Category Archives: Blog

Venting

book coverOver the weekend the New York Times ran a feature/book review on “Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps” by Kelly Williams Brown, a 28-year-old advertising copywriter in Portland, Ore. It made me dry heave.

I’m tired of excuses for millennials. Here’s my one sentence self-help book: get your shit together. No one cares about your student loans or BFF drama or what you wipe your ass with when you run out of toilet paper. (Seriously, that’s your aha! moment?)

The last thing my generation needs is a quirky, somehow meta how-to book. Rather than telling your peers how to be a super awesome redit-worthy grown up, how about studying and reporting on the source of the problems? The failing education system, lack of adult mentoring, credit card reliance, empowering personal dreams over viable careers—all are much more interesting topics.

Which brings me to motivation. Here are the quotes from the article:

“I still don’t feel like I’m an adult all the time,” she said, “but I’m not writing to exorcise my demons. I want people to have some useful information, and I don’t want them to feel less-than. These ideas are not moral judgments.”

Indeed, part of her impetus in writing “Adulting” was to defend millennials against their reputation for being entitled and self-absorbed.

“The people I know in my age group are not aimless man-child caricatures,” Ms. Brown said. “They don’t spend the bulk of their time Instagramming brunch entrees. They, like every generation, sometimes struggle and sometimes succeed in the complicated process of becoming an adult. Millennials can be a little narcissistic, although I don’t think there’s anything weird about our collective character. We’re coming of age in a time that’s tough. But far be it from me to deny the older generation the pleasure of complaining about the younger.”

Unbelievable. You know what’s a little narcissistic and self-absorbed? Writing a book that dispenses your great wisdom to your peers about how they need to be more of an adult like you. And that’s not a moral judgement.

Sure, on some level I’m wildly jealous of her publishing deal and TV option, but if I had to sell my soul and sell out my cohort, no thanks.

You know how you be an adult? You grow up. You learn to do things on your own and accept responsibilities. You become financially independent and find fulfillment in relationships and hobbies. You do not focus on knowing how to make a “dope” cheese plate.

One can’t magically become an adult by reading a book or a blog or following the advice of a Twitter feed. In today’s world, especially with young people, the meaning of “adult” is very fluid and individualized. Some grow up fast, for others it takes a while. There’s really no right or wrong answer. However, being a functioning member of society is not a fucking meme.

 

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Hold Me Back

The best bench reactions from the NBA and beyond. Be prepared to be held back.

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Evans Artisanals

Black Market Mustard & Sauces. Also, Corn Hole Boards. Limited Edition Everything, Special Order Only.

Essential condiments and accoutrements. Interested? Contact us via email or social.

http://www.evansartisanals.com/

Jars

Mustard

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Kickstart My Life

Kickstarter has been around for a few years but it feels like only in the past six months it has exploded as the default fundraising tool for bands and musicians. Amanda Palmer, Kevin Devine, Protest The Hero and Big D and the Kids Table are just a few success stories. And I completely get it. Kickstarter, along with several other similar crowd funding sites, has been a revelation for creative types looking for a means to generate non-traditional income from supporters.

This new model of “help me do X” hinges on the relationship of artist and fan and is built on incentives. Pledge $500 and the band will walk your dog for a week type stuff. These opportunities are fun, rare and inclusive. You are a part of the process. You are making a direct impact on the future of our band. That’s awesome. I’d love to have that connection with certain bands. But what isn’t always understood is that this model can only be successful for established artists that have a core audience of enthusiastic fans willing to make that connection. Anyone can launch a Kickstarter campaign. If you build it though, they don’t always come.

What is more interesting to me now is how bands have fully embraced the model of transparency. The notion that bands openly ask for money from the their fans because they are broke or can’t afford a certain studio or can’t tour is wild. The stigma and shame is gone. DIY is now “Do It For Me.” When a Kickstarter campaign is launched, you’re effectively giving up and admitting that you couldn’t do it on your own. And that’s probably true in most cases (and back to the fan connection and the starving artist transparency), but it also just feels lazy and easy. Why do the work ourselves when we know we have at least 5,000 fans willing to pony up $20? We hit our goal in seven days? Shit that was easy, let’s just do that again next time instead of losing money touring! Bands no longer want you to only buy their music, merchandise and concert tickets, but also fund the making of all those things. I understand if a crowd funded project is a one-time deal, but asking fans to repeat the process might be too much to ask. Time will tell.

The music industry is changing. While major labels die, independent artists are gaining more control over their careers. Not having the support or budget from a label can be hard to adjust to. The goal should be to achieve financial sustainability, not a paycheck-to-paycheck mentality. Kickstarter provides a great service, but what if that record all your fans help fund sucks and is a major disappointment? Ultimately, it comes down to the music. Make that good and the money will come.

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An Honest Discussion on Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy’s new movie Identity Thief opens today. It looks atrocious. Seriously, I wonder how these comedies get made. That’s besides the point though. I want to talk about McCarthy herself. I think she’s very talented. Her small roll in This is 40 was one of the highlights of the film. But honestly, I didn’t find her that funny in Bridesmaids and I never watch her sitcom Mike and Molly. I worry that after her “breakout” roll in Bridesmaids as the big, loud, vulgar and obnoxious friend, she’s already been typecast and forced to try and replicate the same performance over and over again. She’s playing the same character from Bridesmaids in Identity Thief and the upcoming girl power buddy-cop flick The Heat with Sandra Bullock.

So, why do audiences think she’s so funny? It’s not the material. Some of her improv is amusing, but not inventive. I honestly think that it’s because viewers can relate to her. Call it the Honey Boo Boo effect. Audiences want to see someone like themselves or a person who can be looked down upon— imperfect, foul mouthed, uninhibited, confident. Those are acceptable qualities, but they are not inherently funny; the same way in which swearing has now replaces jokes as being the go-to comedic device in the past decade. [“Fuck” on it’s own, with little context is not funny, and swearing used excessively ultimately detracts from its power.]

This leads me to believe that audiences are laughing at her and not with her. What if Kristen Wiig or  played her role in Bridesmaids? Would seeing Wiig, or any other young, attractive actress shit herself be as funny? Would Wiig be praised for her bravery or willingness to do anything for a laugh? I don’t think so.

McCarthy is not the first talented person to fall into this trap. Look at Will Farrell. His last five film rolls all seem to be a riff on the same loud, dumb, doofus. Farrell became a star on SNL for his ability to adapt and play different roles based on the needs of a sketch. Unfortunately, he hasn’t found that balance in Hollywood and has since diminished his brand.

McCarthy (and Farrell) are not stupid. I do not fault them for their film choices. They’re getting paid well for these movies and if they want to make the same movie for the rest of their careers, more power to them (Adam Sandler seems pretty content with it).

No one sets out to make a horrible, unfunny movie. But somewhere between the script and the screen, the same things seem to always happen. Studios get involved, lines change, improv is introduced and what was once an edgy, compelling comedy is now the same old generic mainstream bullshit.

I’ll pretty much guarantee that both Identity Thief and The Heat will flop. But if you loved McCarthy in Bridesmaids, you’ll probably still love her upcoming films. And that tells me more about you, than her.

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Bowling Alone

For the past year and a half I have been writing and recording a new album for Parallel Bars called Bowling Alone. I think it’s probably the best music I’ve done on all levels. It’s a very personal record that is meant to be fun yet complex, thought-provoking yet mindless, different yet familiar.

Bowling Alone is now available (on Bandcamp, iTunes, & Spotify) and nothing would make me happier than if you just listened. I’m not begging you to buy or forcing you to like/follow me on social media. I believe that the music can and should stand on it’s own and that if you create something great, people will find it. So take a listen. If it’s not for you, then fine, but at least you gave it a shot. If you do like it, then how about sharing it will friend? I love music and believe that discovering new bands/albums is one of the most exciting aspects of being a fan.

Bowling Alone Cover

One of the big themes of the record is being alone. The feeling of being alone can be depressing, scary and crippling. It can also be empowering. The album borrows it’s title from Robert Putnam’s excellent book from 2000. In it he lays out the devolution of our societal social fabric. His book was written thirteen years ago. Things have only gotten worse. And I don’t feel good about it.

Over the past several months I’ve also been fascinated with etiology — the study of causation or origin; the question of Why? Why do people care about certain issues? What motivates us? Why did I record this album? It’s a very gray area with no easy answers.

There’s a famous scene from Mad Men where Don Draper talks about nostalgia to pitch Kodak’s new “Carousel” slide projector. He says that in Greek nostalgia literally means “pain from an old wound” and that it’s far more powerful than memory. So why do we always glamorize the past? We remember experiences fondly and therefore they’re put on a pedestal for the rest of our lives. As Putnam’s evidence shows, we were far better off socially back in the 1950’s than we are today. Cultures evolve but there’s always nostalgia. Is that because the past was truly better or because we think it was better in reference to our current situations? I don’t know.

Bowling Alone opens with the song “First to Leave.” In it there’s the line: “We’re just a click away/never more connected/I feel isolated and alone now more than ever.” I think it speaks to the odd juxtaposition of our society today and serves as a pretty good mission statement for the record.

If you listen and have thoughts on some of these issues or others, please share them in the comments. You can stream Bowling Alone below or you can get it in various places. The Parallel Bars site is a good place to start.

Thank you for your time. I think I’ll go…

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Ace Rockolla All-Stars

As a huge fan of Adam Carolla and a daily listener to his fantastic podcast, I couldn’t help but latch on to his latest bit of creating hilarious names for football players. We almost have a full roster.

Lover

Booker

Legs

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