We’re Getting Closer…

Since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed about the future. Not in a what-job-will-I-have, I-hope-my-wife-is-hot-type way. No, in a when-will-I-get-to-drive-flying-cars type way. Ask any man in his mid to late 20s what thing he’d want most in this world and he’ll say (if he’s not a loser or a liar) “a hoverboard”.

That, my friends, is the future I’ve been looking forward to.

Just last week, I received some great news: that future is here.

Acting on a tip (read: I clicked on a link in a friend’s Gmail status), I stumbled upon the portal to the future. It’s called Glass and it’s fucking crazy. For a sampling of the sort of things you can do, check out this brief video provided by Google.

You see? That’s what I’m talking about. I want to be able to congratulate my mom on how well she hydrates a pizza. I want to be able to shout at morons who have no idea that hoverboards don’t work on water and to not use my hands to lace up my sneakers. I want a closet filled with self-drying vests and for this guy’s fashion to come into style.

Apparently, the folks at Google are of similar mind.

From what I’ve gathered, it appears as if there’s going to be a contest to beta-test these glasses and then some form of the product will be available to normal humanoids in 2014. A word, before we go on, about that “contest”. In quite possibly the most arrogant “contest” ever, you have to be chosen (after submitting what needs to be deemed as a worthwhile, clever usage for Glass) by Google and then you’re given the right to spend $1500 and pick them up in one of only three places country-wide. Seems ridiculous, but I suppose if it’s the key to moving us more towards Back to the Future, I can deal.

Full disclosure time: I don’t even have a smartphone. So, as you could rightly imagine, seeing a pair of futuristic glasses where you can do basically everything other than dry clean your clothes blew my mind.

I don’t want one (at all, really), but I now know how it feels to be a parent. I want to call up Google and simply say, “Congratulations, you’ve done it. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but this is it.”

When they ask me, of course, why I don’t want to purchase one, I’ll simply respond, “I have no need for a device that syncs everything I own and makes everything easier and hands-free. No, I’m holding out for a truly useful device. The hoverboard. Glass me when you’ve got that finished.”

For years people mocked movies like Back to the Future and Minority Report and their false replications of futuristic life. Well, haters, I’m here to say that it looks we’re not that far off. First the Google Glass, then the hoverboard, maybe a box that keeps all your food cold, or another one that heats them all up.

I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Chronicles of the Single Man, Episode 5: Where The Players Dwell

You don’t want to meet all of my guy friends on our third date?

This story is about… let’s see… three years old at this point. I was single then and I’m single now. Frankly, as I thought it over to write this post, I realized it’s probably a good illustrator of why that’s the case.

I’ve never claimed to be an expert on women or male/female interaction, but I have, in fact, sustained healthy relationships with women (and even had sex with a few of them), so I can’t be getting lucky each time.

That said, how would you interpret the following situation?

I’m at the bar with a friend, waiting for a girl I had gone out on a few dates with (more on those in a moment) to arrive. She does and in short order this friend of mine pretends to come down with malaria and lets us be*. After having a drink or two at that bar, she asks** me if I want to go to another bar because a bunch of her friends are there.

Would you assume that these friends were a bunch of A) similarly-aged girls, B) a mix of guys and girls or C) a group of only men, at least 6 of them, all dressed like rejects from Boiler Room?

I’d have put the house on A or B. If you’re reading at above a 6th grade level, you can probably guess that it was, regrettably, C.

Free Download: Chapter 19 – Fuck Valentine’s Day

screen-shot-2012-04-16-at-7-52-43-pm-1

In honor of my favorite holiday, I figured I’d give out a chapter of my novel, congratulations?, that happens to be dedicated to this very day.

Trust me, the fact that you’re reading a chapter mid-book won’t make a difference.

Go ahead, click on the link and enjoy. No viruses, just some old fashioned fun.

Chapter 19 – Fuck Valentine’s Day

And of course, if you like what you’ve read, click the link above or head to Amazon and pick up a full copy.

Michelle Obama vs. Alice Eve

Ga-ross.
Needs a prayer, in this fight.

No, you didn’t miss out on a feud. There’s no real beef here. In fact, I’d be willing to wager that they’ve likely never met and, even likelier, Mrs. Obama has never even heard of Alice Eve (are we really to believe she had time for Sex And The City 2?)

These are two separate women and in normal circles, their paths would never intersect. Except, I don’t always run around in those circles.

Let me explain, if I may, how this whole thing came to be.

As a man (and a single one at that), I often engage in that rudimentary of caveman activities: rating women and casually discussing which I would or wouldn’t have sex with. Add to this the even heavier ignorance that the topic at hand was celebrities (read: women I’d probably still only have about a 10 percent chance with even if they worked at Burger King).

I had seen her on YouTube earlier in the day, so to the conversation, I brought up one Alice Eve. Alice of Sex And The City 2, Alice of She’s Out of Your League, Alice of that movie with Ray Liotta where she may or may not be nude (even I can’t hyperlink you there, friends). As I’m sure a friend of Will Madison’s would have said, “That Alice Eve is one piece of ace.”

My argument (if you can call it that) centered on the idea that she’s one of the hottest women on planet Earth and she would almost certainly top my list. A friend of mine, who happens to be black, was in this conversation and, unprovoked, made the (fucking insane) assertion that he’d rather have sex with Michelle Obama.

And so, here we are.

I thought about this for a few days and ultimately it dawned on me that beyond the fact that my friend is almost certainly a certifiable lunatic, there’s got to be something racial at work here. Right?

Actually, let’s back up once more.

I should clarify that I don’t mean to demean either of these two women. I don’t know either of them and almost assuredly never will, but I’m sure they’re great folk. This discussion started between two juvenile men posing as adults and is to be taken about as seriously as a Publisher’s Clearing House letter in the mail.

To make clear: the question wasn’t “Which lady would make the best domestic partner?” or “Which woman would be a great gal to have as a pal?” No, it was as vulgar and simplistic as it seems.

And in that vein, I don’t think Mrs. Obama honestly has a leg to stand on. Alice Eve is a smoke show and that much can’t be debated. Michelle Obama is a very pretty woman, but her main charm in the physical realm is elegance. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a distinction to be made. I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend tell me the girl he just hooked up with was “crazy elegant”.

I gave this friend another day to think on it and outside of a few scenarios, he remained steadfast on his point: he’d choose Michelle over Alice.

Once I was satisfied that he wasn’t kidding around, I was left with the following possibilities as explanation:

  1. Maybe he hates English women?
  2. Maybe he hated Lewis Carroll?
  3. Maybe he has a thing against thin, busty, long-haired blondes?
  4. Maybe he never trusted a woman (or man) with two first names?

Honestly, only number four made any real sense.  Think about it… Mark David Chatman, Lee Harvey Oswalt, James Earl Ray? Coincidence? I think not.

But maybe it was a race thing… Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing a manifesto that we should only stay within our race**. Marry a man, a woman, marry a farm animal for all I give a shit.

I’m not mentioning a race angle like it’s a bad thing… merely just as a thing. An observation, I believe they call it.

So, to find out, I dug deeper. I went through the above toss up with a number of men and women I know and not one of the white people surveyed chose Michelle Obama.

My thoughts on this went as follows: First, my friend is a lunatic. Second, maybe he’s still a lunatic, but it’s just a black/white thing I’ll never get (no matter how many hours of NBA and rap I consume).

Then, I asked another black friend of mine, and his exact response was as follows:

Alice Eve ALL DAY and TWICE on Sunday

This was when I came to my third, and final resting point on the discussion: My friend is, in fact, a raging psychopath whose opinion can’t be trusted (unless, of course, if it has anything to do with Major League Baseball or its affiliates).

So maybe it’s not a black/white thing. Maybe it’s just a crazy/sane thing.

*Why is it, by the way, that when in public white people always seem to whisper the world black when using it as a modifier for guy/man/girl/gal? Are black people whispering “white guy” when the situation is reversed? I doubt it.

** Side note: Please explain this – If I, as a white man, say that I prefer to date white women, or that I find them more attractive, that could rub people the wrong way. You’re almost certain to get a tired, “That’s racist” crack from a friend. If a black man doesn’t verbally express the same point but only dates black women, it isn’t considered the same thing. Is it a simple matter of voicing the opinion which makes it “wrong”? I’d argue that neither side is wrong, that they’re in fact the same.

White Suburban Kid Reviews Classic Hip Hop Albums

As seen on Kevin Reviews Things last week…

I wasn’t sure how I wanted to go about this. Frankly, I wasn’t even sure what the first step was.

Let’s go back a bit, shall we. First off, after taking down Doctor Dre and Shawn “Z” Carter, I knew I wanted to go in a slightly different direction for part three. That direction, as fate would have it, was R. Kelly*.

To me, there’s more to the R. Kelly story than simply one album. It’s a story, not just a review. And with that in mind, I found it hard to simply write one review about one of his albums and keep the scope to just that one album.

That all said, I could’ve done it in parts. A part one (the rise) and part two (the fall) for Mr. Kelly, but I ultimately settled against the idea of a series having a series within it.

So, buckle up, because we’re doing it all in one.

The Rise of Robert Sylvester Kelly

Robert had already released three albums (the seminal “12 Play”**, the creatively titled/beginning of outrageously sexualized style “R. Kelly”, and the personally inaccurate, though eerily foreshadowing “Born Into the 90s”) by the time 1998 rolled around.

However, it would be “R.” that would be the beginning of his true peak as the R in R&B***. I’m not sure how many of you actually know about this album, because in telling a few friends of mine that I’d be featuring this next in my series, I was met with one or both of the following:

  1. You write a series? About what?
  2. R. Kelly had a double album?

So, with that confusion in mind, here are a few other facts about that album:

  • It was, in fact, a double album which is incredibly bold and rare. Most artists don’t attempt double albums because they either can’t do it, are afraid of doing it, or know that it won’t work. 
  • It was the first time in his career that Robert let other people (in this case, the Trackmasters—who fell off the face of this planet around the turn of the Millennium) produce his records.
  • It was also the first time (and the beginning of a trend, more on that in a moment) that an R. Kelly album was heavy with features.
  • It set the record for longest list of personnel ever recorded on an album. Check it out.
  • The biggest single from the CD (and arguably of Robert’s career) was “I Believe I Can Fly”.

That last one is particularly interesting because the single had been released literally two weeks after his previous album, two years prior. That song alone won him his only three Grammys. Three. On one song. Think about that for a second… OK, let’s keep moving.

I remember originally purchasing this CD from Blockbuster, which dates me in two ways. One, in the obvious way that any Blockbuster reference will and two, harkening back to the days when they actually sold compact discs at Blockbuster. Anyway, in listening to this record again, I forgot about how much fun R&B was. A thought I couldn’t get out of my head while listening: “Man, I wish I had sex a lot in 1998, because it would’ve been great to do that to these songs.”****

I recently had a girl I was engaging in sexual intercourse with tell me, just as we were getting into it, that we should do it to music. I wanted to put on some old school R&B, basically this R. Kelly stuff—the stuff you’d joke about having sex to but never actually would. Except, I didn’t want it to be ironic. I wanted to literally pretend as if it was the late 90s. Sadly, she wasn’t into it (or old enough to remember R. Kelly as anything less than what he’s become).

Before we move on to the Fall, let’s pick a few great tracks from that album, shall we? The CD’s first track, “Home Alone” might be its best party song. “Half on a Baby” was actually a single (which shows you not only where we were, but where we’ve gone) that, shockingly, is enjoyable. “We Ride” is basically a vehicle for R. Kelly to sing the hook while Jay-Z, Cam’ron and Noreaga destroy each verse. You probably also remember “Did You Ever Think”, but the album version inexplicably doesn’t have Nas on it. That song, by the way, needs a question mark in its title and does not have a chorus that follows with “…that you would urinate on a girl, get videotaped doing it and get away with it?”.  Lastly, I’d recommend “Money Make the World Go Round” with Nas. No joke there, that’s just a good old school R&B song.

The Fall of Robert Sylvester Kelly

It didn’t happen right away. You could lazily look at things and point to his, shall we say, sexual indiscretions with underage girls and say that it all came apart then. That’s not 100% true. That was the start of things, but keep in mind, that nonsense came out in early 2002 and he went on to release some of his most successful albums after that point.

No, friends, it all came apart between 2004 and 2008. Two specific events can be pointed to:

First, he pissed off Jay-Z (an ironic turn of phrase), which is a huge no-no in the game (ask Chris Brown or Beanie Sigel about that).

Second, this is America, so sh*t (another ironic turn of phrase, I realize) didn’t hit the fan until the verdict on his case came down in ’08. He was, somehow (skip to 1:51), acquitted on all charges. Take a look at his albums from that point on. “Untitled”, “Love Letter” and “Write Me Back” had all of one rapper featured (some clown named OJ Da Juiceman. Seriously). Point of reference: “Double Up” had 8 rappers on it. So, there you go.

That part is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a generally held opinion in contemporary American society that you can do basically anything (drive drunk, cheat on your wife or sport, murder or maim someone, etc.) and you can be forgiven in the right circumstances. F*ck around with kids in a sexually deviant way? As Biggie once said, “Ain’t no comin’ back from that.”

The real issue was that he (and Jay-Z, honestly) screwed the pooch on what should have been a no-doubt-about-it home run. Of course, there’s the accusations that R. Kelly was basically a whiny, unprofessional bitch (made by Jay-Z and his camp) during their tour, but honestly, everything was screwed up long before then.

There was no reason for “The Best of Both Worlds” to be anything less than superb… because, frankly it was what the album said it was. Except, it didn’t come out that way. The verses sounded repetitive, the production was spotty at best (tracks like “Take You Home” were the exception, not the rule), and it had a feeling like it was all done over e-mail. A feeling, mind you, that was actually brought to the forefront when the two released “Unfinished Business”, one of the more blatant pieces of lazy trash you’ll ever see. You know when an artist will re-release his album with a few more remixes and call it something like “Title, Reloaded”, and try to pass that off as a whole new album? This was worse than that. “Unfinished Business” succeeded where “Best of Both Worlds” did not, in that it was exactly what the title promised.

Made up of songs and bits and cuts that didn’t make the first album, “Unfinished Business” was almost literally slapped together in a studio. It was as bad as it sounds.

Conclusion: An Alternate Ending

Sometimes, I like to imagine what would have happened had each of these men lived the other’s life, if things didn’t play out quite as they did in real life.

Jay-Z attempts to write and star in a 15-part, off-broadway hip-hopera about a confusing web of relationships and homosexual priests. His on-again, off-again girlfriend Beyonce dumps him, unable to be seen with such a loser. More than ever, coming off the critical and commercial bombs of his play(s) and most recent album (an untitled solo project attempting to refashion him as a sort of throwback to Motown), he needs Kanye West to reinvigorate his life/career. Mr. West, uninterested in affiliating himself with such a pathetic has-been, turns him down, ending his career and instead, Kanye instead pairs with Nas, Jay’s one-time-enemy.

R. Kelly, meanwhile, continues his string of commercially viable albums and singles, each one churning out at least one or two club bangers. As his fame escalates and he moves from lone R&B crooner to icon, he does songs with everyone from Justin Timberlake to Linkin Park and John Mayer. People forget that he once sang about having sex with basically any woman in any position on any planet in this galaxy and instead focus on his new success and girlfriend (the newly single, Beyonce Knowles). He befriends a junior senator from Illinois and ultimately cozies up to him enough to gain clout to buy a piece of the New York Knicks and sing the National Anthem at the presidential inauguration.

…if only…

*Fate, in this and basically all instances as relates to this series, is also known as Spotify. I’ll be honest, I originally couldn’t fathom the point of such a program. Now, I find myself using it basically every day. Cap tip to you, dude that Justin Timberlake played in the Facebook Movie (I’m aware of both his name and that the movie isn’t called that).

**Am I the only one who had no idea that the TP of TP-2.com and TP.3 Reloaded stood for Twelve Play? I can’t be.

***For a guy who birthed the totally ridiculous/albeit original “Trapped in the Closet” series (side note within the side note: I could do a whole post on just those, but we move on), the names of his albums show an impressive lack of creativity. Two albums were his name, one was untitled, and three were based off the same name.

****For the record, I was 11 when it came out.