Bugles and Americana

18 Nov

 

 

With each passing year the tides change, the leaves turn, the snow melts and the fingertips of America’s youth remain adorned with Bugles.

As one calendar year gives way to another the climate of our globe warms as glaciers melt, artic polar bears starve off extinction in search for environments that permit survival and you look sort of like a witch until you bite off each witch finger because witches can switch back to normal-looking people whenever they want, plus you have more Bugles, anyway.

 From the millions who died in Vietnam fighting a war they could hardly comprehend to the questionable half-truths we’ve accepted as motives for entering Iraq and Afghanistan, America continues to showcase its superiority and powerful intimidation upon the rest of the world while operating in a blurred gray area of what is ethically acceptable and the salt from the Bugles has entered the cut on the cuticle of your index finger and your eyes begin to water.

While the family road-trip to American landmarks such as the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Statue of Liberty remains an outlet for domesticated life, what once occupied that travel time with spoken games while gazing out the window as Americana flies by has since been replaced with apps and vain expression through social media. Unchanged is the country gas station where your parents allow one snack each and finding the Bugles never takes more than a minute. Of course, your younger sister, Sally’s dumbass got Sourpatch Kids instead. It’s only a matter of time until she is complaining about her tongue being numb and you’ll probably just stab her in the eye with one of your Bugle fingers.

 It was 1966, as the country was growing weary of the status quo and evolving into a new era of acceptance and expression, that the Bugle was invented. Its early adopters were sitting on their back porches listening to Creedence. They were replaced by the generation sedating themselves with Bugles and the Ramones only to be cast aside by the next era of youth. But no one stopped believing in Bugles when arena rock came around. The Bugle was a place of comfort for those experiencing teen angst during the grunge era. While the music cherished so deeply by each generation became ridiculed by the next, the commonality remained that whether it was a flower dress, a leather jacket, big hair or a flannel shirt, the tiny crumbs of Bugles would eventually rain down on all of them.

 With political scandal inevitably finding prominence in the newspapers and the self-serving motives of politicians becoming only more discernible, we bicker and disagree over the merits of republicans and democrats, of liberals and conservatives. All the while social compromise becomes a sign of weakness rather than the strength needed for a country to thrive. You look down into the bottom of your bag and realize that the last of your Bugles are simply crumbles, no longer in the shape of a cone and you think to yourself, “Do these things even taste good?”

-Jonny Auping

Should Puppy in Drunk Driving Ad Still Be Worried?

22 Sep

Don’t drink and drive. The people who sell the number one product leading to bad decisions don’t want you to. But don’t avoid it for them. Don’t avoid it for your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, sister, brother, mom or dad. Don’t avoid it for your friends. Don’t even avoid it for your own life and all the great things you have yet to accomplish. Avoid it for a good looking guy’s fictional dog.

Budweiser really dropped a bomb on driving under the influence recently with an anti-drunk driving ad featuring an incredibly adorable puppy-turned-dog. Will this dog prevent people from endangering their lives and the lives of others on the road? Who knows, but if we spread it around on social media enough then we might all have the courage to ridicule anyone who even thinks about it. I’m happy to do my part. Anything for this cutie:

So we solved the drunk driving problem.

But now that I’m fully invested in this dog’s happiness, I’m concerned about something else entirely: Who is “Dave” and should the dog be worried about him?

At the end of the ad, the owner of Aware Bud (I have given the dog this name as we aren’t provided one in the ad. It’s a play on Air Bud, drunk driving awareness and the fact that Bud is owned by Anheuser  Busch, otherwise known as “AB,” which is Aware Bud’s nickname given to him by Gary, the name I have made up for his owner who we think died in a senseless drunk driving accident, but was far too caring for such a mistake) says to him, “I decided I shouldn’t drive home last night. I stayed at Dave’s.”

You’re going to have to do better than that, Gary, if that’s even your real name (it almost certainly isn’t). This dog just went through an emotional roller coaster. Those wimpers have haunted my dreams since this commercial was first posted on my Facebook feed a few days ago. I’m indescribably relieved that AB’s owner isn’t dead, but I’m a little worried that this “Dave” character could be a problem. Here are a few possibilities:

1. Dave could be another dog.

Could Gary be cheating on AB? He’s clearly the type of guy that talks to his dog like it’s a human, is it that farfetched that he talks about dogs like they are humans?

Look, we’ve all seen this story before. Good lucking guy finds the perfect partner and they get together in the early days. In the beginning it’s all fun and games: early morning snuggle sessions in bed and trips to the lake. Over time things begin to get repetitive and mundane. He doesn’t look at his partner the same way anymore. He develops a wandering eye. He is constantly grabbing six-packs of beer and mysteriously staying out late while his partner remains at home, worried.

2. Dave could be a human he is romantically involved with.

This in itself isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it could be great. Maybe Gary and Dave are truly in love. Perhaps the three of them will form one happy family with incredible Christmas cards.

BUT why are they always staying at Dave’s place? Maybe Gary just isn’t ready to tell AB about Dave and he will when the time is right. This is a delicate matter, he has to be sure first.

OR maybe Dave is allergic to dogs. Then we have a real problem. I’m all for love and romance, but Dave, if you tear these two apart, with God as my witness, I will send so many twenty-something female Facebook users in the direction of your profile so fast your head will spin.

3. Dave could be a cat.

Jesus Christ, Gary.

4. Dave could be one of these guys:

Budweiser has sold us cuteness before. They showed us an adorable dog befriending a clydesdale and reuniting them in a touching moment in between Doritos and Go Daddy Super Bowl commercials. The two animals had nothing to do with beer, but we all bought Bud Lights anyway.

This commercial has about as much to do with drunk driving. It’s a story of a guy who didn’t drink and drive and his dog who really loves him. It’s a commercial for Budweiser as much as it’s an anti-drunk driving commercial. You’re much more likely to think about that little pup when you’re in the beer aisle than when you’re slurring your words and trying to unlock your car.

I’m glad that Budweiser used their powers of cuteness for good, but ultimately advertising is effective with simple cases of association. The association with that dog is the Budweiser logo. That’s what will stick.

Even if adorable #friends aren’t #waiting, don’t drink and drive. You could die. Or kill someone else. If that’s not a good enough reason, then just do it for them:

-Jonny Auping

 

16 Brussel Sprouts That Are Having a Worse Day Than You

16 Sep

It’s only Tuesday. Ugh. It’s going to be awhile before the weekend roles around and nothing seems to be going right for you. Your check-engine light just turned on, you poured a bowl of cereal before realizing you don’t have any milk and your phone’s 4G is being really annoying. Well, maybe this will cheer you up. Here are 14 Brussel Sprouts that are having a way worse day than you are.

The eight brussel sprouts next to the stalk are only 2.1 centimeters in diameter as opposed to the typical 2.5-4 centimeters that brussel sprout farmers are accustomed to finding.

A slightly below average sized brussel sprout? That’s about as useful to a brussel sprout farmer as a can opener is to a penguin. 

This goofy sprout lacks the proper amount of glucosinolates compounds that help reduce the bitterness that would otherwise be found in many edible brussel sprouts. Talk about a bad day for this Bitter Betty.

This ragtag gang of brussel sprouts were served to a heart patient who is regularly prescribed anticoagulants, which, as we all know, is a huge no-no considering excessive brussel sprout intake isn’t recommended to such people because the high levels of Vitamin K  could lead to blood clotting. Talk about embarrassing. 

This brussel sprout was yelled at by Kanye West for not standing during his concert. Is it Friday yet? It is just not this Brussel sprout’s week. 

I hope you feel better.

-Jonny Auping

 

 

 

The Grand Canyon’s Take on Ferguson

24 Aug

If you’re anything like me you have really been wondering what the Grand Canyon has been up to lately. A week ago I wasn’t sure it still existed. That trip that your aunt took to go see it was over ten years ago. Has anyone heard from that big gap between two giant rocks since?

I had to jump through a few hoops, but after getting the Grand Canyon’s number, I caught up with it and got its hot takes on some of the country’s biggest stories. Here’s the interview.

Jonny Auping: Hey, Grand Canyon, thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I don’t want to waste any time so I’ll get right to it. I think a lot of people are wondering what your thoughts are on the racially charged situation in Ferguson, Missouri?

Grand Canyon: It’s certainly pretty rocky out there. 

JA: I can’t tell if you’re being serious or if that’s a canyon pun.

GC: It sure seems like everyone involved is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

JA: To be honest, I think it’s a little tasteless to be making jokes about such a serous situation. 

GC: I’m sorry. I think that the situation in Ferguson is complicated, but there is no denying the racial history of our country. Less than 100 years ago prominent newspapers argued that African Americans on cocaine were the biggest threat to the country. They claimed that when on cocaine, “negros” could not be taken down with regular bullets and actually convinced police forces to change their caliber of gun on that platform. We see people unknowingly taking toned down, but similar stances now. People seem eager to point out Michael Brown committing theft or the possibility that he came at the officer as if that justifies shooting him six times. African American men are still perceived as more dangerous than other citizens. Ferguson needs policing, but tanks and assault rifles are unnecessary.

JA: Wow, that was actually pretty insightful. I’m sorry I got upset about the puns earlier.

GC: It’s ok, I’m glad I could get a clean slate.

JA: Uhh sure. So let’s move on to a lighter subject. What do you think of Iggy Azalea?

GC: I think she is just gorges.

JA: Any thoughts about the alleged beef between her and Nicki Minaj?

GC: Look, schist happens. I don’t know much about that. I’m sure they will work it out. It’s nothing like my beef with Niagara Falls. 

JA: So you aren’t picking a side?

GC: I’m a fan of both of them. Let’s just say they can both fit a lot into their geolo-jeans.

JA: Weird. Well, I think the whole country is still mourning the death of Robin Williams. Any thoughts?

GC: He was such a great actor who brought smiles to so many faces. It’s so sad to know that people can be going through so much pain without us realizing it. It goes to show that we shouldn’t take life for granite.

JA: You hear about the rumors of trouble in Jay Z and Beyonce’s marriage?

GC: Yeah, but I don’t believe them. Every time they go out in public you can see some real national (s)parks between them.

JA: Don’t you mean natural sparks?

GC: Yeah, that’s what I said. A lot of people don’t realize that Beyonce is the eighth wonder of the world.

JA: Have you heard that new Taylor Swift album?

GC: It was too slow for me. I can’t help but can-yawn every time it comes on air-izona.

JA: Well, Mr. Canyon, we’ve covered a lot of stuff. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

GC: Yeah, everyone add me on SnapChat at NotScaredOfHeightz. Also, remember that Gameboy you left here when you were a kid? I still have it.

-Jonny Auping 

 

SnapChat EVERYTHING: 7 Technology Tips For Freshman

20 Aug

It’s been six years since I was a nervous freshman on a college campus. We barely had color TVs back then. It’s a whole new world out there now, but as a twenty-something who graduated college I am an expert on both technology and pathetically reminiscing about the glory days. This comes with great responsibility and I consider it my duty to make sure incoming freshman putting futons under an elevated bed because it “really takes advantage of the space” are properly prepared to have the most technologically fulfilling college experience they can. 

Here are a few tips:

1. SnapChat EVERYTHING

Your parents probably told you that you will spend the next four years gathering memories that will last a lifetime. Well, they are really old and don’t know anything. Those memories should last ten seconds max. When you and your roommate go to your first party together make sure you split up and send snap chats to each other of what the party looks like from each side of the apartment. It’s the best way to experience it. 

If you have what feels like one of those life-changing moments like meeting the person you want to marry, finding the career you want to pursue or joining a group of people you think really understand you then how is it not your My Story? What are you even doing? 

2. If You Wouldn’t Swipe Right Don’t Talk to Her/Him

Tinder has introduced us to a new level of shallowness and vanity. Why not apply that to your formative years? You are never going to find the person you love without first judging them by their three most attractive pictures. 

Someone walking up to you in the quad? Are they a swipe-left-person? Then don’t go have lunch with them. Don’t study with them. Say no when they ask, “don’t we have Spanish 110 together?” Make note of any sorority or fraternity they are in as it may include more swipe-lefties.

Remember, if we don’t use Tinder the ugly people will win

3. Assume Your Professors Double as Uber Drivers

EVERYONE is an Uber driver these days. It’s a down economy. If your teacher isn’t tenured then chances are they are also an Uber driver. Live on the other side of campus or in an apartment off campus? Just hop in Professor Miller’s black SUV after class. No need to set it up on your phone, he knows you, you’re that kid that answered that one question. It’s perfect because it can double as office hours.

Remember, Uber drivers don’t accept tips. Don’t insult them. 

4. Live Tweet Every Class

Obviously, I don’t mean to live tweet every class by yourself. That would just be ridiculous. Get together with a few classmates and form a schedule allowing you to take turns live-tweeting class. This will enable you to avoid having to attend every class as the notes will be available in a string of 140-character tweets. It will also teach you a valuable lesson in synergy that will be applicable to the real world. 

5. Trade Your Meal Plan in For Bitcoins

I’m not really sure what bitcoins are, but I live in the real world and I’m fairly certain they are going to be extremely valuable. Be ahead of the pack and grab as many as you can. Besides, someone can just sneak you leftovers from the cafeteria, assuming they would swipe right for you. 

6. Pick Up E-Smoking

This isn’t high school. You’re not going to be popular just being yourself. 

“Check out that handsome rebel with the clunky e-cig by the fountain? I would go talk to him, but there’s no way he’s single.”

That’s what the girls will be saying when they see you puffing on that coconut and sweet pineapple vapor.

7. Expose the Person on Campus with an HBO GO Account

Someone on that campus has an HBO GO account. Find them and expose them. You’ll be a hero. It’s scientifically proven that an entire campus can survive off just one HBO GO account. You don’t want to miss Game of Thrones and neither does the rest of the class of 2018. Do whatever it takes to get that password, even if it means cuddling up with a swipe-lefty. 

-Jonny Auping

Farts and Depression: Something to Take From Robin Williams’ Death

17 Aug

“I don’t believe it. He always seemed so happy.”

Some form of that sentence was said all across America in the days following Robin Williams’ suicide. It seemed unfathomable that a man who could appear so unabashedly cheerful and hilarious on screen could possibly have the desire to kill himself. 

Well, Robin Williams was an actor. Appearing to be something other than himself was his chosen profession. He doesn’t actually wear drag and babysit for money, he has never fought Captain Hook, he doesn’t actually have a disorder that forces him to age too quickly, he didn’t invent Flubber and he was definitely not always happy.  

Williams appeared happy for millions of other people most likely for the same three reasons most people of his profession do: he was paid to do so, he possessed talent and passion for acting and, hopefully, he could make other people happy in the process. All three of those ring true.

However, there’s another possibility: It was the easiest way to mask severe unhappiness. We don’t know all the details of Williams’ mindset and situation prior to his death nor am I anything resembling an expert on depression or mental illness so forgive me for speaking in generalities going forward. People with depression don’t wear a sign around informing people of their struggle. There might be a few telltale signs, but they are not universal. If there’s anything to be learned from Williams’ death it’s that you never know who might be suffering the most.

Considering there are incredible and inspiring scenes of Williams in films like Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Hook, Aladin, Patch Adams and even the graduation speech from Jack, you could argue I did a poor job of choosing a Robin Williams’ video clip to show for this story. But I took some time to think about it and I want to show this clip of Williams and a bunch of kids farting into a can.

Scientifically speaking, I’m not sure that collecting farts in a coffee can and lighting a match will really cause an explosion, but I chose this scene from Jack for a couple reasons. It’s typical Robin Williams; being silly and ridiculous, not caring about how his comedy will be received by critics and causing uncontrollable laughter of children, the least cynical of us all.

But more importantly, I chose it because it provides a vague metaphor. Jack and those kids collected those farts until the can couldn’t even be opened without causing one of them to lose consciousness. As they passed it around and farted in it, nothing notably changed about the tin can. The sides didn’t dent. It did not become heavier or look unable to withstand more farts. But when they lit a match and dropped it in the can it caused an explosion louder and more powerful than any one fart. It was like a super-fart and thank God it didn’t kill them all. 

So goes depression and other forms of mental illness. Each blow can seem inconsquential to everyone but the victim. It can build up very slowly, but the final straw can turn out to be tragic. In society, we often wait until that match is lit to wonder what we could have done differently. 

The Detroit Free Press claims that, “research tells us that psychotherapy, or talk therapy, may be the best option for those suffering from mild to moderate levels of depression….Friends and family members play critical roles in helping depressed men.” 

People with depression need someone to talk to. They may need to talk about their problems or they may just need to know there is someone out there happily willing to talk to them about anything. We can’t measure what loneliness does to depression, but no problem has ever been made worse by someone else genuinely offering to listen to it. Feeling alone in this world can suck the joy out of anything that once made you happy. People can seem popular, or have money or look happy, but the only way you can truly know that they don’t feel alone is if you are the one providing that companionship. 

Physiological diseases are awful. The need to raise money for them is crucial because hope will always remain that it could lead to a cure. Some day we will find a cure to cancer and even a way to prevent it. I believe that. But depression will exist as long as we do. Unhappiness is real, but like a can full of farts, it’s basically intangible. 

I have a theory about depression. It’s a theory of degrees. I don’t mean to contradict any medical or psychological facts that are proven, it’s just a theory. I think that we all suffer from some form of depression. Things make us unhappy and certain things make us flat out miserable. It’s when those different degrees of things happen at the wrong time and come together in the wrong way that we can cross a line and become clinically depressed. It’s not a matter of weakness. It’s a matter of chance and accumulation. It’s a matter of filling up that can. It could happen to any of us. It’s in our best interest to be there for one another. A few conversations can make all the difference. If someone is too deep in that hole than it becomes your responsibility to convince them to seek help. We don’t know what degrees of unhappiness got them there, unless you’re a professional, it’s not our place to say what degrees of help will get them out. But that’s why we try. The smallest degree at the right time might help in the biggest way.

We don’t know what exactly Robin Williams was going through and I don’t mean to imply that one person could have saved him. What he taught us, though, is not to assume. Don’t assume happiness and don’t assume strength. We can provide each other that strength and that can lead to happiness. There’s probably someone in your life whom you can’t name a person they are really close to. Don’t assume they have people you don’t know about to talk to. Be one of those people and you won’t have to assume. It might seem like nothing, but if you poke the smallest hole in that tin can, you never know, a bunch of farts might escape through. Anything to avoid that explosion.

-Jonny Auping

 

The Rice Bucket Challenge

11 Aug

The Ice Bucket Challenge is sweeping the inter-webs faster than cats with hats. In a matter of weeks it will likely go the way of Harlem Shake videos, but unlike Harlem Shake videos the Ice Bucket Challenge was created for a good cause. The purpose of the videos, in which a participant dumps a bucket of ice water on his or her head and then challenges three friends to do the same thing, is all with the aim of promoting ALS awareness. 

While I doubt this goofy trend will save the world, it seems like we all can agree it’s a generally nice and productive idea, right? 

Apparently not. See, the Ice Bucket Challenge takes place on the Internet and nothing on the Internet is allowed to escape ridicule, snark and cynicism. While the challenges are going viral, there is also a growing resistance of the trend. The common argument of these detractors is that people do the challenge only for attention and pouring ice water on your head won’t actually cure a disease

Sure, it might be easy to mock the Ice Water Challenge if you look at it through narrow eyes. That’s why I think it’s my job to broaden your perspective and tell everyone the previously unknown origin story of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Perhaps if you realize how ridiculous the original version of the challenge was then you’ll appreciate what it has become and the impact it could have.

About five years ago, a group of young activists held a meeting in hopes of determining what they could do to improve the world and make a difference. After hours of brainstorming and gallons of green tea one of them casually mentioned that they should try to raise awareness of SLA. The rest of the group looked at each other in confusion until one of them finally asked, “What’s SLA?”

“You know, SLA. Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” the young man responded. 

“Uhh, that’s not SLA, Dave. It’s actually ALS. I think you might be dyslexic.”

As though they all shared the same brain, there was a collective light bulb that went off. Just like that, it was settled: they would raise awareness for dyslexia.

Three hours and many Black Cherry Almond Cliff Bars later they had their plan. They came up with the Rice Bucket Challenge. It went like this: participants would cook enough bowls of white sticky rice to fill a large bucket. They would then film themselves dumping the bucket on their head while yelling “RAISE DYSLEXIA AWARENESS!” They would then challenge three friends to do the same thing. 

The experiment was a universal failure. Of all six members of the group who made videos, not a single person they challenged accepted the challenge or even acknowledged the video. In fact, an alarmingly high number of those challenged unfriended their challenger. They tried to remake the videos putting the rice down their pants, but the results remained the same.

They sat down and thought of the possible downfalls of the experiment. They were as follows:

  • It takes awhile to cook a large bucket’s worth of rice.
  • It is a huge waste of rice. Donating the rice to places and people with food shortages might be more productive.
  • Watching someone pour rice on themselves provides very little entertainment value. A few kernels might stick to the face, but the vast majority of it will fall to the ground.
  • Cleaning rice off the ground is a pain in the ass.
  • Dyslexia is not a life-threatening disease, nor is it even a disease. Rather, it’s a disorder that is often not very difficult to live with. Practice and exercises can curb the disorder and allow victims to read and write on a regular basis without much difficulty. 
  • Yelling “RAISE DYSLEXIA AWARENESS!” did nothing to help people who suffered from it.

The group realized that they had to get back to the drawing board. For the next five years they brainstormed idea after idea (we won’t get into the Mice Bucket Challenge) until they finally remembered Dave’s original suggestion about ALS.

The challenge that I just described to you is ridiculous and arbitrary. The Ice Bucket Challenge is less so. The rules of the contest state that if you do not meet the challenge than you are to donate to the cause. I would suggest that even if you do accept the challenge you should donate $5 for the simple reason that ALS really is a horrific disease, which is what the challenge is trying to make people aware of.

Are there people meeting this challenge without much concern for the disease, but more interested in garnering Facebook ‘likes?’ Most likely, yes, but that cynical viewpoint does not take away from the good that the contest might do. If one were to hold a bake sale that encourages, but doesn’t demand, customers to donate to a charity we could all agree that this is a positive act, correct? But, eating a brownie bought from that bake sale is not actually an unselfish, generous act. It is enjoyable and delicious and that could be the motivation for eating it, Some people might buy one without donating. That does not take away any merit from the bake sale itself. You wouldn’t call that bake sale a waste of time. 

The vast majority of social media and Internet trends are pointless, distracting and ridiculous. Don’t shoot down the good ones.

-Jonny Auping

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