This post is going to make me sound like a grumpy old man, but hey, now that I’m over 30 I’m going to go ahead and treat myself 🙂
Each time I write in this blog, I choose a topic from a list of ideas that I’ve compiled over the years. A few of those topics aren’t quite significant enough to warrant a whole post, so I’ve crammed in 4 mini-posts below. And these 4 things all happen to have something in common.
They are the worst.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Contests
For the last 5 Christmases or so, without fail I have been invited to a party that highlighted or featured an “ugly sweater contest.” For some reason each party feels like this is a novel idea. I admit, the first year that this happened it was pure genius. It was impressive to see what people pulled out of their closet, because the sweaters they brought were NOT intended to be ugly, they were just vestiges from an earlier time when somehow they were fashionable. That’s why it’s funny.
But then after that first wave of ugly sweater parties, about 50 hot-shots from clothing companies drove home, went into work the next Monday, and said, “hey, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s make ugly sweaters!”
Now you can buy brand new purposely “Ugly Christmas Sweaters” in most stores around Christmastime (so that you’ll be prepared for all those ugly sweater parties!). The game has changed. It’s no longer about laughing at decades-old Christmas sweaters that have gone from in to out, and more about out-spending your friends to buy new ugly sweaters.
Ugly Sweater Contests have run their course. It’s time to retire them for 20 years or so.
Back in 1891 when basketball was invented, here’s a conversation I’m guessing didn’t happen:
“Hey how about if really tall people play they can just set the ball right into the basket with a basically 0% chance of missing? And maybe if someone tries to stop them by getting in their way or putting up their hands that we call a foul and let them shoot a free throw as well? Cool? Maybe we can even embarrass the guy who tried to stop the dunk from happening. Put them on a poster or something. ‘Posterize’ them. Haha, yeah. Sounds cool.”
Not cool. Maybe it’s just because I’m short and/or bad at basketball. Maybe it’s a lot harder to set a ball into a hoop than I think it is. Maybe I’m in the minority about this. But dunks have got to be the dumbest thing in sports. Dunks just aren’t interesting, no matter how many ways they are dressed up with spins and yells or humans being knocked over (and called for a foul) in the process.
To me it just looks like a tall person setting a ball into a basket.
Turn on a show that has built in laugh tracks or a studio “audience.” Then listen to one of the characters say a joke that is not funny, but meant to be. Then hear the “audience” roar with laughter. Then pause and think about the absurdity of what just happened.
The show is basically saying in the least subtle way possible, “We are funny! This show is funny! That joke is funny!” I have seen many sitcom episodes where I barely crack a smile, yet the studio “audience” is barely keeping their ribs in place from all of their laughter.
There’s obviously psychological reasons for laugh tracks, and all kinds of social proof to it (everyone else is laughing so I guess I should too!). But it’s just absurd. And it just makes me cringe. It almost ruined Friends for me. Luckily laugh tracks are going out of style, and all the modern classics (The Office, Parks and Rec, etc) don’t use them. Thank you Michael Scott!
The Formalities of Hanging up the Phone
“Yes, I think so.”
“Great! Well, thanks a lot.”
“Yup, talk to you later.”
At some point in American history we learned how to hang up the phone incorrectly. English is a very apologetic language (we tend to say things like ‘I think’ when we know something, or ‘maybe you should’ when somebody totally needs to do something). And that carries over into the way we say goodbye on the phone.
I lived in Asia for a couple years, and phone calls were extremely refreshing. Once you get what you want, you say bye and hang up, often without even getting a “bye” in return. No hard feelings.
And so it shall be with this post. Bye.