All it took for UFC to gain the national spotlight was for somebody’s shin to split in half

If you watched the late edition of SporsCenter on Saturday night, you may have been surprised to see them open not with football, or basketball, or some manufactured yet inspiring story about a kid in a wheelchair overcoming great obstacles — but with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, better known as UFC.

Your NewsFeed, too, may have been replete with some statuses about the events that transpired during Saturday night’s UFC fight card.

And even Twitter, more than 24 hours later, had a national trending topic of #UFC168 — the name of Saturday’s event, in which Chris WeidmanChris Weidman defended his Middleweight title against Anderson Silva.

This sudden burst of popularity wasn’t because the sport had finally blossomed into an overnight sensation, as some people predicted that it might. Rather, it was the manner in which Weidman won the fight that caught people’s attention. And that was the way in which Silva’s left fibula and tibia snapped after his ferocious leg kick was blocked by Weidman’s knee.

You know that feeling when you accidentally bang your shin, possibly on a staircase, or on the side of your bed? And you know how that really, really hurts?

Well this was a lot worse.

Here is a GIF image of the injury, but, be warned, do not watch it if you are not a fan of body parts contorting in ways they never should.

Instead, watch this GIF, also UFC related, and involves the female competitors prepping for their match.

The irony here is that the reason UFC became such a hot topic this weekend may very well be the same reason why it isn’t as popular as it could be. And that begins and ends with the sport’s violence.

There’s no question that other sports like football or hockey are violent as well, but unlike UFC, they don’t purely revolve around injuring your opponent.

You can make the case that it’s the same reason why boxing has lost a lot of its glory in the last couple of decades. It may also be due to the lack iconic figures like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, or even more recent ones like Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield, but I believe in this day and age when we know so much more about head injuries and post-concussion syndrome, it’s just not as enchanting to watch grown men bash the living shit out of each other’s faces.

Hey, if they still want to sign up for it, people will watch. But only the devout fans. And that’s why it unfortunately takes a gruesome injury like the one we saw with Anderson Silva for casual sports fans to discuss it as well.

Chris Weidman, on a side note, actually spurred a little interest in my hometown for the sport when he first won the title in July, because he’s originally from the same region of Long Island that I live in. Cool story, bro.

So what’s the moral of the story here? Kids, if you happen to be a good fighter in your youth, and are entertaining the thought of pursuing it as a career, at least consider pursuing a pre-med track first. Or wear shin guards.

Anyway, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, which means everybody is finetuning their plans for the evening, because there is nothing, nothing more embarrassing or depressing in life than spending New Year’s alone.

Except maybe when your mom buys you underwear for Christmas.

Which, uhh, didn’t happen for me this year.

Justin Bieber has more power on Twitter than Barack Obama has on America

I hope everybody had a great Christmas!

Personally, I was too busy the last two days being filled with holiday spirit, enjoying my time with family and renewing my zest for life to actually take the time to sit down and blog. Ah, screw it, I actually just lied in bed all day and watched Avatar.

justin-bieber-retiring-1Major news typically doesn’t occur on Dec. 24 and 25, as the world collectively takes a deep breath and people refrain from doing or saying anything outrageous.

But of course, Justin Bieber just couldn’t do that.

Before we go any further, I must remind you all of another story involving Twitter that occurred earlier this week with Justine Sacco. You can all refer to my last blog to refresh your memory. Or just stop reading now and do something more productive with your time.

Anyway, Sacco showed us exactly what it takes for a relatively obscure person to gain national attention through Twitter — Tweet something extremely racist. And in the end, she was Sacco’d from her job. You really should have listened to me when I said to stop reading.

Justin Bieber, meanwhile, showed that he can pretty much Tweet anything and gain international attention.

Before we begin, let’s examine where exactly Justin Bieber lies in the grand scheme of the Twitterverse. According to Twittercounter.com, also known as the first site that popped up when I searched Google, here are the top five most followed users:

  1. Katy Perry: 48.8 million
  2. Justin Bieber: 48 million
  3. Lady Gaga: 40.9 million
  4. Barack Obama: 40.7 million
  5. Taylor Swift: 37.8 million

For reference, Perry and Bieber’s 48+ million followers represents more people than there are in 170 countries. Their Twitter followers surpasses the total number of people in Australia and Taiwan combined.

So when they Tweet, people will see it.

And, as most of you may have heard, Justin Bieber celebrated Christmas Eve by Tweeting his retirement. Or, in his words, “My beloved beliebers I’m officially retiring.”

Now I’m not even here to question the authenticity of his alleged retirement. Because, quite frankly, I don’t care. Justin Bieber can put out zero albums or 25 albums for the remainder of his existence, and it wouldn’t affect my life in any way. In reality, however, the timing of it gives me the impression that it’s a publicity stunt — his documentary “Believe” hit the theaters one day later.

But anyway, what fascinates me more is the power that he possesses on Twitter.

When Barack Obama stands at a podium and delivers a speech, it’s usually well documented. The New York Times and The Washington Post will have their reporters there, and they’ll put something on their websites for whoever is interested, which usually isn’t too many people. Or at least not as much as their should be.

But when Bieber tweets, the world physically shakes.

I was getting ready for work this morning when I overheard the morning news in the other room, and the newscasters were actually discussing this. For all we all know, Bieber was lying in his bed on his pajamas, possibly baked out of his mind, and decided to stir things up when he wrote this. And he made the morning news.

If I were him, I’d see how far I can go. If he Tweeted “yo beliebers, the sky is green,” I’m not saying it would make national news, but I think, at the very least, a few thousand people would go outside and check.

According to USA Today, 20.6 million people watched Obama’s inauguration this year. In 2009, 37.8 million watched. That’s still not even close to how many people Bieber reaches when he Tweets.

What greater display of power exists in this world than that?

And guys, Bieber only needs about 800,000 more followers to top Katy Perry. If all of my readers followed him, he could do it! Wait, there’s only three of you who read this? And you all follow him already?

Unbeliebable.

Why a racist AIDS Tweet showed that having tons of Twitter followers just isn’t worth it

Sometimes, obscurity is a good thing.

When you’re not widely known by the masses, you have the luxury of living your life out of the spotlight. Things you say will rarely be taken out of proportion, and you don’t have to worry about people scrutinizing your every action.

But that still doesn’t mean that our relative insignificance is something we should take for granted. And Justine Sacco learned that Saccothe hard way.

People who keep up to date with social media news likely know this story, but for those who don’t, it can be summed up in one Tweet.

<— This.

The Tweet caused a stir on social media, not in a good way, and by the time Sacco’s plane landed 12 hours later, she was America’s favorite racist, and out of a job. Needless to say, her Twitter account no longer exists.

To be fair to Sacco, who is South African, she had fewer than 500 followers at the time of the Tweet. Which may sound like a good amount, but when compared to major celebrities, it’s pocket change.

However, the problem with having a small amount of followers is that it too often presents us with a false sense of security. We think that since so few people will see it, that it can’t possibly cause an outrage. But we forget how quickly that can change. And that’s the power of social media.

And don’t get me wrong, the more Twitter followers you have, it means the more famous you are, which probably means you’re rich and successful. So having a lot of followers certainly isn’t a bad thing. But the more followers you have, the more of a target you become. And as Justine Sacco learned, it only takes one Tweet to tarnish your reputation.

But let’s examine the Tweet itself. I’ll admit, reading it made me chuckle. Not because it’s witty, or even factual, but because it’s so overtly racist that there’s no other way to construe it. And that’s a lesson, folks — if you’re going to be racist, at least be clever, too.

And the icing on the cake was the nature of Sacco’s job. You might be saying, “She got fired for that? Really?” Well, she wasn’t a computer programmer, or an accountant — but the head of communications for a media company. In other words, she gets paid to speak, and is essentially the voice of her company. Bearing that in mind, she deserved to get canned, because someone whose job relies on conversing with others should probably have better judgment.

Sacco has since apologized — obviously — but the damage was done.

The overall lesson here, though, is that people think Twitter is akin to having a thought in your head and voicing it aloud to your friends. It’s not. As of right now, I have 79 followers. Half of them are probably spam. And yet, I still make sure to check my Twitter account every so often, and make sure I didn’t say anything ridiculously stupid that I may have thought was funny at the time.

But I’m happy with my 79 followers. I don’t need anymore. I know every Tweet I make isn’t going to be inspirational or politically correct, and that every now and then a ill-advised comment will slip through the cracks. But at least it will only be seen by my close friends, and some dude named Nisskaya Kseniya, who may or may not be a terrorist.

So what’s the bottom line? Don’t become famous, never voice your opinion, and when in doubt, always — always — refrain from making an AIDS joke.

HIV jokes are cool though.

Today I learned why I stay away from the theatre

I always knew there was a reason why I had never been to the theatre.

That’s right — myself, who lives a mere 25 miles from New York City, has never seen a Broadway play. It’s just not something that enters my consciousness. When me and my friends plan our Friday and Saturday nights, we contemplate what bars we want to go to, what concerts we may see, or what sporting events we’ll watch, or possibly attend.

No one ever says, “Hey man, let’s go get balcony seats to see the Lion King! I heard it’s magical!”

Beauty and the Beast TourAnd I don’t mean to insult anyone who has a liking for the theatre, but it’s just not my thing.

I must say though, I have often wondered why that’s the case. Why do I possess such a lack of interest in Broadway? Or in musicals, altogether? In fact, I even started to think that it was some type of flaw.

Is it because I’m not cultural? Does it make me simple-minded? Or is it the annoying god damn way that “theatre” is so often spelled?

But today I finally realized why I never attend such shows. It has nothing to do with my intelligence, or my cultural preferences.

It’s because I prefer not to be flattened when a theatre roof collapses.

That’s exactly what happened in London this evening, when part of the ceiling of the legendary Apollo Theatre caved in, injuring 81 people and seriously injuring another seven. And it wasn’t just the ceiling that fell, but lights and other equipment too.

Okay, so let me be a little realistic here. This could happen anywhere — an office building, an arena, school, a house, etc. Every now and then, when we’re in a packed building, we can’t help but look up at the ceiling and say, “You know, if this fell right now … that would suck.”

The thought usually vanishes seconds later, because it’s purely hypothetical and borderline absurd. Architects who assemble buildings know what they’re doing. There’s a simple formula in creating a foundation to avoid this type of thing. So there’s no need to live in constant fear of roofs caving in on us.

But maybe, maybe, my inner subconscious said, “If it were to happen .. I’d rather it be in a sporting arena, or in my own home. If I’m going to die or become seriously injured from a roof collapse, I am not going down in a freaking theatre.”

Especially since most theatres are pretty old, like the Apollo Theatre, which was built in 1901.

Amazingly, 720 people were in the audience at the time of the collapse, and less than 15 percent of them got hurt. Also, the show they were seeing was  “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime,” an adaptation of a young adult mystery novel about a child with Attention Deficit Disorder — and a book I have actually read.

If that’s not a sign to stay away from the theatre forever, I don’t know what is.

You’d never hear about anything like this happening at a bar. And this is just another example of why it pays to frequent your nearest tavern rather than spend a night seeing a live show.

For once — and probably the only time ever — a lack of appreciation for finer art, drama and showmanship saved lives.

At least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.

I think Secret Santa is a holiday tradition that could be done away with

It’s bad enough that we have to brave crowded malls, supermarkets and other stores during the final days before Christmas, but at least we can take solace in knowing that this last-second shopping is being done for the people that we are closest to. Because that’s who we buy Christmas presents for, right? Our family, best friends, etc.

We don’t buy presents for that one friend who we only see every two months. We make a firm decision of exactly who we want Secret Santato pay tribute to during the holidays, and it’s usually just a handful of people that we have known for a very long time.

If we want to acknowledge others, we send a Christmas card. There’s no need to spend more that 79 cents on a distant cousin.

Because Christmas shopping sucks. There’s no other way to describe it — it sucks. Aside from crowded stores, there’s also the heavy traffic to and from, and just the general pressure of deciding what you even want to purchase in the first place. But again, it’s the sacrifice we make for our loved ones.

Oh wait, I forgot somebody else who we have to go through this trouble for — that one co-worker that was selected randomly for you to buy a present for.

If you work in an office, then you most likely had the opportunity to participate in a Secret Santa swap this month.

The idea is that you list a few low-cost items that you want for Christmas on a slip of paper. When every participant has done so, you select a slip from a bag, and receive somebody at random. There is a limit on how much you can spend — normally $15 to $20 — and you have to anonymously buy the person one of their listed items, thus making you a “Secret Santa.”

It’s a great idea on the surface. A workplace is a fairly mundane, conventional environment, and it’s nice to spice things up a little. It’s also a good way to boost work relationships, and to interact with your co-workers in a non work-related manner.

Also, when a co-worker approaches your desk with a giant smile, asking if you want to participate in Secret Santa, you don’t want to be the one that says no. You want to be a team player. And it’s not like you’re spending a lot of money, anyway.Yankee Candle2

But then a few days pass, and you remember that you actually have to go out and buy the gift. You’ve probably already spent hundreds on presents already, and now you have to stroll into a Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy a lavender-scented Yankee Candle, or some type of scarf for somebody who you probably don’t even know too well.

It’s also troublesome to think of three gifts that you want for under $20. I can’t even think of anything I want when there is no spending limit, let alone that small of a sum. Inevitably, we all end up writing down some type of gift card that we don’t even really need.

And I didn’t even mention the worst part. There’s no payoff. One of the thrills of giving a gift is seeing the person’s reaction, and getting to exchange a hug with them, so they can show their appreciation. It’s not a selfish thing — it’s just a nice moment between two friends and a key part of the gift giving process.

With Secret Santa, you sneakily watch them open their present, and then just stand there like a moron. The funny thing is, everybody usually waits only like five minutes to tell the person it was them. Why even bother? Just put your name on the freaking tag. As a gift recipient, it’s also stressful not knowing who to share your thanks with.

Instead, you awkwardly say “thank you” to an entire roomful of people. And 10 minutes later, your Secret Santa party is over, and now you have to go Starbucks every morning for the next five days to exhaust your gift card.

There’s got to be other ways to promote office camaraderie, right?

Again, I’m never going to say no to Secret Santa, so the only way to avoid it is if the tradition ends altogether. So let’s just go ahead and do that.

Although, I must admit, Yankee Candles do smell like heaven in a bowl.

Were people really that distraught when Brian from Family Guy died?

A little more than a few weeks ago, the few people who still watch Family Guy were stunned when they witnessed the death of Brian Griffin, the lovable, alcoholic, anthropomorphic pet dog voiced by the show’s creator, Seth MacFarlane.

Brian’s likability stemmed from not only the absurdity of him being a talking dog, but that he was the only sensible one in the family. And it’s pretty much general consensus that him and Stewie are everybody’s favorite.

Brian GriffinBut Family Guy peaked years ago. You all know the story — it was canceled by FOX, likely because it was a too big of a risk for a major network, as the show is comprised of semi-racist, homophobic, sexist humor. But the fans, upset with its cancellation, rallied and ultimately brought it back.

Several years later, like every show, it became stale. Seth MacFarlane’s popularity only continues to grow, but even he would probably admit that Family Guy isn’t as much of a priority for him anymore, especially now that he’s moved on to bigger and better things. As a result, no one really cares anymore about the show.

That is, until you kill off their favorite character.

I’ll admit — the video, linked to above, is a bit of a tear-jerker. It definitely contains some sentiment, and it’ll stir emotion in anyone whose ever lost a pet.

But while sadness was expected from this, what I did not expect … was outrage.

Minutes after the show aired, A #BringBackBrian hash tag was trending on Twitter, and angry Tweets were directed at Seth MacFarlane,with many saying they’ll never watch the show again. A petition on Change.org directed towards MacFarlane and FOX has 75,000 signatures.

Seriously, people were more mad about this than they are with Obamacare.

It just goes to show: harm a dog, real or fake, and America is going to be pissed.

In the last two weeks, Nelson Mandela, Paul Walker, Peter O’ Toole and Tom Laughlin died, and there wasn’t a bigger outcry for those deaths combined than there was for a fictional dog.

And don’t people know that — unlike real life — death on an animated television show is not permanent? Whereas Nelson Mandela and Paul Walker can not possibly return to this Earth, the only thing stopping Brian Griffin from returning is him being drawn onto a piece of paper.

Sure enough, this past Sunday — similar to how Jesus Christ himself resurrected from death — Brian returned. This “miracle” was accomplished by Stewie traveling back in time to pull him to safety moments before the fatal car accident.

It’s a modern day Christmas miracle.

In the end, it was likely just a ploy to get people talking about Family Guy again. However, I can’t imagine that MacFarlane, or any of the show’s producers, could have anticipated the public backlash, and that was exemplified in this Tweet:

You can screw with people’s civil liberties, equality, and privacy all you want, but if you take away their favorite animated pet dog, then you’re really starting trouble.

Alright, we might be going overboard with the love for the new pope

In this world, it’s extremely hard to be universally liked. Where opinions are spread like wildfire, and mostly everybody has freedom to say what they want, we live in an age where it’s difficult for somebody to be looked upon in unanimous favor by the general public.

And that’s hard enough for anyone, let alone a religious figure. And yet, Pope Francis has done exactly that. Heck, I even jumped Pope Francis Timeonto the bandwagon pretty quickly.

And last week, Pope Francis added another notch to his bedpost, when he was named Time Magazine’s 2013 Person of the Year.

The magazine cited its reasons for the decision, which are aplenty, but namely him being the first pope from Latin America, a champion for the poor, charismatic, and spearheading a rejuvenation of the Catholic church while bringing it back to its roots. On top of that, he has voiced his openness and empathy to woman who have abortions, and when asked his opinion on gay people, he famously replied, “Who am I to judge?”

Essentially, Pope Francis has been acclaimed for simply being a regular dude, which apparently is what the church needed at this time.

It’s hard to argue with the choice. It’s only been nine months since he took the reins as pope, and yet, he’s already beloved.

But I think we’ve reached a point where we all need to take a step back and lighten up with the praise. I know that, as pope, Francis is supposed to be immune to egotism and all that, but nobody in this world deserves to be worshipped this much.

And I know that is the purpose of a pope — to be worshipped. But it’s supposed to be by his followers. Not by the Jews. Not by gays. Not by Time Magazine.

I’m not saying that we should all just suddenly turn on the pope like Toronto has turned on Rob Ford. But maybe what we should do is, something like … give him the silent treatment for a week. Next time the the Pope returns to the Vatican from his most recent excursion, instead of thousands of supporters waiting to greet him at St. Peter’s Square, how about nobody goes.

Instead of the raucous cheers and applause he’s accustomed to, let him leave the Popemobile to the sound of crickets. Let’s see Pope Francis be so loving then.

For those wondering, the reported runner-up for Time’s highest distinction was Edward Snowden, the former National Security Administration contractor-turned American fugitive who leaked secret documents about questionable U.S. surveillance practices to the press. Also, Miley Cyrus was apparently a top contender.

Again, I think Pope Francis deserves the accolades he’s received, and that’s he’s become a refreshing symbol in a position that had become outmoded by his predecessors. But I fully and wholeheartedly believe that there is such a thing as too much acclaim for one man.

Share the wealth, people.

Praise some one else a little bit. Some one who, I don’t know … likes to share his opinion. Who writes a WordPress blog that starts with W and ends with G.

Who desperately desires attention and has an insatiable need to be loved by anybody and everybody.

I could be describing anyone.

Sometimes in life … you just have to go to an Avril Lavigne concert

Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?

— Avril Lavigne

As an avid concertgoer, I can vouch that there are very few things more enjoyable than hearing music you enjoy up close and personal. When at a live show, and listening to familiar music while surrounded by others who are also enjoying themselves, it’s extremely difficult to be in a bad mood.

While it’s always fun to learn new music and check out different artists, there’s no questioning how much better it is when you go to a concert in which you know all of the songs that are being played.

For that one night, you get to sing at the top of your lungs along with hundreds of other people, and bearing no shame whatsoever.

Not only that, but you get to physically see an artist that you’ve previously formed a connection with through their music. After hearing them so many times on the radio and on your iPod, they’re finally right there, standing before you.

And of course, you get to record a song on your phone and upload it to Facebook. It’s pretty mandatory.

For all of those reasons, concerts are awesome.

However, one of the problems us concertgoers experience is the stigma that comes with attending certain shows. Some of don’t attend the concerts that we want to because we’re embarrassed to, or because we feel like we “don’t belong there.”

For example, I have not been secretive about my admiration for Taylor Swift. But being at a Taylor Swift show … well, that’s just asking for trouble. First and foremost, I’d be a 26-year-old male among thousands of 15-year-old girls. Additionally, it’s not really something I could flaunt.

I have no problem telling the world I went to a Mumford & Sons show, which I did in August. Telling people I went to a Taylor Swift concert, however, would evoke a wide range of reactions — none of them positive. (Also, a giant shout out from all of us here at the Weinblog — a.k.a., just me — to Taylor on her 24th birthday!)

Yeah, I know … who cares, right? Sometimes you just have to shelve your pride and do the things you enjoy, regardless of what other people think.

And on Wednesday night, I did. No I did not attend a Taylor Swift concert, unfortunately, but I did go see another female pop star, who has a similarly large female fan base.

The self-proclaimed “M—– F—— Pop Princess” herself, Avril Lavigne.

Everyone in the world likes at least one Avril Lavigne song. Whether it’s “Complicated,” “Sk8er Boi,” “I’m With You,” “Girlfriend,” or something else. She has an entire musical library of popular, catchy tracks, and I just couldn’t resist seeing her.

I never would have seen in her in a giant arena, but, surprisingly, she performed at a smaller venue about 25 minutes away from where I live. Using connections through my job, I was able to secure two tickets for free. But believe me, it’s not like these were handed to me — I very much put forth the effort to get them, because, well, I really, really, wanted to go.

And that’s why me, and my 28-year-old male friend could be found at 9 p.m. among hundreds of teenage girls, some with colorfully dyed hair, many with tattoos, and nearly all with black eyeliner, watching Avril Lavigne perform. She played 12 songs over the course of a little over an hour, including all the hits I mentioned above, and here is a rundown my personal progression throughout the show.

Songs 1-3: “I definitely don’t want to be seen singing, but it’s OK if I bob my head and tap my foot, right?”

Songs 4-6: “Hey, there are other guys here who are singing along. Maybe I can just mouth the chorus and it won’t be a big deal.”

Songs 6-9: “Screw it. I don’t give a shit. I’m singing. I’m dancing. And if I knock over a 12-year-old girl along the way, so be it.”

Songs 10-12: “WHY’D YOU HAVE TO GO AND MAKE THINGS SO COMPLICATED? OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU AVRIL!”

Not even kidding, my voice was hoarse by the time the show ended.

I can now cross Avril Lavigne off of my concert bucket list, and, because I didn’t give a crap about my own public perception, I had a great night.

There’s a lesson to be learned here.

Sometimes, you just have to be live like a 12-year-old girl.

Wait, that’s not what I meant.

New York City beggars have desensitized me towards ever helping anybody in need

Since mid-November, shoppers everywhere have found themselves greeted by bells when entering malls, supermarkets, and other stores. No, it’s not because we’re being summoned home for dinner by a mother from the 1950s, but because Salvation Army volunteers are soliciting donations for those in need.

And it’s not even annoying. The volunteers aren’t yelling  — in fact, they rarely talk — they’re not shouting obscenities, their red Salvation Armywardrobe is perfectly befitting for the holiday season, and their little bells aren’t that noisy, either. If anything, it’s a welcome tradition this time of year.

Salvation Army volunteers have set up shop in front of local businesses for years during the holiday season. Naturally, the hope is that they’ll catch people, who, engulfed with Christmas spirit, are will willing to lend some spare change to the poor. And I’m sure they collect tons of money throughout the country and make good use of it.

However, today, as I was walking into a Fairway Market — which are awesome, by the way, if you’ve never been — I found myself crossing paths with such a volunteer. And what happened can only be defined as “crossing paths,” because it wasn’t anything else. If anything, it was the lowest form of human interaction imaginable.

As I neared them, I didn’t even glance at them. I didn’t smile. I didn’t nod my head. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you if it was a man or woman. And that’s because I pretended they didn’t exist. For all I know, it could have been a giant penguin ringing a bell, and I’d be none the wiser. Which would mean I missed out on the awesome opportunity to see a giant penguin ringing a bell.

And then it occurred to me — I’ve been doing this the entire holiday season.

Probably at least four or five times I’ve had the opportunity to donate to the Salvation Army this year, and not only have I failed to do so, but I haven’t even given these volunteers the courtesy of human acknowledgement.

These volunteers, who aren’t poor, aren’t rude, and who spend their valuable free time standing outside in the freezing cold just to help others and contribute to the betterment of mankind.

And while they may be the cold ones standing outside for hours at a time, in reality, I’m the one who’s even colder — emotionally.

It made me wonder why I’m such a stingy, dispirited penny-pincher. At the very least, couldn’t I look them in the eye and smile? Such a gesture would be a simple, yet effective way to appreciate what they’re doing.

And then it occurred to me — New York City beggars.

Any one who has spent even an hour of their life in Manhattan will know instantly what I mean. Because the city is littered with a New York City. Homeless man.homeless population, which — unlike the Salvation Army volunteers — are rude, loud, obnoxious, smelly and abhorrent to look at.

It’s an unwritten code of conduct among city dwellers to completely disregard these people. And I know it sounds bad — just giving them a meager $5 can greatly improve their life. But, we all know, they aren’t going to spend it on food. They aren’t going to invest it in some Internet startup in an attempt to accumulate wealth. They’re going to the nearest bodega and buying a 24-oz. can of Budweiser. In the end, you’re out five bucks, and you just became an enabler for a homeless man’s slow, painful demise.

But at the end of the day, those homeless degenerates on 5th Avenue and the Salvation Army volunteers in front of K-Mart are essentially doing the same thing — requesting your money.

That similarity obviously triggers something in my mind that makes me ignore them both altogether. Subconsciously, my brain blends them together.

And that’s wrong.

I’m just glad I realized it in time. And from now until Christmas, I am not only going to lend these do-gooders a curt nod of appreciation, but I am going to donate money. I’ve spent money on so much worthless shit in my life, that this is the least I can do. I’m a working man who has some cash to spare, I believe wholeheartedly in philanthropy, and it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

That’s right, people, if I can do it, you can too.

Unless I only have a $20 on me. Then, uhh… maybe next time.

Christmas tree photos make me miss fireworks photos

During 4th of July celebrations, people tend to get a bit overexcited, and will post extremely mediocre fireworks photos onto Facebook and Instagram.

I don’t mean to decry this behavior. As I said, people are a little amped, probably inebriated, and they want to capture the xmas tree instagrammoment. But the end result is a completely unoriginal, boring photo that in reality is a disgrace to photography.

None of us have these mega Nikon 6xG24000 cameras that take professional photos. Instead, we use our Smartphones, and the idea of a Droid or an iPhone capturing a legitimate action-shot of airborne fireworks is nothing short of laughable.

And that’s why I dread social media on Independence Day. Luckily for me, it’s only one day a year, and then I don’t have to worry about it for another 365 days.

But then December comes. And while I never thought that there could be a more unimaginative photo scheme than fireworks, apparently I was wrong.

Because what I had not considered … is Christmas tree photos.

Now before all of my Catholic friends throw a tizzy — especially since I’ve been rather hard on their religion this past week — let me explain myself.

Christmas trees, for hundreds of years, have not changed. They are the same size. They have a star or an angel at the top. And they have various ornaments, lights and candy canes throughout. Sometimes at its base, people put a train, or will recreate the birth of Christ with miniature statuettes.

There. I just described every Christmas tree in the world. We all know what it looks like.

But that doesn’t stop people from showing us exactly what we already know. And that’s why, all of us, will be exposed to people posting photos of their own, personalized Christmas tree on Facebook and Instagram.

And I get it. It’s not just the photo that people are presenting to others. It’s the sense of accomplishment. They’ve likely spent hours decorating that tree, and want to share that moment with the world.

I’m just trying to keep it real here, though. If I’m just judging the picture itself, and not what it symbolizes, then what you have is a closeup picture a small tree that looks like a rainbow just threw up on it. And the blank wall behind it only makes it worse.

Can I make a suggestion? A landscape shot. Think about it.

Christmas trees are not only an emblem of a holiday, but of a home. What ornaments we use are not only the decision that goes into decorating the tree; but it’s placement. It’s juxtaposition within a room. So how about a shot to contextualize your tree within the space that it’s in? Let me see the couch. The TV. The carpet. Maybe a fireplace. Now that’s a photo worth glancing at for a half-second before I put my phone in my pocket and then pull it back out two minutes later so I can check Facebook again.

Christmas tress don’t have to change. Their traditional, enduring appearance is an iconic part of the holiday season, and what makes them so lovable. The photos however, have become an eyesore.

It’s only the first half of December, so there’s still time for people to salvage their Christmas tree photos.

Oh, and say no to vertical shots.

Just don’t do it.