Random Access Memos

10/26/2014

An Immodest Proposal

For reasons difficult to articulate, my economic views have become more libertarian in recent years. Ok, the reasons are pretty simple, and they mostly harken back to Uncle Sam in some way, akin to how every asset in my life seems to harken back to Uncle Sam in some way. In the course of my college career, I worked a lot of lackluster jobs in order to make ends meet. Of course, these jobs don’t tend to pay well, making them all the more shitty. But the cherry on top of a flavorless check is when you divert your eyes away from that meager number at the bottom, and start dissecting exactly how much coin the government has stripped away without your permission. To top it all off, the government hands out yearly tax-returns, which is a complete joke of a process I might add. I don’t want to get all conspiracy-theorist on you, but just think about it. Tax returns are only clever cover-up operations that help the fuels the engine that constantly fucks you, with not a drop of lube. Instead of being 100% pissed at the tax process, you are now 99.9% only because of the little money you got back in September, just in time to buy that new iPhone you’ve been obsessing over. The government thrives on that .01%

Taxes suck– no big surprise there. But what’s worse is having to account for why the government is raping you. The billions the government spends on defense fighting pointless wars, or archaic institutions like The Department of Homeland Security are frankly ridiculous. But what about the money the government spends on aiding its own citizens? Which leads me to the heart of the matter– government assistance programs. Take welfare for instance. According to official 2012 statistics issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services, over 4 million Americans were on welfare and over 40 million on food stamps. If that’s not enough for you, a total of 131.9 billion was spent on government assistance last year.

Dictionary.com defines the term “audit” as “an official examination and verification of accounts and records, especially of financial accounts.” If you managed to soak up any of the knowledge taught in your Econ 101 class, you’ll recall that businesses mostly employ auditors to assess their financial records and provide feedback. Auditors and accountants are sometimes interchangeable, and both assist businesses in their financial decisions. This leads me to my 131.9 billion dollar idea– person audits. As I mentioned earlier, while there are plenty of hard-working Americans on government assistance, there are also those that abuse the handouts. Person audits would work as such. Anyone assigned government assistance will be allocated at least one PA (personal auditor). The job of the PA is simple– to spy. Every single daily activity will be monitored, recorded, and analyzed. The reports would then be handed over to the main offices, in which they would determine a fair amount from which to judge. For instance, time spent mindlessly watching Maury or Judge Judy while vegetating on the couch with a bag of cheetos would be recorded and those particular persons would suffer the consequences.

In practice, PA systems work like a basic point system. Good behavior is rewarded, like applying for jobs or improving upon a useful skill. Bad behavior is of course punished, and the more severe the case, the more PAs are required. More serious cases could involve some 9-10 PAs living in a single household, with each PA required to meticulously examine the machinations of an unproductive person’s life. Nothing is off limits in these cases, and a PA (maybe two) would be required to be positioned within a person’s bathroom at all times, and record the happenings there. Too much time spent sitting on the pot, smoking pot, or bathing could result in severe punishment.

PAs could even perform Risk Management duties. Think of the five categories used for the Homeland Security Advisory system. An unemployed 16 year old girl ready to have unprotected sex with Joe, a cashier at McDonalds would obviously fall into the red zone category. Just like the government likes to keep citizens paranoid, but not too paranoid, an individual could never fall into the green zone. This would only curb ambition, providing a free-for-all environment in which an individual thinks its ok to engage in risky business.

The PA system not only cures the problem of manipulating the government, it also creates a plethora of new jobs– to the tune of billions. If you simply take into account the number of citizens on welfare from 2012, that amounts to a minimum of 4 million new jobs. And like I mentioned earlier, only the best case scenario assisted-citizens would only be assigned a single PA, most would require at least 2 or 3. Not to mention, in order to handle this new influx of data, large bureaucracies would have to be implemented on both the federal and state level. The various PAs would have to report to assigned higher ups, organized by district. Not to mention, unemployed citizens struggling to find work could study to become PAs themselves. If it were to go into effect, this has the potential to single-handedly solve the unemployment crisis in America. Obviously there would be some sort of questions about invasions of privacy and similar such jazz, but how happy would you be if Uncle Sam backed out of your grill for a little bit. I rest my case.

6/11/2014

8 Things Hipsters Have Ruined For Everyone

Once upon a time, in a world far-removed from the pretentious odour of fedora hats and black-rimmed glasses, the rebellious spirits of the counter-culture were respected as much as they were feared. Twitter and Instagram weren’t around, so people sought 140-character-free modes of expression such as literature, film, and fashion choices. But then dark days descended, and corporations began to cash in on new fads, commodifying these various movements into lucrative submission.

A true hipster designs their life around an affected approach to cool rather than letting it spring forth organically, like the chemical-free milk in that person’s refrigerator. Nobody wants to be called a hipster, but more often times than not, the person that doth protest too much is guilty of ascribing to the lifestyle anyway.

Many are on the prowl for the slightest hipster activity, and in recent years this phenomenon has reached Salem Witch Trials status. Unfortunately, some of the greatest cultural pastimes have been marred by the advent of hipsterism. Does it really make one a hipster if they like 500 Days of Summer or Drinking Buddies? What about LCD Soundsystem?

The following is a list of eight things that hipsters have ruined for everyone.

8. Indie Music

Years ago in a world deprived of instant streaming and illegal torrents, the people who were willing to look beyond the recycled garbage looped by major radio stations were regarded as respected music purists. Before jazz music became the preferred weapon of choice for shopping malls, the people in the know danced the night away to the likes of Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker – nowadays there is no glory whatsoever in listening to a band or artist who falls below the one million followers threshold on Spotify.

Case in point, the new self-titled St. Vincent album is an incredible tour de force, but this kind of sentiment can only be muttered in private for fear of being labeled as an indie music-loving hipster.

Chances are that if you know Neutral Milk Hotel is not the name of some offbeat Canadian resort, you are also aware that some of the greatest bands of the last twenty years unfortunately fall under the indie label. Yes, the average person is powerless against preventing the undeniable catchiness of “Drunk In Love” or “Timber” to be stuck in the head, and we all love to party as if ‘THE CEILING CAN’T HOLD US’, but that doesn’t mean a person should be barred from enjoying a little more artistry in their music.

Sometimes it seems that there are only two camps that one can ascribe to: one, the self-proclaimed tastemakers who only listen to bands with pseudo-intellectual, sentence-long names like Of Tigers and Bears Coursing Through The Magnanimous Odds Of Time and Space that make a bunch of songs that sound like a distorted television box covered in bees and then, well, the others who listen to so-called normal sounding artists like Katy Perry.

The bulk of the blame for the shift is a bunch of people that claimed a righteous superiority which they annoying lorded over people who were apparently less attuned to the underground. These are the type of people that hate bands when they become famous, (not Kings of Leon, because they started to suck). Imagine being surrounded by a group of buddies as you become giddy with excitement as you read the band names in small print for the Coachella lineup that year.

7. Beer

It only takes a few moments of television viewing to suffer at the hands of ingenious beer commercials that specialize in cropping a bunch of random images together that have little relation to alcohol whatsoever. Whether it is the fault of nonsensical commercials or not, a lot of people enjoy going to a bar and sampling a brew for the first time. The everyday run of the mill brands are great for college parties when alcohol of any kind is a godsend. In fact, esteemed economists agree that the breweries of horrendous tasting beers like Milwaukee’s Best Premium and Natural Ice remain lucrative for this very same reason.

But when one reaches adulthood they are intent on sampling the best fancy, imported brews the world has to offer. Order any beer besides a cold Miller Lite, Budweiser, Corona, and eyes will temporarily veer off the voluptous bartender in order to stare you down. This is truly unfair. Besides, anyone that has spent any time around true hipsters know that their weapon of choice is Pabst Blue Ribbon. If you didn’t already know, Pabst Blue Ribbon isn’t a beer at all, but a aluminium can of gasoline dyed urine-gold. Studies have shown that people who adopt a hipster lifestyle sacrifice their humanity for a life of pure conformity until they are morphed into robotic-machines who need gasoline for survival.

6. Fashion

A sense of style is unique to each individual, but is something that all people aspire to in some capacity. Even cavemen were judged by their peers on how well they donned leaves-bushes ensembles. Most people were not blessed with the ability of pulling off the daunting task of bringing sexy back with a comfortable, shaggy just-got-out-of-bed look. With so many fancy fashion choices available at an overpriced J.Crew store near you, people are understandably anxious to morph their everyday lives into a runway event. But veer too far into the enticing world of high fashion and hipster accusations will start raining down, forever spoiling your new Sperrys with moisture that cannot be easily wiped clean. Ditto for anyone with poor eyesight that is looking for a sleek alternative to grandma’s-check-writing-glasses or the sometimes irritating process of inserting contact lenses.

It’s exceedingly difficult these days to dress well without being labeled a hipster. Since when did dressing well and grooming become a crime? Plus, we all know the people of the 70s dressed a lot better, so why is it a sin to rock the retro look? A Miley Cyrus inspired garment would serve to quickly get you fired from most jobs, but a Stevie Nicks inspired get-up just oozes cool. There is no hard data to back this up, but once upon a time black-rimmed glasses were a fashion statement rather than a classic adornment of the hipster religion. The only viable solution is to wear the same faded 9 XXL Hanes T-shirt everyday until it too becomes fashionable, and the hipster vultures claim it as their own.

5. Indie Cinema

If you’re guilty of watching any film that didn’t see a wide blockbuster release this year, you are also guilty of being a hipster in a lot of people’s misguided eyes. It’s really no secret that the tastemakers of Hollywood aren’t really tastemakers at all, but money-hungry executives out for a trazillion-dollar payday. This is why movies like Saw 87 and The Fast and The Furious 104 are currently being filmed somewhere on Sunset Boulevard, and why extremely terrible decisions like a Scarface remake receive the green light. Not to say that these movies are bad (except for the Scarface remake, which will probably be very very bad) it’s just that naturally one comes to tire of the saturation and seek out a movie that is creative and original.

But this is dangerous territory. One finds themselves recommending films like Frances, Ha to the disappointed chagrin of friends. Worse, Netflix Suggestions will propel one further into the abyss, until he or she’s brain is crammed with so many neurotic Woody Allen quips that they can’t even recall what The Hangover was about. After enough viewings of Jay and Mark Duplass films, one is unable to discern which blockbuster movies are even good in the first place, leading to terrible recommendations of that new Bruce Willis film just to appeal to everyman mentality. You know, the one where he jumps over buildings and stuff.

4. Festivals

There used to be something magical about the concert experience. Strangers from all over the world huddled inside of a swanky tent temporarily unified by a love of the music being played and a plastic cup of beer. But due to the increasing popularity of music festivals and the invasion of the hipster sect, a lot of the magic has disappeared. Now, Douche Baggington III orders his Lollapalooza pass with his hard-earned trust fund money and spends the days leading up to the concert Youtubing all of the bands he’s never heard of only to tweet “I liked DJ Mothballs Are Poison until he started to suck #Ihatesellouts.”

A combination of art and a little splash of commerce in the festival was never a sin until that splash grew into an ocean where hipsters coexist among each other. Since the invasion of the hipster presence, many people attend these festivals just so that they can talk about a supposed once-in-a-lifetime experience of eating shockingly overpriced food and shacking up for the night in dirty tents. The sad reality is that complaining about hipsters ruining the festival experience is, like, the most hipster thing one can do, ever.

3. Intelligence

Everyone knows that the key to attracting the opposite sex are big brains. Actually, that’s not really true at all, but intelligence is something that is still valued in any venue outside of an Oakland Raiders game on a Sunday afternoon. One can waste an entire day browsing the internet for woefully stupid Facebook statuses and text messages, so you would think that people would be grateful when they encounter a person who isn’t inclined to text a person that they left their phone at their house. But these days it’s difficult to decipher between a person with smarts or someone just spouting out random information they viewed on Pitchfork or Gawker. With so many people convinced that they are the next Steven Paul Jobs on an intellectual path towards truth while taking the “stay foolish” slogan a little too seriously, it sometimes makes people appreciate the lovable simpletons of the world a little more.

It’s always a wise thing to be informed about the issues plaguing the world, but to know things all for the sake of knowing things and sounding smart to impress others is quite different. The few individuals of the world who actually know that fracking has nothing to do with computer code deserve to be praised, but those that make it their mission in life to talk incessantly about a problem they fail to do anything about is difference between a moralistic person and a hipster trying way too hard. The world is thankful for the “serious brain training” provided by websites like Luminosity nobly preserving the ingenuity of the hipster brain. Imagine living in a world where you can read an impressive article online without being subjected to the mindless drudgery of pseudo-intellectuals squabbling back and forth.

2. Photography

Ever since humans discovered there was a much simpler way to capture an image than have someone pose for hours upon hours, photography has been an invaluable service to the world. Names like Diane Arbus, Herb Ritts, and Annie Lebowtiz were able to tell an entire narrative with a photograph. But now photography is just one of many basic rites of passage for hipsters, as the digital camera is just another appendage to the human body. Multi-million dollar corporations have simplified the art, and now just about anyone can claim to be an ingenious photo-journalist on a self-imposed journey to capture beauty and truth. Now, the only narrative that these so-called photographers are interested in is showcasing to the world just how much of an interesting of a person they are.

The inherent coolness factor involved with being able to add special lighting and shading effects all with the click of a button cannot be denied, but the general hipster quest to prove their artistic merit has put somewhat of a damper on that light in recent years. How many photographs of a inquisitive-looking person sitting on a beach can one actually stomach? And speaking of stomachs, possibly the most unforgivable injustice to happen to the field is the recent hipster-branded trend of snapping photos of a meal before it is consumed. Like many other tenets of hipsterism, this is such a common practice nowadays that nearly everyone does it. At this rate, it’s not unlikely to fathom that the greatest museums in Italy will be replaced by townhouses solely dedicated to photographs of McDonald’s dollar menu purchases.

1. Food

Food is the one item on this list that cannot be avoided as we all must eat, unless you are striving in life to become the next Real-Life Barbie. Most people are not looking to exude coolness when they are chomping on a meal, especially while wiping nacho cheese and sour cream off the face during late-night Taco Bell excursion, but the hipsters main goal in life is to gain the respect of others for their highly-cultured cuisine choices. The hipster hasn’t truly earned their hipster wings until he or she has recommended to a friend at least one famous dish from every country in the world. Scientists have even discovered that around the age of thirty, the hipster tongue naturally evolves to have no taste-buds, making their tastemaking efforts all the more easier. Not really, but it seems logical.

Because of hipster influence, many people are afraid to spice up their diet, and instead rely on that trusty Number 2 combo they’ve been ordering since freshman year of college. There’s a difference between broadening one’s palate and broadening one’s I’m-more-impressive-than-you conversation pieces, but the fine line makes it difficult to tell sometimes, leading to unfair criticism. Choosing hummus instead of cheese dip? Hipster. Greek salad instead of potato salad? Hipster. West African instead of Wendy’s? Hipster. While hipsters seem to consume food with the same consumer mindset as they purchase trendy designer jeans, a person should not let the fear of being labeled the “H” word prevent them from #treatingthemselves.

6/01/2014

Beats, rhymes, and braggadocio—these core elements form the basis of what comes to pass as hip-hop; the latter being just one aspect of many that differentiates the art form from other genres. Most rappers make it their prime M.O. to lose themselves in illusory worlds of Bentleys galore and bling. As a rule of thumb, if Tim McGraw pulled a Kendrick Lamar and called people out, his name might be left off a few industry party guest lists, but no fundamental repercussions would ensue. Boasts are just a part of the game, and even experimental MCs are not immune from dabbling in the my-life-is-better-than-yours arts.

But Deniro Farrar is a little different, and this has nothing to do with a ceiling missing from his whip. The Charlotte MC mostly values music for its therapeutic properties and utilizes it as a confessional soundboard to air out his ideas on about, well, just about everything. With a hefty voice that seems weighed down by a lifetime of hardship, Deniro’s content is less emo sob stories than brutally honest tales of reality. On his six-track Rebirth EP, Deniro takes fans much further into the shadowy abyss of his innermost thoughts.

The EP commences with creeping minimalist production on “Rebirth,” and functions as the perfect forum for Deniro to establish the dark ambiance of the music that follows—piercingly introspective flows that position the MC as the ultimate storyteller. The word “story” might be inaccurate however, as Deniro’s narrative comes across as too raw and detailed to be the result of a contrived effort to gain unearned sympathy, and even the most soulless person would find it exceedingly difficult to not feel some type of way in most instances, especially with lines like, “And my momma fuck with bitches now/I could judge her but I really can’t.”

Deniro is known for his audacious production, sometimes to his disadvantage, but “Hold On” is a shining example. Amid a flurry of contrasting sounds, the MC makes the beat an afterthought as he energetically vacillates between confessional raps and criticisms of the industry. And while the struggle is real, struggle bars are never an issue with Deniro, as he layers his raspy delivery with stout lyrical ejections one after the other.

A lot of critics mistakenly attach the “bipolar” label to Deniro wholly due to his depressing content. But to be technical, Deniro only seems to have one mood: anger. “Burning Bills,” featuring Lunice, is bred of this same species, and the MC lets it be known that he isn’t concerned with what the masses think about him. The hard-hitting Internet smash “Bow Down” comes equipped with the same sort of intensity and is amplified by the similarly high voltage raps of Denzel Curry.

“Late Nights” begins by posturing as a much needed break from the more depressing content, but Deniro once again blends his hopes of potential triumph with confessions about his issues in real time. Possibly due to the conditioned palates of consumers, one can’t help but desire for Deniro to branch out into less heavy subject matter. He has mastered his lane, sometimes to astonishing results, and could potentially shape up Top 40 charts if he were to try his hand in the commercial arena similar to lyrical-heavy guys like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar.

But in this climate, beggars can’t be choosers, and most fans will wear permanent smiles if Deniro keeps releases music harkening back to his specialty. “Tired” comes equipped with severity of a man with a mission, and most importantly, caps off a very impressive EP. No doubt the next step for Deniro is to bless the fans with a feature length album building off the same elements that make Rebirth such an intriguing effort

3/10/2014

Accompanying the January announcement that Young Money had plans to release a compilation album was a collective shudder the world over. More corny Tyga tracks? More attempts to brainwash us into believing Gudda Gudda is a good rapper? On one hand, We Are Young Money was surprising for the simple fact that there was more to love than to hate. But that was in 2009, before approximately 100 trillion “Tapout” radio spins. Instead of calling the album We Are Young Money-ed Out, the title coincides with the second installment of the 300 movie franchise. The concept behind Rise of an Empire screeched of a poorly executed marketing ploy to usher in Young Money: The New Class.

The reality is much more disturbing. Birdman’s presence is limited and Detail wisely elected to stay behind the boards, a recipe for success, there are hardly any standout moments on Rise of an Empire. Not even any gratifying guilty pleasure moments like “Every Girl” or “BedRock,” only shameless monstrosities in the vein of Erroll Childress guilt. Young Money’s best and brightest maintain a slight presence throughout, but their appearances are mere celebrity photo-ops at a D-League game, unable to hide the fact that the Sioux Falls Skyforce are not in fact The Miami Heat.

Most everyone downloaded Drake’s “Trophies” not long after their illegally downloaded version of Nothing Was The Same, and by all indications the inclusion of the track is a great smokescreen for some truly puzzling creative choices, such as “Senile,” a track so offensive to eardrums it makes Wayne’s infamous “Dear Mr. Toliet/I’m the shit” line seem like a dazzling Shakesperian display of wit. One cannot help but think that a little more YM star-power (a Drake hook or two) would have augmented the more tedious moments, like “Fresher Than Ever,” or to put it nicely, a grueling seven minute gathering of artists nobody really cares about.

At the moment, new YM signee Euro seems like the only YM newcomer with a chance for a viable career, and “We Alright” is alright alright alright until the unwelcome yet inevitable how-many-times-can-I-say-rich-in-16-bars Birdman verse. But Euro gets his solo shine on with “Induction Speech,” and if he can manage to wrestle himself from the secret dungeon Lil Twist, Jae Millz, Cory Gunz, and Gudda Gudda are locked in at the YMCMB offices every night, he may have a bright future ahead.

By far the best thing about the album is evidence that Weezy may have some more gas in the tank despite many recent signs to the contrary. Wayne shines on his guest appearances, and the solo “Moment” is an artist Febreezing the overwhelming foulness wrought from Tha Carter 4 and I Am Not A Human Being 2, but unfortunately, there is not enough Febreeze in the world to disguise the stench the majority of Rise of an Empire emits.

2/24/14

First things first, if you are copping Schoolboy Q’s Oxymoron with the intention of experiencing some profound intellectual awakening, you should immediately put your hands on the wheel and swerve all the fuck away. Oxymoron listening sessions (especially in the whip) will no doubt produce a visceral experience that will slap the Kufi right off your dome. The hallmark of a superior group is that each member brings something fresh to the table, and while Ab-Soul and Kendrick are rightfully regarded for their conscious lyrical content, the self-proclaimed man of the year is more concerned with titties, ass, and getting hands in the air. On Oxymoron, there is a plethora of that ignorant shit we love, magnified by beats that fucking bang.

Schoolboy triumphs in an arena where many corny ass dudes fail because of his fearless approach to the art of creating so-called vain content; a rapper who truly spits whatever is on his mind, like on “Gangsta,” where Schoolboy states: “My Grandma showed me my first strap” not even a full 2 minutes into the album. The most sophisticated way to describe Schoolboy’s blatant rapping style is like the homie sitting at KFC going h.a.a.m. on a bucket of chicken with no regard as to how his appearance comes across to others, especially females, like on “Studio,” where Schoolboy speaks about his love interest with the sensitivity of a gentleman and a stoner.

Even though there is an abundance of features, they surely don’t detract from Q’s presence on the album. It may be of no surprise that Kurupt (“The Purge”) and Raekwon (“Blind Threats”) come through on their respective joints, but the best collaboration is by far “Groveline Pt. 2,” where Schoolboy and Suga Free make a certified jam gloriously laced with a g-funky ass feel.

While real thinkers will inevitably crucify Ab-Soul’s TDE brother for his lack of “conscious” content, there is no doubt that Q is definitely serious about his craft. Songs like “Break The Bank” and “Hoover Street” are introspective departures from the more radio-geared tracks featured on the album. While I have no doubts that Kendrick’s next official release could potentially provide a solution for world hunger buried within the musical confines, in the meantime Oxymoron is a damn good soundtrack for fun frivolities and all things whip-related.

2/14/14

Rappers make it a priority to convince the public, the fans, the baby mommas, the baby mommas’ mommas, and virtually everyone else how tough they are. But we are all human, and word to Cool James, we all need love. What follows is a list of the top ten Valentines Day songs of the hip hop genre. After much agonizing, soul-searching, and stressful consideration, Lil Flip’s “Sunshine,” Ja Rule’s “Mesmerized,” and Drake “Marvin’s Room” didn’t quite make the cut.

1. Mos Def- Ms. Fat Booty

At some point in every man’s life he comes across a ms. fat booty. Mos’ jam from his Black On Both Sides LP is a historical moment, representing a time when an emcee could put out a song about the opposite sex without sounding like whiny simp poetry. Ayatollah’s smooth, infectious beat is instantly recognizable to mostly everyone who grew up in the 90’s.

2. EPMD- Jane

I’m dead serious when I say that all the problems of the world ultimately come down to the fact that most people under 30 don’t know who EPMD is. Well, in the ‘80s, Erick Sermon and PMD had the game on lock, and “Jane,” is one of the most well known songs. On subsequent albums, the duo would continue the story of the “skeezo” named Jane, culminating with “Jane 5” on the Back In Business album.

3. 2pac- Do For Love

Of course it’s tempting to go with Pac’s magnum opus here, “What’s Ya Phone Number?” but instead I’ll go with “Do For Love,” from the posthumous album R U Still Down. It’s no secret that thugs need love too, and Mr. I Get Around has some of the best hip hop love songs to his credit…besides, of course, “What’s Ya Phone Number.”

4. Common- The Light

In one of the most bizarre moments of hip-history, Common one day decided to diss Drake for making “sweet” music. Um? Is this the dude who completely went bat shit crazy for a brief period in time once he tapped Erykah Badu? Well, that’s neither here nor now. Most will agree that “The Light” is undisputably one of the the greatest hip hop love jams of all time. The jury is still out on “She Will.”

5. Tha Pharcyde- Otha Fish

Hallmark and similar businesses make a killing during Valentine’s Day, and consequentially leave the lonely people of the world all the more depressed. If you are not shacked up with someone this V-Day, just listen to Tha Pharcyde’s “Otha Fish.” I know the phrase of “other fish in the sea” is so cliche that it essentially lacks all meaning, but this jam from the legendary Bay crew is damn persuasive. So if you find yourself sitting at home feelin’ sum type of way about that girl who brushed you off, remember that there’s otha fish, in the sea, that is.

6. LL Cool J- Doin’ It

There are some people that ascribe to the “I Need Love” philosophy when it comes to romance. And then there are others. Yup, that pretty much covers it.

7. The Lost Boyz- Renee

Future’s brand of honest confession is bragging about fucking girls on site. But we are all suckers for a good, genuine story, and The Lost Boyz “Renee” takes the cake in that department. Mr. Cheeks’ tragic tale about his deceased love interest reeks of authenticity, and it’s no wonder why the song is a favorite of hip hop heads the world over.

8. DMX- How It’s Goin Down

Before DMX went bat shit crazy, he made a classic album called It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot. This is one of the best cuts from the album, and ultimately one of the best hip hop love songs of all time. Not to mention, the skit in the beginning is hilarious.

9. Method Man- You’re All I Need

In retrospect, It’s funny that Method Man didn’t want to make this song because he feared that he would be looked at as the soft nigga in the Clan. Obviously Meth didn’t have the foresight to see that rappers would someday be wearing skirts and smedium shirts while singing about all things simp related.

10. A Tribe Called Quest- Electric Relaxation

I know what you’re thinking: “How can you put Tribe on the list but no “Bonita Applebum.” Yes, Bonita Applebum got it goin’ on, but “Electric Relaxation” sets the mood for just about any sort of romantic situation. There is something magical about when Phife says “Bust off on your couch, now you got Siemen furniture.”

1/7/2014

Illmatic is an undisputed masterpiece, but any self-respecting DJ knows not to play “NY State of Mind” and expect to keep his job the next morning. Aside from maybe Mister Cee, DJs are intelligent, and need neither Yeezy nor the models to tell them what’s hot in the club. Conversely, the flip-side to purified hip-hop is all too often gruesome, each song a never-ending loop of repetitive phrases lacking even the slightest ink-ling of creativity. Americans work hard, and when the bartender is taking their drink order, they should not have to shout over “Shawty gotta big ol’ butt, oh yeah” or “I woke up in a new Bugatti.” It’s not enough to fight for our right to party; we must fight for the right of our eardrums and the very serious threat of suicide resulting from hearing “I Ain’t Worried ‘Bout Nothin” for the 1,000th time.

Some rappers can give a lyrical kiss of death in a quick sixteen, but when the time comes to create music that will appeal to the masses, the endeavors sound a little ruff. Unlike his fellow LA native K.Dot, Kid Ink has no aspirations to go down in the history books as the greatest lyricist; instead, he has expertly struck the middle ground of catchy “bitches-and-bottles music” while somehow maintaining artistry in the process. With one mic, Ink seamlessly juggles both creativity and the club throughout My Own Lane. Simply put, it’s a soundtrack to good times, pop-hop in an elevated form. The album commences with “Hello World,” and it’s clear on sight that Ink is here to party, a sentiment most convincingly echoed on “We Just Came To Party,” one of the most catchy songs on the LP.

This relatively new art-form called hip-hop is, unlike years past, at the forefront of the music scene. With so much music to go around, it’s a must that hip-hop acts range in their creative approaches. Like I touched on earlier, there is music for relaxing moments with a pair of Beats headphones, and there is music perfect for relaxing moments with bottles. For those latter moments, Kid Ink’s second studio release is surprisingly solid, and if God willing and the creek don’t rise, future rappers will take note (yes, pun intended). Word to Doug E Fresh, play this only at night and you will not be disappointed.

1/1/13

It’s not often a rapper reigns in unanimous votes for rapper of the year without a major studio release. But sorry Push, the numbers on the board don’t lie in this case. Kendrick set the media world ablaze in 2013, starting with the remix to “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” featuring Jay-Z. On the official Youtube release from TDE, the timeless photo of a young Kobe Bryant huddled next to Michael Jordan is displayed, with MJ giving the eager youngster tips on his game. The symbolism is obvious, with the Los Angeles native rapidly becoming the Kobe Bryant of the rap game. Admittedly, Kendrick was forced to write a second verse after listening to the Mike Jordan of Raps’, but in no time Kendrick “dropped 50” on Big Sean’s “Control.” The almost demonic intensity of Kendrick’s flow and lyricism on “Control” caused the internet to explode, almost completely overshadowing two hot verses from Big Sean and Jay Electronica. Napoleon style, Kendrick name-dropped all of the relevant competition of his era in a brilliant chess move to spark more intensity in this new-aged Nickelodeon era of good feelings. It was the equivalent of Kobe dropping 81 points against Toronto, and of course, feelings were caught by a lot of rappers…but most notably in Toronto. Drake has remained loyal to his “you-diss-me-you-won’t-get-a-response” philosophy until Kendrick became a full-fledged problem, and now the two are steadily involved in a subliminal war of words that has the potential to become in 2014 the biggest battle on wax since Jay-Z and Nas. Poetic justice indeed.

12/27/2013

For all of his punch-lines, Fabolous is still ignorant of the phrase “an exercise in futility.” On the imaginary porcelain walls of the imaginary “Hip-Hop Hall of Fame,” most heads will agree that the emcee doesn’t quite satisfy the requirements to have F-A-B-O-L-O-U-S etched in. But the mixtape domain is where Fab undoubtedly excels. Remaining faithful to career stasis and holiday tradition, Fabolous released part 3 of his Soul Tape series on Christmas day.

The tape commences with the flourishing piano of Jordan Evans’ “Paris Morton 2” beat, and almost instantly Fab gets busy on “Everything Was The Same.” By the finale of “Sacrifices,” Fab’s methodical display of heartfelt lyricism will cause a familiar question to float in the minds of those acquainted with the Brooklyn’s emcee’s studio albums. Is this the same dude who makes lackluster albums like Loso’s Way, aka Fab and Friends?

The emcee we witness on Loso mixtapes is self-assured, not merely following the #latestraptrend. On “The Get Back,” Fab bigs up his borough brother but is able to make the track wholly his own. Even on Soul Tape 3collaborations the players are mere guests in Fab’s terrain, maneuvering within the creative sound-clouds of Fab’s universe. Long-time collaborator Young Jeezy temporarily threatens to steal the show on “You Know What,” but Fab executes with only a sliver of mic time: “We seen it all/And ya’ll ain’t seen shit yet/ Lil niggas tryin’ on my shoes/ They don’t fit yet.”

Mixtape rappers often fail in their quest to crossover Casanova style, but Fab has always been skilled when mixing love & hip-hop. “Thim Slick” and “Lay Down” are odes to the ladies that will not do damage to your street credit report when played in the whip. As far as auditing Fab goes, his stock is fixed; a well-respected veteran with a proficiency in the mixtape arena. Soul Tape 3, like its predecessors, is an exceptional tape. The only draw-back is that this tape will do nothing to satisfy shareholders dating back to the Desert Storm days, or propel Fab upwards in barbershop polls of who’s the best emcee…

12/22/13

In quite possibly the greatest comeback story in the history of existence, the once notorious Christmas sweater has emerged victorious from the depths of fashion purgatory. Even when worn ironically, ugly Christmas sweaters have the nasty effect of arresting the eyes and ears of every person in near proximity. Historically, these sweaters have been a favorite gift among Grandmas since the 80’s, and my theory is that the correlation between elders losing their hearing prevents them from noticing the deafening repugnance of red and green monstrosities.

Luckily, you can make noise in the right kind of way at the slew of “Ugly Christmas Sweater” parties you are expected to attend this year with recent rock-influenced holiday sweaters from beloved bands like Slayer, The Wu-Tang Clan, Metallica, Queens Of The Stone Age and others. Rather than loud sweaters with tiny bells woven in, these sweaters make a joyful noise while allowing you to represent your favorite bands in the process. The only problem lies in the fact that these sweaters are so cool you may be tempted to make the mistake of wearing them past the holiday season.

You can order The Roots’ holiday-themed sweater for $40 at okayplayer.com

12/11/13

There are a few things in life that classify as mind-fuck miracles: Jesus coming back to Earth, the Mets winning the World Series, or Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip releasing a mixtape together. On paper, a joint project with these two undisputed legends has victory scribbled all over it in golden-era ink, but all too often fans have fallen victim to assigning superlatives to similar projects prematurely, only to wear faces of disgust on their born-day.

Luckily, Tip and Busta are fans of planned-parenthood. On The Abstract and The Dragon, Busta and Tip don’t fall victim to the enticement of new-aged Euro-beats or gargled Future hooks. In fact, the tape is more Hits, Rarities, and Remixes than Watch The Throne; the bulk of the tape consisting of timeless songs Busta and Tip have collaborated on over the years, such as the “Vivrant Thing” remix and “One Two Shit.” On that note, no need to recommend a little song called “Scenario,” or the timeless remix, and of course, no matter how many renditions “God Lives Through” undergoes, it is magical, especially with a fresh verse from Busta. Other songs like Big Daddy Kane’s “Come On Down” are well-known to anyone native to the music of the tongues.

Although the oldies are certifiable goodies, fans will no doubt be screaming gimme me some more due to the general lack of new material. But the collection is worth the download based on the nostalgic factor alone, beats and rhymes that will instinctively retreat your mind back to a blissful time of Dilla, starter jackets, Timberland boots, and a Maino-free NYC. The new material, like “Butch and Sundance,” “We Taking Off,” and the exclusives for Busta Rhymes upcoming solo release, ELE 2, are strong indications that we should expect amazing music from these two in the near future.

12/2/13

Chris Brown escaped utter societal exile by the skin of his teeth back in 2009 when he lost his mind and decided to take a bite out of Rihanna’s flesh. We are able to exonerate Breezy of cannibalism and childish temper-tantrums not because we are forgiving people but because of our vigorous appetite for quality music, especially music that aids in our thirsty pursuits in the bedroom. When Brown released the Fan of a Fan mixtape in 2010, highlighted by the smash-single “Deuces,” even domestic abuse activists were in the club happily chunking up two fingers.

But seriously, all food jokes aside, the major beef with Brown is that the majority of his catalog lacks the timeless quality of his predecessors. There is no Let’s Get It On, Purple Rain, or even 12 Play—just a bunch of ephemeral radio singles. I won’t lie, songs like “Bullshit” and “She Ain’t You” are hot, but the majority of Brown’s music doesn’t age well like fine china; instead it flames out quickly after a few listens. On “Sweet Caroline,” one of the better tracks off X-Files, Breezy and Busta attempt to recapture the success they had with “Look At Me Now.” The song is dope, but it’s clear upon first listen that it lacks staying power. Same story with the following track, “Love 2 Remember.” Cool melody. Catchy hook. Nonetheless, most likely I will never intentionally listen to this song more than 3 times in my life. “Main Chick” featuring Kid Ink is definitely the most memorable of the six track tape, but Breezy is hardly a factor as Ink and DJ Mustard’s drum-heavy production provide the bulk of the workload, similar to “Til’ I Die.”

Mixtapes in their very nature are meant to be transitory, microwavable collections cooked to tide over an artist’s fanbase until the main-course is ready to be served. But in recent years, incredible releases from artists like J. Cole, Chance The Rapper, and Big KRIT among many others have entirely reversed this theory. The Trey-or-Breezy top-hat strategy rappers have used in the past to pick which R&B singer they wanted on their hooks is decreasing as new arrivals like Miguel and The Weeknd storm the scene, so hopefully Breezy will right his musical wrongs with his official studio album X, slated to be released sometime early next year. Even with rumored guest spots from Kendrick Lamar and Kelly Rowland, I have serious doubts Brown will release anything half as good as 12 Play, or something I’d be content to spawn my offspring to.

11/24/13

Lloyd Banks has managed to ascend from the ashes of teary-voice mails, Minister Farrakhan sit-downs, and the general collapse of G-Unit to make a respectable name for himself once again. A lot of fans counted Banks out after the appropriately titled Rotten Apple, an album chock-full of hot garbage. Back before 50 and his crew became irrelevant minstrel show characters, the group lit the streets on fire with an innovative mixtape-after-mixtape marketing strategy. In recent years Banks has revisited that same approach, releasing a plethora of critically acclaimed tapes like Cold Corner 2 and V6: The Gift. Now Banks is back with another banger, Failure’s No Option. Without the gorilla at his back, Banks has carved out his own creative lane…or corner. The same old “I’ll shoot at ya, call me Kobe” punchlines are diminishing as Banks’ flow is noticeably more versatile and his subject matter more introspective. Recently, Banks announced that Cold Corner 3 is already finished and could be released in a few weeks. Hopefully it’s on point.

11/18/13

As the Denver Broncos warded off the Kansas City Chiefs during Football Night in America, Eastbound and Down ‘s Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) said goodbye to the world for the supposed series finale. Anyone familiar with the HBO series that had an incredible four season run knows Kenny’s immaculate story well. But for those who don’t, the plot revolves around an aging former baseball star fighting to get back in the game. More often than not, Kenny’s colossal ambition led to self-destructive behavior, villainous acts, but more importantly, hilarious television. I’m fully aware that Kenny is fictional, but he is a fictional hero. If you scratch the selfish behavior (thereby scratching 90% of what makes Kenny Powers who he is) you are left with what everyone should aspire to be in their lives. Narcissism is a strong word, but Kenny’s resolute belief in himself allowed him to achieve everything he wanted in life, and then some. College professors lecturing about libertarian ideals should put all 3 billion pages of The Fountainhead to bed, and just force students to watch every Eastbound and Down episode, because Kenny Powers is the true embodiment of a self-made success. Sure, along the way there were cannon ball blasts, run-ins with Mexican mafias, Black gangstas, and a long-standing feud with Will Ferrell, a failed autobiography, dear friends losing their lives to coke overdoses, rivalries with tall Russian dudes, unexpected pregnancies, fierce jet-pack battles in the air, break-ups with college girls, a brother disowning him, and the love of his life threatening him with divorce. But Kenny always came out on top, literally giving the finger to adversity. Even though this sounds ridiculous for a number of reasons, I’d like to think Kenny is somewhere enjoying himself while dining at his restaurant, Taters N Tits.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Kenny-isms…

“Enemies can appear out of our lives out of no where. A stranger who cuts you off in traffic. A dude who looks at you weird in the men’s room. Or treasured friends who betray you out of jealousy. But when enemies do rise up they must be dealt with decisively, on animal instinct. Mortals falter. Kings act. And the mortal who acts, well that motherfucker becomes king.”

11/16/13

Feelings of glee spread like wildfire across Rams Nation Sunday as the overwhelming underdogs toppled the Indianapolis Colts 38-8. Good spirits are a rare commodity in St. Louis where football is concerned, but the Rams looked invincible after defensive end Chris Long scooped up a fumble and took it to the end zone early in the first quarter. The euphoria really kicked into overdrive when rookie receiver Tavon Austin returned a 98 yard punt return for a touchdown. Rams fans are cautious when their team is in the position to add a W to their record, so as Austin danced in celebratory fashion in the end zone, fans donned in blue and gold held their breath as they scanned the field for devilish yellow flags.

But none were in sight. In fact, Austin went on to score two more touchdowns, securing 314 all-purpose yards for the afternoon. Even back-up quarterback Kellen Clemens looked sharp, racking up 247 yards to go along with 2 touchdowns. All around, the Rams looked good. Real good, in fact. No failed attempts to gain one yard in a crucial Monday night division rivalry game. No horrendous blown coverage assignments from defensive back Cortland Finnegan. Not even a heart-breaking Adam Vinatieri field goal to seal the game. No, Rams Nation tasted victory on Sunday, and it tasted foreign, but sweet.

In the course of an average game, Rams fans are well accustomed to wearing temporary smiles, followed by eyebrow-raised puzzlement, and finally utter despair when the game clock strikes zero. But by all indications, head coach Jeff Fischer is slowly but surely transforming a group of raw young bucks into ripened players, and ushering in a change in the spirit of St. Louis.

Teams across the league are already well-acquainted with the Rams defensive front four, anchored by Chris Long and Robert Quinn. As for the offense, with his performance on Sunday, Tavon Austin is finally showing signs that he deserved to be selected with the 8th pick in the 2013 draft. And although he added just 62 yards to his resume on Sunday, rookie running back Zac Stacy shows promise of a glorious 5th round steal in the making.

The good cheer stemming from the Colts game will linger a little longer as the Rams enter into a bye week before facing the Chicago Bears in Week 13. Going forward, while delusions of grandeur are tempting, the Rams are still the youngest team in the league with plenty of room for improvement. Barring some sort of miracle, the playoffs are completely out of the question, but the phenomenal performance on Sunday is proof positive that the team has the potential to become the greatest show on turf 2.0 in the near future.

11/11/13

It’s been a long time, shouldn’t have left you, without a dope post to skim through. The gap in my posting history is shameful, and there are a variety of culprits to blame. First off, I started my first “big boy” job and moved. But I think the bulk of the blame must fall on Homeland, the hit Showtime series. Despite the numerous recommendations I received from friends urging me to watch the show, I never did. Part of the reason is the way a similar scenario ultimately turned out, when good friends were constantly urging me to watch a show called Breaking Bad. From the first episode, I was hooked. It’s rare that a television show captures my interest, but Breaking Bad was like a tidal wave to my life when it first hit. I must admit, for a few weeks in 2011, nothing but the little fictional world of the show existed for me. No shave November came months earlier, and evolved into no shower March. I even turned my cell phone off; I couldn’t be bothered with the real world when Walter White was fighting the heroic battle of a major meth cook. After catching up on 3 seasons worth of Breaking Bad in about 2 weeks time, I finally saw sunlight and civilization again. I know most people wouldn’t admit these embarrassing details, but this is my story…and I’m sticking to it.

I was determined not to let this happen with Homeland, but it sorta did, minus the no shave or shower parts. Eventually pangs of paranoia caused me to scope out everyone I knew, thinking they could be terrorists in disguise. But honestly, I can’t the bulk of the blame for my writing absence on Homeland. I have had a major case of writer’s block, a purely mental disease that is crippling when it hits, and there is no single remedy. But inspiration can come in many forms, and sometimes all it takes is for one to confront evil face to face. I’m not talking about the terrorists of Homeland evil, I’m talking about the recent Clippers vs. Heat game. There I was, confronted with an entire franchise I hate (The Clippers) competing against a team I hate (The Heat) and forced to literally choose the lesser of two evils (The Heat). I watched the entire game, even the barrage of Clipper commercials following every time-out and quarter change, swelling up with anger every time I saw Blake Griffin’s face (I know this isn’t healthy). But the follow-up game where the Lakers beat The Rockets after a Steve Blake three in Dwight Howard’s face was absolutely sweet bliss (despite the fact they somehow blew a 19 point lead). Then on Sunday, the Rams shocked the Colts after rookie wide-out Tavon Austin had a field day with them. I could have cried with joy. So many emotions in just a few days. The writer’s block is finally cured.

So much to talk about in the coming days, like Chris Christie for instance, who is currently on the latest issue of Time magazine with the headline “The Elephant In The Room.” I’m not sure if the editors at Time intended to make this dark double entendre (Chris Christie is a large man), but it’s still funny as hell. Oh well, that’s all for now.

9/10/13

“In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces. Shortly after those rockets landed, the gas spread, and hospitals filled with the dying and the wounded.”

President Obama just wrapped up his speech explaining his motives behind his petition to attack Syria. We all know of Obama’s oratorical skills, but the president took the time to address many of the questions being raised by the general public, which included, among others: won’t this strictly air-strike ignite retaliation and eventually start another war? And why does American always have to assume the role of “world’s policemen?” The president answered these questions with solid logos and pathos, but I’m still not sure the country is convinced. The dregs of the War in Iraq is still fresh in the collective American conscious, and especially on the eve of the 12th anniversary of 9/11, the world is extra weary of more conflict. Still, leaders of any country should not be able to use chemical weapons that have been outlawed since the late 20’s.

What’s really eerie is how this issue relates to the fictional one unfolding in this season of The Newsroom, esteemed writer Aaron Sorkin’s latest HBO series. The Newsroom is about a team of journalists working for the fictional ACN network, which features a controversial Republican news anchor named Will McAvoy (a mix between Bill Maher, Chris Matthews, and John Stewart). In season 2, after a bunch of fictional leads, the team unknowingly airs a false story about the US Military using sarin gas in a recovery mission called “Genoa” during the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Aside from the fact that Sorkin’s rapid-fire witty dialogue will make any self-respecting person feel intellectually inadequate, the show is exceptional in the way it comments on current affairs. Obviously, the affairs aren’t exactly current, (Sunday’s episode revolved around the 2012 election) but the alignment of the current situation in Syria and this purely fictional plot-point seems almost supernatural.

Maybe Sorkin will somehow inadvertently provide the answers to our pending dilemma in the season finale, which is scheduled to air this Sunday night.

9/3/13

“It’s up to the individual to figure out how to slow it down…Everything is moving quicker…these great things are fleeting, they’re going faster and faster, and it’s up the individual to slow it down and be like ‘I’m living with this album, this is what I choose to rock to, this is my soundtrack for these next couple months.” These words came from Jay-Z during an interview with 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, a New York based hip-hop radio show. Jay had just finished talking about the music critic’s diminishing value in the current age; an age which we all have the ability to access music at the same time. Not too long ago the music’s critics word was the Bible, and growing up, I used to look to magazines like The Source, Rolling Stone, and Vibe to aid me in my purchasing decisions. Back in the day, $15 was hard to come by, and I could not afford to buy “wack” albums. Much of my adolescent life was spent sifting through CDs record stores deciding which album I wanted to buy. You could always try and rip music off the radio onto tapes, but that never seemed to work for me.

And even though Jay’s criticism about music critics is accurate (and kinda made me feel the same way T-Pain probably felt when he heard “Death of Autotune” for the first time), I was more intrigued by the part I quoted. Music is just so accessible now. As if file sharing software wasn’t already a godsend, my life was forever changed the moment I logged into Spotify for the first time. There is simply nothing like it. But it’s almost too good. Almost everything ever recorded is instantly available with just a few clicks. We consume music rapidly, lessening the degree by which he internalize it a meaningful way in the process. We recognize the problem, yet it’s impossible to stop. Like Jay alluded to, artists spend a significant amount of time and creative energy into projects, only to be goggled up in seconds by consumers. While I like Jay’s advice of “slowing down the process” (and it is one of the main reasons why I’ve been sitting on a very long half-finished review of Magna Carta for months), it’s impossible. It’s like buying a can of Pringles and only eating one for a month. Even worse (and by worse I mean better) it feels like artists are getting better, because from Yeezus to the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, 2013 has been an amazing year for music.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the gift and the curse.

8/29/13

As a lifelong sports fan, I find it exceedingly difficult to articulate to non-sports fans why sports is such a big deal, mostly because I find it difficult to articulate to myself. Strip sports down to its most basic components, and you find yourself manically supporting a group of people you’ve never met before; your mood temporarily defined by how well these strangers play a game. I’m even one of those people that use personal pronouns like “we” when discussing my favorite teams: “We gotta start finishing in the redzone.” When my beloved Lakers or Rams take a loss, it has an effect on me. But the fine-line separating most sports fans from the insane asylum has to do with a pure dose of self-recognition of how nonsensical the whole concept is at the end of the day. I will be the first to admit my obsessive love of the Lakers’ and Rams’ franchises makes no sense. But it’s the nonsensical nature of sports that makes it so much fun. Otherwise productive hours can be spent arguing about different sports opinions between buddies, and a large chunk of my life has been spent this way. What’s 100% crazy is when the nonsensical nature of sports is applied to politics– but nowadays, there is no real discernible difference, at least on the surface. Partisan politics has blinded most people to the reason for the institutional need for politics in the first place. Regardless of the fact that a president or congressional leader is of a different political alignment than what you classify as, why root against them, knowing full well that their decisions affect you in the long-run? Although not explicitly stated, there are many folks that have an inherent desire to see incumbents fail– the bigger the failure the better. This sort of nonsense completely dwarfs sports fanaticism. Rooting against the 49ers is quite different than rooting against someone in charge of making policy decisions that could potentially have very real, long-lasting effects on you, your children, and their children, possibly ad infinitum. Even if Ann Coulter was elected president in 2016, I’d still root for her, because I’m actually rooting for my own well-being and not some mindless partisan joust.

Yeah, sports makes a lot more sense than politics.

8/28/13

My cold has amplified, and so has my old man persona. The only next logical step for me is to buy a cane and start feeding pigeons on park benches. Whenever I get sick I dwell on all the other times I wasn’t sick and how I didn’t cherish it. Just a few days ago, I was watching We’re The Millers, laughing along and enjoying life. On that note, is it just me, or are comedies in general becoming less funny? Starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, and Emma Roberts, We’re The Millers is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in recent memory…along with 21 Jumpstreet and Ted.

…But I swear there was a golden era of film comedy right around the time I was in high school. Wedding Crashers, 40-Year Old Virgin, Zack and Miri Make A Porno, Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, and Superbad are all movies that had me cracking up like a demented hyena the first time I saw them. And then the laughs started slowing, resembling just a regular hyena and not a demented one. Why? Steve Carell started doing movies like Bruce Almighty 2. Seth Rogen started doing movies like Observe and Report and Guilt Trip. And so on. What happened? (Editor’s Note) I still haven’t seen This Is The End or The Internship, so maybe this is a rush to judgement about the tragic fate of comedy in America, but I’m in my grumpy old man mood.

I have a really adolescent sense of humor, and I’m not one bit ashamed. Aside from Friday, I think Anchorman is the funniest movie ever made, and it’s not because I was born in San Diego. I’ve only seen the movie approximately 700 times, and each time I find something new to laugh at hysterically. The first few times I watched it I didn’t even make it through the entire movie because I was laughing too hard at some classic Ron Burgundy line or scene. I’m talking real serious 30-45 minute laugh fits, the kind where you feel like you may actually die from laughing too hard. Of course, I have great expectations for Anchorman 2, which is slated to come out in December. Not only do I hope that the movie will be nothing short of masterful, I pray that Anchorman 2 will eventually bring about another golden era in comedy. That is all. Stay classy San Diego.

8/27/13

NPR recently did an expose on ridiculous baby names after a Tennessee judge ruled that two parents change the name of their baby boy “Messiah” to “Martin.” Citing religious beliefs, the judge argued that the holy title should only be reserved for the one and only Jesus Christ. Shockingly, Messiah is actually a pretty popular name for babies. According to Bill Chappell: “A check with the Social Security Administration’s database of baby names shows, the name was in the top 400 for 2012, after being ranked outside the top 1,000 names in 2004 and earlier years.” This story got me thinking, propelling me in a slightly different direction than religious propriety. Let’s just think about some off the wall names from celebrity parents, like Jay and B’s Blue Ivy, Brad and Angelina’s Shiloh Nouvel, and Bono’s Memphis Eve. Most of these celebs get a pass from me, each for different reasons…

Jay-Z- Has made tons of classic music…married to Beyonce.
Beyonce- No explanation needed.
Brad Pitt- Starred in Fight Club, Benjamin Button and Seven.
Angelina Jolie– See explanation for Beyonce.
Bono– Has never done anything of value for me, directly or indirectly. He donates a lot of money to charities. I guess that’s cool, but U2’s music post-Joshua Tree is pretty awful. Not Nickelback’s music post-the-dawn-of-time awful, but awful nonetheless.

Parents are getting away with metaphorical manslaughter these days with the baby names though. I imagine Baby Name Books like Baby Names For Dummies or McGraw-Hill’s Guide To Baby Naming are rapidly dying entities. Parents want their children to stand out from the crowd that they literally make them future targets for dodge-ball during recess. Not to mention, the practice of stringing random letters together and imposing one’s own punctuation rules has reached new heights. As messy and nonsensical as the English language can get sometimes, there are still some rules. Take Dunta Robinson, a Cornerback with the Kansas City Chiefs. Dunta is actually pronounced DON-tay, and as for names that make grammatical sense but are just plain…different, let’s not even get started on the Atlanta Falcons’ Running Back Jacquizz Rodgers. To be a fan of the NFL these days you have to carry around a custom-made pronunciation booklet. If you were to search the far corners of the world, polling everyone from here to Timbaktu, you’d quickly discover that ain’t nobody got time for that. I imagine the profits being lost on Baby Names For Dummies could regained through Crazy Celeb Baby Names and Weird NFL Names For Dummies.

(Editor’s Note) I came down with a cold today out of the blue (no Ivy). I tend to morph into a grumpy old man when I’m sick, limping and shouting gibberish about baby names.

8/26/13

Last night I was too busy flicking back and forth between Breaking Bad and the Sunday Night Football match-up between San Francisco and Minnesota to catch the VMAS. Quick thoughts…Christian Ponder has no real future in the league, Colin Kaepernick will never be Steve Young, but I’m afraid he’ll be better than I originally thought. Oh, and as for Breaking Bad, it’s a crime that this show is about to go off the air. Some shows should go on indefinitely, with no seasonal breaks in between or series finales, just constant weekly episodes. Newspaper weeklies operate in this way, why can’t television? I imagine the quality of the show would be compromised somewhat…but so what.

And speaking of so what, what’s the big deal with Miley’s performance? In 2013 are we really all that concerned with raunchiness, especially when we have congressmen like Anthony Weiner and mayors like Bob Filner? Even Brett Favre, who most of us grew up idolizing, turned out to be nothing more than a 40-something year old creep. What’s so bad about twerking anyway? I caught a video of the performance and Miley has my full support…she seems very talented in the art of twerk. Leave her alone. There are bigger issues plaguing us at the moment, like the fact that Breaking Bad is approaching it’s series finale and the debased 49ers might have actually have found a long-term solution at quarterback. Oh, and there’s the fact that Egypt and Syria are in total shambles. No one knows what to do about this “little” foreign policy situation…so Miley has the right idea. Smile and twerk in the face of adversity. What else is there to do?

Twerk Miley Miley Miley Twerk.

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