Posted in Wednesday Warriors

Michael Scott

He’s the boss no one really wants. He’s the guy who we try to avoid during parties. He’s the one who comes up with brilliant ideas only to backfire in the most miserable way. To whom am I referring? Michael Scott, of course. And Michael Scott is this week’s Wednesday Warrior.

Michael Scott quote
Michael Scott quote

I’ve been binge watching The Office episodes on Netflix lately. I can’t get enough of the show. It has fast become one of my favorites, not only because of its ridiculously talented cast but also because of the awkward moments each episode presents and how the characters make you squirm in your seat hoping the situations would never happen to you.

Part of the cast is Steve Carrell who plays Dunder Mifflin‘s branch manager Michael Scott. As crazy a character as you might think Michael is, he actually means well.

So he may be a tad crazy at times, but that doesn’t mean he’s the worst boss in the world. Just misguided. With all that goes on at his branch, or rather, with everything he puts his employees through, Michael should have had a pile of resignations on his desk long ago. Surprisingly, with every weird and wacky idea he comes up with, he manages to survive unscathed.

How does he do it? How does he serve up one cringe-worthy moment after another and live to tell his story?

Steve Carell as Michael Scott
Steve Carell as Michael Scott

I mean, how can I forget the time when he was planning to jump off his building into a blowup castle usually reserved for kids’ birthday parties, all in the name of safety? Or how about the time he organizes a beach party requiring everyone to walk across a bed of burning coals? That really went well. Or the time when he gave out golden tickets as coupons for free paper. I won’t tell you how that went.

Michael Scott certainly is brilliant. And yes, I may be saying it sarcastically but he’s proven repeatedly that he can still pull a rabbit out of a hat and surprise everyone. I’ll reference the fifth season’s episode Broke. I’m not going to get into the details for fear of spoiling it. In that episode, though, he is the boss everyone wants. He wasn’t cringe-worthy. He wasn’t embarrassing. He acted like a real boss who had thought things through right to the very end. Like I said, I can’t tell you about the episode, but I was pumping my hands in the air celebrating his awesome win.

Then, as unbelievable as it is, Michael has his moments when he shows his soft side. He’ll sit with his employees, lending an ear to all their problems. He quickly becomes the most sensitive human being on earth. Big kudos goes to Steve Carrell for being able to bring Michael Scott to life. Had anyone else played him, I’m sure the character wouldn’t have had the impact on the show as it did.

Whatever anyone thinks of Michael, whether his is the biggest buffoon, or the smartest guy in the room, he knows how to call his troops to action. Even if he sometimes appears misguided, his enthusiasm is infectious enough that others will go ahead and follow him. Few people in this world possess that talent.

But you know something? What I like most about Michael is that he makes me laugh. And that is the biggest reason I watch The Office.

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Have you watched The Office? Who is your favorite character? Do you like Michael? Why? Why not?

Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

The Decision

You’re gonna think I’m strange. In fact, you’re not only gonna think I’m strange, but you’re also gonna think I’m just plain weird. I wouldn’t blame you. If I were you, I’d think the same way. I mean, I typically have a high regard for the decisions I make. I don’t make them in a rash manner. I think about things. I ponder the consequences. And sometimes, I’m slow to act in order to gain the benefit of the doubt.

Cable
Cable

I gotta tell ya, though, for this decision, I dropped the ball.

I know what you’re thinking, “Hey, Jack. For Freedom Friday, don’t you usually write about things that are on your mind? What could be so terrible that you feel you can’t talk about it?”

Good question.

Here’s the thing—a few weeks ago I cancelled cable.

Yeah, I know—big step.

Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating when I say it was a big step. You have to understand the context from where this decision came. I cancelled cable and got Netflix.

Yikes! And here we go?

“You mean you’ve never had Netflix? What’s wrong with you? Have you been sleeping under a rock? Aren’t you a guy who likes growth? Netflix? You couldn’t afford Netflix? Where have you been?”

Okay, okay. I got the message. Yeah, I’ve been living my life in a box stuck on a shelf. Smack me.

But I have it now. That’s what counts, right?

Good.

Netflix
Netflix

Listen, this isn’t an ad for the service. I’m not going to get a commission or anything mentioning Netflix on my site. But know this—why hadn’t I subscribed to the service earlier? It’s great!

Let’s see, I can choose my shows and add them to a queue, which I find really cool. I can search for movies I’ve wanted to watch but never had the time to fully appreciate. The service makes recommendations based on my viewing habits. It even goes so far as to separate my watch list with those of the other members of my family. They’re not into zombies. That’s a good thing, right?

The best part about the service, and I’m not exaggerating here, is its ability to remember where I left off with a program I was viewing. By far, this has to be the one and most useful feature of the service.

I can begin watching Star Trek: The Next Generation from my TV in the family room, pause the program and continue watching the show on the TV upstairs in our bedroom. Then, if I want, after dinner I can pick up from where I left off on my phone at the kitchen table.

You might consider this a “meh” moment, but you gotta realize I’ve come out of the 20th century by getting rid of cable. Cable, folks. You know—where you only get twenty-eight channels and the best you can come up with for entertainment for the night is some guy balancing a chair on his face while someone’s sitting on it playing a rendition of Ride of the Valkyries on a clarinet.

Anyway, that’s what happened with me these past few weeks while I prep my upcoming book for release on October 20.

What have you been up to?

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RANGER MARTIN AND THE SEARCH FOR PARADISE, on sale October 20.

Have you tried Netflix? What do you think of the surface? It is all that you thought it would be?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Binge Watching

Netflix has given rise to the term binge watching. It happens when viewers have the choice to watch full seasons of a TV series available online, rental or for purchase. Not only does the definition include TV series, but it also includes movies. Some folks, including me, call these binge watching sessions marathons. I know of a couple of friends who have gone a weekend watching full seasons of 24.

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II

Today, for Freedom Friday, I would like to talk about my binge watching sessions and tell you a bit of what I’ve learned from the experience.

For me, it all started with The Godfather. One Christmas, many years ago, I received The Godfather collection on DVD. It’s a gift I’d always wanted, since I’d eaten through my VHS tape copies and needed a replacement for the films. Way back in the distant past, the only way to enjoy this series was through TV. Like everyone else, I had to wait until the next movie in the series would air to find out what happened with Michael Corleone. I eventually purchased the VHS tapes, but sometimes my VCR mangled the tapes and it left me with a free night to do nothing other than stare at a blank television screen.

Anyway, once I had The Godfather series on DVD that fateful Christmas morning, a day later I took to my TV and gorged on all that is mob-related. Watching the movies in context with one another is an experience. Gone is the delay of waiting to see what happens. The other benefit was not having to remember what the character’s names were because they were still fresh in my mind. With subsequent marathons, I also could connect the various events that happened in the movies with each other and determine how they related with one another. I find it’s something I can’t do when I watch something once a week or every few years or so.

Breaking Bad's Jesse and Heisenberg
Breaking Bad’s Jesse and Heisenberg

Recently, my binge watching has included The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Trailer Park Boys, Breaking Bad and, just a few weeks ago, The Walking Dead.

In particular with Breaking Bad, I found the show more enjoyable without the interruptions between episodes. Walt, the cancer-stricken meth producer became more real as did his addict assistant Jesse. I could feel the adrenaline rush as they attempted to escape death from every turn.

In the case of The Walking Dead, when watching the last episode of Season 4 and the first episode of Season 5 back-to-back, my stomach tightened from one scene to another as I wondered what will happen next. I couldn’t stop from watching the protagonist unravel. Rick had me from the opening and wouldn’t let go.

Experiences like that provide for an awesome event to remember. And I also think the stories and characters become more meaningful. I know as a writer, I appreciate the plot beats to the point where they are now something to spot, “Ah, there should be a twist right about now!” Things like that make binge watching a treat.

My recommendation? If you haven’t done it, try it. It truly is something everyone should appreciate.

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RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

What shows or movies have you dedicated to binge watching either in the past or recently?