Monopoly was my favorite game growing up. I started playing it before I was old enough to really understand it. As did my little sister. Once, when we were still both pretty young, I convinced her to exchange her ugly orange $500 bills for “pretty” pink fives. She got her revenge later on, though, when she figured out how to beat me fair and square. I haven’t won many games since.
Our Monopoly set was a conglomeration of two or three different sets. The money barely fit in the tray and we had almost two complete collections of tokens. That way, my sister and I could both be the “car”. Even still, we fought over which car we wanted to be. We both wanted to use the car token that was painted black, not the one that was in its natural pewter.
Next: New Years Eve
It all started when I got an iPhone. Buying yourself a new toy is not usually a moment for self-reflection, but in this case, it got me thinking. I couldn’t stop thinking about my old phone and my resistance to upgrading it. Looking back, I can’t believe how long I spent making excuses for it. I spent so long making the best of a bad situation that I grew blind to how bad the status quo actually was.
In the case of my phone, I got a little Samsung flip phone back in 2007. It was the base model on my carrier. As time went on and my friends all moved on to smart phones (or least, smarter phones), I stubbornly clung to my little flip. My phone was showing its age, but I kept making excuses for it. It was small and it had a decent battery life. It had pretty good sound quality, though I was the first to admit that texting was a real pain in the ass with the little T9 keypad. Nevertheless, I had gotten pretty adept at texting on it, so I made excuses for that, too. I also kept using my 2005-vintage iPod Mini with its black-and-white LCD screen and its 4GB hard drive (yes, and actual hard drive). It didn’t do anything but play music, but like my phone, it was good at what it did.
One day, I was at Starbucks, sitting next to a basket of newspapers. I saw the comics section and pulled it out. It was my first time reading the comics page in a year or two. It was exactly the same as ever. Of all of the art forms out there, comic strips are the most stagnant. The comics page has changed very little in my lifetime. In an age where even long-runnning soap operas like “All My Children” can be cancelled, Peanuts has managed to stay on the comics page a decade after Charles Schultz’s death. As much as I loved Snoopy and Charlie Brown as a kid, the newspapers really need to give Peanuts and other “zombie comics” a rest and make some room for younger artists.
There are two reasons why the newspaper comics page is so static. The first reason, and the more obvious one, is that newspapers are dying. As younger generations turn away from old media, the newspapers are left with an increasingly older readership. This has caused them to “double down” on the old ways. It makes sense, at least in the short term. Older readers want to read the same comics they did in their youth, so if the editors shake things up too much, they’ll risk alienating their readers. Of course, by never changing anything, they’re not doing anything to attract new readers. It seems like the old-skool newspaper editors are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
Sometimes a simple project can turn into a complete fiasco. The project? To frame a flag. My dad had acquired a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, and he wanted to put it in the conference room of his law office. It was a standard 3′ x 5′ flag and there were no frame is big enough to hold it. So we decide to make our own.
The first part of the project was easy enough. We went down to Menard’s and picked out some nice oak two-by fours. Since we didn’t have any woodworking tools, we got them to cut it right there at the store. With four pieces of cut wood, a couple of L-brackets and some wood stain, we had a basic frame, four foot by 6 foot. Then we assembled a plywood backing, some green felt, and the flag itself. Voilà!