Welcome to Top 5 Fun Friday, a regularly-occurring blog feature where I give you a list of extremely specific pointless shit from my life no one asked for. Why? Because the internet is STILL incredibly un-fun in 2021 and I enjoy blogging. It’s Friday and these will be fun! This week’s list…
Top 5 Inconsequential Things That Make Me Irrationally Angry
I doubt 2021 is off to the start any of us had hoped. Not that any of us were naïve enough to think a simple turning of the page would magically wave away all of the profound unpleasantness of the past year, but perhaps a less stark reminder of how shitty last year was would have been nice.
I myself have taken the new year to exercise more, eat better, and drink less. I’m cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, which is about as bold as I’m willing to be at this point, but I’m proud to tell you that my head is in a good space. That’s a big deal for me. I hope wherever you are, you’re taking the steps to take care of yourself. We can only control so much, and how we treat ourselves is a big component of that.
With all of that said, there are certain things that we’ll never be able to do anything about. And not to go all Andy Rooney on you (or Peter Griffin, for that matter), but seriously, fuck this shit. This shit I list below – fuck it!
It’s all exceedingly inconsequential, but persistent like a telemarketer and recurring like herpes. So let’s exorcise some of these demons and get them out into the sun. Here we go. Get annoyed, people!
When clues remain hidden at the end of a round in “Jeopardy!”
I’ve watched Jeopardy! for most of my life, and this one will never not be annoying. And I haven’t found anyone who disagrees with me. Jeopardy! is the best because you get a high volume of questions per game. That’s why shows like “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” will always be inferior. I don’t want to watch someone hem and haw over some multiple choice question for minutes on end and maybe even ask the audience of rubes what they think the answer is, I want a show to blast questions at me out of a firehose.
And that’s what makes the hidden clues so infuriating on Jeopardy! It means we’re having time management issues because either this particular group of players is subpar and we’re wasting a lot of time as no one’s able to guess a right answer, or this particular board is just not suited to everyone’s acumen. If it’s the former, fuck the casting agents who put this crew together. If it’s the latter, then you can rest assured the hidden clues are going to be about sports and the three dweebs on this particular game spent their whole lives getting swirlies from the asshole jocks in their high school.
And I suppose that’s the real dagger here. Remaining hidden clues never feel like they’re in categories like 17th Century French Poetry, Russian Oligarchs, African Geography or whatever the fuck else I know nothing about. They’ll be categories like Baseball Stadiums, 1990s Sitcoms, or Rock N Roll Album Covers. As a big ol’ nerd, when Jeopardy! contestants’ nerd interests don’t align with mine, I wish to enact some nerd-on-nerd violence. Instead, I just curse the TV like an impotent jerk and yell out DAMMIT! when that obnoxious little beeping signals the round is over.
When I accelerate to make a green light, but I misjudge the timing, so essentially I speed up to a red light
The light is green. You keep staring at it. You continue at your normal pace. It stays green. You’re approaching a decision point – do I maintain my speed, or y’know this light has been green a little bit too long should I speed up and make sure I make it through? You speed up. The light inevitably turns to yellow. Fuck, it’s too far to make it. I’ll be running a deeply red light if I keep going. You think this for a couple seconds too long which is going to make either decision at best uncomfortable, at worst catastrophic. You hit your brakes. You’re not a psycho. You have to brake a little harder than normal which is mildly physically uncomfortable, and you’re now stopped in the middle of the crosswalk. You feel like a horse’s ass. Repeat at least once a month until you die.
Typing in an email address and password using a remote control
For those of you with Roku TVs (as I have), you know how fucking shitty they are. The remotes are garbage, the interface is prone to needing a restart at least once a week when it’s not arbitrarily restarting itself, and the entire experience is a profound indictment of minimalism. A Roku remote has 14 buttons, two of which connect you directly to platforms that no longer exist. The bulk of the work is done with a directional pad that has an “OK” button in the middle.
The d-pad has the consistency and responsiveness of some discarded prototype of an NES controller from 1986. So that means a lot of clicking on shit you never meant to, waiting for the slow ass platform to load whatever it is you didn’t want to watch, and then hitting the back button and waiting again. And then, joy of joys, there are the times you get to re-enter your username and password using this shitty controller.
Many of my accounts are under an old email address of mine. Ready? jonathan (dot) ekstrom [at] yahoo (dot) com. That’s 26 goddamn characters, and because of the vagaries of however Roku designed its alphabet interface, means I get to crisscross the board multiple times just to type in that letter salad of a name of mine. Then comes the password! Enjoy galivanting around the menu to switch to numbers and special characters and changing from upper to lower case and all sorts of shit.
This wouldn’t be a big deal except for two things: 1) WWE Network (yes, I watch this a whole lot – shut up) crashes all the goddamn time. The company just got another billion dollars from NBCUniversal to fold the network under their own over-the-top streaming service Peacock. Here’s hoping they spend a few shekels on making this experience less crappy and counterintuitive. 2) If you gave me a Comcast remote, I’m a fucking wizard. I’ll punch in that shit like I’m defusing a nuclear bomb. With a Roku remote, even the most skilled finger jockey turns into someone with brain damage holding one of those giant occupational therapy pencils re-learning how to write their own name. Only an interface and a remote this crappy could make a person miss Comcast.
When someone solicits me for recommendations and then ignores them all
Think about your favorite restaurant, the one you go to all the time. You love it. You probably haven’t had everything on the menu because you have your favorite items and order those all the time, but you’ve had most of them. You take someone who’s never been there and they ask you, “Hey, what’s good here?” And you start going on and on about the breakfast burrito and the hangover hash and the chocolate chip waffles (you’re at brunch). And then they order.
“I’ll have the eggs benedict.”
Ok, you think. Never ordered that here, but it’s probably good like everything else. And what invariably happens? The eggs benedict is decent, but underwhelming and you feel like the other person is judging you because your favorite place served them mediocre shit and they left half of it on their plate.
This was a thoroughly avoidable situation, you think to yourself! Why would they go out on a limb when you’ve spilled all that praise for all the other stuff all over them? They’re underwhelmed, you’re annoyed, and you all could’ve easily sidestepped this social landmine, which makes it all the more irritating.
I take my recommendations seriously, and I know my audience. I’m not going to recommend that anyone watch 13 different Royal Rumbles in January like I did because that’s some extremely niche shit that I enjoyed the everloving dick out of. But if it’s restaurants, breweries, or cool shit to do in a city I love (if you know me, you know that I evangelize stuff I enjoy), I’m going to tailor my suggestions to what I think you’ll enjoy most.
I had someone in my life that hit me up for Las Vegas recommendations. At the time, I went to Vegas an absolute ton, so I dutifully wrote out more than a dozen recommendations of places to eat, where to gamble, shit to see, and anything else I could think of in an email to her. When she got back, I asked her how the stuff I recommended was, and she said cavalierly, “Oh, we didn’t do any of them.” Awesome. Remind me never to waste my time with you again. She hit me up again the very next year, and I just re-forwarded the email I sent her the year previous. She once again didn’t do any of the shit I recommended.
When someone is SHOCKED that I’m not watching whatever dumb show they like
Somewhere probably around Mad Men, television started to feel like fucking homework and I made the executive decision to stop trying to keep up with it all. There’s just too damn much of it, and at the end of a day when I’ve had to be creative all day and be a parent, I generally don’t have the energy or the desire to pay attention to a show closely.
Here are the new-ish shows I’ve watched more or less to completion in the last several months/years (I can’t keep track of time anymore).
The Last Dance (the Michael Jordan documentary)
The History of Swear Words (five episodes)
The Good Place
Dispatches from Elsewhere (which had such a terrible last two episodes, it made me retroactively hate the rest of the series)
I know that list is startingly light, but I’ve got Royal Rumbles to rewatch, after all! If a show is an hour, I’m probably not going to watch it (Stranger Things is the exception here). If it’s got a massive backlog of seasons, I’m definitely not going to watch it. And if it’s a drama, I’m almost certainly not going to watch it. I know this sounds like the ramblings of a crazy person, and you’re not alone in thinking that because every time someone says something as starkly goofy as “You’re not watching Yellowstone?! But it’s so good!” they look at me like I have two heads.
I’m sure Yellowstone IS good (as is The Mandalorian, Peaky Blinders, The Handmaid’s Tale, Transparent, The Crown, Ozark, ad infinitum), but I’m never going to give a fuck about it, or the vast majority of the rest of them. In the words of Albert Burneko in an article called “There Are Too Many Shows” from three and a half years ago (the problem has only gotten worse), “At this rate, even if the world never produced another new show, I could spend the entire rest of all the free time I will have between now and my 90th birthday just catching up on all the Extremely Important Prestige TV Shows that had come and gone by the time I grew more than vaguely aware of their existence within the past three years.”
This is why I don’t recommend TV shows to people. 1. I barely watch any of them anyway. 2. I don’t want to throw more homework on top of anyone’s pile. 3. I take my recommendations seriously.