25 steps to becoming a grown-ass man: See the damn world!

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.”

Misfits? Check.

Miscreants? Check.

Traveler? Checks!

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.

5 Greatest Backstreet Boys Videos Ever

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:

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Brian’s got a funny hat:

Nick's checking for dandruff

Nick’s checking for dandruff

Nick cut his trademark bangs:

But he's still emphasizing all his words with serious lip movement.

But he’s still emphasizing all his words with serious lip movement.

Kevin may or may not be 60:

Actually yeah, he is.

Actually yeah, he is.

And Howie is… actually, Classic Howie breakin’ it down after the second verse:

I'll debate the videos but I won't debate that Howie isn't the best BSB. He is.

I’ll debate the videos but I won’t debate that Howie isn’t the best BSB. He is.

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)

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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:

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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:

And apparently in a 1950s coffee shop.  Not "Theme 1950s" but actually 1950.

And apparently in a 1950s coffee shop. Not “Theme 1950s” but actually 1950.

Howie turns around and “Oh shit, Kevin looks serious”

Hey, someone just got a little less lonely. Two someones. Hashtag: Friendship.

Hey, someone just got a little less lonely. Two someones. Hashtag: Friendship.

Turtleneck sighting number two:

Nick Carter? More like "Thick Cardigan"

Nick Carter? More like “Thick Cardigan”

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.

"It looks like he's suffering from... sexiness. Get me 50 CCs of turtleneck!"

“It looks like he’s suffering from… sexiness. Get me 50 CCs of turtleneck!”

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.

I mean, are you the same age as Chevy Chase?

I mean, are you the same age as Chevy Chase?

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?

"More smoke! I can still kind of see AJ!"

“More smoke! I can still kind of see AJ!”

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:

"Who told AJ that he could be the edgy one? I didn't tell AJ that he could be the edgy one."

“Who told AJ that he could be the edgy one? I didn’t tell AJ that he could be the edgy one.”

 

4. As Long As You Love Me (1997, Backstreets Back, 15.44 million views)

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“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?

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Bouncy, bouncy, nothing to see here…

Sorry, I’ve got an important phone call!

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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.

 

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And then the door opens again and “Hey now what’s this?!”

 

 

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“G-g-g-girls!!!!”

 

 

 

 

 

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This isn’t the first time that A.J. is gonna look super creepy.  But then Nick is all like “Say whaaaat”

 

 

 

 

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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.

But all AJ can think about is  that baseball bat Nick is holding.  "If he goes up now, that bat is mine!" he thinks.

But all AJ can think about is that baseball bat Nick is holding. “If he goes up now, that bat is mine!” he thinks.

“You’re gonna do fine, guy I’m competing against or maybe not”

"Are we auditioning for a boy band? The lead role in Titanic? A Supercuts commercial?"

“Are we auditioning for a boy band? The lead role in Titanic? A Supercuts commercial?”

Oh shit, it’s about to get goofy up in this motherfucker

Is that Nick Carter or Steve Martin?

Is that Nick Carter or Steve Martin?

Hey dicks, there’s an audition going on while you talk on your phone, walk around, and dribble that basketball!

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Oh, and then come the chairs…

"And let's put a fire hydrant over there" "But wh-" "JUST FUCKING DO IT"

“And let’s put a fire hydrant over there” “But wh-” “JUST FUCKING DO IT”

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.”

"So that's him?" "No, that's a picture of him."

“So that’s him?” “No, that’s a picture of him.”

Oh, Howie

"Are you going to drill that headlight? You would do so bad in the real world."

“Are you going to drill that headlight? You would do so bad in the real world.”

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!

I don't know Howie does it (with sunglasses on)

I don’t know Howie does it (with sunglasses on)

Fun fact: Brian liked this one so much that he married her:

 

 

 

 

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I'm glad they're friends in real life.

I’m glad they’re friends in real life.

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:

 

 

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3. Larger Than Life (1999, Millenium, 1.9 million views)

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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.

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It’s the year 3000 and humanity has decided that the best possible use of technology is to preserve the Backstreet Boys.  Even AJ.

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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:

Attack of the Clones: Dance Off

Attack of the Clones: Dance Off

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Brian Littrell is a robot but also one of the universes top “hover craft ball tube” players.

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Pretty cocky for a guy with no body.

Pretty cocky for a guy with no body.

Weeeeeee!!!!

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Even for AJ, this shirt was a poor choice.

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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)

Iwantitthatwaycd

“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.

And where the fuck is TMZ?

And where the fuck is TMZ?

Why are these guys CONSTANTLY looking away and walking away from each other?  Seems pretty rude.

"AJ, I was talking..."

“AJ, I was talking…”

Lips Carter:

I'm not gonna say what that looks like.

I’m not gonna say what that looks like.

You can genuinely tell that Nick Carter isn’t acting here after he says “Tell me why-ee!”

Something doesn't compute with Nick Carter? Shocking.

Something doesn’t compute with Nick Carter? Shocking.

You can tell that the special effects were not done by James Cameron.

"It's totally not a green screen."

“It’s totally not a green screen.”

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.

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And this 90-degree-arms robot move is something that has stuck with me for almost 15 years.

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Sometimes I like to think that Howie is Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez

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But the good thing is that the Backstreet Boys haven’t let success get to their heads.

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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.

 

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No, to the left. Read the sign idiot.

Nick Carter saying “Oh no you din’t!”

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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…

In 5…

4…

3…

2…

1…

And now, the World Premiere of the new Backstreet Boys video…

1. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) (1997, Backstreet Boys, 11.36 million views)

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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.

“What house?”

I don’t know.

“His house?”

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.

Even for the Buccaneers this is embarrassing.

Even for the Buccaneers this is embarrassing.

And then the boys decide to just go sleep in strange beds.  Uhhh… Brian… whatcha doin?

"I hate my dick!"

“I hate my dick!”

And these special effects were provided by Dark Castle Entertainment, apparently.

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Oh shit, Ballroom Dance tonight?!  How lucky that the biggest boy band in the world happened to show up!

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I mean, they REALLY wanted this to be Thriller.

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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?

"owwwwwwant it that way!"

“owwwwwwant it that way!”

Thank you, Jesus

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Euuwwwwwww

There is no way that a coffin is sanitary.

Nor is AJ, but that's for another story.

Nor is AJ, but that’s for another story.

Here is the most toned down AJ McLean has ever been in a music video:

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I’d love to see him try to actually sing with these teeth in:

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I wouldn’t like to see Nick Carters teeth at all.

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He’s literally saying “Am I sexual?” at this moment.

Oh, by the way:

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And what I love about the lyrics of the song is that the group is saying:

“Am I original?”

“Yeah”

“Am I the only one?”

“Yeah”

“Am I sexual?”

“Yeah”

 

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…

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At the end of the video, the boys realize that it was all a dream and they start to leave the haunted mansion.

"Overalls, flashy jackets, backwards cap, football jersey. Yep, story checks out, it's the quintessential boy band."

“Overalls, flashy jackets, backwards cap, football jersey. Yep, story checks out, it’s the quintessential boy band.”

But then they realize (TWIST!) that the bus driver had set them up!  (Maybe, it’s not clear really.)

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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?

"That's it guys, perfect. Now this time, let's try acting."

“That’s it guys, perfect. Now this time, let’s try acting.”

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.

 

 

 

Ask Kenneth ♥-Thur: Whirlwind and Fired, Does Early Sex Kill Hopes of Any Relationship?

June 13, 2013 § 4 Comments

We’re back!  It’s time for another edition of me answering questions from ladies that are looking for the perspective of a dude.  Not just any dude though, but me, a guy that’s been on no less than ten dates and had sex before.  It was cool.

Speaking of sex, here’s today’s question.  It comes to us from Accidentally Racy:

I’m enjoying reading your advice and figure getting a guy’s prospective is going to be way more efficient than my girlfriends’. So, here goes. I had a first date with this guy that lasted 7 hours because we had this amazing connection and couldn’t stop talking with each other about everything from the little things to the deeper subjects; we also ate dinner and bowled. We kissed a lot at the end, and I went home. The next day, he invited me to his place to ride his motorcycle, listen to him serenade me with his guitar and voice, and “watch a movie”. Watching a movie led to kissing which led to sex.

Having sex on a 2nd date is a big no-no in my book, but it just happened as these things do. We talked on the phone for an hour the next day and all seemed well. I went over there again on Wednesday, and he seemed distant. I haven’t heard from him today, and I am afraid that now that I have “given the milk for free” way too soon, I may have screwed up my chance at something real. So, my question is, if you as a guy share a deep connection with a girl and then sleep with her on the 2nd date, is the girl no longer relationship material? Is there anything that I can do to turn the odds in my favor at this point? Any insight would be appreciated. 

————————————-

Dear Accidentally Racy,

Let me first say that in general, each gender views casual sex in a different light:

Men – “Had sex, all is well.”

Women – “Had sex, now what?”

That is definitely not a hard and fast (hehe. pun.) rule.  There are a lot of dudes out there that attach emotions to each sexual encounter (sheepishly raises hand) and a lot of women that don’t (slyly peeks to see if any girls raise their hand) but on the broad spectrum, men can walk away from sex and women want to know “What’s next?”  Why?

Because you are the gatekeeper, am I the keymaster?

Basically, the penis is Indiana Jones and the vagina is the Holy Grail.  Men spend 24.5 hours a day trying to have sex and women are constantly fighting off dicks like they’re being swarmed by bats, so when you finally let one into your cave, you want to know that it’s the right one.  Or at least, a decent one.  And sometimes it can be really hard to tell, because like I said, guys can get really good at getting sex.

I’m a firm believer in the 10,000 hour rule.  That with 10,000 hours of practice, you can be an expert at something.  Well with guys trying to have sex, they’ve spent like 100,000 hours doing that.  But only during the times that they are awake, or most of the time that they are having REM sleep.  Every once in awhile we’ll dream about death, but that’s honestly about sex too.

But we are all different creatures.  I don’t think any women want to be thought of as a set of stereotypes to which everyone and abides, and we have to recognize that while each gender certainly has characteristics that would be true with the majority of individuals, we’re all still different.  So I wouldn’t want to give the impression that men are lying this way and that way in order to have sex, nor am I saying that your beau was lying to you or pretending to be something so that you’d sleep with him, but it’s certainly possible.  Frankly, and this is why I probably have had less success with women than most men, I’d be in your shoes more often than I would be in his.  I’ve had very similar encounters, and while I wasn’t super upset about it because of the absolute shortness of those relationships, it certainly makes a person feel like they’re less than.

But you’re not less than.  And he might not have been using for sex.  Look at it from a macro level and remove sex from the equation and what do you have:

A really good first and second date over a period of no more than 36 hours that simply fizzled out before the carbonation bubbles even hit the surface.  Which is ridiculously common.

It’s mostly the sex that’s messing with your head.  The idea that you gave up the Holy Grail “for nothing.”  That you may have been duped or bamboozled or took a hit to your self-esteem because you thought he was so perfect for you and might have actually found someone worth holding onto for awhile but he possibly doesn’t feel the same way about you.  “What’s wrong with me?”  “What did I do wrong?” “Why can’t he see me how I see him?”

If this is how you’re feeling, if you’re feeling low and used, let me please urge you to cut that out right now.  There’s nothing wrong with you, or what you did, or that the time you spent with one-and-done was less-than-fun.  You chose to sleep with a guy on the second date because you felt certain in your heart that there would be a third date.  A fourth.  Hell, a fifth even!  And now he’s gone MIA and you wish you could take it all back.

Don’t wish that.  Embrace it.

Embrace the two or three days that you could live inside of a Richard Linklater movie.  The last time that I really thought I might have found a relationship, rather than just a date or two or someone to makeout with, she turned cold before I did.  The texts became short and finally stopped.  If we had been out a few times and had always had a good time with each other, then why wouldn’t she want to continue to do that just like I did?  What was wrong with me?

Nothing.  Nothing was wrong with me.  The reasons that other people have for not wanting to see other people just one more time can be many, and it doesn’t mean that there was something wrong with the party that got ditched.  That’s like saying that there’s something wrong with the square peg that doesn’t fit in the round hole.

There’s nothing wrong with square pegs.  They hold most IKEA furniture together.  They’re great!

And if that doesn’t make you feel better, then I can only offer one more piece of advice.  A line from John Steinbeck to his son that I keep pounding home over and over again, because whenever I think about the one that got away, I remember this mantra:

“And don’t worry about losing.  The important thing is not to hurry- Nothing good ever gets away.”

If this one got away, if he hasn’t returned your calls and has fallen off the map, then he wasn’t the right one.  Let him be the right one for a couple of days, let yourself experience the experience, and then learn from it and move on.  Every time I think of that last person that “totally should have been a relationship” I remember that nothing good gets away, so therefore she was never going to be more than what we were.  That if it was good, then it would be.

But it’s not.  And that’s okay too.  Let yourself identify with the male gender for a moment and simply take it as a casual encounter and remember that there’s nothing you can do to “turn this in your favor” other than to live today as happy as you can be.

Without him.

Ask Kenneth ♥-Thur: Three days and you’re out? The problems with texting

May 21, 2013 § 4 Comments

The first submission in me giving… dating advice?  (Really, me?!)  Believe it or not, I’ll help you here I come!

“Three Days Grace Period” asks:

Anyways, one of the reoccurring problems I have with men, is I will meet one and we will text nonstop for on average about three days. He will be totally digging me, me reciprocating. And we just text all day for about three days.
Then the next morning he will never reply to me again.
Just done with me. Out of nowhere.

This happens consistently enough, that I have now begun to expect it when I start texting a guy I like.
I’ve even begun to suspect (not seriously) that there is some creepy stalker I have who after three days of contact with me, goes and threatens these men to stay away.
Or something like that!

What’s wrong Kenneth? Am I only interesting for three days? Do I start saying stupid things after three days?
And why does every guy lately do this?
What.
The.
Hell.

Dear 3 Days,

In the classic film The Room, Denny is caught with Chris-R on the roof in some sort of drug deal gone wrong.  Lisa’s mother poses the question to Denny, “What are you doing with the drugs?  Giving them, taking them?”  One can not really comprehend why a person would “give away” drugs but I guess technically that’s a possibility.  Though it seems rather wasteful to have all of these drugs and then just give them away.  It’s bad business.

I read your question and then I pondered it for a couple days while I was prepping this first post.  And then I read it for the second time and realized that I should now make sure to thoroughly read all the questions at first and then ponder because in about less than 20 words I was able to dissect at least one major part of the issue.

one of the reoccurring problems I have with men, is I will meet one and we will text nonstop for on average about three days.”

Enhance

“one of the reoccurring problems I have with men, is I will meet one and we will text nonstop for on average about three days.”

Enhance

“I will meet one and we will text nonstop for on average about three days.”

CLOSER!!!

we will text nonstop”

In a way, texting has become the best and worst thing to happen to relationships in at least the last 100 years.  It’s very possible that after three days, you literally know more about a guy you met one time than what your grandmother and grandfather knew about each other by the time they were married.  And most relationships of that era lasted 100000000x longer than ours do in the current generation.

It’s like how Unsolved Mysteries used to be this awesome show about things we couldn’t disprove and then we got better technology and gave everyone an HD camera on their phone and now it’s just: UnSolved Mysteries – Turns Out It Was A Guy In A Suit, What’s On TLC? Oh Hoarders I Haven’t Seen This One… Ew Gross.

Textual Harassment is one of the leading killers of possibly getting laid or even finding a potential significant other in the year 2013.  Check out reddict.com/r/CreepyPMs and watch seemingly normal people dissolve into Jack Nicholson in The Shining.  Some of the best/worst advice on texting comes from Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation when he asks an interviewee about what to do when you get a girls number in the club.  Text her the next day that it was nice to meet her?

“Wrong.  I wait 8 weeks and then text ‘What’s crackin?’”

That’s an extreme version of it, but the principles still apply.  Even in today’s world of constant interaction and the ability to literally be a tiny talking head inside someones front pocket, there’s plenty of room to leave for mystery.  There’s plenty of time to sit back and say “If you want to get to know me, take the time and effort to actually get to know me.”  Think of guys as T-Rex and this is you when you “text non-stop for three days”:

t-rex doesn't want to be fed

t-rex doesn’t want to be fed

Make a guy wonder, “Where the heck is this chick?  She must be really popular with the fellas, damn it I’m gonna lose my chance!”  Don’t be unavailable, but don’t hand yourself to him on a silver platter.  Texting nonstop for three days in the very beginning used to always be my undoing too and it’s also not a bad practice to put in place even if you’ve been dating for a few weeks to show that you’ve got a life outside of just that persons every word, letter, and emoji.

Chat with the guy, but let it be known early on that you’re a girl that’s worth taking out on a proper date (or just coming over for a proper “movie” whatever floats your boat) but when you text nonstop in the very beginning, that’s like giving away free drugs.  It makes no sense.

If you thought that was decent advice y’all, please send in more questions with the Contact button on the left!!

Ask Kenneth HEART-Thur: Long on distance, short on commitment part 1

May 17, 2013 § 2 Comments

A friend recently came to me with a broken heart.  I gave him some advice or at least tried to talk him through the difficult time.  That’s what sparked this recent quest to see if I could give advice to anyone else or at least… help talk you through it.  Before we get started, this is the story that started it all.

This all started recently with a co-worker who was telling me about a girl he was talking to on instant messenger.  We have offices all over the world you see, and certain people have to communicate with other people in the company over instant messenger.  It’s funny how we can meet strangers in this current era of humanity, people we would have otherwise never known existed; sometimes I wish it was still that way.

I’m certain that at this moment my co-worker, “Sam”, wishes the same thing.

I remember him telling me about her (over IM of course) right from the beginning.  “So there’s this girl “Diane” over in San Francisco and I can’t tell but I think she’s flirting with me.”  (Yeah, I realize what I just did there with their aliases, what of it?)  Of course, when me and Sam talk, it’s always something along the lines of “I think this person is flirting with me!”  When in reality its more like “Kate asked me if she could borrow my pen and when she picked it up she said “Oh cool pen” so you think we’re like going out now?”

Yeah, I don’t think that my friends and I have matured past the fifth grade quite yet.

But in this case, there really was some serious flirting between Sam and Diane.  What I thought was just another “Yeah okay sure you’re gonna hookup with the girl that lives a few hundred miles away by winning her over on work instant messenger” (why do I write “another” as if this happens all the time?) it was in fact instead another case of “Yeah… okay!  You’re gonna hookup with the girl that lives a few hundred miles away by winner her over on work instant messenger!”

Of course I never thought that Romeo and Juliet (wait, mixing up my aliases) Sam and Diane would be able to develop a real relationship when they were separated from Los Angeles to San Francisco, especially doing so while they had to first talk about work, let alone being a Montague and a Capulet.

classic awkward high five

classic awkward high five

But mostly I can’t believe that two people would ever have romantic thoughts while they talked about the mundane bullshit we do at our company.  (I can’t get into much more detail than that to protect the innocent, but I can tell you that this place doesn’t build flying microwaves that drop hot pockets into your mouth automatically.)

And so Sam and Diane built a ship together and sailed away on it.  There are several different kinds of ships:

- Friend ships

- Relation ships

- Kin ships

- Partner ships

- Ghost ships

Definitely stay away from the last kind of ship, unless you wanna get got, but the other ones are always fun.  Sometimes people will mix friend ships with a singles cruise, which can be fun too, but the most important thing to know is that when you go on a ship with someone that you’re both on the same ship.  Otherwise you’ll risk being stranded in the middle of the ocean, and your best hope is a peaceful drowning.

Early on, they were both getting onto a friend ship and they both liked that because they had a lot in common and talking to one another was so easy and natural.  It got to the point where they were even going to be the kind of long-distance friends that traveled many miles to see one another and Diane came to Los Angeles to visit and they kissed and junk.  (Just like in the romantic movies!)  And then Sam went to San Francisco to see Diane where they could drive across the Golden Gate Bridge in a red convertible with a baby in the backseat, roll down hills, and take Comet for a walk down the big hills.

okay, who invited this guy?

okay, who invited this guy?

They were also “doing it” on their friend ship, which can have a lot of benefits, but the easiest part about that perhaps was that it wasn’t complicated.  “I am here. You are there. That’s the way it is!” and Diane had made it clear that she wasn’t a relation ship type of person.  Sam was okay with this.

And then all of a sudden, Sam’s best friend Woody got a job at Google and was moving to San Francisco.  And now Sam saw an opportunity to move out of LA (which he was interested in doing) and going to the Bay Area with his best friend (which he thought would be fun) but also be closer to Diane (which seemed like a good idea at the time.)  But then things started to change between Sam and Diane once she found out that he’d not only be moving to San Francisco, but transferring within the company.  They’d go from long distance lovers to seeing each other a minimum of 40 hours per week plus weekends if it all works out okay.  They’d possibly even hop off of the friend ship and onto the relation ship, a boat that Diane wasn’t very comfortable with.

Diane started to distance herself.  Sam got worried that she had become more aloof and less talkative and cancelled her most recent plans to come to Los Angeles.  The story of Sam and Diane… was starting to go from a fairy tale of “how easy love can be” to the realities of it all: That relation ships are the hardest ships to navigate.

Let’s face it.

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.  Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.  Wouldn’t you like to get away?  Sometimes you want to go:

- Where nobody knows your name

- And they’re indifferent as to whether or not you came

- You wanna be where you can see, that nothing in your life will change, you wanna go where nobody knows your name.

(doo doo doo doo do do)

Now what you’ve already read, all 1000 words of it (jesus christ I need to learn brevity), isn’t even getting to the point where I started to give advice or talk it out with Sam.  You see, for a couple of weeks, Sam held all of this inside of him.  The parts where Diane would go an entire day without talking to him for the first time in months.  The parts where he’d wonder why she’s not quite being the same person she once was, causing him to stress out over if he had done something wrong or if the “ship” that he’d held so dearly was sinking and un-salvageable.  The parts where the “Good morning” texts had disappeared.

(Side note on “Good Morning!” texts — In the year 2013, this appears to be the number one symptom or trigger(?) of a broken heart.  I think what many people want, what I’ve always looked for and cherished in my 30 years, is that you’re a person’s first and last thought every day.  Because you’re bookending their dreams, which might as well mean that you’re that person’s dream.  You’re that person’s everyday and everynight.  You now care about that person at least as much as you care about yourself or anyone else, and the balance in the universe is that they feel the same about you.  But then when something goes wrong, the universe is out of balance.  Because they’re not texting you “Good Morning!” anymore, or they’re not responding for three hours after you know they’ve woken up.  You’re not their first thought anymore.  You’re not the last thing they think of as they unknowingly make the shift from awake to asleep.  And that kills you — because you still care about them at least as much as you care about yourself, but more importantly you don’t feel that anyone now cares about you either.  You feel like an empty shell.  All your love is with them.  And all of their love is… with them.  Or even worse, with someone else.  The universe is out of whack.  It kills you.  And it all boils down to…

“Good Morning!”)

text

But then finally Sam broke down and typed to me over instant messenger that Diane was very distant lately.  That he wasn’t sure if things were going wrong because she was “busy” or “sick” and he didn’t want to come off as being weak and vulnerable if he had flat-out asked her if there was something wrong.

(While I was in the middle of writing this story, I found out that what was once supposed to be a little intro has now become over 2,300 words and I’m not done yet.  Y’all don’t wanna read a wall of text right now, so let me break it out a little bit.  Coming up next:

The #1 rule of fight club is that you don’t talk about fight club, but a little known fact is that actually the #2 rule of fight club is that you don’t ask the person you’re dating if something is wrong.)

Stay tuned!

“hey subway, I can afford sandwiches”: the worst kind of customer service

April 6, 2013 § 6 Comments

Last time on Sub-Standard: After a less-than-pleasurable experience at two different Subways awhile back, I wrote this letter to Denise in customer service.  It was fun and funny.  I was hardly upset with the sandwich conglomerate, just a minor setback in our decades old relationship, but now I’ve got to say…

I’m a little perturbed.

I never did hear from Denise again.  I imagine her sitting on a beach somewhere, maybe Cancun, and she’s just happy.  Living the life I had always dreamed for her to live.  I really wish I had though, because Subway pulled the absolute worst move that a food chain can pull when they’re trying to make up for mistakes gone by; a phone call and an appointment for me to pick up a free sub.

“But Kenny, you’re getting a free sub!”

“But reader, I asked for redemption, not an errand that I have to run!”

The “come in and ask for the manager” move is the absolute dregs of customer service in this society we live in.  If it were in the Brat Pack, it would be Judd Nelson.  What if I don’t feel comfortable talking to a manager at the Subway that I complained about trying to get something for free?  What if, and I know this is impossible for you to believe Subway, but what if I don’t even want Subway for the next month or two?  Oh, and by the way, what if they don’t believe me?

Bingo!  Now you know why I couldn’t drop this complaint, a minor setback that would have been better solved by silence than by giving me a chore to do.  You’ll be hard-pressed to get me to go to an appointment at the doctor or the dentist, let alone a fast food chain for a free $5 footlong.  But that’s what they did when I got a call from some guy telling me that I could come in and ask for the manager (whose name I don’t recall because it’s not my job to recall names when you fu*k up my order.  I have cousins whose names I don’t know) and that I would get a free sub of my choosing.

I took them up on their stupid offer anyway.  That was a mistake.

It’s time for another edition of “My complaint to Subway”!  By the way, I love that above the box on their “message customer service” box on the website are these words: This is where you write your message

Thanks.  I would have never figured that one out.  It’s a wonder that I ever managed to interact with society long enough to order a sandwich without shitting my pants and stripping off my clothes.

Here we go:

Dear Subway,
First off, I want to congratulate you. After years of escaping custody or detection it appears you are finally on to me. Yes, it is I, the Sandwich Bandit! Also known as the Sandit! All I have to do is go into any of your 1,000,000 locations across these grand United States and tell your employees that I received a phone call from a manager telling me to come in and get a free sub after they had screwed up, and they would give it to me. Unbelievable! I mean, we aren’t talking about just any free item here, we’re talking about a sandwich. Thanks to this scam, I haven’t had to work for 13 years.
But that’s not why I do it. It’s not about the tens of dollars I save on sandwiches, though it is nice to know what Donald Trump must feel like. No, I do it for the thrill. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to have adrenaline rushing through my veins as they are unwittingly toasting a sub that I will get for free even though I am totally fooling them.
It was all as my dad taught me to do from the time I was a little kid. You see, Curly Sue wasn’t only based on a true story but it was based on me and they changed it from a boy to a girl because Alisan Porter was too cute for words. I didn’t mind though, and I got a free signed six-inch meatball sub from Jim Belushi. He was kind enough to give me a free sub, and so to have you been doing for all of these years.
Huzzah!
But today was perhaps the final day for me. I walked into your Subway on National Blvd and told them what I’ve been telling thousands of artists for years, that I had an issue with my last visit and was told I could get a free sub. As I waited for them to apologize and work it out, you can imagine my surprise when they didn’t comply.
“Look, I would have much preferred just a coupon but I was told to just come in and say what I am saying right now.”
She looked back at me deeply, silent, speechless. I wondered what her life must be like, what her hopes are, what she dreams of, and for that moment we weren’t a customer and a sandwich artist; we were one. We were friends, soulmates, lovers, dreamers, children, animals, we were wind and water and fire and stone. But only for a fleeting moment did we hold this glance of perfect understanding.
And then she told me that she couldn’t help me because she didn’t know what I was talking about, and so I paid regular price for a sub. Regular price?! I guess I’ll have to get a job again. I took out a loan just today to make up for buying a whole sub.

I’ll try again tomorrow and see if perhaps the dream isn’t dead. I just pray that never the day comes when a person makes a minor complaint and you simply send them a coupon, not much different than the millions of coupons you send out in the Daily, rather than make them go talk to a manager to make up for their last unpleasant experience at one of your 1,000,000 Subway restaurants in these grand United States. Please, don’t ever ever ever do that. It would be too sensible. I’ll just be here, finishing my full price sub and waiting for the day when Prince Charming comes along and simply buys my subs for me.

Sincerely,
The Sandit

And now, we wait.

Here is a little bit more to the story, because that wasn’t detailed enough.  I walked up to the Subway nervous because I felt like maybe they wouldn’t believe me because why would they?  But that’s what I was told to do.  I leaned in closely to the sandwich artist and whispered softly, “Yeah, I had a minor issue last time I was here and they told me I could come in and get a free sub?”

Then she sort of stared back at me like, “What the heck are you talking about?”  Then she asked the other girl making a sandwich for someone else and when she stopped making the sandwich for the other customer, I was like “no no no, go back to her sandwich it’s no big deal.”  I was embarrassed that I had to go into a Subway and ask for a free sandwich but THAT’S WHAT I WAS TOLD TO DO.  After minor quibbling, I told her to just make me a sandwich (that sounds so misogynistic even if you’re AT Subway) and if it didn’t get worked out I would just pay for it.  Because here’s the secret that I dare never tell anyone but I’ll reveal it to you just this one time.

I can afford sandwiches.

I don’t go around trying to screw over major corporations by stealing all of their sandwiches.  But as a company providing something to a customer, when you fuck up, make up for it.  Have make-up sex with me, in the metaphorical sense.  Bang me hard with your cold cut combo and tell me it’s free and I’ve been a bad boy.  Don’t give me a chore to do and then when I do it, make me pay for another sub.  Which is exactly what I did because I felt like a FOOL in the first place.  You do this to us because you know that a large percentage of people that complain will never take you up on your offer.  The right thing to do would be to send me a coupon and tell me to go to hell if I don’t like it.  Want to save paper?  Great, you had someone email me in the first place so have her email me a one-time coupon.  It’s so easy to do, even a moron like me that wouldn’t know “Where the message goes durr duh duh duh” would be able to do it and figure it out.

What could have been ended weeks ago rages on.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go tell a wealthy widow that I’ve got a great investment for her and that I love her.

Sincerely,

The Sandit

“boys have a penis, girls have a vagina”: the simplest, yet most effective joke ever told

March 18, 2013 § 1 Comment

I don’t have much to say today.  If you’re wondering what Subway’s response to my complaint was, so am I.  Denise apparently did not take my email very seriously, which is bullcrap because what if the world is completely robbed of Sub-Standard?  All I’m asking for is one chance, lady-who-responds-to-Subway-customer-complaints.

I just want to point out a quick observance of something we are all probably familiar with but something I also have never put much thought into.  For the purpose of… there is no purpose.  Appreciate it with me because I’m lonely?  Yeah, I guess that’ll do.

I was seven when Kindergarten Cop (1990) was released.  When you think about it, Kindergarten Cop is a great movie because it’s one of those movies that should transcend at least a couple of generations.  I enjoyed it when I was 7 or 8 and saw it.  I feel like it should also appeal to someone that was in high school at the time, or older, but then again this is completely untrue for me to claim because I am totally biased.  I will never be able to see Kindergarten Cop in the way that someone born in 1960 is able to see Kindergarten Cop.  I watch it now and I still love it, so that’s why I feel like it’s something for adults, but a lot of that is based in nostalgia.

Yet I have no idea how an Arnold Schwarzenegger-Penelope Ann Miller vehicle would be anything but a hit.  Not to mention Miko f***ing Hughes, the most child actor of my generation.  And it was Hughes that stole the show by delivering the line of the movie, the quote that should bring down the house whether it’s full of 7-year-old’s like me, or older people like my mommy and daddy.

>>>>>>>>>>>>

I was sitting here today thinking of stand-up comedy and joke-telling and came back to one of the classics: The differences between men and women.  Of course, “Women be shoppin’!” is one of my all-time favorites, with Dave Chappelle delivering the classic line in The Nutty Professor.  It’s simple comedy (terrible comedy when not done ironically, which obviously it was here) that gets to the base of “what’s the joke about the differences between men and women?”

Women like to shop and men don’t!

Not much different than “black people walk like this…. but white people walk like this!”  We laugh at our differences and that’s all observational humor is meant to do, laugh at who we are and what we can relate to, but “Women be shoppin!” was very, very simple.  But you can get even more shallow than that.

I never thought about the joke in Kindergarten Cop as anything more than that, just a joke, and perhaps it could be said that it’s even a “lazy” attempt at humor, but now I see it as more than that.  It’s more like the most perfect joke there is, because it points out the differences between men and women.  No, it points out the difference between men and women.  It’s exactly, to a tee, who a kindergarten student would do for observational humor if he was giving a stand-up routing to his class.  And now I love it more than ever.

Never forget:

Boys have a penis, and girls have a vagina.

Indeed they do, Miko.  Indeed they do.

 

My complaint email to Subway

March 4, 2013 § 15 Comments

On Saturday morning I got up at around 8 AM in a bad way.  (I don’t see this phrase “in a bad way” used a lot so here it is with my first usage of it.)  We got superbly hammered on Friday night and I didn’t eat very much so the hangover was especially worse and my cure for any hangover is usually “way too much food” because how much more damage could I do to my body?

I decided on Subway.  I went to a Subway that I don’t usually go to because when I started driving I didn’t know where I was going then I said, “Subway b-fast is pretty good actually” and I probably actually said “breakfast” and not the shorter version in my head but I said it shorter there to save time. See how much time I saved?  I decided on a six-inch something on flatbread.  I don’t remember exactly what but it had egg (yellow) and other things.  Use your imagination! I paid for it and left.  No, I paid for it and also spend over $4 on a frappacino at the next door Coffee Bean.  I’m not good with money or eating habits or drinking habits. So far this story is incredibly unflattering.

It gets worse.

After I demolished that six-inch sub  (the size choice of six inches because I decided “I don’t need a whole damn foot of breakfast sub”) I went to a different Subway and ordered another six-inch breakfast sub.  Damn it damn it damn it damn it.  The first sub was okay, but mostly I was still not feeling well and just wanted to eat more things.  I went to the other Subway and ordered a different six-inch breakfast sub.  After we were wrapping up (pun) the order, the woman asked me if I wanted coffee or soda.  “No, I’m good” (which is code for, “I would love some more stuff but I’ve spent like $14 already on this random morning breakfast outing”) ’twas my reply.  But there’s more she explained:

“Oh but it’s the same price.”

“BWAH!?!?!” because I probably did have an audible freakout over free soda or coffee.  But mostly I was concerned that either A) The first Subway did not inform me of a free soda or coffee or B) that one of the Subways was just giving shit away without rhyme or reason.  (Or maybe C) Different store policies because this is a franchise, but I just doubt that explanation.)  I’m not mad at the first Subway, but I was curious as hell as to what was happened.  I had to contact Subway and keep them abreast about the situation and what’s going on with some of their Los Angeles area Subways.

(by the fucking way, when I did a location search for Subways near my zip code, the below image is my result.  There are more Subways than there are McDonalds, and holy shit that must be true. This is maybe an example of one square mile…)

Subway

 

It sort of reminds me of what maps will look like when a zombie invasion or virus outbreak happens in the world.  “This is what the country will look like after one hour.  /next slide.  After 1 day.” and then it keeps growing except in this case it’s just more and more Subways until the whole world is covered in Subways except for the oceans, in which only about 15% are covered with floating Subways.

I sent Subway an email through their website, which I sadly do not have anymore.  It was kinda funny but I basically just wanted to know which Subway was right and that the woman at the second Subway did an excellent job of informing me of this free soda, unless there wasn’t supposed to be a free soda in which case reprimand her I guess?  I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble!

Oh, the flatbread at both places was also stale and I did not even finish the second sub. This was 75% because it turns out I only need 2 more inches (lol!) of sub to satisfy myself but 25% because the flatbread was so stale that it was sort of like eating a sandwich in which you’ve used cardboard as the slices, which I guess you would call a “Hobo Sandwich” trademark.

Denise at Customer Care sent me this response:

Thank you for taking the time to share your comments with us.

In order to better assist you, I will need to know the exact location of the SUBWAY® restaurant that you have visited so that our regional office can investigate this properly. Would you please reply by e-mail or by calling me at 1-800-888-4848 ext. 8201 to provide me with a complete address of the location you visited or a nearby landmark. Please refer to the Customer ID listed below when replying.

I appreciate that you took the time and effort to contact us and am looking forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely,

Denise S

 

Fair enough!  I was honestly wondering if Subway was going to respond because it had been two days and conglomerates usually have an entire nation of customer care people but then I realize now that it was the weekend and they also get a lot of complaints.  I guess I’ve been soured too because I sent Apple an honest-to-God “this is Bullshit!” complaint a little while ago and they ignored me… twice!

I am actually a pretty sweet man to customer service people.  Their jobs suck and they’re doing the best they can and it’s not their fault and they can only do so much.  So on the phone or whatever I will try and make their day and be a fun-loving customer that’s had a rough interaction with their company.  I am not mad at Subway, their reputation for stale bread precedes them anyway, but I decided to have fun with this one.  I ended up having maybe too much fun, but could also have an Emmy-award winning show on our hands.  Here is my response to Denise:

Hi Denise (that’s my mothers name too!)
I looked up the locations on your handy website.  Man, you guys have a lot of locations!  Not a problem, everybody needs sandwiches and that kind of convenience certainly doesn’t sub me the wrong way.
Subway #13028 was the second location. That girl should be given a raise, but I don’t know her name so I guess give all the girls there raises.  They’ve always been nice to me.  Oh wait, except the flatbread was so hard that I didn’t finish half of it.  Keep everyone at the same payscale actually.
Subway #13477 was the first location.  I think that they should just know “Hey, free drinks!” if there really are free drinks when you order a certain breakfast sub, because that’s a great deal.  If it really is a deal, you should be advertising it more.  It could go, “Free.  Free dollars.  Free dollars driiinkkkss!  Come on down to Subway and get a free coffee or soda with every sub sandwich purchase before 9 am!  Can you believe we’re just giving this stuff away?  Tell ‘em Jared” and then Jared comes on and says, “You guys should really just be getting water anyway.”  And then McKayla Maroney is all “I’m not impressed, get me a diet coke!” and then the two of them, Jared and McKayla Maroney stand back-to-back with their arms folded and a look like “This guy!” Maybe it could even be a sitcom this fall on NBC?  The show could be called “Sub-Standard” and it’s about Jared from Subway and he’s dating McKayla Maroney and he’s always trying to lose weight or gain muscle and do better for her but always falling short and her catchphrase could be like, “Oh brother!” and his catch phrase after she burns him with another mean look will be “I didn’t ask if you wanted it toasted or untoasted!”  Is she 18 though?  Look, I haven’t thought this all the way through yet, I’m just spitballing.  Tell me if you think that will work Denise.
Also get back to me about the stale bread I guess, but mostly your thoughts on “Sub-Standard”.
Thanks and have a wonderful day!
Kenny (writer and creator of Sub-Standard.  Also plays the whacky neighbor “Mr Fundek”)
I just hit send on this so we don’t know yet about the fate of Sub-Standard (crossing fingers!) but hopefully Denise has connections at the top and also at NBC!   I think this show is right up their alley.  Also, my mom’s name is not Denise but you gotta start off on a high-note and Denise is a good name anyway.
I’ll let you know if there is any further good followup to this and my concerns with (or appreciation of) free soda.
Also, the bread was kinda stale.

the last person that thought i was cool

February 26, 2013 § 10 Comments

This is my experience throughout school:  I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with the cool kids.  I wasn’t nerdy enough to hang out with the nerdy kids.  I wasn’t popular enough to hang out with the popular kids.  I wasn’t old enough to hang out with my grandparents.  That’s basically how I became a “floater” in high school.  I had acquaintances everywhere, I had casual friends all over, I changed best friends every year just like I changed the first day outfit every year.

I never felt like a loser because of this.  Never.  And I still don’t think that it made me a loser, because it wasn’t like I had a bunch of people that disliked me, I just didn’t have a bunch of close friends.  I wasn’t picked on or anything, I wasn’t made fun of (that I know of) and I didn’t get wedgies or stuffed into my locker.  Partly because I was twice as big as everyone else, partly because I was more of a harmless class clown than the subject of ridicule, but I keep in contact with very few people that I went to school with from the K-12 years.

Some of my best friends from middle school started drinking and doing drugs in high school, and since I didn’t really do that, we grew apart and I couldn’t hang out consistently with them.  I had a group of friends that I hung out with that were a year younger than me, and that didn’t always work.  I had another group of friends that were a year older than me, and that didn’t always work.  I could never get too attached to anyone, but I would never want to drift too far away either.

I played sports for awhile, but I was terrible.  No, let me re-phrase that: I played sports for awhile.  Football, baseball, basketball, and track & field, and I was the worst athlete you’ve ever seen in your entire life.  If you tried to imagine the worst athlete you’ve ever seen in your entire life, you still didn’t go far enough into just how bad of an athlete I am/was.  So playing on the football team didn’t help me become popular.  Spending life at the end of the bench  of the sophomore basketball team didn’t get me dates with cheerleaders.  Throwing a javelin 8 feet didn’t land me “Most Likely To Be Awesome!” in the yearbook.

So I wasn’t cool or popular, but could I at least find a home?  Not with the nerds.

I loved movies, and I loved Star Wars, and I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it’s not like I could keep up with a conversation of an actual Trekkie (offensive terminology I believe, not that I would know for certain) or Star Wars nerd.  I had some Magic: The Gathering cards, but I don’t know that I actually played in any real games.  I played some video games, but not intensely.  My hobbies, watching movies and reciting sports statistics, didn’t really make me a part of any group of people in high school and by nature can be rather isolating.  Even being a “class clown” (some would have probably just called me a “clown”) doesn’t necessarily help you either.  People would rather laugh from afar, and then stay afar as I’m being sent to the principal’s office.  I spent so much time in there that eventually she did become my pal.  The mnemonic device really works!  (I always remembered to spell mnemonic because of the episode of Full House where Stephanie incorrectly spells mnemonic.  How meta.)

“Hey, remember when Kenny said that thing about the teacher?”

“Yeah, haha.”

“Want to invite him to the party?”

“No.”

By college, things were able to change a little bit.  I made a few friends that I’ve had ever since and now that “cliques” and “cool” have not become a part of your societal status, I don’t have to worry about where I stand among my peers now that I am 30.  Still, it doesn’t mean that most people still don’t like to think of themselves as being “cool” once in awhile or having people that see value in you where others might not have.  That’s what I used to have with somebody.  That’s what I think I lost recently.

I grew up with one sister, one half-sister, and one half-brother.  My half-brother and half-sister are more than decade older than me and we never really lived together.  We have relationships, but it’s distant.  My sister is four years older than me and we did grow up together and the only three people that know for certain what our childhood was like are me, her, and our mother.  That’s not a bond that can ever be replaced, but still we aren’t that close.  She could not wait to move out of the house as a teen, and she never hid that fact, and she absolutely bolted when she could.  Being four years older than me, no teenage girl wants to be associated with their four-years-younger brother.  You would have thought that would be mostly a teenage girl thing, but since the time that she moved out of the house over ten years ago, I don’t know how many times my sister has actually called me.  Maybe five times?  None of them were to just see how I was doing.  And I don’t know how many emails I’ve received “just because”… Maybe a couple.

I was the youngest sibling of all, and most of the time I’ve still felt like an only child.  I know that all of my siblings would be there for me when I needed it, and vice versa, but none of them have ever really needed me.  I just wanted someone to provide some value to, maybe even to look up to.  Finally after college graduation, I became closer to some extended family and found some of that peace. but even that could only last for so long.

My mother’s cousin was not someone that I saw very much as a kid.  I remember going over there once, I might have only been thirteen or fourteen, and playing with her kids (or maybe just the one kid at the time) for awhile.  “E” must have only been a tot back then and “B” might have either been a newborn or a very young toddler at best.  (It would make the most sense if she was a newborn, hence giving me a reason to go over there with my mom at the time.)  But fast forward to after college graduation, when I was now 23, “E” and “B” were both young ladies and over the years the family grew closer and I spent more time hanging out with my mom’s cousin and her kids.  For the first time, I felt like I had someone that needed me to be a brother, that needed some guidance maybe, and that I was actually going to be the “cool” older person that wouldn’t judge you and that you could confide in.

Me…. cool?!?  You’re darn tootin’! that i’ve already lost my “cool card” haven’t i?  aww nuts. /kicks dirt.

When I showed up to their house, I could see the excitement on their faces that I was there.  When I talked to E on the phone, I could hear how happy she was to be talking to me.  The same with B.  With this “new” extended family, I felt more like I had a purpose within a family, and that I could finally beat up boys for someone and give advice and be a cool dude.  In high school I thought it would make me a cool dude to do freestyle raps and sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” with perfect pitch (that’s perfect-pitch, mind you) but no?  Does it not make me a “cool dude” to say that I have won two karaoke contests, know the lyrics to every song on the Boyz II Men “II” album, and have seen every episode of Saved by the Bell at least ten times?  If that doesn’t make me cool, then I don’t know what does.

I don’t know what does.

But to them, to E and B, I was just cool.  I didn’t have to prove anything, I didn’t have to be anything other than myself, I was just a second cousin that loved my family unconditionally.  We never got to spend too much time together, I moved to Los Angeles from Seattle only a few years after college graduation and have been back sparingly since, but when I was back up in Washinton we always have a good time.  Most recently we got together at a Thanksgiving function where I totally kicked ass on a Wii dancing game for tween girls and if that doesn’t make me unconditionally cool then I really am completely lost on the meaning of cool.

A few months ago, E told me that she wanted to come down and visit me in LA for her 19th birthday.  I don’t exactly know how to host a teenager in LA, but somebody actually wanted to come visit me!  She was very excited for the trip right up until the time that I picked her up from LAX and I could still hear that same “you’re cool to me, Kenny” in her voice that morning.  It just didn’t seem like long after that though when I started to switch from feeling like “cool older bro” to “lame Dad” or “weird Uncle” and NOBODY wants to be seen as an uncle.  I even hope that my actual niece and nephew see me as something other than an uncle.  Friend?  Sure.  Confidant?  Yes.  The kind of guy that if you threw a party would give you the biggest gift and the card attached would say “Thank you for being a FRIEND and NOT an uncle!”  Hell yes.  But never a weird uncle.

We spent all day Friday at Disneyland, and by that I mean we were at Disneyland from 8 AM to 11 PM.  Now I really started to feel old.  My feet and back had given out when there was “only” nine more hours left until the fireworks display.  But none of that bothered me as much as watching the look of admiration from my cousin evaporate and turn into a distance of “we ain’t got shit in common” that might be too far to travel; Even further than the 20 or so miles that we had trekked in Disneyland that day.  And it’s a reasonable reaction for her too because just what exactly do I have in common with a person born in 1994?

I said “Let’s go on the Roger Rabbit ride!!!” (with at least three real-life audible exclamation points indeed) and I don’t know what could be cooler than a 30-year-old man wanting to go on a Roger Rabbit car ride, but she hadn’t even heard of Roger Rabbit.

She hadn’t even heard of Roger Rabbit.

She wouldn’t know of Boyz II Men.  She’s never seen Saved by the Bell.  Golden Girls?  Get out of town.  That’s when you realize that an eleven year difference isn’t just eleven years; it’s a generation.  Maybe on some level this really did make me more like a “brother” figure, since I’m not close to my own actual siblings in that way, but on another level I also felt like I lost one of the last people that might have thought I was cool in the whole entire world.  For a time when you think family could bond, instead it seems like getting closer can sometimes pull you apart.

When I sent her off back to Washington and said “Goodbye” I knew I wasn’t just saying any regular goodbye.  I was saying goodbye to the kid I had once known and saying hello to the next phase of her being a young woman that didn’t need me to beat up any boys or provide any advice or be a big brother.  Maybe B would need that one day, with another four years of being a high schooler still ahead of her, but I also won’t be around for much of it.  Sometimes you just have to accept the situation you are in and find a way to mold it into the situation that makes you happiest.  I never had a group of kids growing up that I ever felt fully accepted me, and I never had a sibling that I felt ever really needed me, and I never had a label of being the most popular, or the smartest, or the coolest.

But labels don’t define you.  Labels are like the difference between “infer” and “imply.”  You could be inferring that I am lame, but I’m trying to imply that I am cool and if you didn’t notice my “ALF” t-shirt that’s your problem.  If you can’t tell that I’ve got LA Looks in my hair, sorry pal move along.  Maybe I’m not the broad definition of cool, maybe I’m not James Dean or Marlon Brando or AC Slater, maybe I can’t ride a motorcycle or even cite to you every character from Star Trek, but I’ve got other things that make me cool because cool is what you make of it.  Cool is being yourself and not giving a heck.  Cool is doing what you do because you love it, not because someone else does.

I’ve got family that’s there for me, even if we don’t talk all the time and even if they insist on growing up and getting older.  I’ve got friends that accept me for who I am and actually enjoy my jokes about politics and fart puns.  And I’m not going to shy away from showing my insecurities to the world in a blog post, even if it leaves me bare and exposed, because maybe it’ll relate to just one other person and let them see that they weren’t the only one.

I actually think that makes me pretty cool.

/breaks out into Adele “Someone Like You” in perfect pitch.  Perfect. Pitch.

why are we here, where are the aliens, what are we doing, and why are we failing?

February 11, 2013 § 6 Comments

This article won’t attempt to answer too many important questions or anything.

I found myself trapped in another internet rabbit hole on Sunday, back to the “Universal Drawing Board” of trying to gain a better understanding of the vast blackness and spots of light that surround  us.  I will never actually understand it of course, but we can always understand it better and I don’t think there’s really any point in doing anything else right now as a species.  Because in the long run, the only way for humans to survive the demise of Earth (perhaps sometime in the future when the Sun becomes a Red Dwarf and says “It’s gettin’ hot in here, so consume the f***ing Earth!” billions of years from now) is to escape Earth.  Stephen Hawking basically says that the escape from Earth is going to happen and to not even worry about Red Dwarves, since we’re doing an awesome job of killing ourselves.

But even if we managed to survive the death of Earth and survive a galactic road trip with our families to colonize another planet, whether it’s Mars or an extrasolar planet, we’ve still got to deal with things like the Milky Way colliding with the Andromeda Galaxy in 4 billion years or just the fact that the Universe itself will one day die out, even if it’s trillions of years from now and even if we think it’s improbable to see humans survive it.  However, even though humans may not make it even another billion years in this universe, it doesn’t mean that we might not be able to leave the universe.  String theorists hypothesize that we live in a multiverse, which is more like being the Russian doll inside of the Russian doll inside of the Russian doll and so on and so on forever.  Michio Kaku, who you might know as “The Asian guy that is literally the guest talking head in every single documentary special about space”, talks a great deal about the simple things that make up the universe and our planet and how we got here in this video.  It’s worth your time.

I’ll wait the 42 minutes until you come back.

Pretty interesting stuff, huh?  I wonder what I was doing in that 42 minutes in my life while you were watching the video.  Probably nothing that important.  Probably not getting closer to helping anyone find out what dark matter is.  Probably- Hey look, Chris Brown is on the Grammys.

Because despite how important it is to find out how to get from here to the next solar system at warp speed, or how we could possibly create a wormhole (which is sort of like Alice’s “Wonderland Rabbit Hole” that got me here in the first place) to find other dimensions (and pray that it’s not like the dimension crossover we saw in The Mist) we would much rather read 50 Shades of Grey.  Or watch Real Chopped Champions of Macon County: SVU.  Or give an award to Rihanna for “singing good and stuff”.  And many other countless things that don’t matter.  Is it wrong?  Well, not necessarily and I am as guilty as anyone else.  But we should still recognize just exactly what entertainment is:

Entertainment is how dumber people cope with the boredom of being helpless to advance humanity.

Not to say that most of us are necessarily stupid, because I wouldn’t want to sit here and tell you that I am an idiot, but I’m certainly a lot stupider than Kaku.  Or Hawking.  Or Newton and Galileo and Einstein and a very large number of people that have done something important for humanity even though those names make up a minuscule percentage of people that have ever lived.  You must understand that literally anyone can have an impact on, or effect the very fate of, humanity.  From me to you to Abraham Lincoln, but only a few of us make important changes directly.  It took us until Christmas Day of 1642 A.D. to get Isaac Newton, some 200,000 years since the first known homo sapiens, some millions of years since we could trace back to our original ancestors, some 6,000 4.5 billion years since we got this planet, and then finally we got the guy that defined the basis for modern physics.  That set the stage for what could finally get us off of the planet.  And yet every domino during that 4.5 billion years still played a role, whether minor or major, in giving us Newton and then without Newton, we wouldn’t have the other geniuses that got us to the moon and continue to travel deeper and deeper into space.  The people that are doing important things for the rest of us, while we sit here and think of new ways to keep ourselves busy – whether it’s Arrested Development or a Carly Rae Jepsen concert (does she do concerts or only YouTube videos?  Who is Carly Rae Jepsen?)  - for hopefully another billion+ years.

Ummm… Thanks, guys!  (And girls.  I’m using “guys” in the general sense here.)

Unfortunately for many of us, we are left with so many unanswered questions.  Not only are they unanswered but we are helpless to find the answers.  Because we’re too stupid or too lazy or too overwhelmed by the question itself.  It’s not an insult, we’re talking about questions like “Is there intelligent life on other planets?” and “Is there a God?”  You almost certainly should not know the answer to those questions, and if you do, please use the contact button on this website to tell me or send me a DM on Twitter!  I’d really like to know, thanks.  :)

Having these questions is sort of like spending every day of your life feeling like you’re a bird even though you are a human.  That nature is telling you that you MUST walk outside, spread your arms, and fly above the clouds because it’s what you are meant to do.  Except that you can’t.  Because you’re a human.  You can not fly and naturally, you likely never will.  At least, not without some help.  Maybe one day you’ll invent a metal box that does put you in the air and allow you to travel in the skies or perhaps even into space.  A workaround, if you will, but an accomplishment of the urge given to you by nature.  There’s still hope yet that we can find intelligent life, cross swords universes, fold space, and maybe even travel through time.  I might not be the one to answer any of the questions but perhaps we all play some small part in that and I know I still have so much left to ask.

Is there life on other planets?  Yes.  Hell yes.  By definition a theory is not a fact if it’s wrong even once.  In this case, I actually have zero facts to support the theory that there are alien lifeforms.  But Jesus, man, there has to be.  There are 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone.  There could be 100 billion galaxies.  Who cares about doing the math at this point, that’s just “a lot” of planets.  Some will support life.  In fact, some may not even have any reasonable reason to support life according to the life-supporting features that we are used to on Earth (water, oxygen, McDonalds) but actually might support some other kind of lifeform.  Even here on this planet there are species that should not survive but do anyway, called extremophiles.  A Tardigrade is a polyextremophile that lives right here on Earth and can survive: Subzero temperatures, boiling temperatures, all kinds of radiation, can go 10 years without food or water, pressures deeper than our deepest oceans and yes… they could live in the vacuum of space.

We might look at a gas planet like Jupiter and think it doesn’t support life but like hell that I’d be surprised if you told me that there were mole people in the middle just livin’ it up!  It’s even easier to imagine that there could be life under the icy surface of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.  Or on Mars.  Or on Titan, a moon of Saturn.  If we can find just one other place in the solar system where any kind of life existed, we know that life on Earth wasn’t a freak occurrence.

So is there life out there?  Yeah, I think so.  Is there intelligent life out there?  I would like to think so.  One of the only problems with that, whether or not there are people like us out there in the Uni, is that we are rather young.  The Big Bang happened some 9 billion years before Earth formed, twice as long as Earth has been around itself.  Meaning that Earth has been around for only like 33% of how long the universe has been around and yet other planets, solar systems, and galaxies have been around for plenty of time to have bred a human-like species of intelligent life and theoretically, those people would have had the same questions about life that we do.  They would have eventually wanted to meet other intelligent beings and they should be more advanced than us.  Possibly to the point where they have everything we ever dreamed of and so much more.  It’s conceivable that if humans could travel outside of the solar system within 100 years, or even 1000, that other intelligent beings would have already done so since they could have a head start of 1,000,000,000 years or more.

So where are they?

We couldn’t possibly be the first right?  Are UFOs real?  Is Ancient Aliens real?  Are humans themselves the aliens?  Did the aliens find that it was a bad idea to contact other lifeforms?  Are we really the smartest people in the Universe*, or at least, the galaxy?  Please tell me that the smartest lifeforms in the galaxy aren’t also responsible for Honey Boo Boo.  As you can see, even one question, like the one about life on other planets, just becomes its own “multiverse” of questions.  An infinite amount of more questions we must ask, like the child that just says “Why?  Why?  Why?”

*It simply does not compute that we could be the most intelligent life forms in even our own area code of the Milky Way.  You realize that we are failing right?  It makes perfect sense that the biggest cancer killer of Americans is actually the one we knowingly do to ourselves: Lung cancer.  I mean, I smoked for ten years before quitting (still going strong) and I can tell you first-hand that there is absolutely no point in smoking despite the fact that it kills 150,000+ Americans every year.  You could say that “God” gives you every other kind of cancer, and yes also sometimes cancer of the lungs, but most of it is us just saying “F*** it!” because “you’re going to die anyway.”  And so goes the human race, killing the Earth at a faster rate every single day because it’s going to die anyway too.  Hell-to-the-no are we the smartest beings in the M.W. Galaxy and if we are, God help us all.

And so we are left with exploring other possibilities about why we have no record of being contacted by aliens, and then if you subscribe to something like ancient aliens or Roswell, you are branded as a fool.  Hey, don’t lump every believer in aliens in with this guy:

ancient-aliens

I don’t know if we have been contacted by aliens but based on the mathematical evidence of how many planets there must be out there, shouldn’t we consider it?  I find it interesting that we can know how ridiculously large the universe is, that it’s packed with amazing images like different nebula that you would swear aren’t real pictures but in fact is an actual photo*, that we can live and breathe and think and have no idea why or how we are all here, that the Earth is just one of many literal miracles, and yet thinking that maybe aliens came and chilled on the planet some 50,000 or 50,000,000 years ago or something and then moved on makes you a crazy person.  If you equated the history of Earth to a 24-hour day, the time that humans were alive would be the last few seconds.  What’s to say that aliens haven’t come by a bunch of times but just not in the time that we were either A) here or B) had video cameras rolling?

*Crap, look how crazy the Ant Nebula is:

ant-nebula_1372990i

If we stopped and thought intelligently for a moment, it would be so blatantly obvious to us that we aren’t the only intelligent ones out there.  Hell, we are really only intelligent relative to other Earth species.  Our Sun is big as hell – to us.  It’s more like a medium-sized star relative to other stars.  For all we know, Earth Humans are the Honey Boo Boo’s of the galaxy.  Maybe we haven’t been visited by aliens because they are too embarrassed to be seen with us.  And could we even blame them?  Do you go hang out at the house of the neighbor that doesn’t mow his lawn for 10 years and has two cars on blocks in the front yard?

I didn’t think so.

Which is another good reason that we need to be spending all of our energy on finding a way out of our solar system and being able to reach other Earth-like planets in our relative neighborhood.  It’s the only way for humanity to survive (if it even should) and possibly get the answers we’ve been seeking for the entirety of our existence.  Maybe even the answer to the most important question: Why are we here?  Luckily, while us stupid people bet on the Oscars every year, there are people working to find the answers and possibly escape the solar system.

The James Webb Telescope replaces the Hubble in about 2018, nearly 22 years after the project was set in motion during the Clinton administration.  (Unfortunately, important change takes time but we have to start somewhere, sometime.)  The Hubble’s successor (which is 100x more powerful than the Hubble, the most powerful telescope we had ever invented) will hopefully answer many questions about the formation of the galaxies, planets, stars, and life.  It will be positioned so far from Earth that we won’t even be able to service it and it may only last 5 years before breaking down, but it will be phenomenally important to understanding ourselves and our galaxy.  And yes, this shit is coming while you are probably still alive.  Amazing things should be known in the next 5-10 years.  That’s not all.  The ATLAST telescope is even more impressive.

ATLAST (Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope) is Hubble 3.0 and it has one specific mission: Find life on other planets.  That’s a sick freakin’ mission.  Though it is still in the conceptual stages, a potential 16-meter telescope sent out into space could photograph more planets than you could ever believe possible.  The hope is to have ATLAST out there “at last” between 2025-2035.  Just imagine if you gave birth to a baby boy today, he might only be 12 or 13 when we found out that there was life on other planets.  Even if the concept of sending a giant 16-meter telescope millions of miles into space to see light years away and take voyeuristic naked photos of aliens in only 15 years sounded “stupidly ridick” to you right now, try telling a computer technician in 1965 that you carry a computer in your pocket that’s 1000x more powerful than the one that takes up an entire floor of his office building.

Technology doesn’t advance at a steady rate, it advances exponentially.  That’s why it took thousands of years to get from point a to point b and yet it took like ten years or less to go from “everyone finally has a cell phone” to “literally nobody is looking at each other anymore because they’ve got mini-computers – that I guess also have a talking function? – in their hands 24/7.”  We will probably have a mission to Mars in the mid-2030s and it might actually happen after we have found life on other planets.  (Though it’s a longshot to happen that soon.  James Webb was originally supposed to launch in 2007, not 2018.  It also went from a $300 million project to an $8 billion project.  Damn “inflation.”)  To go from Hubble 1 to Hubble 2 to Hubble 3 and possibly Hubble 4 someday, it’s incredible to think about how advanced that technology could be.  A large scale technological advancement version of going from the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad.  Would you have believed that the original iPod could someday be a grandmother of the iPad?

Just imagine if instead of spending any money on wars, humans spent taxpayer money on space exploration.  Just to think that if we could stop spending a single cent on crime prevention, we could funnel all that money into education.  Of course, that’s an “insane” idea, right?

And still, after billions of years of the development of Earth, planetary species, and homo sapiens, you might actually be living at a very exciting time where many questions once thought “unanswerable” will be answered.  We’ve already had the Large Hadron Collider possibly find a Higgs Boson particle that could answer many questions we’ve had for a long time.  The Kepler Mission is deep in space looking for (and finding a ton of) new planets.  We could possibly learn hundreds of answers to how our galaxy and universe was created with the launching of James Webb.  Maybe eight years later we will launch the device that takes pictures of aliens.  Shortly after that we might be walking on Mars.  Maybe within your lifetime we will even be planting the seeds of true space colonization or other “science fiction” concepts like time travel and teleportation.  Black holes were “science fiction” not too long ago and many “crazy” ideas were born out of some truth.

I have to believe that anything is possible just based on everything I’ve already just mentioned on how amazing and complex the universe and life really is.  At some points in my life I find it impossible that a scientist could ever believe in the existence of God, while at other times I find it even more unbelievable that he couldn’t.  Most of us are just lucky to be observers and have the answers given to us by the genius few.  We have had certain questions for millennia that might actually be cleared up within our lifetime, but those answers will probably still only lead to more questions.  That’s actually a good thing because what’s the point of being alive if you don’t have any questions?

Even if most of us are just biding time with stupid entertainment because we don’t have anything better to do, I know for a fact that we are all still bound by the same curiosities and quest for true Universal Knowledge.

It’s funny that during my Rabbit Hole vacation, I also came across a Tumblr site that is just photos of “Awesome People Hanging Out.”  Random famous people that were photographed together.  I started to look at the “Notes” section under each photo that shows you how many people commented or reblogged the photo.  Some were as low as 600 “notes” and others might get as high as 3000.  That’s a lot of people sharing a photo.  And then all of a sudden I saw one photo that dwarfed all the rest as if they were non-descript asteroids orbiting a massive star.  The fact that this photo had over 81,000 notes gave me so much hope in humanity at that moment that even if most of us are relatively stupid, and even if we want nothing more than to be mindlessly entertained because of the boredom of living a dull life, we still respect the hell out of the grand quest to understand this universe and just what the hell we are doing here.  We are mostly just the drones, but we thank and admire the people that have helped get us from a planetary creation 4.5 billion years ago to sitting in front of our TVs or computers today.  These 81,000 notes were proof that most of us all just want answers and respect the hell out of the Newtons, the Einsteins, and even some of our modern day scientific heroes – specifically the ones that have married science and entertainment.  We know you geniuses are still out there, and we support your everyday mission for knowledge.

81,000 notes on Awesome People Hanging Out is my proof:

tumblr_lybxb4uiYh1qearaqo1_500

Now, can we please stop killing ourselves?

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