The 50 Best Songs of 2013

It's time for one of my favorite blog traditions - an annual listing of my favorite songs. There's been so much great music this year that cutting it down to 50 was harder than ever. To sample the songs, click on the title to see a corresponding YouTube video. Or you can listen to (almost) all of them on this Spotify playlist. Or you can just (shhhhh) download them all at once here to learn/enjoy at your leisure if you promise to financially support the artists that you wind up liking. (That last link will disappear in the near future.) On with the countdown:

50. Only Teardrops - Emmilie de Forest
This barefooted Danish cutie not only won over our entire viewing party with her catchy song, but also the entire Eurovision contest. Never underestimate the power of a flute solo.

Last year's Channel Orange was so strong that even some good material got cut. For that reason, I'm glad this unreleased track leaked to the internet because it's really, really good. 

There's no mistaking that British accent even in the lead singer's high-pitched singing voice. This song is a treat; you know, like chocolate. 

Of Monsters and Men released quality singles of their own this year, but none were nearly as beautiful as this cover of a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song. When you can outdo Karen O at her own song, that's something.

Some of my friends have been on the Fitz train for years now, but the Tantrum never struck me until hearing this fun one on the radio a couple of times.

It's been ages since Ciara unveiled her "Goodies", but that doesn't make this song's sexy invitation any less enticing. While the song oozes sex, if I'm being honest, the main draw is that it borrows from Ghost Town DJ's "My Boo" (aka one of the best songs of all time) - how can you not appreciate that?

There's too many layers at play to try to explain this song, it's more of an experience. With sounds like these, I can't wait for Bear Mountain to deliver more than an EP.

Cold War Kids are one of the most consistent bands around. The urgent, pounding piano accompaniment almost never lets up, giving this song a pleasantly intense energy.

There's not much Karen O can't do, but spooky songs are probably her forte. Once the gospel choir takes over for the latter third of the song, you might feel like you're in an episode of True Blood.

Perhaps I should be embarrassed for relating to a jaded teen like I do with Lorde, but given that she hit #1 with this tune, I'm obviously not alone in being disenchanted with lavish lifestyles. Here's hoping the fame and fortune don't corrupt this outlook. 

40. The Mother We Share - CHVRCHES
One of the year's hottest indie bands proves it lives up to the hype with this weird yet enjoyable composition. Look for a more vibrant song from them higher on this list. 

Vance Joy scored a hit with this song in his native Australia, but it deserves international attention. By blurring the line between peppy and depressing, it's one of the more intriguing songs of the year. 

I'm tempted to apologize for enjoying a bratty, semi-vulgar Miley album cut, but I have a feeling you're going to dig her kiss-off song, too. 

37. Back to Forever - Lissie [no Youtube available]
The final track to her album of the same name is my personal favorite. Her nostalgia-inspired lament showcases her chops.

After initially catching my attention with her witty debut single "Merry Go Round" last year, country music's cleverest - and presumably most progressive - songwriter (claims I'm in no position to make given that I barely dabble in the genre) has done it again with this ode to nonconformity. 

Rudimental's "Waiting All Night" had me dancing, but the more laid-back "Free" is the track I anticipate coming back to the most in the future. It's hard to go wrong with the superbly talented Sande at the mic. 

34. Stompa - Serena Ryder
Talk about anthemic. Ryder's palpable attitude should inspire you to clapa your hands and stompa your feet right along to the music. 

The exciting chorus that greets Doreen was enough to pull me in initially, but then I paid attention to the other lyrics and realized that Doreen and the singers have committed an unspeakable act like murder or something. How wonderfully creepy!

Internationally successful, this disco track is certain to still be considered a classic decades from now. While I do wish it were less repetitive, it's hard to fault the robotic boys for not wanting to deviate from a hook this groovy. 

I could do without the titular hashtag, but aside from that, this is easily one of the best pop/R&B duets of the year. The song capitalizes on Miguel's patented smoothness, as well as some rare restraint from Carey.

It's been a decade since DeGraw hit the big time with that One Tree Hill theme song. The folksy lyrics here just beg for a sing-along, so much that I find myself randomly shouting out the name of states by the end of the song.

I would have told you there's absolutely no need for a song about YOLO in 2013, but then I gave this song a chance. It turns out to be M.I.A.'s usual humorous assault of noises. The spoken word riff on reincarnation is the perfect conclusion to this tongue-in-cheek tribute.

While I can't cop to being a fan of all of West's creative risks this year, "Black Skinhead" is different in an appealing way. The Marilyn Manson beat is way smart, but the other audio samples are super overdone. Is it parody or is he really just someone who went overboard after discovering the "sound effects" portion on GarageBand? As usual with Kanye, it's hard to say.

It's obvious how much fun this Canadian indie band has performing this song. The energy is high throughout and the variety of vocal tricks they pull out keeps things exciting.

This song doesn't officially get released as a single until next year, but it's already playing on repeat in my house. If it becomes a major hit, 'memba I toldja. 

I don't understand how I'm late to the game on this Canadian singer/songwriter. This song is great, as is the whole album. How do we make her the Sarah McLachlan of this generation?

I don't normally go for songs this uneven and experimental, but there's something about this song that just works. By the time DeLong poses the question "Did I make you fucking dance?", you're not going to be able to deny it. 

It's a little unfortunate that this Danish band released a song called "Harlem" with the word "shake" prominently in the chorus the same year the Harlem Shake fad climaxed, but I still prefer this catchy alternative song by far.

Mars is pretty hit or miss for me (don't get me started on "Gorilla") but he definitely got me with his emulative disco song that flaunts it danceability. This is the kind of throwback sound that last year's "Locked Out of Heaven" aspired to be.

On first listen, I was confused - this is what Cyrus's singing voice sounds like? Nevertheless, her unusual rawness fits the energy of the song. Even if, like me, you tried to resist the song at first, its inescapability proved fortuitous because this is a pop classic. 

Country meets soul - a marriage I wouldn't mind hearing more of. As much as I like an uptempo tune, when this song shifts at the midpoint from slow to a super slow stilted lyric recitation, I couldn't be happier.

My ongoing fandom for Lavigne probably correlates with my desire to never grow up, and it's great to see Lavigne has a similar mantra. When she calls for us to put our middle fingers up, I gladly do so with only minimal irony. 

This folkish indie group deserves to be more than a well-kept secret. Their songwriting skills and harmonies resonate long after the track ends. 

Hands down, this haunting single is Rihanna's best song since "Umbrella". She can still put out a hot dance track, but stripped down and piano-backed is a good fit on her voice, too.

Though the lyrics are hardly raunchy, this song kind of reminds me of an old school filthy Prince jam. There's an undeniable underlying sexual energy here, so you're probably going to need a shower after this one.

Superb harmonies as always. Don't tell them, but I secretly hope that people never stop breaking these twin sisters' hearts because the resulting music is always killer.

This song's simplicity is its strength. Sometimes all you need is a solid guitar riff and a great vocal performance to create a song that'll stick in your head. The peppering of hand claps, cooing background singers, and piano tickling adds that extra little kick that'll keep you coming back for more.

Considering how many times Monae has inspired me to dance over the years, I'm willing to along with her unique thesis - when the apocalypse arrives, don't use your final moments to mope: bust a move!

Last year's "Ho Hey" was such a mega-hit that it took people some time to even acknowledge their follow-up single. Though "Stubborn Love" is certainly subtler and more layered than its predecessor, it's still every bit the sing-along... once you've learned the words.

While I want to "applaud" Gaga for going rogue on ArtPop, most of the eccentric tracks are over my head. It's actually the album's most radio-friendly song that struck a chord with me. How is "Gypsy" not a single before that laughable duet with R. Kelly?

I love that Vampire Weekend isn't afraid to tackle weighty subjects with seemingly trivial lyrics that cut more deeper on further inspection. Heck, they turned an exploration of agnosticism into this fun, bouncy tune. 

Though the catchy chorus deserves most of the credit, my favorite part of the song is the periodic sound effect that sounds like someone is banging out the hook to "You Keep Me Hangin' On" in Morse code. 

Passenger's voice may skew a little too unconventional to be a choir leader's favorite, but it's sure resonated with listeners this year. His ballad on the age-old theme of "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" packs a lot of emotion. 

I can't get enough of the chorus: "I'll be a thorn in your side 'til you die/ I'll be a thorn in your side for always." It seems like a fucked up relationship dynamic, but the music is too pleasant-sounding to be sure. 

I have trouble believing that this is a song recorded in 2013 - it sounds like a soul/funk smash from decades past. I also have trouble believing a voice like that is coming from a Ron Jeremy lookalike (from the waist up, at least) and not someone like Sam Cooke - the man whose rumored dying words are the title to this song.

5. San Francisco - The Mowgli's
I'm not usually sentimental enough to buy into the "I love love" crap, but I am a sucker for over a dozen goofy people singing in unison, so this track won me over instantaneously. 100+ plays later, it never fails to brighten my mood.

4. Wake Me Up - Avicii & Aloe Blacc
It's a testament to a song's greatness when you can be bumping it months before its radio release and then still not get tired of it when it hits the mainstream. As a longtime admirer of Blacc, I have to give the majority of the credit to his vocals for bringing to a coolness and authenticity to a DJ track.

3. My Old Friend - Sam Amidon
I'm curious whether this bare-bones cover of a Tim McGraw song will cling to your hearts as much as it has mine. The lilt of Amidon's voice is odd, but definitely moving. It's a sentimental tune I'll keep with me forever.

2. We Got the Power - Loreen
Not everyone can use dark sounds to empower her listeners, but not everyone is Loreen. Sweden's Most Important Person (an honor I'm bestowing personally and sincerely) is so good at what she does that when she stretches out "love" into a twelve syllable word you actually wish she had made it twenty.

1. Pompeii - Bastille
I've long been a fan of Bastille's complex songs that take you through a full progression. "Pompeii", the first song to make a real splash in the U.S., is no exception. It's about time someone brought Gregorian hanging mainstream.

Ta-da! Again, you can download them all here or stream them on Spotify here. Happy 2014.


The Fire Drill

When I was a young kid, our town had a “Fire Safety Week”, so my mom thought it would be a good idea to run a fire drill in our own home to learn an escape plan in case of an emergency.

From my bedroom, my best route outside was down the staircase and out the front door. At our house, though, the front door was mainly ornamental. We always entered and exited through one of the side doors, so the front door actually stayed double latched.

For the drill, my parents sounded a fake alarm. I ran down the stairs to the door. Seconds were of the essence in this hypothetical scenario, but I struggled with the locks and couldn’t get the door open. When I didn’t arrive at the the designated meeting area out front, my parents came to look for me as I still tried to get the door open.

My mom showed me how to open the door, but when she put it to me to replicate what she had done, I still couldn’t figure out how to unlock it on my own. After a couple more of my failed attempts, she said, “I’m sure in a real emergency you’d figure out how to open it.”

Yeah, good drill. HOW AM I EVEN STILL ALIVE?


Bowled Over

Kevin: [pointing and laughing at a kid near us who somehow managed to get his bowling ball stuck in the gutter DESPITE having the bumpers up]
Amber: [whispers] Don't do that! He's mentally handicapped.
Kevin: Oh my gosh! I didn't realize! Whoops!
Amber: I'm just kidding, I was trying to make you feel bad.
Kevin: [swats at Amber] Ugh, you're horrible, I believed you!
[a few minutes later]
Amber: You know, I think that kid is actually mentally handicapped after all.
Kevin: I was just starting to realize that myself…


(Moral: don't call someone mentally handicapped because they might actually be mentally handicapped.)


Bag of Butts

Huh? I refuse to click on the link on principle because I'm committed to whatever the opposite of "keeping up" with the Kardashians is, but I'm really curious about what a "bag of butts"is. It sounds like the punchline to a joke my sister would tell when she was ten.

"What'd you get me for Christmas?"
"A bag of butts!"  


We Don't Go to Church on Christmas Eve Anymore

For most of my life, I've attended TWO services on Christmas Eve: one protestant and one Catholic to appease both sides of my family. I'm no longer obligated to attend either, though, not because I'm old enough to make my own decisions, but because the churches have forced our hands.

The protestant church stopped being a requirement when the married minister got a teenager in the congregation pregnant. Surprisingly, church-goers found it difficult to stomach hearing the dude preach the good word after that, my family included.

After a prolonged process, the church hired a new pastor. He's easily 350 pounds. I can't help but guess that he was chosen in part because they figured no teenage girl would want to have sex with him. I suppose we could start going to church again because of the new pastor, but the whole thing is tarnished. Christmas especially - all of the celebration over a religious birth from a young, unwed mother still hits a little too close to home after the last guy, if you get my drift.

Right now you may be thinking, "If that's what stops you from going to the protestant church, the Catholic church story must be downright scandalous!"

It's not, though. There are no sexy secrets that I know of at this particular Catholic church, but even supposing that the priest knocked up a teen girl, they'd just call the baby a miracle and put it in the manger for the nativity play. By now, Catholics have just learned to ignore the hypocrisy - the sermon could literally be about the virtues of being a ChiMo and you'd still have one thousand people sitting in the pews because it's Christmas Eve and you can't skip church on Christmas Eve.

I am the exception that gets to skip church on Christmas Eve, however, because the Catholic side of my family is now mostly dead, so there's not much peer pressure. Besides, the sermons are awful. The priest literally just reads Christian-themed email forwards as his sermons like the bogus one about the hero marine punching an atheist professor (fucking liberals!) on God's behalf. One Christmas, the sermon was about a disfigured man who started going to an Australian Catholic church for solace - the priest then hooked the ugly man up with a talented plastic surgeon and made him into a handsome man. That man went on to be… ACTOR MEL GIBSON! First, I don't get what this tale had to do with Christmas, but second, as any idiot who has visited Snopes can tell you, the story is absolutely not true. Then again, if the priest had a problem dressing up falsehoods as fact, he'd be in a different profession altogether.

Even with all of that in mind, the number one reason we don't attend the Catholic service anymore is actually the choir. It is the worst choir you've ever heard. It's a buncha adults bleating out Christmas hymns as if they were goats. They couldn't be more out of tune if they tried. Maybe at rehearsals half of them practice going sharp, while the other half goes flat just to mess the congregation. When I briefly entertained the thought of attending mass this year, I then remembered this one hellbeast's annual solo/slaughtering of "O' Holy Night" and decided that the nicest gift I could give to my ears this holiday is not putting them through that.

So, yeah, no church for me. And I'm pretty okay with that.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!


17 With Him

Hmm, is this an appropriate way to interact with a Facebook "friend" I haven't had contact with in many years?



"Best music video of all time" is the kind of praise that someone says hyperbolically, and then repeats for another music video three months later, but I feel pretty confident I will never retract my feelings of adoration for "All Night Long."

The Lionel Richie song was released two months after I was born, but somehow I didn't realize how amazing it was until hanging out with friends Saturday night. I still can't figure out how it popped into my head originally, but I put it on Spotify. And that I put it on Spotify again. Over the course of the night, I think we listened to the song about ten times. Each time was as good as the first, and by 2 am we were just full on dancing to it on repeat. We turned the title into something literal.

When I got home in the wee hours, I somehow still wasn't sick of the song, which is when I watched the music video. I didn't think the song could be improved upon, but the visuals are killer. Richie has Michael Jackson's "Beat It" outfit on loan six months too late, but instead of interacting with hooligans, Richie is prancing around with disillusioned 80s people in bright pastels. With Richie's help, everyone is transformed by the power of dancing in the street.

My favorite part is obviously the youngest girl in traditional dress who is way late on her cue and clearly doesn't know the steps, but is still too cute to edit out of the final cut of the video. But my second favorite part is a 500-way tie for all of the other dancers. I want to learn every person's individual moves because it makes me so happy.

If I hire a choreographer, would you all help me recreate this music video? It's all I want to do with my life.


Trans Fats

"When I heard about the trans fats ban, my first thought was, [whispers] 'I hope Chili's is okay.'"

- my roommate; Chili's #1 fan


Person of the Year

There, I fixed it for you.

I mean, the Pope is still one of the surprisingly raddest dudes around, butlet’s not pretend that Edward Snowden didn’t twerk all over our fascist oppressors this year.

(And as someone who has twice been Time's Person of the Year, I obviously know what I’m talking about.)



Poll: Am I dumber for mistaking a green bean for a caterpillar or for thinking that a caterpillar would somehow respond to my whistle?



I've seen a lot of internet jokes about how NBC's awful "Sound of Music Live" special must have killed the original baroness, but if we're being honest, the lady who played the new baroness was the only good part* of the whole musical. It was almost ridiculous that she had to pretend she was threatened by country Maria's looks, personality, and singing ability when the baroness had her beat in all three categories. For the first time, I found myself rooting for Captain Von Trapp to stick with the baroness, even if it meant aligning with the Nazis.

If anything, maybe Eleanor Parker died because out of that whole swastika-emblazoned shit show, the new actress proved that the original baroness could actually be replaced. "Why couldn't Carrie Underwood have played my role?" she probably shouted on her death bed.

It's funny how the baroness has retroactively become my favorite part of The Sound of Music, thanks in main part to a Melinda Taub article published on McSweeney's. If you're familiar with the musical, "I Regret to Inform You That My Wedding to Captain Von Trapp Has Been Canceled" is one of the funniest things you can read. I'm tempted to just quote the whole damn thing, but I'll restrict myself to one of many favorite lines: "I had planned to send [the kids] to boarding school since their education at the moment seems to consist mostly of marching around Salzburg singing scales. I think it would have been particularly helpful for the eldest daughter who seems intent on losing her virginity to the mailman."

* Well, her and Kurt. That kid was definitely putting the other child actors to shame.



Help! I just absentmindedly shampooed my body and body washed my hair. Am I going to die?

brb, gonna ask Yahoo Answers where I'll get some real help


Paul Walker Died, So I'm Telling

I'm 2 Slow, 2 Stoic to have seen any notable Paul Walker films, but that hasn't stopped me from getting caught up in news of his death, namely because of my ongoing obsession with people who died doing what they loved. In Paul's case: speeding in cars.

I tried to figure out if I've ever seen a Paul Walker movie and it turns out I have: Pleasantville, which he was good in; She's All That, which I don't remember him in; and The Skulls, which I'm almost too embarrassed to admit that I've seen.

More importantly, while looking at Paul's IMDB page, I came upon the most important factoid of all: he was a child contestant on I'm Telling!, a sort of Newlywed Game for siblings. My sister and I would watch it often as kids and dreamed of going on it, mainly for the toy spree at the end. We were [are] also really good at fighting with each other in front of other people, which is half the show.

"Don't let me down, YouTube!" I said aloud as I searched to see whether Paul's episode was there, and thankfully, it didn't disappoint. Nor did the episode. If you're feeling sentimental about Paul, or just nostalgic for 80s TV, you'll enjoy the uploaded episode (which includes bonus 80 kids commercials.) 

Part 2 of I'm Telling episode
Part 3 of I'm Telling episode

See Paul:
  • bicker with his sister
  • make a "funny" face
  • discuss his drinking problem... (the drink being milk)
  • not-so-modestly declare himself better looking than his sister
  • when pressed to describe what animal his sister eats like, daftly say a "human being"
At this point, Paul had a long way to go as an actor, though, because he was clearly being upstaged by the third set of siblings. Their blend of social awkwardness, twitching, and over-explaining their answers made them the obvious stars.

I'm Telling! will have to suffice as my memorial for Paul. Surely it's no worse than Alyssa Milano's tweet, which the CNN obituary saw fit to quote in full:

Huh? You. #beauty #love #RIP


Real Apologies

Real men extend real apologies.

(Bonus assholery: I can’t remember why I was doing it in the first place, but I do remember saying, “Mmm, you smell like ‘Original’.”)


It's 3[:30]AM I Must Loony

I thought the crowd at the 24-hour taco place by my house at 2am after the bars let out was really weird… until I met the 3:30am crowd. Anyone scoring a burrito at that hour has been up to no good.

My friends and I were there, too, so admittedly we deserved to be categorized similarly. At least we had the good sense not to try to intermingle with the fellow riffraff, but all the other patrons were intent to chat us up anyway.

First, an older gentleman interrupted a couple of my female friends' conversation about their respective hairlines to give his input. He was a "comedian" but never really said anything funny. When my friend finally tried to excuse herself from a conversation the guy wouldn't take the hint needed to end, she told the slightly balding guy, "Okay, good luck with your hairline!"

Then there was a straight male ginger Latino fashion student (who knew?!) who was celebrating his 21st birthday. He claimed he had $4,700 on him that his father gave him to celebrate and kept offering to buy us stuff and take us places. He told us he had paid his friend to be a DD and that he was on his way to Vegas after eating and we could join him. Behind him, his friend shook his head no to indicate that was not going to happen. The ladies also declined to give him their phone numbers, despite his persistence. I'm not really sure whether he had all that money on him either, but he did wind up buying us an horchata.

Meanwhile, some woman a few feet away started screaming and slapping a guy after he told her he was leaving her at the taco place because he couldn't afford the gas to drive her home. She could have left before with Tito if he had mentioned that fact earlier!

Both the 21-year-old and the comedian were asking where we all lived, and one of my friends offered up the fact that I lived "right over there" and pointed. I leapt into action: "Yeah, but not right there… way way back. Like a few miles in that direction." Sorry, but we don't give my address to shady drunk people.

Speaking of shady drunk people, the creepiest dude of all never even talked to us. He was a young guy by himself carrying a 12-pack of Tecate in his arm. As he methodically made his way through his beers, he would flash a big smile and just wave at us every couple minutes or so. At first it seemed friendly, then it seemed like a condescending joke, and then it seemed like we might get murdered. At some point, the smiling and waving between strangers needs to stop, or people are going to start to think the worst. It's a shame, too, because it might have been nice to be friends with a guy unashamed enough to drink a 12-pack on a public street corner.

No more enchiladas at 3:30am.


Pocket Bacon

I just remembered that I've had bacon in my pocket for the last seven hours and so I ate it.

Man, it was delicious.

The story could end right there as far as I'm concerned, but you probably want to know why I had bacon in my pocket.

I ate a late breakfast (the hungover, 3pm kind) at a diner. I ordered a plate that said it would come with 3 strips of bacon, which was disappointing because you always want more bacon than that. Much to my delight, I was served about 10 strips of bacon.

I can't recall a time where I was like, "That's too much bacon!" but I legitimately reached a point in the meal where I could no longer stomach any more. It was too much of a good thing. Still, it was bacon, so I didn't want to leave it to go to waste or waste a whole to-go container for one strip. My solution was to wrap it in a napkin and put it in my pocket for later.

Maybe not seven hours later, but it was still great, so whatevs. You're just jealous you didn't think of pocket bacon first!

Sadly, there's precedent for this kind of odd behavior. I also once did a napkin-wrapped "pocket steak" in Las Vegas, but that didn't hold up nearly as well.


What Would I Say?

I admit it, I really like What-Would-I-Say because it's essentially Horse eBooks but with your own words! Usually it's hard to laugh at your own jokes, but when you didn't actually write them, the laughs flow freely.

That is a potent pill the government is prescribing.

Better safe than sorry.

Any guesses? Mitt Romney, obviously.


Yeah I am!

You can't say I didn't try to uphold journalistic integrity.

It's best not to.

It was time to pay up.

The revolution won't be televised, but it will be a grumpy gus.

This one's a thinker. She's not trying to kill herself, she's just trying to make it look like she tried to kill herself, I guess. 

What a disappointment. This is why people don't read.

Ugh, tell me about it.


My Saddle's Waiting

With all due respect to veterans, let's take time to honor to the real heroes: each and every solo "Pony" dancer. 


It's Like 10,000 Spoons When All You Need Is A Knife

I know "Ironic" isn't actually ironic, but is it considered irony when your life mimics an Alanis Morissette lyric?

(Also, somebody please wash the knives.)


Don't Stop Beilievin'

SoRrY dOn'T nOrMaLlY sHaRe StUfF lIkE tHiS, bUt I nEeD a HuGe FaVoR fRoM tHe BiG gUy.


Serving Suggestions

Don't get me wrong: grilled salmon and lemon rice sounds great. However, this microwavable bag of green beans might want to taper its expectations for its customers. I am, after all, microwaving green beans, so let's not kid ourselves about "dotting" food with goat cheese and thyme.

Here's what the serving suggestion should really say: Buy some some fresh produce, you lazy fuck. 



I dressed as Quail-Man for Halloween. I chose Doug Funnie's alter-ego because the actual costume IS a crappy costume and therefore isn't hard to put together. But it was still a hit! I mean, most people seemed to have no idea who this dude was running around with a belt on his head and underwear* as outerwear, but the minority of people who did recognize me were super into the nostalgia and I wound up posing for a couple dozen photos with strangers. I just wish Quail-Man had some kind of catchphrase, because each time people shouted at me, I had nothing to respond but, "Heyyyyy." (What does the Quail say?)

I thought Quail-Man would be an original costume - I've never seen anyone dressed as him before - but wouldn't you know it, I ran into two other Quail-Men in my trek around Hollywood last night. We should probably start an Awesome People/Awesome Ideas club.

* I purchased the tighty whities from Goodwill for 50 cents. Yeah, that's gross, but I washed them twice and they went over my pants so I think it's okay. I hope it's okay, anyway.


Halloween Suicide

In 7th grade, my friend hung himself a couple of days before Halloween. I learned about it from a couple of crying girls the following morning outside of the junior high. At that age, half of everything you hear about someone else is mere gossip, so I kept watching the school buses, expecting to see him get off one and confirm that it was all a horrible rumor. With each bus that emptied without him, his death felt more real.

Halloween is an especially inopportune for a peer to take his life. Everywhere we looked, the morbid decorations were no longer playful, but yet another reminder of death.

I found it inopportune for another reason, too. We still went out trick-or-treating that year despite the somber mood. At some point in the trek between houses, someone referenced the topic we were all trying to avoid. I chimed in, "I don't get why he didn't at least wait until after trick-or-treating."

I cringe when I think back to that comment. I honestly wasn't trying to trivialize the matter, that was legitimately how I felt. If you're going to kill yourself, fine, but take advantage of the free candy first!

Really, though, the quip speaks to just how young we were. My number one concern then was maximizing the number of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in my pillowcase… there's no way a 12-year-old was capable of making such a final decision about his own mortality.


Schmaubrey Shplaza

When you live in Los Angeles, you inevitably run into celebrities fairly often, but most of the time there's nothing worth saying about the encounters other than, "Saw 'em!", which makes for boring stories to most people aside from your East Coast relatives who find this sort of thing fascinating. So while I normally don't namedrop on this blog, I do have a slightly better than nothing tale to tell about a certain famously moody Parks and Recreation actress who we can call, oh, Shmaubrey Shplaza, for the sake of protecting her identity.

Two friends and I were eating at a Vietnamese restaurant when Shmaubrey Shplaza came in with two friends of her own and was seated at a table across from us. We did a quick, whispered, "That's Shmaubrey Shplaza," and then went on with our own lives and conversations. If anything, we were more focused on the waiter, who my friend decided she had a crush on. I started to glance at strange books sitting on a shelf next to us, one of which had a cover my friend thought was funny enough to take a picture of.

For the record, she took a picture of the book. But given the angle the picture was taken at, Shmaubrey Shplaza apparently thought we were snapping a photo of her eating in the background and got irritated.

Look, I don't blame her for thinking we were taking a picture of her because I bet people do that kind of thing to her all the time. But we really didn't! And it's one of those things where you almost want to get up and show Shmaubrey Shplaza the picture and prove that she isn't even in the background so she has nothing to roll her eyes at, but that's just going to make you look crazier.

It's also possible that Shmaubrey Shplaza didn't care about the photo at all, but was just sort of scowling and staring intently because that's what she does naturally. Like, Shmaubrey Shplaza was pretty "in character" throughout dinner, even as her friends seemed pretty pleasant.

Whatever. I pride myself on not being that guy who tries to coyly take pictures of celebrities, but now a celebrity seems to think we're that kind of people anyway. Sometimes you just can't win!


Starbucks Birthday

I almost didn't attend Eric's party because the invitation seemed like a joke: a birthday celebration at a Starbucks at 5pm on a Saturday. Now that I've experienced it, however, I have trouble understanding why more 30-somethings don't throw their birthday parties at the coffee chain - it's like the grownup equivalent of McDonalds.

The employees seemed a little perplexed by the unannounced party, but they didn't attempt to kick out the few dozen of us that took over the Starbucks patio. It probably helped that attendees bought a good amount of coffee, plus various pastries to serve as the birthday cake. It also helped that though conversations were boisterous, they fell short of rowdy. That's not to say that the studying college students and LA duo working on a screenplay weren't put off by the sudden influx of people on their previously quiet area, but to their credit, they did subsequently join in singing "Happy Birthday" all the same.

I don't normally patronize Starbucks (because corporatism and caffeine, yuck) but I will gladly make birthday exceptions.



"You'll never be able to move on until you stop sharing a Netflix account. Knowing what TV series your ex is marathoning is way too intimate."

I don't offer relationship advice very often, but I feel very strongly that a breakup isn't final until someone changes the Netflix password.


The Break-In

There was a break-in at my house last week. Sort of.

I was there just sitting in the living room when my front door popped wide open. I figured it was my roommate, who had left to run an errand not long before, returning, but it wound up being a strange man.

"Hi?" I said. He mumbled something incomprehensible and let himself up the stairs. Perplexed, I sprinted toward the staircase to try to catch him, which is when I encountered two women - presumably a mother and teenager daughter - letting themselves into my house as well.

"What is going on?" I asked.
"We're here to look at the apartment," the younger one said.
"Uh, why?" I said.
"The room for rent. He's showing us the room for rent."
"I.. wha… uh… there's no room for rent. I live here."

We continued to try to hash out the details a bit more, but I realized the longer I talked to the women, the longer the man upstairs was unattended. "Look, you're welcome to come in, but there's no room for rent here," I said before running to find the man. [I probably didn't have to be so nice as to invite potential intruders in, but I was frantic and unsure of how to deal with the situation.]

Upstairs, I found the man stumbling up and down the hallway. When I got a good look at this face, I realized he might be a former neighbor of mine who I hadn't seen in a long time, but he looked especially sickly. It didn't seem like he was stealing anything, so I asked, "Are you all right?" and kind of gently coaxed him back downstairs. I couldn't understand his mumbled Spanish, but I was pretty sure he wasn't a threat to me.

At the women's request, I called the landlady to see if there was actually a room for rent anywhere in the compound. She told me no, and urged me to call the police to get the people out of my place. I told her that it probably wasn't necessary because whatever was going on seemed like a mistake, not malicious.

It turns out it was my old neighbor after all. He had spent a long time in the hospital after being diagnosed with a brain tumor and his mind wasn't right anymore. He wasn't just sort of confused, he was terribly confused, and somehow the ladies got pulled into his story that my apartment was for rent. The women apologized profusely, but I assured them there was nothing to apologize for, and we called the man's daughter to come take care of him.

Meanwhile, we're being more proactive about locking the door because you never know when someone's going to let themselves in and try to rent out your home when you're not looking.


Eurovision 2009

Sadly, we're still 7 months away from my favorite event of the year, Eurovision. Fortunately, Celeste and I recently watched a video of the music competition from 2009 to tide us over. It might be my favorite year that I've seen of Eurovision yet given how many funny songs and videos it had. It was enough to inspire me to create yet another compilation video; I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:


New Role Model

Honest to gosh, this kid is my new role model.

"All we are saying is give peace a chance."

Cutest GIF ever:


My Road to Rocky

Having gone my whole life without seeing any Rocky movies (boxing just seems so primitive), I decided to finally partake in an American cinematic staple by marathoning all of them. I know even many Rocky fans haven't seen more than a few films in, so it was kind of overkill to go all in like that, but I couldn't resist the story of a man who was derided for dating a supposedly (but not really) "retarded" woman while shockingly no one points out that Rocky is clearly the one with a mental disability all along.

I know most people think the franchise gets worse the further it goes, but for my money, it finally gets good at Rocky IV. Rocky was whatever, II and III were all sorts of dull, but 4… 4 gets crazy campy. Before his fight with the Russian heavyweight Ivan Drago, Apollo Creed does a ridiculous patriotic dance routine as James Brown performs "Living in America" that so greatly encapsulates American excess and arrogance…

… and then in the subsequent fight, Apollo dies. At first I was surprised that a Rocky film would be so critical of American culture, but by the end, the movie has turned 100% pro-USA again.

You see, Rocky wants to avenge Apollo's death by fighting Ivan Drago, and the Russians schedule an unsanctioned fight on December 25 (because Commies have no respect for Christmas!) At first, Drago kicks Rocky's ass, but Rocky is scrappy and stages a comeback. By the end, the all-Russian crowd that was booing Rocky begins chanting his name and calling for American dominance.

It already doesn't seem believable, but then Rocky gives a speech that wins over even the Russian government officials AND THE COLD WAR IS OVER!! No kidding, Rocky has finally brought Russia and the United States together by knocking out their most prized fighter. Sometimes you need to kick some ass to promote peace!

Rocky V meanwhile is so ghetto, it's great. Rocky's no longer a boxer, he's a father. All his son wants is a little bit of attention, but Rocky only makes time for another aspiring boxer who wants to be his protege. Once Rocky's mulleted protege becomes successful, however, he ditches Rocky for money, fame, and babes.

Rather than reconnecting with his son, though, Rocky is fixated on the protege who used him, and the tense feelings culminate in the usual BIG FINAL FIGHT that the franchise is known for. Except, for the first time, instead of happening in a boxing ring, it's just a street fight that happens outside of a bar. As usual, Rocky almost loses, but the aged star pulls it together to knock out the kid he's been mentoring.

As far as cinematic street brawls go, it's not quite They Live good, but it's still pretty funny that the writers chose to end the five film story arc not with a championship or an act of heroism, but with a drunken, petty feud that the cops come to break up.

So glad I stuck it out with you 'til the bitter end, Rocky.


Blow It Out Your Porthole

Despite some initial success (meaningless ribbons and certificates) in my earliest years, I believe I officially gave up as a visual artist in 8th grade.

On the one hand, maybe I just couldn't handle not receiving constant praise on my presumably unimpressive artwork from my art teacher for the first time. On the other hand, I think he was a dick who stifled my expression.

I was excited about our landscape assignment because it was the first time I ever painted on an honest-to-gosh canvas. Something about painting on a canvas makes the process seem so much more official than doing it on paper.

While my peers took a traditional approach to the assignment, I chose to paint an island seen through a cruise ship porthole. More than half of the canvas was devoted to the interior of the cruise ship and the landscape aspect of it was kind of incidental in the background.

I thought it was a modern approach to landscapes and showed how removed we are from nature. Most people really do only experience a sight like that through glass on a boat, and I wanted to acknowledge that fact in my painting. Whether I was able to articulate that idea better or worse in 8th grade, I don't remember.

My teacher graded it poorly and called it a cop out. Okay, maybe part of the reason was because it was easier than painting an actual landscape. But all that other stuff I just said? That was a part too - a bigger part. This teacher had one idea of what a landscape could be and stomped on my creativity.

He also didn't like my mixed media collage that incorporate the lyrics to The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony". (Looking back, maybe I was anti-capitalist before I even knew what that meant.) What a fucking buzz kill. Then again, I suppose the true mark of a great artist is not being appreciated in your own time.

I'm not sure where the porthole painting is anymore, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn it somehow made its way to an art museum because that shit is genius.


How The Onion Made Me a Better Person

I'm not satirizing satire - The Onion really did prompt me to make a positive life decision.

A month ago, I tore a hole into my fitted bed sheet. It's old, so I believe the sheet had just worn thin over time. Since the hole was small, I just ignored it, but the more I slept on it, the wider the hole got from incidental tearing.

I considered sewing it, but then realized I didn't have the skills for that, so instead I fastened it with safety pins. Sleeping on top of safety pins isn't too comfortable, so I started just sleeping on top of the hole as if it weren't there.

Most people would be like "Time to buy a new sheet!" but I wasn't convinced that was necessary for whatever reason. Then I read I read The Onion's article "Nation's Single Men Announce Announce Plan to Change Bedsheets by 2019" and it dawned one me what a schlub I am.

I know I often make myself the punchline, but that's on my own terms, thankyouvermuch. Not wanting to be the butt of the joke in this case, I finally bought a new fitted sheet! Look at me being an adult, world!

Now, before things get too self-congratulatory, I should probably also admit that I still have not replaced this blanket that is also slowly accumulating holes.

I got this sucker over ten years ago in a corporate giveaway and I still sleep with it on my bed. A real adult would probably get rid of it, but, uh, baby steps.

Also, a real adult might know how to put a fitted sheet on his bed. After fifteen minutes of solid effort, the corners kept untucking and popping off, leaving me stewing in frustration. At one point, I even aggressively poked my finger through one of the corners as I tried to stretch it further (and I swear I didn't even cheap out on this sheet!) meaning I technically have a hole in this sheet, too, even though I hadn't even slept on it yet. ARGGGGHH!

The best solution would have been to ask a roommate for help, but I was determined to stretch it on my own and even used Google for potential tips. That's when I found this second Onion article: "Study Reveals Majority of Suicides Occur While Trying to Put Fitted Sheet on Bed."

I was about ready to hang myself with the fitted sheet at that point, and once again, The Onion put things in perspective. I might owe The Onion for not only improving my life, but also saving it.



I know you've been waiting for an update on which things give me itchy hives, so allow me to finally put the speculation to rest:

I got the results of the test back: I definitely am allergic to cashews. (If you're not hearing me deliver that line like the breast cancer revelation from The Room, then you know me even less well than I knew I have a nut allergy.)

If you'll recall, at the beginning of the year, I had a horrible allergic reaction, which I suspected might be related to cashews but I was too afraid to confirm because a) I didn't want to test it and break out into a useless mess again and b) cashews are my favorite nut and I am not keen on the idea of giving them up. Well, this week I threw caution to the wind and bought a can of cashews and WABOOM, itchy red blotches on various parts of my body… but mainly around my crotch.

The damn thing is that I like cashews so much that I can't even promise I will never eat them again. Food allergies are new to me (other than the fact that maybe just about every food gives me diarrhea, but I digress), but I always thought people were repelled from foods they're allergic to. Is there some kind of bargain I can make where I give up almonds and pistachios and macadamias so that I can keep eating cashews safely? It might seem drastic, but I'll do it.

For now, though, no cashews for me, if only because they make the area around my butt hole itch. You don't know how difficult it is to be in public when all you really want to do is scratch vigorously in the vicinity of your butt crack.


The Book Report

Three O'Clock High is an unremarkable 80s high school film, but it was almost worth watching it for this one particular scene. The scene culminates in one of my new favorite throwaway one-liners - it's so quintessentially 80s that you can't help but laugh even though it's not actually funny.

Here's the only context you need: the protagonist has been challenged to a fight after school by a bully, and in an effort to avoid having to show up, he tries to get his teacher to give him a detention by misbehaving during his book report. The teacher has not been a character until now - 2/3 through the movie - and her, uh, reaction to his antics is farfetched even for this particular plot.

Still, it's the last line that really matters. I desperately want to type it, but I think it's better unspoiled. Besides, just seeing it in words doesn't do it justice. You need to see the character actor's goofy face and oversold delivery for it to resonate.

But henceforth, let's quote it to each other when we hang out, cool?



I'm obsessed with the 300 Sandwiches lady. Bless her desperate culinary efforts to get wifed up. I might even love her enough to marry her for fewer sandwiches. 117 sandwiches is my official bid - what do you say, sweetie?


Schlong Skirt

How old does Mad Men's Sally need to be before we can point out that she’s wearing a schlong skirt? You’d think that she’s walked in on enough adults having sex that she’d recognize a bunch of dicks by now. The poor girl is trapped in the middle of a circle jerk.


Which Mode of Transportation Does God Use?

A lot of people have existential questions about God, but my main query is a bit more focused: How does God get around? Helicopter? Boat? Rollerblades?

Rather than going to The Bible, I consulted the same source I use for all of my religious-based inquiries: the pop/rock hit songs of 1995. Here are the three ways that God stays mobile:

1. BUS
Song: One of Us - Joan Osborne
Lyric: "What if God was one of us? 
 Just a slob like one of us? 
 Just a stranger on the bus
trying to make His way home?" 

Like any good stranger on the bus, you can bet that God avoids eye contact, puts his belongings beside him on a seat so no one can sit next to him, and fumbles with his change when paying the fare.

Song: Everything Falls Apart - Dog's Eye View
Lyric: "I met God this afternoon
riding on an uptown train.
I said, 'Don't you have better things to do?'
He said, 'If I do my job,
what would you complain about?'" 

Though it seems like a step up from the bus, God appears pretty snippy while riding the train. Telling a dude that he's shirking his deity duties because humans are just going to be unhappy regardless is hardly the act of a courteous passenger.

3. CAR 
Song: Counting Blue Cars - Dishwalla
Lyric: "We count only blue cars, skip the cracks in the street,
and ask many questions like children often do.
We said, 'Tell me all your thoughts on God
'cause I would really like to meet her.'"

The big reveal here isn't that God drives a blue car, but that He is actually a She. God or not, it seems a little unsafe for her to be operating a motor vehicle given what we know about female drivers. Stick to public transit, sweetie!


I Guess You Know You've Made It When Buzzfeed Starts "Borrowing" Your Content

(It's cool, it's cool, at least it was attributed.)



Ugh, so I like to think I'm a good liberal, but then when I'm crunched for time while playing Scattergories and I need an "I" word for "Found in New York City" I hastily write "illegal alien."

People are not illegal! Even outdated press agencies have dropped the I word, yet here I am having it be my first association with NYC.

I was only slightly ashamed initially, until I remembered that, even if that was my train of thought, I could have still scored a point for putting the much more PC "immigrant." WHY DID ILLEGAL COME TO MIND BEFORE IMMIGRANT? Even if I was hellbent on using the word "illegal", at least "illegal immigrant" would have scored me double points.

Put a timer in front of me and I'll start panicking enough to let my unconscious racist tendencies show.


Top of the Lake

On paper, Top of the Lake is the most captivating you'd think you'd ever watch:

  • a pregnant preteen 
  • a cult 
  • murder 
  • crooked cops 
  • a missing person 
  • Holly Hunter 
  • incest 
  • roofies 
  • rape 
  • child rape 
  • incestuous rape 
  • accidental incest followed by intentional incest 
  • Peggy from Mad Men's boobs 
  • more naked women than I've ever seen at a single time 
  • recreational drugs 
  • an insane man 
  • Xena Warrior Princess 
  • dart injuries 
  • paternity tests 
  • enlightenment 

But then you watch the miniseries and it's like, "How is this so boring? Why is this paced to take all of the excitement out of everything? How did so many illicit things happen and yet it feels like I watched nothing?"

I'm still hoping it takes home some Emmys because look at that list again! Turning all of that into something that's a chore to watch is a feat!


How Do We Stop a War?

It's so pathetic that we are inevitably going to war with a country for reasons we can barely explain. Obama has promised to lay out the reasons for bombing Syria, but the excuses are slow to be shared, and even those that are aren't passing the sniff test. How is it in a "democratic" country that the government can wage war against a country that is not posing a threat to us even when the majority of Americans do not support such a war?

Initially, I didn't know how to feel about the proposed attacks on Syria. I mean, what did I know about Syria? So I learned about it. Here's a great primer for beginners who need some help learning, as well - and I promise that it's not difficult to comprehend.

Here's the thing: it's not black and white. This would be way easier if there was a good side and a bad side in Syria, but there's not. The authorities are evil AND some of the rebels are evil, while some other revolutionary facets exist that maybe aren't bad but it's hard to tell because everyone's just getting slaughtered - over 100,000 people in fact.

So how do we bring peace to Syria? Bomb the fuck out of them! Lol, jk, that doesn't even make sense… it's just American diplomacy. The U.S.'s current position is one of, "Stop killing each other so we can kill you instead!"

Obama is a warmonger. Progressives don't want to hear it, but the evidence has been in front of you the whole time. The endless drone warfare. The continued military occupations in countries we've "liberated". Shame on any liberal who (rightly) criticized Bush for his phony reasons for war, but are plugging their ears and giving Obama a pass on this one because they don't want to face that they are complicit in this system. A sham of a system that we all perpetuate by pretending we have a choice when the Democrat/Republicans take us down the same path. The military industrial complex needs to attack foreign countries to thrive, and Obama is happy to handpick them one.

"But Syria used chemical weapons!" Fuck that noise. The U.S. used chemical weapons in Vietnam, who punished us for that shit? In the case of Syria, you don't get to sit around as tens of thousands of people die from bullets, and then suddenly be like "Hundreds died from chemical gas? That's inhumane!" How many senseless genocides have occurred with no U.S. intervention? There is nothing heroic about bringing additional war to a war-torn nation.

I liked this sign I saw today: "200,000 refugees and we send BOMBS?" It's not that we shouldn't lend support to the people of Syria - we need to do it in a way that will be helpful, not counterproductive and, well, fatal. And maybe - just once - the U.S. could sit this one out. Let the UN or a country that actually maintains some kind of moral authority get involved, because clearly the American "solution" is not a real solution.

I attend a No War in Syria protest today on Hollywood Boulevard. It was kind of interesting confronting blissfully ignorant tourists with the realities of the US regime, and the visibility for our message was high. However, no one was keeping a more watchful eye on us than the police. As usual, they surrounded, intimidated, and even arrested some of the protesters in attendance. Your country guarantees you the right to protest, but when you actually try to do it… they try to block people from seeing you and pull out their batons and EVEN GUNS in the hope of scaring you away.

The police's action makes the picture all the more clear: you don't want war? Tough shit, you're getting war. And there's nothing you can do to stop it. That said, we need to find a way to stop it.


Nail Clippers

So my roommate is like the Rain Man of nail clippers. Apparently he keeps his in a very specific spot and they went missing and he seemed a little agitated about it.

"I don't know if they're yours, but think I've seen some downstairs in the bowl by the TV," I say.
"Oh, does it say the word 'TRIM' on it?" he asks.
I laugh in his face. "I… I… how would I know? It's never occurred to me to read the inscription on the nail clippers." Never mind memorizing what it said.
"Cool, well I'll go check it out."

He disappears downstairs and comes back some minutes later with shorter nails.
"Did it have 'TRIM' on it?" I ask, half joking.
"Yeah," he responds.
"Oh great, so it must be yours."
"Nah, it's not mine."
"It's a different one. I know because the file on mine is slightly bent."

Say what you will about the man, but he knows his nail clippers more intimately than I know most of my friends.

Later, I decide to check out my own nail clippers to read the inscription. I want to be the kind of responsible clipper owner that knows the brand name well enough that I can call it out should it go missing. Unfortunately, what I see, I can't un-see:

For who knows how many years, I've been obliviously trimming with PRiNCESSA clippers. I'd probably feel too emasculated to use them now, except that the only thing more emasculating would be to let my nails grow long.

Where are those Trim clippers anyway?


Who Are the People In Your Neighborhood?

I encountered some awesome people just before getting on and then again just after getting off the train yesterday.

First, Christine pointed out a woman walking ahead of us that she called "Ariel". Indeed, the woman with red hair - not like orange "let's call it red" hair, but straight up dyed scarlet red hair - and a flowing teal dress looked straight out of The Little Mermaid. Obnoxiously, we started singing "Part of Your World" behind her.

As we got even closer to her, however, she didn't smell fishy. She smelled… skunky. I got a big whiff of pot and then noticed she was lighting a bowl right there on the street. Forget "Under the Sea", she was Under the Influence… in public. Gotta love a Disney princess who willfully defies the law.

The train ride itself was pretty normal, other than the fact that we sat beside a stunningly beautiful woman. "She is way too pretty to take public transportation," Christine noted.

Right off the train, however, we encountered a fight. A black woman and a Caucasian man were getting in each other faces and shouting for the whole block to hear. The woman screamed, "I'M A REAL N*****! I DON'T OWE YOUR HOMELESS ASS ANYTHING!" The man was offended. "Whoa! One: I'm not homeless! Two…"

I didn't get to hear point two because I was laughing too hard. He might not be homeless, but appearance-wise - and I say this as someone with compassion for the homeless - he could have fooled me.

More than anything, I wanted to know the context of the fight. Like why did she have to state that she was a real [racial epithet]? Did he somehow offend her by not calling her the n-word?

Even though she seemed to be the aggressor in the altercation, in a subsequent game of "would you rather", I decided I'd prefer to be the woman's friend of the two. Better to be a real n***** than a fake homeless, am-I-right? Of course, I reckon they could both be pleasant if they took some time to mellow out with the Little Mermaid.



At pub trivia tonight, we had a round where we were asked to name the top languages spoken by native speakers. We quickly brainstormed the obvious (Mandarin, English, Hindi, Arabic, Spanish) then moved onto the -ese's (Cantonese, Japanese, Portuguese, etc.)

Then one of my teammates said "Think of Colonese."
I went to write it on our answer sheet, but realized I couldn't since I didn't understand.

"Yeah, Colonese."
"Wait, like, Colonese?"
"Yeah." [others nodded in agreement]
"I'm embarrassed to say I've never even heard of Colonese."
"No, like, Colonese."
"Who speaks Colonese?"

Finally it dawns on me. Not "Colonese". COLONIES. Like imperialism. French. German.

Normally, I'd gladly own up to being a dumbass, except that we won so fucking hard tonight that I will accept no other label than smartest drunkard in the bar.

Swi le jeet! 

For you rubes out there, that's Colonese for "I'm the best!"


The Most Amazing Tan I've Ever Seen

On the first day of school my sophomore year, my Spanish teacher asked one of my peers whether he had spent much time at the beach during the summer.

"Yeah, I surfed most days," the student said.
"I knew it! I could tell!" the Spanish teacher celebrated. "You have the most amazing tan I've ever seen."

While his skin was remarkably tan, there was one problem… dark brown was his natural skin color. Year-round, even. An awkward silence fell over the room because most of us students knew that she got lucky with her beach guess and the tan was not temporary, but correcting her might make the kid feel even more uncomfortable.

When you're in a school district that's 95% white, mistakes like this do happen. I remember in elementary school, I had friends that were very plainly not Caucasian, but it never occurred to me that some of them were anything but white. With only a juvenile understanding of race, I figured people who acted like me and that I liked must be "white." Sure, they had really dark skin, but deep down, they must actually be white. In a way, I thought I was giving them the benefit of the doubt, which is all sorts of horrible, but the kind of notions a kid has to navigate through in a world of white privilege surrounded by limited diversity.

Occasionally, I think back to the incident and wonder at what point she realized his "tan" wasn't going away. Did it take a week, two weeks, maybe a month for humiliation to set in? Did it surprise her to discover that the kid who acted just like the others in an otherwise all-white class wasn't white after all?

If it makes anyone feel better, the Spanish teacher was diagnosed with cancer a few months later. But she was also a nice woman, so don't revel in it! Subconsciously whitewashing the people around her makes her ignorant, but taking pleasure in her getting cancer makes you an asshole… and that's probably worse.


Pullups Pillow

So there's a senior citizen passed out in my hallway using a bag of Huggies Pullups as a pillow. PARTY AT MY PLACE!

It's a long story, but for reasons I still don't understand, my roommate allowed his friend, his friend's wife, their 2 and 3-year old kids, and his father-in-law (see "grandpa" above) to have a vacation at our house for four days. So far they've gone to Disneyland and the beach… yet mysteriously, not a motel.

Simultaneously, my roommate has also invited people to crash here for Fuck Yeah Fest (a music festival in LA this weekend), which means there are drunk concert-goers also taking up space on the couches. I guess when there's not enough places for people to sleep, Grandpa winds up on the floor?

How does this situation even work? It arguably doesn't. We have the late 20s/early 30s degenerates boozing until 3am, and then just three hours later, the kids are awake, screaming and stomping around like children their age do. Plus, there's just one bathroom for all of us.

It's like Full House, but with fewer heartwarming moments.


Who Wants to Know?

When I karaoke (which is rare these days), I usually only choose songs I'm familiar with and know I won't embarrass myself on. But tonight, I saw RAY, JIMMY - ARE YOU JIMMY RAY? in the book and I got super excited and chose it on an impulse.

I pride myself on my 90s nostalgia, but "Are You Jimmy Ray?" is definitely one I've forgotten over the years. I don't know how I let it happen because it is so perfectly campy. Granted, I had trouble singing the song because I didn't remember the cadence other than the chorus, but it was worth it to have it reintroduced to my life.

My favorite lyric is "I've gotta let it out, something in my genes [pun alert!], ya come and take a walk with me if you're feeling dane-ja-rus", but obviously the backup vocalists trying to guess his name over and over is the bread and butter… surely, it's hard to miss the irony that people can't remember the name of this would-be one-hit-wonder.

Who wants to know, indeed! Well, actually, I want to know, as I'm kind of newly obsessed. Who IS Jimmy Ray, this gangly man with an oversized belt buckle I see in the video? According to Wikipedia, "The video juxtaposed Ray's rockabilly image with a trailer park setting as stereotypical "rap video" women in sports jerseys and football shorts danced provocatively behind him." That might be poorer writing than the song itself!

At 3am, I thought it would be a good idea to find Jimmy Ray on Twitter because he seems like someone who would be neglected enough to respond back to some cheeky comment I make, but alas, I could not find him. Rest assured, however, that I will be asking all strangers I encounter whether or not they are Jimmy Ray until I finally locate the man.


Stop and Smell the Flowers

I see an acquaintance of mine bending over in front of a giant flower pot twenty feet away from me, so I wave.
Her: I'm so embarrassed, I was hoping nobody would see me.
Me: Don't worry.
Her: I've been kind of sick lately with a cold...
Me: So your nose is clogged up?
Her: I guess?
Me: Well I thought it was cute.
Her: You thought it was cute? That I hawked a loogey?
Me: Uh, no, I thought you stopped to smell the flowers.
Her: Nope, I was spitting.
Me: Well, I can still pretend it was cute.

It's a wonder we haven't made the full jump to friends.



For over twenty years, I've sang the name "Arrrrrrrr-chimedes" to myself without really remembering why. I knew I must have picked it up somewhere, so I finally did some internet searching and rediscovered this gem.

Man, I forgot I even used to watch Square One. I'm tempted to say that I used to love "educational" tv, but that's not really accurate. I used to love tv period, and with only 4 or 5 channels to choose from in my formative years, PBS had to be your jam if you didn't want to have to… go play outside. ::shudders::

Though the chorus is catchy, I don't know about the quality of the song. They try to cram in so many facts about the mathematician without even staying on the beat. Honestly, I find it hard to follow as an adult, so I don't know what educational facts I took from it as kid, but I can be pretty confident that that mask used to scare me… mainly because that mask still scares me.

Other people commenting on this video say they've been humming the song for decades and are finally seeing it again for the first time. For once, I actually feel a kinship with YouTube commenters. Usually I'm not racist enough to hang, but these are just fellow former nerdy kids without cable who planned their play schedule around Mathnet.