If you're like me (bipedal, breathing, borrowing someone's HBO Go password), you're addicted to the show "True Detective."
It's a sort of detective-noir that flashes back and forth between past and present, as Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson work to catch a mysterious killer. The shirtlessness is kept to a surprising minimum.
In true detective fashion, there are all sorts of kooky clues left around for them to discover: antlers, weird twig bundles, swirly tattoos, scribbly murals, quotes taken from 100-year-old texts, and lots of sweaty Louisiana oddballs.
Some clues are right at the murder scene; others are wrapped in many intricate layers of mystery and riddles and all sorts of stuff you can't even begin to think about without consulting several message boards, lest you look a fool.
In the void following "Breaking Bad," TV fans needed a series that dangles all kinds of red herrings in front of them, only to snatch them away like, "Nope, wrong again, dummy! Walter White's shirt color has nothing to do with anything!"
"Breaking Bad" had many fun clues - most of which led into a brick wall of frustration, but some that actually meant something - that added to the show's addictive nature. Really good TV makes you want to beat your head against a wall while cheering and throwing a bowl of Cheetos across the room.
I know that tonight, while the "True Detective" season finale is broadcasting to the rest of the world and I am busy chugging away in the newsroom, the conspiracy theories will run rampant, the pieces will either all come together or just kinda mush into a big lump, and I will avoid Facebook like the plague.
Being a non-"Game of Thrones" book reader or a next-day TV watcher puts you in the cone of silence in terms of spoiler avoidance. Godzillas and Morlocks could be running amok, but you'd never know until after "Walking Dead" is caught up.
Anyhoo, as I am using more brain power than I ever used in pre-calc to figure out if the little beercan-men McConaughey is making mean anything, the main refrain of the whole show becomes clear: the detective's curse. Which is, that you don't see what's right in front of your face, but instead look for meaning and symbolism in every speck of junk.
Much of life is like that; the simplest answer is correct. This principle is known as Occam's razor, and doesn't make for very exciting hourlong dramas.
Nevertheless, it does make for a better life. Taking the most rational route of thought is a better anti-wrinkle and gray hair remedy than constantly attributing behaviors and actions to widespread conspiracy and lies. Unless you're a government agent or Liam Neeson.
For example, when your boyfriend / girlfriend is late, maybe their car really did break down, and they didn't catch a flight to Tahiti to rendezvous with their secret lover.
That runny nose is probably allergies or a cold, not bubonic plague.
Maybe Sunrise Inn really did run out of wedding soup, and aren't just keeping it all because they don't like your face.
A common-sense approach to life beats the wigging-out approach. While riddles and unraveling plots is fun, life usually doesn't get that interesting.
I try to assume the simplest answer whenever life goes and acts like a real doodyface - the complicated answers are usually more expensive.
Sometimes, you get a real spooky Scooby-Doo case; but 9 times out of 10 it's just a guy in a mask or a mouse haunting the amusement park, not a ghost. (Was it ever really a ghost?)
Don't fall prey to the detective's curse. Save the sleuthing for the dramas. Save the dramas for your mama - or on the DVR.
See the forest for the trees. Don't lose sight of what is really important.
Hopefully, if you ever really do find a cool enigma, it isn't really just Matthew McConaughey planting twig bundles all around Louisiana and talking gibberish for giggles.
Wait, maybe the detective's curse is just what they WANT you to think, so you let your guard down, so they can ...
Just because you're paranoid, don't mean they're not after you.
You watching the "True Detective" finale? Tell me what you thought at firstname.lastname@example.org.