Thursday, August 4, 2016

5 Things I Think

[stealing Justin's idea from last year...]

  • Watching Sarah Tiana vs. Earl Skakel in the semi-finals of the Roast Battle last weekend is the closest I'll ever come to being someone in the audience when B. Rabbit obliterates Poppa Doc in the final battle of 8 Mile.

  • There are three categories of Trump supporters: (1.) The willfully ignorant. These are the cretans being led by their noses, susceptible to the the fear-mongering his campaign has hosed them down with . (2.) The white nationalists. These are the political racists, all too happy that someone on so grand a stage has given their extremist views a voice. (3.) The greedy capitalists. These are the 1%ers, who are willing to turn a blind eye to the ignorance and overt racism, because Trump being in power will mean they can enjoy more tax cuts and more absurdity of wealth without having to contribute anything back to society.

  • Trump didn't invent GOP fearmongering. Let's not kid ourselves--we're witnessing the evolutionary byproduct of Karl Rove's political strategies, the blueprint that led to eight years of Dubya sitting in the oval office, repeatedly embarrassing our country.

  • I miss writing. I really do. The past few days I've found myself wistfully reading through old On the Rocks posts. Though the feelings of longing that those tales bring about have as much to do with missing my youth as much as missing my keyboard.

  • Parties should never have structure. Some people have a hard time with that. They want parties to have themes, and each guest to have an all-in mentality. You can't structure fun. Just let people get together, pour a drink, and relax.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Strike up the Band?

I need a whiskey stipend. I get paid well enough and all, but… What’s wrong with getting an extra $100—after taxes—each paycheck, that's devoted specifically to a good bottle of whiskey? Not a damn thing that I can see.

*blows dust off bar stool*

*pulls it out and plops down*

If anyone out there is reading this; no, you’re not seeing a ghost. I’m still around. I miss this place. TJ mentioned our old Rummy awards the other day, and my mind traced way back to 10 months ago when those were still a thing. Good times.

I think you can actually guess what happened [Well, if you’re over 30 you can; if you’re younger than that…god bless. You have no idea how things both simultaneously speed up and slow down in the years ahead. It really, really sucks a rhino’s ass.]: Life got me.

No, I’m not married. Or engaged. Or in a relationship. And no, no kids. I always thought those were the harbingers of the misery people older than me seemed to be in. But they’re just accessories to the crime. The real villain? Complacency.

I’ve grown accustomed to everything in my daily life. Wake up. Play Angry Birds. Get showered. Brush teeth. Shave (maybe). Go to work. Work. Yell at a computer screen. Work. Hate life. Come home. TV/video games. Brush teeth. Go to bed. Repeat.

Notice that writing isn’t nestled anywhere in there?

Writing is my true love. If life were a movie, writing would be the girl next door who I was cool with my whole life, messed around with in college, and then didn’t realize until my early adulthood that I truly had feelings for. We never really could find a way to put our differences aside and make it official between us. She stood by me through good times and bad; but, as time marched on and life—as it always does—got more complicated, I neglected her. And, heartbroken, she left.

I want us to be together, writing. Forever, and truly. But I’ve got to get my shit together. We both know it. And holding you back while I do that, it’s just not fair to you. So here we are, standing in the rain. Me with my 2010 Dell Insperion keyboard. You with your empty blog fields. Why can’t we just make it all right? Why can’t we make it happen?

…By the way, if you’re wondering where all of this is going, and why it’s gone where it has, then just let me say I’m in the same boat. Where are we? What day is it?

Okay, I’ll stop f’ing around with you now. The bottom line is that my drinking stories have stopped because I’m too tired/lazy/malcontent to type and publish them. The blog, as a whole, has stopped, because I can’t be bothered to squeeze time into my daily schedule to post things.

Look, I don’t want this site to die. Maybe it’s just my penchant for holding onto the past (don’t know if you’ve picked up on that from my having a blog specifically dedicated to my drinking stories…), but this site has been a big part of my life for eight plus years. When it first started in 2007, I thought that by 2016 we’d be the next BuzzFeed. We were SO close. I blame TJ, really.

TJ. He made an offhand remark months ago about me dragging out this site’s life for longer than I should have. Well, contrary to his understanding of the world, I don’t have to conform to his personal qualms with the world around him. The fact that his social and economic dynamics don’t allow him to allow himself expression through written word, and through sharing stories about his past/present, is a sad one. But it has no bearing on whether my social and economic dynamics do the same to me. So, as much as I love the man like a Jewish brother neither of my parents can comfortably explain, his opinion on this particular matter means jack shit to me.

And let no one think that it caused my withdrawal from Crooked Straight. I read it, brushed it off, and kept moving. But life… Life got me.

Maybe I’ll find my way back. Over a year ago, The Hero basically bequeathed the site to me. So it’s future, if there is one, is in my hands. And all I can tell you at this moment is: I don’t know. The first step would have to involve quitting my job. At a minimum, a change in the management structure at said job would have to happen. The second step might have to involve a winning PowerBall ticket. Of course, then I’d probably be too busy cruising the Mediterranean with my wife, Hiromi Oshima, on our mega yacht…

I’d probably hire TJ to type up blog posts for me, though.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: White folk are crazy, but they make being crazy look like a lot of fun.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Frequency of Suffering

Unlike most people these days, I still rely on CDs for my daily driving’s soundtrack. My car, built in 2002 and in my life since 2004, is not equipped with a means of playing digital music, and even predates the day satellite radio became a standard feature. This fact has been mildly annoying to me for the past 10 years, and recently my self-piteous complaints about it had grown in frequency with each passing day. Then, probably shortly after they reached critical mass—around Thanksgiving—my CD player stopped working.


Out of desire to serve penance (or maybe because I’m lazy; you decide), I have yet to take the problem to my mechanic to fix. Two months of no CDs means two months of radio—which is two months too many.

I haven’t listened to the radio regularly since buying this car [I really only listened regularly for a period where the cassette player in my previous car broke and there was nothing else; don’t bother raising your hand if you sense a pattern], and for good reason. I have settled into my “old fuddy-duddy” stage of life nicely, and have no desire to assault my eardrums with the likes of Justin Bieber and Pitbull. I’ll take another replay of my mix CD with a Cormega freestyle and an unreleased Talib Kweli track from 2006, please and thank you.

Now I don’t have that luxury which I so callously cursed. Instead I have two stations of top-40 and another of rock and alternative [Note: if Pittsburgh still has a hip-hop/"urban" channel, I’ll be damned if I know what it is]. And I’ve come to a few conclusions while enduring this psychological experiment of juggling the most limited musical options the first world has seen in the past 60 years. I now lay them out for you, in no specific order.
  1. Taylor Swift’s secret of success.

    She’s not a good lyricist. She’s really not that good of a singer. And, on the shallow male side of things, she’s not that attractive. Real world “7,” but a celeb “5.” So the normal reasons for a woman reaching pop stardom in this nation don’t apply. But Taylor has something no one else does: a brilliant strategy built around prolificacy.

    In the old days—when I was the age of her target audience—flooding the market with your songs was a good way to flameout. Oversaturation meant listeners soon grew tired of hearing you, and would then seek out other artists to play in their Walkmans. But today’s paying audience—millennials—have attention spans the size of an ant’s dick, and as a result frequency is now much more important to keep a presence in the market.

    The true cleverness of Swift, though, is that she folds variety into the repetitiveness. Today I heard no fewer than four different Taylor Swift songs on the two top-40 stations during my one hour of drive time. And while I certainly heard some individual songs by other artists more times during that same timespan, Swift’s tracks came in as a fresh palate cleanse each time, to the point that I often forgot I’d just heard them 24 hours earlier. Think of it like M&Ms; we all know that no matter what color they are, they’ll taste the same. But if you’re given a choice between a bag that's only oranges and a bag that's a regular mixture of different colors, which will you choose?

  2. Pop is a woman’s world...

    Michael was the king, but the king is dead (RIP). In today’s pop world, guys seem to come across as inauthentic. I really don’t care that Shawn Mendes is tired of some girl’s kisses. One Direction got me to listen to a song once, but mostly because I was daydreaming and not paying attention to whatever they were whining about. I now change the station if I hear it coming on again. Nick Jonas’ “Jealous” is actually pretty good production-wise, but that’s mostly because it sounds like an Usher track from 15 years ago. The lyrics, though, sound like a sixth-grader talking about a crush.

    But if when Demi Lovato’s “Confident,” Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love,” and Ellie Goulding’s “On My Mind” spin up, I’m hitting the volume up button and cheering them on. Alessia Cara and Elle King might be two huge stars in the making, if they can keep churning out genuine artistry like “Here” and “Exes and Ohs” (the lyricism of the latter is just pure genius).

    Maybe it’s just me. It’s probably just me. But I believe Demi’s self-assertiveness. I mentally high-five Selena while she rids herself of some jerk (it’s Bieber every single time in my mind). Ellie is plagued by emotions after a hookup. Who hasn’t been through that? I can listen to these ladies all day—especially if it means Bieber and Pitbull don’t get airtime.

  3. ...But at least one of those women doesn’t belong in it.

    Adele poses a much different version of the “Why is this person famous” question than Swift. Whereas the latter is lithe but unimpressive vocally, the former is all voice and no (traditional) beauty. Twenty years ago Adele would have been relegated to opera, or ghostsinging for a lip-synching model. Maybe she should’ve pursued opera; at least then she’d be backed up by an accomplished production and have someone else writing her lyrics.

    Prior to this sudden immersion into the world of current music, I’d never heard an Adele song. My friends say I had to have been in some place or watched some show where she was warbling out one of her tunes. I honestly don’t think that’s true; but if it is, it says even more that I didn’t take notice. Hearing “Hello” come echoing over my speakers for the first time, I was mesmerized…by how indistinctive it was.

    The production’s okay, and at first I thought it was part of the formula that made her famous. Then I heard “We Were Young.” Yeah, no. She might as well have Will Ferrell standing behind her with a cowbell in the recording booth.

    The one thing left that could possibly explain the kind of acclaim she receives is lyrics. But there’s no winning work here, either. In “Hello,” she decides that the guy she broke up with years ago “clearly” isn’t upset anymore, because he’s not answering her phone call.


    If there’s anything spectacular about Adele’s lyrics, it’s the sheer narcissistic delusion it takes to draw the conclusion that the person she knows she hurt years ago must be over it, because he doesn’t want to talk to her. If he was truly hurt, he’d be dying to hear the sound of her voice, right? He’d be waiting feverishly for the day she came back? Fuck. Outta. Here.

  4. The Weeknd is a powerhouse, and the only exception to #2.

    The only song I bump harder than Gomez’s? “The Hills.” Yeah, I’m eight months late to the party. But here’s an instance where an artist not only delivers on all levels, but takes a few risks while getting there.

    I was hesitant when the first few bars of “In the Night” first strode confidently through my speakers—An 80’s retread? I thought we left that kind of stuff back in the 90s?—but I was quickly hooked, pushing my Members Only sleeves up and bobbing my head to the beat.

    To this point, there’s only one The Weeknd song I have a problem with, and that problem has nothing to do with The Weeknd himself. But I can never hear “Can’t Feel My Face” and not picture Tom Cruise singing it. Damn it all to hell.

  5. Hip-hop is no longer pop.

    In two months of radio play, I’ve heard exactly three hip-hop tracks played by 96.1 KISS and 100.7 Star: “See You Again” by Wiz, “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem, and “My House” by Flo Rida. That’s it [I’m not including the few times a Pitbull song has come on and I've changed the channel because, you know, it’s Pitbull, not hip-hop]. And remember, this is top-40 radio, where the playlist gets repeated every hour on the hour. “My House,” the only one of these songs to be released in the past 10 months, has only queued up twice.

    Compare that to my last regular exposure to radio, when Ludacris, Em, Jay-Z, Nelly, Chingy, and even Snoop Dogg were regularly spreading hip-hop’s growing empire across the bubblegum territories of pop. Now hip-hop’s been brushed aside, and the “non-conformists” are young white women (Adele, Alessia Cara).

    Is this only what it’s like in Pittsburgh? How am I the only one seeing it? Did police unions take over pop music stations, locking up and killing off all of the young hip-hop artists? The hell?
*sigh* I really need to get my car to the mechanic. *turns up Selena Gomez*

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

If I Win This Powerball I'm Going To Be Petty As Fuck

So this Powerball shit is now (as of 1/13/16) 1.3 BILLION dollars. With that kind of windfall most of us have wondered what we would do if we won that type of money. Truth is, most of us are going to be broke and tap dancing for nickels within 2 years. Whether it be from M.C. Hammeritis (being too fucking generous) or thinking money has suddenly made us into Warren Buffet (over-estimating our own business savvy) we gonna blow through that shit like that chick I dated who told me she blew a basketball team.

But for shits and giggles this is what I would do if I won

  1. I would go to work and blast the loudest, crazy hyped up, nastiest, angry, ridiculous hip hop.I'm talking Love In Your Mouth (, Down Bottom (, Neva Eva ( etc etc and dare a motherfucka to say some shit.
  2. I would go to the nearest dealership and buy a Bugatti JUST SO I CAN SNAPCHAT MYSELF SCREAMING "I WOKE UP IN A NEW BUGATTI". Then take that shit right back (
  3. I would open a Waffle House cause I love grits and shit
  4. I would learn how to say NO in as many languages as possible because I'm giving none of you SHIT. I don't give a fiddly fuck about your idea for a new chain of fried chicken joints or the record label you want to start. I mean even in Consuela voice. "No, noooooo I no give Mr. Peter"
  5. Anytime they want me to take a picture of me with the check or for promotional purposes I'm whipping my dick out. EVERYTIME
  6. I'd find every person who I hate, offer them a job and then fire that ass IMMEDIATELY (grand opening, grand closing)
  7. Buy a Jerome.
Yes this cat right there...Because if I'm going to live the life of a light skinned cat, Morris Day ain't a bad choice at all. Plus that means I could bust out The Bird and Jungle Love anytime I wanted at work.

I mean a brother can dream can't he?