Part III (Bargaining): “Trouble In Paradise”

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“Give up, give up, give up, the dream is over

We lost the moment, now we’re running sober

Give up, give up, give up, don’t even bother

Can’t get what we want.”

 -Zebrahead

I can only watch one television show at a time. I must be hooked, otherwise why am I watching?

To be hooked is a fervent desire to know what transpires down the line.

Since last time, a lot has happened. In case you haven’t heard, here are the top news stories:

  • Paris is on fire.
  • Paradise was burnt to a crisp.
  • There was a random act of violence in Chicago.
  • There was another random act of violence in Thousand Oaks.
  • A couple of overpaid, basketball stars on the same team started acting like children. A losing streak ensued.
  • Marriott Hotels Group experienced a security breach, thereby exposing the data of 500 million individuals.
  • Last, but not least, I can’t eat Caesar salad until further notice.

Oh mon Dieu! 

If only the French government had not initiated the fuel tax, then Parisians would be enjoying their wine and cheese in peace.

If only PG&E had turned off the power grid in a timely fashion, then the city of Pleasure would be in better shape.

If only the perpetrators had lacked firearms, then more people would be alive.

If only the game had been a blowout, then the altercation would never have occurred.

If only the network security team at Marriott had watched The Lawnmower Man, then maybe I could sleep soundly.

If only the lettuce farmers didn’t plant their crops on a pile of manure, then I could enjoy one of my go-to meals.

If only I had studied meteorology, then I could simply talk about the weather all day long.

However, this is not the case. What’s done is done. It is what it is.

And, by the way, writing in the past conditional tense is too difficult to maintain. Once the story begins, I will revert back to the present.

Indeed, yesterday has passed; now, it is today. Yesterday, I was 32. Today, I am 33.

To celebrate this joyous occasion, I return to paradise. Won’t you come along for the ride?

This is Part III, not to be confused with the Bad Religion song of the same name. It’s a story about breaking even. I call this one “Trouble In Paradise.”

It goes like this.

It’s 12:24pm on Thursday. It’s a slow day at the office. There’s a light lunch crowd. It seems as though people are focusing on dinner today. As for me, I’m thinking about pizza for dinner. After all, it’s my birthday. “Let’s live a little,” I say to myself.

12:43pm: Hey, what’s that smell? Does anybody else smell anything?

12:57pm: A guest approaches the podium in an early-90s Cadillac. She’s old and confused; she requires a walker; yet she retains a sense of smell.

1:24pm: Okay, I’m not crazy. Everybody can see the smoke billowing in the distance.

“There’s a wildfire about 200 miles away,” I continue to tell people as they arrive.

“You should really be wearing a mask,” a passerby warns me.

I head home at 3:06pm. The air quality is horrible. It’s getting hard to breathe, so I order some delivery and I lock myself inside.

On Friday morning, I buy tickets for The Rock Show.

Here’s your ticket,” I tell my three friends via SMS. “They’re actual seats, but not all in the same row. As long as we meet a string of nice human beings that can each move down one seat, things will be fine.”

The tickets are expensive, but it’ll be worth it,” I tell myself.

At work on Friday, the air quality is deplorable. The fire is out of hand. Who’s to blame? What’s the cause? We don’t have the answers yet. Today, though, we have N-95 masks on hand.

“You’re really smart for wearing that mask,” a guest tells me as she walks by. She’s not wearing a mask. See, there’s a shortage of masks in the marketplace. The demand is high, and the supply is waning.

3:10pm: The workweek is history. The weekend is here. I’ve had enough. I’m breaking down. I’m burning out. Getting old is hard. And, it’s getting harder to breathe out here.

Friday night is the same. I close the door and lock the windows. All I want is a breath of fresh air, but I can’t seem to find it.

3:26am Saturday: I don’t sleep well on Friday night. I prefer to sleep with the windows open, or at least cracked. Tonight, I don’t. “Screw it,” I say to myself. I open the window and let the toxins seep into my home.

Saturday morning arrives. My flight is just after noon. This routine is becoming easier. I’m like a pro.

This time around, I only bring a duffel bag. After all, it’s only a two-day trip.

2:01pm: “Wish me luck,” I text my folks as I touch down at McCarran International.

We arrive at the hotel. Las Vegas is the same as I remember it. The weather is pleasant, maybe high 50s or low 60s. No humidity, clear skies.

However, we opt to go into the smoke-filled casino. Hey, what can I tell you? Time is money, and it’s time to play some blackjack.

“I’m not playing craps right now,” I tell my buddies. “I need to play some BJ. If I’m going to roll the dice, I’ll need to inflate my bankroll beforehand.”

6:27pm: I win $50 at The Cromwell playing by my rules.

6:53pm: “Let’s go!” I tell the others. The Rock Show starts at 9pm sharp.

7:38pm: The brisk autumn evening takes shape. Our waitress at the Palms goes by the name of Summer. We order some overpriced appetizers, but it’s just not enough. I’m still hungry.

8:43pm: Still hungry, and now adequately buzzed, I meet some San Diego natives at the blackjack table. We talk about The (impending) Rock Show.

9:10pm: I seek out clarification.“9pm sharp? Yeah, right! Who are they kidding? Where are they? What is this, a joke?” 

11:37pm: I strike a deal with my own self. “Man, I’m tired. I just want to sleep. Well, maybe after a few more hands of twenty-one at our home base.”

Sunday 12:48am: Dammit. My $76 in earnings transforms into a debt, somewhere in the neighborhood of $100.

Sometime after 1am, I hit the hay.

“Hey, they didn’t play ‘Adam’s Song’” my friend makes an astute observation at 8:17am Sunday.

I can’t sleep, and to make matters worse, I can’t sleep in anymore. So, I head down to the blackjack table.

10:19am: “I just made $150,” I tell my friends only because they inquire.

10:47am: My friends pose a question, “Parlay-vous le football Americain?” 

“No, that’s not for me,” I reply.

12:19pm: Things are good. Brunch is better. I hit the jackpot. I enjoy two eggs up, two slices of bacon, two sausage links, and two pancakes slathered in cinnamon butter.

After that, I lose track of time. There are no clocks in this smoke-filled room. No major developments at this time. I win some hands; then I lose some hands. The drinks keep coming.

Summer is nowhere in sight.

It’s just after 4pm. We step outside to The Strip for a breath of fresh air. I love the cool, autumn breeze in the desert.

4:03pm: On y va? Absolutment, on y va! Nous arrivons au Casino de Paris.

We arrive at Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, in so many words. The ceiling indicates partly cloudy skies. It’s room temperature, very comfortable. There’s some cigarette smoke wafting, but I don’t need a mask.

I make my way to the blackjack table. It boasts a series of side bets. “It’s a sucker bet, bro,” my friend explains to me. I gamble. The dealer busts. I win $250.

I cash out. I sit down at the Ultimate Texas Hold’em table. This is another game for suckers. Again, I gamble. I win another $300. Instantly.

I cash out once more. All of a sudden, I have $917 in my wallet. Things are good. Things are really good.

“I’m up $600. What should I do?” I ask my parents via text message.

“Have a burger and then call it a night,” my dad replies.

If only.

In the blink of an eye, my earnings evaporate. I decline to tell you the rest of my adventure, because the remaining details are not that intriguing.

The ending isn’t that bad, I just wish it could have been better.

4:16pm Monday: I take the early flight home. Apparently, the weather back home creates a flurry of delays. The airline gives its customers an option to change flights, free of charge.

5:46pm: I touch down. Home again. The smoke is still present. Nothing has changed,” I mutter to myself.

6:34pm: Back at my apartment, I lock the windows and doors. I catch the end of the six o’clock news. It’s the same old story, though.

The newscaster reads from a teleprompter. The President is entangled in a web of untruths. The fabric of our country is disintegrating. Our lives are dictated by a culture of fear.

The world is burning, but everything will be fine when the smoke clears.

Take my word for it.

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Part II (Anger): “The Fall Classic”

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“I took a piss in every ocean, so fuck the world.”

-A Wilhelm Scream

The story only progresses as things happen, kind of like a film noir. However, we don’t know what happens until things actually occur.

So, just bear with me, okay? For now, let me set the stage.

The live music venues in San Francisco are closing one by one to make room for condos and technology start-ups.

Meanwhile, the on-demand scooter revolution is a mess. The avenues and the cul-de-sacs are littered with these things. Some are standing upright, others are lying down. They’re everywhere, I tell you!

Hey kiddos, what’s the meaning of this? And, why can’t you clean up after yourself? Furthermore, why can’t you deliver your scooter to a designated location? Didn’t your parents teach you any manners?

Every day at work, the old folks leave their cell phones behind in their vehicles. “It’s in the center console. Can you grab it for me, young man?”

On the flip side, the young’uns can’t stop staring at their screens.

And, my cable bill is out of control! All I want is baseball and the movie channels. And I’m not paying you that much money. That’s outrageous! I don’t need the naughty stations, either. I have the Internet for that.

This is pure chaos! Won’t you listen to me?

The facts are in, people. They’re not that startling, either:

  • In the late 1980s, the Oakland Athletics were on drugs. They advanced to the World Series in three consecutive seasons.
  • On October 9, 1996, the Yankees got lucky.
  • 21 years ago, Third Eye Blind released their eponymous, debut album.
  • 7 and a half years ago, I finished school. I haven’t accomplished much since.

Somewhere along the way, I lost my temper.

“Get outta town!” you might be thinking to yourself.

Well, that’s exactly what I did. On Thursday, I packed my bags. Next stop: paradise.

Don’t worry, this is not another story about baseball. This adventure chronicles an annual tradition. I call it “The Fall Classic.”

It goes like this.

It’s 9:52am Thursday. I’m running around frantically. My flight is at 1:27pm. Plenty of time, but I’m anxious. I’m always anxious on travel days. And, I tend to forget one item whenever I’m traveling. This time, it’s hand sanitizer.

The key to success at FEST is to be as sanitary as possible. You must wash your hands frequently, otherwise you’ll contract the FEST flu.

By 10:02am, I’m standing right outside my building, but my driver is half a block up and over. “C’mon, bro,” I mutter to no one in particular.

At 10:13am, I connect to the airport train. I have way too much baggage. I’ve got a suitcase, my laptop, and a backpack. I squeeze onto the car. I’m stuckI’m in between a handful of tech entrepreneurs and investment bankers. I’m wearing my A Wilhelm Scream t-shirt, but nobody seems to notice.

11:33am: I’m waiting in line at security. “Why is it so friggin’ busy on a Thursday? Why don’t they open up the other stalls? Who’s running the show?” I ask anyone who’s willing to listen.

I’m stuck again. I’m in the middle seat on flight number one. When we touch down in Charlotte, I have 25 minutes to catch my connector. I think to myself, “What if there was a hiccup along the way?”

On my connecting flight, some FEST goer takes a couple swigs of whiskey, and then he starts talking about a buzz band. He won’t shut up.

11:59pm local time: Welcome to Gainesville. I meet a colleague at the airport and we share a car to the hotel.

I can’t sleep all night, or all weekend for that matter. My body doesn’t know what time it is.

On Friday, I wait in line for Dead To Me at The Atlantic. My friends don’t have the patience.

I’m not angry that my friends ditched me for Bad Cop/Bad Cop; I’m just disappointed with The Menzingers’ set at Bo Diddley Plaza. So, I stop in at Boca Fiesta for some gator tacos.

By 11:37pm, I am standing in line outside of Loosey’s. The game is tied 2-2 in the 11th. I just want to watch the World Series, okay? Let me in!

Finally, I’m in. I’m at the bar, with a drink in hand. The game is still tied. I strike up a conversation with a Brewers fan. She’s rooting for the Red Sox. She’s not having it, though. I strike out.

Banner Pilot deliver a memorable set. I pass out just after 3am, but the game remains undecided.

C’mon MLB, what’s with the late start times? And, why does the season have to be 162 games? Why can’t we scale it back to 150? Why is there a possibility of watching baseball in early November?

And, why did the NBA start so early this season? And, why isn’t A Wilhelm Scream playing FEST this year?

Saturday is a rough start. By 9:43am, it’s slim pickings at the breakfast room. The sober punks enjoy a healthy breakfast. The rest of us focus on the hair of the dog.

I make my way to High Dive for Spanish Love Songs. My cup of FEST punch is just how I remember it from years past. It’s the same as it’s always been, with slight differences in coloration. After all, it’s just vodka and fruit punch.

I need a break. I need a laugh, too. So, I take in some stand-up at Rockey’s. Later on, I need a dose of nostalgia, so I seek out California Cousins. They perform a Third Eye Blind cover set at The Atlantic. They play all of the hits.

Next up are The Larry Arms and Lagwagon at Bo Diddley. Again, I am not impressed with these sets. I need to see these bands in an enclosed space, as opposed to an outdoor amphitheater.

By 10:07pm, it’s back to Boca. I motion for the waitress, “More tacos, whiskey, and Tecate, please.”

The game tonight turns into a blowout. The Dodgers’ manager makes a judgment call; then, the President calls him out.

11:20pm: Nothington at Boca. They are a band hailing from San Francisco. FEST is part of their farewell tour. They’ll head overseas for some shows; then, they’ll call it a day. Devoted fans aren’t angry, just disappointed.

Fast-forward to Sunday. Sunday brings sunshine, a light breakfast, and a cool breeze. I’m not hungover today, just tired. In case you haven’t heard, I’m not sleeping well. It affects my mood throughout the day.

I start with Iron Chic at Bo Diddley, but it’s the same old story. I need to see these guys in an intimate venue. I end the weekend at High Dive. I see Western Settings, Counterpunch, and The Shell Corporation.

9:01pm: I’m hungry, so I walk to Flaco’s for a burrito. Meanwhile, The Fad are playing at High Dive. It’s at capacity.

Shit, can I get back in?” I ask myself. Of course I can. The Fad ends, and all of the cool kids leave the venue. I resume regularly scheduled activities. Then, the Red Sox win the World Series.

The mighty core of Bostonians at the outside bar revels in the moment.

A Yankee fan in the distance says, “Fuck that!”

As for me, I go back inside to catch Nothington one last time.

12pm Monday: It’s my last meal in GNV. It’s the best meal of the whole trip. It’s a BBQ turkey club with a side of slaw.

7:47pm: In the midst of my two-hour layover at ATL, I enjoy complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at the Delta Airlines Club, even though I’m flying American.

Life is good. FEST is fun. But, being stuck is horrible. Once again, I sit in the middle seat on the five-hour flight back to The Bay.

I arrive at my residence at 12:32am local time. I’m beat. Outside my apartment complex, I see two scooters lying on the sidewalk. As I head inside, I look the other way.

https://mashable.com/2018/04/17/electric-scooters-sidewalk-litter/#4wPZc5BNuPqd

Part I (Denial): “Septemberism”

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“All you’re missing is an honest presentation…”

-Midtown

—-

I’m not referring to a particular time of the year. This is only a state of mind. I call it “Septemberism.”

It goes like this.

I’m in paradise. Life is so much slower here. I can’t wait for this month to be over, but I don’t want this week to end.

I’m watching the 1988 ALCS to help pass the time. The game is the same as it has always been; yet there are subtle differences at play.

You think I’m lying? Why would I lie to you?

“It’s all the same!” my two-year old niece reassures me after dinner one evening.

The next thing I know, I’m lying on a chaise lounge under an umbrella. I’m maintaining a proper dose of piña coladas. Along the way, I meet some ladies. We hang out for a bit; we talk about the weather; we watch the sun set; then, we go our separate ways.

I walk for two miles, or so it seems. Everything is fine. I made it home.

I touch down at 10:28pm Sunday. I work at 7am Monday.

The voice on the radio reminds me of an old adage, “Don’t fall in love in March or September.”

7am arrives sooner than I could imagine. By 9am, I’ve made some progress. At 11am, I take my meal break. A cup of yogurt, alongside a piece of fruit will suffice. The lunch crowd begins to trickle in at 11:30am. Everyone settles in. Slowly. An hour of staring into the distance follows. Then, everybody starts to leave. Slowly. I stuff crumpled dollar bills into my back, left pocket.

“It’s my pleasure,” I tell the clientele as they depart.

3pm is here. I’ve accumulated $141. I made it through the day.

Tuesday is an off day. Eggs for breakfast, followed by a quick run, and then an interesting email. Turns out, I’m on-call tomorrow. I’m on-call on an off day. “This should be wild,” I say to myself.

I have spaghetti with chicken and pesto for dinner. I made it through the day.

I wake up Wednesday. “That’s good news,” I tell myself.

“Gameday!” my friend texts me at 5:43AM. He’s always up early to walk the dogs.

“Let’s do this!” I reply.

Today, it’s oatmeal for breakfast. No run. I’m too anxious. Today is a big day. And Proper Dose is a big album. So, I give it another spin.

The clock strikes 11:12am. I am presented with some promising news: “No jurors are required to report. Your jury service is complete for 12 months. Thank you.”

 At 3:30pm, I take a leisurely walk to the train station. I’ve got plenty of time. This process doesn’t require any magic; only talent, experience, and timing.

Around 4:04pm, I arrive at the park. Fans are scattered in an otherwise empty lot. Some music plays in the background.

This is it. This is the whole enchilada; this is the whole ball of wax; this is the whole kit and caboodle. First, though, let’s have a drink.

It’s 4:36pm, and into the bar I go. This is the biggest game in quite some time. I’m positive that we can take ‘em down. We’re a better team on the field. We’re not the better team on paper, but the nature of the upset attracts an audience.

First pitch is at 5:08pm. It’s the top of the first. Nothing’s doing. We’re off to a slow start. That’s okay. We’ll be fine.

On we go to the bottom of the frame. However, the verdict is already in. The jury hands the Judge a piece of paper. It reads, “Game Over.”

I don’t believe it.

“We still have time. We just need to limit the damage,” I tell everyone around me.

Oh, no. Here it comes. It’s a barrage. It’s a hit parade. It’s an assault.

It’s no big deal, man. The bad guys are up 6-0, but we can still make a comeback. We still get a few more cracks. We just got to step up to the plate.

I’m feeling quite buzzed at 7:23pm. I have a beverage in hand, but the game is out of reach. Nobody wants to admit it, though.

At approximately 8:10pm, our slugger hits one out of the park, but it’s too little, too late.

It’s 8:47pm. The season ends abruptly.

On the train ride back home, I hear a conversation brewing in the background.

One fan speculates.

“Man, the wild card game is such a crapshoot, right? It should be a three-game set, at best. Then the real winner will emerge.”

Another fan disagrees.

“Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. The thing is, is that the other guys were the better team all along. You’re in denial, my friend.”

Huh…

So, uh… what happens next?

—-

https://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/11/sports/sports-psychology-it-isn-t-just-a-game-clues-to-avid-rooting.html

The Stretch Run

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The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. We know this much. But, tell me, whatever happened to Locale A.M.?

Life is a holiday, but only if you view it as such. So, go ahead and celebrate. Let loose. Take it in now. Seize the day, because you never know when it’s going to end.

Don’t you get it? Most things are similar in nature, but nothing lasts forever. Not even chaos. Something has got to give.

The good news is that we’ve experienced this once before. It’s like comparing different versions of the same song. Won’t you listen? Won’t you listen again?

Now take notice. There are songs that have the same name, yet are unrelated. Don’t believe me? Check it out. Check it out again. And check it out once more.

Same thing going on here and here.

Finally, there are songs that bear different names, but essentially say the same thing.

Do you follow? Are we all on the same page?

From 1914 – 1935, George Herman Ruth was the face of MLB. In 2018, Shohei Ohtani made his major league debut.

In 2012, we did the Bernie Lean. In 2018, we chug Red Bull.

In 2006, we ran into a brick wall. It happened again in 2012 and 2013.

In 2001, it was the Jeter Flip. In 2003, Eric Byrnes managed to shove Jason Varitek, yet he forgot to swipe home plate!

We tend to lose on bizarre plays. Yet, we keep coming back for more, because we love this game.

I say we, but I must disclose that I don’t actually play on the team. I am only a spectator. I have no control over the outcome of these matches.

However, we (i.e. my friends and I) did go to Chicago this summer. We made it to Wrigley. The Cubbies squared off with the Nats. Chicago got obliterated.

We also took in a game on the South Side at Guaranteed Rate Field. We watched the Sox battle the Tribe. Chicago won on a walk-off homer. Fireworks ensued.

Then, we ran into Bill Murray at Pequod’s. Finally, we ate deep dish at Lou Malnati’s, but not in that order.

Upon returning to The Bay, a banner ad for Lou Malnati’s appeared on my computer screen. I was viewing the Oakland Athletics’ website. Seriously.

Later that day, I conversed with my colleague at work. He told me about a new restaurant in his neighborhood. An hour later, Yelp sent me a push alert re: the new restaurant in his neighborhood. I kid you not.

Last week, I used Orbitz to search for a roundtrip ticket to paradise. Soon thereafter, a Hawaiian Airlines ad preceded my video on YouTube. No joke.

My goodness,” I thought to myself. “These ad op specialists are relentless.”

Let’s get one thing clear: I do this for me, not for you.

And, let me tell you one other thing: I support the Oakland Athletics. I am a fanatic. I am a die-hard fan. I am one of the 10, maybe 15,000 such fans that exist. I’m not like you.

I make an effort to listen to the facts. I pay attention to the numbers. I pose thought-provoking questions. I (have been trying to) make better decisions for the long term.

That’s right, folks. Strategy is everything. The proverbial “breaks” come and go. Timing is important, too. But, at the end of the day, missing a home run by inches means absolutely nothing. It’s just a long strike.

Ultimately, the team that executes on any given day will win the contest. Meanwhile, the teams that claim a greater number of series will be successful over the long haul.

For every three games, you want to win two. For every four, you want to win three (but will settle for the split). For every five-game set, you need to win three. For every seven-game series, you must win four. That’s as high as it goes.

Over the course of six months, the ten teams with the highest winning percentages will punch a ticket to the Big Dance. The team that can navigate October will win it all.

Keep in mind the team with the best regular season winning percentage is not necessarily the best team. The best team is the crew that gets hot at just the right moment. The best team is capable of carrying this momentum into the playoffs. The best team usually boasts an effective starting staff; they display a knack for timely hitting; and they have unprecedented depth in the back end of the bullpen.

While this is a team game, certain individuals have the ability to carry his squad on his respective shoulders. The individual that wins the most decisions in either league will typically earn the Cy Young award; however, this is not always true. Sometimes, a flamethrower with a sub-1 E.R.A. will claim the prize.

In theory, the best player at each position, from each league, will be presented with a Gold Glove to acknowledge his defensive efforts. However, offensive statistics tend to skew the vote. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s just the way it is.

Aside from these observations, we don’t know anything. We can only speculate. Things will take shape once October is here. The results could be positive or negative. Nothing is guaranteed. So, please don’t let your emotions get the best of you.

By Halloween, the team that can string together the most series victories will win the trophy.

Take my word for it. This whole thing is nothing new. I’m sure you’ve heard it before.

Every game matters. Every pitch counts,” says the play-by-play analyst. It’s nerve-racking, but I can assure that everything is going to be fine. These are the times, my friends. This one is called “The Stretch Run.” The MLB postseason is right around the corner.

This story chronicles the past six weeks of my life. It begins and ends on Whiskey Wednesday. Or maybe it’s Whisky Wednesday. Have it any way you’d like.

On August 1, I had mine with Coca Cola and garnished it with a wedge of lime. I asked the barkeep for an extra plastic cup to act as a spittoon for my ranch-flavored sunflower seeds.

I stood on the ledge at the Treehouse, and I watched the A’s take care of business. They beat Toronto 8-3. In doing so, they completed a seven-games-to-none, season-series sweep of the Blue Jays.

On August 7, the Dodgers bested the A’s at the Coliseum. It was Taco Tuesday at the Treehouse. Don Julio margaritas were half off, but it was much too crowded at the concessions. I didn’t want to waste my time, so I opted for beer and empanadas.

The following day, I watched the game at home. I had an early flight the next morning. Fiers pitched. He was dominant. The A’s were victorious by a count of 3-2. They split the two-game, interleague set. In the process, they evened the season series at two games apiece. From the get-go, it felt like a playoff game.

I got back from Chicago on August 14. On August 15, I returned to the Treehouse. I had a cocktail meeting at 12:35pm. This time around, I had Bulleit with ginger ale. It cost me six and a quarter.

The M’s outlasted the A’s 2-0 in 12 innings after Dee Gordon’s two-run bomb in the top of the frame. Still, I thought, “Hey, we got free baseball, and the A’s keep winning series. Everything is going to be A-OK.”

I requested another day off on August 22. After all, this is my summer vacation, so I might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

Right off the bat, Shin-Soo Choo hit a solo shot to left. It was Edwin Jackson’s first pitch of the game. The Rangers led 1-0. When I arrived at the standing-room-only area situated in the left field upper concourse, I opted to calm my nerves with a mixed drink.

It was a beautiful day at the park. You couldn’t ask for better weather. Not too hot, and there was a light breeze at play. However, Texas prevailed 4-2. Once again, the visitors salvaged the last game of the series, but the A’s remained in good shape.

After taking three of four in the Twin Cities, the Athletics landed in H-Town for a pivotal three-game set with the Astros. On Monday night, the home team clobbered the away team. The visitors bounced back the next evening, notching a 4-3 W.

The rubber match was set for August 29. The deficit was 1.5 games. It was Cahill versus Keuchel. I viewed the game at a local watering hole. I sat next to a handful of other die-hards. I ordered some refreshments.

It was a seesaw battle. It was a back-and-forth affair. Again, it felt like I was watching a playoff game. The Astros stormed out of the gates with two runs in the first. The A’s took the lead in the third on Piscotty’s double. The ‘Stros reclaimed the lead in the fourth. That was until the A’s tied it in the seventh. It was a standstill until the ninth.

Familia was in.

Jeurys Familia matters, but this day was not his day. With one out, Tyler White lifted a lazy fly ball to left field. Somehow, it landed in the Crawford Boxes. “Huh,” I muttered to myself as I left the bar. “That would’ve been a routine flyout in East Oakland.”

 So it goes.

Back home, the A’s and M’s clashed over the course of four days. When the series started, the Athletics held a 5.5 game cushion for the second wild card spot. When the series ended, the Athletics held a 5.5 game cushion for the second wild card spot.

On Labor Day, the Evil Empire arrived in The Town. The home team cruised to a 6-3 victory in front of 40,546. On September 4, J.A. Happ stifled Oakland’s attack. The Yanks came out on top, 5-1.

On September 5, Fiers faced Severino. It was just another Whiskey Wednesday. After attending eleven games this summer, I decided to sit this one out. I wanted to watch every pitch closely. I didn’t want to stand in line at the bar. Frankly, I’m tired of standing in line.

After a rocky top of the first, Fiers settled down and hurled 99 pitches over 6+ innings. The fact of the matter is that Fiers can wiggle his way out of jams. Meanwhile, on any given day, the A’s offense has the potential to erupt.

The A’s won the battle 8-2. The starting pitching was good enough. The offense showed up. The bullpen finished the job. The A’s took the series two games to one.

On September 6, I wrote this piece. It was an off day. The A’s had played a grueling streak of twenty games in twenty days, posting a 12-8 mark. The A’s are 50-21 since June 16. They are 6-0 in games that Mike Fiers has started. They are 60-0 when leading after seven innings. They have lost two series since mid-June.

Look, I’m not going to get ahead of myself. Freakish elements can accompany the national pastime. You aim to win the majority of the games played. It takes a lot of skill and endurance, coupled with a little bit of luck every now and then. In the end, the better team finds a way to take advantage of the opposing team’s miscues.

With that said, my fingers are crossed. I really hope the season doesn’t end in this fashion. Instead, I hope this song is trending in late October.

P.S. This is Locale A.M.

June 7, 2003 @ iMusicast (Oakland, California)

Setlist

“She’s So Lo-Fi”

“Slow Karate”

“Del Paxton”

“Autumn F. Ides”

“Get Out of L.A.” (?)

“A Note to Your Ghost”

“Possibility and Prosperity”

“The Brand New Action Hairdo”

“Laugh Six Times”

“Precision and Finesse”

P.P.S Here are the drink specials at the Treehouse.

P.P.P.S Let’s Go Oakland.

Idiot Cuntry

Standard

Hello.

Have you ever heard this one? I never had before.

It’s featured in Clerks. Randal and Dante just knocked over the corpse at a wake. Their common acquaintance unexpectedly croaked. Her name was Julie Dwyer. She died of an embolism while swimming laps at the community pool.

What about this one? Have you ever heard it?

Brace yourself. This one is a bit disturbing. It’s also quite hilarious.

I beg your pardon. See, last time around, I committed an error. I said the A’s owned the second lowest payroll in MLB. Turns out, they have the lowest payroll in MLB. So, they’re playing with house money. They’re five games back in the division. Who’s ready for the stretch run?

Does anybody need a refresher course? To review:

(1) Baseball passes the time.

(2) Our existence is a joke.

(3) Money changes everything.

Is that too much to digest at once? Look out, folks. We’re going downdown, down, down. Are you up for it?

Okay then. Rise and shine, sleepy head. I recommend that you wake up. Can you hear me? Open your eyes, people! Oh, boy. Only half of you followed suit. The other half is still passed out.

See, all of these anecdotes are similar in nature. It’s an identical performance with a new deadline! It’s a different iteration of the same brand!

In this chapter, we’ll talk about a depressed nation called America.

First, though, I need your consent. At the very least, I need your legal guardian to sign a permission slip on your behalf.

Good, I’m glad that’s out of the way.

Now, let’s begin with two open-ended questions:

(1) How does one extinguish a dumpster fire?

(2) Does anyone want to talk about the elephant in the room?

I don’t need answers. I just want you to think. I want you to think big. I want you to think about the future.

On that note, I’d like to formally welcome you to “Idiot Cuntry.” My name is Ian. I’ll be your tour guide. This post isn’t about me, though. It’s about the modern American culture.

Bear in mind, this week’s update is not a story per se. The lesson plan was ignored. Class has been dismissed. School is out for summer. Our intelligence has been compromised.

The whole premise has been fractured. The war has just begun. There’s no end in sight. This is only a stream of consciousness. These are my thoughts. These are my reactions. These are my fears moving forward.

I watched Clerks the other night. Turns out, nothing really matters, except Clerks. Clerks is an important piece of work. Clerks is truly a wonderful film. Clerks is quirky, whimsical, and brutally honest. Clerks is high art.

The night prior I watched back-to-back episodes of Bar Rescue. Bar Rescue doesn’t matter. Bar Rescue is entertainment for the masses. It is staged. It is formulaic. Bar Rescue is low art.

Indeed, nothing really matters until people start talking about it. So, just start talking about anything. Sell me the idea. Share it on your social network. Share it at your local café. Share it at your place of employment (if you deem it appropriate).

See, art never dies, but the adoption of new ideas matters. The kicker is that your audience has to care enough to carry out the audible. Without widespread adoption, there is nothing to sell.

Remember, remember last December when cryptocurrency was all the rage? What transpired? Well, I’ll tell you what happened. All the people who bought Bitcoin for pennies years ago sold their shares when the value went through the roof. The early investors cashed out. In the process, they sold out the newbies. The market tanked, people got scared, and the newbies cashed out themselves. Now, there’s nothing left to talk about except a stagnant industry with a lot of question marks.

But, it’s all in the technology. It always was in the technology. You can’t treat it like a game of craps until more people join in on the fun. People must start talking about cryptocurrency again for there to be a resurrection. Otherwise, it’s a dead issue. It becomes a useless currency. It becomes a joke.

So it goes.

The people have spoken.

Now, it’s time for me to deliver an honest message: I don’t care anymore. Why should I? If I have enough money to get by, why should I care about the affairs of others?

Like Jimmy G. and Kiara Mia.

Why is this a story? The quarterback took a voluptuous MILF on a date. What’s the big deal? Let’s see what Jimmy can do on the field come September.

If you’ve been following along this summer, you already know. First, I discussed blink-182’s legacy. It was supposed to be funny. The second post focused on Osker. It was meant to be serious.

In the interim, everything has gone numb.

Now, it’s time for the finale. This time around, I feature a handful of tunes, most of which are of the old-school variety. Some of them are popular; others retain their obscurity.

All of these acts reached their pinnacle at some point in time. It’s obvious. I wouldn’t be featuring them otherwise. It’s a compliment, really.

You might ask, why don’t you feature my band? Well, honestly, your band is probably good enough to be featured. They have a good sound. The problem lies in the fact that you don’t have any fans. There’s nobody in the room talking about your band. How do you expect to make any traction in the marketplace? It’s a catch-22.

And, if you’re smart enough, you’ll realize that Catch 22 morphed into Streetlight Manifesto.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter. There’s one of two endings: (1) Your band breaks into the mainstream, or (2) your band breaks up, and the members get real jobs.

Ironically, both scenarios are the same. This here is ironic, as well.

It’s one job or the other. It’s one life that appears glamorous; the other life appears mundane. The consolation prize doesn’t seem as special. But is it so tragic to live a low-key life? Do you want to live your life under a microscope? Do you want to be scrutinized for selling out?

Not everybody is unique. Most of us are just regular. We work to make money, then we have fun, then we go back to work. But why should we spend time at a job that makes us miserable?

As you can tell, this isn’t writer’s block. I’ve got plenty to say. It’s more like a traffic jam on CA-24 East at 2:23pm on a Friday afternoon. I’m running late, and I’m stuck. It seems as though I’m not moving. Technically, I’m inching along. Things finally progress, but then I wonder why I exert so much energy getting from point A to point B. After all, point B doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Last weekend, I had a guest and his wife approach me at the valet podium. It went like this:

Guest: “How do I get to the wedding chapel?”

Me: “Well, you can take route A or route B. You might hit more traffic taking route A. Route B is comparable. You’ve gotta take the back roads, but you’ll get there.”

Guest: “Route A requires us to take Road X, but Road X is under construction. What do we do?”

Me: “In that case, take route B. Just hop on Y Street, then turn left onto Avenue Z. The chapel will be on your left.”

Guest: “But, I don’t want to take route B.”

Hey, if you can’t work with me, how can I work for you?

Furthermore, don’t tell me how to do my job. Don’t instruct me to stack cars when the lot is already full. That presents a fire hazard. Don’t blame me because you’re late to the party.

You should have been paying attention all along. You should have cast your vote appropriately with which to begin.

See, all of the days run together. That’s actually a good thing. The days where chaos ensues are the ones that leave a mark. The abnormal events generate significance in an otherwise peaceful world.

Three weeks ago, I wore an A’s hat to the Giants-Cubs game at AT&T Park. Just to be clear, I attended a baseball game in America. Hence, I should be able to wear whatever I please without garnering dirty looks. However, this is business as usual in America circa 2018.

In a perfect world, people would adhere to the golden rule. I’ve tried to illustrate this concept on multiple occasions, but it seems as though people don’t pick up on the subtleties.

So let me be frank (even though my name is Ian). The fact of the matter is that you reap what you sowSo, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. 

As Americans, we are wrapped up in our own lives. We forget to acknowledge the bigger picture. We spend the majority of our hours balancing pride and the (endless) pursuit of eudaemonia. In the end, what’s more important?

As a result, there’s less time to consume culture. As such, the mainstream consumes culture that is conveniently catered to their platform of choice (e.g. the radio). The offerings therein are, by default, deemed popular. In the late 90s and early 2000s, 311 and The Offspring were huge. Midtown was a burgeoning act, but they didn’t bring their A-game until Snakes On A Plane debuted.

Do I have to spell it out for you? You’ve got to pay to play!

Hey, I don’t make the rules. I only follow them.

I’m not the one drinking an unconcealed bottle of Jack Daniel’s on the Bart train all while speaking gibberish to innocent patrons. Moreover, I don’t walk down The Embarcadero on a July afternoon in the nude.

I seek value. I seek meaning. If something is popular, then so be it. Keep in mind, not everything that is popular is good. Sometimes, it’s great. Other times, it’s downright stupid. Yet, we keep going back for more, because it’s addictive AF.

Don’t get me wrong; popular culture is worth exploring. Personally, I gravitate towards poké bowls and the MLB All-Star Game. After all, I love raw fish and pickled veggies; and as for the midsummer classic, well it’s just a popularity contest.

You’d be surprised by what’s out there. However, most Americans opt for low art, like Facebook and Instagram (which are, in fact, one in the same).

Lately, our culture has been under attack. It seems as though we are selling out on a daily basis. Our interests, our stories, our texts, and our emails are readily available to the corporations. Once they have our personal data, they can supply us with a higher dosage of trash. Then, we keep coming back for more. It’s a bad habit.

Meanwhile, we’re glued to digital screens for hours on end. We’ve forgotten how to talk on the telephone; texts and emojis are sufficient. We don’t work hard; we let the apps take control of our lives.

In order to be 5’7”, George Costanza must rock his Timberlands. In order to bet on the future, we must understand the past. Society is and has always been dependent upon human behavior. Piss off the wrong people, and well…you know.

Make an ass of yourself on national TV, and well…you know.

This is a catastrophe, my friends. We are a nation in decline. Our leaders are like children. Something must be done. Otherwise, I’ll have no choice, but to keep listening to Midtown. That’s the only way I can stay warm.

Out Of Touch

Standard

I know a guy. I park his car. In exchange, he gives me baseball tickets. It’s no big deal.

Come to think of it, I know a lot of guys. I would like to know more girls, though.

Hey, does anyone know the probability of the MLB doubleheader “split” (versus a “sweep”)? I can’t seem to find any data. You’d think it’d be a coin toss, but is it really?

Lately, I can’t seem to find any rhythm. I resemble a utility player coming off the bench to pinch-hit. It’s hard to produce on a consistent basis when one isn’t competing regularly.

I haven’t done anything of significance in a while. That’s why you haven’t heard from me. I’ve compiled a lot of ideas, but I haven’t strung anything together until now.

The last show I went to was underwhelming. Am I getting too old for this? It seems as though I only write when I experience. In the interim, I’m just losing steam.

It’s like I’m on a losing streak, but I’m not here to talk about Less Than Jake. We already did that. I’m only here to wish you a Happy 4th of July.

I’d like to tell you something else, as well: I can’t commit to anything. I always think to myself, “What if something better comes along after the fact?”

My friends are the opposite.

“I’m 100 percent committed,” one pal informed me yesterday. We’re planning to visit the Second City in August.

“We’ll shoot for one game in August,” another comrade replied via SMS. The two of us are opting for another edition of midweek, daytime baseball to commemorate the dog days of summer.

These proposed adventures represent my upcoming plans. The plan is to use my time wisely. The plan is to get my points across in a timely fashion. Ultimately, the plan is to have fun.

All too often, money dictates our plans. Sometimes, the outcome of our plans is dependent upon whom we know.

My friends, this is America (circa 2018). Nepotism is alive and well. Large sums of money are exchanged between few individuals.

Yikes!

Money is power. Money generates flexibility. Money drives risk.

Wait a second. I take risks every day! Where’s my cut of the loot? I deal with loose cannons. I fly. I drive across bridges.

On June 18, I rolled the dice.

“Changing two thousand!” the dealer exclaimed as she motioned towards the pit boss.

The button was on the six. I placed additional odds on the five, eight, and nine. I also placed a field bet. The odds were in my favor. I rolled a nine. I got paid. I rolled an eight. Got paid again. Then, I hit the button. Everybody got paid.

I rolled a five on the subsequent come-out roll. Then, I rolled a seven. “Shit,” I thought to myself. Actually, this is the game of craps.

Do you comprehend? The more you win, the more you can bet. The more you gain, the more you can handle losing.

I initially threw down $100. The guy next to me risked $2,000. Who do you think won more?

Every decision we make is a product of time and/or money. Do you follow?

See, it was only a matter of time until I did a piece chronicling blink-182. And, it will only be a matter of time until I go back to the desert.

In the last installment, we talked about sex and violence. For the most part, nothing’s changed. Yeah, we haven’t made any progress.

However, in this chapter, I want to go deeper. I want to hit one out of the park.

It’s a well-known fact that chicks dig the long ball. The problem is, is that today’s audience members maintain such short attention spans, which renders this whole performance meaningless.

So, I kindly ask you to sit tight and hear me out.

Hey, where did you go? Don’t you want to hear more?

Originally, this story was going to take place in Sin City. I went there three weeks ago. However, I must pump the brakes. That hedonistic tale will be told at a later date.

The reality is that I had a title lined up to showcase the thing; then, the thing was canceled. Technically, it was postponed. It’s similar to a rainout in baseball. It wasn’t in the cards.

C’est la vie, mes amis.

Fortunately, I shifted gears, and I crafted another story for your reading pleasure. It’s a tale about money and passing the time. It has a quick introduction, an impressive body of work, and an ending fit for a king.

So, let’s begin.

First off, things aren’t going well in the U.S. of A. As for myself, I’m doing okay. The good news is that I have a roof; I have enough to eat; and, I have an Internet connection.

The bad news is mounting, though. I am getting older. My metabolism is slowing down. As it turns out, I am “Out Of Touch.”

My idea of excitement is staying in, cooking dinner, and watching A’s baseball.

On Tuesday evening, I did just that. By the end of the fourth, the A’s trailed the Tigers 7-3. Then, I stepped outside to grab some fresh air. When I returned, the scoreboard read 7-6. The boys had hit two consecutive bombs in the top of the fifth. Pinder blasted a 2-run shot to left; then Jed – batting from the right side – enjoyed an oppo taco of the solo varietal.

As for me, I had leftover Chinese for dinner. I used chopsticks, and I wondered why Italy opted for traditional cutlery.

When all was said and done, the comeback kids settled the score by the count of 9-7.

Tuesday marked Oakland’s forty-second win of the season. It was their second consecutive win and their seventh victory in their last nine contests. In addition, the team had managed to touch ‘em all in twenty-seven straight road games, thereby setting a new MLB record.

On Wednesday evening, it was the same old story, except they did not record any round-trippers. The streak was over. Still, that was three in a row, and eight of ten.

Thursday morning was a quick turnaround. I got up around nine o’clock. I made coffee. I ate Cheerios. The first pitch was hurled at 10:10 AM Pacific Daylight Time. As luck would have it, the game aired on MLB Network. Glen Kuiper did not do the play-by-play, and Ray Fosse did not serve as the color analyst.

So, I started my own commentary. Unfortunately, it hasn’t caught on quite yet. It seems like my readers just don’t get it. Maybe I’m wasting their time. Maybe I’m wasting my time.

Aside: If there were money in this endeavor, would that pique your interest?

The Athletics didn’t waste any time on Thursday. They didn’t perform any yard work; however, they found a way to manufacture some runs and pick up the W. In the end, it resulted in a four-game sweep at Comerica Park in the Motor City. For those of you still playing the numbers game, that was four in a row, and nine of eleven.

Over the weekend, Oakland took two of three from the Cleveland Indians at The Coliseum. That amounted to six wins in seven games, and twelve of their last fifteen.

The Indians pounced on the A’s on Sunday. The final score was 15-3. Cleveland fans had something of which to cheer. Then, King James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers of Los Angeles.

Don’t you see what’s going on here?

The A’s are shattering records and they’re defying expectations. Currently, they sit at 46-39, a mere 8.5 GB of the Houston Astros. Indeed, it’s a long season. Anything can happen. The A’s are in the hunt, but they really shouldn’t be. After all, they own the second lowest payroll in all of baseball, clocking in at a meager $83.2 million.

Meanwhile, LeBron inked a 4-year deal worth $153.3 million.

To be frank, nobody really cares about baseball nowadays. It’s a dying scene, kind of like punk rock.

Unless you’re a baseball fanatic à la yours truly, you probably don’t know about Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. or Bo Bichette or Cavan Biggio or Kody Clemens. That’s a shame, much like when the home team loses.

Likewise, you probably didn’t realize that in the history of MLB, two hundred and twenty-nine players have suited up for both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. I heard that tidbit on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. It was Red Sox at Yankees. The game was briefly interrupted to deliver the news surrounding LeBron.

You probably knew that already. But, did you realize that the A’s are 4-1 this season when both Matt Olson and Khris Davis hit big flies? I did my research.

Also, please take note of the following:

  • A sacrifice and a hit-by-pitch do not register as official at-bats
  • A plate appearance is not the same as an at-bat
  • On-base percentage is actually more important than batting average
  • A balk is merely a flinch
  • The Neighborhood Play is no longer a thing
  • Lastly, the home run is oh so sexy

Baseball is elegant. Baseball is imperfect, yet it serves as the ideal summertime backdrop. Baseball is slow-paced. Yes, it’s supposed to be slow! There is no game clock. Baseball helps pass the time. Baseball used to be celebrated on Independence Day. It used to be the national pastime.

The NBA is the new topic of conversation. On July 4, 2016, Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors. On July 1, 2018, at 12:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time, Magic Johnson knocked on LeBron James’ door. Literally. At least, that’s what the talking heads tell us.

The offseason tug-of-war satiates our desire for ongoing, fast-paced developments. We need constant updates. We need to know. What’s trending? What’s important? That way, we’re guaranteed to have something to discuss. The ball is moving at a rapid speed, but the game is not actually being played.

No, I don’t want to talk about the NBA Summer League. And, no, I don’t want to talk about the World Cup.

I want to get back to the good old days.

I want to talk about punk rock. I want to talk about Osker, but you probably don’t know of them. I want to talk about Goldfinger (the band, not the James Bond flick). Ideally, I’d like to continue the discussion on NOFX, but that might be out of the question. They were blacklisted in the U.S.A.

Look, I apologize. This is no place for negativity. I’m positive that if you’re reading this piece, you most definitely know of blink-182.

In their heyday, blink-182 were as American as apple pie. As such, they earned a cameo in American Pie. Also, do you remember seeing Osker in the sleeper film, Crazy/Beautiful? Yeah, neither do I. As for NOFX – well, they never really appealed to the masses.

The Golden State Warriors sold out, though. That’s right, Dub Nation. Come October 2019, the Chase Center beckons. The transitional offense will no longer depend solely on Steph, Dray, Klay, and KD. We’ll have Boogie Cousins in the mix, too.

Please understand that raw talent is essential, but money wins championships. Franchises need ample coinage to pay the salaries of superstars and the supporting cast.

So, LeBron is now The King of L.A. It seems as though we have been presented with a new rivalry. So, move over, Mike Trout.

Still, I must inquire about something.

Unless the Lakers can trade for Kawhi, how will this scenario in the City of Angels be any different than King James being surrounded by mediocre talent in Cleveland? In the end, it’s still Dubs versus LeBron; the only difference is the distance. The two teams are only 367.9 miles away from one another.

On Sunday night, “LeBron” was a separate category on the ESPN bottom line ticker.

“Oh, what a time to be alive!”I thought to myself.

I’m basking in the success that is Golden State Warriors basketball. Hell, I’ve been a Warriors’ fan since the early 90s. I remember the (somewhat) competitive years; I remember the shit years, too. It was pitiful. They were the laughingstock of the NBA. So, I am grateful for the run. I am proud of the current dynasty, but I also know that nothing lasts forever.

It’s all very simple, folks:

Stop LeBron, stop the Cavs. We saw that in June.

“Stop the trucks, stop Tommy Boy.” We saw that in Tommy Boy.

If you can’t wrap your head around the prior assumptions, then you must review the film. The tape has all the answers.

Often, the solution is money. More money translates into increased opportunities.  More money also leads to more problems, but that’s another topic in itself.

Money talks, and I sure enjoy talking about money. I think that’s enough, though.

It’s time to lighten the mood and talk about I’m Dying Up Here. Last weekend, I binge-watched season two (through episode eight). On Monday, my friends wanted to talk about the Westworld season finale.

What luck.

Fortunately, I used my time wisely and I wrote this story. There’s really no point to this whole thing other than showing my readers how I pass the time.

From the onset, my observations were not meant to be construed as raillery. I wasn’t trying to pull your leg. It might have appeared funny at times, but that was unintentional. This chapter was intended to be serious.

Then, I watched Grand Canyon. Turns out, we’re all just a blip on the radar. Our problems don’t matter.

So, what began as a mature post (for my standards) ends with yet another dick joke. And, yes. That is really it.

 

Bored To Death

Standard

The other night I needed a good laugh. Lucky for me, there was plenty of material out there.

Amidst the flurry of corporate apology advertisements, I saw the Carl’s Jr. commercial for the Western Bacon Cheeseburger. It was so incredibly stupid. It was right on target.

Then, I watched Game 1 of The Finals. J.R.’s blunder was like nothing I had ever witnessed. It was pretty funny.

I ended the evening with a classic film. It was slapstick at its best.

So, the story continues; however, I don’t know what happens next. I can only tell you what has transpired since the last time we met.

One thing is for certain: I’ve been listening to a lot of blink-182. Frankly, I can’t stop.

Also, I’ve watched Tommy Boy a handful of times.

Recently, I’ve decided that I would like to do something with my life; I’m just not sure exactly what that is.

Breaking news: I am still unlucky in love. I haven’t found a match on Tinder yet. For the most part, I’m just browsing.

On this week’s episode, I feature a bloated soundtrack of late 90s/early 2000s skate punk. The music screams, “I’m miserable! I need you! Actually, on second thought, I’m fairly content living alone.”

See, I like my independence. I like my free speech, too. I tend to ignore the evil in this world; I only focus on the good things. I must be an American.

And, “I Must Be Hateful” is the fourth track on Blaze, which is the sixth studio album by Lagwagon.

Meanwhile, let us not forget about Osker, even though that’s exactly what happened.

Uh-oh! I must be boring you already. I’m sorry. Actually, I’m not sorry. Would you care to stick around?

If you want to leave at any point, just give me the heads-up. Thus far, I haven’t experienced much backlash, but it could happen instantly.

For now, we’re safe and sound. The shtick is the same as it’s always been. It feels like we’re going in circles on some ride at an amusement park. When you’re young, it’s fun. When you’re old and jaded, you tend to lose patience.

Fortunately, this is a story that harks back to my youth. It was a different time. Modern technology as we know it was in its infancy. This is a story about growing up, creating a legacy, burning out, and then coming back to life.

Last time, we focused on one song, which inevitably led us into a time warp. This time around, we’ll continue the heart-to-heart discussion. Occasionally, we’ll take smoke breaks.

I can assure you that it will be a wild ride. Also, I promise you that we will be able to pinpoint the intrinsic value of it all. Specifically, we’ll talk about current baseball matters; because at the end of the day, I’m deeply in love with baseball.

The good news is that baseball keeps me engaged. The bad news is that I’m mired in a slump. However, I’m sticking with what I have. I’m standing pat. I’m confident things will turn around. Hey, I’m still alive.

At this point, it would be prudent to recognize that the MLB season is now more than 25 percent complete. The winners are clear-cut. The losers are obvious. Undoubtedly, it’s going to be a long season. Still, you’ve got to show up every day.

Negative Nancy once said, “If we are well aware of the outcome, why do we continue?”

I don’t have the answer, Nancy. Indeed, the day-to-day can be exhilarating. Except, of course, when it’s not. Such is life.

Look, my issues are my own. I don’t want to bring you down with me. I’d rather just remain on the surface and talk about classic punk records, like So Long & Thanks For All The Shoes.

Speaking of which, the other day, my two-year-old niece received a pair of new shoes as a birthday gift from my mother. She pointed to her new kicks and exclaimed to the audience, “New shoes!” It was the cutest thing I had ever seen.

I opted to get her a stuffed animal. It was a stylish, princess-themed, pink teddy bear. I didn’t know what else to get her.

I don’t know anything about children, really. I don’t know how to change diapers. Furthermore, I don’t understand how children can play with the same toy for twenty minutes straight and not get bored. I just know it’s better when they’re not crying.

Whoops, I deviated from the main idea. My bad.

Essentially, this is a coming-of-age tale. I must warn you, it’s repetitive at times. Then it’s exciting. Then, it’s dull again. Initially, it’s tragic, as most things are. But, give it some time, and you might be able to dissect the humor.

It starts on a Monday night in early June, Two Thousand and Eighteen A.D. It ends shortly thereafter.

I was “Bored To Death.” The A’s had a scheduled OFF day. In fact, there were only five MLB games on tap, two of which were part of a double dip. The Finals didn’t resume until Wednesday. So, I wrote for a bit. Then, I made dinner.

I invited General Tso over for some company. He prepared his special chicken. I steamed rice and broccoli to round out the meal. I had some assorted chocolate candies for dessert.

I turned on the tube. I selected Diamondbacks at Giants.

The game was on in the background, but I spent most of the evening analyzing my life. I thought to myself, “Where have I been? Where am I? And, where do I want to be?”

Along the way, I listened to some more Osker. The seasoned rock critics will tell you that Treatment 5 was generic, and simply a sign of the times. But the follow-up – Idle Will Kill – well, that was their masterpiece.

Next up was Fenix TX. Do you remember this one? Mark Hoppus makes a cameo.

Finally, I rediscovered Home Grown. “Surfer Girl” was their big hit. I liked this one, too. Once upon a time, Home Grown signed to Drive-Thru Records. Then, they faded into oblivion.

You might not know about any of these bands, but I’m writing about them now because they left their mark.

Sadly, Dwight Clark passed away on Monday due to complications from ALS. He was a Bay Area (sports) icon. After all, who can forget The Catch?

To clarify, I don’t expect an answer to the prior question. That, my friends, is a rhetorical question. This is another rhetorical question.

Don’t you get it?

Death is tragic, but it’s the natural course of life. Except, of course, when it’s not.

By Tuesday, fashion designer Kate Spade made a decision. On Friday, celebrity chef/culture enthusiast Anthony Bourdain followed suit.

See, we want to recognize tragedies; we want to pay tribute; but we don’t want to dwell on the underlying issue.

My life is not perfect by any means. It’s just life in general. But every day, life goes on. I choose to wear a smile. I opt to stay hungry.

Similarly, baseball franchises must actively plan for the future.

On Monday evening, the A’s drafted a quarterback out of The University of Oklahoma. He can also navigate the outfield.

I thought to myself, “That’s a big risk. What if he opts for the NFL instead?”

At the same time, I wondered, “Why does MLB hold its draft during the baseball season? The NFL, NHL, and NBA conduct their respective drafts in the offseason.”

I moved on. Then I told myself, “I jotted down way too many notes for this chapter. I’ll have to divide it up into multiple parts.”

What you’ve read so far is the first installment. The sequel(s) is (are) up in the air. The production itself really depends on how much free time I gain, and subsequently waste.

The first part is really immature. It’s crass. It’s juvenile. It’s extremely callous. At its core, it’s just bathroom humor. Yeah, it’s a sad display of my talents.

The following episode(s) may show signs of maturity, much like the self-titled album, Blink-182. For now, I suggest that you relax. Try to bask in the carefree nature of the Dude Ranch era.

Now, try to relax further. You might consider popping a Xanax, taking a bong load, downing an Ambien, or simply having a drink.

Oh, boy. I hope this chapter hasn’t been too mind-numbing thus far. I hope you pay attention to what follows. Because, “Houston, we have a multitude of problems to address.”

As a nation, we are becoming more and more divided. Meanwhile, we spend too much time on the Internet. We troll one another in an effort to prod at the mistakes of others. We crave conflict. Technically speaking, it’s always been like this.

Sex and violence help pass the time. The problem is, is that folks are consumed with matters that they shouldn’t consume in the first place. Individuals choose to consume junk based solely out of boredom.

Used to be, people had fun. Not anymore. Studies show that Millennials aren’t really digging the rock ‘n’ roll scene as much as prior generations did.

Yup, everybody is oh so serious. Nobody can take a joke anymore. Not even a joke of the phallic nature.

Every day, it’s something else. Yet, it’s the same issue at heart. One wrong move and your career could be over. One misinterpreted tweet, and you’re opting for early retirement. One over-the-top observation and you’ve been 86’ed. You’ve been banned. Shunned. Blacklisted.

Roseanne led things off last week. Samantha Bee was on deck. Finally, NOFX found themselves in a hole.

Look here, folks: it’s another audio sample from So Long & Thanks For All The Shoes. It’s called “Kids Of The K-Hole.”

And, this here is “New Boobs,” a selection from Ribbed. And, who could forget about “My Vagina?” That one appears on Pump Up The Valuum.

Turns out, NOFX have been concocting offensive jokes for 35 years; however, they were out of line the other day. Indeed, they made a mistake. They went too far. It was a tasteless observation. Regardless, they found the time to issue an apology.

Yikes! When did we become so sheltered and easily offended?

Look, I don’t want to discuss any of these matters. I only want to mention that we’re like sitting ducks out there. We’re vulnerable. So be careful what you broadcast to the world. They’re listening. And, everybody else is watching, ready to critique your every action.

This is no longer a joke. It’s not funny anymore. Ethics, privacy, and decency have committed defenestration.

Maybe it’s a sign of the times. Maybe it’s attributed to the leadership in this country, or the lack thereof. Maybe our commander-in-chief is not keeping us connected after all. Maybe he’s pulling us apart, and training us to hate one another.

Consequently, it appears that we are all going to die for our own arrogance.

So, where do we go from here? And, how do we get there? Hey, are we there yet?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers. These observations are only the facts. These are the simple truths that were presented to me by the present-day media. But the media today is so polarized; hence, what news is really accurate?

Look, I ignore the hubbub nowadays. I simply wait for the sincerest of apologies from the companies that run our lives.

In the end, we’re one big, happy family. This is America, after all. This is the land of second chances (at least it used to be). So, let’s just forget everything and move on, okay?

As for me, I’d like to formally apologize for wasting your time.

Period. End of story.