Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Official Total Bozo Magazine 2014 NBA Mock Draft

By: Ben Johnson

I’m no basketball expert. I know the basics of playing basketball, like make the ball go through the hoop thing when it’s your team’s turn and stop that from happening when the other guys have it. I’ve watched a lot of other guys play basketball. Some guys are so good at basketball they get paid money to play because enough people saw them be so good at it basketball it was like “man, you are so good at playing basketball, I would pay MONEY to watch you play basketball.” And that’s why there’s such a thing as the NBA basketball league.

Tonight the teams in the NBA basketball league are going to decide who’s good enough at basketball to be on a NBA team that pays people to be good at basketball for a living. It’s called a draft. People sure are talking about it. I sure am talking about it right now, even. Some of the talking people are writing up lists of what they think is going to happen, or what they think should happen, or just things that might conceivably happen, in the NBA draft tonight. Nobody knows what’s going to happen, but it’s fun to talk about it. A list of things that might happen in the NBA draft is called a “mock draft.”

Here is a mock draft I made! The Official Total Bozo Magazine 2014 NBA Mock Draft! I hope you enjoy it.

PICK 1: The Cleveland Cavaliers Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: I don’t know! I’m so excited!

What I would like to happen: I would like it if the Cavaliers would get their acts together and start being a better basketball team. They’ve been not very good at basketball for a long time, in a relative sense, like relative to the other people who are also so good at basketball that people are willing to pay money to see them play it, and also they’ve only been relatively bad since that one good player LeBron James left their team four years ago. Back then people were always talking about “Cleveland Cavaliers Cleveland Cavaliers.” Since then, after four years of being not very good at basketball, they keep on getting more and more chances to pick good basketball players in the NBA draft. Bad teams qualify for a chance to get the first pick in the NBA Draft. This is the third time in the last four years that the Cavaliers have had the top NBA Draft pick. So even though they haven’t had LeBron James on their team for four years, people are still saying “Cleveland Cavaliers Cleveland Cavaliers” all the time for four straight years. That’s too much. They need to stop being so bad at basketball.

PICK 2: The Milwaukee Bucks Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: Gosh I have no idea.

What I would like to happen: I like the idea of the Milwaukee Bucks because I live in Chicago and Milwaukee is only like an hour’s drive away from Chicago, and it is cheaper to get tickets to a Milwaukee Bucks game than it is to get tickets to a Chicago Bulls game. But I have never been to a Milwaukee Bucks game anyway. The Milwaukee Bucks are not very good, and also they don’t have a guy on their team that makes people go “no matter what before I die I should see this guy play basketball, like not on TV, like with my own eyes.” I would like it if that happened to them, and I would like it if I could convince anybody to drive up to Milwaukee with me to see the Bucks play. One time I went up there to see a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game, and a man sitting near me in the bleachers barfed into his own hat.

PICK 3: The Philadelphia 76ers Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: Some kind of a crazy thing, I guess?

What I would like to happen: The 76ers were bad at basketball on purpose this last year. I like the idea of an NBA team being bad at basketball on purpose. It turns out is a lot easier to be bad at basketball on purpose than it is to be good at basketball on purpose. I can be bad at basketball on purpose. I would like the 76ers to pick ME! I would be terrible!

PICK 4: The Orlando Magic Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: No idea.

What I would like to happen: I don’t like it when team names have weird noun forms. Like when the Orlando Magic select a player, that player is “a Magic.” People should not be referred to as “a Magic” unless there becomes such a thing as a kind of person or thing that is called “a Magic.” Also, the Orlando basketball players collectively are not “Magics,” they’re “the Magic.” A group of people should not be “the Magic” unless they’re the only source of magic in the world. I would like for the Orlando Magic to draft somebody who has actual magic powers, and I would like that person to teach their magic powers to the rest of the team. That way the team’s name would make sense. They could also change their name to The Orlando Magicians or The Orlando Magicalmen.

PICK 5: The Utah Jazz Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: The Utah Jazz are definitely going to select a basketball player.

What I would like to happen: I like that the Utah Jazz are called “Jazz” and they’re located in Utah and have pictures of mountains on their logo. Even though “Jazz” is a weird noun form for a team name, everything else about it makes so little sense that I don’t even mind. It’s like the team’s existence makes the word “Jazz” mean an extra thing, in this case “a type of music of black American origin characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and usually a regular or forceful rhythm, emerging at the beginning of the 20th century,” AND “NBA basketball teams in Salt Lake City, Utah with mountains in their logos.” I would like for the Utah Jazz to select a jazz musician, and I would like for that jazz musician to play a loud jazz riff on the saxophone anytime a Jazz player makes a dunk shot, because that would make opponents feel as if they’d just been DOUBLE JAZZED.

PICK 6: The Boston Celtics Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: The Celtics will pick somebody who’s taller than me.

What I would like to happen: Maybe if the Celtics decided “No thank you, we’re just going to take the year off and think about our lives” it would provide some much needed perspective.

PICK 7: The Los Angeles Lakers Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: The Lakers will select a basketball player whose professional life will somehow be made miserable by Kobe Bryant.

What I would like to happen: Longtime Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant is way too intense about playing basketball. He plays basketball with broken fingers and with a plastic mask on his face. He does all kinds of crazy things to his body to recover from a torn Achilles tendon in order to play basketball again as soon as possible. Kobe Bryant often yells at people on the basketball court for not being as good at basketball as Kobe Bryant. Even though he is very good at basketball, Kobe Bryant seems upset most of the time about basketball. I would like Kobe Bryant to find inner peace and not get so upset about basketball things.

PICK 8: The Sacramento Kings Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: the Sacramento Kings are going to flip a coin and then decide to do something.

What I would like to happen: I would like the Sacramento Kings to allow their 5’9” tall point guard Isaiah Thomas, who is a restricted free agent, to sign a contract to play with a different NBA basketball team, and I would like the Sacramento Kings to draft 5’6” tall point guard Aquille Carr. The Sacramento Kings employ a lot of very smart-seeming guys. I would like for those smart-seeming guys to come to the unanimous conclusion that hiring the shortest possible point guard is the best possible idea, and I would like the Sacramento Kings to listen to this suggestion, and I would like for everybody involved to be totally incorrect about it being a good way to win basketball games. But I also would like for that to not matter, because I would like Aquille Carr to be the most entertaining NBA basketball player in the history of the world even while the Kings lose every game because he’s 5’6” tall and that is not tall enough, come on. If an NBA team could lose every game and have people still want to watch all of the games because the reason the team is losing is they have a 5’6” point guard who dribbles like a maniac but can’t guard anybody, that would be a good basketball thing to do. The Kings should do that. They’re in Sacramento. It would be good for Sacramento tourism.

PICK 9: The Charlotte Hornets Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: The Hornets are going to make a “splash” by selecting a basketball player!

What I would like to happen: The Hornets used to be the Bobcats. They should select an actual basketball-playing bobcat, or a basketball player named “John Bobcat” or even Bobcat Goldthwait! Then they could be the Hornets AND the Bobcats at the same time, which would ease the name transition.

PICK 10: The Philadelphia 76ers Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: If they still have this pick without having traded it away, the 76ers are going to select a SECOND basketball player even though they already selected one!

What I would like to happen: Since the 76ers are all about being bad on purpose and “compiling assets,” they should trade this pick for four more second round picks, giving them a total of nine picks in the second round of the NBA draft. Then with those second round picks they should draft babies dressed as basketball players who may or may not end up being professional basketball players when they grow up. Here’s the thing: they can pay those babies NOTHING because babies do not understand the concept of money yet. That way those babies would be “assets” to the 76ers because even if the babies didn’t turn out to be basketball players, the 76ers could still trade the “baby rights” to the future basketball careers of any of the nine babies they drafted in the second round, and if they are wise with the picks and employ a good data-based baby-scouting department, the 76ers could end up with an amazing and very cheap basketball team in the year 2038.

PICK 11: The Denver Nuggets Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: the Nuggets will pick somebody who will not help them be good enough to win the NBA Championship next year.

What I would like to happen: It is so sad, but the Nuggets are not going to win the NBA Championship next year. I would like the Denver Nuggets to have the courage to cry in public about how sad they are about this. I would like them to be friends with each other, and hug often, and say things to each other like “It’s okay with me that you don’t really know how to play basketball even though you seem like you’d be very good at it, JaVale, because I have accepted I’m not going to win the NBA Championship this year, and the important thing is I want you to know that I love you and I accept you for who you are.” The Nuggets could turn their whole team identity around if they focused more on teamwide empathy. That way in a few years, very good basketball players would say “I want to play for the Denver Nuggets, those guys seem like they have created a very supportive and nurturing work environment.” Then the Nuggets would GET GOOD.

PICK 12: The Orlando Magic Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: Oh by the way I think there will be some trades by now, maybe. Like I think by now everything will be very different than what this list of picks is saying. Maybe.

What I would like to happen: If Orlando used their first pick on a person with magical powers, they should use their second on a hype man for the magical powers person. Like the first magical person would do something magical, like with magic, and the second person would go “Yeahhhh boyyyyyyy” like Flavor Flav. Or: because it is Flavor Flav. One time my girlfriend thought she saw Flavor Flav in a Starbucks. I didn’t even bother to look at the guy she thought might have been Flavor Flav, because the Flavor Flav I prefer to have and hold in my imagination doesn’t go to a Starbucks unless that Starbucks is on the moon (where my imaginary version of Flavor Flav is from originally). My girlfriend got mad at me for not even looking, but I am grown man who makes his own choices, and I cherish my fantasy that Flavor Flav is a wise man from the moon. The Orlando Magic should draft him.

PICK 13: The Minnesota Timberwolves Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: Oh man. I do NOT care.

What I would like to happen: “Timberwolves” is a cool name. “Wolves” is like, okay, whatever, you’re basically a bunch of mean opportunistic wild dogs who sleep in a pile together, but “Timberwolves” is like “whoa dude, maybe those wolves can climb trees!” If a wolf could climb a tree, that would be a terrifying animal. You’d be like “Oh no a wolf! WAIT DOUBLE OH NO IT’S A TIMBERWOLF! Where am I going to hide NOW?” Conceptually, a Timberwolf is even scarier than Firewolfs or Knifewolfs or Swimwolfs. Imagine a wolf jumping from tree to tree through a moonlit forest, then jumping on you and biting you in the throat. But the basketball team isn’t really capitalizing on that terrifying imagery. They should draft George R.R. Martin to write a book for them about Timberwolves, and then that way their point guard Ricky Rubio would read that book and understand the lesson of that book, which in his case is “Oh, I get it now, I would be much more terrifying if I could pass the ball AND shoot the ball! It would be, in a basketball sense, like if a wolf could also climb a tree!”

PICK 14: The Phoenix Suns Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: Basketball guy.

What I would like to happen: Basketball guy.

PICK 15: The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: I think the Atlanta Hawks are probably going to do a good job.

What I would like to happen: The stands in Atlanta are notoriously empty for Atlanta Hawks games. I think they should draft a basketball playing dog, so the one bored fan in the stands can go “huh?” and do an elaborate double take where he checks his glasses. And then when it turns out that there’s nothing in the NBA rulebook that says a dog can’t play on an NBA team, the rag tag Atlanta Hawks would, through a series of improbably dog-based victories, become the hottest ticket in town, and one Atlanta Hawks player would eventually learn to believe in himself, win or lose, even though his parents are divorced.

PICK 16: The Chicago Bulls Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: Somebody will say “the Bulls need outside shooting.”

What I would like to happen: The Bulls need outside shooting. The Bulls need outside shooting. Outside shooting. Shooting outside. Outdoor shooting. Outdoors, shooting. The Bulls should take a trip to Cabela’s together, and then go camping, and learn about life.

PICK 17: The Boston Celtics Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: The other people on the broadcast will reluctantly let Bill Simmons talk when it’s time for the Celtics to do something, because he is the Executive Vice President of ESPN in charge of liking the Celtics.

What I would like to happen: If the Celtics decided to take the year off, like as mentioned above, Bill Simmons would have to spend these 9 minutes saying, “You’re gonna take a year off from being the Celtics? I’m sorry but I don’t get it. I thought they were trying to get Joel Embiid all year, all of a sudden it’s take a year off? This is a perfect example of the kind of bad thing I always imagine is happening to me! I am gaining zero sense of perspective from this!”

PICK 18: The Phoenix Suns Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: Basketball guy.

What I would like to happen: Phoenix, Arizona basketball guy.

PICK 19: The Chicago Bulls Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: Somebody will say “the Bulls need a backup point guard.”

What I would like to happen: I would like Derrick Rose to play every minute of every game in this upcoming year, and for the Bulls to therefore actually not need a backup point guard.

PICK 20: The Toronto Raptors Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: BOLD PREDICTION: they will draft a human man.

What I would like to happen: For the 2014 Toronto Raptors draft pick to walk up to the stage and shake Adam Silver’s hand and then grab the mic from the podium and yell “I AM A HUMAN MAN.”


PICK 21: The Oklahoma City Thunder Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: The Oklahoma City Thunder will either pick a guy from a non-American country OR a country that is America.

What I would like to happen: I would like an Oklahoma City Thunder fan to go to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn where the draft is happening and wear a Thor costume with a Kevin Durant jersey over it, and explain “Norse God of Thunder, get it? GO THUNDER!” to people who did not even ask. I would like this person to lack self-awareness to such a degree that he ends up having a great time and making what he imagines are several lifelong friends. I would also like to see pictures of this person posing next to various New York City tourist attractions while wearing a Thor costume and an insane grin. I would like for this person to be a bankruptcy attorney whose wife owns a successful closet-arrangement business in the greater Oklahoma City area. I would like for him to have a good life. I would like for that to be his real hair.

PICK 22: The Memphis Grizzlies Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: the Grizzlies are going to draft some kind of brutally efficient workmanlike basketball player who can’t run or jump because they are the Grizzlies.

What I would like to happen: I would like for the Grizzlies to draft Kyle Anderson out of UCLA because he is a brutally efficient workmanlike basketball player who can’t run or jump. That would be very Grizzlieslike and would fill me with the satisfaction of having made an accurate prediction.

PICK 23: The Utah Jazz Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: Nobody will say “Jeez Louise Man, they’re still picking basketball guys!”

What I would like to happen: I would like for somebody, possibly a voice from the control room, or Jalen Rose unaware his mic has been brought up as the draft broadcast comes in out of a commercial break, to say “Jeez Louise Man, they’re still picking basketball guys!” and prove me WRONG about my above prediction. Then, immediately following that, I would like for the first Jazz pick, the jazz saxophonist, to show up in my living room and Careless Whisper prank me.

PICK 24: The Charlotte Hornets Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: On the off chance that there is not a single trade which affects the pick order of the first round of the NBA Draft, I would like to predict that here so I have my bases covered. I predict there will be no trades and the draft will move in exact lockstep with the draft order as delineated by this and all other mock drafts.

What I would like to happen: I would like for there to be so many trades that the NBA ends up not even being a recognizable entity anymore. Like a few draft picks could get traded back and forth from team to team, and then, blockbuster, the league could trade basketball for tennis and two handballs (team handball and regular handball), then flip the lesser of the two handballs for the rights to Earth’s gravity, trade down for Mars’s gravity and the concept of wistfulness, and sign fish tacos off the waiver wire to be the face of the franchise for the expansion Knoxville Sugar Helmets, who play an uptempo west coast offense with leaping ability.

PICK 25: The Houston Rockets Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: The Rockets will draft responsibly.

What I would like to happen: I would like for the Rockets to draft a fifteen inch tall basketball player who Dwight Howard could fling towards the basket if it looks like a shot is going to miss. That would be the ultimate advantage.

PICK 26: The Miami Heat Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: I think the Heat are going to be different next year than they were this year.

What I would like to happen: I would like for the Heat to be the exact same as they were this last year, except LeBron James starts smoking cigarettes on the court and is still just as good. That would be the most incredible basketball accomplishment of all time! From then on whenever a player was incredible, people would say “Yeah, he’s great, but did he smoke cigarettes like LeBron?” I bet if LeBron insisted he’d only come back to play on the Miami Heat if they let him smoke cigarettes while playing, they would find a way to let him smoke cigarettes. That would be CRAZY.

PICK 27: The Phoenix Suns Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: Basketball guy. Phoenix, Arizona basketball guy.

What I would like to happen: If the Suns picked a guy named “Basketball Guy” and Adam Silver said, “with the 27th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft the Phoenix Suns select… Basketball… Guy.” And then Jay Bilas said something like “Basketball Guy has outstanding length for his position…”

PICK 28: The Los Angeles Clippers Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: The LA Clippers will pick somebody.

What I would like to happen: I would like it if the Clipper selected Donald Sterling’s mistress to show the world that Sterlinggate was an inside job just like Benghazi and World War II. In such a scenario, I would be an unreliable narrator used for satirical purposes.

PICK 29: The Oklahoma City Thunder Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: The Thunder will select somebody who’s better than other people at basketball.

What I would like to happen: I would like it if Stu Scott interviewed Thor guy about this draft pick and then Thor guy used the time to earnestly tell Stu Scott that he knows he’s battling and that he’s rooting for Stu Scott, and that Stu Scott’s battle has been an inspiration. Then he shook Stu Scott’s hand and the two men hugged and said “thank you” to each other while holding back tears. That would be a great moment. I am not being ironic, I would actually like to see that happen.

PICK 30: The San Antonio Spurs Basketball Team

What I think is going to happen: the Spurs will draft a nice man.

What I would like to happen: I would like the entire Spurs team show up to the draft to meet their newest player, and I would like for them to all be excited together about still being the Spurs. I would like for all the Spurs to sleep together in one great big long bed like a cartoon of the seven dwarfs, and when it’s time to go to sleep Coach Pop closes up the storybook, kisses Tim Duncan on the forehead and says “goodnight Tim,” and Tim Duncan says “goodnight Coach Pop” and then turns and says “goodnight Tony,” and on down the line “goodnight Manu,” and “goodnight Kawhi” and “goodnight Boris” and “goodnight Tiago” “goodnight Danny” “goodnight Patty” “g’night Marco” “goodnight Matt”… FOREVER.


What I think is going to happen: A bunch more basketball players will be selected.

What I would like to happen: The 76ers trade their nine player baby rights to the Sacramento Kings for Aquille Carr in a baby costume.




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I Might As Well Write About Kanye West Today

By: Ben Johnson

Somebody on my Facebook feed was talking about Kanye West today and now whoops I am thinking about Kanye West. Kanye’s in my brain being Kanye. There’s a tiny little Kanye in my head relaxing on a little chaise lounge made out of brain folds. He’s eating a ham sandwich and listening to his own music, really feeling it. He screams “This shit is dope as fuck! You know this shit is dope as fuck, right?” And then Brain Kanye slams his ham sandwich down and walks over to the part of my brain that controls my impulses, and he grabs it with both hands, and drops his pants and inserts his penis, his midsection now covered in brain goop, and he whispers “I’m a legend,” and this echoes like at the end of a dream sequence and I wake up, shuddering. And I write about Kanye West.

I might as well write about Kanye West.

He is a few things. He’s a human. He’s a black man in America, 2014. He’s a rapper and a rap producer. He makes music. He wears clothes. He’s a celebrity. He’s rich. He's a father and a husband. He’s outspoken. Those are facts about Kanye West. Brain Kanye is telling me other things about Kanye. “Kanye is a genius,” says Brain Kanye. “Kanye is the most influential cultural icon alive.” Those are matters of opinion. “Fact,” says Brain Kanye, “those are matters of fact. You’ve got to put genius down. You’ve got to say cultural icon. You’re writing about Kanye West? Those are the things you say.”

It is at this point that I tune out Brain Kanye, because you can’t listen to Brain Kanye and get any work done. Right now he is telling me, “Say that’s the real genius of Kanye West, that Real Kanye has a Brain Kanye. I’m in your fuckin’ head, [epithet]!” Brain Kanye makes me want to put a wastepaper basket over my head and hit myself with a frying pan.

I spent a good portion of my morning looking up Barry Bonds stats. I have a narrative on Barry Bonds that I like to tell myself, and it’s that he was a better baseball player than anybody in the world, except he didn’t get sufficient credit for it because he was both black and not nice at the same time, and so people didn’t care or notice how good he was. Other players started doing steroids and all of a sudden Ken Caminiti’s an MVP, and then the whole world fell in love with Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, who are both asskissing clowns. And Barry Bonds thought “If I went on that shit, I’d win the MVP every year. I’d hit a million home runs. I’d break the fucking meter of how good a human could be at baseball. And then I’d tell them to kiss my ass if they didn’t like it. They would have to start this whole fucking game over again.” So Barry Bonds did steroids, and then all of those things happened. That’s the story I tell myself whenever I think of Barry Bonds, and I like that story. It’s a story of somebody loudly crying “fuck you people, this is dumb” from within the husk of a rotted-out and arbitrary status quo.

Barry Bonds did things that are not possible. He was so likely to obliterate any baseball that somebody threw towards him that major league pitchers intentionally walked him a hundred and twenty times in 2004. Barry Bonds was 39 years old at the time. People walked him, a 39 year old man, on purpose, sometimes when the bases were loaded. It was insane. It was something other than baseball, and it was obvious that this was something other than baseball, to the point where people got mad and said “Hold the fucking phone, Barry Bonds, what happened to baseball? What did you do to it?” To these people, Barry Bonds said, “Fuck you, baseball hasn’t been baseball for years. And whatever the fuck this is now, I’m what happened to it.”

And then people decided to destroy Barry Bonds because Barry Bonds destroyed baseball. Actually he didn’t destroy baseball, but the subtlety of this technicality was lost on most people. Really he just showed us, first hand, how destroyed baseball was already, and how gullible we all were for thinking that swatting a baseball could possibly be as easy as those twin shiteaters Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa made it look.

And further, because he was so otherworldly in his effectiveness, Barry Bonds also showed us how dumb the concept of professional baseball is, down to the particles of its existence. Money is dumb. Baseball is dumb. Paying money to people to play baseball when one, and only one, of them is Barry Bonds is dumb. This opened up the possibility that all socially-constructed hierarchies, all agreed-upon arbitrary ways to measure how some people are different from other people, including every single one that all people, out of a desperate grasp at sanity in the face of universal chaos, may identify themselves with, are dumb. He was unreal, on purpose, and he wasn’t even nice about it. He made the rest of us look and feel like the idiots we actually are. He pulled the mask back a little on humankind’s most basic limitations, and it opened our eyes to the great species-wide hissing static oblivion within us. We are meat and bone. We are animals. We are not nice and we are not smart. We are nothing. And not a single one of us can hit 73 home runs in 162 major league baseball games without taking steroids and wearing half a suit of armor and appearing to do something very very unlike baseball. Barry Bonds showed us ourselves.

If, with relatively little effort, I could take steroids and then hit 73 home runs in a year in the major leagues, I’d probably A. do it, and B. act like a complete asshole about it. That's what Barry Bonds taught me about myself. Same thing with Kanye sampling The Marvelettes in a song about redlining and blowjobs on an album that goes multiplatinum, or whatever he's doing. I’d like to believe if I accomplished those things I’d be like, “Holy shit this is amazing! Thank you so much!” But I’d probably be more like, “Kiss my ass, leave me alone, I’m a genius, you people are idiots who don’t matter, I don’t have to kiss your asses anymore because I just made enough money to set myself and my family up forever, and I’ll tell you another thing just to twist the knife: this is literally the easiest thing I have ever done.”

Most people don’t have much more talent than anybody else. Most people don’t know what it’s like to have a specific talent, to know it, to hold it in their hands and recognize its features, and to use it for its intended purpose, as a perfect fulcrum to crush a baseball 600 feet. Most people will never know what that’s like, and most people know that they’ll never know what that’s like, and that knowledge stings and burns inside of us. That feeling is compounded into bitterness by the rational knowledge that baseballs technically don’t ever need to be moved 600 feet, and off-speed vocal samples don’t have to add unforeseen layers of anthemic bravado to intelligently-crafted pop music. We’d all be just fine without those things. Better even, because without those frivolous measurements of specific talent we couldn’t find ourselves confronted with assholes who rub their abilities in our faces. 

This is the lie most people have to tell themselves. It helps that it’s also the truth. These things don’t matter. The people who are good at them don’t really matter either. They’re just assholes like the rest of us. We’re all in this together. Even Kanye. Even Barry Bonds. Even though fuck those guys, because they’re so clearly not like the rest of us in ways we decided to make important.

So the regular person side of the equation, when forced to deal with a Barry Bonds or a Kanye West, is destroy plus ignore. Race is a coefficient which multiplies ire, sure. It’s in there. It’s like accomplishment plus money to the (((race + gender + deviations) over “norm”) + 1.35) power, all over who gives a shit, minus we’re all going to die, minus who’s got time for all this, all multiplied by we are walking talking apes who think we’re smart even though we are not. That’s how we deal with talented but mouthy, and possibly also black, celebrities on this planet right now.

I don’t know what the other side is like. I think Brain Kanye is trying to tell me. “It’s like this!” he’s saying, “You can figure this out! You’re almost there! It’s like this! Buy my new album, I’ll tell you. Listen to my latest interview, I’ll tell you what it’s like! I’m being honest! Buy my clothing line! Wear these sunglasses! I’m laying it on the line, I’m getting you there. You’re close. You’re getting closer.” 

But no, actually, I know already. I’m the same. There’s no effective difference. The hierarchies that say I am different from Kanye are arbitrary and illusory and pointless and alienating to both me and, according to him, to Kanye. Maybe doubly so because he has a vested interest in taking those differences seriously. I feel sorry for him. I feel exactly as sorry for him as I feel for myself and for the rest of us.

Plus, technically, Madlib is the real genius. Just my opinion.

Brain Kanye is shrinking. His voice is getting higher. He is microscopic. He is nothing. He does not exist.

I might as well stop writing about Kanye West.

Things I Think About During My Gym Experience

By: Kelly McClure

Somewhere between the 35th and 37th years of my life, something weird happened. My body decided that it didn't want to be cool with eating actual garbage washed down with booze three times a day. My body decided this. I didn't. I would still very much like to eat garbage three times a day and wash it down with booze. But my body is like "How about this? How about your underpants are tight now? Is that cool?" And I'm like "No. No, body. It's not." There was once a time when I could get away with eating a bag of candy for breakfast, a whole pizza for lunch, and then go out drinking that night and cap it all off with two hot dogs. Those times are oooooooovvvvvveeer

I joined a gym. And in the reality aside from the one where I joined a gym so my underpants wouldn't be tight anymore, I joined a gym because I work from home and will sometimes literally not leave the house for days on end. Not leaving the house for days on end means that you don't really move your body that much for days on end, which results in you feeling like an actual crazy person similar to the guy on Twin Peaks who couldn't leave his house and grew orchids and then hung himself.

I am very proud of myself for joining a gym. I've gone five times now. My plan is to go every other day during the work week. That means three times a week. So far that's what I've done. I went to a different gym last year and then stopped going but paid for it for a full year because paying for it but not going felt more like going than not paying for it AND not going. That's not gonna happen THIS time.

The gym I go to is about a 25 minute walk from my house. I walk to the gym, stay there for a little over an hour, and then walk back. During that time I think about a lot of things. Here are those things:

- Well, here I am. Walking to the gym. Casually. I'm a person who's just outside of their house, casually walking to the gym. Casually. Casually. Casually. Completely normal and casually.

- After a few weeks of this people will see me walking my same route to the gym and think "There goes that casual girl who is so physically fit. There she goes, walking to the gym. Even if it rains. She still goes. God bless her."

- Oh God. This girl is walking next to me on the sidewalk at the exact same pace. I can't quite pass her and if I pretend to stop and check my phone so she'll get further in front of me, I'll just easily catch up to her and be shoulder to shoulder again. Should I cross the street? But it's too sunny over there. Should I run? I'll run past her. Oh. She saw me all of a sudden start running for no reason and thought I was going to murder her. I'd think the same thing probably if a girl in jean shorts and running shoes was walking next to me with a sweaty face and then all of a sudden did a weird hop and started running. What the fuck is wrong with me. What is WRONG with me? I scare strangers!! I'm like a monster!!

- It's so nice to walk past bushes. They smell so fresh.

- I should try out that pizza place some day. 

- There is just poop everywhere. Why do people even have dogs if they're not gonna clean up after them? I can't even look down at my phone because if I do I'll step in poop. Stressful.

- I can't wait for Fall. Why can't it always be Fall? I'm so sweaty. 

- Oh God. Here comes THIS guy. He's totally gonna say something. DON'T YOU say something! Okay. 

- How's anybody supposed to walk through this car wash? I bet a lot of people slip, but I'm not going to. Yeah, keep watching me, guy holding a towel. What if I spit my gum in their tip bucket? Haha. Did I just say that out loud?

- Here we are! Better get out my membership card six minutes early.

- Ooooh. It feels nice in here.

- How long am I gonna have to stand here?

- I hope I don't see anybody I know. What area is this anyway?

- The top row of gym lockers are probably the safest when it comes to bed bugs. They probably can't climb that high on metal. I wonder if they spray shit in here. Maybe I should bring a little thing of bed bug spray. 

- If anybody ever said anything through the bathroom door about me changing my clothes in the bathroom and not the locker room I'd just say "I can do what I want!" That would be a funny thing to hear come from the other side of a bathroom door. Haha. Oh great. Now people can hear me laughing in here. They're probably like "What's she laughing about?"

- Hahahahahaha.

- I'm gonna get on this stair stepper in the back so no one can watch my butt bounce up and down. 

- Which TV screen should I look at. I'll look at all of them. I'll look at all of them and pretend I'm in the Matrix. 

- My water bottle is leaking. It looks like I've been spitting. If someone ever asks if I spit on the floor I'll spit on the floor. 

- Hahahahaha.

- I bet everyone is noticing how I'm sweating and obviously doing this right, but that I'm not huffing and puffing. I think chewing gum helps me to not huff and puff because my mouth is already kind of open and air gets in more. I wonder if that's why athletes chew gum all the time. I'm just so naturally good at this.

- I bet people notice that out of all the people in this room, I'm the only one not looking at anyone.

- I can feel my body getting firmer already. After a few more weeks I'm gonna look like Angela Bassett in What's Love Got to Do With It.

- What if my body is making weird noises but I can't hear them because I have earbuds in my ears?

- Everyone else is lifting weights super fast. I'm gonna lift them slow because I know what I'm doing. I bet everyone can tell that I know how to use all of these machines.

- I'm gonna make a salami sandwich when I get home.

- My sweat smells really clean.

- I would NEVER want to use one of these personal trainers. It seems like they touch you.

- I'm sleepy.

- This one thigh machine makes me uncomfortable because it's like I'm basically facing the wall and sticking my vagina out all over the place.

- Hahahahaha. 

- I think these shoes are too big.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why Did I Do This Report: I Saw "Fault In Our Stars"

By: Ben Johnson

My girlfriend’s goddaughter is in the summer between eighth and ninth grades right now, and so I’m in a position to see some female-targeted films based on young adult books. Okay? Is that okay with you? I’m not going to these things alone or anything. I’m not some weird film guy who goes to every film. I’m not seeing previews for these movies and saying “oh yeah, that looks right up my alley, I’m definitely going to that.” But I’m also not getting dragged kicking and screaming to these things. I’m flexible. I like to be flexible. If my girlfriend and her mom and dad and her goddaughter are going to go check out some soupy weeper about cancer teens, I can sit right down and eat popcorn with the best of them.

Fault In Our Stars is pretty good. I would give it a “not a total waste of time” out of a possible “two hours of your life that have just ended.” I thought I was going to hate it but I did not hate it. On balance, I liked it.

Spoiler alert: children with terminal cancer is a very sad topic. You know that going in, and you expect that. “Okay, this main character is a child who has cancer,” you think, “okay, I’m sad now, and I expect to remain sad until this thing is over.” And then the movie proceeds, systematically, to make you cry.

You’re sitting there in a movie theater, next to some people you know. You are crying and they are crying. Behind you, somewhere, are strangers. They are also crying. You don’t need to turn around and look at them to know this. You can hear them audibly sniffling. To the extent that the theater is full, it is full of crying people. It is odd. It is an odd public event. Public crying is just what you, “you” being anybody not diagnosed with a debilitating cognitive disorder, are signing up for with this movie. You watch it and it makes you cry even though every single one of the characters are upper middle class white people. They are cancer teens. They are brave. They make you cry. The end.

If the question that arises from this basic fact of what this movie is and does to people is “why would I sign up for that?” then I don’t really have an answer. Maybe because your girlfriend’s goddaughter is very cool for a person her age and wants to see it because she loves the book? Maybe because crying about cancer teens is, in this case, at least as entertaining a way to spend two hours as watching Tom Cruise save humanity from the threat of extinction by high-concept space alien plot device? Maybe because everybody dies and it’s nice to see some fictitious attractive Hollywood cancer teens handle that fact with dignity and aplomb? I don’t have a clue why anybody would want to see this movie.

I didn’t want to see it. I’m glad I did see it, but there’s no way I’m going to watch it ever again. Why would I do that to myself? It’s full of cancer teens. It’s sad. It makes me cry and then I’m crying. Maybe I would watch it if I was already sad about something, like for instance if I was dying of cancer. Or if I had some sort of tear duct issue and needed to cry. Like medically.

It’s not a perfect movie. There are parts of it where you’re like “enough with the trying to make me cry, I’m done, I’m not crying again, no sir,” and there are parts where you’re like “I would like to no longer be listening to this schmaltzy Mumfordesque ballad while the cancer teen sadly looks at stuff, please.” There are parts where a cancer teen says something and you’re like “there’s no way this cancer teen is that eloquent or capable of manipulating syntax that exactingly in a conversation.” When I was a teenager, my verbal communication consisted of “yeah but it’s like, no, you know, like yeah, no, whatever; anyway” with NO ADDITIONAL WORDS involved. So yeah, this movie suffers slightly from the ubiquitous movie phenomenon of characters properly enunciating words no human would think to say. It’s a movie. This movie is a movie.

But it’s not bad. It earns most of the crying it asks you to do. It doesn’t often beat you over the head with sadness. It sticks fairly close to reality. The cancer teens have sex. The cancer teens drink alcohol. You can’t get too upset about it. They’re cancer teens. They’ve earned it.

When the cancer teens do things that make you cry, they’re self-aware. They say things like “I want you to be happy instead of sad” even while they’re in the middle of being cancer teens, which makes you cry because you’re like, “That’s so generous of you, cancer teen! You have cancer!” And the cancer teen is like, “I know! I have cancer! Sucks, right?” And you’re like “totally!” And then the character cries and you cry too. There’s a character, an elaborate construction really, who is believably mean to the cancer teens about having cancer. The cancer teens tell him to get bent. And you’re like “yeah, get bent, shitty cancer teen villain character!” Really you are telling yourself to get bent for not wanting to spend two of your weekend hours watching some crying-ass cancer teens. It’s pretty ingenious, actually, because from then on it’s like “okay, shit, I guess I’m gonna cry about these cancer teens now. I don’t want to be like shitty guy.”

It falls apart a little at the end. Of course. It’s a movie. In movies, you have to say these moralizing summation things like “even though we’re cancer teens, we are glad we were alive, even if all we ever got to be was cancer teens.” It’s like when hobbits go “I might only be hobbit, but I sure had a big adventure” and then they look at a mountain for two full minutes in a way that indicates "this hobbit movie can't just be over, the hobbit would like to remind you that you felt feelings during it." You see this and you think “OKAY I GET IT JESUS JUST END ALREADY.” But this cancer teen movie only really does that like right real close to the end of the movie instead of all the whole time of it.

It’s good. It’s a good crying movie about cancer teens. You could do worse things than see it. I guess.

So yeah.

Some bonus jokes I did not mention:

We saw it in IMAX 3D, so the tears really squirted out at our faces. HA HA HA.

My girlfriend came out of the lobby bathroom crying and said “I can’t believe Godzilla died” and I actually went “HA HA HA” but like laughing. I was laughing. It was funny.

It's like Twilight if vampirism was cancer, and werewolfism was a different kind of cancer. 

Okay, that's all I got.

Go see the cancer teens. It's okay to cry about cancer teens.

Friday, June 20, 2014

What's Up, Haters

By: Ben Johnson

Attention haters: I dressed my small dog up in a party dress and then I threw her a birthday party, and I did this because I wanted to, and if you don’t like it, suck my balls. This is my life and I’m living it.

When I say the word “I,” as in “I dressed my small dog up in a party dress and then I threw her a birthday party,” technically I mean, “I live in an apartment where that happened,” but you get the idea, haters. I mean, technically, all of those things, including even having a dog in the first place, were really my girlfriend’s idea, haters, but I love my girlfriend so it’s like they’re my ideas too, I guess. 

I definitely did not spend a whole morning using craft scissors, a lamination machine, stickers, and magic markers to augment several dog-themed Valentines into birthday party decorations. My girlfriend did. But if I had done that with my time, you haters would be barking up the wrong tree by disparaging me for it.

Haters: I’m baller. Hard. I'm a hard baller.

Who was at the party? My girlfriend’s parents, that’s who. And my girlfriend’s oldest friend, and that oldest friend’s husband, and their two lovely daughters, aged 4 and 6 (I think). And my friend Sarah, who is pregnant. And Sarah’s dog because it was a dog-themed party and because I’m baller. NOBODY THE FUCK ELSE WAS AT THIS PARTY. You mad, bro? You must not have been invited because we were not sure how much more chaos than an extra dog and two young girls to safely introduce into our apartment. We did not even invite Wyclef Jean this time.

Guests at this party were offered a choice of beer, Mike’s® brand Hard Lemonade, Fanta® brand orange soda, Sprite®, or Coke Zero®. I cooked hot dogs. I cooked Portobello mushroom burgers. We made chips AND salsa available. We cleaned our house, including such areas as the bathroom and the floor. We put many of the things we own in places where they were not immediately visible. It was off the chain.

Are you familiar with some kind of a movie or TV show that involves talking dogs dressed as super heroes? This is not a rhetorical question, haters. I don’t know what it’s called, but there is such a thing. My girlfriend found it on Neflix® via Roku® box and then put it on our large-sized 720p HDTV which I bought used from a friend two years ago and I think is a Samsung®. There was a movie with talking super hero dogs playing on my TV at this party. It was dog-themed, haters.

Hold on to your barf bags, haters, because guess what happened at this party. At one point there was a long and interesting discussion about different pregnancy and birthing experiences which involved the two mothers in attendance, the one currently pregnant women in attendance, and respectful yet quietly engaged participation by the men and the non-mothers who were also present. It was pleasant as fuck.

We bought a dog birthday cake at a dog store, and when I say “we” did that, haters, of course my girlfriend did that and of course it probably cost somewhere between nine and twelve dollars, which is a decision that I agree with implicitly, because I chose my girlfriend and she chose that. We did not have a candle for my dog to blow out, haters. We used a battery-powered electric votive, haters. For safety. I roll safety first. Balls deep.

Then we gave my dog gifts. Then we went to the living room and put the College World Series on the TV. Then we talked some more. Then everybody left. Then we all went to bed at 11:30pm, haters. We slept hard. Except my dog did not sleep hard because she was full of weird treats, so she woke me up at 3:00am for a walk, which I took her out for while wearing sweat pants and flip flops, because, haters, I got it like that. Then my dog wanted to play with her new toys for like 20 minutes, and wanted to sleep in bed with us because there was a thunderstorm, so she slept where my legs usually go because haters gonna hate. My girlfriend yelled “no it’s disgusting!” four inches from my face because she sleep yells sometimes because haters gonna hate. I did not get a good night’s sleep but I still went to work. Haters gonna hate.

Haters: I’m doing dope shit on the reg. My dog had a birthday party and it was dope as fuck. The color pink was involved, haters. A dog was given a goody bag. Shit was cute, haters. I am swallowing two Advils right now, haters. Ya’ll haters can hate game all ya’ll want. I’m gonna check my email now.