September 12, 2013 § 1 Comment
I returned from Thailand on Monday and it was one of the most surreal and amazing experiences of my lifetime. I met new and interesting people, saw some beautiful temples, ate some amazing food for so cheap that it should be illegal, fell in love for 24 hours, walked down the most ridiculous alley I’ve ever been to, probably interacted with some very shady characters, got bitten so badly by mosquitos that my foot swoll up to twice it’s normal size, and got asked if I wanted to be “f’d in the a”!
I talk all about it in what could be a 2 (or 3) part podcast. I think that it would have been very helpful to have something like this to really prepare me for what was to come, however then again it was part of the experience to NOT know what was coming.
I tried to embed the player and add a download link but apparently WordPress sucks. God damn it, WordPress! You can go to this link though and listen to it from BlogTalkRadio or download it from the same page. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/fieldgulls/2013/09/12/nsfw–thailand-travel-tips-and-adventures-part-i
The audio sounds shoddy to begin with but that’s because I was trying to add a rain sound effect! This is something new I’m trying, thanks for putting up with me.
Kob kun kob!
August 27, 2013 § 5 Comments
In an effort to see what it is like to spend some time as an adult after 30 years as a minor, I’m taking steps in my life to see if they improve the quality or bore the shit out of me. This is not a step that has any chance of boring me, but it is an important one.
I come from a family of “travelers.”
My father was never around when I was growing up. (You take a moment to say “That explains a lot.”) He worked for a company that builds major structures around the world and after my parents divorced in 1985/86, took permanent residence in Brisbane, Australia. At one point I asked him how many countries he had been to and the number was well over a hundred, though my terrible 12-year-old memory always wanted me to believe he had counted over 250, even though current estimates would say there are only 196 countries in the world.
He would spend a couple months in China, a couple months in England, or anywhere else that they asked him to go. I have a picture of myself as a baby, before my parents divorced, giving bunny ears to some Buddha statue (or Buddha like) that I think was taken in Papua, New Guinea. He would usually be anywhere in the world at any given time, but rarely in Washington where i live.
I’ll give you a moment to bawl your eyes out over this heartbreaking tale of woe that is only shared by at least half of Americans.
But that always wanted me to also have a job that took me all over the world. I wouldn’t care what it paid, just as long as i could see everything that Earth had to offer. My dad’s job actually paid pretty well in addition to getting free travel. As a kid I would incorrectly tell my friends that he was a “contractor” as if he was overseeing the build sites and wearing a hardhat, but it wasn’t until much later in life that I learned he was a “contracts manager,” meaning that he oversaw the actual paper contracts between his company and the customer.
I was only off by about six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Despite how little I saw (or have seen to this day) my dad, that doesn’t make a son want to emulate him any less. If anything, it’s the fathers that are in your face 24/7 that drive kids away from wanting to be like them. All I know is that I wanted to be in Australia, or Austria, or Aus..tin, Texas? Just see the world.
I’m about 247 countries short.
I went to see my dad in New Zealand when I was very young. I would say I was probably 6 or 7. The only memory I really have was that it was Christmas time and i got a Batman toy car as a present. I went to Australia when I was around 11 or 12 with my sister to see him again, but he had actually contracted malaria just before and after much complaining from my sister about rather being back in America where her friends were, the month-long trip was reduced to two weeks.
My third trip came when I was 20, when I was between community college and transferring to Washington State. I spent most of the time there alone, but really enjoyed getting to travel around Brisbane and Sydney and to just be my own person in another country. I met some great and interesting characters and really experienced the differences in culture, legalities, personalities, and climates. I loved it and have raved about how wonderful Australia is ever since.
I want to feel the same way about other countries. I want to know how people really live elsewhere in the world. You can’t possibly ever get the perspective from television, whether its a National Geographic Channel special in Brazil or Fast Five when Vin Diesel screams out “This is BRAZIL!”
Media only fucks up reality.
But my father isn’t the only traveler in my family. I mean, that would have been false advertising if I had said “I come from a family of travelers” and then only mention my father, the one guy I’ve seen the least in the last 30 years, and if there’s one thing you can trust about me, it’s that I DON’T FALSE ADVERTISE!
(By the way, you can catch me and my band The Rolling Stones at Wimbledon next month and then I’ll be on the cover of PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive issue fairly soon after.)
My half-sister Vikki is also someone i have not seen much of in my life, someone else that has spent more of her time out of the country in the last 30 years than inside of it. Since graduating from the University of Washington roughly 20 years ago, Vikki has spent the majority of that time in third world countries as a member (and now active manager) in the Peace Corps. She spent a lot of time in South America and then moved over to places like Egypt (and was there during the 2011 riots) and is currently in the Sudan.
As she told me: “I sure know how to pick ‘em!”
Vikki speaks at least five languages, last I asked her. Doesn’t that seem like such a more fulfilling life than wasting away in an office cubicle eating Del Taco? Which is totally not I’m doing right now as I right this at 2:06 on a Tuesday.
My full sister hasn’t quite seen as much as my father and half-sister, but did make it a point to see all 50 states before she turned 30, even North Dakota. She also had a “destination wedding” in St. Lucia, Caribbean, which happens to also be one of the few times I’ve traveled overseas.
The other would be Canada, just as long as you call the border at Bellingham, Washington a “sea” as I surely do.
I need to go. I need to see. I need to experience. I need perspective. Nobody in this world can fully start to realize what it is, this world we live in, if you’ve only seen one side of it. Could you possibly know what it is to be “a Picasso” if you had only seen one of his paintings? Especially if that painting had come before his Cubism period? How could you know what “love” is if you stopped seeking it after your first puppy love broke your heart? Could you ever understand what it was to be a “Pauly Shore movie” if you had only seen Bio-dome?
Of course not. That’s not enough perspective. There’s no depth perception on Earth if you’re looking at it with one eye. And with so many sides, with so many people, with so many cities, and countries, and climates, and landscapes, and beers, and women (or men), and music, and foods, and shows, and customs, and styles, and political parties, and systems of government, and did I say beer, you would need 1,000 sets of eyes from 1,000 spiders to even being to get a fraction of what it is to be a human on Earth.
You’ll never get there, you’ll never see it all, but the journey itself is the destination.
That’s why one week from today I will be on a plane. That plane will take off from Los Angeles, California and it will land in Taipei, where I will only be for 45 minutes until I take another plane that will take me to Bangkok, Thailand. After long being my most desired travel destination on the planet, I will finally be in Southeast Asia and i will finally be in Thailand. What was the point of waiting any longer? I am so sick and tired of waiting for the moments that make life worth living, sometimes you have to make them happen on your own.
I will be there for only a week and I wish I could stay longer. I wish i never had to commit to coming back at all, but unfortunately I will need a job for at least a little while longer. My friend that I am traveling with does not/does have that luxury. We had spoken at length about a worldwide trip but while he eventually was laid off from his job, I kept mine. He will be in Thailand for a month and then Europe for a month. I will have to come back and go to work.
On the downside, it’s only one shot of travel whereas I would much rather get drunk on seeing the world.
On the upside, my friend has already turned down a job and recently had his unemployment stopped, and will have to immediately find work in a bad economy when he returns.
But honestly, risk doesn’t worry me. You have to take risks and they often pay off so much better than playing it safe. It’s just that for me I’m not quite in that position yet, I will put it off for moment, up until I simply can’t wait any longer. That day could come sooner than I could possibly imagine.
It has to.
Things I learned in podcasts this week: Space Law, How “Mark” met Tommy Wiseau, and why women are “hysterical”
August 7, 2013 § 3 Comments
A couple of weeks ago I decided to start a podcast. In addition to the 20 or so articles I write per week, and the video or two I do a week, I figured I might as well get in the podcast game too.
In preparation, I decided to listen to a couple of podcasts on my own. I really only had been listening to two podcasts up to that point (Stuff You Should Know, WTF with Marc Maron) but what could two more hurt?
Two weeks later, I currently subscribe to about 20 podcasts and I’m listening for 4-6 hours per day. There’s a lot of information out there and at the moment I’m a junky. /pulls out headphone jack from being injected directly into my vein.
I figured what’s that information worth though if I keep it to myself? Besides all of the power I’ll have over you of course. But also what is it good for if I don’t brag about all the shit I learned, even if a lot of it won’t even win me a game of Trivial Pursuit.
Well, it might win me one game of Trivial Pursuit one day, and then it’ll be worth the thousands of hours of listening. Here are just a few things I learned in the last week.
There is something called “Space Law” – The Joe Rogan Experience with guest Neil Degrasse Tyson.
Joe Rogan’s podcast is three hours long. I think you would have to have some unhealthy obsession with Rogan in order to listen to that every time, but then again how long is the Howard Stern Show? I remember spending 6 am – 10 am listening to a local DJ in Seattle called “The T-Man” so with commercial breaks it’s not that different.
Still, I can only really listen to Rogan if I think the guest is interesting. In that case, sometimes three hours isn’t enough. Tyson is worthy of at least that much time.
An uber-space nerd that can actually hold a conversation, (no offense, I love space and nerds but it’s difficult to find genius that doesn’t go to the beat of it’s own drum) Tyson (who is hosting the reboot of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage) talks with Rogan for three hours about space and the Universe going over conspiracy theories and little known facts. Such as the fact that just because nobody can hear you scream in space, it doesn’t mean that you can go around killing people.
Space Law, which became a concept in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik 1, governs that once you get about 60 miles above sea level, you abide by a new set of rules.
Rule 1: You don’t talk about space club.
What Tyson talks about specifically is that you can’t own property in space. USA can go to Mars and plant a flag and build something, but nobody owns space and shit in space. That’s like… God’s space, man.
Check out the Wiki article for more on Space Law and definitely give the podcast a listen too.
Grimace from McDonalds is a milkshake – Edumacation with Kevin Smith and Andy McElfresh
My favorite podcast at the moment is Edumacation. Not only do I just find Kevin Smith to be a delight (he laughs a lot and laughing is infectious) but I’ve been introduced to a new fellow that has my heart aflutter: Andy McElfresh.
A writer for Jay Leno, McElfresh is basically a smart dude that knows a lot and teaches Smith (a self-proclaimed dumb dude) about science and things. It’s about 90 minutes long and has only just come out within the last month or so, meaning it’s super easy to catch up on.
Every episode they have four segments: The Sci, The Fi, The Why, and The Bye. The way they breakdown the show is whatever but it’s an awesome way to LEARN! (Learning is definitely one of the ways to become a grown-ass man.) Of course, not all knowledge is useful. But it certainly can be fun.
McElfresh was actually a writer on the very first McDonald’s home video and if you’re like me, you remember getting home videos from McDonald’s back in the 90s. If you’re not like me and you didn’t get those videos, you are quite literally a better person. I don’t think it had ever occurred to me to ponder “what is Grimmace?”; the purple blob that hangs out with Ronald, Hamburgler, and Mayor McCheese.
A dinosaur? A… I mean, who knows? I have no idea, he’s a purple blob. Why ask questions, just stuff those fries in my mouth faster and harder.
So again, before he was a writer for Leno (I am not a “Leno guy” but I think it’s fair to see there are many good comedy writers out there working for shows I don’t prefer), McElfresh wrote for McDonalds. He passed along this tidbit of info:
Grimace is supposed to be a thick milkshake that has been turned upside down and taken out of the cup. He gets his name because brain freeze makes you “grimace.”
Allllrighty then, Mickey D’s!! If you say so.
That’s a small bit of info for fun, but Edumacation is chock full of great shit.
You could not fight for the Roman Republic unless you were a landowner – Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, The Death Throes of the Republic
There is almost no humor in Dan Carlin’s work, but you will learn a shitload about history. I’m currently trying to learn about the Roman Republic, which apparently is kind of different than simply “Roman Empire” or “Ancient Rome.”
I mean, damn, I’m 3 hours in and he hasn’t even said “Caesar” yet!!
I could literally list about anything I’ve heard so far in the 5-part series of the Roman Republic called “Death Throes of the Republic” and it would be something that I did not know before. Did you know that “Rome” is in “Italy”? I mean, who makes this shit up!
Seriously folks, there’s a lot you can learn about humanity today by looking of humanity of yestercentury. I’m definitely noticing some correlation between Rome and a “Too big to fail” mentality.
There were about 400,000 homes foreclosed on in 2000, and about 3.9 million foreclosed on in 2011 – Stuff You Should Know, Who owns an abandoned home?
Speaking of which…
Stuff You Should Know was my FIRST podcast. There are hundreds of episodes (probably?) and you should be able to grab some interesting info out of each and every one of them. I’ve listened to probably a half-dozen episodes in the last week, but perhaps the most interesting bit of info that I grabbed (or remembered off the top of my head) was that the housing bubble burst was even more dramatic than I could have ever guessed.
No matter how many times I have heard someone try to explain the housing crisis, I never quite get it. But Stuff You Should Know is a great example of “Explain it to me like a 6-year-old” and that is a perfect example of my mentality.
I’m not super smart. I need you to help me along. That’s what Stuff You Should Know is great about. Good news: In 2012, the foreclosures were down to 2.4 million! Woo! Those are about 2007 levels.
To learn more about what happens to an abandoned home and why nobody, including the banks, want to claim them, check out the ‘cast.
Part of the reason that the U.S. isn’t on the metric system? We weren’t invited! – Stuff You Should Know, Why isn’t the U.S. on the metric system?
This is a great one too. So is “What would happen if the Earth stopped spinning?”
Spoiler alert: Bad shit!
There is a guy on YouTube that sounds exactly like Tony Soprano – Opie and Anthony, Tony Soprano, ep. 7
His name is Max Koch and it is really creepy. Especially on this episode of Opie and Anthony, when he calls in just after Gandolfini’s death.
“Mark” from The Room was the one to approach Tommy Wiseau in an acting class to find out who this guy was - How Did This Get Made?, The Room: Directors Edition
If you know anything about me, you know that The Room is one of my favorite movies of all-time. In fact, I think it’s the most thought-provoking film of our generation. Most people will just call it “the worst movie ever made” but it transcends all of that and then some.
That’s why it was great to get to hear directly from one of the stars of The Room, Greg Sestero, who plays Mark. Besides his sex life going well, Greg also talks about how he was in the same acting class as Wiseau and saw him do an extremely weird reading of Shakespeare. While the rest of the class shook their heads in disbelief, Greg approached Wiseau and asked him to be his acting partner.
29 Harper High (Chicago) students were shot in the last year - This American Life, Harper High parts 1 and 2
This American Life is like the number one radio/podcast show that women say they listen to on OkCupid… so of course that means I have to listen to it now.
What I won’t do is go “back to school” like Rodney Dangerfield, especially not in the Chicago High Schools where you don’t even get a choice of whether or not you are joining a gang. If you live in the neighborhood, you’re in.
At least let me choose my team colors!
Hysteria literally relates to the female parts of a woman, and was a really sexist way of doctors telling a women they was “just bein’ crazy, yo” - Sawbones, Hysteria
Sawbones is another new podcast that I’ve been listening to. It’s like Stuff You Should Know except that instead of two buddies, it’s a husband-wife team and believe it or not (prepare yourself for the same shock that you had when you were watching the episode of The Cosby Show when they were doing riddles) the wife is the one that’s a doctor!
duh duh duhhhhhhh!
The couple talk about some of the strange ways that we have treated medical conditions in the past, and it is not pretty. So not pretty that a 1920s doctor might treat it like shit.
“Hysteria” was literally what doctors would diagnose women with for “Actin’ crazy” because… their uterus was bouncing back and forth inside of them. For serious.
And the way to treat a women with hysteria? Doctors would manually use their hands to rub their…. well, you’ll just have to listen.
That’s it for this week in what I learned in podcasts! If you’ve got any suggestions for shit I should check out, throw me a comment. I’ll try to listen to it, as long as it doesn’t suck. Well, I’ll still probably listen to it and tell people how much it sucks.
August 6, 2013 § 5 Comments
The first time I moved out of my home, I was 20. I wasn’t fearful at all, I was excited to “live by my own rules” and “eat as much ice cream as I want!” as I embarked from Bellevue, Washington to Pullman, Washington, where I would be transferring to Washington State University. (Fun fact*: The state doesn’t get it’s name from the first president of the United States, but from the heavy rains. Locals would peer upon the wet grass and mud and say, “Damn look at that. The rain sure is washing ton’s of cows away into the ocean!” is what they’d say, mmhmm they would.)
I spent the next three years in Pullman, living with roommates — a different person each year — before moving back home after graduating in 2006. I know what you’re thinking. ”Nice, you graduated in three years!” but please remember that I transferred from a two-year school. So I’m about as smart or as ambitious as that.
*not really a fact
As ambitious as a boy that moved back in with his mother following graduation, because for some reason I did not receive a bundle of cash after I had finished my schooling. Nobody came up to me on graduation day and said “Hey Kenny, here’s your $100,000 and a job. Good work on finishing school!” Rather, for whatever reason, they handed me a diploma that said “Good luck, lol” and a bill. I had to find comfortable lodging as I searched for a job, and I guess living with mom is about as comfortable as it gets.
After two years of doing that, I had finally decided that I was safe enough to move out, be an adult, and traverse the obstacles of adulthood as a man. A man!!!
Now I’m 30 and I’m still not sure that I’m even close to being a man, let alone an adult, but I’m working on it. One of the major pieces of that is becoming I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T do you know what that means? It means having my own job, my own car, and yes, a studio apartment down by the beach.
That first time that I had moved out after graduation, I made my first real cardinal mistake of being an adult and living somewhere: Picking a good roommate. The criteria for which I was accepting of a roommate at the time were as follows:
- “Oh, you’re looking for a roommate? Me too.”
And that’s it.
I moved into a two-bedroom apartment with someone I had been acquainted with in college, we’ll call him “John” (because that’s his name), and I really didn’t think it could be all that bad? What was the worst case scenario, really? How bad would it be? Well, since I’m here writing this and not a murdered pile of fleshy Kenny, I would say that the worst case scenario did not come true.
But it was pretty close.
Whereas I had mostly mentally graduated from college (or at least came to the realization that Pullman was a town of literally about 80% students and not a Seattle suburb) John didn’t understand that. Immediately it became obvious that music would be played loud throughout the night, drinking (and smoking) buddies would be staying around for as long as they wanted, and parties would be thrown during any day of the week.
Did I strongly emphasize enough the fact that we were living in a quiet suburb apartment complex next to little old ladies and 30-somethings with kids? Or that I had a girlfriend at the time and all we liked to do was watch movies and enjoy quiet nights indoors, with little interest in the activities that John and his friends were interested in? But more than anything, I didn’t want to get evicted, so I just needed to find a way out.
Less than two months after we moved in, I was in Vegas with my girlfriend when I got a voice mail from John.
“Yo. We’ve been evicted.” What a perfect phone call to get when you’re on vacation in Vegas. All of a sudden I was a Loser, Loser, Chicken Bruiser.
I’ve spent the last four and a half years living with my best friend here in Los Angeles and I think that the length of time says enough about the best roommate situation I’ve ever had. Moving in with someone you’re not that familiar with or not that comfortable with has turned out to be an 0-for-4 situation for me. Oh, I’ve seen situations like this work out before for other people, friends of mine that have made lifelong friends with people that they’ve moved in with blindly, but I’m not one of those people.
I realize that living with me is something that many people cannot do, and I realize that for me, I can’t just live with anybody. It also helps knowing that your roommate is not a complete douchehole.
I’d say that’s a proper way to describe my first roommate in Pullman. Literally knowing nobody there, I moved in with a friend of a friend. He seemed like a nice guy, but I actually knew on our very first day of living together that this was not going to work out. We didn’t spend any time together for that year, and that turned into a blessing in disguise.
By being forced to venture out to find new friends, I would eventually meet the same dude that was my roommate for the last four and a half years.
My second year in school I moved in with a friend from those venturing out days. We are still friends today (though not close friends) but the truth is that he just took massive dumps and clogged the toilet every day.
My third roommate was a friend from high school, and again still a friend today, but I made the mistake of agreeing to a deal where his friend would sleep in the living room. It was college and you save money however you can, but I would describe this friend (we’ll call him “Chris” because that’s his name) as one of the worst people I’ve ever met. An evil person. The devil.
So the only successful roommate situations I have ever found are the ones where you know this person as well as you know anyone, but also you must understand that at times our friendship has been tested. Most people shouldn’t spend that much time with anyone that they’re not fucking, and that’s just a scientific fact.
And so it becomes that in two weeks I will be getting my own studio apartment down by the beach. Now at age 30, I knew that I have gone past the point of being young enough or broke enough to still have a roommate. If you want to be a grown-ass man, you have to get your own damn place.
A place where you can bring home a girl (as if that happens all the time now) and not have to run clearance before hand.
A place where I can walk around naked (seeing me naked has now overtaken “snakebites” as most common ways people die each year) without fear of persecution.
A place where I can go home and do whatever I want without feeling an obligation to ask someone else, “So…. what do you want to do?”
There is nothing “adult” about having a roommate. You have to be completely independent.
And that’s what this series is about: Growing up.
I don’t know what it has been like for previous generations of men, but I can tell you that it’s becoming blatantly obvious for my generation that we’re pushing the idea of men acting like kids well into their late-30s and early 40s at a significantly high rate. If you watch Judd Apatow movies, you’ve got something like “This Is 40″ (Which previously would have been called “This Is 30″ in the 60s) but many more examples in that group of comedians where dudes can’t even hold themselves together long enough to talk to a girl, let alone have a wife and kids:
This is the End
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
TV shows like:
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
And it’s not just guys…
What about the show Girls? Mid-20s females that can’t maintain healthy, long-term relationships. Or even the movie Bridesmaids, that featured a lot of women where one was getting married, one couldn’t get her life together, one was picking up air marshals…
And Kirsten Wiig as a woman who couldn’t get her shit together… she wasn’t 22-years-old. She was in her 30s. That’s not something I remember seeing much of in media when I was a kid.
When I think back to guy comedies in the 80s, for some reason I keep thinking about Stripes with Bill Murray and Harold Ramis. Here’s a movie about two immature guys that join the Army because they don’t like their jobs. I kept thinking that Murray and Ramis must’ve been in their mid-twenties, but maybe that’s because it came out before I was born. (Movie: 1981, Me: 1982.)
But Murray was about 30 and Ramis was actually about 36.
Still, people are “maturing” or maybe it’s more accurate to say “doing adult things” at later and later ages. American women are getting married on average, at age 27. My grandmother got married when she was 16. Women in the UK are marrying after 30. And only about a quarter of black women in the US are married. A quarter.
I don’t think that I have any need to get married, but there’s certainly some steps I can take to “grow up” a little bit. Are there 25 of them? We will find out.
I take the first step in a couple weeks when I move into my new place. It’s actually not my first studio apartment. After John got us evicted I was scrambling to find a new place to live, while also trying to convince renters that I was not the reason I had been kicked out of the apartment. I would get John to tell them, do whatever it took, but getting evicted from an apartment is one of the worst things that can happen to you. Finally a place had accepted my application and taken my deposit, but then they called a few days later to say that now they had found out I was evicted from my last place and they wouldn’t be taking me on.
I pleaded with them to reconsider, that they had already taken my money, but they still refused. Since I was at work and couldn’t go pick up the money I had given them, I had asked my girlfriend at the time if she could do it for me since she worked right by the place. It turned out that when she went in there she broke down crying in front of them, telling the story of the roommate from hell, and finally they relented.
I guess having a significant other does pay off sometimes.
I really enjoyed that place to myself, the place that I finally left a year later to move to Los Angeles. I think I’ll enjoy this one even more.
Next time on “25 steps to becoming a grown-ass man”: Go see the damn world!
July 28, 2013 § 7 Comments
Some might say that I have geared the topics on this blog towards women. That I pander to a female audience because I want girls to like me since they never really have before. Well, that’s just ridiculous you guys.
Anyways, let’s talk about the Backstreet Boys.
Actually, in many ways the Backstreet Boys are not gender-dependent. Even though boys made fun of groups like New Kids on the Block, BSB, and N’Sync at the times they were popular, the truth of the matter is that they are just as much a part of male culture as they are female culture. Though young girls may make up the majority of their concerts, it’s not like I didn’t have MTV. It’s not like I wasn’t paying attention to what girls like. We made fun of Backstreet Boys, but in actuality the music was catchy as hell, the videos were ridiculous, and really you might as well do the “can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” thing and see if that gets you anywhere with the ladies.
Because I’m certain that at least a million guys across the country in 1999 performed “I Want It That Way” in their high school gymnasium.
And the truth of that matter is that I do want it that way. I do want to tell Kevin the meaning of being lonely, since I’m sure he never is and I’m an expert. And I will show Nick the shape of my heart. (It’s just a regular heart shape. No no no, Nick, not like the box that candy comes in, that’s not very accurate.)
The only “problem” with being in a boy band is that you have a guaranteed shelf life of only a few years. Your target demographic is age-dependent, and when they grow up they’re starting to get sick of you. I mean, they’ll still go to your concerts when they’re 35 out of nostalgia, but no self-respecting experimental college girl is gonna hang up BSB posters in her dorm room. However, at this time the Backstreet Boys are back again and it’s not just for girls anymore.
A recent comedy geared towards 25-35 year old males had a surprise (I won’t say the movie and spoil the surprise) appearance by the Backstreet Boys and it was fucking great.
I was browsing YouTube today, wasting more and more of the few precious seconds of life I have left, and saw that Backstreet Boys had debuted a new music video for the song “In a World Like This.”
It’s not like it used to be.
A.J. has gone full-blown hipster:
Brian’s got a funny hat:
Nick cut his trademark bangs:
Kevin may or may not be 60:
And Howie is… actually, Classic Howie breakin’ it down after the second verse:
The video has been up for a week and it has 1.2 million views. WTF? 1.2 million? Imagine if this was 1998 and we had YouTube, the Boys would get 1.2 million views while Brian was taking a shit.
(But of course Brian is notorious for his long shits, as noted in their hit song “Brian’s Shit”)
Brian’s Shit isn’t on the list of Best 5 Backstreet Boys Videos Ever, but we have plenty others to choose from. It’s amazing to think how many times these guys struck a chord with an international audience. I don’t think you can look back on many bands, singers, or artists of the 90s and say that they had this many impactful hits.
These are the 5 greatest from Howie, AJ, Nick, Brian, and Kevin. (Howie first. Howie always first.)
5. Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely (1999, Millenium, 10.39 million views)
The video for “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely” represents the groups serious and emotional side, while touching upon many real life situations that they were dealing with; including the opening frames of the video:
Denniz POP was a Swedish DJ that had basically worked with the group from the very beginning of their success, but had recently died of stomach cancer. Not to be confused with Denniz Franz, who had recently shown his butt on tv.
This is basically their “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” ballad, even if it falls way short of that song. (And Boyz II Men in general, since they are the greatest group of all-time. No joke.)
It also meant that the group had to literally go from boys to men because the subject matter was so serious. For example, here’s Howie in a turtleneck:
Howie turns around and “Oh shit, Kevin looks serious”
Turtleneck sighting number two:
Each member has their own storyline, opening with Brian Littrell watching Brian Littrell die on an operating table. Which was probably really weird for him, since Brian himself had heart surgery the year prior and definitely could have died big time. If that would’ve happened, these dudes would’ve been a little more lonely to discover the meaning of it all, but nooooo Brian had to live.
Kevin is watching actual footage of him and his late father. Just the fact that it’s on 8MM proves indeed that Kevin Richardson is 60.
For Howie, he’s waiting for a girl in that 50s coffee shop, hotel bar or whatever it is and that girl represents his sister who had passed away a year earlier. Even for BSB, times can get rough. (As we would later see in the 2000s and so on.)
The five members of the group are by themselves and lonely but eventually meet up by the end of the video. The only problem is that now AJ is a ghost?
But the number one reason that “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely” makes it into the top five is this:
AJ McLean in a dog collar, leather pants, and a leather cowboy hat on a bus:
4. As Long As You Love Me (1997, Backstreets Back, 15.44 million views)
“As Long As You Love Me” is one of the signature breakout US hits for the Boys. Though they had become a huge success in Europe already, they hadn’t found their chops in America until the release of Backstreets Back, which is actually just titled “Backstreet Boys” for the US release.
Whereas “Show Me The Meaning” showed the serious side, “As Long As You Love Me” shows that, “You know what, these guys know how to have fun too!”
We set the stage in an empty gym where auditions are going on. It’s unclear what they are auditioning for, whether they are auditioning as a group or separate, and if they’re auditioning for a group where are all the other people trying to audition?
Bouncy, bouncy, nothing to see here…
Sorry, I’ve got an important phone call!
And then these guys shuffle in looking like a wreck (and the audio sped up to a comical speed) and then they serve zero purpose for the rest of the video.
And then the door opens again and “Hey now what’s this?!”
This isn’t the first time that A.J. is gonna look super creepy. But then Nick is all like “Say whaaaat”
So then the auditions begin and it’s actually the GIRLS auditioning BOYS!!! Oh no they din’t!!! Nick is first up, and he’s absolutely SHOCKED that they want him to go up for the audition and the audition that he came to.
“You’re gonna do fine, guy I’m competing against or maybe not”
Oh shit, it’s about to get goofy up in this motherfucker
Hey dicks, there’s an audition going on while you talk on your phone, walk around, and dribble that basketball!
Oh, and then come the chairs…
And then Brian auditions and one lady says to the other lady, “Look this is the guy up there right now just in case you’re not watching.”
And then AJ grabs a remote and pulls his sunglasses down (as he is legally required to do every 15 minutes) and flips the script on these girls. Now they will do the auditioning! I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING!
Fun fact: Brian liked this one so much that he married her:
And then the video wraps up and they all get the part… or they don’t. It’s impossible to tell. I told you though that Howie wasn’t done being creepy:
3. Larger Than Life (1999, Millenium, 1.9 million views)
Michael and Janet Jackson had “Scream.” Jamiroquai had his one song. Even Jason Voorhees and Leprechaun went into space. Everybody’s gotta have either a “space” or “futuristic” or some sort of Sci-Fi moment in their career. BSB had “Larger Than Life.”
The video opens up with a countdown to midnight and then a Star Wars homage as a space ship passes over and their previous hits (which was already a pretty significant catalog) start to play in the background.
It’s the year 3000 and humanity has decided that the best possible use of technology is to preserve the Backstreet Boys. Even AJ.
But these dudes are having fun in space. They all appear to play multiple roles on the ship but none of them are as valuable as Nick Carter and the robots. This happens:
Brian Littrell is a robot but also one of the universes top “hover craft ball tube” players.
Even for AJ, this shirt was a poor choice.
But the video hardly featured Howie at all, so for that reason he can’t be any higher than third.
2. I Want It That Way (1999, Millenium, 71.79 million views)
“I Want It That Way” is by far their most-watched video on YouTube and it helped launch the much-anticipated album “Millenium” into the stratosphere. My favorite thing about the song itself is this little snippet from Wikipedia:
When Max came up with the original idea for the song, it already had the line ‘you are my fire, the one desire’. We tried a million different variations on the second verse, and finally we had to go back to what was sounding so great, ‘you are my fire, the one desire’. And then we changed it to ‘am I your fire, your one desire’, which made absolutely no sense in combination with the chorus – but everybody loved it!”
If that doesn’t sum up popular music (or popular anything) perfectly, I don’t know what does. ”This is stupid… but it sells! Fuck the free world!”
The video takes place at LAX and if you have ever flown in and out of LAX, you might be asking yourself “What god damn day were they there?” because there is plenty of space for them to walk around and it’s clean.
Why are these guys CONSTANTLY looking away and walking away from each other? Seems pretty rude.
You can genuinely tell that Nick Carter isn’t acting here after he says “Tell me why-ee!”
You can tell that the special effects were not done by James Cameron.
Okay, here is how Im going to explain AJ McLean. You ever create a character in like The Sims or Tiger Woods Golf? You ever have that one time where you just went too far while you were creating the character, and gave him or her way too many accessories and other features? Just because “pencil thin beard” is an option doesn’t mean you need to go for that and three other kinds of facial hair.
AJ is the over-abundant video game character you created once and immediately deleted.
And this 90-degree-arms robot move is something that has stuck with me for almost 15 years.
Sometimes I like to think that Howie is Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez
But the good thing is that the Backstreet Boys haven’t let success get to their heads.
So the guys start to perform in front of a crowd of their (I’m assuming) real fans and sure enough it seems like these girls are freakin’ out. Even over AJ.
No, to the left. Read the sign idiot.
Nick Carter saying “Oh no you din’t!”
In fact they all do the Dikembe throughout as they’re saying “Ain’t nothin” and “I never wanna hear you say…” something something. I can’t remember.
And now let’s debut the number one Backstreet Boys music video, MTV Making The Video 1999 style…
And now, the World Premiere of the new Backstreet Boys video…
1. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) (1997, Backstreet Boys, 11.36 million views)
Oh my god, they’re back again.
The thing that I never understood about the song “Everybody” is that I didn’t know that Backstreet had gone anywhere. This seems like a song you would release in 2013 if you were the Boys, not in 1997. There weren’t a lot of people saying “I miss the Backstreet Boys, where’d they go?” in 1997 but either way they “returned” and gave us their best music video ever.
My favorite thing about the video is that it’s nothing like that single cover you see above. In fact, holy shit look at that single cover!!! At first I had to ask myself if several members of the original Backstreet Boys had been replaced.
Nick Carter looks like he’s 10 and he bleached his hair with bleach. Brian Littrell looks like the hardest 15-year-old kid in his private school. And I don’t even see AJ. Where’s AJ? That’s not AJ.
The video though is just like you would assume it would be about a song called “Everybody (Backstreets Back)”… it takes place in a haunted house?
“Everybody” is basically their “Thriller.” It has a storyline and several moments where the boys are acting before and after the video. The tour bus breaks down and the driver lets them into the house.
I don’t know.
That doesn’t seem very likely, because he’s a bus driver. I mean, I guess he’s the Backstreet Boys bus driver, but still, this is an old mansion. How did he… nevermind, maybe there’s a twist.
And then the boys decide to just go sleep in strange beds. Uhhh… Brian… whatcha doin?
And these special effects were provided by Dark Castle Entertainment, apparently.
Oh shit, Ballroom Dance tonight?! How lucky that the biggest boy band in the world happened to show up!
I mean, they REALLY wanted this to be Thriller.
But as soon as these boys get in character, it is on like
Donkey Kong Brian Littrell singing to the moon while dressed like a werewolf?
Thank you, Jesus
There is no way that a coffin is sanitary.
Here is the most toned down AJ McLean has ever been in a music video:
I’d love to see him try to actually sing with these teeth in:
I wouldn’t like to see Nick Carters teeth at all.
He’s literally saying “Am I sexual?” at this moment.
Oh, by the way:
And what I love about the lyrics of the song is that the group is saying:
“Am I original?”
“Am I the only one?”
“Am I sexual?”
They are the ones saying “Yeah” every time. So it’s like the individual members are going up to the bandmates and saying “Hey, do you guys think I’m sexual?”
“Of course, Nick!”
If I were to direct the video, though the lyrics are so diabolical that only a haunted house music video (in the same house that Casper was filmed in, by the way) would serve it right, I might have just had it as the guys sitting around talking to each other and affirming each other that they’re all original and sexual.
Yeah, I think that would’ve also made a great video.
But then again…
At the end of the video, the boys realize that it was all a dream and they start to leave the haunted mansion.
But then they realize (TWIST!) that the bus driver had set them up! (Maybe, it’s not clear really.)
And then they end it with perhaps the best shot in BSB Music Video history, or possibly it’s from Are You Afraid of the Dark?
The Backstreet Boys are the perfect boy band. That’s not to say that they belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (which is a joke anyway) but that it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between them and 2Gether, a fake boy band that parodied groups like Backstreet Boys.
You thought that 2Gether was over doing it? They might not have gone far enough. How much further can they go?
We will find out. Backstreet’s back you guys.
July 21, 2013 § 4 Comments
I haven’t written much here lately, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t written much. I don’t know why I feel the responsibility to write this post, but I think I just need to write something.
At least three times per week, I’m supposed to write about the Seahawks over on FieldGulls.com. My latest article for that site has turned into a novella. I haven’t finished writing it yet, I’m adding graphics and video, and it’s already over 12,000 words long. When I copy and pasted it into a Word document, it went over 30 pages. Again, I haven’t finished it yet. By the way, this particular article started out as nothing more than a comparison between young quarterbacks and the career of MC Hammer — and now it is the longest thing I’ve ever written.
At least twice per week, I’m supposed to write about fantasy baseball on FakeTeams.com. My pieces there have also been much lengthier lately, and therefore I have fallen behind at times.
Eight hours per week I am on a newsdesk covering NFL stories. This will probably increase to more like 16-20 hours per week when the season starts.
I am writing 32 fantasy previews for every NFL team. This is separate from my work at FakeTeams and when I am done, it will total between 90,000-100,000 words. I am also working on a novel when I have time, and my goal for the first draft of that novel would be about 90,000 words.
I have about 25,000 words on that novel. I think. I hope. I haven’t looked at it in a couple of weeks and I may not entirely be sure what numbers and words are anymore.
I have no will power when it comes to not writing something when I get it in my head that I need to write it, so every couple of weeks I’ll write a 5,000 word piece on the Seattle Mariners for LookoutLanding.com. This is what I consider “for fun.”
Every month I write a 3,000-word piece on the Power Rankings for the NFL. My reward for this is having hundreds of angry Cowboys and Raiders fans calling me a “moron” in not-so-nice-words.
I run the YouTube channel for FieldGulls. I do videos when I have time but during the season I’ll be required to do at least two of these per week. I also decided to commit myself to doing 32 of these for the fantasy articles… why? I don’t know!
I’m starting to apply for more writing positions around the internet because writing about MC Hammer was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Did I just write that? Holy shit. I need some sort of.. “life” I think it is called? I’d love it if someone paid me to write about Hammertime, Full House, Saved by the Bell, or maybe eighties horror movies.
Fuck it, you don’t have to pay me.
Oh, I also have a 40-hour per week job. Did I mention that? Writing is my part-time job.
So I haven’t been here much. I just noticed that the page views are down like 400% as they should be. But maybe I’ll get some more time to start writing about Full House, MC Hammer, and Saved by the Bell right here.
Because if there’s anything I need right now, it’s more assignments.