Friday, December 25, 2009

A Few Quick Christmas Thoughts.

I'm currently sitting in front of my mom's fancy brand new computer with an oversized screen and fast-as-all-hell Internet and reminiscing about the glories of Christmas in Cincinnati. First off, staying at my mom's house is the equivalent to a luxurious vacation. I have an unlimited amount of treats awaiting me each and every time I come into town. For instance, I arrived around 5 PM on Wednesday with a hankering for LaRosa's. I walked in, suggested it, and was stuffing my face an hour later. Her appreciation for seeing both me and my brothers has ratcheted up significantly in the past few years, and I'll be damned if I'm not going to take advantage. Maybe "take advantage" is the wrong way to say it. Um, let's instead say enjoy the countless amenities my mother provides. There, that's better.

Sitting in the Northside Tavern on Christmas Eve with some close friends, we came to the obvious conclusion that Christmas has lost all its luster. Who knew this could ever happen? I have no real interest in getting presents and basking in the glory of the holidays. Instead, I'm most excited to sit at a bar (like the Northside Tavern) with close friends and discuss how Christmas has become more of a reason instead of a result. I'm cool with this development of a semi anti-Christmas sentiment. Number one, I knew it would happen eventually. No big shock. Number two, it still gives everyone a reason to truck into town, get drunk at old haunts, reflect on the past year with rarely seen friends, make plans to visit one another (knowing you never actually will), and eventually continue on your own merry way. I love this about the holidays (for real). Number three, the trite and cheeseball frills of the holidays aren't as prevalent as they once were because you've diligently worked the past few years at surrounding yourself with equally jaded and sarcastic friends and family members. Definitely the best part.

My stomach anticipates the coming of Christmas and New Year's Eve and rallies to house as much shit food and alcohol it can possibly handle. It then refuses to tolerate any such action throughout the rest of the year (just ask the last couple of camping trips I've been on). I can only assume it's some type of camel-like quality that provides me with supernatural strength and intelligence throughout the following year. Seems like the most obvious answer.

Okay, I'm heading back to watch snippets of A Christmas Story (without ever actually seeing it in its entirety) and eat homemade chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Happy holidays and all that.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Albums of 2009.

It's that time of the year again. Time for my annual "Best Albums" feature where I act like I'm knowledgeable and insightful when it comes to discussing current music trends. Sounds like a fun game, right? It's inevitable that I will leave off several notable albums this year, but if I can't remember them off the top of my head, then they're not really worth noting (for the most part). I glanced back at last year's list and realized that I was completely right on all counts. So, why would this year be any different? I'm both a year older and a year wiser. This was a spectacular year of releases, so I'm bumping it up a notch from last year and giving you my 15 top albums of 2009, in no particular order (I think).

1. Converge - Axe to Fall - This gets my vote for album of the year for three reasons. First, Converge is one of my all-time favorites, and they can do no wrong. Second, this album runs step for step with the quartet's masterpiece, Jane Doe, which is a lofty statement to say the least. Third, Converge went on an inspired face-melting mission and guitarist Kurt Ballou hitched a ride on a dream cloud to the Xanadu of brutal riffage and bought a townhouse there. The first five songs are reason enough to worship this onslaught of sonic dynamite. Fucking brilliant.

2. Pissed Jeans - King of Jeans - Surlier, dirtier, and louder than Hope for Men, complete with an endearing basement show ambiance of sweat, blood, and booze. You can practically feel the spit from the slurs and growls of frontman Matt Korvette. It's the kind of performance that reminds me of an overly exerted, red-faced singer puking in the corner after practically killing himself while attempting to entertain 18 kids at a shitty bowling alley basement show. All out, all the time.

3. St. Vincent - Actor - I'm in love with Annie Clark, and she's in love with me, or so I repeatedly tell myself (over and over and over). Regardless of our passionate love for one another, her shining album as St. Vincent is a meandering trail of sugary yet astute indie rock that isn't afraid to get messy and noisy from time to time. Clark is the quintessential bandleader, with a talent for beautiful quirk and a charismatic charm that could persuade me to eat a heaping bowl of dirt.

4. Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport - This Bristol duo ditched much of the abrasiveness from its debut, Street Horrrsing, and produced a haunting soundtrack of noise that builds ominous beat upon ominous beat as snippets of sound ricochet from one quadrant of a song to another. The album's personality is the equivalent to the perfect sci-fi horror movie scene, littered with blood thirsty aliens probing petrified victims with eight-foot long needles beneath blinding spotlights. The climactic closing track, "Flight of the Feathered Serpent," is goddamn chilling.

5. Sleepy Sun - Embrace - A hearty slice of stoner rock pie. This sextet doesn't attempt to disguise their certain Sabbath allegiances, which is actually kind of refreshing. I saw these guys in an intimate theatre with seating. Although they were slightly off-put by playing to 35 seated concertgoers, it didn't temper their charming enthusiasm. Fuzzed-out, weed-scented guitar licks galore, with Rachel Williams (who can straight fucking bellow) and Bret Constantino's vocals casually strolling alongside. A good trip.

6. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion - I loved the audacity Stereogum exhibited when it named this the album of the year directly after it's release way back in January. Seems brash, presumptuous, and just a little fucking ridiculous, doesn't it? Well, the readers elected it album of the year in Stereogum's recently published Best of 2009 Extravaganza. Of course they did. Either Stereogum dangled a mutant-sized carrot in front of its impressionable readers' faces for 11 months, or I'm calling a goddamn conspiracy. I mean, who wants to turn around and see his own foot in his ass? All that being said, the album does in fact dominate.

7. Box Elders - Alice and Friends - Poppy low-fi garage goodness with a Dead Milkmen-like charm. This album is by no means mind-blowingly spectacular, but it's so damn fun that I can't deny it from this list. I feel like I've missed seeing these guys something like eight times (they're always coming through Chicago), and I'm reminded of my brazen stupidity each time I spin this album. Mindless, head-bobbing good times.

8. Baroness - Blue Record - While Red Album proved to be Baroness's coming out party, it lacked cohesion. This album, though, is an equal-part batter of metal doom riffs, transcendent melodic guitar, guttural and fiery vocals, and intricate, shitstorm drumming. It has eerie valleys and triumphant peaks abound, and there are unusual moments where it sounds like I'm being chased by gaggles of demonic trolls. Currently the best prog-ish metal band calling the state of Georgia home (in case you didn't know, Mastodon's from Atlanta).

9. Double Dagger - More - These guys pair perfectly with a sweaty and sticky art space show that has a fridge full of dollar PBRs, a 20-minute bathroom wait, and thin clouds of smoke hanging just overhead (I experienced this dream setting over the summer). Bass, drums, vocals, and enough frenetic energy to make a five-year old shit right through his pants. Is it just me, or does Baltimore have an outstanding music scene?

10. Bat for Lashes - Two Suns - I cheat on St. Vincent's Annie Clark with Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes. That's just how shit rolls, ya know? They both understand. Plus, Khan's albums are spells. They literally sound like a benevolent sorcerer concocted them, sprinkling sprite dust and unicorn ashes over each tune. Two Suns is enchanting and daze-inducing. Check out the video for "What's A Girl to Do" off of her debut Fur & Gold and convince me you're not mesmerized. Sounds like magic.

11. Magik Markers - Balf Quarry - The apparent u-turn that was 2007's Boss proved to be the fantastic realization of a newly mapped route as duo Elisa Ambrogio and Pete Nolan moved toward more structured ways of songwritng. Balf Quarry continues in that direction with drone noises and blips loosely held together by Ambrogio's ominous, echoed vocals and Nolan's rudimentary drumming. Once you think you're contently dazing off (see "State Number"), the album inflicts multiple blows to the solar plexus (see "The Lighter Side of...Hippies"), leaving you disoriented by the album's polarity, but still quite content.

12. Dan Deacon - Bromst - Heard this story before? A classically trained electronic musician (whatever that means) who wears garish neon clothing, seems to barf arty bullshit, and looks like he'd molest your children? That's Dan Deacon, alright. I respect ambition, and Deacon's got so much it makes him seem like a pretentious, holier than thou fartbag. The simple fact is that the man is a talented whatchamacallit, and this album is a swirling grab bag of electro-excellence. Critics have called it "darker" than Spiderman of the Rings. Whatever. It's still a fun romp and makes me feel like I'm forever jumping on a moonbounce inside an abandoned Chuck E. Cheese.

13. Lightning Bolt - Earthly Delights - I shouldn't really have to go into much detail here. Uhhh . . . there was a new Lightning Bolt album this year--the first since 2005's Hypermagic Mountain. It's fucking Lightning Bolt. No drastic shift musically. They still sound like the apocalypse. Lightning Bolt, fuck.

14. Future of the Left - Travels With Myself and Another - With enough piss and vinegar to drown a little league baseball team, the Welsh trio's sophomore album expands on the ferocity and simplistic crunch of 2007's Curses with a scorcher of middle-finger-right-up-in-your-asshole-face punk rock. No longer stuck in the "ex-Mclusky" pigeonhole, Future of the Left has rightfully secured its own identity and the splendidly volatile mixture of anthemic jaunts coupled with pissed-off, snarly poundings prove that the Welsh boys are worth looking up.

15. Wye Oak - The Knot - This is the third Baltimore band/artist on my list. What the fuck is up, Charm City? Anyway, there's just something adorable and endearing about this indie rock duo. Since their debut If Children, Jenn Wasner's vocals matured with a heartfelt soulfulness and the cultivated songwriting now peeks into rooms of complexity, working with cascading melodies and almost tangible emotion. Wye Oak reminds me of eating a giant banana split sundae at an ice cream parlor on a dreary spring day and watching an unaffected dude break up with his sobbing girlfriend in the booth across from me.

Honorable Mention: Health - Get Color, Deer Tick - Born on Flag Day, Passion Pit - Manners, Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Drug Rug - Paint the Fence Invisible, Obits - I Blame You, Anni Rossi - Rockwell

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thankful Thanksgiving (Pretty Much)

I'm sitting at my computer at 12:43 PM on Thanksgiving in Chicago. For the first year ever, I'm not celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. There are various reasons for this, and they're all understandable. With that being said, I'm pretty cool with it and looking forward to this Thanksgiving more than any other in recent memory. Loren (also not making the trip back to New Jersey) and I are going to prepare a feast consisting of Lasagna, Tofurkey, cornbread, mashed taters, and broccoli. We're going to cook, devour, drink beer, watch football, and go to the movies. Pretty stellar day if you ask me. Plus, I saw Baroness last night and will once again behold the glory of the Jesus Lizard this Saturday.

Anyway, I feel like it's important to compile a rundown of things I'm thankful for (a rarity). While many may see me as a sarcastic, dry, paranoid, rigid, and pessimistic person, I am actually thankful for various people, influences, and relationships in my life. All that being said, I refuse to make this list a sappy lovefest of bullshit.

First off (and because they're both loyal readers), I'm thankful that this man and his wife are moving to Chicago. Justin got a job with Teach for America, and I supported him through the painstaking phases he had to endure. It was not an easily accomplished task and we're all very proud of him. What makes this so amazing is that things like this don't happen. Justin and I tend to share a brain from time to time, and yes I know I hold an overall advantage because I beat him in a push-up contest, but the point is that while this moved seemed imminent, neither of us felt truly confident it would come to fruition. We're just not lucky like that. Well, now it's time to keep our fingers crossed that the July 2010 doesn't get jinxed. Regardless, I'm pumped.

I'm thankful for my job. Given, work is work, and it can straight fucking blow balls, but I kind of lucked out (aside from compensation). The advantages of my job at the Reader are as follows: No rules on clothing (see these four year old jeans with the whole in the crotch? Yeah, I'm wearing those to work), everyone I work with pretty much rules, cursing is well-accepted and often encouraged, perks upon perks (mostly music related), and the Reader's a goddamn respected institution in this city with brilliant writers and editors. I often want to complain about my job, but I really just can't.

I'm thankful for sports and all sports-related programming, podcasts, magazines, and discussion. We can just leave it at that.

Not really. I'm also thankful for commercials that air during football games. Not because they're good or intentionally funny, but because I love how blatantly they target what is deemed the typical football watching crowd (married men ages 35-60). My personal favorite is a Viagra commercial where a middle-aged man is confronted by his "other self" during a trip to the doctor. The man seems flabbergasted and embarrassed by the "other self's" suggestion that it's time to discuss his erectile dysfunction with the doctor. Although initially shocked by the proposal, the old fart is easily convinced. Leaving the doctor after talking about his wiener problem, he high fives his "other self" gives it a content nod of the head and meets his wife in a pleasant-looking park for an early evening stroll and dinner. I can only assume that they later go home, and he bangs the shit out of her. Viagra and cornball Kay Jewelry commercials have more unintentional comedic moments than most commercials on television, and they each revolve around some doofus showing his wife or significant other either his boner or a big fat fucking diamond--they usually seem more excited about the diamond.

I'm thankful for my two mopeds, two bikes, motorcycle, and car because it's obvious that I need each one of them. I'm not even going to lie--I love to look at all of my two-wheeled modes of transportation. I fucking love it, and I want more.

I'm thankful that I've maintained long term (and basically lifelong) friendships. I've know one Michael Short since I was eight and have been super tight with Russell "The Love Muscle" Vance, Michael "Juggernaut" Coates, Zach "Spazz" Thomas, Kenny Roa, and Billy Hartmann for over a decade. I greatly appreciate this, not because they are good people, but because the amount of joke material I have on each one is recyclable for eternity. They'll never go away and neither will I. And although I've only known him since 2007, I'll also include Justin Bragg in my list. Mainly because he's so damn exhausting to be around, it feels like I've know him for practically twenty years.

Finally, here's a quick list of things I'm thankful for that don't warrant their own paragraphs: My ability to find amazing parking spots, my chiseled jawline, Heidi's butterscotch cookies, my superior amount of Seinfeld knowledge, Logan Square, my mom's never ending tolerance of me and my brothers, adrenaline, never having gotten pulled over on the highway, Peyton Manning, my TV series DVD collection, my awesome apartment, Chicago brunch, and recliners, among many other treats that are escaping me at the moment.

P.S. I am not thankful for the way that Brett Favre and Vince Young are currently playing quarterback. Justin and I have been talking shit on them for years, and they're currently taking a crap on us. Stop it! Stop playing well and making us look like we don't know what we're talking about. We've always seen ourselves as trailblazing thinkers and great sports hypothesizers.

Favre: I'm going to need you to go to your Mississippi farm and run over your right arm with a tractor.

Young: I need you to go flunk another test so we can continue to make fun of how dumb you are, dummy.

You guys suck.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Indiana Cabin Weekend and Halloween: A Polaroid Story.

So, I've recently become a big fan of Polaroid photos, and I decided to lightly document my last two major weekends using Polaroid film. A couple of weekends ago, a top-notch group of us went "camping" in Who the Hell Knows Where, Indiana. Actually, as I was driving through the local sticks listening to the radio, the area was being referred to as Kentuckiana, a more objectionable, awful description I cannot recall. Anyway, we spent the weekend playing cornhole, drinking beer, hiking, playing cornhole, listening to Kenny make crude comments, basking in a campfire, watching Justin grill things, and slurring curse words together. It was a goddamn delight.

Note: I mistakenly left Zach Thomas's name off the "posse" Polaroid. It should read "Posse minus Russ, Zach, and Brian." My fault, Robert Zachary Thomas.

Click on the photos for larger versions.

This past weekend contained the best day of the year. The one day where it's socially acceptable to walk around in a cheetah leotard or flaunt an obscene amount of cleavage. Does it really matter what you even do on Halloween? As long as you're at some party, bar, or random gathering where people are dressed up and maybe slightly intoxicated, everyone's fantastically happy. I know, I know, I went as zombie. Cliche as hell, right? Well, fuck off. It was my and Carley's idea because she's been plowing through her fear of zombies and we had a good "makeup artist" to take care of us (Ricki). Regardless, it was a blast of a night. I ran out of film much too early to document much of the debauchery that ensued. Bummer.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A "Fun" Theory About a Mind-Boggling Contraption.

My roommate introduced me to the recent theory concerning the Large Hardron Collider that's located in the countryside near Geneva, Switzerland. Instead of trying to explain the device and its purpose (I'd inevitably botch the description), I'm going to refer to a June 2007 article from Popular Mechanics:

"Inside the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), massive, powerful magnets chilled to a few degrees above absolute zero — colder than outer space — will zip beams of superenergetic protons and lead nuclei in a loop at speeds within a hairsbreadth of the speed of light, then collide them head-on. The energy released will be so vast that the impacts will recreate conditions in the universe as they existed just a fraction of a second after the big bang. If the LHC performs as expected, it could at last nail down that holy grail of contemporary physics, the Higgs boson — known as the “God particle” because it is thought to lend mass to matter. It may even finally unveil the secret of dark matter, the mysterious entity that makes up 85 percent of the universe — thereby shedding light on as-yet-unexplainable motions of galaxies."

Daunting shit, right? Regardless, the brains of the world have had a hell of a getting this thing to operate properly and are becoming rather frustrated with repeated disappointments. The initial startup date (November 2007) was delayed when a "cryogenic magnet support broke during a pressure test." Operation was again delayed in 2008 due to a "faulty electrical connection between two magnets." In July of this year, leaks were identified, once again delaying what is being deemed as the "start of operations."

Doesn't it seem a little wacky that the world's preeminent physicists and scientists can't get this terrifying monstrosity cooking? Well, others agree. Because of the prolonged difficulties, rational theories are beginning to be tossed by the wayside. The newest and best theory is that the Collider is being sabotaged by forces/humans from the future who are traveling back in time to halt operations and avoid an imminent disaster that would disrupt the future's equilibrium and possibly suck the Earth into a black hole.

This is some Terminator 2: Judgment Day kind of mind-melter shit. It's being compared a lot more to Back to the Future, but that's too PG-rated and campy for me. I tend to envision the scene when Arnold, Eddie Furlong, and Linda Hamilton go after (basically attempt to murder) Dr. Miles Dyson of Cyberdene Systems Corporation to prevent the future self-awareness of Skynet, a catastrophe that would result in the "rise of the machines," mass destruction, and a couple of subpar sequels.

To be honest, I'm not even poking fun at the free thinking theorists. I just find it humorous and entertaining when all rational thought has been expended and the next logical explanation is time travel. Fucking brilliant.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Good Work, Levi's.

Seeing that I haven't blogged in over a month, I'm going to keep this one simple and in list format (kind of). My recent trend of hooded sweatshirt wearing and pumpkin beer hunting means it's probably about time for my annual Fall blog, consisting of the best and worst parts of the standout season (although we all know that summer will always dominate the head-to-head battle). Because I'm neglecting to look back at last year's blog, there's no doubt I'm going to tread over some old thoughts. I don't mind being repetitive, though, and there will always be unavoidable holdovers from year to year. Also, I'm aware that Simmons recently wrote a "Why October Is Great" article; however, I had the idea first, so I'm calling dibs. Justin's probably the only one that would raise a fuss anyway. You know, because he's a crybaby. So, without further ado . . .

Fall means new jeans. I beat the hell out of my jeans from bike riding, mountain climbing, tomato gardening, hang gliding, buck hunting, moped fixing, and bare-knuckle street-fighting, among my other typical Summer activities. Anyway, it appeared as if Levi's had dropped the ball and fucked their 511s fit way up. One size was too small, the next size up was too big. This pair had four pockets, this pair had twelve. It was a disaster. I've been wearing Levi's for the past decade and had both my size and fit down. So, I panicked and bought some Marc Jacobs jeans. That's right, you heard me. I'm a fancy fuck now (not really because they cost like 80 bucks). I am happy to say, though, that Levi's recently came out with a Fall collection and got their shit straight and returned to form. I can only assume this was a result of me bitching about the altered fit every time I went into a Levi's store. So, those of you who are hopelessly devoted to the 511 skinny jean, you're welcome.

Fall means a sports orgasm. October is simultaneously overloaded with the baseball playoffs and football. The two best sports in bed together in the same month. It's like late Saturday night Cinemax programming. *I did go further (much further) with this analogy, but then opted to delete it. Probably the wise move.*

Fall means pumpkin beer. Already mentioned in the introduction, pumpkin beer has become a fixation (maybe a vice) of mine over the last few years. If I see a variety I've never had before, I always buy it. When Winter porters begin usurping shelf space, I hoard the shit like a hobo hoards pop cans. It's my elixir and makes me invincible.

Fall means empty bike lanes. I get some sort of sick enjoyment out of riding my bike through the blistering Chicago cold. In the summer, the Milwaukee Avenue bike lanes are teeming with shorts and tanktops perched upon fixed gears, but once sub-50 degree weather hits, the lanes thin out and the hardcore cyclists are the only ones left. Nothing better than pulling up next to a fellow insane person in ten-degree weather, nodding your head, and saying, "Fuck, it's cold."

Fall means bonfires. Is there anything better than sitting in a camping chair, drinking Budweiser out of a can, and flicking finished cigarettes into a raging bonfire? If I could bottle the scent of bonfires, I'd call it "Autumn," sell it to suckers like Kenny and Russ, and make a bajillion dollars. I can't wait for my late October camping trip with the posse (minus a couple), so that I can drench my hooded sweatshirts in the bonfire smell and purposely not wash them for the rest of the season.

Fall means darkness at 4:30 PM. One thing I miss about Cincinnati is that it's on the edge of the eastern time zone, resulting in a later sundown time. Here in Chicago, though, the sun gives us the middle finger around 4:15 or 4:30 PM. Given, that's during the heart of winter, but there's nothing worse (or more depressing) than when fall starts hitting and you notice the day shrinking. Ugh. I hate walking out of work and into the dark.

Fall means Halloween. Chock-full of haunted houses, dressed up buffoons, and copious amounts of candy shoved in your face, Halloween is the best holiday of the year. Plus, I've become obsessed with tracking down the guerrilla Halloween costume outlets that pop up in vacant storefronts around the city. It's the perfect business model. Fill a store with a bunch of campy, hideous holiday shit and when it's gone, it's fucking gone. No restocking and practically no cleaning up. Have you ever been in one of those places on October 30? It's the damn apocalypse. A delightful disaster of desperate vagabonds running around in a bleak, desolate wasteland of clown wigs, vampire teeth, and fake blood. Absolutely terrifying.

Fall means more blogs from yours truly. I've been massively disappointed with my general lack of recent blog production. To be completely honest, I haven't been able to find any time. I'm a busy bee during the warm weather seasons because I gotsta to keep up my appearances and shit (not really). Anyway, with fall comes the security of fearing the cold, wind, and premature darkness and just packing it in for the evening. The results? I'll spend a shit ton less money and be able to post up one of these gems on a weekly basis, regardless of length. That's my new goal, and I sure as fuck plan on following through. I wouldn't dare deprive the public (or Justin) any longer from my words of wisdom.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

My Preface to the Upcoming NFL Season (NFC).

Since posting my AFC preview, there have been two disasters. Number one: I fractured my right wrist when a car decided to hit me while I was on my bike (don't worry the bike appears to be okay). Number two: Brett Favre returned to the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. I don't have it in me anymore to discuss number two, and as a matter of fact, I'm making a pact with myself to avoid his name in upcoming blogs concerning football, painkillers, or Wrangler jeans. I have no more words. As Simmons put it, Favre's new nickname should simply be "VD" because he just won't go away.

Anyway, the fractured wrist deterred me from attempting the NFC blog because I would've had to practically operate my computer left-handed. Seeing that I've basically disowned my left hand for the first 28 years of my life, I didn't really expect it to forgive me and cooperate. My apologies, left hand. I'll never treat you like a 15-year old heroin-addicted, pregnant daughter again.

Regardless, my right hand can now sufficiently operate well enough to complete my NFL preview. Plus, I would've felt like a real fuckface if I just had an AFC preview and blamed it on an injured body part. I know that I'm cutting it close with the season starting on Thursday, but better late than never, right?

As was said with the AFC preview, I'm not going any further than the teams that are going to get in the playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys (10-6) - Let me preface this with saying that I hate this division. Why else would I have picked the Cowboys to win? It's always overblown and consequently disappointing. That being said, Jerry Jones did build a fifty kajillion dollar stadium and shrewdly sabotaged the opposing punter with an enormously outrageous scoreboard that acts as a huge psyche out. As sad as it sounds, after superficially evaluating the other quarterbacks in the division, I've got to go with Romo. Yep, I just said that I'm going with Tony Romo.
Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) - Remember that discussion about Anquan Boldin heading to the Eagles. Remember how it didn't happen? Remember how the Eagles never did bring in a big time receiver? Have a good time leaning on a second year prima donna (DeSean Jackson) and a rookie (Jeremy Maclin). Oh, and Michael Vick used to electrocute dogs.
New York Giants (7-9) - When Plaxico Burress was suspended last season, the Giants pretty much fell apart. Why this wasn't regularly talked about on the ESPNs confounds me. Dear New York, Eli Manning has no one to throw his knuckle-balls to anymore. You're totally fucked. Justin and I are actually still in shock that Eli Manning is a "Super Bowl Champion." Just doesn't sound right, does it? So, why not give him a huge extension and a ton of money? This shit is just too wonky. Tyree got released yesterday. The Super Bowl mojo is done and gone. You ruined a perfectly good Super Bowl and my chance to witness the perfect season. Screw you, Giants.
Washington Redskins (5-11) - When you make rumblings on two separate occasions about chucking your quarterback, you've basically given up on him as part of your future. Don't get me wrong, I like Clinton Portis and Santana Moss, and I'd really like to see Jason Campbell succeed. He just won't.

Green Bay Packers (12-4) - I know that the Green Bay Packers are a sexy pick right now. Am I jumping on the bandwagon? Yes. Yes I am. The fact that Aaron Rodgers has succeeded since the Brett Favre debacle elates me. Plus, this division isn't the beast everyone's making it out to be (see below).
Chicago Bears (10-6) - I applaud you, Bears. You stuck your neck out and made a big move. Congrats on bringing in Cutler. By the way, who in almighty hell is he going to throw the ball to with three minutes left in the 4th quarter of a playoff game? The fact that Devin Hester is a number one receiver is a joke. He's a backup cornerback and a good special teams player. That's it. It's like a statistical nerd getting hired as the GM of a basketball team just because he's a whiz at crunching rebounding numbers and shooting percentages. Oh, wait...
Detroit Lions (5-11) - Giving the Lions five wins is a bit of a stretch, but I'm a pretty big Calvin Johnson fan. Unfortunately, I feel like the Lions are going to start Stafford over Culpepper (I found this out to be true a couple of days after writing the preview), so Johnson's numbers aren't going to be as glaring. Carson Palmer played backup for a year. Rivers did it for two. So did Rodgers. Seems like a logical decision to me considering Culpepper still has some gas in the tank. Plus, I just want to see him do his touchdown arm roll celebration thing.
Minnesota Vikings (2-14) - Brett Favre.

New Orleans Saints (11-5) - I don't know why New Orleans isn't getting any love this year. Drew Brees almost conquered Marino's single season passing totals last year. Sure, their defense is suspect, but it really comes down to the fact that this is the least interesting division in the NFL, and the Saints are the most likable (Katrina aside). Also, I can't believe Mark Brunell is still puttering around. Here's two more points for the wily old veteran that couldn't throw five yards if he had gun to his balls.
Atlanta Falcons (8-8) - Time to float back down to reality, Matt Ryan. Whenever you're being interviewed by Sports Illustrated alongside real quarterbacks (aside from Romo and Roethlisberger) about the "toughest job in sports," you know you've blown your load too soon. The Gonzales pickup was nice, but isn't Atlanta notorious for having an all-around terrible fanbase? No wonder the city could only win one World Series in the 53 tries they had during the 90s.
Carolina Panthers (6-10) - Dear Carolina, Jake Delhomme isn't good anymore. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure he ever was any good. You remember last year's playoffs, right? I've never seen anything quite so disgustingly horrendous. It's as if I was watching the Hindenburg disaster, only I was laughing the entire time. I predict Delhomme's head will explode following his fourth interception in the first 11 minutes of the first quarter of the opener. What a putz.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14) - I really don't know if there's going to be a worse team in the league this season. I think they're starting the guy who vacuums my apartment building's stairs at quarterback. Where's Jeff Gracia when you need him? I also have no idea who the coach is. I honestly can't think of his name or what he looks like at all. That probably doesn't bode well.

Arizona Cardinals (11-5) - I'm not going with the sexy Seattle Seahawks pick. Partly because I'm still bitter over losing T.J. Houshmandzadeh but mostly because Arizona's offense is a fucking juggernaut. Boldin's still there, Fitzgerald is the best receiver in the league, and old bones Warner has been rejuvenated. The reason? I can only assume that he's got a great offseason training program of constantly banging out his wife now that she turned good looking overnight. Oh, and God's on his side.
San Francisco 49ers (8-8) - That's right! Shaun Hill is going to lead the old boys back to the glory land. Well, not really. They'll continue to swim in mediocrity for at least the next five to six years. Crabtree's never going to sign, but it doesn't really matter because Shaun Hill's the quarterback. Am I right? Dear 49ers, Take this opportunity to groom Alex Smith. You remember him, right? He's that one guy you drafted first overall. Did he really get a fair shake, or were you too busy crapping out a heaping mess of diarrhea all over his confidence? All that being said, I just glanced at the roster. Oomph...
Seattle Seahawks (8-8) - Is it just me or do way too many ignorant analysts view Matt Hasselbeck as an elite quarterback? I suppose the Seahawks could take a few steps forward this year, but I'd prefer to see Hasselbeck continue his back injuries and fall by the wayside. To be honest, I'm really still just bitter over the fact that the Seahawks let the '05 Steelers win the Super Bowl. The pain I went through with those playoffs is indescribable.
St. Louis Rams (4-12) - I mean, who really gives a shit about the Rams anyway?

Division Champs: Cowboys, Packers, Saints, Cardinals
Wild Cards: Bears, Eagles

Please appreciate the effort I put in to get this thing up before the Thursday night game. It would've just felt wrong otherwise. Good to have you back, football. Hugs and kisses.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Preface to the Upcoming NFL Season (AFC).

I'd be doing a great disservice to myself (and maybe even Justin) if I didn't preview the upcoming NFL season. The first preseason game aired last night, and while it was a throwaway game versus two throwaway franchises, the Titans and Bills were wearing throwback jerseys, and for at least half of the first quarter, they were actually playing a little football. As I watched Vince Young throw a TD pass against a second or third string defense that was probably recruited outside of a Waffle House, I couldn't help but get a little giddy. Football is here (and Brett Favre is nowhere to be found).

The Cincinnati Reds must have wanted me to write this blog because they decided to tank the season and forget how to score runs, or really just make a game entertaining to watch. Therefore, instead of writing about the tight race in the NL Central and my utter disdain for all things Cubs and Albert Pujols related, here I am writing a football preview. Thanks, guys.

On a bit of a tangent, is it possible for Joey Votto to play first, pitch, manage, and be the first base coach simultaneously? On second thought, I wouldn't trade Billy Hatcher in for anything. I'm biting my tongue right now. Sorry, Billy. You keep tapping Willy Taveras' ass every time he beats out a slow roller in the infield.

Regardless, what's done is done, and the Reds can file away another forgettable season. Actually, just change the name of the file to Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, or Pittsburgh Pirates. No one will be able to tell the difference, and the Reds can maybe save some face.

Enough baseball talk already. So, I'm going to go division by division, and rank the teams in order of how they're going to finish. And of course, there will be a quip or two added. I'm not going any further than the teams that are going to get in the playoffs. If I did otherwise, what will I have to talk about in December and January?


1. New England Patriots (12-4) - I don't want to do it, but I think Belichick has been worshiping Satan a bit more than usual this offseason hoping that this doesn't come true. Oh, and Randy Moss can still jump over everyone and catch touchdowns while doing his taxes.
2. Miami Dolphins (10-6) - Sure, Chad Pennington has had eighteen rotator cuff surgeries. Sure, he has a tendency to sound like a derelict that was birthed from a moonshine barrel. But he always wins, and he always seems pissed. I hopped on the Chad Pennington bandwagon a few years ago and have been throwing off naysayers ever since. I'd still like to see someone kick Joey Porter in the balls, though.
3. New York Jets (7-9) - Sorry Mark Sanchez, you only played what, about two and a half games in college? Plus, it's going to be a tough transition from banging girls on some posh, warm California beach to banging girls in a pile of trash outside of Meadowlands stadium in late November weather. Also, not unlike Brian Billick (former offensive "genius") and Marvin Lewis (former defensive "genius"), Rex Ryan will probably decimate his defense as a result of a ballooning ego and the pressure to be better than his dad.
4. Buffalo Bills (5-11) - Terrell Owens aside, I like the receiving core (Lee Evans, Josh Reed, Roscoe Parrish), and I sure as hell like the fact that the J.P. Losman distraction decided to asphyxiate his career by joining the soon to be defunct UFL. However, it is the Bills, and they lost four Super Bowls in a row (1990-1993). Logical argument? Not at all. But the ghost of Scott Norwood will forever haunt the proud franchise.

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) - Those who know me well realize the pain this causes. I hate no team in sports more than the Steelers. Is it because, like Belichick, they made a pact with Satan to regularly compete for a division title? Yeah. Is it because they use their "Terrible Towels" to wipe their asses after they shit out the Bengals twice a year? Yeah. Is it because the world loves Hines Ward, the most abominable shitbag on the planet? Yeah. Fuck it all, just go back and read my Super Bowl blog from earlier this year. It pretty much sums it up.
Cincinnati Bengals (11-4-1) - Flip last year's record upside down. Why not? I just got done watching Hard Knocks on HBO, and I'll be damned if it didn't get me riled up. Seeing Carson Palmer delegate and tutor always gets me excited. Plus, who doesn't love hearing football players curse openly? I don't trust anyone who doesn't throw around some four-letter words from time to time. With their schedule and an offense that seems to gelling into something lethal (Chad's back), this team could be worth a shit this year (but, let's be honest, I say this every year).
Cleveland Browns (7-9) - Big step forward this year. The record won't indicate it, but the Browns are going to be in some tight ones. Mangini's a solid coach. He mainly lost his job last year because of the cancer that is Brett Favre, who would have been just as well off throwing the football to the popcorn vendor or the field goal post.
Baltimore Ravens (3-13) - Did the world (aside from me and Justin) really buy in to Joe Flacco? Really? He looks like the assistant manager of a Piggly Wiggly in Montgomery, Alabama and is about as exciting as a haircut from Great Clips. I'm also still waiting for someone to take Ed Reed's head off during one of his ridiculous patented interceptions for a touchdown. Then he'd be dead, and the Ravens would only be able to score seven points each game. Oh, and Ray Lewis seems like he's running purely on fumes of cocaine in this stage of his career.

Indianapolis Colts (13-3) - I've never been shy about my love for Peyton Manning. How can I not appreciate watching the best quarterback of my lifetime who has completely redefined the position? However, the Colts are in the waning years of their dynasty, so this year is going to be the team's final big push. The offense will continue to run like a fucking machine. Now, if only Tony Dungy hadn't left to counsel a dog killer for his own self-fulfilling, soapbox reasons. Shit, that bugs me.
Houston Texans (9-7) - Didn't see that one coming, did you? The Texans have been abysmal since they were brought into the league in 2002, and something's got to give. Andre Johnson is a legitimate man-child, Schaub may actually be for real, and Mario Williams turned out to be the right choice. The jury's still out, but I'm taking a leap this year. Now, if they could only figure out how to beat the Colts.
Tennessee Titans (7-9) - Big step back for the team that played over its head more than anyone last year (except for maybe the Ravens). The defense lost Haynesworth to Washington for a kajillion dollars, Collins has no one to throw to (Justin Gage?), and while I do like Kerry Collins, he is a haggard 58-year old man, while his backup is (and always has been) an overrated mess of a glorified running back.
Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11) - Why in almighty hell does Jacksonville have a football franchise and Los Angeles doesn't? This travesty needs to end, and the NFL think tank needs to buff up on its LOST episodes and figure out a way to move the Jacksonville stadium and fanbase to LA. By the way, Del Rio's job is toast this season.

San Diego Chargers (10-6) - I hate Philip Rivers. I think he's a cocky shit who would rather taunt fans and whine then approach the game with a dignified passion (a la Manning and Palmer). That being said, this division is utter garbage, and when I heard that Rivers is 14-0 in December since he took over the reigns from Brees, the Chargers just can't really be denied. Oh, and LT is a whiner too. And Merriman is a roided-out cokehead whose heart is probably going to explode on the field. Man, fuck the Chargers.
Denver Broncos (7-9) - In his NFL career, I never felt like Kyle Orton got a fair shake. A Bears divorce was necessary (who did he have to throw to on that team anyway?). Given, this is another example of a Patriots whiz kid-coach coming to a team and thinking he can turn it upside down and still succeed with a discarded quarterback, but I am rooting for Orton this year. If Brandon Marshall gets his shit straight, the receiving core can't be denied. The defense, though, is a whole other story.
Kansas City Chiefs (7-9) - I'm not saying the Matt Cassel rise to stardom isn't a good one, but what does this team really have to offer? I can't think of one redeeming quality off the top of my head. I'd say Tony Gonzales if they hadn't foolishly dumped him to Atlanta. I just looked at the roster and no one jumped out at me. Wait, wait, I do like Dwayne Bowe. There you go, Kansas City. You're got Dwayne Bowe. Give 'em hell Dwayne.
Oakland Raiders (2-14) - Al Davis needs to die for this team to succeed. Tom Cable, I repeat, Tom Cable is their coach, and they drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey with their first pick. Also, JaMarcus Russell is worthless. Can you do it all by yourself, Jeff Garcia?

Division Champs: Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Chargers
Wild Cards: Bengals, Dolphins

Here's hoping that my NFC preview will be up before the start of the season. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Why I Was Doomed to Never Become a Professional Athlete.

This marks my and Justin's first joint blog. We've been toying with the idea for a while but couldn't ever get our shit together and decide on a topic. That being said, I said fuck it and just picked a topic myself. We'll see how well it works.

KEVIN: I crack under pressure. Over the past few years, I've come to grips with this. It's not something I'm proud of, but something I've learned to deal with and even joke about (even though with each joke, my confidence crumbles just a little more, and I slip deeper into a chasm of inadequacy).

Anyway, this last 4th of July weekend, I visited Cincinnati to enjoy the annual event my friends and I have succinctly titled "Let's go watch $2500 worth of fireworks get shot off in Billy's backyard." Before the "oooohs" and "aaahhhs" commenced, a large group of us were playing a muddy, sloppy game of backyard volleyball (another tradition). Normally in large groups, I'm an adequate and sometimes even good "athlete." I hang back, do my part, and even occasionally put someone in there place with a completely unintended and perfectly placed shot.

(In order to salvage a few scraps of pride, I want to quickly make the point that I'm not like Smalls from Sandlot. I don't close my eyes and stick my hand up in the air and have a phenom (Benny) cover for me by hitting a perfect fly ball right into my mitt. My asshole doesn't tighten when the ball's heading toward me. I know how to play sports, and those of you who know me can attest. By the way, if Benny was so good, why the hell was he being put in as a pinch runner at the end of the movie when he was playing for the Dodgers? Sure, he stole home, but I've already seen that happen like three times this baseball season, so big deal. And everyone knows that pinch runners are usually shitbag players. Terrible directorial decision).

Okay, now back to my point. We weren't keeping score in this volleyball game, so the main objective for anyone with competitive blood was to get in a solid block or swat that shit back in an unsuspecting 15-year old girl's face. What else could the objective possibly be? Finally, after about an hour of playing in the rain and waiting for my opportunity, a ball was lofted my way. In moments like this, I don't even think about choking. I used to, but now I feel like it's become so ingrained in my psyche that my brain doesn't really need to expend any energy in embarrassing me. It just does. So as the ball was getting larger and larger in my eyes, I jumped up, cocked my arm, and whiffed with such an intensity that the ball hit me in the head on the way back down. Laughs ensued, and I played it off by laughing as well (this is a recent development in my cracking under pressure personality trait. I used to get bent out of shape, but now I find it almost comical enough to the point where I laugh as well . . . almost).

JUSTIN: I was there when Kevin whiffed on the volleyball, and I can tell that it was hilarious. Classic choke-ery.

As a fellow struggling CUPA (crack under pressure anonymous), I can affirm that this syndrome is crippling. I should ask our friend Heather, who is a therapist, if there is a diagnosis in DSM IV for this condition. Perhaps we can be prescribed medicine that will alleviate our daily pain.

I could share stories about all the times I have cracked under pressure, but I already wrote about it on the blog a few months ago so I'll skip reliving those traumas now. As i think about it, perhaps the key is going back to our pasts and examining what went wrong early on in order to discover the underlying factors that contribute to this inadequacy.

Blame rests squarely on the shoulders of my parents. They were too supportive. My dad wasn't athletic and never yelled at me to try harder or do better. If i had the dad from Varsity Blues, I probably would have experienced more success. If I was afraid to fail, because I would be beat or verbally abused when I got home, I would have learned to deal with the pressure would have been a better sportsman because of it. It worked for James Van Der Beek. All of this "I'm proud of you son" and "as long as you did your best..." talk did nothing but make me mentally weak. Thanks a lot, Dad. My son will get no support whatsoever and will thank me for it when he's older.

So am i screwed? Is there hope for things to get better? Probably not. But perhaps it can be overcome in another way. And I'm talking about performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) here. Listen, we kill athletes who crack under pressure. Alex Rodriguez can hit the cover off a baseball in innings 1-8, but when the game is on the line, he wilts like a delicate rose in the Sahara desert. For years Barry Bonds was considered a failure under pressure ('02 Series performance changed that), Donovan McNabb has thrown up on the field, Tony Romo can't hold a snap, and on and on. These guys are infamous in their mishandling of pressure. Hell, it can even extend to an entire organization (New York Mets in previous two years, Boston Red Sox until '04, Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs, etc.) Peyton Manning can't handle the pressure. Neither can Lebron James.

I'm not suggesting that all of these players are on steroids, but I'm making the point that one can be extremely successful in spite of his/her inability to perform well under pressure. So, what is the PED that you and I can stick in our own ass (figuratively)? The key for guys like you and me is to inflate our "stats" in the 99 meaningless scenarios in our lives, so that when the pressure cooker is turned up, the whiff won't define us.

Here's my other ray of hope to offer: ESPN2 is showing "NFL's Greatest Games" right now - 99 playoffs: Niners vs. Packers. Terrell Owens dropped four passes throughout the course of that game and looked like the ultimate goat. I remember watching that game and being disgusted with the whole thing. I wanted to murder Terrell Owens. Jerry Rice, the greatest wide receiver of all time is catch-less while T.O. is playing football with concrete blocks fastened to his hands. Brett Favre, the ultimate under pressure guy is looking like he gets to add another fourth quarter comeback to his bloated resume, and I'm about to cry/vomit/commit suicide. Jerry Rice uncharacteristically cracks under pressure and fumbles (oh wait, the officials decide to intercede and make a terrible call to keep the drive going) and then what happens? As if God himself decided to intercede on behalf of all chokers everywhere, Terrell Owens gets his wooden hands on a ball thrown by Steve Young with three seconds on the clock to win the game 30-27. redemption under pressure.

So there are the two options we have in order to overcome this disorder: inflate our regular season stats to diminish the failures in pressure situations, or blow it repeatedly and wait for God himself to give us one shining moment of glory. You decide.

KEVIN: I think you're trying to bait me in with the Peyton Manning comment, so I'll bite. Cracking under pressure when you're a Super Bowl winner immediately disqualifies you. Sure, he's had some wayward moments in the playoffs, but he got it done in 2006, thus voiding all previous chokes. There is no argument to be had here. I'm right.

Wilts like a delicate rose in the Sahara Desert? Wow. That was quite the wing-dinger. Anyway, I'd like to think we could inflate our "stats" to supersede our choking in pressure packed moments, but you're basically disproving that theory through your list of athletes who put up monster stats but never come through when it matters. McNabb has been in five NFC Championship games in the past decade and has no Super Bowl to show for it. That's outrageous. You think people are going to talk about his consistent playoff prowess or his inability to win the big game? It'll be the latter every single time. Remember that clip of Steve Young having the imaginary monkey pulled off his back before he finally won a Super Bowl during the years of Cowboys domination? No way is he looked at in the same light unless he wins a Super Bowl and proves that he's some kind of equivalent to Montana (even though we all know he's not).

Daniel LaRusso was right. During the heart wrenching scene in the locker room following his leg mutilation at the hands of the Cobra Kai, Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel that he had nothing more to prove. He had accomplished the necessary steps to earn respect. I say fuck that. Daniel knew that if he forfeited the championship match, then that's what he was gong to be remembered for, and it would never be square in his mind. So, he sucked it up, raised a middle finger to the pressure, and went out and crane kicked Johnny Lawrence's ass right back to Beverly Hills. And you know what happened? Johnny handed Daniel the trophy and told him he was "all right." While, I thought the final scene was forced (given the collective personality, shouldn't the Cobra Kai be made up of bitter, enraged sore losers?), it solidified Daniel's reputation as a winner who could meet the pressure head on. Plus, he probably got to fuck Elisabeth Shue later that night in the ball pit at Golf N' Stuff.

JUSTIN: Kevin is forcing me to type this with correct capitalization because he can't handle my free-wheelin' ways. I don't conform to the archaic and tedious rules of grammar that Kevin, the editor, is a slave to. A period is sufficient to mark the beginning and end of a sentence, and a capital letter is unnecessary to convey this meaning.

That being said, you're right Kevin, I was baiting you with that Peyton Manning comment - and it worked. I have nothing more to say about that.

Daniel Larusso is a classic example of somebody who spent his entire life cracking under pressure, but was able to overcome because of a completely unpredictable event that changed the course of history. Had Johnny Lawrence not swept Daniel's leg, I'm relatively certain Daniel would not have been able to pull that figurative monkey off his back. Aside from his completely unrealistic swagger and confidence in courting young women, there is no indication that Daniel was ever up to the task of completing an objective under pressure. Dude was a whiny little girl who threw his bike in the dumpster 'cause he fell and skinned his knee.

If Daniel can do it, then so can we. I mean it, if Hollywood has taught us anything about anything, it is that the improbable can and will happen. Johnny Utah, star quarterback for Ohio State, cracked under pressure in the Rose Bowl three years ago (actually his knee got folded about 90 degrees the wrong way, but my point is better made if he failed because he couldn't handle the pressure).

Do you Remember the Titans? Of course you do. You remember this team not because they won a game (Did they win the state title? I don't even remember), but because they overcame adversity. Sure, we might not have to overcome racism or any other -ism to succeed, but we have to succeed.

This is how we settle it: You, me, and two vehicles on an abandoned stretch of road for a game of "chicken." That's right, two motor vehicles barreling toward each other at excessive speeds with the result of one man standing tall and the other man most likely flying off a cliff in a burning inferno of flaming car. If you and I would put everything on the line, one of us would have to be victorious. Although one of us would have to deal with the pain of failing under pressure once again, at least one of us (most likely me) would break out of the funk. This has to work. It can't fail.

KEVIN:Is it too much to ask to capitalize the first word of every sentence? Aren't we all adults here? Damn you, Justin Bragg!

You're assumption that you'd be able to rebound out of a life full of cracking under pressure is beyond me. How you got married, I'll never know. I admit that took balls, but I guess by the time the wedding's actually happening, you can't really back out anyway. Who's going to eat all the shrimp cocktails and drink all the Keystone Light? By the wedding day, you're already in so deep, it's pretty much impossible to puss out. It would almost be more courageous to call the wedding off the day of instead of go through it. So, I take it back (this is no slight to Justin, or Heidi for that matter. Their wedding was a fucking blast).

Obviously, I'm being cynical, but who's really surprised with that? Even though you don't really believe it, I appreciate your confidence in breaking out of our lifelong funks, Justin. It's an admirable trait.

I'm going to wrap up my side of this inaugural joint blog post with a little blame heaved on my parents. I lacked toughness growing up. I lacked the guttural spunk and drive that could've easily catapulted me through junior high and high school with an air of confidence. Why is that, though? I played competitive sports growing up (soccer, baseball, basketball). However, I was forbidden to play football, regardless of my pleas and demands to do so. Herein lies the problem. While some don't need a solid contact sport to make them tough and succeed at not choking, I'm confident it would've aided me in my efforts. As of right now, I enjoy Project Runway more than I probably should; I only have one tattoo; aside from a creepy strip of hair on my upper lip, I can't grow facial hair; I'm pretty much pale as fuck most of the year; The end of the movie A League of Their Own brings a tear to my eye every time; and so on. These aren't tough qualities.

If I had been raised playing football, an at times violent brute sport, I'm positive I'd be somewhere chopping down redwoods, putting out a forest fires, walking over hot coals barefoot, or playing tight end on a playoff bound football team. No doubt about it. Given, my mom was looking out for me because it's pretty much guaranteed that at some point in my football career I'd dislocate a shoulder, tear an ACL, or break a wrist, but shit, how fucking tough would I have looked then?

For now, I've accepted my role as a strange hybrid of a diehard sports fan/hipster/nerd/person. Am I doomed to crack under pressure for the rest of my life? Who knows. I don't think we really even answered the fucking question. I occasionally come through in the clutch. But this mainly happens when I play video games by myself or shoot a crinkled up piece of paper into the trash can. Whatever, I'll take it.

JUSTIN: Well, I'm cured.

For those of you who weren't there, I visited Kevin up in Chicago this weekend and had a blast. Late Saturday night (roughly 3 a.m. or so) in the back room of some bar that we were hanging out at because Kevin is hip and cool and has connections now, there was a game of pool being played that inevitably would change my life. Kevin and his foul-mouthed female associate against me and a dude named Phil. I talked up my game before we started, and proceeded to miss every single shot. Phil knocked in every one of our solids while I engaged in a comedy of errors. My game was a wreck - until the pressure was on. That's right, 8-ball staring me in the face. I leaned down, surveyed the table, lined up my shot, and broke the curse, while breaking the spirit of my opponents.

In Independence Day, those aliens thought they were pretty special. They thought they had it all figured out, and for a second there, it looked like they did. It was sad to see Alex, from Saved By the Bell: The College Years get blown up by a giant tractor beam from a UFO while standing atop that funky building in Los Angeles. All was lost. Even Jeff Goldblum had given up because he was smarter than everyone else and saw the handwriting on the wall.

Do you remember who saved the day? Of course you remember Will Smith as the conquering hero, but do you remember his life up to that point? Rejected time and time again from NASA (apparently because his girlfriend was a stripper? Not sure what that had to do with anything), unable to decide whether to pull the trigger and get hitched to his girl, and meddling in an uneventful life with his dog, Boomer.

When the moment was the most tense, the pressure was greatest, the stakes the highest, and the fate of humanity itself on the line, the NASA reject saved the world. Will Smith flew an alien ship into the belly of the beast and killed all the tyrannical aliens. I made an extremely easy shot to win a game of pool against some drunk people - I think the two are congruous. I'm ready to move on.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lazy Summer Evening Mind Wanderings.

Crunchy peanut butter will forever and always reign supreme over smooth peanut butter. I cannot fathom why someone would ever choose the latter. Skippy now has an "extra crunchy" choice, which is both genius and fantastic. I don't know about you, but I prefer dynamic over stasis any day of the week. It's like pussing out and going to the second-rate after-prom party. Sure, you know everyone and it's an okay time. Maybe a couple of people even get a little drunk. But you're missing the Can't Hardly Wait party where Jennifer Love Hewitt's strutting around looking for you and people are vomiting in the swimming pool and fucking in the bathroom.

What was I thinking buying a bunch of size small t-shirts and other random forms of cotton from American Apparel when I worked there? It seemed like a good idea at the time because I was a slim lad, but now I prefer the comfort of a medium. So I have all this discarded cotton in my closet that I can't imagine wearing again. Time for another trip to Buffalo Exchange. Also, I may slightly regret my past fixation with v-necks. Not yet, but maybe soon.

There are those that say they'd work even if they had money coming out of their assholes. I'm sorry, but if I were rich I wouldn't be working. If there's one thing I learned from my recent two week vacation it's this: Sure, you can get bored from time to time without a job or profession, but it's still a lot better than working.

In essence, there's really nothing on TV but sports, re-runs of Seinfeld, and solid Eddie Murphy flicks, such as Trading Places and Coming to America. What else is there to watch? Please don't recommend any HBO programs, rich shitbags.

Brett Favre will return to football because he is the Antichrist, and he wants to steal the public's collective attention so that he can piss all over it and hand it back to them. I used to just think he was the Devil, but I feel like the Antichrist would be a little bit more cunning and sneaky in the process of making you miserable. He makes you feel like he's your friend and pal until he pulls down your bathing suit trunks in the middle of the after-prom Can't Hardly Wait party with Jennifer Love Hewitt looking on. What a bastard.

I'll be in Cincinnati for the 4th of July. This is a recent development but is making me more and more excited as the time nears. My weekend will consist of the Northside Festival and watching Billy's brother and family shoot off $3,000 worth of fireworks. I did both of these activities last year, and I have to say that I would try again and again. For the next blog post, I'm actually hoping to photo document my 4th of July journey to Cincinnati. We'll see if that happens. Stay tuned.

I didn't ride my bike for four days straight. It was totally pissed at me. I played tourist for the weekend to my mom and stepdad (a fun yet exhausting and draining endeavor), and therefore spent way too much time on the train. My bike missed me, and I missed it. We made up.

Who the fuck is this Jon and Kate, and why is everyone all of the sudden so interested in their well-being or lack thereof? I'm sorry, but if you have eight kids, you deserve to be a little miserable. Are they getting divorced? What do you think put a strain on the marriage? Give me two boys, born two years apart. I can teach them how to play sports, give them pointers on the opposite sex (or not at all), and watch movies with explosions and decapitations.

I recently moved from a rather large office to a cubicle. My job is reorganizing its floor plan, so I really had no choice in the matter. Aside from missing my window that looked out onto a parking garage, the move isn't really bothering me because I generally prefer feeling cozy and secure in my immediate environment.

I hate the word "cozy" but it often seems like the most appropriate choice.

Working for an alt-weekly is peppered with perks, and the best one is the holy, blessed press pass. I just went to a $20 beer tasting for free and was able to sample new beers from Great Lakes, Flying Dog, Breckenridge (damn, I love you vanilla stout), and several others. Plus, you feel important and shit.

What's up with the wonky weather this "summer?" I'm wearing a flannel and jeans on July 1st. Listen here, Weather, I suffered through your winter and dealt with another year without a spring. Now, give me the fucking summer or I'm going to be forced to slaughter a goat as a sacrifice to the almighty weather deities.

Speaking of slaughtering goats (which I often do), Drag Me to Hell was a fantastically campy and wildly entertaining movie. I saw it by myself at Logan Square Theater ($4 movies) on a Tuesday afternoon during my recent vacation. I used to be a puss about going to shit by myself, but thankfully I'm getting over it. That's right, I'm 28.

That's good enough . . .

And here's my patented semi-sporadic, semi-regular list of shit I'm currently listening to:

Future of the Left - Travels With Myself and Another
Tortoise - Beacons of Ancestorship
Deer Tick - Born on Flag Day
Chain & the Gang - Down With Liberty . . . Up With Chains!
Japandroids - Post-Nothing

Monday, June 15, 2009


It's been far too long since my last post, but I have a good excuse. I was in cars and planes for what seemed to be an eternity. Let's map this shit out. On Saturday morning (6/6), I found out my grandfather had passed away on my mom's side. He had extremely advanced Alzheimer's, and we were expecting this, but it still blows balls. Anyway, I had scheduled a vacation to visit Russell the Love Muscle in D.C. on Thursday (6/11). So, I went into work on Sunday for like nine hours (I don't know if there's a more helpless feeling then getting to work on a Sunday at 9:30 AM, sitting down in your office, and realizing you have to work) because my work deadlines changed due to the funeral.

After working for nine hours Sunday and then seeing my lover St. Vincent play at the Metro, I went into work at 9 AM Monday and worked until 8 PM. I then drove home, shoved food into my mouth, packed, and headed to Cincinnati. I got in at about 3 AM and promptly went to bed. The next morning, I hopped in the car with my stepdad at 8 AM and began the trek to Harlan, KY, which is about four and a half hours away. After the funeral, which ended around 8 PM, I ate Pizza Hut and basically went to bed (I'm obviously avoiding any sort of funeral details. Simply put - it fucking sucked). The next morning, I woke up at 9 AM for the burial, ate more Pizza Hut (Harlan doesn't have a heavily diverse food selection), and headed back to Cincinnati. I got in at 4:30 PM or so, fed my mom's dog, and drove back to Chicago, arriving around 9:30 PM on Wednesday night. On Thursday at 10:30 AM, I flew my tight ass out to DC.

So, that was the wildness of last week before I made my trip to visit Russ. It felt like a week crammed into two and a half days, and it wore me the fuck down. Luckily, I remained spry and virile enough to vacation in the nation's capital. When I arrived at the National airport in D.C., I became afraid that the plane had accidentally landed in Cincinnati. See, Chicago's weather has been a heaping pile of diarrhea lately, chocked full of rain, wind, crappy temperatures, and other bullshit that made it feel like the beginning of fall, as opposed to the beginning of summer. When I walked out of the airport, the stifling humidity of D.C. kicked me in the assdick. Not as bad as Cincinnati, but still tough shit. I was actually wearing a flannel at the time and had packed a jacket, amongst other sweatshirt-type materials. Needless to say, I'm an awful packer, and I suspect I always will be because I tend to overcompensate for everything all the time.

The trip was a damn solid time. I've driven through the capital on tour but never actually visited. Here are my lasting impressions and other highlights:

-D.C. traffic is just fucking terrible. Magda put it best when she said that the city never really decided whether it wanted to be considered a public transit city or a car city. It's caught in some sort of transportation identity limbo, and everyone is suffering because of it.

-The city as a whole is much more racially integrated than any Midwest city I've been to or lived in. This is a good thing, and I enjoyed the characteristic.

-The Nationals ballpark is less than exciting and really just not too fucking impressive. It was about as impressive as the Reds deciding to lose to the Nationals on my first day in town. Good job, shitbags.

-Russ should get a job as a professional smoker. He's fucking good at it and has taken it up a couple of notches in his quest for perfection. That boy knows how to smoke, and he does it a whole fucking lot. More than I've ever seen before.

-The Capitol Building and the White House are imposing buildings where important people do important work.

-There's a strange sense of southern hospitality about D.C. (I know, I know. The city's not in the "South," but that's my way of describing people who aren't rude shitbags, so suck it). Everyone I met was super fucking nice and hospitable beyond belief. I don't think I really saw too much of the scenester scene of the city, and maybe that's a good thing. I commiserated with late 20/early 30-something groups, and I appreciated them greatly. Being judgmental is for the birds.

-Shit's expensive.

-This may seem obvious to others, but I was way in to the multiple dialects being spoken on random street corners throughout the city. Must be all those damn embassies.

-Russ and I succeeded this weekend in stringing together as many obscenities and objectionable words as we could to make new exciting amalgamations. Examples include assdick (see above), slitcunt, fuckbitch, pussytwat, and so on.

-The Mexican restaurant we went to didn't have black beans. I question their authenticity, or just their intelligence in general. The weekend's food in general was pretty okay, and the city has a lack of brunch options. This is no good.

-I'm a big fan of hearing drug dealing stories and other crackhead themed tales.

-Dance parties that break out at 1 AM with twelve people on a tiny-ass patio will always rule.

-I didn't see Ian MacKaye or any other iconic D.C. musicians. Bummed.

-It felt poignant to be leaving the nation's capitol on the country's most heralded day. You guessed it, Flag Day.

All in all, I would try again. Recommended.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just a Little More Industrious.

My stepdad once told me that to become more industrious and handy, one must just throw himself or herself into a project. It's often a learned process and not some ingrained, instinctual trait.

Admittedly, I am by no means a handy person. I've always wanted to be. I like the feeling of accomplishment, especially one that involves tools and greasy hands. A couple of weeks ago, I set out to hang up several frames and posters in my room. Seems like a simple task, right? Wrong. See, I constantly second guess myself, which I'm trying to get better about. So, I ended up with one, two, and three misguided holes in the wall and crooked frames. Maybe it's all because I like using my cordless drill (a highly recommended and practical purchase), but it's really just because I'm not that adept at certain calculations. The whole project took me the better part of a day (hey, it was a lot of shit), and I did eventually get everything hanged correctly. But it made me take a step back and realize that I need to throw myself into a project, for the sake of confidence, if nothing else.

This is somewhat paralleling Justin's post from a few months back about installing a clutch in his truck (and we're all still very proud of you, Justin). However, Justin is inherently handier than I am because he grew up in the wilderness of northern California where he had to cut down trees, ford rivers, and hunt to survive. You know, just like in Oregon Trail. Anyway, I've never really been tested, and I grew up on the westside of Cincinnati with a silver spoon in my mouth (not really). So as one of my summer goals, I've set out to get this bastard of a moped running.

Some of you may remember me purchasing this thing back in '07, and I admit that it was probably not the wisest purchase I've ever made. First off, I bought it broken and not running, which is a big no no for someone who really had no knowledge of transportation and the steps needed to get it moving. Mopeds are relatively simple machines, so I should have initially just dove in myself (I had much more time in '07 and much less to do with my life) and started tinkering away with it. Of course, I relied on others to help me get the thing sputtering, which it did for a short time last year, however sad and pathetic it was. Well, it's back in an idle state again. So now, I'm determined to upgrade this thing to operational. Thus far, I'm actually somewhat pleased with my progress.

Basically the thing's got some wicked rust in the tank, and I'm taking the necessary steps to rid it of all the evil that lives inside. I've taken the carburetor off and apart and cleaned the fuck out of it. I've stripped the gas line and drained the ancient premix out of the tank. The next step is to de-rust. Obviously, that's the biggest step because the rust is what's clogging up the carb and causing it to run like garbage or just not run at all. Regardless, and I know this seems sad, I'm impressed and happy with myself for getting this far. I'm cautiously optimistic that I'm going to get the thing running by mid-June, and then I can go on to upgrade it cosmetically to the point where it looks like a semi-decent two-wheeled mode of transportation.

Hobbies are the best, and I do feel like I have my fair share already. But I wouldn't mind becoming some sort of an adolescent grease monkey because, as was stated before, who doesn't love the feeling of accomplishment that a couple of greasy, dirty hands brings? Since moving to Chicago, I've already gained a little bit of this feeling from what I've learned about bicycles themselves. I'm by no means as knowledgeable as Zach Thomas, nor do I think I ever will be. Cycling is more than a hobby to Zach, which I greatly respect. On the other hand, it is nice for me to know how to change a flat if need be.

Basically, I just want to feel like I don't need to refer to an "expert" with certain shit (cars, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles). It'd be nice to have a facility that doesn't involve sports or Seinfeld trivia. It's obviously a practical skill to be able to maintain your particular modes of transportation, but for me, it'd feel a little more worthwhile. This is mainly because I would have taught myself through the painful (and I'm sure it'll be painful) process of trial and error. Here goes nothing.

It's been tough to listen to music recently because I've pretty much devoted my free time to working on this fucking moped and catching up on old Lost episodes in extreme anticipation of the sixth season (get into it, Justin). However, I have managed to fall in love with St. Vincent (yes, in that way) and gain a new found respect for ambient black metal.

St. Vincent - Actor
Wolves in the Throne Room - Black Cascade
Julie Doiron - I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day
Transistor Transistor - Ruined Lives
Deer Tick - War Elephant

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Believe it or not, I've got a few things on tap for the Summer aside from drinking Mexican beers and showing off my pasty white legs in cut-off jean shorts.

At the end of the month (May 30th), I'm heading to the city of Milwaukee to catch a Reds vs. Brewers game. To many of you, this probably seems like a meaningless, ho-hum trip. However, I get excited with each subsequent ballpark I visit. During a ridiculously tumultuous trip to San Francisco in 2006, I went to AT&T Ballpark and caught a Giants vs. Braves (I think) game. Even though it was a game between two teams I could care less about and Bonds wasn't even playing (this was the year he was chasing the homerun record), it was an awesome ballpark and a damn good time. The garlic fries didn't hurt either. It actually almost made up for the overall terrible trip.

So, Milwaukee it is. I've only heard good things about the ballpark. Plus, I'm just interested to check out the city. Mid-major cities intrigue me for many reasons I can't explain, but I'm sure most of it has to do with the fact that I was born and raised in a mid-major city. Every city has its charm and interesting characteristics (yes, even you Detroit) if you're willing to search it out. Chicago's easy because there's a ton of shows, events, and shit to do here all the time. Not to say that's a bad thing. I initially had a negative view of Cleveland until I visited it on a regular basis back in '05. Great city if you're patient and optimistic enough to enjoy it.

On June 11th, I'm taking my first well deserved and lengthy vacation from the Reader. I'd feel like I was cheating myself if I didn't take some sort of trip, so I'm flying to visit Russell the Love Muscle in Washington, D.C. I've been through D.C. on tour but never actually stopped to give a shit about it. As if scheduled by God himself, I land at 1:05 PM and the Reds are playing the Nationals at 4:35 PM. How fucking great is that? Another ballpark down, even it is the Nationals. Hey, at least I can throw my voice out yelling at Dunn and all of the other discarded Reds rotting away on the Nationals bench. Man, I can't wait to yell at Dunn. I miss that so much.

I plan on being a wreck most of the trip and embarrassing Russ in the city that he lives. Actually, Russ was here not too long ago for work and we went to a bar I tend to frequent. Unsurprisingly (but not in a bad way), Russ took upon himself to get smashed on a Tuesday night, and I spent the rest of the night pleading with him to not to become the belligerently drunk Russ we all know and love. Believe it or not, I enjoy this process. It's a worthwhile nostalgic experience. Aside from all of the ballyhoo (nice word!) that is sure to ensue once I arrive, I'm also excited to shoot the shit with Obama and see how he's been doing since leaving Chicago.

The last weekend of June marks the arrival of my mom and stepdad. I mean, it's only taken them over a year to come on up. That's cool, though. I like my mom because I know she'll be excited even if we just piddle around the lobby of the Sears Tower and eat Pizza Hut buffet the entire trip. She's great like that. Unfortunately, I wanted to take my stpedad, who's a huge baseball fan, to Wrigley to watch the shitbag Cubs play a game, but they'll be out of town trying to act like they're not a fraud of a baseball club. So, I need some ideas of what to do with them. I've got a few already (architectural tour, Signature Room in the Hancock Tower, Shedd Aquarium), but one or two more wouldn't hurt. Plus, I don't know where to take them to eat because there just isn't a LaRosa's in Chicago. Regardless, I'm confident this'll be a good time because my mom and stepdad don't go on enough vacations, so I know they'll have a solid time one way or another. Plus, they'll be toast by like 9:30 PM, so I won't be kept away from my scandalous and outrageous weekend escapades (pfffftt).

The weekend of July 10th-12th will mark the annual camping trip with those I hold most dear, or just those that have yet to be utterly sick of me. Massive amounts of shitty food and awful beer will be consumed, and I will more than likely end up with some sort of wrenching stomach ache. I love the posse camping trips where everyone converges on a designated spot for a weekend of "Hey, we may not live near each other anymore, but we can and will still pull out the same humiliating jokes we've been badgering each other with for years." This is a great weekend and has become a much deserved tradition. Now, if we can just find a solid spot to do it this year. Last year, Indiana once again proved how much it sucks.

Pitchfork begins on July 17th and has a decent amount to live up to from last year. I was a decent wreck most of the time (thank you job perks) and actually couldn't hang on Sunday to see Spiritualized. If you are at all aware of my love for Jason Pierce and Spiritualized, then you can probably understand how much of a disaster I was. Regardless, festivals usually disappoint. I've come to accept this. However, last year was my first Pitchfork experience, and it was a delight for the most part because the afterparties and aftershows push it into a whole different realm of festival. I anticipate even more antics this year.

I have no doubt other occurrences will be peppered in, but truth be told, I can't plan past mid-July, so I'll just have to leave it at that. Chicago Summers dominate. That's what tends to happen when you have a three month window in which to cram all warm weather activities.

I didn't do this last post, but here is what I've been listening to lately:

Thee Oh Sees - Help
Trap Them - Seizures in Barren Praise
Papercuts - You Can Have What You Want
Black Flag - My War
Passion Pit - Manners

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Decks, Jean Shorts, Tans, and the Devil.

The Chicago Winter drags. No doubt about it. I refused to complain, though, because everyone I know up here kept telling me, "You're going to hate the winter. It's the worst. Constant layers of clothes and blah, blah, blah." So, solely out of spite, I didn't complain about the cold. I just sucked it up and dealt with it.

About a month ago, however, I started getting antsy. It wasn't freezing, but the weather kept teasing me with a warm 65 degree day followed by a 40 degree day. It's like the 100 calorie packs of chips and cookies that some devilish marketing genius conjured up. Sure, the seventeen Baked Cheetos I just ate tasted good, and I enjoyed them, but just give me the whole fucking bag to gorge myself on. I was ready to gorge myself on warm weather because I was getting sick of this single serving shit.

Well, the warm weather is finally creeping up, and I'm beginning to get spoiled with its consistency, so I figured I'd construct a long overdue list of great warm weather occurrences, food, pleasures, etc (I probably did one of these last year too, but I just don't give a fuck, and my tastes may have changed):

-Decks, patios, porches, gazebos, or anything else I can stand on outside with my friends as I drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes.

-Mexican beer with lime and Bells Oberon.

-Bike riding all the time everyday.

-Sweat stains created from my messenger bag while riding my bike.

-Sweat and sweat stains all together.

-Rolled up jeans and flip-flops.

-Cut-off jean shorts and t-shirts.

-Motorcycle (and hopefully moped) riding.

-The baseball season and going to baseball games. If all goes well, I should be able to add Miller Park in Milwaukee and Nationals Park in Washington to my growing list of attended ballparks.

-Seven dollar nachos at ballgames.

-My annual late and failed attempt at any sort of tan.

-Occasionally not taking a shower after I go running in 90 degree heat and feeling the sweat dry.

-Music festival season and the perks from my job that go along with it.

-Tank-tops and sunglasses.

-Milkshakes, ice cream, and Italian ice.

-Walking to El Cid for veggie burritos.

-The sound of fireworks in the distance.

-Having that extra bounce in my step when I go running.

-Milwaukee Avenue getting sexy.

-Reading a book indoors with all the windows open.

-Consuming more fruit, particularly oranges and strawberries.

-Annual camping trip with the posse.

-Eating outside practically everywhere in Chicago.

-Logan Boulevard and the farmer's market.

-Listening to all forms of thrash while riding my bike.

-Sweatbands and no socks.

-Dirty, sweaty basement shows.

-Closing my bedroom door so that it's an icebox from the trapped air conditioning coolness.

-The smell (not the oily, shit feel) of sun tan lotion.

-Sunroofs and all windows down.

-Flag Day.

Finally, although summer is the best, it brings what has become an annual NFL offseason circus. Needless to say, I have to address my and Justin's most hated subject while the pot is still simmering. You guessed it, Brett Favre - the evils of all evils - is inundating ESPN right now. There are rumors of his possible return to the Vikings, the same team you may remember the Packers went to great lengths to keep him away from last year. Anyway, the team doesn't matter, or the fact that he's 39 with an arm that's falling off and really can only make bad decisions and throw interceptions when it does work just the slightest bit. It's Favre as a person. What are you doing to everyone Brett? Justin and I are pretty much fucking psychic geniuses because we cursed you years ago, before anyone else saw the absolute toil you were going to wrap the sports world and collective public in as you threatened retirement, retired, wanted to come back, came back, switched teams, failed, retired, and just didn't go the fuck away.

One thing I can root for is the sullying of any sort of good ole' Mississippi country persona that Favre has painstakingly built over his 18 years in the league. Brett, your ego has been shitting on your public persona for a couple of years, and now it just clogged the damn toilet. Congratulations fuckface, you've screwed your legacy (just like Manny Ramirez . . . but that's a whole other topic).

Reports from Favre's agent have very recently surfaced to quell any sort of Vikings talk, but I'll believe that when I don't see Brett Favre on a sideline in the fall. For now, I'm not buying it. Favre continues to be the amazingly beautiful girl at the party that no one's talking to. Confounded, you go talk to her, hit it off, and consequently wake up with genital warts. Sometimes it's best to just stay away.

Just stay away.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Podcast Heaven.

So, Justin and I pretty much religiously listen to a podcast from a ESPN sportswriter named Bill Simmons. If you know us well enough, I'm sure you've heard us speak fondly of him before you got bored/annoyed and left the conversation. Anyway, we basically both aspire to be this man because he has the best job in the world. He writes about sports and talks to his friends on podcasts. Occasionally, he writes a book about sports, usually with some sort of a Boston angle. See, Simmons is a Boston sports fanatic. He was born and raised there on a steady diet of Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox. Needless to say, his columns tend toward the Boston ideology and his overall love and obsession for Boston sports. This can be both understandable and irking because the view is so skewed. After reflecting, one can't really complain, however, because if I had the choice, I'd sway the way of Cincinnati every single time.

One of the discerning qualities about Simmons is that he's not solely schooled on sports. He was once a writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which I'm sure only helped the comedic development of his voice as a writer. It also aided him in leading five thousand million riveting conversations concerning such cinematic classics as the Karate Kid and Rock IV: Rocky Defeats Communism (I've convinced myself that Stallone truly fucked up by not adorning the film with its full proper name). There's obvious comedy there and a kind of scathing, biting sense of humor. He's the perfect hybrid of a columnist and podcaster because he touches on a collective of interests, thus resulting in a higher entertainment value. Seems like a simple formula.

Simmons' columns and podcasts weave pop culture into sports and vice versa. There's no lack of Real World and MTV references. He can talk to Adam Carolla about the latest Fast & the Furious installment for 40 minutes and somehow make it utterly entertaining. By the way, one of my favorite things about the podcasts is that Simmons has this group of semi-celebrity studded buddies (Kimmel, Carolla, Chris Connelly, Jon Hamm, etc.) he brings onto the podcasts, and all they do is bitch and describe the painful minutiae of random bullshit that contains little to no intelligent substance whatsoever. You know, the shit people actually want to talk about when they don't give a fuck about spouting off a bunch of regurgitated facts on recent political and socioeconomic developments just to impress people who probably don't give a damn in the first place. I think I just appreciate hearing friends bullshit without encumbrances or cares. It's like being a fly on the wall.

Simmons once spoke about success as being a gradual occurrence in which you basically have to suck it up, take a dick in the ass for a year, make little to no money, and work your balls off. I've always had a similar outlook concerning the "foot in the door" kind of mindset. I slaved away for about a solid six month period, interning for an alt-weekly, slinging pizza as a server at Dewey's, all the while applying for grad school. It sucked hard, but I understood it to be a means to an end . . . to use a fucking terrible cliche. Not to say my job is mind blowing now, but it's a decent job with good people, and I know I wouldn't have gotten it had it not been for that six month period. It's nice to reflect on that from time to time.

Okay, now that I'm done with that aside (and basically nestling Simmons' balls), I want to make the point that I plan on recreating this kind of podcast heaven created by Simmons. I have Summer goals and this is one of them. Justin and I just got done texting back and forth with each other for about two hours during the epic Bulls/Celtics game, all the while knowing that I should've been taking notes during the game so I could be talking to him right now on a podcast about the game and random Seinfeld moments. This is really all I want in life: To talk about sports, music, and random Seinfeld moments. Occasionally, I wouldn't mind a slice of pizza too, or some of Heidi's cookies.

Ending this here seems abrupt, so I'll just end it right here, or after I point out what I'm listening to right now.

Pig Destroyer - Terrifyer
Damien Jurado - Caught in the Trees
Bat for Lashes - Two Suns
Converge - Jane Doe
Crystal Antlers - Tentacles