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Tag Archives: Wikipedia

The Top Ten Wikipedia Wormholes

3 Feb

When’s the last time you wikipedia-ed the living shit out a random subject just for the sake of learning? Hold on, what? Never? Ok

Let it take control.  You are powerless against it's magnificent aura.

Let it take control. You are powerless against its magnificent aura.

fine, asshole. When’s the last time you wikipedia-ed the living shit out a random subject just for the sake of procrastinating? Yesterday? That’s what I fucking thought, douchenozzle.

But how do you know that you’re getting the most out of your Wikipedia experience? Have you ever thought that maybe the shit you Wikipedia is boring and that, much like everything about your life, you are also boring? Yo quit yelling, it’s chill. We’re here to set things straight. Continue reading

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How to react to your first episode of Gossip Girl

16 Oct

Hands down the hottest 20-something to play a high schooler in years.

It all started with Monte Carlo[1].

Well, that’s inaccurate, it all started with an accelerated math course in elementary school but to follow the threads back that long would just be boring[2] so we’re going with the abbreviated version and it all started with Monte Carlo.

I used to watch a new movie every day which is relatively easy to do between Netflix and OnDemand and, you know, the internet. One of the last movies in this multi-year habit was Monte Carlo, starring Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and a blonde woman who seemed very replaceable the entire time. The movie is an intense look into the differences between people as stipulated by classes and also there is a scene where they play polo and also Selena Gomez meets up with her true love while casually working at a Romanian charter school. Also Cory Monteith is in the movie and he doesn’t sing[3] so that’s a plus I guess.

Regardless, I watched the entire movie trying to figure out where I had seen Leighton Meester before. My first guess was Episodes, best known as the show that earned Matt LeBlanc a Golden Globe for playing Matt LeBlanc. However, a quick trip down Wikipedia lane proved that incorrect[4]. I also that it might be Elizabeth Moss but it turns out that Leighton Meester and Elizabeth Moss are two seperate people and only one of them has kissed pre-skinny Jonah Hill.

Then I forgot about it.

Just kidding, then I watched Monte Carlo again because it was on HBO before Real Sex[5] and I like having very confused junk. The second time around I discovered that the film was a clever commentary on a gendered society done through a gender-inverted version of the classic parable, the prince and the pauper and also the replaceable blonde woman is a waitress right in that douchey French guys face and also they could have made a very shocking sequel in which Riley, the carefree Australian goes all Wolf Creek[6] on Leighton Meester.

After this viewing I forgot about it entirely.

Several months later I was at a neighborhood joint I frequent often[7] when Gossip Girl came on. My only knowledge of Leighton Meester up until this point was as the wounded Meg Kelly. A woman driven by academic ambition who learns to accept levity into her life, by way of a very attractive Australian.

In Gossip Girl she plays Blair Waldorf, who is a huge bitch.

Blair is manipulative and just a meanie-pants in general. In specific, in the three episodes of Gossip Girl I saw she blackmailed two people and was really mean to another one and then kissed all the boys and I believe I’ve discovered the perfect analogy to what watching Gossip Girl was like.

Watching Gossip Girl was like the first time I went to visit my brother[8] in college and we got into a huge street fight with some other guys and then went downtown to a suite and sat around in the hallway passing around bottles of André and then me and this other guy got hungry so we went downstairs and ate Popeye’s. Gossip Girl is that chicken. I enjoyed the show a lot at the time, but later when I try to access it again it has turned into shit via entirely normal physical processes.

I have fond memories of watching Gossip Girl, but I’m not sure if that’s because I liked the show or because I was watching it with good company and I was in a great mood. That said, watching the show reminded me of something once said by noted cultural critic and current expatriate John Edwin Foster regarding the inevitable proletariat revolution.

J.E. and I were watching It’s Complicated[9], a movie where there are literally zero considerations for things like money and whatnot, and J.E. told me that when the proletariat revolts it will be because of It’s Complicated. They will rise up banners of fire and counter-oppression and as we look down from the diamond balcony we will have very little soul in our argument and they will justly rend us limb from limb.

Gossip Girl works in substititution for It’s Complicated[10].

The entire show could be summed up as #firstworldproblems. In the episode I watched, a character was removed from all his money, a problem he solved not through any great effort. He just fucked a cougar. Then he got called out on it and the explanation “I fucked a cougar because I needed the guapamole” was perfectly sufficent.

Similarly, someone’s mom was running a fashion show and the cool kids had to show up in order to make sure it was covered by the press. The cool kids did show up but the models didn’t so they had to be the models!

At this point, someone reading this should have bridled as the unfairly one-sided portrayal of Gossip Girl by someone who has admittedly seen a very small amount of the show. “What gives him the right,” you may be asking, “to decry such a show? It’s not like they’re trying to make a really deep show or anything.”

Touche.

Some people don’t know this about me[11], but I’ve seen every episode of Sex and the City and both movies. While the second movie is not really worth mentioning[12], I love the show. My mother suggested the reason why she likes Sex and the City and not shows like Desperate Housewives or Cougartown is because the show, on a very elementary level, is about friendship. That’s what seemed to be missing while I watched Gossip Girl. Blair and Serena have moments of comradery but their relationship is built on mutual antagonism.

The men in Sex and the City are mostly[13] one-dimensional coitus puppets. But the show uses them as plot devices to advance the women. If Berger hadn’t broken up with Carrie via post-it-note then we would have never realized how he, an intellectual foil to her, represented all her insecurities in a relationship and her constant desire to find easy happiness over lasting contentment.

When Chuck hits Blair it’s shocking, but it’s shocking in a way that American Psycho[14] is shocking. There’s no emotional fear, just a physical revulsion to the act. Patrick Bateman was created as a satire of east-coast elite, and so his violence is somewhat representative of the arrogance and incosiderateness of an entire class. When Chuck hits Blair it becomes apparent that you are watching either very deeply layered cultural criticism or a soap opera.

This begs a further question: what is wrong with a soap opera?

There is a prevailing theory that stating a genre informs the experience of the viewer on a fundamental level[15]. If you watch Gossip Girl through the lens that the production value would suggest, then ultimately you will be disappointed. The show is not as glitzy as the location scouting would suggest, it is base, and that is not an insult though it may sound like one. It is less than it claims to be, sure, but if we learned anything from the Nolan Batman trilogy[16] it was it’s not what you say, but what you do that makes you who you are. Despite Gossip Girl‘s vehement claims to the contrary, it is just a tabloid you peruse while waiting to check out at the grocery store. You might enjoy it, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you should stay conscious of its deliberate sensationalism which fundamentally undermines any sensationalist aspirations it may have.

A final note:

Metafilmic influence is a crazy thing.

Remember Monte Carlo[17]? That was where I saw Leighton Meester for this first time. Usuaully, when an actor has a definitive role[18] it informs how the audience views them in subsequent roles (or previous roles viewed subsequently). This can also be true for the first role you see an actor in.

Imagine watching Gossip Girl through the lens formed by Monte Carlo. Blair Waldorf becomes an act to appear tough, a protection against something. But what?

Does Riley leave Meg after Monte Carlo ends? Is Blair just a girl who opened up her heart, only to have it Temple of Doom‘d, forcing her to act as heartless as possible to avoid being hurt again? Maybe all of her politicking is intentionally self-destructive, as she has seen how the only thing she needed for happiness was an oft-shirtless Australian.

Do you think that Blair ever finds herself sitting by a window in winter? She looks out onto the snow and sees not a blanket but a smothering force. She remembers the beach in Morocco where he told her that the key was not to worry and so she doesn’t. She laments. She ponders the consistency of words when their speaker has been proven to be so inconsistent. She might run a finger over her lips, but only if she is sure no one is watching.

Her phone vibrates. Serena wants to get drunk because she can taste Conneticut in her mouth and she wants to drown it out anyway possible.

When they are having sex with their boyfriends, they’ll think of each other.

It will not be a sexual thought. It will be the absolute misery that comes from realizing that in all of existence there is only one other person who understands your position, and that’s because she is also on her back, legs up in the air and over-priced liquor in her stomach too.

Later that night Blair will turn her head to the side as if to vomit, but nothing will come up. Her stomach has become too fortified against all the poison she ingests.[19]


[1]   I was trying to come up with the name Monte Carlo once and said Montenegro. Very different films, I recommend neither.

[2]   A lot of the time in grades 6-8 would be spent at Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments, a notoriously difficult game to report on.

[3]   I feel very bad for a lot of the actors in Glee because how can any other work be fulfilling after that?

[4]   In my more vain moments I like to imagine that there is a conspiratorial council dictating rapid-fire changes to Wikipedia just to foil the discovery of pleasant coincidinces in my life. Also I was banned from editing Wikipedia so I’m still a little sore about the whole thing.

[5]   There’s a really good drinking game where you drink and watch Real Sex and wonder what went wrong to lead you to this point.

[6]   This is a movie I recommend. If more people see it, then they’ll get what I mean when I drunkenly threaten to Wolf Creek their ass.

[7]   It’s called the Kitten Shack and three Zeta’s live there because only the best can wear the crown.

[9]   I liked It’s Complicated but then I really like Roxanne so maybe I’m just a Steve Martin fan

[10] So does Catcher in the Rye, sorry.

[11] All of you who don’t know me shouldn’t know this, but some people who do know me also don’t know this.

[12] Think Godfather III

[13] Except Aidan. Carrie and Aidan forever.

[14] I only own three DVD’s: American Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, and Remember the Titans.

[15] This is why Rian Johnson never told the cast of Brick that they were making a noire film. Genre conventions, etc.

[16] Those movies are worth watching a few times, which is independent of how good/enjoyable they are.

[17] You didn’t think I was never going to come back to it?

[18] So for John Lithgow, clearly it’s The World According to Garp

[19] The necessary accusation is that in order to write fan-fiction one must, on some level, be a fan.

The Latest In Rape Prevention: Vagina Dentata

26 Apr

The Latest In Rape Prevention: Vagina Dentata

 

It has come to my attention, with the opening of CARE and tonight’s Take Back the Night event, that there are some men in this world who still do not realize that their pee-pees are not always welcome in our jay-jays[1].

Thankfully, most people will never understand the logic behind this phenomenon. Evolutionary and biological psychology holds that men generally have a higher sex drive because men take quantity of genes spread over quality of genes spread. In other words, they argue that the more “naval troops” a man sends to occupy Vagistan, the more likely it is that his genes will be passed on, whereas women are more careful with what they fuck because we don’t want to waste nine months lugging moron genes around in our uteruses (uteri?). There’s also the “rape myth” (women actually want it and will enjoy it, they’re just playing hard-to-get), and the idea that sexual violence is more about a drive for power than a drive to bump uglies. Don’t ask me why rape happens; I’m not touching that can of worms. Whatever the reason is, men continue to force sex upon women despite years of repeated nagging, which goes to show us that nagging does not work, and it’s time to change evolutionary biology.

Women should evolve vagina teeth.

Ladies, doesn’t it suck to feel powerless against potential rapists after dark in the quad, dressed in a short skirt and fishnets? Do you glare at the strapping young lads passing you by to let them know you’re not only aware of your surroundings but really, really scary? Have you ever actually tried using that mace? Cause I haven’t needed to (the glare must have worked), but in the case of an actual emergency I want to have a weapon that doesn’t require skill, and aiming is hard. Solution? Canines in the vagines.

This is not a new idea. It has appeared in many a lunchtime conversation during my high school days. And according to Wikipedia, “folk stories are frequently told as cautionary tales warning of the dangers of sex with strange women, to discourage rape, and around campfires at Boy Scout outings in an attempt to incentivize good Christian abstinence,” so apparently someone has thought of this before me.  Let me clarify: I’m not advocating an end to hookups. God no. They’re all we have left at Northwestern to convince us that we’ll be sexually acceptable in the real world. I’m advocating a built-in trump card. Think about it: the ability to castrate men if they insert themselves into unwanted places will make assholes less free with their willies.

And you know what else?  It will be very difficult in most cases for a man to argue that she was “asking for it,” or for a woman to argue that she was raped when she wasn’t. If that lady doesn’t want the cucumber in her baby kitchen, there’s gonna be a very finely sliced cucumber to show for it. This will eliminate a large amount of ambiguity in the legal system. In fact, I’d like us all to close our eyes and imagine the judicial trials of potential rapists. “Is the defendant’s quiverbone still attached?” “Only some of it, your honor.” “Then she probably didn’t want it in her coochie-snorcher. Case closed.”

I’m not really sure how we’re going to evolve this. Maybe we can invest in some vagina dentures for high-risk women or something, and the rest of our vaginas will catch on that this is a good idea. Our copycat reproductive systems seem to collectively believe that aligning our periods with our roommates and best friends is a fucking brilliant idea, so it shouldn’t take too long to catch on. “Oh, there’s blood coming out of your vagina? I want some too!” Fuck you and your weird habits, genitalia.

I’m also not sure what medical care our nether pearly whites will need…toothbrushes? We’ll see. Til then, the mace, prayer, and angry glare are going to have to suffice.


[1] Disclaimer: A friend of mine has noted that the majority of Northwestern frat boys she has hooked up with will immediately freak the fuck out and back away at least three feet in terror if a chick tells them “no” in the bedroom. To those: thank you. Your mommas taught you well.

5 Reasons Why Today Sucks

18 Jan

I WILL DEEP-FRY YOUR FAMILY, BITCH.

Let me tell you something:  I am all about optimism.  But when the world is a horrible, horrible place in which morals are deteriorating, the environment gets buttsexed harder and harder each day, and Paula Deen has only been assaulted with a ham one time, you have to be reasonable before you’re optimistic.  And to speak from the perspective of reason: Wednesday, January 18, 2012, is going to be the Herbert Hoover of days.  Here’s why.

Reason #5:  It’s a Wednesday

My grandfather used to tell me that the only thing worse than a Wednesday was an overpriced Cambodian prostitute.  I’ve lived by this my whole life, and upon further research, have realized that he was completely right; such tragic historical events as the Great Depression, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Holocaust all happened on Wednesdays.  Despite the fact that this current week is only four days (thanks to Martin Luther King Jr., a fierce and relentless advocate of the 4-day week) (….…that’s what he was best known for, right?), I just intuitively know that Wednesday is going to be a massive pelvic thrust into the back of my skull.

This guy would be getting all up in dat ass if it weren't for a severe case of genital hibernation.

Reason #4:  It’s fucking cold

Chicago’s frigid temperatures are like a straight dropkick to the testicles – painful over a long period of time, difficult to recover from, and prone to occur on Valentine’s Day.  There is nothing favorable about the body’s reaction – whether we’re talking about solidified nostrils, hands frozen numb, or testicles that have receded so far into your body that your nether regions are now just a flat wasteland of lonely anguish, there is no good that comes from these subzero temperatures.  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the wind will readily rush at you like a recruiter from a new fraternity on campus.

Reason #3:  Wikipedia is blacked out

According to  

I learned the other day that

Studies have shown

I was doing research and apparently

Tits.

If Wikipedia's blackouts are anything like Sherman Ave's, they'll be belting Adele really loudly right now.

Reason #2:  WIKIPEDIA IS BLACKED OUT

OH GOD WHYYYY I CAN’T DO THIS I AM LITERALLY NOTHING WITHOUT WIKIPEDIA I WANT TO LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF FRITO’S AND NOW I CAN’T AND OHHH GODDDDDD IT’S STILL WEDNESDAY IS IT DONE BEING WEDNESDAY YET SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME oh what’s that?  Reddit is blacked out too?  Oh, that’s fine.

Reason #1:  Mitt Romney Hasn’t Been Banished From America Yet

I’ve been waiting for a while and it hasn’t happened yet.  It has become quite clear that the man does not possess a single positive quality, but somehow he’s still beating out guys with notable positive qualities (Ron Paul’s adorable voice, Herman Cain’s extensive knowledge of Pokemon quotes, Jon Huntsman appalling ability to be a GOP presidential candidate who isn’t a raging fuckhead).  Surely it can’t be that hard to get rid of this doucheopotamous.  Can’t we just tell him that he won the lottery and gets to go to The Island?

Save the World, Stop SOPA

17 Jan

The biggest threat to your paper on the role of North Africa's economy in the Byzantine Empire circa 1400 since that fifth of Jack Daniels and Facebook

If you’re reading this, I assume you like the Internet (thanks Al Gore). As such, you should probably be running around in circles puking and crying and screaming and calling your representative in Congress and then puking some more, assuming that’s your normal reaction to receiving news of legislation you disagree with.

See, Congress is currently considering two bills—abbreviated to SOPA and PIPA—that are aimed at curbing online piracy of music and film. And while we at The Ave would like to go on the record as opposing illegal downloading (……Look in a mirror. Right now. Do it. Now pretend you’re looking at seven-year-old you. Now try to explain how you could illegally download The Muppets. Now rethink your life choices), these bills go way too far.

Both SOPA and PIPA would give the government sweeping powers to censor online content and target search engines or aggregators that link to websites it says are illegal. As a website that we can only imagine gives nightmares to top officials in the CIA almost every night (we take Mondays off. Too busy Keggin, ya know?), we naturally disapprove.

But the heinous doesn’t stop there. Because of these bills, websites such as icanhazcheezeburger.com, Redditt and WIKIPEDIA all plan to go black tomorrow in protest. Seriously.

As if it isn’t bad enough that we won’t be able to get our full fix of kittens who hate their owners,* WIKIPEDIA IS GOING DOWN. Do you people even comprehend what that means? Literally, no one will know anything anymore. The single database in which all of humanity has stored the entirety of its collective knowledge will be gone at midnight tonight. Every single person on this soon-to-be-forsaken planet will be left with no awareness of the world around them. All sense of intelligence will be replaced by a distant, vacant stare and a sense of longing. Basically, imagine that every person on the planet is Rick Perry. But dumber and less hostile.

Now, I should point out that our boy Barack has said he will not sign these bills, and neither piece of legislation has been voted on or passed by either house of Congress.

But still the damage has been done. See, by naming the House version PIPA, supporters of this bill have already ruined my life. Pippa should be a word of joy, a word of happiness, and a word of incredibly shaped arses. Thanks to these heinous toolboxes, PIPA (same pronunciation as the first name of Our Lady of Bootyville) is instead an Orwellian nightmare of government overreach and special interests.

Censorship never seemed so attractive

In summary, I must admit I was wrong. I thought that there was nothing that could ruin Hottie McNiceAss from across the pond. I thought she was too good and had too round of a behind to be tainted by anything. But in less than eight months, our shitsville of a Congress has done it.

And so, for making me a liar, ruining Pippa and dooming humanity I say this to Congress: Ugh. Typical.

——————————————————————————————————————————
*Porn too. Don’t forget about the porn.

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.