Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Balls Occasionally Vol. Nine: How to Be Seasonal Like a Man

By: Kelly McClure

Tomorrow is Halloween, and you know what that means. November 1st is Christmas. In these seasonal times, the internet is a hot bed of activity for what to wear, what to eat, where to go, and how to find someone to have sex with ... seasonally. Most of the things being posted are clearly offensive, because they're mostly written by women. Take for example this post written by Bust Magazine's Callie Watts on how to throw together some inventive last minute Halloween costumes.  It is easy to see, after reading that post, that if you have never left your house in your entire life, don't read a damn thing, have never watched a television program, and have nary a tooth in your head, such recommendations would make a person want to never be seasonal again. Being seasonal is scary, and intimidating. But not for you, man. Manly man man. Seasonal man. 

It's Halloween. What do I do?

The answer to this should really be "nothing," because Halloween is for babies and Satan worshippers, but you're gonna want to do something, because we are all looking for excuses to "do something." Perhaps you could treat Halloween like you would any other Thursday, but kick it up a notch. For example: I'm spending my Halloween going to a fancy movie theater that serves drinks and artisanal popcorn, and then going to a heavy metal music concert, but I'll be wearing black and just constantly feeling pissed about everything as much as possible. Anything can be turned into a Halloween event if you do it while furious. 

As far as costume ideas, a fresh one would be taking a long hot shower, putting on deodorant, shaving all your visible body hair, selecting a crisp clean (non threatening) shirt and jeans, and then going to wherever you're going and standing with your arms outstretched, loaded from shoulder to wrist with a bottle of Ibuprofen, soothing bath beads, the Gilmore Girls DVD box set, and a Metro card with $30 on it. When people ask "what are you dressed as?" You reply with, "not a rapist."

It's Thanksgiving. What do I do?

On this particular holiday there's really only two things to do: eat, and poop. On Thanksgiving, stay clear of the kitchen because your girlfriend, wife, or Mom(s) will be in there from sun rise to sun set cooking a variety of things for you to eat. You'll only be in the way if you attempt to help, so just act as a support team by shouting out "SMELLS GREAT" every so often. It's a good idea to check on how things are going towards the end of the cooking process to make sure they're not fucking anything up. Nothing's worse than a dry bird, and god knows they don't know how to carve that shit.
After you eat, you'll get a nice chunk of time to have a leisurely poop and then watch The Cosby Show while the girl(s) do the dishes. Maybe you should smoke a huge cigar while this is happening. Thanksgiving only comes around once a year, enjoy it!

It's Christmas. What do I do?

One of the only concrete pieces of advise that I ever remember my Mom giving me is: "Kelly, don't ever marry anyone who doesn't like Christmas." One year she snuck out in the middle of the night and spent Christmas in a hotel to punish my Dad and I for blowing off my Grandma's 80th birthday party. We didn't know where she was all day, and only learned that she had been holed up in a hotel when my parent's Visa bill came. That showed us! And hopefully it will illustrate a point to you as well. Holidays are a BIG deal. 

Christmas, even more so than Valentine's Day, is a day where your best bet is to spend as much money on your loved ones as humanly possible (or at least make it look like you did) so that they can't say shiiiiiiiiiiit. If you spend a bunch of money on a person, or create an environment in which they wake up on Christmas morning to three levels of presents under the tree, it's like a laminated card reading "you cannot say ONE WORD about ANY ONE THING to me for ONE YEAR" that you get to carry in your pocket. 

So there you have it. Happy Holidays from Balls Occasionally. 2014 = No fatties.

The Potential Movie Serial Killer Jams Mixtape

By: Ben Johnson

Hey, you know what’s great? When you’re watching a movie about a deranged serial killer who does deranged serial killer things like working at Pet Supplies Plus or keeping a plastic bag full of human ears in their fridge. I don’t know if you just laughed at “working at Pet Supplies Plus,” but it’s funny to me. Say it’s a deranged serial killer with a bag full of ears who works at Pet Supplies Plus and maybe isn’t your favorite name to see on the schedule but at least he isn’t always gone on a smoke break whenever it’s busy like Stevie. Maybe it turns out he’s sneaking dried human ears into the already pretty gruesome chew snacks section. I would watch and enjoy that movie.

Of course that scenario is totally unrealistic. That’s what I love about movie serial killers. There are very few real life serial killers who are as theatrical as their movie counterparts. Real serial killers probably aren’t as much fun because they’re actually killing people and mutilating their bodies and whatever it is they’re doing, and if one got you it would probably be more of an “oh shit, this crazy person is going to kill me and mutilate my body” rather than “oh MAN I did not see that human skull codpiece coming, ha ha ha” situation. Like you probably wouldn’t roll your eyes or high five your friends if a real guy was about to kill you and did something weirdly hyperspecific first.

Serial killer movies always have that one “okay, this guy is NUTS” moment where the director or the screenwriter has to show you that this person does not experience any reliable version of reality, and therefore the plot can proceed with more willfully suspended disbelief. Usually this is a chance for a character actor to shine, and the movie to become genuinely unsettling. Think “I’d fuck me” in The Silence of the Lambs. If the actor goes too over the top and doesn’t pull it off believably, it’s still great. The “okay, this guy is NUTS” scene is pretty win-win.

But there’s also a lot of “there’s something wrong with this guy” stage dressing leading up to the “okay, this guy is NUTS” scene. And those are the little details like “hey just FYI, this guy who works at Pet Supplies Plus just so happens to have intentionally long fingernails.”

This is usually the portion of the proceedings in a serial killer movie where music comes into play. The serial killer is listening to something implausible, like “Waterloo” by Abba, and loving it. Later he will sing it slowly and off key to really emphasize the creepiness inherent in the “I couldn’t leave you if I wanted to” chorus. But for now you only know there’s something off about this guy because he’s a full grown man who’s really excited about Abba’s third to fifth best song (depending on how you feel about “Mamma Mia” and “Chiquitita”). “Waterloo” is not a great song unless you’re trying your best to indicate that somebody is a lunatic serial killer, in which case it is PERFECT.

I love Potential Movie Serial Killer Jams. It might be my favorite genre of music.

In fact, fuck it, here’s a mixtape of Potential Movie Serial Killer Jams along with their recommended uses in a serial killer movie.

“Waterloo” by Abba

Recommended Use: Maybe a serial killer is a DJ at a roller rink (an underrated creepy guy profession) who goes after young girls, and he plays this song whenever he spots his quarry.  I’m envisioning a girl-from-next-door type whose parents are getting a divorce because one of them is Michael Douglas, and every Michael Douglas movie ever is about not fucking somebody you shouldn’t fuck. So this roller rink DJ serial killer lures the daughter into doing the one thing she swore she wouldn’t do, leave her slightly sluttier best friend behind, which she only does in rebellion against Michael Douglas, whose credibility as a father and authority figure is destroyed because he couldn’t help but have an affair with Gina Gershon. I don’t know. I’m just spitballin’ here.

“Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton

Recommended Use: A huge bonus of the Potential Movie Serial Killer Jam genre is its ability to change the context of a song you dislike. It’s like how the spray nozzles at the grocery store produce aisle play “Singin’ In The Rain” and you think of A Clockwork Orange, and that horrible imagery is brought to you by a huge profit-driven avaricious multinational grocery store chain company which misfired while outwardly trying to be cutely innocent, and that’s a kind of funny situation. Please enjoy our fresh produce; also, FYI, you are now thinking of murderers and rapists from a dystopian future. Anyhow, I wish somebody would similarly ruin “Wonderful Tonight.” A guy should play it while applying makeup to the corpse of his dead mother. Duh.

“Puttin’ On The Ritz” by Taco

Recommended Use: This one actually got used in The Call starring Halle Berry, but it was so perfect it warrants mention. If some heretofore faceless guy grabs you and chloroforms you and puts you in a trunk, and he can’t hear your titular 911 cell phone call to Halle Berry because he’s listening to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” too loud, you definitely do not want to go wherever he is taking you. You probably wouldn’t want to anyway, but overloud “Puttin’ on the Ritz” is a DEFINITE dealbreaker.

“I’m Your Puppet” by James & Bobby Purify

Recommended Use: This one is so exacting in its creepiness it could be the title of the whole movie. You might be more familiar with the disappointingly-inappropriate-for-fictional-serial-killers Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell version, but if you’re looking to indicate “this person is a crazy,” you’ve got to go with the original. You could even make use of the act’s weird last name. “Purify.” That sounds like the main thesis of an “okay, this guy is NUTS” monologue, possibly while listening to this song in a car, where in the penultimate scene the deranged puppeteer killer descends into the depths of the lake as his Chevy Malibu slowly floods while still playing this song. Puppets, and by extension people who enjoy puppets, give me the willies.

“Look Alive” by Indian Jewelry

Recommended Use: The most secretly disturbing thing about Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs is how good the music was that he listened to. Here’s a guy living in Shit Town, Ohio in 1990 and he’s in his darkened basement grooving out to Extricate-era Fall, trying his best to get his own darkly particular brand of totally unacceptable kicks. Minus the whole murders and skin suit thing, that’s roughly akin to what I’d probably be doing in the same situation. The updated version would include something overtly creeptastic but hip-sounding like Indian Jewelry. “Look Alive” could also be your title.

“Crocodile Rock” by Elton John

Recommended Use: I just want this song to go away. “Yaaaah. Ya ya ya yah YAHHH.” That’s the serial killer’s favorite part. Just it’s a guy and he does something awful and it’s that part of “Crocodile Rock,” okay? Maybe he wants to be a crocodile because his dad was The Crocodile Hunter or something. You figure it out. I can’t come up with every brilliant idea in the world, people.

“Wake Up Little Susie” by The Everly Brothers

Recommended Use: When you work in a record store one of your favorite time-killing moves is to play records on the wrong speed. This innocent little ditty about falling asleep in a movie theater and blowing curfew and being afraid of the resultant scandal becomes a haunting murder ballad when you play the 45 at 33rpm. So I’m picturing a record playing and slowing down and warping while a house is on fire. Maybe the guy has a dead sister named Susie who died of smoke inhalation if you want to go on the nose with it.

“Come A Little Bit Closer” by Jay & The Americans

Recommended Use: I’m just going to close on this one because if you do this for too long you start to get real buggy and it’s not fun. Most Potential Movie Serial Killer Jams are songs you would not want to listen to repeatedly unless you were a character in a movie where the subtext is “ALERT ALERT: THIS PERSON IS NOT OKAY.” It’s hard to delve into that line of thought for prolonged stretches. But daydreams of horrific cinematic scenarios can help you get through something as shitty as “Come A Little Bit Closer” if you don’t have a choice but to sit there in the waiting area of Jiffy Lube and listen to it. That’s why we’re here. “So big and so strong” is a no-brainer of a potential serial killer lyric. Serial killers with God complexes love it when you tell them to come a little bit closer because they’re so big and so strong, especially if they have some thyroid issue that makes them super skinny and they always use a taser on their victims. I mean, I think. I don’t know.
Anyhow, that’s the Potential Movie Serial Killer Mixtape. Enjoy it, add to it mentally by accident as a form of self-defense when some shitty song comes on the radio, and Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Chicago Radio’s Reaction to Lou Reed’s Death

By: Ben Johnson

Sometimes I listen to the radio. Usually when I’m driving my girlfriend’s car and I can’t figure out where she hid the CD case, and don’t feel like listening to the one CD that’s in there already, Greatest Hits of RUN-DMC. You can’t always listen to RUN-DMC. And NPR? NPR is the worst, you guys. If NPR was your friend you would be suuuper slow about returning their text messages. So I listen to rock radio. Sometimes.

Hey, Lou Reed is dead. Founding member of The Velvet Underground, who you’re probably familiar with. I feel like I could say a lot about The Velvet Undergound, and that’s kind of the whole point. For reference, you might also want to investigate: the entire existence of the “literary genre” of “rock criticism,” “punk rock,” “art rock,” “experimental rock,” “jangle” anything, and “whenever somebody does something good ever, even by accident.” And Lou Reed also went on to have a solo career, and etc. I mean, it’s Lou Fucking Reed. You figure it out.

Last night I was picking my girlfriend up from the airport in her car and listening to rock radio. Within 24 hours of Lou Reed’s having died. And unlike when Michael Jackson died, I was not hearing any music by Lou Reed. Which really is par for the course. Lou Reed didn’t make music for the radio. He made music for Lou Reed. But: just to infuriate myself for no reason, I thought I’d investigate Chicago’s rock radio stations to see the extent to which they’ve commemorated Lou Reed’s music.

97.1 WDRV “The Drive”

According to online playlists, The Drive played “Walk on the Wild Side” at 6:59am today and 11:50pm yesterday.  During the same stretch of time, the following songs were also played twice: “Jet Airliner” by Steve Miller Band; “Learning To Fly” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers; “Blue Morning, Blue Day” by Foreigner; “Jesus is Just Alright” by The Doobie Brothers; “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings; “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton; “Tom Sawyer” by Rush (kicking off a three song RUSH ROCK BLOCK); “You Make Lovin’ Fun” by Fleetwood Mac; and “Rock of Ages” by Def Leppard. That is a real murderer’s row, as in if those are your top nine favorite songs, there is probably a 100% chance that you’re a murderer.

To be fair, I’m sure there was a healthy amount of Lou Reed banter by the DJs. But there was also a more than healthy amount of “Jet Airliner” by Steve Miller Band. Any amount of “Jet Airliner” is marginally unhealthy. Big old Jet Airliner. Too bad you didn’t crash with the entire Steve Miller Band in you. Or also Foreigner. And definitely Rush. And Eric Clapton. Tom Petty and Paul McCartney get a pass. Fleetwood Mac and Def Leppard get parachutes, like “hey, do your best.”

97.9 WLUP “The Loop”

The Loop played “Walk on the Wild Side,” once, at 11:58pm yesterday. I’m guessing “Walk on the Wild Side” is the only Clear Channel-approved song Lou Reed has ever written, which is weird because it’s got “colored girls” and “giving head” in it. The lowlight of The Loop’s broadcast since Reed’s passing is unquestionably a Van Hagar/solo Hagar rock block of “Right Now,” “I Can’t Drive 55,” “Dreams,” and “Finish What Ya Started,” which reared its ugly curly blonde head as a part of the BLOCKTOBER programming.

I had to YouTube “Dreams” and “Finish What Ya Started” because I have no memory of them. They are unspeakable tragedies. To give you an idea of how bad these songs are, I would prefer “Poundcake.” Poundcake is at least a concentrated, pure, unadulterated Hate This Song. “Dreams” and “Finish What Ya Started” don’t even have hooks. They’re like the indistinct pop rock they play on the elevator ride down to hell. Actual hell. Not the cool AC/DC version.

87.7 WKQX

Chicago’s station with the slogan “Underground. Alternative.” did not play a single Lou Reed or Velvet Underground song. But they DID play “Spoonman” by Soundgarden, which is A. at least tangentially about an important bit of heroin paraphernalia, and possibly very much about heroin while pretending to be about a guy in Seattle who plays the spoons and B. to the extent that it’s about heroin, is undoubtedly the worst song with even a slight chance of being about heroin.

Usually people who write songs about heroin have some first-hand experience with heroin, and if you’re on heroin, you’re probably going be making some pretty good music because if you’re in the studio dicking around playing take 38 of the overdubs for “Jet Airliner,” what’s the point, let’s put down the guitars and just go do some heroin. I obviously don’t want to glamorize heroin or condone its use. It’s an idiot drug for people who want to go professional with their self-destructive impulses, and there is nothing cool about asking people on the corner for money with shitcaked hair and bloated, discolored arms. But heroin is usually a good music drug. There’s a correlation there. Papa Lou notably made it.

Anyhow, there are exceptions. “Spoonman” is one.

93.1 WXRT

XRT played “Walk on the Wild Side” at 8:15am this morning, “Satellite of Love” at 3:35pm yesterday, and “Intro/Sweet Jane” off Rock N’ Roll Animal at 12:31pm yesterday. Morning drive time DJ Mary Dixon tweeted about “talking about Lou all morning” during her show. Also there’s a blog post about “My Memories of Lou Reed” by Ryan Arnold, which is about driving around Chicago with a Best of the Velvet Underground tape stuck in his car’s tape deck. I will maybe write a similar blog post when Reverend Run dies.

The XRT online playlist goes dark between 7:25pm and 12:59am due to “Local Anesthetic Capsule,” “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” and “Jazz Transfusion,” playlists for which are not available online. The DJ who played “Royals” by Lorde at 6:21pm while I was picking up my girlfriend from the airport mentioned that they planned to play some of Lou Reed’s music “because it’s the right thing to do.” So that might be the reason for the lack of playlists. I can neither confirm or deny, and I’m damn sure not going to listen to the radio in order to find out.

So WXRT, unsurprisingly, because they’re Chicago’s station which boldly plays Elvis Costello all day long, wins the Chicago crown of “Most Lou Reed Memorializing Radio Station That Plays Rock Music.” At least in the 24 hour period after Reed’s death.

Of course who gives a shit. Of course. But I don’t know, I feel like I could either write a maudlin piece about Lou Reed and his music and how important it is and was and blah blah blah, or else I could bitch and moan about how shitty the radio is. I feel like that’s somehow a fitting tribute. I went online and took a look at some post-Reed radio playlists, and, of course, there is still nothin' going on at all.

Lou Reed is dead and they’re playing multiple Rush rock blocks all across America.

We probably didn’t deserve him, but thank GOD some of us got him.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Different Kinds of Feelings

By: Kelly McClure

Thomas can't remember ever having been so happy.

"I can't remember ever having been this happy," he says while staring at his reflection in the small square of mirror hanging over the bathroom sink in his apartment.

He's just splashed water in his face to refresh himself because he's been up for a few hours, working at his desk, but he doesn't quite have the energy to shower just yet. The water runs down his face, past his neck, and dampens the upper half of his t-shirt. There's a drop of water on his left eyebrow, and a drop on the tip of his nose. He leaves them there. As the drops start to dry, they make the skin underneath them itch a bit.

He thinks about how being happy is so much more complicated than being sad, or being upset, or being hungry, or wanting to sleep soon. Most feelings have a cause and effect of sorts. You have one, and then you do something about it. When you're happy, you're just happy. He guesses that there's a certain level of maintenance that comes into play though, and he thinks about that.

"There's a certain level of maintenance that comes into play when you're happy, " he says out loud to the empty room. "When you recognize that you're happy, I suppose it's important to figure out why, and then try to make a list or something of how you can keep things that way. It would be a horrible thing to be happy, and then just let that sit there, and maybe it ends up evaporating."

Thomas reminds himself, daily, of how he's happy by taking himself on a tour of his own apartment. Looking at the things he has in his home, actively, seems like a good thing to do.

"Here is my stove," Thomas tells himself. "This is where I make toast for breakfast, and melt butter on it. And here's my couch, and my TV, and my bed."

Thomas has two windows in his apartment and he stands in front of one and looks at the tree outside of it, and then he stands in front of the other and looks at the red brick building across the street with the stone cross on top. The window is open just a crack and a cold autumn breeze comes in and causes his stomach, right at the belt, to be colder than the rest of his body. He opens the window all of the way so the breeze hits his face. He opens his eyes into the breeze and looks at the stone cross on the building again.

"I wish that once a year there was a thing where everyone opened the doors of their apartments and let the other people in the other apartments on their street come in for a tour," he says out loud to the window, causing a person passing by below on the sidewalk to look up and crinkle his brow. "I'd really like to see what other people had in their apartments. I wonder if they wonder about mine."

Thomas closes out his tour of his apartment by standing in front of his bookcase and picking up random books. He thinks about how people feel like they have to own books, or that it's good to own books, but how after they read them, they never really handle them much again. They just sit on the shelf. He takes out a dusty looking book he hasn't touched in a long while and opens it up. He presses two random pages to his face and takes a deep breath. He thinks that the smell of old paper is one of the best smells in the world.

"I think that the smell of old paper is one of the best smells in the world," Thomas says into the pages.

After a short while, Thomas' girlfriend comes home. Her name is Claire and they share the apartment together. Claire does not have red hair. I know it seems like she should at this point, but she doesn't. It's brown.

"How was your day?" Claire asks.

"It was good." Thomas says.

Thomas and Claire stare at each other while standing in the space between the kitchen and the living room. Thomas smiles into Claire's eyes and knows that he's staring for longer than he should. She's going to say "what?" soon.

"What?" Claire says.

"I'm happy," Thomas says.

Thomas tries to think of something else to say, but sometimes there isn't anything. Sometimes when you're happy there's not much to say about it. You're just happy. He realizes that the go-to in most conversations is to complain about something, but he doesn't have anything to complain about. He hopes this doesn't make him seem boring. He thinks of something to say.

"Claire, do you feel like you move your body enough, like throughout the day?"

Claire thinks about this.

"I mean, yeah, I work full time at a store so I pretty much move my body all day. Do you?"

Thomas does not feel like he moves his body enough throughout the day. He wants to move it more.

"I don't feel like I move my body enough throughout the day, and I want to move it more," he says to Claire.

Claire says something about how he should take breaks in the middle of his workdays at home to go for a walk in the park. He'd like to do this, but sometimes he feels strange when he's outside, like the tips of his fingers go numb and he's forgotten how to walk in a normal way. He feels like people look at him and recognize him as the sort of person who is not all that used to just walking around outside.

Thomas has an idea.

"Claire, I have an idea. Would you do something for me?"

Claire says that she would.

Thomas asks Claire if she would, not too hard, but not too soft either, ball up her hand into a fist and punch him in the nose.

"Why do you want me to punch you in the nose?" Claire asks.

Thomas says that it's because he'd like to give his body a jolt. Not like a drug jolt, or a temperature jolt, or a fear type of jolt, but like stirring cream into a cup of hot coffee, or blending a banana into a blender full of ice cream. Like that. He realizes that he's not describing it well.

Claire rolls her eyes and walks over to Thomas. She pauses when she gets less than a foot in front of him and arches her eyebrow as if to ask "are you sure?"

"Are you sure?" Claire asks.

"I'm sure," Thomas says. "No, wait. Okay. Yeah, I'm sure."

"Do you want to close your eyes or something?" Claire asks.

He does.

Thomas stands there with his eyes closed and he hears Claire's feet shuffle towards him on the hard wood floor. She punches him. Sort of harder than he expected. There's a flash of white light behind his eyes and they well up. He keeps them shut. His body feels warm, starting in his stomach, and then moving up his sides and around to the back of his neck. He feels like how a person would feel after they just swam in a pool for a few hours. He opens his eyes.

"How did that feel?" Claire asks.

"It felt like you punched me in the nose," Thomas says.

Claire thinks that Thomas is being weird.

"You're being weird," Claire says.

Claire goes to the bathroom to wash her face and get comfortable for the rest of the night and Thomas goes back to the window. The right one. The one facing the stone cross. There's someone standing in the window beneath the red cross looking over at Thomas. He notices Thomas notice and looks away quickly. Thomas keeps looking, and the person who was looking at him looks back.

Thomas smiles with all of his teeth at the person in the window. He waves.

The person in the window waves back.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Total Bozo Magazine 2013 NBA Preview - Part 2

If you invent a sport that people can play for enjoyment, and it turns out there is such a thing as a certain set of skills which that sport emphasizes, and it turns out there are some people more than others who have an overwhelming advantage over most other people in those skills through a combination of native talents and diligent hard work on them, and those people are so incredible at applying theirs skills to the game which most emphasizes them that layman enthusiasts of the sport are willing to pay money to see these specialists play the sport, well, you should be commemorated somehow. That is an achievement. Kind of.

This is Part 2 of the Very Serious Total Bozo Magazine 2013 NBA Preview That You Need To Read In Order To Waste Your Life On Drivel, where we investigate the important facts about this year's NBA Western Conference teams. Capsules are by Ben Johnson, with additional totally unrelated comments by Kelly McClure.



Golden State Warriors

Their smallball lineup with Jarrett Jack, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Carl Landry, and David Lee was my favorite NBA unit last year. Jack and Landry are gone, so maybe this year we'll have a version with Curry, Thompson, Lee, Harrison Barnes and Andre Igoudala that will be even better while not being a defensive sieve. That's kind of a shame, because the sieve-ness of that lineup last year is what made it fun. They'd run back on defense and gun for steals and otherwise just hope you'd miss, then turn around and glop a bucketfull of points on your head. I am going to miss them. R.I.P. Warriors small ball 2012-2013.

The Warriors are so much fun to watch they make it almost worth it to walk around saying things like "their smallball lineup was my favorite NBA unit last year" to strangers in the street, just in case one of them goes "I KNOW," and then you can be friends for life. Hey, guy by the train station standing numbly next to the New Jesus Ministry sign: what was your favorite five man lineup in the NBA last year? Heat with Bosh at center? Get a life. Hey, muttering old lady with the unbuckled velcro tennis shoes from 1994, what was your favorite five man lineup in the...

Hey Kelly. What was your favorite five man lineup of the Yardbirds? Ha ha. Just kidding. I don't care.

KMC: I just woke up and am sitting at my desk explaining to my girlfriend who Gavin Mcinnes is because we watched a video of him saying that feminists are depressed because they would really much rather be at home raising kids rather than having a career. We watched this on her phone and then I got up and made coffee. About 45 seconds ago a siren went off outside and I looked over at the window and yelled “WHATS THIS NOISES??”

Los Angeles Clippers

I love how angry Chris Paul always looks on a basketball court. He points and he yells; he takes his mouthguard out and waves it around; he berates officials; he deigns to pretend to listen to Vinny Del Negro; he refuses to pass it to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in crunch time because they can't hit foul shots; and yet he somehow seems totally fine with the idea of Jamal Crawford's existence. He's like The Great Dictator out there.

Now the Clippers have Dov Rivers coaching them, so that should help the basketball but hurt the entertainment factor. Rivers is an actual coach who actually yells back and has plans and manages personalities and stuff. Del Negro always had a look on his face like "I don't understand why you're doing this to us." R.I.P. Vinny Del Negro, the Kirk Hammett in Some Kind of Monster of NBA coaches.

Kelly, who's your favorite metal guitarist? Don't say Johnny Marr.

KMC: I’m going to see this metal band called The Body at a metal bar called Saint Vitus on Halloween. They live in Portland, which I think is really funny. Metal bands shouldn’t live in Portland. When I think of going to this show I think about how the chances of people bumping into me there, physically, are 100%.

Johnny Marr lived in Portland for a while, but I think he moved back to England.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers being this bad is just what the sports fan world needs to wash out the "a rhinoceros just took a shit in my mouth" feeling of sitting through a Red Sox vs. Cardinals World Series. Both of THOSE teams are like the broomsticks in Fantasia, and their fanbases are rooting for more water in the well. The Lakers sucking, and having no clear plan for not sucking anytime soon other than LeBron Please Please, is comparably glorious.

The best part is Kobe Bryant, trying to move heaven and earth and eschew all expectations of human medical science to come back from a torn Achilles. He knows that when he comes back he'll be joining the 2013-2014 Lakers, right? It's like he's in a big rush to be as upset as possible.

Meanwhile, Pau Gasol gets to actually enjoy himself on a basketball court without being screamed at by a teammate. He's going to love it. I watched Vantage Point with my girlfriend last night and there's this Spanish guy in it who looks like Pau Gasol. My girlfriend did not know who Pau Gasol is, even though I have a Pau Gasol bobblehead that she's been trying to throw away for the last three years. She doesn't care who that bobblehead is a likeness of. She just thinks "I want that random basketball guy GONE."

Kelly: What's your worst home decoration?

KMC: My home decorations are solid. I DO spend a lot of my days making sure that there are no visible cords anywhere though. The cable cord for the cable box is white and it haunts me. I’m probably gonna end up buying a rug just for the purpose of covering that cord.

Phoenix Suns

I really hope some poor deluded Suns fans make a sign that says "Lensanity" in honor of recent draftee Alex Len. Whether or not that happens constitutes the entirety of my interest in the 2013-2014 Phoenix Suns.

Kelly: have you seen this clip? I saw James Taylor perform once in an intimate setting and it was so boring I had an out of body experience.

KMC: My girlfriend is awake now. She just walked into the kitchen and sang the words “There’s a dick on the sink.” That’s because there’s a dick on the sink. I washed it with my popcorn bowl that I was too lazy to wash before bed last night.

Sacramento Kings

If you want to see a group of people who get paid millions of dollars to do something they apparently HATE, you should watch the Sacramento Kings play basketball. They also hate being in Sacramento. It's like if I got $7 million a year to live in the suburbs of Nashville and be a Professional Wandering Around Target Looking For The Keurig Cups And An Appropriate Lampshade guy. I'd hate the job, and when I was done, I would go home and hate my home and my life.

These guys jack shots and shrug off their defensive responsibilities like I grab the nearest possible workable thing I might be looking for and get the hell out of there so I could go, I don't know, play Angry Birds in a Jamba Juice for two hours, or whatever people do for fun in the suburbs of Nashville. But with the Kings all you get to see is how they are on court, A.K.A. Target, and The Sacramento Kings would very apparently all rather be sitting in the car listening to a Foreigner rock block on 97.9. That how much they hate playing professional basketball in Sacramento. They treat it like it's less fun than listening to "Double Vision" followed by "Juke Box Hero," which is NOT FUN.

Kelly: what's your least favorite place?

KMC: There is no place on earth worse than Olympia, Washington. If someone offered me free rent for life, and an unlimited grocery store charge card, and a pretty good possibility of becoming the town’s mayor, I wouldn’t do it. If I became an evil comic book villain somehow, that would be the first place I’d do villain shit on.

Dallas Mavericks

JJ. Barea in the 2010 playoffs was the last time anything fun happened to the Dallas Mavericks, and then they let him go and now they're the Dallas Maverzzzzzzzzzz. Not even Monta Ellis can make this morass watchable, because these days, not even Monta Ellis is Monta Ellis. He's like Monta Ellis if you took away all the sometimes ever making a shot.

The Mavs have been an "oh yuck" viewing option for so long it's kind of surprising whenever you find yourself going "what about the Mavs" in your head and then Shawn Marion pops in there and you go "oh yeah, Shawn Marion." Remember Shawn Marion, you guys? The Matrix. They called Shawn Marion The Matrix because that's a thing that was happening while they were giving out nicknames back then. I am all about dated nicknames.

Here are the Dallas Mavericks dated nicknames starting five:

PG - Jose "Double Dip Recession on Defense" Calderon
SG - Monta "Yes We Can" Ellis
SF - Shawn "The Matrix" Marion
PF - Dirk "Shooter McGavin" Nowitzki
C - Samuel "Samuel Dalembert" Dalembert

You ever have a nickname, Kelly?

KMC: People do that stupid thing from Cheers in my face sometimes. When it happens I’m always just like “oh yeah. You’re doing that thing.” That’s not a nickname though. I kind of hate it when people call me “Kell.”

Houston Rockets

Everybody loves the James Harden trade for the Rockets, but it killed Linsanity dead. Poor Jeremy Lin. He was the undisputed King of New York for like three weeks while sleeping on a buddy's couch, and probably didn't have the personality to really capitalize on that, and then he got injured, and then he got picked up by the Rockets, and then he got immediately replaced as the primary ballhandler, distributor, and pick and roll initiator. Now he's just a smaller, below average defensive point guard running around without the ball, leading the second unit for short stretches, and collecting a paycheck. The electricity is gone. Poor guy is going to bounce around the league like Luke Ridnour for another ten years.

We're still feeling the fallout from that wacky lockout shortened season schedule where every team had three games a week. There are so many injured guys in the league now, and I'd venture to guess that the 2011-2012 season's abnormal wear and tear has a lot to do with it. But that season did give us Linsanity, where a backup backup backup Harvard-educated Asian American point guard took over and rejuvenated one of the league's marquee franchises, and that was a weird magical thing.

Even though many of the best and most exciting players are/were hurt over the last two years (Rose, Rondo, Westbrook, Love, Rubio, Bynum--R.I.P. Bynum, Kobe, Wall, etc. etc. etc.), it's almost a shame we have to go back to the regular trudge of an 82-game October-to-April schedule. The NBA regular season can feel like a band that only plays plodding midtempo numbers, like say Pearl Jam, and the 2011-2012 season was like one of those semi-incindiary post-Cobain Pearl Jam songs where you're like, "Whoa, this actually comes close to kind of rocking, how come they don't just always do this?"

Kelly Kelly Kelly McClure, king of the wild frontier; butthead. That is a weird thing my junior year of high school history teacher would say sometimes. You're supposed to say "stop" before I can get to the part where I call you a butthead. He was the best teacher I've ever had.

KMC: My first grade teacher’s name was Ms. Quackenbush. She told my Mom once that I was a “chatty Cathy” and my Mom was like “we literally thought she was a deaf mute.”

Memphis Grizzlies

I am a complete asshole, pretty much, and that is something I know about myself and try my best to rectify whenever possible. I don't always succeed. Recently I got a puppy, and that is helping with the asshole thing because I have to take care of this cute idiot furry thing and my life is full of these weirdly tender moments where I'm putting a harness on a living creature while murmuring soothing nonsense sounds.

I don't know if I'm going to become a Dog Person now or not. I mean, there's dog people, like "yeah, I have a dog, dogs are great," and then there's capital D capital P Dog People who are like, "I'm about dogs. My life is dogs and dog things." I enjoy having a dog. I like making small talk with other dog owners in my neighborhood about topics in doghaving. Dogs are like sweet family members who make everything nicer and give everybody something to do and focus on. But in an emergency apocalypse situation if they can't help me forage for food they become meat pretty much right away. That's where I am on the dog lover spectrum. I'm a realist. But I'm not married to that. I've only had a dog for like two months now. She's been doing a good job of pooping outside and I like that, except this weekend she stole and ate an entire sloppy joe, and her schedule's been all messed up.

Zach Randolph spent the first however many years of his NBA career acting like a grade-A asshole, and now he's a total Dog Person. I love Zach Randolph. If there's hope for Zach Randolph to find a little equilibrium in his life via rescuing and caring about dogs, there's hope for all of us. I mention this because the Memphis Grizzlies are a chore to watch.

Kelly: you and your girlfriend have a combined two cats. That is not a question. That's just a thing I know. You could talk about that if you want, I guess.

KMC: We were so scared on the day when my GF first brought her cat over to live here. We kept her cat and my cat in different parts of the apartment, separated by a huge painting, and then they met and it was no big deal. They hissed for like half a day and now they play like friends and my cat, who’s older, has a renewed appreciation for life. It’s really nice to experience.

New Orleans Pelicans

When they were the Hornets they always had these sadly desperate regional publicity campaigns with slogans like "Basketball: Hey, Maybe We Could Watch That, But No Biggie You Guys" and "Do You Guys Even Know About The Hornets: Apparently They Play Basketball In The City You Live In."

Now they're the "new look" Pelicans, and they pulled a bunch of offseason roster moves, presumably so they'd be a better team right away and basketball fans in NOLA would associate the new name with a team that plays basketball well and sometimes even wins basketball games. I think this is a good move, though most people who talk about basketball for a living say they've forever ruined both their specific team and the general idea of having a basketball team by giving up two first round picks for Jrue Holiday and paying a bunch of money for Tyreke Evans.

People who talk about sports get so crazy about being as good as possible in the long term and always always trying to build towards a title. I think pundits do this because they're all secretly trying to position themselves as plausible executive suite candidates for an NBA team and the "your only goal is to win a championship" mentality sounds take-chargey. But almost no teams ever win a Championship. Every year, only 3% of NBA teams win the NBA Championship. If you're trying to assess an organization's level of success, getting caught up in a binary yes/no with an outcome that has only a 3% chance of happening is probably not the best way to live your life. This is why the Lakers are so hilarious right now.

The Pelicans will be good this year. They might not be great, but they will be watchably good. You're asking people to pay you money in order to watch a team play basketball. Trotting out Greivis Vasquez (as much as I like him), Xavier Henry, and a gift certificate that says "wait until Nerlens Noel gets healthy" are not great ways to accomplish that. The additions of Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans constitute progress. If you're trying to sell tickets and television broadcast rights to people who might want to watch other people play basketball, it helps to have a team that will play as watchable of a version of basketball as possible. Let's not overthink this. "But they will be even MORE fun to watch later if we make sure they're TERRIBLE to watch right now" is not always sound reasoning.

And that, dear friends, is what it sounds like when I put on my "sports pundit" helmet. It smells like puke and panic sweat in this thing.

Kelly: what is the craziest thing you can remember wearing as an actual "this is what I'm wearing right now because I can't be naked" non-costume outfit?

KMC: Well I bought this pizza shirt to wear to my work’s CMJ party last week and I thought it was gonna be this really cool “I’m here to party” shirt, but everyone made fun of me. Maybe it’s because I’m almost 40 years old. Whatever.

San Antonio Spurs

Oh man, here's another one. Sports pundit people love to say that you're not a true fan of basketball unless you enjoy watching the San Antonio Spurs. What do you get for being a "true fan of basketball?" An antique hand-cranked penis-buffing machine, so you can put your penis in there and crank away and moan about the efficiency of the corner three and the importance of helping the helper as a series of cantilevered wooden dowels brings you to a juttering climax?

I don't like the Spurs as much as I like other teams because of Tim Duncan's ongoing war against the human personality, Tony Parker's irritating Frenchness, Manu Ginobli's high-kneed and unflashy style of driving to the hoop, and Tiago Splitter's inability to wear sunglasses on the court at all times like he'd clearly prefer. I like them more than I like some other teams because of Gregg Popovich's responses to sideline reporters, Kawhi Leonard coming out of the closet as an openly great basketball player, Danny Green being occasionally electric, Marco Bellinelli learning defense in Chicago last year, and Matt Bonner being a funny dude. I am a grownup and I am entitled to those opinions about the San Antonio Spurs. I'm sorry if that means I'm not good enough at watching basketball for you.

And now I am going to eat something because writing about basketball when I'm hungry turns me into one of those guys who talks about sports like everything's an argument they need to win. If I starved to death, my last words would probably be "But at the end of the day..." and then a long final mouthy exhalation.

Kelly: what is your preferred shape for a pretzel, because I think rings are seriously underrated, but at the end of the day... hurrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

KMC: I just went into the kitchen to tell my GF that she doesn’t need to worry about making me breakfast because she’s sick, and she yelled “Get out of here! I already greased the pan!”

Denver Nuggets

Oh yeah, I forgot to add Danilo Gallinari to my list of people who it sucks are hurt. I always think of this when I hear "Gallinari." Galli (galli) Nari (nari). This song plays, and Danilo is wearing a white silk scarf and climbing out of a 1989 Lamborghini, adjusting his white linen jacket, and escorting a blonde into the nightclub from Scarface. I have no idea if this is accurate to Gallinari's personality, but he is both Italian and rich, so I figure there's at least a chance.

That is all I want to say about the Denver Nuggets because I just ate pizza and don't need to wax philosophical about George Karl, although if you don't follow Sexy George Karl on Twitter, you're doing yourself a huge disservice.

Kelly: got anything to add?

KMC: Have you seen that picture of Kim Kardashian that everyone was passing around on the internet a few days ago? It’s basically of her in a closet or something showing her butt. I looked at the picture more than five times. Kim and Kanye just got engaged and I have to wonder if he finally decided to pop the question because of that picture. What kind of ring would Kanye buy for someone? I wonder if he picked it out himself.

Minnesota Timberwolves

This might be in my top eleven favorite YouTubes of all time. If you haven't clicked on any other links in this post, they're probably just all that one because it's the only thing in the world that ever needs to be linked to.

Hey Kelly, who is in your internal list of top five best all time Montenegrin centers?

KMC: I need to find a better news channel. I watch Channel 12 Brooklyn News in the morning, because it’s local news and seems like it would be the best, but they repeat the same 15 minute packages over and over and over and it’s mostly about dog shelters. I just wanna know who got shot on my street while I was sleeping.

Oklahoma City Thunder

We can trade James Harden. Our fans read the business page. They're savvy. They know about internal rate of return and the marginal utility curve. We'll be fine. We're doing great. Basketball is fun.

Right? Kelly?

KMC: What’s with “thunder sticks?” Do they still sell those at games?

Portland Trail Blazers

I've never been to Portland. I feel like I'd enjoy it the exact way that the comedy math works in the Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes routine. Like how it's funny once, more funny twice, very funny three times, less funny four times, dramatically unfunny five through eight, then hysterical nine through thirteen, then you are turning off the TV and going out to live your life if it goes any longer than that.

I feel like I want the Blazers to be good because they're in a market that only has a basketball team and are the only game in town and those people out there would love it. And the idea of LaMarcus Aldridge dating Penny Marshall in that one episode of "Portlandia" made me laugh on the inside of my brain the way "Portlandia" does that more often than external laughing. I read about how Aldridge wants to be traded and that makes me sad because it was so funny, like funny odd, you know, "Portlandia" funny, that he dated Penny Marshall. And what a shame it is that these enchanted people in this enchanted place might lose a guy like that who's good at basketball and has a sense of humor about himself.

Then I realize I don't know or care about those people. They can do other Oregon things like surf on an ugly beach or go hang out near a tree in the rain or murder a hitchhiker while singing about their feelings with an electric guitar. Anyhow, the Blazers.

Kelly, you've spent time out there. That's another thing I know.

KMC: The worst part about that is that my GF’s two closest friends just moved to Portland and now she’s hinting that we should move there. I’d rather die. I’m really campaigning for upstate New York. I saw an ad for a two bedroom cabin overlooking the water in Woodstock for $1,500. That would be like a dream. We’d have to buy a car though. I saw a van for sale by the post office the other day for $2,800. That seems reasonable.

Utah Jazz

I watched a Jazz game last year where the local broadcast team reminded people to tune in to the next game because Jimmer Fredette was going to be in town. He probably played 12 minutes in that game as a concession to the crowd. I feel like I learned a lot about the Jazz and Jazz fans by seeing that. Come on out and see Jimmer. Not Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson or even Gordon Hayward. Come see Jimmer Fredette not get any minutes for the Sacramento Kings. Should be a good one.

I mean, I realize if you're in Utah and the Sacramento Kings are coming to town, you use the Jimmer angle and you hope it sticks because "guys who HATE basketball" isn't gonna cut it, but still. I grew up in Maryland. The Wizards never billed a game as "the return of Steve Blake," and it wouldn't work if they did. I have a feeling the Jazz are going to wish Jimmer and the Kings were coming to town a lot more often this year.

Kelly: what's your go to dance floor filler. Wrong. It's Archie Bell and the Drells "Tighten Up."

KMC: When I worked at VICE I was constantly being asked to DJ at places and I was always like “I would never do that.” Really it was because I didn’t want people to know that all I listen to is Beyonce, Morrissey, and Sufjan Stevens. 

And there you have it, folks. We talked about the entire NBA. It's 2013. Basketball is about to start. There's a dick on the sink. Enjoy.

Just FYI, you can follow us on Twitter at @TotalBozo if you're into that kind of a thing.