Anybody who says they are excited to see Fast & Furious 6 automatically loses my respect

I’ve made no secret about how my least favorite film season is over the summer. It’s not even because sequels are coming out, but it’s because fourth, fifth, and yes, even sixth sequels are coming out.

I understand how studios want to keep pumping out a franchise to make money. I’m not ignorant enough to not realize why that is a successful equation. Familiarity breeds interest, which leads to attendance, which equals money.

But when a film franchise gets to a fourth sequel or higher, that’s when they’re just fucking with us. 

There’s no question that sequels can be done right, and done well. If an original film is successful, then why not continue the story? Find the right screenwriter to craft a script that will transition perfectly into the next chapter of the tale, and give the film’s fans another picture. That’s fine.

Very rarely, there are times when a trilogy is needed. Many of the times these are preempted, like the original Star Wars. Or sometimes an adaptation is based on a set number of books, so there’s no choice but to make that many movies, like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, the latter of which had seven books. That’s fine too.

But when it clearly gets to the point when filmmakers are like, “Okay, these movies keep making money, so let’s, uhh, keep making them.” Well, that is when I start to get pissed off.

When the original Fast and the Furious was made, there is no way in hell the producers thought that there would ever be a sequel. No chance. When that movie was being filmed, nobody in their right mind was like, “Yeah, we’ll be making these movies for the next twelve years!”

And I actually liked the first movie. For what it was — an action flick involving fast cars and hot chicks — it was good. It accomplished what it set out to do.

So riding off of the success, a sequel was made. It featured the same lead actor in Paul Walker (who may be one of the least talented actors in the world) and a new co-star in Tyrese (who may be one of the least talented R&B singers in the world). The movie probably made decent money, but all in all, it was a flop. I saw it shortly after its release, and I honestly couldn’t tell you one thing that happened in the movie. Other than the fact that cars were driven.

Three years later, a spin-off was made. In my mind, spin-offs don’t really count as legitimate sequels. Almost every movie has its own made-for-TV spin-off. But, you know, the movie franchise still carried some weight, so they gave it a shot. Again, the movie was probably a flop critically, but I’m sure it made some coin. It should have all ended there.

It should have all ended there.

But then THREE sequels were made. Not one. not two. Three.

Tres.

That’s Spanish.

The fourth movie relied on a return of all the main characters to pique people’s interest. It worked. But the movie sucked.

The fifth one relied on the introduction of a new action star in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to pique people’s interest. It worked. But the movie sucked.

Newsflash: THEY ARE ALL THE SAME MOVIE.

I swear, there must be some type of hypnosis going on during these movies, because for the life of me, I can’t understand how people keep wanting to see them. And the only thing worse than people who want to see them are the people who see them and then actually think they’re good.

Fast & Furious 6 made $97 million this weekend. And yet, in the central United States, Oklahoman houses lay buried to the ground. $97 million could save an entire city in Oklahoma right now. In days.

If people want to see fast cars, crashes and loud noise, then go to a freaking NASCAR race. Heck, go plant a lawn chair on the grassy area next to your nearest highway. Sit there for two hours and you’ll essentially have seen the entire plot of Fast & Furious 6.

I blame the Saw movies for starting this. They made a sequel each year, knowing that people will see it, and they kept it going as long as they knew people would still remain interested, despite the fact that the films lost all semblance of originality after the second one. It was almost like a case study. Well that one got to seven. Fast and the Furious is just one away.

The worst part? I just checked IMDB.com. Fast & Furious 7 is already in pre-production.

Excuse me while I go swallow an entire container of cough medicine.

I now know why technology was invented

I have long been stubborn with my disapproval of online dating. Call me old-fashioned, but I think the process is too forced, unnatural and stems from desperation.

However, it’s been several years now since online dating has blossomed into our society, and it’s pretty evident that it is here to stay. It’s safe to say that it’s no longer a trend — it’s just the way it is.

That being said, I still don’t envision myself participating in it anytime soon. I don’t like the idea of having to weed through profiles, read people’s interests, their religion, their favorite color, and essentially knowing everything about someone before you even meet up. I’m not necessarily a guy that goes on a ton of dates, but one of the few things I do like about dating is learning about somebody through increments.

On the first date, you learn the general information — their job, their hometown, their interests, yada yada yada. And with each successive date — if there are any — you find out a little bit more. And the best part is that nobody is being judgmental. Because of a combination of nerves and the desperate hope that the date goes smoothly, you kind of just take everything in stride.

In between telling me about her family and her favorite band, a girl can probably slip in that she is a member of the Klu Klux Klan, and I would probably nod my head and be like, ‘Oh wow! That’s so cool… tell me more about that!” Nobody wants to be overly critical and judgmental on a first date.

Conversely, if I’m reading a girl’s profile on eHarmony.com, I might dismiss a girl just because she wrote down that she is a New England Patriots fan. Which is beyond ridiculous if you think about it. I might miss out on a cool chick just because I disapproved of a small blurb on her profile. And yet, that is the nature of online dating.

And that’s why I still dislike it. I may not harbor the same malice that I once did, but I still don’t plan on paying a monthly fee on Match.com anytime soon.

But now, as of 2013, there is an online dating service that I can get behind.

Tinder.

Tinder is an app that was created earlier this year, and it has absolutely blown up in popularity since. I had heard people mention it in passing lately, but I automatically lumped it together with all those other dating sites. I didn’t think it was anything different.

Until I saw it in action.

What makes Tinder different is that it’s simplified. You sign up, connect it with your Facebook (it will never post anything on your personal Facebook) and automatically, you’re in the system. You have a choice to upload as many as five pictures that best represent you, and then the fun begins.

There’s no profiles. Heck, there’s no words. You simply load up the app, and instantly, you are given picture after picture of single girls who are DTF. And that does not mean Down To Frolic. Because if you sign up on Tinder it means you’re looking for somebody.

You can filter the pool of girls (or guys) so that the ones you are choosing from are within 10 miles of you. If you “swipe to the right,” it means you approve. Swiping left means you do not. If you swipe right on a girl, and that same girl also saw your picture and happened to swipe right, then that means the two of you have “matched.” By matching, you are allowed to chat with the girl (or guy) and potentially set something up. You can not chat with anyone on the app unless you match.

Here’s the difference between Tinder and all other dating networks — it’s not a dating app. It’s a hook up  app. Huge difference. Huge.

You are simply judging the opposite gender by their physical appearance. You aren’t examining their favorite books, you’re not scrutinizing their favorite quotations — you’re just judging it how you see it.

And that’s the way it always has been. You see someone, and if you’re a physically attracted, then you make an effort to learn more. Before the Internet, you never knew somebody’s favorite TV shows before you actually spoke to them. Unless they were wearing a Full House T-shirt.

It is shallow? Hell yes. Of course it is. But we are a shallow species.

Physical attraction has always been the first step. From there, it can go where it needs to go. Just because you’re looking to simply hook up doesn’t mean it can’t lead to anything else. Although that’s not the reason most people use Tinder.
eHarmony

There’s no winking. No profile hunting. No awkward conversations.

The best way to describe Tinder is this — essentially, you are starting at the point where you get the girl’s phone number. You already know that she is single, looking, and attracted to you. And you have a means to contact her. It completely eliminates the bullshit before that, Which is far and away the worst part! It’s brilliant. I’m so excited that I actually just used an exclamation mark.

It works, too. This past weekend, one of my friends — who was pretty much swiping right on 90 percent of the girls — got four matches in about 36 hours. He even met up with one of them. Unfortunately, it did not lead to the desired result he had hoped, but it still worked. Tinder can only take you so far.

And the best part is — and I know how bad this sounds — but ugly and/or fat people are probably too self-conscious to use the app, therefore, you’re essentially taking your pick from a pool of girls who are all moderately attractive, ranging to very attractive. Honestly, it’s so brilliant that I can’t believe no one invented it before this.

The downside? It’s only available for the iPhone, iPad and iTouch. I have a Windows Phone.

*Cue Price is Right losing horn*

Had I known about Tinder five months ago when I was picking out a new phone, I would have purchased an iPhone. But, no big deal, because I am more than willing to purchase an iTouch at a cheaper cost just so I can use the app.

I can wholeheartedly say that I am truly glad I was single when Tinder came out. Even if you don’t get any matches, at the very least, you get to look at hundreds of pictures of hot girls. There’s absolutely zero downside to it.

In my mind, the jury is still out on social networking. I think it will take a really long time — possibly decades — to truly determine whether it has had a positive or negative effect on our society.

But Tinder is something that I can absolutely get behind. And for the very first time in my life, I am glad that social networking exists.

Never thought I’d see the day.

Swipe right.

How do you like dem apples?

As a lifelong, die-hard baseball fan, there’s some baseball stadiums that you absolutely have to check out some point in your lifetime. That notion has become a little more urgent recently when you consider how few old time stadiums are still standing.

Right now, the ones that stand out the most as “must visit” are Camden Yards in Baltimore, Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in FenwayBoston. I hit up Camden yards in 2007. But the other two had eluded me.

Well now I can check Fenway Park — or should I say call it “Fenway Pahk” — off that list.

My first visit to Fenway coincided with my first ever visit to Boston this weekend. The weather was pretty shitty — low 50s, misty, breezy — but it was still a monumental moment for a lifelong baseball fan like myself.

Of course, I didn’t stay until the end of the game, which wasn’t really the point. I just wanted to see the stadium, check out the Green Monster, sit and enjoy some baseball, and by the 7th inning, I got all of that. The only regret I had was missing “Sweet Caroline,” which plays at every home Red Sox game. Neil, I wanted to party with you! (Saving Silverman quote).

I’m not really sure how it took me 26 years to finally visit Boston. It’s a mere 4.5 hour drive away, and throughout my life I’ve known plenty of people who have lived there. Perhaps I was just too scared to go after I saw the movie “The Town.”

But I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Beantown, and now allow me to share my thoughts and observations of my approximate 48-hour-stay in the city.

  1. Boston accents are not nearly as prevalent as one may think. During my two days in the city, I believe I came across two people who had thick accents. I don’t know if it was because I spent most of my time in tourist areas, or if it’s because heavy Boston accents are dramatized and embellished in mainstream movies and television. I’m thinking it’s a little bit of both. Or maybe I’ve just seen Good Will Hunting too many times.
  2. It’s the perfect size for a city. I love New York, but sometimes it can seem like a freaking adventure to try and relocate from one part of the city to another in any given night. But in Boston, you can pretty much get anywhere you want in less than 25 minutes. It’s key because you can travel to any part of the city for a late night booty call, if need be.
  3. Solid bar areas. Again, continuing the New York comparison — I can’t really think of one specific strip where there are several good bars in a row. I can think of areas where that is the case, but, in Boston, there was one strip where there was about a dozen bars all within a tenth of a mile. It’s like a beer drinkers dream. In fact, I think I did dream about it when I got back to the hotel that night.
  4. The history. We all know about the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s Ride and the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Guys like John Hancock and Ben Franklin lived there. But I actually was in a bar where the Sons of Liberty sat and conceived the idea to the revolt against Great Britain. That was kind of cool. I also ordered a beer in the same bar that came from a tap that had a baseball on it. So that was cool too.

I was really tempted to get a girl’s phone number so I could go up to some guy at a diner, tap on the glass and say “I got a numbah. How do you like dem apples?” Unfortunately, the acquiring of the phone number is the Part A to that equation that never quite came to be.

On Sunday, the weather improved a bit and some friends and I attended an inaugural music festival in the heart of the city called Boston Calling. About one thousand Bostonians attended the festival to see bands and/or acts like Ra Ra Riot, the Walkmen, Andrew Bird, Of Monsters and Men, Young the Giant and the National.

Boston Calling

Finally, we made a small side trip to Cambridge to check out the Harvard campus. In the last two years, I have now visited Yale, Brown and Harvard — three schools that I never would have lasted a day in even if I was half-black and half-Native American, and descended from three generations of family members who attended these universities. But that’s three Ivy league schools I have now trespassed upon and there’s five left to go.

All in all, Boston was a sweet city, and it was a trip well worth the 26 year wait.

And now I am craving an apple.

Avril Lavigne gets it

Apparently there is no type of weather conditions that exist that people won’t talk about on Facebook. We already know about snow, hail, freezing cold and boiling heat, but now that list can be updated to include rain.

I live in Long Island, and yet, I know that it was downpouring in New York City this afternoon. How? Because people on Facebook thought it was interesting enough to make a status about.

Rain.

That magical water that falls from the sky once every… couple of days. Yup, totally worth talking about. And the pictures just help paint the image so much better.

Do people realize that it just tornadoed in the West South Central United States? I just looked up “Oklahoma” on Wikipedia, and it actually identified the state as being located in the West South Central U.S. Do they know that’s, like, three directions?

Imagine being lost asking somebody for directions, only to get the response, “Oh yeah, just head west south central, and you’ll be there.”

But anyway, the point is that nobody should have the audacity to comment about the weather during the same week when tornadoes just killed dozens of people in our country. That’s like someone commenting about how much they hate school the same week of the Sandy Hook shooting.

The best part is that it hasn’t even rained here in Long Island. Haha, chumps! Long Island rules!

I’m going to get hit by lightning tonight, aren’t I?

Let’s move on. If anyone in the world still listens to z100, then they know that Avril Lavigne has released a new single. The song is titled, “Here’s to Never Growing Up.”

Here’s the jam:

Avril Lavigne has undergone an interesting career plight. The self-proclaimed Canadian Pop Princess burst on the scene fast with the song “Complicated” when she was just 18. Everybody loves that song. It’s catchy, relatable and easy to sing along to. I know all the words by heart and I haven’t listened to it in 10 years. Fine, 10 months. Fine, 10 minutes. Fine, I’m listening to it right now.

Avril always relied on her punk image. She didn’t try to blend in. She died her hair. She wore black eye shadow. She cursed in her songs. She was no All-American girl like an early Britney Spears.

Then, like all celebrities, she got married and got divorced. Since then, she’s put out two albums, and it’s clear she has that “I don’t give a f*ck” mentality. That is evidenced by the names of her last two leading singles, “What the Hell” and the one I posted above.

When I listened to her latest song, I couldn’t help but think how many people might compare her to Ke$ha. They’re both attractive in a slutty sort of way, they both sing about getting drunk and going to clubs, and they both ignore my Tweets. Very eerie similarities there.

However, I think this is a huge mistake. After a deep case-study on Ke$ha, I determined that she has very little talent when compared with most popular artists. Her songs truly have no meaning besides the aforementioned binge drinking and partying, and it’s pretty clear she relies on autotune to sound half-decent during her recordings. She does have writing credits on most of her songs, but she’s one of like six or seven people on each track. Meaning she could have added a sentence to the song and gotten credit for it.

Avril, on the other hand, has pipes. The girl can sing. She doesn’t compose too many songs that showcase her natural abilities, but the girl has a good voice. The track “When You’re Gone” is a good example of her abilities, when she actually tries.

Otherwise, she tries to make fun, poppy songs, and she does it quite well. And unlike Ke$ha, she has soul writing credits on the majority of her songs. She’s also written a couple top-quality songs for movie soundtracks that most people haven’t heard, including “Alice” for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and “Keep Holding On,” for Eragon, which was a really bad movie.

Additionally, Avril’s debut album, Let Go, netted her eight Grammy nomination alone. Ke$ha has yet to receive one, shockingly.

But I don’t think people realize just how popular Avril Lavigne really is. The music video for her 2007 hit, “Girlfriend,” was the first song in YouTube history to reach 100 million views. On Twitter, she has 10.4 million followers — more than triple what Ke$ha has.

It doesn’t hurt that she’s Canadian. It means her popularity automatically expands across two large countries.

There’s just something about Avril Lavigne that she has gotten right throughout her whole career. She’s never been the center of a huge controversy, she’s never really looked upon negatively, and her albums are always successful. I guess that’s what happens when you actually burst onto the scene with a quality song, and then stick to your guns throughout your entire career. She’s only 28, too. There’s plenty of Avril left to come.

Alright, before I go, I need to point out that Anthony Weiner is running for mayor. He released the news in the form of a YouTube video. 

Three observations came to my mind when I watched this:

  1. Initially, I thought the “sexting” scandal was career suicide. I thought his political days were over. But now that I think about, it’s possible that, in hindsight, the scandal may have been the best thing for his career. Weiner may have been an up-and-comer years ago, but only the politically-savvy knew who he was. Now, everybody knows his name. And it’s not like he killed someone. Or was involved in a prostitution ring. He just likes to hit on women. The last political honcho who had a well-known reputation for hitting on women worked out pretty well, didn’t he?
  2. God damn, all these political ads are exactly the same, aren’t they? Dinner with the family, still images with veterans, narration on city streets. Give me a break. Your reputation has already been shattered — there’s no more need for a politically correct video, Weiner!
  3. His wife is hot, and she also stayed with him. I remember discussing this when the story first broke, and I condemned Weiner at the time for fooling around when he already hot a slammin’ wife. Come on, man. And now the bastard has a slammin’ wife who apparently is really loyal. How does a guy get so lucky?

Alright, I’m done. I’m afraid I won’t be around until next Tuesday, because I am heading up to Boston for Memorial Day weekend. Or as any other douchebag would say, “I’m shipping up to Boston!” And then post a link to the Dropkick Murphys song.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day, everybody. But if anybody posts on Facebook or says aloud about how Memorial Day “is the official start to the summer,” then please correct them, or even go ahead and slap them in the face. Then tell them that summer officially begins on June 21.

Get it right.

Every guy needs to dress suavely every now and then

Give a man the option and he will always wear a tee shirt and jeans.

That is something that practically all men can agree on. No matter what your body frame is, what line of work you’re in, or how old you are — a tee shirt and jeans, if applicable, will always prevail.

What I mean by that is if you’re attending something where it is allowable to wear such attire without any repercussions, then all men will always do it. There are no other options. No man is going to wear a blazer and corduroys just because he “feels like it.”

I personally am fortunate enough to work in an office where my employers are extremely lenient about apparel. As long as I don’t come in wearing shorts or pajama pants, they tend to not really say anything. It’s sort of implied that we’re supposed to dress nicely, but it’s not enforced. As a result, nobody does.

So I wear jeans 99 percent of the time, like any man would in my situation. By doing so, you sort of start falling into a habit. In my zombie-like trance upon waking up in the morning, I automatically grab for the jeans without thinking about it. I own some nice pants. And not just one or two — but about five. I have five dress pants. Meaning I can actually go an entire week looking spiffy if I so wished.

But, since I know I can pass with jeans, it usually doesn’t even cross my mind to grab for the khakis. As a result, I constantly reuse the same five jeans I own every week. Sometimes I’m not even sure which ones I wore the previous day, and I’m sure there’s been plenty of times when I’ve worn the same jeans two days in a row. The only reason I would know how to avoid that is because my belt is still attached to the last jeans I wore. And yes, I only own one belt.

If you’re in your mid-twenties, and you actually own a collection of belts, then you probably deserve to be whipped with every extra belt that you own. If you own a black belt (and not talking karate), then it matches everything and you’re set. And if you do own a black belt in karate, then I would never try to actually whip you.

I’m good with my few jeans, my one belt, and my polo and button-down shirts. Of course I don’t wear tee shirts to work — most of the time.

However, the other day, for no particular reason, I decided to dress nicely. I threw on some khakis, busted out my Lacoste button-down that I save for special occasions, neatly tucked it in, and even put on some boat shoes and black socks. It felt good. Whenever I went to the bathroom, I stood in front of the mirror a few extra seconds to admire myself.

I don’t necessarily want to say that dressing nicely makes you look better — but it accentuates your physical appearance if you are already good-looking.

For example, if I wear my standard plaid shirt and jeans, then nobody is going to think twice about what I am wearing. I’m a dime a dozen, and therefore, I am not likely to be noticed.

But if I’m dressed up, looking suave and ravishing, then most people probably will do a double take. They’ll take a second to survey your apparel, and then they might notice your other features. It’s sort of a way of peacocking without actually peacocking.

And there’s plenty of other benefits. When you are out in public and you are dressed smartly, you carry that air of importance around with you. When you go to Dunkin Donuts to get your coffee, the barista might think you’re some important businessman on his way to work.

When you park your car and walk to the front door of your home, your neighbors might spot you and think that they’re living in the same neighborhood as somebody successful.

Whether you actually are successful is not relevant — all that matters is that you look successful.

The self-righteousness that comes with dressing up can be contagious. Once you do it, you catch the bug. You want to dress nicely again. Perhaps the next morning, even in your zombie-like state, you might find yourself reaching for the khakis instead of the jeans without even realizing it. The day that finally happens, you will know that you have matured. It’s the equivalent for men as the day a women gets her period. Only 15 years later. And without experiencing pain and discomfort.

I understand that it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. To dress nicely it means you have to do two things — you actually have to go to a store and buy clothes, and you have to be willing to spend decent money on them. Those are not easy tasks for men. We like to spend money on alcohol and food. Not much else. But I’m just trying to tell everyone that it’s worth it to allocate a little bit of your income towards clothing to add to your wardrobe. Just do what your budget allows.

Dressing nice is like going to the gym. On the surface, the idea sounds like a disaster, But once you do it, you’ll enjoy it, you’ll reap the benefits, and soon enough you’ll get the itch to do it again.

Plus, it helps you get laid. Those results haven’t exactly shown yet in my case, but it’s only a matter of time.

I hope.

Parting your hair is cool again

While New Yorkers and east coasters alike enjoyed arguably the most beautiful day of the year so far, the jolly folk in the central time zone, namely in Moore, Oklahoma, had a much rougher go of it.

Mainly because their city got destroyed by a tornado.

The two-mile wide tornado, which has killed at least two dozen people, left a fairly unprecedented wake of destruction. Heck, it was so bad that NBC sent all of their top guns to Oklahoma to film a special news report on the story, and are airing it right now instead of The Voice, which is one of its top shows. Not that I would know that for any particular reason. A friend told me.

The tornado’s wind gusts reached speeds as high as 190 miles per hour, and injured hundreds. Yesterday, news outlets were reporting that 51 people had died, but that number appears to be inaccurate. The count is now at 24. Nine of them are children.

This photo is an aerial view of what used to be en elementary school. If you were to visit Moore for the first time today, and stumble upon that wreckage, you would not have the slightest clue as to what that building used to be. It was so badly damaged that its prior use is absolutely unrecognizable.

There’s really not much more to add about this. We can just continue to watch the news and see what statistics are spat out as us.

So I am going to completely diverge from this topic and talk about something that could not be more different. I don’t think I could find one single connection if I tried.

Something that one tends to notice is how fashion trends are defined by celebrities. In my eyes, it was professional basketball players who popularized the thick-rimmed, black hipster glasses. It was Lady GaGa who inspired girls to wear enormous sunglasses a few years ago that practically covered their entire face.

But it also applies to other features aside from eye apparel — like hair.

Celebrities are constantly under the microscope, and thus, when they make drastic changes in style, people tend to notice. Well, I couldn’t help but notice one hairstyle that seems to be becoming a trend among male pop icons.

The part.

Parting your hair used to be something that guys would only do in elementary school. Like many kids, I rocked the mushroom cut in my youth. My mother would tidy me up in the morning by attacking that bushel of hair with a comb, creating a nicely sized part right smack dab in the middle. I was a very cute kid.

But then I grew out of it. Although I should say that I’m not really one to spend too much time on my hairstyle. Never have. I do style my hair a little bit, but I’m not the type of person who is going to spontaneously alter his haircut just to try something out. It takes me years to change my style.

The reason for that is because I don’t want to risk some barber completely screwing up my hair. I don’t want to go into a shop one day and experiment. Heck, my barber screws up my haircut even when I get the same one over and over again.

So I’m not going to mess around. It’d be nice if I was wealthy enough to have my own personal stylist who I can just go up to and say, “Yeah, you’re a professional, so… make me look beyond sexy. Thanks,” and then I can trust them to do it. That would be awesome.

But I pay $14 to have middle easterners give me my monthly haircut. Basically, the Zohan cuts my hair. It’s not exactly the same guys who act as the stylist for Johnny Depp. So that’s why celebrities have that luxury to experiment. I don’t.

That all being said, it’s only a matter of time until the part takes over.

Here are a few examples.

I think Justin Timberlake is the true pioneer of this movement. Or at least he is the first person who I noticed to be rocking this do.

This isn’t just a casual part though. This is some serious, grow-out-your-hair-bust-out-the-comb-and-brush-violently-for-about-15-minutes type part. There’s no chance in hell any of these guys get out of bed each morning looking anything remotely like this.

I’m not going to lie — right before I step in the shower, have I taken some gel, a comb, and tried to see if I could pull off a hairstyle that resembles this, since I know I could just rinse it out moments later without anyone seeing? Maybe I shouldn’t answer that.

A lot of times when I scrutinize a new style it’s because I’m against it. I’m not too sure I hate this, to be honest. There are much worse things in this world than that of a good, old-fashioned weave of the hair.

But it’s not fair, again, because average people like me don’t have the resources or the time to mess around. If Justin Timberlake accidentally received a bad haircut one day, he probably can afford some type of magical device that could instantly regrow his hair so that he could do it all over again. Like a human chia pet.

I predict that as time elapses, we will see more male celebrities adopting this hairstyle. And a lot sooner than you think.

Unfortunately, for me, the only way I would be able to style my hair so neatly is if I actually walked into one of the expensive salons in the mall, which are predominantly occupied by women and gay men. Not that anything is wrong with that. I just can’t afford it. In fact, I got my hair cut once in college by an obviously gay man. And it was probably the best haircut I’ve ever received.

So the only way I could maybe get my hair to flail so neatly in one direction like that is if I have 14 hair blowers all pointing at once at my scalp. Or maybe some 190-mile-per-hour tornado winds would do the trick.

Hey, I found a connection!

The best way to never be taken seriously… is to ask to be taken seriously.

Tornadoes completely ripped through Oklahoma today, leaving carnage and destruction in its wake, and many are probably dead as a result. But instead, today I am going to focus on the Billboard Music Awards, which aired last night.

I love these shows. When a big awards event is scheduled to air on a Sunday night, I know I will never be lacking for material to blog about the following day. Anytime you pack so many egos in a room, essentially inviting them all to one-up each other through their performances and their gimmicks, it’s like a clash of the titans. Shit is going to go down. It also means by blog is going to become TMZ for a day.

And boy did it ever go down last night.

But before I delve into it, I need to point out a simple human observation.

Everyone wants to be respected. If you don’t have the respect of your peers, then nothing you do will really ever be taken seriously. And there is probably no greater way to insult somebody then to not take them seriously as a person. Being the butt of every joke, or being constantly laughed at, is flat-out humiliating.

So as humans, we are embarking on a never-ending quest to be taken seriously. That doesn’t necessarily mean we are desperately seeking people’s approval. What it means is that we want people to accept us for who we are, and what we’re trying to accomplish in life — whether they approve or not. That is real respect.

And If you don’t have that, well, then the one way to ensure you will never have it — is to ask for it. Outright asking to be taken seriously is barely a step above begging, and, if anything, it’s going to make people view you in an even lower regard.

Well, that’s exactly what Justin Bieber did last night.

Justin Bieber somehow managed to win a “Milestone Award” during the festivities last night. Upon stepping up to the stage, he was greeted with loud jeers from the audience, to which he responded by essentially staring everyone down for several awkward seconds before finally speaking. At which, he delivered what may be the greatest quote in our young century thus far:

“I really just want to say, it really should be about the music. It should be about the craft that I’m making. This is not a gimmick, I’m not — I’m an artist, and I should be taken seriously. And all this other bull should not be spoken of.”

We forget that Justin Bieber is still just a 19-year-old. Some will have him permanently ingrained in their minds as a 14-year-old with a mushroom cut, and others may feel like he’s been around so long that they forget he’s just a kid.

It’s hard for me to be overly critical of a 19-year-old. However, this doesn’t make him look too good. And it’s not going to help anything.

Nobody likes being booed, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.

And speaking of the Biebs, check out the reaction of Taylor Swift when she spotted her friend Selena Gomez giving a smooch to her ex-boyfriend!

That’s the most “Whatever” facial expression one can possibly make.

So what else happened during last night’s Billboard Music Awards? Taylor gave yet another fun, flirtatious performance of her song “22,” rocking tight short-shorts along the way. Not that I am one to complain about that, but I do kind of miss Taylor’s refined, more subtle performances where she used to not care about gimmicks or flashiness. But… I don’t know about you, she’s just feeling 22. I guess.

Speaking of subtle performances, it’s for that reason why my two favorite performances of the night were by Ed Sheeran and Kacey Musgraves (The videos will probably be taken down before the night is over.) There was no choreography, no flashing lights, no ugly costumes — just singing. And damn good singing.

You want to talk about earning respect? That is how you do it. Justin, learn from Ed and Kacey.

Oh and in case you missed it, Miguel dropkicked a girl.

And yeah, that was like an actual, full-on dropkick, WWE style.

If you’re wondering who Miguel is, he’s actually a pretty talented R&B singer who a Grammy this past year.

But I can honestly watch that in a loop over and over again. He couldn’t have reciprocated a move like that if he tried a hundred times. He also has surprising little ups for a black man. If you look closely, he also stomps out another girl’s face with his left foot.

Don’t worry though, they laughed about it backstage.

Apparently another good way to be taken seriously is to accidentally leg drop a girl, and then laugh about it afterwards. Maybe I’ll try that the next time I’m at a bar.

So that’s all the memorable moments from last night’s festivities. I hope you all enjoyed the recap.

I also just saw a newsflash on NBC cough*inbetweencommercialbreaksforthevoice*cough about the Oklahoma tornadoes, and they said that at least 51 people are dead. So this is actually pretty devastating news that we will probably be hearing about for a while.

It reminds me of when I was in Memphis in 2011 and found myself stuck in a museum because a tornado warning was happening. I remember finding the whole situation amusing, since as an east coaster, I had never been anywhere near a tornado in my life.

But after seeing something like this — and excuse the Bieber pun — I now fully understand why the natural, raw power of a tornado absolutely must be taken seriously. Prayers out to OKC.

News stories become a lot more newsworthy when good-looking people are involved

“Thousands of people die every single day.”

That’s the one thing we need to reassure ourselves each day upon watching the news, and hearing about the latest story about someone who died. Unfortunately, among those thousands, news outlets are able to handpick the ones they wish to report, whether it’s because of its unique nature, the age or the physical appearance of the victim or perpetrator, its location, etc.

Casey Anthony is a pretty good example. She was a terrible mother who “allegedly” abandoned and/or killed her child. It sucks — but incidents like that happen much too often. So why did it become national news? Because Casey Anthony was young and attractive. That’s pretty much the only reason.

There’s no questioning the tragedy when a 3-year-old dies, but, let’s face it. If her mother was 50-years-old and fat, the story may have been reported for a day, and no more. It’s just the way it is. Physical appearances capture our attention — always have. Always will. Whether’s it’s passersby on the street, or a murder suspect, one of the first things we notice about someone is the way they look.

That all being said, sometimes news outlets are handed the perfect storm of a news story — a pretty, young girl who was killed under suspicious circumstances, in a prominent town.

This week, they received just that with Andrea Rebello.

I’m not entirely sure just how national this news has become — but I’m assuming it’s being discussed to some extent across the country. However, it’s major news here in Long Island because that’s exactly where it occurred. Rebello was a 21-year-old junior at Hofstra University who was shot dead during a botched robbery early in the morning between Thursday and Friday. Among her housemates included her twin sister.

That in itself is enough to capture people’s attention. A young girl who is simply trying to make her way through college ended up dead because some scumbags chose to break into the house she was living in. And there’s two of her.

But what’s made the story even more captivating is that Rebello wasn’t just pretty, she was gorgeous.

I mean, there’s really no other way to spin that. She’s gorgeous. A guy like me would be thrilled to one day find himself in the acquaintance of a girl like that.

So that’s what happened. A beautiful girl died during a home invasion.

But that’s not all.

I remember reading the articles pertaining to this story on Friday and early Saturday. As someone who works in journalism, I found it remarkable how little news was being revealed. Normally when something significant like this happens, the news is fairly clear-cut — the gist of it, at least.

Man breaks into home. Man kills girl. Police kill man.

However, the articles were all shockingly murky over what happened. Everything I read was specifically candid about the fact that nobody knew who killed the girl. That caught my attention, and immediately alerted me that there was more to this case than meets the eye.

Well late Saturday night the facts started to trickle out: the girl was shot dead — not by the burglar — but by police.

Oh snap.

As far as I am reading, the burglar held Rebello in a headlock while surrounded by police, held a gun to her head and said he was “going to kill her.” When he turned his gun away from her and onto police, an unnamed officer shot eight times at the man — seven hit him, one found its way to Rebello’s head, killing her.

Damn. I mean, that’s a bomb drop if I ever heard one. Imagine the girl’s parents, already heartbroken over the loss of their daughter, only to learn that the bullet that caused her death was fired by the people who were supposed to be protecting her.

And eight shots? Really? When the girl is in clear view, being headlocked, aren’t cops trained to show a little more discretion in such scenarios? I’m no cop, but isn’t it common sense to not fire unless you’re certain that potential innocent victims are out of harm’s way? And even if you are confident in your sharpshooting abilities, shouldn’t you only shoot like… once?

I for one was shocked when I heard the news. Because I knew that the story, which was already big, just became massive. And it’s not going away for a long time.

Police have kept the officer’s name from going public for obvious reasons. However, it’s going to come out eventually. Right now, he is on “sick leave,” which basically means “Stay the fuck home and don’t show your face anywhere until we figure out how to figure out this clusterfuck you caused.”

So now you have everything. Beautiful girl, murder, and wrongful death. It’s the type of story that FOX, NBC and CNN drool over.

That is a picture of Rebello (right) with her twin sister Jessica, since I knew you all were wondering.

It’s an interesting dynamic. Incidents like this, when the victim happens to be incredibly attractive, tend to draw more sympathy. Case and point — this blog. Do you think I would be talking about this right now if Rebello didn’t look the way she did?

It’s not to say that I, or anyone else, wouldn’t have been sympathetic prior to seeing what she looked like — not at all. This is a girl who was just living life the way we’re supposed to — attending college, learning a craft and readying herself for the world. Break-ins, guns and shootouts aren’t supposed to factor into that equation.

Additionally, this happened right here in my backyard. So my sympathy was had long before this. But when I did see what she looked like, I’d be a liar to say my attention and sympathies didn’t increase exponentially.

Regardless, a girl is dead, right at the end of the school year, and that sucks. She was shot by a police officer, which sucks even more. I can only imagine the relief this girl and her roommates must have experienced to see the police arrive, and knowing that, finally, they were safe and sound. Little did they know that their arrival was a death sentence.

That “sick leave” better become a whole lot more, and soon.

Has it become obsolete to ask a girl out through a phone call?

There was once a time in my life when I thought that calling a girl up and asking her on a date was the most harrowing task known to mankind.

It’s such a vulnerable scenario. With one phone call, and one question, you are putting yourself completely out there. You make your proposition, you try to be confident and keep your voice steady, and you wait momentarily while the girl responds. Either she says yes, or she says no.

It was that ultimatum that used to scare me. For a few seconds, you held your breath while awaiting a response. By the end of the phone call, you’re either jumping for joy or jumping off a ledge in disappointment. 

This is something that girls don’t experience. Because they are the ones who are asked, and not the askees. They can’t comprehend how difficult this is for men. And it’s only fair, I suppose. They have to go through labor, and we have to endure the embarrassment and pain of asking a girl out. That’s fair, right?

Anyway, looking back now, I realize that all of those things that used to frighten me about making that phone call — I now envy. And miss.

Somewhere in the last two or three years, the act of telephoning a girl and asking her if she’d like to accompany you for a Saturday night out on the town has become obsolete. It’s extinct. Everyone has a smart phone now, so texting has become the expected form of communication for all situations.

Need to contact a client? Text message.

Need to wish someone a happy birthday? Text message.

Need to inform your friend of a funny occurrence that just happened to you? Text message.

There was that awkward in-between time in the past year or so, when not everyone had smart phones yet, when you wondered what was the appropriate way to ask a girl out. Call or text?

In my own personal experience, the decision wasn’t determined by laziness. It also wasn’t determined by cowardice. It’s simply because I just don’t know what girls prefer anymore.

It’s gotten to the point where I feel like I am inconveniencing a girl by calling her. Because people just flat-out don’t call one another anymore.

So I, like most (if not all) guys, used to dread those few seconds — which felt much longer at the time — while I waited for a girl’s response. However, I never realized how luxurious it was to only have to wait a few seconds.

Text messaging has made the process so much more convoluted that it’s become flat-out ridiculous. I swear, one time it actually took me three full weeks to ask a girl out. Because when you send the text, the girl has the liberty of responding whenever the hell she wants. She can respond in five minutes if she wants (she won’t), she can respond in one hour (still won’t), she can respond in five hours (if you’re lucky), or she might even wait the next day.

Late responses have become so commonplace that excuses aren’t even necessary anymore. And not only that, but when they do respond it’s never — never — yes or no. It’s “Maybe”. It’s “Let me get back to you.” It’s  “Hmm, I have plans that day, but I could be done early. I’ll let you know.”

Texting has given girls the ability to avoid having to be direct. They don’t have to respond with a simple yes or no. Sometimes, my feeble attempt at asking a girl out leads to a back and forth conversation, that, several texts later — it occurs to me that the girl may not even know that I am trying to ask her out.

So the question becomes — are there actually females out there who still wouldn’t be fazed if a guy called them to ask them out? Or am I right in my thinking that all human interaction and correspondence is now expected to occur via text message?

Is there still hope, or has the method gone extinct by way of the dinosaurs?

There was a time when I used to have an internal debate over texting and calling. But now I feel that the debate has been settled for me. Technology has won.

Technology has won.

When did it stop becoming cool to want to be an astronaut?

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

It’s one of the most common questions to be asked when you’re in elementary school. It’s a question that is not meant to be taken too seriously — and nowhere near the same context as when you were asked this question as a 10th grader sitting in the office of your guidance counselor.

Instead, the question is asked for fun. It must be amusing for teachers — and adults in general — to see how little kids responded when posed with a question about their future careers. For one, it’s an interesting social experiment. You can learn what jobs kids even know about at such a young  age.

Everybody’s elementary school yearbook probably even asked this question. And if you were to go back and survey it, the answers would probably all be the same — professional athletes, movie star, rock singer, etc.

You’d never see somebody answer the question with bank manager or certified public accountant. As kids, we dreamed big. Heck, we dreamed so big, that our imaginations exceeded normal jobs. Our imaginations took us beyond the realms of societal standards, away from noisy offices, tall buildings and busy cities — heck, they even took us out of our own planet.

Think about it. Remember. When we were kids, how often did we dream about wanting to see the moon, see the stars? How many of you ever said — “I want to be an astronaut.”

Becoming an astronaut may be one of the biggest pipe dreams known to mankind.  The most delusional kids still cling on to hopes of becoming a famous actor or actress, or a professional baseball player into their teenage years. But no one ever maintains the notion that they have any chance of ever becoming an astronaut.

When we’re 4 or 5, then yeah. We don’t know any better. The world was so big to us — so what made outer space any different? We could go there if we wanted. But once we hit age 8, even then we knew how unrealistic it would be for us to ever pursue a career beyond our planet’s atmosphere. So we gave it up. And we forgot about it.

In the last 10 years, how many people have you met who still had aspirations of becoming an astronaut?

It saddens me a little because I feel that loss in desire corresponds with a loss of innocence, or a loss of imagination. The day we stop dreaming of becoming an astronaut might be the same day we stop believing in Santa Claus.

But the thing that people might forget is that people really do become astronauts. And I really hope that our youth doesn’t forget that.

There is plenty of magic still to be discovered in outer space.

And that magic can be seen in this video right here. Watch. Trust me.

Chris Hadfield is quickly becoming one of the most famous astronauts since, well, Neil Armstrong? Tom Hanks? Alright fine — let’s say John Glenn. Most people know him, right?

If you search Chris Hadfield on YouTube, you will find tons of videos with him conducting wacky and interesting experiments while in outer space. He seems to have quite the endearing personality, and he is making a name for himself among people who never even had the faintest interest in outer space.

So then what does he go and do? He records the song “Space Oddity” by David Bowie — in space. My first thought is how difficult a decision it must have been for him to choose between that song and Rocket Man. Both would have been equally as poignant, I think.

But hey, even David Bowie himself appreciated this version, calling it “the most poignant version of the song ever created.”

If you can watch that video and not find yourself reminiscing about that childlike wonder you once had, and about how you used to dream of the impossible — then I feel bad for you.

When we were 5 years old, the thought of becoming an astronaut was as cool as being a rock star. That obviously changed as we aged. But I truly, truly, hope, that 5-year-olds today don’t feel the same way. I hope dreaming of becoming an astronaut is still as cool as it ever was.

This video will help.