My 50 Favorite Songs of 2014

Hey, it's a tradition, even if my blog has stopped being one!

Each song links to a YouTube video.
Or you can can check out the Spotify playlist (which is missing seven of the songs, thanks a lot, Taylor Swift!)
Or you can download all 50 songs here.

50. Octahate – Ryn Weaver
Ryn’s got a quirky voice, and this track showcases her range. The song starts of sort of slow, but by the time the song hits that powerful, thumping chorus, you won’t want it to stop.

49. Turn Down for What – DJ Snake & Lil’ Jon
Even if the song sucked, the video would have made it a classic. We’ll be enjoying this one at parties for years to come.

48. On the Rocks – The Rural Alberta Advantage 
If you were to stereotype this band by its name alone, you’d probably assume it’s a Canadian indie folkish rock band, but actually… no just kidding, they’re exactly what you initially thought. And good, too!

47. Sirens – Cher Lloyd
I wasn’t immediately sure I liked this song by the Brit songstress, but it’s haunting enough to keep creeping back into my consciousness.

46. Young Hearts – Strange Talk 
Bring on the synthesizers! This Australian band keeps it light and playful.

45. Rude – MAGIC!
I have a love/hate relationship with this popular song. It’s incredibly dumb, but I can’t help but laugh each time I hear the singer whine, “Why you gotta be so rude?” in the reggae-esque chorus. I wouldn’t want this loser to marry my daughter either.

44. Give Me Back My Hometown – Eric Church 
Let me be upfront to my “anything but country” friends – this is the first of three country songs on the list, and the only one with mainstream success. Don’t write it off too quickly!

43. Empty Gold – Halsey 
There’s a slight Ke$ha vibe here in the chorus, which I hesitate to point out since that might scare you away, but hear it out first. Halsey’s website’s bio says, simply, “I am Halsey. I will never be anything but honest. I write songs about sex and being sad.” “Empty Gold” fits into the latter category.

42. Paper Crown – Alec Benjamin
Benjamin was signed after generating a buzz on YouTube and you’ll hear why. Ballads are often pretty, yet rarely this catchy.

41. Rather Be - Clean Bandit & Jess Glynne 
Mainstream radio got it right with this infectious pop tune. Don't mind me, I'm just dancing.

40. My Silver Lining – First Aid Kit
Folksy female harmonies that’ll send a shiver down your back. That’s a good sensation, I reckon - no need for an actual first aid kit.

39. Sticky Situation - Baylor Wilson
Wilson was the young bratty girl on Survivor this past season, and apparently her aspirations to become famous extend past reality television and into country music as well. I listened to this song first as a joke, and a joke it is - she pretty much kills the "sticky situation" metaphor by listing a bunch of sticky things like stepping in gum, melted Dairy Queen, and a movie theater floor. It's as catchy as it is cringy though, and I'd be a liar if I didn't admit this song is always, well, stuck in my head.

38. Stoner – Young Thug
You don’t have to toke to enjoy this song by the Atlanta rapper. The pleasant beat makes it a good choice for dancing to drunk as well!

37. Mess Is Mine – Vance Joy
I gave you the scoop on “Riptide” in last year’s list, and it turns out his 2014 album is all good quality. If you like his vibe, you’ll similarly dig “Mess Is Mine.”

36. Heavy Crown - Y.O.U
Normally laying down so many musical components into one song is a recipe for disaster, but Y dot O dot U finds a way to turn this busyness into an enjoyable song.

35. Blank Space – Taylor Swift
Swift poking fun at herself really suits her. I was a little “Huh?” at this song at first, but I get the appeal now. I still swear she’s singing “Starbucks lovers,” though.

34. Lonely Neighbor – Oh Honey
If you can’t take another cute twee duet in your life, I won’t blame you. Still, this one is too adorable for me to deny. They make the cut!

33. I'm Not the Only One - Sam Smith
"Stay with Me" may have been his breakout hit (can I brag that I had Smith on my list back in 2012?) but I'm more partial to his more recent single, which uses his signature voice to do something less expected than a straightforward ballad.

32. Cigarette Song – Raury
Whoa, how is a high school student this talented? His song “God’s Whisper” got the most attention this year, but I’m even more drawn to the killer songwriting of this track.

31. First – Cold War Kids
This song is all about sequence. First you listen to this song, then you like this song. Nothing too complicated.

30. Gunshot – Lykke Li
Li’s consistently good – this is my favorite track off her commendable album I Never Learn.

29. Options – Brika
Keep your eye on Brika – she’s liable to break it big soon. I love how she lilts her way through this minimalistic song.

28. Ghosts - Made in Heights
Are we sure this isn't Janet Jackson? The vocalist is an aural deadringer. In lieu of new material from the actual Ms. Nasty, I'll certainly take it, though!

27. Chandelier - Sia
I've put Sia on this list three times in past years, including all the way back in 2008 - it's the rest of the world that's been late to the party. It's understandable why "Chandelier" finally made her a chart-topper in her own right - it's the perfect showcase for her extreme vocal gymnastics.

26. Budapest - George Ezra
What sets "Budapest" apart from every other dude-with-guitar song? The kinda-falsetto "oooohs" he sprinkles throughout the song, that's what.

25. Step – Vampire Weekend
I can never decide whether I like Vampire Weekend’s energetic songs or their slowed down interludes better; the good news is I don’t have to. “Step” is a lullaby for the thinking man.

24. Cleopatra - Weezer
I'm not arguing that Weezer is still in its prime, but if "Cleopatra" had been included on one its beloved mid-90s albums, today, you'd love selecting it on a jukebox with your friends and scream-singing "You can't control me no more Cle-o-patch-a-ra…"

23. I Wanna Get Better - Bleachers
Bleachers is an appropriate name for this band since it sounds like a pop-ified song that could get played at a sports arena to pump the crowd up. You'll be shouting the chorus by the end even if you don't want to. Who's up for the wave?

22. Ain’t It Fun – Paramore
You’ll agree with her that “it’s fun” for the first half of the song, and by the time she kicks in with not “crying to your mama”

21. Dream and an MPC – Golden Coast
For those suffering Foster the People withdrawals (yeah they put out an album this year, but was meh,) here’s Golden Coast. This song is high energy and fun – just don’t ask me what an MPC is – should I know what an MPC is?

20. Not Alone - Aram Mp3
Representing Armenia, Aram put together my favorite (earnest) Eurovision entry this year. The crescendo from soft ballad to intense dubstep makes the most of its three minute time limit.

19. Jealous - Chromeo
The kings of cheesy dance tracks have done it again. It's cool because it's so uncool, if that makes sense. Oh whatever, just enjoy it for what it is.

18. Wasted Love - Matt McAndrew
The Voice's Fall 2014 runner-up wasn't my favorite or anything (that distinction goes to Luke or Troy), yet when they provided him with an original song to perform in the finale, I was instantly impressed. Shooting to #1 on the iTunes charts just a few hours after being released - and even becoming a Top 20 Billboard song based on the strength of these sales - it's clear I wasn't the only one drawn to the songwriting here.

17. XO - Beyonce
Beyonce's late 2013 surprise album remained a force this year. Though I don't generally count myself a member of the Beygency "XO" is too enchanting to ignore.

16. No One Needs to Know - Haerts
If this song is trying to feel like a throwback from an 80s girl band, it's hitting all the right notes. Between the whispering and almost comical spoken word interlude, you just want to pinch this song’s cheek and tell it how adorable it is.

15. All This Could Be Yours – Cold War Kids
And it can so easily be yours, too, once you listen to this grandiose tune by this decade-old Long Beach band.

14. i - Kendrick Lamar
Lamar's one of hip hop's most sought-after artists to collaborate with currently, but he proves he doesn't need to accompany anyone to make a great record with this song all about himself. It's a musical self-esteem boost - a little self-affirmation is hardly a bad thing.

13. Face the Fire - Michelle Chamuel
Chamuel is an under-appreciated electronica singer, and "Face the Fire" is probably her best non-cover song single. It's fun and full of energy.Who can resist that "Whoa-ah-oh, whoa-ah-oh" chant? 

12. Argentina (Parts I, II, III) - Tokyo Police Club
It's basically three songs in one, but I don't consider it cheating since the band released it as a single unit. The progression tells a story that'll put a smile on your face - just remember to "smile with all your teeth at once." It's well worth the long ride.

11. Two Weeks - FKA twigs
There's a reason every music blog loves this song - it's fucking great. Don't let her gentle, breathy voice fool you - the lyrics are raunchy. Even tuning the lyrics out, though, you can feel the song's slow, deliberate sexual energy.

10. Simplethings - Miguel
True to its name, Miguel takes a stripped down approach to this song, written for the Girls soundtrack. (Pretend I didn't say that last part if it helps.) It's that beautiful simplicity that resonates to create an unforgettable tune.

9. Beggin for Thread - BANKS
I've been excited to share this song by the up-and-coming L.A. indie artist with y'all for a while, and shortly before typing up this list, I heard this song on KROQ. Sounds like the secret's out, and rightfully so. The song boasts in the bridge "My tracks are better" and she's right - her whole album is worth a listen/purchase.

8. Alexandra - Hamilton Leithauser
Warning: this song leads to excessive stomping, thigh slapping, and head bobbing. The former lead singer of The Walkmen is clearly having a good time with this tune. If the subject of this song is half as fun as the song itself, I'd love to meet her.

7. Turtles All the Way Down - Sturgill Simpson
This IS your grandaddy's country. You don't have to normally be a fan of the genre to appreciate its classic qualities and Simpson’s amazing voice. I’ll have whatever drugs he’s having - and he lists a few!

6. Colorful Kids - Ha Ha Tonka
Okay, so technically this song came out on a 2013 album, but you got to give an indie band an opportunity to tour to get the word out on a song as great as this one. Easily one of my favorite choruses I've heard in a long time.

5. Shake It Off - Taylor Swift
No use in hating, we all love this song. I've polled even friends who don't like pop music, and it's (near) unanimous that this is a fun, smart song. Considering I've previously liked literally only one Swift song throughout her whole career, I'm excited about this new, pop-heavy direction.

4. Ellie - Eastside
I can't tell you much about who created this mash-up/cover of Ed Sheeran's "Don't" and Chris Brown's "Loyal," but I'm nevertheless all about it. "Consider it a feminist response to some of the misogyny in mainstream music. Before this cover, I felt guilty wanting to sing along with the phenomenal hook "These hoes ain't loyal" and now that it's disassociated from Chris Brown, I can do it relatively guilt-free.

3. Don't Tell 'Em - Jeremih & YG
Okay, Jeremih drew my attention by borrowing from "Rhythm Is a Dancer" (someone should have thought of that sooner) and then he made a fan out of me with that scatty "Don't Tell 'Em" chorus. I couldn't begin to count how many times I drunkenly sang this song to passersby in Las Vegas a couple of months ago.

2. Sexotheque - La Roux
The band that made one of my previous favorites "Bulletproof" has recaptured that magic with this breezy dance song - it's understated yet amazing. The perfect soundtrack to a casual dance party. Let's not pretend you won't get a kick out of singing about a "sexotheque" either.

1. Seasons - Future Islands
It's not often that my favorite song also tops most music critics’ lists (my tastes are so Pitchfork!) This one took me a couple of listens, but thanks to its deceptively dance-y qualities, I bounced around my room to this on repeat. Plus, it leaves you emotionally confused in the best way possible – how did they turn a woeful reflection on expired love into something so triumphant?


Los Angeles in 2 Parts

I made a mini-love letter to the people of Los Angeles in the form of a 30 second video.

First is a clip of today’s police brutality march where 1,000+ of us shut down some streets of downtown LA. It was partially in solidarity with events in Ferguson, but mainly in memory of the multiple unarmed men of color the police have killed in our own city in the past couple of weeks. It’s ridiculous that this is so common of an occurrence. Apparently, someone else got shot by LAPD during our protest mere blocks away.

Shortly after, a few minute walk away, I came upon a three-block long oval of elderly Japanese women performing a choreographed dance routine to Pharrell’s “Happy.” It was cute and kind of a culture shock after shouting at the LAPD… yet also, in a weird way, kind of fitting.

We got a lot of work to do, Los Angeles; keep being awesome in the meantime.


The Money Machine

All my life, I've dreamed of being in a money wind machine (do they have a proper name?). I'm not particularly greedy, but I've just always known in my heart I'd be exceptionally good at grabbing dollars as they blow around me in an enclosed booth.

Walking down an LA street last month, an opportunity presented itself to make my dream come true. Granted, it was a T Mobile promotional booth and not a real money machine, but sometimes you have to modify your expectations to make dreams a reality.

Sometimes, however, dreams are just that… it turns out, I'm rubbish at this game. My friends just stood outside the booth, laughing and mocking my pitiful effort to grab fake crumpled up money as it whirled around me.

In my defense, T Mobile implemented a whole lot of unnecessary rules that killed any kind of reasonable strategy to do well:

  • I could only grab the money that blew above my waist (most of it remained toward the floor.)
  • I could not bend my knees or reach down.
  • I could not push money against the wall to collect it easier, or touch the wall at all for that matter.
  • I could not stuff money in my shirt or anywhere else on my person.
  • The only money that would count is what was in my hands.

That's not how they do it on TV! I filled all I could fit in my hands pretty quickly and then I was kind of stuck… I had plenty of time left but only so many crumpled papers can fit between your fingers. Considering these were just T Mobile bucks and not real dollars, you'd think they'd just let me have at it. Part of me wanted to ask them, "Look, I'm not actually going to try to cash in the bucks for a T Mobile accessory ASTERISK YOU MUST ENROLL IN A NEW T MOBILE CELLULAR PLAN TO QUALIFY, which is a pretty big caveat if you ask me, so can you just let me play like real people do since I'm just using this as practice in case I ever make it on a gameshow?"

Oh well. Let me bend my knees and shove money down my shirt though, and I'm going to take you for thousands of dollars. Mark my words!


Sharknado Tweets

To all of the people tweeting about Sharknado 2 tonight, never forget that Cory Monteith’s “thoughts” about the original Sharknado were the last things he ever tweeted. You wouldn’t want that to be your internet legacy.


Happy 10th Birthday, Jadakiss's "Why"

Jadakiss's sorta hit song "Why" turns 10 today. In celebration, a full decade later, I think I'm finally ready to take on the wholly unnecessary task of answering over 50 of Jada's disjointed rhetorical questions. 

Yo, why is Jadakiss as hard as it gets?
Why is the industry designed to keep the artist in debt?
Capitalism's a sham, man.
And why them dudes ain't riding if they part of your set?
No loyalty.
And why they never get it popping but they party to death?
People enjoy revelry. 
Yeah and why they gonna give you life for a murder?
It's a punishment meant to discourage people from committing this crime.
Turn around only give you eight months for a burner?
It seems fair to have a much lighter punishment for possessing an illegal gun, then say, using that gun to kill someone.
Why they selling niggas CDs for under a dime?
Yo, I just saw Paula Cole's album in the discount bin, too; the discount bin is color blind.
And if it's all love, daddy, why you come with your 9?
Hey, Jada, you're the one who's talking about lowering the punishment for murder, maybe that's why your friend wants a little protection around you.
Why my niggas ain't get that cake?
If they tell the waitress it's their birthday, they'll probably bring a slice.
Why is a brother up north better than Jordan that ain't get that break?
The Toronto Rappers are trying as hard as they can!
Why you don't stack instead of trying to be fly?
Consumerism encourages people to spend money on stupid crap rather than save it.
Why is ratting at an all time high?
One man's tattletale is another man's whistleblower.
Why are you even alive?
I'm definitely not prepared to answer such an open-ended existential question.
Why they kill 2pac and Chris?
Since their murderers were never apprehended, it's hard to speak to their motivations.
Why at the bar you ain't take straight shots instead of poppin' Cris?
There was a champagne happy hour special.
Why them bullets have to hit that door?
That was the direction they were aimed in.
Why did Kobe have to hit that raw?
Raping someone with a condom might have left less evidence, but that's hardly the real problem with someone who, you know, raped someone.
Why'd he kiss that whore?
Uh, I'm not going to cosign calling an alleged rape victim a "whore."
Because it's misogynistic and terrible.

Why do niggas push pounds and powder?
Why did Bush knock down the towers?
We've got a Truther in the house!
Why you around them cowards?
They're my friends.
Why Aaliyah have to take that flight?
She couldn't just live in the Bahamas indefinitely.
Why my nigga D ain't pull out his Ferrari?
The gas mileage is pretty shitty.
Why he take that bike?
Cycling is a healthy activity.
Why they gotta open your package and read your mail?
It's fun to be nosy.
Why they stop letting niggas get degrees in jail?
I agree, inmates should have access to an education.
Why you gotta do 85% of your time?
Better than 100%, I suppose.
And why do niggas lie in 85% of they rhymes?
It's only like 50% of their rhymes… oh I see what you did there, Jada.
Why a nigga always want what he can't have?
The grass is always greener on the other side.
Why I can't come through in the pecan Jag?
I approve of this ride.
Why did crack have to hit so hard?
That sounds like good crack to me.
Even though it's almost over, why niggas can't get no jobs?
Bigoted corporate America is less likely to hire African American candidates.
Why they come up with the witness protection?
To protect people who testify against dangerous criminals.
Why they let the Terminator win the election?
For whatever reason, over 50% of Californian voters selected Arnold to be their governor.
Why I sell in the stores what you could sell in the streets?
Perhaps your album isn't selling because your music isn't as good as you believe.
Why I say the hottest shit but we sellin' the least?
Again, Jada may be overestimating the quality of his tunes.

Why Halle have to let a white man pop her to get an Oscar?
Her roles in Bulworth and The Flintstones just weren't award worthy.
Why did Denzel have to be crooked before he took it?
He actually won his first Oscar for portraying an upstanding Civil War soldier.
Why they didn't make the CL6 with a clutch?
This is a very specific complaint. Since you're a celebrity, maybe they'll custom make one for you.
And if you don't smoke why the hell are you reaching for my dutch?
Someone is trying to mooch that weed.
Why rap?
It's your calling, Jada.
Why be on the curb with a "Why lie? I need a beer" sign?
If you're poor and looking for a buzz, it's worth a shot.
Why all the young niggas is dying?
Cholera is making an unfortunate comeback in parts of Africa.
Why they ain't give us a cure for AIDS?
Scientific research takes time.
Why my diesel have fiends in the spot on the floor for days?
This drug reference is over my head.
Why you screaming like it's a slug?
Slugs are gross and sort of scary.
Why my buzz in LA ain't like it is in New York?
Having grown up in NYC, Jada's core fan base is his hometown.
Why they forcing you to be hard?
Peer pressure.
Why ain't you a thug by choice?
It's okay to not want to be a thug.
Why the whole world love my voice?
This seems like a bit of a stretch for a mediocre rapper.
And you know they made them new twenties? 'Cause I got all the old ones, that's why.
Well, he finally answered one of his own questions, but it's suspicious how he claims his album isn't selling well and the record label doesn't pay him properly, but he basically has all of America's old money stockpiled.


My Neighbor Caught Me Messing Around with Her Dog's Poop

My house shares a yard with a couple of other units, and one of these neighbors recently got a new puppy. I think when she got the puppy she thought mainly of the cuteness and less about the responsibility because things haven't been going so well on that front. The dog is left in the yard barking and whining for hours at a time, and while I'm not wild about that, I'm even less in love with the shit all over the yard. Dogs poop, so I don't object to that, but I don't like that our shared yard is now a literal minefield of crap. Like, clean it up every so often!

I meant to address this issue with my neighbor like an adult, but before I got around to that, I had a friend over one day and she shouted, "WHY IS THERE DOG SHIT ALL OVER YOUR YARD?" Right after, I realized that the neighbor was standing at the adjacent and open window and must have heard the comment. That's not how I wanted her to hear that message, but I wasn't upset that it happened because at least she'd take the hint.

Except that the "hint" was ignored. A month worth's of poop amassed in the yard including several piles right outside my own front door. I decided my best course of action was just to just wait for the landlady to show up on the first of the month to pick up rent because she'd definitely say something about the mess.

On the 30th, however, my neighbor went around and picked up the poop. That meant she knew she was about to get and trouble, yet waited until the last moment to get rid of the problem. Of course, she didn't bother with the poop around my door, which would not be visible to my landlady.

So I devised a plan: I would move some of the remaining poop closer to the front so that the landlady would see it. It's silly, it's gross, and it's passive aggressive, but I genuinely thought it was a good plan.

I waited until 1:30 am so that I could do it secretly. With a couple of napkins, I scooped up dried out poop using both hands and made my way to the front yard. It was only as I was in the process of relocating the poop in a new spot on the ground that I realized that my neighbor was sitting silently in the dark on the porch. Panicked, I picked the poop back up and shoved it in my pocket and ran back into my house as my neighbor watched.

I can't be sure of what she saw or more importantly what she thinks she saw, but since the motion sensor light next to me had turned on, I have to assume she did see me doing something with her's dog poop. In retrospect, I should have put it in the trashcan rather than my pockets as if to indicate, "See, I have to pick up your dog's poop!" but I was caught off guard.

I don't even know whether it'd be better if my neighbors thought I was being conniving by recreating the poop mess or that I'm plain crazy and randomly playing with dog poop super late at night. Either way, I'm super embarrassed and feel like an idiot for not realizing this "good plan" was bound to backfire on me.


Transcribing Porn

My friend recently got hired for a new job off of Craigslist… she's transcribing porn. Gay male porn, it was later revealed. Evidently, hearing impaired homosexuals are actually interested in the two minutes of exposition before the main action.

I was once hired for a media transcription job, but quit after one day. The rate of pay did not make it worthwhile since I had to rewind it too often in order to catch every single word. It was too slow of a process. Plus, I didn't get to watch porn.

Don't take that to be perverted - transcribing porn is, as my friend herself has acknowledged, fairly easy. There's not a lot of dialogue, so it's not strenuous work and not the kind of thing you have to replay too often to catch the words. She doesn't have to type out the grunts and moans, either, which seems like a bonus. But exclamations like "oh yeah" and "fuck me" - that needs to be transcribed. Something tells me that she'll find herself increasingly attracted to the strong, silent types within a few weeks.

My favorite part of her job is the ethical dilemma she's already encountered. Some of the videos have clearly been dubbed with additional audio that doesn't match up with the particular scenes. She described one occasion where you could hear an actor enthusiastically shout some words that he couldn't have possibly said given what his mouth was doing at the time. She wasn't sure whether she should caption it to accurately reflect the audio, or to leave it out to better reflect reality.

"How do you know it wasn't the other guy that said it?" I asked. "Let's just say that his mouth was otherwise occupied, too!"

Right. Well, that is quite a tough call, then. But that's why they pay her the moderately big bucks, I guess!


All Licked Out

Still laughing at this typo that appeared on my Facebook feed last weekend.



The best part about the Redskins losing their trademark is not that they are forced to change their name (because they're not), but that now we can ALL use the name Redskins without infringing on the trademark.

Since it's indisputably the best name around, smart sports teams better jump on this while it's hot. The Denver Redskins. The Cincinnati Redskins. The New England Redskins. There should just be an entire league of Redskins teams! Plus, once every team is doing it, no one can whine that it's "offensive."

I'm going to open up a cupcake business and name it Redskins Cupcakes just because I can.


Where Have I Been?

Ohmguh, where have I been?

Not blogging. Well, not blogging here anyway.

I just needed a break. I didn't even realize I needed a break until I was in the middle of taking said break. It felt good to check out for a prolonged period of time.

If I'm being honest, since hitting my 30s last year, blogging has become less appealing. I'm less inclined to overshare or just share details of my life in general. I wouldn't necessarily call it maturity (sorry, parents), just age.

Writing for a living doesn't help matters, either. I have other outlets for expressing myself that get way more of an audience (and, more importantly, get me paid). In between doing my jobs, I rarely feel like writing more, even "for fun."

That said, I'm not ready to pull the plug on this blog. I doubt it will ever return to the heydays when I'd post every single day, but I've got still got some Babbling left in me.

But real content will have to start again tomorrow. Somehow I got talked into seeing a Tom Cruise movie...



I helped my mom download her first song ever the other week. She wanted to listen to "Happy" by Pharrell (well, she actually thought his name was "Feral" like a wild cat, but that's cute so she gets a pass) on her iPad. Who can blame her? The song is infectious. So infectious that my parents couldn't help but dance - which was also cute - each time it played. (It played a lot because when you only have one song on your iTunes, there's nothing else to shuffle to.)

My mom also played the song for my cousins, who weren't familiar with it. I understand that they're country music fans, but it floors me that they weren't familiar with a song that ubiquitous.

One of these cousins is a professional masseuse, and I bought my mom a session with her as a gift. As they discussed the particulars, my mom wanted to know if she should bring her own music. My cousin said that she had music prepared, but that she could accommodate my mom's request if she had one.

There was one song my mom wanted to hear: "Happy," obviously. Thinking the song too upbeat for a relaxing atmosphere, my cousin suggested that she play the song before the massage started instead. "Or after," she offered. "I could definitely play the song after."

It's pathetic that I couldn't stop myself from ruining a nice moment with an inappropriate comment, but I had to ask: "You're going to give my mom a 'Happy' ending?!" My cousin did not appreciate the implication.


The Camel

This is my cousin’s rendition of a camel.

You’re probably envisioning a young kid, but no, he’s of drinking age (though we sadly can’t blame booze for this monstrosity) and obviously not an artist.

We were playing a sort of Pictionary-esque game, and he genuinely didn’t seem to notice how phallic his “camel” was when he sketched it quickly. He handed the picture to his sister to guess what it was and she abruptly tried to quit the game. ”You’re gross! This is obscene! I’m not playing this game anymore!”

The rest of us - unable to see the picture - were confused. What in the hell could be so disturbing that she’s threatening to quit?

She ultimately guessed watering can. I guess that’s one way to try to make it family-friendly again.


Dick Is A Dick

Surprise: Dick is still a dick.

I didn't include this anecdote in that article 'cause I have to pretend to be at least somewhat professional, but I was on a hike a few years ago when Lexi got a Google Alert on her cell phone that she misinterpreted.

"Guys, I think Dick Cheney is dead!" she said. I swear, you've never seen four grown adults so enthusiastic about someone dying in your life. The bad news came only after we learned that, no, Dick Cheney was not in fact dead. I don't know that I've ever felt more disappointed in my life than when I found out this man was still alive to spread evil around the world.


Paper Mashie

So my friend teaches at a charter school. She's certified to teach Science, but because of the way the school is structured, she winds up teaching some English, too. The district eventually learned that kids were receiving instruction from a non-certified English teacher, so they arranged for an "English specialist" to show up part-time at the school to supplement lessons. Though my friend studied English in college and has been teaching reading and writing for years now, she understands the law that forced the change; it just kind of sucks because the money to pay the supplemental instructor must be taken from the charter school's already limited budget.

Here's the kicker, though: the English specialist the district has provided is only questionably literate herself. Here is the honest-to-gosh assignment she gave to my friend's students to do in conjunction with the Holocaust memoir Night:

What kind of English teacher doesn't use punctuation? What kind of English teacher doesn't write out the word "you"? What kind of English teacher uses the wrong type of "there" incorrectly twice in one sentence?

As much as I am laughing at things like "arty project", "paper mashie", and her botched cut and paste job that repeats part of the assignment a second time, this is actually tragic. In what world is my friend not qualified to teach English while this woman (who has had her job for over 15 years, mind you) is considered a "specialist"? I like her claim that she will take "of" [sic] points for spelling and grammar errors, as if she has any idea what those are.

Granted, when I was a high school English teacher, the essay I assigned in conjunction with the book Night resulted in at least one epically awful student paper. That's still not a good excuse for someone brought in specifically to teach writing to arbitrarily assign an art project rather than an essay. The public education system is fucked. It is so so so so fucked.


Ridiculous Songs from Eurovision 2014

There's just ONE MONTH until Eurovision 2014 and I'm stoked. Per tradition at this blog, I've compiled my favorite ridiculous entries that will compete this year. They're total WTF videos, but who said awesome and awful were mutually exclusive?

Some additional commentary:
15. Sir-Shakes-A-Lot sure whistles better than he sings.
14. Poor man's Bruno Mars is "all about party time."
13. This is this woman's third consecutive attempt (San Marino's small, y'all) at Eurovision, and thus far she hasn't made it past the semifinals. I doubt that spoken word and nipples are going to be enough to do the trick.
12. I'm not following that lady anywhere.
11. She's (quite confidently) "pretty", but she's not naive or easy. Got it?! Also, hot dance moves, baldy.
10. I'd be more down with tolerance if it didn't look so gay.
9. I've just been screaming, "I'm not an animal in captivity!" at random lately.
8. Starting a song with a screech, sexy writhing, and the lyric "We belong to each other/Like a sister to a brother" -- gotta love that incest.
7. All right, stop shaving your upper-lip, then.
6. These out-there folks are way further than three minutes from earth. 
5. Hideous costumes, over-enthusiastic background dancers and singers… and then the giant flags come out. The more elements they add, the tackier it gets.
4. Tits! That's one way to try to get votes, I guess.
3. What's not to love about a bearded lady in a tub of rose petals singing a James Bond-esque anthem? 2. The Belorussian Robin Thicke is not as smooth as he hopes. Nice "Google Maps" reference, though.
1. They've got a cake to bake, what more do you need to know? The songwriter actually said he penned this song to encourage men to ask for directions, and I have to imagine that men are now getting that message loud and clear!