Professional sports drafts used to excite me but now they just remind me about how old and unsuccessful I am

It’s hard not to feed off of the excitement that comes with professional sports drafts.

First, you have the alluring prospect of your favorite team adding a talented, young player to its arsenal. True fans will conduct hours of research trying to pinpoint who they believe their team should take. And when draft day comes around, you get to see if you were right or wrong.

And secondly, the look on these kids’ faces upon being drafted is just a joy to behold. These young athletes have been working towards this day their entire life, and with the simple recital of their name, they’ve accomplished their life goal. As viewers, we are literally watching dozens of young adults’ dreams come true right before our eyes. If that doesn’t thrill you, then I don’t know what to tell you.
And finally, the excitement at these drafts is an experience in itself. Fans of every team across the country flock to one arena to observe the festivities, and voice their approval of their team’s selections. A favorable choice will be greeted with a raucous applause, while a questionable pick will be jeered mercilessly.

For all of those reasons, it’s fun to watch a nationally televised professional sports draft. And as I write this, the NBA draft is currently ongoing. So you think I’d be happy, wouldn’t you?

However, somewhere down the road, you come to anticipate these events a little bit less and less. For every die-hard sports fan, there’s a time in their life when a single thought suddenly occurs to them — “Holy shit, I am older than most of my favorite athletes.”

It’s a wake-up call. A quarter-life crisis, so to speak.

And that is why these drafts are a little bit depressing to me. I’m watching 18, 19 and 20-year-olds accomplish their dreams before I’ve even figured out what my dream is. By hearing their name called, these kids are millionaires. Instant millionaires. Before they even play a game, they will have signed a multi-year contract that can afford them a lot of nice, new shiny things.

With the signing of a pen to paper, they will make more than I probably will in the next 25 years.

And it’ll be the only life they’ve known. In the NBA draft, for instance, these kids have been playing basketball their entire lives. Granted, it’s a very, very high level of basketball. But now they’re getting to continue that life, and they never have to go through the process of picking a career, writing cover letters and sitting down for interviews. They get to play a game. And most of them are goddamn teenagers.

Of course, you have to take it all in context. Most jobs don’t pay as well as professional sports do, but it still changes your entire outlook and complexion of the whole thing.

But with aging comes maturity. We all have to resign ourselves to the fact that we will probably never sign multi-million dollar contracts, and that the kids who are being drafted today were just born with God-given talents that happened to exceed ours.

Me? I was born with the gift of sharing my thoughts on a WordPress blog.

I think I got a raw deal.

Gay rights, Paula Deen and Aaron Hernandez, oh my!

Boy oh boy, what a news day today was!

You had the Supreme Court make two major rulings to strengthen gay marriage, Paula Deen’s life is in disarray after making racial slurs, and former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with first degree murder. It was a blogger’s dream, and a day that Twitter hash tags are made of.

And honestly, as far as a trifecta of news stories is concerned, you really couldn’t have three more different items. You have something for everyone.

For the political folks, there’s the equality issue. For the pop culture enthusiasts, there’s celebrity chef/bigot extraordinaire Paula Deen, and for the sports fanatics you have an extremely notable player on a hated team who will probably never play another game again. And I didn’t even mention nelson Mandela or George Zimmerman.

I can’t think of one person in the world who wouldn’t have an interest in at least one of those stories. Well, maybe starving children in third world countries who can’t afford the electronic means to even learn about these stories, but that is besides the point.

And they all pretty much happened at the same time, too. Around early afternoon, Facebook and Twitter were blowing up with people reacting to these stories. Of course, most people latched onto the gay rights issue to post a positive status in order to show their “good side” to the public.

I really have nothing more to add to that other than “Good.” That it even takes Supreme Court rulings to determine that people are equal is mind-boggling to me. However, with these rulings, it appears that our nation is finally overcoming these flaws in our justice system.

As for Paula Deen, I’ve never spent more than two seconds of my thoughts on celebrity chefs, so I’m not going to start now.

And I’m a big sports fan, so naturally I have much more of an opinion on Aaron Hernandez. Firstly, and generally speaking, if you are a young, talented and well-paid athlete, and you somehow manage to royally screw it up, then you deserve every bad thing that is going to happen to you.

Nobody in the world should have any sympathy for him. I don’t want to hear about how he grew up in a culture where gang warfare is extremely prevalent — once he put on an NFL uniform, his life was changed. He was living in a mansion. As a 24-year-old, he had his whole life ahead of him to continue earning money, play a sport for a living, and become a beloved hero throughout New England. Instead, he is probably going to spend the rest of his life behind bars. And he deserves it.

It’s pretty easy to not kill somebody, nevermind being rich and successful to boot. So even though it’s only the end of June, I have no problem proclaiming Hernandez as the dumbest person of 2013. Way to go, buddy!

But going back to the gay rights news, it really is a historic, landmark day for America. There are too many stubborn people in the world who think we still need to live by documents that were written hundreds of years ago. So that there are more level-headed people in our justice system (albeit slightly more) than stubborn idiots is at least a step in the right direction.

Although, it did take me about three hours to learn what DOMA stood for.

At first I thought it was the YOLO version for expressing your joy for gay rights.

And it should be.

DOMA!

June ritual: Teachers finish school for the summer; every other worker hates teachers

In the past, the end of June was a celebratory period in my life. It signaled the end of the school year, and three long months of freedom. Summer vacation is something that, as kids, we always experienced. It was just an expected part of life, and it’s not until you obtain a full-time job when you realize how fantastic that three-month vacation was.

Now, at age 26 — and three years into my first ever full-time job — the only reason I even remember that it’s the beginning of summer vacation is because of the Facebook statuses I see from all of my friends who are teachers.

Before I continue, I must point out that I wrote a similar post about this subject last December, condemning teachers who were about to embark on a two-week winter break. The post was written mostly out of jealousy and spite, and in hindsight, I must admit that I was a little harsh.

So let me go ahead and say that I am the biggest advocate of teachers, and all those who work in schools. I will stand on a soapbox and share my belief that they may very well be the hardest working people in the world.

Now I don’t mean that on a physical sense, because it would be an insult to manual laborers who work during the hot and humid spring and summer months, lugging heavy objects several hours a day. Those guys are in a league of their own.

But in an all-around sense, teachers have to be on their A-game in more aspects than most professions call for. Physically. Mentally. Instinctively. Psychologically. Rhythmically. Sexually.

Oh wait, that last one is only in porn.

They are responsible for delivering material to young, unjaded minds five days a week for 10 months a year. To present such material in a relatable way, they must be eloquent and concise, and therefore must always have their wits at all times. In other words, they can’t ever go to work hung over.

And let’s face it, while every job in the world does indeed serve some purpose, we all know that we could go to work sometimes hung over. Unless you’re an air traffic controller or a the elected leader of a country (although George W. never got the memo), you can afford to go out on the occasional weeknight and have a one or two — or several — drinks, and just coast the following day at work.

Teachers don’t have that luxury.

We have yet to even take into account the other facets of a teacher’s job. Specifically, the things they must do outside of the classroom. For one, they wake up earlier than anybody. After grueling schooldays, they must attend meetings. They deal with whining children, immature adolescents, punk teenagers, overbearing superiors and naive parents who refuse to believe their children are anything but innocent. And to boot, their salaries leave a lot to be desired.

From September to June, teachers put up with a lot of shit. And for that, one can certainly make the argument that they, more than any other job, deserve a three-month vacation. I can acknowledge that.

But I just have one simple request. Just one. Don’t post about it on Facebook. Don’t tell me about your elaborate summer plans. Don’t post an Instagram photo of the beach at 10 a.m. when my workday is just beginning. Because as nice as I am being right now, I am equally as pissed off when I see such a picture. For that split-second when I see that picture, I know how Hitler felt when he decided to exterminate the Jews. Because I feel that same way about teachers. But only during that split second. Once I take a deep breath and calm myself, things are mostly back to normal again.

So teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, school psychologists, secretaries, and even students — enjoy the summer. Live it up. Travel. But don’t expect anymore love from me. For the next three months, you are the enemy. You are my Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. You are my Voldemort.

And I am a 15-year-old wizard hero.

That analogy just didn’t work at all.

Once you go VIP, there’s no going back — Firefly Music Festival 2013

Give somebody just a smidgen of power, a little extra privileges, and a taste of superiority, and it’s amazing what effect it can have.

We live in a world where practically everybody is a dime a dozen. We are not special. We probably never will be. So to have that one day in the sun where you do feel important is a feeling like no other.

That’s why we glamorize birthdays. For one day a year, our existence carries a little bit of extra significance. People might try to downplay their day of birth each year, but the truth of the matter is, we all love the extra attention. And conversely, the day after our birthday is a major bummer. I’d imagine the same goes for our own wedding day, but on a much, much larger scale.

I got to experience a small taste of superiority this weekend in Delaware, when I traveled to our nation’s first ever state for the Firefly stagesecond annual Firefly Music Festival. For those who are unfamiliar with the event, it has quickly become one of the largest music festivals on the east coast, drawing tens of thousands of people — who otherwise in a million years would never go to Delaware — for a weekend a music and debauchery.

Of course, a music festival lacks credibility if it can’t lure any premier artists, and that wasn’t a problem this weekend as Firefly comprised some of the world’s biggest groups in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty, and some up-and-coming-indie-rock-turned-mainstream bands like Foster the People and Vampire Weekend. Click here to view the entire lineup.

But I’ve been to festivals before. In 2011, my entourage and I hit up Memphis to attend the Beale Street Festival, and last year, we took our talents to Newport, Rhode Island for the Newport Folk Fest. Both festivals were fantastic experiences in their own unique way.

What was different about this festival, however, was that we had VIP access.

Media access

It turns out that it took me three years to realize that there are some perks that come with working at a newspaper — even one that only covers a small section of communities in a non-major city. To put it short, we do not cover any type of events that even resemble music festivals.

But that didn’t stop me from sending a curt, forthright email inquiry to a few music festivals, explaining that I am a newspaper reporter, and would love the opportunity to gain media credentials for their respective festival. I didn’t lie — I just conveniently left out that out-of-state festivals are out of the bounds of our coverage area. They didn’t need to know that.

But the only thing that matters is that it worked.

And yes, I blocked out my last name and newspaper in case a hot girl who reads my blog wanted to hunt me down and meet me.

Wait, shit.

Anyway, the perks were few, but significant to say the least. For one, I was able to use the media entrance into the festival, bypassing the several-minute line of “common folk” entering via the general access entrance. Secondly, and easily the most notable perk, was my ability to gain access into the VIP section of the festival. By doing so, I was able to stray away from the 50,000 other festival-goers and view the stage from close proximity without any blocked sightlines. And due to hysterically lax security, I was able to bring all of my friends into the section as well so we could all enjoy it together.

And the VIP section was as luxurious as it sounds. It’s like the happy meadow at the end of the river that everyone envisions, where only good things happen. Aside from a plethora of open space, there was ping pong tables, a buffet, clean bathrooms and a shortcut from stage to stage. The girls were beautiful, the drinks were aplenty, and all was right with the world.

But arguably the best of the perks was the feeling of superiority. Of entitlement. I wasn’t actually covering the event, so the majority of the time I did not need to actually wear my media badge. But having it around my neck made me feel important. It distanced me from all of the other individuals who were at the festival. It gave me status.

The problem, however, is that I’ve now had my taste of VIP status, and life will never be the same again. Never again can I attend a festival and reside among the peasants with no access to special privileges. Never again can I watch a concert behind a mile-long cascade of other people, unable to even glimpse the stage. I’ve had my grasp of power, and by golly I want it back.

I can hope that my media access to Firefly can act as a stepping stone for other such events, and that maybe this will not be the last time.

But if it was, then it was a hell of a ride.

Tell, them Ellie Goulding.

I can’t believe that “Whodunnit?” is a real show.

I can’t begin today without acknowledging the untimely death of Mr. James Gandolfini at age 51. Gandolfini apparently met that type of A-list celebrity that, upon his death, Facebook statuses flooded in with comments about his passing.

Gandolfini is known for pretty much one role, and one role only. That of Tony Soprano from HBO’s landmark drama, The Sopranos.

I’m going to admit, I have never seen a full episode of the show. As a television, film and pop culture nut, that may seem pretty incredulous. I’ve heard account after account about its legendary status. Indeed, its hailed as one of the — if not the — best television drama of all time.

But I was 12 years old when the show debuted. Given its very violent and obscene nature, it wasn’t the type of show that really appealed to me at the time of its heyday. I was more of a Hey Arnold! type of guy at that age. And since I was too young during its peak, I kind of missed the boat, and subsequently never really get into it. I did, however, watch the final 10 minutes of the finale, just because I knew that the entire world would be talking about it for weeks. And just typing that sentence automatically singaled the song “Don’t Stop Believing” in my head.

Though I never watched the show, it didn’t take much to realize that Gandolfini’s portrayal of the intimidating mobster was clearly a very iconic role that resonated in a lot of people’s minds. That was evidenced last night by the outpouring of Facebook posts, and that he was the top trending topic on Twitter for hours after his death.

The suprisingly emotional public reaction may have even inspired me to add The Sopranos to my queue of television shows to watch. I think it’s finally time to witness it for myself, and by doing so, I can perhaps appreciate the craft of Mr. Gandolfini. I came across an interesting and very well-written article on Twitter last night, written by someone who clearly covered the HBO show throughout his life, and he had some pretty remarkable things to say about Gandolfini. For those who — like me — were unfamiliar with the man, you can read that piece here to gain a little more insight about the New Jersey-born actor. I recommend it.

I did, however, see Gandolfini in the 2012 film Killing Me Softly, which I watched several months ago. And I can attest that one thing I remember from him was how overweight he appeared. So it came as no real shock to learn that his death came as a result of a heart attack, and that’s just yet another solemn reminder of the importance of maintaining good physical shape, especially into our later years.

RIP Mr. Gandolfini.

Now onto some lighter stuff.

I was watching television the other day. I can’t quite remember what I was watching, but I’m sure it was something embarrassing. But regardless of what it was, a commercial aired, advertising a show that is beginning on Sunday on ABC called Whodunnit?

Needless to say, the commercial left me in awe that such a show could exist.

See for yourself.

The trailer starts as typically as any other of its kind might, marketing the show as a reality series. It depicts the stereotypical arrival of a dozen strangers into a fancy house, the butler/host walking down the stairs to greet them, and the group toasting wine glasses  while smiling jovially.

But then the ad took a drastic turn, and shifted into some type of quasi horror-suspense show, with the contestants being blindsided into a murder-mystery live action game.

Essentially, it seems like a reality portrayal of the board game Clue.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. When the mood of the commercial shifted gears, I thought it was a joke. I assumed it was some kind of parody. I was actually waiting for the Geico gecko to make an appearance and validate the joke. But he never came.

The gecko never came.

Clue is a very longstanding, historically popular game. It will never go out of fashion. So I understand that a network had the idea to try to market off its success. But that they’re still somehow trying to make us truly believe that it is a genuine reality show, and that the contestants are seriously afraid for their lives — that’s when it just becomes an insult to my intelligence. An episode has not aired yet, but I have no problem proclaiming it as one of the dumbest things of all time. Not one of the dumbest shows of all time, one of the dumbest things. 

The trailer shows flashes of breaking glass, women screaming, smears of blood, and even leads us to believe that some of the contestants actually die. Heck, at 1:14 in, they even show some type of feral cat in mid-growl. It’s like some type of jaguar or puma.

How the hell can you incorporate a jaguar and/or a puma into a reality show and expect us to take it seriously? This isn’t The Hangover. 

Supposedly one of the contestants on the show is “the killer,” which means its not only a ripoff of Clue, but of The Mole, which is one of the most underrated shows of all time. I hope there is at least one person out there reading this who has seen The Mole and therefore agrees with me on that.

I understand that they are attempting to appeal to the type of crowd who likes mysteries, suspense, or storylines that involve the solving of crime. But, here’s the thing — people who enjoy those type of brain teasers are actually smart. There not the same idiots who watch Princesses: Long Island or Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Instead of watching this show, they’ll entertain their minds with a book, or the actual 1985 film adaptation of Clue.

Everything about this show, from its marketing, its production, to even its freaking name — Whodunnit? — is awful. Can you imagine person going up to another person and saying, “Yo, did you watch Whodunnit last night?” Just saying that out loud makes me laugh in the worst kind of way.

The only “whodunnit” that I’m interested in is the person who was responsible for creating this show. Because he or she is the real murderer here.

The murderer of our intelligence.

It amazes me that Cher is not only still alive, but still making music

It’s one thing for artists to transcend generations, and stay relevant throughout a multitude of decades. There are plenty who have been going strong for 30 or 40 years, and while they may not maintain the same audience they once had, are still revered as respectable musicians. Paul McCartney. Billy Joel. Bob Dylan. The Rolling Stones.

But it’s another thing for an artist to reappear out of nowhere for three consecutive decades, thus evoking three different generations of music fans to say, “Holy shit, she’s not dead?!”

And I mean that with the utmost respect. 

Cherilyn Sarkisian — which sounds like a character’s name straight out of Game of Thrones — best known by her stage name, Cher, released her first album as a duo with Sonny Bono in 1967. That is 46 years ago. A man hadn’t even walked on the moon yet.

So the older folks out there probably will remember her from those days, when she sang with Bono, who was her husband until 1975, before he went and got himself killed by skiing into a tree in 1998.

But for people under the age of 40, how you remember Cher may be distinguished by the time period in which you grew up. She released the track, “If I Could Turn Back Time” in 1989, and the song was a big hit. And she was 43 at the time. That age isn’t quite over-the-hill just yet, but it’s fairly old for a pop diva. When the song was released, I think people assumed it was probably her final hit.

But then, magically, nine years later, Cher reemerged, and introduced herself to a whole new audience with “Believe.” I was 11 years old when that song came out, and I can vouch that it was huge. Huge. It was played everywhere, and it was catchy as hell. Heck, I even still like listening to it now. And she was 51 when she released that song. That’s bordering on grandma territory.

The song also allegedly pioneered the use of Auto-Tune in contemporary music. While Auto-Tune is now looked at with a negative stigma, and viewed as a cop-out for artists who can’t sing *CoughGleeCough*, it wasn’t looked at that way when Cher used it. It was new and innovative, and actually contributed to the song. I honestly kind of forgot that Auto-Tune was even used. At the time, I thought Cher was just so talented that she was able to manipulate her voice. Again, I was 11.

But then Cher went into hibernation again. This time, everyone knew there was no way, no way, that she would ever come back again.

Until last night.

That’s a clip of last night’s season finale of The Voice, in which Cher debuted her new single.

When I first heard that Cher was premiering a new single, I couldn’t have been more surprised than if you told me that Whitney Houston was planning a comeback tour.

But any excitement that anyone might have had to see Cher perform should have been extinguished by her hairdo. What the hell is that? She looks like she has a purple feather duster on her head. Her haircut honestly makes her look like an angst-ridden teenage boy who hates high school.

Also, older artists normally try to appear to an older audience. This song is clearly meant to be something that is played in clubs or bars. It’s a fast paced dance song. Sung by a 67-year-old woman. That definitely is grandma territory.

Imagine your grandmother on stage doing dance moves, draped in leather and singing a song that is aimed to played when drunk college girls are grinding on guys at bars, go back with them to their dorm room and make a decision that they’ll regret deeply the next morning. And this song started that.

Oh and here’s a fun fact. The song is called “Woman’s World,” and, looking at Cher’s discography right now, she apparently released an album in 1995 called “It’s a Man’s World.” Tell your friends tomorrow about this great piece of knowledge that I just instilled in you!

As far as the song itself goes — I don’t know. I can maybe see it catching on, and it will probably get some radio play simply because of the allure of its singer, but I don’t really predict it to have the same level of success of “Believe.”

But you never know. She convinced me that there was life after love, so maybe she’ll also persuade me that it is indeed a woman’s world.

Boudoir photography is a new trend that I am OK with.

I’m not going to go on a rant right now generalizing about how silly most of our society’s trends are. At the Weinblog, we aim for specificity.

So I’ll take it one step further and take a jab at how methodical and predictable that wedding trends have become. Oh you got engaged? Great, congratulations. And disclaimer — I assure you I am not even close to being somebody who gets annoyed when people get engaged, I am not a girl. I do, however, knowingly anticipate the drivel that follows most engagements.

First there is the five or six posts showing the wedding ring, and the location of the proposal. Then there’s the status from the newly engaged female about how she is “marrying her best friend.” Then when the date is set, there is the monthly post from the bride-to-be saying, “[Number] months away! OMG I can’t believe it!” And then of course there are the cliche engagement photos, usually in a park or a beach or some type of meadow. Nothing ever changes.

It’s always the same.

That is, until I learned about what is supposedly a growing trend among females and their wedding parties — boudoir photography.

Honestly, I didn’t need to see much more than the picture to instantly lend my approval to this new trend.

Cool.

According to the New York Post — one of the more reliable publications in today’s print world — boudoir photography is a “growing social trend” in the United States, involving females taking risque photos, and sometimes (as seen above) stripping down to nothing to create an artistic, provocative group shot.

The article continues to say that the photography is meant to “empower women.”

My first thought after all of this becomes, how do I become a boudoir photographer? These geniuses somehow talk women into getting naked directly in front of them, and, even better, somehow convince them that what they are doing is empowering.

Oh and the best part? Most of the girls in that photo are sisters.

Let that resonate.

The bride-to-be, named Jennie Richards, pictured in the far right, said that this photo was about “having fun with my friends.” Yeah, I’m glad that you guys are having fun. If you want to have more fun, then I’m all for it. Who am I to stand in the way of your happiness?

One can make the case that I have handpicked a couple of sexist topics the last two days, but I assure you that I am trying my best to be objective here. That being said, can anyone ever picture — in a million years — a group of men feeling the need to do something like this in order to gain a sense of supremacy? Sometimes I just can’t help but feel befuddled whenever I try to fathom how the female mind works.

But like I said, I for one am willing to give this new trend a trial run, and see how it goes. I think many more women should consider it, and I may even recommend it to a couple of my friends who recently got engaged. If it really is becoming as popular as the New York Post says it is, then I would be a bad friend if I didn’t.

I’m all for femininity. I am the biggest advocate of women’s rights. Susan B. Anthony is my hero. I admired Hilary Swank’s character in Million Dollar Baby. And I still firmly believe that Emelia Earhart survived her 1937 circumnavigational flight.

So if this new trend involving women stripping completely naked and showing their bodies to the world, while closely gripping other females at the same time, is going to become popular, then, well, I suppose I can accept it.

I’m just that kind of guy.