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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Rob’s Rants: Summer 2016 So Far

It’s been an interesting summer so far. I’ve been in a pool regularly for the first time in decades, and I haven’t cycled much at all after seven years of hitting the Schuylkill Trail almost every week during the warm weather.

And after trying to get away from blogging, I’m pulling a George Costanza and doing the opposite as I consider jumping back in. I haven’t written a Rob’s Rants in almost four years, when I was still complaining about Andy Reid throwing the ball too much on my Philly sports blog. It was always a fun post to write—and hopefully to read—so I thought I’d try an edition with various subjects.

Here’s my rapid fire reaction to a few things that caught my attention so far this summer:

  • I read Bill Lyon’s series in the Philadelphia Inquirer on his experiences living with Alzheimer’s disease. Growing up reading Lyon’s sports columns was my introduction to great newspaper writing, and he’s still the measuring stick by which other columnists are judged. Reading his series is bittersweet. I welcome the chance to read his words again, and marvel at his willingness and ability to share what he’s dealing with. Yet, having watched my dad go down hill with early onset dementia, I’m saddened knowing what awaits Lyons. Still, it’s more than worth reading.

  • Ben Affleck appeared on the debut of Bill Simmons’ HBO show and dropped the F-bomb every five seconds in an effort to be . . . edgy? I’m guessing. I haven’t had HBO since the last time Verizon screwed something up and gave it to us for free, but I can’t imagine watching this show. Simmons never worked on ESPN—certainly not on their NBA coverage. Besides that, two Boston guys crying because Tom Brady actually got penalized—oh, wait, he didn’t yet—for trying to steal another Super Bowl has to be the dumbest way ever to debut a national sports show.

  • Except for a mention that I voted in the primary, I haven’t discussed politics on social media since the first election of President Obama. It was too toxic for a guy trying to pull people into reading his blog and eventually books. But . . . Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump? That’s our choice for president? What the F-bomb, right, Ben? I feel like we’re in some deleted scenes of Back to Future II where the future got all screwed up because Marty altered the space-time continuum. Don’t forget, 2015 was the future in the trilogy, and they’ve been campaigning at least since then.

  • Like everyone else, I’ve had terrorism and the recent news about more black men dying in altercations with police catch my attention this summer. The attack on police in Dallas and the violence in a gay night club in Orlando was just as horrible. I don’t know what to say about it. I think those words, I don’t know, need to be said by a lot more people. I do notice a few things. Whenever I see cops trying to keep the peace during protests on the news, I see black, white, Hispanic, and no doubt other races, in uniform. It makes me think things can improve. Then I see #whiteprivilegemeans on Twitter. And then I wonder if we actually want to live together peacefully—I think most people do—or if we just want to keep the rhetoric going. In some ways, I think the issue needs to come out of the political conversation. I’m tired of newscasters waiting on Clinton and Trump to tweet after the latest attack. It trivializes these issues somehow. Otherwise, I hope some smart people who are far away from Twitter are finding answers.

  • If you follow the disability conversation on Twitter, it’s tough to miss #CriptheVote. As I understand it, the hashtag is meant as a non-partisan effort focused on disability in politics. I haven’t joined in with a tweet, but often read the hashtag with interest. I’ve noticed some tweets (not from the creators of the hashtag) pushing the idea of people with disabilities as a voting bloc. With so much diversity among people with disabilities—not just the nature of disabilities and accompanying issues, but also other forms of diversity (political affiliation, issues not related to disability, etc.)—I wonder if that’s possible or even desirable. Although, other groups would seem to have some of the same issues. Learn more about the hashtag on the website of one of the creators, Andrew Pulrang.

  • I’ve only latched onto two new shows in what has been a weak summer TV season. I’m fading fast on Feed the Beast. I like the David Schwimmer character, Tommy. He’s opening a restaurant while mourning his wife and caring for his son, T.J. (Elijah Jacob), who hasn’t spoken since watching his mother get killed. I suppose some would put Andre in the category of a disabled character, but I’m not quite ready to do that. However, having gone to school with a kid who chose not to speak, I’m curious to see how these characters develop. Unfortunately, Tommy’s partner, Dion (Jim Sturgess), constantly subverts the potential success of the other characters with one blatantly dumb decision after the other. Just out of prison, Dion’s dealing with a drug addiction and surrounding issues. Typical of summer shows, constant tension is packed into every episode, with Dion being the main facilitator of problems. I just think it’s forced, and overwhelms the rest of the story too often.

  • I actually have less to say about American Gothic, which is a mystery centered on a wealthy family that has come together for the funeral of the father figure. An old investigation into a serial killer has gained traction, and viewers are periodically lead to believe different family members are the guilty party with new episodes. It’s not overly compelling, but it doesn’t go overboard forcing drama and the promise of a resolution at the end of the summer keeps me watching.

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