Tag Archives: Steed

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.”

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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.”

Summer Livin’: Fun With Water

24 Jul

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’. 

“If you’re like me, you’ve been spending every day for the last several weeks sweatin’ something fierce.  The temps always get pretty scorching during July and August, but there’s something about this year that feels like someone cranked the Big Thermostat In The Sky just a few notches higher.  Normally I like to spend at least of few hours of the Summer Day kicked back on the front porch with a cold BLL, but at this point, even the shaded areas of the outdoors are unbearable between the hours of 9am and 6pm.  Unbearable – unless, that is, you’ve got the magic ingredient necessary to combat whatever Summer Heat can throw at you.  Water.  H2O.  Agua.  The clear stuff.

Having access to water, and a lot of it, is necessary for basic health reasons if you want to exist outdoors for long periods of time during the dog days of summer.  The benefits of water access don’t stop with the world of health, however.  No, no.  Recreational Water Activities (RecWatA) are one of my favorite parts of summer.  The very basic combination of hot temps, hot bods, cool drinks, and cold water has been solely responsible for some of the best days of my life, and I have no doubt that they will be responsible for many more to come.

Why is water-play such an awesome part of summer?  For one, RecWatAs are incredibly easy to pull off, and can be started up almost anywhere you are.  Got a patch of grass and a garden hose?  You’ve got yourself a great time.  You could pull out a garbage bag and make a slip-and-slide, or you could just get some friends and take turns playing Elephants [Ed.’s Note: We checked – you spray each other with the hose and make trumpeting noises. More than a few ‘substances’ are typically involved].  Another great thing about messing with water is that the opportunities for fun are limited only to your imagination.  There are all kinds of ways in which you can get yourself and your closest friends wet, and I guarantee you that new ways are thought up every day.  I bet that over the rest of this summer, me and my neighbor Timothy will have made up at least five new awesome RecWatAs.  It’s called creativity.  Look it up.

Now, while you can make up all kinds of awesome water-play ideas (and I encourage you to), there are a few general RecWatAs that get brought out summer after summer, to wildly enthusiastic receptions.  First up is the Pool Day.  Yes, this seems like a pretty obvious idea, but you’d be surprised how many people over the age of 13 overlook the awesome potential of the Pool Day.  Just because you’re not in grade school anymore, and don’t have kids of your own, doesn’t mean you can’t go to the community pool on a hot day with a cooler and some buds and have a great fucking time.  If you’re worried about the No Beverages, No Horseplay rules in effects at most of your local pools, don’t worry – that can easily be overcome by a few cash envelopes delivered to every on-duty lifeguard at the beginning of the summer.  These guards are usually in high school, so $40 in $1 bills will be enough to buy some Look The Other Way time when you wanna bring some Schlitz and Mike’s into the pool.  Just keep the adult activities away from the children in the pool (don’t wanna piss off those parents) and your community pool will become one of your new favorite hang-out spots.  You can hone your back-flip skills of the diving boards, have Chicken Fights for cash prizes, and float to your heart’s content.  That overgrown child Michael Phelps isn’t the only one who knows how to hit a bong and have fun in the pool, y’know what I’m saying?

Another standard RecWatA that’s a lot easier to pull off if you don’t have a pool in your area, or have gotten kicked out of ’em all (Tobias) is the slip-and-slide.  Don’t let the screaming kids and unfortunate YouTube montages scare you off from crafting an epic slip-and-slide of your own.  These things are incredibly easy to make – all you need is a hose and a tarp – and can offer up hours of fun.  If you craft a slip-and-slide the right way, then not much else on a hot day will beat the unadulterated thrill of throwing your half-naked self head-first down a slick surface and seeing what happens on the other end.  You can slide down solo, you can go in pairs or larger groups, it doesn’t matter.  It’s always fun, and even when someone gets hurt, as they inevitably do, it’s not usually too serious.  Just a mild concussion or two.  And if you’re really worried about safety, you can go out on splurge on a pre-made slide with inflatable bumpers.  So really, there’s no reason not to start slip-slidin’ away as soon as possible.

Besides the Pool Day and the Slip-And-Slide, there are tons of other great RecWatAs out there that can get you through these unbearably hot summer months with a smile on your face.  You can bring the Pool Day to you by setting up an inflatable pool in your front or back yard, and from there, the opportunities are numerous.  Or you could buy yourself a nice new water-balloon launcher and get your neighbors/strangers in on the fun.  You could also let Mother Nature show you how she does RecWatAs, and head out to your local swimming hole or easy-flowing river.  Me and the crew have started many great days by tossing a few pony kegs of Schlitz in the river and then floating along with ’em until they’re empty.

There are tons of chances to get out and splash around somewhere, so what are you waiting for?  Peel off that sweaty tank, throw on some jorts you don’t mind getting wet, and get started.”

 

[Top Photo Courtesy of CollegeHumor]

Summer Livin’: America’s Birthday

29 Jun

 

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’. 

“Can you feel it people?  That little breeze in the air that tickles your face like a kitten’s whiskers?  That tingly feeling that started in your toes a few days ago and has now worked its way up to just above your belly button?  A growling in your stomach that no food can calm?  Yep, me too.  And that can only mean one thing.  June is coming to a close, and America’s Big Day is almost here.

The Fourth Of July.

I love Christmas, I love Halloween, I love Valentine’s Day.  But the sum of my appreciation for those and every other holiday does not match my balls-out love for America’s Birthday.  For me, July 4th is a chance to celebrate the Freedom and American Way I love with family, friends, neighbors and lovers.  Publicly, and preferably as loudly as possible.

Fourth Of July 2012 is shaping up to be another epic Freedom Fest, and to offer some inspiration for the rest of you party people out there, I decided to disclose my current itinerary for the day.  Obviously things can change as the day goes along, and all of these plans could go out the window.  I’m a free form partier.  Like Parkour.  But this is a basic blueprint I’ll be jumping off from.

8:00AM – Getting up a few hours earlier than normal.  I’ll probably be wide awake by like 6 AM, but I’ll try to stay in bed until 8, so I can get as much rest as possible.  I’m gonna need it.  After getting up, I’ll fire up the grill and make some steak and eggs for breakfast.  Every meal today will be grilled.

9:30 AM – Post power breakfast and a vigorous shower/grooming session, I’ll put on my outfit for the day.  American Flag bandanna.  Custom-made tank top with bald eagle on the front and epic wolf on the back.  Custom-made jorts with USA stitched on both back pockets.  American Flag Converse Chuck Taylors.  Outfitted.

10:30 AM – After getting dressed and cracking the first brews (Bud Heavy) of the day with the roommates, I’ll head out for a quick visit over to my neighbor Timothy’s house.  Like I always do on the 4th,  I’ll remind Timothy that he was born in Canada and that his ability to celebrate today is a privilege, and not a right.  AKA if he abuses that privilege, like call the cops on my party, there’s gonna be some problems.

11 AM – 12 PM – In another 4th tradition, I’ll pull the trike out of the garage, set up an American flag to flap majestically from the back, and set off for a cruise around town.  I’m currently trying to fashion a holster for my iPod speakers on the trike, so if I can get that set up, The Boss will be obviously be soundtracking my cruise.  The purpose of the trip is 1) to get out and see how everyone else is celebrating, and 2) to scope out any party people who look like they would be good additions to my party.  Sometimes I’ll come across people I know, and sometimes it will just be total strangers wrapped in American flags who’ve got that ‘look’.  They’re getting a print-out that has  my face, party info, and directions to the house.

12 PM – 6 PM – Party Time at my house.  18 and over.  This is the place to be in town.  I rent out extra grills, so I’ve got four going at all times.  The pool has a ‘shirts optional’ policy.  I have a local cover band set up to play Born In The U.S.A. in its entirety, several times through.  There’s a standing order with Rusty Pete’s BrewPub down the street so that anytime we run low on kegs, they’ll send one right over, already tapped.  Red, white and blue body paint is kept readily available throughout the party.  People fall in love left and right, enchanted by the atmosphere.  Overall, it’s  the best way to spend your 4th Day.

6 PM – At 5, I shut the cover band down and take the small stage myself.  I plug in Hot Licks (what I call my electric guitar, she’s a beaut) and play the National Anthem, Jimi Hendrix-style, while my buddy Tobias sets off fireworks behind me.  There are usually a few people crying in joy during this emotional moment, and it serves as an ending to my day party, and a kick-off to the rest of the night.

6:30 PM – 10:30 PM – After I burn things down with the Anthem, I herd everyone out of the house and lead a procession down to the waterfront area in town.  On the beach, I’ve paid several young teens in cigarettes and cash to hold prime spots all day, so when we get there, we have a great view of the eventual massive fireworks show that the town puts on.  I have a gentleman’s agreement with the local beat cops, so we’ll keep the kegs flowing all the way out on the beach.  The  fireworks show kicks off around 9 PM, and this is usually the time when I make my move on whomever has stolen my heart at the time.  When the fireworks are bursting over your blanket in the sand?  That’s when magic happens.

10:30 PM – ? – When the last firework sparks have faded in the sky, it’s time to head over to Sandy Guppy’s, our favorite bar near the beach in town.  The owners know to have Flaming Flag shots lined up for me when I get in, and after those go down, things usually get a bit hazy.  The main goal at this point is just to stay out of jail.

Well that’s the rough outline for my Very Special Day coming up.  Do with it what you will.  Use it as inspiration for your own plans, or if you’re going to be in the area, just make sure to be out and about when I’m cruising on the trike.  If you’re the party people I think you are, I’ll recognize a like-minded soul and will toss you a flyer.  Until then, be safe and get ready. ”

 

Summer Livin’: Camping Trips

21 Jun

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’.  

“There’s one summer tradition that has gone down every single year of my life.  The camping trip.  Or trips, if you’re lucky.  My parents were avid summer campers back in the day, and they took us out into the great outdoors at least a few weekends every summer.  They taught me the basics of campground livin’, and I’ve continued the tradition on my own, throwing in some updates and personal touches where I see fit.

It’s no easy task to execute a successful camping trip, no matter who your fellow campers are going to be.  Sure, on the surface it looks pretty simple, and in some ways it is.  You need a tent, hopefully a nice lake or river nearby, some food to grill, some beer to drink, some stuff to burn.  But getting the right mix of all that, with the right people and in the right setting, is like a goddamned science.  And I’m a camping science wizard.  Let’s take a look at some of the tricky ingredients I work with.

Group

Before you start planning for any camping trip, you need to figure out who’s going to be coming with you, and what the collective mindset of the group will be.  You could be the head of a beautiful family of four, heading out with a couple other families.  In that case, you’re going to need an area where kids can play safely with minimal supervision while the parents get the margs flowing and make halfhearted passes at the other spouses.  Fun for young and old.

Things are a little bit different if you’re a young buck, hot-blooded and single, and you’re getting your like-minded friends together for a rowdy weekend in the trees.  In this case, you gotta decide if your group is going to be just you and the guys (or you and the girls, whatsup ladies) or a mix.  If it’s just unisex, then you’ve gotta make sure to find a social campsite somewhere, where you can meet and mingle with other groups of party people.  If your group is already a mix, then you can think about finding a more secluded camping spot, where everyone can allow the outdoor setting to bring out some freak flags.  Can you fit three in a sleeping bag?  You tell me.

Supplies

Since the whole point of your camping excursion is to get away from this material world we live in, you’re ideally going to be posted up somewhere without access to any stores, restaurants, or bars.  So you’re gonna need to pack everything you’ll end up needing.  First up, food.  You can’t really go wrong with a bung of dogs, burgs, and chicken.  You can get creative with it, by bringing some crazy BBQ marinade that a hot babe posted on Pinterest, but at the end of the day, you really just need some sustenance.  If it tastes good, point on you.  But don’t get too fancy.

Second up, most important – party supplies.  As awesome as camping is, you will eventually get to the point in the day where there is not much else to do besides sit around with your family/buds/potential lovers.  If it’s night time, then you’ll have the campfire to stare at, but the essence of the situation is still the same.  Getting away from the material world means you don’t have all your typical distractions around to take up your time.  So what do you do?  Drink my friends.  And maybe smoke a little something, if you’re so inclined.  That is the beauty of camping – it’s really all set up in the end for everyone to get blissfully buzzed (and beyond) among the beauty of nature.  So DO NOT forget the drinks.  Whiskey is usually a great option for warming yourself by the campfire, and then of course, there are the dirty 30s, of which you will need upwards of seven.  [Ed.’s Note: 30 packs of beer]  I’m a Schlitz man myself, but really anything sudsy will do the trick in the woods.  If you want to spice it up with some tequila or homemade sangria, then by all means, go crazy.  There are no laws when you’re camping.  [Ed.’s Note: There are]

Music

Another basic ingredient of any good camping trip is also the basic ingredient of any good social gathering – music.  There are a few options when it comes to crafting the perfect soundtrack for your nature excursion.  First, because of the wonderful and mysterious tech times we live in, you can bring out some iPod speakers and show off your diverse music library to everyone within hearing range.  This is probably your best bet, or at least an option to always keep around.  With all of your music at your finger tips, you can shift the entire feeling of your camping trip with the press of a button.

This is a relatively recent upgrade to the whole camping music thing, because back when I was growing up, we didn’t have anything close to this.  We made do – Dad was a big time Van Halen fan, so he had each kid learn a musical part of the entire Van Halen album, from vocals all the way to guitar lines.  When we were out camping, he’d shout out a song title, like “Feel Your Love Tonight,” and we would drop everything and perform the song on the spot.  I usually shifted back and forth between doing David Lee Roth’s vocals and Eddie’s guitar licks (with my voice) so it wasn’t a bad way to go.  Just got tiring after a while.  So I’m glad to see the iPod speakers these days.

The second way to go with music on the camping trip is to befriend someone who is really good at the guitar.  When the stars come out, the fire gets lit, and your thirteenth beer is cracked, the acoustic guitar sing-a-long is the greatest thing in the world.  The guitar player needs to be okay with granting shouted song requests, and should ideally be able to keep it together from a musical standpoint when the whiskey comes out.  And he should be able to play “Crash”.  If I can’t hear “Crash” at least once around the fire, then the entire trip is ruined.

Those three basic elements are really all you need to worry about when putting together a great camping trip.  If you get these things figured out, then everything else pretty much falls into place.  The camping trip is really one of the most American things I can think of doing during the summer, and I will be venturing out to the woods several times this year.  If you happen to be out enjoying nature as well, and come across a campsite decked out with mansion tents, dirty 30s, and “Running With The Devil,” come join the party.  There’s always room for one more around the fire.”

Summer Livin’: BBQ Season

5 Jun

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’.  

BBQ Season

“What’s up party people.  I hope you’re as stoked on summer as I am right now.  I just hand-stitched my first pair of jorts for the season, blended up a batch of fresh margs, and I can already see the base tan coming through after the past coupla weekends.  Temps have been high ever since Memorial Day two weeks ago, when Summer ’12 “officially” started.

One quick note on that, actually.  I don’t need The Man to tell me when I can start summering.  I know it’s summer when I can comfortably go for my daily sundown jog wearing my Prefontaines [Ed.’s Note: running shorts] and nothing else.  On that magical night when it’s finally not too chilly, summer says Hey Steed.  Let’s Do This.

But anyways – Memorial Day.  A big staple of this holiday every year is the big summer BBQ party.  Everyone gets the friends, family, and neighbors together outside, pulls out a cooler and a grill, and goes from there.  This year was no different, as there were several BBQs within walking distance of my abode.  I usually try to go all out and throw one myself, but  I took this year off to check out the local offerings.  I hopped on the beach cruiser and made a circuit around the block, ending up at my neighbor Timothy’s party.  Which got a bit out of hand.  More on that in a sec – first a quick rundown on my patented, fail-proof approach to creating the perfect summer BBQ mixing pot.

When it comes to getting my own grill out, I’ve always gone to two standbys for some inspiration.  This year, in a spooky example of the summer spirits coming together for me, these two BBQ muses came together themselves in a glorious pairing.  I’m talking about Bud Light Lime commercials and Will Smith’s classic jam “Summertime.”

Over the past couple of years, the BLL commercials have become a summer staple.  You’ve seen them – full of images of hot bods doing hot things like beach volleyball, ultimate frisbee, or throwing rooftop cooler parties.  All delightful images tinged with green and golden hues that, at least for me, get the summer BBQ juices flowing.  In addition to reminding me to pick up a few sixers of the sweetly-flavored hops, these TV spots have given me great ideas when it comes to attracting and keeping beautiful people at all my summer BBQs.  Plenty of frisbees around, plenty of old-school boom boxes to give that non-threatening retro vibe, and plenty of unisex fedoras.  Does anything pair better with a pair of board shorts than a unisex fedora?  Hell no.

And like I said before, the mad geniuses behind the BLL commercials truly outdid themselves by featuring “Summertime” in this year’s ad spot.  This old school Fresh Prince jam has been providing the soundtrack foundation to my summers for as long as I can remember,  and if I had to die and go to a summer-themed heaven, it would look exactly like the situations described by the Fresh Prince’s verses.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve daydreamed about finding my true summer love just like Will does – “honking at the honey in front of you with the light eyes / she turn around and see what you beepin’ at.”  One hot day in the near future, that’s how I’ll meet my future wife.

That’s the beauty of “Summertime” – the summer vibe that floats through the whole song and encompasses everything from cruising around on a hot day, finding love, and chillaxing with the bros.  That’s pretty much everything I’m looking for in a summer BBQ, so it’s a no-brainer that the Fresh Prince has been the inspiration and soundtrack for every great grill-sesh I’ve ever had.  And when the BLL dudes dropped their latest commercial a few weeks ago and basically agreed with everything I’ve just said, in one sublime 30-second clip?  I thought I was dreaming.  Literally did.  And when I realized I wasn’t, I began planning for the ultimate summer BBQ to go down later this year, complete with a giant boom box and (maybe) the Fresh Prince himself.  I’ve got to at least try.  But in the meantime, for your own BBQ?  Just pop in “Summertime” and go looking for some old BLL clips.  Inspiration awaits.”

Summer Livin’: Introduction

30 May

 

It can’t be scientifically proven, but we’re going out on a limb and positing that it is no coincidence America celebrates her birthday right in the middle of the summer season.  In a country constantly defined by, and obsessed with, the idea of Freedom in its citizens’ daily lives, there is arguably no time of the year with more American Freedom than summer.  The stretch of long days and hot nights running from Memorial Day to Labor Day provides ample opportunities to get out and experience some kinds of Freedom that aren’t necessarily available at any other point in the year.

Freedom to eat, drink, and party outdoors.  Freedom to just get in your car and drive wherever/whenever you want, always under the auspices of taking a ‘Road Trip.’  Freedom from the tyranny of sleeves and cultural norms saying that shorts should cover most of your thighs.  Freedom from shirts in general.  Freedom to shoot explosives in the sky and be rewarded with cheers and colorful light displays.  Freedom to take a two week break from your office without your boss Steven giving you the stink-eye, because everyone else is doing it, and he only has two eyes.  Freedom from the textbooks and homework of school.  Freedom from the silly idea that movies should have actual plots instead of just awesome things blowing up in 3D.  Freedom.

There are so many opportunities to have a great time during this season, and we want to make sure that everyone can take full advantage of them.  And we mean everyone – the ideals of summer stretch far beyond just America.  So we reached out to the person we most closely associate with American Freedom, our resident Steed.  Steed is pretty much all recovered from Blitzed For The Holidays, and he is even more amped up for summer than we are, so he was happy to oblige.

We present Summer Livin’, a series running through August in which Steed will take a look at summer-only events and trends, and offer up some advice/stories/life lessons, all in the hopes of helping everyone take full advantage of their personal Summer Freedoms.  Stay tuned.

Hotter Days, Cooler Movies

11 May

[For Part One of the Dan Swanky’s Summer Movie Celebration feat. Steed, go here.  Now, we’ll move to July & August:]

July

The Amazing Spider-Man – July 6

Basically Spiderman 3D, this is a reboot of the Spiderman franchise just a few short years after Tobey Maguire moped his way through the wildly uneven Spider-Man 3.  This time around, Eduardo Saverin takes a break from throwing laptops around and steps into the Spidey costume, and he’s paired up with some solid supporting actors in Emma Stone, Denis Leary, and Rhys Ifans.  At first glance, this seems like Spider-Man could just add on to the superhero overkill of the summer, but this one looks like it has a welcome indie edge to it – the director is Marc Webb from 500 Days of Summer, and the most recent trailer was sporting a Glitch Mob banger.

The Dark Knight Rises – July 20

The biggest movie of the summer.  Anticipation for this one started after the credits rolled on The Dark Knight four years ago, and have only gotten bigger since.  Rises is the conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s masterful Batman trilogy, and by all indication, things are going to get dark and intense, real quick.  Early reports of the movie have described it as being similar to a horror movie, which sounds amazing.  The only reservation at this point is that the trailers and marketing materials seem to be giving too much of the plot away – the most recent one seems to be telegraphing a poetic yet grisly end for the Caped Crusader.  Hopefully that won’t ruin any surprises.

The Watch – July 27

Initially, The Watch looked like another glossy and expensive high-concept comedy, with big-name comedy stars dumbing down their humor in order to appeal to a broader audience.  The plot sounded silly in the worst way – a neighborhood watch group led by Ben Stiller, Vince Vaugh, and Jonah Hill have to protect their neighborhood from an alien invasion.  And then a red band trailer was released, and trepidation turned to anticipation.  The movie looks to be going in the hard-R direction, which is the best decision they could make.  When you’ve got Vaughn, Stiller, and Hill sitting around and talking shit to kids in between extended riffs on alien jizz, then you’ve got the potential for a great summer comedy.

STEED:

Savages – July 6

“There was a period of my life several years ago, which I’m not entirely proud of, when I spent a lot of my time developing my own little grass business.  The funny stuff.  Everything was organic and I catered mostly to the local soccer mom/stay-at-home dad community.  Would do a lot of minivan drops, stuff like that.  Anyways, during this time I had grand dreams of building my own little empire, complete with a gorgeous vixen by my side and a grand waterfront estate.  Savages pretty much sums up what I was aiming for, minus the nasty little Mexican cartal drama, and it’s a movie I’m looking forward to identifying with.  I can definitely see my ruggedly handsome self in the Tim Riggins role.”

Ted – July 13

“So a few weeks ago I was spending a nice little Sunday afternoon at the casa.  It was one of the first hot days of the year, so while my roommate Jasper was out mowing the lawn, me and the other roommate Steve were sitting on the porch finishing the keg from the night before.  You’ve got like a 36-hour window on those things, y’know.  But anyways, so we’re sitting there enjoying our High Life and the smell of fresh-cut grass when Steve suddenly says Oh Shit.  I say, What Steve, and when I turn to look at him, I notice that my whole body suddenly feels great.  I Forgot These Are The Acid Cups, Steve remarks, with a distinct lack of regret in his voice.  Oh, I said.  40 minutes later, I wandered back inside to get a fresh beer and saw that our Fathead of Shawn Kemp had walked off the wall and was now sitting on the couch enjoying a cold brew.  Awesome, I thought, and I sat down to join him.  We spent the whole afternoon watching the NBA playoffs, joking around, and generally just being great buddies.  When it came to about dinner time, we dapped it and he left.  It was a great time.  I’d imagine Ted is kind of like that.”

August

The Bourne Legacy – August 4

The Bourne movies with Matt Damon got better with each new installment, and while it might be tough to top the last one, Bourne Legacy looks pretty promising.  Jeremy Renner plays intensely troubled Badass pretty well (see: The Hurt Locker) and the direction/writing of Tony Gilroy should supply some mind-bending suspense elements.  This isn’t a total reboot of the franchise either – many of the same supporting actors from the prior films are reprising their roles in this one, and it will be interesting to see how the story is continued.  Fingers crossed for an epic Renner-Damon glare-off followed by a throwdown session in the climax.  Loser, if not dead, has to date Julia Stiles’ character.

The Campaign – August 10

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis easily stole the show at the 2012 Oscars with 2 short minutes of tuxedos and cymbals, and they make their movie debut together this summer as rivals campaigning for the same political position.  It’s easy to get expectations too high when two of the funniest people in the world get together, so this will have to be pretty good not to disappoint.  One thing going for it is that Zach seems to have co-opted several mannerisms from his brother Seth to play his Campaign role.  Hopefully Seth will show up for the press rounds or at least the premiere.  Let this tide you over until August.

STEED:

The Expendables 2 – August 10

“Sometimes dreams come true.  Like when I’ve spent all of my movie-watching life having fitful dreams about seeing the incredible physiques and menacing scowls of Stallone, Schwarzenneger, Lundgren, Statham, Li, Willis, and Rourke come together on one screen, and then one magical summer night two years ago, it happens.  I spent most of the first Expendables with tears of joy in my eyes and a pint of Jack in my hands, and opening night of this one won’t be any different.  Especially now that we’ve got Chuck Fucking Norris and Van Damme joining the party.  I may or may not be organizing a chopper envoy for the drive to the theater, followed by a session at the tattoo parlor after the movie.  Email me for details.”

Hit and Run – August 24

“Written, directed, and starring Dax ‘Punk’d’ Shepard.  Enough said.  Ticket purchased.”

Premium Rush – August 24

“I’ve been getting into extreme mountain biking lately.  There’s an urban MBX (my term, TM) park near my house, filled with all kinds of crazy objects to jump over and speed around, and I’m almost ready to go on it.  I bought a trail-ready bike a few weeks ago and have been riding it extreme-style every other day to the MBX park.  I post up there at the top and watch all the MBX bros crush the trail, taking notes on their techniques and lingo.  After a while of this, I’ll make loops around my neighborhood, hopping over curbs and honing my techniques.  It’s a slow process, sure, but practice makes perfect, and pretty soon I’ll be able to own that MBX trail.  Then I can rub it in my neighbor Timothy’s smug little face.  But, yeah, basically I understand the dudes in Premium Rush.

Hot Days, Cool Movies

8 May

Summertime at your local movie theater is a season marked by huge stars, lavish budgets, and lots of loud noises.  With schools out and temperatures ranging from uncomfortably warm to oppressively hot, the easy distractions and cool A/C blasts of the multiplex are an enormous draw all across America.  Movie studios spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year to fill those multiplexes with all the big stars, shiny effects, and loud noises that the months of May – August can handle, and their efforts are rewarded with enough box office sales and merchandising tie-in revenues to keep the whole routine humming year after year.

It is easy to point to the summer movie season as a perfect example of everything wrong with Hollywood and America today – enormous sums of money spent on hollow excesses simply for the sake of making even bigger sums of money on the back end.  And there is some truth behind that.  A cynical truth, though, and bringing cynicism into the summer movie season can prevent someone from enjoying the great potential behind some of these blockbusters.  If done right, a huge summer movie can represent some of the best things that the medium of cinema can offer –  namely an escape from the mundane realities of everyday life, and the chance to see wild twists of imagination made ‘real’ on the big screen.  Summer can offer the chance to check your worries and stress at the door, and escape into worlds of pure entertainment.  There is nothing wrong with just being entertained for a few hours out of your otherwise busy week.

The Avengers kicked off the blockbuster season last week with a small fortune in box office receipts, and it has gotten us in the blockbuster mood here at Dan Swanky’s.  We sat down and picked out some films from the next few months that have us all-out excited, or at least genuinely intrigued, for what awaits in the cool dark of the theater.  And to add a different perspective, we also got our resident blockbuster aficionado Steed to give us some picks of his own.  Enjoy Part One.

May

The Avengers – May 4

The Avengers is an example of how to make a blockbuster the right way.  Director Joss Whedon manages to pull off a story that remains true to the essence of the comic books while also achieving a broader appeal, and he does it behind strong characters that don’t get lost behind the massive scale of the special effects.  It’s tough to stay grounded and nuanced while pulling off scenes with aliens, Norse gods, and lots of spandex, but Avengers manages to do that while also celebrating the awesome action potential that comes from having superhero legends sharing the big screen for the first time.

The Dictator – May 18

Sascha Baron Cohen continues his trend of playing crude characters with funny accents in The Dictator, and it’s tough to tell from the early trailers if this will be a return to brilliant Borat form, or a continuation of the mild disappointment of Bruno.  Regardless, any movie that brings together comedic talents like Cohen, director Larry Charles, and John C. Reilly is worth the benefit of the doubt.  Hopefully there are plenty of batshit crazy and filthy jokes waiting behind the currently tame trailer.

Moonrise Kingdom – May 25

Wes Anderson returns with another coming-of-age tale (presumably) soaked in warm colors, ethereal indie rock songs, and sharp-tongued youngsters.  You can go into an Anderson film with a strong idea of what you’re going to get, and you’ll end up being mostly right – but he can also hit you with emotionally charged scenes of beauty when you least expect it, and is always wholly unique.  Moonrise could be a welcome change of pace among the special effects melee of the summer landscape.

STEED:

Battleship – May 11

“Let’s run this one down:  Aircraft carriers.  Aliens.  Guns.  Tim ‘Riggs’ Riggins.  Liam ‘Taken’ Neeson.  Brooklyn Decker.  Explosions.  This one had me standing in line from the top.  Then the newest trailer dropped in front of Avengers this past weekend, and things were ratcheted up.  I blacked out from the sensory overload, and when I came to a few seconds later, I was at half-mast and lying in the aisle.  Ticket already purchased.”

What To Expect When You’re Expecting – May 18

“Confession: I’m a sucker for baby humor.  No, not humor meant for babies to laugh at – humor that is made up of babies doing funny things.  Babies reacting to things they clearly shouldn’t be reacting to?  Babies crawling around and stirring up innocent mischief?  Gets me every goddamn time.  This movie looks like it’s got all kinds of baby vs. stupid human interaction, and I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.”

June

Prometheus – June 8

This sci-fi action/horror/mind-bender looks to be one of the cooler movies of the summer, complete with a mysterious plot, creepy alien action, and a great cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba, and Charlize Theron.  And that’s on top of the fact that it’s directed by Ridley Scott in his rumored return to the Alien universe; the early glimpses of the trailers look like there are plenty of the same ‘horror movie in space’ touches that made the first film so great.  In another connection to Alien, Fassbender is playing an android in this one – there are unconfirmed reports that he actually begins the film as a sex robot and that this could be a Shame-in-Space situation.  Stay tuned.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – June 22

This is one of those movies that has the potential to be the perfect ‘turn off your mind and be entertained’ summer offerings.  The concept (spelled out in the title) is borderline absurd – but so what?  Timur Bekmambetov is a director who knows how to craft stylish and inventive action sequences, and he’ll be offering up plenty of badass Abe Lincoln v. Vampires ax fights.  If the movie doesn’t take itself seriously and focuses on just having a good time, then this could be a great late-night summer movie.

Magic Mike – June 29

We’ve talked about this before, but we’ve been looking forward to Magic Mike ever since hearing the logline.  In a story based partly upon his real life, Channing Tatum is a male stripper whose mentor is Matthew McConaughey.  This alone sounds somewhat iffy, but when the kicker is that Mike is directed by Steven Soderbergh, things could get weird, in an awesome way.  Soderbergh is a very good director, and his approach to this particular story will be very interesting.  Plus, McConaughey’s role means that we get to see David Wooderson follow his calling to be a male stripper.

STEED:

Rock of Ages – June 15

“Make sure you put down that I’m not a musical fan.  I’d much rather see someone fight their way through a movie’s plot instead of singing and dancing about.  But when the music is all rock classics from golden gods like Journey, Guns ‘n’ Roses and Bon Fuckin’ Jovi, and the main guy is Tom ‘Maverick’ Cruise?  Then sign me right up.  I’m definitely looking forward to getting out my old denim and bringing a few tall boys to the opening weekend of this baby.  Hopefully I’ll bring it back to the Van Halen show a few years ago and get a little something going in the back row.  We shall see.  We shall see.”

That’s My Boy – June 15

“Well, it looks like the June 15 weekend is going to have to be a double feature for yours truly.  I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the Sand-man’s last several movies, and with this one we finally get to see him in some hard-R glory.  No more dancing around that salty language, Sand-man, just let it fly.  I’m not too sure who this Andy Samberg broheim is, but he looks like he could have some potential and I’ll give him a shot.  As long he doesn’t get in the Man’s way.  I don’t want anyone stepping over those baby-talk lines I love so much.  I’ve got a feeling that like Grown Ups, I’ll be making some return trips to the theater all summer long for this one.”

Part Two covering July and August coming soon…

Working For The Weekend

26 Apr

Dan Swanky’s old pal and resident Steed recently reached the summit of the Job Search mountain and has been rewarded with a shiny new executive job at a towering skyscraper downtown.  The opportunity to hear Steed’s unique perspective on the business world is one we didn’t want to pass up.  So we gave him a pocket notebook, some Walking Around Money for his troubles, and then sat back to await the results.  His dispatches did not disappoint.  Prior WFTW: One, Two.

Fellas.  So, ah, I guess last we left my epic executive journey I was grappling with the monkey on my back known as Kenneth.  Well, I was all set to pull some emotional and mental strings to resolve the situation.  But Kenneth’s short (heh) fuse beat me to the punch.

I guess there was another employee in my department, Stephan, who had been here for several months before me, and who had been harboring his own Kenneth anxieties this whole time.  He was a pretty quiet dude, so I didn’t even know he had these issues until last week, when we were all in Kenneth’s office getting Busy Work assignments.  After getting a particularly absurd project, Stephan’s self-control just said Fuck It, and he responded to Kenneth’s request by muttering something we didn’t pick up at first.

Kenneth’s head cocked slightly at Stephan’s comment, almost like a cobra, and the room got quiet as he calmly asked What Was That.  Stephan looked him in the eye and repeated that He Would Rather Not.  Kenneth must have been having a bad day or something, because this just kind of snipped something in his head and he went ballistic.  He started yelling, throwing papers, and finally leaped at Stephan like a spider monkey.  We all cleared the room to let them grapple it out, and eventually one of the secretaries called security to come break it up.  They were both marched to HR Lady Sally, and the last I heard was that Kenneth was being placed on administrative leave for exhaustion.  Problem solved for now, but I’ll keep my eyes out in case that go-getter returns with a chip on his shoulder.

So that little hurdle was cleared, and now I can put my energy towards the Power Climb here.  Rumors are there’s a manager spot opening up soon in my department, and as far as I’m concerned that’s mine to lose.  I did some recon on the hiring people behind this position, and after greasing some palms I was pointed to H. Frackens, a cheery little V.P. who seemed to like me from the start.  I headed over to his office yesterday for a little schmoozing, and things took a bit of a turn.

It was about 1pm when I strolled into H.’s corner office, and he was just polishing off a large snifter of his personal Scotch bottle.  Right away I saw we could speak the same language, and after an introduction I took a seat on his couch and started socializin’.  It might have been the missing half of the Scotch, but H. was loving my jokes.  Before I knew it he had poured the rest of the bottle into two glasses, one for each of us.

Several rounds of Cheers and Prosts later, we had somehow switched positions, with H. laying face-down on the couch and me leaning back in his chair, wingtips up on the desk.  I was enjoying the buzz of new power friendship and warm Scotch when all of a sudden H. let out an Oh Shit and threw his phone across the room.  Before I could ask what was up, he slurred that he had forgotten the time and really needed me to do him a solid.  Seeing a chance to score some Cred Points, I couldn’t say Yes fast enough.  Then I got to hear what the deal was.

Turns out H. was assigned to guest-speak at the Intern Training program that day, a program that started in fifteen minutes.  Seeing as how he was speaking to the coat rack when trying to talk to me, H. was not going to be able to make that guest appearance, and he wanted me to take his place.  He had some notes on Business Communication that he tossed at me before passing out, and then it was all on me to get my game face on.

At that point, I ran down to the garage and burned down my Emergency Spliff to get my head straight.  That had a little bit of an unintended reaction with the Scotch, so I don’t much remember the elevator ride up to the Intern conference room, or the first few minutes of my introduction talk.  I basically blacked back in standing in front of 30 college kids with my shoes off and the words THIS IS REAL written on the white board behind me.  I had apparently been in the middle of a story, but totally lost my train of thought when consciousness had returned.  As we all stared at each other not saying anything, I had a sudden flash of insight and realized I would just impart my personal Comm. Mantras to these kids and then drop the mic.

I quickly turned, fighting off the urge to pass out, and furiously scribbled my Power Comm. Advice on the board:

1.  Enter a room listening

2.  Keep both feet on the floor

3.  Silently repeat the other speaker’s words

4.  Act as if everything is hilarious/brilliant/interesting

5.  Alert power posture, at all times

By the time I was done, I was sweating through my slim-fit and seeing double.  I started a slow-clap for myself and left as it was starting to build.

It was a Wednesday and I took the next two days off, since I had done more than enough work for the week.  Pretty sure that promotion is mine, and that I may have a chance with at least a few of those interns in there.

Steed’s Business Ethics 101 continues on the next installment of Working For The Weekend…