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Tag Archives: Michael Jordan

Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’ As Read/Interpreted by Ron Artest

17 Mar

artestLast night, yeah, last night I was sitting in my living room next to a fire fueled by the heads of my enemies, stroking ‘Metta World Hunger,’ my beloved hyena.
Reading about techniques to maintain the perfect rose garden and shit.
When all of a sudden some soon-to-be-dead motherfucker went all a-knocking on my chamber door. And I said ‘Yo it’s just some soon-to-be-dead motherfucker rapping on my chamber door.
Only some shit like that and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I still wake up from terrible nightmares of last December. As I watched Nash and Pau drag their decrepit corpses all across the floor.
Eagerly, I wished to be traded.
Vainly, I tried to escape Kobe, and wept for the loss of my beloved mind.
For the rare and radiant hoodrat-for-life my mother named Ronald.
Metta Word Peace for evermore.

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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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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.

Newt

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.

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*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.

20 People Who Accomplished More Than Me Before They Were 20

9 Nov

This cupcake symbolizes the defeat of teenage pregnancy

So this weekend I turned 20. The celebration was excellent, and the weekend was replete with friends, family, Lupe Fiasco, inexplicable football victories, a seemingly insurmountable stockpile of baked goods, and innumerable abuses of new Sherman Ave writers-to-be. But at some point during the frivolities, somewhere in between heinifying the Shakespeare Gardens and shouting Taylor Martinez-related obscenities on the El, I was struck by the realization that I had suddenly graduated from being merely a teenager into the vaunted world of the 20-something.

Now, I’d like to think that I fit into the 20-something club quite nicely. I publish self-indulgent blog posts, live in dire fear of missing a party, and am woefully unemployed. I vote Democrat and laugh at the word “clitoromegaly.” I buy records on vinyl, wear flannel, and spend an obscene proportion of my income at either BK or EV1, which suits me just fine. I fervently and irrationally believe that Steve Kerr was one of the most important guards in NBA history, and will be a drain on society in general for the next five years or so. Needless to say, I play a good deal of Sporcle and Civilization IV.

This 20-something is a Starbucks barista and staff writer for Thought Catalog

Besides being a great excuse to drink Andre and treat my friends as dutiful subjects to the Birthday Boy for a day, turning 20 is also a good milestone to size up the accomplishments and failures of my life. Even if I never played first base for the White Sox or fronted a touring rock n roll band, I’d like to think I’ve accomplished a fair deal, including roadtripping to LA and founding the most atrocious blog known to the greater Chicagoland area. But no matter what I’ve done, here are the 20 people who accomplished so much more than I could ever dream of before they were even able to legally drink in Japan.

1. Beyoncé’s Unborn Baby
That fetus was still only 5 months old when it garnered 8,868 tweets a minute at the MTV Music Video Awards. To be honest, the only time I can ever hope to gain that much recognition in social media is if Ross Packingham mentions me in one of his status updates. The progeny of Ms. Knowles and Mr. Z will almost certainly emerge from the womb with more talent, beauty, and hedge fund investments than five generations of Rees’ will be able to amass. If this kid doesn’t have a hit single by the time she’s 7, Amy Winehouse will turn over in her grave.

Jesus getting hammered, like a proper 20-something

2. Jesus
Although by the time he was 20 the God the Son incarnated hadn’t quite gotten around to teaching the word of God, performing miracles, or founding the Church, he was at least gainfully employed, which is much better than I can say for myself. You can rest assured that the Messiah was a really fucking good carpenter, as evidenced by his prominent position on Wikipedia’s “Notable Carpenters” list.

3. Harry Potter
Defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? Check. Graduate school? Check. Bang a butterface ginger? Check. The kid did it all, which is even more impressive considering that he never once succumbed to the distraction of working alongside Emma Watson.

I'm going to grow up to do WHAT???

4. Michael Jackson
Despite being born in the eternal hellhole of Gary, Indiana, MJ quickly rose to prominence. At the age of eight, a time when I was mostly concerned about training my Bulbasaur and watching The Bachelor when my Mom wasn’t home, the kid was opening for stripteases with the Jackson 5. If the vocal talent wasn’t enough, he also sported the greatest afro any prepubescent boy ever possessed.

5. Koko the Gorilla
It took me nearly two years to master elementary Spanish, but this adorable ape mastered American Sign Language and English in a few short years. She also had a kitten, and apparently assaulted more women than Herman Cain, both of which prove her superiority to me.

Morty as a child

6. Morton “Morty” Owen Schapiro
The man could grow a full grown beard in first grade in the same time it took me to read a page of Good Night Moon. But for a more complete examination of his exploits in the early years of this man’s life, I suggest you reference Chloe Woodhouse’s expose on the legend himself.

7. Macaulay Culkin
This kid was uglier than what I imagine Steve Buscemi to have looked like as a child, and yet he was still fucking boss. Not only did he single-handedly defeat Joe Pesci in the highest grossing comedy of all time, he also got to live the life of the richest boy in the world as the son of the founder of Rich Industries. The icing on the cake: Mila Kunis.

She also accomplished scaring the living shit out of me as a child

8. Matilda
So smart she could develop telekinetic abilities with the unused part of her brain, she was able to defeat Miss Trunchbull and form a happy, loving family with Miss Honey all before graduating elementary school. Although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive her for the nightmares I suffered after watching the chokey scene.

9. Willow Smith
This video has over 64 million views. The most popular video I ever starred in was of me doing the “Single Ladies” dance in my senior year econ class. Either there’s something wrong with America, or I just got my ass handed to me by a 10-year-old. Or both.

He also managed to get arrested before me.

10. Bill Gates
By the end of sophomore year, the nerd had set a record for the fastest algorithm produced in his Harvard combinatorics class that stood for 30 years. Then he founded Microsoft. By the end of my sophomore year, I intend to have decided upon a concentration and get Sherman Ave to generate enough revenue to pay for beer.

11. Jane Austen
The woman had written most of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice before she turned 20. Not that I really care about the morals, scandals, and marriages of the early 19th Century landed gentry of England, but I’d just about die if Colin Firth ever portrayed one of my characters. Just saying, he’d make a great Sir Edward Twattingworth III.

12. Peter the Great
Dude was 10 when he became Tsar. During his reign he transformed Russia from a freezing, backward, and destitute rural society into a 5,000,000-square-mile freezing, backward, and destitute society. All while suffering from epilepsy.

Despite a lack of physical presence, he still dominated in the paint.

13. Air Bud
That golden retriever probably scored more points in one season than I did in my entire rec league basketball career. Second only to Michael Jordan’s role in Space Jam for convincing kids that they were better than basketball than they actually were, the only downside of Air Bud was the experience of overwhelming disappointment when you own dog couldn’t drain a three-pointer.

14. Lindsay Lohan
Herbie: Fully Loaded aside, The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday, and Mean Girls are some of the greatest acting performances I’ve seen in my lifetime. I’m pretty sure most guys my age have harbored a life-long crush on her ever since she valiantly challenged herself to a fencing match.

15. Michelangelo
Probably one of the best artists in Florence by the age of 14. No big deal.

16. Eliàn Gonzàlez
Not only did Gonzàlez cross from Cuba into American waters in an aluminum boat with a faulty motor, he also survived a sea storm while floating on nothing more than an inner tube. He also accomplished more in politics than any MTV Rock the Vote campaign ever has, quite possibly costing Al Gore the 2000 presidential election.

17. Madeline
The girl got her appendix removed and acted like it was no big deal. She also survived a fall off a bridge into the Seine River and ran away to join a group of traveling gypsies before she learned long division. That’s all there is; there isn’t any more.

18. Beethoven
Sure, as a child his father made young Ludwig stand at they keyboard until he cried. But it all worked out, right? He was seven at the time of his first public performance, and was publishing original compositions before most kids his age had mastered the art of five-paragraph essays.

Adorable

19 and 20 (tie). Eng Seng Ng and Cheng Yen Ng
Eng Seng Ng is a 19-year-old grad student at Stanford. Most people that age are busy playing National Treasure drinking games and sleeping through 11:00 am discussion sections, not completing their master’s in mechanical engineering at the top school in the country. Ng’s sister Chenny is just as amazing. The renowned master of the Hoedown Throwdown, Chenny is also an internationally-acclaimed practitioner of all things heinous, not to mention the most adorable member of Sherman Ave.

Honorable Mentions:
Adele, Kain Colter, Sasha Obama, George Harrison, LeBron James, Achilles, and Charlie Young.

Badasses in History: Miyamoto Musashi

23 Oct

There are very few truths in this world. “Good” and “evil” are almost never that simple. “Money-back guarantees” are usually scams, and, let’s face it, “both fun and educational!” is just a hair away from being a bigger lie than Santa Clause.

Sorry about that. I should have said spoiler alert.

Anyway, my point is that there are very few universal statements. My favorite however is this: Samurais are awesome.

Find me an exception. I dare you. Tell me you have never seen a samurai movie and left wishing to every power you believe in (and some you don’t, just to cover your bases) that you could be even a fraction as badass as a samurai is without even trying.

Like Tom Cruise in "The Last Samurai," but less of a pansy.

That said, let’s meet this week’s Historical Badass.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Miyamoto Musashi.

Musashi was many things, but what he was, above all else, is the greatest swordsman the world has ever seen. That shit you saw in Kill Bill? He was better. The three hundred Spartans? He could have killed them blindfolded. Every trope applied to Samurai applied to this man, but more so. We tell children scary stories about Godzilla, vampires, and manbearpig. They tell their kids about Miyamoto Musashi.

But I should start at the beginning.

We don’t actually know a lot about Musashi’s youth. The best historians can say is that he was born in 1584 in the Mimasaka Province of Japan. His father was an accomplished martial artist and swordsman and his grandfather was the vassal of a feudal lord by the name of Shinmen.

Beyond that, we don’t know much.

What we do know however, is that Musashi was one precocious motherfucker. How so you ask? Well, he killed a man at age 13. In a duel.

“But Josh!” you say. “Surely it was a training accident against another student at his dojo or some shit! No way it was for serial.”

Actually I’m “super serial.” At age 13, when many of us were having Bar Mitzvah’s and worrying about acne, popularity, and pop quizzes, Musashi was fucking killed people. In fact, his opponent, Arima Kihei, was a grown man…and already a samurai.

He was also kind of a douche. Thing is, he had come to Musashi’s hometown and posted a notice that he wanted to duel someone…anyone. Just because. Dude, what an a-hole.

Musashi, being a badass, decided “screw this guy, I’ll fuck up his shit worse than Samuel L. Jackson in any movie ever.” So, teen Musashi went and wrote his name on the notice, and adding (according to reliable sources) several “Yo Mamma” jokes, just to be sure Kihei wouldn’t chicken out.

At this point, Kihei went and told Miyamoto’s uncle about it, pissed that some punk-kid had challenged him. Musashi’s uncle was equally surprised, especially because Musashi didn’t actually have much swordsmanship training under his belt (or gi or obi or whatever samurai call belts).

I’ll take a moment to laugh my ass off and hand the story over to William Scott Wilson, author of The Lone Samurai.

Kihei was adamant that the only way his honor could be cleared was if Musashi apologized to him when the duel was scheduled. So when the time set for the duel arrived, Dorin began apologizing for Musashi, who merely charged at Kihei with a six-foot quarterstaff, shouting a challenge to Kihei. Kihei attacked with a wakizashi, but Musashi threw Kihei on the floor, and while Kihei tried to get up, Musashi struck Arima between the eyes and then beat him to death.

To recap, in a fight of “Samurai vs. kid-who-barely-has-pubes-yet”, Musashi wins… by just running at the samurai with a giant staff. Against a guy with a sword. If nothing else, kid has mad balls.

In any case, Musashi did what any samurai would do in every samurai movie, he uttered some badass one-liner, took the guy’s sword, then wandered off into the sunset.

Four years and many duels later (of which he lost not a single one), Musashi found himself at the Battle of Sekigahara, which Wikipedia will fast inform you as being a seriously important battle in Japanese history, the equivalent of Gettysburg in the American Civil War or the Battle of Austerlitz in the Napoleonic Wars. Or that one episode of Batman where he has to take on the Joker, Penguin, and Two-Face all at once.

Musashi looking his absolute prettiest

That episode was awesome.

Anyway, seventeen-year-old Musashi reputedly killed an enormous number of opponents, escaping the battle without a single wound. Yeah. Seventeen-year-old vs. army? Musashi: 1, Army: 0.

Suck on that, whiny Spartans. A google search tells me that after the battle Musashi drew his sword and slashed it in mid-air, delivering a death-blow to a 450-years later Chuck Norris. Sure, after all I’ve heard, why not?

So, you ask again, how can one dude be this badass? Surely that’s all?

Hush, grasshopper. Bask in the glory that is Musashi.

In the following years, Musashi spent much of his time dueling (again, he never lost. Not once.), defeating nearly all of his opponents—usually masters of various swordsmanship schools—with a single blow.

It was also during this time that he developed what he would explain in his masterpiece, Go Rin No Sho (The Book of Five Rings), as his signature sword-style: Niten Ichi Ryu, which can either mean “two swords, one soul” or “School of two swords.”

I’ve decided however, that the clear, and accurate, translation is “two swords, much killing.” Unlike most samurai (fucking pansies!), who fought with only one sword, Musashi was able to simultaneously attack and defend thanks to his two-sword style.

To put this in perspective, let me explain how most duels worked at the time. Essentially, both combatants would draw their (lame) single sword and proceed to try and fuck each other up, both parrying (blocking, for those of you who don’t speak swordsman-ese) each other and making the whole thing go on for a long time. Like a commercial during your favorite show, it just wouldn’t end.

Musashi, however, could just block with his shorter sword, then tell the opponent a knock-knock joke before cutting the fool to pieces with his other blade.

It was under these circumstances that Musashi easily defeated Yoshioka Seijuro, head of the famous Yoshioka swordsmanship school. Yoshioka’s students, understandably bothered at seeing their Mister Miyagi cut down with all the effort it might take to eat a piece of pizza, all immediately charged Musashi.

There was only one of him, right?

Yeah, they didn’t stand a chance.

After slaughtering the rest of them—and raiding the liquor cabinet—Musashi went on to claim the lives of many, many other posers. Yet even this wasn’t what makes Musashi so god-damn badass.

That honor goes to his duel with legendary swordsman Sasaki Kojiro, known at the time as “The Demon of the Western Provinces.” Clearly, this was not a man most of us would be willing to fuck with. But Mushashi was no ordinary man.

Both men had never been defeated in a duel, but there were some big differences. Musashi was known for being drunk, dirty, disheveled, and really, really rude. Kojiro on the other hand came from a powerful samurai family and was well-regarded by the Japanese elite.

This is a nodachi

Musashi, reputedly, had heard of Kojiro’s skill with the nodachi, which is to say, Big Fucking Sword (BFS for short).

The blade is four feet long. That is taller than a midget. I say that with no disrespect to little people. It is also taller than many children. I am frightened merely by its picture.

Basically, it is a katana on steroids, but sharper and deadlier. I feel safe saying that there really is no deadlier non-firearm weapon out there.

Hell, even if I had a gun I wouldn’t feel that safe going up against one of those things.

But I digress. As mentioned earlier, Musashi challenged Kojiro to a duel. In his challenge, he specified that the duel be held at the island of Ganryu at sunrise. Quentin Tarantino, this is your bread and butter. Michael Bay, please shut up and learn something from this.

On one hand, we have an incredibly skilled, famous noble samurai. On the other, we have a homeless man with a really really sharp sword, who is equally skilled, but also known to be a total dick, and never really gets around to showering.

It’s like Dennis Rodman vs. Michael Jordan. They’re both good, but one dude has a lot more going for him.

In any case, as was his custom, Musashi showed up late—so as to mindfuck his opponent and make them angry or nervous. This time however, he threw in a free extra.

He didn’t come with a sword.

Instead, he showed up with…

Wait for it.

A wooden practice sword that he had carved out of a boat oar.

Yeah. This was worse than an insult. This was Musashi saying that Kojiro was unfit to have even his blood grace Musashi’s blade, the equivalent of…

Of…

I’m not even sure I can think of something insulting enough without resorting to racial slurs or profound queries as to whether a person’s mother maintains virtue and decorum at all times.

Dude could fuck your shit up seven different ways from Sunday

But despite appearances, Musashi had this all planned out. You see, the great advantage of the Niten Ichi Ryu sword style was an incredibly long reach, as well as simultaneous attack-and-defense capability. So when he was making the wooden blade, Musashi made sure it was a few inches longer than a typical nodachi.

Thus, when Kojiro charged in, Musashi immediately used his blade’s longer reach to bring his sword down on Kojiro’s head, smashing his skull and killing him instantly.

And that was it.

Musashi went on to win more than 60 duels in his life. But as he grew older he got tired of winning so much and never encountering a challenge. As such, he retired to isolation in the mountains of Japan, spending years writing about the true meaning of being a warrior.

The result was the book we know today as “The Book of Five Rings” or Go Rin No Sho, which is still studied even today by businessmen and military strategists.

Also, it’s fucking awesome. Among its many gems—I’m not lying when I say it is extremely profound—is a technique so awesome that I feel as if I had looked upon the face of God himself.

Or seen Scarlett Johansson naked. Yeah, I’ll go with that.

Oh, right. The technique. It’s called “Stabbing the Face”:
When you are even with an opponent, it is essential to keep thinking of stabbing him in the face with the tip of your sword in the intervals between the opponent’s sword blows and your own sword blows. When you have the intention of stabbing your opponent in the face, he will try to get both his face and body out of the way. In the midst of battle, as soon as an opponent tries to get out of the way, you have already won. Therefore it is imperative not to forget the technique of “stabbing the face.” This should be cultivated in the course of practicing martial arts.