Why did Peter Sarsgaard host SNL?

There are plenty of people who host Saturday Night Live that you look back on later thinking, “Gee. Pretty crazy they hosted.” Like Tom Green, or Mena Suvari, or Jaime Pressly, for instance. But for each of them, and for whoever you’re thinking of in your head, you could explain why they hosted at the time (because they was engaged to Drew Barrymore, because of those two movies with American in the title, and because My Name is Earl was a much bigger hit than you remember).

So if you scroll through the IMDb of SNL episodes, some will make you do a double-take, but then you’ll nod and remember the context. But one (at least from the time I’ve been alive–I can’t comment whether it was weird for Strother Martin to have hosted in 1980) just makes no sense.

Peter Sarsgaard hosted Saturday Night Live in January of 2006.

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Why?

Like, Peter Sarsgaard is a good actor, but… why?

Okay. Maybe I’m completely misremembering how famous Peter Sarsgaard was in 2006. Let’s see.

So, the last three wide-release films he had before he hosted were (in reverse order) JarheadFlightplan, and The Skeleton Key. He was second-billed in the first two and fourth-billed in the third. Now, I don’t remember those movies being the kind of hits that launch their supporting actor to hosting-SNL-levels of fame, but lemme double-check to make sure.

In the year 2005 (when they all came out), the aforementioned movies were the 41st, 20th, and 50th highest-grossing releases. While that seems like a solid financial year for Peter Sarsgaard, but I don’t know if that makes him famous. And why didn’t Jake Gyllenhaal, Jodie Foster, or Kate Hudson host for those movies instead? Wait. Scratch that. I really don’t want to see Jodie Foster host.

If I had to pick the least famous person to host SNL this last season, it would probably be Halsey, and even she had a number one single and was deemed famous enough by Bradley Cooper to present an award at the fictional Grammy’s in A Star is Born (….did you win?!).

And it’s not like SNL bought stock early on a budding actor with a few credits who ended up going on to massive things. Sure, he had roles in critically acclaimed films like An Education, but the highest-grossing film of his career is Green Lantern, which judging by his and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s house, was worth the paycheck, but was also a flop that was panned.

And the strangest thing about all of this is that I’ve seen Peter Sarsgaard’s SNL episode (Hulu link attached), and it’s not bad! There’s a sketch where he plays himself and is asked to be the keynote speaker at a pirate convention, only to realize they only asked him because they like to say his name (SAAAAARRRSGAARRRRRD), one where he endorses the “Peter Sarsgaard SARS Guard” (it’s a mask with his face on it), and one of the most delightful technical difficulty sketches I’ve ever seen on the show (it’s not on the Hulu version, so here’s a separate link).

What’s the point of all this? I don’t know. I just want someone to share in the knowledge that unlike Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, and Denzel Washington, Peter Fucking Sarsgaard hosted SNL.

Good for him.

Why did Peter Sarsgaard host SNL?

Which Democratic Candidates Think They’re Going to be President?

The easiest observation to make this year is that there are a lot of people running in the Democratic presidential primary. So many, that you have to wonder how all of them think that they have a chance to win. And let’s be honest, no one not named Biden, Sanders, Harris, or Warren is gonna win. Obviously no journalist can say that, but I am no journalist. What I am is a great speculator. And I’m going to speculate which of the candidates besides the aforementioned four actually think they can win, and which ones know they have no shot.

I’ll be going in alphabetical order so I don’t have to write about Steve Bullock and Michael Bennet towards the end.

Michael Bennet (Senator, CO)

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Does he think he can win?

Yes. Although it’s fading fast.

Why does he think that?

Based on his performance at the first Democratic debate, it’s clear he thinks that what the Democratic Party is clamoring for is not the extremely popular proposals of Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Or at least he did think it. He seemed in genuine disbelief that the Democratic base could want something other than the ineffective, technocratic compromises of the last twenty years of Democratic politics. I think at some point he’ll realize that he is wrong, or at least that he is not the one to carry his message.

I’m sure he thought he could win at the beginning because he entered the race late, following treatment for prostate cancer, and only someone delusional enough to think they could win would do something like that.

Does he really have no chance?

No. Not only does Patriots defensive lineman Michael Bennett have a better chance, but honestly, retired, early-aughts Vikings running back Michael Bennett has the same odds.

Some other notes

No one has brought this up because he definitely isn’t going to win, but according to his Wikipedia, Michael Bennet was born in New Delhi, India, so it’s unclear whether he could actually become president. Also, his younger brother James is the editor of the Opinion section of the New York Times (so he fucking sucks), and he released the following statement when his big brother Michael announced:

and honestly, it’s cute that he thinks that anyone at the New York Times would be talking about Michael Bennet.

Bill de Blasio (Mayor, New York City)

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Does he think he can win?

Lol no.

Then why is he running?

I mean, if you were as generally disliked by the people of your city as de Blasio, wouldn’t you try to find a reason to go other places? Also, have you ever experienced Bill de Blasio in any form or medium? His love of talking is only outpaced by his love of hearing himself talk.

And on a serious note, he has no upward mobility. He knows first-hand that the people of New York would never elect him governor or senator, so he might as well see how the rest of the country feels about him (besides, “Wow, he’s so tall.”). It raises his profile and allows stories of having an interracial family reach wider audiences.

Does he really have no chance?

No. I’ll let New York attorney general Letitia James explain why.

(I was actually in the audience for this, and it was a great deal of fun to shout in response.)

Cory Booker (Senator, New Jersey)

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Does he think he can win?

Absolutely. Without a shadow of a doubt.

Why does he think that?

Because people have been telling him he’d become president some day and he listened to them. I was first made aware of Booker when he was the mayor of Newark and did a Reddit AMA. And I was really impressed. So impressed that was one of the people who thought that Cory Booker would be president some day.

He fits the profile: relatively young, black, well-educated but in-touch with the working class, etc. He is one of the few on this list I don’t blame for being wrong.

Does really have no chance?

Like, it’s not impossible for him to win, but I don’t see it. The problem with being told while you’re a mayor of the 73rd largest city in the country that you’ll be president some day is that you haven’t actually amassed a track record that would convince people to vote for you. So you might have noticed that the furor over Cory Booker’s presidential future have died down since he’s actually had a national position.

Why?

He kind of sucks.

He has made a great effort this campaign to show that he isn’t in the pocket of big pharma and Wall Street, which is a surefire sign that he is very much in the pocket of big pharma and Wall Street. But perhaps more important than that is that he is soooooo lame. When Rosario Dawson started dating him, it was harder to believe than when she was dating a man who has intentionally peed himself on television more than once. Because he’s gotta be so insufferable to be around. Like, in a survey, he said his comfort food is “Veggies.”

The worst.

Steve Bullock (Governor, MT)

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Does he think he can win?

Not anymore.

Then why is he running (and what changed)?

Steve Bullock is a popular Democratic governor in a deep-red state. That phrase, “popular Democratic governor in a deep-red state” is responsible for ruining dozens of pairs of pants among Democratic political advisors. I get why. You figure that if he can be a Democrat and appeal to non-Democrats, he should be able to do that across the country.

So it’s understandable that Steve Bullock bought into that formula. However, I have to imagine since he was the last person to be cut off from the TWENTY PERSON Democratic Debate that his message isn’t getting out there. And I can’t blame him for staying in for a little while longer because the last thing you want to admit after publicly complaining about being excluded from a debate is that they were right to keep you out.

Does he really have no chance?

Absolutely none. You know how I know? Because that photo up there is of Montana Senator Jon Tester, and not one of you noticed.

A plea

Run for Senate, you asshole.

Pete Buttigieg (Mayor, South Bend, IN)

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Does he think he can win?

Of course. Do you know anything about Pete Buttigieg?

Why does he think that?

He was the Flavor of the Month for Democratic primary voters for a while after they were dazzled by his ability to speak languages few people speak and reference books few people have read. Why? The same reason why Aaron Sorkin’s liberal fantasy president is a Nobel Laureate Economics professor who frequently speaks Latin, quotes the Bible and Constitution from memory, and loves trivia about everything from National Parks to Notre Dame Football. Liberals have a tendency to fawn over “smart.” Pete Buttigieg is very “smart.” But being “smart” is never enough.

And don’t get me wrong, I get why people fell for it! The reason I was able to list all of those things about The West Wing’s Josiah Bartlett is because I am a big fan of the show (even if its brand of aspirational, work-across-the-aisle liberalism has aged like a Jack-o-Lantern in November). So when every college-educated white liberal from ages 25-to-45 thinks you’re the bee’s knees, you’re not crazy for thinking you’re going to become president.

Does he really have no chance?

He probably has the best chance of anyone on this list, but I don’t really like his odds. I cannot imagine him ever becoming more popular than he was that one week everyone fell over themselves for him. Especially because once you peel back literally any layer from his persona, you see that he’s been a fine mayor at best and a negligent one at worst. What’s more, the black vote is the bedrock of the Democratic Primary and not only is Buttigieg embroiled in a scandal over the shooting of an unarmed black man in his city, but the “economic resurgence” he’s given South Bend has largely neglected the black community, which makes up 27% of the city.

Much like the other Mayor in the race, Buttigieg is really only running because he can’t win in his own state. He lost a bid for governor, and his Senate chances are unlikely, as Indiana becomes redder and redder. Obviously you don’t want to necessarily create a requirement to hold a certain office before becoming president, but let’s all be honest with ourselves and admit that the mayor of the fourth-largest city in the state of Indiana should not be president.

Julián Castro (ex-HUD Secretary, Mayor of San Antonio)

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Does he think he can win?

I don’t think so, but he definitely thinks he can be Vice President.

Why does he think that?

He was apparently on the shortlist for Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential selection in 2016, and look what happened when she took the most generic white guy in the world. And I’m not at all saying he would just be a “token” pick (although the Biden campaign would certainly look at it that way). He’s a genuinely skilled politician who has, in my opinion, the best views on immigration of everyone in the bunch. Also, he’s been a “rising star” in the Democratic Party since I remember ever hearing about rising stars in the Democratic Party.

And for all I know, he could actually think he’ll win the presidency, but I suspect he only thinks he should win the presidency, which sure, why not? He seems like a good guy.

Does he really have no chance?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development does important work, but the guy who had Castro’s job before him’s next position was the Director of the Office of Budget and Management, and then after that, his Wikipedia doesn’t say. Whether it should be the case or not, the Director of HUD doesn’t feel like the job you have before you become president. So, no, he has no chance.

Also, he has an identical twin named Joaquin (who is a Congressman from Texas), and identical twins generally unnerve people so that cannot help.

John Delaney (former Congressman, Maryland)

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Does he think he can win?

Yes. He believes he can be president so much it would make your head spin.

Why does he think this?

Remember what I said about Michael Bennet being confused by the Democratic Party’s leftward push? John Delaney is likely confused by how to the left Michael Bennet is. He is a business man in-capital-letters, and he cannot wait to tell you that he thinks that the Democratic Party needs to work with businesses. And like every politician who adopts a pro-business, anti-progress-of-any-kind platform, he is convinced that in actuality, everyone agrees with him and not the politicians to his left, because the who the Democratic Party really identifies with is a man who founded a corporation called “CapitalSource.”

In reality, this is wishful thinking. In the same way that Republicans convinced themselves that the Tea Party was actually about high taxes and not a racist reaction to a black man occupying the White House, Delaney and a few others on this list refuse to believe that their vision of America, which coincidentally benefits them, is not the one that most people want.

But John Delaney won’t go down without a fight. Did you know that he was the first candidate to announce he was running? That’s right. Way back in July of 2017, this dude announced he was running for president. If you’re honestly willing to campaign for three years, you definitely think you can win. Which is nuts.

Does he really have no chance?

Do I have a chance to date Brie Larson? No. Absolutely not.

He said he started his campaign early because he needed to get name-recognition. Yet, the most common joke about him from the debates is that no one knew who he was. If you can’t make an impression with voters when you’re the only one running for a full year, you won’t make it now. He would be much happier if he was honest with himself, joined the Republican Party, and penned lazy op-eds about how Trump is debasing the country, but also college students are bad.

Tulsi Gabbard (Congresswoman, HI)

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Does she think she can win?

I have no fucking idea. But probably.

Why does she think that?

My first instinct is to say that she knows she doesn’t have a chance and is just running to put her anti-imperalist (and pro-Assad?) views on the main-stage. But at the same time, the fact that she holds so many… idiosyncratic views leads me to believe she’s the type of person who would never run for an office she didn’t think she could win.

Not to mention, there are incredibly strange corners of the Internet that are completely behind Tulsi and seem to think that she can win. And strange corners of the Internet can warp people’s minds, and Tulsi seems like her mind is very open to warping, so let’s say yes.

Does she really have no chance?

Are you serious? No. For one, Cory Booker was spot-on when he said that her saying she changed her views on homosexuality is not enough. It’s not like someone dug up a few gay jokes she made when she was 15. While she was a grown adult, way back in the early-2000’s, she worked for a group that actively fought against gay marriage and supported conversion therapy. There are a lot of hot-button debates this primary season. LGBT issues are not one of them.

And I think that being anti-war is good. But Tulsi Gabbard is hardly anti-war. She just disagreed with mainstream Democrats on issues of foreign policy (often siding with Republicans). She’s top-Republican’s favorite Democrat, and that’s a bad thing to be if you want to win the Democratic Primary.

Also, we’re not going to have a President Tulsi.

Kirsten Gillibrand (Senator, NY)

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Does she think she can win?

Sadly, yes. I think so.

Why does she think that?

Presumably because the moment Donald Trump entered the White House, it was immediately a given that she was gonna run. And I can’t blame her. A popular Senator with a great record on issues of sexual assault and a history of winning in Red areas? Sounds great. I’m not a political expert (duh), and so I’m probably wrong with this, but I always saw her and Kamala Harris occupying the space of “I’m not a socialist like Bernie or Liz, but I am certainly more progressive than Biden!” And that’s a perfectly valid space to occupy, as–much to the chagrin of my far-left self–a plurality of the Democratic electorate lies there.

Does she really have no chance?

Based on any and all polling, yeah. Much like the Highlander (a movie I only know through it being referenced in other movies), there can be only one (in this case, I mean person between Biden and Bernie/Liz). Kamala just seems like a generally better and more exciting politician than Gillibrand. I don’t have anything particularly bad to say about her, but I also don’t have anything particularly good to say about her. It made sense for her to run for president, but it never seemed like anyone was clamoring for her to.

And while I doubt there was anyone who was gonna vote for her and then decided not to when she asked Al Franken to resign, if they do exist, they can take a long walk off a short pier.

Some other notes

On that survey I referenced earlier in the Cory Booker bit, Gillibrand said that her comfort food was “Whiskey,” so she’d be doing really well if we based our primaries on “being a good hang.”

Mike Gravel (former Senator, AK)

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Does he think he can win?

No. And he’s made that clear from the beginning.

Then why is he running?

Because he wants to get his platform (primarily his anti-war, anti-surveillance, anti-imperialism views) onto a debate stage and into the discourse. His campaign and Twitter account are managed by two actual teenagers, and he doesn’t do traditional campaign events. This is by no means to disparage his campaign. His Twitter account is really popular, and I’m now familiar with a politician who hasn’t held any office since 1981.

Does he really have no chance?

Did you not read what I just wrote? He doesn’t want to win.

And while I fully support getting his views into the mainstream (because I largely agree with them), admitting from the start that you don’t actually want to win is what some people call “giving the game away.” Entering the presidential race to get your issues discussed is a tale as old as time. However, getting onto the debate stage requires you to have donors, and sure, there are people who are willing to donate just so you can advocate for your views, but most people want their money to go to someone who, you know, is going to use it to try to win.

John Hickenlooper (former Governor, Colorado)

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Does he think he can win?

I would bet my life on it.

Why does he think that?

He is simply living in a different reality than most people. That has to be it. Because otherwise, there would be no logical reason for him to believe that he can work with Republicans to get things done, “Just like [he] did back in Colorado.” There is no one more deludedly confident than a guy who thinks he can “roll up his sleeves and get something done.”

I don’t know his record as governor of Colorado and mayor of Denver, and I don’t care to look it up (because he won’t be president), but as far as I can tell, he really wants me to know it. He is the classic “Like what I did in my state” guy. There is nothing that is impossible to him as long as it is a moderate compromise done at the state level.

Does he really have no chance?

What? Of course he doesn’t. His last name is HICKENLOOPER.

Also, and I’m really glad to say this, the Democratic base does not have time for someone with the gall to say the phrase “And we’ll work with oil and gas companies” out loud. It honestly seems like his primary motivation to get into the race is to save his buddies at oil and gas companies from the wrath of Climate Policy.

Plus, and this is obvious, no one knows who he is. It’s one thing to be an outsider, governor candidate when you have somewhat of a national profile, but I did not know that John Hickenlooper was governor of Colorado until after he stopped being governor of Colorado (which was in January of this year).

Jay Inslee (former Governor, WA)

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Does he think he can win?

Yeah.

Why does he think that?

Because he thinks (admirably) that the United States needs a president whose primary, almost singular priority is solving Climate Change. He called himself the “Climate Change Candidate” from the beginning, and he has stuck to it. He is the candidate who has pledged to make Climate Change his top priority as president.

He was also someone who I had heard of possibly running for president back in 2017. He was super popular, and being the chief executive of a state, he is one of the few candidates who has actually done something about carbon emissions. He’s not crazy.

Does he really have no chance?

I wouldn’t say “no chance.” I could imagine if–God forbid–there was a devastating, Climate Change-caused catastrophe in the next few months, he could make a push. But I don’t think that’s gonna happen (him making a push… a Climate catastrophe is for sure gonna happen).

His problem, I think is that, like, there are other candidates who have a super expansive Climate Change policy. Hell, Elizabeth Warren is one of the biggest champions of the Green New Deal. I get what he means by pointing out that he’s the only one who has made it his “top priority,” but it’s hard to say that when no one knows your other priorities. Understandably, people care about shit other than climate change, and while I assume that Jay Inslee has standard progressive stances on those issues, I don’t know because I have never heard him talk about anything but climate change.

Also, when he speaks, his bottom lip dips off to the side in a weird way, and after I noticed it at the beginning of his debate, I can’t stop seeing it. And don’t worry, I checked his Wikipedia to make sure it wasn’t from a disease.

Amy Klobuchar (Senator, Minnesota)

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Does she think she can win?

There is not a doubt in her mind.

Why does she think this?

First off, I don’t think she’s ever had a doubt about winning something in her life. Secondly, she’s won in the Midwest, and the Midwest is what gave Trump the White House, ergo she would beat him in the Midwest. The second bit is the only rational reason I can think of why she and anyone else would think that she could win. It seems like the exact thing that Democratic operatives who have not ventured outside of the Beltway in a decade eat up. I also imagine that she would throw something at any staffer who suggested she might not.

Does she really have no chance?

She’s polling too well for me to write her off completely, but no. It’s all well and good to have a history of winning in states that Democrats need to win in, but Mitt Romney was the governor of Massachusetts and he got walloped there. And yeah, there are plenty of voters who are voting in the primary with the intention of picking the person best equipped to beat Trump, but they’re all backing Biden, not some Senator they have never really heard of.

Not to mention, she is an actual monster of a human being. The eating-salad-with-a-fork-thing is amusing, but the article it is in is surrounded by stories of her being the worst boss on the face of the planet. Sure, I suppose you don’t need to be a “nice person” to be president, but it’s not like that’s the one knock on her. She lies in the same spot as other candidates, where the only thing she knows for sure is that the expansive policies of Sanders and Warren go too far.

Wayne Messam (Mayor, Miramar, FL)

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Does he think he can win?

What? Who?

So, I first heard of this guy about a month ago when I looked up an official list of Democratic Primary candidates. In the month since, I assumed I had hallucinated his existence since I have not heard anything about him since that moment. But apparently, he’s still running.

So does he think he can win? I don’t know! Logic would dictate he doesn’t, since no one has ever heard of him, but logic would also dictate that he should drop out of the race, since no one has ever heard of him.

Seth Moulton (Congressman, MA)

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Does he think he can win?

Absolutely not, and he can go fuck off.

Then why is he running?

Because he is a conservative Democrat who is worried his party might start actually helping people. I first heard of him a few years ago because he was a troop™ who won as a Democrat, and then hadn’t heard of him again until after the 2018 midterms when he lead an attempt to oust Nancy Pelosi from her Speaker position. I thought getting Pelosi out was a great idea. She’s old and out-of-touch with the direction the party was moving. So it was to my great surprise that Moulton and his “Third Way” (if you don’t know, don’t ask) compatriots were trying to replace Pelosi with someone more conservative.

Did they actually think they were going to get Pelosi out? Of course not. They just wanted to piss themselves about how mad they are that their party isn’t entirely filled with Republicans-lite.

Does he really have no chance?

I mean, he didn’t make the debate, and he doesn’t want to win. But he does have an almost guaranteed chance of winning re-election in his district, which is solidly blue and has no justifiable reason for electing a diet-Republican, so should someone try to primary him, I’d recommend donating.

Beto O’Rourke (former Congressman, TX)

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Does he think he’s going to win?

Not anymore, and I think we saw him realize it on the debate stage.

Then why is he running?

On October, 18th, 2009, when the New England Patriots entered halftime leading the Tennessee Titans by 45 points, why did the Titans bother coming back out for the second half? Because they were too proud not to (and because the rules require it). Beto can’t admit defeat so soon after that magazine cover that has aged as well as the Dwight Howard-Steve Nash “This is Gonna Be Fun” cover of Sports Illustrated. 

And what is he to do if he drops out? He’s no longer a Congressman, and in most settings, standing on top of countertops is frowned upon.

Still, while I don’t like his politics that much and I quickly grew tired of him, you have to understand why he ran in the first place.

You can’t say no to Coach Kerr.

Does he really have no chance?

Like Klobuchar, he is polling to well for me to say that, but I really doubt it. Perhaps moreso than Mayor Pete, I struggle to imagine something Beto could do that would put him above his popularity levels that he had when he first entered the race.

Why did he fall? Presumably a combination of fatigue, people liking the other candidates, and oh yeah, that he is a lot more conservative than people realize. It’s super easy to seem like the cool liberal when you’re running against Ted Cruz. No one bothers to look at how much money you’re taking from the oil industry because obviously Cruz is taking more. And while his viral speech moments were often genuinely good, and I seriously don’t doubt that he’s a good person, he’s in over his head. You could tell by his face that he knows it. I don’t think he was born to be in it.

Tim Ryan (Congressman, OH)

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Does he think he’s going to win?

Deep down, he knows he won’t.

Then why is he running?

I get it. He sees the Democratic Party as being run by coastal elites who don’t care about workers in the Rust Belt–his Rust Belt. He wants to give a voice to all the factory workers he’s met that lost their jobs. He’s in it to make sure that the voters think about the most fawned over and over-reported-on, and fetishized people in America: white guys in the Midwest.

Does he really have no chance?

C’mon.

A lot of people in the Democratic debates didn’t look like they belonged, but Tim Ryan was the only one who looked like he was in the middle of a bad dream where he came to consciousness on the debate stage, having not prepared anything.

And also, I don’t quite know what his positions are. Based on his general demeanor and emphasis on anecdotes about blue collar workers in moderately sized cities and towns in Ohio, I assume he’s a conservative Democrat, but it really is unclear what he’s there to do but to remind people that in fact, Ohio is a real place with real people, and not just somewhere LeBron is from.

Joe Sestak (former Congressman, PA)

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Does he think he can win?

Who cares? But I doubt it.

Then why is he running?

He joined the race on June 22nd. Of this year. I have no goddamn clue why he’s running, because I basically have no clue who he is. I guess he thinks he could win? But why? He has lost his last two elections: one in a Senate general election and one in a primary. But what is the thing that he thinks he brings that other candidates don’t? Beats me.

Does he really have no chance?

I would honestly be shocked if he polls within the margin-of-error of any national poll. Who the hell is this guy to see a field with 20+ candidates and honestly think, “What this needs is Joe Sestak?”

Man, some of these people suck.

Tom Steyer (billionaire)

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Does he think he can win?

Yeah. Of course he does.

Why does he think that?

Because he’s a billionaire and presumably not a single person has said the word “no” to him in the 21st century. I first came to know Tom Steyer when he funded ads calling for Trump’s impeachment about a year-and-a-half ago. I was glad he was on the right side of the issue, but it seemed super selfish to spend millions of dollars on an ad of you talking instead of donating to Democratic candidates that could actually, you know, impeach him.

After he was done with that, I thought I was done with him. In January, he said he wasn’t going to run for president. And then, I guess he noticed Howard Schultz wasn’t around and thought his shoes needed to be filled.

He’s self-funding his own campaign, so he will almost certainly be able to outspend his fellow candidates. And he would never admit it, but he definitely thinks that Donald Trump winning means that billionaires can pay their way to the White House.

Does he really have no chance?

Donald Trump won, and I can’t underestimate Americans’ want to suck up to billionaires but I really, really doubt it. For all the speculation about billionaires running, I’ve almost exclusively seen a rejection from Democrats across the board that we need “our Trump.”

And he just joined the race, and he really, really has no constituency. Like, I can’t imagine why he thinks he would poll better than Howard Schultz, who, lest we forget, was the one thing both parties agreed on for a while (that he sucked).

I cannot emphasize it enough: Tom Steyer, retire bitch.

Marianne Williamson (author, lunatic)

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Does she think she can win?

She doesn’t think she can win: the stars do.

Why does she think this?

What did I just say? This is out of her hands.

Does she really have no chance?

A lot of people who want to sound smart but are actually stupid scolded Democrats on Twitter for laughing at Marianne Williamson because Republicans laughed at Trump, too, and then he won.

The difference, of course, being that Trump was leading in the polls for almost all of the race, and Williamson barely made it onto the debate stage and has the support of like six people, four of whom are either on Big Little Lies or served as inspiration for characters on Big Little Lies. The only other people who want her to run are the writers at SNL who don’t want to actually put thought into their political sketches.

Andrew Yang (tech billionaire)

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Does he think he can win?

Sure, but it’s cool if not.

Why does he think that?

I suspect its because tech guys have to have a delusional belief of what they’re able to do. This belief, of course, will be the end of us should we solve climate change, but for Yang, it likely serves as his inspiration for putting his name out there.

He also has the policy of creating a Universal Basic Income for all Americans which is a bold, extremely progressive idea that I quite like.

Does he really have no chance?

He doesn’t have zero chance, but he doesn’t have much. Two of the groups that the Democratic base is most angry with at the moment are tech guys and billionaires, so Yang is kinda screwed. Also, while I have no indication that he himself as any of these beliefs, his supporters on the Internet are crazy racist and reactionary. I don’t know what to do with that, but it doesn’t make me feel good.


 

Finally. That’s all of them. Should one of these candidates end up winning, and I get egg on my face, I will upload a video of me throwing an entire carton of eggs at my face.

If you take issue with any of my assessments, that’s perfectly fine. I guarantee I didn’t put a lot of thought into it.

Which Democratic Candidates Think They’re Going to be President?

We Need to Talk About Hagrid’s Education

The Harry Potter series of books and movies is likely the most influential work of fiction for my generation of “late millennials.” And if you don’t believe me, I challenge you to find one serious political event that some twentysomething doesn’t immediately equate to a Harry Potter storyline. And while I consistently roll my eyes when people say Nancy Pelosi is leading Dumbledore’s Army or whatever, I was and still am a fan of the films. However, I haven’t seen any of the movies in a number of years, and before this recent fixation on the event that this article is about, I only thought about Harry Potter whenever J.K. Rowling would tweet out the sexual desires and proclivities of her characters.

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In the first Harry Potter film (called the Sorcerer’s Stone in America yet the Philosopher’s Stone, likely because Americans have more respect for magic than deep thinkers or something) Hagrid takes Harry to Diagon Alley. It’s the first time you see the wizarding world at work, and it is fun and enchanting and all of those things. But it’s something that happens after all of the magic that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s not when he gets his broom, or when Hagrid gets the stone, or even the really great scene where John Hurt (RIP) gives him his wand. I want to talk about what happens after.

Hagrid and Harry are in The Leaky Cauldron, a wizarding bar. Harry is reserved. Hagrid asks what’s wrong. Harry says he is wondering about the man that killed his parents and gave him that famous scar. Hagrid is reticent to explain because, as any person who is insistent about which house they’d be sorted into will tell you, you do not say the guy’s name out loud. This guy is of course Voldemort. Most characters in the books/movies will say things like “You Know You” or “He Who Must Not Be Named,” but Hagrid just clams up. Then comes the exchange I keep replaying.

I’ll just put a screenshot from the script I found on the Internet.

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Do you see what I’m held up on? Hagrid can’t spell “Voldemort?” I know, I know, spelling isn’t everyone’s strong suit, but we’re not talking about Reykjavik or even restaurant. Voldemort is spelled exactly how it sounds. Maybe you could think the second syllable has an “a” in it instead of an “e,” but that’s a minor difference, and it would still sound like Voldemort! What’s more, you mean to tell me that he never saw the most infamous, powerful wizard of all time’s name in writing? Doubtful.

This is why I’m worried about Hagrid’s education and, quite frankly, the general education offered at Hogwarts. You get into Hogwarts at the age of eleven, and while I would expect the average nine year old to be able to sound out “Voldemort,” I’ll give Hagrid a curve of a couple extra years since it’s unclear how much education each wizard gets before they go to Hogwarts (side note, J.K.: there should have been a wizarding preschool or something).

And if remember Hagrid’s backstory, you’re probably yelling at your computer screen about how Hagrid didn’t actually complete his degree (?) at Hogwarts because he was expelled for being friends with that giant spider that definitely doesn’t make me squeamish when I see it. But that is during his third year. He was at least 13 years old and possibly 14. If a 13 year old couldn’t make an attempt at sounding out a three syllable name, you would be worried about him. But since Hagrid is a wizard giant he gets a pass? I don’t think so.

Hogwarts has classes in Charms, Potions, Herbology– you name it. How hard would it be to squeeze in a couple courses on phonics? I’m not saying they need to have an entire standard school curriculum with math or whatever, since wizards are über libertarian and don’t pay taxes. But we do know that wizards read. In fact, the library is an essential part of the plot in most of the books. And it makes sense that Hermione is the most well-read character since, unlike most of the student population, she had a good five years of standard, normal human education! It’s no wonder Ron can’t pronounce “Leviosa” correctly– he was never taught phonics!

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When Hagrid told Harry that he couldn’t spell the guy’s name, and then Harry learned that the guy’s name was as simple as “Voldemort,” Harry should have said, “I don’t know if you should be responsible for keeping me safe since you are rendered useless by polysyllabic words.”

Growing up, I thought Hagrid was only the “keeper of the keys” because he was somewhat of an outcast, but now I realize they give him that job because he couldn’t read lesson plans. When Dumbledore looks out of his window and sees the shack Hagrid lives in, he should consider it a symbol of shame. Shame that he and his school are unable to impart a skill most of us learn in second grade.

 

 

We Need to Talk About Hagrid’s Education

16 Great NFL Player Names (in my lifetime)

I love the NFL and I love names. I love the names of many NFL players. This list is really the culmination of all of my life’s interests.

In it, I will be featuring many of my favorite names of NFL players since I have watched football (so from like 2001 on). I apologize for not going back further, but the last thing I want to do is scour rosters from the 1970’s in the hopes that I find a name that amuses me. And before you ask, no, none of the following names are funnier than Dick Butkus. That’s untouchable.

Barkevious Mingo

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If there were a Hall of Fame of fun NFL names, Barkevious Mingo would surely enter on the first-ballot. Both Barkevious and Mingo are silly and fun on their own merits, but when combined, it’s like the moment a delicious barbecue sauce hits a delicious piece of brisket. There’s a harmony there that neither individual component could produce in itself.

In case I’m not the person to convince you that Barkevious Mingo is an incredible name, let me defer to avid NFL fan Daniel Radcliffe, who in a 2013 New York Times interview explained why his fantasy football team was called “Barkevious Mingo’s Mum:”

I just think Barkevious Mingo is the greatest name I’ve ever heard, and the fact that his mum invented that name is also amazing.

What he doesn’t mention here is that Barkevious Mingo’s mum also named one of his brothers Hughtavious, which shows a true commitment to the suffix “vious.” In fact, she got the names from the fact that she and her husband’s names are Barbara and Hugh. However, I do feel a little bit bad for Hughtavious since she also has a son named ‘Hugh III.’ When their mother called “HUGH!” angrily, I bet Hughtavious held his breath, hoping she wouldn’t add on a “Tavious.”

Peerless Price

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Peerless Price holds a special place in my heart because his name was the subject of one of the earliest dumb jokes that I can remember my father repeating over and over. It would go something like this:

“Hey Jake, you know why they call him Peerless?”

“Why?”

“Because he has no peers.”

It’s important to keep in mind that the reason I use the past tense of “would” is not because my dad stopped making that joke every time Peerless Price did anything of note during a game, it’s just that Peerless Price stopped playing in the NFL. I swear if I think the words “Peerless Price” when I’m in the same room as my dad, he’ll insist on reminding me that he has no peers.

In other news, something I didn’t know until I just checked his Wikipedia page is that apparently he was named after a moving company in the area he grew up (presumably called “Peerless”), which, I gotta say, ranks up there with the strangest things to name your kid after. And, in my opinion, it’s a pretty strange thing to name a moving company.

Lofa Tatupu

I love Lofa Tatupu and his name because when I first saw it written for the first time, I assumed it was not actually pronounced as funny as it sounded in my head, but I waslofatatupu wrong. His name is, in fact, LOH-fuh Tah-TOO-poo. As in: “They wanted me to bring a loaf of bread to the party, but instead I brought a Lofa Tatupu (in this example sentence, ‘Tatupu’ is a thing).”

Have I been known to refer to a loofah as a Loofah Tatupu? It’s entirely possible. There are just so many possibilities to make silly jokes to yourself with this name. It is a real shame that Tatupu’s career ended in 2010, because had he had a longer, more fruitful career, I could have made more puns about his name to greater acclaim.

earthwind_moreland_with_tim_brando_jpg_400x400Earthwind Moreland

You might be like, “Jake, how in the hell do you remember a cornerback who played literally 12 games over five years and only recorded 15 total tackles?!” but the answer is pretty simple: his name is Earthwind.

I honestly have no recollection of where I first encountered the man whose last name is not Andfire, but his existence is burned into my memory. Most of his playing time was on the Patriots in 2004, where, according to Wikipedia, he ended up fourth on the cornerback depth chart, since there had been several injuries at the position. Keep in mind, though, that the third-string cornerback was Troy Brown, a wide receiver who had never played cornerback professionally. So it might not surprise you that Earthwind did not play in the NFL the next year, despite winning the Super Bowl.

Two other things that won’t surprise you are that, yes, his mother did name him after Earth, Wind, and Fire, and that the photo I have next to his name is the best photo I can find of Mr. Moreland on the Internet.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis275px-benjarvus_green-ellis

I don’t know if there’s anything I love more in the world than when a mediocre-to-bad player gets an awesome or memorable nickname–hence why I have a soft spot for when absolute scrub Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell dubbed himself “Fred-Ex.” This phenomenon is why if someone remembers Green-Ellis’s career at all, it is likely the nickname he had bestowed upon him: The Law Firm.

Like a novelty Doctor Who graphic tee shirt on me, the Law Firm nickname fit Green-Ellis perfectly. It’s like, yeah, his name does sound like the name of a law firm. Don’t believe me? Say, “BenJarvus Green-Ellis: standing up for the little guy” and tell me it doesn’t sound like the tagline of a poorly-produced legal ad. Obviously plenty of NFL players and people at large have hyphenated last names, but the fact that his first name is also two names smushed together paints a full picture.

Underrated, too, about this name is that it is rather melodic. BenJarvus Green-Ellis. There’s a climb and a descent in how you say it. You don’t get that with either a Ben Green or Jarvus Ellis.

Ndamukong Suh

I feel like in some ways, Ndamukong Suh’s success and dominance in the NFL has distracted us from the fact that Ndamukong is one of the greatest names in the history of humanity (no hyperbole). Not only does it sound rad–it has the word ‘Kong’ in it–it also literally translates to ‘house of spears’ in the Ngemba language of Cameroon. You can’t top that.

10510278And it might just be personal preference, but names that start with an ‘Nd’ are great because they introduce sounds that aren’t typically found in the English-speaking lexicon.

What I am divided on, though, is the last name “Suh.” Ending in an ‘h’ as opposed to a ‘u’ is certainly a stronger choice, but I almost think the name would be better if it was pronounced to rhyme with “duh” instead of “you.” Just something to think about.

Chinedum Ndukwe

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Balitmore RavensI was not lying when I said I think names that start with “Nd” are great, and my old friend (we have never been friends) Chinedum Ndukwe is one of my favorite examples. I first became acquainted with Chinedum while he was at Notre Dame, and he became a fan-favorite (or at the very least a me-favorite) because he played at ND and was named “Nd.”

I could have chosen his older brother Ikechukwu, but I feel like that name just doesn’t glide off the tongue as easily as Chinedum. Also, it kinda gets dicey when trying to transition into the last name.

What I didn’t know about Chinedum (who apparently goes by ‘Nedu’ interpersonally) is that after the NFL, he attended Harvard Business and Wharton School of Business, and now runs a successful charity to help at-risk youth. In fact, the city of Cincinnati named February 10th “Chinedum Ndukwe Day.” So, I guess what I’m saying is that this article has been a learning experience for all of us.

Duke Ihenacho10b9aaa1c0e079676b1a5d1ed0a32603

My dude has the word ‘nacho’ in his name. To leave him off of this list would be tantamount to treason, and I love my country as much as the next red-blooded American.

And before you get disappointed, yes, the ‘nacho’ bit in ‘Ihenacho’ is still pronounced like one would pronounce ‘Nacho.’ For this is the reason I decided to pick a photo where he looked like a snack.

Not to be overlooked, however, is that his first name is Duke. It takes guts to go by a nickname that is literally a title of nobility, but you know what takes more guts? Naming your child a title of nobility. That’s right, his birth name is Duke. I feel like if you name your son Duke, he has to grow up to become a professional athlete or to own a beloved hole-in-the-wall barbecue place. There are no other options.

HaHa Clinton-Dix

Listing HaHa Clinton-Dix on an article about great names in the NFL feels a bit like listing Citizen Kane on an article about great movies. Like, I’m not breaking any new deahc4jwsaa1creground in telling you that HaHa Clinton-Dix is truly a revelation of a name, but I would also be disingenuous if I neglected to mention that it is a revelation of a name.

The super-common joke made about his name (so common that it was literally impossible for me to find the first time it was made) is that “HaHa Clinton-Dix” sounds like the description of a Jay Leno monologue circa 1998. And while this joke is made super-duper often, it is such a specific observation that I cannot help but enjoy it every time.

This name could lose points because ‘HaHa’ is technically a nickname, but it doesn’t. When I first heard of Mr. Clinton-Dix, I naturally assumed that he got his moniker from when his grandmother started calling him “HaHa” because he laughed a lot or something (like how former University of Illinois quarterback Juice Williams got his name from when, upon seeing how large he was at birth, his grandmother exclaimed “That’s a juicy baby!”). However, HaHa comes from his birth name, Ha’Sean, which is such a bizarre twist on the name Sean that you can’t blame him for going by HaHa.

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila

This name is a lot, and it doesn’t pretend otherwise. It reminds me a lot of actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (whose name I just spelled correctly without looking it up, no biggie) in the general rhythm and tenor I say it in. I don’t actually know if those are the right words to describe it since I don’t possess almost any vocabulary to talk about speech.

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At this point, you might be wondering why I chose Kabeer instead of his brother Akbar, who had a less successful NFL career and now provides color commentary for American Ninja Warrior. For one, think Kabeer rolls into Gbaja-Biamila a little smoother than Akbar, but most importantly, Kabeer’s nickname was KGB. If your name lends itself to you being nicknamed after a nefarious spy organization known for offing people with umbrellas and other crazy gadgets, you’ve got a damn fine name.

McLeod Bethel-Thompsonusa-mcleod-bethel-thompson

If this list was purely for me to show off the obscure NFL players I can remember (it’s only about 20% that), this would be my ultimate heat check. If you’ve never heard of McLeod Bethel-Thompson, it’s because he literally never played a snap of NFL football. He was a practice squad quarterback for half a decade from 2011 to 2016 and only dressed for a small handful of actual NFL games.

I only remember McLeod because of his bonkers name, particularly for a white guy from San Francisco. For one, his parents decided to spell ‘McLeod’ in the super circumspect way, instead of the more straightforward ‘McCloud’ — a surname possessed by such luminaries as Fox McCloud. Then, to make things wackier, he has a hyphenated name. There’s just so much going on for a player who is ostensibly the least important person on your roster. Like, if a talkative defensive back wants to have a name like McLeod Bethel-Thompson, he’s well within his rights. But the practice squad quarterback? No siree. Practice squad quarterbacks should all be named John Beck.

Back on the subject of McLeod, apparently he’s been called McBLT, which doesn’t really make sense with how his name is constructed, but it’s a fun tidbit I couldn’t neglect mentioning.

Frostee Rucker

157135-300x300If you don’t want to give Frostee Rucker a hug just based on that picture on the left, you don’t have a heart. And even if that picture didn’t exist, you should want to hug him because his name is Frostee.

Before making this list, I assumed, like any rational person would, that Frostee was a nickname that he picked up at some point, either through football or from an extended family member. Surely, I thought, no one would name their child “Frostee,” particularly with two e’s instead of a ‘y,’ but that is exactly what Frostee’s mother did, and we owe her thanks and praise.

As if that wasn’t surprising enough, according to the ol’ Wikipedia, he is named not after the snow or the cold, but poet Robert Frost, which, for those of you betting at home, is the last thing you think of when you hear the name “Frostee.”

The name as a whole is so great. Rucker is the absolute perfect name for a defensive end, in my opinion.

Fozzy Whittaker

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I remember there being a play in the Cardinals/Panthers 2015 Wild Card Game (a game made famous for Arizona’s Ryan Lindley putting up one of the worst quarterback performances in playoff history) in which Frostee Rucker tackled Fozzy Whittaker, and for that reason, they are inextricably linked in my mind.

Fozzy Whittaker is absolutely the perfect name for a shifty, pass-catching running back. I am tempted to say that it fits him better than it does the famous Bear. And in case you’re wondering if he is nicknamed after the bear, he is not. His full first name is “Foswhitt,” which is definitely not a name. And I cannot blame him for not going by it, since it would make his first name end with the same five letters that his last name begins with, which is one of those things that is weird for reasons I cannot explain.

Sen’Derrick Marks

A lot of creative NFL names have apostrophes in them, like De’Anthony Thomas or Ka’imi Fairbairn, but neither of those guys are listed here because they don’t use the apostrophe with as much gusto as Sen’Derrick marks.

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Anyone can put an apostrophe after a “De” or “Le.” It takes real ingenuity to put an apostrophe after “Sen.” And it manages to be super intimidating, in my opinion. He was a defensive tackle, and you can’t look me in the eyes and tell me that offensive linemen feel good about lining up against a “Sen’Derrick.”

Also, there are several spellings of “Derrick” that Sen’Derrick’s mother (or father) could have chosen that would have been less forceful. “Sen’Derek,” for example, looks like the name of a hipster, electro-pop artist. “Sen’Derrick” is a man’s man who will split your shit if given the opportunity.

Vontaze Burfict126317097

I know this is about NFL players, but I had to choose this photo from Burfict’s college days because, simply, it is the greatest football photo ever taken and likely the best one that will ever be taken. I don’t know the result of this play, but I can guarantee that USC quarterback Matt Barkley got absolutely fucked up on it.

As for Burfict’s name, it’s perfect, and yes, I used that word so it would rhyme.  Much like Fozzy Whittaker, Vontaze Burfict is the only name he could have. Like, Vontaze Burfict has to be the name of a loose cannon linebacker who gets fined every other game. And I don’t know if you’ve ever heard Jon Gruden say “Vontaze Burfict,” but it is one of life’s simple pleasures, like the first few bites of cereal before it gets too soggy.

Joe Jurevicius

Jurevicius celebrates the winI’m no fan of “deceptively athletic” white wide receivers, but I couldn’t in good conscience omit the dude who has “Vicious” in his name (albeit spelled differently). Unlike others on his list, his name doesn’t really fit him — I think “Jurevicius” is a much better name for a hard-hitting linebacker or safely. With that being said, everyone can benefit from having a bad ass last name.

And you cannot underrate the alliteration. It makes the whole name flow much smoother, which is why I’ve long called alliteration “the Drain-O of words” (I have never called it this). Just imagine being Al Michaels, shouting Joe Jurevicius’s name when he is streaking down the sideline after making a big catch. It just makes you feel good.


This is likely not the only list of these I will make, so if you have any suggestions of people whose names you love, let me know @TheJakeChristie, or in the comments section below, and I might include it in Part 2.

 

 

16 Great NFL Player Names (in my lifetime)

9 Bad Things About Iron Fist that Aren’t the Fact that the Lead is White

I watched all of Netflix and Marvel’s Iron Fist, and it wasn’t a great experience. The reason I watched it was so I can be prepared for The Defenders series coming later this year that features Iron Fist as a character. There is no way that it was worth it. However, being in the position I am—being one of maybe three people to watch the whole show—I can illuminate some things about the show that aren’t good, besides the fact that the main character is white.

And in case you had more important things to do than get waist-deep in Twitter race controversy, the big to-do about the casting of this show was that they cast a white actor to play a character who is an expert in kung-fu. In their defense, the character was written as white, but it’s not like Iron Fist is a sacred character whose adoring fans would have killed themselves if they updated the character to make it more race-appropriate. Anyway, onto the things that suck about the show that have nothing to do with that.

1. The lead actor is not very good at kung-fu

finn-jonesOkay, this kind of has something to do with the fact that they didn’t cast an Asian in the lead, as they could have found an Asian actor with actual martial arts experience. The guy they did cast as Danny Rand, A.K.A. The Iron Fist, is Game of Thrones regular Finn Jones. Jones, as you can see from the picture to the right, looks like the snooty British guy that the main character of a rom-com brings back to her hometown then ditches for the down-to-earth guy she knew back in the day, however, the character Jones plays in this hypothetical movie is so snooty and rude, not only do you not feel bad for him when he gets ditched, you’re left wondering why the film’s lead—who we are expected to root for and identify with—was with him in the first place.

An article went somewhat viral showcasing that there is a 35-second fight scene in one of the episodes (I forget which one) that contains 56 cuts. I don’t want to put all of the blame on our British ex-boyfriend, but that type of editing is what you do when you want to make it look like someone who can’t fight actually can fight. Just look at the pose he is doing in the picture below.

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This looks like an offensive comedy routine at a UPenn fraternity.

In Finn Jones’s defense, it might not have been all his fault. In an interview with Telegraph, Jones said, “I was learning those fight scenes just 15 minutes before we shot them,” which is either a great lie to cover his ass, or a demonstration of just how much this series is the forgotten step-child of the Netflix-Marvel universe.

2. There’s a character named Ward

Yeah, yeah. I shouldn’t make fun of a person’s name. Calm down.

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The guy in that gif’s name is Ward. He is an important character for reasons that aren’t relevant unless you, for some reason, want to understand what is going on in Iron Fist. At first, I was very confused about where “Ward” comes from. I naturally assumed it came from “Wardell,” although the most famous person with the first name Wardell doesn’t go Ward (Stephen Curry’s first name is Wardell but he goes by his middle name).

Then, it occurred to me in the penultimate episode of the season (and let’s hope series, if we’re being honest), that it probably comes from Howard. And that just makes it worse. Who the hell takes “Howard,” which I’ll admit is not a great name, and decides to make it Ward? Not to mention the fact that at one point, he gets taken in for psychiatric evaluation, and not once do they make a “Psych Ward” joke. Some serious bullshit.

3. Two main characters were thought to be dead but weren’t

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Harold Meachum, who, I shit-you-not, kills someone over ice cream

There are only five main characters in Iron Fist (if you don’t count Rosario Dawson’s character who is in all of the Netflix series and serves as a link). Two of them begin the series with the world thinking they are dead but they actually aren’t. One is, of course, the protagonist, Danny Rand, who the world thought died with his parents in a plane crash in the Himalayas. He, however, survived and was taken in by monks to a dojo on a different ethereal plane (the shit is stupid).

The other is Danny’s father’s former business partner (and Ward and another main character, Joy’s father) Harold Meachum. He supposedly died of pancreatic or prostate cancer like twelve years prior (it was definitely a ‘P’ cancer). He also survived, by striking a deal with a mystical organization called “The Hand,” which is ironic, because if you can fit your Hand over your face, it means you have cancer.

This is just too much faked-or-suspected death for one series. Seriously. It’s like how death is cheapened in soap operas because you know that at any time the character could come back (with a completely different face, provided the actor left the show). Obviously Danny’s return from death is relevant to his character, but just because it sort of works for him doesn’t mean it needs to apply to another character.

4. The main character is incredibly lame

Rather than just restate what I’ve tweeted on this matter, I’ll embed the tweets.

The thing that makes superheroes fun as opposed to tedious is that they have some level of self-awareness. Even in serious superhero movies like The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne is aware that it is absurd that he, a billionaire playboy, uses gadgets to fight crime. Not only does Danny Rand not have this self-awareness, he is incredibly self-serious at all times. And back on the topic of self-awareness, I was honestly shocked that there was not one joke made about he, a white dude, being really good at kung-fu. It’s like they were so scared of the consequences of their Olympic level headassery, that they decided to make their show live in a world where every curly-haired hipster has a black belt.

danny-rand-teaches-students-in-iron-fist-credit-netflix5. The word “dojo” is said too much

As stated in one of the embedded tweets, there is too much dojo talk. Not only do many scenes take place in a dojo (the dojo in the picture to the right, to be specific), there is talk about dojos, even when they’re not in a dojo! The scene depicted on the right involves Danny teaching Colleen’s (the small Asian woman in the back) kung-fu students. In another scene where there are less advanced students, Danny actually scolds Colleen for not teaching her students to “respect the dojo.”

“Respect the dojo” sounds like the tagline of a late 1990’s kung-fu parody movie. Like, give me a break. For all intents and purposes, it’s just a spacious room in lower Manhattan. It should be respected for its resale value, not because an impractical fighting style is taught there. And do people actually say “dojo” in real life? Because I don’t think I have ever used the term, beyond describing that secret place you could get to on Club Penguin if you clicked the right spot in the mountains.

6. He barely uses the Iron Fist

The Iron Fist’s main power, as you might surmise, is the Iron Fist, a thing that turns his hand yellow and gives his fist super strength. Also, it’s impervious to any and all blows, including bullets. You might be thinking, “that’s not that bad of a power.” And I’d agree with you. Look at the gif below where he uses it to punch his way through a metal door. Okay, you don’t actually see the door open, but you get the point.iron-fist1What if I told you, however, that there are entire episodes in which he doesn’t use this power? Like three or four of them. And that he uses it in AT MOST 1/4th of the fight scenes in the show? It is absolutely ridiculous. Imagine if most of a Spider-Man movie was about him getting in regular fist fights. I get it, Danny is good at kung-fu, independent of the Iron Fist, but I’m not watching the show to watch a dude be pretty good at kung-fu. I want to see him literally punch the balls off of people, and let me give you a little spoiler alert: he never does this.

7. Way too much is left unexplained for too long

This is actually a serious critique and there’s lots of levels to it, so I’ll keep it brief. Basically, you enter the show, like any show, with a million unanswered questions that you expect to be answered. However, in most shows, you get some pieces of information to latch onto, and are told what the specific things you’re supposed to be wondering about are. Let’s use another Marvel series, Luke Cage, as an example. After the first episode or two, you still have plenty of unanswered questions, like how Luke got his superpowers, what Misty Knight is investigating about Cottonmouth, etc. But you know at least some things. You know why Luke is in New York (he’s running from authorities), you know that he had a wife who died, you know that Cottonmouth is in cahoots with his cousin’s political career, etc.

At the beginning of Iron Fist, everything is a mystery, and not only the stuff that is interesting to solve. It’s fair to say that Danny’s basic motivations aren’t clear at all until episode eight or nine at the earliest. When too many things are a mystery, the show feels purposeless. We can’t track a plot if we have no clue where it is going to land. Because ultimately, the part in Luke Cage where we see him get his powers in prison is engaging and interesting because we were primed to be asking that question throughout the series. I have no fucking clue what I was supposed to be primed to see in Iron Fist.

8. Jessica Henwick probably won’t date me

iron-fist
This is a personal gripe.

9. The main character is effectively a child

I don’t know if I mentioned it earlier (thanks for getting this far, by the way), but the main character, Danny Rand, is the heir to the massive and successful Rand Corporation. So yeah, in case I wasn’t presenting an unlikable enough character, he’s also a trust-fund kid.

2ae7e745904ab71de8d54f31fdf736ef36ef57d61
The blue whale has an average penis size of 8-to-10 feet, so technically Danny Rand is not the world’s biggest prick, but he’s close.

After some legal finagling in the first few episodes, Danny gets to be the majority owner of the company as was stated in his father’s will. When this happened, I instantly got worried. Up to that point, Danny, who had spent ages ten through twenty-five in an otherworldly monastery where people take dojos seriously, had literally no understanding of the real world (or The Real World, for that matter). I feared that there were gonna do that really stupid plot conceit where, with his newfound power, he shakes things up by insisting they give up profits in order to do good.

And wouldn’t you know it, I was right. I don’t have a problem with the storylines where he gets them to sell a new drug at cost and apologizes for possibly polluting Staten Island (although it can be argued all of Staten Island is pollution) because I have a problem with a corporation doing those things, I have a problem with them because Danny seems to have literally no understanding of why people don’t want him to do those things. There is a version of this story where he takes serious steps to inject more philanthropy and altruism in to the company, but the one they went with couldn’t be further from it. It carries the same narrative weight of a child insisting on having ice cream for dinner.


There are definitely more things that suck about Iron Fist, but those were just the ones I needed to get off of my chest. I am deeply sorry if you, too, watched the show in its entirety, but if you did, please let me know some other things that are bad about it that aren’t the fact that they cast a white guy.

Also, check out the other articles here on popculturedeepdive.com, and if you want to write something, let me know. And please do. I don’t write enough on here myself to justify the money I spent to buy the domain name.

9 Bad Things About Iron Fist that Aren’t the Fact that the Lead is White

Kyrie Irving Thinks He is Very Smart

Kyrie Irving is a grown man who believes that the world is flat. I would be completely floored by this, if not for the fact that the literal first post I made on this blog was about another man who earnestly believed that the Earth is flat. B.o.B., the rapper about which I made that post, was a little more believable since he was a rapper who dropped out of school in the ninth grade. Kyrie Irving, on the other hand, is usually regarded as a very intelligent person. After all, he went to Duke University.

Irving made this admission of belief on the Road Trippin’ podcast, a podcast that follows his teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye on the road during the NBA season. I wish he had tweeted it by accident, or was caught on a hot mic, because I have a hard time reconciling the fact that he knew he was being recorded, and he thought that a good use of a rare opportunity to speak his mind unfettered was to assert that the most basic astronomical science was false.

Flat-earth trutherism is hardly a knew phenomenon, unfortunately. However, according to the research I did for my B.o.B. post–and a few glances at Wikipedia–most flat earth truthers since the acceptance of a round earth have done it for religious reasons. Kyrie, like our friend B.o.B. (born Bobby Ray), cites the fact that you do not see the curvature of the Earth on a plane, as well as the fact that the horizon stays flat as you travel as proof that the Earth is flat. Obviously, this is because the Earth is too large for you to notice this (and you also can fly high enough to see the curvature of the Earth) but I digress.

In explaining his beliefs, he takes the approach of “They-want-you-to-believe-ism.” Part of his statement reads, “Is the world flat or round? — I think you need to do research on it. It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.” And he continues, “They’re particularly putting you in the direction of what to believe and what not to believe.” Perhaps the reason “they” want you to believe that the Earth is round is because it is proven science, and “they” are scientists.

Kyrie Irving likely heard from someone that being skeptical was equivalent to being smart, and he has chosen to run with it. And yes, it is smart to be skeptical about many things, but, and this just might be me, we should probably leave the skepticism about science to scientists.

And also yes, science is often proven wrong, and I suppose that every scientist in the world could be in cahoots to convince you, the third best player on the second best team in the NBA, that the Earth is round. I suppose, also in cahoots with these scientists are Isaac Newton, who died in 1726, Pythagorus, who died in the sixth fucking century B.C.E. They all were part of a special order of pseudo-scientists attempting to cover up… what exactly?

This might be what gets me hung up on the flat earth theory so damn much. I just don’t see what incentive people would have to lie about the shape of the Earth.
Obviously, I found in my research that some people think it’s because the elite have an agreement with the lizard people who live on the other side of the Earth, but I doubt that’s why Kyrie believes it.

Every good conspiracy needs a plausible motive to work. The 9/11 conspiracy theory works because we wanted to go into the Middle East to protect oil. The JFK conspiracy works because the CIA disagreed with his foreign policy. The 1985 NBA Draft Lottery conspiracy works because the NBA would greatly benefit if the New York Knicks got a superstar (this is the one conspiracy theory I honest-to-god, 100% believe). What are the people covering up the flatness of the Earth trying to gain, though?

The absence of evidence is not evidence to the contrary, and there is no surer way to spot a stupid person trying to act smart than to see someone think this way. Even if there were no photos of the Earth being round (or you, for some reason, thought they were fake), that is still not proof the Earth is flat. To prove that, you would need a photo of a flat Earth. This, of course, does not exist, because the Earth is round, but if it wasn’t, there would have to be one photo of a flat Earth.

I am personally not a fan of SpaceX, but I will buy stock in everything Elon Musk touches if he gives his first manned flight above the Earth to Kyrie Irving. Then, he would have to believe that the Earth is round, right? Or would he say that the government was somehow faking the direction of down?

Adding onto his comments about the Earth being flat, Kyrie asks, can you really think of us rotating around the sun, and all planets align, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what’s going on with these ‘planets’ and stuff like this?” The answer is, of course, yes. I can think of those things, because they are real. In fact, so can his teammate Richard Jefferson, who called him out for putting the word “planets” in quotes. Undeterred, Irving responded, “Everything that they send [to space] doesn’t come back. It doesn’t come back. There is no concrete information, except for the information that they’re giving us.”

Forgive me for wanting to yell into a pillow for 10,000 years, but of course there’s no “concrete information” except for the information they’re giving us, because you broaden the definition of “they” to include all scientists. That’s like saying, “There’s no evidence Santa Claus isn’t real except for what they tell us,” when you use “they” to mean everyone over the age of ten.

Democracy is great, and the democratization of many things due to the Internet and increased connectivity in the world is one of the most exciting and positive developments of the 21st century. But science should not be democratized. At least not for non-scientists. When it comes to what order you’d rank the Star Wars movies (5, 4, 7, 6, 3, 2, 1), then yes, your opinion is just as valuable as anyone elses. When it comes to astronomy, not so much.

I would be a little more sympathetic to Kyrie if he didn’t double-down when asked about it later, stating, “I think people should do their own research,” because fuck no, they shouldn’t. Unless they are going to study astronomy for years, use the latest technology, and get their research peer-reviewed, they shouldn’t. The research has been done. We know the answer.

It would be hacky to try to tie this denial of basic facts into our current political climate, so I won’t do that.

I’ll just close in saying that it is ironic that Kyrie takes such a skeptical stance when encouragements of skepticism are given in school and in the world to precisely avoid what trap he’s fallen into. The exact reason we’re taught to be skeptical so we can realize that a guy’s Blogspot from 2005 that “proves” that the Earth is flat is an unreliable source. If you’re going to intentionally go against the grain of all scientific wisdom, you’re just trying to be interesting by intentionally being different (like how I say that Hail to the Thief is my favorite Radiohead album).

I am actually very glad that we live in a time where athletes are encouraged to speak their minds. In fact, the only time that anyone ever tells a famous person to stop using their platform is when they disagree with them, and even I am a bigger person than to do that. So Kyrie can keep saying whatever he wants about the non-spherical nature of the Earth, and I won’t lose that much sleep, but for the love of God, could he stop sounding like a guy who dropped out after a marijuana possession charge, said he was gonna get his G.E.D., didn’t, and comments on Reddit that he “is a genius but never applied [himself]?”

Also, Kyrie is really overrated and is not a top-five point guard in the NBA (even if you consider James Harden a shooting guard).

Kyrie Irving Thinks He is Very Smart

Cheetos Chicken Fries in Donald Trump’s America

In March 2012, Taco Bell released the first iteration of the Doritos Locos Taco, a standard Taco Bell taco with a Nacho Cheese Dorito-flavored shell instead of a standard Taco shell. It was a hit. In fact, it was, at one point, the best-selling item in all of fast food. I am no historian, but I have to assume that is where the snack food/fast food revolution began.Burger King’s Cheetos Chicken Fries follow in the footsteps of the limited-time Mac and Cheetos, which were precisely what they sound like — nuggets of mac and cheese fried with Cheeto breading. I never ate those, and it wasn’t because I thought they were gross. In order to stay with me, it’s important to know that I absolutely love garbage food. There are no combination of garbage, cheap food ingredients you could concoct together that would gross me out.

The thing about the Mac and Cheetos, however, were that Burger King was kind of “in” on the joke. Their commercials never treated them as if they were anything more than a somewhat funny invention, conjured in the minds of the dozen stoners in their research and development department. They didn’t try to convince you that the Mac and Cheetos were essential to your meal.IMG_3784.JPG

Yet, the Cheetos Chicken Fries seem like they are supposed to be a regular menu item. It’s odd, because the chicken fries themselves were a novelty item introduced in the mid 2000’s, discontinued, and brought back in early 2015. To be frank, they were little more than just thin, long chicken nuggets. Then came the spicy chicken fries, which were, obviously, the regular chicken fries but spicy. And now, as of today, we have the Cheetos chicken fries. As with the Mac and Cheetos, I wasn’t grossed out by the concept of the Cheetos chicken fries. I realize that I absolutely have a different brain chemistry than everyone who shudders at the idea of “chicken with cheese-flavored breading,” but it is what it is. I figured that the taste might be a bit off-putting, but it wouldn’t be a terrible snack. So, as one does, I took the N-train down to Canal Street to the closest Burger King to try them out.img_3785

When I walked in, I was scared they wouldn’t have them, as today was literally the first day they were being sold, and I didn’t want to be the guy who seemed to eager to eat a meal sponsored by Cheetos. However, they did have them and I did order them and I got them. I took all the photos featured, just so no one could accuse me of making anything up.

And they were… just alright. In fact, I was incredibly underwhelmed. I wanted to have my socks knocked off or have to throw out the whole box, but they were kind of just okay. I mean, in terms of fast food items they were pretty good, but there was basically no Cheeto taste whatsoever. What it ultimately tasted like was a crispier chicken fry. And of course most of you have never had a chicken fry because you don’t associate emotional comfort with simple, greasy foods, but trust me in saying that was an improvement.

img_3786But I sat there with the chicken fries in my mouth hoping to taste a tinge of that classic Cheeto cheddar and none came. I felt conned by the packaging. What’s the point of teaming up with a cheetah-mascotted brand if your final product isn’t going to be all-out crazy? And I know what you’re thinking: “Jake, you should stop biting your nails,” and yes I should. But also, “If it actually tasted like Cheetos, it would be disgusting. And you’re probably right. But I really wish they did because then I could feel justified for sitting alone in a Chinatown Burger King for twenty minutes.

I can’t help but feel that these Cheetos chicken fries are too familiar in America today. Because hasn’t half of the country been tricked into believing in the cheesiness of an obnoxious, disgusting, orange thing? The political polarization in America today is in large part due to the lack of recognition between the “two Americas” — the suburban and rural parts of the heartland and south, and the urban parts of the east and west. I can’t think of anything that would offend the sensibilities of my friends from the latter of those Americas more than a Cheeto chicken fry. It has been a point of ridicule across my social media. I don’t mind it being ridiculed, because it deserves it, but I don’t understand the shock at it.

I didn’t exactly grow up in bumfuck nowhere, but a “Cheeto chicken fry” is perfectly in line with the strip mall, chain restaurant, suburban America I grew up in. The mistake that the latter America makes in judging things like a “Cheeto chicken fry” is in assuming that the people who eat them think that they’re eating some fine delicacy, and that they don’t realize how gross it is, when, of course they do.IMG_3787.JPG

Sure, all of my NYU friends can gawk at me for caring so much about this horrible fast food item, and my love of chain restaurants over all, but gawking is precisely why so much of middle and southern America feels marginalized. Because what the heck is so wrong with a Burger King Cheeto chicken fry? How can the people of the coastal America be so surprised that the other America doesn’t listen to them about politics when they make fun of completely harmless things they do throughout the day?Let’s let fast food restaurants make whatever the heck they want because your “Oh my god, that’s so gross” could be someone else’s “that’s not bad,” and that is so perfectly okay. And all you get is resentment when you respond to something that you don’t like yourself with ire. One of Donald Trump’s greatest selling points is his apparent rejection of elitism (although this could all be for show, but whatever). Because while racism, sexism, and overall bigotry are definitely the main fuels to his campaign’s fire, it would not have grown so much if his voters didn’t feel like the people on TV and movies and in government looked down upon them for the way they lived their daily lives. The Cheeto chicken fries aren’t that bad. If someone enjoys shitty food, let them do it sincerely, because — and I hate to say things like this — there are much more important things to worry about.

Cheetos Chicken Fries in Donald Trump’s America

No Rhyme (or Reason) – on Sean Bean’s Name

You likely know actor Sean Bean from his turn as Boromir in Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring sean-bean-3(he’s the guy who says that one does not simply walk into Mordor), or as Ned Stark on Game of Thrones or from the picture I included in this article. He is a very accomplished English actor who is often associated with dying in everything he is in. None of that matters for the purposes of this article, but I thought it would be nice to include.

Sean Bean’s name, at first glance, looks like it rhymes. It is, after all, the same last three letters in the first and last with only the first letter changed. If you replaced the ‘S’ with basically any other letter, it would rhyme (Jean Bean, Lean Bean, etc.). However, all of us are unconsciously familiar with the Gaelic pronunciation of the letters S-E-A-N, so we know it is in fact SHAWN BEEN.

Yet, it is still curious that his name looks like it rhymes in the first place. I am in no way alone in jokingly calling him “Seen Bean” to those unfortunate enough to spend time around me. In fact, many people have likely tripped up on his name, completely unironically, just because of how it appears to the brain. One would think that his parents should have anticipated this or, more likely, didn’t try to be cute with the spelling of their son’s name. Obviously a 4-by-4 name with only one letter different between the components is visually pleasing, but it’s also confusing and silly.

However, in a completely stunning turn of events, it is not the-other-Mr. Bean’s parents’ fault at all, because the English actor was born SHAUN BEAN. That’s right, he was born with the phonetic spelling of Sean, and changed it at a later date, likely when he went into show business. Yet, when most people change their names for the stage and screen, they do it to clear up confusion or to get rid of an embarrassing moniker (Olivia Wilde was born Olivia Cockburn, for example), yet Bean seemed to only make his situation worse.

68884070Another major reason to change one’s name is because the Screen Actors Guild only allows one person to use a specific name. That’s why his name is “Michael J. Fox”, even though his middle name is Edward. Yet, I could not for the life of me find an actor at any point with the name “Shaun Bean.” It simply wasn’t taken. What was it in Shaun Bean’s early life that made him want people to briefly think his name rhymed and then realize it only looked that way?

I have no answers, only an enigma that will remain unsolved until Mr. Sean Bean himself answers to it. If you know him by any chance, please ask. It’s a long shot, but it’s worth trying.


For more pointless exercises in pop culture and sports, check out the rest of popculturedeepdive.com. If you want to contribute anything, let me know through proper or improper channels.

No Rhyme (or Reason) – on Sean Bean’s Name

Residual Goosebumps – the entries in the children’s anthology that still scare me

I should look back at Goosebumps books and think they are silly. After all, they are tiny novels dedicated to scaring children, but having read more than a dozen growing up, a few still leave me uneasy when I think about them. Of course, this probably has a lot to do with the fact that I haven’t read them in a little over a decade, but I digress. There are a couple that remain legitimately scary in my mind. In the interest of writing and the sweet feeling of nostalgia, I’ve decided to determine why.

Stay out of the Basement

Stay_out_of_the_basement

I reserve the right to still be scared shitless at a book about a father turning himself into a man/plant hybrid in his basement. One of the scariest things a close relative can do, in my mind, is slowly morph themselves into something else via scientific experiments. Imagine how freaked out you would be if you saw leaves growing out of your dad’s scalp or him eating fertilizer out of a bag! This was the second Goosebumps book published and, holy hell, does it not pull any punches. I honestly cannot think of a good reason why this one wouldn’t legitimately scare adults equally. A few of these entries will be more of a “it’s not you it’s me” situation, but me still being afraid of this one is definitely its fault.

Also, I could have sworn it ended the following way, and I just went on the Goosebumps wiki page for it to check. The kids find their dad in the basement with a clone of himself, and they stab each one, and kill the one that bleeds green instead of red (which is way too intense for a kids’ book). But scarier yet, a week later, the dad decides to burn all of his plants, and the daughter gets poked by a small shrub and it whispers, “Help me… I’m your real father.” The fuck is wrong with you R.L.? I was like eight! I did not need to hear a story that ended in an impostor father setting a real father (who was now a plant) on fire! I’m fine being scared, but my elementary school self needed a happy ending.

Let’s Get Invisible!

Let's_Get_Invisible!

A mirror that makes you turn invisible? How cool! There is no way this book could turn out in such a way that causes eight year-old Jake to question everything he knows about reality!

Of course, I was very wrong, as the meaty part of the book has very little to do with actually getting invisible. There’s this mirror that when you turn off the light in front of it, you go invisible. Then you get weaker the longer you stay invisible, and turning the light back on brings you back. What that description of the physics of this book neglects to tell you is that HOLY SHIT IF YOU STAY INVISIBLE TOO LONG THE “MIRROR” VERSION OF YOU WILL REPLACE YOU IN THE REAL WORLD AND YOU WILL BE STUCK IN THE MIRROR FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. The main character’s friends, who are children, mind you, get legitimately replaced by their mirror versions. These kids are going to go back home to their families and not be the same children they were when they left. My god.

As with many Robert Lawrence Stine, books, the scariest bit is the end, after the main character’s brother Lefty breaks the mirror right before the mirror version of the main character is about to replace him. Then, in the resolution, the main character of the book and Lefty are playing catch and, yes, you guessed it, the last line is “Lefty was throwing right-handed.” So great. This ten year old kid is gonna have to live the rest of his life knowing that his real brother is trapped in the mirror for eternity, and that the kid he has to live with is some nefarious spirit from another dimension because he was fooling around with an old  mirror. I am not being glib when I say that this kid probably will commit suicide in the next few years. I don’t know if I’d be able to live like that.

The Ghost Next Door

Gnd

Luckily, the one thing you never had to worry about when reading Goosebumps books was children dying. Oh, except when you do, because there is a dead child in this one. I don’t know if this one scared me so much as it did make me question every single thing around me for a week. If I recall correctly, this was the first Goosebumps book I ever read, and I was definitely too young for the existential questions it brought about.

Long story short, the main character thinks that her neighbor is a ghost because he claims to be in the same grade she is in, but doesn’t know any of the same people. As it turns out, the main character is actually a ghost who died five goddamn years ago in a fire! And she’s only back from the spirit realm to save her neighbor (I think his name was Danny) from a fire so the shadow version of Danny doesn’t take his place in the real world. The whole shadow Danny nonsense didn’t make much sense to me, but the idea that I might wake up one day with no recollection of dying, but actually being a ghost, was terrifying to me. That’s why I ask someone to try to put their hand through my chest every morning.

How to Kill a Monster

How_to_Kill_a_Monster

Lemme state for the record that this book contains the two worst grandparents in the history of fiction. They straight-up lock their grandkids in their giant house with a massive swamp monster in one of the rooms. What kind of monster, you ask? A green swamp monster with the body of a gorilla and the head of an alligator. How irresponsible do you have to be? And it’s not like these kids live with their grandparents all the time. They were dropped off there while their parents were on vacation. Why did they not have the decency to say, “Hey, we’d love to take the kids, but we lowkey have a monster on the premises, so it seems pretty unsafe.”

They manage to escape the house with the monster in it, but then they learn that the surrounding swamp is filled with monsters just like it, which is just dumb on the grandparents’ part. One word: move. If the spiders around my house are too big I’d relocate! I’m now always suspicion of locked doors in all of my extended family members’ houses. You can never be sure if someone is housing a swamp monster.

Chicken, Chicken

Chickenchicken.jpg

This is the entire reason I wrote this list, and I will freely admit that this one is my fault. If I were to reread it today, I would probably laugh at myself for ever finding it scary, but holy shit, did I find it scary. I can vividly remember being in fourth grade and sitting on my bed, virtually catatonic after reading this book. You know how I mentioned earlier that there are few things as scary as a close family member slowly morphing into something else? One thing that is scarier is you, yourself morphing into something else, whether through scientific experiment, curse, or being born a merman (a la that Frankie Muniz movie). In this case, a brother and sister are cursed by a witch, for a reason I don’t remember, that makes them slowly turn into chickens.

Why did I find this so scary? Imagine how terrified you would be if you were like 11 years old, and you found feathers growing out of your legs, and when you told your parents about it, they didn’t believe you. You try to speak and you can’t because your lips have transitioned from being chapped to being more of a beak. And then what if you can’t break the spell? You have to live the rest of your life as a chicken. How terrifying is that?! If I recall correctly, the siblings barely manage to break the spell just before they lose their ability to function as humans at all, which had my heart racing for a good hour. Believe me, I’m easily scared, but you would make me shit my pants if you put a bunch of feathers around my legs when I was sleeping.


I assume I’m not alone in feeling the residual scars of Goosebumps books, so let me know which ones you still think about. And check out the rest of PopCultureDeepDive.com.

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Residual Goosebumps – the entries in the children’s anthology that still scare me

The Beginners Guide to the Copa America Centenario

It’s not secret that soccer in the United States has a low ceiling compared to the our other great professional sport institutions. With every year, a new generation comes to the vital age when sports begin to mean something. Yet, I feel soccer is growing with every new generation due to easy cable access to the Premier League, Bundesliga and Champions League, the global brand of superstars (i.e. CR7, Messi, and I am Zlatan), online gambling, and the United States having success in the latest world cup. The old guard, people like my father and The Pope (Mike Francesca of WFAN, New York), however, will never give the sport a chance.

Enough about where we are, as this is about where we are going. The United States has been selected to host the Copa America Centenario this summer starting June 3rd. This is the first Copa America held outside of South America–a credit to how large the soccer community in the US hheader-copyas grown. For lesser Spanish-speaking readers Centenario means the 100th anniversary of the tournament. The tournament consists of the host (U.S.A!) ten nations in CONMEBOL (South America), and six CONCACAF (North America) teams including the US. Games will be played all over our great country, including the soccer mecca of East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Copa is filled with stars, including Barcelona’s famed MSN–Messi, Suarez, Neymar (although reports suggest that Suarez will miss the group stage), the golden boot winner (most goals in a World Cup), Real Madrid’s James Rodriquez. And of course, the always interesting USMNT will be competing. However, whether they can make the improvement to be competitive on a global scale is another question. For now, I will break down why you should watch all the major contenders, in alphabetical order.

ARGENTINA

MESSI MESSI MESSI! This team comes in as the favorite at +200 according to book32.com. After reaching the final in the last World Cup before Mario Götze and Germany clinched article-0-1e6eb97500000578-885_634x462the title, the Argentinians walked away defeated, but now they thirst to end a 23 year trophy drought. There is no doubt about the quality of the Argentinian players which is evident by their presence in the top European soccer clubs. Gonzalo Higuain led Seria A (Italy) in goals and the talents of Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aquero, Nickolas Otamendi, Javier Mascherano, Javier Pastore, and Erik Lamela make Argentina the deepest team in the tournament. The key word here is tournament, and while these competitions usually consist of scripts filled with plot twists or turns, the favorite rarely has their time in the sun. Argentina made it to the final last year and this year, so they are poised to make a brilliant run like Messi has so many times against lesser defenders.

BRAZIL

neymar

Only Brazil is able to match the talent that Argentina can put on the pitch. Finishing in the top four of the last World Cup, they enter the 2016 Copa America second in odds at +450. Their finish in the world cup, however, was not a pretty sight by any means (please, parents, do not show that clip to young children). Unlike their World Cup semifinal against Germany, Neymar Jr. will be back in action, allowing everyone else to play their proper role. Personally, I believe Brazil to be a great wager. They are probably only being sold rather low due to the recent and disappointing memory of the last world cup.

CHILE

THE CHAMP IS HERE! Chile enters the tournament holding the title belt, in large part thanks to their hard work rate and the great play of their two stars, Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, in the last tournament. Actually, screw that last sentence–I’m short selling the fantastic goalkeeping of Claudio Bravo. So many times, these tournaments come down to what goalkeeper bailed them out the most. Look at Germany with Neuer in the World Cup, America with Tim Howard against Belgium and David De Gea against any arturo-vidal-2-diezManchester United opponent (more on this in the upcoming UEFA Euro Preview). It is very similar to how Bill Simmons’ “best player in the NBA series” theory usually wins, but in this case, it is always the best goalkeeper in the tournament that wins the cup.

Other then the US, I am pulling for Chile because I love their team. I realize for many Arsenal fans, Alexis can be frustrating with all the injuries, but he really did play with a chip on his shoulder against Messi in the last tournament. Now to Arturo Vidal, my favorite player in soccer. This guy is the fucking man…the epitome of the “Move Bitch” mentality. Neither I nor this blog in no way condone drunk driving, but who else is going to crash a Ferrari in Chile? I’m guessing its a very short list (like Trump’s VP’s). I doubt Chile will have back to back successes; however, for the human aspect of rooting for a team, they check all the boxes.

COLOMBIAjames-rodricc81guez-u-20

A fairly interesting team. Falcao is finished, James has lost his way at Real Madrid, but they have talent and could make a run. I could believe virtually any outcome for this squad. I suppose we will see.

MEXICO

Our CONCACAF rivals come with a team that is both deep and familiar with each other: traits that are always Croatia v Mexico: Group A - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazildangerous for opponents. Under new management, Mexico will look to revive their dominance over the North America region by competing with the best teams that South America has to offer. Chicharito is once again one of the great strikers in Europe, and the quality throughout the team rivals both Chile and Colombia. If Donaldo Trumpez has anything to say, he will make Mexico great again.

UNITED STATES

Ahh finally, the USMNT. I feel that this tournament will be the ultimate test of what the USA squad will look like in the next World Cup (Russia 2018). US greats like Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones, and DaMarcus Beasley are just becoming too old to compete on an international level. At the same time, Michael Bradley has never become the midfield general that so many have expected. Thankfully, the Jozy Altidore era of terrible first touches and clumsy shots seems to be behind us. The decomposition of the old does brings new nutrients allowing the team to grow. Bobby Wood is a very promising striker scoring 17 goals in the second German league and making a move to the Bundesliga agettyimages-459830602-0t Hamburger SV. Matt Miazga, a talented defender has been signed by Chelsea, and a seemingly promising campaign for John Brooks of the Bundesliga has put him back in the main running for a starting spot on the USMNT. Previously, Brooks performed poorly in important games due to a lack of experience during high level competitions.

Fabian Johnson has legitimized himself as a wing creator on the right side with Borussia Mönchengladbach. The X-Factor for this tournament and the cups to come, rests on the shoulder of a 17 year old kid name Christian Pulisic. Already playing for European contender Borussia Dortmund, Pulisic has impressed everyone with his ball-skills and vision on the field. I hate to put expectations on a kid younger than me, but the talent is undeniable and I wish all the best for him and the United States. A poor performance at this tournament (i.e. not making the top 8) could very easily result in a change of management within the USMNT.

URUGUAY

451156218-485866See Colombia, a team filled with talent that has a strong history of claiming this title. Uruguay has the most Copa America titles in history with 15 . The feared attack of Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez can never be underestimated (as long as Suarez is healthy and doesn’t go crazy biting someone with all the cameras on him). With Atletico Madrid’s defensive aces Diego Godin and Miguel Jose Gimenez (both playing in the Champions League final) being the anchors of Uruguay’s defense, scoring will be no easy task.


I have begun to love soccer, but to call this summer “The Summer of Soccer” is an overreaction. Having stars playing on US soils excites many journalists, but we are still very initially discouraging of foreign things. Yet, the American sports culture has changed over the years, and as time goes on I believe soccer will creep into our culture as it has done in most of the developed countries around the world.  The Copa America Centenario will be a great chance for Americans to see how exciting the low scoring sport can be at it’s greatest, right in their backyard.

I FEEL LIKE PABLO!

 

 

 

 

The Beginners Guide to the Copa America Centenario