First I want to thank all of my wonderful contributors: Janet Currie Konigsberg, Matt Foster, Scott Soper, Yillah Natalia, and Marek Swiderski. You gave me a wide range of talent to choose from, and you make it worth it every year.
But that’s not what you came for. You came to see –
THE FINAL BOBAPALOOZA LINEUP!!!
That’s right, folks. You heard it here first: the Clash of the Titans is the ultimate and final Bobapalooza. As the Kurgan once said, “it’s better to burn out than to fade away.” But let us not dwell in sadness; let us instead revel in THE GREATEST BOBAPALOOZA EVER.
First we have the band that needs no introduction, but is going to get one anyway. The winner of the Clash of the Titans, and the headliner of Bobapalooza 2014: Pink Floyd! This was a hard-fought victory against some of the greatest artists of all time, and as a long time Floyd fan myself, I can’t deny being quite pleased to see them win. Their catalogue of legendary songs is extensive, and Dark Side of the Moon spent over 11 years on the Biilboard Top 200… consecutively. (It was on even longer if you tally the total time it spent there, and Billboard actually changed the rules to prevent albums setting records like that again.) Titans indeed.
And then we have the STAGE OF LEGENDS. This year I offer you a blend of old and new, heavy and soft, sweet and sour and what the hell? Bands that have undoubtedly left their mark on music, one way or another. They are:
Jefferson Airplane (Nominated by Scott Soper) – From Scott: “Go big or go home. When it comes to the one band you’d break your leg to go see in their prime it has to be Jefferson Airplane. Maybe they’re so compelling because they broke up so tragically and never got a chance to perform for so many of their fans. So many songs were at peak power when those artists were just starting out; you can only imagine what they might have done with more time.”
AC/DC (Nominated by Matt Foster) – You have to love AC/DC. Angus Young himself said “I’m sick to death of people saying we’ve made 11 albums that sound exactly the same. In fact, we’ve made 12 albums that sound exactly the same.” And we still keep coming back for more. The stage show is even better: “When I’m on stage the savage in me is released. It’s like going back to being a cave man. It takes me six hours to come down after a show.” – Angus Young
Weezer (Nominated by Matt Foster, seconded by Janet Currie Konigsberg) – Weezer has long been one of those bands I love to hate, right up until one of their songs comes on and I find myself singing along. How long? Oh, only about twenty years or so. Janet Currie Konigsberg finally convinced me they deserve a place among the Legends: “Twenty years ago Weezer came on the scene with Undone (The Sweater Song), and immediately filled the gap between Nirvana and Pearl Jam perfecting Nerd Rock. As each single was released, Weezer’s fan base grew by leaps and bounds. The crunchy chords and heart-wrenching vocals spoke to post teenage-angst 20-something slackers. I’ve always referred to Weezer as “My Beatles”; they are pop and punk and bubblegum and crunch, they are raw emotion and ADHD. The songs range from kick-ass-psych-you-up (Hash Pipe), to how-did-you-know-how-broke-my-heart-was?? (Say It Ain’t So), to romantic-but-the-world-doesn’t-understand-us (Island In The Sun), to I’m-not-really-sure-what-the-purpose-is-but-dammit-I’m-ME! (Pork and Beans). On top of great music, catchy lyrics, and a beat you can dance to, Weezer has made some of the best music videos of all time and managed to do so in an era where music videos have almost completely lost their importance in pop culture. Weezer: No self-respecting Stage of Legends (or Main Stage, for that matter!) would be complete without them.”
So…. Yeah. You can argue with her if you want. Not me.
Black Sabbath (Nominated by Scott Soper) – Scott nails it once again: “When it comes to Legends, there is one who has retained his title as the Prince of Darkness unchallenged across decades of American Popular Rock. The one, the only: Black Sabbath! Ozzy Osborne by himself would be a worthy contender for the Stage of Legends, but reunited with the original Black Sabbath for the new album 13 he seems completely at home, a master having traveled full circle. I would NOT go back in time to see Black Sabbath at their prime, and maybe that’s another test passed for a true Legendary band.
Simon & Garfunkel (Nominated by Matt Foster) – Everybody knows a Simon & Garfunkel song. Start whistling “The Sound of Silence” at a punk rock show and everybody around you will be singing along inside of a minute (if they don’t curbstomp you first; they’re still punks). From hippies to metal heads, there’s nobody who doesn’t like Simon & Garfunkel; they have a gentle, insistent sound that insinuates itself into your soul and makes you a better person for it.
Now you’re probably expecting the Main Stage, but there’s so much more this year! For the first time ever, I present to you THE BOBAPALOOZA MIDWAY!
When you get the urge to dance, slip in to the ALL NIGHT RAVE TENT, with special guest DJ RUST-RYU (http://www.mixcloud.com/rustryu/bangers-and-mashups/)! He’ll be spinning all night long, and of course he’s super request-friendly!
And don’t forget to stop by Uncle Scott’s Concession Stand, where you can pick up fresh kabobs, veggie treats, and of course all your favorite Bobapalooza swag (http://www.printfection.com/bobapalooza)! Uncle Scott will also be running his favorite (exceptionally weird) videos on his Jumbo-Tron monitor right over the concession stand! Here’s just some of the “fun” in store for you:
Disturbed – Land of Confusion (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6KXgjLqSTg)
Capital Cities – Safe and Sound (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX54fWP-os4)
Imagine Dragons – Radioactive (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktvTqknDobU)
AWOLNation – Not Your Fault (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm9-yVdxbSs)
Gorillaz – Clint Eastwood (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoQYw49saqc)
Ludo – Love Me Dead (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XH3oMNKApI#t=92)
Muse – Knights of Cydonia (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3Yc3HhSl1Q#t=87)
Primus – Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYDfwUJzYQg&feature=kp)
Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghb6eDopW8I#t=71)
El Guincho – Bombay (NSFW) (http://vimeo.com/15247292)
DYE – Fantasy (http://vimeo.com/30798517)
And now, the MAIN STAGE! There’s plenty of variety and flavor this year, and many thanks to everyone who contributed.
The Thermals (Nominated by Janet Currie Konigsberg)
Boney M (Nominated by Marek Swiderski)
The Cult (Nominated by Matt Foster)
George Thorogood (Nominated by Scott Soper)
Kae Sun (Nominated by Yillah Natalie)
Metric (Nominated by Janet Currie Konigsberg)
Disturbed (Nominated by Matt Foster)
Al Green (Nominated by Scott Soper)
Sitali (Nominated by Yillah Natalie)
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (Nominated by Janet Currie Konigsberg)
The Black Keys (Nominated by Matt Foster)
Soundgarden (Nominated by Scott Soper)
Petite Noir (Nominated by Yillah Natalie)
James (Nominated by Matt Foster)
DJ Kool (Nominated by Scott Soper)
Be sure to check out all these artists and support their endeavors. The Official Bobapalooza 2014 Playlist™ is still to come, so stay tuned!
Once again, I’d like to thank all of my wonderful contributors from Bobapalooza past and present. You’ve made this entire endeavor worthwhile, and it’s been a blast. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I have.
Let’s face it: I’m pretty great. No, strike that. I’m fucking amazing. And nobody knows that better than I do. I looked around for a way to reward myself for being so wonderfully me, and I just couldn’t find anything that was worthy of my magnificence, so I went out and created one (because I’m just that damn talented*). I present to you the Narcissus Award for Blogging Excellence and All Around Awesomeness.
You may be thinking, “But Bob! There are already so many blogging awards out there, and didn’t you win one already? Why create another one?” Thank you for asking. Yes, I did already win one, because that’s just how great I am. But the truth is nobody appreciates me like I do, because nobody else can. That’s why I created this award. It shows the brilliance, the perspicacity, the sheer audacious vision, and of course the humility of the recipient all in one masterful stroke.
Should you (erroneously) think you are deserving of the Narcissus Award, here are the rules:
- Nobody can give the award to you except yourself. After all, who else is wise enough to truly recognize the scope of your contributions to humanity?
- Display it prominently on your own blog. It’s not bragging, it’s simply acknowledging your greatness, which everyone else should be doing anyway.
- Be sure to link back to the blog you stole appropriated rightfully acquired it from. After all, how can others appreciate your genius without having something to compare it to?
- Be sure to copy and paste these rules along with your new award, in case someone else makes the mistake of thinking they are somehow better than you.
- Feel free to ignore any and all of these rules. After all, only you really understand you.
*It’s within the realm of possibility I may have had some design help from Navare Carter, which is completely irrelevant except to prove just how awesomely generous I am to acknowledge him in the same breath as my fantastic self. You’re welcome, Navare.
The time has come at last for the next installment of the greatest music festival that never was: Bobapalooza 2014! This year we’re taking it to a whole new level. It’s not just legendary; it’s TITANIC.
So here’s the deal: I’ve been sharing my musical past with all of you for a while now, and it’s time to broaden my horizons. I’m looking for new music, and I’m hoping you, yes, YOU will provide it. Specifically, I’m giving ANYONE the chance to get me to listen to the music you love.
Here’s how it works: imagine you’ve heard about a music festival coming to town, and on the list of bands is THE band. The one that makes you say, “I don’t care what the ticket price is, I will sell my own children if I have to, I MUST BE THERE.” Any band, any era, living or dead, still together or not. Pick your favorite song and post it to the Facebook event page for Bobapalooza 2014.
But wait, there’s more! Some of you may remember the Stage of Legends from past Bobapaloozas (2011, 2012, 2013). It’s back once again, and there are five brand-spanking new Legend spots up for grabs! That’s right, not only can you nominate your favorite garage band for the main stage, you can nominate your favorite garage band to be a Bobapalooza Legend!
BUT WE’RE NOT STOPPING THERE. Even among the Legends, there are a rare few who have changed the face of music as we know it. They’re not just Legends, they’re Titans. And this time, they’re going to go head to head to see who is the one true greatest music act of all time, to secure the honor of headlining this year’s Bobapalooza! What’s more, you nominated them, so YOU decide who wins!
Now the rules:
1. You have to pick a band you would sit through the entire set. Not “I love this song!” I want “I love this band!”
2. Yes, you can post as many as you like, but really, how many bands are THAT good?
3. If you intend to post more than one, please don’t spam the feed (more than 10 bands a day from one person is a bit much. I do have a life. And see 1 & 2.)
4. If you post it I will listen to it, so please, be gentle.
5. Please note that this is a Main Stage entry.
6. Any band that made it to the show in 2011, 2012, or 2013 (main stage or Stage of Legends) will not be considered for the main stage this year.
STAGE OF LEGENDS
1. All of the rules for Main Stage apply, only even more. I mean, think about 1 & 2 especially. These guys are supposed to be LEGENDS.
2. Testify! Tell me (and the world!) why you think this band deserves to be named a Legend. For an idea of the sort of thing I have in mind look at the write up from Bobapaloozas Past.
3. Any band that made it to the Stage of Legends in 2011, 2012, or 2013 will not be considered this year, however Main Stage acts may still be nominated.
4. Just as Master Yoda told us, “Do, or do not; there is no try.” Once a band has been nominated for the Stage of Legends, they are no longer in the running for the main stage. The whole point of the SoL is to give a fair shot to lesser known bands. If you think your favorite band has what it takes to compete with the big boys, put ‘em in, but don’t hedge your bets. Go big or stay home.
ALL NEW! CLASH OF THE TITANS
1. The match-ups were determined by hacking into the NCAA’s computers and using the same secret algorithms they use for ranking college sports teams. (My lawyer insisted I add the following discalimer: This is a total lie, but it sounds a lot cooler than the truth, so go with me on this one.)
2. Vote by visiting http://tinyurl.com/lwm79nw.
3. The polls open June 2nd (that’s today!). Each round will last for three days, with a day break in between to update the results.
4. Visit http://tinyurl.com/ktevstr to see the current state of the contest at any time!
5. Just like high school, this is a popularity contest, so vote early and vote often!
Starting June 18 I will decide who the winners are, and I will post my fifteen favorite bands for the main stage and the five act Stage of Legends, as well as The Titan of Bobapalooza 2014 by June 25 (Flying Spaghetti Monster willing). I will also give credit to the first person who suggested them, so get in early for your shot at fame!
If you still have questions, please feel free to comment on this blog post or on the Facebook event page. Insightful questions will receive careful, well-thought out answers. Off-hand questions will get off-hand answers. Questions that prove you didn’t bother to read everything I already wrote will be met with shame and ridicule, not necessarily in that order.
For those about to rock: we salute you!
In case you missed it, Stephen Colbert got into a bit of trouble on Twitter this past week due to a tweet that went out over a Comedy Central controlled Twitter account for his show. Things got very ugly very quickly, including calls for his job and the hashtag #CancelCorbert.
Let me start by saying I am not here to defend the tweet. I think we can all agree it crossed a line, at least for Twitter (some argue it was acceptable in context during the show; having not seen it, I can’t take a stand either way). That having been said, I do think there is something to be said for a wider context that is being ignored, one that has value and validity beyond the scope of a single show: the nature of comedy itself.
I’ve been writing comedy in one medium or another for almost twenty years now, and I’ve always kept two rules in mind. The first is a joke that goes all the way back to vaudeville: “dying is easy; comedy is hard.” Everyone thinks being funny is easy right up until they try it. Even telling a joke someone else came up with takes timing, skill, and panache; being original and funny is exponentially harder. The second rule is one I learned back in college: the more offensive the joke is, the funnier it needs to be. Let’s not kid ourselves, there’s hardly anything in this world that isn’t offensive that is laugh out loud funny. Hitting the balance between “bust a gut” and “bust you in the mouth” is difficult, and it’s easy to miss the mark.
There are other complicating factors as well. Comedy is a moving target for a lot of reasons. One of them is that societal mores are always in flux. What was hilarious ten years ago is kind of uncomfortable today and will be outright taboo next week. The same thing happens in reverse. What’s more, comedy often plays a role in that social change, pushing boundaries, creating safer spaces in which we can talk openly about things that are forbidden in “polite” conversation. The down side of that is that it becomes easy to step on toes, go too far, and yes, even cross a line.
Another complicating factor is that, like it or not, comedy IS contextual. If you read a transcript of almost any performance by Bill Cosby, you might chuckle, or you might just say “I don’t see what’s so funny.” But when you watch him in action, it’s a whole different story. Pitch, tone, pacing, facial expressions, everything he does goes into his comedy. My father used to say that Chevy Chase could make him laugh just by walking into a room. Truth is he can do the same thing for me, but that doesn’t translate to Twitter.
Finally, sometimes you’re just under the gun and a bad joke gets through. It’s easy to sit back and play armchair comedian, complaining how “he should never have said that.” We’ve all done it. But how easy is it to write a half-hour of humor five nights a week? Even with a writing team, it gets exhausting. I used to do 1,000 words of humor a week, and I only lasted a couple of years with breaks every few months. The Colbert Report has been running for almost ten years, with over 1,300 episodes. That’s almost 500 hours of jokes. Is it remotely possible that a bad one might slip through now and then?
Once again, I’m not saying that nobody should be offended. It was offensive, and deliberately so. It was inappropriate for the medium, and hopefully will not be repeated. But calls to fire Colbert or cancel the show are misguided at best and opportunistic grandstanding at worst. There are better things to rage against.
You’re not going to believe this, but Setsu of Katana Pen nominated me for a Liebster Award. Which only goes to show there’s no accounting for taste. But I am honored, even if I don’t deserve it.
1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them. (Done)
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator. (See below)
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers. (Would that I could, but I don’t really follow that many bloggers, and most of the ones I follow have a lot of followers already. But I have nominated some that I consider excellent and worth your time, and I would nominate Setsu as well if I thought tag backs were in the spirit of the thing. So instead I will at least tell you why I think each of these notables is worth your time. See below.)
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer. (down further below)
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them. (Message delivered)
Up first: The Questions I have Been Tasked To Answer!
1. What’s the harshest piece of criticism you’ve grown from?
It wasn’t criticism per se, but that’s only because it was couched in terms of loving advice. I was in my late teens and being a typical dumbass teenage boy, when my Uncle Ray gave me the best advice I’ve ever heard: “you don’t bet the farm on a pair of twos.” Basically I was going all-in all the time, regardless of whether there was any chance I would win or even if I was right, and I was risking my relationships with my family, my friends, and everyone around me as a part of that. It took me a while to fully grasp the enormity of what he meant by it, but I’ve tried to remember ever since then that while you may not win big if you don’t risk big, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you will always win big just because you risked big, or that you even stand a chance to.
2. If you had to be without one of your five senses, which would it be and why?
I’d give up my sense of smell, mostly because I treasure the others far more. I love to read, to watch movies, to see everything, which is slightly ironic since I need to wear glasses. I love to listen to music, to hear My Not So Humble Wife’s voice, to talk with friends. I love the feel of soft skin, hard marble, warm stoves and cold ice cream. I love the taste of food, even if I am a picky eater. I would miss smelling so many things, but I would miss the rest more.
3. What material is hard for you to write, and how do you tackle it (emotional rawness, erotica, gore, etc)?
I find it difficult to write emotionally honest characters. I don’t ever do erotica, but that’s part and parcel of emotional honesty for me. If you can’t be emotionally honest in that moment, it falls flat and becomes hollow; it rings horribly false. The same is true with love scenes, or speeches of eternal hatred, or any other truly emotional moment. The rest is easy; it’s just dialogue and description.
4. What did you have in mind when you started blogging, and how did your blog deviate from your original idea?
I really only intended to write about whatever interested me, to have fun and keep it going. It deviated in that for a while it took over my life and became a grind; I stopped doing it because I loved it and started doing it because I had deadlines to hit, and my writing started to suffer for it. I also didn’t have time for anything else in my life. I don’t blog as often (or very much at all) now, but when I do it’s meaningful for me.
5. What’s the strangest compliment you’ve ever received?
This might be a bit TMI, but that’s why I’m giving fair warning. Feel free to skip to the next question. Mom and other relations, THIS MEANS YOU. Many years ago (long before I met My Not So Humble Wife) I dated a girl and we had a bad breakup. On a scale of 1-10 it was “nuclear warfare”. Needless to say she had nothing but bad things to say about me from what I heard second hand (we didn’t speak to each other for at least six months, but then I wasn’t exactly a prize back then either, so I’m not pointing fingers; just bear with me). Anyway, at the end of one particular description of the entire litany of my flaws (which in retrospect was fairly accurate) she finished by saying “he wasn’t half-bad in bed.”
I’m still not sure if that was a compliment or an insult, but given the circumstances I choose to take it as a compliment.
6. What question do you wish people would ask you, and how would you answer?
Question: “How can I get one of those sweet Bobapalooza shirts?”
Answer: “I’m so glad you asked! There’s actually an entire store full of Bobapalooza merch, including t-shirts, coffee mugs, water bottles, and more!”
I’m such a whore.
7. How do you deal with an unhealthy obsession (if you don’t have obsessions, I suspect you’re fibbing — but go ahead and give advice for ‘your friend’ who does)?
Usually I ignore them. When someone points them out to me, I attempt to justify them. “Eat right, exercise daily, quit smoking, die anyway.” Or else I joke about them to deflect: “Cigarettes: chock full of Vitamin R!” Eventually I may find the willpower to give them up, like smoking. Yes, I’m fixated. I only quit (again) a couple months ago. Give me time.
8. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do, and what would be the first step toward accomplishing that goal?
I’ve always wanted to publish a book. The next step would be to finish polishing up the file and getting it on the Kindle store. Given that it’s taken me six months to get to this point, don’t expect it anytime soon.
9. What makes you a great friend?
Loyalty. There’s three kinds of friends in this world: the kind that ask why you have a body in your trunk, the kind that ask why you need help burying the body in your trunk, and the kind who don’t ask stupid questions until after they helped you bury the body in your trunk. I’m the third kind.
10. What does your personal paradise look, sound, and smell like?
Warm, salty breezes. The sun shines most days, but there’s just enough rain to remind you how good you have it. There’s miles of white, powdery sand. The waves crash on the shore at high and low tide, and it can get pretty high and fierce, but you can swim out a little further and the water is calm once you get past about six or seven feet deep. At night you can hear the steel drum bands playing up the way, and you can always find a bar open somewhere to serve you a cold beer or a hot steak. Parents keep their kids down to one end of the beach, and surfers stay down at the other end. There’s plenty of fun activities to be had up and down the strip, from mini golf to theme parks, and lots of clubs for the young folks. There’s even an old-fashioned boardwalk to stroll on if you get in the mood.
Just a couple miles inland it’s a bit quieter, but still lovely. As the land slopes up from the beach pastures start to take over from the sand, and eventually gentle rolling hills come in. There’s horseback riding to be had out this way, as well as petting zoos and other farm activities. There’s a few golf courses tucked away here and there, and a spa or two for folks who want to get away from it all. It’s only a short drive from the beach, but it feels like a completely different world.
And now… my nominees!
First, Gabriel Garbow. Gabriel is an artist who shares his work online for the rest of us to enjoy. You know that old saying, “I don’t know if it’s art, but I like it”? well screw that. I do know that it’s art, and I do like it. Gabriel’s work moves me in a way that few art pieces do; I can’t say exactly why, except that maybe there’s an honesty and a vulnerability in all of his work that draws me in.
Next up we have The Frazzled Slacker. What I love most about her is that I can’t define her. She writes great DIY posts that, despite the fact I have no interest whatsoever in crafty-type things, make me feel like I’m having a fun conversation over coffee with that cool lady down the street. She also has the occasional rant were she lights the world on fire with a take-no-prisoners attitude (and even took me to task once). Then there’s the posts where she just has something cool or awesome or just fun to share. Oh, and she’s my cousin, which just adds 10% to her coolness factor.
For a change of pace check out Vanessa Katsoolis at One Thousand Single Days. If you’re not sure what her blog is about, read the title again, it’s all right there on the wrapper. Vanessa’s story is inspiring, challenging, and beautiful. She presents the world in a way that I would never consider looking at it, and she has a reservoir of optimism and strength that is absolutely wonderful to behold. There is no simple naiveté here; she clearly has seen life, she has simply chosen to do and be better.
And now for something completely different… Erik over at A Very Strange Place is a special sort. When I say “special”, I mean like “early Robin Williams” special. As in “when Robin Williams was on cocaine” special. Throw in some Eddie Murphy from “Raw” levels of offensiveness and you’re getting close. What I’m trying to say is he’s not just NSFW, he’s NSFAAA (Not Safe For Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere), but if you have the stomach for raunchy humor, he’s your go-to guy, and he writes with the prolificness of a squirrel on speed.
And changing gears once more, we have Rian at Truth and Cake. Rian is another blogger that I love to read for her inspirational approach to life. She is caring, warm, and open, encouraging without ever delving into the sort of Pollyanna attitude that can come so easily when you try to remain positive in the face of everything the world can throw at you. When I read her blog I feel as if she represents a standard to live up to without ever expecting me to live up to any standard other than “be yourself”.
Flowing from the message “be yourself”, I bring you Aussa Lorens of Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy. Aussa’s blog embodies the phrase “sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction”. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you read just a little you’ll want to read it all. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve wanted to punch someone (and I’m sure you’ll feel the same way), and in the end I’ve wanted to reach out and shake her hand for just being resoundingly triumphant.
For something a little more down to earth (and in the sky), I highly recommend visiting Keri and Jeanne over at Heels First. The truth is I’m about as interested in travel as a turtle is interested in being soup, but these ladies understand the value of a good story. They make things fun, engaging, and personal. Reading their posts is like sitting down with a good friend to hear all about the great things they’ve been doing lately. Which is good for me, because they are good friends of mine.
And finally, I have to recommend Setsu of KatanaPen. Yes, I know, I said it was probably against the rules, but I’m already breaking the rules so screw it. Sestu’s blog is incredibly inspiring to me as an author and a martial artist (yes, I have done Liechtenauer style fencing, although it’s been a couple years). She is constantly giving me reasons to push myself further in my work as well as the belief that I can succeed in doing so. And she never said no tag backs.
Oh, and no tag backs.
AND NOW… THE QUESTIONS FOR THE NOMINEES!
- What would you consider to be your core value?
- Under what circumstances would you violate that core value? (If you say “none” that’s fine, I just won’t believe you. Everyone has their price.)
- What is your ultimate indulgence, whether you can afford it or not?
- Who do you miss the most?
- What sensation reminds you of them? (A song, a scent, a food, etc.)
- If you could live a boring life without having made any mistakes or live an exciting life with plenty of regrets, which would you choose?
- If you had to live in any decade of the 20th century, which would you choose and why?
- What is the stupidest joke you’ve ever laughed at?
- Could you kill someone in self-defense?
- What would your perfect date be like?
Look MapQuest, we need to talk. Ever since you got on my phone, you’ve been… different. At first things were cool. You’d tell me where to go, I wouldn’t have to print out the directions before we left, you even gave me a heads-up before turns far enough in advance that I felt like I could actually do what I needed to do rather than pull some sort of Dukes of Hazzard maneuver just to get in the correct lane. It was nice.
Lately though, you’ve been acting out, and not in a good way. You tell me you’re avoiding traffic, but even I know the roads you want to take me down are going to be bumper-to-bumper, and that’s assuming you’re not taking me on one of your little “seeing the world” adventures where we find every back road in Virginia when I just want to get to work. It’s bad enough when you play your little games while I’m in the car, but you don’t even seem to know the difference between being in a car and being on foot anymore. “Make a U-turn at the next intersection.” Really, MapQuest? I’m on foot! A U-turn is called TURNING AROUND.
I didn’t want this to get ugly, but the truth is I just don’t know if I can trust you anymore, and if this keeps up I’m going to start using Apple Maps. There, I said it. I didn’t want this to become about threats, but I need you to know I’m serious.
Go home, MapQuest. You’re drunk.
Hello everybody, and welcome to the latest installment of Quarterly Report, where I review the contents of the mystery boxes I receive from Quarterly.co! This time I’ll be reviewing the second installment from Laughing Squid. As some of you may remember, I was quite enamored of the first shipment they sent me, and honestly I didn’t think there was any way they could top it. Fortunately I was so very, very wrong. This shipment is all about the memes, and I couldn’t stop laughing from the moment I started digging in.
When I opened the box, I was greeted by something I simply didn’t expect: Nyan Cat! Yes, someone managed to turn this internet sensation (some might say abomination, but haters gonna hate) into a delightful plushy, and it even sings the song so you can get it stuck in your head (or even better someone else’s head) all over again!
And did someone say “haters gonna hate”? (Well, okay, I did.) Show your disdain for the haterade with this sweet meme-inspired (temporary) ‘tat.
Not everybody is a hater, though. Some people are just grumpy, and the most beloved of the grumpy is Grumpy Cat. Nobody loves Grumpy Cat more than My Not So Humble Sister. She’s going to be sorry when she sees she missed out on this sweet copy of his book, “Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book”.
Just to keep things fresh, there’s also a Runaway Monkey Air Freshener included. It’s almost as adorable as Darwin himself.
Finally, what may be my favorite piece of all, the signature Laughing Squid item: the finger tentacles. Yes, you read that right.
I can already think of so many ways to have fun with these, including waking up my Not So Humble Mother the next time she stays over- um, that is, NOT waking up… oh, heck, she’s already read it, no point in going back on it. Well at least I can perfect my Cthulhu impression.
The internet is a strange place, and I’m a strange guy. And Laughing Squid keeps bringing it right to my door.
As some of you may recall, I signed up for two different packages from the online service Quarterly. The first to arrive of the tandem is the Technology and Toys box, of which so far I’ve already reviewed one (which you can see here). The second arrived just last week, but with everything going on I haven’t had time to write up a proper review until now. I know, I know, just like I said to the postman, “I don’t care about your problems, I only want to know what’s in the box!” Well, here we go.
First up, I found a set of paper robots.
I have to admit, this was an awesome find for me. I can remember going to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum all the time as a kid, and while I never got anything from the gift shop, this is exactly the kind of thing I would pick up and look at longingly while my Not So Humble Mother would wait for me to figure out she wasn’t going to buy me yet another toy that was going to sit around my room untouched for weeks before she finally had to throw it out. Fortunately I’m a big boy now, and I can add this to my growing collection of toys that sits around my room unplayed with that My Not So Humble Wife never gets to throw away at all, because it’s called a “man cave” now, and I can still claim I’ll get around to putting them together someday when I just have the time and didn’t you want me to mow the lawn today?
And speaking of robot toys that are right up my alley, the next item really grabbed my attention:
Yes, that’s a tin wind-up robot. It’s only a couple inches tall, but that just makes it that much easier for it to scoot across the table. I especially love that I got the one named “Ima-Robot”. This is exactly the sort of goofy little toy that appeals to me, and it went right into my kitsch collection in my office along with my Pip-Boy Bobble Head and Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
The next item in the box was only vaguely appealing to me, but at least I can understand why they included it in the Technology and Toys box, and My Not So Humble Wife is quite fond of it. It’s…. sand. Yes, you read that right.
In case you’re wondering “what could this stuff be?” I’ll tell you right now it’s exactly what it says on the label. It’s sand. It never dries out, it’s not too damp, and it’s just like playing with sand at the beach. I personally found it entertaining for about 30 seconds, but My Not So Humble Wife is a notorious fidget and it has kept her busy for hours, so looks like we have a winner with this one.
Alas, the same could not be said for the final item in the box.
Yes, it’s a stylus for all your electronic gadgets. Honestly this is the sort of thing I would expect to buy on my own if I felt I needed one, and if I don’t feel a need for one I would never use one even if someone game me one. *cough* *cough* The problem is I see this going one of two ways. Even though I have exceptionally fat fingers for a man of my slender build, the problem is that either I will find it incredibly useless and will throw it away within a week, or I will get used to it and then I will lose it within a day or so of deciding I have no idea how I ever lived without it. I just don’t see the win here. I also don’t see how this relates to “Toys”, although it’s definitely “Technology”.
So here’s the final verdict: all told a cool box this month, but overall I still didn’t find enough here to justify the $50 price tag, even accounting for someone going to the trouble of curating all the items for me. It just doesn’t have enough of the “fun” or “cool” factor to say “I don’t mind paying extra to have someone pick this stuff out”, nor is there sufficient value in the goodies present to say I got enough to be fully satisfied, although it came a lot closer this time than last time. Your mileage may differ, and if you see enough stuff you like I still recommend checking it out. Also if you think you might like any of the other options, of which there are many, sign up now, because more than a few are sold out (including some of the ones I was thinking of switching to). You can sign up for the waiting list, but three months is already long enough to wait between packages. Don’t wait any longer than you have to.
I was talking with my friend Keri of HeelsFirstTravel.com (which I’ve mentioned before, and who’s been a guest blogger for me as well, but still check them out because they rock), and it seems there was a troll who popped up in the comments section of her blog the other day. I’m not going to dignify the comment by repeating it here, but suffice to say it was inappropriate.
I know there are those who would say that trolling is part of the internet, and that we have to accept it as part of doing business. I’ve even said as much myself. But maybe I’m getting a little quixotic in my old age, because I’ve decided it’s time we take back the internet. I’m tired of the trolls and the sleazebags dominating the internet. I’m tired of feeling like I can’t go into what amounts to the public square without having to worry about seeing the verbal (or sometimes literal) equivalent of someone throwing feces. I’m tired of not being able to invite people into what amounts to my digital home without fear they’re going to track filth all over the metaphorical rugs.
Let me be clear: I’m certainly not advocating for governmental interference. Not only would that go against all of my core principles, the chilling effect that would have on speech vastly outweighs any benefits we might garner from it. Besides, the truth is there are places and times that I myself enjoy kicking back and acting the fool. I have one friend whose Facebook page I troll regularly. Note the keyword there: friend. As in “I actually know him in real life”. Given the chance I would say the same things and worse to him, and he’d say the same and worse to me. It’s part of our friendship dynamic. I’m also part of a group that shares awful (and I do mean awful) videos from around the internet. The kind that should come with a warning label that reads “watch this at your own risk – better yet don’t.”
So what am I calling for? I guess the best equivalent would be community policing, or neighborhood watch. A public shaming of those who do such things, not on the internet (because that only feeds their egos and drives them to do it more) but a real-life shaming. When guys (and let’s face it, it’s mostly guys who do this, but if girls do it they deserve their share of real-life hate as well) start bragging about their latest online escapades, let’s start letting them know it’s not funny, it’s not cool, it’s just sad and pathetic. They may go to their dark little corners of the internet to nurse their grudges among their like-minded ilk, but frankly that would be an improvement. Let them congregate amongst themselves in a self-imposed exile and leave the rest of us to enjoy our own company.
It’s the moral equivalent of making fart sounds in church. A few people might laugh nervously, and a couple immature goofs might get a chuckle out of it, but most of us just sit there in uncomfortable silence and hope they go away. (Not that I consider the internet to be a church, but it’s an analogy. Work with me. I swear it’s apt.) It’s time we all stand up in the metaphorical pews and denounce them for the fools and hecklers that they are, and chase them back under the bridges where trolls properly dwell.