“Put It In My Video” by Childish Gambino

In honor of Community returning next week, here’s the track “Put It In My Video” by Childish Gambino (a.k.a. Donald Glover). Truly a force to be reckoned with, this guy.

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10 Tips for the College Freshmen Class of 2015

1. College is a great place to discover tons of indie music already ruined by the internet.

2. Girls love it when you begin and end sentences with “Much ado m’lady.” I recommend using it in the quad for a week.

3. When pulling an “all-nighter” on a paper, you will realize that exhaustion makes you fearless, which why after you’re done you should also wrestle a bear.

4. When choosing a major, think about something you’d love to study that will have nothing do with your adult life.

5. Living in dorms is all about tolerating different lifestyles. Feel no shame to continue showering in your nylon body sleeve.

6. Contrary to what you think, someone is watching you play in your D-III college football games – the bears who plan to wrestle you later that night.

7. A good senior thesis begins and ends with a strong point of view. But no one ever complained about pop-up sections, either.

8. Getting rejected by a fraternity is not the end-all, be-all to your life. That’s what I tell myself after every job interview these days.

9. Wokinga t a collige noospapr looks gret on a resumi.

10. If you feel inclined, join a Political Action Committee. We need student leadership now more than ever. Who else will stand up for your freedom to wrestle a bear? Or, multiple bears in a battle royale that involves sponsorships for several local bars?

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The Pixies and Heaven-Bound Monkies

I love Frank Black’s primal scream on this track, on “God is seven! God is seven!”. I’m the guy that owned Surfer Rosa for years, but didn’t get into The Pixies until my late twenties.

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Dammit George Lucas

Nerds rejoice! Next Friday, our beloved Star Wars saga – which birthed so many “waiting until 30” virgins – is coming to sumptuous Blu-Ray. Finally, George Lucas will give us – the people who fund the Lucasfilm payroll – the original, untouched versions on Blu-Ray DVD! Wait… what? He’s… he’s what? He’s doing what to Return of the Jedi? More CGI Yoda? He’s even messing with the Ewoks? “Nooooooooooo!”

Well, by now it’s no secret that Madman Lucas (not to be confused with “Mad Man Lucas”, the ad exec who drinks tons of Blue Milk in designer Jedi robes, and is married to Mon Mothma while also having an affair with Oola The Slave Girl) is yet again messing around with the Star Wars movies; and pissing off more fans in the process. This time, it’s in prep for their Blu-Ray release on Friday. First off, can I just say that (and yes, I did tweet this joke once, so bear with me) that if George Lucas were a stand-up comedian, then Star Wars would be the longest, saddest bit that he refuses to retire? Since completing Jedi in 1983, he’s rarely lent his name to anything that isn’t either a spin-off, sequel, or prequel to a successful franchise he established. From a producing point of view, he’s brilliantly sustained himself off of two blockbuster film series (SW and Indiana Jones) that’ll keep his great-great-grandchildren covered for life. From a filmmaker’s point of view, he’s lacked any ambition to build a respectable catalogue of work. And that’s fine, considering that he’s not a film director – not anymore, any way. George Lucas is a film producer, through and through. He’s the guy who knows how to get people to buy into a product and how to keep them interested.

Last winter, Lucas made his feelings towards sentimentality perfectly clear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart…

As much as we all hate him for continuing to alter Star Wars, I do see some of his point. They are his films, which he bankrolled and for which fought successfully to retain all licensing rights. By doing so, he’s enjoyed a career-long opportunity that no filmmaker ever gets: the ability to make movies his way. After a lifetime of calling his own shots, we can’t expect him to kowtow to fan appeal. But then again, the fans always seem to answer George by plopping down money to buy whatever it is he’s selling. That’s what makes him something of a genius. On that note, I also have to scrape together some cash this week to pick up the 2006 DVD version of the original trilogy – something tells me they won’t be around for much longer.

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Subway Buddha, or Contemplating 9/11

At the end of a long day of work, the last thing you need is theatrics. But in New York City, you’ll get nothing but theatrics. And like bed bugs, filth, and yuppies below Canal, you need to get used to it. He wasn’t anything special – this bald, jovial dark-skinned man, easily in his early fifties. As I stepped onto my train back home to Queens, his voice lit up the car like a children’s choir, speaking in a sweet, slightly lewd tone that narrated the sights and sounds of each subway stop, “57th and 7th Avenue – Carnegie Hall! You could take a lady there, and then take her home later.” Like something of an asexual Buddha (whose hands I later noticed looked like a child’s folded in his lap), this man continued his commentary. He added puns and G-rated dirty jokes the whole way home; everything harmless. He wasn’t bothering anyone. Except, of course, the angry older gent who grew tried of Buddha rather quickly, and like Mara himself, (look up the Eastern reference, dear readers, I’m too lazy) began raining down insults, “You should be on the radio. Next time you take a bath, take one with you!” It’s worth mentioning that both of these men were on the same page – not quite there, but looking for a justified existence. One exuded calm and love, the other anger and hate. Though Buddha felt no need to go on the defensive against Mara, he did halt his quips after Mara dissipated at 59th and Lexington. In a calm tone, Buddha announced, “That man is unhappy and wants everyone to feel the same. We must never hate! We should always be happy.”

I’ve lived in New York City for almost 5 ½ years, and this city has been a part of my life for almost 13 years. In my time as a citizen, I’ve learned two things: always be moving; be open to evolution. Second, not everything is going to work out the way you want it, and that makes it so easy to be bitter and cynical. Somewhere here, you can find a middle ground. Ideally, that could be the best way to live in New York City: always evolving and always open to whatever. It’s not easy to achieve that state of mind, but it’s possible. Like all things, it takes work and it takes a willingness to want to work. I’ve found myself thinking about personal growth recently as the anniversary of 9/11 approaches. For me, it’s not just about the day, but everything that that day and that year meant to me. I’ve only recently realized how deep it really hit; it was the single event that seemed to influence everything I’ve done so far as an adult. And that both bothers me and gets me wondering about the future. It makes me wonder about some of the anger I’ve carried for the past decade. It bothers me that it’s been a decade, and I’m nowhere near where I thought my life would end up.

Can’t we all hope to evolve? Despite whatever obstacle that emerges, I think we all want to just be able to be happy. But what it all begins with is a desire to find happiness, and then be willing to accept things for what they are, not what you want or need them to be. Perhaps that was Buddha’s story: why fight against what you know could change you? If you just let it be, you never know what could happen.

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John Lee Hooker, Solo

Boss. Until the end of time.

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Good Vick Hunting, or Why I’m Obsessed With Fantasy Sports

My Labor Day did not have an ideal start. I know that oversleeping on a three-day weekend emphasizes the point of the three-day weekend, but it came with a price: I was half an hour late to a fantasy football draft I had that morning. My goal of owning Michael Vick on at least one team this season – which would also be the team I’ve decided to care the least amount about – was dashed. I logged into my draft room, and found a fate worse than death: auto-draft had picked Tony Romo as my quarterback. As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, owning Romo (and also Miles Austin as my WR1) is the fantasy equivalent of extreme hari-kari (I’ve hated the Dallas Cowboys since childhood). As a fantasy football owner, not the worst thing in the world considering Romo’s 313 passing yard average and 2 touchdowns per game in 2010, prior to breaking his clavicle. In fact, Romo’s been regarded as a steal in most drafts, considering that that type of injury to a young quarterback raises a lot of eyebrows and in turn, a couple of drops to later rounds. I spent the rest of the morning moaning and groaning while packaging a trade offer to the league’s Vick owner: Romo and Santana Moss for The Redemption Kid. Sure, there’s tons of risk with owning Michael Vick this year (considering his inability to stay healthy for a full season), but there’s also tons of reward (considering his 8 year career total of 14,609 passing yards and 93 touchdowns, along with his 4,630 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns). I don’t mind the gamble since I’ve also already drafted a higher priority, lower risk team. Frankly: I’ve wanted to own Vick since last year’s miracle season. I want to experience his unimaginable upside. I want to have a bigger reason to root for the Eagles. I want all the glory, despite the mindful guts. I want Vick, and I will stop at nothing until I have him.

This, my friends, has been my life since I started playing fantasy sports in 2010.

There’s not a lot to explain about fantasy that hasn’t already been said: fans like myself from the world over are addicted to it like a hot dog wrapped in bacon. We’ve reached a point in our society where we have fantasy golf and fantasy NASCAR. I repeat: fantasy golf. And fantasy NASCAR. I play in a 20-team baseball league with some friends of mine from my improv comedy days, and I commish a 10-team PPR (points per reception) football league with some crossovers from the baseball league. After an abysmal finish with baseball in 2010, I did endless amounts of research this preseason. My shrewdness has been rewarded with a playoff berth and a shot at our league title. In football, I’m planning to play in more than one league this year – each with a different scoring system – and to dominate. I’ve given up hours – HOURS – of my social life this year to be amazing at statistical guessing. That’s what fantasy is for the unconverted: looking at the streaks and slumps of your line-up and, based on an endless amount of stats, choosing which man (or woman) is going to be awesome at their job that night.

Why be obsessed with something so meaningless? Especially when I try to make time in my schedule to lift weights and go running? Y’know – real sports. The short answer is: because it’s fun. The longer one is: because setting my mind to something, doing the research, and succeeding gives me an incredible feeling of accomplishment. At a point in my life when many things are up in the air, I feel like fantasy sports gives me an easy satisfaction. It makes me feel like something is paying off. Sad? Yes. Does knowing that deter me? No. If anything (just in case you though that last reveal wasn’t sad enough): winning at fantasy sports makes me feel like I can go out and do anything else I want. It just requires time to set a goal and do the work. From there, the only trick is to not mistake the finger for the moon, or don’t chase Vick when there’s also a blog post that I have to edit. Because if there’s one thing that fantasy and reality both share, it’s the ability to hate yourself when you wait too long to grab what you want.

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January 2011 Playlist

The songs that have been getting heavy rotation for the last 31 days…

  1. “Public Image” by Public Image Ltd.
  2. “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” by Das Racist
  3. “All of The Lights” by Kanye West
  4. “Mean Street” by Van Halen
  5. “Sweet Disposition” by Temper Trap
  6. “Yea Yeah” by Matt and Kim
  7. “Monkey Man” by The Rolling Stones
  8. WTF with Marc Maron, Episode 144: Patton Oswalt
  9. “Street Hassle” by Lou Reed

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The Dream Is Dead

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Sleeping In with Matt Fried, Episode 10

Jim Campolongo – a writer for USA Network’s White Collar and a friend of mine since high school – sat down for my podcast this week to talk about the show’s wild success. That band playing under the video is from Jim’s old band, Burn Kate, the one-time kings of the South Jersey punk scene. It’s always great when you see a friend do well in life, and even better when that friend is willing to consider your Salvador Dali movie pitch.

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