The Chance To Squint At A Sky So Blue That It Hurts Your Eyes Just To Look At It

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Is it a coincidence that immediately after I write a post in defense of summer we have perfect weather? The past two days were right out of a Charles O’Rear photograph. It’s nice to know Mother Nature reads this blog. That ups its total readership to 1.

Before we go any further, I’d like to go on a tangent regarding the weather and body image issues:

Every treadmill and elliptical was occupied at the gym today. Every single one. So my question is this: Who are these sick people?

No one should ever go to the gym to run on a treadmill or use an elliptical—unless, of course, you don’t want to get any real results—but on a day like today?

A day where the sky was yellow and the sun was blue?

With miles of road and trail and track at your disposal?

Go outside!

(Deep breath)

We’re back!

NOW, since this blog (somehow) counts for school I should probably be conscious of my grade and write what I think my professor wants to read.

But I just can’t do it.

After all, this is my blog and it’s pretty much all I’ve got.

And in my blog, I will splash. The pot. Whenever. The fuck. I please.

So, in celebration of our recent weather, here’s a post just for me. It’s the kind of thing I’d read in the office to salt away the workday.

I present to you the Top Five Blue Sky Songs:

(Please, rest assured that this list was put together Smilin’ Jack Ross style: These are the facts, and they are undisputed.)  

5.) “Mr. Blue Sky,” Electric Light Orchestra

I don’t know what song has been used in the most movies, television shows, commercials, etc.—my guess is Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky,”—but “Mr. Blue Sky” has to be up there.

You might remember it from the Volkswagen commercial. Or the Sears commercial. Or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or The Game Plan or Megamind or Paul Blart: Mall Cop or The Invention of Lying or Role Models or…well, you get the point.

The reason for its promiscuousness ? It’s an instant good mood song, which makes sense since Jeff Lynne wrote it after spending two sunless weeks in Switzerland only to emerge from his chalet one morning to see the day moon chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool over the Alps.

And just like “Mr. Blue Sky”, that’s a sight that’ll turn anyone’s frown upside down.

(Before we move on, can be talk about Jeff Lynne for a minute? The ELO frontman not only wrote “Fire on High”,”Livin’ Thing”, “Evil Woman”, “Turn to Stone”, “Do Ya”, “Telephone Line”, “Strange Magic”, and “Don’t Bring Me Down”, but his additional writing credits include “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin'” for Petty and “Handle with Care” and “End of the Line” for the Traveling Wilburys.

Are you fucking KIDDING me, Jeff Lynne?

It’s a shame he’s going to have to die before people remember/realize how ridiculously awesome he is.)

4) “Goodbye Blue Sky,” Pink Floyd  

This song should most assuredly not put you in a good mood.

Full disclosure: “Goodbye Blue Sky” is the first Pink Floyd song I can remember hearing—I did a spot-on “Look mummy, there’s an airplane up in the sky” imitation as a six year old—so we have history.

Nevertheless, you have to admire any song that transcends its intended commentary.

While Roger Waters wrote it about the Blitz, “Goodbye Blue Sky” remains relevant thanks to what Waters considers a modern day “cultural bombing”.

If you had the pleasure of seeing The Wall Live you might remember bomber planes dropping—in lieu of German bombs—dollar signs, euro signs, religious symbols, and corporate logos during this song.

In other words, the flames are long gone but the pain lingers on.

As true today as it was when it was written.

3) “Bullet the Blue Sky,” U2  

Quick: What’s this song about?

You’ve heard it more times than you can remember, but of course you don’t know. And why would you? Who actually listens to the lyrics?

Here’s a free lesson: During the Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992), the United States—namely, the Reagan administration—provided financial support to the Salvadoran regime while ignoring ho-hum details such as the death squads, child soldiers, and human rights abuse that said regime was responsible for.

Quick: Why would the United States do this?

You’re right! It was all in an effort to thwart communism.

Arguably U2’s angriest recording, “Bullet the Blue Sky” has everything a U2 song needs.

Inspired by social, political, and/or economic inequity? Check.

Biblical reference? Check. (“Jacob wrestled the angel / And the angel was overcome” is an allusion to Jacob’s return to Bethel.)

Bono drifting into spoken word during the bridge? Check. (One hundred! Two hundred!)

The Edge doing the Edge things? Check. (This song is possibly the Edge at his Edgiest as his guitar slides really do echo those fighter planes.)

Good in concert? Double check. (I don’t care if you hate U2—seeing this song in person will knock you on your ass.)

Now that I think about it, “Bullet the Blue Sky” is such a great song it pretty much justifies the atrocities it was written about.

Am I right, El Salvador?!

(I swear that was a joke.)

2) “Blue Sky,” The Allman Brothers Band  

Where to start with this one?

First, Dickey Betts wrote “Blue Sky” about Sandy “Bluesky” Wabegijig, his Native American girlfriend whom he eventually married.

Second, Dickey and Bluesky had a daughter named Jessica. Dickey wrote a song—“Jessica”—about his daughter, too.

Third, there’s no fucking way there is a mother/daughter combo out there that can lay claim to two better songs than “Blue Sky” and “Jessica”.

Fourth, “Blue Sky” was Dickey’s debut as the Allman’s lead vocalist and it changed everything. The Allmans became the Allmans because of this song.

And most importantly, Duane Allman and Dickey start the song’s bridge solo with Duane as lead and Dickey as rhythm only to switch half way through. At 2:28 they synch up, and if your dick doesn’t move when that happens you should call your doctor.

Simply put, this is the kind of song that reminds us of why we listen.

1) “Blue Skies,” Ella Fitzgerald  

I’ll let you decide for me:

You come at the Queen, you best not miss.

OR

The Queen stay the Queen.

If you didn’t see this coming you need to do yourself a favor and devote some time to Lady Ella.

At the very least, letting her enrich your life will make the past 1,000 plus words of nonsense worth it.

Is it quitting time yet?

See ‘Em Again ‘Til The Fourth Of July

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7 things to square away before summer

  1. Vacations

If you haven’t set up a summer getaway yet, you better get cracking. Prime weekends on the Outer Banks and mountain lakes are already booked. Disney will be at peak attendance until September. Get something now or you’ll have to wait until after the Fourth of July, by which time summer is pretty much over.

The next person who tells me “After the Fourth of July summer is pretty much over” has like a 5% chance of me stabbing them in the face with a screwdriver.

How does this always happen? People spend the entire winter bitching and moaning about the snow and once summer arrives it’s either 1.) Almost over or b.) Too hot or III.) All of the above.

Officially, summer started June 21st.

Two days ago.

Thirteen days before July 4th.

What’s most troubling is how these people say summer is over after the Fourth of July with such conviction. They really believe it. They don’t stop to realize that it’s the equivalent of saying winter is over on January 4th, but that’s exactly what brings to light the fundamental psychological factor at play here:

Why must there always be a problem?

I understand some people are incomprehensibly stupid and some people just like the sound of their own voice and some people talk so as not to feel uncomfortable—along with “How’s the family?” and “How’s the job?” talking about the weather completes the Holy Trinity of jerk off small talk.

However, this isn’t about struggling to make conversation. This is about people never accepting happiness because it’s easier than, you know, actually being happy.

You know what? I take it back. The next person who tells me “After the Fourth of July summer is pretty much over” isn’t getting stabbed in the face with a screwdriver.

Instead, I’m bringing them to the beach. Or on a hike. Or to a play in the park. Or to an outdoor concert on the water.

That’s right.

We will go and we will have fun.

We will have fun because it’s summer.

And because it’s summer they will ask me:

“Can you believe it’s almost Christmas?”

Mass Murder And Mad Libs

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EsquireWhat happened in a church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night is a lot of things, but one thing it’s not is “unthinkable.” Somebody thought long and hard about it. Somebody thought to load the weapon. Somebody thought to pick the church. Somebody thought to sit, quietly, through some of Wednesday night bible study. Somebody thought to stand up and open fire, killing nine people, including the pastor. Somebody reportedly thought to leave one woman alive so she could tell his story to the world. Somebody thought enough to flee. What happened in that church was a lot of things, but unthinkable is not one of them.

There are moments where my self-delusion gets the best of me and I convince myself that I’m a fantastic writer.

This notion, even by my lofty standards, is impressively self-absorbed.

However, it’s entirely necessary. Writers need to be egotistical.

Writers need to be egotistical because what a writer tells his or her readers is “I know you have your own thoughts in your own head about whatever it is that happened, but listen to me because my thoughts are more important than yours.”

There’s no arguing this, and I’d expect the only people who’d attempt a comeback are the self-unaware writers of the world.

Which, to be fair, there are too many to count.

Nevertheless, all I need to do when I convince myself that I’m a fantastic writer is read an article like this.

Charles Pierce’s article on the Charleston shooting is so astoundingly perfect that I can’t comprehend its existence. It makes me want to stop people on the street and read it to them Jehovah’s witnesses-style.

NOW, what’s unfortunate about this article—beyond the fact that it had to be written, obviously, as that’s a conversation for another time—is that there are people out there who will never read it because Charles Pierce wrote it.

Ask them why they won’t read it and they’ll tell you they don’t need to read it. They’ll tell you they know Charles Pierce’s politics, that they know what he’s going to say and how it won’t have any value.

(This is also what’s unfortunate about politics in general, but, again, that’s a conversation for another time.)

But what’s even more unfortunate than the existence of these short-sighted zealots is that—while it should most-assuredly be awarded every bullshit prize it qualifies for—we’ve read this article before.

Charlie is playing Mad Libs and it’s depressing as fuck think about.

Sandy Hook and Aurora and Fort Hood and Virginia Tech and…

Couldn’t any these places be substituted for Charleston and it would read the same?

Maybe that explains how he wrote it.

Listen, this isn’t a commentary on race and it isn’t a commentary on gun control—this is a commentary on fact.

The names and places and motives change, but the stories are all the same.

What happened in Charleston isn’t something worth just thinking and speaking about. It’s something worth doing something about.

We won’t do anything, of course, but at least the article is already written for next time.

Just like it was for Sandy Hook and Aurora and Fort Hood and Virginia Tech and…

(An attempt to lighten the mood of what became an uncharacteristically serious post: In his articles, Charles Pierce refers to the talking heads on Morning Joe as “Squint and Meat Puppet.” I don’t care if you hate Pierce or have never heard of Morning Joe—you can’t tell me “Squint and Meat Puppet” aren’t fantastic nicknames.)

Get Over Yourself, Mr. Pink

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Huffington Post – After finishing a recent meal at Long Island restaurant Peter’s Clam Bar, comedian Amy Schumer left her server a $500 tip on the $49 bill, as first reported by The New York Post.

 That equates to more than a 1,000 percent tip — a lavish reward far beyond the customary 20 percent.

 The restaurant’s manager told The Huffington Post that the star of “Inside Amy Schumer” ordered “a cup of soup and a couple of appetizers” when she dined a couple of weekends ago. The soup may have been top notch, but apparently it wasn’t the only factor that influenced the funny lady to such generosity. The Post reported Monday that Schumer and her server, Ryan, shared an “engaging, animated conversation” during which she learned he was a college student working two jobs to pay for school.

 Perhaps she felt connected to him on a more personal level: Before making it big, the Long Island native waited tables and tended bar in New York City in between auditions.

The next time some reality tv-watching rube tells you it’s hard being a celebrity make sure to counter with this random act of kindness.

Full disclosure: I love Amy Schumer. I don’t understand how anyone doesn’t love Amy Schumer, and by “anyone” I mean the unsilent majority of men who insist she isn’t funny and is fat and ugly and should kill herself.

But Amy Schumer is another matter.

This is about tipping and how easy it is to use it to your advantage if you’re a celebrity.

Even if you’re the biggest piece of shit going, this is all you have to do. Overtip. You can literally buy goodwill.

This story went viral and all it cost Amy Schumer was $500. Not a bad return on her investment. Which begs the question: If you were a celebrity, why wouldn’t you do this everywhere you went?

Personally, I’m looking forward to the opportunity. A few months from now, after the bidding war between Simmons and Portnoy has a winner, this will be me:

Celebrities aside, the most surprising thing I learned in my distinguished bartending career—and this is saying something since it’s a long ass list—is how insanely generous regular people are when it comes to tipping. Nearly everyone overtips. Conservatively, I’d say 90% of people tip more than 20%.

Now I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking that can’t be right. You’re thinking I only made killer tips because I obviously poured smooth draughts and mixed cheek-puckering cocktails while looking sexy as fuck behind the bar.

And I can’t argue with you. All of those things are entirely true.

However, it doesn’t explain such an overwhelming ratio of generosity. I’ve had this conversation with countless bartenders near and far and the verdict is unanimous: People are kind.

So please, keep this is mind next time you’re trying to calculate 12.5% of your tab. Celebrity or not, you’re writing your story.

Always overtip.

It’s only a few extra bucks, and we both know you’d probably just waste them buying some dumb shit on Amazon.

A Thousand Points Of Light For Artistic Autonomy

So did this actually happen or was it a masterfully done SNL sketch?

You’re right. Lorne Michaels would never attempt something so ridiculous.

Before we start, let’s make one thing clear: this post has nothing to do with politics.

I don’t care if Donald Trump is running for President just like I don’t care if Donald Trump wants to marry another guy or transition to a woman or do whatever it is that’s getting Middle America up in arms this week.

This has nothing to do with Millennial apathy.

It does, however, have everything to do with how no one ever seems to get it right.

Rockin’ in the Free World?

How does this keep happening?

I thought Reagan using “Born in the USA” and Kerry using “Fortunate Son” was top of the mark for bonehead campaign songs, but here comes The Donald, natural born leader that he is, kicking the crusade up a notch.

Donald “I think global warming is a hoax” Trump promenaded to the pulpit while a Neil “I’m a Canadian Environmentalist” Young song that eviscerates Republicans played. Then he gave a speech where he promised not to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors.

At worst, Trump picked the song himself after actively listening to the lyrics and declaring them consistent with his message.

At best, some unpaid intern, looking for a peppy jam to pump up the crowd, picked it last minute since Trump’s campaign had so many other things to worry about.

But that’s the problem.

If you can’t get something as simple as the music right, how can you be expected to get anything right?

(Simple solution: Make this every candidate’s campaign song from now until forever. Occam’s razor FTW.)

 

 

Bread Always Falls On The Buttered Side

Don’t let me bring you down, but it’s Monday and it’s cold and rainy and you’re likely already miserable.

If that’s the case, let’s discuss this:

Before we get started, let’s break things down Linda Ellerbee style:

Who: Smash Mouth singer Steve Harwell

What: Had a meltdown during a performance

Where: The Taste of Fort Collins street festival in Fort Collins, Colorado

When: June 14, 2015

Why: Some attendees of the festival were (obviously) given loaves of bread as party favors and felt it necessary to throw said loaves at Harwell. Harwell, unable to rise above it, responded by throwing profanities at the audience, going so far as to threaten bodily harm before he was restrained by security.

NOW, everyone is using Harwell’s outburst as an opportunity to take a collective shit on him and his band. And why not? Fruit doesn’t hang much lower than a Smash Mouth concert in 2015.

However, I’m giving Harwell a pass on this and here’s why: In 2001, his six-month-old son, Presley Scott Harwell, died from acute lymphatic leukemia.

Here’s Harwell in a 2002 interview with USA Today:

“After Presley crashed the first time, it took them so long to get him back that his brain swelled,” says Harwell. “We knew we weren’t going to get him back. His eyes weren’t dilating and we knew things were taking a turn for the worse. It just got to the point to where we didn’t want to keep putting him through all that. Michele and I decided to take him off of the machines. The little guy fought as hard as he could.”

Listen, I don’t care if it happened 14 years ago, there’s no getting over something like that. This world can be a supremely fucked up place and there’s no better example of that than a man watching his six-month-old son die.

Steve Harwell owes an apology to no one for his tirade. Try having some empathy for once in your life. If anything, we should be the ones apologizing to him.

Alright, that’s enough holier-than-thou schtick for one post. Here are some snarky observations in an attempt to restore my cred:

Maybe I’m hearing things, but at 0:52 it sounds like a backing vocal track starts. Round of applause for the Johnny-on-the-spot sound tech who helped Smash Mouth avoid a lip-synching controversy by cutting it. Can you imagine how big THAT story would have been?!

Seriously, Steve Harwell? Little pussy bitches? That’s all you got? No wonder your band records so many covers. It’s bad enough you’re running your mouth instead of doing anything about it—at least write some quality material for next time.

On a lighter note, here’s how Steve Harwell should have reacted:

(Watch this. The whole thing. All 3 minutes and 37 seconds. We both know you have nothing better to do.)

My love of Pearl Jam aside, that. is. how. it’s. done.

(How would Ed’s “Somebody throw up a gun so I can shoot you all!” remark at 2:44 play in today’s 24-hour news cycle? It’s a clickbaiter’s wet dream: “Rock Star Threatens Audience With Mass Murder!” This is the world we live in.)

((No, but seriously, if you can watch that clip and still hate Eddie Vedder there’s no fucking hope for you.))

(((You’re probably the kind of person who would throw bread at someone on stage.)))

Put Your Fucking Sunglasses On And Roll With It

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MANCHESTER, Tennessee — Squish, with his two front baby teeth stowed away in Tooth Fairy land, broke a Guinness World Record at Bonnaroo, a festival nearly twice as old as he is. The 7-year-old boy, whom Haim memorably brought on stage in 2013, returned to Bonnaroo this year and claimed the record for most high-fives in an hour with 2,392 on Friday, eclipsing the record of 2,181 high-fives set by Ram Kadam and V Generation in India in 2012. Thousands of people signed up, lined up and, like a well-oiled machine, smoothly, but enthusiastically gave high-fives to Squish, who stood on a pedestal on Friday because each high-five was required to be performed above all participants’ heads. At any given moment at the four-day music festival, someone will raise his or her hand to high-five a fellow festie. The event’s culture made Bonnaroo a prime time for Squish to attempt the record, a feat he didn’t take lightly. Squish trained for this moment with his mom, Amy Spears, who has been documenting his Bonnaroo experiences on social media for three years.

And this is why you should go to a music festival at least once.

I’ll leave it to everyone else to praise Squish for his effervescent coolness and his mom for her whole funky, freewheeling—but undoubtedly whacked—disposition.

They are awesome plain and simple.

However, the importance of this story stems from its inadvertent commentary on music festival culture.

Festivals are easy targets for haters, but for all the criticism they get—from their transparent, capitalistic commercialization to the insufferable, hypocritical hippies that attend them—there’s one point you can’t argue: They will always be once-in-a-lifetime experiences thanks to characters like Squish and his mom.

NOW, as a veteran of multiple Bonnaroos, this is the part where I’m supposed to regale you with stories of my own wild and crazy adventures in a direct attempt to convince you to attend a festival (you should) and in an indirect attempt to convince you I’m cool (I’m not.)

Instead, let’s keep it simple: I’m hardly the first person to articulate this, but we live in a world where people go places and do things for the wrong reasons.

More specifically—and don’t expect anyone to actually admit this—the motivation for many behind having “life experiences” is the thought of sharing them on social media. People want everyone to see how happy they are and how great they look and how overall super their life is.

I can only speak off of my own life and times, but music festivals don’t attract this kind of behavior. It exists, sure, but it’s more the exception than the rule.

To be fair, it’s likely the combination of illicit drugs, sleepless nights, and nonexistent showers that leaves no one wanting to have her picture taken, but festivals are as genuine a social environment as we have left.

So do yourself a favor and buy an overpriced ticket and make that too long of a drive. I can’t offer any tangible return on your investment, but I can guarantee your experience will be entirely what you–with a little help from the Squishs of the world–make it.

Until then, don’t criticize what you can’t understand.

(The title of this post, courtesy of Ron Bennington, is possibly the best advice I’ve ever heard, and not only for trips where shit starts to get too weird too quickly. “Put Your Fucking Sunglasses On And Roll With It” are words to live by. For example, use it during your next conference call when the boss begins to worry about hitting this quarter’s numbers.)

((There is no way this kid gave 2,392 high-fives without the Guinness World Record for the most time this joke was made in an hour getting broken, too:))

The American Dream In Action

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“The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes died four days ago and since the news broke seemingly everyone has waxed poetic on the life of the legend.

Three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Hard Times. Him and The Nature Boy. Mentor. Innovator. Lots of other wonderful adjectives.

However, nowhere in this flowery mix of in memoriam and YouTube promos have I witnessed a proper articulation of Dusty’s most important contribution to wrestling canon: Bash at the Beach 1996 commentator.

Bash at the Beach 1996 either means something to you or it doesn’t. If you’re lucky, it’s the former. But for those like me in the latter? Bash at the Beach 1996 was the kind of life-altering event that there’s no coming back from.

I was 10 years-old and still trying to process the Major League Baseball strike and Jerry Garcia’s death. Hulk Hogan was the guy getting me through these hard times. I said my prayers and took my vitamins and I was never going wrong.

And then this happened:

It’s been nearly 20 years and I still can’t believe it.

Hulk Hogan was the third man.

Nevertheless, despite his own legitimate shock and disgust, Dusty explained the unexplainable:

On Hogan’s way to the ring:    

“HULK HOGAN IS IN THE BUILDING! GO GET ‘EM, HULKSTER! WHO’S BAD NOW, BOYS!?”

After Hogan drops the leg on Savage:

“WHAT IS HE DOING!? IS HE THE THIRD MAN?! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!? LOOK AT THIS! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?”

And just in case you thought you were the only person seeing it:

“I tell you what…this is a…unbelievable situation right here at Bash at the Beach…Hulkamania…the third guy with The Outsiders…BETRAYED Dubah-SEE-Dubah…”

I began to doubt all that I once held as true, but Dusty let me know I wasn’t alone. The son of a plumber was the father of the interrobang. The man reached out and let me know that his hand was touching my hand.

I carry your heart, Dusty. I carry it in my heart.