The Music Alley – Leon Bridges (an immediate Golden Oldie)

When I was a kid my (way to young to be listening to this type of music) dad would cruise around with us in the car listening to Oldies music on 100.3. “OLIDES ONE-HUNDREEEED.” Some of my fondest memories are triggered by a Frankie Vallie tune, something soulful from Sam Cooke or some random one-hit wonder like Bryan Mann.

It was the early days of pop and rock n’ roll. The Golden Oldies stretching from the mid 1950’s through the mid 1960’s; it embodied the All-American, everything is alright mode of our country post WWII, pre-Vietnam War.

Like style, music tends to be cyclical. A la the latest trend of synthesizers in every song, it’s clear the 80’s has reemerged over the last several years (gag). Aside from listening to the classic Soda Fountain tunes recorded 5-6 decades ago, there hasn’t been much replication of the early days of pop and rock n’ roll, until now. Allow me to introduce you to Leon Bridges. It’s pure, raw and SO oldies. Take 3 minutes out of your day and click play below. Something tells me Leon is just now scratching the surface of something big and the tune is guaranteed to improve your mood for the day.

Part II: Buy or Sell: What Happened in 2014 that’s worth taking with us to 2015?

My co-blogging, co-working, co-living bud wrote an initial post with this title yesterday piggy-backing on an idea I had last week. As such I felt the need to post my “Buy or Sell” thoughts (facts) that started this idea in the first place.

Without further ado:

BUY:

Fabric flower lapel pins. A few years ago, pocket squares and tie clips made a comeback and made you stand out. Now everyone does it (albeit some better than others). One of these little bad boys in your lapel sets you apart from the pack.

Crossfit. Now that everyone’s taken their uninformed jabs and complete misunderstanding of the sport of Crossfit, its time you give it a shot. When you walk into a boss, not everyone looks like the guys/girls you see on tv, trust me. If you don’t think its for everyone, just ask the “bawse” Rick Ross who now does Crossfit, or as he calls it “RossFit.” As Rozay says “If you wanna do jumpin’ jacks wit da cheerleaders, we gon wave at you when we ride by. We gettin’ it.” Plus if you’re single, its a great way to meet a significant other…I know from experience.

Man tights – It’s mid-Winter, you’re pasty, hairy legs are scaring everyone in the gym. Plus these bad boys provide some nice compression when you’re squatting, because leg day is the new chest day. Plus it’s cold outside, keep your lower half warm. Disclaimer: Wear them under your shorts, because no one wants to see all that.

TV Show “How to Get Away With Murder” – Because its intense and its awesome. Thanks to my fiance for forcing me to watch the first episode and getting me hooked.

SELL:

Hashtagging – It started as a useful search/trend follower on twitter. Then it got annoying. Then it became a parody of itself. Now its just silly. It’s experienced the full life cycle. Let it go.

Vine – You had your time in the sun, Vine. But then Instagram did video, and now you’re irrelevant. Sad to see you go, but not sad to see people that became “Vine-Famous” go.

Terio – I’ll be the first to tell you, when I first found Terio on Vine (see above) I thought he was hilarious. I mean, a little fat kid, with over-sized clothes, dancing on cue to no music. But then football players started doing his dance in the endzone. Then his family started to exploit this 7 year old kid, doing club appearances in the middle of the week and other questionable parenting decisions. Plus now he’s like 8 and no longer this funny little fat kid. Sorry, ohh killem. He gone.

Buying music – Because why? With streaming services like Spotify, even iTunes is trying to figure out a way to offer streaming music for free or a monthly charge. If you’re a DJ, you get a pass.

Big Bang Theory – How many times can you recycle the same scenarios and jokes and expect them to be funny. Plus we liked long-hair Penny better.

Buy or Sell: What Happened in 2014 that’s worth taking with us to 2015?

In a heavier mood from an earlier date, I pontificated on the passing of time:

I thought we made minutes small to trick ourselves into thinking that life is long. But I think the real trick is that the minutia of time was built in cycles. Hours, days, weeks and seasons repeating in perpetuity so that the future always looks like a cul-de-sac instead of a dead end. You hear it more than you think. This is going to be my year. The sun will come up tomorrow. It’s always darkest before the dawn. It’s as if hope was built into the fabric of time.

2014. It’s nearly in the books. And in an effort to take steps forward, I’m going to highlight 5 things from the year we as a society should be buying more of for 2015, and 5 things we should sell so hard that the only place they show up is in SNL skits in the year 2027 to remind us of how ridiculous this era is. All credit for this idea belongs to my co-blogging penemy, Tommy Cooksey. But first, because I don’t want to bury some of the most valuable and prescient information a man can use as New Year’s Day approaches, here’s a classic conversational tip for the upcoming season:

Ask people about their New Year’s resolutions. Few other topics simultaneously disclose a person’s insecurities alongside their dreams. Knowing those two things are like putting your two hands on the steering wheel of their life car.

Alright. That’s settled. Misogynists and gentleman alike, you’re welcome. Now on to Buy/Sell 2014.

BUY

Matthew McConaughey

2014 was a banner year. There was this:

And this:

And that character led to this:

Which turned into this:

I thought that I’d be willing to buy all things McConaughey until we’re born again into the moments we’ve already lived, but there is an end to this rabbit hole. It’s MM-spoofed marriage proposals.

Buy McConaughey. Sell social media marriage proposals…I mean, we were selling those back in 2012.

Colored Shoelaces

Most sartorial pros would tell you I’m a year (or two) behind on this trend. Maybe I am. I’m 29, and my mother was the one who told me this was a cool thing, so that is what it is. But this isn’t a “What’s the bleeding edge of cool in 2015″ blog post. So don’t worry about it. BUY.

Enjoying Small Ball Baseball

Let’s be clear. Small ball is not the way to be a successful baseball team. High OBP and home runs are still the “best” baseball strategy. But as a fan, the threat of the steal, the high contact/low strikeout lineup, and the “we’ll never pull away, but we’re never out of it because you won’t score in the last three innings” approach of the Kansas City Royals is just better suited to build tension in every game. Just as in story-telling, complexity and layers create a richer narrative. I wish al lthe teams played smaller. In something we unfortunately can’t control, BUY.

The Hemsworth Brothers

As my friend Britt says, “There’s seriously a Hemsworth for every taste. You like long & lean, there’s a Hemsworth for that. A taste for shorter men, we have a Hemsworth for that. Maybe more of a broad and muscular, good news, there’s a Hemsworth for you too! Best of all, all Hemsworth models come with Australian accents.”

I’m a Chris fan. While his IMDB shows nothing in 2014, he still wrangled Sexiest Man Alive, and his 2015 is looking awesome. Don’t sleep on Hemsworth.

GIF Texting

Because:

BUY.

SELL

“Bye Felicia”

This isn’t something white girls should be clinging to. SELL

ice bucket challenge

Dear IBC,

It’s not you. It’s us. When we first met, we all thought you were fun and had a great heart. But after a while, you were forcing us to hang out with friends on your time. You made us feel crappy about the fact that we’d rather dump cold water on ourselves than give money to a disease (or water to thirsting nations for that matter). You aren’t who we thought you were, and we’re leaving you in 2014.

No longer yours,
America

“NO MORE” NFL CAMPAIGN

The NFL tried to cover up from me (and you and everybody) that one of their players did something horrific in an elevator. When their cover up was found out, they responded with an ad campaign that tells the viewer that they won’t stand for violence towards women. The hypocirsy is bothersome enough. But also, I don’t beat women. It’s one of those basic things that I picked up with “respect your elders” and “don’t be naked in church, or the general public for that matter.” Has one of these PSA’s ever stopped a guy? All these commercials do is make me angry at the NFL for being such a two-faced league that is actively violent and dangerous while saying it’s against concussions and battery and….[deep breath]. SELL

#blessed

We wanted to sell it in 2013. It’s still around in 2014. By all that is holy, let’s sell this thing in 2015.

This will help explain: https://twitter.com/bestofblessed

E-Cigarettes

These do not have a future. I’m pretty positive they peaked last February. Sell it all. Sell it now. SELL.

Build a better you,
Dusty “Project 2015″ Riedesel

Worth a Visit? Oak City Meatball, Raleigh, NC

Someone asked me how I felt about testicle humor, because there would be a lot of that going down. You can probably expect some of that in this review. You’re welcome. But on a serious note, I’ve been there, so I consider it my duty to answer your burning questions on whether or not a visit is worth your time.

Are you into testicle humor when you’re eating?

Sometimes you have to have the balls to ask yourself the tough questions. And people seem to be nuts about nut jokes at this joint. You will hear the guy who asks, “How do those balls taste in your mouth?” and you will be a little bit disappointed because it was too easy to deserve a laugh. But YOU CAN TOLERATE TESTICLE HUMOR because it would seem disingenuous to not make the jokes.

How do you feel about lighting quick food service?

You’re not a moron if that’s what I’m asking? If you want the food to come later, you’ll just order it later. The fact that compressing meat into a spheroid and smothering it in any number of delicious sauces is a turnkey culinary event is a huge plus. YOU’RE VISITING!

Wait, did you want to talk about sauces more?

Of course you did. YOU LOVE SAUCES! They may not be something fancy like Sage Brown Butter (The Morgan Freeman of sauces), but they don’t need glory. Even talking about them in this fancy, comprehensive review is making them uncomfortable. They’re thick and hearty and keep the praise focused on the star of the team, the meatball. Think of them like an offensive line. Pesto, tomato, meatsauce, parm cream and mushroom gravy leading the way for whatever ball of chicken, beef, pork (pigskin if you like more holistic analogies) or veggie that belongs in your palate’s red zone. THE SAUCES ARE WORTH VISITING FOR!

Do you feel like four meats and five sauces make this an ultimately limited menu that gives you no reason to come back after more than a few visits?

You could feel that way, but you’d be wrong. There’s always a sauce of the day and a ball of the day. Debatably, the best sauce-of-the-day they’ve ever had is the Sweet Chili Sauce, and there may be one blogger who brings up the potential benefit of “permanent menu status” to management every time he visits. The daily offers are great. And the sides (especially the mac and cheese) are the ballz! There’s variety here, so YOU WILL DEFINITELY VISIT MORE THAN ONCE!

Do you like a snug, intimate environment?

You’re talking about balls, so you might think you prefer more freedom (that was the last one, promise), but the truth is that YOU LOVE INTIMATE ENVIRONMENTS. With dim lighting and a chic downtown interior, it’s a good spot that YOU’D EVEN TAKE A DATE!

But what if you don’t think meatballs and testicle humor is the best place to take a date because meatballs and testicles are neither sexy nor romantic? Is this a good spot for the guys to go chow down?

Guys love meatballs and testicle humor. SO PROBABLY!

Do you like whiskey?

Does Pepe Le Pew like interspecies coupling and dogmatic persistence? YOU’RE VISITING! They’ve got a great menu of whiskey-laden cocktails.

In summation, I’d give Oak City Meatball five out of five meatballs, and deem it WORTH A VISIT. It knows exactly what it is and works its lane perfectly.

Wishing I would have used more testicle jokes,
Dusty “Cool Beans” Riedesel

Kansas City Royals in the ALCS: Faith Versus Science

The Kansas City Royals have made the ALCS, and this makes virtually no sense, other than the undeniable fact that it has happened. We all watched how, so we should know, and yet it isn’t really explainable beyond the old clichés of “they got hot at the right time” or “the game is really all about matchups.” Spend some time on Baseball Reference, and you’ll see that the Royals have abandoned commonly accepted plans for success like “on-base percentage.” Statheads will tell you that KC doesn’t belong in the playoffs (they’re the first playoff team ever to rank last in walks and home runs), and they don’t deserve to advance. But they have advanced. And the meritocracy of sports deems that they’ve earned it. Math can tell you other teams are better or that these wins are convenient statistical aberrations. It doesn’t matter, and anyone who says otherwise is only sparking a debate as old as time. It’s science versus faith.

The deluge of data in modern times creates a thirst for explanation. The more we know, the more we believe we can know how. Millennia of scientific advancement, from the wheel to the iPhone, back that theory. But at the end of every scientific advancement is the less recognized failure of not advancing it further. After all, that iPhone wasn’t always number 6. The point is that our methods, however developed, always carry evidence of being underdeveloped. Because we’re always progressing, we’re permanently incomplete. This is the essence of science versus faith. What is the more we can never reach? An atom is built from protons is built from quarks is built from subatomic unicorns the urinate massless photons. We never reach the end of the rainbow, but logic tells us that something has to be there.

The problem with the faith versus science debate is that most parties are ready to vehemently defend their side, even though both sides openly admit their shortcomings. Faith, in any regard, is defined as complete trust in something, whether proof exists or not. And we experience what science doesn’t know with every time we sleep. Why we feel compelled to fight each other about what believe instead of bonding together over the desire to know more is a shame. It probably springs from our need for personal security, but it’s how it is. We don’t know so much, and it should be completely okay. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing. In fact, it’s very healthy to embrace the fact that you don’t know stuff. That unexplained sleep will come much easier.

A fast, defense-oriented baseball team with a lights-out bullpen isn’t some realized referendum on the existence of the great beyond, and yet they exist as a tiny little nod to the fringes of magic that seems to happen in sports all the time. When a moment is so narratively perfect that it feels as if we’ve all collectively willed it to exist. Even though it’s logically absurd, we all feel it. We did give it a very pointed shot this year with USA Soccer. Science’s analytics tells us that the Royals shouldn’t be able to keep up these wins. They shouldn’t be able to pull this off for an entire post-season. But faith tells us that they are completely capable. It can definitely happen. We can all feel it, and nobody can disprove it. Not yet anyway.

A man of faith and science,
DR

Controversial Opinion: Music Sucks!

In the audible diet of life, music is dessert. Sure you can live on dessert. There’s caloric value in it just like there are ideas in music, but the lean protein of information and experience is rarely there in the abundance needed for intellectual growth. The musical sugar toys with people’s mental glycogen to lift them up and down, addicting them. Maybe booze is a better analogy. How many people drink their coffee and listen to c-span or talk radio on their way to work, and then jam out to a brain-unplugging tune on their way to a post-work beer?

Never in the history of man have people had access to such an audible buffet. You could be reading The Sound and the Fury on your morning commute instead of listening to T-Swift shaking it off for the 37th time. And yet most people I know keep going to the chocolate fountain instead of the carvery. Your brain deserves better.

On a budget? Listen to podcasts. Ideally something that gives you counter-intuitive ways to look at the world. Comedians like Marc Maron and Pete Holmes have famous and interesting guests and have a habit of asking questions successful habits, beliefs about God, and the double-edge of relationships. You know what makes the Dos-Equis guy so interesting? Life experience. And you can be learning the pivotal life experiences of some of the world’s most interesting people while your pounding the treadmill to atone for last night’s Oreo’s.

Now, I like music. I listen to it while I write (Blues Traveler is playing right now), and I listen to it while I work out. Those are times I like to be a little raw and emotional and just let myself be manipulated by it. I love the way it controls the tone of movies and TV. Like sugar, the world would be bland without it. But it’s the opportunity cost of playing to our emotions instead of our minds that’s unsettling.

This thought came to me upon noticing a wild snapback in my mental dialogue in the car. I was listening to Slacker Radio (my first mistake), and “Colorblind” by Counting Crows came on. I found myself reminiscing on something I wrote once: “I thought we made minutes small to trick ourselves into thinking that life is long. But I think the real trick is that the minutia of time was built in cycles. Hours, days, weeks and seasons repeating in perpetuity so that the future always looks like a cul-de-sac instead of a dead end.” Only minutes later, “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind was on, and I was thinking about the time me and three high-school buddies jammed out on air instruments in a Toyota Corolla. With no one around, the memory had me smiling ear-to-ear.

I like going to both of those thought spaces. I just don’t like the concept of something external shoving me there, commandeering my personal mental agency. I’d rather maintain an even emotional keel while learning about the (possibly crackpot) ideas of Deepak Chopra on the “reality sandwich” of material, quantum, and virtual aspects of the universe. That stuff kills at cocktail parties.

One last thing about music. Here’s the first Google image of the artists that are in the top 5 at Billboard right now.

Teenage girls love pure sugar.

DR

Kobe Bryant’s Diary: The Cross That Greatness Bears

For years, Kobe Bryant has decided to keep a diary to document “the year he caught Jordan”.  While Kobe refuses to remove the diary from a pedestal in his trophy room, he has allowed Writing Bareback the exclusive rights to post these excerpts.

April 18 – Los Angeles

You never like to find yourself in the gossip rags. Maybe that was a thing you were into when you took Brandy to prom, or when you started dating your future wife while she was still a 17-year-old high school student, or when you loved her too much for a prenuptial agreement. And maybe the rags will make some overblown statements about “alleged rape” and “an oversized ego sabotaging a dynastic duo” or accuse you of completely undiagnosed libel like “chronic infidelity.” And of course the rags feast on the rigors of evolving love when that lack of a prenup would later force you to temporarily divert your once-in-a-generation focus from basketball—the only thing that matters in life—to buying a marital redemption ring that costs more than the collective net worth of the “team” bench unit. Gossip rags notice little stuff like that sometimes and you just have to deal with it because you can’t have nuclear power without some fallout. While I’d never be so arrogant as calling myself a Christ-like figure, negative attention is simply my cross to bear.

That said, you’d like to think it’s even beneath a cheap lie-monger like Radar Online to publish a single quote from Donald Sterling. I hate to even proliferate their garbage here, but sometimes you have to step into the darkness to appreciate the light.

“Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 but not suspended for referring to a referee as a ‘f*cking f***ot’ on television,” Sterling said in his first example of his speech-related offenses. – Radar Online

Small-minded indeed. There’s a difference between being a young, historically legendary competitor who slipped one single time during the heat of competition with an insult from his youth that has long been abolished his vocabulary along with millions of dollars he donated to charitable organizations as a show of true contrition and change, and being a decrepit, old bastard who has literal decades of racial hate and homophobic bigotry on the books.

Plus, last time I checked, nobody bought season tickets to watch an owner sit in his chair. That’s a harsh reality we’re forced to face when we evaluate two very dissimilar situations, but when dealing with topics as sensitive and subjective as moral truth and proper penance, you have to take a 360-degree view. And three or four or five rings goes along ways in determining someone’s societal worth. So just like a great winner has to deal with the scrutiny of the masses, the masses have to be forgiving of a single, verbal, insensitive hiccup from a great winner. It’s compromise and forgiveness like that that really makes you greatful to be a part of this world.

Anyway, I just needed to exorcise that very heavy topic here in my private journal. You never want to head to your 4 a.m. gym session with that weight on your soul. That 700th elbow jumper is heavy enough when you think about age, your “teammates” abilities, and Jordan-esque expectations of a sixth ring in a truly competitive conference. You don’t need some spectre of public criticism ebbing it’s way outside of the neat categorical hurt locker you’ve created for it in your mind.

Sometimes I think of Tim Duncan. He’s probably the only one who understands that kind of thing. We’ve always been so similar.