Straight Outta Kauffman: How the Kansas City Royals Made Me a Cubs Fan

Stories For Sunday is lucky to have a guest post from Joe Valentine. Read it, share it, find him and tell him it’s good so that, maybe, you’ll see his stuff here again sooner than later. 

I knew my girlfriend, Linda, was a Kansas City Royals fan before we started dating; it’s one of the first things she tells people when she meets them for the first time. The George Brett pine tar incident and the ’85 playoff run were her bedtime stories, and she still complains about the decision not to re-sign Johnny Damon in 2000 (who even knew Johnny Damon played for the Royals?). So I knew even before she asked that we’d be taking the 10-hour overnight Megabus ride from Chicago to KC, to be there, amongst her people, when the Royals played Game 7 against the San Francisco Giants in 2014, even though we didn’t have tickets.

After an especially wild wildcard comeback, the team had gone on a tear, demolishing better-on-paper teams with a Murderer’s Row-like batting order, fearless small ball base running, and a lights-out bullpen that genuinely believed it could hold any team scoreless in innings 7-9, and often did, all the way through Game 6 of the World Series. Linda, who had, in years past, proclaimed, “If the Royals win the World Series, I will burn my own house to the ground,” could not miss their coronation or the celebration to follow.

In a bar in Kansas City’s Westport district, I watched Linda and her brother shed unabashed tears after Salvador Perez took a clunky, uncommitted hack at a high fastball in the bottom of the ninth inning, resulting in a routine popup that ended the most entertaining playoff run I’d witnessed. The 2014 Royals created a compelling Cinderella story, only it ended with Cinderella getting caught in the rain, splashed with muddy gutter water from a passing car, and then mugged on her walk home because her carriage had turned back into a pumpkin before she could leave the ball.

“It was ours,” Linda said. She was in pieces, and she wasn’t alone; it felt like the entire bar was weeping into Boulevard beers.

And then, over the next few weeks, those same sad fans seemed to come together to form a citywide group hug, like Whos after the Grinch stole their Christmas, both grateful to have had a chance to win it all and universally willing to live and die by the immediately created “unfinished business” tagline, simultaneously licking their wounds and licking their collective chops for the start of the 2015 season.

The next month, locally-owned Boulevard Brewery released a limited edition beer–“Crown Town”–to commemorate the Royals’ playoff run, and it had officially ceased to matter that they hadn’t won. Linda’s dad waited in line for multiple hours multiple times to make sure each of his children had a bottle. Linda’s family is a microcosm of a community in which Royals baseball matters. Like, really matters. It’s annoying until it’s inspiring. It’s corny until it’s enviable.

I remember feeling impacted by that passion: a genuine, authentic love for a game and a team. It stood in stark contrast to my own depleted interest in my hometown team, the Chicago Cubs, who had, in two decades, provided me with precious few incentives to continue expending effort on fandom. Until very recently, existing as a Cubs fan required a skin of cynicism, a laugh-at-yourself mentality, and an obligatory sheepish smile after proclaiming, “Next year will be our year.”

Sure, there were signs of life during seasons leading up to 2015: an ownership and management change, planned renovations to the dilapidated (though admittedly still endearing) Wrigley Field, whispers of mythically talented prospects panning out, including now-superstars Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. My dad, after a lifetime in want, finally became a season ticket holder while I was living just a few blocks from Wrigley Field.

Still, requiring an excuse for your loyalty is taxing and, for me, the inevitable result of so much laughably poor baseball was that I simply stopped caring. I stopped investing energy into hope and expectation. Over a series of annual closet cleanouts, I donated all my Cubs shirts to Goodwill. In two seasons spent living within spitting distance of the stadium, I didn’t attend a single game. I stopped being a baseball fan.

Writing this, I realize that Cubs purists do exist (including my own cousin, a golf course greenskeeper who spends full days on a riding a lawnmower dreaming about the champagne he’ll pop when the Commissioner’s Trophy is finally ours), diehards who would label me a bandwagon fan. To them, I’d simply contend that sports are pain. God forbid I opt out of voluntary sadness.

It wasn’t that I didn’t remember the sheet of loose leaf I’d pinned to my bedroom wall and used to keep a running tally of Sammy Sosa’s 1998 home run count (innocently oblivious to the 40+ pounds of pure muscle that differentiated that version of Sammy from the guy in the rookie card I kept in a protective case and mounted on the same bedroom wall). It wasn’t that I threw away the Cubs hat I’d slept in for weeks during the summer of 2003, sweating and itching and afraid to take it off and jinx a streak. It wasn’t that I didn’t miss having something to talk about on the phone with my dad. It was just that sports are pain, and after I stopped blaming Steve Bartman for all my problems, after several seasons without a pulse, after an increasingly snide, hip young demographic had successfully overrun the Lakeview neighborhood where I lived, I tapped out.

Linda and I moved from Chicago to Kansas City in July, a change that coincided with a lot of really good baseball. Shortly after we moved, we bought $10 tickets (ludicrously inexpensive relative to the cost of living to which I’d been accustomed) to a packed Friday night game and, even in 95-degree heat, the energy of the Kauffman Stadium crowd was palpable. That night’s win saw the Royals extend their division lead to a comfortable 12 games.

Back in Chicago, a buzz was beginning to burgeon about the way that Brawny Man/Yukon Cornelius-hybrid Jake Arrieta was routinely making the NL’s best hitters look like beer league softball dads in the batter’s box, and about how the North Side had its own lights-out bullpen and a succession of swingers who were putting bat to ball seemingly on command.

Still, I maintained a practiced degree of ironic distance from the suddenly-fun-to-watch Cubs. Fandom requires vulnerability––as I’d witnessed firsthand after last year’s World Series––and I wasn’t ready to put myself back out there following the slow, miserable decline into irrelevance I’d experienced over the previous half-decade. Now that I lived in the Kansas City, a town so fully committed to its baseball team that it supports an entire industry of clever custom Royals-related t-shirt printers, I felt that if I were to commit myself to the Cubs and mean it, they’d better not embarrass me. If I were going to talk the talk, Kyle Schwarber had better walk the walk.

Then, on September 28th the Cubs played the Royals. As a result of my fringe fandom, I was unaware that the Giants’ loss two days prior had helped the Cubs secure a spot in the NL wildcard game and was still under the impression that a win mattered. I’d never taken so much as a controversial step onto Linda’s sacred turf before, and so after a routine groundout resulted in my yelling “Suck it, Lorenzo Cain!” and her throwing the remote at me, we finished watching the game from separate rooms. I couldn’t lose my Joker grin after Chris Denorfia’s pinch-hit homer in the 11th inning sealed the game, and it occurred to me that I couldn’t remember the last time Cubs baseball had made me smile. It made Linda miserable, and that in and of itself made me happy, not because I find joy in my girlfriend’s sadness, but because she actually feels this stuff. The Cubs made her feel something, and I know that’s real.

The next day, my barber said to me, “The Cubs are the Royals of 2015.” Linda’s dad asked whether my dad could secure any extra tickets at Wrigley in the event of a Cubs/Royals World Series. A co-worker came by my desk to tell me, “Your Cubbies are looking good this year.” My Cubbies? In a town where baseball is talked about seriously, people were seriously talking about the Cubs, who finished the regular season with a better record than the Royals.

Jake Arrieta was terrifying and unstoppable in the wild card win over the Pirates. In a particularly satisfying Division Series, my Cubbies laid waste to a Cardinals team whose fans never resist an opportunity to stick up their noses at any mention of their division rivals to the north (If I had a dollar for every time I heard “Oh, you’re a Cubs fan? Why?” in my four years at Saint Louis University, I’d be losing a lot less sleep over student loan debt). “The Royals of 2015” was looking more and more like an accurate prediction.

Inevitably, the Royals were the Royals of 2015. I mourned the sweep and elicited extra boo’s toward a Mets team onto whom I’d projected a totally unwarranted villainous persona as I sat in right field for all 14 innings of the Royals’ victory in Game 1 of the World Series. And on Sunday night, I put on a clever custom Kansas City t-shirt (the impeccably classy “Turn Your Head and Kauffman”) and jumped around amidst a champagne shower in the streets of Westport, showing up to work two full hours late the following morning wearing sunglasses and chugging Alka-Seltzer from a travel coffee mug.

In 2015, I enjoyed the MLB playoffs for the first time in a long time, maybe ever.

It felt good to watch every game, to have an opinion on every player. It felt good to realize that I still remember the rules, the strategies. It felt good to achieve what I’d recognized in Linda’s family, and perhaps what I’d coveted all along: a comfort in saying, “Next year will be our year,” totally non-ironically. It felt good to celebrate in a city that was so ready to celebrate, to take care of unfinished business. And it felt good to watch the Kansas City Royals absolutely dismantle the New York Mets, whom I’d grown to despise, because there’s only one kind of person who vilifies an opposing team: a fan.

Joe Valentine 

The Grantland Generation and the Lie We Chose To Believe

 Grantland tricked a lot of young people into becoming writers. I’m one of them. Call us the Grantland Generation.

Grantland launched the summer before my senior year of college. In short time, what they were trying to become—what they eventually became—was clear. They were good, thoughtful writing, focused on developing specific voices into diverse content. It would be romanticizing Grantland to say that providing those things filled a gaping hole in the market. Great, nuanced writing, about both sports and pop culture, existed before and after them at publications with similar goals.

What Grantland did was make that work appear mainstream, cool, sharable, and discussion worthy to not just the pretentious or unrealistically informed. Mickey Mouse was putting his backing behind Grantland, and a conglomerate of that size has an ability to legitimize a venture as industry simply by association. Writing—writing about things most young people already love—represented a sect of ESPN, that we chose to believe was equal to any other sect of ESPN, because why would we stop to think otherwise? To a tremendous amount of young writers, Grantland was massively influential in their decisions to call writing a career. That may seem silly to older generations of writers and readers because four years is barely even recent history, but to those of us in our twenties it’s the most informing and impressionable period of time imaginable.

What Grantland did for writers my age was create a similar construct to the one that made so many sports fans in the nineties and early 2000s (and even now) idolize Stuart Scott, Scott Van Pelt, Dan Patrick, and other SportsCenter anchors. They had dream jobs. Grantland came along and, all of a sudden, being a writer didn’t seem like the starving artist livelihood that being a painter or a poet appeared to be. Grantland had an office that ESPN paid for, and great writers hung out there. It created an ideological shift that cool, funny, serious, and weird writing was a career field. The Grantland Generation didn’t need to get a job at Grantland. We just assumed we’d get a job at a place-like-Grantland, because once you freelance enough, a Bill Simmons-type will notice you and you’ll become a specific voice for a much larger vehicle.

I was never published in Grantland, and that fact doesn’t bother me. I’m proud of the places where I’ve seen my work. I can say truthfully, that some of the writers whose names I’ve been published alongside are probably my greatest sources of satisfaction in my career. And working with some of my editors has been like taking free throw lessons from Steph Curry.

Sure, Grantland writers inspired and influenced my writing. I wouldn’t have chased down a story on Johnny Manziel’s hometown if I hadn’t studied the writing of Bryan Curtis. I wouldn’t have started a column called “Tuesdays With 2 Chainz” if Shea Serrano hadn’t made me laugh so much. I wouldn’t have reported on the world’s largest podcast conference if I hadn’t read Molly Lambert on the world’s largest porn conference. I wouldn’t have published joke emails to Ryan Gosling’s restaurant (and Justin Timberlake’s, and Mark Wahlburg’s) if Rembert Browne didn’t make me realize that being silly won’t make people discount your intelligence. I wouldn’t have learned how to write about basketball and make it sound like I’m talking about it with my friends if I hadn’t read Chris Ryan and Jason Concepcion.

But I had inspirations elsewhere, too, and there was incredible, versatile writing outside of Grantland. Too much to begin to name, in fact. Look around and you’ll find it, and love it. But Grantland convinced me, and countless other, that there was an industry to support the size of this writing community. It didn’t take much convincing. We believed it because we wanted to.

We’re writing now. Not at Grantland, but we’re writing, and it’s hard. Not just for the reasons it should be hard, that is, because writing anything is a painstaking, vulnerable task. No, it’s hard because not quite enough people care, and less pay.

Grantland’s death—more specifically, the way Grantland died—is first and foremost sad for the great writers who lost their jobs. But for the Grantland Generation, it was a punch to the stomach, because Grantland didn’t have enough financial support, and was so unimportant to ESPN that it could exist at 10:00 AM and be a memory at noon. I think a lot of us young writers liked to pretend that maybe every Grantland writer was making six figures while totally aware it was just a fantasy we used to justify the less-than-lucrative work we were doing ourselves. Now, we realize, the majority of those writers are not just unemployed, but now competing with us for jobs and space in a room we already could barely fit in.

To an older generation of writers, the demise of Grantland is surely just another reminder of the nature of a tough business with no guarantees. To us, to those that came into writing in a world where Grantland already existed, it’s a shattered illusion. It’s a look behind the curtain to see that the Land of Oz is actually controlled by Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith.

So in a way, Grantland lied to us. Or maybe we just lied to ourselves. It doesn’t really matter.  Many of us, and perhaps some Grantland staffers, chose to see Simmons as an Ari Gold-like figure, running around town protecting his talent (a reference and analogy many writers would probably shudder at, but I have a feeling Simmons would appreciate). But that’s not how this industry works, and ESPN was never all in. Advertisers care less about Time On Site and more about clicks, which is a bad thing for anyone putting effort into each thought. 

So that mindset led many of us not to a career, but to a life of hoping that the most recent invoice comes through before rent’s due. But the reveal of the illusion doesn’t actually change anything except for our own realizations. The landscape isn’t all that different, but it feels more intimidating. The odds were always stacked against us, and some of us are just now realizing the gravity of that.

This came in a month stretch when I was having increased difficulty getting paid for what I considered good writing (as if it’s ever easy). My gut reaction to this, to all of this, is to write, and to write more than I already do, which will be no easy task. Even if that doesn’t make sense. Even if I don’t get paid or pieces go to waste, unpublished.

Trying to be one of many people contributing good, thoughtful writing out into the world isn’t a job just because I want it to be. You don’t just get health insurance because you write every single day.

But I’m going to keep doing it. I think a lot of other people just like me will too.

“You are meant to play the ball as it lies, a fact that may help to touch on your own objective approach to life.”

-Grantland Rice

Written by Jonny Auping

The Wistful Decline of Nineties Nostalgia: A Short Story

Max is 25 years old

He and a group of his old college friends had just seen Jurassic World. His friends all agreed it was great. They debated whether it was as good as the original…Chris Pratt movie, Guardians of the Galaxy.

At the bar afterwards, they all laughed as they discussed Game of Thrones with another group of friends on Periscope. He did not participate. “Hey Max, you should really download Periscope,” Jenny said to him from a few seats away. “I think you’ll really like it.”

“I don’t know,” Max replied. “It just seems kind of dumb to me.”

“I feel like you just don’t really understand what it is,” she called back, just getting the sentence out before bursting in laughter at whatever was displayed on the phone Sally was holding in front of her face.

“I understand what it is,” Max said, annoyed. He definitely didn’t understand what Periscope was.

“It’s so great that we’re all back together,” an anonymous member of the group proclaimed to everyone and no one in particular.

“That’s for sure,” Karen replied to the anonymous voice. “I haven’t been able to stop eating all night though. I think I have food baby.”

“IT’S NOT A TOOMAH” Max yelled out, taking a step towards Karen and Sally’s bar seats to feel like he was comfortably a part of their conversation.

The room went silent. The whole group took a break from their separate conversations to turn and look at him. “Uhh, what was that, Max?” Dave said looking both embarrassed and concerned for Max’s reputation.

“Umm… you know…like… from…Kindergarden Cop,” Max replied. He was sweating.

The entire group made eye contact with each other, gave Max a patronizing nod and said “yeah, sure, man” before trying to reengage in their prior conversations. “Wow,” the anonymous voice said under its breath while rolling its anonymous eyes.

“We shouldn’t end the night here,” Karen yelled out. “Anybody have a suggestion for what we can all do later?”

“The new season of Orange is the New Black is out,” Sally responded. “We could all binge watch it at my place. We’ll Uber over there.”

Everyone except for Max seemed pleasantly in agreement that Sally had made a great recommendation. He thought there was still some room to convince them of a different plan.

“OR…we could watch a marathon of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air while we have a Words With Friends tournament! We can order some ‘za from my Kindle Fire. And guysssss… I just found my old Smash Mouth CD! What do you think?!?!”

This time the group refused to humor Max. They all collectively pretended not to hear him. Defeated, Max threw the box of Milk Duds that he had brought with him from the movie theater on the ground and sulked away to an empty booth at the end of the bar.

Dave watched him from the corner of his eye. He and Max had known each other since before kindergarden. He put his hand on the shoulder of Megan, a girl he thought he always had great chemistry with in college but nothing ever happened between them, and said, “Hey, sorry to interrupt, but I’ll be right back.”

He walked over to Max’s booth and hinted that Max scoot over a bit so that he could sit next to him. He took a swig out of his bottle of beer, sighed, and said, “Hey, what’s wrong, bud, you’re acting a little weird.”

Dave, shifted around uncomfortably for a second, took a deep breath, lightly put both hands on the table and stared forward as he spoke.

“I don’t know, I guess I just don’t like how things have changed. I miss the days a few years back when everybody was really nostalgic about the nineties. I remember when I used to post videos and jokes about Boy Meets Worlds and Homeward Bound and Zoo Books on Facebook and they would get so many likes. Those nineties references were gold. I was like Jesse from Full House when I made a good nineties reference.”

Dave rubbed his chin and stared at the ceiling, thinking. “Hmmm, Facebook, Facebook, Facebook…Oh, is that that birthday reminder app?”

“Forget it, man,” Max said in dismay. “I just really miss a particular time, you know? Around 2012, maybe 2013 when the nineties nostalgia craze was at its peak. I just have a wistful yearning for that period of time. I wish there was a word for that.”

“There’s not,” Dave said bluntly. “At least not one that I’m aware of. Look, we’ve known each since when? 1995?”

“I was seven years old in 1995, Dave. How am I supposed to remember?”

“Okay, okay. But the point is that things change, but I’m still here and so are all your other friends.”

Later that night..

Max smiled.

“You know, you’re a pretty good friend. I’m lucky to have you and I’ll always be here when you need me.”

He turned off his Tomagotchi, turned on his Macklemore Pandora channel and drifted to sleep.

Tinder in the Rye

 Holden Caulfield would feel sorry as hell for all the girls whose pictures popped up on his phone every time he clicked on his Tinder app.

The way those girls subject themselves to the mercy of a left or right swipe of his thumb would be a goddam travesty. A desperate cry of vanity proving they can only appreciate a compliment for about as long as it takes to come out of someone’s mouth.

Then again, Holden Caulfield would have a Tinder account. He’d set up his account with mumblings of disapproval towards the creators and the people that use it. The photos he would use on his profile would look forced and awkward. He would purposefully look distant and uninterested and he would never admit how much a part of him hoped that such a look would be sexy to certain girls.

I had a Tinder account for two weeks before I decided I still preferred meeting women in person. Now I swipe left or right in my head and it’s not a permanent decision. When I would get bored with the app I would extend my radius to 50 miles allowing me to peruse through a nearly endless array of potentially awkward conversations. At one point I thought about the idea of using Tinder in a place as ample in population and condense in size as New York City. A radius of 30 miles in NYC would allow me to judge practically the entire female population of the city.

Oddly enough, this would cause me to think about Holden Caulfield. Eventually I came to the conclusion that Holden basically spent about four days in New York swiping left.

And if Holden did have a Tinder account?

Can you imagine Old Stradlater and all the girls he’d find on Tinder? That bastard. He’d bring some redhead back to the dorms and Holden would admit right off the bat that she was pretty and had a shape to her that made him jealous of Stradlater’s hair for just a few seconds. With locks like that of course any girl would swipe right, only being able to judge him on three pictures; course they wouldn’t be able to tell what a goddam moron he is. Turns out she’d be just as full of hot air so they’d be a perfect match.

The Catcher in the Rye is about a lot of things to a lot of different people depending on when in life they read it. But one thing it’s certainly about is an unfinished product in Holden Caulfield judging a bunch of other unfinished products. Interestingly, Holden might be the most unfinished of all the products. He doesn’t really know what or who he is and we don’t what he will become. But he knows who he isn’t because he stares at and socializes with who he isn’t every day. He resents them. He doesn’t really feel sorry as hell for them but he says he does.

That isn’t a far cry from what Tinder is: a bunch of incomplete pieces judging the incomplete pieces within a 50-mile radius of them; a few pictures that equate to one or two pieces in the giant puzzle that defines you—not even corner pieces at that; just your profile picture that garnered the most likes, from people who actually know and have met you.

….

It woulda made him puke thinking about it. You’d have to be a real sorry sonufabitch to plaster your face on that thing and try to describe yourself in one sentence.

Of course, Holden had his moments of sorry sonufabitch-ness. Quietly swiping through Tinder would allow for a little more preserved dignity than drunk dialing Sally Hayes up in the middle of the night and telling her he’s going to come over on Christmas Eve and trim her goddam tree.

But he needed to talk to someone and that’s why Holden would have Tinder. God knows he’d probably chat up some girl and convince her to meet him at a cheap motel before deciding he just wanted to talk once they’re both sitting on the same bed.

Tinder, above all, is an outlet for judgment. Our hopes to hook up are outweighed by an appeal to our own vanity and the power of being able to judge others.

We crave validation in its most superficial form. Tinder, in its simplistic process, simultaneously allows us the ultimate authority to judge while also forcing us to put our insecurities and ourselves on the line by empowering the judgment of others. The app, even in its crudeness, accomplishes a sort of meta balance.

It’s not a peaceful balance, though. It isn’t a recommended one. It’s like taking a few uppers to balance out a few downers; the balance you reach will be far more chaotic than if you took neither in the first place.

Tinder puts judgment on a conveyer belt. It allows an ever-developing consciousness an outlet to meet irrational desires to judge and be judged. Holden Caulfield’s angst, judgment and resentment towards other people—towards anyone lacking complete innocence—were sad, but they were natural.

He fed it through living and experiencing the world. Thankfully he didn’t have Tinder. He wasn’t staring down at his phone— he looked up in the subway and the park and museum and judged people he could watch move and behave. Empathy is rarely a first instinct. It develops when you live your life around people simultaneously trying to live theirs.

Holden’s journey completed itself and readied him for another. He was by no means a finished product at the end of it, but he did exactly what all young people eventually do: become angry at the world and the people who make it so difficult to live in, flounder in his own limitations and confusion, acknowledge someone or something that makes him happy and makes everything else alright, and then, probably, repeat.

Holden’s journey was more complex than Tinder, but if Tinder had existed then it might have restricted his journey to the simplicity of left or right. I’d a felt sorry as hell for him.

Jonny Auping

 

15 Movies That Must Be Made

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For part of my childhood, I was determined to become a famous Hollywood actor when I grew up. 

Now, I didn’t always have this career aspiration. Actually, for the first eight years of my life, I had no aspirations at all. I was perfectly content being the gap-toothed kid who constantly got in trouble at school for eating rollie pollies during recess.

In 2002, things changed. After being absolutely mesmerized by Brendan Fraser’s Oscar-worthy performance in “The Mummy Returns”, I immediately knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted that Brendan Fraser money, and I wanted those Brendan Fraser honeys.

Motivated by my new dream, I tried out for the lead male role in my middle school’s upcoming rendition of “Romeo and Juliet”. I knew that if I could just secure this gig, my stunning portrayal of Romeo would attract the top Hollywood scouts, and I’d be be living that Fraser life in no time.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Instead of securing the lead role of “Romeo”, I was cast as a lesser-known character called “tree in background”. (nailed it, for the record.)

While my acting career may have been short-lived, my affinity for movies has remained. I’ve even got a few ideas for what movies should be made next. I have no doubt in my mind that these films are bound to become classics. Just Venmo me later, Hollywood: 

50 Shades of Foreplay:
This PG-rated film shows two tight-bodied 20-somethings about to get real kinky, but cuts out right before you see anything cool.

Fast and Furious 9:
Three words. Ghost Paul Walker. 

Mission: Impossible 5:
Tom Cruise tries to get his career back on track.

How To Train Your Children To Realize Dragons (And Their Dreams) Aren’t Real:
Starring Ghost Paul Walker.

Liar Liar 2:
In 7th grade, this girl named Becky farted during Spanish class. Red-faced, she turned around and looked at me, immediately announcing to the class, “OMG Clark farted!”

My classmates roared with laughter….it was almost as if they didn’t realize that farts were simply just flatulence brought to the rectum by specialized contractions of the muscles in the intestines and colon.

What the hell Becky? We both know it was you, not me. You totally farted, you dick.

Toy Story 4:
Andy finds a different type of toy that comes to life in his girlfriend’s bedside drawer.

The OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST Network:
The captivating tale of young Mark Zuckerberg and his creation of a ground-breaking social media site that finally gave racist simpletons a chance to share their thoughts. 

Lego Movie 2:
Just a constant loop of your dad cursing after stepping on the legos you left out.

Spiderman (reboot):
That Seabiscuit guy gets bit by a radioactive spider and dies. The end. 

Seabiscuit 2:
Literally just biscuits in the ocean.

Gone In 16 Seconds:
A movie about a guy who swears this never happens, its just been a while, ok?

Titanic 2:
After nearly drowning, the Titanic sets out for revenge on that evil iceberg. Starring Liam Nesson as the Titanic.

Harold and Kumar Just Ate White Castle:
90 minutes of two friends sitting on the toilet, discussing how miserable their decision to eat White Castle was.

The Grand Holiday Inn Express Hotel:
A quirky indie film about a hotel with a built-in Bennigans near the freeway in Dayton, Ohio. 

I Know What You Did Last Summer:
Because I crept all the way into the “70 weeks old” photos on your Instagram.  

-Clark

 

DIY Tips for Preparing Your Dog For Its First Snowfall

It’s that time of year when certain states across America are soon to receive their first snowfall. You know what that means; thousands of adorable little puppies will watch snowflakes flutter through the air before landing on their wet little noses leaving them both utterly confused and excited.

But did you know that 972 dogs die each year of cardiac arrest because they can’t handle the shock of seeing snow for the first time? It’s important that your dog enters this winter prepared for what’s to come. These simple tips should really help:

 -Wake your dog up one morning with an aggressive foam machine in the corner of the room. Place a piece of bacon at the foot of the machine and have your youngest daughter scream, “IT’S A MIRACLE!” repeatedly while your dog nervously navigates through the foam on his way to the bacon. This reenactment is as close as your dog is going to get to his first experience with snow.

 If you don’t think your pup is capable of such a high intensity drill then simply start by showering him with confetti while your grandfather downplays the existence of global warming.

 -Sit down with your dog while the two of you watch the 2002 film “Snow Dogs” and make sure he takes time to consider the peculiar career arc of Cuba Gooding Jr. Does your dog even realize that “Snow Dogs” featured rapper Sisqo playing a character named “Dr. Rupert Brooks?” Then how do you expect him to process the inexplicable?

 -Assuming you read to your dog every night, begin reading him Robert Louis-Stevenson’s “Winter Time.” Pay attention to his tail as you read the words “And tree and house, and hill and lake, are frosted like a wedding cake.” If his tail is curled under his body then he still isn’t ready. If it wags two or more times then he is prepared for snowfall.

 -Once your dog is ready to handle snow you’re not out of the woods yet. You don’t want that rascal tracking dirty snow into the house. Teach him to shake snow out of his coat by playing Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.” If he is able to shake off the snow by musical cue then Swift will personally take down your Christmas decorations come January. 

Here are a few snow related tips for pets outside of the canine species:

Cat: Put it in a box in the basement until winter season has ended.

Gerbil: Fill its roller ball with processed sugar so that its entire existence resembles a snow globe.

Human Baby: Cover it with vegetable oil before taking it out so that it is resistant to snow and will not become mysteriously trapped in the lower portion of snowman.

 Reptiles: No preparation needed. Lizards and snakes are naturally equipped to handle cold weather.

-Jonny Auping

Bugles and Americana

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

16 Brussel Sprouts That Are Having a Worse Day Than You

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

 

 

 

SnapChat EVERYTHING: 7 Technology Tips For Freshman

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

“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