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"Fuck Kevin Durant" - Lil' B.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

SEX! SEX! SEX! (are you reading this yet?)

she finna turn ur kids gay
Now that I have your attention, let's talk about education. Can you believe 3,000 people showed up at Queen's Park yesterday to protest Ontario's new sex education curriculum? I mean, even by idiot mob standards, that's a lot of people. As the Toronto Star points out, the throng wasn't without "the usual suspects (aka homophobes)" -- but the sheer volume of people at the protest makes me feel like there's a lot of normal people out there who aren't entirely comfortable with the province's new sex ed curriculum either.

If you feel a bit of trepidation about the new curriculum teaching grade ones about consent or introducing the concept of "sexting" to your 12 year old, I can understand where you're coming from. Unfortunately, you're an idiot. The new curriculum is necessary to implement, and here's why: 

The last update to the Ontario sex ed curriculum was in 1998. I was born in 1991, so the entirety of my classroom-based sex education was administered under the current curriculum. That curriculum was outdated when I was in elementary school, and I graduated a decade ago -- pre-smartphones and social media. By the time I was 10, sexual intercourse was regularly discussed on the playground, but it wasn't even addressed in class until I was 12 (after I had already been watching porn for about a year). In contrast, I don't ever recall an in-depth lesson on gender identity, even though there were trans kids at my high school. Nor do I remember sexual consent being fully addressed in class until I took an elective sociology credit in Grade 12. And when it was, the idea was vocally dismissed by the young men in the class. Shit, I didn't fully understand consent or gender identity until I was 22, and that was after extensive personal reading and dialogue with university-educated peers. This is my experience, and I was enrolled in a higher learning stream at a good school in a well off neighbourhood.

You people think "sexting" is scary?

Look, Ontario's new sex ed curriculum probably isn't perfect (it was made by teachers and liberals, after all), but it does take big steps to correct the failings of our impersonal, STI-obsessed current curriculum. Some people would argue complex lessons about the human aspects of sexuality are better taught at home; but a quick Google search for statistics on sexual assault or suicide among LGBT youth raises some serious questions about the validity of that statement. And whether you like it or not, the internet has introduced sex to kids at an earlier age. If the current curriculum continues to provide no meaningful or timely subtext to whatever your kid is picking up from Alexis Texas and Young Thug, what's the point in even teaching it?  I mean, shit. The last sex ed curriculum was developed under Mike Harris. It's time for a change.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Bracketology: Cheerleader Fashion Edition

It's that time of year again! March Madness is about to begin, and for two weeks, everybody on the face of the planet will be pretending to care about basketball so they can watch TV at the office. The best part about March Madness imo is the "bracketology" aspect -- filling out a bracket via complete guesswork and then watching TV to listen to self-appointed "experts" tell you why you're wrong.

As a journalist and sports fan, there's nothing more I enjoy than sharing my unsolicited, speculative opinion on things I have very little knowledge of. So for this year's bracket I've decided to kill two birds with one stone, combining two things I know nothing about (college basketball and women's fashion) to decide my picks in the NCAA Tournament. 

The process was simple: I filled out a traditional bracket, but instead of deciding which team I thought would win the game, I picked the team whose cheerleaders were better dressed (in my opinion). The results are below.

The Tournament
click to zoom
And for the Final Four...

I'm picking Cincinnati to win, which probably isn't gonna happen, but let's not kid ourselves. You didn't come here to look at my bracket predictions. Let's get to the good stuff!

The Outfits

The Final Four

4: Arkansas Razorbacks:
Most SEC schools have more than enough pomp, pizzazz, and booster funding to dominate the first few rounds of the tournament, but extravagance will kill them later on. The Razorbacks rock the Southern charm but leave the Bedazzler at home, and the results are good enough to earn them a Final Four appearance.

3. Michigan State Spartans:
When your school colours are forest green and white, you have to be trying pretty hard to make your uniforms look bad. Michigan's sleek, sexy new age attire should allow them to slash and burn their way through a relatively weak East division.

2. UCLA Bruins:
I'm a big fan of most UCLA sports jerseys, and the cheerleading uniforms are no exception. Like Michigan State, they have a colour scheme that really appeals to me. When you add that all of their uniforms look more like cute vintage sundresses than cheer outfits, you get a winning combination in my book. Look for the Bruins to do some damage in the tournament.

1. Cincinnati Bearcats:
This looks like somebody combined a cheerleader getup with the kind of "little black dress" you'd see at a really nice club in downtown Toronto. Excellent work.

Consolation Prizes

Miss Congeniality

Valparaiso Crusaders:
The "turd and honey" colour scheme falls into the "so bad it's good" category, and I actually really like the style of the dress. Unfortunately, Valpo is in tough against a much flashier Maryland squad and I don't see them making it out of the first round.

Worst Outfit

Virginia Cavaliers:
I don't exactly know what's going on here, but I do know that I don't like it.

Most Surprising Outfit Based on School Rep

BYU Cougars:
I would expect a school full of Mormons to be real prudish when it comes to cheerleading outfits, but the Cougars' getups are actually pretty sexy if you ask me.

Least Surprising Outfit Based on School Rep

Harvard Crimson:

So there you have it folks; my extremely analytical, well informed breakdown of the 2015 March Madness bracket. When the tournament is over, I'll update you on how I did.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Musical Progression of a Successful Punk Band

Title Fight rockin' Sneaky Dee's

Punk rock is a wild ass genre of music. Like I said in a previous post, when you first get into punk, every band seems radically different, but once you hang around long enough, it becomes apparent most of the bands are carbon copies of each other. This goes not only for the sound and style of music, but for the trajectory of the band's musical evolution.

I've outlined this strange phenomenon below, using the trajectory of one of the most successful bands of the last decade or so, Title Fight, as an example. It is important to note, however, that this model only applies to successful bands, as the vast majority of punk bands (thankfully) never leave their parent's basements. Enjoy.

Stage 1: Highly Derivative Demo Material

Not bad for a bunch of 14 year olds

During the first stage of evolution, the median age for a punk band is estimated to be 17.4 years old. At this age, most musicians have a pretty limited breadth of musical reference and an even more limited grasp on how to play their instruments. As a result, the fledgling musicians pick two or three bands they want to sound like and try to mash the styles together.

Most grizzled scene vets (read: 21 year olds) don't really fuck with this material because of how derivative it is, but other 17 year olds don't know any better and eat this shit up like cake. Eventually, the band's buzz gets the attention of a small regional label, and things start to change.

Stage 2: Hype AF First LP 

At this stage, the band has grown out of their parent's basement and started doing support shows with larger regional acts. Their exposure to the world of "punk rock tastemakers" and improved playing ability (by virtue of touring 9 months out of the year) allows them to grow as a creative entity. The band's creative process is still quite derivative, but they now have a larger pool to draw from.

This limited but important growth usually results in a full length album that sounds like a more polished, fleshed out version of the band's demo. The band may also start to hint at a different creative direction with one or two "weird songs", but most of the material from this stage of evolution remains consistent with the band's previous output.

Stage 3: Fleeting Moment of Creative Brilliance

In a culmination of hard work, dedication, and perfection of craft, the band finally reaches a creative apex. By this time, most of the band's members have started listening to music outside the confines of punk rock, introducing them to complex musical concepts such as dynamics, rhythm and song structure. In addition, the band's members have played together long enough to form chemistry, but not long enough to hate each other's guts. This combination usually results in the band's finest material.

In addition to their musical accomplishments, the band has often created a large public profile via playing every inhabitable US city three times a year since their last album. During this time, the band is regarded as an "integral part of the scene", and their watershed album will be mentioned at least three times in the Punknews Editors' Best of 20XX Roundup for that calendar year.

Stage 4: Poorly Recieved Crossover Attempt

At this stage of evolution, most of the band's members are over 24, which is widely regarded as the age where it's no longer socially acceptable to listen to punk music. It's also the age where most people start making a little bit of money, and the prospect of living in a stinky van for 9 months of the year starts to become unappealing. While the band is still outwardly successful to punk kids, it's members begin to feel the ebb and flow of the outside world weighing them down. This pressure forces the band to make a drastic change.

The science is inexact, but most of the time, the direction of that change can be predicted based on the band's past output. See the figure below for more detail.

Punk rock's established transformation paths 
  • "EpiFat" skate-punk/PBRcore -> boring dad rock (eg. Bad Religion, Hot Water Music, Against Me!) 
  • Tr00 Post-Hardcore -> NPR indie w. bad singing (Mewithoutyou, La Dispute, Thursday)
  • Pop Punk -> terrible music for 14 year old girls and softs (eg, Blink-182, Piebald, Saves the Day)
  • Emotional Guy Hardcore/Skramz -> melodramatic breakup (eg. American Nightmare, Orchid, Refused)
  • Tough Guy Hardcore -> incarceration, death.
This new direction, while compelling, fails to resonate with the band's prior fans, or with the pub rock/SXSW/shoegaze/drone metal communities from which it draws. These releases are largely glossed over, but often heralded as "under-appreciated" by internet trolls ten years later.

Stage 5: Fade to Irrelevance/Demise

After a failed attempt to cross over, the band is in the twilight of it's career. They may release a few more albums, but by this point, nobody really cares anymore. Eventually all the members move on with their lives, occasionally reuniting to headline a fest or record something, but the band has by and large run it's course. 

All good things must come to an end. Even this article. So on that note, I leave you to discuss my findings amongst yourselves.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

You're an Idiot: Toronto Maple Leafs Edition

As Leafs fans, can we all just agree this "throwing jerseys on the ice" shtick has got to stop? It was kinda funny the first time somebody did it last year in Edmonton, but it's been overdone, and frankly, it's real stupid.

This is so 2013.
Look, I don't give a shit about how throwing a jersey on the ice is "disrespectful to the history of storied organizations", I don't care about the voodoo superstitions players have about not letting their jerseys touch the ground, and I really don't care whether or not you're embarrassing your favourite team in their building. The reason you shouldn't throw your jersey onto the ice is because it's the most backwards and moronic "act of protest" anybody could possibly conceive.

Ever heard the phrase "money talks"? When you throw a jersey on the ice, you're telling your favourite franchise, "hey, I'm an idiot who will continue to spend a significant amount of money on your product, no matter how much I dislike it." Here's how much the average ACC jersey thrower will spend on Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment products to commit his "act of protest":

- two mid-level tickets to a Toronto Maple Leafs home game: $600
- eight Coors Light tall boys at ACC prices: $96 plus taxes.
- one Mike Komasarek jersey (thrown over the boards): $200
- one (insert overpaid free-agent offseason acquisition here) jersey the "tosser" will inevitably purchase ten games into next season when he's planning the 2016 cup parade: $200

So in order to throw a jersey on the ice, the average jersey tosser will hand about $1100 right back over to MLSE's books. If you're trying to hit a business where it hurts (and let's face it, your favourite professional sports team is a business), this is the stupidest way you could possibly do it. This is like renting a car from Enterprise, driving to Enterprise's head office, lighting a bag of dog shit on fire and running. Your symbolic act of defiance means jack to the company, because they've already got your money. In the case of the Maple Leafs, it means even less, because history has already proven YOUR DUMB ASS will be back in those seats the next opportunity you get.

"Thanks for the money, assholes!"
Look, if you wanna "make a statement" against the Leafs, stay home from the fucking game. Will MLSE miss your money? Probably not. But paying a shitload of cash to throw a temper tantrum in response to something you're complicit in (because you're the one who keeps paying to support a bad hockey team) makes you look like a total idiot to anybody with half a brain. It also makes you look like an asshole to people who can't afford those tickets, and a walking dollar sign to MLSE, so cut it out.

PS: You know that one friend who keeps dating hairdressers and then wondering why his romantic life is a hot mess? Well Leafs fans, that's us right now. For 47 frustrating years, the team has had countless different players, coaches, general managers, and even a few new owners. The one constant? Fans in Toronto will consistently pay top dollar to watch low quality hockey. I'm not pretending to have the cure for what ails the Leafs (if I did, I wouldn't be giving it away for free), but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with that. Jus' sayin.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

End of a Year 2014: The Albums

It's that time of year again kids. You're getting fat from eating all that food, drinking on a Tuesday night, and practically ceasing to give a fuck about the outside world entirely. Gather round the computer screen and open your present from good ol' Uncle Vince. Here it is -- the best albums of 2014.

Lil Durk

10. Dej Loaf- Sell Sole (Self Released)

It's funny how girls are actually better at rapping than dudes. Who'da thunk?

Listen to "I Got It"

9. Freddie Gibbs- ESGN (ESGN/Empire Distribution)

Yeah, I know this came out in 2013, but if the Grammys can nominate a year old album, then so can I.

Listen to "Eastside Moonwalker"

8. Lil' Durk- Signed to the Streets II (OTF/Coke Boys)

How come rap releases are always on two labels? And what the fuck happened to Chief Keef? Next year I think I'm gonna do "Top 10 Drinks I Drank that I'm Too Old to be Drinking" for a year end list.

Listen to "Live it Up"

7. Chris Brown- X (RCA)

A couple of these songs were swings and misses, but when it comes to making hits, nobody beats Chris Brown.

Listen to "Add Me In"

6. Xerxes- Collision Blonde (No Sleep)

This album sounds like what hardcore would sound like if all the hardcore kids who wear Joy Division shirts actually listened to Joy Division. Or if all those "wave" bands tried writing a really good hardcore album, instead of trying to sound like The National.

Listen to "Collision Blonde"

Self Defense Family
5. Self Defense Family- Try Me (Deathwish)

"Self Defense Family is the best band in the history of recorded music." - Self Defense Family.

Listen to "Tithe Pig"

4. J. Cole- 2014 Forest Hills Drive (Dreamville/Roc Nation)

I haven't even listened to a third of this album and it's already number four on my list. I dunno what that says about the rest of these albums, but whatever. There are some big tunes on this one.

Listen to "Fire Squad"

3. ScHoolboy Q- Oxymoron (TDE/Interscope)

Everytime I saw this commercial I was instantly reminded of Oxymoron and how much money you can make by selling prescription drugs (apparently). So not only did ScHoolboy Q create arguably the best rap album of 2014, he also unintentionally subverted the Canadian government by doing it. Pretty cool stuff.

Listen to "Los Awesome (feat. Jay Rock)"

2. PartyNextDoor- PARTYNEXTDOOR TWO (OVO Sound/Warner Bros.)


Listen to "Recognize (feat. Drake)"

1. Lil Wayne- Tha Carter 10th Anniversary Reissue (Cash Money/Universal)

Wait, you're telling me there wasn't a 10th anniversary reissue for Lil Wayne's classic coming of age record? Damn Birdman, you need to hop on that punk rock greed train and get reissuing your back catalogue. I would've bought that shit on vinyl and I don't even have a record player.

But seriously though, this is basically the only album I listened to for the first half of this year. Fuck with it.

Listen to "Go DJ"


Honourable Mention: La Dispute- Rooms of the House; Kitty Pryde- Impatiens; Ratking- So it Goes; Riff Raff- Neon Icon; The Hotelier- Home, Like Noplace is There; Angel Du$t- A.D.; Space Pope- Long Live the Pope

5 Dope EPs: 

Self Defense Family- Two Genuine Oddities From Our Past
Self Defense Family- "Indoor Wind Chimes" b/w "Cottaging"
Self Defense Family- Split w. Meredith Hunter
Self Defense Family- I Tried to Make Something You Would Enjoy
Self Defense Family- Duets

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Swaggy P Teaches Us How to Mack.

Forever 21 has blessed us with a video of basketball player Nick Young, aka "Swaggy P" or "Iggy Azalea's boyfriend", sharing his tips on chatting up the ladies. The video begins with Young detailing how he courted Iggy by making her his #wcw, which is, oddly enough, how I met my current girlfriend Eugenie Bouchard (not srs). Young then goes on a tangent about vegetables or some shit, before Iggy interrupts him by yelling some indiscernible nonsense from off-camera. The two of them proceed to get in the world's cutest argument, then Young walks off the set while a bunch of people go "awww" and the video ends.

I think that's what happens anyways. TBH I was pretty high when I watched this, and I was more concerned with how a dude named Nick Young got the nickname "Swaggy P" then anything he had to say. Oh well. I'm sure he had some good advice, and I wish these two the best.