Category: Uncategorized

#11 – Getting Away With Not Getting A Ticket

maxresdefault1I am a white kid from the relative suburbs.

Generally speaking, I’ve stayed out of trouble.

Weighting the first sentence about 95-99% and the second sentence picking up the remainder, you can see why I have no legit beef or fear of the fuzz.

That said, no matter where you come from no one likes getting pulled over. Unless you’re one of these people. In which case, good for you–there still is joy left in this world, apparently.

It’s probably also worth adding in here that I drive a Toyota Corolla, a car known not so much for its blazing speed but remarkable dependency and incredible ability to somehow look like every other four-door sedan on the planet.

I say all this because, in fairness, it’s not as if I’m constantly ducking and dodging my way out of a ticket. I generally stop at red lights, I consistently stay within 20 miles an hour of the posted speed limit and when convenient I will typically go hands-free when making a phone call.

No matter how careful you are as a driver, however, you’ve likely experienced the dread that is squalie either following you for an inordinate amount of time or—gasp!—peeling out from a speed trap after you pass.

Hell, sometimes it’s not your fault. Perhaps it’s that time of the month, quotas aren’t being met and the man or woman behind the wheel of the ole blue and white had a bad day. Or, maybe you’re doing 80 in a 55.

EITHER WAY… there’s two stages to this feeling.

Stage 1 is the feeling of thinking you’re getting pulled over… and you don’t. The best of this is when you’re cruising down the highway, blasting some non-ironic 90s boyband bangers mixed in with the occasional “Notorious Thugs” as you notice you’re suddenly going way faster than anyone on the road.

Why?

Because you’re the only dickhead that’s too into your music to notice the po-po posted up about 200 yards ahead. So you do the thing we all do, the most subtle option available: you slam on your brakes and pretend as if you’ve been doing the speed limit this whole time.

187 somehow doesn’t fall for this Daniel Day-Lewis performance and decides to pull out behind you as your car passes the post.

That moment 5-0 pulls off your tail (be it other-worldly intervention, something actually important happening that calls their attention elsewhere or anything else)… that’s the deepest exhale you’re going to take for a while.

Stage 2 is when Jake actually pulls you over. It could be for not having your seat belt on, it could be for having drug paraphernalia on your person, it could be for stealing a mini-van with a family in it. No matter what’s going on, it’s never a good moment when they’re walking up towards your car. Or, the car of the family you stole it from.

The heat is coming and you don’t want to face it.

And then, again by some miracle, you’re off without a ticket. Sure, they’ve probably issued some bullshit warning along with a pedantic and ridiculous lecture about how “they’re going to let you go, this one time” as if they’re doing you an actual favor and they don’t work for us, as opposed to the other way around. No, that’s not a chip on my shoulder. Keep moving.

Either stage you’ve found yourself in, that moment when you realize your whole day is going to be completely different is where this feeling resides. You went from completely carefree to having to deal with AT BEST paying a trumped up fine and AT WORST paying that insane fine plus your insurance potentially going up and your license getting points.

Think about how sweet it is, then, to go back to carefree. Exactly.

Go ahead and exhale.

Polar Opposite of this Feeling?: You already know.

 

#188 – A Fresh Haircut

32495-1_lIt’s honestly not about if the haircut you just got is any good. Truth be told, for this feeling to be felt, it’s sort of irrelevant if you’re going to a friend that has a pair of scissors or the person you go to is “the best.”

Whether or not you’re Tony Soprano or Bryce Harper, a fresh cut and clean up is something that doesn’t have anything to do with quality so much as it does with cleanliness.

Sure, if it looks good, that’s a bonus. But stepping out of the salon or barbershop or wherever you go, knowing you look–at the very least–better than you did when you walked in is a great feeling.

Polar Opposite of this Feeling?: Thinking you have a great haircut, feeling great about yourself, then you catch a glimpse in your own normal mirror and finding out you were way, way off.

#126 – That Movie You Can Recite Coming On TV

picture1For me there’s a number of choices that fill this role, but here are the top entries, in no particular order.

  • Any of the Back To The Future movies. And yes, that includes the third one, you high-brow son-of-a-bitch.
  • Casino, or as it’s commonly known, Goodfellas 2
  • Goodfellas, which at this point I could almost certainly watch with the sound (and possibly the video) entirely off.
  • Gangs of New York. I recognize this may not be on many people’s lists, but I fucking love that movie. Almost every single scene with Daniel Day Lewis is mesmerizing.
  • The Departed. I know, I know. Gangster movie number four. Predictable. But, for real, this movie is more than that. Sure, the gangster elements are great, but it’s really a complete film–and insanely quotable.

There’s more, I’m sure, but you get the point.

Fact is, when you’re aimlessly drifting through your TV’s guide function and it’s just an endless desert of shit, there’s nothing like coming across that Casino oasis. You’re locked in.

Polar Opposite of this Feeling?: Thinking you’ve found a good one only to realize that in your excitement you didn’t notice it was basically over. The search begins anew.

 

Episode Eight – Zach Schonbrun, New York Times

scott-spinelli_imsureimoverthinkingthis (1)

Zach Schonbrun, contributing sports and business writer for the New York Times, is the guest this week. Here’s some of the stuff we talked about: is the Times just trying to piss me off with N.B.A and Mr/Mrs’ing everyone? (1:30), my one shining moment at Syracuse–the SU Media Game wherein I destroyed Zach’s ankles and acted like a jackass (4:51), Zach’s decision not to major in journalism while at Syracuse and get the practical education through experience (7:32), why his first job with MLB.com convinced him to go to grad school for journalism (11:09), how the work he put in at the school paper that would keep him there 5 days a week from 5pm to 1am so often felt like being involved in a fraternity (17:05), the brotherhood of the Daily Orange that helped send this year’s class to Indy and Houston to cover the Men’s and Women’s Final Four (20:25), my most burning question: What the hell does a non-beatwriter like Zach do every day? (24:35), Zach discusses the book proposal regarding the intersection between neuroscience and sports that’s been taking up most of his time lately (29:10), how does a contributing writer get paid and make money while avoid being taken for granted? (31:30), how his Kindle Single “One Great Shoe” came to be (37:48), how a writer should and does handle their story idea changing or evolving as they are doing the reporting (41:43), what percentage of story idea/pitches are from the writer or the editors and what makes someone good at coming up with fresh angles? (43:09), why Zach thinks the way sports reporting is done is going to have to change as we move forward (49:03), his concern that journalism is heading more towards the team and player led-media (ThisIsMelo, The Players’ Tribune) and that readers may not be able to tell (or care about) the difference between biased and non-biased media (52:07), how having a business story of his killed at the Times helped hone his bullshit filter (54:22), why he bristles at the notion of having to be a “personality” when being a reporter (1:00:48) and of course, Zach’s chance to ask me a question (1:03:39).

Check out his Kindle Single “One Great Shoe” chronicling the rise and fall of And1 Shoes. It’s good. For real.

Episode One – Steve Gelbs, SNY

scott-spinelli_overthinking

Steve Gelbs of SNY is my first guest. Here’s some of the stuff we talked about: Bruce vs Billy (2:05), what it’s like to officially be an adult (5:49), what he thinks is the real value of internships (12:49), how a mistake basically started his career in television (22:08), the closer’s mentality of being a field reporter (35:01), the most exhausting day of his life last year (49:51) and how insanely long his work days can be (55:12). Plus, a few other things, including his World Series pick, if you care for that sort of thing.

The Best Sitcom On Television Might Not Be For You (It Probably Isn’t)

The irony of Comedy Central’s Broad City is that it isn’t broad at all. In fact, it’s one of the more specific sitcoms on television today. There’s two girls, both wacky in their own right, a dentist/fuck-buddy in Hannibal Buress, a gay pot-dealing roommate and an oblivious boyfriend of a roommate (who you never meet). Forgetting all that: if you aren’t remotely familiar with New York City, the show’s omnipresent 3rd star, a ton of the jokes will fall even flatter.

Here’s the thing: when it comes to comedy, not everything is for everyone.

The problem, though, is that the most popular shit (and in many ways, it is just that) tends to be the stuff that’s casting the widest net.

You’ve seen it a million times. Often, the net starts out specific, cast to a smart, sharp group of people (think: Modern Family). Then, when money enters the picture and viewing expectations and dollar commitments go up, the characters and situations that you came to know and love suddenly start being painted with thick paint strokes instead of fine markers. The jokes become bigger, the stick slappier, the gags longer and wider.

I’ve got no actual problem with shows like How I Met Your Mother or Big Bang Theory specifically. They’re popular for a reason:  a lot of people like them.

The truth about these shows is that their humor is insanely obvious (each and every joke as predictable and repetitive as the next), pandering and way over-the-top. I’ve tried to watch each of these shows at various points during their (literally) unbelievable runs and each time, I’ve been unable to muster even a smile. I’m sorry, just can’t do it.

You see, I’m a tough crowd to please when it comes to sitcoms. Raised on Seinfeld, I’ve set the bar pretty high. There’s been a bunch of shows that I’ve enjoyed for a season or two before falling out due to the issues outlined above. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The League and Modern Family all still have their moments, but were all best before their writers began attempting to cater to everyone. Hell, even Seinfeld suffered from that in the latter seasons.

Don’t get me wrong, I get why they do it. Wu-Tang wasn’t fucking around.

So, instead of describing specifically why I love the show or linking to what scenes I really enjoyed, I’ll just say what I wish for. We know Broad City is just one episode into its second season (actually, just renewed for a third). Could things get too silly, too ridiculous, too… dare I say it… broad? Of course. But until then, let’s hope this show remembers what channel it’s on and why it’s so fucking hilarious.

#110 – Being a Hit at a Party

That guy in the tie is just waitin’ to pounce.

It’s easy to think you’re experiencing this feeling. People lie, people fake laugh, people get caught in conversations they can’t get out of. Parties are, essentially, designed to make the most talkative person in the room, if they’re oblivious enough, feel fantastic about how the night is going.

While I may be part of that (the talkative for sure, the oblivious, only part of the time), I know that it’s a rare feeling. It’s rare because so many things need to happen in the right order… You need to find yourself in the right group of people, you need to be just drunk enough, but not sloppy, you need to be hitting on all the right conversational cylinders (jokes, stories, references, questions, pauses… they’re all on point tonight, baby).

It’s important to note the article choice in the title… “A” not “the”… Being “The hit of the Party” is a potentially top 10 feeling, maybe even better… But, let’s not be ridiculous. We’ll settle for simply being a hit. People like you, the host isn’t rethinking his/her decision to invite you and you may just get another invite back.

Good on ‘ya.

Polar Opposite of this Feeling?: Forcing your way into conversation at one of these events, then trying out a joke or story that falls COMPLETELY on its face. And no, I have no idea what this feels like.

Suck Fuperman

For the life of me, I’ve never been able to comprehend the appeal of the Man of Steel.

Seriously, what is it that you people love so much about any part of this character?

Let’s go over a few things about this fellow… First off, he really can’t be killed. Sure, there’s the whole Kryptonite thing but we all know that’s total bullshit. You can’t even find it on this planet and even when you can get it, he can sense it’s near. That would be like me, Scott Spinelli, saying my only weaknesses are bullets fired from guns, but I know when and where they’ll be coming from at all times.

Second, his alter-ego is ridiculous. Granted, in all of these stories about superheroes, the capacity that the citizens of these various towns have for ignorance on the part of the identity of their local hero is astonishing. They’ll root out the bad guy instantly, but no one can figure out how to simply follow the fucking Batmobile back to Wayne Manor. Still, that aside, at least a lot of these guys have the decency not to rub it in our faces.

Spiderman, Batman, the various X-men… at least a lot of them wear either masks or other things that cover their identity. Not Clark Kent. The sonofabitch has the audacity to simply put on glasses and no one says a word. Need I remind you, he works at a newspaper… The same newspaper, apparently, where the investigatory journalism was hard-hitting enough to UNCOVER SUPER-FUCKING-MAN… but can’t ID the exact same guy in glasses and a button down. Stunning, truly.

Now, I know what you’re saying… Scott, it’s just a comic book hero. Of course he can’t be defeated and so what if we all know who he really is!?

To the first part of that, I say, fair point. None of these guys ever lose, I get that*. However, at least with the other ones there’s a chance they might. There’s at least that point where they’re a little bit beaten up, weakened. That seems to rarely ever happen with Superman (and when it does, it’s such an obvious forced script point on the part of the writers that it doesn’t even feel true in the context of a movie where the plot centers on an alien from another planet who wears tights and a cape and saves the earth from destruction).

This all is brought about because I recently caught the most recent Superman movie on HBO. In it, there’s a fight scene between Superman and whoever the bad guys are in this movie. Basically, it’s just 10-15 minutes of these people completely and irreparably destroying a small town in Kansas with little to no remorse. Superman throws one guy through a building, another guy tosses a U-Haul van at a flying plane, another one takes Superman and flings him into the local IHOP (where, again, they destroy everything without concern).  And, after all of these things, they each just dust themselves off and get right back to it.

Watching, I got the sense that if neither party got bored, they could’ve kept fighting for hours like that. Just roaming the great plains of the United States, fighting/ruining everything the people of these small towns took lives to build and accomplishing nothing in their eternal struggle.

And why, you may ask, does it go for so long? Well, besides the fact that none of them have any weakness, it’s that Superman, apparently, doesn’t really like to kill people. I mean… come on.

If that right there isn’t enough to turn you off from him, I don’t know what is.

Apparently, they’re making a Batman and Superman movie that’s hitting theaters in a few years. Honestly, I feel bad for the scriptwriters because no matter what, there’s no way to make a bad guy/group of villians that can even remotely threaten those two together. Batman on his own has knocked off some pretty tough foes… how do you think he’ll fare when he has an indestructible flying alien on his side?

Exactly.

Fuck Superman.

 

*In fairness, I always root for the Joker to toss Batman’s ass of the building in Dark Knight Returns, but that’s neither here nor there.

Review: Anthony J. Shears – The Growth: My ENTroduction

“Who the fuck is Ant Shears, anyway?”

A track into The Growth: My ENTroduction, I found myself asking the same question. Here’s what I knew:

  • A fellow by the name of Anthony J. Shears approached me on Twitter and via an e-mail to this site (his answers to my extra questions were priceless… Hellrazor and a Yoga instructor, if you’re curious).
  • I immediately assumed it was spam because… well, come on, it’s Twitter.
  • Then, upon some further research, I discovered he was in fact a real (and very legit music industry) person. I still wasn’t sure he meant to contact me, but I went along with it (see: Hellrazor, Yoga instructor).

So, I put on the CD, but again I’ll admit, I was skeptical. I’m a fiend for new music, don’t get me wrong. But a lot of times, what you might call “home-made music” (which, I can’t stress enough, this is NOT) trends towards unpolished at best, wack at worst. These were my concerns.

A handful of tracks in, those doubts were erased.

The sampling is incredible (Paul Simon, James Taylor, Jay-Z, Patti LaBelle to name a few), the production is on point and the lyrics range from fun, bob-along type stuff to stop what you’re doing, I need to listen-type stuff.

Without getting too gushy, it’s the type of hip-hop I’ve been waiting on for a while now. And by a while, I mean about 8 to 10 years. You see, I’ve gone along for the ride with where the genre’s gone. The invasion of that techno/trance, the poppy sounds, the mechanical robot touch that everything seems to have now (ahem, Yeezus). And, I’ll be honest, a lot of it I’ve really loved.

But, for my money, there’s not a lot better than a solid sample, sped up and flipped, with a nice bass beat and guy with a good flow. Listening to Shears, I started thinking he’d have fit in fine alongside the early versions of Kanye’s conscious G.O.O.D. music crew on any number of tracks from The College Dropout. How many people can really pick out GLC in a crowd? Exactly.

One of my least favorite aspects of any music review is when the reviewer tries to describe, in-depth (and often, in vain) the actual songs. Here’s an example of how ridiculous that can be, from Rolling Stone (first) and Business Insider (second):

[Kanye West’s] “Hold My Liquor” is an elegantly wasted house ballad, with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver as dyspeptic diva crooning under the amber waves of drank and teenage Chicago rapper Chief Keef playing the sad gangsta.

[Jay-Z’s] “Tom Ford” survives some lackluster rips with a whale of a Timbaland meat-grinder beat. 

Seriously, what the fuck do those even mean? Dyspeptic diva crooning under the amber waves of drank? A meat-grinder beat? Good lord.

So, I’ll spare you of that. What I will say is that several songs from the album have made it to my iPod. That’s as good of a recommendation as I can give it.

My favorites, in no particular order, are Break You Down (this one’s the James Taylor sample), Mea Culpa, Tears In Your Eyes and 50 Ways (and this one’s the Paul Simon sample).

If the CD is 13 tracks (there’s a new version of Tears In Your Eyes as 14th track. That’s my only issue with the album—just give me the best version, not both), I’d say four songs are iPod worthy right away and seven are repeat-listening-worthy.

That’s pretty damn good.

All I can say is, if this is Shears still growing, I can’t wait to see where’s he at once he’s finished.

Go buy the album on iTunes, here.