Third And Thirty

Sports. Music. Comedy. And Other Things That Make Life Interesting.

Song of the Week: June 14th, 2012

I’ll keep this post short, as it’s after midnight and I’m writing from the comfort of a hotel room in Marion, Illinois. Such is the glamorous life of a graduate student on vacation. I’ve been on the road for about eight hours now, and my brain is already turning to mush. I thought this road trip would give me the opportunity to evaluate my life and gain some kind of inner peace. Here are some actual thoughts I have had so far:

There should be sommeliers for non-alcoholic beverages, and I’d like to nominate myself as the first of the profession. How could this be useful, you ask? Let me explain. You know what goes better with a steak and baked potato than any wine or beer? A glass of milk. Do you know the perfect liquid refreshment to pair with a sodium-laced McDonald’s double cheeseburger and fries? Sprite. When you’re snacking on Spicy Nacho Doritos in the wee hours of the night, what is the best beverage, palette-wise, for removing those little chunks of corn chip from between your teeth? Dr. Pepper. Enjoying a turkey sandwich? Cherry Coke. Also accepted: you guessed it, a nice glass of milk. Yea, I thought this through.

Indiana is the worst state. I’ve thought about this (OK, a lot) before, but I can’t help thinking it when I’m driving through. If I had to compare it to another state, it would be Arkansas, only with worse highways and slightly fewer bugs. Oh, and with no hot springs, no Ozarks, and no beauty of any sort. Even Indianapolis, which should and may very well be a cool city, is plagued by endless construction. Also, they only sell warm beer at convenience stores. That’s a fact. It’s a statewide effort to curb drinking and driving, which makes no sense when you consider that no one who really wants to drink and drive is going to be deterred by warm beer. You won’t find an alcoholic saying, “Damn, I was gonna pop one of these road sodas open, but I guess I’ll have to take them home and wait for them to cool down.” Good job Indiana.

My friend (and frequent contributor) Kayla suggested that I stop at a rest area and sleep in my car to avoid the cost of a hotel. I was astonished that she suggested this, HAS DONE THIS, and says that other people do this too. I know that that’s technically what rest areas are for and everything, but I’ve seen horror movies. You’re not going to convince me that that’s a good idea. And even if no one tried to kill me, the thought of some trucker beating off while watching me sleep through my driver’s side window is equally terrifying.

So anyway, before all these thoughts polluted my brain and made me dumber, I was leaving East Lansing to return home to Texas, and I was listening to music. I started with the latest from Japandroids (Celebration Rock). Without elaborating too much, it’s very good. The single from the album is “The House That Heaven Built,” a no-nonsense rocker full of “ooh ooh oohs,” frenetic guitars, and ragged-in-a-good-way vocals. “And if they try to slow you down, tell ‘em all to go to hell…” Wise words when entering Indiana. See you next week…

Bit of the Week: June 12, 2012

Editor’s Note: Kayla’s taking over the Bit of the Week for the second week in a row. Why? Because she’s clearly insane, depressed, and probably just wants someone to love her. Go give her a hug at http://chronically-kayla.tumblr.com/ and on Twitter @kaylamckinney.

If you’re into watching a guy yell in your general direction, Bill Burr's your man. Though his name often gets grouped in with the likes of George Carlin and Louis CK, his in-your-face-and-not-happy-about-it delivery is wholly memorable. Burr's talent doesn't rest in some penchant for great impressions, nor is he fantastically witty. Instead, he comes across as the loud, funny family member who you look forward to seeing during the holidays because you know he's got a hell of a story to share.

By tapping into his quasi-relatable style, Burr’s built a totally-worth-listening-to-at-least-once comedy podcasts. You can listen to him “ramble” for an hour every Monday morning, and, trust me, he never holds back.

He’s no stranger to the screen either, with small parts on “Breaking Bad” and “Chappelle’s Show.” If that’s not enough, he has a couple of comedy specials on the market, the last of which, Let It Go, you can buy here or stream on Netflix.

He’s currently touring around California, Florida, and New York, so be sure to check him out if you’re in the area. Otherwise, enjoy his views on population control below. Until next time, keep nibblin’, y’all.

-K

Streak For The Cash Recap: June 6th, 2012

*For the uninitiated, Streak For The Cash is a game on ESPN.com that allows players to pick the outcomes of various games and props in an effort to build the longest streak of the month. The prize: $50,000. As an added twist, there is an extra “stash” of $50,000 if the month’s winner hits 27 or more wins in a row. If the winner gets less than 27 wins, the stash rolls over to the next month. I am confident that I will one day win this game, buy an island, and drink coconut rum. Unfortunately, I have terrible luck. Or I’m just not very good. Let’s review.*

Current Streak: Loss 1

Current Overall Record: 7-6-0 (.538)

A promising six win streak was cut short by Tim Lincecum (see below) and now, here we are, waiting on tennis results. Yes, you read that correctly. Is Andy Murray still good at tennis? Is he the one that’s married to Mandy Moore? Does anyone know the whereabouts of Mandy Moore? Should we be worried? Ah screw it, she was no Jessica Simpson. Shall we? 

Great Success!

The Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks over San Diego Padres (June 3rd)

Why It Worked: The D-Backs may be struggling a bit to live up to lofty expectations, but they’re still not a bad team, and Cahill is not as bad a pitcher as his 3-5 record so far this season would suggest. The Padres, on the other hand, are narrowly beating out the Cubs for the worst record in the league.

The Pick: Hungary: Win or Draw over Republic of Ireland: Win

Why It Worked: Despite the close proximity to England, the Irish are terrible at soccer. As far as I know, Hungarians are also terrible at soccer, but they couldn’t be much worse. And they were at home in Budapest. So there ya go.

Miserable Failure.

The Pick: San Francisco Giants over San Diego Padres (June 5th)

Why It Failed: Just two seasons removed from winning back-to-back NL Cy Young awards, the Freak seems to be falling apart. He’s 2-6 on the season with a 5.83 ERA, which is nearly three full runs above his career average of 3.15. He’s been consistently shelled early in games and quickly taken out, and rumors have swirled that his arm may not be what it once was. Even my Padres-are-awful logic couldn’t save me from the fallen Freak.

The Pick: Who will card the lower first 9 score? Bubba Watson over Rickie Fowler

Why It Failed: There was little to no research or thought involved. I didn’t know Fowler was sitting at the top of the tourney leaderboard when I made this pick. I just knew three things: a) Watson won this year’s Master’s, b) Watson’s first name is Bubba, and c) I love Bubbas. Until next time…

Bit of the Week: June 5th, 2012

Editor’s Note: Today’s bit is a very special Kayla edition. You might remember her, as she filled in a few weeks past when I had finals. Check her out at http://chronically-kayla.tumblr.com/ and on Twitter @kaylamckinney.

Many of the best comedians are so prolific it’s mind-blowing. Between tours, writing, producing, and (hopefully) getting laid, it’s amazing they find time to sleep. Native New Yorker GregFitzsimmons is one of them, working his ass off to bring us the lulz (which is fine, considering his rail-thin frame). You probably recognize him best from all those “I Love the [Enter Decade Here]” VH1 reruns you’ve watched while sloppily eating Taco Bell after a night of drinking, but he’s had his hands in a number of not-off-the-dollar-menu pies. 

Fitzsimmons shows up on The Howard Stern Show pretty frequently, and he’s made appearances on all the late night shows, since, you know, that’s what you do when you’re famous. He also regularly gets his funny on with Chelsea Handler on her comic-friendly E! show, Chelsea Lately.

Not content with just being a well-off white man, Fitzsimmons has also put pen to paper for shows like Lucky Louie and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The man even has his own book and shelf of Emmys.

You can hear Fitzsimmons talk about life every single week with his popular podcast, Fitzdog Radio, or watch him dish on water with Kevin Nealon below. Oh, and take a needlessly long shower. You look disgusting.

-K

Quick Hits: June 4th, 2012

Sports:

  • The NBA’s Conference Finals are each tied up at two games apiece after a weekend of bad officiating exciting basketball. In the West, Kevin Durant scored 18 points in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter and Serge Ibaka went a perfect 11-11 for a career-high 26 points to stymie the Spurs. In the East, the Celtics outscored the Heat 4-2 in overtime to take Game 4, and Lebron James accomplished his 2012 goal of finding a new way to struggle late in big games by fouling out in the fourth quarter (for the first time in his career, no less).
  • Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in New York Mets history after a blown call 50 seasons and 8,020 games. Asked how he felt after the game, Santana said “Oh, yes, I feel great. Everything was just so smooth, you know? Just months after my surgery, I am truly back to my evil ways, you know? For all the Mets fans, I hope you’re feeling better. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to my black magic woman, you know? Maria!” When cameras cut back to the studio, a number of analysts looked puzzled, and one mustered the squeamish question, “Does he believe he’s guitar legend Carlos Santana?”

Music:

  • Justin Bieber is reportedly under investigation for the assault of a photographer in California. I don’t see this holding up, as the only assault I could see the Biebs being guilty of is an assault of cuteness. Am I right, ladies? But seriously, this definitely wasn’t in the JT handbook. Bieber should have gone the other route and discussed his sex life with Selena Gomez in a Rolling Stone interview instead.
  • The family of Amy Winehouse is selling the house the singer died in for a cool $4.2 million. So, if you’re interested in buying it, you can now go right ahead. But I’m not coming over for any barbecues. I don’t care how cool the house is. I’m not coming to your haunted mansion.
  • Bob Dylan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his “influence on the civil rights movement” and “significant impact on American culture.” In a short speech after being awarded the medal, Dylan said “You know that I used the n-word in one of my most popular songs right? And that I wrote a song called “Quinn the Eskimo?” Yea, I hear they don’t like to be called that nowadays. Whatever. Fuck it, I’m out.” Dylan then dropped the mic, grabbed his balls with the hand holding the medal, threw up both middle fingers and walked out. He was arrested a short time later on suspicion of being homeless.

Comedy:

  • Andy Samberg is officially leaving SNL (here, here, here). If Lorne Michaels truly wants to replace Andy, he’ll have to find a young person with mediocre sketch chops and the ability to make and act in short videos. Yea, good luck with that in today’s world, Lorne.
  • The executive producer of the terrible show NBC hit (yes, it qualifies as a hit on NBC) Whitney will be leaving to work on a new show, Guys With Kids, because, really, how much worse could it get?

Song of the Week: June 1st, 2012

A decade ago, The Rapture were part of a New York rock scene that was mythologized and celebrated before it was ever really even born. The angular beat and angsty yelp that carried their breakout song “House of Jealous Lovers” were provided as evidence of a revival that, in retrospect, never really outgrew its small (and exclusive) tent. Headlines declared that “Rock was back” (where did it ever go?) and magazines like Spin and Rolling Stone devoted large spreads to a number of unproven bands. Some survived: The White Stripes—er, bad example, let’s say Jack White—and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Most have failed: The Mooney Suzukis, The Vines (presented with the caveat that they are still technically a band, even if no one cares) and too many others to mention. In retrospect, these features seem tied to the last gasp of “the old way”; the magazines were right, something big was happening with rock and roll. But no one could have predicted then that “something big” meant (for better or worse) everything from a prepubescent boy sharing the stage with Usher to the self-released magic of In Rainbows. Just as quickly as the fiery hype had built, it was extinguished; the attention needed to sustain it moved on to emo (a terrible and grossly overused categorization at the time) and backpack rap (ditto). The Rapture’s debut album (Echoes in 2003) was marred with inconsistency, and their second (Pieces of the People We Love in 2006) was met with mixed reviews from fans and critics alike.

It would have been easy for The Rapture to go the way of the Mooney Suzukis. To some extent, they did. After two life-altering events—his mother’s suicide and the birth of his son—singer/guitarist Luke Jenner left the band for a few months. Shortly after his return, bassist and backup vocalist Matt Safer left the band. But in 2011, years removed from the spotlight and the pressures that entails, the band made what I feel is their finest record. In The Grace of Your Love feels like the album The Rapture of 2003 were always capable of making, the reason that the hope of so many music critics was pinned to these kids in New York. There are still booty-shaking rhythms and angsty yelps. There is still plenty of art-rock experimentation, and not every song completely works. But the album as a whole gains strength from these hiccups, probably because strong themes (self-exploration, questioning of one’s place in the world) tie everything together. Others have written about the religious overtones on the album, but the lyrics are not those of a born-again who has everything figured out. They sound to me like the questions of a man who is old enough now to have seen real joy and real pain, perhaps in unequal measure, and has set about questioning himself, God, and anyone who is still around to listen.

My favorite song from the album, “How Deep Is Your Love?” is propelled by a simple piano riff that dances from mostly beautiful to just sharp enough to make things interesting. The beat is simple enough to clap along too (that comes about halfway through, along with some tambourines and horns that blow the song wide open), and Jenner’s voice is anxious and unrelenting in a very, very good way. And yes, the vocal refrain has shades of Sisqo’s “Thong Song.” I also consider this to be a good thing. That song was catchy as hell.

Also recommended: “Can You Find a Way?” “In The Grace of Your Love” “Miss You”

Streak For The Cash Recap: May 30th, 2012

*For the uninitiated, Streak For The Cash is a game on ESPN.com that allows players to pick the outcomes of various games and props in an effort to build the longest streak of the month. The prize: $50,000. As an added twist, there is an extra “stash” of $50,000 if the month’s winner hits 27 or more wins in a row. If the winner gets less than 27 wins, the stash rolls over to the next month. I am confident that I will one day win this game, buy an island, and drink coconut rum. Unfortunately, I have terrible luck. Or I’m just not very good. Let’s review.*

For the first time this month, I’m back over .500. I never thought that would taste like such a sweet victory, but what can I say? May has been a bitch. I have no shot at the 250 g’s sitting in the stash, but the good news is that no on else does either. That means that next month, a 27 win streak could mean a cool $300,000. I’m coming for you June. Let’s get to the picks: International (and, shamefully, MLS) Soccer Edition!

Current Streak: Win 3

Current Overall Record: 67-66-0 (.504)

Great Success!

The Pick: Uruguay: Win or Draw over Russia: Win (International Friendly)

Why It Worked: Am I missing something? Russia has only qualified for the World Cup twice. Uruguay finished 4th in 2010. Was there any reason to take Russia here? The answer is no. (Although it did end up in a draw. So maybe I’m not quite as smart as I think,)

The Pick: Brazil: Win over Denmark: Win or Draw (International Friendly)

Why It Worked: See above.

The Pick: Spain: Wins by 2+ Goals over Serbia: Win, Draw, Lose by 1 (International Friendly)

Why It Worked: Anddddd once again. Let’s see… do I take the defending World Cup champs, or a team from a place that makes their pizza with generous amounts of ketchup?

The Pick: United States: Win over Scotland: Win or Draw (International Friendly)

Why It Worked: Yes, the US team has been terrible since Bob Bradley was fired. Yes, they’ve been struggling in qualification in what is probably the weakest division in FIFA (CONCACAF), But they’re still better than the Scots, dammit. 

Miserable Failure.

The Pick: LA Galaxy: Win over San Jose Earthquakes: Win or Draw

Why It Failed: I don’t follow the MLS. I feel sorry for those who do. I was, however, somehow made aware that the Galaxy won the MLS Cup (can someone check that this actually exists?) last year. It’s usually good to go with the defending champs. Had I checked the standings, however, I would have known that the Galaxy are currently sitting in last place in the Western Conference, while the Earthquakes are sitting in second. This is what happens when you don’t do research, kids.

The Pick: BK Hacken: Win or Draw over Elfsborg: Win (Swedish Allsvenskan)

Why It Failed: What the fuck is an Allsvenskan?

The Pick: What will be the match result (Atletico Bilbao vs. Barcelona)? Any Other Result over Barcelona: Wins by 2+ Goals

Why It Failed: I got cute, and failed to take my own advice. Don’t bet against Barcelona. Just don’t.

The Pick: Sion: Win over Aarau: Win or Draw (Swiss Super League Relegation Play-Off)

Why It Failed: Did you know that Switzerland has its own league? And that there are teams bad enough to get relegated from it? It’s true. Until next time…

Bit Of The Week: May 29th, 2012

I don’t know much about Shane Mauss, but what I do know is this: he is hilarious. And he’s been living in Austin for a little over a year now, so that gets him a few extra points. After a relatively short time in comedy, he has already received awards from HBO and Punchline magazine, and made appearances on Kimmel and Conan. His delivery is equal parts quick-witted wordsmith and drunken dolt, allowing him to dig fresh humor from topics that have been covered in comedic form before… like magic mushrooms.

In this bit, which never fails to make me laugh, Shane discusses walking in to a Best Buy—er, sorry, THE FUTURE—while on mushrooms, and watching a movie about himself until the blue people confront him.

Comedy Central Stand-Up
Get More: Jokes,Joke of the Day,Funny Jokes

For more about Shane, you can read this two-part interview with the Austinist.

Quick Hits: May 28th, 2012

Sports:

  • The Western Conference Finals kicked off last night, and the Spurs narrowly avoided a home loss to the Thunder after coach Gregg Popovich made a fourth quarter plea for his players to “give me [Popovich] some nasty.” The Spurs got the win and I got a new catchphrase. Thanks Pop! Also, Pop, while we’re on the subject… don’t take this the wrong way… but it looks like someone has already given you some nasty. All over your face.
  • The Stanley Cup Finals will begin Wednesday, pitting the seemingly invincible Los Angeles Kings against the New Jersey Devils. Did you know that the Devils nearly ruined hockey from the mid 90’s to the mid 2000’s? No? Yea, their neutral zone trap system was damn near unstoppable and incredibly boring. The NHL changed the rules because of it and everything. Pretty crazy, huh? Oh who am I kidding, you don’t give a shit about hockey. Let’s just hope, for your sake and mine, casual hockey fan, that these Finals see plenty of goals.

Music:

  • There will be a sequel to Watch the Throne. If Jay and  ‘Ye are smart, they’ll call it Watch the Throne, Again or Still Watching the Throne. I don’t know, I’m just spitballing. Here’s hoping the sequel matches the original, and that I don’t have to hear Kim Kardashian try to sing.
  • Phillip Phillips won American Idol. And before you start making jokes, I only know this because my mom calls me at least once a week to update me on his progress. Apparently he reminds her of me. Eh, it could be worse. At least it’s not Lee Dewyze. Or Daughtry (does he have a first name?). Or David Cook. Or Clay Aiken. Or Justin Guarini…or…

Song of the Week: May 24th, 2012

I didn’t always get to spend a lot of time with my dad as a kid. He worked very hard, and often had to go out of town for business. Instead of turning me into a bitter adult, this had the effect of making the time I did get to spend with him all that much better. Looking back on it, it seems that we spent an inordinate amount of time in the car. Driving to and from the golf course an hour away, making the five-hour trip to Dallas for a Cowboy game, going from Nashville to Huntsville to tour NASA. These trips were the beginning of my musical education. We started off with the Beatles and the Stones, and as I got older, we moved on to Zeppelin and Marley. There are some songs that I will always associate with my father, but if I were to pick just one, it would be “Tangled Up In Blue” by Bob Dylan. So, in honor of Dylan’s birthday today, enjoy that song and its terrible music video, which I believe hails from a day long before the whole music video thing caught on. (And thank you for your contributions in that regard, Billy Squier.)