New Thrice, “Promises.” Holy Wow

Ok, so I’ve always loved Thrice. Every time these guys set out to make a new album, they make a new album. They reinvent their style on a yearly basis and have never fallen short of making amazing music. The song “Promises,” the second track off their upcoming album, Major/Minor, dropped on the internet the other day and it is…well, just watch. And read. Definitely read. The lyrics are breathtaking in that you can read them separate of the music that accompanies them and they just have this haunting melodic pacing to them that carries a bit of heaviness that lead singer Dustin Kensrue attempts to raise as he belts out the words. I just listened to this song for probably the hundredth time this week, it’s 1:45am, and I am still giddy from it. Damn you Thrice, I need to sleep.

Thrice – Promises [Lyric Video] from Vagrant Records on Vimeo.

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Law of Attraction

In which we discuss what a kid who has never been with a girl would be attracted to if he ever were to pursue one. Plenty of shallow discussion ahead! From body parts to facial features, no stone will be left unturned. And it’s all done in as creepy of a way imaginable. Only here on the Exploring Innocence Podcast, where our social skills are lacking.

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Also rate and comment if you’ve the time. Even if you hate us. If that’s the case, the scale is a reverse 1 to 5 star system where 5 is the worst. So five star us if you hate us. And if you like us, 5 star because it’s a normal system. Forget what I said to all those haters. See how I tricked them? They’re so stupid.


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Quick, Mostly Pointless Post

Hey internet, welcome to a post where I break the fourth wall and talk to you instead of talk at you. I’ll do that again later and expect you to accept what I say as fact and respect me because I’m clearly an authority on everything I talk about. For now, here’s just a really quick update of the blog. It’s kind of like a State of the Union except not disappointing and full of false promises (political commentary? Check.)

First off, since I finally optimized this site a bit more to draw views a little more consistently without me having to promote everything by hand, I’m on pace for about 5,000 views this month. It’s down from last month, but I had a post that took off on Reddit and on StumbleUpon last month so I can’t really expect to duplicate that. Also the consistent views have allowed me to start doing something that is kind of cool, which is offer deals on affiliate sites to my readers (that’s you!). If you look over to your right on the sidebar, under the “Search” box, you’ll notice four quaint boxes that link to different companies. If you click on any of those adds from my site you’ll be able to score some lovely deals on the products they offer, including: 20% from when you use the promo code “SECRET20″; 40% off certain products from The Ready Store, a store that specializes in food storage, freeze dried foods, and emergence preparedness supplies for all of my tin-foil hat wearing friends; Free shipping on any order over $98 from Earphone Solutions; and travel and adventure deals from Xperience Days. So if you’re doing anything that involves any of these or something that involves all of these, click on those links and buy shit. It’ll make me feel good and also help me out. Support a struggling artist already.

If you look up in the upper right of any given page on the site, you’ll notice a tab that reads “Podcast.” This will take you to, you guessed it, my podcast. It’s called “Exploring Innocence” and if you haven’t listened to it yet, you should. Also you should rate and subscribe on iTunes because it’s good and worth it. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. Feel free to rate it poorly. But make sure that you concede the fact that I sound like a fine hunk of man in your review, because it is fairly undeniable at this point.

Lastly, I’m working on some other stuff for the site and the Facebook page that corresponds with it, so watch out for that in the near future. Also, if the site ever goes down for no apparent reason…I probably fucked something up. It’s happened before, it will happen again. Every time I’m like “Oh, this would be really cool to have on my site,” I end up with a white screen with the only text being “WARNING: FATAL ERROR HAS OCCURRED,” which sounds far more pleasant than it is and it doesn’t even sound that pleasant. Hopefully that doesn’t happen because I have some really interesting things I want to cover in the near future. A bit about writing and the state of the industry, a bit about politics, a bit about some personal experiences, and mostly about myself because I’m just that awesome.

I know this is kind of a cop out post and I almost feel bad about it, but I’ve been busy people, what do you want from me? In return for my failure to provide actual content, here’s something I bet you didn’t know how to do:

See, learned something today didn’t you? You’re welcome.

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Romantics and Semantics

Eric gets a little riled up in this episode of the Exploring Innocence Podcast as I continuously tell him what he thinks is wrong and his judgments are stupid. We discuss how attraction is affected by personality, how appearance can change from exposure, and how standards differ. Also, Eric has ridiculous standards and is a fool for having them. Our longest and most heated podcast yet.



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Kevin Smith’s Hit Somebody to be Two-Parter

As a huge Kevin Smith fan, hearing that his new film Hit Somebody is going to be a two-parter is a blessing. The longer it takes for the movie to end, the more insight this man provides into his process, the more I get to indulge in the world I hope to one day take part in.

It’s hard for me to hide the influence that Kevin has on me as a writer and as an online presence. I have a blog, a podcast, and I made a film, albeit extremely shitty and done in a 48-hour time constraint. I would hate to add up the hours of my life that I’ve invested into listening to Kevin. Not even in a bad way, the lessons from the Red State of the Union podcasts have been particularly enlightening into the process of filmmaking. It’s amazing the stories that the unsung positions have to share. (The episode with the casting director is especially captivating. I think most people forget that just because these aren’t people in a role that receives glory that they don’t have their own impressive tales.) All I’m saying is there are 15 Red State of the Union episodes, 180 Smodcast episodes, and 26 Plus One episodes downloaded on my iTunes and all of them are marked as “listened to.”

In all honesty, Kev’s Smodcast Network of podcasts is one of the major reasons I’ve continued to work out consistently since I lost my work out partner. (“Lost” in the sense that she moved away, not lost in the sense that we went running in the woods and only one of us emerged. Besides she would have been the one to make it out between the two of us, if only because the second our lives are in danger she would have absolutely no problem sacrificing mine.) There is a lot of motivation lost after being so used to having someone to talk to during hour long treadmill marathons, so having someone talk at me proved to be the next best thing and a surprisingly powerful motivator to actually want to work out. The only downside I’ve found from having Kevin in my ear at all times during a workout is the fact that I have ended sets of reps early because I literally cannot stop laughing. There should be no higher compliment one can pay to a person than “my abdomen hurts more from laughter you provided than from the crunches I was doing.” I’ve become so familiar with his voice and who he is that I feel like I can refer to him impersonally, hence the constant mention of him as “Kevin” in this post. The man is a legend and yet I’ve heard him speak for probably over 200 hours. There’s a whole generation of writers, filmmakers, podcasters, and probably just every day people, and of course stoners, that feel a personal connection with a guy they’ve never met because he’s poured so much of himself into everything that he’s done.

Everything that Kevin has done has opened doors for the rest of us: Clerks birthed a whole new generation of filmmakers, Chasing Amy and Dogma pushed the envelop for storytelling, his blog was one of the first to provide insight into a world that few of us see, his twitter account gives fans a world of access they’ve never had, Red State is re-imagining the way films find their audience, and the Smodcast Network is bringing radio programming to a new medium. I could gush about this guy all day because, frankly, I love just about everything the man does. He’s created a career that appears to be him telling dick jokes on different platforms when what he’s really done is put his life on the screen and in the airwaves for everyone else to digest. He just happens to be really damn good at it.

It’s been an amazing trip as a fan to follow Kevin from filmmaker to radio host, which I’m sure he would argue is more progression than digression and I would be hard pressed to prove him wrong. Not that his films aren’t amazing. They still bring me more pleasure than most other movies. I cannot wait to see Red State. In fact when it was originally planned to play in Madison, I had purchased a ticket for the screening. Unfortunately the Madison stop on the tour was cancelled and seeing as I am mostly broke, Chicago wasn’t really an option for me. Luckily, the movie won’t have any shortage of release range once it hits distribution. What is probably the most important thing that will come from Red State is an entirely new approach to film distribution; One this is far more friendly to the indies, the no-names, and the do-it-yourself-ers. The majority of us don’t have access to studios, but we’ve all got access to the internet. Kevin has the luxury of being able to put his name on the product and knowing it will sell but the rest of us have the benefit of the “came out of nowhere” factor, an effect that goes a long way online. I can only hope it makes it to the Sundance Theater, the very same screen I got to watch my own film play on. In a way, there is some symmetry for me in that. My interest in filmmaking has very much been encouraged by following Kevin’s trip as a writer and director. To watch what is sure to be his best piece of cinematography in the same theater that I got to watch my first piece, a piece that was very much inspired by the “why not just do it?” attitude that Kevin preaches, would bring some closure to a project that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with. My journey into filmmaking is hopefully just beginning. Kevin’s is coming to a close.

Which brings us to the main point of this blog post. Kevin’s last movie will be a two-parter. As as an audience member, as a listener, as a reader, as a fan: Drag this out as long as you can, Kevin. We don’t want this to end.

(PS: His last movie is based on a song, above, that was written by Mitch Albom. It just makes the movie even more of an obsession for me. With Kevin and Mitch involved, it’s going to be hours of sentimentality, reflection, and life lessons. I cannot wait.)

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Overanalyzing Everything

Episode two the Exploring Innocence Podcast takes a brief detour into a discussion about sex and advertising before detailing Eric’s strange communication methods and the overanalysis of conversation. Also we talk about one of Eric’s real life experiences and he keeps calling it hypothetical. It’s not, it’s real.

Subscribe and rate us on iTunes and Eric will do your dishes (if you ask nicely and pay for his flight).


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US Credit Rating Lowered By S&P

Alright people, we need to sit down and have a little chat. We saw a bullshit “Budget Control Act” pass through the House and Senate on the backs of politicians who only intend to create an illusion of safety so they can continue their business of extraordinary spending and pocketing of money without anyone questioning them. This act was supposed to right the economy, set straight our budget woes, save us from default. So what happens? The stock market tanks and late Friday night Standard & Poor’s (S&P) lowered America’s credit rating from AAA to AA+. But we’ll come back to the credit score, because that rating from the S&P a whole heaping pile of “go fuck yourself. For now, let’s focus on why the Budget Control Act is seventy-four pages of self-satisfying political twattery.

Let’s take a look at what this deal accomplishes, aside from providing just enough of a distraction to the general public that they’ll completely ignore the problem until it affects their pocket directly.

  • The deal will produce $2.1 trillion in budget cuts and debt limit increases over a ten year period.

This is a good place to start, because it sounds like a big number and that has seemed to be enough to suffice for the majority of the public, who hear that figure and assume “Oh, that sounds like it’s enough to fix things.” Here’s a scary fact: That number is minuscule for a plethora of reasons. Firstly, our budgeted spending for the current year (2011, if you’re reading in a time machine or are incapable of looking at the date of this post) is $3.82 trillion with a revenue of $2.17 trillion. Some fancy mathematical figurings will show our deficit for this year alone to be $1.65 trillion. This act barely covers THIS YEAR’S DEFICIT, which is being added onto a national debt of $14.57 trillion. So a $2.1 trillion reduction in that number is a step in the right direction, right?

Yeah, no. Here’s this thing that is totally excluded in these figures: They don’t account for the debt that will be accumulated over the next ten years as well. Let’s go back to the number for how much we spent this year: $3.82 trillion. There is a built in– a built in– budget increase of $7 to 9 trillion dollars over that same ten years. So now you’re cutting $2.1 trillion of somewhere around $21.5-23.5 trillion. Does everyone realize how ridiculously insignificant of a change that is? Going on a year by year basis, that’s a cut of $210 billion on a debt that increases by $700 to $900 billion. If you drew those on a graph to see where they would intersect, they fucking wouldn’t. Unless it was at the axis intersection of “Pretending to Address the Issue” and “Go Fuck Yourself,” because that is what our representatives have been doing have have said to the American people by passing this act.

  • The deal provides at least one dollar of actual spending cuts for each dollar in debt limit increase.

Hey, here’s a better idea: Stop increasing the debt ceiling. This answer should seem pretty obvious, right? How did we end up with so much debt? We kept spending and borrowing money that we didn’t have to pay for the spending. So how do we reduce that debt? Did you answer “Borrow more than we ever have before?” You did? I didn’t realize you were an elected official. If a regular person, a citizen of this country, was in debt and attempted to borrow more to get out of debt, they would be turned away immediately and would be laughed out of the bank. American politicians just passed the exact same plan as that for a way to decrease the budget and then congratulated themselves on how great of a job they did. All this means is that we’re cutting spending by just enough to stay under debt ceiling– the newly raised debt ceiling, that is– for long enough that we can ignore the problem for a little bit longer. At least that was the plan.

And then the markets crashed. The Dow Jones dropped over 500 points on Thursday. If you don’t know the stock market, just know that the idea of a 500 point drop is usually enough to make most traders shit themselves and panic. Expect to see more of that on Monday. The Nasdaq was down nearly a full percent as well on the backs of reports that tech spending is down, which was a touch call to make seeing as pretty much all spending is down because no one has any goddamn money. And then the S&P dropped the US credit rating from AAA to AA+.

The strange thing about this is that the drop in the credit score is probably well deserved. In fact, it probably should have happened a while ago, we’ve kind of been in the nation version of that friend that is constantly bumming money off of others for some awesome project that is going to make everyone rich for some time now. But here’s the reason that the decline in credit rating coming from the S&P is the biggest pile of bullshit that has ever been presented: The S&P is the same organization that rated all of the sub-prime mortgages– you know, the ones caused the housing bubble burst that helped put us in this situation in the first place– as AAA securities. Here’s why: Banks choose who will rate the securities. When the choose an organization to rate them, they pay a fee to the rater. If the rating given is low, the bank isn’t going to take that security. So S&P inflated the ratings to approve the sub-prime mortgages so they could receive the fee. While this isn’t all their fault and these mortgages should have been addressed long before they had time to become an issue, for them to now downgrade the US’s credit score when they fucked up in the first place is laughable. Or it would be laughable if it wasn’t so depressingly frightening.

The Obama administration has challenged the S&P’s downgrade decision, stating that their analysis is off by trillions of dollars– and the S&P agrees. They just aren’t sure if they’re going to change the rating back yet or not. The fact of the matter is they’ve been artificially boosting America’s credit rating for years, just as they did with the sub-prime mortgages. But to lower it now seems ludicrous considering the Budget Control Act, despite being a pathetic excuse for a solution, met every requirement that was put forth by the credit rating agencies. Moody’s, another credit rating organization, is maintaining the US as a AAA rating.

Should we as a collective nation be afraid of what is coming? Yes. Very much so. Monday is more than likely going to be a shit show on the stock markets. Gold is more than likely going to increase exponentially and the US dollar is going to be valueless. A lowered credit rating may not come now after the reassessment, but it will be looming again soon. Good luck trying to borrow money with a damaged credit rating and a worthless monetary system. People don’t invest in something they know they won’t get their money back on, and America is looking like a pretty terrible investment.

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Scientific Studies that Aren’t Very Scientific

I recently wrote an article for Guyism about ridiculous scientific studies. They posted it and as it turns out, I am awesome. Also people seemed to like it. Below is a preview of the article, as well as a link to the full thing because you’re going to want to finish it.

Scientific studies have brought us some of most important findings in modern history. From curing diseases to advancing technology, it all starts with a little government funding and something to research. However, there are some scientific studies that are like your ex-girlfriend; a giant time suck that you waste a ton of money on and end up with nothing to show for it. Except science didn’t cheat on you. Here’s a list of scientific studies that makes “F*cking magnets, how do they work?” seem like a legitimate thesis question.

Continue the article here.

That's right, when Ask Men has a question, they ask me.

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