Ranking the Sharks

My reasons for loving Shark Tank have evolved over the years.

I think when the show began I really loved seeing the different aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs wade into the tank. I recall thinking how mean I thought the Sharks were. How they couldn't possibly know what it was like for these frighten guests to pitch their treasured ideas to a bunch of money hungry billionaires. 

Over time that feeling started to shift. I started to feel sympathy for the Sharks. Often they were forced to listen to some long-winded psychopath shucking a terrible idea. 

I think now I've settled into a really comfortable groove where the inventors sort of fall into a ball pit of good and bad ideas but the real joy is dissecting how each shark operates and naturally that has led me to really embrace some sharks and really disdain others. 

Here now is my unsolicited and highly accurate ranking of the Sharks:

I've divided them into two categories, Regulars and Guests. 

The Regulars

1. Kevin O'Leary - One of the OGs from the Dragon's Den days on CBC, O'Leary is everything that makes Shark Tank great. He is cunning, ruthless and very funny. Sure the other Sharks mock him but he doesn't waste time, suffer fools or fall for the melodramatic backstories of aspiring entrepreneurs the way his fellow Sharks do. If your idea sucks O'Leary is the first to take it behind the barn and shoot it. 

2. Lori Grenier - The Queen of QVC ranks second on my list for several reasons not the least of which is her ability to quickly assess whether or not she is the right Shark for the job. Depending on what the situation calls for Grenier identifies if she needs to make a quick offer, immediately go out or team up with another Shark if she thinks it will pay large dividends. The fact that she wasn't one of the original Sharks but nuzzled her way into a "regular" chair speaks volumes about her ability, skill and likability to viewers. 

3. Mark Cuban - In the early days of the show many people forget that Cuban was a "Guest Shark" and like Grenier managed to take advantage of his guest appearance in the same way that he took advantage of the opportunity to invest in Audionet/Broadcast.com. Cuban was for awhile the celebrity Shark. His unique ownership style of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks made him the perfect fit for a guest spot. His personality around the court translates well to the tank and it's no surprise that on occasion in recent seasons he has taken over for O'Leary in the center chair. 

4. Robert Herjavec - Also one of the OGs from Dragon's Den, Herjavec is the energetic, adrenaline-loving Croatian holding down the blind side of the Shark Tank line. A recent episode featured Herjavec losing out to Cuban and Herjavec reacted to his loss with an aside about Cuban being a billionaire seemingly suggesting that Cuban had the financial flexibility to outbid any of the other sharks whenever the mood struck him. It's for this reason that I love the scrappy Croatian. He loves anything having to do with recreation. He loves cool gadgets, cyber-security and more than anything his energy gives the tank a much needed jolt. I love how quickly he'll go in on an idea if he loves as well as how quickly he'll change his mind if he finds an inventor to be too scatter-brained. 

5. Daymond John - There is a moment on the show when all the other Sharks have gone out and Daymond is still in. He looks pensively at his notepad assessing the numbers and debating a play. I'm often surprised by the entrepreneurs Daymond invests in. His gaze at people is often difficult to read. Does he like them? Does he hate them? Regardless all of it makes for really compelling television. Daymond is as impressive as any of the Sharks. He is self-made. He had a passion. He went all in on it and it's paid off. 

6. Barbara Corcoran - It's not really a surprise to me that we seem to be seeing Barbara less and less. I go back and forth from pitch to pitch on my feelings for this brash Anna Wintour of real estate. Sometimes I think I'd love to be in business with her and at other times I think she is flat out terrifying. She can be downright nasty to some people and while I enjoy that coming from Kevin who tends to pepper it with the right amount of humor, Barbara doesn't have that skill. Her opinions of rich kids not being good people to work with is ridiculous. That said in many ways I find that same brashness to be very appealing. I like how quick she is to bid, how forceful she is when she gives someone a good deal but demands an immediate answer. It's probably why I'm writing the most about her. She is a force of nature. Like a lightning strike. Beautiful unless it's hitting you in the head. 

The Guests

7. Kevin Harrington - Not a true guest as he was a one of the originals Sharks from Season 1. Harrington was fairly forgettable and I presume that is why he didn't last very long. 

8. Jeff Foxworthy - Sadly I never saw the most financially successful stand-up comedian of all time time on this show. And for that reason I'm out. 

9. Steve Tisch - 

10. John Paul DeJoria - 

11. Nick Woodman - 

12. Ashton Kutcher - 

13. Troy Carter - 

14. Chris Sacca - 

15 Richard Branson - 

16. Rohan Oza - 

17. Alex Rodriguez - 

18. Sara Blakely - 

19. Bethenny Frankel - 

Sound of Sideline

One of the first things Joe Buck commented on at the start of the NFC Divisional Game between the New Orleans Saints and the hometown Minnesota Vikings was in reference to how loud it was inside US Bank Stadium. And I don't think I'm alone when I say I loved it.

The newly constructed venue and site of this year's Super Bowl is an architectural marvel. Reflecting the image, personality and in a very literal sense, due to the abundance of windows, the light of the Twin Cities. Noise was a factor throughout the game going from deafeningly loud when the Saints had the ball to almost eerily quiet when the Vikings took possession. 

But no change in sound was more noticeable than at the exact moment when Stefon Diggs came down with the ball on what would be the final play of the game only to find himself beyond the reach of any defender with a clear path to the end zone. I think everyone in the world watching that game went from thinking "get out of bounds" to "RUUUUUUNNNNN!" in less than a second.

And thats when it happened. This moment. This noticeable spike in the crowd noise. It happens around the :11 mark. This isn't a remarkable observation. It's fairly obvious. But what isn't as obvious is the fact that the noise level captured by the camera on that side of the field (the home team side) was, according to the information provided by the designers of US Bank Stadium, lower than  what the noise level was on the other side of the field (away). 

Why was the noise level different you ask? Apparently the designers at HKS Architects didn't plan it this way but it was an inadvertent result of the shape of the design as well as a special material called Texlon ETFE which is popular in construction on buildings in cold weather climates. It should be noted that HKS is the same design firm who brought us LucasOil Stadium in Indianapolis, AT&T in Dallas, as well as, the new Rams facility in Los Angeles, 

Now, I'm in no way saying that this sound issue played any part in the outcome of the game but it is surprising that the NFL, the other owners, the designers, the opposing teams and the opposing fans haven't made an issue of this. 

Fortunately for every fan rooting for the Vikings the sound inside the stadium will always be a part of the Minnesota Miracle. My only thought was, imagine how loud it was on the other side of the field? 


Racine v. Rockford

There has always been a great debate surrounding A League of Their Own, the incredibly rewatchable Penny Marshall film from the 90s about the first women's baseball league in the United States which was formed during World War II while most of the men who typically played were off fighting the Nazis. The debate I'm referring to is simply, did Dottie Hinson drop the ball on purpose? 

It's amazing how over the years I've heard varying points of view on this classic moment. Its amazing too how the division between people often depends on whether they themselves are an older sibling, as Dottie was, or a younger sibling, as was her kid sister, Kit. As the baby in my family I definitely argue that Kit finally and simply got the better of her older, more talented but less hungry older sister. She wanted it more and if Dottie didn't hold on as tight as she should have or could have then well thats just a sign of an older sibling finally needing to step aside and make way for the future. 

But never mind that! That's not why I'm writing. I'm writing for a much more important reason and that involves 2B Marla Hooch because I contend that there never should have been or would have been a Game 7 between Racine and Rockford if both Dottie Hinson and Marla Hooch weren't present for Games 1-6? Not to mention Kit and team favorite Betty Spaghetti. 

You're telling me me that arguably the best pure switch-hitter in the AAGPBL, one Ms Marla Hooch, being absent from the World Series didn't have more of a detrimental impact on the Peaches?  Now I don't know why Marla left. That never made sense either. Couldn't she and Nelson have gotten married after the season? Was it really that important that she leave? Is it possible that Nelson was a closet, power-hungry alpha male who once he legally had Marla under his unassuming spell she was forbidden, "Sleeping with the Enemy" style from playing the game she loved. That doesn't jive either because as they're pulling away in their "Just Married" adorn honeymoon honeywagon she yells, "I'll see you next season!" So, what then? Why does she leave? And why didn't Jimmy Dugan give her the "Don't walk away" speech? She was arguably just as important to the teams success Dottie. Fine! Okay? Marla is gone for seemingly no reason. Rockford still has Dottie and one of their best (see: only) pitchers in Kit. 

Or do they? Then Dottie and Kit have a meltdown the day after they clinch a playoff berth and Rockford's best pitcher gets sent packing to none other than, Racine! (Thanks to a seemingly nonexistent trade deadline which is fine! I can be okay with that.) Which means however that the second best team in the league in the span of two scenes just bridged whatever gap existed due to Marla Hooch and picked up Kit Hinson. 

Okay, okay! Fine. Marla Hooch, gone. Kit Hinson, traded. But we still might be able to argue that with Dottie around, Rockford is still the team to beat. 

Then tragedy strikes. Eddie and Dottie watch stone-faced as Jimmy slowly walks towards them and ultimately delivers the bad news that Eddie's husband, Fred was killed in action. Betty leaves the team and then that night Dottie's husband, Lonestar, arrives from Europe having been wounded in battle. They talk, they decide Oregon is lovely this time of year and despite Jimmy's urging they leave for Games 1-6 and yet the Peaches still force a Game 7? 

This I don't believe. Somehow this late in the season the Rockford Peaches without Dottie or Kit Hinson. Without Marla Hooch. Without Eddie Spaghetti. And with an alcoholic manager with a short fuse, Somehow this team manages to force 7 games? With Alice "Skeeter" Gaspers behind the plate and Ellen Sue Gotlander throwing heat? Are you shitting me? 

Oh and then Dottie shows up and everyone just decides, "Dottie, welcome back! Sure you can start Game 7!" 

I promise I'm upset but I'm definitely not crying. 

If it helps here is the Rockford lineup with an asterisk next to the players they lost for Games 1-6.

And now you're Rockford Peaches... 

CF - Mae Mordabito

3B - Doris Murphy

RF - Evelyn Gardner

LF -  Shirley Baker

P/SS - Ellen Sue Gotlander

LF/RP - Betty "Spaghetti" Horn*

2B - Marla Hooch

1B - Helen Haley

LF, C - Alice "Skeeter" Gaspers

C - Dottie Hinson*

P - Kit Hinson* 

Manager - Jimmy Dugan







The Last (time I care about) Jedi

I know I've said this before but I'm done going to see these movies.

Lets start with what was great about The Last Jedi.

1) It was enough of an "event" that during Christmas weekend when I needed a few hours escape from family it was seen as an acceptable excuse.

Now that we've covered what was good about this high budget piece of Disneyified fan fiction let's reflect on what didn't work. 

The truth is I know I fall squarely into that old guy, Gen Xer category of people who saw the original trilogy and nothing will ever live up to it be it because of nostalgia or some new director's desire to railroad a perfectly good galaxy.  

I blame myself for continuing to watch these films. I've known since The Phantom Menace that nothing will ever live up to the originals. George Lucas created a galaxy, characters and a story that should have been enough. He created two iconic films in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and one completely acceptable albeit understandably flawed film in Return of the Jedi. We always knew Lucas had more in mind for this story. We hoped for something that was somehow equal to originals and sadly it never quite materialized.  

It's shocking how disappointing that realization has been. You would think we could just be satisfied.  Many will argue that point to defend TLJ and The Force Awakens but I see it another way, we should have just been have with Parts IV, V & VI and called it a day. Instead I lined up for the rereleases! 

As yes, remember those? Many of you probably don't but way back in the late 90s Lucas remastered the originals and rereleased them into theaters. I went to all three. I was in college then. It was amazing. Except, well, the remastered parts. 

Then the prequels arrived and a dark sadness covered the earth. It's probably fair to say that the arrival and disappointment of the prequels was as disappointing as Sauron slowly sucking the life from Gondor. There was such hope for those films. Vader: The Early Years. Fett: The Early Years. The Death Star. Where did Luke and Leia come from. Who was their mom? Where did Ben Kenobi come from? 

Seldom if any of these questions were appropriately answered.  Fans were instead dealt Jar Jar, Digi-yoda and Hayden fucking Christiansen who rightfully so still has trouble getting work anywhere where people with memories live. 

However, as much as the prequels may have been disappointing there is something to be said for it being Lucas' vision. That vision after all gave us everything we love.  We can't forget that and we must respect it. 

Conversely we now have two of the final three episodes in the can and neither of these episodes have very much at all to do with Lucas' original vision. Obviously thats a good thing but it also doesn't mean that just because Lucas isn't behind the wheel that whatever fanboy (guy named Ryan who insists on spelling it Rian) knows what he is doing either. 

Most of my distaste for what Rian Johnson did in this film has to do with Luke Skywalker. You can totally understand why Mark Hamill got into it with Johnson over the story arc for Skywalker. How does possibly the single most important character in the history of cinema spend his last battle as a hologram? How does he suffer the same fate as Ben and lose control of such a promising young pupil? 

Everyone is quick to point out how not derivative this latest episode is, whereas TFA was entrenched in nostalgia and clearly that couldn't be further from the truth. The film ends on Hoth. End of story. 

Also what are those ice dogs and why do I care? Sure the Ewoks were arguably annoying and unconvincing as an army equipped to battle storm troopers but at least that fit in the story. And please don't tell me their reason for existing was to show everyone that there was a way out of the cave. You got 3P0 and R2 over there growing rust, you got a Jedi in Leia growing moss and none of them can tell that there is a way out? 

In The Last Jedi, instead of spending the necessary time building upon a story that fit into the Star Wars galaxy that we have all spent decades crafting, instead invited all of us to begin giving a shit about a handful of new characters who we have no reason to sympathize with. Meanwhile J.J. Abrams spent all of TFA introducing us to other new characters that I was much more invested in and was hoping desperately to see them expanded upon. 

But alas, it was not to be. 

The purchase of the Star Wars franchise by Disney may have resulted in a big payday for Lucas but it resulted in the Mouse deciding that Lucas' original vision for the films wasn't as good as it could be.

I can't believe I'm defending him here but this galaxy was his baby. We are all guests in his house and The Last Jedi is not part of that story. At the end of the day I'm more angry at myself for once again spending money on a ticket to a film that isn't Star Wars. It never was, never can be, never will be and I wish I hadn't wasted my time with it. 

It's a testament to the original films that I now spent time writing these thoughts down but that is the power of what we're talking about. Star Wars was everything to us and unless you are old enough to remember when those original three films were the only ones in existence you probably will never understand what it means to see their memory tarnished. 

And with that said I am sure that when the next film arrives I will go to the theatre, pony up my $15 bucks, get my double-butter popcorn and enjoy the fact that I have two hours of darkness and silence away from my family.