Super Bowl Retro Ad Pundit: Doritos – Middle Seat

The week leading up to the Super Bowl used to be a big week for The Ad Pundit. I would look back at Super Bowl ads from years past and give them an Ad Pundit-style review.

Here are a couple of highlights (One even features M.C. Hammer!):

Lays – Fence

IBM – Spelling

For old time’s sake – and because I wanted to write something Super Bowl related, and this was the best idea I came up with – I figured I’d take a trip down memory lane and review a Super Bowl commercial from yesteryear.

In recent years, Doritos has given us a few solid SB commercials. Here’s one from 2015:

Just about anyone who has flown on Southwest or any airline without assigned seating has encountered this dilemma: The plane is filling up, and the man would very much like to have the seat beside him remain empty.

I’m impressed with how many different ways this guy has found to keep people away. His entire carry-on bag must be filled with ways to repel people from sitting next to him.

He has a recorder? Really?

He has a recorder? Really?

Unfortunately, his efforts are probably for naught. Based on the number of people looking for a seat, there’s a good chance this is a full flight. So no matter how annoying he is, it is likely that someone is going to just suck it up and sit next to him.

He might have come to the same conclusion, because when he sees a comely woman approaching down the aisle, he decides to pick his spot and entice her with a bag of Doritos. Unfortunately, he soon learns that said comely woman isn’t flying solo, and he’ll have to sit next to a small child for the duration of the flight.

I completely understand his annoyance. I don’t want to sit next to my own children on a flight, let alone have to deal with someone else’s.

This reminds me of the time when the Cutlet was a baby and I had to take her on a plane without Mrs. Cutter. In her stead, Mrs. Cutter sent her mother along with us. Theoretically, it would be quite useful to have someone else to help out on the plane. But that’s not what actually happened.

When we took our seats, we did what most people do in that situation: I took the window seat with the Cutlet on my lap, while Grandma sat in the aisle. We (correctly) figured that the middle seat next to a baby was likely to be the last choice of most potential passengers. Unfortunately, it was a full flight, so somebody was going to be joining us eventually.

When another passenger inevitably asked to sit down, I was amazed when my mother-in-law didn’t slide into the middle, but rather let the stranger sit between us. She informed me that “she doesn’t do middle seats.” So there was now another human being in between myself and the person supposedly there to help me.

In case you were wondering, yes, this was an excuse just to go on a mini-rant about my mother-in-law!

Anyway, the commercial…

It’s too bad this guy wasn’t on the same flight as me. I hate Doritos, so if I saw someone eating a bag of them, I’d probably avoid the heck out of that seat. But really, that would be his loss, since in general, I’m pretty low maintenance as a passenger. (Except, of course, when I have a baby in my lap.)

Here’s what I want to know: How the heck is the mother sleeping? You’d have to be borderline narcoleptic to fall asleep in the middle seat of an airplane with a toddler on your lap. That woman would have been jarred awake in seconds by the kid pulling her hair or trying to jam his fingers up her nose.

It’s also a splendid job of parenting to fall asleep and let the stranger in the seat next feed your child snacks. Way to be concerned with your child’s safety, Mom.

No, it's totally cool to just give food to a random small child.

No, it’s totally cool to just give food to a random small child.

Rating – 2 TVs – The unrealistic and bad parenting makes me cringe, but it’s also a sad reminder that I may never again enjoy a peaceful flight.

Posted in Pop Culture, The Cutlet | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Do you hear a loud squeaking sound? I apologize, as it’s probably just me walking. The good news is that the squeaking isn’t coming from my body, but rather my shoes.

You might think there is an easy solution to this issue: Buy new shoes. Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that simple. I typically buy new shoes in December, but the problem with buying new shoes at the end of the year is that often as soon as I get the shoes, I have to stop wearing them.

(In case you were wondering, the reason I get my shoes in December is because we visit my in-laws for Christmas, and they live near a Skechers outlet.)

Salt: destructor of shoes (Image source)

Salt: destructor of shoes (Image source)

Winter weather, and particularly snow, is generally not kind to new shoes. Walking through slush and puddles is bad enough, but when you add in all of the salt on the ground, shoes can take quite a beating. I’ve made the mistake of wearing new shoes after a heavy snowfall, and they end up looking worn out by March.

I had only gotten a couple of weeks out of my new Skechers when Snowzilla hit. Thanks to warm temperatures and rain this week, most of the snow will likely be gone soon. But until everything is clear, I’ve had to stow away the shoes.

Unfortunately, since I am not a hobbit, I still need to wear something on my feet. I’ve considered following the Cutlet’s lead and wearing sandals. She explained that since she wears them to the pool, they must be waterproof, and will therefore keep her feet dry.

While she makes a convincing argument, I’m still not ready to place 100% in the logical thinking of a five year old. Instead, I’ve taken to wearing my sneakers. The problem with this is that those sneakers are well past their prime.

I’ve had this pair of “Air Cutters” for over two years, and they’re definitely showing their age. The sole on the right shoe is coming apart, and the left is adorned with a stain which I think was yogurt at one time. And as I previously discussed, they squeak when I walk.

The Air Cutters have seen better days

Hopefully we’re not due for any more snow storms this year, and I’ll soon be able to use my new shoes. Until that time, I’ve just resigned myself to not being able to sneak up on anyone.

Posted in Randomness | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Shoveling, Socializing, and a Horcrux: Tales from Snowzilla

Last weekend, the East Coast was pounded by winter storm Jonas (Naming winter storms is a thing now?), or as many social media sources nicknamed it, Snowzilla. The Washington DC area was pounded by snow, and it wouldn’t shock me if my house was at the exact center of the storm. One of my neighbors was reporting that we got over 30 inches in our neighborhood.

The view from our window

The view from our window

I’m thankful to report that my family and I were able to survive the experience, although it wasn’t always easy. Here’s a recap of how we managed:

Worse than expected?

Meteorologists were predicting that we could potentially receive a historic amount of snow. I am usually skeptical when I hear talk about massive snowfalls, but when the predictions start topping two feet, I tend to believe that there will be a decent amount.

My work thankfully allowed us to leave early on Friday afternoon, and when I arrived home around 1 PM, I observed the first flakes begin to fall. The reports said that it wasn’t supposed to begin until closer to 5 PM, which meant that the accumulation might actually be greater than expected.

By 2 PM, the snow was coming down at a steady rate. By 4 PM, the ground was already well covered. It looked like the weatherman was right about this one. I don’t know if any records were set, but this was the most snow I can ever recall seeing.

The Horcrux

What’s more fun being stranded inside during a snow storm? Being stranded inside with a sick child!

Cujo came down with a fever on Tuesday (Yes, I know it’s shocking to hear that one of my children was sick), and it still hadn’t gone away by Friday morning. He had also become highly irritable and was acting as if he was in pain. With an impending blizzard, we figured it was imperative to get him to the doctor while we still could.

The doctor’s office was packed, and the doctor looked like someone who had already had a busy day, and wasn’t expecting his workload to lighten any time soon. Fortunately for him, Cujo’s ear infection was easy to spot, and after filling a prescription for some antibiotics, we were on out way.

Unfortunately, the antibiotics didn’t provide instant relief. Our only consolation was that he took a long nap, because while he was awake, he was pretty much insufferable. He wanted to constantly be held, but he would get upset if you didn’t hold him in the exact way that he wanted.

Both of the twins have an unfortunate little personality quirk where they like being held, but they don’t like the person holding them to be comfortable. They could be perfectly content in your arms, but as soon as you try to sit down, they’ll begin to scream and squirm.

At one point, I compared him to a horcrux from Harry Potter. He would sap the mental energy of whoever was holding him, and Mrs. Cutter and I had to take turns with him to avoid either one of us becoming too worn down.

Each morning, I hoped that the antibiotics would cause him to wake up feeling much better, but unfortunately, the improvement was gradual. His disposition did get better with time, but it took a few days. The good news is that his sisters were both in good moods, so we didn’t have to worry too much about them. (It’s somewhat tough to remember this now since the Cutlass came down with a sickness of her own a few days later and has been extremely screamy.)

The joys of shoveling

With Cujo at his worst on Friday, I didn’t have an opportunity to get an early start on the inevitable shoveling. By the time he was asleep at night, I was exhausted, and I figured that it was far too early in the storm to wear myself out further.

On Saturday morning, there was already over a foot of snow on the ground, and I realized I couldn’t procrastinate any more. With the entire landscape covered in white powder, it was hard to even know where to start. Mrs. Cutter and I took a couple of shifts each, and while we made decent progress, it was somewhat disheartening to realize that the areas where we had shoveled would likely have another foot of snow on them the next morning.


By Sunday afternoon, the snow has stopped falling and the sun was shining. I felt a sense of accomplishment as I had cleared out the end of the driveway to the point where we could have gotten two of our cars out. That sense of accomplishment was ruined when a snow plow came by and basically pushed another foot of snow onto our driveway.

I’m not sure what the driver was trying to accomplish. The main road was already pretty clear of snow, and all he really seemed to be doing was redistributing some of the snow on the curb into people’s driveways. One of my neighbors actually stood in front of his driveway and wouldn’t let him go by.

On the bright side, I felt okay with not being able to go to the gym, as the shoveling was the best workout I had in some time. And I’m sure the soreness that I still feel all down my right side will go away eventually.

Misery loves company

Realizing that we might be stranded for a while, Mrs. Cutter invited some of the neighbors over for dinner on Saturday night. At one point, it looked like the storm would make it impossible to even walk to our house, but two families were able to make it over.

The Cutlet was thrilled, as she got to play with some other kids for a while. (The kids probably had a little TOO good of a time since they didn’t want to stop and go to bed.) Even Cujo’s mood seemed to brighten by being around other children.

We survived…this time

All in all, the Snowzilla experience wasn’t too horrible. Sure, we were stuck inside for a while, and the Cutlet’s school STILL hasn’t re-opened. (Today will be the sixth consecutive day they’re closed!) But we had food, we had electricity (thank goodness!), and most importantly, we maintained our sanity.

Now let’s just hope that mother nature has used up her quota of snow, so we never have to do it again.

Posted in The Cutlet, Trips and Events, Twins | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Ad Pundit: Jake from State Farm

So I’ve hit a little bit of a blogging lull. After posting something in 33 out of 35 days, I’ve now gone over two weeks without writing anything. I needed some sort of spark to get me going again, so I figured why not review a TV commercial? Those are always fun, right?

Most of you are probably familiar with State Farm’s “Jake” commercial, but just to refresh your memory, here it is:

We’re supposed to think that this guy is either talking to a mistress or he’s on a sex line of some sort.

This leads me to my first question: Are sex phone lines still a thing? I remember back in the ’90s you’d see commercials for these things (“Talk to sexy singles in your area!”) all the time, but I haven’t noticed them as much recently. Did the internet essentially put an end to these?

Once I stopped pondering that, my next thought was, “Why is this guy even calling insurance companies at 3 AM?” I figure that the guy might just have a bit of insomnia and was looking for a way to pass the time. He may have realized that finding a new auto insurance provider was on his “to do” list, and he figured that since State Farm was open, 3 AM was as good a time as any to tackle that task.

The guy’s wife comes downstairs and jumps to the obvious conclusion. The husband tries to defend himself by explaining that he’s talking to Jake from State Farm, but the wife is skeptical. Oddly, he first said he was talking to “Jake” as if his wife would instantly know who he was talking about. “Ohhhhh, you’re talking to Jake! From State Farm!”

Honestly, she has every right to be skeptical. Her husband is awake at 3 AM and talking very excitedly on the phone. Has anybody in the history of mankind ever been that excited about discussing their car insurance? I had to switch carriers last year, and I can assure you that my excitement level was far below this guy’s.


In the end, the guy is probably going to have to end the call and deal with a bunch of questions from his wife. He won’t get a discount on car insurance, but he will get an earful of nagging.

Good job, State Farm. Sure, you may be providing a convenience for drivers who need help, but did you ever consider that your late hours might lead to marital strife?

Rating: 2 stars – This commercial is basically saying, “You can call us at 3 AM, but it’s probably going to make your wife think you’re having an affair.” That’s not exactly the best way to attract new business.

Posted in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Did Today Suck?

I was worried that today was going to suck. What provoked such pessimism? Here are a few factors:

First day back at work

In grade school, I remember absolutely hating the first day back after Christmas vacation. It was like they took the first day of school, and found a way to make it worse. Everyone was still suffering from a bit of a holiday hangover, but there was no easing back into things; Due to the way the school calendar was structured, the break fell into the middle of the marking period.

If I drank coffee, I'd probably need one of these today. (Image source)

If I drank coffee, I’d probably need one of these today. (Image source)

Even though I’m not coming off an especially long vacation, the first day of work in the new year always conjures unfortunate memories of those days. Last week, there was a very laid-back atmosphere in the office. A lot of people were out, so I worked shorter hours, and definitely probably wasn’t as productive as I could have been.

Today, everyone was expected back, so now we have to bear down and make some real progress.

The NFL season is over

Technically, only the regular season is over, but for Eagles fans, there will be no more football. The Eagles are deservedly not going to be in the playoffs, and while it’s always fun to watch playoff football, not having your team involved makes it much less exciting.

It’s cold out

Remember those unseasonably warm December days? They seem to be gone now. It’s cold out, and likely will remain that way for the next two months or so.

The Cutlet returned to school

For most parents, it’s a huge relief when their kids return to school. However, we were concerned that this morning was not going to go well.

The Cutlet got on board without complaint. (Image source)

The Cutlet got on board without complaint. (Image source)

For a variety of reasons, the Cutlet hasn’t been happy about going to school this year. (This merits a post of its own.) Last week, with school closed, we sent her to camp at a play gym, and she had a great time. As I mentioned to Mrs. Cutter, it was nice that she enjoyed herself, but she may have had TOO good of a time. This past weekend, she had made several comments about not wanting to go back to school, so I assumed that the process of getting ready in the morning wasn’t going to be pleasant.

So how did it go? Was the day as bad as expected?

The negatives

  • Two of the children were awake at 5:30 AM. The Cutlet had a nightmare, while Cujo was apparently struggling to make a bowel movement. (Don’t worry, I won’t go into further detail.) It took some doing, but I eventually got them both back to sleep.
  • I bought new shoes last week and I am wearing them for the first time. Since they aren’t broken in, they’re not all that comfortable yet. I realize this is a problem of my own creation, but it isn’t helping matters.
  • There have been a lot of discussions and mini-meetings at work as everybody gets re-acclimated. As a result, there’s been a lot of talk and not much action. Also, before the break, we tabled some of the more difficult decisions to a later date when everyone had returned. That date has now come.

The positives

  • Surprisingly, traffic wasn’t too bad. With so many people away on vacation, the commute was a breeze the past two weeks. I figured that with everyone returning to work, the roads would be a mess. Maybe it’s because I left a little earlier than usual, but the roads weren’t too crowded.
  • The Cutlet was in a good mood at the bus stop and got on the bus without complaint. She was also in a very good mood tonight as she seemed to have a good day at school.
  • Monday is bagel day at the office. Every Monday, the company supplies bagels to its employees. It’s a nice way to start the week, and it was especially appreciated today.

All in all, I can’t really complain. It wasn’t a great day, but certainly no worse than any other. Even the early morning wake up call wasn’t that bad since everyone – including me – was able to get back to sleep afterwards.

Is this a sign that 2016 is going to be a good year? Will this positivity carry over to tomorrow? How about you guys? How did the first Monday of 2016 treat you?

Posted in The Cutlet, Trips and Events, Twins | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

The Cutter Rambles: 2015 Year in Review

So who wants to take a look back at the year that was for The Cutter Rambles? Nobody? Oh well, I’m going to do it anyway!

It wasn’t my most prolific year of writing. Aside from April when I participated in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge, and December when I blogged every day as part of my 31 Days of Blogging event, I went long stretches between posts.

I’d like to say that I made up for the lack of quantity with improved quality, but you can be the judge. I’m sure you’ve been reading this blog religiously, but just in case one of these posts slipped your attention, here are some of the highlights from 2015: (Note: I didn’t include any posts from December, as I’ll cover them at a later time.)

Super Bowl XLIX Preview – After Idina Menzel visited my blog on Christmas, she came back to discuss the national anthem as well as a few other thoughts on the big game.

So You Say You Want Some Evolution – This was probably my most disappointing post of the year. It was part of April’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge, and because it had to be published on a certain day, I rushed it a little.

I brought up what I thought were some good points for both sides of the argument, but I don’t think I expressed myself the way I intended.

The Greatest Song of All Time – I wrapped up my list of the ten greatest songs of all time. Which song came out on top?

The Cutter’s Advice to Prospective Parents or Anyone Remotely Considering the Possibility of Having Children – TL/DR: Don’t have kids.

Lessons Learned from Obamacare – Our nation’s health care system isn’t perfect, but it has been a marked improvement over what we had before.

Vaccines: Learn the Facts: If you’re going to not vaccinate your children, make sure your information is coming from a reputable source.

Lessons Learned from a Stay in the Hospital: I learned a few important lessons when the Cutlass was hospitalized.

I Peaked in Fifth Grade: My fifteen minutes of fame came when I played Pee Wee Herman in my school concert at age eleven.

Pee Wee Herman (Image source)

Pee Wee Herman (Image source)

Fortunate Son: Perhaps Cujo will be luckier than I have been when it comes to his sports teams.

Vegas Blog: A three-part chronicle of my trip to Las Vegas, and how no matter where you go, parenthood follows. (I also shot a gun for the first time.)

Do ALL the Things! – There’s never a lack of things to do when you’re a parent.

After I finally stop posting on consecutive days, I’ll take a look back at the posts from the 31 Days of Blogging. Will that day come tomorrow? Probably!

Posted in 31 Days of Blogging, Randomness | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

My New Year’s Resolution

I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s Eve celebration! My night was as quiet as predicted. The good news is that the children – with the exception of one late-night wake up – slept late this morning and woke up happy. So the year is off to a pretty good start.

I’m sure many bloggers will be posting their New Year’s resolutions today; at the risk of seeming unoriginal, I’m going to do the same.

There are a few things I’d like to change in the new year. Like many people, I’d definitely like to lose weight. I started off the year overweight, and despite a few fluctuations, I ended the year the same way. I’m not saying that I’m a huge blob or anything, but ideally, I’d be ten pounds later.

Losing weight is easier said than done. Between a heavy workload at the job, and parenting responsibilities at home, it’s tough finding time to get to the gym. Perhaps I need to sign up for another race or athletic contest so I have some extra motivation.

I should also make a point to eat better, but trying to deal with three children often leaves me just grabbing whatever I can find to stuff into my mouth. And as I’ve discussed before, the plethora of snacks available at the office isn’t helping matter much. So we’ll list the whole weight thing as a “nice to have” resolution.

Who can resist such temptation? (Image source)

Who can resist such temptation? (Image source)

There is one thing I do definitely hope to improve on in 2016. Like many Americans, I spend a lot of time looking at my smartphone. I’d like to claim that I’m doing so for important work purposes, but most of the time, I’m just checking Facebook, or making some sort of (assuredly witty) Tweet. This is problematic in itself, but it’s worse for me, because the time I spend looking at my phone is often time that I’m not interacting with my children.

Unfortunately, breaking a smartphone addiction is easier said than done. If it’s in my pocket, I’m going to be tempted to whip it out every time I get a free second. So when I arrive home from work, I’m going to make a point to put it away, and not retrieve it until the children are all in bed.

I know there will be times when I’ll be sorely tempted to just take one tiny peek at the phone, but I have to remember that the internet isn’t going anywhere. Those clickbait stories and hilarious Tweets will still be there later.

My hope is that by avoiding the phone, it will make the time I spend with my children that much more rewarding. Wish me luck!

How about you? Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? Are you optimistic about keeping them?

Posted in 31 Days of Blogging, Randomness | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Awesome Stuff: New Year’s Eve (as a Child)

Even though tonight is New Year’s Eve, Mrs. Cutter and I will likely spend it the same way we do most nights: Eating dinner, putting the kids to bed, watching a little bit of television, and then going to sleep well before midnight.

I wasn’t always this unenthused by the holiday. In fact, New Year’s Eve used to be one of the highlights of my year.

When I was in grade school, my parents would throw a NYE party, and some of my friends would come along with their parents. It was great. We overindulged in food and soda, watched movies and New Years specials, and played video games. Perhaps most importantly, I’d get to stay up well past midnight, which was a rare thrill.

It’s hard to believe that staying up until 2 AM used to seem like a treat. These days, that sounds like a perverse punishment.

NYE lost its luster when I became a teenager. Staying up late wasn’t such a unique experience anymore, and the concept of a party didn’t seem so exciting if girls weren’t involved.

It wasn’t long before my parents grew tired of throwing a party too. One year, we went to Disney World for the week, but aside from that, none of my NYE celebrations have been all that memorable.

Partying on New Year's Eve wasn't as exciting as I had hoped. (Image source)

Partying on New Year’s Eve wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped. (Image source)

I had high hopes for NYE in 1998. I thought that being able to drink legally might make the night seem more exciting, but I quickly discovered that going to a bar on NYE was better in theory than reality. I spent a decent amount of money (Okay, it was only $50, but that was a lot for a college student) to go to an overcrowded club (Polly Esther’s in Philadelphia) where it was near impossible to get drinks from the open bar. As I nearly got trampled trying to get my coat from the coat check, I decided that I would just as soon stay home the next year.

While I can’t imagine NYE ever feeling too special for me again, perhaps one day I can experience a vicarious thrill through my children. Maybe in a few years, we’ll throw a party at our house and have some of their friends come over. Hopefully they’ll be as excited as I once was to have a big celebration where they get to stay up late and watch TV with their friends.

For those of you who have big plans for tonight, may you enjoy your evening as much as nine-year-old me once did! And for those of you without big plans, may you start off the year with a good night’s sleep!

Happy new year!!!

Posted in 31 Days of Blogging, Awesome Stuff, Trips and Events | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

The 2015 Cutter Awards

The year is ending on a strange note. On a day when one of my dreams appears to be coming true, another dream has never seemed further away.

2016 is shaping up to be quite an interesting year, but there will be plenty of time to look forward in the coming days. Now, it’s time to look back at the year that was.

It’s time once again to pay tribute to the best and brightest that 2015 had to offer. Please join me as I hand out the 2015 Cutter Awards!

I like to kick these things off with a musical number, and based on the aforementioned big news, it seems like there’s only one band I could possibly use for those honors. (Sorry, Evil Squirrel!)

Chris Callan Rookie of the Year Award

The Callan Award is annually given to my new favorite person who I meet each year. Like most Callan Award winners, I first met this person the year prior, but didn’t get to know him very well until this year.

He started working at my company in late 2014. I soon learned that due to a similar sense of humor (he enjoys Family Guy clips) and sports fandom (sadly, his rooting interests lie with the Pittsburgh teams), we had quite a bit in common. He also apparently has good taste in names, as we gave our sons the same first name. (In case you were curious, my son’s name is not actually Cutter Junior.)

I was going to give him the nickname “Farva” due to a slight resemblance to the “Super Troopers” character, but I’ll instead make a reference to his hairstyle. Congratulations to “Flattop!”

As far as I know, he has never actually read this blog, so I’ll have to forward him a link. I’m sure it will make his day.

Song of the Year

I fully admit that I am out of touch with the music scene. Looking at various “Best of 2015” music lists, I don’t recognize most of the songs by name. When I listen to most of them, my first reaction is, “Oh, I know that song. I HATE that song!”

I’ve also noticed that Justin Bieber had a few hit songs this year. Are we at the point where the guy is actually a respected artist? Am I now lame for not being able to name a single one of his songs besides “Baby.” (And it’s possible I only know that one because the Cutlet has a dog that “sings” it.)

It’s telling that the only popular songs I really enjoyed were “I Wanna Get Better” by the Bleachers, and “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon, and those were both released in 2014.

The only new songs I really enjoyed came off of a mash-up album, and it doesn’t seem right to give a “Cutty” to a “fake” song. Therefore, I’m declaring myself to be too lame to give out this award any more.

Just so you don’t feel deprived, here’s the aforementioned “I Wanna Get Better:”

Blogger of the Year

Two years ago, I created a new award to honor the fellow blogger who I felt produced the best content throughout the year. Both former recipients of this award had solid years in 2015, and either one could have easily taken it home again. However, another man managed to barely edge them for the prestigious Cutty.

Sometimes I wish that this year’s award winner would actually be LESS prolific. He writes so much that it can be difficult to keep up with at times. It would be one thing if some of his posts were filler and easily skippable, but almost everything he writes has some substance.

Congratulations to Austin aka The Modern Philosopher! If you’ve never read his work before, I strongly suggest you head over and check it out.

Movie of the Year

My days of making it out to the movie theater are mostly in the past. These days, I’ve got to REALLY want to see a movie if I make the effort to leave the house. Obviously the first new Star Wars sequel in over 30 years fits that criteria.

I know I wrote an entire post pointing out flaws with it, but ultimately I did really enjoy Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was fun, nostalgic (without being overly dependent on it), and a worthy continuation of the Star Wars saga.

For anyone who can’t get enough Star Wars, here’s a video in which others ask questions about the movie:

Person of the Year

In 1982 and 1983, Cal Ripken, Jr. had a stellar start to his career when he won the American League’s Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in back-to-back seasons. Perhaps most impressive about this feat is that it hasn’t been duplicated since.

At least it hasn’t been duplicated in baseball; the Cutter Awards are a different story. The 2014 Rookie of the Year winner has upped his game a level in 2015 and earned the ever-so-prestigious Person of the Year award.

After we stopped working together, it seemed likely that Smokescreen would soon fade into obscurity. I’m not super great about keeping in touch with people, and older friends tend to be mostly forgotten as soon as I move to the next stage of my life. (Hello to any college friends who might be reading this!)

For some reason, I’ve managed to keep in contact with Smokescreen. Perhaps I’m just amused by his troubles dealing with contractors, or his constant hating on the town of Gaithersburg. Whatever the reason, he receives the Cutter Award, and perhaps I’ll even treat him to lunch the next time I see him. (No promises though!)

That’s all for the 2015 Cutter Awards! Thanks for reading, and before I go, here is one final musical number. Please enjoy AC/DC as they perform Thunderstruck!

Make sure to come back tomorrow as I wrap up the 31 Days of Blogging with a sure-to-be-underwhelming post!

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The Bully

My daughter’s school has been teaching her about bullying. Hearing some of the topics they’ve discussed made me re-visit this post which I started writing two years ago.

When I first started writing this post, bullying was a hot topic in the news thanks to NFL players Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito.

Note: Just because I’m prefacing the post by mentioning sports, it doesn’t mean that this post is about sports.  So if you’re one of my readers who tends to click away from sport-related posts (Mrs. Cutter and Mrs. Grafchak, this means you!) you can feel safe reading on.

Bullies don't always look like Nelson. (Image source)

Bullies don’t always look like Nelson. (Image source)

If you don’t remember (or have willfully forgotten) Jonathan Martin, he was the Miami Dolphins player who left the team because he felt that one of his teammates (Incognito) was bullying him. We used to think of bullies as the bruising kid who threatened his classmates with physical punishment if they didn’t give up their lunch money. But as Martin and Incognito have shown, the concept of bullying has evolved over the years, and bullies can take on many different forms.

Back when this first became news, the always entertaining (and somewhat poignant) Drew Magary wrote an article related to the story:

When reading that article, the character of Jimmy seemed familiar.  I realized that when interacting with my “friends,” I sometimes fall into the Jimmy role.

While I never played on a college football team, I have been a member of many recreational sports teams where the social dynamic can be similar.  Most people join these leagues as an attempt to make friends, but just because you sign up for a team, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to fit in.

If you’re a fan of the TV show The League, think of how Andre interacts with the rest of the group.  These people are supposedly his best friends, yet his attempts to fit in with them are awkward, uncomfortable, and usually leave him as the target of ridicule.

Back in my social days, I was more like the other members of the group who torment Andre. I was the guy who would loudly point out a questionable fashion choice, or would make a comment that would make someone feel a bit uncomfortable. “Good-natured” insults were plentiful.

You may wonder why I didn’t get punched in the face on a weekly basis. While part of it was because, like in The League, many of my friends behaved the same way, I think I was able to avoid physical retaliation mostly because I’m good at making fun of people.

Don Rickles built an entire career on making fun of people. (Image source)

Don Rickles built an entire career on making fun of people. (Image source)

As insult comics have shown us, making fun of people is a skill. I’ve found that the key is to be funny. If you’re making people laugh, that tends to diffuse the anger a bit. It helps that I often utilize a disarmingly sly grin that says, “Sure we’re all laughing at you, but it’s all in good fun, right?” I also tend to limit my insults to people who I know pretty well.  I think most of them realize that what I say is mostly harmless, and write it off as “Cutter being Cutter.”

Perhaps the better question is why. Why would I engage in behavior that makes other people uncomfortable, especially if these people are supposedly my friends?

I wasn’t trying to be malicious. (Well…usually) My intent wasn’t to make people feel bad, I just wanted to make people laugh. It just so happened that the laughs were at the expense of others.

In a way, it was my attempt to help everyone feel like part of the group.  Sure, we were laughing at their expense, but at least they were included!  I’m also of the opinion that once people learn to laugh about their insecurities, then they’ll start to feel better about them. (Would I feel this way if I had more easily exploited insecurities? That’s a topic for another day.)

To my credit, I don’t mind when people do the same thing to me as long as they’re being good-natured and funny about it.  If someone can say something that makes me laugh at my own expense, then I applaud them for it.

After reading these stories, I wonder if maybe I’m not quite as good at making fun of people as I think I am.

In his article, Drew included a clip of this famous scene from Goodfellas (NSFW due to language):

I’ve never gone as far as to break a bottle over someone’s head or to threaten someone with a gun, but I wonder if I’m more like Tommy than I’d like to believe.  When I’m doing my thing, the people around me were usually laughing – like I said, I’m funny – but was that laughter somewhat nervous? Were they worried that I’d soon turn my attention to them? I always thought it was harmless fun, but did everyone see it that way?

Does that make me a bully?  Am I just a less-racist version of Richie Incognito or a less violent version of Tommy?  Did people only associate with me because they felt like they had no choice, and a friend who was a bully was better than no friend at all?

With three kids, I don’t get out much anymore. My social sports days are a thing of the past, and most of my old teammates have faded into memory.

I wonder if any of them are actually happy about that?

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