Wednesday, March 12, 2014

13 Things I’ve Grown to Hate in my Life

“My heart, it don't beat, it don't beat the way it used to/
And my eyes, they don't see you no more/
And my lips, they don't kiss, they don't kiss the way they used to/
And my eyes don't recognize you no more”
- The Killers,
For Reasons Unknown

I heard that song on the Metro and it devastated me. Because I remember hearing for the first time as a younger man and imagining myself in his shoes – and now here I am.

When you’re 31, you’re not old, right? Isn’t 30 the new 20 and 40 the new 30 or something? But when you start diving into your 30’s, you realize that there is a lot of life under your belt.

Things have changed. My tastes are different. My feelings are different. My emotions are different. And mostly, well, I’m a lot more cranky and perturbed by things. Is this normal? I mean, the cranky old man is a stereotype for a reason, right?

So in lieu of parsing together a string of 100 more rhetorical questions, I feel like going over the things in my life that I used to like – and now, actively annoy me. Let’s get explore my inner curmudgeon.

Facebook
I finally did it. Over the weekend, I deactivated by Facebook account. It’s so frustrating to know it’s there at a moment’s notice if I get bored or log in without thinking, but it’s been a few days and, shockingly, the world has not ended. I guess?

facebook sucks
Like many, I was initially thrilled to have Facebook. The process is exactly how I imagine heroin working, without the crippling side effects and death. The first time you log into Facebook and start seeing what’s out there, it’s like the greatest Internet high you can possibly imagine – a Google search turned up to 11. You see what high school friends are up, how your college buddies turned out, who got married, who had kids and if you exes have terrible lives. It’s intoxicating. And then every time you go to Facebook after that, it’s a little less exciting.

And then after a few years, it becomes a chore. Your relatives are all on there. Your friends send out party invites through it. People send you a Facebook message instead of an email, text or call. It becomes a burden. The pictures are no longer fun – it is a never-ending stream of baby photos.

Alas, the reason I finally left FacebookTown was due to the advertising. I mean, I knew it was coming, that Facebook with its enormous reach was going to become overrun with them. But the social network did so by stealing things that worked from other social networking sites like Twitter, so now you can use hashtags and see what’s trending. It’s turned into a Frankenstein of social media, all designed to get you to click on the websites of advertisers.

No thank you.

Bicycles
This is entirely due to living in Washington, D.C. because when I lived in Hartford – surprise, surprise – there weren’t a lot of people biking around. Now, I have to deal with them on a daily basis and they are, without fail, the most annoying people on the road.

The other week, I was walking to the Metro on the sidewalk when a bicycle rang their bell at me – yes, rang a fucking bell – so I would move out of the way. I guess that is better than the guy who simply yelled, “Move!” at me on the sidewalk. And let’s not even get into the bicyclists acting like they own the road, yelling at drivers and making lefts against red lights because they can.

If you ride a bike in Washington, D.C., I hate you.

Bracketology
When the notion of Bracketology became a thing; I was on-board with two feet. Even if UConn was rarely on the bubble, it was fun to see where they would be seeded and how matchups could happen. And then over the past couple of years, it has gone from cute niche to cottage industry. Every site has their own bracket. Every site has their own bubble watch.

Look, I love the NCAA Tournament as much as anybody and think my bracket will always win, but it’s out of control. I don’t need hourly updates. I don’t need endless debates on ESPN. I don’t need ESPN to treat Joe Lunardi – who I like and follow on Twitter – as the end-all, be-all, just as I don’t need ESPN pushing its BPI rating, which is completely and totally inconsequential to the tournament selection.

I beg you, ESPN, just let me watch the games until Selection Sunday, and then we can start dissecting resumes.

Superhero Movies
I’m not the biggest comic book/superhero guy but I could always get behind a good movie. Then Batman Begins came along and I watched it about 7,000 times. I could not get enough of it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t alone. And along with Batman, there was a Spiderman reboot and an Iron Man with Robert Downey that made too much money and now Hollywood studios go to superheroes like they’re an ATM machine.

guardians galaxy batista
Could these studios maybe spend their money on something else? The combined budgets for the two Thor movies were north of $300 million dollars. $300 million! How many good movies with original stories could you make for that much money? 20? 30? 40?

Bradley Cooper is in the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which will probably have a nice 9-figure budget. He was also in Silver Linings Playbook, a movie so good that it completely caught me off guard and made $236+ million on a budget of $21 million.

Hollywood – do more of that, less superhero junk. Or reboot Superman for the fourth time, I don’t care.

WrestleMania
So if you’ve read my blog, you know that I am a recovering wrestling addict. A Jerichoholic, if you will. I hopped on board for Daniel Bryan last summer, quit cold turkey in the fall and then fell off the wagon for the Royal Rumble, only to be horribly disappointed. It’s been a real fun few months.

No matter my interest level in pro wrestling during a particular year, I would always order and watch WrestleMania. It’s like the person who only watches the Super Bowl or only care about college basketball in March – it’s part of the ritual.

WrestleMania, though, has become a drag. It used to be the climax to big shows and the “blowoff” for many feuds. Think Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant, the Mega Powers exploding or Stone Cold Steve Austin winning his first WWF title. These were iconic, legendary moments in the history of pro wrestling.

But since 2007, the event has been held exclusively in domes or stadium and that feeling has been replaced by bloated excess. The Rock and John Cena wrestled at WrestleMania 28, which was dubbed “Once in a Lifetime” and they proceeded to wrestle again at WrestleMania 29. The headline matches feature part-timers like The Rock, Brock Lesnar, Undertaker and Triple H who show up for one big match and then disappear for months.

It’s also a chore to sit through – much like my blog posts at time – as it lasts four hours, featuring annoying filler, commercials on a pay-per-view and long entrances that eat up more time than the wrestling.

I’d say pass on ordering the show but the WWE Network means most fans will watch like sheep anyway.

Family Guy
Was I high all the time? How did I like this show? I’m not talking about the dreck they trot out every week now, I mean back in the day when I really loved Family Guy and was excited for it to return.

What exactly made me think the show was funny? The South Park guys were so dead-on about the manatee jokes that it’s painful to watch an old episode and realize that I thought that was high comedy. A collection of meaningless jokes and no plots worth remembering? I think we were distracted by the talking dog and evil baby to focus on how brutal the show actually was.

When people try to defend American pop culture, just point at Family Guy and they’ve lost the argument.

Hangovers
This implies that I used to like hangovers. I didn’t. But, except in rarest and most tequila-est of situations, they didn’t bother me. When I was a daily newspaper reporter, it was almost a badge of honor. You cover a town meeting at night, drink a few beers, go to bed past midnight, wake up by 5am to get the paper out by 11am and cap it off will a well-earned afternoon nap. What a life.

Now? If I have four beers on a Wednesday night, I spend all of Thursday wanted to chop my head off and deposit it in a dumpster. What is wrong with me? Every hangover turns into a battle between good and evil as I do anything I can to subdue the horrible pounding in my brain. Am I old or do I need to drink more?

Jennifer Lawrence
Stop falling over. Stop acting overwhelmed when you win an award for the 14th time. And don’t badmouth Fashion Police when your looks attribute to 99.6% of your celebrity.

The NFL Draft
I used to love this as a kid. I used to love this ten years ago. I was okay with it about five years ago.

In 2014, I want the NFL Draft to be tossed into a vat of hot lava and go away forever. The event itself is okay, if hopelessly bloated and overproduced – kind of like WrestleMania.

But it is the leadup and previews on ESPN for months on end that have ruined the experience for me. I get it, the NFL is too big to fail and Roger Goodell does no wrong even if he’s a modern-day tyrant. I just don’t care about Johnny Football that much. It’s too much. Make it stop. Make it go away.

Bill Simmons
The first time I read Bill Simmons was a lot like finding Jesus – I guess – and it’s appropriate since it was about Roger Clemens being the anti-Christ. As a Mets fan in 2001, shortly after Clemens threw a bat at Mike Piazza in a steroid rage, I was on board with every word. I was a fan of Bill’s style, which eventually came to influence a generation of sports bloggers. Whether this is good or bad, you can decide for yourself. But at least I’ve cleansed myself of his annoying adherence to dropping one dated pop culture reference per 250 words.

Simmons has grown past being a blogger. He runs Grantland.com, which is successful if annoying in that “smelling your own farts” way. He came up with the ESPN 30 for 30 concept, even if that has lost steam. Generally, he’s been more good than bad. As long as we discount his penchant for nerdy, inside baseball NBA columns that are about 6,000 words too long.

Overall, he has just become repetitive. The same things, the same lines, the same jokes over and over. Much like the Rick Reilly he enjoys mocking, he’s become a parody of himself. The coup de grace came in the past week when he posted two email exchanges with fellow Grantland writers. Is that what passes for writing these days?

patrick ewing big east
The Big East
Holy shit, can we move on? I’m a UConn fan and I miss the Big East as much as anyone but I miss it because it meant UConn was in a major conference. The American is almost but not quite there despite its surprising success in year one.

But good lord, the tributes to the Big East over the past year are the epitome of looking through everything with rose-colored glasses. As the new Big East has discovered – no one gives a crap about the basketball schools. A Georgetown/Villanova game on Fox Sports 1 drew 74,000 viewers! That would have made it the lowest rated program on ESPN for the week, by about 100,000 viewers.

The notion that football killed the Big East is hysterical. Basketball killed the conference because they kept trying to appease schools like Providence and Seton Hall that don’t mean jack or shit in today’s sports world.

As for ESPN’s 30 for 30 on the conference? I’m boycotting it on principle. Why is the Big East gone? Because ESPN killed it! They set out to destroy the conference so they now have five major football conferences to pay for, instead of six. It was a shrewd business decision. It saves them a ton of money every year.

But please, spare me the constant flashbacks to 1985. If the Big East was so great, it’d still be around. You know, because of capitalism and stuff. But it’s not because it wasn’t that great. UConn beating the crap out of Houston in basketball feels a lot like UConn beating the crap out of Providence in basketball.

Jeans
In high school, I tried to be contrarian and not wear jeans. Since I was a nerdy kid, a year younger because I skipped a grade, who had failed to hit puberty while being the best golfer on the team – it was the opposite of good look.

Eventually, puberty hit, I matured and I started to wear jeans. I was a normal boy!

Today? I’m not a huge fan of jeans and, in fact, I never really have. I have exceptionally big thighs – some would say muscular. I like to say everything below the waist is huge. Regardless, jeans don’t work for me. No matter the fit, my thighs mean jeans are tight on me. When I was younger, this didn’t bother me. Now, it annoys me to no end.

It’s a sign of my advancing age that I’m more comfortable in my work clothes – khakis or a suit – than my jeans. But in reality, I would just like to walk around in my active wear for every second of every day. I should’ve been a mobster.

Ellen DeGeneres
Yeah, I used to like Ellen. My first newspaper job had me home most afternoons and Ellen was a nice diversion. Her talk show was different, and sort of still is, from the rest and stood out for its fun. She was quirky and funny. It was a cute vibe.

But after the Oscars, I never want to see Ellen DeGeneres again. Taking a selfie with celebrities and begging for retweets was pretty much rock bottom for our popular culture, considering it was basically just an ad for Samsung.

When your biggest comedy bit is giving pizza to movie stars – you need new material.

Sex
Just kidding, sex is still awesome. 

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