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It’s Snowy Deck & Patio Furniture Season

_99149104_20171210_145801Christmas is over and back in its box in the attic. The jet stream is blowing hard across the Great Lakes and pummeling us with sub-zero wind chills and lake effect snow, arctic clippers and blowing down across Ohio and, this week, that newest hyperbolic wild weather phenomena–the BOMB CYCLONE (oh how the marketing brahs at The Weather Channel must have sighed whilst excavating that gem of a meteorological wonder)–is hitting the mainstream, joining Snowmageddon and Polar Vortex in that rarefied caste of ratings-generating American Idol Weather Terminology.

This is not to undermine the effects of winter storms and the havoc they wreak. Every time it sleets south of Fredericksburg, Virginia dozens of Sons & Daughters of the Confederacy are lost to, or injured in, wholly avoidable automobile accidents. (HINT: Stay home, Beauregard, that white stuff is slippery.) And Boston got spanked by Flash floods that froze (WTF?) entire neighborhoods in place, which is messed up. But it is Boston and, well, karma. Right? Somebody has to bear the burden of the Patriots’ deal with the devil, and it ain’t going to be living Vegan Ken doll QB Tom “Quinoa Salad” Brady.

winter-snow-outdoor-furniture_lwtirzWhat does trouble me about these Twitter-friendly parade of ridiculous terminology is that shade they’re throwing on the time-honored, proven-to-be-accurate method of winter storm appraisal, the good old-fashioned Deck & Patio Furniture photo. For as long as I can remember (admittedly, not as long as I used to be able to remember), the severity of winter storms has been evaluated using observable scientific method, most recently on the internet but for many years before that in the form of winterizing-snowviewer-submitted photos and filler coverage by local news teams. Three generations learned to analyze the critical level of a “weather event” through this observable, utterly reliable data.

How would I know what winter was bringing to my good, decades-long friend Sally, who lives far away in Montana, if she didn’t apprise me of winter conditions north of Yellowstone with timely and evocative imagery of her deck, live and up to date?  That’s right. These are my actual friend’s actual photos of her actual furniture.

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It goes without saying that the level of personal connection forged between me and my friend–or any one of the millions of Americans who annually apprise the world of their on-deck snow conditions (looks like Sally has a nice 7 inch base with a few inches of powder on top)–exceeds anything a few bozos with an old meteorology textbook can manage with their horror-film vocabulary.

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And, final, overlook the community-building that comes from the ubiquity of patio-furniture. I don’t think it is overstatement to say that these photos–and the sense of kinship they evoke–are one of the deep and abiding bonds that hold us together as a nation, and as a people. Stick that in your Bomb Storm and smoke it, why don’t you.

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Heartless Killers….

Ever look at a headline and you think wow, someone found that interesting enough to write about? (Quit smirking. This one doesn’t count.)

Screenshot_13I knew these brats were up to no good. But who knew J. Crew was still a thing? Their crap never fit me and always cost too much, but the pictures were pretty. I looked at the web site and was surprised how “mall cheap” the stuff they’re trying to peddle looks. Back in my day J. Crew was all full of khaki and muted pastels, clothes that models wore on pretend sailing adventures and picnics by the river, soft cotton sweaters that looked like they’d feel really nice between one’s hand and a preppie pixie’s left breast.

And Millennials, soulless destroyers that they are, are strangling all that. Just out of spite, I’m sure. It’s the pent-up fury of a generation’s collectively denied sexual dysfunction. Probably.

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Should I Fear Storms With Names?

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They said it, not me.

For the past three years, The Weather Channel has adopted a widely criticized advertising strategy of giving names to winter storms.  They’re not doing it to make you safer, or even to make it simpler to take about storms. What they want to do is get you talking about these storms and, more importantly, clicking on links to their web pages. Why? Because no respectable meteorological organization uses, or even acknowledges, those names.  So, when you hear that a winter storm called Lovemuffin is “bearing down on the east coast,” for example, then google “Lovemuffin” you’re going to end up at a Weather Channel site–or a cooperating site that is financially connected to the Weather Channel. Heck, they register these names as proprietary. In essence, they’ve found a way to “own” the news.

Even worse, in order to drive interest in their sites, the Weather Channel adopts a hyperbolic reporting posture. Every storm becomes the potential storm to end all storms, every squall threatens to become a blizzard, every blizzard the fresh dawn of a new ice age. Accompanying stories urge us to take measures that may increase our chances of survival–make sure your shovel is solid, buy flashlight batteries and candles, extra toilet paper, rent some movies, load up the shopping cart with Diet Coke and Oreo cookies.

Fortunately, they have not gone unopposed. A Facebook page, called STOP The Weather Channel From Naming Winter Storms–It’s Stupid emerged to challenge this scourge, and plenty of news articles, commentary, and essays have likewise pointed out the ridiculous and cynical nature of the Weather Channel’s ploy. Accuweather has spoken against the naming  storms, and the National Weather Service has refused to acknowledge the storm names.

In the mean time, it is difficult to know, without carefully inspecting every weather report for its sourcing, just how we should react. Is there really a horrifying, dangerous storm on the way, or is a media outlet just trying to keep their ratings up? And then, when that turns out to be the case, when do we pay the price after so much crying wolf, when will we become so immune to the hysteria that we fail to heed the warning–and how many will pay the price?

I put a million links up there–a million, count ’em–as references, but this essay is particularly interesting and enlightening.

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What To Name A Generation?

iGen
iGen? in all their glory

I recently read a moderately interesting article from NPR about generation names, where they came from, and how they evolve.  Towards the end, the author mentioned how the generation now referred to as Millennials were, for a long time, called Generation Y–a nod to my group, Generation X.  The Gen Y name, according to the writer, was a placeholder utilized until the marketing people who drive these definitions felt that they had an adequate enough grasp of the overall group characteristics to slap a label on them.

There are many things about this generation that I do not understand.
There are many things about this generation that I do not understand.

Interesting, I thought, but what about my kids?  There is no name for that generation, as yet, beyond “those damned kids and their loud, shitty music why can’t they stay out of my yard!” which isn’t, from a marketing or sociological standpoint, all that useful.

The leading term seems to be “iGen” in a nod to the technology which has been ubiquitous to these young people–the first generation to be born into the fully digital world.  The “iGen” name also reflects the monstrous looming presence of the Apple Corporation, progenitor of much of the defining technology of the era.

The counter-argument, and it is a poignant one, is the appropriateness of naming a generation after dominant technology when so many of that generation are economically limited in access to much of that technology.  I see the point, but I would argue that in the era we called “the space age” very few people actually got to go to space (some short-haired white guys, some dogs, and a few monkeys notwithstanding.)

It seems to me that within an age–or a generation–individuals are defined not just by their ownership or use of a defining element, but by their access–or lack of access–to the same.  More precisely, in an age of the internet, a young person without access to the internet is equally effected, whether negatively or positively.  Indeed, it could be argued that the negative relationship–or lack of relationship–is felt more profoundly than the positive, especially when their is a mainstream expectation that this access is universal.

My solution, of which I’m very proud, is to simply add a question mark to the favored “iGen” nomenclature.  So, iGen becomes iGen? –at once recognizing the power of the definitive technology as well as the questions surrounding the equity of this definition amidst the social and economic inequity of access.  Although the question remains: is it cynical, or just realistic, to name a generation after the individuals that the society of the time leaves behind?  I wonder.

Please begin my historically significant Wikipedia page….here

Or read more here.

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Really?

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sex sells

First off, let’s get this on the table: I suck, because I clicked on this ad just because…well, you know “why because.”  It just bothers me–maybe because I have daughters who have to live in this world, or maybe because they played me like mouth harp and I’m filled with self-loathing.  And 3705609807599815620that’s the post: pay attention to what they’re selling you, and how they’re selling it.  Coincidentally, just after writing the first draft of this post I encountered yet another breast-intensive t-shirt ad.  It is apparently a trend, and while the target page is different I’m wondering if both of these companies are related.  Finally, as if this all isn’t enough, I finally saw 14648350521393526941a t-shirt discounter page featuring a man, but not a sexy hunk of a man with similarly eye-popping physical attributes.  No, it would seem that the t-shirt marketers have identified sloppy, bearded no-good bums as their target demographic.  In short, they’re selling directly to me–or a younger, slogan-shirt wearing incarnation of me.  Fascinating.