What do you do when you fall asleep in public? Why, sue of course!

What’s the number one rule of attending a house party?

No, it’s not to feed as many shots as possible to your designated driver. Nor is it to stand on a table with your shirt off and shout “jagerbombs!” at the top of your lungs.

The number one rule of a party is to not fall asleep.

By doing so, you’re subjecting yourself to ridicule and public shaming. You’re giving free rein for the other partygoers to embarrass you, by taking compromising photos or drawing on your face, and, with social media, who knows how much further it will go from there.

Of course — this is only supposed to apply if you fail to take your shoes off first (but only if your friends are nice and actually abide by Fat Yankees fanthat rule.)

Any one who’s been to college, or a party, or just had friends understands the consequences that come with falling asleep in a public forum. If it happens to you, you have to take it. And then when it’s the other way around, and your friend falls asleep, you get to be the mischief-maker.

It’s a part of life.

But one guy apparently never got that memo. A New York Yankees fan, named Andrew Rector, decided to sue Major League Baseball and ESPN for $10 million after he was shown on live television asleep at a baseball game in April.

The grounds for his lawsuit is that the footage and subsequent public reaction caused emotional distress.

Ladies and gentleman. America.

This lawsuit will go nowhere. But it’s still infuriating. Firstly, if you watch the clip, which is in the link above, you’ll see that the ESPN announcers, Dan Schulman and John Kruk, made no disparaging remarks regarding Rector’s appearance.

He is a fat man. He’s also taking up two seats. Yes, that is the subtext of the whole ordeal — and why it’s so hilarious — but Kruk and Schulman basically just playfully mocked him for coming to a baseball game and, instead of watching it, falling asleep. That’s it.

And yet, he sued. By virtue of that lawsuit, he opened himself up to even more mockery. Including mine right now.

If I fell asleep at a baseball game, and I learned that I was shown on national television, I would be thrilled. I would poke fun at myself, and have no problem being known as “the dude who fell asleep at Yankee Stadium.” I’d spend the rest of my life milking that. I’d write my own memoir. I’d take a tour of all 30 baseball stadiums and try to fall asleep in all of them.

I’d produce my own line of baseball sleeping bags.

But Andrew Rector apparently doesn’t know how to take a joke.

He was on The Today Show earlier this week, and Matt Lauer basically tore him apart, albeit in the most polite way possible. He asked Rector if he is planning to go ahead with the lawsuit, even calling it “not the most well-crafted lawsuit I’ve ever seen,” and essentially, looked like he wanted to laugh in his face the entire time.

The guy deserves all of the ridicule he is getting because the lawsuit was basically a self-fulfilling prophecy. If he just let it go, nobody would have cared more than a week later. But by insinuating that his slumber was only funny because he’s fat, and bringing it to light in a lawsuit, it’s only provoking people to make fun of his weight.

All I know is that next time he falls asleep, somebody better smear Fluffernutter on his face and put his hand in warm water.

 

Advertisements

What the folk? (part II)

The summer of the festival continues for me, as this past weekend I returned to Newport, R.I. for my second Newport Folk Festival.

I documented my first trip there in 2012, and had such a great time that I couldn’t wait to go back. This time I went there in style, obtaining a media credential to cover the festival.

Everything I love about seeing live music is encapsulated in the Newport Folk Festival. A scenic environment, crowd camaraderie, NFFgood sightlines and quality musicians.

I’ve been to a few festivals this year, another big one being the Firefly Music Festival in Delaware last month, and while I enjoy Firefly, it’s almost the polar opposite of Newport. They both offer a weekend-long variety of musical acts, and the comparisons end there.

Firefly has 70,000 people. Newport has 10,000.

The average age of Firefly-goers is about early-20s. Newport is the late-20s to early-30s.

People behave at Newport. At Firefly, you get frat guys with their shirts off dropping acid for the first time.

But I don’t mean to bash Firefly. It’s just that much of a testament to how great the Newport Folk Festival is. The festival has such a rich history, with the world’ biggest artists having performed there, that its iconic nature just bleeds into everybody — musician or attendee. Everyone respects one another.

When music is playing, people listen. I know that sounds obvious, but it bothers me to no end when I attend a concert, and during a break in the music, all you hear is people talking. At Newport, during musical breaks, there’s silence.

When a musician breaks out a solar — be it on a guitar, violin, cello or the mandolin (it’s a folk festival, after all) — people cheer.

The reason Newport doesn’t draw many teenagers is because its acts are not something you’d find on Z100 or Hot 97. It’s not completely traditional, bluegrass folk, as the festival has evolved over time to include contemporary, popular acts, albeit ones that are mostly alternative. This year’s biggest and well known acts were Ryan Adams, Band of Horses, Mavis Staples, Conor Oberst, Dawes and the one and only Jack White.

The Newport Folk Festival used to pride itself in being exclusively acoustic, until Bob Dylan infamously changed things up and plugged in years ago. Since then, there’s no real set etiquette. You can go acoustic or go electric. As long as you sound good, it’s all that matters.

Dawes

Located in Fort Adams State Park along Newport Harbor, the scene is beautiful. You’re surrounded by open water, boats, exquisite sunsets and lots of plaid shirts. What more can you ask for?

A band of member of the folk-rock group Houndmouth said aloud to the crowd during their set, “We couldn’t wait to get back here. It’s like Christmas for us.” That’s the type of appreciation artists have to play there.

Another treat was the presence of two celebrities who played at this year’s festival. John C. Relly, with a band he called John Reilly and Friends, was one, and Ed Helms, with his group, The Lonesome Trio, was another. I’ll admit that while both were good, The Lonesome Trio was much better. Ed Helms could sing.

I made the decision, sometime during the weekend, that I never want to miss the Newport Folk Festival again.

I hope that comes true.

Sometimes you just have to be a kid again

I’m not reluctant to talk about the things I love on this blog. I have opined about music, movies, Taylor Swift, Maria Sharapova, beer, Taylor Swift, sports, Taylor Swift and other topics that interest me greatly.

But one former obsession that has eluded me over the years is something that played a huge role in my childhood.

Harry Potter.

And not the actual boy. The world that was created by JK Rowling. The seven books she wrote. The characters, the stories. The magic.

Harry PotterI mean the magic that literally existed in the books, but also the magic I experienced whenever I read them.

Full disclosure — I have read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone about 20 times. As a young teenager, I read them over, and over, and over again.

I remember vividly how it started. I was about 12 or 13 years old, and my father heard a story on the news about these books that were creating quite a stir, first in England, then in the U.S. He went out and bought it for me. I read it. I loved it. I never looked back.

Over the next few years, I didn’t read anything else. It was Harry Potter, and then more Harry Potter. At first, only three books had been written. I went to Barnes & Noble at midnight to pick up every subsequent book that came out after that.

I loved my childhood. But I loved the world that existed in the Harry Potter universe more. I think that’s why I read them so much. When I opened those pages, I entered that world. And I was in bliss.

The final book was published in 2007. I was 20. And I was ready for it to end. My childhood was over, and I was ready to say goodbye to Harry Potter and the wizarding world.

In anticipation of its release, I re-read all of the books.

I haven’t read them since.

That’s seven years without reading books that I loved.  I think I felt like it wouldn’t be the same. I couldn’t read them with the same childlike fervor I once had.

I have a job now. I have to worry about bills, and loans, and deadlines … how can I possibly read about wizards, witches, and magic and be able to separate the two? Plain and simple — my imagination was gone.

Until recently.

Don’t ask me why, but I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone again last week. I started reading it. At first, it felt just as weird as I thought it would. I couldn’t get it out of my head that I am a 27-year-old reading a book aimed for children. But I didn’t stop.

After a few chapters, I stopped thinking like that. Instead I started to remember all of the good feelings I used to have when I  read those pages 15 years ago. And most importantly, I found myself becoming excited to be reading it again. When the book is in front of me, and I’m lost in the story, I might as well be a 12-year-old boy again, sitting in his pajamas reading after coming home from school.

The magic has returned.

 

 

People who say they know what’s going on in the Gaza Strip and the Ukraine have no idea what’s going on in the Gaza Strip and the Ukraine

In case you’ve been traveling abroad the past month, hopefully in a country that isn’t currently engaged in conflict, then you might want to know that a lot of stuff has been happening lately.

In the Ukraine, a Malaysian Airlines flight traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lampur crashed, killing all 298 people on board. Unlike Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, in which people still don’t know what the hell happened, this crash is suspected to be an act of terrorism.

Picture from Israel stolen off New York Times website.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli defense and Hamas militants are fighting each other, firing missiles, and people are dying by the day. There are already more than 500 fatalities.

The two incidents are completely unrelated to one another, but obviously both bear equal international significance.

Normally, at this juncture I’d do some light reading on the topics, and sum up the situations based on credible sources. But, why bother? If you’re interested in the two conflicts, then you already know about them. There’s plenty of information out there for you to peruse.

And if you’re not interested enough to do the research, then you’re likely not interested in the Spark Notes lesson anyway.

Instead, I’ll focus on one of the inevitable side effects of such international conflicts: people who liken themselves as experts even though all they’ve been tracking is what is presented to them on American news.

It’s not that American news is totally unreliable, but it means you’re hearing one version of the events. If you want to know the truth about what is happening, you need to hear it firsthand from people who live in the area, or from newspapers that are reporting directly from the area.

It’s disingenuous for people to form opinions and make rash accusations without doing the proper research. And nobody ever does the proper research. If you want to read the New York Times, or listen to the nightly news, then that’s a great way to obtain a base knowledge. But it’s not enough to start throwing words around like you’re an expert on foreign affairs.

As I said before, I can’t offer much. But what I can provide a firsthand account of what it is like to live in Israel right now. I was there for 10 days in February on a birthright trip, which involved us meeting local Israelis. We have a Facebook group for people to keep in touch, and in a discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one of them posted their own thoughts.

For context, understand that when the sirens go off (warning of a possible attack), Israelis have fifteen seconds to seek shelter. That’s the insane dynamic between Israel and Palestine. It’s like if New Jersey decided to bomb Manhattan.

Anyway, here is what he said. As you can see, his English is not perfect.

For ten days now the entire country is under attack of missiles.
You wanna know what is it like to live under the threat of missiles?
It’s being edgy and stress every sound you hear. It’s being alert every time you leave your house, and check which is the nearest building you can run to when the alarm starts (That said is you live in cities that are far enough from the Gaza strip and you can actually leave your house),also you don’t leave your house unless you really have to. It’s not going to the beach in the summer because there is no where to hide there. It is children that their most expected summer holiday is now ruined. It is hearing guests cancel the arrival to your wedding because of the situation. It’s being addicted to the news. It’s calling your entire family and friend asking where everybody is after every alarm. It’s siting on the couch at the end of the day wanting to relax with your favorite show, but then the alarm starts and you have to run to the shelter (this happened to me yesterday). It’s lighting Sabbath’s candles in pray that there will be peace and that no innocent citizens will get hurt.

If that doesn’t provide you with some context, I don’t know what will.

 

 

 

It took a 5-foot, 100-pound girl for us to realize how inferior we all are

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with American Ninja Warrior.

It’s a show that challenges people to complete an obstacle course that requires the utmost physical strength, endurance and agility. In other words, it’s a show for out-of-shape people to watch and hope that in-shape people fail, and fail miserably.

In all seriousness, though, if you’ve seen it, then you appreciate just how challenging it is. The course features a series of obstacles that the average person probably can’t complete one of, let alone all of them consecutively.

You expect the people who succeed on the show to be freaks of nature. People who spend every waking moment of their life in the gym. Basically, you’re picturing the cast of Jersey Shore.

So we can all take solace in knowing that, as average folks, who go to the gym maybe once every two weeks, we’re not expected to have the physical capabilities as those who compete on American Ninja Warrior.

But then there’s little Kacy Catanzaro.

Catanzaro recently became the first woman to complete the course. So when you hear that, you think she’s got to be some type of masculine-looking woman, who probably was actually born a man but her parents decided to raise her as a female, right?

And then you see that she’s 5’10” and weights barely more than a baby gorilla.

I warn you: this video is absolutely worth watching just to witness the unbelievable strength that this woman has. But at the same time, it will make you feel worthless. Inferior. Feeble.

The video has taken the Internet by storm the last couple of days, and is the true epitome of the saying, “It ain’t about the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Remember in Rudy, when the token black guy says to Rudy, “You’re five-foot nothing, one hundred and nothing…” well, that applies here too.

But let’s be real here. The video — while impressive — has only gotten this much attention because of its subject. Kacy Catanzaro is super cute. Like, you just want to give her a giant hug, pat her back and whisper sweet nothings into her ear.

If the first female contestant to beat the course looked like Shrek, then nobody would give shit.

That being said, you can’t help but appreciate what she did. She utilized every ounce of her strength, from every part of her body, to outlast the course. Some of the obstacles aren’t even meant for people her size, and she had to improvise. And that spider crawl at the very end? Unreal.

I especially enjoy how she took her time. Other instances when I’ve watched American Ninja Warrior, the male contestants try to zoom through the course, acting like it’s a piece of cake, and inevitable fail. Kacy didn’t do that. She even took a second between obstacles to give a shout out to the crowd. How can you not love that?

Nobody can watch that video and come out thinking they are in top physical form.

Because next to 5-foot, 100-pound Kacy Catanzaro, we are not worthy.

The dreaded second date.

Everybody fears the first date.

They speak of the nerves, the anxiety, the second-guessing that’s so prevalent before meeting your date partner. The entire thing is basically an audition. You’re trying to present the best possible version of yourself so that this other person not only likes you, but likes you a lot.

Likes you enough to want to see you a second time.

And that, my friends, is when the real dread begins.

First dates are nothing. And I’ll tell you why. Yes, you do have to put on a facade, of sorts, and act like you could not be more second dateinterested in anything else in the world than the person in front of you. That is true.

But we forget how low we set our expectations on a first date. Sure, we’ve seen pictures of the person we’re seeing. Maybe we even met them once or twice before agreeing to give it a go in a romantic sense. So there’s some preconceived notions and expectations.

But people’s hope of having a good first date is outweighed by their fear of having disastrous first date. Nobody wants to tell others about the catastrophic date they went on. So as long as the date wasn’t terrible, then that’s a success. Does it mean you’ll see them again? Of course that’s not a given. But it doesn’t mean it was a bad date.

Speaking for myself, I like to think I have a base knowledge of many subjects, which helps me maintain conversation. I’m also somewhat funny. And I don’t take myself too seriously. All of those things normally equate to me being able to hold my own on a first date.

And picking a location is no trouble. You got to a bar. Have drinks to ease the nerves. Don’t let her pay. That’s it.

So getting through the first date is not difficult by any means. It’s the second date that becomes the true worry.

Just like how a first date is by no means a precursor to a another date, the second date does not guarantee a third. The audition is still on. In fact, it’s heightened.

Because at this point, they know they like you. At least a little bit. But now they’re trying to decide if they really like you. So you still have to be on your A-game, but present another side of you that didn’t necessarily come out on date number one. In addition, you’ve pretty much exhausted all conversation pieces on the first go around, and now you really have to dig down and find additional things that you and your romantic counterpart have in common.

Thought also needs to be put into the type of date. You’ve already done the bar get-together, so now you need to get creative.

It can’t be understated how much pressure exists on a second date that didn’t exist on the first date. For the latter, you just needed to be tolerable. For the second date, you need to convince them why you belong in their life for more than just a fleeting second.

How is that not a horrifying prospect? Charm can only take you so far. For date number two — the dreaded second date — all bets are off.

And if that goes well, your reward is … preparing for the third date.

You’re on your own, bro.

 

Weird Al is releasing eight new songs in eight days, and it’s already awesome

What are the first CDs you ever bought?

That question is a great icebreaker. Not just because it brings up the nostalgic nature of compact discs, but because it’s an interesting conversation piece. Everyone listens to music. We all bought CDs in our childhood. So what was our first?

I remember my first three. I just don’t remember the order. They were Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill,” Weird Al Weird AlYankovic’s “Bad Hair Day” and The Presidents of the United States of America’s self-titled debut album, all of which were released between 1995 and 1996.

I bring this up because one of those artists is extremely relevant right now.

No, The Presidents of the United States of America are not making a comeback. And no, Alanis Morrissette didn’t just endure a gut-wrenching breakup, provoking another revenge-inspired album.

That leaves the one and only Weird Al.

According to the music-parodist’s Twitter account, he is releasing eight new music videos in eight days. This began on Sunday, meaning two videos have already been released.

No doubt, anybody born in the 1980s, and even late 1970s, has fond memories of Weird Al. He’s made some amazing parodies that are not only funny, but are good songs. How can anyone forget the classics, “Like a Surgeon,” “Amish Paradise,” and “Eat it,” parodies of songs by Madonna, Coolio and Michael Jackson, respectively.

Heck, after he recorded a parody of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Kurt Cobain called Yankovic a musical genius.

So the last thing anybody would want is for him to tarnish his legacy. The guy is 54 now, so he can’t be relevant and in-tune with today’s pop culture, right?

Wrong.

Yesterday, Weird Al posted his first of eight videos, called “Tacky,” a knockoff of Pharrell’s “Happy.” It’s pretty good. But today, he one-upped himself, with “Word Crimes,” mocking not only Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” but the butchering of the English Language as caused by hash tags and social media.

It’s, in the words of Kurt Coban himself … genius.

And there’s six more to come.

The songs are part of Yankovic’s fourteenth studio album, called “Mandatory Fun,” which comes out this month.

It makes me happy, because Weird Al’s resurgence also equals a resurgence of my childhood. I don’t care if this doesn’t have an impact on today’s youth, who may or may not grasp the beauty of musical parody that he popularized more than 20 years ago. I’m just glad that it’s happening at all.

And who knows, if the next six songs are as good as the first two … Weird Al may very well end up being my first and last album purchases.