Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Stranger Than (Science) Fiction

Last Thursday was a big day if you were one of the many rabid/cult-like followers of Brand New. The patience that, understandably, was wearing thin after an 8 year gap between albums came to an end with an album, Science Fiction, that came out of the blue. I think even the most depressed fan with bottled up teen angst remaining from 2007 even had to crack the slightest of smiles when this news broke. I like to picture the tweet heard 'round the music world was like a Bat Signal. All of a sudden, all these 20- and 30-somethings working at a job they hate hear word of this album and they feel the urge to blast Sic Transit Gloria and go tell strangers to die young and save themselves, while getting angry over an ex who hurt them back in 2003.

Over two years ago I wrote a post called The Curious Case of Brand New. This was hot on the heels of the band releasing a new single 'Mene' and had performed another song live (never released) called 'Sealed to Me'. It seemed like a new album was imminent and Brand New was ready to reclaim their throne in the world of alternative rock. What happened next was one more single, 'I Am The Nightmare' which was very good, and then a few months later an email to those on the Procrastinate! Music Traitors email list explaining that they would NOT be releasing an album anytime soon. Not only did that suck the already low levels of joy in Brand New fans, but it raised new questions of when the next album would be, and if it would even happen at all.

Brand New was in a tough spot. Their first 3 albums were universally loved, and 'Daisy' was their first step in the wrong direction. It was simply too weird. The song 'Gasoline' ends with a minute and one second of mind-numbing distortion. Multiple songs had weird old timey recordings from church sermons. It had a couple decent songs, and sure, some people say they like the album, but no one is ranking that as their favorite Brand New album. Anyone who says Daisy is a great album is probably someone trying to be a music snob and probably also thinks that 'Bleach' is the best Nirvana album. In whole, Daisy was a disappointment (massively, to most) and I think a lot of people were very curious and worried of how the next album would come out, whenever that would be. We, the bloodthirsty angsty kids, had to accept that we wouldn't get a second Deja Entendu (which is understandable), but we would have certainly settled for something closer to The Devil and God.
Always appreciated fine (album) art

This is where Science Fiction absolutely enters into the equation, and ultimately delivers. My dear buddy Steve "Sherry Poo" Sheridan summed it up perfectly when he said that this album is what SHOULD have followed up Devil and God instead of Daisy. The music on Science Fiction has it's own sound, while still having that Brand New feel to it, and minus the Daisy weirdness. This is what fans wanted.

I admit that right off the bat I was scared as hell as I hit play on opening track 'Lit Me Up'.  It opens with about a 90 second intro of what sounds like a patient telling her shrink about some dreams she's been having. I had a sinking feeling that it would be another Daisy, but my thoughts were at ease when the actual song kicked off. Track 2 is 'Can't Get Out' and all of my doubts were set aside and the feeling of excitement of something magnificent started.

Let's get one thing clear: Science Fiction is not a cheery album. It's sad. Really sad. It's like a gut punch of sadness that opens up a pit in your stomach, but you enjoy it. A lot of it is heavy and slow, but it keeps you paying attention throughout. The album's final track 'Batter Up' is 8 minutes long but you don't get the desire to skip to the next song halfway through. Personally, I love 'Could Never Be Heaven' and I can already see Jesse playing that solo to close out shows on the upcoming tour that was impossible to get tickets to.  'Same Logic/Teeth' has some moments of the angsty yelling that we all love and adore, while having a certain movie-montage-song caliber pace to it. When it comes down to it, there is no song that disappoints. It's a great album throughout, which makes sense considering the time it took to make. You get bits and pieces of intensity mixed with a slow-burn of acoustic guitar at points. It's a mixed bag in the best way possible: you get all forms of Brand New at their best. This is the redemption album that made the wait worth it.

I personally think that Brand New became important for this generation because their early songs were so relatable. Jesse Lacey is the Morrissey of this generation, which I think was a goal of his. His lyrics are relatable.  We could relate to being stabbed in the back by friends. We dealt with heartbreak and wondering what else is out there down the line. Brand New was the curators of the soundtrack to a lot of our lives growing up, while figuring out that crazy thing called life. The majority of music these days is made up of nonsensical bullshit. People don't care about lyrics and just care about beats.  Pitbull mentions random names of cities and yells 'fireball' a bunch of times over a cheap, catchy beat and makes money off of it because a lot of people are stupid. Brand New gave people an outlet to relate to, and their music mattered. Maybe it took some brains in their fans and some understanding, but those people who get it fell in love with this band. There aren't a lot of fairweather Brand New fans out there. There is a reason why everything Brand New does/tweets/posts goes viral instantly.

Love the guitar

I admit, this paragraph is a bit random but I have to include it because it's on my mind. What is up with Jesse Lacey's fear of drowning? Between 'Play Crack the Sky' (drowning in a shipwreck near Montauk), the lyrics to 'At The Bottom' and 'Sink', mentioning "sinking like a stone in the sea" in the mostly instrumental 'Tautou', and now a song called 'In the Water', I feel like he's pretty scared of the ocean. Oh, and that whole "and even if her plane crashes tonight she'll find some way to disappoint me, by not burning in the wreckage, or drowning at the the bottom of the sea" thing in 'Jude Law And a Semester Abroad'. I'm starting to think he never learned how to swim or something.  Oh man, and don't forget about 'Jaws Theme Swimming'. Maybe that movie scarred him!

With Daisy, the message became less relatable and we didn't really know what the hell they were talking about. Pair that with the weirdness of it all and people turned away from it. Science Fiction gets things back on track. They have grown up, and so have we. The teen angst is gone but the real life issues are there. Science Fiction has mentions of wives and kids and not knowing what else the future has in store, which is also what this generation (as we get older) is going through as well. All of a sudden, we have another album that can be a soundtrack to another phase of our lives. The wait is over. Jesse Lacey is back on track and we all need to kick back and enjoy this.

Daisy is forgiven. Long live Science Fiction.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Hero We Need

Those who know me well will tell you that I'm not that fond of Snapchat, segways and broccoli. While two out of the three will never, ever change, I may be turning the corner on the idea of Snapchat, and it's thanks to one thing and one thing only:
Not even mad his feet are on the recliner!

Don't get me wrong, Snapchat isn't terrible. I have a small group of people who I snap and enjoy most of what they send me, but then there are people who get annoying with it. I don't want to see snaps of fireworks or sunsets. A lot of people use it as the modern day "Wish You Were Here!" postcard, showing off where they are to make others jealous. I'm guilty of this from time to time as well, but some people just abuse their Snapchat accounts to no end, and it can become cringeworthy. What was once a stale app that in my opinion just got the splash of tabasco that was absolutely needed. A breakdancing hot dog filter.

This Hot Dog is the hero this country needs right now. The country is in turmoil with people all upset at each other. Twitter is at an all time level of cesspool-ness. No one can agree about anything with anyone, yet I think we can all get behind the breakdancing Hot Dog. It has instantly joined the elite club of things that everyone likes, such as The Office, Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker, Snoop Dogg and those whacky wavy inflatable dancing tube things outside your local used car dealership. I find his face calming yet still filled with mischief. He looks like a good timer. Had he been cast in Step Up or Magic Mike, I would actually consider seeing those movies. Not since Elaine tried busting a move on that episode of Seinfeld has there been a more significant impact to Pop Culture involving dancing.

There is a lot of potential here. Years ago, by use of a jingle, we were told that we wished we could be an Oscar Meyer wiener. Today, we want to be a breakdancing Hot Dog. If I were a company trying to clean up their image, I would try to get involved with this new sensation. Subway is in desperate need of a makeover, because their sandwiches suck and their spokesperson turned out to be a scumbag. I think sales would go through the roof if they started using this Hot Dog as the face of their company (and also by making better sandwiches). Perhaps a headphone company could use the Hot Dog to peddle their newest merchandise. Beats by Dre could use this new social media darling to launch a new line. Of course, the Hot Dog would risk being called a sell out, but we would all soon forget that by just being distracted by his moves and calm demeanor.

I believe that this Hot Dog is what we all thought Katy Perry's Left Shark from Superbowl 49 would become. While I was perfectly fine with the Patriots winning that Super Bowl, most of the nation was distraught, and took solace in the instant fame of Left Shark. People wanted more, yet there was no follow up, and it quickly went away, which is a damn shame.

Wasted Potential.

Snapchat has the ability to keep the Hot Dog around and it could keep bringing joy into the lives of people. It's versatility is key. We can have fun inserting this Hot Dog into famous photos. Maybe it was present for Lincoln's assassination? Maybe it accompanied Neil Armstrong for the first moon landing.

It can be inserted into rap music videos drinking champagne with Lil Wayne, or can show up unexpectedly in your bowl of salad. The possibilities are endless, and it's got the ability to provide endless fun, which is someone we all need right now. It's a true escape from reality. So, I say screw your flower crowns and and filters that make you look like an actual dog. This is 2017, the world is in chaos, and the hero that we need is a breakdancing Hot Dog. What a time to be alive.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ramblings, Man.

I was going to start this with a big rant about how I haven't blogged in a while and was very thankful that my last blog on college reunions went over so well. It was going to blame social media for being a cesspool and stuff but I found myself boring....myself so I just erased and I'm starting fresh now. That being said, the last blog was the most viewed I've had in almost 2 years, so thanks, you guys. Good to be back, until I forget and go on another unplanned hiatus.

End of speech. Let's talk nonsense in the world today.

Mr. Met flipped someone off and got busted for it. While this is not as controversial as when Benny the Chicago Bull mascot was caught hotboxing his costume mid-game, this was hilarious in it's own way. There is something about big, dumb cartoon-humans flipping off their own fans which brings me joy. I think what really made me crack a half-smile (can't give too much of a grin, that shows weakness and I have a persona to keep up) was the fact that Mr. Met has only 4 fingers and he had to hold down the remaining fingers with his other hand to make a middle one. It's also amusing that Mr. Met has showed more passion and grit in this one instance than any of the Mets 7 ace pitchers have this year.
It's so satisfying! That's what she said.

After years of always hearing good things but never giving it a good shot, I finally watched Parks and Rec. All this time spent rewatching classic episodes of The Office while Parks and Rec was right there being neglected...God dammit Jim. I think at some point I will do a full in-depth power-rankings on the whole cast of the show, but for now I will give you my very brief top 5: 5. Leslie Knope 4. Tom Haverford 3. Ron Swanson 2. Andy Dwyer 1. April Ludgate. I've also come to the conclusion that Andy and April is my favorite fictional couple, replacing my previous favorite of Ray Romano and whoever his wife was on 'Everybody Loves Raymond'. I have to thank my friend Adriann for pushing me to my limits and making me watch this. It was totally worth it. I really don't know what took me so long to watch this show, and I kinda hate myself for not doing it sooner.

A man's man.

Speaking of hating myself, I've started running again. How's it going you ask? Well, even before my first run in God knows when, I made a Spotify playlist called Dreadful Running Mix, so that's a good indicator. I can't believe that there was a period in my life that I ran cross country for year in high school, just for fun. Then again, I also can't believe that I tied for 'Friendliest' in the 8th grade superlatives, so hey anything can change I guess.

I saw AFI play Providence two nights ago and I'm starting to seriously wonder if they are taken for granted. They formed in 1991 (!) broke out in 2003, somehow survived as a goth-emo band who went mainstream, got even bigger with Miss Murder, and have still been making albums that are good. To sum up the show, they play the hits and get the crowd all sorts of amped up. Also, they had some impressive mosh pits, so if you wanted to go get our your inner teen angst via shoving and throwing elbows, that's a place to check out. Seriously though, they were really good. I'm talking like, soundtrack to the movie Drive good. It was also fun to learn that lead singer Davey Havok was voted the World's Sexiest Vegetarian in 2007 and was on the cover of Vegan Health and Fitness in 2015. What confuses me here is how there is a whole magazine out there I've never heard of, despite every Vegan out there never shutting up about how they are in fact, Vegan. How selfish. You can brag about your veganism but can't promote publications that support your health and fitness.


Without getting too deep into politics, how the hell is Rage Against the Machine not back together right now? Doesn't this seem like the perfect time for them to come back and write the next great anti-politics album? I mean, they got huge in the 90's when Slick Willy Clinton was in office, and the only thing people had to worry about back then was shenanigans in the Oral Office. Simpler times, I guess. I just feel like there is a missed opportunity here for a band like that. My great-great-great grandfather's tomb reads "strike while the iron is hot" and Rage is simply ignoring the tomb of my great-great-great grandfather. Sad!

Amanda Bynes is back! It's hard to think of a more fascinating Twitter feed that when she was doing her best Britney Spears circa 2007 meltdown impression. Her desires for that Drake fella were pretty intense, as were most of her feelings on things. While it's wonderful that she has cleaned herself up and is making a come back, I have to imagine that the world missed out on her giving her two-cents, or her three-dollar-bill on hot button topics over the past 4 years. Would've loved to get her conspiracy theories on that missing Malaysian Airplane, if she thought that dress was Blue or Gold, and if she thought Left Shark was the real star of Katy Perry's SuperBowl halftime show. Also, wouldn't mind a return of the Amanda Show. That's one reboot that I would support. Can't be any worse than Fuller House.

In hindsight, this caption was a little too true.

Instagram has been filled with "the floor is..." memes which is starting to drive me crazy. I am impressed in a way though. It's the first meme to go viral in which there has never actually been a funny one. Ever.

Chose one quick after that google image search. Woof.

I know times are wild right now and no one can agree on anything, but I think if there is one thing this country can all be on the same page about: no more Spider-Man reboots for at least 15 years. I mean, does Hollywood really think people want more? Just to keep you in the know, we had the Tobey Maguire and all his boring charm in Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 from 2002-2007. Next, of course, was Andrew "I Love Lasagna and Hate My Dog Odie" Garfield who tried his darndest to make himself seem exciting in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The only thing that makes him 'amazing' is that he may have had even less of a personality than Tobey Maguire. Now we have some thing called Tom Holland who is the new Spidey in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and I guess they already have Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 planned. If anyone has a proper system on how to rank these, let me know. We get one movie of Heath Ledger's Joker yet we have 73 Spider-Man reboots. Another sign that life ain't fair.

Me avoiding the barrel of spiderman reboots.

Lastly, and most importantly, stop this nonsense with male rompers. In fact, stop it with all rompers. I've been anti-rompers for years now. I feel like if you are too old for a sippy-cup, you are too old for rompers. Male rompers are just a way for you to look like an asshole and get people to notice you. Rompers are for guys who love making people roll their eyes into the back of their head in agony. It's dumb. Leave rompers for kindergartners. This is 2017, people. The world is a messed up place already. Don't make it worse with male rompers. Stop with the man buns too. They're only for european basketball players.

Not even Leo DiCaprio can make this look good.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What To Expect When You're Expe...Uh...Reuniting

It all started a few months back. I came home to visit my dog and play some FIFA 07 on my old Playstation 2. My Mom told me "Hey Stupid, there's some mail for you", and threw a postcard sized flyer at me. I'm just kidding. She handed it to me, totally didn't throw it. The card was inviting me to come celebrate the 5 year reunion of the 2012 class of Providence College.

Holy shit.

Friends til the end!

My mind was racing, trying to figure out how the hell time had flown by that quickly. I was counting the years backwards to see if it was really true. I used my PC education to subtract 2012 from 2017 and was still skeptical when I arrived at an answer of 5. It just didn't seem possible. I suddenly had to prepare for what would be one of the more wild weekends of my life since leaving college. I'm not going to recap the entire weekend for you, because it would be A) boring if you weren't there and 2. it wouldn't really be funny/helpful to anyone who didn't go to PC.

This is why I'm going to do something better and give you something that I wish I fully had going into this past weekend: a guideline of expectations. Therefore, allow me to introduce to you the Breakfast at Jimothy's Return From The Dead Great Expectations For When You Reunite After 5 Years Blogpost. For short we can refer to it as the BAJRFTDGEFWYRA5YB.

All of these shirts came with a free bowl of soup

SADNESS - Yes, there will be sadness. The two weeks or so leading up to the big event, you will do plenty of reminiscing to simpler times. Back in college, you didn't really have to worry about being too old to remain on your parent's health insurance. You just had to worry about what time to show up to the bar of your choosing before the line started, or how much of your paper you could fill by regurgitating the same line with different wording. You will most certainly go down the dreaded Facebook path of memories and look at all the fun you had, wishing you were still living that dream. It's a sobering moment to flashback to the last time you could enjoy life before the real world. Such a sobering moment that it'll make you want to drink a Keystone Light just thinking about it.

Where else in the real world can I meet a Hot Dog?

SHAME- You may also experience shame throughout your 5 year college reunion. This can be broken down into three different Shame Departments: Jealous Shame, Regression Shame and Shame Shame.

Jealous Shame is the shame you endure by catching up with peers and realizing how much more people have their shit together than you do. That kid who once threw up the Red Velvet Cake in your hallway Sophomore year that he had for dinner before drinking too many 1$ beers on a Thursday? He's engaged and making 3x the money you are. The girl who saw you in your Austin Powers costume on Halloween senior year and asked if you were George Washington? She's doing way better than you. Sure, some of the people you will be happy for, but most will have you asking where the hell did I go wrong? (Answer: choosing psychology as a major is where you went wrong). This of course is easier to handle if you are one who actually has their life together and is doing well at this point in your life, and if so, you suck.

Find me on any 1$ bill

The Regression Shame is more related to the fact that you are now 26-27 and can't hang like you used to, or you can hang that long but the consequences are FAR worse than when you were 18-22. I'm not a big believer in magic, witchcraft, voodoo, sorcery, whatever, but I do believe that when you walk across that stage on graduation day, you lose your drinking capabilities the second you shake the hand of your school's President. It's some sort of whacky transfer thing that doesn't make any sense, but once you do it, you simply can't drink like you used to. It's like a weird unspoken graduation ceremonial ritual. I've been asking around various friends the past 2 days, and it is absurd how many people have lost their voices, had hangovers creeping into Tuesday, and have sworn off drinking ever again after this past weekend. It almost seems that drinking extremely cheap beer up til 5 in the morning for two straight nights is a bad idea or something. You'll end up hurting, and you'll be amazed that you once did this kind of shit regularly for a 4 year period of your life.

Shame Shame is the type of shame that will be brought back up while you and your friends are discussing stories from your glory days. I mean, just think about the embarrassing stuff you did back then and tried to forget. You may have successfully blocked out that time you threw up on your friend on St. Patrick's Day after finishing your Irish Car Bomb and then had to finish hers because she was a whimp, but as that hunk James Franco learned from Jonah Hill in Super Bad, "People Don't Forget". I really don't need to elaborate on this one, do I?

DRAMA- Well now this is exciting! Who doesn't want to add a little pinch of drama into the blender already containing too much alcohol and old memories? Chances are you'll see that person who screwed you over on that group project in your Finance class, or the girl you had a crush on and broke your heart when she hooked up with 4 of your suite-mates Junior year. Grudges can last a lifetime. Drama was what made Jersey Shore such a successful train wreck, and it has the possibility to do the same for your 5 year reunion.

Maybe you'll want a bit of revenge on someone. For instance, I had never been so personally insulted then when some douche neighbor of mine senior year went around telling people that my whole house was lame and still wore American Eagle clothing. The fact that I was lumped into this gross accusation that I wore that stuff made me want to hurl. Last I checked you can't buy a FIDLAR, Wavves or Japandroids shirt at American Eagle, Jackass. I was looking forward to being drunk enough to tell him to his face to go kick a brick, but unfortunately I didn't see him and kinda forgot about it until now, but you get the point!

Former American Eagle Model

Maybe you'll finally reveal a crush on someone you've had but were too afraid to tell that person 5 years ago. I was looking forward to finally telling Dot the lunch lady that she was the light of my world, but she wasn't working this weekend (hope you're doing well/still alive Dottie!). Maybe you'll randomly hook up with someone you didn't even know went to your school. You can rekindle former flames, wreck some still-fresh marriages, and toy with the feelings of others who deserve it. The choice is yours, but it can certainly be a dangerous game. Godspeed with that. As a dear friend once told me, "True Love is Not A Lie"...or is it?

SHENANIGANS- Lastly, and most importantly, as long as you went to a fun school with people who enjoy having a righteous time, shenanigans will absolutely be involved. This may be the biggest wild card of the group. Was I expecting to play in a game of 50 vs 50 Flip Cup at 3 am in a hallway? Nope. Was it awesome? Damn straight it was. You can reconnect with the people you want to, beat them at drinking games and then commiserate over how hungover you are at brunch the following day. Trying to do shots of Kamikaze at your old bars with your fellow marketing majors is a surefire way of briefly curing the real world blues. Go put Ke$ha (bless her) on the jukebox, follow it up with T-Swift 'Love Story' if you really need to (actually, please don't) and then burn the place to the ground with a Taking Back Sunday 'Cute Without the E' sing along. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you have one night or a weekend to work with for your college reunion, don't blow it. Go crazy and enjoy the shit out of it, because these sort of things happen only once in a lifeti...every 5 years. But still, 5 years is a long time. Go get drunk and sneak a table out to the quad and play beer pong or something.

He was rightly dropped at the conclusion of this photo.

I saved shenanigans for last because I wanted to leave this on a high note (whoa look at me being optimistic for once!). When it comes down to it, it'll be a delightful time. It's an escape from the real world for a brief weekend. This past weekend was like a time warp back to the favorite period of my life, with people that I adore, doing stuff that I enjoy, like drinking beer and laughing at old stories of my idiot friends. While it may be for our best interests health-wise that this is a once every 5 year event, if you told me we could get the whole gang back together tomorrow I would leap at the opportunity and take a 11 minute Uber ride back to campus.

I may be bias when I say it's impossible to beat a Providence College reunion weekend, give it your best shot. Hopefully your college experience was almost as fun. Enjoy the hangovers! For this weekend only, it'll be worth it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pop Culture Smorgasbord: Ken I Get a Frickin' Bone Here?

What a time to be alive, you guys! Society here in the good ol U S of A has officially hit Twilight Zone levels of weird, between the presidential race (at this point it is more of a limp to the finish line than an actual race), jewel heists flooding headlines, clowns showing up in wooded areas...sweet Jesus, even fans of the Chicago Cubs are positive for once in their lives: this is weird. I figured I was overdue for a Pop-Culture Smorgasbord, which I guess is me ripping off SNL's Weekend Update, only with less pressure and less hilarity, so let's talk current events!

  • We need to start off with a big fat lie that the American people have been told for about a month now. It is insulting that such a lie can be spread on television and radio airwaves to misinform the general public. Some of us are not idiots, and have the capabilities to be skeptical and challenge facts, such as the statement that Kevin James' new sitcom 'Kevin Can Wait' is the #1 rated new comedy in America. Even if the numbers back up this statement, I just refuse to believe it. Kevin James isn't funny. He's an oafish (surprised I didn't get the spellcheck squiggly line under oafish) looking fella who seems to portray (badly) the average american man in their 40's. I'm just not buying it. I question whether or not Mr. James knows what comedic timing is. The funniest thing associated with him is that Leah Remini (good looking gal!) was cast to be his wife on King of Queen's and we were supposed to find that believable.  
    God, this is so awkward.
    All I know is that I heard a promo for Kevin Can Wait where Kevin was asked why his bedroom smelled like meatloaf, and he responded with "that's because of my new candle, it's meatloaf scented". This is America's #1 new comedy, yet Arrested Development was cancelled after just 2 and half seasons. Get your shit together, America.
  • Speaking of King of Queen's, I had no idea what it was about until a couple months ago. It then dawned on me that the show referred to Queen's as in the neighborhood in New York, and not that Kevin James was a ladies man, aka the King of Queen's, which I'm guessing was a thought that my 9 year old self had when the show first came out, and it never left my mind. That was a true Eureka moment for me. Also, if you haven't watched the Austin Powers movies since you were in your early teen's, give them another shot. A lot more will make sense. Realizing that the name Random Task was a parody of the classic James Bond villain Odd Job was another Eureka moment that made me want to pound my head through a wall for not figuring it out sooner.
    Inside look at yours truly upon realizing the Random Task joke.
  • Rihanna really annoys me. This whole Bad Girl RiRi personality is hard to believe from the person who gave us the song 'Umbrella' ella...ella...ellla....ellllllaaaaa. Hope that got stuck in your head. I'll give her credit for 'Disturbia' being a pretty catchy number, but besides that I just see her stringing along poor Drake, basically the Robert Smith of Hip Hop and I just feel bad for him. She ought to be more nice to a guy who was once needed a wheelchair to get around.
A true miracle.
  • Lindsay Lohan cut off part of her finger. While the story was puzzling and involved an anchor, I like to pretend that she got in trouble with the Yakuza, lost the finger and then got it back for surgery by promising to give them their money back, which will inevitably come from her plan to make Mean Girls 2. I know there was technically that TV sequel of Mean Girls, but I'm talking bringing back the whole crew, Tina Fey included. Lindsay can pay off the Yakuza, and the world can get more of what they need in 2016: Glen Coco references. 

  • While a Mean Girls 2 sequel would be a positive, Hollywood needs to do something about the abundance of remakes and unwarranted sequels coming out. I love Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, but do we really need him and Jack Black teaming up to remake 'Jumanji'? It feels like Hollywood thinks it may be cheaper to remake these movies than to convert the VHS tapes to Blu Ray. Between 'The Mummy' (oh man, remember Brendan Fraser? what the hell happened to him?) and 'The Goonies' being remade and the possibilities of Mrs. Doubtfire 2 and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure 3, Hollywood is either out of ideas, or just refusing to give new writers and ideas a shot. This is hitting historic heights of suck-itude. *Le Sigh* At least that long awaited Hey Arnold! movie sequel will finally happen and we can find out what the shit happened to Arnold's parents. 
  • While remakes and sequels suck, I will allow the idea of spin-offs. Every once in a while a solid spin-off can take place, you know like 'Saved By the Bell', 'The Colbert Report' and the 22 different forms of CSI. What we need is a spin off from Mad Men, since that is a show that is very deserving of one due to the plethora of amazing characters it gave the world. I'm thinking we get a show revolving around Sally Draper being the rebellious teenager she undoubtedly grows into during the 70's, and hopefully she makes a pitstop in Point Place, WI and hangs out with Foreman, Hyde and Fez for at least one episode.
    she would fit into the 'circle' so well! 
    I'd love a scene where Don Draper goes face to face with Kelso over asking Sally to the prom or something. This is pure gold potential.
  • I never discuss politics. Never have and never will. I keep it private because 1. I don't like conflict and 2. I like to keep people guessing. This being said, I cannot keep my silence anymore. Trump is a mess. All I can compare Trump to is Old Man Potter in "It's A Wonderful Life", the rich, crazy tycoon who wants to take over the world, just because he can. America is currently Bedford Falls, and America will turn into the bizzaro-world that is Potterville if he wins the election, or if good ol' George Bailey isn't saved by Clarence the Angel. Either way, God dammit. 
  • One final political prediction: Ken Bone will set the record for the most presidential write-in votes in US history. Strike while the iron is hot, Kenny Bone!
    Wow. The internet is great.
  • I like Lady GaGa and think she'll be a great choice for the Super Bowl halftime show. I also love the fact that she's doing a dive bar tour (sponsored, of course, by Bud Light). It would be pretty amazing to see one of the most unique artists out there play sketchy bars where grumpy old men hang by out of order jukeboxes. What's not cool is that I looked up the setlist of the first Lady GaGa dive bar show and it was a grand total of 4 whole songs. 4, all of which are new. I'd love a stripped down acoustic version of 'Just Dance', not some song that no one but GaGa herself knows the words to. Great idea, just kinda executed poorly. 
  • Instagram is my favorite social media platform. Snapchat is weird, Twitter can get tiring, and Facebook is now just people I don't talk to sharing videos that I will never, ever watch. I'm going to give you all a heads up and tell you to follow San Francisco Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto on the 'Gram. The man loves photoshop, posting multiple selfies in a 5 minute span, and horses. Here's just one sample that should get you hooked.
Solid gold.

  • Speaking of baseball, playoffs are here, which harkens back to the glory days where Duane Cook would tell the world that "THERE IS ONLY ONE OCTOBER!", which was nice to finally figure out with his help. I am tired of the Chicago Cubs fanbase. The Cubs haven't won a title since 1908, and every year when they lose and the season ends, their fans embrace the lovable loser attitude, which is just so Mid-West of them. Now, that they are having a nice playoff run, these lovable loser fans are sticking out their chests and talkin' trash like they already won it all. I like to watch the world burn, especially when it comes to overly optimistic people, so I cannot wait until something goes terribly wrong and the Cubs blow it, putting all these showboat Cubs fans back in their place of utter misery. The only good thing about the Cubs winning it all would be that Bill Murray can die happy, which he deserves. 

  • The Kim Kardashian Paris Jewel Heist is fascinating to me. Seems like a lot of holes in the whole story. Between the bodyguard not being there at the right time, the fact that there were no cameras on her for the first time in 14 years, the wide ranging estimates of the jewelry being stolen, all of it seems a bit fishy to me. The good news is that this upcoming season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians is gonna be a real thrilling Whodunnit? with twists and turns around every corner! I bet it was Kris Jenner, in the billiards room, with a candlestick. It only makes sense that the woman who capitalized on her daughter's sex tape would set up and inside job jewel heist. This is totally a joke though, guys, don't want to get sued by those pesky Kardashian gals, cause that's apparently already happening. 
Welp, and here we are. Times are tough these days, and this is just a snippet of reasons why. Between lovable losers, Trump, and Linsday Lohan probably dealing with the Yakuza, it feels like the world has been turned upside down. Hey, there's a song that kinda hits on that topic, so I'll leave you with that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Dead Celebrities and the Sainthood of Morrissey: A Survey

Julie Strano is a friend of mine from college who has a unique job which is totally 2016: running the Twitter account of a dead celebrity. She's got the humor, wit and the sass to be the ideal person to talk pop-culture with. While I can't tell you the dead celebrity she speaks for...well, tweets for I guess, I can give you insight into her thoughts on various topics. We covered social media, high fashion, music and the always controversial topic of Halloween costumes. Be sure to follow her @NotJulieStrano (Twitter AND Insta)

15 Random Questions:

You run the social media account of a dead celebrity. What's the toughest part of being the voice of the ghost of a famous person?

Finding a balance between honoring someone's memory and being totally hilarious. It's a fine line and everything needs to be approved by 2-3 people. Not offending the general public is a daily concern for me (both professionally and personally.)

Who would be the top 3-5 dead celebrity Twitter accounts you would want to run on their behalf?

Anna Nicole Smith, Kurt Cobain (just so I could say Fuck The Man™ like, 24/7), Amy Winehouse, Mary Magdalene. 

Which recent celebrity death (over the past year) hit you the hardest and how are you holding up?

Honestly - Paul Walker. I'm an OG The Fast & The Furious gal and just the irony of him dying in a fast and furious situation really got me. I spent the better half of the early 2000s wanting to be Mia Toretto.

Do you think Kylie Jenner is capable of bringing Von Dutch trucker hats back into style? Is it a slap in the face to Ashton Kutcher and Justin Timberlake that they were not asked to help, since they put Von Dutch on the map?

I think Kylie Jenner is capable of bringing anything back if they pay her enough. Though it needs another 3-5 years before it can make a true resurgence - it's too early. OR are Ashton & Justin Punk-ing us?

Never forget.

Is Anna Wintour misunderstood, or do you think she is the closest thing to Satan in the fashion world?

Both. She's an icon and completely revitalized the magazine industry. She was the one who started putting celebrities (not models) on the cover of Vogue. I admire women who are synonymous with success. That said - I'd be fucking terrified to run into her in a dark alley. 

Can you explain the whole pumpkin spice fad to the general public?

Sure - if you don't like pumpkin get the fuck out of my life. Women are constantly shamed for their interests. We can't even like SQUASH without it being mocked. If men were obsessed with pumpkin spice, it wouldn't be a fad, it would just be like...covered under health insurance, like boner pills. Why is enjoying a warm beverage while stepping on a crunchy leaf "basic"? Fall-shamers are the anti-Christ.

PS: Most women I know don't drink pumpkin spice lattes because they have like 500 calories and we'd rather be skinny.

Who is headlining your dream music festival and why?

Brand New if I can choose the set list. The original line up of Nirvana and One Direction. Basically men performing songs from all versions of myself (moody 90s kid, moody 2000s teen, ironically non-moody twenty-something.)

Should Morrissey be considered the patron saint of Emo music?

I pray to him every day. Elliott Smith is sulking by the pearly gates, just waiting to be canonized. 

Heaven knows I'm miserable now.

I'm starting the ultimate emo/pop punk Spotify playlist. What are the first 5 no-brainer songs to make the list?

Cute Without The "E" - Taking Back Sunday
Seventy Times Seven- Brand New
Hands Down - Dashboard Confessional
Such Great Heights - The Postal Service
Fat Lip - Sum 41

Can you believe Axl Rose and Slash buried that hatchet and the Guns n' Roses reunion tour actually happened?

Yes and thank God because I plan on being Slash for Halloween.

Do other countries hate us because The Big Bang Theory is the #1 rated comedy on TV?

The rise of The Big Bang Theory directly correlates to the rise of Donald Trump.

What is at the top of your "OMG you haven't seen that movie?!" list that you are willing to admit?

I've never seen Star Wars and I'm a-okay with that.

What fictional character would you most want to be friends with or date in real life?

Hermione Granger on both accounts. 

Absolutely agree.

Halloween is approaching. What are your go-to pop culture related costume ideas?

Instagram celeb Joanne the Scammer, Steven Avery from Making A Murderer (congrats to him on his recent engagement!)

Most importantly, what is your take on the Brangelina divorce?

I'm working on a theory that Brad Pitt is actually Tyler Durden and we are all suffering from a collective Fight Club based delusion. So in reality, this question doesn't even exist because Brad Pitt doesn't exist.

Word Association. Give me your deep yet brief thoughts on:

Lana Del Rey: Goddess whose first album was better.

Shia LaBeouf: Hot douche (see: Disturbia)

Perez Hilton: Used to be funny, then got skinny and a conscience. 

Lose all that weight yet still gain a conscience :-/

The Kardashian Krew: Kim K took a situation in which her trust was broken and turned it into millions. They're wildly over-exposed and I wouldn't have it any other way. Who else would people complain about?

Amy Schumer: Trainwreck was my life's documentary. I love her for putting sexism on blast and being fucking hilarious while doing it.

The Olsen Twins: ICONS.

MySpace: Aren't I taking a MySpace survey right now?

A friend to all!

Macaulay Culkin: Saw him on Bowery last winter and was like "lol remember when Mila Kunis dated him for a decade?"

Chrissy Teigen: Yes.

Lindsay Lohan: Protect at all costs.

This or That:

Douchebags or Fuckbois

Fuckbois are hotter.

Taking Back Sunday or Brand New

Brand New.

You chose wisely.

Clueless or Almost Famous

Ouch. Wow. Clueless was more influential to me in the 90s but Almost Famous ~opened my eyes to rock n roll~. Pass.

MTV with music videos and no reality shows or MTV with reality shows and no music videos

Music videos and no reality shows only because Jersey Shore is over (and what a gift it was)

T.Swift or Kanye

Beyonce because she had the best video of all time.

Winning the Bachelor or Being the Bachelorette

Being the Bachelorette - duh. I love making men cry.

Tinder or Meeting dudes at a bar

Projecting my romantic fantasies on celebrities I've never met.

Paris Hilton's Dj career or Cobra Starship featuring Leighton Meester

Leighton Meester was rude to me at an event once so, Paris Hilton.

That's right turn it UP!

Better Canadian: Drake or Bieber

Aubrey. Drake. Graham.

Courtney Love's style or Kurt Cobain's style

Courtney because it's Kurt's style with the addition of silk babydoll dresses. Iconic! Much love to her always. She's been looking great in Frances Bean's `grams lately. 

Quite fetch.

Big thanks to Julie for taking this Pop Culture survey. I plan on doing more of these in the future with various people from all sorts of different backgrounds. As always, keep on keepin' on, and tell all your friends.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Beginner's Guide to Karaoke

It was my birthday about a month ago, and since I have to share my special day with America, I've always liked to celebrate in an elaborate, over the top fashion with my friends and loved ones. Like most years, I had no idea what I was going to do until about 5 days before, and one idea struck me as a change-up of sorts: karaoke. I recently saw the movie Lost in Translation and had the image of Bill Murray singing a My Bloody Valentine song, as Scarlett Johansson skulked around wearing a wig, so I suppose I was inspired by that for a theme. This ended up being the best idea I've had since mixing Spicy Hot V-8 with Tito's Vodka and calling it a V-9. That night my friends and I took over the Boombox in Providence and basically hogged the karaoke list because we were taught to never mingle with strangers, and it was spectacular. Now that I feel that I am a karaoke master because of this one time that I did it, I'm gonna give you my ultimate guide to karaoke.

Disco balls are always welcomed.

Set Your Goals
There are many reasons to sing at karaoke. Maybe you're a bunch of bros trying to make girls laugh by singing Selena Gomez or *Nsync (tip: make sure you're either really good at singing these or just so comically into it that they pity you). Maybe you want to pay homage to one of your favorite groups, like Hanson and sing MMMBop or any other song they wrote....which I'm sure they did...right? Maybe you want to try to get discovered by a talent ag....yeah never mind. Let's face it, the real go at karaoke is to have some good clean and hopefully drunken fun. Any other goal is you just lying to yourself, but hey whatever it takes to get you up on stage.

Stage Presence/Swagger
Let's face it, most people can't sing. This means that probably 70% of the battle when it comes to Karaoke is putting on a goddamn show. The key to this is jumping in full gear and never looking back. Never, ever half-ass a karaoke performance. People would rather have you not sing at all than be up there awkwardly and stiff as a statue. You'll waste everyone's time and it will no doubt feel like the longest 4 minutes of your life. You need to channel your inner Axl Rose with weird dance moves. Live up to the lyrics: when performing say, The Sweater Song by Weezer, go ahead and take the risk of laying down on the floor of the bar, just to make people remember you. That's what myself and my friend Radical Rick did, and it was totally worth it, besides having to throw out my jeans afterwards.
Lying on the floor, lying on the floor...I should've crouched like Ricky did.

When performing, you should aim to be like Chris Farley during his time on Saturday Night Live. He was always willing to throw around his body for the sake of a good laugh. You can easily gain the respect of the room by being a bit whacky. This can save you when you have a shitty voice and you know your version of 'No Sleep Til Brooklyn' sucks: people will remember you for being a good-timer, not a good-singer.

Putting your body on the line helps sell the performance.

Know Your Audience
You need to work the crowd like you're hustling them for money. Get other people involved! Pass that mic around like a joint at Woodstock. Many songs have filler in them such as ooh's and aaah's that you can strategically let others chime in by sticking a microphone in their face. This being said, you should also be careful when you are asked to chime in, especially when it's a stranger. I'd like to take this time to formally apologize to the woman in this picture who risked her performance of Taylor Swift's 'Shake It Off' by giving me the chance to sing along, only to have me drop some choice swear words because I hate Taylor Swift so much. I think her face sums up the situation, but anywho, sorry kinda.

Again, sorry for the salty language.

Moving on, knowing your audience can also help reduce awkward situations. You probably shouldn't sing Panic! At The Disco's super smash hit 'I Write Sins Not Tragedies' if a bachelorette party is present, since it may get weird having a whole bar say "what a shame the poor groom's bride is a whore!" in unison. We don't want to wreck any marriages before they even happen. You also don't want to get too grim at a karaoke event. I love The Smiths as much as most depressed people do, but they can really bring the vibe down as people hear you sing doomed lyrics, like in the song 'Girlfriend In A Coma' or 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now'. I guess the more upbeat the better in this situation. Oh yeah, also, there will never be a situation that is suitable for a Nickelback song. Ever. Even as a joke, it's not funny. Bars should have a universal policy to throw out anyone attempting to sing Nickelback.

This guy here knows to not sing Nickelback!

You should probably choose a song that most of the bar knows, and you should also know at least 80% of the lyrics already. There is no problem with looking at the lyrics on the screen, I mean, that's why it is there in the first place, but you'll like like you're drowning without your swimmy floats if you look totally perplexed and say "oh THOSE are the words!" when you realize a lyric isn't what you thought it was. The less you need the screen, the more ability you have to work on the whole stage presence thing. The most impressive karaoke performance I've ever seen was a woman in her mid 40's crush 'Give It Away' by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. She didn't need the lyric screen once, which really impressed me as I am a big Chili Peppers fan, had heard that song in particular about a thousand times before, and was reading the lyrics completely blown away that they were actually what they were. She got a well deserved standing ovation at the bar, and if I had a random bundle of roses with me, I gladly would've tossed them at her.

You go girl.

Song Selection
This is key. You should have a few trusty standbys all ready to go so you don't have to flip through the song book which is about the size of the Yellow Pages (is that still a thing?). You can't go wrong with anything 90's, unless you want to do cheesy hip-hop like Sir Mix-A-Lot or Will Smith's 'Gettin Jiggy With It'. The world doesn't need anymore of that crap. But yeah 90's are a safe bet, as are 80's hits and hip-hop of the early 00's (there still isn't a good name for that decade yet is there?). Do whatever makes you feel comfortable and gives you the most ability to hit it out of the park and earn the applause of 5+ people, which I think is a valid goal at any karaoke bar. If you're stuck for suggestions, I'll leave you with my Top 15 Safe Bets for Karaoke

  • 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' by Bonnie Tyler. This is the crown jewel of karaoke. Overused? Maybe. Still a crowd pleaser? Absolutely. Fun fact: Bonnie Tyler was named the patron saint of Karaoke by Pope John Paul II. It's a song that everyone knows, will sing a long with, and if you get a trusty companion to accompany you for the 'turn around briiiight eyes' part, you're performance becomes even more kick ass. 
  • 'Take Me Home Tonight' by Eddie Money. While he's probably playing a bingo hall in Bend, Oregon tomorrow night and sleeping in his car afterward, Eddie Money did give us a hit that is very worthy of karaoke gold. To be honest, you have a great shot of putting on a better performance of this song in 2016 than Eddie Money probably can!
Playing a VFW Hall near you!
  • 'White Houses' by Vanessa Carlton. I admit that I've wanted to perform this song before at karaoke but haven't had the guts to do it...yet. This song will most likely be performed by a group of sorority sisters with fake id's, or by bros trying to sleep with said sorority sisters. Hell of a song though.
Leader of the pack
  • 'It Was A Good Day' by Ice Cube. A bit slower, sure, but knowing all the words to this jam will impress anyone who has a pulse. I also enjoy how someone actually did the research to find out that this good day occurred on January 20th, 1992.
  • 'Last Nite' by The Strokes. Everyone knows this song. It gets the hips shaking, and there is no band on the planet cooler than The Strokes. Just look at them. This is also a karaoke friendly song as lead singer Julian Casablancas kinda always sounds like he's mumbling and performing karaoke while 70% certain of the lyrics, so it just kinda works!
They ooze cool
  • 'Chop Suey!' by System of a Down. If the crowd is deader than Ben Franklin, go a head and wake them up with your best rendition of Chop Suey!, it'll be sure to get you some looks. Don't actually do this.
  • 'Cute Without the E (Cut From the Team)' by Taking Back Sunday. When you have an angsty yet sentimental crowd, this is the tune to go with. All the teens who adored this song 13 years ago will soon adore you for bringing it back to relevance at whatever bar you are at. Who knows, you may even walk away with a thousand clever phone numbers on a thousand clever napkins.
  • 'All The Small Things' by Blink 182. This hits home for the generation who has now grown up to realize the truth behind the lyric "work sucks...I know". Also, people go apeshit crazy for Blink 182.
Thanks a lot Angels and Airwaves :-/
  • 'I Want It That Way' by the Backstreet Boys. Justin Timberlake is great and all, and *Nsync may have had more hits, but none had the karaoke capabilities that 'I Want It That Way' does. In this round of the epic late 90's boyband battle, Backstreet Boys won the 'still awesome for karaoke 20 years from now' round.
  • 'Just A Friend' by Biz Markie. A tragic tale of love that took a dark turn featuring a girl named 'Blah Blah Blah'. This is a crowd pleaser that will get everyone to at least sing the chorus with you, because for once, you've got what they need.
  • 'Semi-Charmed Life' by Third Eye Blind. Probably the most famous song about crystal meth ever. 
  • 'Summer Nights' by...idk, I guess Grease. One man's guilty pleasure song could easily win the heart of a girl obsessed with all things broadway. This has some serious risk, but the reward could also pay off big.
  • 'Surrender' by Cheap Trick. Perfect if you are surrounded by an older crowd. I had to include at least one classic rock song from the 70's, so there. I'm hitting different age groups here. So sue me. 
  • 'Wonderwall' by Oasis. I will go to my grave fighting that Blur is the better band, but I have to go with the more mainstream, realistic approach when it comes to who had the better karaoke song, which is why Wonderwall is on this list. By the way, don't sing 'Champagne Supernova.' It's too long. 
  • 'Loser' by Beck. The ultimate self-loathing song. I mean after all, how many karaoke songs can you utter the phrases 'beefcake pantyhose' and 'slap the turkey-neck'. 
And with that, you are on your way to kicking ass and taking names in the strange yet wonderful world of karaoke. Also, I'd like to give a shoutout to Rob "British Bob" Piesse who won my Instagram caption contest. It was like choosing the tallest midget, every entry kinda sucked but I guess his sucked the least, so congrats British Bob!