by Erick Brown
Cynicism is always fun. But this list was tough because it’s composed mostly of things that I wish were better. They once had promise in their own little ways but they have since out-worn their welcome. Thus, I present the following list with just a hint (the precise amount of Sriracha I enjoy on my Pad Thai) of regret:
1. Bill Snyder. He’s good, but this past year brought reactionary fans out of the woodwork to proclaim the superiority of Bill Snyder to the utmost levels. He took a very lousy program and turned it around during the 90’s. He had a number of really good years, reaching 10+ wins consistently and peaking at an unexpected #1. All the while he has (according to those who ignore JUCO transfers) done this with paltry, pathetic recruiting classes. Apparently this demonstrates that he is among the ‘greatest coaches of all time’. What these arguments ignore is that Synder has won just 2 conference titles in his career, is under .500 in bowls, .666 all time, and .598 in conference. A good coach, but nowhere in the discussion among the greats.
2. Smartphones. Smartphones certainly aren’t underrated in popular culture, but those that don’t have one are constantly bombarded by their smarter-phoned brethren about everything they are missing. They are assured that it will change their life, they will never be able to go back, that they don’t know what they are missing, etc. As a recent smartphone convert driven to make the switch thanks to a generous corporate phone program, I’m glad I held out as long as I did, and I don’t believe I’d have much of an issue returning to the LG EnV2 that served me well for 3+ years. Considering the prices, the expansive availability of Wi-Fi, and the relative value of Wi-Fi-based items like iPod Touches or Kindle Fires…smartphones have hit a Kings-of-Leon point from which they may never return. Wi-Fi certainly won’t be shrinking in the future.
3. The Walking Dead. The books are better than the show, and the books just aren’t very good. The graphic novel series that pre-dates the AMC TV show were recommended to me by friends and blogs alike. They were supposedly a hidden gem from the under-the-radar Image Comics, and I eventually gave in and picked up a few. I got through a solid 9 trade paperbacks before quitting and never looking back. The novelty of a zombie comic book and the writer’s willingness to kill of characters George R.R. Martin-style can only make up for incredibly awful dialogue for so long. I regret only that they sit on my shelf next to much better material. Eventually, I heard amazing things about the TV series. Another hidden gem on a TV channel that brought me Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I gave it a full two seasons before, once again, the novelty wore off and the acting and writing led to a unceremonious removal of my Tivo Season Pass. The Walking Dead is readable and watchable to a certain extent, but the ratings leave me simply baffled.
4. Agnosticism. This seems to be a term that many people use to simply mean “I don’t like going to Church”. It’s right on par with the statement: “I’m not religious, but I am spiritual”. And I for one believe both have run their course of usefulness. I’ve had many engaging conversations about theism with theists, atheists, and agnostics. The consistent feature of a conversation with an agnostic is that it’s short. Not because they are unwilling to discuss religion, but because it generally becomes pretty obvious which side of the fence they actually fall on. In the words of the always entertaining Richard Dawkins: Permanent agnosticism is “fence-sitting, intellectual cowardice.”
5. Pirating Movies. I had my pirate phase for sure. It’s easy, it can be extremely useful (especially a while back when trying out a new TV show was significantly more difficult than it is today), it’s free, and it’s mostly harmless. But there are people who download just to download. They react to any discussion about movies with: “Oh yea, I have that on my computer”, yet they have never bothered to actually watch it. I may be in the minority, but for the enjoyment I get out of a movie theater experience (and don’t be afraid to go it alone), tickets are relatively cheap (keep an eye out for AMC Gold Experience tickets and buy in bulk for $7 each). And the availability of cheap DVDs or movie-streaming services is truly astounding if you think back to 5-10 years ago. Finally, there are literally hundreds of sources out there that can help you avoid a shitty movie-going experience. If you’re upset about dropping $10 on a movie ticket, it’s my personal belief that you’re seeing the wrong movies.