Friday, June 25, 2010

A Man, A Plan, A Canal, Side Bar

Happy birthday, doovis.

Side Bar is the best.

The Social Skills Series: Misanthropy

My default setting is to not talk to people and I've decided that the reason why is because I really just don't identify with most people. I think that's kindof a generalized conclusion when the reality is slightly more complex, but, at the end of the day, it's essentially true. I guess we could go on ad nauseam about the differences between sympathy and empathy and why they are mutually exclusive and why identifying with people is not really a prerequisite for socializing with them, but for me, identifying with someone goes a long way toward building some sort of relationship.

The problem I seem to have is that a lot of the people that I end up interacting with are just really stupid. And it's not like I go out of my way to find stupid people all over the place, they just are all over the place. And dealing with stupid people really just enrages me. And so there's a slippery slope argument where I just think about all the interactions I could have that would end up with me being enraged at the general stupidity of the world and I just choose to opt out a lot of the time. (Joe just ctrl-tabbed to another tab in order to link to an essay about how the slippery slope argument is flawed.) I know this is not a logical thing to do. In addition to the slippery slope argument being flawed, this is definitely a case in which an existential instantiation is reapplied as a universal generality, a logical impossibility.

Here's an example. I went to McDonald's the other day to get a frappe (yes, I quit McDonald's, but, as discussed, coffee products, really the entire McCafe line does not count as cheating). I ordered just that one thing and it cost $3.03. Immediately I was upset at the fact that someone decided that this was a good price for this product. That three cents just bothered me from the jump, but I had also just taken all the change out of my pocket so unless the kid working the drive through was moderately with it (two chances, slim and none), I was going to end up walking around with 97 cents in my pocket. Paying fractions of dollars less than ten cents is one of the things I've decided is just a travesty of justice that should be abolished by society, although clearly it's something that is just going to continue to bother me since there's really no reasonable recourse. I decided that for my sanity I would not try and talk the guy out of the three cents, instead I just handed him $4.00 and let the energy flow through me in a positive way.

Then....then....the fucking kid reaches out his hand and says, "Ninety three cents is your change," and dumps the change in my hand along with the receipt that says my change is ninety seven cents. I stared at him for about a half second. In that half second I'm sure that what was going through the kid's mind was "I like cake" and in that same half second I had a revelation. I had an entire vision of asking this kid why he needed to charge me the three cents when it was a negligible amount and then, just to add insult to injury, he decided to stiff me on my change by FOUR cents in a bit of irony that is really just too perfect for Tennessee Williams to construct. And then the kid was going to say something ridiculously stupid, and then I was going to have to ask to talk to the manager and then we were going to have a whole discussion about this and I was going to be late for where I was trying to get to and all of this was going to be over seven cents. So instead I just made sure to stare at him long enough so that he thought it was weird and something must be wrong, I put the change in my pocket, and drove away. And every day, over things like seven cents, I lose faith in humanity.

You're going to say something like if I had just told the kid that he owed me four cents then he would have given it to me and I wouldn't have to lose faith in humanity. Or, more generally, if I would let people know when they don't meet my expectations then they can meet them, or at least try. But I can't do that. I don't want to tell people that they don't meet my expectations, I just want them to do it. I have reached a point in life where in most situations the most I ever expect of people is the absolute minimal level of effort, competence, and basic wherewithall (three word compound word. awesome). And since, from my perspective, my options are to either spend most of my day literally yelling at people or to just stay calm and not say anything and let the moment pass, I choose the latter. This argument extends far beyond people providing me with a service. Most interactions involve expectations of some sort, either specific or abstract.

Anyway, a lot of my interactions, even the seemingly innocuous ones, have repercussions like this in my head. Also I find that having a genuinely innocuous interaction is something that is undesirable and unacceptable and essentially pointless. I'm not willing to have a conversation that doesn't have a point. I personally prefer awkward silence to meaningless chatter. That seems to be a minority opinion, but I really just can't participate in conversations that do not have a concrete foundation. And so I don't really find it easy to converse with most people, especially new people.

I'm not trying to suggest that I'm the only one whose doing this life thing correctly. Nor am I trying to suggest that my opinions are the correct ones. Nor am I trying to suggest that I don't necessarily fall into the subset of stupid people. But I did read an article in the New York Times the other day about some research that suggests one of the hallmarks of incompetence is the inability to even notice one's incompetence. At least I recognize my shortcomings in the social arena, and I'm trying to make some sense of it.

An ancillary benefit of my misanthropy is that, every once in a while, I'll meet a person who I do find it easy to converse with. And those people fascinate me. I've been trying to decide what it is that makes those people different than everyone else and I've got a couple of ideas, but no real conclusions. The people that I find it easy to talk to are usually pretty smart, roughly my age, and have an appreciation for esoterica and/or popular culture.

But most people, well, most people just don't do it for me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Social Skills Series: Making Friends

I think I became friends with all you Teaneck fools by default. I met LJT on the first day of third grade and on that day, for some reason that I can't really put into words, it was clear that we were going to be friends for the forseeable future. By electricity I became friends with Open Bar, Side Bar, Diesal, Winit, and so forth. (I think we need to bring that electricity thing back. Man the 80s were awesome. When is the last time you even played tag? What if we just played freeze tag next time we all got together? That would be mad weird.) Then by electricity through Side Bar I became friends with MMG, Walt Clyde, Beer on Girl, Daffy, and everyone else who doesn't have an available nickname. (Side note: You remember when we used to be friends with girls, too? Me neither.)

In college I made a few friends, most of whom lived on my floor in my freshman year, and one of whom I happened to marry, but I don't think I really went crazy trying to meet people. Since I graduated college I think I've made one friend. (Shout out to the Commodore.)

Speaking of the Commodore, before he moved to a different continent, we used to talk a lot about how I don't really ever do anything. He would always try to get me to come out with him and do stuff and I would usually just stay home. And then we'd have a conversation about how I don't have social skills and I usually just prefer to do nothing versus something. And then this one time the Commodore came with me into the city and met some of you fools (LJT, Open Bar, Side Bar, Gold, I think Diesal) and we went to the bar or something and general debauchery ensued. And then on the way home he's like, "Ok, I figured it out. It's not that you don't have social skills, you just choose not to use them. You go on and on with those guys and with everyone else you just sit there."

And maybe that's true. But like what need to I have to build an esoteric network of 20 year old references and inside jokes when I already have one? It would be impossible to build a social network that's nearly as strong as the one I have in place, nor do I require any ancillary social fulfillment. And the effort required to be social with people outside of that network seems to be fairly high for me relative to the returns. I see social situations largely as a chore rather than as something fun and/or worthwhile. So really what's the point?

Also, I love you guys.

Fuck BP and The Government

I don't know shit about shit when it comes to this oild in the Gulf of Mexico thing, but, based solely on my limited viewing and reading of news reports and such, the general consensus seems to be that this oil leak would actually be fairly easy to stop if they would just blow up the well. This would render the well useless, but would stop the oil from leaking. Apparently BP has only tried strategies so far that will allow them to keep using the well after they get their shit together. And the government hasn't really forced them not to do that.

From what I understand, a similar thing has happened with Russian controlled oil wells like 4 or 5 times, and every time it has happened they have blown it up and stopped the leaking with absolute success. This is a problem that already has a solution and they're not using it.

Yo Barack, I figured out whose ass you need to kick. It's the oil well's ass. Blow that shit up, find more oil somewhere else. Better yet, put up a windmill.

The Best Dollar I Ever Spent

The iPhone app, Angry Birds, is the single most entertaining thing you can get for a dollar. If you have an iPhone or iTouch, get this app today. If you were thinking about getting an iPhone, then let this be the thing that pushes you over the edge. If you don't have an iPhone and weren't considering getting one, then maybe you should.

Angry Birds rules.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Golden Era of Rap -- 1991-1994

Ah, early-'90s rap.

LJT and I have spent an embarrassing amount of time between the hours of 2 and 5 in the morning singing the praises of "De La Soul Is Dead" and "Doggystyle," among many other classic albums of our late-middle-school/early-high-school years. It's high time we open up those moments of brilliance and illuminate the world.

While 1990 ("Mama Said Knock You Out") and 1995 ("Dah Shinin'") had their share of great LPs, the four-year span from '91 to '94 simply overflows with excellence. These are albums we knew were great then and have more than held up over time. I've often wondered if, in our later years when we're watching all the grandkids running (hoverboarding?) around the grill and playing lightsaber wiffleball, are we gonna be playing old hip-hop tunes? I've always found the idea of 70-year-old men sitting on the porch fondly singing along while "Ain't No Fun" plays softly in the background, I dunno, incongruous or something. (Picture an old white dude with thick glasses crooning, "So back up, bitch, because I'm struuuuuggling / Just get on your knees and then start juuuuuuggling...") It's an odd image, anyway, and I have no idea what its ultimate likelihood is.

We've covered musical eras a little before, but it's kinda surprising we never got around to this one. I'm not sure what it was about those years, but holy crap was there a shit-ton of great music. It wasn't just the peak era for rap in our lifetimes; '91-'94 was the also the Grunge era in rock, an era bookmarked on one side by crappy hair-metal nonsense like Winger and White Lion, and on the other by crappy boy-band nonsense like 98 Degrees and O-Town. (The Grunge era, by the way, also definitely deserves a full write-up, covering the time of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden.)

And while the hip-hop surrounding this Golden Era of Rap wasn't as full of complete shit as rock was, its peak was probably even greater, and certainly more prolific.

Anyway, after viewing this fucking inspired Kia commercial:

An artist's rendering of LJT's subconscious?

I decided it's high time we put together a list of exactly what those classic tracks and albums were. Following is a simple year-by-year list and a little commentary here and there, but I think a decent project for us would be to occasionally pick an album or a song from this list and devote a proper post to it.

At the bottom, I'll try to pick out my top 5, and I encourage y'all to add yours below or in the comments. And I'm surely missing some gems, as I only did a cursory amount of additional research past what I could think of off the top of my head, so please feel free to chime in there too.

Without further ado...

De La Soul, “De La Soul Is Dead”
Black Sheep, “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”
A Tribe Called Quest, “The Low End Theory”
Cypress Hill, “Cypress Hill”
Naughty by Nature, “Naughty by Nature”

Dr. Dre, “The Chronic”
Redman, “Whut? Thee Album”
Nice and Smooth, “Ain’t a Damn Thing Changed”
Pharcyde, “Bizarre Ride to the Pharcyde” (Along with "De La Soul Is Dead," probably the funniest of the great albums. It's a damn shame every fucking group decided to put a bunch of skits on their albums; 99% utterly sucked.)
Pete Rock and CL Smooth, “Mecca and the Soul Brother”
Das EFX, “Dead Serious”
Arrested Development, “3 Years, 5 Months, and 2 Days…”
Ice Cube, “The Predator”

Wu Tang, “Enter the Wu Tang: 36 Chambers”
Snoop Dogg, “Doggystyle”
A Tribe Called Quest, “Midnight Marauders”
Brand Nubian, “In God We Trust” (Incidentally, the song “Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down” has some pretty fucking awful homophobic lyrics sprinkled throughout, which is why it’s pretty funny that Lord Jamar opens the third verse by saying “My dick in ya ass, quick fast, like my name was Flash…” then later brags that he “gives strong blows to the heads of my foes.” Ha! It’s funny ’cause Lord Jamar’s a homo!)
Guru, “Jazzmatazz”
Digable Planets, “Reachin…”
Cypress Hill, “Black Sunday”
Onyx, “Bacdafucup”
Naughty by Nature, “Nineteen-Naughty Three”
Black Moon, “Enta da Stage”

Nas, “Illmatic”
Biggie, “Ready to Die”
Outkast, “southernplayalisticadillacmuzik”
Gang Starr, “Hard to Earn”
Method Man, “Tical”

And some outstanding singles:
Dr. Dre and Snoop, “Deep Cover” (1992) (This one gets my vote for the best beat of all time. The only other one I can think of that compares is Public Enemy's "Fight the Power.")
Craig Mack, feat. Biggie, Rampage, LL Cool J and Bustarhymes, “Flava in Ya Ear (Remix)” (1994)
Geto Boys, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” (1991)
House of Pain, “Jump Around” (1992)
2Pac, “I Get Around” (1993)
DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, “Summertime” (1991)
Warren G and Nate Dogg, "Regulate" (1994)
Us3, "Cantaloop" (1994)

Here's how I'd rank my top 5 (subject to change every minute or so):

5. Snoop Dogg, "Doggystyle"
4. Notorious B.I.G., "Ready to Die"
3. Nas, "Illmatic"
2. Wu Tang Clan, "Enter the Wu Tang"
1. De La Soul, "De La Soul Is Dead"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Social Skills Series: Fashionably Late

I do not have social skills. As such, there are some social conventions that are beyond my grasp. I thought about writing one post about this, but then it turned out that there were a bunch of things I wanted to talk about, so I'm going to make a series of posts about this over some unspecified amount of time ranging from 2 weeks to forever. Probably closer to forever.

One thing that I genuinely do not understand is the thing where you say that your party/dinner/social event starts at X o'clock and it's tacitly understood to mean that the event really starts at X+2 o'clock. (It's that thing of where midgets with dreadlocks lie on the floor and make a rug.) This fact, in conjunction with the fact that I have a thing about being on time for everything, has led to my sitting alone with the hosts of various events for upward of an hour between the time he invited everyone and the time that everyone else started to show up.

Is it ghetto style of me to actually show up on time for things? Am I pissing people off without realizing it when they actually expected to have more time to get ready for their event even though my arrival was within the predetermined parameters? I'm unclear on all of these issues. I'm not concerned about being cool, so if that's the only consideration, then we'll just leave that out.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fuck Me In The Goat Ass With A Goat Dick.

If you don't get the reference in the title, then I apologize for the vulgarity.

It is widely accepted in baseball that some calls are just accepted despite their incorrectness. Double plays where the shortstop never touches the bag. Caught stealings because the throw beat the runner even if the tag didn't. AND ALSO CLOSE PLAYS AT FIRST BASE WITH 8 AND 2/3 OF A PERFECT GAME GOING. I don't care if the guy was safe by half a step. You have got to call that guy out in that situation no matter what. Now the guy was clearly out, but for me, that's almost the secondary issue. Why in the world was the umpire even prepared to call him safe? I honestly had trouble sleeping last night because of this call. I was enraged at the audacity of this umpire to the extent that I was like tossing and turning.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Return of His Shortness

I swear to goodness this happened this morning. I was listening to WFAN this morning circa 5:30 and Tony Paige says, "Ok, well here is a surprise for all of us. For the first time in a long time, here's Short Al."

As BPG pointed out about a year ago, Short Al has been on hiatus from WFAN because his daughter won't let him use the phone or some such thing. This morning he gets on and he's like, "Yeah, Tony, I'm staying at my son's house for a few days and I figured I'd call. Going back to my daughter's tomorrow. I just didn't want everyone to think I wasn't around any more." And then he proceeded to talk about boxing and the Mets and some other random things. It made my day before I even got out of bed.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

King James Approximately

An Open Letter To Lebron James

Dear Lebron,

Sometime around the beginning of July you're going to decide on where to spend your basketball prime.

As someone who didn't go to college and, therefore, didn't get to go through the recruiting process you've been pretty openly looking forward to your summer of felation.

When we used to have a pro-basketball team in New York, I was a big fan and you're probably the only thing that could bring me back into the fold. I definitely want you to come to New York and I will cheer along as Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni and whoever else kiss the royal behind.

Now, having said all that, I hope you don't mind me giving you some advice.

Shut. The. Fuck. Up.


You've been openly saying how much fun the summer is going to be. Flirting with New York. Saying Cleveland "has an edge". Talking about how you and all the free agents are going to strategize how to "make the league better". You even rocked a Yankees cap at a Indians-Yankees game. Don't tell me you didn't know everyone in Cleveland wasn't reading into that.

How about you shut the fuck up and get your dick sucked behind closed doors like a grown up?

You're teasing Cleveland and everyone else. You know what that makes you? It makes you a ho, Lebron. Yes it does.

And you know what? You haven't really done all that much yet. Of course for anyone else you've had a hell of a career. But you're not anyone else. If you don't win multiple championships, you're going to be seen as a failure. You showed no balls this post-season, so let's get off that high horse. You have a lot to prove if you're going to go down as a top five all time great. And with your talent, size, charisma and hype, anything short of that will make you a disappointment.

So let's be real here, you basically have three choices: Cleveland, Chicago & New York.

Cleveland sucks. It sucks as a place and the team sucks. Let's face it, you're not staying there. Especially after Delonte West banged your mom.

So your choices are either Chicago or New York.

Chicago has got the better team right now. Derek Rose is an excellent point guard, Joakim Noah is a good big man. Good talent base.

New York, is, well New York. Yeah they're a minor league team but they do have cap space and if you come it will make the Knicks a very attractive free agent destination. And if you win two or three championships in New York you can own the greatest city in the world forever. We're talking Mickey Mantle level idolatry here.

Maybe you go to a Miami or even Brooklyn but I doubt it.

In any case, enjoy the wining. Enjoy the dining. Hell, enjoy the cheerleader filled orgies I'm sure these teams have lined up for you. But, please, for your own sake. Stop being such a tease.


The Notorious LJT