not stop there. When they finally do answer you, they respond back in an almost imperceptible language. It is some combination of basterdized “short abbreviated text” (like a modern-day Morse Code) combined with the world of Emojis (you know those little cartoon like symbols---"wink wink—kiss kiss”). Good luck if you can figure out what these emojis mean (minus the most basic ones—"smiley face:”). I will just tell you than many of them are filled with innuendos that would make you blush, whether it be the one representing the purple eggplant, the purple devil, the taco, the peach, or the sweat droplets.  If you want an education, start googling some of that stuff in combination and take a peek under the hood into what a kid under thirty is driving down the internet highway these days in the old app world. These things are the “Communication Currency” in a “Swipe Right” world.

I say all that, but you actually may not want to go down that rabbit hole of the Urban dictionary if you are past a certain age. It may lead to permanent damage. In the end, I have a better shot of understanding the Navajo Code Talkers from World War II than this modern day Sanskrit. You seriously need some combination of a Trix Decoder Ring and Rosetta Stone to get to the bottom of what they are trying to communicate. As the kids would say----- SMH.

When they actually do use words instead of emojis and abbreviations I still don’t understand them. Did anyone else besides me notice the 2023 Oxford Dictionary “Word of the Year” was “Rizz”. If not then you best “level up” your etymology game. I will give you this one though. It is a word that (clearly made up) denotes charisma, charm, and attractiveness. Apparently if you have “Rizz” you have “game’ and the ability to attract a romantic/sexual partner. Who knew? I feel like I should have ordered a “I have Rizz” t-shirt to wear around for the family Christmas just to be “That Uncle”.

The only silver lining I can take away from this whole thing is the fact that the term “Swifty” was snubbed for the top honor. Crushing the dreams of the Taylor Swift Mafia/Army everywhere. All the new words, emojis, and abbreviations are overwhelming. It is a brave new world for us curmudgeons. For all you out there having a “Failure to communicate” in your own house with your loved ones or family (especially the youth still likely living at home), maybe this blog will get you jump started in beginning the dialogue to help you with that communication healing process this holiday season (Insert heart Emoji here).

Speaking of Taylor Swift. The price of concerts and sporting events has become completely asinine. It is easier to afford one of those properties on “House Hunters” than to go see your favorite band, singer, or team live at a game or a concert. I am for people getting paid but when Shohei Ohtani makes more than ten major league teams by himself then it makes perfect sense to me why I am being charged $25 for nachos at the ballpark. By the time you get done purchasing the tickets for the family, the hotel, parking, and the food on one of these trips you have to take out a loan equivalent to your vehicle. That doesn’t even include getting  any memorabilia

Concerts are no better. Families were auctioning off their first-born sons to try and get tickets for their daughters to go see Taylor on her ERAs tour earlier this year. I really don’t know what all the hype is about her and this tour. Yea, she is a marketing machine. Yes, she has treated her tour crew extremely well but really? Sure she a GDP “meter mover” but  who in their right mind wants to drop that kind of coin on a concert ticket? Stop the insanity. I would be more interested in a box of Zebra cakes and a case of Diet Pepsi than going to one of her shows.

I want to take the opportunity marry the topic of food with technology now. I am done with “Big Corporate Pizza”. Trust me when I tell you know one has been a bigger supporter of this industry than me. I am a world class enabler of these people. But recently it has become clear to me that they want to push my demographic out. By that I mean older retiring dudes with weight and cholesterol problems, that have a severe lack of discipline after 10pm. They no longer care about us. In an attempt to apparently development a younger audience who lives in their parents’ basement with access to their credit cards. I say this because you almost have to exclusively order by app or kiosk now.

This is really becoming more prevalent across the whole food service industry not just pizza (Star Bucks, McDonalds, Steak and Shake). It is for two primary reasons. Kids don’t want to work anymore and they know the kids like using this technology. I am just not sure what they are going to do when they run out of Mom or Dads money or they finally get cut off and have to fend for themselves and find out what a world without Door Dash looks like.

These apps are just another way for Big Pizza to get your personal information (so they can constantly push information and “specials” out to you) all the while trying to upsell you through your entire experience on the app. It is like navigating an apocalyptic pizza matrix once you get in that thing and try to get your order completed. I long for the days of calling and having to repeat my name twice to a human on the other end of the phone who couldn’t figure out how to spell it. I feel like I am now in an “arranged marriage” within my relationships with Big Pizza. There used to be some magic there when I made that slightly buzzed late night call for a happy ending. Now it just feels forced and mechanical. The love is gone. It is across the entire industry too and it isn’t just the app. Is “AI Esmerelda” (my name for her). This is who answers you at Caseys if you attempt to order Pizza from there.

I called for a pizza from there the other night and of course I got introduced to this bad blind date for the first time. After turning down offer after offer of suggested selling on her part I completed the order and received an email 15 minutes later saying I could pick it up at the West End store even though I ordered it from the East End store. I was on a timeline that night for poker and really didn’t have the luxury of negotiating Tuesday night traffic in Macomb, IL.  When I called AI Esmerelda back, I probably sounded like I was at Arrowhead Stadium decibel levels, screaming in a crescendoing voice “CUSTOMER REPRESENTATIVE” repeatedly at the top of my lungs like a mad man in my feeble attempt to get to a real human voice. Finally, some poor sap slugging it out on the evening shift answered, listened to my rant, apologized, and then probably spat in my pizza, saying there was nothing he could do since it was the computer. I have news for you AI Esmerelda. The likelihood of a second date for us is low #SwipeLeft

In the end, corporate fast food is doing us and itself no favors with their apps, computer voice representatives, fancy touch soda machines that hardly ever work, or kiosks instead of wait staff. It is a completely sanitized way to do business when you goal should be to connect with your customer. It may appease the stock holders but to us poor peasants that frequent these places let me speak for many to inform you that you have let us down. I know it is not the local owners. Hell, they have found a way for me to still write a check (which I deeply appreciate). They are great people but even they can’t fight the gorilla that is Big Corporate Pizza. I may actually hit my goal weight this year from dieting just by boycotting the technology of Big Pizza and its sister fast food cousins. It a sad day in the land of take out and delivery.

It wouldn’t be an AOG blog if I didn’t bang on some sports organization each year. I am welcoming back the NCAA for a return trip to this blog. They and college sports need to get it together. I am not the only one bitching about the transferal portal and NIL (Name, Image, Likeness). Even though I am all for players to get paid something. God knows the NCAA big wigs and institutions have been feasting off the sweat and effort of these student athletes for a long time. However, instead of being pro-active and getting ahead of things that they knew were coming down the pike, they let the courts decide in the Ed O’Bannon case several years ago. Now we have the wild west out there in wide world of college athletics.

Then the powers to be decided it would be a great idea for them to institute a policy that students could transfer without penalty. We are in a world where the younger generation has been taught how special they are because everyone gets a trophy no matter what. So there ability to take any sort feedback has been numbed to the equivalent of a three day bender.  Now when they get coached up and have to respond to some structure, feedback, or possible learning opportunities, they can just take their ball and go to the next desperate school out there that opens their doors to them. It is a disposable world we are living in right now. Don’t like you TV or cell phone, then throw them away and get another. Don’t like your experience as a college athlete, cut bait and run. College athletics is in full on goat rodeo mode right now. Loyalty and commitment are in short supply, as is evidenced by no greater example, outside of marriage, than college athletics currently.

For my money the NCAA is becoming a train wreck with little daylight in sight. Percolate on a few of these things. Texas A&M alum “Buy out” a second rate head coach for $76M. That would fund most mid size state universities for a semester. The entire university. A third string college redshirt quarterback (Arhc Manning—UT) is making  three times more money on his NIL than the NFL Quarterback likely to be named the NFL MVP this year. Its insanity. The new world order of colligate athletics is one that is quickly going to separate the “have’s” and “have nots” liked Dr.Seuss’s Sneeches. A reflection of greedy fat cats that have manipulated the system to benefit themselves, while throwing one of our national treasures down the toilet. The NCAA has been in my blog so much through the years they get a free cup of coffee from their punch card they next time they show up again in the future. Shame on them.

Before I a close out I would like to mention several smaller things that give me angst these days. First, if you are a speaker at a banquet, wedding, classroom, or some other event. DO NOT take your cell phone to the podium and read off of it. Memorize your speech, speak extemporaneously, or take a typed paper of notes to the podium----but ditch your phone. I am as addicted to my phone as anyone I know and even I have the discipline to follow this rule.  It looks stupid. You are welcome for the feedback. I really should be charging for this advice.

To all of you cowards on social media who post “anonymously” on some of these Facebook groups to which you belong. Unmask yourself. Too often your question is either stupid, selfish, or both. It also one that if you wanted you could get a mentor to talk to you about instead of trying to cause consternation with your keyboard courage (or lack thereof). Higher education is the WORST about this rapidly growing transgression. Many times, these post surround bashing employers about toxic work environments because the poster just got fired or is just about to get the “big hair cut”.

When you actually read what they wrote, you wonder how they lasted this long. It is almost always surrounding some selfish topic that only benefits them, as the poster, and its almost always borders on the unreasonable or unrealistic. So do the rest of us a favor and either quit posting that crap or put your name on it and own it like an adult. What is it the kids say these days – “Adulting is hard”. It also includes owning your shit. It is called accountability. It is a real life changer.

You knew this was coming so I will take my beating now and beat the Christmas rush. Dear NFL cameramen, for the love of all that is holy, quit exposing us to the pan away shots of Taylor Swift at the Chiefs games. It is the NFL not the ERAs tour. Let’s quit trying to confuse the two of them. No true NFL fan cares. If I wanted to see Tay Tay I would sell my house and buy a ticket. I am guessing you won’t cease this nonsense so I guess the rest of us are just going to have to turn it into a drinking game.

Well, as always, I appreciate everyone that braved the ranting this far in the blog. The world is about as upside down as it’s ever been. There are plenty of things to have opinions on and be angry about right now. That said, there is a ton to be grateful for all around us. I hope you will take the time this holiday season to tell the ones you love how much you care about them and how important that are to you. Connect with folks in a meaningful way. Makes someone's day. Make them smile. Do a Random Act of Kindness this week. Celebrate enthusiastically with family and friends around a table full of food if the opportunity affords you to do so. In the end, the goods definitely outweigh the bad. Find humor in the stress of the season. Not sure how many more of these I will do but seven years later I have appreciated having an audience to share them with each December. 

A gentle reminder on some important tips this holiday season. Some that I have mentioned in the past. Santa prefers Kripsy Kremes, Captain Morgan, and a Cohiba to cookies and milk. Don’t burn your “Elf on the Shelf’ on a lamp and start your house on fire because you are a deadbeat Elf parent. Be sure to cut out the flavor of the month interloper boyfriends from the Christmas pictures they forced their way into again this year (Cropping matters), and most importantly----Don’t tag me into your crazy ass group pajama picture posts. “I love you but…….I have a lot of problems with you people”.

Uncle Scrooge



 

 

 

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