My first attempt at growing a beard

Today marks the two-week anniversary of the last time I shaved.

I celebrated by eating a meatball hero. Actually, that is a lie. I ate the meatball hero before I even thought about this. Although, a meatball hero in and of itself is a cause for celebration.

But anyway, it wasn’t really a conscious decision. Shaving I mean, not the hero.  I just went a few days without doing it and decided to keep going.

After a week, I decided I was going to go for it. So now that I’m well into my first ever foray as a bearded man — at 28 years old, no less — allow me to share some observations.

BeardForemost, it’s hilarious how self-conscious we are about our own looks. In the past, I always thought that if I went three or four days without shaving, that it was extremely noticeable. That it was obvious that I haven’t shaved and people would realize it.

However, I didn’t get a single comment about my unkempt facial hair until today. Two weeks after I stopped shaving. It took that long.

It’s good to know that, in the future, I can take a week off from shaving and no one would think any less of me.

Another thing I realized is that growing a beard is one of the few ways — if not only — to look older in a positive way. Usually when you’re told you look older, it’s with a negative connotation. Everyone wants to look youthful.

But with a beard, you look older in a more grizzled, sophisticated way. And not only that, but you look like someone who is comfortable with their age and appearance.

And at the end of the day, we all know that’s what really matters. Feeling comfortable. It’s fun to experiment with your look sometimes because you won’t know until you try it. And in my case, I like having a beard.

At least for now, it makes me feel cool, and I have more confidence. Clean shaven, I prefer to linger in the background and not draw any attention. With a beard, I command instant respect.

Whether people actually give it to me remains to be seen.

The jury is also still out on how having a beard affects my stature with the ladies. We do have a weekend coming up, so I will put it to the ultimate test and report back on Monday.

So expect one of two things next week — A recounting of my sexual conquest thanks to my newfound confidence, or a lazy political rant about Donald Trump’s latest shenanigans.

Already mentally preparing for Trump.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, read about the Iowa caucuses

“…. And then Cinderella and the Prince lived happily ever after. The end. Goodnight little Trevor.”

“Mom?”

“Yes, son?”

“I’m not tired yet. Read me another!”

“Alright. Just one more. But then you have to go to sleep, OK?”

“OK, mom.”

“Once upon a time, in the faraway land of Iowa, there was a caucus. It’s the electoral event that sets the tone for the presidential election. Republicans cast their votes secretly, while Democrats stand in a designated area denoting their favorite candidate in order to cast their … Trevor … you awake? Trevor?”

Iowa caucus2.pngMoms of America, take note. If you’re trying to find a way to get your children to fall asleep, tell them about the Iowa caucuses. For that matter, people of all ages can read about the caucuses if they need that extra little push to send them into Dreamville.

That’s what I call my dreams, by the way. It sounded better than Sleepytown.

Take it from me. I actually care about politics, and yet, reading or hearing about the Iowa caucus bores me to tears.

I bring this up, of course, because the 2016 Iowa caucus is next Monday, Feb. 1. And you’ll be hearing a lot about it between now and then, if you haven’t already.

Simply put, the reason it’s so important is because it’s the first major vote in the nominating process. Every state — and territory; what up Puerto Rico? — has either a caucus or primary, but Iowa’s is first. Thus, the results often propel candidates towards success, or, conversely, effectively end campaigns.

For example, Barack Obama, who was an underdog at the time, defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Iowa Caucus. The rest is history.

After Monday, the race for who will represent their party in November’s election will become a lot clearer.

But it’s still just so god damn boring. If you’re somehow still interested, then Vox has put together a pretty good primer as to how the Iowa caucus works. Read at your own mercy.

I mean, I understand why Iowans care so much about it. Aside from hosting the Field of Dreams movie site (which I visited last September), and the occasional success of one of its college sports teams, there’s really nothing else there. Trust me, I’ve been to Iowa, and it’s exactly what you’d think.

So, for some political buffs, Monday will be a big day. For others, it’ll be known as Groundhog2Groundhogs Day Eve.

You know, there’s got to be a way to combine those two, right? Put every candidate around the groundhog’s burrow, and whatever person it scurries over to will be the nominee.

Actually, scratch that. Because a groundhog would probably be attracted to Donald Trump’s hair considering it looks like another groundhog.

Let’s just stick with the Iowa caucus.

I’m becoming dreary-eyed just thinking about it.

How I learned to stop worrying and love Winter Storm Jonas

In my disbelief over B.o.B’s stupidity yesterday, I totally forgot to mention something fairly significant that occurred on the East Coast this past weekend.

Winter Storm Jonas.

People seemed torn over whether they should cater their cultural references to the now defunct Jonas Brothers — damn it Nick Jonas, why’d you have to break free and make it big? — or the classic Weezer song.

But how about some love for Jonas Salk, the man who invented the polio vaccine? Dude should have his own freaking day on the calendar. So when there’s a storm that bears his name, we can’t even give him a shout out? For shame.

Jonas.jpegAnyway, one of the reasons I didn’t think to talk about Jonas yesterday is because, frankly, I didn’t think it was a big deal.

Now don’t get me wrong. It was a massive storm. It dropped more than two feet of snow on several states, was accompanied by fierce, damaging winds, and resulted in the death of more than 40 people.

Indeed, it was the second-biggest storm in New York City history, and broke records elsewhere. For proof, check out this cool time lapse video of a street in the Upper East Side becoming inundated with snow in just 90 seconds.

It also resulted in the cancellation of a Bruce Springsteen concert. When the Boss can’t even play, you know it’s bad.

However, the storm didn’t disrupt me personally because not only did we have ample warning of it, but it occurred on a Saturday. I accepted the fact that I was going to be staying in that day, and consequently, I had a nice, enjoyable day of watching movies and reading.

It was like any other lazy Saturday, except this time there was a blizzard outside. Then Sunday I woke up and dug out. The next day, I went to work like any other Monday.

Not very dramatic.

But clearly I was in the minority where I live. I can’t speak for anywhere else, but people here in Long Island, New York freak out at the mere threat of a snowstorm. It borders on mass hysteria. They stock up on batteries, frozen food, milk, water, gasoline, you name it.

And that’s mainly because the region is full of middle- and upper-middle class people who can’t even imagine a day without bare essentials. I, on the other hand, am a simple man who does not require much.

Essentially, I got to lie around and do nothing all day, and have a perfectly good excuse for it. So not only was Jonas not an inconvenience for me, it was actually a welcoming presence.

Jonas, I don’t care what anyone else says, I’d swipe right on you any day.

B.o.B believes the Earth is flat

That headline isn’t even meant to be a punch line or anything. It’s just a flat-out (pun intended) truthful observation that came to the light on the Internet today. No jokes are required. It speaks for itself.

B.o.B, who had a couple of hits a few years ago — most notably the one about how he can’t seem to tell the difference between airplanes and shooting stars — and hasn’t really been heard from since.

Until Monday.

BoB.jpgCall it drugs, call it dementia, or call it simply a lack of intelligence, but the 28-year-old rapper went on a Twitter crusade to convince the world that the Earth is not round, but flat. You know, like how they believed it to be more than 500 years ago.

B.o.B posted what he believed to be convincing evidence on social media to disprove what has long been accepted as an established fact. His biggest argument? He can’t see the curve of the Earth, so it must not exist.

His proclamations gained so much attention that it warranted a response from the world’s most media-savvy scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

People are going to think this is funny. And it is. But moreover, it’s scary. Because there are too many people out there who reject established science, and by doing so, obstruct progress. Like climate change, for example.

How can we save our planet when the thing that’s destroying it is still not accepted by people in our own government?

Indeed, there’s still some people out there who don’t believe in evolution.

I thought that if we could close the book on any former scientific controversy, it was the debate as to whether the Earth was flat or round. Because I’m pretty sure my pet goldfish can answer that question.

But thanks to B.o.B, the issue has returned. At least for a day.

There’s a part of me that wishes we lived in post-World War II East Germany, where people could be imprisoned for saying stupid things. With a series of tweets, B.o.B may have convinced a few highly impressionable minds that they could fall off the face of the Earth if they travel far enough.

What’s next? Is Fetty Wap going to believe the Earth does not orbit around the sun?

Will Earl Sweatshirt tell us there is no real relation between space and time?

And has Meek Mill discovered the Loch Ness Monster?

I really hope that last one isn’t true. Because I want to be the one who discovers Nessie. It’s kind of my life dream.

And I made a pledge a long time ago that Meek Mill will not stop me from my dreams. Dammit, Meek Mill. Not again.

Not this time.

RIP ‘That’s what she said’

I was out with friends last weekend when somebody uttered a harmless remark that carried an unintended sexual innuendo.

Upon him saying it, something familiar stirred inside me. It wasn’t an instinctive reaction, but I thought about it for a second, and before I knew what was happening, I said the four magic words: That’s what she said.

As soon as the words left my mouth, it was like reuniting with an old friend. One that I used to be extremely close with, but had not seen in a long time. It brought back a nice sense of nostalgia.

With that, however, also came the realization that I had not said those four words in succession in quite a while. And that night, I decided, “That’s what she said” is dead.

That's what she saidIt had a good run. Popularized by Steve Carell’s fictional boss character Michael Scott on the NBC sitcom, “The Office,” the phrase became the operative punch line — mostly among men — in all different types of contexts: at the bar, at work, at home, it didn’t matter.

But its time has passed. And who knows, maybe’s it not dead. Perhaps now that I’m getting older, I’ve finally just matured and realized it’s not very becoming for someone who is nearing their 30s to say in public.

Nah. Who am I kidding. That’s definitely not it.

Perhaps it was so popular for so long, that the people who did say it with regularity have, at this point, literally heard every possible innuendo in every possible situation that it’s not even worth saying anymore. At least, I think that’s the case with me.

I first devoted a blog post to it on Sept. 29, 2011. I remember it well. It was a cloudy day and the seas were raging. Actually, that’s a lie. I have no idea what the weather was, I just feel like that’s the way you’re supposed to begin every story when you’re remembering a specific day in the past.

Ironically, I began that post more than four years ago by saying, “Does this phrase ever get old? Like, ever? The answer is no.”

Hey, it turns out I can be wrong sometimes. I also probably never believed I’d still be blogging almost five years later to actually prove myself wrong.

So allow me to say farewell to arguably the most stupid, immature, overdone joke that’s existed in the last 10 years.

But one that brought me — and many others who spent their 20s stuck in a perpetual state of adolescence — a lot of pleasure.

That’s what she said.

I don’t like not knowing how many planets there are

I grew up understanding that Pluto was our solar system’s ninth planet.

By the time I got to college, students were being taught that there were only eight planets, and that Pluto is actually a “dwarf planet.”

In the near future, kids may be growing up learning that there are, once again, nine planets.

Scientists believe they have discovered compelling evidence of a celestial object that may fit the criteria of a planet. It’s estimated to be 20 billion miles away from the sun at its closest point in orbit, and 100 billion miles away at its furthest. By contrast, Pluto is 4.6 billion miles away. The potential new planet would take between 10,000 to 20,000 years to orbit the sun.

Planet 9Now I understand that our solar system and galaxy — let alone the entire universe — is pretty frickin’ big, but I feel like the number of planets is something that should stay constant.

A lot of things do change in life; our jobs, our relationships, our physical appearances, etc. It would be nice if I could go my entire life comfortably knowing exactly how many planets there are.

Science is forever changing. I know that. This is more of a selfish request than anything. But if there are any universal truths in the world, planets should be one of them.

It would be like being told how may presidents there were, and then one day, the history community says, “You know what? That James Garfield guy, yeah, he doesn’t count anymore. Just gonna cross him off the list.”

And just like that, he’s gone.

Or if some type of international fairy tale association added an eighth dwarf to Snow White’s clan. (If so, allow me to recommend the name “Trumpy,” the egotistical, maniacal, narrow-minded dwarf with orange hair who is hated by all. Kids have to know.)

Why don’t the people get to have a say before these experts decide to rewrite our entire childhood education? Where was the public input session prior to Pluto’s abolishing?

It would have given me the opportunity to write an emotionally driven, impassioned speech about why I would like to see Pluto stay. It would have involved absolutely no scientific reasoning, but rather, it would have been a sympathetic plea that tugged at the heartstrings.

On that same level, I’d like to know more about this mysterious ninth planet before it’s put on the same plane as Earth, Mars and Neptune. Because I don’t trust it. It’s lurking in the shadows, it’s gone billions of years without being discovered, and it’s not a planet that Matt Damon would easily be able to survive in if he got stranded there.

You know what? That should be the new criteria. Send Matt Damon there, and if he finds his way home, then it’s a planet.

What to name the program?

The Bourne Interplanetary.

The heartwarming story of the cat who looks like Adam Driver

All right, I’m going to count down from five right now, and if no major celebrity dies during that time, I’m going to go ahead with my intended feel-good post about a cat finding a home.

5…4…3…2…1.

You guys don’t know this, but in the middle of typing those numbers I walked away to get a cookie.

But let’s proceed.

Adam Driver has made big waves recently. He got his break as a recurring character on the HBO show “Girls,” and also landed supporting roles in a bunch of movies over the last couple of years.

But it was last month when he became a household name as everyone watched him portray the villain Rylo Ken in the new Star Wars, which I somehow have still yet to see. He also hosted Saturday Night Live this past weekend.

Adam Driver cat
There’s something inherently likable about Adam Driver. He’s weird, kinda kooky, free-spirited and has an awkward physical appearance. In many regards, he’s very anti-Hollywood, and that’s probably what makes people identify with him.

Someone like Ryan Gosling can never be universally loved because too many men hate how good-looking he is, and the fact that they will never be as attractive as him. With Adam Driver, that sense of intimidation is nonexistent because the dude just looks like a young Jack Sparrow.

Indeed, his awkward features became the source of a great viral story that popped up in the last few days, when a girl tweeted on Saturday a picture of a cat in a New Jersey animal shelter that bared a striking resemblance towards one Adam Driver.

And she’s right. It’s uncanny. Rylo Ken.jpg

The tweet quickly spread, was covered by major news hubs, and before long, there was an outpouring of requests from animal lovers who wanted to adopt the cat, which went by the name “Corey.”

Lo and behold, by Tuesday, the cat had found a home. The story was posted on EliteDaily, by none other than the executive editor of the website, who described her emotional tale: she was told Corey had already been adopted, only to be informed the family changed its mind. Upon traveling to the shelter, another woman beat her there, but ultimately backed out. Adam Driver Cat was hers.

The cat also already has an Instagram page.

So to all the animals out there, here’s a word to the wise: disguise yourself as a well-known celebrity, and you automatically increase your chances of finding a loving home.

Or just meow a lot. That always helps me get what I want.

And that’s all for me today. Come back again tomorrow everyone for some more fun stuff. Please?

Meow?

2016 takes another: Spread your wings, sweet Eagle

I was super ready to come back this week all happy and upbeat and move forward from the startling amount of deaths of iconic artists that have taken place in this young year.

And then, around midday on Monday, the news broke that Glenn Frey, the founding member of the Eagles, has died.

God freaking dammit. Come on. Like seriously. What gives?

Is this like some warped version of Final Destination? Are the heavens taking away every celebrity, one by one, until the line ends at Kevin Bacon, or something?

Because if that’s true, just take Kevin Bacon right now. Skip everyone else. I’m sorry, Kevin. I promise I’ll remember you fondly every time I eat a piece of bacon.

Glenn Frey EaglesIn all seriousness though, if you’ve never listened to the Eagles, drop what you’re doing right now and change that. You will never hear more smoother, melodic, effortless music in your life. Listening to the Eagles is the musical equivalent to running your hand over a velvet surface.

And next time you’re due for a lengthy road trip, just plug a few Eagles albums into your iPod, and it’ll pass the time so quickly that you could drive to Alaska without once becoming bored. Except maybe when you’re waiting in line at Customs to cross into Canada, and the border patrol agent makes you turn your music down and asks you trivial, superfluous questions to gauge your reaction and make sure you’re not smuggling drugs into the country.

Anyway, everyone knows “Hotel California,” “Desperado,” “Take it Easy” and “New Kid in Town,”  but try other some other stuff in the coming weeks. I recommend “Doolin-Dalton,” “Certain Kind of Fool,” and my personal favorite, “The Last Resort,” to get you started.

Heck, the last album the band released in 2007, “Long Road Out of Even,” is excellent from start to finish. That’s the true mark of a talented band. Even after 45+ years of making music, and spending much of that time apart to embark on solo careers, they can still reunite and make something spectacular.

Side note: I know there’s no “The” in front of the band name, but it just sounds so awkward to say it that way grammatically.

The beautiful thing about music is that, once it’s made, it’s not going anywhere. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a death to remind us about a good thing. But between David Bowie and Glenn Frey, their legacies left us enough music to keep us occupied for at least the first half of 2016.

Before I go, I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s a time for us all to remember an American hero, to appreciate how one man, when fueled by determination, can make a difference, and to also consider how much progress our nation has made over the last several decades.

Or, in the mind of some in the movie industry, it provided a platform to blast the MLK.jpgAcademy Awards for its lack of recognition for black actors.

I’m referring to the actress Jada Pinkett Smith, and director Spike Lee, who each took to social media to make their point. Come on. I get that this is something that should be talked about, but is today really the day to do it?

Playing the race card to make people feel guilty is not the way to honor Martin Luther King. If he knew this was going to be taking place 48 years after his death, it would probably lead him to believe that we have made almost zero progression over that time.

And since when did the Oscars become a symbol of race relations? When it’s come to the point that we need Straight Outta Compton to be nominated for Best Picture to prove that our nation is making strides in racial equality, then we have a problem.

Instead, let’s talk about a proper way to honor MLK, like the words offered by President Obama on his Twitter account.

“It is our mission to fulfill his vision of a nation devoted to rejecting bigotry in all its forms.”

That I can jump on board with.

Alan Rickman, another one gone way too soon.

All Harry Potter fans will agree: of the many, many actors who contributed to the adaptation of the books to the big screen over the course of eight films, no actor brought their character to life more effectively than Alan Rickman.

I had no idea the man was sick. And noitw he’s dead, at 69, the same age and cause of death as David Bowie. Needless to say, it hasn’t been a good week. At least, not for those who hate seeing people die.

A lot of the obituaries I’ve seen have cited Severus Snape as the predominant role in his career. It makes sense, given how beloved the books are combined with the fact that it’s the second-highest grossing film series in history.

SnapeBut as complimentary as that is, I find it almost equally as insulting. In Rickman’s four-decade-long career, he played a whole host of diverse, multi-layered, complex characters.

He’s known for playing the antagonist. Aside from Snape, he is also remembered for playing Hans Gruber, Bruce Willis’s foe in the 1988 film Die Hard.

It was his trademark nasally drawl, and the way he consistently conveyed his characters’ subtle nuances to make them so unequivocally human, that always made him the most interesting man on the screen.

Snape, already the most sympathetic figure in the Harry Potter universe, just became a whole lot more somber.

Thank you, Alan Rickman, for lending your craft to the most important character in my favorite childhood books, and your dedication in making sure you got it right. I am forever grateful.

Given the news this week of Rickman’s and Bowie’s passing due to cancer, and the countless other lives that have been taken by the disease, one can’t help but become really, really mad.

And I remember what President Obama said during his State of the Union address RickmanTuesday, of his moonshot aspiration for America to become the first nation to cure cancer.

You know what? Let’s do it. Instead of using my taxpayer money to fund drone strikes in the Middle East, how about we filter it into the scientists and researchers who are willing to devote their lives to curing this heinous, unforgiving malady? I’ll gladly surrender whatever percentage of my paycheck that it takes to do that.

Members of ISIS and Al Qaeda are truly despicable people, but they’re not tearing thousands of families apart on a daily basis like cancer is. Even if it doesn’t happen in my lifetime, it’d please me to know we are devoting as much resources as we possibly can to stop this disease.

I’ll end this post, and this sad week, with a famous Harry Potter line that only fans of the books and movies will understand, to indicate how long Alan Rickman’s legacy will remain lodged in my memory.

After all this time?

Always.

Obama’s last State of the Union, El Chapo, and a Friends reunion!

President Obama stood at a lectern Tuesday night for just under an hour to deliver his final State of the Union address.

As an avid Obama supporter, I am obviously biased. But I don’t see how people could disagree with the overarching message that he aimed to deliver.

When we are united, we are better. That’s what he emphasized. America is not run by Congress, but by its people.

It was a comforting speech during a time when many in the political spectrum are trying to cultivate a sense of fear and anger for their own personal gain.

Obama SOTU 2016.jpgOf course, there were issues he brought up that don’t have full support in Congress: climate change, health care, the war on terror.

Not everyone may love him, but I think history will be very, very kind to Obama. And I, for one, will miss him when he’s gone. *Cue Cups song by Anna Kendrick*

On that note, let me move on to my favorite black president to my favorite Mexican drug lord. El Chapo. Which, incidentally, is the same name I would choose to give a Mexican teddy bear if I ever happened to own one.

That’s me dropping a souvenir hint for any of my friends who visit Mexico in the near future.

The man whose empire has exceeded that of Pablo Escobar’s, and who has already escaped from Mexican prison twice in ways that would be astonishing even if it was in a movie, was captured yet again.

And it happened right after he did a front page interview for Rolling Stone Magazine. With the actor Sean Penn.

On the surface, it may seem unethical to interview and cooperate with one of the world’s most wanted men while he’s on the run from the El Chapo Sean Penn.pngMexican and American government. But as a former journalist, this is the type of interview you want to do in your lifetime. One that not only tells an epic story, but involves major risks and secrecy. When the process of even getting the interview is just as exciting as the interview itself, that’s when you know it’s special.

It’s just slightly disheartening that a man whose never been associated with journalism was the one to do it.

Darn it. Outdone by Sean Penn. Again. Few people know this, but I was actually the runner-up to play the role of Harvey Milk in the 2008 film, Milk, which earned Penn an Oscar.

The second runner-up? A carton of 2% milk.

Don’t fact check any of that. Just go with it.

Let me transition one more time to my all-time favorite sitcom: the show whose famous lead-in song is known by everyone, yet the band that sang it is not. I know the name, though, but I’m not going to tell you. Do your own research. For once.

It’s The Rembrandts.

Friends showAnyway, the cast of Friends is reuniting. It’s exciting news, although it isn’t in the way everyone hoped. Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Monica, Joey ad Phoebe won’t be starring in a new episode soon, but they will come together for an NBC special next month honoring famous sitcom director James Burrows. They’ll be one of several famous sitcom casts who will be present.

Sorry James, it’s supposed to be your night, but all anyone cares about is seeing our favorite TV Manhattanites together again. In this case, no one will be there for you, whether the rain starts to fall or not.

I miss the days when I used to watch an episode of Friends at 11 p.m. on a school night before falling asleep.

It may not be on at that time anymore, but if you are reading this at 11 p.m. EST on Wednesday, or anytime after, then congratulations. It means you didn’t win Powerball.

You’re welcome.