Let’s Get This Over With.

Ugh.

I never thought this day would come, but my phone got hacked. In order to preemptively cut this whole mess off before it gets out of hand, I wanted to just go ahead and publish the incriminating video here on the CDP, in the hopes that it’s never discussed again. I apologize to my wife, friends and family.

Turn up the sound if you must.

Have A Super Sonic Day.

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I left work early a couple of Tuesdays ago. There wasn’t a whole lot going on at the office, so I figured I could better utilize my time around the house, watching DVR’d Simpsons episodes and vacuuming the spiderwebs out of my garage. Instead of using several vacation days at a time, I usually opt for the few-hours-at-a-time approach whenever I feel like a Mental Health Afternoon is necessary for my well-being (and the well-being of those within roundhouse kick range of me).

Before I got home, I drove through Sonic for a grilled cheese. This particular Sonic is about a mile from my home, and for the six weeks it’s been open, the place has been complete anarchy. The food is suspect at best, ordering mozzarella sticks takes three hours, and they’ll be dead in the cold ground before you can special order anything. I once asked for a sundae with chocolate ice cream, and they said they “couldn’t do that.” Whatever, dude. I stick with the grilled cheese because I’m still pretending to be a vegetarian and it’s the one item they screw up the least.

It still took around 10 minutes. Good thing I had nowhere to be.

It was around lunchtime as I sat in my car and waited for my food. As my mind began to wander, I realized that it was also lunchtime for the local school, which functioned as an ‘open campus’ for the hour. For those who grew up without such a luxury (like me), an ‘open campus’ allows you to leave the school grounds for lunchtime and eat wherever you want (fast food, gas station, landfill), provided that you’re back on time. This meant that Sonic, a restaurant about a block from the school, was crawling with children of all ages.

The Tuesday after Labor Day was also the first day of school, and the energy was in the air. When I had left my house that morning, I saw a group of kids in my subdivision waiting for the bus, and I nearly had a full-blown panic attack. When I think back to my first days of school, every memory is that of pure, unbridled terror. I was a fair student, had plenty of friends and only got my ass kicked when I deserved it, but the PTSD always hangs low in the air. I firmly empathize with any child who was dragged screaming and fear-peeing onto a school bus that morning. I’m at an age where I should be preparing my own child for another year of public school, but in reality, I still connect a lot more with the kid begging to stay home. I feel you, little homies.

On Facebook that day, my News Feed was flooded with friends’ photos of their children getting ready for their first day back. Most of the comments were positive and congratulatory, but it’s in my nature to privately scoff and scroll ahead as quickly as possible. I hated school, I don’t have kids, and I’m not interested in anyone else’s. I’ve…been pretty clear about this.

However, as I was sitting in my car, waiting for my grilled cheese, something happened. Something that had never happened to me before in my life. And frankly, it scared the shit out of me.

I looked out my window and saw an adorable, beaming little girl. Brand new pink shirt. Brand new matching skirt. Crispy pink backpack without a scratch on it. Holding her smiling mother’s hand as they both shared a milkshake and walked back to school for the afternoon. The weather was perfect. The sun was shining, and they both seemed extremely happy. I, on the other hand, was getting ready to eat a grilled cheese in front of the TV, and waste away the remainder of this perfect day by watching anime until my wife came home.

In that split second, I felt like my life had literally no purpose because I wasn’t the parent of a child, and that I was finally ready to become one. It was a thought I had never let deep enough into my brain to even analyze, so when I did, it shook me like an existential crisis.

Oh, goddamn. I thought about how I was going to explain this change of heart to my wife. I thought about all the plans we were going to have to make. All the plans we were going to have to change. All the money we’d need to start saving. All the money we didn’t have and never would have. We’d have to remodel the office, of course. Probably finish the basement. One of us would probably have to quit their job for awhile. We’d have to pick a good school. A great one. How much TV should a kid watch? None? How much should we limit their Internet usage? Who will watch them when we need a sitter? Will I need to throw all the liquor bottles away? Why did I waste all that money on a WiiU? I don’t even play it!

In the past, this flood of logistical planning and strategic forecasting would be enough to stop the thought of having a baby dead in its tracks. Whenever I thought about it for longer than a second, I eventually convinced myself that it was a terrible idea, that I wasn’t ready and we shouldn’t even think about it for another five years. Unfortunately, this didn’t work. As I watched this mother and daughter skip happily away, I longed to experience that moment. I wanted it more than anything I have ever wanted in my life. I thought about walking my daughter to school, freshly sporting the supplies we had picked out together the week before, and in the moment it seemed like the most heavenly experience in the world.

Shit,” I said out loud to myself. “I think I want to have a baby.

I was shaking in the car. I felt like I was going to throw up. This was a genuine moment.

I’m not a religious man, but this was a serious precipice in my evolution here, and I sincerely could have used a little guidance from Above. I didn’t have any friends or relatives I could call at noon on a Tuesday for perspective, and the drive-thru of a Sonic wasn’t exactly the sort of place where a spark of divine intervention would typically shine though. Although I was planning to check my grilled cheese to see if the Virgin Mary’s face was visible in the grill marks. Wouldn’t hurt, I figured.

But then, it hit me. Inspiration from above, and not a moment too soon.

Off in the distance, atop a pile of decorative landscaping surrounding the perimeter of Sonic, I saw him. A little boy, about 7 or 8. By himself, ruthlessly ripping out the plants, cattails and foliage, and throwing them haphazardly into the street in huge clumps.

He was basically feral. Dirt on his face. Sticky hands. He didn’t look like he was headed back to school, or anywhere that didn’t involve a padlock and water dish, frankly. He seemed plenty occupied with destroying the plant life like it was his profession. When he would uproot a cattail, he would wield it at passing cars like a samurai sword, kicking up soil with each mighty stomp. He was almost hit and killed a good three or four times. Horns were honking relentlessly. I had to think that one of them called the cops.

He was an asshole. He was unsupervised. He was me, and he was the living embodiment of every reason I’ve ever talked myself out of having children. That would be the one I get. No question about it.

Finally, his mother emerged from the Sonic with a large soda, which he snapped from her hands without so much as a Thank You. The mother looked like she wanted to scold him, but was too exhausted and busy with the infant she was balancing with her other arm, all while holding more food, a phone and her purse. Once she managed to stuff everything into her undersized car, the boy proceeded to kick the side panel of the passenger seat until she opened the door for him and sped off. He wasn’t buckled.

Just then, my grilled cheese arrived, and I decided that I wasn’t ready to have a baby just yet. My earlier feelings had dissipated after seeing a far more realistic projection of why my life as a Father would truly entail.

The beaming girl with her mother was the best-case scenario. It was a scenario that could happen to my wife and I, through hard work and a shitload of genetic luck (I can’t really tell my sperm what to do). And I would love and cherish her as much as I hypothesized I would…but the boy throwing plants into the street was probably a better snapshot of what my future would hold. The Missus and I were beyond difficult children to deal with, and even though we’d parent the hell out of whatever kid we ended up with, I knew that fate wasn’t in our favor.

Win or lose, I’ve always played the odds when it came to big decisions, and between the Missus and I, we sort of selfishly assumed that there was a fairly good chance we’d have a baby we didn’t like and it would ruin our marriage and lives, spiraling us straight into the gutter until one of us shanked the other with the lid of a baby formula can. I know people always say that you’re in control of what your child is to become, and you’ll love them unconditionally regardless, but I call 100% bullshit to that noise. You’re not always in control of what your child is to become. Not even close. That’s an argument so ridiculous it isn’t worth arguing. Plenty of great parents have awful children, and it’s not their fault (unless it is, which also totally happens).

Look, I know that if you want a kid, you’ll have a kid and work with whatever you’re given; that’s what good people do. My wife and I strive to be good people, and when the time comes where we truly feel ready for the responsibility of parenting a child, we will stop at absolutely nothing to push every last chip into the center of the table to ensure their future success (even if it does end up being a boy).

But as I drove from Sonic with a grilled cheese in my hand, I was looking forward to an empty house.

If only for the time being.

The CDP 2014-2015 Fall TV Preview.

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IT’S BACK!

For the 9th goddamn year, the CDP is back with the scoop on 50 new, returning and canceled TV shows. These are the shows that I will be watching (or at least giving a chance to) this fall. All times are Central and the time slot information is accurate as of the date this was written. I also stuck with mostly national TV and some basic cable; I did not include premium channels, because the CDP is accommodating to TV fans in all tax brackets and considers piracy a crime literally worse than mass murder.

And hey, if this preview isn’t enough for you, feel free to take a trip in the Wayback Machine to see my 8 other Fall Previews:

2005-2006 Preview. (Remember Invasion and Night Stalker?)
2006-2007 Preview. (Remember The Unit and Studio 60?)
2007-2008 Preview. (Remember Kid Nation and Carpoolers?)
2008-2009 Preview. (Remember The Goode Family and Lipstick Jungle?)
2009-2010 Preview. (Remember Time Warp and FlashForward?)
2010-2011 Preview. (Remember Detroit 1-8-7 and Better With You?)
2011-2012 Preview. (Remember Alcatraz and Awake?)
2013-2014 Preview. (Remember Animal Practice and The Neighbors?)

Let’s do this, starting from the top.

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SUNDAY
6-7p – America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC – 10/5)
6:30-7p – Bob’s Burgers (FOX – 10/5)
7-7:30p – The Simpsons (FOX – 9/28)
7-8p – Once Upon A Time (ABC – 9/28)
7-10p – Sunday Night Football (NBC – 9/4)
7:30-8p – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX – 9/28)
8-9p – The Walking Dead (AMC – 10/12)
8:30-9p – Mulaney (FOX – 10/5)
9-10p – Talking Dead (AMC – 10/12)

The Skinny! – Timeslot mainstay AFV brings the (scrotal) pain at 6, followed by the best animated series on TV, Bob’s Burgers. The Simpsons begins Season 26 on the heels of their record-breaking marathon on FXX, and Once Upon A Time brings their neverending fairytale to ABC at 7. FOX comedies Brooklyn Nine-Nine and newcomer Mulaney have the unenviable task of going up against Sunday Night Football. And where some shows begin to coast and lose their audience after 4 seasons, The Walking Dead only gets bigger, badder and decapitate-ier as we roll into the much-anticipated Season 5.

But I Can Only Watch One Show!The Walking Dead continues to be a ratings anomaly and is arguably the best show on television. Put the kids to bed and jump on board. Then go back and watch every other episode.

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MONDAY
7-8p – Gotham (FOX – 9/22)
7-8p – Antiques Roadshow (PBS – 9/22)
7-10p – Monday Night Raw (USA – Ongoing)
7:30-10:30p – Monday Night Football (ESPN – 9/8)
9-9:30p – Louie (FX – Midseason)

The Skinny! – Please let Gotham be awesome and make me forget that Ben Affleck is now donning the rubber suit. Elsewhere, Antiques Roadshow appraises 2 THE EXTREME at 7, Monday Night Raw holds fast as the most-watched weekly show on cable, and Monday Night Football showers us with concussions, illegal contact penalties and commercials for Hooters. God help me, I love football so much. Finally, Louie returns for a truncated Season 5, which is better than nothing, which is exactly what we received in 2013.

But I Can Only Watch One Show! – If nick-knacks, football, superheroes and wrasslin’ aren’t for you, there’s plenty to be excited for when it comes to Louie.

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TUESDAY
7-8p – The Flash (CW – 10/7)
8-9p – Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC – 9/23)
8-9p – Agent Carter (ABC – Midseason)

The Skinny! – It’s Nerd Night in America, as The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Marvel spinoff Agent Carter make you forget about how terrible and lonely your life is.

But I Can Only Watch One Show! – Who knows how good Agent Carter and The Flash will turn out to be, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. started good and ended better, so they’re definitely earning prime space on my DVR.

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WEDNESDAY
7-7:30p – The Middle (ABC – 9/24)
7:30-8p – The Goldbergs (ABC – 9/24)
8-8:30p – Modern Family (ABC – 9/24)
8-9p – Mythbusters (DISC – Midseason)
8-9p – Red Band Society (FOX – 9/17)
9-10p – Nashville (ABC – 9/24)
9-10p – The Ultimate Fighter (FS1 – 9/10)

The Skinny! – Wednesday night starts off with solid comedies The Middle, Modern Family and (the exceptional) The Goldbergs on ABC. On cable, Mythbusters returns for another season of putting urban legends to bed, while Red Band Society tries to be Glee in a children’s hospital or something (I’m unclear on the details, but it looks cute). The Ultimate Fighter returns with an all-female lineup of terrifying martial artists competing for the UFC’s inaugural 115lb. title, and Nashville brings the heartbreak at 9.

But I Can Only Watch One Show!Modern Family poops emmys and justifiably so, but I wholeheartedly believe that The Goldbergs is one of the best shows on TV right now, especially for children of the 1980’s. 

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THURSDAY
6-6:15p – Adventure Time (TOON – Midseason)
6:30-6:45p – Regular Show (TOON – Midseason)
7-7:30p – Parks and Recreation (NBC – Midseason)
7-10p – Thursday Night Football (CBS – 9/11)
8-9p – Gracepoint (FOX – 10/2)
9-9:30p – Maron (IFC – Midseason)
9-10p – Secrets and Lies (ABC – Midseason)

The Skinny!Adventure Time and Regular Show are the perfect yin and yang of the Cartoon Network (the decriminalization of marijuana only did favors for these shows), while Parks and Recreation begins their 7th and final (sniff) season on NBC. Thursday Night Football premieres on free TV this year, while Gracepoint is a new crime drama starring David Tennant. Maron appears to be getting better with each episode, and Secrets and Lies looks to bring a good old-fashioned murder mystery back to ABC.

But I Can Only Watch One Show! – You watch Parks and Recreation. There’s no question about it. It’s sincerely one of the greatest NBC comedies ever made, and that’s saying something.

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FRIDAY
7-9p – Friday Night Smackdown (SYFY – Ongoing)
9-10p – Constantine (NBC – 10/24)

The Skinny! – BORK LASER SAY IF YOU NO WATCH SMACKDOWN I KILL YOUR BODY.

But I Can Only Watch One Show!Constantine is about an enigmatic and irreverent con man-turned-reluctant supernatural detective who is thrust into the role of defending us against dark forces from beyond. So yeah, we’re all going to watch that.

But seriously though, Brock Lesnar will find you and kill you.

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SATURDAY
7-7:30p – Cops (SPIKE – 8/23)
10:30p-5a – Toonami* (TOON – Ongoing)

(*Toonami’s lineup currently consists of Attack On Titan, Space Dandy, Bleach, Naruto Shippuden, One Piece, Gurren Lagann, Beware The Batman, Black Lagoon, Naruto, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Cowboy Bebop, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Samurai Jack.)

The Skinny! – Look, you should have fun on Saturday. Spend time with your loved ones, have a drink and a few laughs, but be sure to get your ass back to the television by the time Toonami begins. And don’t plan on sleeping, either, because it runs all night. As a warm-up, new episodes of Cops continue to air on Spike.

But I Can Only Watch One Show! – You watch the SHIT out of Attack On Titan.

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CANCELED/NOT RETURNING
Most of the shows that left our televisions last season wholly deserved to. And let’s face it, most of the new shows premiering this year will do the same, if they’re lucky enough to even make it through a full episode run. If you noticed, there aren’t a lot of new shows that made my list this year. But there are two shows worth noting: One that is moving to the scary new world of online streaming, and one that may go down as the greatest Drama in TV history.

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Breaking Bad swept the Emmys for two years in a row, set Guinness records for critical acclaim, and most impressively, won the massive, 128-show, two month long CDP TV 25 Tournament to determine the Greatest TV Show of the Last 25 Years. It deserved everything it got, and it stands to reason that history will be nothing but kind to this one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

The story of Community is astounding. A show so weird it had no business being on NBC, getting cancelled only to be revived due to fan outcry, having their creator fired and then reinstated, and finally being revived for a 6th season on Yahoo! Screen. Wow. This is one of the few web-based shows I will definitely be watching this season; Jeff Winger and company are characters worthy of being followed.

Well, there you have it. The scoop on my personal Fall TV schedule, for the 9th year running. Set your DVR’s, sound off in the comments section and enjoy your week. Don’t forget to tell me the shows you plan on watching on My Twitter and over on My Facebook. And hey, go buy one of my books while you’re at it. Thanks much; have a good one.