2016 Resolutions, Single Leo and Buff John Krasinski

2016 was going to be different. I had a very, very chill New Year’s Eve, and all of my New Year’s Resolutions were going to be both doable and/or inspirational.

Done were the years and years of declaring (internally, of course, lest it not come true, which it never did) that “I’m getting swoll this year.” But here we are, less than one week into 2016 and it’s all over. To get swoll or not to get swoll is an age old question that Rembert Browne of Grantland eloquently addressed earlier this past summer. I hadn’t felt the need to get swoll all year, and unlike Rembert, Aubrey Drake Graham didn’t send me over the edge.

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Even when Chris Pratt became movie star Chris Pratt I was pretty much unfazed. I mean, even he admitted that all of his meals are lame now.

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But then, all of a sudden…

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Wait.

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Wait, John.

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Oh no.

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OH NO.

John, why? Why did you have to do this? Why did you have to grow muscles? Why did you have to grow a beard? I know you’re playing a soldier in your next movie, but couldn’t you have done a rom com? How about playing a lawyer? Or maybe you could have been a chef? Chefs are very cool now, John. You already stole America’s heart as Jim Halpert – and then you had to go and get swoll too? It’s starting to seem like it might be my only option, unless, is there some other way?

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Never forget about Leo. Just when it looked like he was going to hang it up, he’s single again. Most likely because he remembered that he’s Leo, and in fact does not need to get swoll because dad bod Leo leaves South Beach nightclubs with 20 women in tow. But what am I saying? Dad bod me just gets sleepy after he’s eaten too much pasta. If you ever thought to yourself, “maybe I’ll just try to be more like Leo,” like I just did, stop. You can’t be like Leo. You can never be like Leo. You can only get swoll. Thanks a lot John Krasinski, see you at the gym.

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Borrowing Rappers’ Egos

 

Something incredible happens when the right rap song comes on. Whether you just got dumped, your boss shit on you at work, or you just checked your bank account and reaffirmed you’re still broke like the rest of us, you suddenly feel like the man. Once you click play, they lend you their ego and you forget about all the bullshit that plagues you as a mere human, if only temporarily. Few are as good at this as Pusha T, and it’s so good to have him back off hiatus.

Even at work, its affect on me is apparent from the start. The Biggie sample perks my ears up: “untouchable, uncrushable / blunted in a 600, blunted in a 600.” I fix the black rimmed glasses on my face as I readjust myself in my chair. The Timbaland beat slithers around Pusha’s bars as my head starts to bob. At this point I can’t even help it anymore. My mouth and eyebrows curl into a mean mug as I take another sip of my peppermint tea. I’ve become the Frankenstein bastard version of a rapper that works in an office 60 hours a week. Like any rap song, there are things I can’t and will never be able to relate to (selling cocaine, wearing Patek Philippe watches, driving $170,000 cars, partying in Ibiza) but none of that matters. This is the life I live, until the song’s over and I have to give it back.

The Worst Thing About Being A Michigan Fan: Michigan Fans


If you were talking shit about Blake O’Neill

 

 

I woke up this morning, then went back to bed, because I was extremely hung over. An hour and a half later, I woke back up, ate a slice and a half of cold pizza and opened my laptop to discover that unsurprisingly, people were sending a lot of hate Michigan punter Blake O’Neill’s way after last night’s heart breaker. What was surprising, was that apparently there was enough vitriol, including death threats, that Michigan AD Jim Hackett had a release an open letter asking people to stop, which is so much more embarrassing than any scoreboard could ever be.

In the letter he said that only a small minority of the fan base at fault, and I do believe that that it is a small minority, but I witnessed more than enough of it myself. I overheard it at the bar last night I heard it from strangers on the sidewalks while making my way home and I saw it in my Facebook feed and Twitter timeline. People that I actually know were coming down on a 22 year old student athlete, who by the way actually did a great job of keeping the Wolverines in good field position all game. Worst of all is these people claim to be “fans”, but clearly don’t know what it means to be a fan at all.

Last night’s game was the worst loss I’ve ever personally experienced watching Michigan football; it ripped out your heart and stomped on it. But regardless of the outcome, they accomplished a lot on the field last night. That was some of the best football I’ve seen played in Ann Arbor in a very long time. They led a talented MSU team for 59 minutes and 50 seconds. Overcame the Joe Bolden ejection on a bullshit targeting call. It feels like somehow people forget that the players are kids. They’re college students making sacrifices to play a game they love and compete for the supporters. For them to get anything but love in return is completely unacceptable. It wasn’t the players that did anything disappointing; it was the fans.

Go Blue.

When Your Boss Puts You In A No Flex Zone

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I went to Catholic school for grades 7-10. No, I’m not Catholic, and yes, it sucked. Besides having daily “religion” classes and mandatory Friday mass, girls didn’t like me and I had no friends. I honestly would have been fine living my life of celibacy and solitude while also being literally terrified that I was going to Hell after I died, but the one thing I could not deal with was the dress code. Khaki pants and a solid colored polo shirt every Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Friday for five straight years. I don’t know what was more frustrating: the administration’s naivety that “a dress code would promote acceptance among the students” (the actual answer this friendless virgin got when he questioned authority), as if wearing the same ugly clothes every day would make us all friends, or the gratitude that “at least you’re not in uniforms” was supposed to inspire us to have.

I thought that I had left all that trauma behind me, but last week my boss put me in a “no flex zone“. We have a new dress code. My heart sunk when I saw the email; just reading the word “slacks” made me cringe. I was bummed. I literally sulked for two days in a pair of khakis that didn’t fit me. I felt like I could relate to Allen Iverson when Stern went fashion police on the NBA, but instead of braids and chains I had jeans and Vans. But anyone who just assumed the players would just open up the most recent issue of GQ like a how to guide (blue suit, grey suit, blue shirt, white shirt) couldn’t have been more wrong.

So what do you do when your boss puts you in a no flex zone? You only have two choices. You can take the easy way out, go to Joseph A. Bank, cop some four for the price of one suits and call it a day. BUT KNOW THIS: a coward dies a thousand deaths, and that’s exactly what you are if you can actually convince yourself that you will look cool as some struggle Vance Munson. Option two, which is the only real option, is to tell your financial stability to go fuck itself and turn your no flex zone into a weight room. Go ahead and spend your rent on double monk straps and overly tailored suits. Drape yourself in cashmere. That new watch will look great on you even though you use your iPhone to tell time. While I can’t promise you’ll get a Barney’s collab for your sartorial efforts, finding a way to not piss off your employer while consistently shitting on every single person you come across is the path you want to walk.

I’m a firm believer that life is less what happens to you and more how you react. When life gives you lemons, you throw that shit in the garbage, head to your nearest specialty foods store and overpay for some Belvoir elderflower and rose lemonade because its fucking amazing and making your own lemonade is for the basic.

Admitting Defeat – You Win, T Swift

I don’t like to lose. No one does. In fourth grade I threw Jimmy Overton’s ball into the woods after I lost in foursquare two minutes before the bell ended recess. I’ve grown a lot since fourth grade. I still hate losing, I’m just old enough to know that it’s unacceptable to act, well, like a child every time I don’t win.

Taylor Swift dropped a new single + video on the low earlier this week.

It sounds like bubblegum, cotton candy and caffeine, but most notably not like Swift. It’s not that it doesn’t sound like a Taylor Swift song, it’s that it also sounds like a Katy Perry song, and a Selena Gomez song, etc. She took her sound to interesting places with Red so I can understand her need to continue to change and progress, but this first single just isn’t the way to do it.

I’ve never liked country music, but something happens when you’re repeatedly exposed to things that play against your taste. You begin to look at things through a different lens and find yourself “liking” certain movies or songs or foods that you already don’t really like. Which is where statements like “that wasn’t bad for a chick flick” and “this is pretty good for a light beer” come from. Or in my case “this isn’t bad for a country song” or “that’s not bad for a pair of Reeboks”. When I was in college a girl I was interested in forced me to listen to “Picture to Burn”. It wasn’t bad for a country song. Neither was “Mary’s Song”. In fact, Taylor Swift wasn’t bad for a country album. I’m not too proud to admit that I actually liked, not country music lens “liked”, and got swept up in “Love Story” mania when Fearless came out.

I’m not entirely sure how it started, but I am now a full blown Taylor Swift hater. It’s not that I think she’s bad, I think she’s extremely talented. Between the ages of 11 and 14 not only did she beg her parents to take her to Nashville so she could shop her demo tapes and book solo shows in bars but she actually walked away from a deal because she wouldn’t have been able to record her own songs. She went on the release her first studio album when she was 16 and is still in charge of her own management company. I can remember when I was 14, and when I think about the presence of mind it must have taken to walk away from a deal because it wasn’t right for her, especially at that age, I can’t help but admire her. But outside of her songwriting and business acumen I just can’t like her; almost everything she does irritates me.

There’s something so off putting about watching arguably the biggest pop star in the world insist on playing the sympathy card while passive aggressively shading her ex boyfriends. While her fan base eats up the stale tropes she is constantly pushing, I can’t help but find her immature. Taylor Swift released “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” when she was 23, the same age that Adele released “Rolling in the Deep”. And the face she makes after she performs, “you like me! You really, really like me!” I can’t stand any of it.

But none of that matters. I hope that 1989 will be an album that pushes her sound to a adventurous place, but whether it does or not she still wins. Taylor always wins, and all we can do is just shake it off until the next Kanye album comes out.

Who Couldn’t Use a Custom Lupe Verse?

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Last night Lupe Fiasco sent out some tweets, starting with:

Aspiring rappers collectively rejoiced, would it really be that simple?

Turns out no, @Anonymuzkilla, it would not be.

$500 bought a song made for you, not with you unless you add two zeros.
It didn’t take long for the first customer.

43 minutes later, @AdamsGardens’ verse was done, with a new twist added.

For $1,000 you can watch Lupe record your verse for you.
Lupe took some time to elaborate, but he was right it was pretty simple.

Choose a beat, mood and subject, show up with $500, sign a usage contract and your verse is yours. But that only answers the what; what about the why? I have so many questions. Does Lupe need the money? Parisian sensibilities aren’t cheap. Does Lupe think $500 is a lot of money? If 500 people buy a verse he’ll be sitting on $250K, but he would still need to write 500 verses, which sounds like a lot of work. What about for the buyer? If Lupe charges $50K for a guest verse, would a fan be getting a customized verse for cheap? How much would Lupe want for a full track? Could someone buy three verses and a hook for $2K? Is $500 a lot or a little for a verse from not just a rapper, but a good rapper? I was a huge fan of Lupe’s first two albums Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor and Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool, and even though I don’t check for his music the way I used to I still think he’s one of the most talented lyricists currently making music.

Come to think of it, what am I waiting for? What is any of us waiting for? There aren’t many situations that wouldn’t be made better by a custom Lupe verse. Bar Mitzah? Boom. You’re a man now son, Lupe says so. Important client meeting coming up? Nothing says customer appreciation like sixteen bars of Lupe over DJ Premier. Did you just win your fantasy league? Rub extra salt in the wound and let Lupe tell them to bow down.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start saving up for song about pizza over “Hood Now”.

Saying Goodbye to Everyone’s Crazy Uncle

“Oi!! Ten thousand yearsss will give you such a crick in the neck! Whoooooooaaaaaaaaa does it feel good to be outta there!” Robin Williams just made me laugh for the first time. I was four. Aladdin was the first movie I had seen him in, or rather heard him in, until I saw Mrs. Doubtfire a year later. The voice that made me laugh finally had a face, and shortly thereafter Hook was added to our family VHS collection. Jumanji came out when I was seven and then Flubber when I was nine. That’s a lot of laughs in six years.

I always find it strange when people get emotional over the death of celebrities. These people we recognize, and may even admire, but don’t know. Last night I got a text, “Robin Williams died.” My jaw dropped. I quickly scampered off the couch and ran to grab my laptop off my bed. I already had my mouse cursor over where the Safari button would be when the screen lit. After Google confirmed the text I received, I shut my laptop and sat cross legged on my bed. And I felt sad morose. And I just sat there with my feelings until I started to cry. I felt like I lost a family member. Robin Williams was like a crazy uncle who would stop by at least once a week, sit in the living room and make the rest of the family laugh for a couple hours. I looked forward to his visits. My sister and I begged Mom and Dad for more visits. And I never stopped loving Uncle Robin but at some point I outgrew him. I got older. It wasn’t personal, I just didn’t miss Mrs. Doubtfire, or Peter or the Genie as much as I used to.

My obsession with Jurassic Park was real. Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura and The Mask crowned a new king of comedy of the VCR rotation. As I got closer to my teens my Dad showed me Beverly Hills Cop and nothing made me feel more grown up than sitting wide eyed and listening to Axel Foley drop F-bombs and N-bombs and how he “ain’t falling for no banana in my tailpipe.” I ate up movies like Pulp FictionGoodfellas, Scarface, Casino and the Godfather trilogy. Fight Club happened. Don’t you get it Uncle Robin? I’m twelve, I’m a grown up now.

Did he ever. I was barely fourteen and Rainbow fuckin’ Randolph knew exactly what I wanted to hear. Death to Smoochy was an underrated movie that featured Robin at some of his best; this the first I’ve seen of him as deranged antagonist. It was hilarious and most importantly a far cry from what I identified as a more “family friendly” brand of comedy that I was too grown up for. I didn’t grow up listening to Robin Williams stand up, so from what I knew I didn’t even think “fuck” was in Robin William’s vocabulary. I remember seeing Insomnia and One Hour Photo that summer. It’s hard to describe how it felt to see something so familiar completely turned on it’s head. It stayed with me and left me wanting more, and not even more Rainbow Randolph or Sy or Walter, I just wanted more Robin. It was clear to me that the only way forward was backwards.

So into the archives I went. I started watching Mork & Mindy on Nick at Nite. I would go to Blockbuster every Friday and rent a different movie to watch over the weekend. Good Morning, Vietnam and Dead Poets Society was a certain type of anarchism at its most inspiring. Bicentennial Man and What Dreams May Come touched me with their ambitions. His performance in Good Will Hunting was something I didn’t know he was capable of. It was quiet, it’s volumes spoken small, and conveyed with subtlety. The demons he fights in The Fisher King feel all too real upon reflection in light of his passing.

I’m able to identify with so many of the posts on my social media timelines because of those first six years with our Uncle Robin. Hook, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji and Flubber. With his passing we lost a truly rare talent. But that wasn’t all we lost. A piece of our childhoods passed away. Mine wouldn’t have been the same without him. The number of smiles this man is responsible for is pi x infinite. But it’s what I saw after childhood that I’m most grateful for. Robin was a star who didn’t need to be the star. He was beloved, even when he wasn’t his best, because he always went for something. He had purpose behind his work, and he gave it everything he could give. That is something to admire. That is something to aspire for. That is something to be thankful for.

Thank you.