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Browns, Netflix TV, and Smashing Pumpkins: While We’re Waiting

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Happy Draftkings Return of NFL Football Geico Bowl brought to you by Bud Light Day, Cleveland! Summer is nearly over (though the weather’s slow to notice), but the post-Finals Cleveland sports scene is just starting to heat up. This intensely likable Cleveland Indians team rode their Cookie Monster to a W against the Astros on Wednesday night, as they sprint toward a division championship. Professional football begins anew on Thursday night, with the Browns to follow in Philadelphia against the Eagles on Sunday. And the Cavaliers are still champions, as the universe has yet to correct what I assume was a cosmic oversight by … erasing the month of June, or reversing the space-time continuum or time-swapping LeBron James with Napoleon Bonaparte or whatever. With any luck this could be a special October for Cleveland sports fans.

It should be a special October for Cleveland fans, anyway. I’m not going to uncross my fingers or unclinch my sphincter on the Indians’ behalf until they clinch the division (and even then, only briefly). But I am certain that they’re a good baseball team — how good remains to be seen.

The Browns? Not so much. I’m fairly certain they’re bad. How bad remains to be seen; but prospectively bad enough that we’re discussing whether they’re intending to be bad this season.

But hear me out: The Browns don’t need to be good to be good. It’s the great paradox of the NFL. The NFL has four-to-six very good teams per year, and the rest of the league is varying tiers of mediocre hovering just above the truly diseased (see, e.g., the 2015 Cleveland Browns). It’s a league of few juggernauts. How often is anyone shocked to see a team lose to any other team?

The Carolina Panthers will be good, as will the New England Patriots once Brady returns. The Arizona Cardinals will likely be imposing (assuming Carson Palmer isn’t in full meltdown mode). The Green Bay Packers have a great quarterback but an uninspiring coach, while the Seattle Seahawks have been formidable for several years. In the AFC, the Browns are looking up at three competent teams in the division (all of which made the playoffs in 2014).

So let’s assume all the teams I alluded to plus two others are good. That’s 10 teams out of 32, leaving 22 teams as very meh. Let’s not forget the Cleveland Browns took the eventual Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos to overtime in 2015, and lost in a fashion other bad teams can’t even comprehend.

Let’s also not forget that the Washington Nicknames made the playoffs last season, and the Carolina Panthers did in 2014 with a losing record. Let’s not forget that the New York Jets won 10 games last season, and the Detroit Lions won seven, as did the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams. In fact, Jeff Fisher has made an entire career of being mediocre. Fisher has a career record of 169-156, has the closest career record to .500 of any coach in the top-25 of career wins other than Weeb Ewbank, and has won eight or fewer games his last six seasons as a head coach.

To be honest with you, I think we can do better than Jeff Fisher. If you believe Hue Jackson is the guy to lead the Browns long-term — and if you believe anything as a Browns fan, then you do — then you must think he’s a smarter and better coach than Jeff Fisher. Hue did win EIGHT games with the Oakland Raiders when they were at peak dysfunction.

In the NFL, if a team can linger in games, avoid shooting itself in the foot, and not be a collection of total dumbasses, then it can win 7-to-9 games. So why can’t the Browns win 6-to-8 games? “Because their defense is made of Fontina cheese?” you say? Well, to that I reply, THE BROWNS CAN DO BETTER THAN JEFF FISHER!!! THE BROWNS MIGHT NOT BE COACHED BY A TOTAL DUMBASS!!! WE CAN DO THIS!!!

Anyway, I have them down for 3-13. Go Browns.

My Half-Baked Idea of the Week: Netflix TV. Like so many people over the world, I have Netflix. I like it. Of all the the bills I pay every month, Netflix is the one that brings me the least amount of physical pain to see taking precious moneys from my bank account. It’s affordable and a product with which I’m thoroughly satisfied.

I also pay for satellite television. Yeah, I know that makes me an old geezer. I also listen to albums and am frightened by young people. It’s nearing the point where I can free myself from the shackles of cable/satellite, but not quite.

One of the things I noticed that Netflix and other streaming services are missing is the magic and serendipity of cable. As far as I can tell,1 there’s nothing on the streaming services that quite replicates the experience live cable television.2 What I mean by “the experience of live cable television” is the ability to flip and wander aimlessly, without committing to anything or even caring to watch anything. The largely passive experience of cable and satellite TV is, to me, one of its greatest redeeming features.

Modern television has almost become a chore; we need to be completists about everything. No one walks into Season 2 of a show anymore. Watching Game of Thrones is like doing homework. It’s fun homework with plenty of nudity — but it’s still homework.

On the other hand, my formative TV experiences were all random, spontaneous, un-curated, and totally casual. No one watched Law & Order or Seinfeld sequentially — it just happened as you tuned in … whenever. Few people would also purposefully re-watch The Shawshank Redemption or Con-Air or Big or Ocean’s 11 in their entirety more than five times. But when they’re just on TV as you fiddle around or do chores on the weekend, I find myself saying, Why not? Before long, you’ve memorized most of the dialogue and perplexed by minor plot points such as, Why doesn’t Andy Dufresne just write “Zihuatanejo” on the freaking piece of paper?

Imagine replicating that experience with Netflix or Hulu; putting together your own channels and “flipping” to whatever’s on. For example, I’ve seen every episode of 30 Rock and only a few Cheers episodes. It seems banal for me to restart 30 Rock from Season 1, Episode 1 and terribly daunting to commit to 290 Cheers episodes right now. The same could be said for The West Wing.

Netflix already has sophisticated algorithms. Imagine coming home from a night out, unable to commit to a two-hour movie and unable to pick from the thousands of options available on Netflix. However, your Netflix TV classic movie channel is showing Jaws (an hour in), your drama TV channel is in the third season of Friday Night Lights, your documentary channel just started Man on Wire, your action Netflix TV channel has Saving Private Ryan on (right before the battle by the bridge at Ramelle), and your sitcom channel is showing the 10th episode of 30 Rock. You decide you can jump in the middle of a 30 Rock episode, because of course your life needs more references to the Rural Juror and the Sheinhardt Wig Co. and Dr. Leo Spaceman (well, at least mine does).

And if this idea is a bunch of rambling nonsense and you’d prefer to hand-pick every moment of your life, including how you consume your streaming options? Well, you’re fine because they already do that. But I think customizing your own streaming channels would be a great feature for Netflix. In fact, SiriusXM already offers a similar custom “channel mix” feature for their radio service.

Random Calvin and Hobbes strip of the day. This one hits a little too close to home as a Browns fan.

calvin-dad-hobby-biking

And now for the random 90s song of the day. The R90sSotD has somehow neglected the Smashing Pumpkins for too long. But there can only be one R90sSotD at a time — hence why it is such an honor to be chosen.

Siamese Dream is my favorite Pumpkins album and probably their most complete work (depending on how you feel about “Sweet Sweet,” it’s fully shredded winners from tracks 1-14), but Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness still holds up as a capable double album. Plus, seeing as the R90sSotD is nothing more than a vehicle for nostalgia, I can’t pass up a track that has personal sentimental value.

“Tonight, Tonight” combines the ordinarily depressive lyrics of Billy Corgan with an uncharacteristic trace of hope. The strings on the track are downright triumphant, making it one of the Pumpkins’ finer opuses. The transition from “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” — the opening track that sets the tone for the album with some beautifully mournful piano — to “Tonight, Tonight” makes for a special and compelling start to an album. The video is also a grand tribute to the song and Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, arguably the first sci-fi film ever made. Billy Corgan, smashing pumpkins. Kyle Welch, smiling politely (and waiting for next year).

And our lives are forever changed
We will never be the same
The more you change the less you feel…

  1. After being a Netflix customer for years and performing a brief Google search. If there’s already a feature like this on a prominent streaming platform, I’m unaware of it. []
  2. I realize that Sling TV, a service I’m considering, is basically live TV streaming. But I think what I’m suggesting is different than simply streaming already-existing live channels. []

  • mgbode

    I am so calling Kyle “the Janitor” now