You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are

I was doing one of my many multi-tasking days last weekend, where I went there, decided while I was there to go there, and so on…and next thing you know, I was grabbing a freeway on-ramp to go south on I-5 and head home.

As I approached the on-ramp, the flashing ramp-metering flashing yellow light was on–meaning, I was going to have to slow down and come to a stop, to a point where the ramp-metering gods would decide it was OK for me to merge on the freeway.

I awaited my turn and then, the golden moment arrived. OK, the green moment. It was my turn to go. As I gave it the gas, I head off to the sound of a horn honking behind me. As I looked in the rear-view mirror, I saw a young 20-something with an angry look on her face, hitting the brakes and laying her hand on the horn.

As I drove away, I realized what had happened. She was pissed. Pissed that I had stopped on the freeway on-ramp (as required by law) because of the on-ramp metering system. (A quick side-note–my college roommate’s brother actually helped design the ramp-metering system. You may cheer or boo as you wish) 

As I merged on to the freeway, I glanced occasionally in my rear-view mirror to see if she had joined the rest of us on the freeway. As I suspected. she had laid on the horn honking in anger. But as I pulled away, she realized she had screwed up and vented when she should have been humble.

She had screwed up.

Maybe she was looking down, distracted by a text or a phone call. No matter. She came around the curve of that on-ramp and barely braked in time to avoid rear-ending me, giving me a nice case of whiplash and giving her insurance rates that would make Antonio Brown sweat.

In other words, she dodged a HUGE bullet.

My hope is that she accepted all that came her way. The realization that she avoided a mistake that would have followed her for life, if nothing else, for a couple of years. Young lady, you may not realize how close you came to really screwing up your life. And mine, for that matter.

But the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I was hitting acceleration and avoiding the collision as she was realizing that she needed to stop and barely pulled it off. It was one of those rare life moments where everyone got out of it unscathed.

Young lady, whoever you are: you don’t realize how lucky you are!

Tim Hunter

Yet, Another Reminder

I have to tell you the foreword of this experience. This past Monday, I had to visit Evergreen Hospital for a prostate biopsy. Yeah, great. It was everything I hoped it wasn’t and then some, but I survived without nary a girlish scream (that I’m aware of). However, as I sat in the waiting area, when my wife came to get me, she had tears in her eyes. Of course, my comedic mind took me straight to, “Oh, disappointed I pulled through? Interfere with your plans?”

Then I realized this was serious. Crap. I hate serious stuff.

It turns out while my insides were being used as a practice court for prostate hockey, she had received a phone call. It was from her son, Nick, with the news that they were going to have to put down their dog, Teddy.

Whoa, whoa, whoa!  Teddy was healthy, full of energy, all of 8-years-old. At least, that’s how she was the last time we saw her. However, since then, something had been not right. She became lethargic. The initial doctor visits resulted in the theory that she was anemic. While I was having my procedure, they determined that Teddy had a ruptured spleen, cancer and that it was only a matter of time.

Wow, that’s a lot to absorb in such a short amount of time. Here I was, ready to lay claim to having the worst Monday possible and my crown was quickly snatched away. And it just wasn’t right.

Teddy dated back to the young couple’s final year at the University of Washington, where they met. Despite being starving college students, they rolled the dice and got this incredibly cute pup, which they bestowed with the name, Teddy.

Where they were, so went Teddy. Hikes, breweries, you name it. They had planned to keep their bed a dog-free zone. That was a short dream. On occasion, they hoped to sleep in on a Saturday. Teddy was certain to make sure one of them was up. She was even the ring bearer in their wedding at the DeLille Winery.

Teddy was the kind of dog I hoped to have one day as a part of my immediate family. For the time being, I was looking forward to dog-sitting when they went out of town. But, for now, having her as a grand-pup was just fine. Whenever we’d get together, she’d be so excited, then she would calm down and want to be petted. Stop for a second, and she’d nuzzle her head under your hand so you knew you were slackin’.  I think on rare occasions, I heard her bark.

Now, there we were. Standing in a vet’s office patient room, with Teddy lying on the table top, just not acting like herself. There were plenty of tears in the room and she obviously was picking up on the sadness. Everyone took turns petting and caressing her soft fur, but when you stopped, that familiar head-nuzzle just wasn’t there. Her body was shutting down in spite of all the love that surrounded her.

As family and friends poured in, I think we were up to 10 people crowding that room and the lobby. After everyone said their tearful goodbyes, her parents stayed with her until she went to that place with no pain.

It was a surreal day that finished with an even more surreal reality. Teddy was gone, but hardly forgotten. In time, I’m sure another dog will come along in the young couple’s lives. All I know is that they have got one hell of an act to follow.

For the time you got to spend on earth, Teddy, I’m really glad we got to spend a little bit of that time together. Yet another reminder in my life, to make every minute count.

Tim Hunter

 

My World

I’m a staff writer for Radio-Online, a radio show prep service with subscribers all over the world. I’ve been getting up at 4am for over a dozen years (too lazy to count right now) and putting together a collection of things that disc jockeys could say to their audiences, without having to think of them.

I write jokes, come up with topics to talk about, and create games to play with their listeners. One of the games involves giving you the slogan a company uses and then, you have to identify the company. So while I’m out and about living my life, if I hear or see a slogan, I turn to my iPhone and text the message to myself so I can use it when that quiz rolls around again.

The other day, I saw a commercial for Microsoft and noted their slogan, “Empowering us all!” I grabbed my phone, dictated the message and hit send. As I did, the words that voice-recognition heard caught my eye. It said, “Microsoft. Empowering asshole.”

Well, close enough.

Tim Hunter

Oh, the Flashbacks You’re Missing Out On

As you know, I’ve got a new radio home, 1380-AM, 95.3FM KRKO. For most of you reading this, the best way to hear it is to stream the station over your phone, your computer or tablet at KRKO.com or to simply tell your Smart Speaker, “Alexa, Play KRKO, Everett’s Greatest Hits.”

I will admit, for most of my adult life, I followed contemporary music. I wanted to keep up with the younger generation, to hear what’s new and fresh and innovative. I always felt that people who listened to “oldies” never progressed and were stuck in their past. However, after decades of a general decline in the quality of pop music, I’m finding incredible comfort in revisiting all those songs I grew up with, or that I played on the radio when they were new.

It’s not like there isn’t brilliant stuff going on out there, but it’s become the exception, rather than the rule. I hear most of the songs today and wonder if this generation is really going to look back on this music as fondly as I look back on mine.

With KRKO’s musical range, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s,  I’m hearing songs that I used to listen to on KHJ “Boss Radio” in Los Angeles while growing up and hitting the beaches. Or, there’s a song from my Yakima radio days from the 70’s. And next thing you know, we’re playing something from the early 1980s that I eventually played during my early years on KLSY.

The big payoff has been knocking loose some long-lost memories that were buried pretty deep in my mind. The other morning, after playing “Twist & Shout”, I remembered back to growing up on 226th Street and that group of neighbor kids I spent so much time with. The Beatles reminded me of Kenny Vaughn, who came from a family of 7 down the street. The best I can do is Penny, Lori, Kenny, Sandy and Tina. Not bad. But what I remember about the Vaughn family is that Kenny had a cool mom who loved the Beatles. At a time when their mop-head haircuts alarmed the more conservative parents, Kenny’s mom actually kept her kids out of school to go see a Beatles movie when it came out.

And that flashback triggered another one on what had been designated “National Tell a Fairy Tale Day.”

I remembered a disc jockey and eventually the “Laugh In” announcer, Gary Owens, and his radio show on KMPC.  While I loved the “Boss Hits” KHJ was playing in my tween years, I still found myself twisting the radio dial over to Middle-of-The-Road KMPC every afternoon to catch Gary, hear his witty banter and enjoy those comedy features like, “How the West Was Won” and “The Story Lady.”

I had a lot of comedy influences while growing up—Bob Hope, Steve Allen, Red Skelton, Laurel & Hardy, the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges–but I have to say that Gary had a huge part in making me dream about being funny on the radio, with features like this:

While he’s no longer with us, a tip of the hat to Gary and his smooth yet silly style. He made me laugh, was a big inspiration to yours truly and left me with memories that have lasted a lifetime. Laughter is a wonderful emotion. It makes us feel good, lifts us up, and takes us to a positive place in a usually not-that-funny world.

It makes me that much more excited to see what other long-lost memories I’ll be able to shake loose during my next radio shift. I hope you can join me.

Tim Hunter

PS–Always pre-read your radio copy before reading it live on the air.

 

I Live in a Special Place

Look, that’s no secret. Ever since I slipped up here in 1973 to attend the University of Washington and fell in love with this state, I’ve known that this is one, special place.

I remember describing the northwest to friends as “somewhere you could live in the kind of place we used to go camping.” When you fly into Seattle and look out the window as you’re about to land in Seattle, you may find yourself thinking, “Oh, my God, we’re going to crash into a forest!”

When my fiancé Victoria and I were house-hunting back in 2007, we did a lot of looking around. I had a home in Bothell and worked in Edmonds. She had a house in Ballard and worked in downtown Seattle, so we were looking for a neutral corner. To be honest, I didn’t even know the Broadview area of Seattle existed. But our realtor, Bruce Fulton, found the house we’ve called home for the past 12 years in the heart of this north Seattle neighborhood.

During some of our get-to-know-the-neighbors gatherings, I found out that our little neighborhood was among the “Parade of Homes”, one of the earlier versions of the “Street of Dreams.” I believe 7 of the homes in our neighborhood came with swimming pools, although all but two have been filled-in. Between leaves dropping and our far-from-resort-weather, having a pool in the northwest really isn’t that great.
Tonight, while working on social media posts for a client, I was doing some research into Seattle history and I came across some nuggets that simply blew me away. The “Broadview” area of Seattle is up around the 125th-140th area of the N.W. streets.  Our home would have a spectacular view of the Puget Sound if it weren’t for all the trees and neighbors, but then again, that’s among the things we loved about this area.

One of the things I learned about this area of North Seattle is that they used to have a place called, Playland. An amusement park located on Bitter Lake that opened in 1930, at a cost of $750,000 to build. This was back in the time when that was a long way out-of-town. The area where we live now used to be where people would have their vacation or weekend homes. Playland opened in 1930 and made it all the way until 1961 before closing forever.

Now, add to that, they used to have an Aurora Race track out here, as well. No kidding.

 

Can you imagine?  Piling the family in the car and then heading out “to the country” to take in some auto racing while sitting in the giant wood bleachers?

And what area would be complete without a drive-in movie theater? It was a mile or so, due east of where we now live.

I’m sure you could get similar results with almost any neighborhood. Do a little digging, Google your neighborhood’s name and you just might some surprises about what went on before you got there. In my case, an amusement park, a race track and a drive-in theater, all made my neighborhood a destination for people to go and play almost a hundred years ago. All those places have been torn down, paved over and are now anything from SHAG housing to a car dealership or even a Dollar Tree store.

Thanks to those who took the time to capture those memories on film and everyone who helped preserve them along the way, so those of us around now can look back and marvel about how special this place is that we live.

It was special then. It’s special now.

Tim Hunter

 

 

Don’t worry–I was punished!

First off, to be clear, I’m one of those who hears that snow is in the forecast and I get all excited. I love snow. Well, I used to.

You see, a typical Seattle snowstorm shuts down the city for a couple of days and then we get back to normal. It’s a nice break, forces you to slow down and for a day or two, our little corner of the U.S. is turned into a temporary winter wonderland.

With my wife having to head to Florida to run a global sales meeting for work, I got to join her at the end of her duties.  We then hopped over to visit her cousin and her husband for a few days in the Tampa/St. Pete area. It was pretty much the most vacation I’ve had for a long time. We watched the snow reports from Seattle while we sat on the beach, enjoyed 70-degree weather, and I even snuck in a round of golf. (my first time in three years)

A quick home movie of one of the things we saw: the Don Cesar Hotel. It was a whole lot of pink (lighter than the T-Mobile kind) that had a bunch of history behind it.  Here are just a couple of photos from that historic hotel:

There were grouper sandwiches, beautiful sunsets, warmth, fun, great company and a whole lot of relaxing. So, when it was time to head back to Seattle, we were ready. We wedged in a lot of fun in those 5 days and knew when we landed that it was going to be one snowy mess in the Emerald City.

And it was, but it took time to get there.

You see, flying back on Monday, we were within half an hour of landing in Seattle when the pilot announced that we weren’t landing in Seattle. We were heading to Portland, Oregon. Oh, boy.

Initially, after landing, we exited the plane and were told to stand by for an announcement in half an hour. Then another half hour. Then ANOTHER half hour. Finally the announcement came as we saw the flight crew walking away that our flight was canceled. Seattle wasn’t accepting any more flights and we were out of luck.

So, now what?

The airline (whose name rhymes with Schmalaska) let us know that our bags were on the way to baggage claim and that we should contact their reservations agents to decide what we wanted to do. Well, we wanted to get back to Seattle that night. It wasn’t going to happen.

All the flights on Tuesday were full except for a few remaining seats on the 11pm flight, more than 24 hours away. So, we decided to grab a hotel, rent a car and drive home. I dashed to Hertz, they told me all their one-way rentals were gone, so I headed over to Dollar and scored a Honda CR-V. By 11:15pm, we were in a hotel room. 5am came early, but I woke up, did my morning show prep writing and we were on the road to Seattle around 7:45am.

The drive wasn’t bad. A few occasional stops, but what’s new? We arrived at the airport parking lot where I had parked my car and I had to wade through a foot of water to clean off the snow and make it drivable. We dropped off the rental car, and arrived home around noon. But there was one more challenge–to be able to pull into the driveway, I had to shovel out a spot.

All this to say, while I was out of town for the big record-setting Snowmageddon of 2019, I still got to share in the ‘fun’ when we got home.

As awesome as it was in Florida, those getaways never ever feel like home. They’re a brief escape, very temporary and I know that over time they’ll offer ample dream fodder. Really, if you’ve lived in the northwest for any amount of time, you know you need at least one sunny getaway during our dark and dreary winters. This was mine. I enjoyed and savored every moment of it. But for those who were stuck here for this record-setting snowzapalooza, rest assured, in the end I was punished.

But I would do it all over again.

It’s good to be home.

Tim Hunter

Urban Camping

I live in the city because I enjoy all the extra’s that come with not living out in the middle of nowhere. I mean, you get to certain parts of the United States and it’s tough to get an Internet signal. If you want TV, you probably have to get a satellite dish, hope for the best and settle for whatever channels they offer.

Our comfy abode is in North Seattle, a fairly developed part of the Western World. Which is why it surprised me last week when I returned home on Thursday afternoon to find everything dead, I mean EVERYTHING–Internet, TV and even our land-line phone that my wife insists we keep. I found myself “urban camping.”

I reacted the way every other red-blooded American would: I called up the provider, Comcast (or, Xfinity, if you prefer) and asked them to fix it.  First, I had to go through a series of things I had already done. Rebooting the modem, rebooting the cable box and then let them know if it had fixed the problem. It hadn’t.

At that part of the conversation, the person from X-Cast let me know that they couldn’t have a service person out to the house UNTIL SATURDAY.  It ended up being 47 hours until he arrived and found a solution to the disconnection of services.

No biggie for the average person with normal usage. But I not only rely on high-speed cable for my work, I also do a morning radio show on KRKO that requires me to upload big audio files daily. I had to resort to uploading them via my mobile phone hot spot which, in one day, exhausted my monthly data allotment before tossing me on to pretty much dial-up speed. For other file transfers, I drove over to the Starbucks parking lot and used their WIFI. I grumbled on Facebook about this little adventure and Comcast-haters piled on. With more and more people cutting the cord these days, you’d think they’d be concerned about that level of hate out there.

Now, get this: when the Comcast repair guy came out and took a look, he saw that my cable had been CUT. Up until that point, my theory had been that, since the cable ran through the trees, that squirrels had chewed through it. Nope. The repair guy showed me the clean slice. HIs theory? That a Seattle City Light truck’s extended arm had clipped it, perhaps when they were trimming a branch on the other side of the tree.

So it was not of my doing. I’m sure the cable company will refund me for those two days I didn’t have service. They’re already getting away with giving me a month of service in February, which is only 28 days long.

I wasn’t completely stranded without electronics, but this was a firm reminder of just how susceptible we all are if the cable company and the city power company ever decide to conspire against us. They would make quite a team.

I now know what that is like, and it’s not pretty. Urban camping, by the way, sucks.

Tim Hunter

OK, I’m Going to Run Into It

The wall.

So like the worst game of dodgeball ever, the Democrats picked the side of being against it because, as you know, President Trump is for it. What I can’t believe is any possible merits of a wall are being immediately dismissed by the progressive crowd because it was President Trump’s cornerstone promise when he ran for president.

There are a lot of ideas gushing through my head right now, so I’ll try to march them out in somewhat of an organized manner.

Do we need border security? Absolutely. Would a wall help?  Again, it couldn’t hurt. In fact, go back a decade to the Secure Fence Act of 2006  and, under President George W. Bush, our country authorized about 700 miles of fencing along certain stretches of land between the border of the United States and Mexico.

The act also authorized the use of more vehicle barriers, checkpoints and lighting to curb illegal immigration, and the use of advanced technology such as satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles.

At the time the act was being considered, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer were all members of the Senate.  Obama, Clinton, Schumer and 23 other Democratic senators voted in favor of the act when it passed in the Senate by a vote of 80 to 19.

So, there was a time when they were for it. Even if it came from the other side of the aisle. Now, anyone with a D next to their name has to be against it.

My feeling is this: let Trump have his wall and, if it doesn’t work, you have a major tool against him in an upcoming election. If it does work or even just slows down illegal immigration, I fail to see the harm.

Of course, now here comes the idea that it’s an ‘immoral’ idea. Therefore, if you support, you’re a monster. And, if that’s not enough for you, then the idea is a big waste of your tax dollars. Since when has congress ever concerned themselves with spending too much?

$374,087 Spent Watching Grandma’s Dating Behavior

In 2015, the federal government spent $374,087 in taxpayer dollars observing senior adults’ dating habits.

The National Science Foundation study’s stated objective of obtaining a “more comprehensive understanding of relationship maintenance efforts” was murky at best.

$67.9 Million Spent on Wild Horse Management

In 2014 alone, the Bureau of Land Management spent $67.9 million to manage the growing population of thousands of wild horses that span across 26.9 million acres in the American West.

$43 Million Spent on a Gas Station…in Afghanistan

From 2011 to 2014, the Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, tasked with building up Afghanistan’s economy, spent nearly $43 million to build a Compressed Natural Gas filling station in Sheberghan, Afghanistan.

Sadly, someone didn’t do their research, or they would have discovered that there was no natural gas distribution ability in Afghanistan and the cost to convert a vehicle to CNG exceeded the average annual income in the country.

After a tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars – spending a total of $766 million during the organization’s lifetime, the DOD closed the site in March 2015.

Millions Spent Marketing U.S. Raisins in Foreign Countries

The Department of Agriculture spends HOW much marketing raisins?

The Foreign Service Market Access Program spends nearly $200 million of your money annually to pay companies and trade groups for advertising, market research and travel costs to promote American products overseas.

Since 1998, the Raisin Administrative Committee – a group of 46 California raisin growers and packers – has received more than $38 million in taxpayer funds from the Market Access Program to promote their raisins abroad.

The catch? The Raisin Administrative Committee already produces 99.5 percent of all American raisins and 45 percent of the world’s raisins.

$2.6 Million to Help Truckers Diet

Encouraging a healthy lifestyle is great – but it should not be done on the taxpayers’ dime. From 2011 to 2015, American taxpayers have spent a total of $2.6 million to fund a trucker weight-loss intervention program, sponsored by the National Institute of Health.

The federal government would do well to trim its annual budget in the future by cutting wasteful programs like this one.

Look, I’m not either for a wall or against it. It’s like hearing an argument break out over which are better, paper or plastic grocery bags. Right now, it feels like the two sides are just showboating and politicking away, wasting time when we could trying to fix real problems in this country. I don’t need to list them to you. And this whole wall extravaganza has become a huge distraction to bigger problems lurking out there–a possible U.S. military venture into Venezuela, Iraq threatening war with Israel again, and Russia….well, just Russia.

As you’ve heard me state before in these free-form expressions, the truth is always somewhere in the middle. Compromise gets things done. Let’s take this topic to the extreme, starting with no wall at all. Just let the borders run wild, let everyone just pour in and then we’ll deal with things as they occur. In fact, let’s make all walls illegal. From now on, all fences, walls and such need to be torn down. They’re immoral, remember? In fact, let’s take it all the way and ban all copies of Pink Floyd’s album, “The Wall.”

Or, we allow Mr. Trump to build his wall and see what happens. I fail to see the harm it might cause, but it could be what the Democrats actually need to regain the White House. It’s as if they fear that the President’s plan, if it works, would help his re-election.

From the outside, those who would do us harm that see us as a pretty divided country right now, which is the opportunity they’ve been waiting for. And that makes me sad.

Then again, maybe America has hit their own wall and is so sick of both parties that Howard Schultz will become our next president as an Independent. I can just see it, after a couple of months in office, he ends up selling the White House and they move it to Oklahoma City.

Wall or no wall, let’s make a decision and then get back to being kind to one another. It would be so nice for each of us to refocus on our own version of the American Dream, whatever that might be and return to the days when the only real problems in the world were in Dear Abby and or on TV with Jerry Springer. Now, those were problems.

Tim Hunter

 

Electing a President

When you’ve been around as long as I’ve been, every now and then you feel this tremendous urge to count things. For example, the number of presidents that have been in office during my lifetime. Younger readers can do that off the top of their heard, but I have to go to Wikipedia and see the list. The answer? 12.

Yes, a dozen presidents have been in the Oval Office during my tenure on earth. Seven Republicans, Five Democrats. We’ve had a General, a Peanut Farmer, a former Michigan football player, a host of a western TV series in the1950s and another, the host of a Reality TV series during the early part of this century.

As an 11-year-old boy in Southern California, I once rode my bike over to the local Sears, where future president Ronald Reagan was making a speech on the back of a flatbed truck, as he ran for governor of California. That’s about as close as I’ve ever come to a real live President of the United States.

I’ve been to the Reagan, Nixon and Clinton libraries. If you ever have a chance to visit a presidential library, do it, regardless of how much you liked them or their party. It’s a great reminder of their importance in the history of this country and a strong reminder that we’re all Americans.

I voted for my first president in 1972. Raised in a Republican household, my senior year of high school, I was actually a Young Republican For Nixon and campaigned door-to-door. I even got my Democrat neighbor, Gary, to vote for him. He never let me hear the end of it.

Over the years, I’ve voted for presidential candidates from both parties.  Believe it or not, in one election, I was disgusted with both of the main parties and voted for the whack-job Ross Perot. Over time, we learned what a mistake that might have been and realized that we could have learned the lessons we’re learning now decades ago.

What have I learned? I know that when it comes to our current situation, both parties get full credit for it.  You gave us those two candidates in the last election and it was a no-win situation. Friends that I’ve discussed politics with (and it can be done without calling each other idiots) know what I think. Here are the possible scenarios I see for the next election:

  • Scenario 1–A strong, sensible moderate Democrat steps forward and offers new, real ideas and takes us in a positive direction
  • Scenario 2–The far left side of the Democratic Party takes over, much like the Tea Party did in the Republican party a few years back, and while the Democratic die-hards love it, the middle part of America would rather ride it out with Trump.
  • Scenario 3–An Independent candidate runs, fragmenting the main party, which hands a victory over to the other party. For the Republicans, Mitt Romney offers a non-crazy Republican alternative. For the Democrats, Howard “Starbucks” Schultz, entices voters with sensible solutions with progressive thinking outside the party.

I know there are countless other combinations of “what if’s” but those are my top three most likely. Feel free to come back and remind me of those when Oprah and Michelle Obama win in 2020.

Politically, I try to stay in the middle. Doing that allows me to look at both sides, see who I agree with most and go from there. Today, we are so divided as a nation because somewhere along the line, people moved politics to the top of the list of what’s most important in their lives. It wasn’t always that way. People lived and laughed and played and worked and you didn’t necessarily know how they felt on politics. Much like religion. I don’t need to know what you believe. You have yours, I have mine.

Politics has become the new religion. It’s a “winner takes all, if you don’t believe like me, then you’re wrong” mentality. Put a D or an R near the name and I’ll tell you what I think about it, whether I know anything about it or not.

The evolution of my politics has been an interesting personal journey. When I began voting, I looked at each of the presidential candidates with questions like these in mind:

  1. What is their stance on the economy?
  2. Where do they stand on the war?
  3. What are their positions on the important social issues?
  4. Are we better off than we were four years ago?

However, as 2020 approaches, I’ve had to modify my qualifying statements:

  1. Are they mentally unstable?
  2. No, seriously, are they insane?
  3. Do you know what the hell you’re doing?
  4. Can you make us all feel that way?

Whether it’s a contesting Republican or a grounded, well-spoken Democrat, I hope and pray that 2020 will give us a choice the majority of us can live with and that maybe, just maybe, this country gets just a little less crazy.

Tim Hunter

We’re Being Played

I’m uncomfortable being cynical. It’s an easy world view to adopt, because the world gives you lots of reasons to be that way. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen and know too much. I’m not smarter than anyone, but I’ve had experiences that have shaped my viewpoint.

I take it by now, you’ve seen the much talked-about Gillette ad, “The Best a Man Can Get.” If not, here’s your chance to get caught up.

 

Yes, a beautifully shot and scripted 2-minute film on what jerks men have been over the years. Men suck. They need to change. Their time is up!

Wait. Gillette. Isn’t that a razor company? They used to promise guys a close shave. Now, they’re the moral police?

To be clear, all the negatives depicted in the commercial are sadly true. The men and boys bullying and being sexist  exist, but they’re becoming more and more the exception. I’m glad the #metoo movement finally caught up with the major schmucks in Hollywood and the business world and finally gave some of them their comeuppance.  Highly successful achievers at the top of their careers, crashing down because their victimizing ways were finally revealed. It feels like we’re finally making progress in those areas, although much like all of our other social ills, we still have a long way to go.

What’s wrong with Gillette doing a commercial like that? On the surface, a good thing to do, right? So, you really think that Frank Gillette woke up one morning, and said, “All men are pigs and we need to do something about it!”? Or, during a strategy session at their ad agency, there was a conversation something like this:

“OK, so how can we reverse our falling sales numbers and get back at those jerks at Dollar Shave Club? Does anyone have an idea?”

“Well, maybe if align ourselves with a popular social issue, people will like us more and buy our products.”

“Any suggestions?”

“Gun control?”

“No! Too hot to tackle.”

“What about legalizing pot?”

“No. The stoners would cut themselves silly.”

“How about the #metoo movement?”

“Continue….”

“Well, if we point out what jerks men have been and continue to be, then we can show them how they need to change. And once we’ve done that, they’ll owe us for shining the light on them and they’ll buy our razors!”

“But what if the guys watching aren’t really jerks and maybe made some mistakes over the years, small ones, but feel terrible and are already on a path of supporting equality and respectful treatment of women?”

(Group laughter)

“OK, then it’s settled. Let’s write up a commercial!”

So, I’m turning up the cynical gas just a little bit right now. Our world is on a fast-track of increasing available content. There’s a need to keep filling up those screens so you continue to spend over half of every day of your life watching one. You think I’m kidding or making that up? Read this.

Let’s follow the trail from the end result. What is the motivation behind what you’re watching or reading? Very few companies do things from the goodness of their hearts. Its done to move the meter, to get you to remember them or create an emotional attachment.  It’s the question everyone doesn’t want to be bothered with when they’re watching something on their phone, tablet or TV–what’s the motivation behind the content?

When you watch a comedy, they want you to laugh because then you’ll be back and the TV networks can sell advertisements and make more money. If you watched the evening news, they’re trying to jolt you and make you believe that you can’t live without catching their next newscast. Watch especially during February and the May ratings sweeps when you’ll see special reports aimed at their target viewers’ lifestyle. But at least in our household, that’s back-firing. At our house, our news-viewing time has plummeted because if we really want to know who murdered who, we can find that online any time of the day.

All this to say, before you allow a piece of video to make you feel something, consider the source and the motivation behind creating it.  Right is right and wrong is wrong, whether they make a video about it or not. Think for yourself first, and don’t let the media tell you how to think.

That’s basically how we ended up where we are today.

Is Gillette really spending all that money to produce a commercial and then buy all that commercial time with the hope of changing men and the world for the better?

We’re all being played.

Tim Hunter

PS Another great example of manipulation of reality happened last weekend. Here’s a nice recap worth a read.

PSPS  Have to share this Steve Kelley cartoon on the topic