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.

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Idiot Cuntry

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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

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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

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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.

May 16

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Why did I cross Telegraph Avenue at 18th Street? Because I wanted some chicken. I wanted the chicken sandwich at Make Westing. I always get the chicken sandwich at Make Westing.

Once I was situated, I asked for the WiFi password. For those wondering, it’s jacklondon, all one word, all lowercase.

On this week’s installment of “My Life Is Horrible, But I’m Doing Okay,” it’s just more of the same. I’d hate to spoil the ending, but I just might. If you don’t want to read all of what follows, just click here, and you can call it a day. However, if you have the energy – then, by all means, please continue.

Last week, I went 2-5. I had two good days and five bad days.

“He’s three games under,” the baseball connoisseur would say.

I’m not contending. I need to get back to the .500 mark. From there, I can easily tread water. Along the way, I can make the proper adjustments.

Folks, this is no laughing matter. My life is a nightmare. Don’t you get it? I got crushed last week in fantasy baseball. I lost 7-3. I dealt with injuries here, demotions there, and simply an uninspiring performance all around.

I’m slowly realizing that, oftentimes, things have a tendency to crumble.

The other night – well, it was just a quiet evening at home. Then, I ran out of Tinder swipes.

“Oh, my!” I thought to myself.

I’ve got a problem. The good news is that I’ve pinpointed the issue at hand. We all know that the first step in solving a problem is acknowledging that you have a problem.

See, I can’t take anything seriously anymore. Everything is oh so funny as of late.

Hey, did you see the A’s-Mariners game on May 2? Probably not, so I will give you the recap.

The Mariners’ starter, James Paxton, was pitching a gem. He had recorded 16 punch-outs; he had relinquished one free pass; and, he had scattered five hits over seven innings. His command was overpowering. He was in control. However, his pitch count (by modern standards) was too high. He had hurled 105 pitches, 80 of which went for strikes. So, the Mariners’ skipper opted to pull him from the game. At that point, Seattle led 2-0.

Needless to say, the game changed after Paxton exited. It was a whole new ballgame. The Athletics sealed the W by a score of 3-2. It’s funny how that happens in baseball.

Paxton’s performance was a dream for fantasy managers, but it was a nightmare in real life. Fantasy stats are individualized. In reality, baseball is a team sport. Paxton’s efforts went unrecognized. At the end of the day, the Mariners lost the battle.

Life is beautiful if that’s how you perceive it to be. Life is a drag if you let it bring you down.

In the grand scheme of things, life is just a series of dates (to which we adhere). Some dates are scheduled well in advance. Others are spur-of-the-moment. Some dates are significant. Other dates carry little or no meaning. Some dates are fruitful. Other dates simply wither away.

To get you up to speed, I published an anecdote on April 20. It was smoking hot. On April 30, I overdosed on The Lawrence Arms. It was life-altering.

This time around, I offer up a series of one-liners. Reason being, I’m only here to make you laugh. In fact, you might laugh so hard, that you cry. Then you might wonder, “Is crying the same as laughing? Is comedy the same as tragedy?”

Per usual, the soundtrack serves only as a backdrop. I am not a musician; I am only a critic. The songs were pirated from the World Wide Web, because I am a product of the Millennial generation. The tunes were held up on the high seas, and now they complement my adventures.

In the end, I hope this episode is music to your ears. I hope you find it worthwhile. The interpretation is up for grabs. And, oh yeah, I hope you can take a joke.

This story ends on “May 16.”

It begins on May 4, a 24-hour stretch in which Stars Wars fans rejoiced.

The next day was Cinco de Mayo. Some Americans ate Mexican food; others listened to Squeeze. As for me, I watched the A’s game in high definition. I passed out on the couch. I conked out earlier than normal. I ate a hamburger for dinner. I was hit over the head by a greasy spoon. Then, KD’s game-winning shot woke me from my slumber.

May 6 was Stomper Socks giveaway day (for the first 10,000 fans). I’m no meteorologist, but I should mention that the weather was downright spectacular. The three of us sat approximately twenty rows above the visitors’ dugout. It was a battle of the vowels. It was the O’s versus the A’s.

Before the game, we posted up at the orange barricades in the south parking lot. Earlier that morning, I purchased a six-pack of India Pale Ale, alongside three tall boys of the Mexican variety (to celebrate Seis de Mayo). From the onset, it seemed like a pragmatic endeavor.

As for Bad Religion – well, it seems they brush on the physical nature of everything. They don’t believe in a higher power.

Going in, I held the belief that the home team would prevail. It seems that the home team always takes the crown on Sunday afternoons. Personally – well, I lost my lunch. I ordered a hot dog, but then I dropped half of it on the ground.

So it goes. So it goes.

On May 7, I opted for a staycation. I needed to get away, but, at the same time, I wanted to feel at home. I ended up in a room near the lake. It was Room 389. It was just Another Day In Paradise.

As I approached the bar, I saw thousands of people on Grand Avenue. They were all on their phones. They felt a bond – a bond unlike any other bond. They didn’t even look up from their devices as they crossed the street.

The truth of the matter is that I did not see thousands of people. Probably more like hundreds. After all, Grand Avenue, in all its glory, is a pretty quiet street in the Grand Lake neighborhood of Oakland, California. Especially at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on a Monday.

May 7 was a brainstorming day. I sat on the front patio with my laptop. I wrote down whatever came to my mind. I had a pilsner at my right. People came and people left. Meanwhile, I revisited Get Dead, The Bombpops, and Daydream.

On May 8, I celebrated my half birthday. I was presented with a curveball. I swung and missed. That’s right, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you! The water was out in my building again! That’s twice in three weeks without advance notice! For those of you at home – yes, I am keeping score.

May 8 was also the front end of a back-to-back.

On May 9, I bent over backward on the back end of the back-to-back.

At 4:24pm, a car rolled up to the podium.

In a state of panic, the lady exclaimed, “I’m late! I’ll be literally fifteen minutes! Can I leave my car here?”

I said, “Sure. Just leave the keys.”

She exited the vehicle and handed me the keys. “I shouldn’t be more than twenty minutes,” she added.

I didn’t give her a claim check. In thirty-five minutes, she emerged. She didn’t have any cash on her, though.

If I’ve learned anything from being a valet, it’s to always carry change for a twenty. But, you know, that’s just me.

Later that evening, The Longshot postponed their San Francisco date. Turns out, it was never meant to be.

On May 10, I put a dent in my student loans. Then, the interest kicked me to the curb. Later that day, I overdosed on Pain. It’s the new EP by Tennis System, and it’s just wonderful. I encourage everybody to listen to Tennis System.

On May 11, Ticketmaster sent me an email, mapping out gift recommendations for Mother’s Day. Truth be told, my Mom doesn’t go to concerts.

So, Ticketmaster – you know, get a clue.

And, Google – the Less Than Jake show — it was canceled on April 29. So don’t send me a notification on April 29 with instructions to, “Leave by 6:43pm to make it to the venue by 7:30pm.” I already made other plans.

And, StubHub, stop following me! I can’t make the tip-off on May 8. I have to park cars. You should know better.

You tech gurus should know everything about me. Shame on you.

This is a sad state of affairs. The irony is thick. The reality is that technology will be our demise, at least according to Bad Religion.

Yikes!

Consider the individual on the street utilizing his Bluetooth headset. Does he acknowledge this inevitability? All along, he’s chewing on his cord, and flailing his arms, all while talking to himself (or so it appears). I know he’s got someone on the other line, but what do other passersby think?

May 11 turned into May 12, and boy, I really burned the midnight oil. It’s like, there’s no rest for the wicked. Yeah, we’re just cogs in the machine. Sometimes, it feels like it’s all work and no play. Hey man, when do we get to sleep?

On the evening of May 12, I watched the feature film, Life Is Beautiful. The premise is morose, yet the story is presented in an upbeat fashion. At times, the comic relief overshadows the utter disregard for humanity. Ultimately, it is a heartbreaking tale with a happy ending. Indeed, it is the saddest flick that I’ve ever viewed.

Meanwhile, this is the saddest song by The Lawrence Arms.

Likewise, this is the saddest song by Bad Religion.

And, this is a stellar track culled from Streetlight Manifesto’s critically acclaimed record, Everything Goes Numb.

Last, but not least – I’d like to squeeze this one in, as well. It further illustrates my point.

Have you had enough? Could you use a good laugh? Well, we’re getting there. Don’t you worry!

May 13 was Mother’s Day. To be honest, I celebrated with my mother on the evening of May 12. To be straightforward, I parked A LOT of cars on May 13. To be Frank, this is yet another downer of a song.

On May 14, I wrote the majority of this story. My notes were a mess with which to begin. It was quite an endeavor. Slowly but surely, I pieced everything together.

In the early evening, I met some friends in The City by the Bay to watch Game 1 of The Western Conference Finals. To our dismay, the restaurant of choice did not offer a happy hour. It was a sad situation.

All the while, I received push alerts from the official MLB At-Bat application.

Turns out, KD hammered a solo shot. It went, “Crack!”

Then, KD nailed a 15-foot, fade-away jumper. It went, “Swish.”

Still, it seemed that the officiating crew in the basketball game were siding with the Rockets. In the end, Houston discovered that they had an impending problem with which to deal: The Warriors are just too good. They’re too disciplined. Also, the Dubs have Steph Curry.

After the game, I chatted with my sister via SMS. I cut the conversation short, though. I told her, “Sorry, I’m a little busy right now. I’m about to see a band called Preoccupations.”

They played at Rickshaw Stop in Hayes Valley. It almost sold out. Indeed, Preoccupations have not sold out yet. They’re still considered cool. All the cool kids were in attendance. And, let me tell you – Rickshaw Stop is a cool venue, but there’s limited cell service inside. Not cool.

So it goes. So it goes.

On May 15, I had to buckle down and finish this chapter. I had a deadline looming. I had carved out a release date of which to observe. It was no joke. My brain was fried from the night before. I made fried rice for breakfast. Then, I made a handful of revisions and inserted some extraneous bits to spice things up.

Soon enough, the weekend was over. I woke up on the Sixteenth of May. I showered, shaved, and got dressed. In the car on the way to work, I listened to Lagwagon. It was nothing special, though. It was Wednesday, which actually feels like a Monday to me.

Final Examination

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If life is a series of misfortunes, and comedy = tragedy + time (per Woody Allen), then is this whole thing a big joke?

Hello again, everybody. It’s great to be back. In this episode, I critique a big picture of the world. There seems to be an issue, though: I still don’t know what we’re doing.

I don’t remember much from my undergrad finance courses, either. I do know, however, that my skill set has rusted. After all, when you don’t get to play ball every day, it’s easy to fall out of shape. Now, I’m bent out of shape.

The other night, my friend told me a riddle. I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. To others, it was a joke; it was a pun; it was a play on words. I was left out.

This is what I heard: “There are 30 cows on the field. 28 chicken. How many did not?”

This is how I should have interpreted it: “There are 30 cows on the field. 20 ate chicken. How many did not?”

The answer is 10. Now, this riddle generates more credit than it really deserves. It is overwrought with hype and highly dependent upon proper enunciation. When we get to the crux of the matter, it seems pretty silly. Yet, it makes sense. Riddles are supposed to be funny.

Likewise, In With The Out Crowd is the least acclaimed Less Than Jake album to date. Even so, it’s not that bad.

See, you have to listen to the wordplay. You have to be attentive. You have to recognize the context of the joke. You have to want to solve the riddle, as well. You have to be determined. You must be focused.

Do you comprehend?

The other day, StubHub sent me a push alert. It read, “Thursday is tomorrow. Don’t forget tickets.” But “the other day” was Tuesday, so Wednesday was “tomorrow.” I was utterly confused.

The delivery is key. The presentation is instrumental. And, of course, it’s a matter of opinion.

Do you take things at face value, or do you seek out a deeper meaning?

Can you remember names, or do you connect the dots with familiar faces?

I’m not crazy, okay? I’m just a regular nut. Truth be told, I’m an intellectual; I could talk your ear off.

Don’t worry if you missed last week’s episode. This week’s installment carries a similar pace. The following adventures are reminiscent of earlier explorations, all of which are brought to you by yours truly. There are no guest stars in this chapter. No cameos this time around. It’s just me!

Meanwhile, the soundtrack features a handful of the same artists. This is the music that matters.

So, with further ado, I’d like to continue prefacing this anecdote. I want to set the mood. I’d like to set the stage. I’ll continuously insert different phrases that mean the exact same thing. English professors would scoff at these redundancies.

See, I have the ability to keep up this routine because I have an advanced degree. I’m smarter than you. Did you know that I attended New York University? However, somewhere along the way, I fell behind. I think I missed my calling.

About a month ago, I opted to go back to school to enhance my personal brand. This Spring semester, I took a crash course in The Lawrence Arms.

“Oh. Cool. Who are The Lawrence Arms?”

The waitress at the bar asked me before the show on Monday evening. She set down a pilsner draft and a shot of Bulleit on the table. She wore a nose ring.

The Lawrence Arms are a punk band from Chicago, Illinois. They formed in 1999 and have since released six long-playing records. The name pays homage to the apartment complex in which the band members once resided. Needless to say, they don’t live there anymore.

My “Final Examination” was Monday night at the Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco, California. The results are in. I passed, but not with flying colors. Yeah, I just skated by.

Now, I’d like to give you a preview of the subject matter at hand. This piece right here – it is only a taste of Apathy and Exhaustion. And, this excerpt over there — well, that is culled from The Greatest Story Ever Told. Bear in mind, it doesn’t get any better than this!

No, I’m not a submarine sandwich. I’m the savior; I’m the good guy; I’m the victor. I have a unique personality. I am abnormal. I am attractive. I am a smart ass. I am glued to my smartphone at all hours of the day. I feel a connection, don’t you?

These are all wonderful character traits. Some can recognize the splendor; others cannot.

So it goes! So it goes!

On Wednesday morning, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I made my way out of The Town and into the suburban sprawl. I stopped at the local donut shop, but it didn’t do the trick. Word on the street is that the self-proclaimed sugar high is actually a farce. It’s a sham. It’s fake news. Can you believe it?!

Wednesday was awful. I couldn’t wait for Thursday. In my youth, I never got into Thursday. Now, it all seems so relevant. Likewise, I never gave The Lawrence Arms the time of day. Now, it all seems so obvious.

Ticket prices had dropped substantially; but, at the end of the day, I decided to stay in and watch television. From a physical standpoint, I was in Full Collapse mode.

On Thursday morning, I woke up on the right side of the bed. To my dismay, the water was shut off in my building. So, I boiled some bottled water and prepared a single cup of coffee. I couldn’t take a shower, though. And, let me tell you, a good shower affects one’s mood and appearance.

On Friday morning, I woke up on the left side of the bed. I was scheduled to work at 3pm. The water was functioning on this particular day. I had eggs for breakfast. I studied for my exam. Then, I listened to some Less Than Jake. Initially, the volume was too low. I turned it up. Everything was okay.

That was until the news surfaced. It was real news. The show on Sunday night at August Hall had been canceled due to (unforeseen) renovations. I shot my friend a text message.

“Hey man, did you see the events that transpired?” I said.

Early Saturday, I woke up in the middle of the night. My body went back to sleep, but my mind was racing. At work, I went through the motions. To be perfectly blunt, work was slow and dull.

To be perfectly clear, The Lawrence Arms’ best album to date is Oh! Calcutta! This is the worst song on the record. It’s over-the-top and predictable. It’s merely a gimmick. Consequently, it sparks a decline in popularity. Ultimately, the value is depleted, and the quality is sacrificed.

I’m depleted, too; but I lived to see another day on Sunday. It was a big day. We were expecting 300 people.

“They’re having a fundraiser, I think,” I would tell guests as they walked by the various booths in the courtyard.

We parked 70 cars or so. Granted, it wasn’t hot outside, but I managed to lose my cool.

One guest locked his keys in his own car before I had a chance to park it. Another guest opted to jump the shark. He served me with a friendly reminder.

He said, “Don’t lose my keys, okay?”

“Sure thing,”I replied.

Look, I can’t take care of everybody. The whole system is flawed with which to begin. Trust is passé, yet we continue to live our lives. We ignore the lies and the inequalities. We focus on the tedious nature of everything else. People can’t see the forest for the trees. Monotony turns into routine. We just punch the clock and think everything is okay.

It’s not a matter of principle anymore. It’s not based on seniority. It’s not determined by experience.

It’s all money!

However, let us not forget about the name variable. More often than not, it’s all in the name!

The song titles alone indicate greatness. They’re downright brilliant. They’re magnificent, in fact. They’re unheard-of. They’re out-of-this-world.

And, you know that you are dealing with a stellar rock ‘n’ roll outfit when they already have a Greatest Hits compilation entitled, We Are The Champions Of The World.

In the end, The Lawrence Arms are a trio of talented musicians with potato chips on their shoulders. They keep on making the same album over and over again. They are auteurs. They are professionals. They don’t care if you like them or not. They’ve already won. The audience is the butt of the joke.

On Monday night, I paid the price of admission to hear all about these horror stories. Initially, there were some technical difficulties. The crowd was notified immediately. Some time passed. Then, regularly scheduled programming resumed.

Monday’s performance was uplifting and laced with satire. It was like an outing to the vaudeville theatre. It was a series of shallow observations. Nonetheless, these were valid, shallow observations. Hey, this is the world in which we live.

The show itself sold out. It was a sold-out show. I drank beer and brown spirits. I caught some fresh air on the back patio. I ate subpar chicken tacos. They didn’t make the grade. I chatted with some familiar faces. I mouthed the words, and then I pumped my fists. Then, I went home.

I got to my place around 1am. I asked myself, “If you could go back and do it again, would you?

Absolutely. No question. No doubt about it. But there was no way I could go back on Tuesday night for round two. After all, I work at 7am on Wednesdays. In that scenario, I would just be asking for trouble.

Alas, I woke up once again on Tuesday. I paid my rent. I had a renewed lease on life. Turns out, I had actually found some meaning through a slew of trivial pursuits. In my drunken stupor the night before, I had written a note to myself. It read, “Life is beautiful.” I underlined it twice.

What a sobering thought.

———

Postscript: I am going to surprise everybody. Right. About. Now.

Green Friday

Standard

I’m doing just fine, but I’ve lost my way. I have enough, but something is missing.

Every so often, I have to write a piece of this nature. I tend to write when I’m feeling lost. Then, I put pen to paper, and I feel better.

Then, the cycle continues.

Yesterday was Thursday, April 19. I did some things around the house. I took care of my dirty laundry. I cleaned the tub. I ran some errands. I listened to some (in)significant tracks spanning several decades.

Every day has a different feel, except for Tuesday.

Today is “Green Friday.” The weather forecast calls for hazy sunshine with record highs. Today is (in)significant. The music of yesterday was (in)significant, too.

Hey, to each his/her own.

Life is but a dream (at least for a third of every day). Our waking lives are pretty dull. Excitement occurs every once in a while, and such (in)significant events are documented accordingly. In the Millennial Age, this usually happens on social media.

This is the week that was. Mine started on Saturday. It ended on Friday. For the most part, it was a normal week. I parked (a lot of) cars. I burned rubber on occasion. I got smoked in fantasy baseball. Kevin Durant and company lit up the Spurs.

It was business as usual.

On Sunday, I ate a breakfast sandwich at lunchtime. I folded an egg. I cooked two pieces of bacon (which happened to have Canadian citizenship). Finally, I added cheddar cheese. Oh, and the bread was toasted.

I took a picture of the sandwich and posted it to my IG. All along, I thought to myself, “This is unhealthy.” The sandwich hit the spot, though. And, social media is merely a form of personal validation.

“Excuse me, sir! I need a stamped claim check for validation!” exclaimed the valet parker.

In case you were wondering, the italicized words a few lines above are, in fact, double entendres.

If you weren’t aware, Sunday was not actually Tax Day. Sunday was, indeed, Jackie Robinson Day. All MLB players donned the number 42. Jackie Robinson broke the color line in baseball on April 15, 1947.

Everybody knows (of) Jackie Robinson, but do you know who broke the color line in the NBA? Turns out, All Hallows Eve is now known as Earl Lloyd Day.

Why do we celebrate one “Individual,” but not the other?

And, why can’t every day be as good as Sunday?

I had a subpar outing on Monday. I was utterly exhausted by the end of the day. When I got home, I thought about “Looking for a job, but only [wound] up heading for a stiff drink.”

Turns out, the solution is not online or on your television screen. It’s all relationships. It’s “whom” you know, not “who” you know.

And, this isn’t even a story, per se; it’s just a bunch of (in)significant observations. Some are funny; others are not. Some are important; others garner less attention. We will remember some things; we will forget other matters.

Remember this one: I’m not available on Sundays. I usually sleep in and then I watch “Television.” And remember this one, too. Both tracks feature guest vocalists. Do you recognize the voices?

These are the comforting thoughts (and melodies) that I acknowledge each and every day that I exist on Planet Earth.

Must we keep these thoughts bottled up? Can we talk about it? Can we post about it on social media? By doing so, does that make us narcissists?

Modern science suggests that Millennials (aided by the advent of social media) are “increasingly” prone to display narcissistic tendencies.

See, we are the Millennial generation. We are the champions. We ate our Wheaties for breakfast. We are full of ourselves. We are the best. We can do anything we want to do. We use the Internet as a platform for discussion. We think everybody else cares about our problems. We’re modern celebrities. At the end of the day, we’re all (in)significant.

Honestly, I don’t have a clue about anything. So, “Let’s talk about nothing.

Yeah. Yeah. Everyone is his/her own biggest fan.

I’m afflicted. You’re addicted [to social media].

Whoa! Whoa!

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

“Oh, but it keeps us ‘connected,’ right?” Sure! I have about 300 Facebook friends. I talk to about five of them.

Folks, just checking in here… Are we having fun yet?  Or do you prefer to listen to “Burnout” by Green Day on April 20? I know, I know. It’s a long shot, but I figured I would ask.

Now, let’s get back to the action!

The A’s were back in action on Tuesday. First pitch was at 7:07pm. The games are (regularly) scheduled at 1:05pm and 7:05pm, but the first pitch is always two minutes thereafter. What’s that all about?

And, last week, there was a snowstorm in Chicago. The White Sox played their game; the Cubs opted to listen to The Lawrence Arms.

What do you make of this weather as of late? It’s causing quite a headache for MLB schedule makers. At the end of the day, each regular season MLB game is a “Means To An End.” When the games are postponed, we just “Blame It On The Rain

Lucky for the A’s, they are blessed with a Mediterranean-type climate. Still, everything is relative. As such, the Athletics sold out the Coliseum on a cold, Tuesday night in April. Admission was complimentary. I didn’t go, though.

As of Tuesday, the A’s also sported the sixth-best offense in MLB. “It’s still early, though,” said the baseball expert.

So, let’s just see how things unfold. And, let’s not jump to conclusions about Shohei Ohtani.

Just who is this guy? He’s talented, no doubt. He must have a great public relations team, too. But, “What if he tires down the stretch?” the color commentator inquired.

See, Shohei Ohtani took the baseball world by storm.

And, Stormy Daniels is a porn star. Her real name is Stephanie Clifford.

And, porn is a factor of the Millennial generation. Porn is fantasy.

However, the reality is is that I’m a product of the social media age.

So, “Hooray for me! And fuck you!

Wednesday was dull. I’d rather not talk about it, okay? And, I won’t post about it on my social networks, either.

Just let it be known that I dumped two (in)significant, fantasy baseball players because they weren’t performing. It’s like, “I don’t have all day!”

By Thursday morning, Turnstile had sold out. The kids bought all of the hype. They scooped up all of the tickets before I could get my hands on one. It was quick. I didn’t expect it. I thought to myself, “They must have a damn good publicist on their side.” 

Turnstile came out of nowhere. Now, they’re fashionistas. They’re setting the trend (in modern rock ‘n’ roll). They’re more like turnstyles, though. They can change with the seasons.

So, are you ready for the next big thing?

If you’re not ready for such a rapid change of pace, if you’re set in your revolving ways, then try this one on for size.

Earlier this week, The Longshot played Thee Parkside. It sold out. I didn’t go. I was caught sleeping when tickets went on sale.

And, in case you didn’t put two and two together, The Longshot is the new side project of Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day fame). And, in case you didn’t realize, Tim Armstrong (of Rancid fame) was the guest vocalist on Bad Religion’s “Television.” And, Vinnie Caruana (of The Movielife and I Am The Avalanche fame) was the guest vocalist on Set Your Goal’s “This Will Be The Death Of Us.”

Also, The Penske File will play with Decent Criminal next Tuesday night. Good news, it hasn’t sold out yet. Meanwhile, Thursday will play two sold-out shows next week, one on Wednesday and the other on Thursday.

So, April 19 just came and went. I just wasted away the day. I listened to Stranger Than Fiction; I went to the drug store; then, I watched the Dubs at a local watering hole.

This is what I do with my time. It’s pretty sad. Some might say, “That’s messed up.”

Well, this is messed up, too. Turns out, there’s a hot war brewing in a brisk April.

This, my friends, is a fact: Steph Curry is the straw that stirs the drink.

And, by golly, this is a magician hard at work.

Last, but not least, this is the absolute truth: We are in the midst of an American tragedy. The question is, “Can we recover?