Had a birthday earlier this week -- one of those odd, nondescript numbers you don't get a surprise party for. I did get 25 Facebook birthday posts -- a pathetic number for the younger generation, I'm told by my sons, but not bad for my age. These pleasantly surprising, random online birthday greetings have been the first -- and only -- payoff I've seen so far from the "social network."
One particular thing I've noticed about getting older is that, while I don't want to think of myself as a curmudgeon or a grumpy old man, I definitely have less patience for doing things I don't like to do. More specifically: These days, when I see or hear something on TV or the radio that rubs me the wrong way, I don't suffer silently; I change the station, or mute it -- or just shut the damn thing off.
Here, a few examples:
Those Subaru commercials where the easy-going, vaguely loser-ish voice-over says: "My brothers ate chocolate and vanilla -- so I got pistachio, or whichever scoop didn't already have a bite out of it. I suppose that's why I got a Subaru." Really? That's why you got a Subaru? The tag line goes: "Subaru. We like to think we're not building great cars, but great stories." But they're not great stories. They're really annoying stories.
Certain sportscasters and radio sports talk hosts. Mike Francesa: He just oozes arrogance, and his nasal New York accent is nauseating. Mike Lupica: Probably a much nicer guy than Francesa, but still, his cackling voice is hard to take. Rece Davis: I feel bad that he can't pronounce his L's, but did he have to go into announcing? And do I have to listen to him? Dick Vitale: Sure, a lot of people love his enthusiasm, but you gotta admit he sounds like he just inhaled the contents of a helium balloon.
The smug, slick, dude in the black sports coat and gray T-shirt who serves as the TV spokesman for Optimum. A) You're on way too much; B) It's rude to walk away while you're still talking to me; C) Didn't they stop rocking that Don-Johnson-Miami-Vice jacket and T-shirt look quite some time ago?
The Scotts Turf Builder ad, featuring the red-headed, slightly paunchy guy with the Scottish brogue. "Feed your lawn. Feed it!" Gag me with a spoon. Gag me!
The Heineken "Open Your World" commercial where the scruffy-bearded Conan look-alike goes toe-to-toe with the the wily old magician who conjures a rabbit -- and one-ups him by pulling a bottle of Heineken out of his mouth. Come to think of it, I don't really like Conan, either.
So I do sound like a cranky curmudgeon? Is there anything on the air that I do like? Yes, in fact, there is:
The Progressive Insurance ads with Flo.
The E*Trade ads with the talking baby.
When Colin Cowherd, on ESPN Radio, uses "dog hurl" for vomit.
The GEICO commercials featuring the two musicians asking "How happy are they?" -- especially the one that ends with the punchline: "Happier than an antelope with night vision goggles."
Those old "Welcome to English as a foreign language" ads. Of course, I have no idea what product they were advertising, but I loved the way they said "pud-ding." And "goat."
Anything Carrie says or does on "Homeland."
Good stuff. But that's another column.
"The Home Team" appears every other Friday. You can also keep up with Hank's adventures with his dog, Ricky, on his blog, "Beagle Man," on the Westport News website, at http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/. To reach Hank, email him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.