Archive | October, 2012

I Wanna Party With You: Halloween Edition

30 Oct

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.

Halloween Parties

The week or so before Halloween is prime party season.  A magical, party-friendly atmosphere is created by the confluence of a couple different factors:  1) the cooling temperatures give the night air a little extra zip, making those early fall nights feel refreshing and a bit dangerous,  2) Halloween is a pretty universal concept that everyone can use for an excuse to party, to the point that people will feel left out if they’re not there, and 3) there are costumes everywhere.

It’s factor number 3 that makes Halloween parties some of the more unique and absurd events on the year’s social calendar.  Costumes for Halloween provide an opportunity for people to shed their normal insecurities along with the shackles of social decorum and proceed to let their freak flags fly – behind the safety net of the fact that nearly everyone else is doing it.

It’s interesting that even though young kids are typically pretty riled up when it comes to dressing up for Halloween, it’s when people enter their later teens and adulthood that they start spending the most time and energy on costume decisions.  There usually seems to be a period of indifference to the idea of Halloween costumes around middle school and high school, but as kids start to get introduced to the fun-stifling constructs of the adult world, and as the definition of ‘party’ drastically changes, the motivation and possibilities of dressing up in costume strengthen and expand.

As you get older, you can start to appreciate the unique allure behind showing off some imagination and maybe looking extra-sexy while hanging out with a bunch of people doing the same.  Costumes are one big X-factor thrown into every Halloween party, and if you’re a fan of parties, you know how much better they can be with X-factors in the mix.

Coming into the chilly Halloween season this year, we’re going to take a look at a few of the more common X-factor outfits (read: costumes) that you, as a legal adult, maybe come into contact with this year.  Or you may be already planning on doing one or more of these ideas, and if so, we mean little to no offense for the following opinions.

 

Magic Mike

There are two possible avenues that a fellow could take to get to this particular costume choice.  The first could be a fully irony-free, bright-eyed, oiled-up, and fake-tanned embrace of the Magic Mike image.  This could be a gentleman who hits the gym daily and sees an opportunity to show the ladies that he can offer up the guns-and-washboard package just like the Chan-man can.  These guys’ lack of self-awareness, reliance on shiny graphic tees, and propensity for rage bursts could definitely be a party downer.

The other approach to MM time could throw some irony into the concept.  The ‘I know this is ridiculous, but I see the laughter behind Chan-man’s version of “Pony” and I want to join in on that brand of ridiculousness.  There’s bonus points given if they body type of said fellow is nowhere near that of Mike’s.  Just don’t look for too long.

Good Party Meter:

6/10

Presidential Candidate

With 2012 being an election year, there will probably be a few faux-presidential candidates running around out there.  Many of these topical revelers will go with the standard business suit-and-mask costume.  You know the masks – big rubber caricatures of presidents often used in cinematic bank robberies.  So far it seems like Obama masks are the most common ones, but we know Romney’s out there.

These masks are generally creepy even if you just see them hanging up on a shelf in some costume store, and when you put it on some drunk person you don’t really know at a house party you may or may not feel 100% safe at, it’s going to be a party buzz-killer.  Are they looking at you or at the person to your left?  Are those muffled sounds coming from behind the mask a request for more ice, or are they making a lewd come-on that you should be taking as a sign to get the hell out of the room?  Just lose the mask.  You’re making everyone feel weird.

Good Party Meter:

1/10

Breaking Bad

Another buzzy piece of entertainment that will inspire some costumes this year is Breaking Bad.  The most common of these will probably be the yellow jumpsuit and gas mask combination that Walter White and Jesse Pinkman wear to cook their very special brand of blue meth.  If someone is out wearing this particular costume, it says a couple of things about them that give a promising indication of their party abilities.

First, they are promoting an amazing series, and they have good taste.  Second, they are okay with a little grittiness, hence the drug references, and as long as this is not a lot of grittiness, that adds some flavor to the proceedings.  Third, if it’s a lady in a yellow suit, they have all of the above, plus a sense of humor about things, and the self-confidence to pull it all off.  Check, check, check.

Good Party Meter:

7/10

Replacement Ref

This would have been a cool choice for about two days a couple of months ago.  Unfortunately, there will be a decent amount of partygoers this Halloween who didn’t get that particular vibe from this costume choice, and will push forward in an attempt to be topical with some zebra stripes and zany accessories.

The party problems this indicates is that this person has a thudding sense of humor and probably doesn’t get out much.  Also, after a few Zimas, they will most likely start blowing on a whistle or doing severe hand motions that will get old midway through the first time it happens.  If it’s a lady who is wearing a ref shirt and nothing else, we’ll reconsider adding a couple of points.  But still.

Good Party Meter:

3/10

80s

In the past several years, the 80s have seen a widespread costume resurgence to the point that a college 80s aerobics-themed party is no longer just a cliche – it’s an expected tradition.  So whoever goes the 80s route for their costume will more than likely be getting a big 0 for originality.  That’s a zero.  When it comes to communicating and facilitating a debauched, no-holds-barred party energy, however, the 80s are second-to-none.

Try putting on a serious 80s party costume and then not having at least a tiny urge to get out there and dance your ass off to New Wave with other 80s-themed cuties.  It’s pretty tough to resist it.  The other solid thing about the 80s decision is that you’ll run out of parties before you run out of costume options.  Barely.  There’s 80s rocker, wrestler, skier, prom, wedding, fitness, porn star, prep school, beach day….

Good Party Meter:

8/10

 

Party On…

Hot Routes: Week Nine

26 Oct

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 Nine

Due to some extracurricular activities going on this week at Dan Swanky’s, this version of Hot Routes will be a bit shorter than usual.  There’s no need to worry – you’re still getting the hot tunes that can soundtrack the victory parties you’ll throw after these picks work themselves out.

A couple of quick notes for this week:

Kendrick Lamar’s new album good kid, m.A.A.d city is represented in these track selections for good reason.  It’s one of the best hip-hop albums of the past several years, and is both an excellent homage to classic West Coast gangsta rap, and a crazily unique foray into new sonic territory.  Don’t just listen to one track here and there – go all in.

This is a proving weekend for a few teams that could be competing for the National Championship in a couple of months.  Alabama gets its first semi-test, and while I think they’ll win, I don’t think they’ll smash Miss. State as they have other teams.  USC is coming in at only -6.5 in Arizona, and I expect them to continue the improvement they’ve shown in recent games.  They’re getting a lot better, and Arizona is not.  Lastly, Florida seems to be riding a bit too high right now, and while I didn’t pick their game below, I think there’s a sneaky potential for Georgia to pull off an upset.  But don’t hold me to it.

USC (6-1) at Arizona (4-3)

The pick:  USC (-6.5)

The track:  Thriller (DiscoTech Remix) by Michael Jackson

Notre Dame (7-0) at Oklahoma (5-1)

The pick:  Oklahoma (-12)

The track:  So Good To Me by Chris Malinchak

Mississippi State (7-0) at Alabama (7-0)

The pick:  Mississippi State (+24)

The track:  Money Trees by Kendrick Lamar

Seattle (4-3) at Detroit (2-4)

The pick:  Seattle (+2.5)

The track:  Don’t You Evah by Spoon

New York Giants (5-2) at Dallas (3-3)

The pick:  New York (-2.5)

The track:  The Keeper (Banks Remix) by Bonobo

New Orleans (2-4) at Denver (3-3)

The pick: Denver (-6)

The track:  Graveyard Girl by M83

Last Week’s Record:  4-2

Overall Record:  25-21

Hot Routes: Week Eight

20 Oct

 

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 Eight

 

Baylor (3-2) at Texas (4-2)

The pick:  Baylor (+8.5)

The track:  Fucking Problems by A$AP Rocky, 2 Chainz, Drake & Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar was all over the interwebs this week, and his new album doesn’t even drop until next Tuesday.  This isn’t anything to complain about, however – his wordy, fluid rhymes and eccentric musical tastes are an energizing new force in hip-hop.  Kendrick started building buzz based on his affiliation with Dr. Dre, but the strength of his last album and the early buzz on his new one is pointing towards a big breakout in his own right.  With that breakout comes a recognized acceptance into the ‘young elite’ club of today’s hip-hop world, and “Fucking Problem” is a showcase for some prominent members of said club.  While fellow breakout star A$AP Rocky gets the top billing on the song, Kendrick, Drake and elder statesman 2 Chainz all get their chance to shine over a beat that draws out some of their top-drawer efforts.

 

South Carolina (6-1) at Florida (6-0)

The pick:  South Carolina (+3.5)

The track:  Me and My Shadow by M. Ward

A potentially major issue in this game is Marcus Lattimore’s health – if he can’t go, then the Gamecocks might be starting at a disadvantage.  If he can go though, I think this is going to be a hard-fought game that stays within 3 points.  The Ball Coach will have his team ready for a fight in The Swamp, and even though they just lost to LSU, I think S.C. will play Florida tougher than LSU did.

 

Kansas State (6-0) at West Virginia (5-1)

The pick:  Kansas State (+2.5)

The track:  The Page by Chromatics

It was surprising to see this line come out in favor of West Virginia after the embarrassment laid on them last week at Texas Tech.  Sure, the Mountaineers  are now at home, where they can draw upon the lusty, booze-fueled rage of the Mountaineer faithful.  But some home-field momentum can’t fix a defense that hasn’t stopped anyone all season, and Kansas State’s defense most likely picked up some valuable tips from Texas Tech on how to slow down WVU’s vaunted offense.  Kansas State has the edge here, and should send the Holgorsen Mullets to their second straight defeat.

 

Arizona (4-2) at Minnesota (4-2)

The pick:  Minnesota (-6.5)

The track:  So Many Details by Toro y Moi

On his new track, Toro Y Moi maintains some of his signature sound – laid-back funky electro and spacey croon – while also pushing things in an expansive, moody and interesting new direction.  Electronic squiggles and guitar loops float in and out of a beat that takes its sweet time building up to an emotional climax in step with the brooding lyrics.  When everything winds down in a swirl of drum beats, you’re left wondering what it was you just listened to – and why it sounded so strangely compelling.

 

Green Bay (3-3) at St. Louis (3-3)

The pick:  Green Bay (-5)

The track:  Poetic Justice by Kendrick Lamar feat. Drake

Aaron Rodgers submitted the “Fuck You” game that many expected last week, and it succeeded in putting a reeling Packers team back on track after a rough start.  The Pack looked great last week, and while the excitement from that fired-up win should be tempered going into this Sunday, the newfound confidence of Rodgers’ offense should be feared by the Rams.  St. Louis has played decently at home this year, but if Green Bay is anywhere close to the level they were at against the Texans (which they should be) this game is not going to be within a touchdown.

 

Pittsburgh (2-3) at Cincinnati (3-3)

The pick: Cincinnati (+1)

The track:  It Gets Dark by Holy Ghost!

I’m not sure if it was intentional, but it’s suitable that Holy Ghost! released their newest single around Halloween.  This track features the same energetic, expansive new disco sound that made HG!’s debut album so compelling, while also adding in a dark, menacing tone that lends a great edge to everything.  It’s a little bit of Thriller by way of LCD Soundsystem.

 

 

 

Last Week’s Record:  4-2

Overall Record:  21-19

Hot Routes: Week Seven

12 Oct

 

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 Seven

South Carolina (6-0) at LSU (5-1)

The pick:  South Carolina (+3)

The track:  Night Light (Joe Goddard Remix) by Jesse Ware

South Carolina and LSU are coming off pretty different emotions after their games last week.  South Carolina rode a wave of crowd-fueled adrenaline on their way to dominating Georgia, while LSU continued to spit in the face of the idea that football should be fun to watch in their grinding loss to Florida.  One big question here is whether S.C. can play at the same high level as last week when their crazy home crowd is replaced by the hostile fanbase at Death Valley.  I think that S.C. has more talent overall than LSU, especially on offense, and that will carry them through.

 

Tennessee (3-2) at Mississippi State (5-0)

The pick:  Miss. State (-3)

The track:  I Owe You This (feat. Twin Shadow) by Chad Valley

Two artists who know their way around synthesizers and drum machines collaborate for a silky smooth New Wave/R&B hybrid jam.  Chad Valley and Twin Shadow have a love for all things 80s, and their sounds complement each other quite well.  If these guys aren’t on some kind of tour bill within the year, there’s something wrong with the music world.

 

West Virginia (5-0) at Texas Tech (4-1)

The pick:  West Virginia (-4)

The track:  Hail Bop by Django Django

While I do think that West Virginia will not make it through the season undefeated – their defense is just nowhere near good enough – I don’t think that this is the week for the first loss.  The Dana Holgorsen Mullets have enough firepower to win by at least 4 points here.

 

Kansas City (1-4) at Tampa Bay (1-3)

The pick:  Tampa Bay (-4.5)

The track:  Reagan’s Skeleton by Yeasayer

This cut from Yeasayer’s recent album is straight from the LCD Soundsystem school of new disco.  Following the template of those great LCD jams, “Reagan’s Skeleton” builds up as it goes along, adding energy with every new layer of sound that comes in.  Eventually it burns everything down in a glorious burst of chaotic dancefloor moves.

 

New York Giants (3-2) at San Francisco (4-1)

The pick:  Giants (+6.5)

The track:  It’s Not Over by Panama

This is going to be a hotly anticipated game, with the 9ers bringing in the motivation from last year’s heartbreaking playoff loss, and the Giants bringing the defiant swagger of a reigning champ that knows it has something to prove.  I’m not totally sold that the Giants can outright win, but they know how to bring the intensity in big games, and I like their chances of keeping it close.

 

Buffalo (2-3) at Arizona (4-1)

The pick: Cardinals (-4.5)

The track:  Arch & Point by Miguel

R&B singers always seem better when they’ve got a weird edge to them – when the creative spirit inside their heads is just too strong to be contained, and as a result comes out in awesomely strange sonic flourishes, or in brilliantly twisted lyrics about the thrills of various vices (usually drugs and sex).  R. Kelly is an old-school proponent of awesome R&B weirdness, and more recently, The Weeknd built up some incredible buzz with his own brand of drug-fueled silkiness.  And here we have Miguel, who is firmly staking out his own position in the R&B world with his excellent new album Kaleidoscope Dream.  Invite a few special friends over, light some candles, and buckle in.

 

 

Last Week’s Record:  4-2

Overall Record:  17-17

Personal Soundtrack

8 Oct

The Song

 

Mind Mischief by Tame Impala

One of the things that sets Tame Impala apart from most other bands today is their ability to get awesomely weird and loose while never losing focus on whatever tight rhythm they’ve locked into.  The bottom end is deep and prominent throughout the group’s new album Lonerism, but instead of overpowering the rest of the dynamic musical shifts going on everywhere else, the bass and drum sections stay tight to the beat and keep things grounded in a scuzzy, funked-up groove.

Sometimes the heavy rock rhythm comes to the forefront – like in the righteously woolly “Elephant” – and sometimes it sits back before emerging just in time to end a spacey tangent with a nasty bass line/drum run combo.  Despite the airy sound of the Beatles-invoking vocals, Tame Impala are always going to make sure that their electronic-sprinkled brand of psychedelia is heavy enough to get you moving.

The Activity

This is blowing your mind.  Not literally – although you’re pretty sure that if you were ever able to open the window you’re sitting next to, your mind would actually be blown.  Along with the rest of your body.  Into space.  That – space – would be part of what’s blowing your figurative mind right now.

It had all started pretty innocuously – you and Steve hopping in his VW and road tripping down to Florida so you wouldn’t miss the rocket launch that Mr. F. Kennedy had so epically spoken about several years before.  Things were going pretty groovy in the back of the VW on the way down – Steve had volunteered to drive as long as you kept the joints rolled, lit, and passed – and you had both managed to build up a nice little buzz.  And then when you finally got to the launch site and saw how fucking awesome that rocket looked in all it’s shiny, paid-for-by-the-Man glory?  Probably the best moment in your life.

That moment was so good in fact, that you and Steve had decided to take some of that new acid in honor of the event.  Into the red cups of Schliltz it went as you both toasted to America and to the babes parked two spots over in the viewing area.

The Schlitz was the last thing you can remember before just about five minutes ago, when you woke up in the the rocket you were toasting to earlier.  The rocket that is now orbiting the moon.  And that is currently emitting some strangely awesome sounds from what signs tell you is the cockpit.

As you stir in your brand-new space gear, flashes of the past couple hours come back into your head.  Something to do with using the newfound mental awareness the special Schlitz had given you to talk your way past several rounds of lax 60s-era security guards and into the final prep room for the lunar astronauts.  You’re not sure how at the moment, but at some point in the prep room, you switched places with one of the flight crew, and ambled your way into flight position number three.

Well, there’s no use worrying anymore about how you got out here – right?  That music is continuing to get louder as you release your restraints and float effortlessly towards the hatch leading to the cockpit.  As you open it up and float into the corridor, the music leads you straight into a large, cavernous room that is filled with four other floating astronauts, and one shaggy-haired band grooving away on the floor.

On the floor?  You think about the laws of gravity for a moment, and start to wonder if maybe you’re still in the back of Steve’s VW, listening to his new sound system in the Florida swamps.  That’s to be shaken off, though, for now.  When is the next time you’ll be able to listen to an awesomely groovy band in deep-space orbit?

Hot Routes: Week Six

5 Oct

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 Six

LSU (5-0) at Florida (4-0)

The pick:  Florida (+3)

The track:  Apocalypse Dreams by Tame Impala

Florida over LSU is the popular upset pick this week, and while I don’t think it’s as big of a lock as some analysts are saying, I do think the Gators have a great chance to win or at least keep it within 3 points.  The Swamp will be a very hostile place for an LSU team that has already looked shaky against lesser competition like Towson.  What’s a Towson?

 

Miami (4-1) at Notre Dame (4-0)

The pick:  Miami (+14)

The track:  Lady High (Kanye West vs. Chromatics) by Carlos Serrano

I don’t normally get into ‘mashup’ remixes – while they could be interesting at first listen, it usually starts to seem like a novelty gimmick shortly thereafter.  The end result is often just going back to the original songs because they’re still better on their own.  This particular mix by Carlos Serrano stands out however because it’s got a hauntingly banging beat, and it features some of my favorite old-school Kanye verses.

 

Georgia (5-0) at South Carolina (5-0)

The pick:  South Carolina (+1)

The track:  So Bright by Pretty Lights

This is a pretty even matchup on paper, but I think there are a few key things going in S.C.’s favor that will allow the old Ballcoach to take this victory.  First, the Gamecocks are at home, and that stadium is going to downright rowdy.  Second, Georgia just lost their top WR for the year, and that could lead to some uncertainty for their high-powered offense.  Finally, S.C.’s defense is an elite unit that might be the most talented in the country.  They’ll bring everything they’ve got against Georgia.

 

Tennessee Titans (1-3) at Minnesota Vikings (3-1)

The pick:  Vikings (-6)

The track:  Unpretty (Follow Me Remix) by TLC

Allow me to dip back into the late 90s for a moment with some TLC slow burn action.  I can’t say I was meaning to listen to an old TLC ballad when I came across this sultry remix, but there’s something about this song that brings up some pleasant nostalgia for the grade school days.  Also, electronic touches look pretty good on TLC.  “No Scrubs” dubstep mix coming soon?

 

Chicago Bears (3-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3)

The pick:  Bears (-5.5)

The track:  Blue Velvet (Penguin Prison Remix) by Lana Del Rey

This line isn’t bigger because the Bears are traveling on a short week.  I still think Chicago will win by at least a touchdown though, because the Jags are just not a very good team.  The Bears’ opportunistic D will have plenty of chances to take advantage of the eventual Blaine Gabbert mistakes.

 

Baltimore Ravens (3-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-3)

The pick:  Ravens (-6.5)

The track:  Honey by Swim Deep

I don’t know what exactly it is about this song, but it is oddly catchy in a way that I can’t totally explain.  My best guess is that it’s mostly due to the mid-90s power-pop anthem heart that is beating strongly underneath its indie exterior.  With its “Ooo, ooo baby” hook and idealistic vocals about dreaming and cute girls, this will sound perfect over the ending credits of American Pie 5.

Last Week’s Record:  5-1

Overall Record:  13-15