Monday, March 31, 2014

The 2014 Total Bozo Magazine Baseball Preview

You may have noticed baseball is happening now. It started happening, in spring training, a little while ago. And then there were two games in Australia last weekend that for some reason actually counted, like for real in the standings and everything. The first baseball game of the year was between the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks, and they played it at 4:00am Eastern Time. Nine days ago. And then there was another Dodgers game last night. A real one. And now today the other teams are really having real games that aren’t with the Dodgers. It’s great. It’s baseball. That means winter has to stop shitting on us soon.

I asked Kelly McClure to take a quick free-associative tour through Major League Baseball in anticipation of the upcoming season, and added my comments. It’s the Total Bozo Magazine 2014 Baseball Preview! Enjoy.

Love, Ben Johnson.



Boston Red Sox:
I feel like the Boston Red Sox have the most iconic hat. I feel like their hat would be most likely to be worn by the kid who played a young Tom Hanks in Big. Did he wear their hat in that movie? Why do I feel like he did? I should have saved this to say about a team I know even less about than the Boston Red Sox.

Young Josh Baskin from the New York tri-state area. He definitely wore a Giants hoodie at one point, and later as Tom Hanks requested Giants game footage with the commercials edited out. His buddy I think wore a Cardinals hat. He probably would have been a Mets or a Yankees fan. I did not use Google for any of this information and do not intend to.

Tampa Bay Rays:
Anything that comes from Florida is horrifying and will find a way to kill something or someone at any given moment. I picture going to a Tampa Bay Rays game being similar to sitting in an empty metal wash tub in the middle of a dirt field while angry runaways with black teeth throw bees at you.

Tropicana Field is exactly an empty metal washtub. Exactly. This is uncanny.

Baltimore Orioles:
I bet you John Waters has thrown out a pitch at a Baltimore game. Can you imagine?

I imagine they’d introduce him and then he’d walk out there with a beefcake “bodyguard” whom he effetely gesticulates to as if to say “go ahead, throw the little ball or whatever,” and then the beefcake scoops him up and carries him off the field as he waves enthusiastically. Maybe that’s a little much, but also we’re talking about John Waters here.

New York Yankees:
I saw a Madonna concert at Yankee Stadium last year and even though it rained I basically screamed for two and a half hours straight. The beers are like $25 a piece there and I wanted to remember to bring home my blue plastic Yankees cup, but of course I forgot it.

I’ve never been to a game at Yankee Stadium even though I like baseball and have been to New York like 10 times. It seems odd that anybody would want to go all the way up to the Bronx to see a baseball game and spend $25 for a beer when they’re busy living in New York where there’s a million other things to do and the beer is more reasonably priced in the $15-$19 range. I realize that’s a hipster/transplant’s mindset, but New York the actual city and the New York Yankees are like two entirely separate things in my brain.

Toronto Blue Jays:
My Grandma really likes blue jays. She has special feeders for them in her back yard.

Part of me thinks those birds are assholes, but maybe I’m getting them confused with grackles.


Detroit Tigers:
Do people in Detroit even have money to go to ball games? How do they get the time off from their factory jobs?

Ha ha ha ha ha “jobs.”

Cleveland Indians:
Cleveland. Pfffffft.

People who live in Brooklyn can’t pffffffft a place, Kelly. I hereby revoke your pffffffffting privileges.

Kansas City Royals:
I would like to go to a Kansas City Royals game and just eat ribs until I throw up or shit my pants or both. Ribs seem like a potentially dangerous thing to serve at a ball game though, now that I think of it. I wonder if they decide not to do it for fear that people would get angry about something that happened or didn't happen and then start throwing rib bones at each other, or the players even. Picture getting ready to throw out a pitch and then getting hit in the side of the head with a sticky rib bone. That would for sure go on the internet.

One of the great things about the internet is that if something unusual happens in any baseball game, it ends up there.

Chicago White Sox:
I took a girlfriend to a White Sox game once and I was in a really bad mood about something. I remember just sitting there frowning, and also being really worried that I'd have to try and catch a ball at some point because we were sitting in those seats where they say you should keep an eye out for balls coming at you. I didn't want to have to deal with that.

I remember sitting in some seats like that at a Sox game with a girl I was trying to date but who didn’t like me “that way,” probably because I was acting like a drunk buffoon, and I remember not enjoying it that much either. Third base side? Third base side is where bad dates happen, I guess.

Minnesota Twins:
Every single person at every single one of their games is the opposite of not fat. That's just a guess, but I guess I'm right.

I have no idea of the relative girth of Twins fans. I don’t think of Minneapolis as being a fat city. Because one time ten years ago I was hosting at a late night post-club barstaurant and Morris Day came in and I was like “who does this guy think he is with this haircut, Morris Day?” and it was him, and he was skinny.


Oakland Athletics:
I bet it takes roughly four hours to go from the parking lot, through security, and then on to your seats at one of these games. You could potentially miss the whole damn game just trying to get in.

I think of the security in Oakland as being more like a Thunderdome vibe, where you’re sprinting from your car to the gate, clutching your children close to your chest. I could be wrong.

Texas Rangers:
My Dad's from Dallas. I don't know.

Their manager Ron Washington reminds me of every gym teacher I ever had.

Seattle Mariners:
The stadium here is probably really clean. You could go and sit in a clean seat and drink some coffee if you wanted to.

I feel like if you sit really close to the game, somebody might throw a fish in your lap like how they do that at that fish throwing place. Because I’m just as ignorant about Seattle.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:
Is this really what this team is called?

Yes because of reasons.

Houston Astros:
I heard that all of the players for this team are actually talking Great Danes.

They not trying THAT hard to lose.


If Paula Deen was a pure evil version of a car...


Washington Nationals:
I Googled "Washington Nationals throw up parade" and this came up.

That’s excellent. As you know I’m a huge fan of Paula Deen’s version of a person who is the complete worst. She’s an antique version of American terrible. Like if she was a car she’d be the worst possible Model T.

Atlanta Braves:
I've always thought of Atlanta as being a place where a lot of beautiful, sassy women live. I bet it's fun to tailgate at these games and just look at butts go by while you sit on a folding chair and drink beers and eat cold pasta salad.

Outside in the air where the AIR is? In Atlanta? Anytime after May or before mid-September, you’d melt before you saw butt one.

New York Mets:
I have spent less than zero amounts of time thinking about this team.

That’s appropriate.

Philadelphia Phillies:
I bet they try to tie Rocky in to everything in some way. I'm surprised this team isn't called the Philadelphia Rockies.

I have a feeling you’re in for a surprise later.

Miami Marlins:
Lots of white shorts in these stands.

There’s not lots of anything in these stands.


St. Louis Cardinals:
My Grandma also really likes cardinals, and aside from finches, these are my favorite birds. All in all I find birds to be disgusting though. They're filled with mites and they're just constantly pooping.

But Kelly, what you don’t understand is that cardinals are the best birds in the game. They take a special species-wide pride in being the best birds, they know more about being birds than any other birds, and they’re even courteous to all the other birds. That’s why they are the state bird of so many states, Kelly. They’re the best birds in the game.

Pittsburgh Pirates:
I bet their merch tables are hilarious and you KNOW that all the beer girls have to wear a "sexy pirate" outfit, and the peanut guy has to attach a fake bird from Party City to his shoulder for eight hours a day.

I don’t know where the concept of girls dressed as “sexy pirates” came from. Like “portside whores?” As is “hey there sailor, nobody will discover penicillin for hundreds of years.” That gives me the willies.

Cincinnati Reds:
I'm drinking red wine right now that we ordered last night from a delivery service called Booze Carriage. It was raining and we were too lazy to go out. It comes in a little box that has a house drawn on it. Also, being from the Midwest and all, Cincinnati is a REALLY hard word for me to say in any normal sounding way.

Marge Schott. She’s another one. She’s the prototype for Paula Deen awful.

Milwaukee Brewers:
Beer city USA.

I went to a Brewers game and sat in the cheap seats and saw a guy barf into his hat.

Chicago Cubs:
I feel sentimental about this team. More than any other sports team I have been to the most Cubs games, hands down. I've been to three.

I used to live on the street in front of the street where the Cubs play. The name of my street was Southport and there was a DQ on the corner, which was both amazing and a big big problem. One time I was sitting on the outside patio of the DQ eating a dipped cone and an old man popped up from behind a brick wall and blew cigarette smoke like directly into my ice cream.

I was just around the corner from that DQ, Kelly. It sucks.


Los Angeles Dodgers:

Oh no! You just accidentally whatevered Yasiel Puig, Kelly! You can’t do that or you’ll disappear like Michael J. Fox’s hand in Back to the Future!

Arizona Diamondbacks:
Too hot to leave the house here. Watch the games on TV if you can.

They have a pool.

San Francisco Giants:
You're probably not allowed to smoke anywhere near this stadium. I also can't think of a snack that San Francisco is known for. Salmon burgers? Would you go here and eat a salmon burger? That might be refreshing.

For some reason that sounds disgusting to me.

Colorado Rockies:
Sister team to the Philadelphia Rockies.

Yep. There is a team called that. It’s the only team named after a geological formation, and zzzzzzzz (that’s the sound of every vagina in America going dry because I recited that factoid).

San Diego Padres:
I bet the majority of players on this team have mustaches.

They should do that instead of always wearing camouflage.

Well, there you have it, folks. Baseball. It’s here. It’s happening.

Huge Feelings: Lou Loves Willie - A Video by Contributor Lindsey Baker

By: Lindsey Baker

As you should be knowing by now, Total Bozo contributor Lindsey Baker makes amazing videos that we can't personally talk too much about because we don't know shit about art. Thankfully Lindsey Baker knows a great deal of shit about art, so much so that Bozo #1, Ben Johnson, referred to her videos as "MESMERIZING" the other day via text message.

Here is Lindsey's latest, the first video of a series called Huge Feelings entitled "Lou Loves Willie. 

For more from Lindsey Baker, keep an eye on her website HERE.


I Read A Book: Over Easy by Mimi Pond

By: Kelly McClure

My favorite part of any average day is the first two hours. I get up, wash my face, make coffee, and then sit in my leather reading chair in the corner of the apartment and read until it's time to do work stuff. Sometimes I get distracted from what I'm reading because there's this little hamster ghost in my head that keeps making me think things like "you better look around and make sure all the paintings are straight," or "who in the building across the street has the ugliest curtains?" But sometimes, and these are the best times, everything around me falls away and I get lost in a different world for a little bit. Not only am I getting lost in someone else's various situations, but I'm also holding this clump of paper that smells real good, while also drinking coffee that smells good, and makes me feel good. It's just an all around nice thing, and a thing that has been consistently good in the same good way since I was a kid.
My girlfriend and I spend a lot of time on our Amazon wishlists - adding and subtracting shit we want to buy - and then buying it. On average, we probably collectively buy six books a month on Amazon. If we're reading a book and don't have one or two waiting in the pipe, we feel like we're just really shitting the bed. Even better than buying books from Amazon is getting books sent to us for free in the mail, which is something that happens sometimes.

I used to work for a magazine so people liked to send me free things to write about. Now I don't work for a magazine, so no one gives a shit about me, but Drawn & Quarterly does for some reason, and they still send me all of their titles for free a month or so before they're out, which I enjoy very much. The most recent one they sent is a graphic novel called Over Easy written by Mimi Pond. According to the author's page in the back of the book, Mimi Pond wrote the pilot episode for The Simpsons, which is an admirable achievement.

Over Easy is about the years taking place in the late 70's/early 80's in which Mimi worked as first a dishwasher, and then a waitress at a diner in Oakland, California. In the press release for the book, and in the book itself, the diner is called the Imperial Cafe, but in real life it seems to be called Mama's Royal Cafe. I figured this out because the author said that it was called that in her "thanks" section. 

The book is 271 pages and it took me less than two days to read at the rate of two hours a day. So in conclusion, this book took me four hours to read. When it comes to graphic novels, two things I most enjoy seeing are 1) the insides of people's apartments, and 2) the insides of diners. This book has both of those things. 

The Imperial Cafe/Mama's Royal Cafe looks like this in real life:

And this is what her co-workers looked like when she worked there:

I highly suggest spending some time with this book  even if you don't get it sent in the mail to you for free, and have to buy it on Amazon or somewhere else.

That's it. This was a book review.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Case for Baby Tailgating

By: Pete Johnson

My friend Mike is having a baby today. I am genuinely excited for Mike, and for his wife Wendy, who when they first started dating we all called “his fwendy.”  I got a text message from him saying that the baby is on the way at 11:52am this morning, which if I was in Mike’s immediate family would be just about perfect timing for “hey look I get to leave work now and go be nervous and excited about Mike having a baby all day.” Instead, I’m still at work. I’m getting the occasional exciting text about baby progress, but am otherwise still just having a pretty shitty day at work. This is all happening because baby tailgating isn’t a thing. It should be.

I love Mike, but I’m not really in the small group of people in his sphere who should be comfortable rushing to the hospital to go be with him during baby time. My boss doesn’t know that. I’m sure if I had hopped into my boss’ office at 11:53am this morning all flustered and said “my friend Mike is having a baby! I gotta run to the hospital!” he would have been totally cool with me taking the rest of the day off to be genuinely excited about my friend Mike’s first baby. I also could have said those exact same words and then gone home and farted into my couch in between getting exciting baby texts instead of having a shitty day at work in between getting exciting baby texts. But I didn’t do either of those things.

I certainly didn’t choose not to do those things because I am dedicated to my job, or because I don’t like farting into my couch. I would run into my boss’ office all flustered and tell him I had just fucked a chicken if this was a socially accepted excuse to take the rest of the day off from work and fart into my couch all day. In such a fantasy world, I would do that EVERY DAY. It is THAT EASY to lie about having fucked a chicken. Excuses are arbitrary. All a good excuse needs to exist is for when you say it out loud at the office, every(boss)y’s response is an immediate “Oh my god! You’ve gotta get out of here! No, no, I won’t hear it!” It works for deaths or births in the family. It could just as easily work for chicken fucking. All it would take is a boss of the correct mindset to honestly think, “You just fucked a chicken, yeah yeah, say no more, go home and take the rest of the day off while you recover from that.”

The thing is, we as a people can decide what things we have that reaction to, and viola, more days off from work. It might happen slowly, but if enough people and eventually enough bosses start agreeing, we can make anything a totally legit excuse from work. It’s been working pretty well for snow days in Maryland. I submit that it is not every day that a person gets to meet a new baby that they care about. I also submit that a baby being born is very special thing, in the sense that bosses are usually pretty cool about it.

In fact, a baby being born is already a way legit excuse to miss work. The only reason I'm not at the hospital right now in my own nice little boss-judgment-free zone is that hospital waiting rooms suck. Bosses know this, and it explains their forgiving attitude about letting you leave the office with their blessing. “You’re going someplace more awful than this due to something that won’t happen often? Be my guest.”

The thing is, the waiting room is not the only place you can excitedly wait for a baby to be born.

When my brother had a baby a while ago, I warned my boss ahead of time that I was going to drop everything and run to the hospital. I knew I wanted to be there no matter what, to meet this baby when it was still purple and sticky. I knew this so early that I had time to think about how much hospital waiting rooms suck, and even the birth of my first nephew was not enough to have me over the moon about spending an indecipherable amount of time in one. So we tailgated in the hospital parking lot.

I put together a kit ready to go at a moment’s notice, and 25 minutes after I got the text I was sitting in a comfy chair with a beer, waiting for the grill to warm up and my nephew to get borned. Family and friends came as quick they could, we toasted to the future, and 5 hours later I held my nephew for the first time. It was great, and it should totally be a thing.

If Mike had a baby tailgate party, I would be have been there at 12:08. I wouldn't even have tried to lie my boss about it. Not only is my close friend Mike about to have a baby I am excited about one day teaching how to gamble, but there is a tailgate in the parking lot, and I get to go because: babies, end of story. It would work because I’d have a valid case for being there when new little Mike Jr. is born, and also because even my boss would have to admit it is pretty genius.

If baby tailgating became a thing, and I honestly in my bones think it could, you could leave work and go hang out in a parking lot with your friends every time someone you are feasibly close enough with has a baby. That would be like sprinkling in 10-20 extra July fourth holidays, 20-50 if you know a lot of Catholics, into your life, at random times, and you’d have no idea how long each one would last. How is this not a thing?

Next time one of your loved ones has a baby, consider having a tailgate party in the hospital parking lot to wait for it to be born, and then tell everyone (especially bosses) how great it was. If not for me, do it for the imaginary person in the future who might one day take three consecutive days off from their shitty job because their cousin’s friend’s husband went into labor and it took forever.

And also me. Do it for me. I’d much rather be in a parking lot with my friends than here getting shit from Pam because I just accidentally gave my boss his own birthday card to sign.

Oh man! Mike’s baby is here. Never mind, do it for little Brayden Thomas Anderson. Welcome to the world little buddy. If I can pull it off, someday you’ll get a chance to write your boss an email that says “I’m out of here for a while, go fuck yourself” as politely as possible, and you’ll get away with it. I’m all about boss science and the future.

@johnny11hours (not an active Twitter user)

Why Did I Do This Report: I Saw Divergent

By: Ben Johnson

Divergent was not made for me. This became abundantly clear to me as I sat in the theater alone, saving a seat for my girlfriend. The small Thursday night crowd was almost exclusively preteen girls. They emitted the anxious, high-pitched noise that preteen girls emit, the cadence of their speech the vocal equivalent of emoticons. Many emoticons. And exclamation points. LOLing into infinity.

I was uncomfortable. Being there alone, a full grown man in a room with these people, made me want to jump out of my skin. All preteen girls, individually or huddled in anxious groupings, have the latent power to destroy other people forever. Hopefully, for them and for the rest of us, they don’t know how or why they could do this, and they'll get no accidental inkling through the floating cruelty of being a preteen girl or through na├»ve goofy misfortune tell to the wrong joke to the wrong person at the wrong time, and wind up upending another person’s entire life. This is usually a well-founded hope, but it’s terrifying. Preteen girls are terrifying. They’re like a pile of loaded guns just sitting there in the street.

This was ironic given the movie we were all about to watch.

Divergent is not a good movie. It might be a not good adaptation of a much better book. I don’t know. My girlfriend’s niece, after the fact of our seeing it of course, has insisted this is the case. I’m prone to believe her. The movie plods along with that awkward “Remember this? How about this?” tone of poor adaptations. The characters often don’t act in a manner commensurate with what has transpired on screen. It’s as if the whole world is aware of and reacting to a much more rich subtext than the rest of us are privy to. We only see the talking parts and the inspiring parts and the parts that aim to indicate that things are difficult here.

But who cares? So I saw a shitty movie. So what?

The movie’s quality is secondary to the overwhelming fact of it. Here you are in a movie theater watching a movie about a fictional dystopia which is ruled by pretty much the exact system a typical preteen girl would probably find most frustrating. It is a world in which the heroine, despite nonsensical and arbitrary obstacles put into place at considerable expense by massive colluding forces for the apparent sole purpose of making it difficult to be a preteen girl, is brave enough to stand up and act on her feelings in the exact manner that every preteen girl would want to in such a system. And there is a cute boy and she kisses that cute boy. You are watching this in a theater full of preteen girls. The energy expenditure involved in the entire enterprise makes you feel like a weary, depleted thousand year old Dracula.

And that’s fine, because this movie could not more obviously not be for you. But let’s say you’re like me and you end up, through the aegis of a girlfriend’s niece’s vicarious enjoyment of the source material, in the dark in the theater with this thing in front of you. What is your brain doing while you’re sitting through this turkey? You’re going to have plenty of time to summarize what’s wrong with the movie, with the idea of the world within the movie, with the audience, with the world all of this comes from. You’re going to have more time than you want for all of this, because, often and for long swaths of time, your brain will not be adequately stimulated by the broodish mumblings of the shirtless guy with the cheekbones you’re supposed to think is cute. The movie is 140 minutes long, and it feels like 240.

A good way to prolong the last 2 hours and 20 minutes of your life.
What are these movies? Always, some kind of world where people are rigorously different from other people. They’re separated and sorted. There’s some kind of a choosing ceremony. This is necessary, somehow. The necessity of it is not questioned. There is seemingly no precedent for people switching from Hufflepuff to Ravensclaw, although that would not substantially alter any part of the movie's power structures from an administrative perspective. It’s just: there's a deus ex machina ancient talking hat that chooses for you, and that’s the deal. If that's not enough, to make sure you're not lingering on this, here's some more exposition to swallow: there's such a thing as Quidditch and it looks rad.

Is this sorting an allegory for genetics? For placement within a class system? Kind of, but if so the metaphor isn't often belabored enough to prove illustrative. Mostly the placement mechanism is there to be difficult, there because it is there and it’s always been there and because it’s been decided that this is the way it’s done. The sorting is necessary in order to spew later platitudes about going where your conscience guides you and marching to the beat of your own drummer and listening to your heart. The sorting exists to trumpet an individualism which most resonates with a preteen audience: the individualism of healthy, natural identity formation.

Think of James Van Der Beek in Varsity Blues, not wanting your life. Maybe I’m the product of a more supportive family environment than most, but is the phenomenon of fathers and mothers wanting their offspring to have their exact life really a common problem, or is that adolescent projection? It seems to me that the more prevalent tendency in family life is towards indifference. In the real world James Van Der Beek musters every bit of drama he can to tell his father “I DON’T WANT YOUR LIFE!” To which the father’s response is, “Okay, could you pass the salt?” And then Van Der Beek says “DID YOU HEAR WHAT I SAID?” and runs up to his room and plays Limp Bizkit at full blast while the father sighs deeply, stands up, and walks over to go get the fucking salt. I’m not the father of a preteen or teenager, but I can imagine it involves a lot of just wanting the fucking salt. I’d love to be wrong about this.

So yeah, this movie, Divergent, and many, many, many other movies are a form of paranoid adolescent wish fulfillment. Surprise surprise. What’s the wish? The wish is that they, as viewed through the lens of the protagonists, are correct, that everybody really is against them in palpable ways, and that they are therefore validated and their journey towards self-definition is important in a larger context. Adolescent identity construction isn’t just some messy and humiliating and occasionally mortifying gauntlet which is roughly the same for everyone. No, there’s a “one” who “matters,” and the obstacles are external and patently unfair and not in any way related to or complicated by personal behavior. The lesson of this genre, the teen dystopia, is that the world is rendered more just and fair by doing basically whatever comes naturally. It’s late capitalist solipsism as cure-all. It’s a stomach-turning inculcation into the mindset of entitlement. It’s not just a bad movie. It’s a bad movie representing a pernicious idea.

And the irony is that these girls in the audience are, as mentioned, already supremely powerful. Sure, in the moral panic avalanche sense where I’m shaking in my shoes and avoiding eye contact in a movie theater seat. The source of that dark power need not be dragged into the light. These are kids, and as such they should be protected from certain forms of knowledge, commensurate with the amount and duration they still are kids. But some forms of empowering knowledge could and should be shared with these girls. Starting with their economic power, as attested to by the multimillion (probably multibillion if you add it up) dollar production and marketing of these movies and books and god knows what other means of messaging they are subjected to. Advertising springs readily to mind.

I would like to see the following teen dystopia: in the future, a regular sort of non-apocalyptic future not arrived at as the result of any large scale war, there are nevertheless scant resources. A political system has been devised for sharing those resources equitably, and that system involves the rigorous sorting of types of people according to an aptitude test. We meet our heroine on aptitude testing day. It turns out she is “Divergent,” meaning not typified by any one aptitude group. Rather than being persecuted as she initially fear she may be, she is whisked away swiftly and given official clandestine membership into the class of Divergent people, who it turns out are actually running things. Through our heroine’s introduction into the Divergent class, it is revealed that the entire competition between personality types system is just a sideshow, an elaborate distraction, and the Divergent class, those who outwardly participate in the dystopian infrastructure while secretly exploiting the divisions between the factions, possesses wealth and influence beyond her wildest imaginings.

She is tempted to join, and even goes so far as to prove her loyalty to this group by making a choice which sacrifices a friend or family member. This terrifies her. The rest of the movie constitutes our heroine’s struggle to choose between fully joining the Divergent class, escaping it and thus causing the endangerment of everybody she holds dear, or subverting it from within (which involves making some pretty unworthy compromises). After a tearful death scene where one or another of the parents say it’ll be worth their life just to know she gets out, she escapes, not into the strong arms of a well-cheekboned shirtless dude, but with a ragtag makeshift community of similarly minded individuals, who may then reconvene to launch counterattacks in a sequel.

Wait a minute.

I think I just made Divergent into Hunger Games. Yeah. I basically did.

Well shit.

Hunger Games is better.

And I know this. And I am a thousand years old.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch some war documentaries on the H2 channel now. Forever. For the rest of my life. Which according to how old I feel should be about another 15 minutes.