Sunday, September 26, 2010

Might as Well Facebook It, You're Addicted...

Queen once said, “Is this the real life, is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide no escape from reality.”

Those lyrics define me. My actual existence is spent primarily attempting to validate my online existence. In fact, I’m no longer online, I’m actually “on-life” instead. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Skype, BB Messenger, Google Chat…I got them all.

Well, at least a version of me. The one I want you to get to know.

There is a new movie about Facebook called The Social Network. For me, Facebook more accurately serves as the Antisocial Network. It is a guise for me to feign camaraderie while remaining socially aloof.

Currently, I have 441 friends on Facebook and between you and me I wouldn’t say hello to three quarters of them if I saw them in the grocery store. In fact, I doubt I would even recognize more than half of them. And yet at the anonymous box social they call the interwebs we are all great friends. It gives me the excuse of being connected without the hassle of actually staying in touch. All I have to do is track some key status updates.

And I’m not the only culprit. You are getting just as bad.

Instead of really staying in contact and maintaining close relationships with the people that matter most we group everyone into an easy to manage folder of friends. That way we can advertise our blogs, work on fake farms, announce our weekend plans, complain about work, mass communicate on politics, poke, tag, invite and notify… all from the relative safety of our own space.

We live our lives vicariously through everyone else’s status. We pretend to live well, in hopes that every so often we will do something status-worthy. It truly is narcissism at its finest: Everyone telling their own story, nobody listening.

Here’s one: I recently went to lunch with a friend. As we waited for our meal we spoke superficially to each other about whatever while keeping our eyes glued to our respective mobile devices. While we were at lunch I posted something on my Facebook page and he in turn commented on it. All during lunch. Crazy, right?

Even more strange, my post and his response had nothing to do with the conversation we were conducting at lunch and neither of us mentioned it after the fact. It was so bizarre that afterward I considered tweeting the whole incident.

My wife and I no longer ask about one another’s day. Instead we ask if the other saw what Brian wrote on Facebook or what Liz tweeted.

Try this game. Next time you are in a meeting look around at all the furrowed brows squinting at their Blackberries. The intent is to make everyone else feel we are so busy and important that not only are we only half interested in the current meeting, we are taking care of business going on outside of the meeting as well.

It’s a lie. We aren’t sending emails or looking up important quarterly numbers or whatever. Watch the thumbs. Two thumbs means a game, like Bejeweled or Brickbreaker. One thumb up and down is definitely browsing the web, probably looking at trailers for sale on Craigslist or reading the latest from the AP wire. One thumb side to side means picture viewing and daydreaming about last weekend.

See, we Blackberry-iPhone-Droid users have it all figured it out. Our Facebook-Twitter-LinkedIn-Messenger-MySpace-Skype-Yahoo addiction only makes us appear more connected. In truth our addictions simply widen our bubble, making us less accessible. We are the eccentric recluses of the digital age. We hide publicly, so involved, so everywhere at once that we blend in and eventually…we disappear.

Sorry to quote Queen again, but “I want to break free”. Facebook is taking a back seat to my real life. If you are reading this, chances are you followed my link from Facebook. I’ll stop doing that. It wastes space on your wall. If you come back to the blog on your own, thanks, we love having you here. If, however, you don’t notice anything missing from your “on-life” and forget to come back…I understand.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Hey look at me, I'm wicked hahd core."

If I’ve learned one thing from Hollywood it is this: The city of Boston is way better than whatever second tier crap-town you’re from. That is why I felt obligated to see Ben Affleck’s The Town tonight. Let’s see if I can take you on a virtual trip back through my evening. I’ll try to write this blog the way the movie plays out, all disheveled and abrupt and riddled with plot holes. Enjoy!

First of all, I know prices at the movie theater are an old cliché but something still needs to be said. The 16-year old snack salesman pressured me to upgrade to a Medium Combo (medium popcorn, medium drink only $13.75), when I finally agreed, he then informed me that by purchasing the combo, I also qualify for a discount on candy. That’s right; one of those movie theater-cheat boxes of M&M’s was only $2.75. I didn’t have to pay the regular $3.25 for 26 total M&M’s like the rest of you common trash.

Popcorn, soda and candy in hand, I side shuffled my way past all the other fat losers alone at the theater and found my seat.

*Spoiler Alert* I don’t want to ruin anything for the rest of you, but tonight they showed a preview for a groundbreaking new movie that I don’t think I’ll be able to wait for.

From what I gathered from the preview, apparently there is this strong willed, independent woman who rarely dates because she is focused on her career. She gets matched up somehow with a perpetual screw-up of a guy who never gets anything right. I know what you’re thinking and you are wrong. You can’t be fooled by his devastating good looks, perfect hair, eight-pack abs and leading man charm. She hates him and doesn’t want anything to do with him.

And don’t kid yourselves guys, she might be a bombshell dripping with raw sexuality, but we’ll never know because she wears glasses. So of course he hates her as well.

But, based off the preview, apparently they end up forced to spend time together in a really wacky twist of fate, and hilarity ensues. I don’t want to get my hopes up but I really think they might end up together…(fingers crossed)!!!

Anyway, keep your eyes peeled. It’s called Sleepless in Seattle 1,003 or Hollywood Love Story or We’ve Given Up…or something.

Back to Ben Affleck and The Town.

Ben Affleck directs the movie, so naturally he is in literally every scene. It must have been exhausting for him. In fact, you can tell he was worn out because in a lot of scenes he just sort of gave up on acting. I can’t be sure but I think there was a scene where right in the middle of a heartfelt and gritty soliloquy, Affleck forgot his lines so he just trailed off and muttered “Southie…yeah dis guy…I’m outta da game…curse wehds…whateva…Bahsten.”

Fortunatley for the audience, Madmen star Jon Hamm is also in the movie and he delivers an inspired performance, making the movie fairly entertaining.

If you’ve seen the trailer and have an IQ above 7, you probably have guessed the entire plot of the movie. Ben Affleck plays a “hahdenned” criminal with a “hwaght a gold.” He wants out of his life of crime and he finds a socially responsible do-gooder chick to help him see the light. She does community service and drives a Prius, so be ready for her self-righteousness.

Jon Hamm is an FBI agent and he is after him. Credit here to Affleck’s directing, they don’t spend a lot of time trying to convince us of Jon Hamm’s humanity and multi-layered cop-greed. Hamm is just a good guy who wants to take down bad guys. It is actually very refreshing. Even though you are supposed to cheer against Hamm and hope Affleck makes it out, you can’t help rooting for Hamm. It’s like he deserves it for saving the movie.

Anyway, the movie ends about a half hour after it should, but don’t worry if you doze off, there is absolutely no twist. However, Boston is a really tough town. People there would be better than you and me if they could just get out. Boston holds them down, though.

Oh, and Ben Affleck’s character was a big time hockey player and got drafted but he was too much of a “hahdenned townie” so he got kicked out, so there’s some Mighty Ducks thrown into the mix for fun.

The End. Now you know how I felt after watching it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Break in the Clouds

Yesterday we reviewed 5 things that are ruining music. But hope is not lost. Here are 4 things (technically 6 things) that are great about music:

The Economy/Terrorism- I will actually confess that I could be wrong on this one but I hope I am right, for my daughter’s sake. The reality is the longer people suffer, the more stripped down and vulnerable their art becomes. This causes musicians to finally revolt against the establishment and write honest lyrics. Not “Hollywood Honest”, which is what everyone tries to do, but real honest.

I want to see a revolution in the music industry where we turn away from the formula of:

-Hot, slutty girl with edgy lyrics
-Digitally enhanced vocals
-Repetitive dance beat
-Music video glamorizing promiscuity
-A trip to rehab

Kanye West/Eminem- Love these guys or hate them, they produce their own completely unique sounds. For all his wackiness, inappropriate behavior and racism, Kanye is open and self reflective of who he is and what he struggles with. He admits to being an arrogant and disrespectful prick who usually makes the wrong decisions. The conflict between his real self loathing and his false self adoration created by fame comes through in his music and as much as I would like to, I cannot hit “skip” when Kanye comes on.

As for Slim Shady, in the past he has turned away from what made him great. HE released albums that lacked the power of his earlier work. I’m glad to see on his new record Recovery he goes back to his angry yet contemplative self inspection. When Eminem is at his best he is the Best. The problem is he is not consistently at his best.

The Script- I hate the “underground band” kids who claim they’ve been following a band since before they were popular and they know all the stuff they did from their old days and blah blah blah.

But I have been following the Script since before they were popular and I have all their unreleased stuff and their stuff from Mytown and blah blah blah.

Look, if you don’t know who the Script is, go buy their album The Script and then tell me they aren’t brilliant. Their mix of old sound and new is what gives me hope for music’s future. My 5 year old daughter loves when we listen to this album and I’ll bet my 54 year-old father loves their sound, too.

Marcus Eaton- I went to high school with a guy named Marcus Eaton. Back then he was just the dude who was really good at guitar had longish hair. We would go watch him perform at small events. He would sing covers of Dave Mathews and stuff like that.

Fast forward to present day. I went to a Marcus Eaton concert recently, complete with groupies and teamsters and everything. For two hours, this guy I knew from high school played all original music. He was entertaining, he kept us moving and clapping our hands and feeling good about life. He played like 43 different instruments, he did some odd looking dance.

There were no red carpets or limousines or E! True Hollywood Stories. It was just a guy, his band and his catchy and original music. And there was the feeling you get when you get to decide something is good, rather than having Simon Cowell, MTV or Z103 tell you it is good.

And it is not just Marcus Eaton, because there are more Marcuses out there. I guess what I am trying to say is if you are like me and you want music to be good again, you just have to know where to find it. Mostly you have to go Underground. I have become what I despise, the Underground, unreleased, non-sell out fan kid.

Does anyone know where I can get skinny jeans, a scarf, the soul of a poet and a beanie cap?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Radio Kill the Video Star, Please

Please, someone just give her the beer before she sings.

Music is not dead. But it is dying. Don’t believe me? Google “Billboard Top 100” and tell me how many “hits” you’ll find that are sure to stand the test of time.

Because I care about music and want it to still exist in a few years, the current direction of the industry alarms me. I want to warn as many of you as I can so we can prepare to fight this growing epidemic together, that one day we might find the cure.

Here is my list of 5 things that are ruining music followed by 5 things that are great about music today.

5 Things Ruining Music

American Idol- I think the concept of American Idol is brilliant. In theory, it guarantees the production of an instant superstar who will spend years at the top of the charts. Yet the show has only produced 3 real stars over the course of 9 seasons (Kelly Clarkson, Daughtery, Carrie Underwood).


Simon’s go-to insult has always been “That sounded like bad karaoke.” The problem is he is judging a karaoke contest! These are just choir kids singing cover versions of old Elton John songs. The show should be made up of all original material and America should vote for the best artist, not the best singer (the catch there is no one would watch).

So now we have a bunch of really good singers getting record deals instead of really good musicians. The fact is, if any of these singers were good enough to make it on their own they probably would have. But they didn’t…

Also, the method of voting is flawed. The only people I imagine texting a vote to a reality show are 14 year-old girls. The problem with letting 14 year-old girls shape the music industry is that by the time the season is over and the winner finally produces an album, there is a new batch of 14 year olds and they only care about the singers on the current American Idol season.

Justin Beiber- Are we so sadistic as a society that we keep allowing this to happen? If you are reading this, I have to believe there is no doubt in your mind that Justin Beiber is 22 years away from a VH1 reality show about his fight with substance addiction and the lives he has destroyed, including his own, ever since his fame died off around age 21. It is sickening, and we watch with morbid glee. We are worse than the ancient Romans.

Kesha- There is a site called that features text messages supposedly sent from intoxicated individuals. Most of them are reflective of the girl with low self esteem who likes the idea of being drunk and always acts more drunk than she is. The texts are all about excessive consumption followed by bad sexual decisions, with everything being laughed off and applauded. STD’s are a badge of honor.

Kesha is the talentless personification of the website. There is no chance of her being relevant in 2012 and her living past 30 is a long shot.

Politics- Musicians are getting worse than actors. Just shut your damn mouths. You are only invited because you provide the entertainment. Only fools want to hear the political views of a drugged out high school dropout who just happens to be richer than 99% of the country. I feel bad for either political party when celebrities take their side, because it forces the members of that party to sheepishly admit they vote the same way as these idiots.

Fergie- The Black Eyed Peas have it all figured out. They looked around the industry and saw that it wasn’t enough to simply put together a bunch of catchy beats and some repetitive lyrics. So they found one of those ugly faced but hot bodied white girls who will do anything to be accepted by black guys. They told her to dress slutty and dance around like a stripper while singing about the world of prostitution. Genius.

So now we all go about listening to their music and saying how good the Black Eyed Peas are and no one will say anything about how awful and untalented Fergie is for fear of it sounding racist or something. Look, she is just terrible. For those of you shaking your head thinking, “You’re wrong, Fergie has a great voice,” go watch American Idol and tell me how hard it would be to find a girl with a better voice. Just accept it: Fergie’s skanky whiteness is the only thing keeping her in the music industry.

Preview for Tomorrow: 5 Things Giving Hope to the Music Industry

The Economy


Kanye West

Marcus Eaton

The Script

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Weekend Wrap Up

I don’t have an official post tonight, just some thoughts from this weekend and a picture of Jessica Biel for your Monday morning blues.

1) It wouldn’t take too much to convince me of a BCS conspiracy that involves back scratching, a Virginia Tech loss, scary white guys in business suits and a James Madison University eligibility scandal. The speed with which the media and big conference fans gleefully dismissed Boise State’s BCS title hopes was almost eerie. I’m not saying there is a conspiracy…I’m just saying John Swofford (head of the BCS) at least made a couple of phone calls to Va Tech, just to test the waters.

2) Having said that, settle down. Boise State will win out and will still deserve to play for the championship. Whether or not they can guilt AP voters and coaches enough to get them there is yet to be seen.

3) It sure was fun to watch the BYU Fan chatter evolve this weekend. They turned on Riley Nelson so fast you’d have thought he grew a goatee and walked across the quad drinking a Mountain Dew. But in true Cougar Fan fashion, all my Cougar Fan friends from all over the globe immediately cast the blame on me. You know, because Riley Nelson transferred from Utah State and I cheer for Utah State…clearly this debacle is entirely my fault.

4) Thank you, Oklahoma, for putting a beating on Florida State. Now the Utah State Aggies’ 7 point loss in Norman looks almost like a win and gives me one more week of cautious hope. Now, if Florida State would just do me the honors of beating BYU…

5) Michael Vick almost led the Eagles to a miraculous comeback when they put him in during the second half against Green Bay (actually, the substitution came just minutes after I tweeted my wishes for Kolb to get injured). Oh yeah, before prison Michael Vick was a Pro-Bowl quarterback…maybe we should play him. In related news, apparently Twitter is granting my wishes…so keep your eye on that.

6) Check out our Twitter on the right side of your screen. You can follow us, you should follow us, you must follow us. Please follow us?

7) Back to Vick. All he did was make dogs fight to the death and then kill them in brutal and disturbing ways. Big deal. Can’t we all forgive the guy and cheer him on? I mean jeez, Ray Lewis killed a guy and then won the Super Bowl. Kobe Bryant “raped” a girl and went on to win multiple NBA Championships. I’m pretty sure Ron Artest is actually an inmate from Shutter Island and he won a championship. And let’s not forget Pete Rose. He committed the most heinous crime of all. He BET ON BASEBALL! And even he, the notorious Pete Rose, was allowed back into baseball 167 years later. If we can forgive Pete Rose for that, we can forgive Mike Vick, too.

8) If the Heisman committee takes Reggie Bush’s trophy away will they also ask the NCAA to quantify the millions of dollars they made off Reggie Bush and make them pay it back?

Well this turned out longer than I thought. You’ve been such a good sport, I’m rewarding you with a picture of Eva Mendes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones

I love words. Carefully constructed phrases call to me like great works of art speak to cultured folk or the way Star Trek appeals to losers. In my opinion, the best writers are those who can say in one paragraph the same thing that takes me five paragraphs, like Ernest Hemingway, Chuck Palahniuk or Stephanie Meyer.

Words paint pictures, conjure up memories, express, inspire and hurt. Words evolve, their original meaning taking on a new meaning as cultures change.

Unfortunately, thanks to some very selfish people in powerful places, some words evolve to take on a meaning that renders them completely unusable by a good Christian boy like me.

These are the top 4 words I wish I could still use:

Radical- This word was once used for someone who performed an amazing trick or stunt, preferably on a BMX. Now it is synonymous with some sort of terrorist, as in “Radical Islamists bombed a school bus full of children,” or “These radical right wing nuts sure do love Sarah Palin.”

Gay- Currently, this term is used to reference a person who enjoys sexual shenanigans with a member of their own sex. This word has been hijacked, as the true definition is somewhere closer to a really intense version of “lame.” But saying lame is too freaking gay, so it puts you in a conundrum.

So now when your buddy tells you he went rollerblading by himself at O.K. Ward Park, you can no longer say, “That is the gayest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Instead you have to say something awkward like, “You telling me this makes me feel ashamed to have you as a friend.”

Retard- I don’t know how mentally challenged people got roped into taking away this word, but the word itself has nothing to do with showing offense toward the disabled (which, by the way, is much more offensive! Dis-Abled, are you kidding me?)

Anyway, the correct use of this word should sound something like “Nice blinker retard.”

Nigga- This is a tricky one, because it is technically derived from an offensive term used to insult black people. But now it has evolved into a way to express friendship and camaraderie, almost like saying “amigo.” The only problem is, this term is reserved solely for black people, their white girlfriends and engineering students from India.

Since I don’t fit in to any of those categories, I will never be allowed to utter the phrase, “Heck yes I love Ping Pong, nigga!”

Call me sentimental, I just wish we could go back to a simpler time when people were free to use the words that best suited the occasion.

Oh, and since it has been a while, here is a picture of Jessica Biel

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's Not ALL About the Benjamins...

How long have you been in the work force?

Let’s say you have been working for the same company for seven years. Even though it is not the best place to work, you do what you love and you like your coworkers. You are the best at what you do and you are paid handsomely for it.

There is only one problem: Your boss is a huge douchebag. He takes you for granted, he talks down to you, he treats you like he is more important than you because he makes more money, he acts like your input is invalid. He makes you feel like you must constantly be better than anyone in the world or you could lose your job.

Like everyone else on the planet, you fantasize about marching into his office and telling him you don’t need him anymore. You daydream elaborate ways to embarrass and humiliate him. You plan on someday becoming wealthy enough to buy his company and then fire him. You want to ruin him in whatever way you can. You become bitter and unmotivated.

Suddenly, the clouds part and an opportunity presents itself for you to work for a better company doing the same job.

At the same time, an associate of yours comes to you with a chance for the ultimate “screw you” move to play on your current boss. A move that will publicly humiliate him and expose him for the jerk that he is. It might even destroy his business.

If you are only 25 years old and still a little bit on the mischievous and immature side, I say you jump at the chance. Sure, down the road you may regret the decision and feel like you didn’t quite think through all the consequences. Maybe most of your customers are going to be really upset and feel betrayed, but they’ll get over it. You sold a product to them that made them happy.

Most importantly, you got to live out the dream of millions of Americans. You took the chance that was given to you to stick it to your pompous a-hole of a boss.

I can’t fault you for it, Lebron.

Thank you for reminding America what is great about sports. Thanks for reminding us that before it was a business, basketball was a pastime. Basketball is a game, and games are about winning.

Don’t listen to Michael Jordan. 25 years ago, MJ was the solution. Now he is the problem. He represents all that is ugly in sports, and you, Lebron James, are taking back the majesty of my favorite game. I’m excited for the NBA to relearn the concept of team.

Thanks again.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Boise is Not a State

I hate Boise State.

Having said that, do you think Boise State tires of creating a masterpiece every single time they play on primetime? It is getting sort of eerie how the Broncos consistently play (and win) in every year’s ESPN Instant Classic. Last night was no exception, some thoughts from the game:

Uniforms- Both teams debuted new uniforms last night. Brilliant move by ESPN. It gave the game a bit of mystery, kind of kept viewers on their toes wondering, “Is this Arena Football? Is this women’s lacrosse? Am I watching a video game?”

You know how when you use the “Create a Team” feature on NCAA Football 2010 and you create everything down to the finest detail but it never looks quite right? Your team always looks a bit too cartoony. That’s how I felt watching the game last night. It was like some kid won an X-Box Live tournament and the prize was designing uniforms for the BSU/Va Tech game.

Kirk Herbsreit did not share my view as he was salivating over all those young, fit college athletes. Did anyone else feel uncomfortable when his excitement boiled over and he breathlessly uttered, “David Wilson can make any uniform look good.”

Take it easy there, Kirk.

Trick Plays- I love how the media still tries to trot out the old “Boise State is just a gimmick team” routine. The only trick play last night was Virginia Tech’s first play of the game. So now Big Conference schools are pulling out all the stops to beat BSU, instead of the other way around. Face it Big Conference apologists, Boise State beats your teams at your own style of play. Boise is not an upstart, they’re just better than you.

Strength of Schedule- Here we go. Stupid Boise. Why did they have to win that game? Now we have to spend the rest of the season listening to how weak their schedule is. I’m sure we will hear things like “Sure, Boise State can win one big game, but how would they like to play Florida, then Alabama, then Texas, then Oklahoma? That’s what big schools have to do.”

First of all, no they don’t. Say what you want but for every big time Florida/LSU game there are a couple of Florida/Tennessee type games in the mix. This idea that the big time contenders are playing tougher teams week in and week out is always spoken as if it is a given, when in reality it is probably the most exaggerated fallacy in all of sports. Just because a mediocre team is in a conference the media has decided is better than others, does not mean they are by default better than the mediocre teams in every other conference.

Secondly, given the chance Boise State would be licking their chops at the chance to play VTU, Alabama and Florida back to back to back. Believe it or not, Boise wants to be the best. If beating everyone is what it takes they want to do it. Do you know who doesn’t want to play Boise State this early in the season? VTU, Alabama and Florida. Those teams can avoid Boise and let big brother BCS fight their battles for them.

Screw the media. Boise has a tough schedule and they have a target on their backs all season every season. Every conference game for them is just as tough as every conference game for Alabama. Boise is the team that every team in the WAC plays their best game against.

Congratulations to Boise for beating Virginia Tech on the road in front of 90,000 people. Degratulations (new word) to the media for planning to spend the next 12 weeks making excuses for the BCS conferences and explaining away Boise State’s dominance.

In other news, I don’t want to say much about this because I don’t want to jinx it…but dare I say the Utah State Aggies were the most impressive football team from the state of Utah this weekend? Putting up 422 offensive yards against Oklahoma in Norman is no small task. Please don’t get my hopes up, Aggies.

Who am I kidding? My hopes are sky high!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Open Apology to BYU Fans

My dad scolded me.

After reading the last entry about BYU fans my father called me and laid into me like I was late for curfew. He felt I was a bit too offensive and that I need to chill out and recognize that the term “fan” is short for “fanatic” and the fact is there are crazy and passionate fans everywhere. He sternly reminded me that I am an obnoxious Utah State fan, to the point of being arrested for fighting during the Big West Tournament in Anaheim, 2005.

I tried to tell him it is worse with BYU fans because they approach things as if they are God’s chosen athletic program. I told him they transcend normal passionate fandom and ascend into the regions of self-righteous condescension. I even accused the Honor Code as sounding vaguely too familiar…like some sort of plan…I can’t place it but I just naturally reject it…I can’t quite put my fingers on it. He doesn’t listen.

He is right, though. I cannot judge an entire fan base solely from the actions of a few unruly fans, players, coaches or administrators. I have unfairly condemned the group for the works of some bad individuals. I’m like a Jewish person who hates Nazis just because of some of the things Hitler did and said. I’m like a black person who hates whites because of the South. Sorry, individual BYU fan, I’ve been unfair.

My dad and I have a deal. He is coming with me to the Utah State vs. BYU game in Logan on Oct.9. All he has to do is wear Aggie gear from head to toe. He doesn’t have to say anything to anybody and I won’t talk to BYU fans. If after the game he still feels the way he does now, I will cool off some of the BYU comments.

Tonight is the Boise State game. I will be writing a running blog during the game and will post it tomorrow, along with my thoughts from college football’s first weekend.