Archive by Author

5 Weird Twitter Accounts You Need To Follow Right Now

28 Sep

You think you know what Twitter is, don’t you? You’ve heard foggy old newscasters pontificate about how it sparks revolutions in the Middle East, and you’ve listened to IMC professors talk about using it to build your “personal brand” (like, don’t forget, DON’T EVER FORGET that retweets do not fucking equal endorsements).

Although you were initially freaked out by seeing all your friends constantly retweeting a middle-aged guy in a speedo, you’ve come to enjoy reading Rob Delaney tweet at Wolf Blitzer asking if Flowers For Algernon was a true story. You know how to use hashtags to draw attention to your tweets from people you’ll never meet, but are still self-aware enough to laugh when Schmidt says “hashtag” out loud on New Girl.

All in all, you feel confident in your grasp of Twitter, like the #millenial that you are.

Oh, child.

My poor, poor child.

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Five Lessons I’ve Learned On Summer Break

7 Jul
Also coincidentally where Coors Light comes from.

Also coincidentally where Coors Light comes from.

“You know nothing, BJ Taintz.”

You’re not quite right, hypothetical reader with the voice of Ygritte. I know that it’s summer right now, for one thing.

That’s right, summer: the season of sunlight, flowers, bugs, and beaches. Perfect time to sit at a computer all day slaving away at an unpaid internship, right? Wrong, but hey, that’s the life we chose. But just because we’re too old to spend summer days eating grass (wait, am I the only one that did that?) doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to be learned. Here’s what I’ve learned from a few summer weeks of laying around, gorging on Welch’s fruit snacks while reading A Dance With Dragons and pretending that the real world doesn’t exist.

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Morgan Freeman To Marry Granddaughter

16 Apr

Warning: The word ‘heinous’ is used approximately eight million times in this article. Families with young children are advised to proceed with caution.

Marrying your granddaugher is a bad thing. Maybe the worst of things.

The problem with beautiful voices is that they are often attached to real people. And real people are not beautiful. They are heinous. This can be jarring sometimes.

Take Ross Packingham, for instance. The man has the voice of an angel, but I wouldn’t let him near your pets if I was you. Axl Rose likewise has a great voice, but I wouldn’t let him near your Lana Del Reys if I were you.

People basically fall into three categories of heinous: accidentally heinous, unabashedly heinous, and Rush Limbaugh. The first group means well. They’re nice guys; they always show up to your acapella concerts and would never fuck you without charming and dining you first. They just can’t help it that sometimes they forget to text you back, and yeah, maybe they do avert their eyes whenever they pass the hobos outside CVS. The second group, on the other hand, takes YOLO way too seriously. They often end up eating dinner at Fran’s Café at 1 am, and they have their own personal Walk of Shame route. They mean you no harm or ill will; just don’t get them drunk in Mexico because they might end up with a tattoo of an ice cream cone on their face. The third group is self-explanatory.

The members of the third group have existed since basically the beginning of the time. We’re all comfortable with dividing the world like that. Well, all of us except Morgan Freeman. In the grand tradition of great innovators and thinkers outside of boxes, Freeman was dissatisfied with the current categorical structure of the world around him and acted decisively to change it. But whereas Einstein invented quantum physics and Magellan sailed around the world, Freeman fucked his granddaughter.

Oh, I’m sorry, did you not know that? Well, then, let me repeat it for emphasis: MORGAN FREEMAN IS GOING TO MARRY HIS GRANDDAUGHTER. This is heinous and not in the fun way. This is a whole new level of heinous that not even a drunk, Adele-singing Sir Twattingworth could possibly match.

Okay, so they’re not really related by blood, but still, he’s 72 and she’s 27, and those ages should never be connected in a sexual context. According to the highly respected journalistic watchdog publication Peace FM Online, Freeman and E’Dena Hines “had a questionable sexual encounter when she was young.” (…) Now the cat is out of the bag and Freeman’s wife is filing for divorce, and an unnamed source is credited as saying that “becoming Mrs. Freeman has been E’Dena’s goal.”

Now I ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger! OH WAIT YES I AM. But can you really blame her? Didn’t becoming Mrs. Freeman become everyone’s goal the moment they first saw March of the Penguins? This whole situation is strange, but E’Dena isn’t acting any different than we would in that situation. She falls strictly into that second category of heinousness I mentioned earlier. But Freeman is inventing a whole new category, one that is currently occupied only by himself (although the potential heinousness of a war on porn means that a President Santorum could conceivably get on his level, as well as that kid from the front page of Reddit who sodomized his dog with a hair brush), which begs the question: Why?

Seriously, you’re Morgan Freeman! For God’s sake, Evander Jones has been known to use his position as Sherman Ave editor-in-chief as a pick-up line at parties. And it kind of works!* You’re telling me “hey, I narrated The Shawshank Redemption wouldn’t make any reasonable girl melt into a pile of goo? Why marry your granddaughter when you could have, say, literally anyone and not defy centuries of anti-heinous societal norms?

I am shaking my head. The world is a heinous place.

*It doesn’t.

Message to my haters: the Lolla lineup gives me a boner

11 Apr

Can't tell if enormous music festival, or Obama just got re-elected.

If you’re disappointed by this year’s Lolla lineup, I don’t think we can be friends.

That’s a dangerous statement to make, because based on my Facebook newsfeed from last night, following through with it would mean de-friending half the people I know. So I probably won’t do that. Instead I’ll write this article explaining why they’re all wrong and I’m right (as usual).

Music is subjective, and thus it’s hard for people to agree on the quality of festival lineups. Regardless of the concert or the headliners, it seems impossible to please everyone. Take this from someone who posted his very own “Lolla lineup…eh” status this time last year, only to be blown away in August by Flogging Molly’s steamy noontime mosh pit and Deadmau5’s rain-soaked lightshow.

So yeah, the headliners this year are kinda wacky. Red Hot Chili Peppers have been so popular for so long that it’s easy for people to dismiss them. It’s also becoming progressively harder to think of The Black Keys as cool when the popularity of Brothers has them filling stadiums. Is Jack White really any good without Meg or his other collaborators? And what the fuck is up with Black Sabbath?

Before moving on, I’ll just say, in order: you’re forgetting how awesome it would be to hear hits like “Snow (Hey Oh)” and “Under the Bridge” live; bottling the frantic energy that fuels Patrick Carney’s spastic drumming and using it to power cities could finally end our oil dependence, so that comes across no matter the venue; considering I can’t even name the other members of The Raconteurs, the answer is probably “yes;” and I’m not sure, but that beautiful idiosyncrasy is what makes Lolla Lolla.

There are a lot of American music festivals to occupy your summer time, and they’re multiplying faster than the number of student publications at Northwestern. They each occupy their own niche.

Coachella kicks off the festival season, and usually has a pretty sexy lineup. But then again, it takes place a stone’s throw from Hollywood, so money and celebrity is evident in its DNA. This is the only place where you can see Jay-Z and Danny DeVito jamming out to Phoenix, and it’s also the only festival with the budget to bring in big money marquee acts like Kanye West and Mumford & Sons (last year) or Dr. Dre (this year).

Bonnaroo (which I always end up misspelling, btw) is a jammy desert party. Its lineup is usually stocked with jam band standard bearers (Umphrey’s McGee are almost never not there, and Phish’s headlining slot this year has to be the least surprising revelation since Northwestern’s announcement that they would push next year’s schedule back to accommodate Rosh Hashanah), classic rock reunions (Buffalo Springfield! Beach Boys! WTF!), and great rap acts (everybody from Black Star to Kendrick Lamar will be there this year), plus a bunch of other great stuff.

As for the smaller festivals, Sasquatch usually has the indie vibe you would expect from the Pacific Northwest, Pitchfork brings in the eponymous hipster website’s pet favorites, and Newport is all folk all the time. If any of those aesthetics really appeal to you, their lineups will naturally make you dubious of Lolla’s. For example, I’m kind of a hipster, and Pitchfork 2012’s inclusion of Vampire Weekend and Sleigh Bells made my Lolla expectations rise dramatically. The fact that Lolla still blew me away should help you realize how awesome it is, and if it doesn’t, give a couple paragraphs more to explain.

These guys have been headlining Lollapalooza longer than I've lived outside a womb.

What is Lolla’s particular flavor, you ask? Well, Lolla was founded by Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell (who lends his name to the dance tent), and the festival has never strayed far from its Nineties roots: it’s formed the epicenter of Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine reunions in recent years. In addition, Lolla has also been all in on the resurgent popularity of dance music; last year, Deadmau5 was a headliner, while Skrillex, Bloody Beetroots, and Girl Talk all passed through Perry’s. Yes, all of them.

Another way to say this is that of all the festivals I mentioned, Lolla carries the most generic “rock and roll” vibe, in the sense that anything pretty much goes. They don’t draw a lot of jam bands, because that’s Bonnaroo’s forte, but they showcase artists from every other fragment of the mosaic that is modern rock. Lady GaGa was there the same year as Green Day and Arcade Fire. Last year, while I was dancing to Deadmau5 in the mud and rain, my cousin was across the park reliving his Nineties youth with the Foo Fighters, and one of my best friends was watching her home boy Kid Cudi kick over an amp and mumble his way through “Day N’ Nite.” Find me three artists more different than those. I dare you.

Unfortunately, in representing everyone, you also end up pissing off everyone too, at least a little bit. This is why no one listens to radio or watches network news anymore, and this is why no one would say they completely love the Lolla lineup. No, people just want to watch Jon Stewart reflect their own snarky liberalism, and as a result the best you can get is “well, SBTRKT will be there, I guess I’ll go.”

So there’s probably not a single person out there who is excited about more than two or three of this year’s headliners. That’s okay, especially because Lolla’s lineup is always one of the deepest, and the true gems are to be found a few lines below Ozzy and Friends. A quick summary:

Of Monsters and Men
If you haven’t heard Bizarro Icelandic Arcade Fire’s magnificent single “Little Talks” yet, then you 1. Have been living under a rock, 2. Should be ashamed of yourself, and 3. Need to drop what you’re doing and immediately click on that hyperlink I so graciously provided. It’s great, and the rest of their debut My Head Is an Animal is similarly folktastic. Given their recent popularity surge, their sweeping, festival-ready sound, and Mumford proving that gigantic bands are insanely energetic and watchable, I’m looking out for them.

Even Black Sabbath couldn't look that cool with a ukelele.

What’s a boy to do if he’ll never be a gangsta? Listen to this song, because it’s fucking awesome. It’s hard to tell if Merill Garbus’s sexuality is more of an enigma than her appearances at every major festival this summer (Lolla, Bonnaroo, Coachella, AND Sasquatch!). All I know is I will be going HAM when she plays “Gangsta,” and enjoying the shit out of her live, on-the-spot loops. Plus, given her propensity for weird clothes and face paint, if anyone can top Cee Lo’s unsettling bondage gear getup from last year, it’s her. What the fuck will she wear? It’ll be a fun mystery. Seeing Tune-Yards live was definitely on my 2012 summer bucket list, so I’m glad she’s giving me the chance. You should be too.

The Tallest Man on Earth
With the possible exception of Barack Obama showing up at my house on my birthday just to give me a high-five, there is nothing that could happen that would make me happier than hearing Swedish singer/songwriter Kristian Matsson perform “Little River” live. His music is my favorite thing maybe ever. I have watched his cover of “Graceland” so many times it’s obscene (please, if you click on only one hyperlink in this article, let it be this). Along with a demonstrated knowledge of The Wire, saying you love Tallest Man is a guaranteed free entry into best friend status with me.

Unfortunately, he is difficult to catch live, because of the whole “lives in Sweden” thing. Aside from a Pitchfork appearance (before I knew about him!) and a Coachella appearance last year (expensive!), his American performances have been few and far between.

My Ave colleague Bristol Bacchus seems to think that this year’s Newport lineup dwarfs Lolla’s. The fact that Tallest Man, Of Monsters and Men, and The Head and the Heart are playing at Lolla as well as Newport kind of defeats that entire argument unless you’re REALLY into folk.

His set will be amazing, I will probably cry, and there’s nothing else to say about it.

The Gaslight Anthem
My illogical love for this unapologetically Springsteen-influenced group is second only to my aforementioned Tallest Man fetish. Along with Joe Pug’s The Great Despiser, their upcoming release Handwritten is the summer album I’m most looking forward to. The best I can do to explicate their awesomeness is to direct you to this song, which has gone on pretty much every mix CD I’ve ever made. And trust me, even though Bruce won’t be there to back them up, as in Evander Jones’ favorite YouTube clip of all time that doesn’t involve puppies, they will still make for an awesome rock show.

I know I’m probably starting to come off as a bit overeager, but these really are some of my favorite bands. If the entire festival consisted solely of sets by Tallest Man and Gaslight Anthem, I would seriously consider paying full price. All this festival needs to make me explode with happiness would be an appearance by Seattle rap duo Blue Scholars. Hey, wait a sec…

Wait, isn't that guy in my British Literature discussion?

…you’re saying that Blue Scholars’ frequent collaborator and fellow Seattle native Macklemore will be there? Well, okay then. Even though I didn’t meet anyone from there until this year, I have developed a weird obsession with the culture Seattle. I love their music, from the soothing otherworldliness of Robin Pecknold’s voice to the smooth but socially aware raps of Geologic and Sabzi, and at last year’s Lolla my decision to wear a Mariners jersey while my friend sported his Gary Payton throwback resulted in multiple “Hey are you guys from Seattle?” “No we’re just weirdos” exchanges, with varying degrees of awkwardness. So I’m pumped about Macklemore, one of the few white dudes that can not only rap but also brings his own style (defined by an eclectically raspy flow, personal anecdotes, and reflections on drugs whiteness in hip-hop) to the game.

But as fun as his set will probably be, it’s true that this year’s Lolla lineup is starkly lacking in the hip-hop department, especially coming off the heels of Eminem’s set last year. I’m forgiving of this because I’m from Chicago and will be going to Pitchfork, whose rap lineup is stellar. But if Lolla’s your only festival, or you’re really into rap, 2012 Lolla might be a bit of a lowdown. I personally think that the awesome diversity of the rest of the lineup makes up for it (and hey, Childish Gambino is there too, even though Camp went over like a fart in church to a certain degree), but I’m acknowledging that downside.

Question: What was Pitchfork’s song of the year?
Answer: “Midnight City” by M83.
Question: Does it include a mind-bogglingly kickass saxophone solo?
Answer: Yes.
Question: What song would be really awesome to hear live, especially if it happened as the sun was setting behind a skyscraper-lined horizon, a la last year’s Explosions in the Sky set?
Answer: Pretty much any song by M83, particularly “Intro” or the aforementioned “Midnight City.”

Awesomeness awaits.

Totally stole this from Spinal Tap.

Sigur Ros
Awesome instrumentals, including a guitar played with a cello bow by a half-blind Icelandic pop singer with a killer falsetto! Lyrics that are tantalizingly cryptic, usually because they’re written in an invented language called Hopelandic! A band name that translates to “Victory Rose!”

These random facts about the best Icelandic band ever (you’ve still got something to prove, Of Monsters and Men) should hint at how cool they are, but the only way to understand Sigur Ros is to listen to them yourself, and lose yourself in the insanely addictive magic.

To recap, that’s two Icelandic bands, one Swedish singer-songwriter, a Seattle rapper, a rock band that offers a throwback to Springsteen, and an electronic band. There’s no way that anyone is equally excited about all of them. Some people will probably only go to Lolla to see Santigold and Big Gigantic at the dance tent, and yes, there will definitely be people there super pumped to see Black Sabbath.

The Lolla lineup will never be cool. But this year, it will be awesome.

What the f**k are the Miami Heat wearing?

16 Feb

A few things you should know before proceeding:

It actually makes you look like you can’t dress yourselves

1. This article is officially dedicated to the magnificent section of the blogosphere that is “What the F**k is Michael Jordan Wearing?,” which would probably be my favorite Tumblr of all time if Ryan Gosling had never been born.
2. The only person I hate more than Newt Gingrich is Dwyane Wade. One time last year after the headache-inducing Eastern Conference Finals, I was taking the train to downtown Chicago. A guy passed me wearing a black Wade jersey. I almost fought him.
3. The only thing that made me jizz my pants more than the Super Bowl trailer for Avengers (which if you don’t think I’m gonna write an entire article about said trailer then you my friend have got another thing coming) was the news that the 2011 NBA lockout was over, starting with five games on Christmas Day. Halfway through the Heat-Mavericks Christmas game, I realized something: I actually hate the Miami Heat even more than I love the Chicago Bulls. And I love the Bulls a lot (wooo Luol Deng’s an All-Star wooooooo).

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An ode to Northwestern memes

10 Feb

In the great Northwestern University student tradition of never doing anything original ever, we have succeeded in completely ripping off funny Madison students and made our very own Facebook group for Northwestern-themed memes. And even before Madison made their group, Sherman Ave’s very own Evander Jones and Ross Packingham engaged in a daylong meme duel on Facebook, laying waste to the timelines around them with their brutal label-based humor bludgeons. If you were Facebook friends with them and missed out on these two wunderkinds making memes of each other and generally raping newsfeeds everywhere, I feel bad for you. It would be akin to taking Professor Bailey’s Human Sexuality class and skipping the optional after-class discussions.

But even though it’s not original, Northwestern Memes is awesome. I mean, nobody cares if you’re copying someone else as long as you do it better, and we are definitely doing it better. My complete and utter lack of interest in Madison has prevented me from even perusing their meme group, but I can’t imagine it being anywhere as good as Northwestern Memes.

I love memes. Who doesn’t? They’re hilarious. In our modern ADD society, they offer quick, digestible little nuggets of insight and satire about our modern culture. They are the Internet at its greatest, smartest, and funniest. Sometimes they even reference such awesome things as Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, which if you haven’t seen or read Lord of the Rings then you probably aren’t a Nerdwestern Northwestern student.

As a result, I love Northwestern Memes. I’m going to break down why I love Northwestern Memes into a list for you. Here’s why:

1. My last three articles have been thousand-word slogfests about coffee and/or Newt Gingrich, and I’m sure you’re all tired of it.
2. Sherman Ave is even better at doing lists than we are at making YouTube videos that get 10,000 hits in two days, so this is pretty much guaranteed to be awesome.
3. I want to write an easily digestible reflection on the easily digestible nature of memes.

See? Wasn’t that an awesome little list? Wasn’t it easily readable? Yes it was. Everybody loves lists, just like everybody loves memes. So without further ado, here’s a list of why I love Northwestern Memes:

Some of Them are Funny
Since Northwestern is full of people who are smart and aware of trends, some students have significant experience with memes, and it shows. Some of these memes would be genuinely funny even by the standards of the greater Internet, just as there are some students here who would be considered hot at any college. Just not many. Which leads me to my second reason for loving Northwestern Memes…

Some of Them are Spectacularly Unfunny
Yes! Hoo ha! Most people posting pics to this group are clearly making memes for the first time. Thus, we find ourselves faced with people who don’t understand memes, people who don’t understand specific memes, people who are just not funny, and people who are kind of funny but are fitting long-winded jokes onto a small meme template. It’s always fun to watch people fail. This is why everyone loves this year’s GOP presidential race.* What’s that? I sound like a condescending hipster? Well, I’m not the only one…

Meme Haughtiness
Some people hate hipsters. I love them. I find them hilarious, especially when the thing they’re being hipster about is silly and meaningless. Like say, the ability to make memes. Some of the very first posts in Northwestern Memes were warnings about how we were in for a flood of bad memes. And we kind of were…but it was still hilarious that people decided to lord their knowledge of the Internet as if it made them intellectually superior.**

It’s All a Giant Conspiracy
Turns out that all these “___ Memes” groups were started by one guy as an advertisement for an all-encompassing “Campus Memes” website he’s making. It’s a conspiracy! As if you didn’t already have enough reasons to love Northwestern Memes, here’s another: it has something in common with the assassination of JFK!

Ah, yes. But as much as I love Northwestern Memes, I do have one suggestion for improvement. Two words: more fucksaws. The memes are coming a mile a minute now, so maybe one slipped by me, but I have yet to see a single meme mention a single fucksaw. What’s the deal, Northwestern? Jokes about Asians are funny enough, but “I’m tired of talking about fucksaws” was probably the last line cut from the “Shit Nobody Says” video. I know the Keg is gone and Lodge is closed and stuff, but c’mon guys. Fucksaws, I tell you.

Other than that, keep on tracking.

*Sorry, I just couldn’t stop myself from referencing it. I’m done now though. I promise.
**Morson alert!

Newt Gingrich, South Carolina, and the Abortion of My Career in Political Commentary

23 Jan

And I don't think I want to. Except for understanding your disproportionate ability to get laid.

The GOP primaries are like Chicago weather: completely, utterly, and insanely unpredictable.* Just when you think you understand the day-to-day realities of winter in Chicago, BAM!! Thunderstorm in January. Just when you think you’ve figured out the winner of the GOP nomination, BOOM! Newt wins South Carolina.

I mean, what the fuck, Newt? I thought we were done. I really did. I thought Silly Time was over and it was time for some Real Talk with Obama and Romney (or at the very least, an Al Green-themed The Voice-style sing-off). Not so fast. But I guess I should’ve seen this coming.

Here is a Facebook status I wrote a few months ago, when Newt Gingrich was polling in first place while his opponents floundered, as Herman Cain struggled to fight rape charges and Rick Perry struggled to remember things and Mitt Romney struggled to be interesting: “Newt Gingrich is in first place. That’s it. It’s all a farce. Let’s stop pretending that all of this is real. I throw up my hands.”

Newt polling in first was to the GOP race what Sam and Frodo reaching the end of the Shire was for LOTR. We were now farther from political sanity than we had ever been before, and there was no telling where we would be swept off to next.

Google his name. GOOGLE IT!!!

Two months later, Rick Santorum won Iowa.

Rick Santorum! His name has been successfully Google-bombed and EVERYBODY KNOWS IT and he still won Iowa!

I underestimated the GOP. And not in a “wow I underestimated how good this Nutella milkshake from Fran’s would be” kind of way. Oh no. It was a “the 1984 Portland Trail Blazers underestimated Michael Jordan so much they decided to draft Sam Bowie instead of him” kind of underestimation. Half of me understood that the Newt poll meant the Brotherhood of Dada had dragged us into an alternate universe where ‘politics’ was synonymous with ‘freakshow’ and words lost their meaning and anything was possible…but half of me kept thinking that every crazy development (“oops,” Herman Cain’s Pokémon obsession, Ron Paul’s status as the voice of reason) was the zenith of absurdity, that there remained no further depths to which we could plunge.

But you best believe Newt Gingrich always had an answer for me. Once again, for the record, in case you were too busy this weekend dancing to polka music or playing cards with guys who have the Teen Titans tattooed on their arm to hear about it, Newt won South Carolina! Once more for the record: aaaaahhhhhhhhh!

Is this year’s GOP race the result of some twisted alternate earth they dragged us into?

My last article was not only a celebration of the ridiculous hilarity of the GOP campaign, but also an elegy for that craziness, which I thought was about to vanish in a cloud of sanity. I thought Mitt finally had this all locked up after winning New Hampshire, and I was sure we were finally transitioning from Perry-Bachmann-Cain-Paul-Gingrich to Romney-Obama, to real political debates between two sane candidates. But then Newt charged back to metaphorically punch me in the mouth and remind me that America isn’t going to stop being a hot dysfunctional mess anytime soon.

My possible career in political commentary hasn’t even started and I’m already thinking of quitting forever. I just cannot wrap my head around Newt Gingrich. Can anybody? If you thought Rick Santorum was vulnerable to a casual Google search, try taking Newt’s name for a virtual walk some time. Newt probably has his closet bolted shut with a chair against the door and that still isn’t enough to keep the skeletons in. There is absolutely no possible way that Newt can win the GOP nomination, much less the presidency. But if this campaign has taught us anything, it’s that the possible is impossible and up is down and America is fucked up. In the real world, Newt could never win. But I don’t think we even live in the real world anymore.


My sense of surprise is utterly gone. For the rest of eternity I will believe any story, any event that involves the GOP. Nothing is too nonsensical for a party where Newt Gingrich is a viable candidate. I probably won’t even bat an eye when Bristol Palin wins the Iowa caucuses in four years and becomes the favorite to win the GOP nomination. The Republican Party has moved beyond my paltry comprehension ability.

I think I’m just gonna have to stick to the fiery anti-coffee invective. I can’t do this anymore.

*And for those of you scoring at home, “Chicago weather” is the third thing I’ve compared the GOP primaries to during my career. The list also includes Doctor Who and NBC’s Thursday night sitcom lineup.

Things That Rock: Republicans

18 Jan

Good to see you again. Sorry that it’s been so long since I last made you laugh, but I’ve had a tumultuous couple of weeks. You see, ever since I stole away from my monastery in the middle of the night (no, that ‘Brother’ in my name isn’t random) armed only with a box of tagalongs Peanut Butter Patties and a pair of hook swords, I have been mercilessly pursued by a cadre of cyborg zombie ninjas hell-bent on forcing me back to the monastery where I would be forced to eat beets and contemplate Godel Escher Bach alongside the other monks for the rest of eternity. Hell no. But now that I’m safely holed up in a top-secret bunker located miles beneath Ayers Rock, I’m free to write another article!

I'll miss this woman.

Luckily for all you raging optimists, this one is about something that’s awesome, as opposed to something that’s terrible. Even better, it’s about a ‘diamond in the rough’ sort of awesomeness that can be hard to appreciate if you take it too seriously.* In other words: this year’s Republican presidential primaries.

The GOP candidates (or as I like to call them, Mitt & Friends) have been so ubiquitous in our culture these last few months that I’m sure your mind was assailed with a flood of images and quotes and feelings as soon as you saw those words. Maybe they’ve made you angry or sad or scared for the future of America. But hell, they were entertaining, weren’t they?

Yes they were. Especially once it became clear that turds like Michele Bachmann had no chance of making the cut, it was fun to kick back and watch Rick Perry metaphorically poop himself on live TV or listen to Herman Cain quote the Pokemon movie after his past as a serial rapist was revealed.

Here’s how I parlayed the possible terror of these primaries into something enjoyable: Imagine you went in for a routine dentist checkup. You expect it to be as routine and uneventful as it always is when you go in for these appointments every four years, but surprise! Your dentist finds deep rot in some of your teeth. A root canal’s the only thing for it. Shit, you’ve got a nonrefundable one-way ticket to of the most infamously painful procedures ever conceived by doctors. Begin the nervous freakout.

What else to say about the awesomeness of the GOP primaries?

That root canal diagnosis (and the crippling fear that accompanied it on your part) was Bachmann winning the Ames Straw Poll, or perhaps Perry’s entry into the campaign as a veritable behemoth of money and charisma and prayer, plus former pizza CEO Herman Cain making the cover of Newsweek as the candidate to beat. Former pizza CEO! It sure looked like America was headed for an extremely painful procedure, wasn’t it?

But then a few days later, after you’ve spent several sleepless nights tossing and turning over your fate, you get a call from your dentist. He forgot to tell you: they’re going to knock you out for all of it. You won’t feel a thing. And painkillers being what they are these days, you’ll be right as rain within 24 hours.

For me, that brow-wiping ‘wheeeeeeeeeeew’ moment was the poll, one of the first after Cain and Perry and Bachmann had risen and fallen in the ratings like the figures on a merry go round (only if those figures were stupid clowns instead of the usual beautiful horses), that showed Newt Gingrich in first place. NEWT GINGRICH! FIRST PLACE! Good God, this man once impeached a president for infidelity while cheating on his second wife with a woman who ended up becoming his third wife, and later explained his extramarital affairs by saying that they were “partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country.” Yes! And he was in first place to be the Republican candidate for president! I had been almost scared to laugh at the primaries up to this point, like meeting a guy at a party who keeps nonsensically rambling about Clarence Thomas, only you don’t laugh because you can’t tell if he’s joking or drunk. But now Newt Gingrich was in first place! Turns out that guy was drunk and joking! Commence laughter!**

In a gold-in-the-sand kind of way, or perhaps in a we’ll-knock-you-out-for-the-entire-procedure kind of way, that subtle change in viewing the GOP primaries completely transforms the experience from frightening to hilarious. Once you don’t have to worry about finding a house in Canada (my personal Bachmann contingency plan), you can enjoy these video compilations of classic Bachmann quotes (complete with music!) and laugh at the complete absurdity of the existence of ‘classic Bachmann quotes.’ Once you don’t have to watch professional people seriously debate the 9-9-9 tax plan, you can enjoy the ceaseless stream of ridiculousness that is Herman Cain. Once Rick Santorum wins second place in the Iowa caucuses and opens the door to all sorts of Twitter-ready remarks about how Santorum is being spread in Iowa, it’s nothing but joy.

The man loves to get some tail.

I loved these primaries. From a comedy standpoint, there really was nothing better. How can you not love a primary campaign that spawned a website devoted to showcasing animals with Newt Gingrich?

Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to be stuck with Romney vs. Obama for the next few months, two rational, intelligent, and capable men locked in learned debate. Being the heinous renegade monk that I am, I don’t really know what ‘learned debate’ means, but I’m guessing there will be fewer Pokemon quotes involved. I don’t know what I’m going to do for reality TV entertainment. I mean, maybe you can sit through an episode of the Steven Tyler American Idol, but I certainly can’t. But then again, you’re probably a better person than I am, as evidenced by the fact that you’re not currently on the lam from a cadre of cyborg zombie ninjas.

*Much like the cinematography of Wayne’s World 2.
**And the systematic destruction of any shred of decency that remained in Fran’s.

Things That Suck: Coffee

15 Dec

Coffee: Sir Twattingworth's anti-heroin

Fuck coffee.

I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Not because I’m the protagonist of a Robert Heinlein novel, but because I don’t drink caffeine. I’ll pause a moment to let your mouths fall agape as you shout “WAIT WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTT.”

True story. I’ve never drunk coffee in my life. Okay, wait, there was that one time when I was a curious young four-year-old and my dad let me taste his coffee and I was so horrified that I jerked violently and spilled it all over my Charlie Brown pajama pants. But other than that I have usually abstained from the black stuff. And from Red Bull. And Monster, too. Fuck that shit.

Final exams may be over at Northwestern, but I know there are a bunch of other poor unfortunate souls out there who still have to cram months’ worth of learning into their skulls before exams. As a result they may, in all their mortal vulnerability, be tempted to turn to the evil that is caffeinated beverages. I am here to hold up my hand and say the same thing I would say to anyone planning to read Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666: Don’t do it!

My body is like this temple, in that it is a temple.

That’s a picture of a temple. I included it in this article because, like the Baha’i Temple, my body is a temple. When I stay up till four in the morning writing a six page essay about what Henry David Thoreau would think about the Weather Underground, I do so simply on the sober strength of my own fucking willpower. I understand that if you start thinking about this metaphor, some obvious contradictions might jump out at you like the T-Rex face in my old dinosaur pop-up book. But I’ll remind you that most temples have alcohol in them. You can put wine into a temple without damaging it, and Christians have done so for ages. But something tells me that if you shot lightning at a temple to “give it energy,” you would really just blow up the temple. That’s my visualization of inserting caffeine into a human system.

Shoot a temple with lightning and it will never be intact again. Give me Red Bull and I will never sleep again. I have enough trouble as it is. The first time I stayed up past midnight on a day that wasn’t New Year’s Eve, it was all over for me. Once I crossed that threshold, it became impossible for me to ever fall asleep before midnight again. At night my productivity goes up, and I suddenly remember all the Grantland articles I wanted to read and all the episodes of Dragon Ball Z that I wanted to watch that I somehow forgot about during the daytime. Before I know it, it’s 2:30 and somehow the knowledge that I have to telemarket for three hours the next day doesn’t stop me from looking up YouTube clips of old Martin Luther King, Jr. speeches until my eyelids finally take executive action and shut themselves, only to be jarred awake hours later by an alarm just in time to swallow a mouthful of Cocoa Puffs before huffing it to my French class with all possible speed. No rest for the weary, and I am nothing if not weary.

I am not alone here. I have friends who drink coffee like it’s water. As a result, they go to bed at midnight and wake up at six every day. They think they’re fully functioning modern human beings. I think they’re more like zombie robots in danger of falling apart at any second. I don’t want to see that happen, so I’m finally coming out against the horrid black stuff.

She is hot. Coffee is awful.

That’s a subjective take on the general suckiness of caffeinated drinks, so I’ll throw in an objective approach as well. I feel like I shouldn’t have to mention this, since it is as inherently obvious as the blueness of the sky or the hotness of Kate Middleton, but caffeine is gross. Coffee is gross, and everybody secretly knows it. I’m not just talking about the people who pour mounds of sugar into their mugs to deaden their sorry souls to the fact that they’re drinking liquid poop. I’m talking about everyone. We all seem to have agreed to forget that coffee is disgusting, the way we all agreed to forget that George W. Bush was appointed President by the Supreme Court.

And not just coffee. Red Bull is gross too. I admit, I’ve tasted it a few times, and I’d sooner hang out with Michele Bachmann for a few hours than repeat the experience. But even if I hadn’t been capable of offering this personal testimony of awfulness, surely the list of ingredients – which looks like something Walter White might cook up in his basement to pay for chemotherapy – would probably be convincing enough. 4Loko actually tastes kind of good, but it’s illegal, so that’s a given. I won’t even talk about 5 hour energy drinks until they make better commercials. If my RTVF roommate could make a better commercial than the one you put on TV, you probably don’t deserve to exist, let alone be talked about in the valuable Internet real estate that is this website.

Would you rather drink coffee or eat poop?

I realize that this anti-caffeine argument is difficult. Sometimes the AP curriculum makes it seem as if the College Board just assumes that every AP student is injecting caffeine into their eyeballs (Either that or no one told them about the existence of time-consuming extracurriculars, but either way they’re a bunch of douchemuffins who gave me too much homework in high school). Then there’s the necessity of being a hipster in order to have any social currency in this hyper media-literate world. That means you need to read Pitchfork regularly and wear clothes originally designed for girls Europeans, but it mainly means that you need to spend a majority of your time in darkly lit indie cafes sipping black energy so you’re wide awake and prepared to unleash a shitstorm of ironic Tweets the next time Bon Iver releases a workout video. Caffeine has been so prevalent in our society for so long that we just accept it as a given fact of life. But the fact that people in the Eighties were accustomed to the idea of nuclear Armageddon didn’t make it okay. Nuclear holocaust is never okay, and neither is coffee, and don’t let Henry Kissinger tell you any different.

Society seems to have ordered its priorities like this:
1. Work
2. Sleep

But that is so, so wrong. Our society has forgotten the value of sleep. Let me tell you, there was one Saturday earlier this quarter when I slept until 3 pm. It was the greatest day of my life. We all need sleep to recuperate from the horrid heinousness of everyday life, and coffee prevents that. It sucks. Finals suck. Life sucks too. But you just need to get over it. Do it all natural or not at all, that’s my motto. Sleep well, my friends.

(And for those of you wondering about the fate of my aforementioned Charlie Brown pajama pants: They did not survive their encounter with coffee, and were promptly retired to the dustbin of history. The world is a worse place for it).