TheodoreSLaBarbera.com

Since 2003, the off-ramp on the Information Superhighway.

Month: January 2017

Full of Sound and Fury Signifying Absolutely Nothing

NEWSFLASH: the vast array of egomaniacal, group-thinking, elitist celebrities of Hollywood descended from their mansions amidst the canyons of Southern California to celebrate each other’s’ profound greatness and progressive worldviews this past Sunday at the Screen Actors Guild awards ceremony. And, like old times during other GOP-controlled eras, the actors and actresses who were chosen to speak bravely decided in unison to speak truth to power and champion their steadfast opposition to the current presidential administration.

Why these folks still think that anyone cares what the heck they have to say, or that they are entitled to a special platform to lecture and sneer at the middle-American masses that dared to vote differently then they all did in lockstep, one has no idea. Some speeches, of course, were more noteworthy for their insipid stupidity than others.

“Confirmation” actress Kerry Washington, who is nominated for best actress in a TV drama, used her moment to explain why Hollywood was taking a stand in this heated political climate.

“No matter what, actors are activists no matter what because we embody the humanity and worth of all people,” she told the camera.

Huh? What does that even mean? You memorize some lines of dialogue and robotically repeat it before a camera. You are but an empty, soulless vessel channeling the words and thoughts of some other writer, director, and producer. To say that most actors embody anything other than a vapid shell of nothing would be a strong conclusion to make, let alone that you are the living embodiment of all that is good and worthwhile of humanity. That…is a bit of an arrogant, egotistical, and self-righteous stretch, don’t you think?

“Hidden Figures” star Taraji P. Henson, whose film took home the award for outstanding cast in a motion picture, received a similar reaction to her tearful acceptance speech.

“This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside and we come together as a human race,” she said. “We win. Love wins every time.”

Hey, actually I don’t disagree here. The world would be a vastly better place if we all stopped judging and separating ourselves for each other, and learned to love and accept ourselves, our friends, and our neighbors for who they are. However, I will question the timing of why this is being said today, in this venue. Instead of being perceived as brave for exercising your constitutional rights to free speech from a safe haven amidst the ivory towers of Hollywood, how about descending from your soapbox and proclaiming the same wisdom and lessons from the streets of Riyadh, or Kabul, or Aleppo? Make a real difference and help to stop the hate and bring peace to the angriest, most hostile part of the world. It might even save thousands or millions of lives and avert future wars. Truly, such an act would go down in the annals of history, and millions would give gratitude for your brave and selfless acts.

But man, I bet that afterparty with the million-dollar goodie-bag was just too much to turn down, right? Maybe next time.

Come On, Get Up and Fight!

I remain fascinated to this day by the video games of yore, especially the hallowed 8- and 16-bit eras, where programmers designed experiences to be brutal and random and never held your hand through an opening tutorial. You were instead catapulted immediately into the deep end of the pool, and only by your own intelligence, memory, twitchy response reflexes, and sheer luck and repetition did you survive or progress. But what a reward it was, to battle to the end of your quest and thrown down with the barrell-wielding monkey, fire-breathing dragon, or heavyweight champion of the world professional boxer and emerge victorious.

To that point, I must have spent countless hours playing and mastering the NES classic Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! Part sports simulation, part racist cartoon stereotype that could never exist today, and part puzzle/strategy challenge, the key to facing each boxer as you climbed the ladder and rankings was to determine his secret “tell,” that moment when he would be particularly vulnerable to a surprise left-hook or well-timed counterpunch. Then, it was then a matter of rhythm. Look for the winking eye or blinking sprite and hit the correct button strokes in combination to exert maximum damage, while ducking or blocking to defend against your opponent’s other, less-important attacks. Over time, I had most guys down to a science, and could make it all the way through the game, on a good day, without even taking so much as a single hit. Yes, Punch-Out!! was definitely my game of choice when I wanted to display my mad gaming skillz to friends and family.

And apparently, I was not the only one. A whole cottage industry of speed runs and world-record chases exists in the video game industry today. It’s not enough to merely complete a quest, now a game must be so thoroughly mastered (or “hacked,” as the case might be), that it’s also finished in the least amount of time possible, down to the very millisecond. People spend days, weeks, years mastering this art, and when the perfect play-though comes around, it’s quite the thrill to witness.

Which brings us to this recent accomplishment, perhaps the greatest run-through of Punch-Out!! possible. Watch as the player establishes world record after world record on each individual boxer, while also going for the overall “beat everyone combined by X” time record as well. By the time he squares off against the formidable Mike Tyson, the dude has nearly a minute to spare in his back pocket, all but guaranteeing he can take his time with the World Champion and still come out on top.

Damn, and I thought I was good at this silly game. Massive kudos to “Summoning Salt” for one of the most impressive feats I’ve ever seen.

Don’t Ever Change, W.

The events of History, in the form of the tragic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, forced him to play the role of a somber, wartime president, a role he was perhaps unsuited for but one in which he accepted and took up the challenge out of duty and love for his country. But the man that is George Walker Bush proves far more complex and nuanced with the shadow of the past behind us. Part everyman doofus capable of nearly choking to death on a pretzel, part renaissance man latter-day artiste, Bush seems like the kind of guy that would be a blast to hang out with and just shoot the shit. Funny, smart, and completely at ease in his own skin, it’s no wonder that, despite the questionable legacy his administration left behind, the man himself has grown in the public eye into someone people now grudgingly respect and perhaps even miss just a little bit.

George Bush Poncho

I guess what I’m saying is, after watching W. struggle to figure out how to properly operate a poncho at the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump, please don’t ever change man. Remain endlessly entertaining and true to yourself forever. You rock.

State of the Website 2017

2017Friends, family, colleagues, and total strangers one and all, what a crazy second half of 2016 it was.

A healthy, handsome, happy, smart, funny, and wonderful grandson was born, filling our hearts with joy and love. This amazing blessing allowed our family to persevere through otherwise what were troubled times, filled with wrecked automobiles, hurricanes, surgeries, eldercare issues, and financial woes. Truly, it was never a dull moment.

Making matters worse, my employer of the past five years saw fit to let me and 1,000 of my coworkers go right before the holidays. I honestly cannot say it was a surprise on any level–the Powers That Be had sought to marginalize my contributions for nearly a year, and the company over all has struggled mightily as management reshaped and reorganized operations and mission time and again while trying to desperately find a strategy that worked. So be it, that’s the way the world turns, it just sucks that we find ourselves in a new year fraught with great uncertainty.

So, with all of that going on, you will forgive your humble website owner if I failed to notice that the damn site was down for the better part of a month. Blame a wayward WordPress widget for its failure to render XML and do its WordPress-thing correctly. Blame GoDaddy for having no mechanism for alerting me to site issues and extended downtime. Or, just blame me for not even bothering to check out the site from time to time to see what’s up. Anyway, all issues have since been rectified, albeit at the cost of losing the content that was originally there. Which just means 2017 provides yet another opportunity for a fresh start, and new posts! Besides, I still have all/most of my archives, downloaded from the famed Internet Wayback Machine, so as I find time in my unemployment perhaps I’ll just slowly repost and republish my so-called Greatest Hits.

As to 2017, I’m filled with an amazing sense of optimism and hope despite my inner dread and anxiety. The economy has proven robust, and hopefully will continue to provide prosperity as our new president makes america great again. So, opportunities will be there to find a place where I can contribute to a team that leads digital transformation and strategy to disrupt a major industry, be it financial services or wherever. If that doesn’t work, I can always follow my heart and take those classes to be the Certified Financial Planner I’ve always wanted to be. Will we stay here in beautiful, warm, sunny Charleston, or will a new location bring new chances for a clean slate? Fate will serve as the ultimate arbiter.

But, most importantly, will the New York Mets win the 2017 World Series? If healthy, the pitching and lineup are there to make an historic run deep into the playoffs for the third-straight season.

It should all make for a fascinating journey. As to you, loyal reader, make sure you take the time to enjoy every step along the way, and cherish each memory for the values they hold near and dear to your heart.

Peace out, and talk again soon! Love you, whoever is reading this!

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