Archive | August, 2012

Hot Routes: Week One

31 Aug

Editor’s Note:  This is the Swanky roundup of our top picks and songs of the week, running every week of the 2012 Year of Football.  For a primer, check out the Introduction.

Week One

This week features only College Football action, which is fine with me.  The NFL is great, but there’s something about Saturday Game Days that are special.  They bring in the double hammer of nostalgia/current appreciation for the college life and intense alumni/student pride.  And it’s Saturday, which means that there’s no need to worry about waking up early the next day – go ahead and take that extra keg stand if you feel like it.

The only caveat about the picks this week is that it is the first week – these predictions are being made without knowing how these teams will perform during actual games.  There is much more pure speculation going on this week than there will be going forward.  So keep that in mind in the event these all crash and burn.  There will also be fewer picks than usual, with just college playing.  Hey – at least you get the tunes.

Boise State (0-0) at Michigan State (0-0) – Friday

The pick:    Michigan State (-7)

The track:  Henrietta by Yeasayer

Yeasayer’s latest album Fragrant World is a collection of dynamic, catchy, emotional and uniquely weird songs that get better the more times you hear them.  “Henrietta” is one of many tracks on the album that packs all kinds of sonic themes and layers within its running time.  I couldn’t even tell you what instruments half of the sounds are coming from – but they go together into an awesomely weird song that builds to a tingle-inducing climax.  Watch out for that sneaky bass line towards the end too – it kind of makes the song.

After the last several years of hearing Boise State whining about getting a shot at national title games while they played mostly Mountain West bottom-feeders, I’m looking forward to all that noise dying down a bit this year.  There’s no denying they had a solid team during those years, but the constant piping up from the cheap seats got tiresome.  This year, with a large part of last year’s team gone, it will be tough for the Broncos to make any kind of noise on the field.  Michigan State lost some core players from last year as well, but they’ve still got a very good defense that should be successful against an inexperienced offense on the road.

North Carolina State (0-0) at Tennessee (0-0) – Friday

The pick:  North Carolina State (+145)

No links – look for it on Spotify or here.

The track:  Hinnom, TX (Alpha Consumer Remix) by Bon Iver

Only upset pick of the week.  North Carolina State ended last season on a strong run, while Tennessee went out with a bit of whimper.  UT has been wildly inconsistent during head coach Derek Dooley’s tenure, and they lost star WR Da’Rick Rogers this offseason – even at home, this team does not inspire much confidence.  On the other hand, NC State looks like they’re ready to build on last season’s momentum, and they seem primed for a first week upset.

Bon Iver has been holding a remix contest over the past couple of weeks for his Bon Iver tracks, and since all of those songs are undeniably great, it’s not a big surprise that a lot of the new remixes are quite solid as well.  There is a lot of open space in Bon Iver songs, and the cool thing about that is that it allows for a lot of interpretation with remixes.  The new mixes can go in a lot of different directions.  The Alpha Consumer mix fleshes out “Hinnom, TX” to great effect.  The original song had a bit of that expansive, Explosions in the Sky feeling, and Alpha Consumer’s mix takes that feel to the logical conclusion.  Great song for when you step on to the high school football field and think epic thoughts.

Michigan (0-0)  v. Alabama (0-0) – Saturday

The pick:  Alabama (-14)

The track:  Elephant (Todd Rundgren Remix) by Tame Impala

This track-to-game match up was too perfect to pass up, with Alabama’s (still mystifying to me) elephant mascot and the track from Tame Impala.  The original “Elephant” is a great song in its own right, and the new mix from Todd Rundgren brings out the heavy, sneering coolness behind the track even further than the Aussie rockers did.  The result is a hard-charging, electric-tinged psychedelic stomp that rocks balls.

On the game side of things, I feel like the hard-charging nature of Alabama will be too much for Michigan to handle.  Michigan seems to be on the right track, but it’s too early in their recovery to football greatness for them to go up against the physical beasts of Alabama and manage to get within two scores.  The benching of Michigan’s top RB, Touissant, also doesn’t help matters at all.  Denard Robinson just doesn’t have the throwing capabilities to beat ‘Bama.

Clemson (0-0) v. Auburn (0-0) – Saturday

The pick:  Clemson (-3)

The track:  For Your Heart by Divine Fits

This spread seems to be giving too much love to Auburn.  The Tigers have new Offensive and Defensive coordinators this year, and still appear to be a work-in-progress.  Clemson, meanwhile, is bringing back the dynamic stars of their explosive offense last season, and is primed up for another successful season.  In the offense-friendly setting of the Georgia Dome, I like Clemson.

If you’re looking for a propulsive, urgent-sounding pop/rock track this week, you could do a lot worse than “For Your Heart”.  Divine Fits is a ‘supergroup’ that includes prominent members of Spoon and Wolf Parade, and this track features strong elements from both of those groups’ prior efforts.  It’s got the vocals and synth flourishes of Wolf Parade and the weirdly awesome chord runs of Spoon.

Hot Routes: Introduction

31 Aug

 

Football lends itself to casual betting more so than other major sports.  The small number of games in a football season (about 12-17, depending on pro or college) eliminates a lot of the random single game outcomes you could get from a basketball season (about 82 games) or a baseball season (about 162 games).  There’s usually about a week between football teams’ games, so there is plenty of time to pull together information from a team’s previous performance and use it to make a reasoned prediction about their next effort.  And in addition to the scheduling, the very nature of the modern football game allows for plenty of wagering opportunities – there are all kinds of strategic approaches that teams take into their games, and with a little observation, one could make some reasoned predictions about which approaches have advantages over others.

What we’re trying to say here is that we enjoy wagering on football games – both at the college and NFL level.  If it were legal, we would even put money down on games, but it’s not, so we just like play for pride.  And as we play for pride this season, we’d like to invite you all to join in.  Each week throughout the 2012 Year of Football, we’ll be presenting some game picks for the upcoming weekend.  They could be spreads, money lines, over/unders, whatever.  So if you happen to make a trip out to Las Vegas, or perhaps live in the Cayman Islands, you could even take this advice literally and put some scratch down with your local sportsbook.  Or you could just marvel at how great/poorly we’re doing.

We know that just presenting some football picks and short explanations might get a little dry and boring.  And the last thing we want to be here at Dan Swanky’s is dry and boring.  So to keep things moving, we’ll be presenting weekly football picks in conjunction with weekly music picks.  We’ll lay down whatever sweet tracks we’ve been listening to all week, whether they were released in 2012 or 1968, and invite you to join in our jam sessions.  They may relate to the picks, they may not.  Doesn’t matter.  They sound good at the time.

Welcome to Hot Routes 2012

Summer Livin’: Sunset, For Now

29 Aug

Editor’s Note:  Summer Livin’ is a segment in which we ask our friend Steed to offer some words of wisdom on how to best enjoy certain staples of the summer months.  For further reason as to why this should be appointment Internet all summer long, check out the Introduction.  On to the easy livin’.

“I heard a pretty cool bit of news today.  The month of August is Blue Moon month – named as such not because it’s been sponsored by orange slices and wheat beers, but because there will be TWO full moons during this month.  This Friday, the 31st, will be the last Blue Moon before 2015.  Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m looking forward to some weird shit going down because of this Blue Moon.  Think about it – a normal full moon puts a stir in people and leads to all kinds of shenanigans.  Times that by two and color it blue?  On a Friday night before a holiday weekend?  Party time.

I bring up this particularly festive lunar event not just to put out a big Party APB, but also because  it’s coinciding with the end of Summer 2012.  I know people will be throwing around the term ‘Indian Summer’ all September long, but for me, the end of August is the end of the golden season.  School has already started for a lot of people, football games have kicked off, and Labor Day is about to put an emphatic period on all of your summer fashion trends.

This time of year is always bittersweet.  It’s tough to say goodbye to the sun-kissed days of summer.  Gets a little bit emotional for me, and I’m sure you feel the same.  But if you spent the last few months doing it right, you’ve got a lot of sweet memories to look back on.  And looking forward, fall is a pretty badass time of the year, with tailgates and costume parties beckoning.

So – don’t just spend this final August weekend weeping around your campfire.  Get a little Blue Moon Crazy, and take some time to celebrate all the awesome times you had in Summer ’12.  I’ll get things started by running down a few of my personal Hall of Fame moments from this year:

Conquered the community pool

I went to my local community pool at least 3 days a week this summer, and for the first month or so, I was ridiculed endlessly by a 12-year old tyrant named Gregory.  Gregory would spend all day throwing front- and back-flip combinations off the high dive with ease, and then him and his little buddies would cluster around the edge of the deep end and heckle me as I tried to complete my own dives.  I don’t normally get rattled easily, but I’m not a big fan of heights, and when that was combined with the fact that I was trying to impress several of the single mothers on the side of the pool, it got me all out of sorts.  I was belly-flopping, landing on my back, and at a couple points, I just lost my cool and had to do the Climb Down Of Shame as a chorus of adolescent laughter rained down on my bowed head.  After a few weeks of this, I had had enough, and one night I rented the movie Warrior
starring Bane and some other jacked dude.  This fired me up to start a fierce mental training regimen, and three days later, I threw down a perfect double back-flip in Gregory’s face.

Went streaking at a major league sporting event

I’ve always wanted to feel that unique adrenaline rush you’d get upon running proudly nude in front of 30,000+ screaming fans.  This summer, my dream finally came true thanks to my cousin Tobias getting a job as a security guard for my hometown MLB team.  One bright and sunny Sunday, Tobias managed to give me a few minutes’ window of lax security around the right field fence, and I took full advantage.  I popped a greenie, dropped the pants, and hopped onto that fresh cut grass for a quick jog.  It was glorious, and I managed to get at least four minutes’ worth of applause before getting the old Taser treatment.  There was only one drawback – that particular game happened to be Little League Day at the ballpark, with tons of young ballplayers in attendance.  As a result, instead of just getting the light misdemeanor I was expecting, I had to do some heavy duty lawyerin’ to make sure I didn’t end up on some national watch lists.

Started my own day party

Early in the summer, I had been hearing all this ‘Day Party’ buzz from acquaintances and lovers in places like Hollywood and Las Vegas.  Y’know – bars or clubs would set up their decks or poolside areas with swanky decorations, get a DJ or two to spin banging electronic hits, and things would get straight Cray during the normally laid-back hours of 12pm – 4pm.  Champagne showers, water guns, and everyone in high-class yet revealing bathing suits.  This sounded like something that I needed to become a part of, so I took the initiative and started a weekly party myself.  I learned how to DJ by watching a couple of Tiesto and LMFAO concerts online, rented out the back deck of my local Joe’s Crab Shack, bought a foam machine, and let ladies drink for free.  The first party was a little low-key, but I made sure the right people had a great time, and one week later, the lines were around the block and I had a branded party series on my hands.  The damn thing popped off all summer long.

 Became a music blog sensation

For a two-day stretch in June, a coupla heavy rainstorms blew through the area and put a damper on all the outdoor party activities we had planned for.  After a few hours of being cooped up inside, I decided to counter the impending madness of cabin fever by letting my inner musical savant come out and play.  What followed was a 40-hour long stretch of Goldschlager- and amphetamine-fueled musical experimentation, resulting in a mixtape of European Big House interpretations of Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange.  The track “Trancin’ Bout You” caught fire on the blog message boards, and for a couple of weeks, my audio goodness was being streamed and loved all over the world.  It disappeared completely after that, but man, what a run.

Met Channing Tatum

I went through a heady period in the middle of the summer that, for lack of a better word, I would have to call my Magic Mike phase.  My friend Tiff and her sister talked me into checking the movie out with ’em, and two hours and three boxes of wine later, I was a whole different person.  Can’t say what it was, but something about those dudes following their dreams gave me a whole new outlook on life – among other things I got a new workout regimen, finally went back to work on my solo album, and I became a much more sensitive lover.  About a month into this lifestyle change, I was at my local GNC when I locked eyes with a fellow across the store and saw that it’ was Mr. Channing Tatum himself – a vital part of my new lifestyle change.  In my excitement to see Chan, I blacked out for a second, and when I came to, I had my shirt off and was asking what he thought about my workout progress so far.  Long story short – and I don’t blame this one on Chan at all, just his personal ‘advisers’ – I’m now no longer allowed within 300 yards of Mr. Tatum or that particular GNC.

These are just a taste of the summer memories I’ll be toasting to during this week’s Blue Moon Party.  Hopefully you have plenty of misty-eyed reminiscing to do yourself.  Keep it safe out there, and I’ll see you next summer.”

Friday Relief

24 Aug

It’s hot out there, wherever you are.  And being the suave social animal that you are, you’ve probably decided to combat the heat this weekend by throwing a pool party.  A high-style pool party, in which you’ll have some DJ of ambiguous European descent spinning Lounge-House cuts all day.  With guests laying about in the shaded poolside cabanas you’ve set up, sipping on mojitos and Ciroc-tails.  With everyone, yourself included, dressed all in white and looking so effortlessly cool and sexy it makes your head hurt.

Best of luck with your party; we’ll look for evidence of sweet it was in the NYT and HuffPo style pages on Monday.  In the meantime, here’s a choice cut to add to your poolside soundtrack.

Personal Soundtrack

21 Aug

The Song

My Step by Little Dragon

Some songs lock into such irresistible grooves that it is virtually impossible to listen to them without moving some part of your body.  Little Dragon brings that kind of groove with “My Step.”  The track starts out with some basic drum machine action to get an upbeat rhythm going, so that your foot is already tapping by the time an effervescent little electric pulse starts to flit around your head like some drunken dance firefly.  This pulse keeps things moving, and is the first thing about the song that burrows inside your head without leaving.  Throw in a thrumming electro-bass line shortly thereafter, and you’d have a tight, efficient little dance track right there.

Since this is Little Dragon though, they don’t just stop once they’ve got all the ingredients for a nice little beat.  The group is highly adept at bringing live-band dynamics to what often feels like an entirely electronic soundscape in their music.  With “My Step,” that means they have the creative wisdom to let the song’s momentum continue unabated as the throbbing bass line furiously takes over.  The vocals step to the side as the group shows how to do a breakdown the right way.  All you can do is just nod your head and dance away.

The only drawback of the song is that it ends way too early.  At three and a half minutes, it leaves you out of breath and wanting for more.  There’s enough dirty dancing energy in this “Step” to last for at least seven to eight minutes.

The Activity

You toe the scuffed hardwood floor and try to remain as anonymous as you can.  The striped sweater vest that your mom insisted would be a great idea is, in fact, a horrible one.  As all the kids in Lacoste polo shirts strut around happily on the dance floor, you’ve self-selected the odd one out and retreated to the corner by the punch bowl.  A few others seem to have had your same idea, and a motley crew is spread out around the dark edges of the dance floor, eyes downcast and hands in pockets or tightly clenching punch that went room temperature an hour ago.

Your eyes, though, can’t stay pointed downward for too many minutes at a time.  They keep coming up, pretty much on their own accord, and seeking out the same subject, over and over.  The girl who, by the good graces of the First Letter Last Name gods, happens to sit in front of you for first, third, and fourth periods.  The girl that interested you somewhat on that first day of school, and who had commanded your full attention by the morning of the second day.  She’s been out there, tearing the dance floor apart all night, and has been looking just as good as you hoped/feared.

This was supposed to be your big chance to do something about all those pesky feelings you’ve been having.  But so far, the twin forces of Peer Fear and Outright Awkwardness have conspired to root your feet firmly on the sidelines, forcing you to watch as the other, louder, bolder guys shared in dances and took their passes.

The glumness has just about reached an all-time high when you feel that familiar bass line start up.  It starts around your feet, vibrating the old gym floor slowly as the DJ transitions to the full volume of the new song.  You know this song.  Actually, this song knows you.  You look towards the dance floor and see that none of the other guys have shared your recognition of the beat, and have retreated back a bit.  She’s all alone, looking like she needs a dance partner.

And you know what?  Your feet are already moving before you’re even thinking about it.  The beat kicks into second gear as you walk/groove your way out towards the center of the floor.  Third gear as you make eye contact with your favorite lady and make your presence known on said floor.  You know what to do when it hits fourth gear, and when you do it, there’s an audible gasp of admiration.  As the beat bangs away, people start to notice what’s going on.  There’s magic happening, and it’s you.  By the time the song is pretty much over, you’re standing about three inches taller.  And accepting her offer to dance as K-Ci & JoJo are cued up for the slowdown.

I Wanna Party With You: Expendable Edition

17 Aug

Sometimes, you don’t really get to know what someone is really about until you can sit down, loosen the tie, and toss a couple back with them.  So whenever a particular group of people have piqued our interest here at DS, we figure the best way to learn more about them, and ourselves, is to take a look at what it would be like to party with them.  It’s social science, if you will.  This is I Wanna Party With You.  It’s heavy stuff.

Action Parties

The second installment of the Expendables movie franchise hits theaters this week, offering audiences the chance to see their (parents?) favorite action heroes team up on screen for another round of snappy one-liners and exploding body parts.  The sequel adds even more familiar action faces to the cast, with the likes of Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme coming out of semi-retirement to see if they can out-forearm-sweat Stallone, Statham, and the rest of the series regulars.

We all pretty much know what we’re going to get with the new Expendables.  There will be tons of body blows that land almost as hard as the muttered bits of dialogue.  There will be a lot of winking nods and outright jokes aimed at the stars’ ages, previous movies, and real-life histories.  There will be lots of shooting, gratuitous explosions, and at least one scene in which Stallone directs a plane to do things that spit in the face of rudimentary physics.  We know all of these things.  But what we don’t know, at least for most of us that didn’t frequent the Hollywood Hills house circuit in the late 80s – mid 90s, is what it’s like to party with these action stars.  After the sweat, blood and burn marks have been wiped off, after the last bullet fired and the last punch thrown, what are these brawny bros really like?  Let’s get to hypothesizing.

Sylvester Stallone

Stallone often seems to be one of, if not the most, creatively-minded members of this action star crew.  He’s been the driving force behind getting The Expendables going as a viable franchise, and in addition to directing the first Expendables, he’s also written several movies over the course of his career – including the iconic First Blood (Rambo 1) and Rocky.  While many of the other action guys have seemed content to stick to acting, Stallone has stood out in his creative drive and output.

That creative side is great when it comes to making movies, and it would probably make for some interesting conversation at points during drinks or at a party.  Part of that creative mindset, however, includes having a sensitive disposition – and that can lead to some uncomfortable or unfortunate moments.  In interviews he’s given, Stallone can at times come off as being a pretty defensive dude, and it’s easy to see that becoming magnified in a party situation.  All it takes is a couple of Patron shots and one flippant comment about short guys or the overrated aspects of Rocky, and all of a sudden you’ve got an angry little ball of tanned muscle looking for a rage outlet.  Not the most stable of party mates.

Good Party Meter:

5/10

 

Bruce Willis

The first thing we’d do if partying with Bruce would be to get on first nickname basis – it would be pretty sweet to be able to casually mention you’re ‘heading out to go get beers with Bruno.’  The people that know what you mean would know how special you are.  Besides the whole nickname thing, Bruce seems like he would be a pretty solid guy to share a couple of cold Schlitzes with.  He likes rock ‘n’ roll, he likes motorcycles, he’s John fucking McClane.  In short, he’s a man’s man, and would have tons of good stories to share.

The issue with Bruce is that there is a part of him that scares the shit out of us.  It’s not a loud and obnoxious style, but there’s a quiet rage inside of Bruce that is quite daunting.  This dormant rage played well in Live Free Or Die Hard – Bruce was very convincing as the father of a teenage daughter who just seethed with quiet anger at any and every guy who looked at her twice.  It wouldn’t play well, however, in a carefree party scene.  We can just imagine asking Bruce one too many times to say “Yippie-kay-a motherfucker,” after which he would just put his beer down and stare at us quietly as we dissolved into puddles of shame and self-hatred.  Party over, at least for us.

Good Party Meter:

6/10

 

Chuck Norris

Chuck has been the subject of many jokingly outlandish ‘Chuck Norris jokes’ over the last several years, so it would seem at first that he would be an early favorite to party with.  Have a beer with Chuck and make him do ridiculous things, like punch bears!  And then he’ll do them!  But, no.  This may be an unpopular opinion, but we’re personally not big fans of Mr. Chuck as a party companion.

His movies are alright, as far as ridiculous action movies go, and there are definitely a lot of unintentionally awesome scenes in Walker, Texas Ranger.  There have been many reports, however, that real-life Chuck is not like the action character Chuck.  That real-life Chuck is pretty convinced of his righteousness, and that he almost wouldn’t appear in The Expendables 2 because of the explicit language and other awesome things that earned the movie an ‘R’ rating.  So you can keep the played-out Chuck Norris jokes and go join Chuck at the soda fountain, because we’ll stick with Bruno and some Schlitzes.

Good Party Meter:

1/10

 

Jason Statham

Jason Statham is one of the few big names in The Expendables that is arguably still in his movie-making prime.  He’s definitely not in the same generation as the likes of Stallone and Schwarzenneger, and he’s still pumping out 1-2 solid action movies per year.  He hasn’t quite reached the worldwide mega-star status that those guys hit in the 80s, but he’s still got a solid reputation among action movie fans.  That would be a pretty good way to describe our impression of Jason as a party companion – solid.

Apart from a dry English wit that he usually sports in his movies, there’s not a lot to The Stath that indicates he’s got any crazy qualities that would come out after a few drinks.  And that’s both a good and bad thing.  Bad, because when compared to some of the other flamboyant characters on this list, he could get a little boring after a while.  Good, though, because in case anything goes down at said party, like Stallone losing his mind and going after anyone over 6 ft. tall, you can be assured that good ol’ Stath will have your back, no matter what.

Good Party Meter:

7/10

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold has been in some pretty awesome action movies over the years, but at this point, his silver-screen exploits have probably been eclipsed by the ridiculousness of his actual life.  The guy moved to the U.S. as a teenager, became a sensation in the body-building world, transitioned to movies and conquered that world for a time, and then moved on to politics and became governor of the biggest state in America.  Along the way, he’s shown at many points that he’s got a pretty good sense of humor, and he loves to have a good time.

Say what you will about his recent marital troubles – this guy is by all accounts a pretty interesting person to hang out with.  We would love to get Arnold in a party setting, pull out some beer and some bud, see if the Party Arnold of this and this is still around, and if it is, if Party Arnold would like to come out and mingle.  We’re guessing that he is, and that he would.

Good Party Meter:

9/10

 

Party On…

Personal Soundtrack

14 Aug

The Song

Don’t Owe You A Thang – Gary Clark Jr.

“Don’t Owe You A Thang” is an old-school blues stomp in all the right ways.  It starts with the lyrics, which follow the oft-present blues standard of finding a defiant pride in the midst of emotional and physical poverty.  The narrator may not have love, and may not have a dime, but damn it, he’s surviving.  To add more blues flavor to those defiant lyrics, “Thang” also churns with a lowdown and dirty sexual energy that builds up through searing guitar licks and releases in exultant ‘Whoos’, as if even Gary Clark Jr. can’t believe how hot his groove just got.

Like the great blues artists whose legends he seems to aspire to, Clark uses his vocals and guitar to reach some primitive part of your soul that just can’t help but move to the music he’s laying down.  It puts a little bit of a sneer on your face as the guitar licks burrow down deep.  Clark has only been around the music scene for a couple of years, but if buzz from his live shows and tracks like “Thang” are any indication, he may be packing a classic blues punch for a long time to come.

The Activity

You’re sitting at the bar, kicking back the beer with another Jack.  You’ve lost track of the count on each – the beers and the kickbacks.  It’s been a couple of hours, you know that at least.

It was relatively early in the afternoon when you pulled up to your current position at the end of the bar, and people have been steadily trickling in ever since.  You normally wait until the sun has gone down before heading out to the neon lights, but today was a bit of an exception.

The morning started out fine, but then quickly deteriorated as you got kicked out of your second band in as many months, this time for playing a better guitar line than the easily-threatened lead singer.  Shortly after that, you happened to walk past a sidewalk cafe where your ex-lady was kissing the guy she left you for.  It seemed like the best option after that was to keep walking until you hit the old watering hole, so that’s what you did.

And now here you are, sitting at the bar and developing a decent buzz, when the bartender slides a tall glass of expensive whiskey across the counter, to take the place of your newly-emptied cheap domestic.  You start to say that you didn’t order it, when the ‘keep nods his head towards the other end of the bar and says, Compliments Of The Lady.

You nod, and take a sip of the smooth whiskey before looking down the bar.  You already know who sent it – it was the beautiful blonde with the smoky eyes and short jean shorts, who’s been shooting said smoky eyes in your direction for the past hour.  The same blonde who came in with three rather bulky gentleman who have been getting loudly and obnoxiously drunk for the past hour.

You take another sip, still not looking down the bar, and weigh your options.  These guys are wearing designer jeans, tight-fitting designer shirts (one has some kind of glittery graphic pattern on the back) and shiny new boots.  They don’t look like they’re from around here, and they don’t look like they would take it kindly if someone happened to move in on one of their dates.

But those eyes.  With another sip, you turn your head slowly in the blonde’s direction, and catch her looking directly at you.  With the sort of half-smile that really makes your decision for you.

You tip your chair back, finish the rest of the whiskey in one pull, and stroll down to the other end of the bar.  As you get to the end, you slide right in between the last fellow and your new blonde friend and express your gratitude for the drink.

This introduction goes over quite well with the lady, but doesn’t catch on with the fellows in quite the same way.  The soberest one loudly asks Who The Hell Do You Think You Are, and the drunkest one gives you a hearty shove in the back.  Since this was about what you expected, you’re ready for it, and you manage to take out one of the guys with a right hook before the first beer bottle is swung at your head.

You manage to duck this bottle, and instead of hitting you, it careens into a group of locals at a nearby table who have been anxiously awaiting an excuse just like this one.  With a Whoop, they gratefully accept the invitation to dance, and a full-fledged bar fight quickly breaks out.

As the bottles, fists, and pool cues fly, you make your way to the edge of the fray and locate the blonde with the smoky eyes taking shelter under a table.  Extending your hand, you tell her it’s probably a good time to get out of there.  With a smile, she takes your hand and you both slink out the back door, ready to end the day on a good note.

Friday Relief

10 Aug

The Campaign hits theaters today, and early word is that it’s a pretty enjoyable pairing of guys who can be very funny – Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.  Inthe movie, Galifianakis affects a lisp-heavy Southern accent for his role and presents a character type that may be very familiar to some comedy fans out there.  Namely, anyone that has had the distinct pleasure of meeting Zach’s brother, Seth.

In case you don’t know about Seth Galifianakis, allow us to introduce you.

 

Have a good weekend.  Be careful with that basement Ecstasy lab

Summer Livin’: Road Trip

8 Aug

Editor’s Note:  Summer Livin’ is a segment in which we ask our friend Steed to offer some words of wisdom on how to best enjoy certain staples of the summer months.  For further reason as to why this should be appointment Internet all summer long, check out the Introduction.  On to the easy livin’. 

“Like the bald eagle that looks out pensively from the front of the T-Shirt I’m currently wearing, I crave the freedom of the open air.  There’s a part of me that just doesn’t feel right if I go too long without tearing through wide-open spaces as the wind ripples through my hair.  Since I unfortunately have yet to figure out how to fly without the aid of a 747, the next best chance to get this feeling is the open road.

Over the years, I’ve had quite a few epic journeys on the Great American Highway System, and pretty much all of those journeys have come during the summer months.  With a lot of people getting time off and with the sun shining down upon pretty much every corner of our great country, the summertime is set up perfectly for Road Trip season.  During this season, you’ll find people from all walks of life out on the blacktop.

There are the family cars with the sweaty, disheveled parents arguing up front and the sugar-loaded kids tweaking out in the back.  There are the retiree RVs with the over-confident Gramps manning the massive steering wheel while Gram gets blitzed off gin fizzes in the back.  There are the college crews in the dusty Volvos with the driver looking all sour because they’re the only one not currently getting tanked or sleeping off the prior tanking session.  There are the biker crews, composed of either helmeted mystery ninjas on sexy exotic sport bikes, gruff and hairy lifers in leather chaps, or the terrified accountants wondering how to downshift their new trikes.

Then there are the solo mish drivers, who are usually hiding their stories behind big sunglasses, and who may be running from the law, running from love, running down a dream, or just running.  And while I have been a part of many driver groups over the years, this last group is where I’ve found myself the most.  There have been many times in the past, and most likely many times to come, when a restless energy begins to stir inside me, and the only possible outlet is putting rubber to asphalt.  This usually happens ’round June, and if there’s no one around to run with me, there’s nothing I can do except fill up the stank on the ‘Stang, throw the Party ‘Bans on, and start driving until I feel like stopping.

Throughout my various Road Trippin’ adventures, I’ve built up a decent amount of wisdom.  This wisdom has birthed some battle-tested Rules of the Road – some of which I’ll share with you now.  The other ones are too valuable to give up, SORRY.

Never make direct eye-contact with a truck driver on the open road.  Truck drivers are usually awesome people, and this ain’t a general rule against them.  But some of those big rig cabs are harboring some dudes and ladies who haven’t slept for a few days, and who may have a few bad habits.  And when you make eye contact on that open road, you may be picking up a new friend/enemy, whether you mean to or not.  When there’s only one gas station for the next 130 miles, there’s nowhere to run.

Don’t underestimate the rest stop.  It’s easy to get in the ‘just gotta get there’ mindset after a few hours on the highway.  There’s nothing between you and your destination but the open road, so why not just power through for 16 hours and get the drive over with?  I’ve been here before, and it’s a dangerous edge to walk.  You could find yourself chasing Adderall with 5-hour energies, and when that’s going down, it’s only a matter of time before you start having lucid dreams.  While you’re driving.  I’m still not allowed to drive in Wyoming because of that.

Have the tunes ready.  Make sure you’ve got plenty of playlists, spare iPods, tapes, CDs, etc. before you hit the road.  You don’t want to just rely on the radio, because you will find yourself all alone on a desolate stretch of desert road with nothing but your thoughts and an all-Spanish Mexican ranchera station…and that is not a place you want to be.

Know when to use the buddy system.  If you come up on a gas station/convenience store/generic diner in the middle of nowhere, and it’s between the hours of 2am and 6am, you should probably make sure you see at least one other person in that place that you would consider to be ‘trustworthy’ before you go very far from the safety of your vehicle.  ‘Trustworthy’ can be a very general term in these situations – they just need to be normal, respectable-looking people – but you definitely want to have some sort of potential backup present before you let your guard down in the bathroom or even by the Cold Drinks section.

Let the driver know about the road sodas.  This one’s for when your’re heading out into the Great Wide Open with some company.  Usually there isn’t a problem with having a few sudsy road sodas from the passenger side or the backseat.  You could even say it’s a deserved treat if you just completed a long stretch of driving, and it’s a good way to unwind from those caffeine pills.  But I’ve learned that it’s never a good idea to hide things from the person whose driving.  Because there could always be a situation like the one where Timothy was doing a buck-twenty through West TX in the Charger, not knowing that I was slowly making my way through a 12er of Schlitz, and then being cheeky to the deputy that eventually pulled him over.  One car search later, my open containers are violating some of Timothy’s priors that I was unaware of.  If I had asked him if things were cool before I popped that first top, it would have saved us some stick time, and Timothy some jail time.  Lesson learned.

Take advantage of your Stranger status.  This is less a rule about general Road Trip well-being, and more of a piece of advice on how to get the most out of your extended cruising session.  As you make your way out of the safety bubble that is your hometown and start to pass through the towns and cities that line the highways, you’ll find yourself among people who have no idea who you are.  You’re the man/woman with no history in these towns – the mysterious stranger who just blew into town today and who will probably be gone tomorrow.  This is your chance to be whoever you want to be.  You want to be an astronaut who’s on their way to a top-secret Moon Shuttle launch, and is just looking for love on their (potentially) last night on Earth?  Puff up your chest and step up to the bar – you can be whatever you want tonight.  It’s the Wide Open Road, and the possibilities are endless.”

Friday Relief

3 Aug

The start of August means that summer is locked in the dog days.  When the drowsy humid days just blend together into one shimmery stretch of sunlight.  The glory days.  As we put on our rose-tinted glasses and waxed nostalgic today, our minds turned at first to baseball, and to long summer days and nights spent fucking around on the dusty fields.  And then from summer baseball, it was a short jump to one generation’s quintessential summer baseball movie – The Sandlot.  And when it comes to The Sandlot, there’s really only one way we could go on a Friday Relief tip.

The one day when it just became too much for Michael ‘Squints’ Palledorous.

 

Enjoy the pool this weekend.