Spring into Football Season

In my younger and more vulnerable years—specifically, the Ohio State-Akron game on September 3, 2011—I went tailgate hopping without a hat/pair of sunglasses/any sort of facial masquerading device.  This wouldn’t have been a terrible oversight for the law-abiding crowd, but veered into risky business for those (like me) with a questionable moral compass; the sole purpose being to swipe as much food as possible from as many tailgates as possible.  With enough practice, I mastered the art of parking lot larceny and feasted accordingly before every Ohio State home game.  Even when proper food-pilfering etiquette failed to net me a sandwich, all was not lost—the potluck that surrounded Ohio Stadium never really ended.  There was always another Italian sausage to be had elsewhere.

Between the bad weather and the fact that it was a glorified scrimmage, I was skeptical about the opportunities for thievery at last Saturday’s spring game.  However, no one appeared to mind when I moseyed up to a tailgate and helped myself to a handful of pigs in a blanket.  While I initially reckoned this incident to be an aberration, it soon became apparent that everyone was in a giving mood.  The merriment was a welcome change after the tumultuous 2011 campaign, and succinctly illustrated by the tank top of one scantily clad coed, which had etched in permanent marker “Urban Meyer, Can You Be My Baby Daddy?”

The thing about spring games is that they can get kinda boring.  I suppose this is why non-athletic powerhouses—say, ITT Tech or Lakeland—attract larger crowds to bi-weekly campus B-I-N-G-O nights than at an April football exhibition; so, obviously, Buckeye fans went crazy when the game remained captivating deep into the fourth quarter.

Taking a page out of the XFL’s playbook, Meyer eschewed the coin toss for a bull-in-the-ring drill that climaxed (or nosedived, depending on how you look at it) when opposing QBs Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton were pitted against one another and proceeded to set bull-in-the-ring drills back twenty years.  When Drew Basil connected on a short field goal, Meyer kept him on the field to showcase his placekicking prowess.  Basil, sauntering back in five yard increments, was stymied by the 58-yard distance and failed to split the uprights on three attempts.  The fans let out a collective sigh that seemed to say He’s no Mike Nugent!  My attention to the game was only diverted once, as I made plans to attend a Twerk Team-themed event later that evening.

The breakout player of the game was freshman Michael Thomas, a wide receiver who, hilariously, operates a Twitter account under the guise of his chosen alter-ego, Rico Romano.  Thomas’s reliably entertaining tweets range from cryptic (“I Still Remember What You Did Last Summer”) to primal (“Let’s Eat!!!”).  In real life, Rico Romano is the general manager of the Las Vegas Playboy Club.  Whatever vestige of Romano that Thomas sees in himself remains a mystery to me, but I’m not so sure I’d want to know anyway!  Besides, I had bigger things to worry about—like if there’d be any food left outside the stadium once the game ended.

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YOLO of the Week: Revisiting the MGK Flash Mob

May 2010: My first period Algebra II class is abuzz over some rapper named Machine Gun Kelly who’ll be freestyling in the parking lot after school.  The situation becomes considerably fuzzier when I call upon the services of Wikipedia, only to see this: “George Celino Barnes, better known as ‘Machine Gun Kelly’, was an American gangster during the Prohibition era.  His nickname came from his favorite weapon, a Thompson submachine gun.”  Okay?  The Lake Catholic parking lot didn’t typically double as a concert venue, and I was dubious about the event’s likelihood to be approved by administration.  Also, Wikipedia said Machine Gun Kelly died in 1954, which seemed to be problematic.  But if this guy’s ghost was gonna put on a show for us, I was all for it.

April 20, 2012: A New York Times article detailing Hip Hop Squares—MTV’s forthcoming reincarnation of Hollywood Squares—features Machine Gun Kelly, now shortened to MGK, prominently, to the point that it includes the following picture/caption combo:

MGK’s meteoric rise has been well-documented (read his rags-to-riches tale here), and is epitomized in the anecdotes above where, in the span of two years, I went from thinking he was a firearm-loving thug to reading about his status as a celebrity game show contestant—albeit as a thuggish one—in the nation’s most prestigious daily.

When, precisely, did MGK crossover from misidentified murderer to Cleveland head-receiving rap luminary?  Some say August 3, 2011, when he signed a two-album deal with Bad Boy Records.  Others point to last year’s BET Hip Hop Awards, where he performed in a cypher alongside Diddy.  However, neither is correct.  The answer, August 20, 2011, is the day the Shaker Heights grad organized a flash mob (this was very in vogue at the time) on Twitter.

Now, MGK’s avant-garde use of social media is probably the overarching reason for his remarkably passionate fan base.  Though he’s achieved a significant level of fame, Facebook posts like “Just played a kid in rock, paper, scissors outside Smoothie King for what songs I perform tonight” allow him to maintain the salt-of-the-earth vibe that initially endeared him to so many people.  MGK goes to Smoothie King!  MGK takes the time to play rock, paper, scissors with fans!  Is there a decent chance this never happened?  Yes.  Does that matter?  No.  His disciples—the ones with “Lace Up” and “EST” tattoos—won’t entertain this possibility because MGK is one of us.  So the flash mob craze was right up his alley.

The Mona Lisa of Lace Up tattoos.

(Social media side note: It should be mentioned that in his Twitter bio, MGK says, “I like threesomes, chocolate milk, and social studies,” but then again, who doesn’t?)

MGK narrowed down the site of his flash mob to three strong candidates: Strongsville’s SouthPark Mall, Beachwood Place, and Mentor’s Great Lakes Mall.  I was pulling for Mentor, obviously, hoping to bear witness to the looming spectacle, so my emotions got the better of me when MGK announced that SouthPark had won.  Unable to go, I took solace knowing that several videos of the event would emerge on YouTube, permitting retroactive flash-mobbery in the comfort of my own home.  This arrangement was satisfying enough until I caught wind of what happened, which really got my YOLO juices flowing!  As we mark the flash mob’s eight month anniversary, I felt obliged to revisit that fateful August day.

0:02: I can’t decide if the chauffeur is in on the joke or if he’s cursing the life decisions that led him to this moment.

0:18: Man, this crew is so Cleveland it’s a goddamn shame!

0:38: Pause the screen and reflect on the man in the white polo who takes it upon himself to catch a flailing MGK.  Not many people would have done this.

0:50: I love how one of MGK’s minions brazenly adds to the chaos by brandishing a boombox.  Looks fun!

1:10: The kid standing up in the yellow shirt is either on drugs, drunk, or a combination of the two.  Vote here:

1:26: This is MGK’s best bit of acting.  Content with the pandemonium level he’s caused, he throws up one final L and plays the part of the complying, unjustifiably handcuffed citizen, as if he had nothing to do with what just happened.

1:42: This guy in the red shirt can’t be a cop, right?  Maybe he just wants to show this video to his grandkids one day and brag about how he had a hand in MGK’s arrest.

2:32: This chick equates bailing MGK out of jail to doing God’s work.

2:50: Is it bad that I was kinda rooting for the blue-shirted girl to trip on the back of the car?  Not like I wanted her to sustain life altering injuries or anything.

3:00: Free at last!

3:10: Father-son bonding if I’ve ever seen it.

3:25: MGK “gives a f*** about these kids,” but why won’t he acknowledge the adults that showed out for him?  Seems like a double standard.

4:10: MGK, struck by the audacity of his detractors: “And they say EST wasn’t a cult!”  Really?  I’ve never heard anyone say that, but I’ll take your word for it.

4:16: The video concludes with a five second sample of “Wild Boy”, which raises a pertinent question: Does anyone actually like MGK’s music?  I mean, I’m sure some people do, but that many?  Occasionally, I’m asked this at Ohio State and feel obligated to answer yes out of civic pride.  Oftentimes I’ll praise him at the expense of, say, Pittsburgh native Wiz Khalifa the same way I perennially declare that the Browns will beat the Steelers even though I know otherwise.  It’s the classic heart versus head conundrum, and I’ll go with my heart every time.  MGK puts on for the city – that’s good enough for me.


Poetry in Motion

I don’t remember the name of my seventh grade assistant basketball coach, just that I dubbed him “Navy Guy” for his tendency to wear Midshipmen paraphernalia under any circumstance.  Navy Guy was old—skin-saggingly old—and seemingly apparated to practice from the set of Hoosiers.  His primary contribution to the team was a post-practice box of off-brand snack cakes; after two weeks, we realized that the cakes were always expired, yet this intelligence only deterred me from eating them.  Sometime before our first regular season game, Navy Guy called a team meeting to announce his imminent leave of absence/retirement, a consequence of the team’s schedule conflicting with his obligations as a cantor.  Justifiable tears streamed down our cheeks as we contemplated the loss of a living, breathing coughing monument to the days of white guys in short shorts shooting at peach baskets.  Navy Guy’s farewell offering was a printed-out newspaper profile of college basketball’s player du jour, J.J. Redick.  For a time, that article meant everything to me.

On Sunday evening, I watched the Magic trounce the Cavs, 100-84.  Redick, the Magic’s starting 2-guard, had a particularly J.J. Redickish stat line: 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and 13 points.  At my present Cavs-viewing state, I generally either fantasize about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the lineup or attempt to define what, exactly, constitutes Lesanity.  For this game, however, my personal meditations veered towards abstraction—there I sat, transfixed on Redick.  Soon, my thoughts drifted to Navy Guy and his stale pastries.  I wondered how he was adjusting to the rigors of life as a cantor and what he’d wanted us to glean from the Redick profile.  My stapled copy of the article was at home collecting dust and several Google searches were woefully ineffective, so I didn’t have the chance to peruse it before writing this.  Nevertheless, I vaguely recalled a sentence or two detailing Redick’s foray into poetry.  Intriguing!  This sealed it for me— I would embark on a mission to better appreciate the collected works of Jonathan Clay (J.J.??) Redick.

A sampling from Redick’s portfolio:

As I decide to fulfill my life’s strategy

The devil insists on trying to battle me

I meet him in an empty field on the high plains

He throws temptations my way to inflict internal pain

Life and death matters, this ain’t no game

He believes I’ll submit to the evil of society’s frame

And benefit from notoriety’s gain

He says I don’t have to properly train

and that he’ll give me all the fame

and everyone will know my name

But I think he’s insane

The temptation-tossing devil obviously serves as a veiled representation of a North Carolina basketball player, but who?  A glance at the 2004-2005 Tar Heels roster (this poem was written in 2004) reveals two plausible candidates: Sean May and Raymond Felton (I cannot disclose how this conclusion was made.)  I believe I speak for everyone when I say that I’d gladly pay a staggering amount of cash to watch Redick engage in hand-to-hand combat with either of these individuals “in an empty field on the high plains.”  When Redick, a cunning artist, resorts to the humanizing, slang-laced insult “this ain’t no game,” he’s consciously endearing himself to readers; a rather wise decision considering the nation’s vitriol for Duke.  And suddenly we know—to use his parlance—he ain’t playing around.  This devil is gonna go down!  “But I think he’s insane” is a cryptic line, and potentially a reference to future UNC foe Tyler Hansbrough, who self-identifies as “Psycho T”.  The plot thickens…

No bandage can cover my scars

It’s hard living a life behind invisible bars

Searching for the face of God

I’m only inspired by the poems of Nas

The poem goes on, but I don’t really care for the rest of it.  No bandage can cover your scars?  You must have some really big scars!  Redick, again, flaunts his ability to predict the future as he gripes about life in a figurative prison cell.  Could he be referring to the eventual DUI that would come to tarnish his good boy reputation?  Perhaps.  One must question how Redick using only “the poems of Nas” to find God’s face.  I have a hard time utilizing Nas to locate Carmen Sandiego, let alone Christ.  Also, it’s important to note that Redick regards Nas to be a poet (as opposed to a rapper/musician) in the same way he is.  Related: Is J.J. a more distinguished baller or poet?  If it’s the latter, what does that say about Delonte West’s budding rap career?

It’s difficult to fathom the coming of the rapture

What if I awoke in an empty pasture?

I included this passage for two reasons:

  1. The rapture wasn’t a thing until last spring, but Redick was musing on it as early as September 5, 2004.  This guy has to have a crystal ball or something.
  2. How hilarious would it be if a groggy Redick awoke one morning in an empty pasture?

As I write this, North Carolina State sophomore forward C.J. Leslie is deliberating whether or not to enter the NBA Draft.  Because Leslie moonlights as a poet, this news simultaneously depresses and excites me.  Leslie harbors literary aspirations, so it’s disheartening to see society pigeonhole him into a basketball career when it’s clear he’d rather be Langston Hughes than Larry Hughes.  Not all is lost, though.  If Leslie continues to write in Dickenson level subterfuge, a posthumous anthology of his work will certainly surface.  This is the only known poem of Leslie’s to have been released publicly, entitled “She Finally Came”:

she was hesitant…

about the lack of time we spent.

she said, “i barely know you,

and

i’m kinda sick.”

i said

“calm down

… only as friends.”

i waited it out,

and tried it again.

this time only to find out

that we had work til 10!

DAYUM

where did I go wrong?

just tryna find a beneficial friend…

i’m starting to think these excuses

are

other men…

the next time she cancelled,

it was for an emergency.

man

this chick is really avoiding me…

then i got a text.

“sex.”

YES.

she finally came.

over

and over, and over, and over….

DAYUM!

And who could fault a kid for simply tryna find a beneficial friend?  Leslie, in his iconoclastic verse, writes with the flair of Kim Addonizio; it’s bewildering that only one piece of his has been unearthed.  Our culture needs more risk-takers like Leslie, who arouses memories of Robin Williams’s character in Dead Poets Society, an avowed endorser of the carpe diem mentality; and honestly, I need to embrace the live-life-to-the-fullest philosophy as much as anyone.  For all I know, I could wake up tomorrow in an empty pasture left only with off-brand snack cakes.


YOLO of the Week: Is Lil B the new Socrates?

By Matt Lardner

I always thought a based god was the eccentric but under the radar guy strumming in the background of rock bands. Then, Brandon McCartney (no relation to Paul, if you were wondering), a prolific hip-hop artist who performs under aliases such as “Lil B” and “BASEDGOD”, made my definition of the term obsolete.

He first became a blip on my radar on Twitter, where I would occasionally see #oomf, as the kids like to hashtag, entreat this person to fornicate with their domestic partners. “Unusual,” I remarked as I absently stroked my chin. “He must be a model.”

Imagine my surprise.

It was a red herring. But then I noticed another important detail: People were thanking him for good fortune in their lives. It all started to make sense– Lil B was a deity, and these profane, sexual shoutouts were from modern-day Josephs, calling upon Lil B to impregnate their partners Mary-style, so that they could raise a Based Son.

So I confirmed what many already knew– that Lil B was a Based God. But a God based on what? I turned to the place I usually go for spiritual guidance and information: the hallowed grounds of Myspace.com. The Word according to Brandon McCartney was longer than the King James Holy Bible on audiobook, and came from a larger amount of sources. Over 155 Myspace pages hosted 3000+ tracks of Based dogma, dwarfing the 40 writers of the book LeBron James (aka Disgraced God) got his nickname from.

After listening, I understood why so many people gave up other deism to embrace B-ism.

I extracted many valuable tenets from his work: The acceptance of alternative cultures and lifestyles, wholesome family entertainment, and gender equality. “Wonton Soup,” Lil B’s most-viewed song on Youtube, opens its welcoming chopsticks to Asiatic cultures, with the culinary choice tying into the imagery of America as a cultural melting pot. Lil B also volunteers to cook, assuming a role historically done by women, and teaches the value of bringing joy to others by preparing meals. In “Ellen Degeneres,” B shouts out a LGBT pioneer and host of a family-friendly daytime entertainment option. A freestyle called “Caillou” champions a bald cartoon protagonist, letting children know it’s OK to look different and be different. Paradoxically, Lil B titled one of his albums “I’m Gay,” despite being a self-described heterosexual. This was done both to stamp out homophobia and to restore the meaning of the word to its original use, meaning “happy.” The question we need to be asking ourselves is, why aren’t mainstream religions as open and tolerant as Lil B?

So with Lil B’s ascent into the mainstream came scholarly acclaim. More philosopher than artist, Lil B’s ideals have been lauded by the academic community, so much so that prestigious New York University invited him to lecture to a capacity crowd of 500, composed of scholarly movers and shakers poised to change the world.

Most of the crowd remained on their feet from start to finish, clearly understanding the importance of this art-meets-academia mindgasm. Lil B opined on politics, advocating against fracking and promoting the inherent joy of being a taxpayer. On the upcoming election, McCartney related himself to the leading Republican candidate. “I’m out here trying to get my Mitt Romney on,” B stated, presumably because he admires Romney’s rendition of America the Beautiful. I know that Lil B made his name in hip-hop instead of centuries-old patriotic hymns, but late in the lecture, Based God announced his intent to make a rock CD, which he describes as “garage-punk.” If he can jump genres like that, who knows when our classic American songs will undergo a Based revision?

Remember when Lil B tried to change the modern meaning of gay? Well he also looked up the original meaning of black, claiming that it means “something like coal.” That would be like saying that the word blue used to mean sky. Eccentric at first, but I can explain it for you: Lil B is emphasizing the non-linearity of time and space, and making a social commentary about how structural speech is becoming less clear cut and more blurred (a point he reiterates in the metamorphosis of the word based.)

I highly recommend that you listen to the entire speech, free for the world to absorb. This ideological cultural diffusion has been criticized by detractors as “unintentional comedy” and “baseless,” but they clearly aren’t Based enough to understand that the lecture was based on Based ideals of unity, individual Renaissance, and most importantly, swag. From the people at NYU who invited Lil B, to the 500 lucky witnesses of this life-changing event, to Lil B himself for bestowing his guidance and perspective to the world, this entire lecture exemplifies YOLO. Now who wants to cook wonton soup?


Hard Knock Life Goals

Reasons I was crestfallen when news broke Wednesday that the Jets wouldn’t be returning to Hard Knocks*, HBO’s behind-the-scenes look at an NFL training camp:

  1. Hayden Smith.
  2. Antonio Cromartie’s chance at redemption.
  3. Goddamn snacks.
  4. Tim Tebow lecturing Mark Sanchez on the moral/legal hazards of sexual assault.

*This sentence from the article absolutely slays me: The Jacksonville Jaguars, ranked last in the latest Harris Interactive Poll for league popularity, have told HBO they would love to do the show.

Mostly, I wanted to see Tebow.  When No. 15 was relegated to the trading block last month, I prayed for the Browns to swoop in and acquire him, if only because it made them that much more compelling—and compelling teams ended up on Hard Knocks.  Can you imagine the storylines?  Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy argue about who’s more Christian.  Montario Hardesty seeks Tim Tebow’s healing touch to revive chronically injured body.  Tim Tebow addresses Mike Holmgren about a closeted drinking problem.  It’d be the funnest [sic] 5-11 season of all-time.

Which begs the question: What would it take for HBO to broadcast this group’s summer practices on national television?  The answer: Quite a bit!  Hard Knocks is attainable, though, if the following steps are taken.

Hire Bobby Petrino

Petrino’s reclamation project would be fascinating TV, and where better for it to play out than Cleveland?  For the sake of the narrative, he’ll be divorced by the time training camp rolls around.  The adjustment from Arkansas head coach to Browns assistant (in all seriousness, I wouldn’t mind seeing him replace Mark Whipple) will have taken its toll, and cause Petrino to habitually break down for the cameras, tearfully citing “the emotional burden” his transgressions begot.  Add in something cheesy about the culture shock of relocating from the bucolic South to the industrious Midwest and you have yourself an Emmy award.

If the producers are hard-pressed for material, they can include a poignant scene or two of Petrino keeping a journal complete with an overdubbed narration.  Eventually, the entries can be compiled into a memoir—think an X’s and O’s version of Bill Clinton’s My Life.

Start Promoting Dan Gronkowski

Did you know the Browns employ one of Rob Gronkowski’s brothers?  Wouldn’t you like to see a camera crew tailing him after curfew as he gallivants around Cleveland?  “Late Nights With Dan Gronkowski” would be a hit with the viewers, and no creativity would be necessary—just show Dan doing things that his brother has already done.  Things like raging to LMFAO’s “Shots” in a walking boot, posing for a photo with adult film luminary Bibi Jones, and getting cozy with cats.  In the penultimate episode, “Late Nights” would culminate in a heart-to-heart exchange between Dan and a fretful Pat Shurmur, who empathizes with the tight end by recounting a cautionary tale from his hard-partying youth.

Play up the Frostee Rucker-Kourtney Kardashian Connection

An excerpt from Kourtney Kardashian’s blog, circa May 2009:

My friend Frostee Rucker plays football for the Cincinnati Bengals, so of course he showed us around his city. He’s the one who taught me about “Nasty Nati”.  He took us to a club called Blackfin Suite! This is where we got a little crazy! After that, we opened up a bar that was closed! Frostee knows the owners, so we were the only ones inside. Now this is where things get extra fun…Courtney and I went to White Castle for the first time ever! We absolutely loved it…ate two cheeseburgers each while sitting in bed talking!

Cincinnati we love you, we will be back…football20season maybe?

They got a little crazy!

How gentlemanly of Frostee to educate Ms. Kardashian on the finer points of the “Nasty ‘Nati”.  Since the Snowman plays in Cleveland now, it’d only be right of him to summon Kourtney to training camp for a nuanced look at the “Naughty North Coast”.  This would only be the most captivating fifteen minutes of TV ever—definitely more exciting than any quarter the Browns will play in 2012.


#TeamScrawlSoHard Attempts to Make Sense of #TeamiPhone vs. #TeamDroid

The ongoing war between #TeamiPhone and #TeamDroid was intensified last Tuesday with a Shot Heard ‘Round the World; namely, when the Instagram app was abruptly made available to Droid owners.  Though I’m a card-carrying member of #TeamiPhone, I didn’t have any sort of frenzied reaction to the news.  I had yet to download Instagram and was largely unaware of the snobbery it bred.

That  changed when someone identified as “Rello #23/24” was retweeted into my timeline.

Initially, the outpouring of emotion from iPhone owners befuddled me.  I consider myself a competitive person when it comes to things that, you know, people actually compete for.  Smart phone specifics never struck me as one of these things.  What compelled people to take a polarizing stance on every bit of minutiae that guzzles our lives?

But Rello #23/24 was genuinely repulsed that Droid owners could suddenly use Instagram, and it dawned on me that maybe I should be too.  Maybe I didn’t take this ish seriously enough.  Maybe it wasn’t just a game.

As I started to ponder the significance of unrestrained Instagram usage, I couldn’t think of a good reason why #TeamDroid deserved to use this app.  What kind of plebian had a Droid, anyway?  And what did they know about faux-vintage photography?  Inspired by Rello #23/24, I decided to cut off all communication with my baby mama until she acquired an iPhone.  Standards, you know?  Embracing the iPhone’s inherent elitism was a liberating experience.  Unfortunately, I was late to the party and #TeamDroid had already snuck their way in.  Hopefully they would cluster together with the band kids or something.

I’m not trying to mock the snootiness of iPhone owners—in fact, I want to be the snooty iPhone owner.  To do this, I had to develop an overarching bloodthirsty spirit.  I went home for Easter weekend and determined this would be a good time to test my newfound vigor.  Everything in my existence, whether overtly competitive or not, became about the Team.  My Twitter bio was updated accordingly: “#TeamiPhone or die,” it read.  If you weren’t on the Team, you weren’t on my radar, and this made for an interesting weekend.  Here’s what transpired:

Friday: FroYo Paint Job

There was a time last summer when coning was the cool thing to do.  For the uninitiated, it consisted of ordering an ice cream cone at McDonalds, pulling up to the drive-thru window, and grabbing, with bare hands, the ice cream rather than the cone.  Harmless, right?  Wrong.  Guardians of the golden arch responded vigilantly and rendered the trend obsolete.  It was fun while it lasted.  Society had moved on—until last weekend.

Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I love frozen yogurt.  On any given Friday or Saturday night, you can probably find me doing my thing at one of Northeast Ohio’s premier froyo establishments.  This works out nicely given that froyo is to the iPhone as ice cream is to the Droid.  In other words, I’m a better person because I choose froyo, and I wanted to ensure that everyone in Mentor knew this.

Which brings us to Friday afternoon.  The breaking point came after I devoured eight ounces of creamy cake batter goodness and felt obliged to cap it off with a coning spree, if only to piss off the employees of an ice-cream centric enterprise.  I discreetly specified my desire for a vanilla cone to the droning voice inside the speaker and proceeded to the window.  Here it was: the moment of truth.  And…successful conage!  No remorse, either.  I was on #TeamFroYo, after all—what was there to feel bad about?

Saturday: Apples to Apples

Like any real man, I go grocery shopping every weekend, and like any real grocery shopper, I buy apples each time.  I was excited for this trip, too, knowing that I’d be stocking up on food in preparation for my return to college.  As I selected the red delicious apples that would have the good fortune of returning with me, I noticed a woman, well into her sixties, in the corner of my right eye.  She may have been a looker in her heyday, but was evidently past her prime.  Under normal circumstances, I would offer said woman an insincere smile, perhaps a mumbled pleasantry, and be on my way.  But not today—she opted for gala apples.  The audacity!  I put on for my apples, as they say, and wouldn’t let her go without extolling the virtues of #TeamRedDelicious.  She left  with a mystified look on her face.

Sunday: Grandma (Doesn’t) Know Best

My grandma attends mass at St. Mary’s in Mentor.  I go to St. John Vianney.  Our preferred parishes have been a longstanding source of contention between us.  (For the record, St. John Vianney is wayyyy better.) When we’re talking, she’ll find clever ways to mask an insult about SJV with a hollow compliment; maybe a comment like, “The fries at SJV’s festival are good, but did you know that St. Mary’s serves theirs hand-cut?”  Oh, hand-cut, you say?

So it didn’t surprise me when my Grandma brought up the “beautiful” Easter decorations sprawling across St. Mary’s altar.  A few “yeahs” and “uh-huhs” and we’d move onto another topic, I thought.  While I’m always reppin’ #TeamSJV, why start an argument with my grandma?  On Easter, no less.  Moving on seemed like the best idea—until her phone rang.

Unbeknownst to me, Grandma upgraded her cell phone while I was away (with B-I-N-G-O winnings, probably).  And of course, the new phone was a Droid.  Now we had problems.


YOLO of the Week: The Curious Case of Denim-on-Denim

Yesterday, I attended the Indians’ home opener, and, once again, exited Progressive Field without seeing a no-hitter.  Obviously, there was no need to save my ticket stub.

Wednesday, my friend/former English class co-conspirator/Ben Roethlisberger enthusiast Alex went bowling and witnessed history—a neighboring bowler (who I’ll refer to as Dre) was outfitted in a denim-on-denim ensemble.  Of course, he will not only frame his receipt, but donate it to the YOLO Hall of Fame.

In a display of characteristic Steeler fan braggadocio, Alex posted a photo of Denim Dre on Facebook so fast he nearly excreted, captioned “The double-denim combo.. Never thought I’d see the day.”  The image confirmed my longstanding suspicion that Alex was the type of person to frequent bowling alleys on Wednesday nights and engendered comments like “Canadian tuxedo.”  If that’s the case, I want a Canadian wedding with at least three of my future wives.

The denim bodysuit is not without its detractors.  It was singer Jessie J (of “Domino” fame) who announced last month, “Don’t trust people that wear denim on denim!”  Beliefs such as this are surprisingly widespread, and render Dre’s fashion sense all the more commendable.  Dre, a modern martyr, knew full well that he’d be immediately ostracized by the bowling alley’s close-minded patrons upon seeing his getup.  This didn’t matter.  Dre was committed to shattering the Scores Fun Center denim-on-denim barrier.  They would love him for his ambition, he reasoned.

A poll conducted by Harris Interactive showed a wide range of opinions on Dre’s antics.  Academics are currently tabulating the societal ramifications that stem from a jean buff gone wild.  The skeptics/haterz wish Dre would have donned the elusive denim hat to attain the highly sought-after triple crown.  Dre devotees claim that such a hat would obscure his immaculate head of hair.  Call me a fanboy—I tend to agree with the latter group.

When the news about leaked via Alex’s Facebook page, an unforgiving media blitz firmly entrenched itself between Dre and the life he once led.  I didn’t want to bother the poor guy; instead, I prodded Alex with a few questions.

What emotions coursed through your veins when you saw Dre for the first time?

I did a double-take, then immediately thought, “I need photographic documentation of this.”

In your wildest dreams, did you ever imagine witnessing something like this?

Actually, I wasn’t that surprised.  I was at Scores, so I couldn’t be, ya know?

I know.  Did you talk to him?  Did he seem approachable?

Nah.  No verbal contact.  I didn’t feel safe doing that since his team consisted of guys wearing Battlefield 3 and Mushroomhead t-shirts.

And yet he chose denim-on-denim.  Ain’t that something?

I guess.

Last question: My female readers are clamoring to know if Dre’s single or not.  Tell me—was he with a lady friend?

No.  I assume he had a fellow Mushroomhead-loving companion at home, though.

What can we learn about life from Dre?  A lot, really.

One shouldn’t make style decisions based on social precedent alone.  Blaze trails.

The best place to flaunt the denim-on-denim look is at a quasi-sketchy bowling alley’s Wednesday night league.

And finally: You only live once, but you can certainly wear denim twice.  In one night.  At the same damn time.