Friday, August 28, 2015

Vinyl Enters The Danger Zone

By: Ben Johnson

So apparently Amazon is getting into vinyl these days. “Yeah, man, I’ve been getting really into vinyl these days,” says Amazon. “Nothing beats the feeling you get when you open up a record sleeve, pull that thing out, put it on the turntable, put the needle down, and just bask in the warm, warm, tonal warmth of sound and consumerist smugness you get from knowing you own the thing you’re currently listening to.”

I like records. I have way more of them than I need. I understand the pathology. I don’t blame Amazon for getting into the vinyl game. It’s still, somehow, a growth industry. And Amazon already sells the most vinyl. They might as well get involved in the front end, too. Sure. Why not?

There are five titles now available for pre-sale as “ Exclusives.” If you like to click on hyperlinks, you already know that they are Soundtracks of 80’s movies. Footloose, Top Gun, Rocky IV, Dirty Dancing, and Goonies, to be precise. If you don’t like hyperlinks, the movie titles I just listed are linked to pages in Discogs where the respective soundtrack albums are available for sale for anywhere between significantly and way, way less than the $25 Amazon is charging for its “exclusive” reissues. The Goonies soundtrack is apparently actually kind of hard to find. Other than that, though, from purely a supply and demand perspective, these vinyl reissues of 80’s movie soundtracks do not need to exist.

Also from a musical perspective, which I understand is subjective, these titles, objectively, fucking suck.

So yeah: these “ Exclusives” are exclusively for stupid people. You know, the kind of people who would pay extra money for some patently unnecessary thing that isn’t even good in the first place just because it’s on Amazon and not a different website. Morons. Mouth-breathing dipshits on a misguided cross-platform nostalgia kick, the kind that see a thing that reminds them of another thing and say the word “awesome” using more than two syllables. People for whom comprehension is out of the question, and therefore must satisfy themselves with mere dim recognition. Suckers, in other words.

Which, okay, separating a sucker from their money is not exactly the worst thing you can do. I got no beef with Amazon over that. Anybody who’s bone-stupid and profligate enough to spend $25 on an “exclusive” reissue of the Top Gun soundtrack deserves to be ripped off continually until they’re forced to wander the globe in a potato sack. That’s not the issue I take with this.

The issue is this: the infrastructure doesn’t exist to accommodate every market-researched sucker-baiting whim of monolithic entities like Amazon AND manufacture all the other records that regular human non-corporation people would also like to have exist. Amazon is throwing its considerable heft and weight into a bottleneck, and it’s not hard to get a case of the logical extension willies from the resultant squeeze. If this works, if people buy these things, then this will be a major step towards total corporate dominance of the vinyl record medium, and therefore a sizable chunk of our communal participatory culture.

But who cares, right? I get that what I appear to be actually upset about is a thinly veiled elitist impulse to shit all over anything that intrudes on my ivory tower of perfect taste, which itself represents a hierarchy of my choosing not unlike the monetary hierarchy I’m decrying which Amazon sits atop. I get that vinyl is an inherently bourgeois medium. I get that just because I personally like records, and like listening to recorded music on records, doesn’t mean that I should expect that to always be feasible. I understand that records aren’t the only way to listen to music. I realize that the fact that I can even afford to have the number of records I currently own means that I, and I’ll go so far as to say a straight white cis man, because why not go ahead and mention it, am currently standing on 90% of the world’s neck. I am fully aware that nobody should care what I think.

BUT: I think it’s slowly but surely going to be damn near impossible to find and afford an actual good record. And I think that’s a shame in the same way it is always a shame when people, and here is where I count myself among people and stand up for myself a little bit, are robbed of an experience they enjoy simply because they have been disqualified from that experience by the larger forces of commerce, especially when that experience is one their enthusiasm helped popularize.

I can’t say why other people get into records, but I can say why I did: because listening to a record I love makes me feel less alone in the world. Crowds bug me. People make me uncomfortable. Most of the time, I don’t even understand what most people are saying or why they’re saying it. And yet when I put on a record I love, and crank that fucker up, I feel NONE of that.

I also like records because there’s the fact of it. The object. Physical evidence that other people are like me and want to hear the same sounds as I do. You go out into the world, and the experience is terrifying and upsetting, and all these people are out there in it just farting their way loudly through your shared space, seemingly unburdened by any sense of basic human sensitivity. And one of the things out there in this world, astonishingly, is some magic artifact of a weird person you are free to think is like you in some ways who has seen fit to skronk out their similarly displaced emotions and press them into a small platter you can hold in your hand, a miraculously available thing for you to go out into THIS WORLD and get. I have records, and I can look at them and play them whenever I want, and more importantly, I can feel them keeping me company, telling me that I’m okay, and that my emotions are both real and shared, and it helps.

I’m not going to say that this is entirely healthy. I could probably benefit from more viably alive sources of emotional support than my record collection.

Be that as it may, I do have a tendency to take it personally when something happens in the world of records and record production which runs counter to my own wishes and which pushes my tastes and preferences further to the margins I already feel myself inhabiting, even while acknowledging that as a straight white cis male any margins I feel myself confined to are way, way roomier than most.

I’ve read enough to suppose that the thrust of our current economy exerts a similarly marginalizing force on all of us, whether we are aware of it or not. It’s immensely sad to me that many of us, in our own personal search for happiness and meaning in the world, don’t know any better than to spend $25 on a Top Gun soundtrack LP.

Even more sad: there will probably be many people who receive these “ Exclusive” LPs as a gift this upcoming holiday season from well-meaning loved ones who only know that the person they care about is “into vinyls, like records, like a record record, like wigga wigga, a record” and form the thought “I just know you like that movie from when we watched it together that time in 1993 when we seemed temporarily not all that estranged,” and this gift will be at once sincere and beautiful and heartbreakingly, traumatically insufficient. Much in the same way that both the product itself and the negative space of not some other product is also those things.

And so I urge you to please not buy these things. These are bad things that do not need to exist. If you insist upon owning these things, buy them used. Please. This is an honest request from a fellow human being. I’m sorry I called you a sucker and implied that you are a basic, dirt-fucking clod who could make the world a better place simply by dying in a boat wreck. That’s not about you, that’s just me barfing my hang-ups out onto you. Please forgive me.

You’re into Kenny Loggins, that’s fine with me. I respect that. Please respect that I am into NOT Kenny Loggins. I may be wrong, but I feel that I am more delicate and vulnerable than you are on the Kenny Loggins issue, and therefore I need NOT Kenny Loggins more than you need $25 Amazon Exclusive reissued Kenny Loggins. Hey, how about this: give me $25, and I will bring you all the Loggins LPs you can handle, plus a J.J. Cale record that’s like Kenny Loggins but actually good. I’d gladly do this for you. Please at least consider it. For once in your life.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Trouble With Bae

By: Ben Seeder

July 27th 2015
Tonight Bae insisted we go see “Minions”, and it turns out that movie's for kids. It’s not about construction workers at all! Smdh. 

Later that night I check Instagram and see that she’s posted pictures of her hanging out backstage with Blue Man Group. Is there any way out of this nightmare? Smdh.

August 13th, 2015

At work, I’m so absorbed with Bae’s behavior that I space out and completely mess up. The foreman says to me: “Hey Marcetti, who taught you to drive crane, Bozo the Clown?” Everyone laughed like bastards. I want so badly to say, “Oh yeah Ron? If I want advice from you, it would be on how to have carpal tunnel gloves and a bad attitude!” But I don’t. I never say anything. I operate my crane. How can I be expected to concentrate when there is so much going wrong with Bae? 

It kills me to admit, but Bae has been spending a lot of time at The Olive Garden. My whole thing is this: For the price of Olive Garden, why don’t we just go legit Italian? I keep telling this to Bae, and she just looks at me like I’m some kind of world class dorkus malorkus. “What do you want from me, Trey? They double the spice,” responds Bae. I didn’t think that was any kind of answer that I’d ever heard of, but things were still so sensitive after Minions I decided to just put a sock in it and back off. 

Later, Bae’s stepmom came over with her son Glen Chambers.

August 22, 2015  

Bae purchased a parrot at Garden Market today. 

It would have been nice to have been consulted about this decision, but Bae already checks me so hard for being negative. The bird is aggressive, no question, and the only thing he’s been trained to say is “Buenos Noches, penis breath,” like it’s sending me straight to Hell. This, as you can imagine, is particularly pleasing to Bae. “He’s so cool,” Bae says. I can’t say I’m crazy about being called penis breath in my own home, but Bae is so extreme, so temperamental. 

On Instagram tonight I found a picture of Bae having breadsticks and wine with what looks like one of the dudes from Blue Man Group, but can’t honestly tell because now he’s in khakis. 

Considering learning the drums.

September 1st, 2105

Bae Snap Chatted a picture to me this morning of Phil (our parrot) eating my birth certificate, with the words “He gives ZERO fucks!” I begin thinking of where to get another copy. The hospital? FML to the highest degree. 

Luckily I have a good distraction from this madness as today we started a new job. Ron, our foreman, said that if any of us are scared of these things called asbestos, we should all “run home to mommy right now.” I looked it up, and it turns out it’s just dust. Kind of concerned though, as some of the guys told me that this is where they burn a lot of the world’s computer parts and people who live around here have been born with complications. Deformities. Whatever though, triple OT on weekends. 

The good news is that Bae has officially listed us as In A Relationship on Fbook! I won’t lie to you, I’ve been wanting this forever, and I’ve been wanting to make it public forever, but anytime I said anything about it Bae would just get real quiet and not talk for like ten minutes. I honestly think I’m in love.


September 14, 2015

Was getting ready for a long day of crane this morning and Phil the bird told me “Y’all gonna learn.” This marks two things it now knows how to say, and at this point I’m almost wishing he’d call me penis breath again. “Y’all gonna learn” conjures every wrong decision I’ve ever made. Sometimes it feels like my brain is a prison! Smdh. 

I’ve been getting really dizzy out of nowhere lately. It honestly sucks. I can’t remember when it started but it feels like around the beginning of the month. I guess I’m just lucky that I’ve got a job to go to at all. I can’t mess this up (#important). 

Also, can’t help but notice that Bae went from spending multiple nights a week at The Olive Garden to now not mentioning The Olive Garden ever. I asked her why last night and she shot me another one of those looks like I’m a certified malorkus. 

I’m thinking of making her my wife.

September 27th, 2015

Looked at my credit card statement today and was surprised to find a mystery charge for $337 from a place called “,” I confronted Bae, and it turns out she ordered a four foot long aluminum pole to help her take pictures of herself with her phone. I asked what gives, and Bae just said “Don’t hate on my stick.” 

I would be mad if I wasn’t so exhausted from these headaches. The dizziness now comes with headaches, which is def not good news, but if I want to give Bae the wedding of her dreams, I need to finish a couple more jobs. 

The other day I was looking at the bird and could swear to God it had the face of Glen Chambers on its parrot torso. Is “torso” a word that even applies to parrots? I know it’s crazy and that something like this could never happen. I know this. But I saw it. I know I can’t tell anyone about it, especially Bae. She would be back at Olive Garden before I could say Jack Robinson. 

I plan on knocking out some overtime this weekend to help pay for the stick.

October 2nd, 2015

Last night was honestly the most insane love making session of my entire life. I’ve got to marry this girl, no question. We just really went for it, you know? I mean, this girl took me to Mars. I would 100% be on Cloud 9 if it weren’t for this headache, so let’s just say I’m 85% on Cloud 9. 

The only thing that was kind of weird was that Bae filmed us from her new phone pole propped directly above our bed. I asked if this was necessary, like, why couldn’t it just be enough that we were together, you know? But Bae told me “Why do you think I bought this thing?” and in my head thought “You mean I bought this thing” but decided to just not say anything because it was v. tender. 

Can’t seem to get one Bae’s comments out of my mind though, which was: “I don’t even really feel like myself unless I’m in front of this thing” re: her phone. 

Phil watched the whole thing from the corner of our room. He was dead silent, but I know he saw everything. As we were falling asleep, he wished me good night, but didn’t call me by my real name. The next day, Bae tweeted about everything we did. It 10% felt like an invasion of privacy, but secretly made me feel like kind of a pimp. 

Now to shake these headaches once and for all.

October 15th, 2015

Bae has been at Olive Garden every night this week. I know I shouldn’t be negative, but I’m seriously so pissed. No one loves Italian food that much, not even Emeril! I watch it all unfold in real time on Instagram. 

She returns my texts the day after I send them, if at all. She claims that one of her girlfriends who I’ve never met is going through a crisis. I try and call her out on this behavior, but she just texts back stuff like “You know you’re the #1 crane pimp in all of Cicero” which is nice (and maybe true), but I’m also the one paying off this three foot aluminum pole. 

As if all this weren’t enough, something horrible happened at work yesterday. We were at lunch, and Lonnie, who’s pretty much my best friend on the job (and also himself a hall of fame pimp) started throwing up blood everywhere. I was sitting right next to him, and the look on his face while it was happening was one of utter disbelief and astonishment. He seemed as surprised as any of us. I couldn’t get it out of my head even as I fed Phil tonight. We all asked him if maybe it was something he had for breakfast and he said he only had oatmeal and a banana. He didn’t show up for work today. 

The headaches have been getting worse, but what do you expect from all of this drama? I totes mcgotes would give anything for a break, or an island vacation with Bae.

October 27th, 2015

Strange development around the house. Bae claims she has become “Instagram famous” for some picture she apparently posted featuring not one, but all three members of the Blue Man Group, plus Phil. She has also made her account private from certain followers, myself being one of them. Bae assures me this is for the best, as she must devote the majority of her day to “interacting with fans”. She seems happier than she’s been in months, which makes me happy. Plus, the other day I saw her tweeting at Ian Ziering! So it must be paying off. Would give anything to look like him. Would give anything for these headaches to go away. Work has been exhausting.  

October 31st, 2015

Bae stole my vape! Smdh. 

Disturbing incident at work today. Woke up on the ground, flat on my back with all co-workers standing around looking down at me. “Jesus Christ, Trey!” Ron exclaimed, “You’re lucky to be alive!” I guess I was standing on the steps of my crane and just straight up passed out. I remember none of this but the headaches seem worse than ever. Everyone kept insisting I go to the hospital but no way because tonight’s the big Halloween party at Buffalo Wild Wings! Or so I thought. 

I came home and Bae was dressed like Colonel Sanders with Phil dressed like Deion Sanders, in a tiny football jersey and everything, which I guess is funny? I told Bae to hold on and give me a minute so I could change into my Minion costume, and she acted all surprised and said “Oh, you want to come to the party too?” like it was the worst, most surprising idea she had ever heard. I told her, “What do you mean? I’ve been looking forward to this all day” and told her what happened on the job this morning. She let me come with, even though it seemed to be some kind of gigantic decision. 

So we’re at Buffalo Wild Wing’s and they’re playing Monster Mash and there’s this guy I recognized from the Instagram pictures but now he’s dressed as Gosling from “Drive” and just KILLING it on drums. Bae was mesmerized, I could tell. I mean, I’m pretty sure everyone could tell. 

The headaches became unbearable so I Ubered home by myself. Bae didn’t come home last night and claimed Glen Chambers was having a crisis. 

I woke up to a familiar voice outside of my front door. It was Phil. I guess she had dropped him off. Someone had stolen his jersey.

November 3rd, 2015

Horrible news. Writing this from the hospital. Passed out at work again today. “Enough is enough,” claimed Ron. In my room right now awaiting MRI results. Would be lying if I said the headaches and dizziness didn’t include more hallucinations. Like one the other day of Phil nailing Glen Chambers to a cross made of selfie sticks.  

No chance a parrot’s beak can handle a hammer and nails, I know that. No chance. They don’t even have hands! It just sucks that it seemed so real. 

Bae “liked” Chex Mix on Facebook today.

November 5th, 2015

So they’re flying in some specialist from Dallas to look at my test results. Every time one of the doctors on staff here looks at my charts, they seem all confused, like they’re looking at some kind of strange animal from the bottom of the ocean. 

Wish my head didn’t hurt so bad. 

This is going to be expensive, no question. Worried why I’m still so dizzy laying down. 

I know I’m seeing a bunch of stuff that’s not real. I understand. And hoping that includes a picture Bae tweeted of her and the Blue Man Group and Phil dressed like N.W.A. Halloween was a week ago, get with the program. 

They seem to have me sequestered in my own wing. Not a lot of people are talking to me. Free Gatorade though.

November 10th, 2015

They’ve airlifted me to Phoenix. Sent photos to Bae.

Novembr 38th, 201=4e23

You can’t call travelling every time. Not in the playoffs. Why does it always have to be GLOVES first THEN shoes? Wish I could be thirsty. No reason for all the shouting. Spring Summer Fall Summer Spring. Everytime. Could be good for acquiring new followers. Verified. Verified next year year after last. Something about chemicals. If it’s cider, then just call it that! Who’s next? Wish there wasn’t all the shouting. Classic fucking Phil. Never even heard of ODB. Gloves then Shoes. Have to tell Bae, but wait for the playoffs. Greatest crane operator of all time. Smdh.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Total Bozo Fantasy Football Preview: Tight Ends, Etc.

By: Ben Johnson


Fantasy football is a big business stacked on top of another big business, wrapped in a cocoon of business, delivered via business. It’s the business equivalent of a Monte Carlo sandwich. It’s shaped like a regular business, but it has been mad-scientist injected with the maximum, most insanely disparate variety and amount of business, and it’s too much business, really, and it’s bad for you, and if you pause the “this shit is going down” momentum long enough to consider the merits of the actual thing itself, it doesn’t even really taste all that good. Fantasy football is more some opulent experiential dare than an actual thing to be enjoyed. It reduces incredible feats of athleticism and dedication to math, deep fries that math in game theory, coats it with the powdered sugar of small-stakes gambling. It’s a disgusting, excessive mess that you love more in concept than in practice. Really the whole purpose of it is to impress your friends by acting like a big shot. It is not sustenance.

But: there is value in the conviviality of the shared bad experience, and this is one that happens mostly in a digital space in a way which can conveniently incorporate far flung friends and relatives. So of course it’s not all bad. It’s just a lot. You can be bad at it. You don’t have to eat the whole thing.

This year there are four “gonna be really good” fantasy football tight ends, and then a bunch of fairly interchangeable “maybe this guy too” guys. There are kickers. There are defenses. You could decide to really get into the minutiae of who will be incrementally better than who, but there is zero marginal utility in that decision.

So with that in mind, here’s some more fantasy football info to shovel into your face, you slob:


Rob Gronkowski, New England

I have never had Rob Gronkowski on a fantasy team of mine. I imagine it feels like you’ve “discovered” some weird hole in the wall cheap Cuban restaurant that is actually delicious, and you’re just trying to enjoy it and not worry about the inevitable eventual food poisoning. Rob Gronkowski, the actual player, runs for long stretches of field while casually vibrating the bones of his would-be tacklers like a pair of airborne rattlesnake eggs, which is fun to watch unless you’re rooting for the would-be tacklers, in which case it is terrifying. He’s often hurt, which means you should draft a backup tight end, which means nothing, actually. That’s fine.

Greg Olsen, Carolina

Does your fantasy football league award you with one point of scoring per reception that somebody in your lineup catches? If so, you may want to consider drafting the tight end who’s the only reliable pass catcher on his team not named Jerricho Cotchery, who is somehow an actual person and not the unreliable narrator of a symbolism-laden short story about a murder that happens in the woods.

Jimmy Graham, Seattle

Jimmy Graham is on a new team now, and nobody knows what his role is going to be in the Seattle offense. I’ll tell you: his role is going to be running around and catching passes and doing a great job at playing football. C’mon.

Travis Kelce, Kansas City

Everything I’ve read about Travis Kelce says that he’s going to be really good, and he was pretty good last year, and then people say he’ll probably be pretty good this year too, like in a way that the three guys listed above are good. Okay, people who write things about Travis Kelce. I am willing to take your word for this. I will not go so far as to watch a Kansas City Chiefs game, though.

Other tight ends that are probably gonna be okay, but nobody knows, really:

Martellus Bennett, Julius Thomas, Jason Witten, Zach Ertz, Jordan Cameron, Delanie Walker, Owen Daniels, and Josh Hill could all also be pretty good this year. And so could a bunch of other guys I didn’t even talk about. Rob Gronkowski should be a late first or early second round pick, and the rest can be peppered in no sooner than the third round. If you don’t get one of the top 4 best dudes, you might as well wait for a while. Who’s going to be a good fantasy football tight end this year is really just going to be a fun surprise, and the ninth guy I listed has just as good of a shot at it as the sixth guy I listed. Is my opinion. In practice, there are going to be a very definite amount of and ordering of fantasy football tight ends. If it’s any consolation, you also don’t know when you’re going to die, and this ignorance is the basic engine for the way you’ve lived your whole life.


Stephen Gostkowski, New England

How is Stephen Gostkowski the best fantasy football kicker year after year? Somehow. That’s how.

Other kickers:

Do exist. Yes.


Seattle, The Defense

Maybe Seattle won’t be as good at defense this year as they have been in previous years, but they could still be pretty good and have that be the case. I don’t know, guys, this is dumb. I’m glad I get to stop doing this soon.

Other defenses:

Relevant fantasy football statistic: NFL teams have averaged exactly one defense per team for the entirety of the NFL’s existence. (Source: SPORTSBLATHER INC.)


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Total Bozo Fantasy Football Preview: Wide Receivers

By: Ben Johnson


Football is a dangerous sport. We don’t fully know how dangerous of a sport it is, but it’s somewhere between “oh man, you could get really hurt and really screw up the quality of the remaining years of your life and maybe even die tragically early” level dangerous and “oh, there is no question, you are absolutely signing on for chronic pain and early onset dementia 100% of the time with this, doing it for any length of time is absolutely a bad idea” dangerous. Riskwise, as a profession, playing football is somewhere between space shuttle astronaut and coal miner.

But it pays pretty good, so people still do it, even though it pays roughly jack shit compared to baseball or basketball. Baseball and basketball don’t (often) have a particular use for 350 pound fat guys who can lift a small car, or 6’3” underwear models who can throw an oblong ball 80 miles per hour while simultaneously running for their lives, or whatever genetic trick of leg-physics allows punters to be good at punting, to name a few highly specialized football player body types.

Two of the top 15 or so wide receivers in football are already not going to be able to play this year because they recently tore their respective knee cartilage. That’s kind of crazy. Not like “it’s an epidemic!” crazy, or even “wow football is brutal” crazy, so much as “these are the guys who would probably get paid just as much money to be professional athletes if we woke up and there was no such thing as football and we all decided to be fans of soccer and ultimate Frisbee, why the hell are they doing this to themselves?” crazy.

They’re doing this to themselves because we do not live in a perfect world. We live in a world which has football in it. The better question, the only question, is why do we do this to ourselves? Why did we make this world the way we made it? Was it just because we enjoy placing bets with rigged dice more than we prefer to thrive as a species of living beings? Or: is this life, the shape and the tone that life, in all its forms, takes? Are we “civilized” humans doomed to elevate these coal mining astronauts to avatar status, burdening their rickety knee cartilage with the collective weight of our utopian aspirations while the whole world turns to flame?

Yes, probably.

Here are some good fantasy wide receivers this year:

Demaryius Thomas, Denver

Demaryius Thomas’s hands are ten and a half inches long, and I find it strange that I know that.

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh

Antonio Brown fact: Antonio Brown is currently “open,” as in “throw me the ball, I’m open!” He may be folding laundry, or driving his car, or sleeping. It does not matter. He is open. Like in a football sense.

Dez Bryant, Dallas

One thing to keep in mind about Dez Bryant is that if there’s a football near both of you, he’s probably going to catch it and you probably are not going to catch it. Please remember this at all times.

Julio Jones, Atlanta

Julio Jones can jump more than 38 inches into the air if he wants to. If I could jump 38 inches into the air, I would always want to. You’d be like “where’s Ben?” and the answer would be “38 inches in the air.”

Calvin Johnson, Detroit
What’s fun about watching Calvin Johnson is that he’s so much bigger and better than everybody on the field, you always know where he is. It’s like this internet video I’ve been watching recently of high school football highlights of current gigantic NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis, where the poor opposing team of regular-sized teenagers is like “aw man, we gotta try and tackle future NBA player Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis this week? LIFE SUCKS.” Calvin Johnson is like that except everybody involved is in the current NFL.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants

If Odell Beckham is around, you can finally feel totally comfortable about throwing around some babies. Nothing bad will happen. He will catch them.

Randall Cobb, Green Bay

If, like me, you read a lot of things about sports, you probably have read the one article that people like to write about Randall Cobb, titled “Randall Cobb: He Is Short But He Is Good?” And the article is just like “YES.” Well, what I’m about to say might turn that conventional wisdom on its ear: at 5’10” tall, Randall Cobb is NOT short. In fact, statistically, he’s taller than most living humans!

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago

There’s one picture from his college days that makes it look like Alshon Jeffery used to be a little chubby around the middle. If Alshon Jeffery is or ever was a little chubby around the middle, man oh man did that little chubby around the middle not end up mattering for Alshon Jeffery. If you are a little chubby around the middle, which you probably are, don’t worry. It doesn’t matter for you too much either. It’s not like we’re out here hunting mastodons or anything. We’re also not catching footballs as gracefully and as purposefully as ballerinas working security at a FabergĂ© egg museum during an earthquake, but that’s what Alshon Jeffery looks like when he plays football, chubby or not.

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay

Mike Evans is 6’5” tall and weighs 230 pounds and is quite strong and plays an extreme body control variety of wide receiver with what I will call “sleepy self-assurance” in a flailing effort to avoid using the word “swagger.” It is such a shame that the NFL doesn’t allow its players to have fun, because I would love it if Mike Evans got to carry a microphone in his pocket so he could pull it out and drop it after every great play.

A.J. Green, Cincinnati

Even the smartest guys don’t really know how to figure out how to split credit for being good whenever good things happen between a quarterback and a receiver, and boy have they tried, because if somebody did figure it out, an NFL team would pay them probably like one million dollars to know that secret. Well, NFL teams, get this: A.J. Green is “quite” good, whereas Andy Dalton is only “somewhat to not very” good. PM me for my routing number.

Emmanuel Sanders, Denver

Emmanuel Sanders will work out of the “slot” in Denver, which means that he’ll line up on the field somewhere between an outside receiver and the offensive line, which means that when he runs to go catch the ball, he’ll be running sort of closer to the middle of the field, which means nothing. “Slot receiver” means nothing. One guy throws the ball and one guy catches the ball. Jeez Louise.

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis

T.Y. Hilton is very fast and good at getting open, catching the football, and running very far. In order to prepare this expert analysis, I watched a highlight video, shot from a camera that was positioned on the field at roughly eye level, of T.Y. Hilton scoring a 73 yard touchdown. Said 73 yard touchdown happened very quickly. Like “wow he is running fast, wow he catched it, wow he’s running so fast, wow he scored” and then the announcer goes “73 yards” and you think “wait, if that was 73 yards worth of running, how come it isn’t still happening?” T.Y. Hilton didn’t seem remotely surprised that he was able to score that 73 yard touchdown so quickly. If I scored a 73 yard touchdown in the NFL in any amount of time, I would be the most surprised person in the history of earth.

DeAndre Hopkins, Houston

The funny thing about fantasy football is that unless you’re an obsessive or a media member or something, you hardly ever see most of these guys play, and when you do see them, you hardly ever watch them, like really really watch them, and marvel at the things they do. This is because a lot of them play in some weird place nobody cares about like Houston. But according to this YouTube I just saw, DeAndre Hopkins is really amazing at catching footballs even though those footballs were only kind of notionally thrown in his direction, as if the quarterback walked into the huddle and opened up that little play list thing on his wrist and it just said “PLAY 2: Pass to DeAndre.”

Other Wide Receivers of Note:

Julian Edelman, Jordan Matthews, Brandin Cooks, Golden Tate, Amari Cooper, Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry, Keenan Allen, Davante Adams, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Roddy White, Mike Wallace, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Vincent Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Anquan Boldin, Michael Floyd, John Brown, Steve Smith Sr., and Nelson Agholor are also incredible at football in their own particular way.

Everybody listed individually above should be gone by the second round of your fantasy football draft, and if you are in a PPR league, you should consider at least the top 5 dudes listed above in the first round. The rest are good to pepper in according to your preferences. Remember: nobody knows anything about the future. We could all be dead in a year.

Enjoy these men, for they are the best we have at running and catching things while wearing a helmet and shoulder pads and being pushed around and chased by other large, strong men, and therefore they are the best we have, for this, football, is the most important thing we have gotten around to organizing, for we are deeply, deeply stupid.


Friday, August 21, 2015

The Total Bozo Fantasy Football Preview: Running Backs

By: Ben Johnson


Everybody knows that running backs are very important in fantasy football, but did you know that running backs are also important in their own lives to the people who love and depend on them? It’s true! Every single one of these superb athletes also has at least one, and possibly as many as nine or ten friends and family members who care very deeply about them.

I bet you’re not one of those people who actually gives a shit about these professional running back guys. I bet you’re just some asshole who threw $20 into a pool with your buddies, and you just want them (the professional running backs, not your buddies) to run around with a football and get enough yards and touchdowns to win you money. I bet you don’t even care if these running backs get hurt, if their legs and backs ache and they spend the rest of their lives walking like a Frankenstein(‘s Monster) in constant pain, their brains turned to mush, grinning haplessly at the family they no longer fully recognize at a barbecue from the relative comfort of a hemorrhoid pillow placed atop some relatively nice lawn furniture. Nope, in the here and now, if these guys got you enough points to win your fantasy football league, you’d be just fine and dandy with that tragic future family barbecue arrangement, wouldn’t you, you sick fuck?

Wouldn’t you?

Of course you would be okay with that. We all are okay with this. We, along with the “powers that be” we have elected through our collective silence to allow another year of football’s spectacular barbarism.

Here are the top running backs of the year, according to my own proprietary system which is important and blah blah who cares:

Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh

Le’Veon Bell has been suspended for the first two games of the year for a DWB violation. The Ross Township, PA (population: 94.0% white) cops booked him for possession of weed, and he also apparently qualified for a DUI, which actually is not okay at all, even though it’s less okay when some drunk white businessman drives his ass home to the suburbs after happy hour and the cop gives the guy a break even though he’s acting like a twat because he “seems like a good enough guy.” If you account for the fact that you’ll be drafting enough running backs to have a backup in place for the first two weeks, Bell should be the best running back. He’s great. Please don’t drive drunk, Le’Veon Bell, and I say that not so much because it’s morally wrong, though it is, as because drunk driving is a sign that you might not be taking very good care of yourself mentally and emotionally, and I would hate for that to be the case.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City

A few weeks ago, Jamaal Charles gave a speech at the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics, which he competed in as a child. It’s hard to tell which is more touching: the content of the speech, or the fact that he made the speech. Watching it is like overdosing on human kindness and dignity. If that is not enough to make you love Jamaal Charles forever, there is also a three second video on in which Jamaal Charles reveals that his favorite food is Sloppy Joes.

Matt Forte, Chicago

It is sad that, while looking for information about running backs’ personal lives, you end up hearing salacious details that are none of your business. Forte completed his finance degree from Tulane a year after having already turned pro, which is admirable, and once came in second in a NFL players video game tournament, which is the kind of non-information that only becomes information if the people involved are famous, and also Matt Forte had a past relationship end embarrassingly. Sometimes you Google these guys to learn more about who they are as actual people, and the biggest thing you learn is how glad you are that nobody made you a Wikipedia page.

C.J. Anderson, Denver

C.J. Anderson was not drafted by any NFL team in 2013, and now he’s doing great. All of these guys work harder to be good at football than I’ve ever worked at anything in my life, and C.J. Anderson must have worked extra hard. He was interviewed in the Colorado Springs Gazette yesterday, and had nice things to say about his teammates in the Denver backfield, which to me is always amazing. Nobody wanted him in the draft, but he caught on with the Broncos and worked his way onto the team, and still he’s gracious about sharing a roster with two more highly drafted backs who probably bitch and moan under their breath all day long about wanting his job.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota

“The horror we have about hitting kids in America is certainly not shared throughout the world. So black people are not particularly original. But African-Americans are by and large, not wholly, Southern people. But in addition to hitting their kids more than whites at every socioeconomic level, period, they are just harsh on their kids, and I think in large degree that is a response to the fact that they know there is significantly less of a shot at a second chance. You can pay with your life. The consequences for black folks are so much higher. And I think folks are resolved to scare the hell out of their kids. Having said all that, and it’s important to say all that, I told my son recently, and I hit him four times, that if I had to do it again, I never would have hit him. I just wouldn’t have done it. It’s still violence. You are perpetrating the thing you are trying to get them to stay out of the way of. I was young when my son was born and I was scared as hell that he would wind up a drug dealer or in prison or whatever.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Eddie Lacy, Green Bay

Eddie Lacy is a former Hurricane Katrina refugee who appears from his Twitter feed to be one of the more approachable, genuinely fan-appreciative stars in the NFL. I recommend that you look up as much personal information as you can, good and bad, about the people you draft on your fantasy team. You will be brought to tears more than once. Anybody who has the kneejerk reaction to say that these guys are all pampered millionaire jerks is going to be wrong more often than not. Sure, there are pampered millionaire jerks in the NFL. There are also people who’ve had incredibly difficult lives with no healthy role models or coping mechanisms. Ray Rice, for example, grew up without a father because his dad was murdered. Very few people are still jerks even while they are actually feeling good. Pain comes from pain. But Eddie Lacy seems like just about the nicest guy around, even though a hurricane forced his family out of their home when he was a kid.

DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia

DeMarco Murray got married in June, and a “lifelong Cowboys fan” who calls himself Drake (no word on whether or not it’s THE Drake, but if it was that would not be surprising, like, at all) crashed the wedding. Like in a spur of the moment “oh weird, we are dressed up for a different wedding down the hall at the Dallas Four Seasons, but LOL let’s sneak into DeMarco Murray’s wedding” way. DeMarco Murray thought it was funny. I guess he’s kind of right that it’s funny. But it’s also creepy. Other thing I did not know about DeMarco Murray: DeMarco Murray looks good in a suit. I still look like the one confused goy at a bar mitzvah when I try to wear a suit.

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle

I love Marshawn Lynch. Don’t talk to anybody you don’t want to talk to, Marshawn Lynch. They’re just gonna say something stupid anyway.

Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati

Some things I just learned from Jeremy Hill’s Twitter feed: Hill is a fan of Drake’s music, he reps his alma mater, LSU, pretty hard, he has a dog named Kobe that looks like a Rottweiler, he likes to laugh and dance, and he likes things from Cincinnati that are awesome. If I ran into Jeremy Hill, I would probably try embarrassingly hard to make him think I’m cool even though I am not cool.

Justin Forsett, Baltimore

Justin Forsett is a devout Christian, but according to devout atheist and former teammate Arian Foster, he’s one of those Actually Christian Christians. That’s nice. It’d be pretty nice if all Christians were actually Christian about their Christianity. I’d be like “oh, wait, these guys all have a very good point about how to be alive” instead of “complete opposite.”

LeSean McCoy, Buffalo

McCoy (pictured above with a "why would I be lying" face) accused his former head coach, Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles, of racism. Is Chip Kelly a racist? Of course he is. All white people are racists. You may be thinking “not me!” Bullshit, dude. You are a racist. Remember how you live in America and nobody ever enslaved or eradicated your ancestors, erased your family’s history, or threw an entire generation of people who look like you in jail? Of course you’re a racist. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. You’re just going to have to be wrong about this one, and soak up that wrongness, and let it live inside you and guide you in the direction of empathy and compassion for your fellow humans. You know, like how Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan does it. (tugs collar)

Lamar Miller, Miami

Not really seeing anything of interest from or about Lamar Miller. I also hope he has a productive day. That’s a nice thing to hope for somebody. Maybe it’d be a little more reasonable to say “I hope none of you guys totally flip out and lose it today,” since life is hard, but productive is a perfectly nice wish to add on top of not flipping out and losing it.

Other Running Backs of Note:

Frank Gore, Mark Ingram, Alfred Morris, C.J. Spiller, Andre Ellington, Melvin Gordon, Todd Gurley, Jonathan Stewart, LeGarrette Blount, Rashad Jennings, Latavius Murray, Joseph Randle, and Devonta Freeman are all also some running backs who seem at this juncture likely to be “starting caliber” in fantasy football, and they are all, also, human beings. They were once babies. Somebody once held them in their arms and thought about how nice of a baby they were. Since then, they’ve have their guts more or less torn out by the world, just like the rest of us.

If you’re actually trying to get fantasy football advice here, that is a very weird decision on your part, but I’d say that it’s very likely that at least the first eight guys listed above will go in the first round of any given fantasy draft, and everybody else not in the “Other Running Backs of Note” section would be a delight to draft in the second round. Then sprinkle the “Other Running Backs of Note” as needed, then draft Guys You Like For Whatever Reason. I don’t know. What do you want from me? More importantly: what do you want from them? They’re just guys.