“What is It About Birthday Cake?”

My 23rd birthday just passed and I’ve decided I’m old. I was living in hope youth would stay with me forever, but I’m killing the idea before I start believing the lie! The way I came to this stark and quite depressing realisation/decision was — I didn’t want a birthday cake.

Birthdays, even though they signify the passing of time, are still pretty dope. Presents are presents — who doesn’t want gifts? Having friends and family turn into pseudo-slaves for you, serving you hand and foot — who doesn’t want that? But I dare you, better yet I defy you for your next birthday, tell the people in your circle you don’t want a birthday cake. You’ll see the most incredible looks of befuddlement on their faces. You’ll be met with fierce opposition, and I’ll bet someone will buy/make one for “you” anyway. People say they bought/made a cake for “you,” but really they brought themselves a cake. Sure, nobody will eat your icing-name (sacrilege at my house), but the rest of the cake is fair game.

Birthday cakes enhance pageantry. The cake is walked-in with flickering candles until it’s sat down before its lord, the birthday song is then sung off-key followed by the sound of a huge inhale and an extinguishing blow — meanwhile, internally, the lord has decided which corner’s theirs and most importantly, they’ve made their wish. It’s a spectacle.

Over the past twenty minutes I’ve taken a break from composing this essay, and’ve been reading about birthday cakes — not much about them in truth. I thought they’d have something to do with Christianity, but nowhere in the Bible was Jesus recorded baking and/or eating a cake, so that theory lasted three minutes. According to Wikipedia they date back to Ancient Rome, and were reserved for the rich up until the technical revolution. During the Industrial Revolutions the ability to mass produce food was taken advantage of, coupled with the Marxist notion of proletarianisation (basically people transitioning from working on farms to working in urban spaces, mainly factories, for set labour-wages), and we have large cities filled with loads of people who all have birthdays. What once was reserved for aristocrats is now accessible to “the Great Unwashed,” and the birthday cake becomes ubiquitous.

It seems simple enough.

Yet, I’m imagining an Ancient Roman father who mightn’t have been rich, but wanted to do something special for his kid’s birthday. Maybe he’d haggle for eggs, flour and honey in some dusty market in Rome trying to save a penny or two, then head to a place with an oven and bake a “cake” for his kid. He’d be broke come the next day, but the reaction on his child’s face would be worth it; as they’d know the extent their father went to; today on the other hand, I can’t help but think the birthday cake has become too commercialised, too common.

[SIDEBAR] I’m not sure if people realise this, but you’re allowed to walk in any Wal-Mart and buy a birthday cake whenever you want! You could have a personalised birthday cake for dinner seven days straight if you wanted to. I mean, you’d die, but I’m just pointing out it can be done.

Remember the bet I’ll wage with you from earlier? The only reason I’m willing to bet is because it happened to me. I didn’t want a cake, but somehow — one appeared anyway. Unless you plan on being a hermit, and moving completely moving away from your friends and family, birthday cakes are inescapable. I suppose a birthday cake signifies you’ve made it to another year, and life is always a reason to celebrate, but with cake?

Don’t get me wrong, I love cake; they’re great, but why when you’ve said you’d rather not have one, people’ll buy one for you anyway? It makes me think birthdays are more about the others around us rather than ourselves. If any day is meant to be about me, it should be my birthday, right? Needless to say, whoever the “Hallmark” of birthday cakes was did a great job! When people feel obligated to buy something that isn’t water or toilet paper — someone’s done a great marketing job.

Pageantry, history, marketing and finally — people love to eat sweet shit! It makes sense, but I don’t think I’ll ever fully discover why cake was the chosen food for birthdays. That being said, who decided every country needed an anthem, or every school needed a mascot? There are heaps of seemingly useless things we gravitate toward and attach ridiculous amounts of meaning to — I’m proposing a motion that would add birthday cake to that heap! Feel free to veto this if you can’t fathom a birthday without one, but I think we all know it’s a bit stupid…

So you blow out candles on a baked good, and you get a wish?

*Shaking my head + a face palm*

“I Will Not…”

Impositions (a.k.a sentences) were the worst punishment known to man in my elementary school days.

You laughed too loud — 50: “I will not laugh in class” sentences were due the next day.

You talked out of turn — 100: “I will not talk in class” sentences were due the next day.

You forgot to say: “yes ma’am” even though you weren’t particularly well-versed in Southern culture — 300: “I will say ‘yes ma’am” sentences were due the next day (a personal anecdote).

I remember days when I didn’t do my homework because my hand was cramped, broken really. I’m not sure who set the number of sentences for each infraction, but whoever it was probably had Nazi ties — Hitler himself more than likely?

[SIDEBAR] If you want to punish captured terrorists, instead of water-boarding them, have them write 750,000+ sentences of: “I will not terrorise, kidnap or harass any citizen of the United States of America.” Upon completion of their handiwork, you release them. I swear, unless they know the trick (of which I will tell you shortly) or are ambidextrous they’ll be there for ages!

One day during the fourth grade [Ms. Cooper’s class circa 1998/1999] during the midst of my sentence writing career, my class got in trouble. Apparently the real teacher actually read what the substitute wrote down the day before, and our class got a bad report. The punishment was 100 sentences of: “I will not talk in class.” I begrudgingly started writing the normal way — one sentence at a time — for some reason I looked to my left and saw the most intuitive, creative thing I’d ever seen. A student, who if memory serves was named Terrence, began writing 100 “I’s” down the page, then 100 “will’s” and so on and so forth. I didn’t realise what a genius he was until he was the first person done.

During tests, the person who turns their copy in first is either really smart or they just guessed. There’s no guessing with sentences, so in seeing Terrence’s technique and its apparent efficiency — I stole it.

You’re obviously writing the same amount, but it was faster and hurt less somehow? I can honestly say that peek changed my elementary life. I was able to write my sentences quickly, and got some homework done too. When you got sentences there was no call to your home in the evening — so it was a win-win.

Another punishment in my day was writing the definition for the word “run.” There were like 27 different interpretations of the word, and I have a strong feeling those went straight in to the bin the moment we left the classroom. You know, I’d have been better of actually running laps than trapped in a windowless cell of a classroom earning finger blisters copying Noah Webster’s rubbish — there was no quick method to definitions, but aye, you can’t win them all.

[SIDEBAR] Have you ever wondered what your teacher did with your class’s sentences? If there were 25 kids in a class and 100 sentences per student, that’s make 2,500 sentences and around 100 sheets of paper, what do you do with all of that? Burn it? Shred it? Keep it? Suppose a teacher’s career lasts 30 years, it would mean (under my calculations) in some basement or attic an elementary school teacher could have up to 10,000 sheets of useless, poorly written, illegible scribbles  — utterly pointless.

The rumour at the time was the “paperless classroom” was coming. I thought that meant sentences for punishment would be done away with. I “graduated” elementary school shortly thereafter, so I never got to witness it. In retrospect the “paperless classroom” seems a bit illogical. Writing on paper will always be taught, and the cost of laptops for every child around the country would be exorbitant and thus unrealistic, but the advent and proliferation of technology in 2013 makes me wonder if teachers even bother with sentences for punishment today?

In fifth grade, my classroom had dinosaur computers in the back — the ones with huge floppy disks, green letters and sticky, brown keyboards — but an asteroid was coming…

Our back-row dinosaurs were quickly extinct when our school was given laptops. They were brand new Apple iBooks. I don’t think anyone in my class had used a laptop before, so when the cart was rolled in the classroom we were ecstatic! They were like Martian technology. I was only 10 or 11, so I didn’t fully comprehend what was happening. The Digital Age was upon us — so much so the crumbs were falling to elementary schools. Had I understood then, I’d have been way more included to learn how to properly use the things, but all my classmates and I wanted to do was play games. I can’t imagine what the kids of today have in their schools…

Which leads me to thinking — how do you punish the kids of today? Type 100 sentences of: “I will not text in class” or something? It seems a bit counterintuitive. I would think “The Corner” is still in use, as well as standing idle in the hallway, but the hand cramps I went through are probably a thing of the past. I suppose it’s for the better, as I never really understood the point of them — it just made me hate my teacher even more. I missed the days of corporal punishment (thank God), but was born in a time where archaic, barbaric methods were still used to torture and wither hands. Hopefully they’ve found something useful by now — at least something with a purpose.

 

“The Question of the ‘Old’ Rapper”

A photograph surfaced over the weekend. Even as owner of the Charlotte Bobcats and leader/namesake of Nike’s billion dollar offshoot, Michael Jordan has still got time for the kids. In a camp MJ’s sponsors, he decided to lace up a pair of 1s, and showed at age 50, His Airness can still dunk! Dunking at any age is impressive, but when you’ve got an AARP card? Whoa! Considering the level of athleticism Jordan displayed in his prime, this isn’t too much of a surprise, but it’s noteworthy nonetheless.

I thought: “could MJ still play?” Then I remembered the Wizards — so sadly, no; but as I looked at the picture, I thought about hip-hop, and this question in particular:

Regardless of past fame, acclaim and commercial response, does there come a point when we’ve heard all you have to say?

**Before I begin — In no way am I suggesting we euthanize rapper’s careers at a certain age. I’m a HUGE fan of Jay-Z, Nas, Common, and a whole host of rappers who have been in the game a while. Art is art, and should be done for the love of it, regardless of age or anything else. The question pertains to the relevance of the art, not the right to make it.

[The SAT] Athleticism is to sports what relatability is to hip-hop.

I wasn’t born in North Carolina, but I’ve always loved Tar Heel basketball. As a kid I remember watching Utah defeat North Carolina in the 1998 Final Four. It’s the first time remember crying after a game — Michael Doleac and Andre Miller remain my mortal enemies to this day! Antwan Jamison and Vince Carter, the two star players on that team, decided to forgo their senior years and turn pro. I wanted to stay with my guys! I didn’t really understand how the draft worked, but I watched it anyway. Vince and Antwan were drafted back-to-back. Then traded for each other. Even as a kid I knew you weren’t allowed to have two favourite teams — I didn’t have one, so I had to choose — Carter & Toronto or Jamison & Golden State? Being Canadian and liking the mascot better, I went with the Raptors. In doing so, I established myself with the human-highlight reel that was and still kinda-sorta is Vince Carter.

When you follow a player, you run with the highs and the lows. Vince Carter gave us the 2000 Dunk Contest, and “Le Dunk de la Morte” (for the non-Francophones that translates to “The Dunk of Death”), but in the same breath, as a Vince-Carter-Player-Fan, there are a lot of injuries and losing-seasons involved. As Carter has aged, the less spectacular his game has become. It’s supremely awkward seeing someone known as “Half Man Half Amazing” as a sixth-man, who’s best quality is three-point shooting…

Athletes’ careers take downward trajectories due to wear-and-tear, passion and the new-breed of talent coming up; sharing a rather similar career arc are rappers. Much in the same way you can follow an athlete from the spectacular to the ordinary, rappers can fall off due to lack of inspiration, life issues, and/or losing the ability to connect with their audience(s). One moment an artist can be flying-high, killing the game — you blink — they’re riding the proverbial bench. Just like an athlete, I propose this leveling off is due to age.

Not necessarily age in the form of general oldness (although in some cases yes), but in the sense of life experiences and monetary gain making relatability difficult. For example:

Jay-Z is one of the most successful recording artists ever. He’s amassed 13 number-one albums (second all-time behind The Beatles’ 19), with July’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail being the latest among them. Ventures like 40/40 Clubs, Roc-a-Fella, and Roc Nation have all been met with success; and if you’ve seen his wife, it becomes a simple exercise to say — as of today — Jay-Z is winning the game of life. BUT. Let’s go back to the beginning…

Reasonable Doubt has acquired a permanent position in the pantheon of classic hip-hop albums over the years; but in 1996 it wasn’t a cornerstone of the genre; rather a stepping stone for an up-and-coming Jay-Z.

Even though the subject matter of “street life” isn’t something everyone lives out, the conflict between following your passion or staying in your current circumstance will forever remain relatable. Tracks like “Regrets” and “Dead Presidents II” allow the listener to experience a genius in a hustler’s body, and the struggle to make it out. By his own words, he “still [had] money from [19]88,” so he didn’t have to rap, but when you’re told people around Jay-Z were getting shot or jailed, this album then becomes a chance at salvation, a way to become something more.

We can all relate to being an underdog and/or being frustrated by circumstance; this album takes these issues and has its way with them. Reasonable Doubt was a Rookie of the Year Award as far as debut albums go. We have classic production, heartfelt emotion and most importantly — personal connection.

Jay-Z proceeded to release seven solo albums in seven years, and the further you travel into his catalog the more successful he’s become. The man’s a savant — the moment his mind was fully into making music, he wasn’t going to be stopped (13 number-one albums as proof); yet, fresh off the heels of his fifteenth studio album, Jay-Z has become the perfect backdrop for the question of the “old” rapper.

For me today’s hip-hop is the most life-centric of genres. It’s all about the MC — their possessions, thoughts on society and/or any number of personal issues the artist wants to address. What make artists popular is their ability to establish a repertoire with an audience via emotion from their music, and in turn their life. It stands to reason the more popular an artist becomes, the more money they’ll make. According to Forbes Magazine, Jay-Z’s net worth is in the $475 million range — he’s surely popular, but with fame and affluence comes an issue:

Can you become so successful you’re no longer relatable?

When your lifestyle includes buying Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol paintings for your Australian villa / Manhattan brownstone, the intro to “Can I Live” seems a long way off.

I’ll always see Vince Carter as “Vinsanity;” but to the casual fan, he’s just a bench-player now, which is kind of depressing to think about. I see what was , they see what is. Similarly, Jay-Z will always have fans because of the emotional credit he has amassed over his career and the way he goes about his craft; but some are starting to ask whether or not he’s worth listening to nowadays. Magna Carta… Holy Grail is an album about a “newly,” wealthy man/father dealing with fame, which is cool if you’re rich parent dealing with fame, but the majority of us live paycheck to paycheck and are in survival mode month to month — not all too not worried about Tom Ford suits and private beaches.

Jay-Z’s an extremely talented rapper who will always make dope music, the best way I can put is: nobody really wanted to watch Michael Jordan in a Washington Wizards jersey. He’d show a flashes of brilliance one minute, then be inept the next — I want my legends to stay legends, which is what makes the question so compelling. I know you can rap based of your past, so I’ll listen, but at-the-end-of-the-day; will I garner anything from it?

If it feels like Jay-Z’s the only artist on my radar, he’s not — the question summarily applies to every rapper living affluenly, who’s audience/constituency lives in poorer communities. When you’re driving a Maybach, how easily can you remember what public transportation is like? Hip-hop celebrates wealth, but also the culture of impoverishment. The ability to speak to the poor, while having your chin somewhat in the air is a tricky tightrope. Add major labels supplying the genre to more mainstream audiences (a.k.a. suburbanisation), and on our tightrope — the wind is now swirling.

Hip-hop is a relatively young style of music, around 40 years-old, or there about; and it’s only been “mainstream” for about 20 years. Hence the OG’s aren’t even 60 yet, much less the artists who’ve been “mainstreamed.” Their path’s an untrodden one.

I call this “the question of the ‘old’ rapper,” because there isn’t really an answer yet. We won’t know how the game has changed until years from now.

But if I had to give you my beset guess:

[The SAT] Retirement is to athletes what death is to poets.

“…a Sports-Fan Scorned”

I’ve noticed something; not quite sure how long it’s been going on, but since the advent of social media and YouTube it seems all too prevalent. It’s the practice of burning jerseys, shirts and/or memorabilia when an athlete leaves one team for another. I’ve always wondered what makes sports-fans so crazy to the point of destroying property in riots, sending hateful messages via social media and/or lighting their clothes, and essentially their own cash, on fire; so I’m going to try to talk through why I think people get pissed off.

There’s a saying that derives from the great English playwright William Congreve, of which I’m sure you’re familiar: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” If you’ll allow me, I’d like to coin a similar saying: Hell hath no fury like a sports-fan scorned.

One might think sports are merely an escape from the mundane, ordered, “real” lives we tend to live, but for many around the globe they are much, much more. It’s interesting that as far as reality goes, sports is probably the closest thing to “real” in existence. An argument could be made that everything outside of organised competition is rigged, or at the very least altered. One’s socio-economic status could deem them redundant to society as far as running for public office or becoming a CEO; but, if you put two different people in the same arena, where the rules of the game are the same, and have them complete a task based on mental, as well as physical acumen, the best person normally comes out on top. This remains true regardless of class, race or any other subsets of characteristics society has created.

Why is this important?

As kids, most guys (I won’t speak for women, but I’m sure the same ideas apply in some sense) want to be athletes of some kind. Unfortunately, as in any profession, the spots at the top are limited. If you wanted to play in the NBA for instance, there are 30 teams with 15 roster spots, which translates to 450 jobs. Which isn’t that many considering the millions and millions of people around the planet who play the game — add the people who never wanted to be professional, but like watching the game anyway, and we have an overwhelming majority who resort to fandom. It replaces the want to play on the team and gives you license to make the team “yours.” So where a CEO or politician may support a chronic loser out of a childhood memory, an hourly wage worker may support a team known to dominate their sport based off a similar childhood memory. Fandom’s a place where the jersey carries clout, regardless of the person wearing it; yet the reason for wearing the jersey differs from person to person.

This is where things get tricky.

There’s an interesting split in fandom — the team fan and the player fan. Team Fan is born in/or near the city where their team plays, and/or has an emotional connection with the team that comes from a childhood experience or family member. Player Fan loves the individual displays of a talented athlete and chooses to pledge loyalty to that player rather than to a specific team. Come free agency or a trade — Player Fan is on the move with their favourite player. This split is the overarching factor which leads to anger and some cases, ashes.

Prime example: The most loved and hated player in the NBA is LeBron James. His supporters are LOUD and in most cases unbearable, similarly, his detractors are just as vocal and just as annoying. Drafted by the Cleveland Cavilers in 2003, James was an instant superstar, the city of Cleveland became attached to their star man, and so did the rest of the country.

The NBA is a star driven league. There are no helmets or masks, it’s a fast-paced game where individual brilliance can change games, seasons, and in some cases eras. Russell and Chamberlain, Bird and Magic, Michael Jordan, these players transcended the sport and created the platform by which superstars of today can build their own brands. The NBA is a unique sport, in the sense that someone can say: “I’m not a Knicks fan, but I’m a Carmelo fan,” or “I hate the Lakers, but Kobe is a beast.” These things are said in schools, barber shops and any place where sports are discussed.

The hope a great player contributes to your fandom makes the thought of them leaving all the more raw. The connection with club and player runs so high, that in 2010 when LeBron James decided to switch teams, this happened:

You watch the video and ask yourself, or at least I do: “Why?” There is only one logical conclusion I can come up with, as to why sports-fans get outraged and start burning their possessions:

Thinking because you cheer for a player, he/she is indebted to you, and they are therefore obligated to remain with your chosen team until they are washed up.

On the surface it makes sense. “I pay money to come see you, and I cheer for you, therefore you should stay.” I see the logic there, but if you take the time to actually explore the mentality, it’s tantamount to indentured servitude, or dare I say slavery. To think you’re owed another adult’s loyalty based of money you paid to watch them perform is ridiculous. If you’re a U2 fan, and you’ve been to countless performances, does that mean when the band dismembers, you’ll burn your CDs in the street? It gets extremely stupid after a certain point.

It’s also funny this standard’s only applied to the superstars among us. Mike James has played with 11 different NBA franchises, two French teams, two Turkish teams, two D-League teams, a Chinese team and an Austrian team, but I’ve never seen a Mike James jersey (and there are quite a few of them) being set alight. Journey men and role players can get away with leaving and taking more cash in free agency, they somehow get to fly under the radar, I wonder why?

It’s because fans only get mad when they think you’re worth it. It’s like the guy who sees a pretty girl in a club, walks up to her, spits a little game, gets shot down, then tells his boys: “I don’t care, she was ugly anyway!” No she wasn’t! Otherwise you wouldn’t started talked to her in the first place, much less gotten upset.

Similarly, if you just so happen to be a superstar swapping teams, you’re in a predicament. Fans on the inside see you as a traitor because they want you and fans on the outside see you as a mercenary for the cash. Your only saving grace is the team you’re going to, and your player fans.

In lieu of Dwight Howard’s recent departure to Houston, it seems Laker supporters have conveniently forgotten the main stay of their franchise for the better part of two decades was Luol-Deng-away from lacing up his Nikes in Chicago’s home dressing room.

In July of 2007 Kobe Bryant demanded a trade out of LA — the franchise responded by acquiring Pau Gasol in February 2008 for what seemed like the end of their bench; two championships later and for the most part Bryant’s legacy has been salvaged in SoCal. HIs near-trade to Chicago seems a distant memory to most, but I contest had LA not wanted Deng, and the trade gone through, every #8 and #24 jersey in Los Angeles would have resembled the Dwight Howard jersey above.

So what?

It reinforces the selective anger fans tend to show. If LeBron James is the most loved/hated player in the NBA, Kobe Bryant is certainly the most supported by his fan-base. Laker supporters would sacrifice their firstborns to have him play ten more years in purple and gold. They’ll gloss over the rough patches of Kobe’s career, but let another player make a decision they don’t like — let’s all burn his memory from our wardrobes.

The attitude of a fan is admirable. It’s their job to be irrational. Objectivity is sought after in Presidents, police officers, judges, etc. It’s the reason why this time of the year, every NFL team with the exception Jacksonville has fans thinking this is the year they’ll make the playoffs and challenge for the Super Bowl; it’s called faith (Hebrews 11:1 for my church-folk). By the same token, that belief is also what makes fans blind to reality. As common sense as this seems: athletes are not as dedicated to your team as you are! It’s how Wayne Ellington (UNC) and Gerald Henderson (Duke) can be best friends, or how Brett Favre can play 16 seasons in Green Bay, then put on a purple, Minnesota jersey; it’s about the love of the game and money for them, not the childhood fantasy of playing for “Team X.” Attaching yourself to the best player on your team is dangerous — the moment “Player X” decides to leave, the need for lighter fluid and matches is in abundance, because your heart’s broken.

Not to mention but I will it’s a bit short-sighted, as players have had the same M.O. since the beginning. Off the top of my head: Babe Ruth left the Red Sox for the Yankees. William Gallas played for every London club except Wimbledon. Shaq played for the Lakers and the Celtics. Deion Sanders played for the 49ers, Cowboys and Redskins. If athletes are given fair compensation and a better chance to win — they will leave. Simple.

It’s nothing to get miffed over. Look at it like this — if a superstar leaves your team, one, you’ve dumped a BIG salary. Two, in being bad, most leagues reward poor play with high draft picks; so the road to recovery isn’t as far off as you might thing — Kyrie Irving & Co. being example #1. Third and most importantly, if an athlete doesn’t want to play for your team, you should be ecstatic he/she’s gone!  In truth — they’ve done you a favour!

The moment relegation enters in the four major sports, then you’ll have the right to start burning your clothes — but not a second before.

“The Seen’s Bad Enough”

First, a point of order: I don’t really put much stock in the whole “blessing and curses” thing. I understand that other people believe in them, along with a whole host of other useless *things humans have invented/constructed, but I must say, I’m interested in them nonetheless…

I’m pretty sure it’s in human DNA to think anything mysterious or unintelligible (that just so happens to be detrimental to our existence) is some sort of curse. I’m not sure where we get it from? They’re there in the Bible, but even before that, I’m sure people were still worried about grey clouds filled with ill-will following them about. I think religion plays a big part in proliferating “blessing and curses,” but I’m still not completely sold on them.

I don’t really buy curses, like I said, but I do believe in having a shitty year, month, whatever; and that’s the thing — people confuse “shitty” with being “cursed.” Do some people have a shittier time overall than others? Of course. The fact I’m typing this means I have free time, a computer, access to Internet, electricity, and some semblance of education; there are people everywhere, that a faucet of running water five miles from their *home would improve their way-of-living 1,000%; with that in mind I do consider myself fortunate, but me “blessed” and them “cursed?” Nah.

The way curses are handed out seems to be fairly arbitrary as well. Who knows how you get to be “cursed?” Sinning possibly? Then who decides what sin is? What punishment do you get for the sin you commit? It becomes like a Rubik’s Cube at a certain point — confusing.

The bigger point is, if curses did exist, you’d think after (+/-) ten thousand years on the planet, mankind would have sorted out a pamphlet or flyer of some sort by now! Something that says in detail what curse littering gets you, or what curse murder gets you. Maybe not a Rubik, but at least a rubric of some kind?

I suppose the Bible or other religious texts may count, but the motives are suspect, not really used as a warning, but a threat. It’s the sheer connivence of blessings and curses in religion that annoy me.  Every time I would act out as a kid, it seemed like there was an old person there telling me: “Honour your mother and father, because you’ll live longer!”

I… Umm… what?

It’s a mind fuck!  You play on human want to live, and you can make just about anyone do anything. If that person wants to die, then I suppose the curse informant is out of luck, but for the normal among us, life’s pretty important, so you’d want to extent your playing time so to speak.  Taking the parent talk a bit further (as I’m sure it’s a familiar one to most people who grew up in a religious household), what about the atheist that lives to 70, 80, 90+; are these people exempt from the rule? And then people who die young that did honour their parents, was the Bible taking a holiday? It’s confusing, and I don’t for a moment pretend to know enough about theology to answer questions, but from the outside looking in, if you tell someone a curse will kill them if they don’t do “X,” 99 times out of 100, they’ll do whatever “X” is.

I’m more inclined to believe in blessings, but one without the other seems a bit hollow. Much in the same way a parent manipulates a child to behave with toys, candy, etc., so does the idea of blessings. It should be a pretty easy correlation that people who act friendly towards others would more times than not receive a like response, and assholes would be treated like assholes — simple, basic stuff. Just as a person who is diligent in their finances is more likely to have money to spend than someone who isn’t.

Take church tithes for example. I have sat through countless times, the “give and it will be given unto you” speech, and it makes sense to a point; but check this out — if you know to the dollar what 10 percent of your monthly earnings are, you probably have a budget of some distinction, you’re probably very organised, which would suggest you’re responsible with your money, and you’d have a greater chance of attaining economic prosperity. Not that giving 10 percent of your annual net is smart, but knowing what you make — very much so.

All things above considered, based on the placebo response, if a person truly and fully believes themselves to be blessed or cursed, chances are their lives will be consistent with what they believe to be true. That being said, not having the chance to poll of every third person at the local Taco Bell, I can’t claim it to be a perfect science — just a logical inference.

Whether Satan directly sends you messages via your toaster or maybe your family has an interesting history, there’s a logical explanation for just about everything. I couldn’t imagine trying to live knowing everything was bound to go sideways, it would take the point out of life. And by the same token, if you were so “blessed” that everything you tried worked out perfectly, what would be the fun of living if you didn’t have a challenge every once-in-a-while? I feel many people want a cheat-code to life — a way to never be on the bottom — but you kind of need a valley every so often to truly appreciate the view from a mountaintop. A tad lofty I know, but still.

The need to be “blessed,” or at least “not cursed,” is stupid — why stress about the unseen when the seen is bad enough? There are so many hurdles to this life shit already, that I’ve never quite understand why people want to create more.

“The Pivot Questionnaire”

actors-studio-set

After a small bit of Wikipedia research, I learned the Bernard Pivot questionnaire, as made famous by James Lipton on the television programme Inside the Actors Studio, is based on a thorough, in-depth series of questions from 1890 called the Proust Questionnaire.  Being born in 1990, 1890 feels a long ass time ago, but I suppose time is irrelevant in this case?  It’s the best part of the show, where actors and directors get to show off their wit and worldview just before getting brown-nosed and / or drilled (but never at the same time) by a few students / creepy “you’re-too-old-to-be-aspiring” people.

Nevertheless, I’ve always imagined my answers to the questions, so why not put them down now aye?  It is one of those things that in a month, year, decade the answers will more than likely change (hopefully not drastically), but I need a baseline.  I guess time isn’t so irrelevant after all…

*I don’t expect anyone to give a fuck about my these answers, but the questions are fun to think about.  I’m doing the Pivot Questionnaire because the other one, like I said (or meant to say), is too fucking bleeding long; and in some respects, too nosey.*

The Bernard Pivot Questionnaire

1. What is your favourite word?

Asinine;  because everything is.

2. What is your least favourite word?

Literally;  because you literally, don’t use it correctly.

3. What turns you on?

Assuming a woman’s body is a given, I’d have to go with a sense of comedic timing.

4. What turns you off?

Closed mindedness.

5. What sound or noise do you love?

When a basketball goes through a hoop, and the net makes that not-quite-splash, but not-quite-crack sound.  Ugh!  It’s literally like ear sex!  But it’s not though is it?

6. What sound or noise do you hate?

The loud, annoying, high-pitched squeaky sound a car makes when it has shitty breaks.

7. What is your favourite curse word?

If I had the accent for it, “cunt,” but I don’t, so “fuck.”  It’s very versatile.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

A player on the bench of an NBA team.  Free Gatorade, free money and great seats.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Strip club janitor.  Someone has to clean the poles off; and that same guy more than likely has to wipe the floor(s) in the champagne room(s).

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

“JESUS CHRIST!”

“Yeah Dad?”

“No not you Jesus, I’m just glad to finally meet Daniel in person is all!  Took him long the fuck enough didn’t it?”

“Welcome to Heaven!”

“Is it a Bridge too Far?”

For those of you that don’t know, I am deeply into the sport known around the globe as “football.”  You know, the one where you actually use you feet? My favourite team, since ever, has been Chelsea FC (London, England), and with the managerial merry-go-round in full swing, I need to vent talk a bit…

First off, I think a huge clap is in order! The Special One / The Prodigal One is back!

That being said, José has five main issues to sort:

1) Fernando, Fernando, Fernando
£50 million is a lot of money to spend on a player, and for the most part his price tag has been undeserved. Torres has had flashes of brilliance, just, they’re mostly in the Europa League. Nobody will forget the goal he netted against Barcelona in the Nou Camp, or the corner he won in the Champions League Final, but if Chelsea are to regain the Premier League, the FA Cup and hopefully the title: “Champions of Europe” again, the front line has to be solidified. Now, I’m not saying José needs to sell him or bench him, if those options are warranted you do it; but having the best interest of the club, rather than an investment should be the right course of action.

2) The Old Guard
Cêch, Lampard, Terry, Essien, Mikel and Ashley Cole are all under contract, and all played previously under Mourinho, what does he do with them? The replacements, as long as humans continue to procreate, are coming, and in some cases are already here, but I still feel these guys have something to offer. The way Chelsea handles the “over-30s” is still a bit confusing in my books. You look at teams like Arsenal in the mid-2000s, or Manchester United the past few years, players like Giggs, Scholes, van der Sar, Lehman and Bergkamp were all old as Methuselah, but still contributed to titles. Keeping the players he once coached in their primes happy about not getting as many minutes as they think their entitled to (based on status, wages, relationship, etc) will be one of, if not the biggest test of man management Mourinho will face this go around.

3) The New Guys
The rumours of David Luiz to Barcelona were already underway before José’s announcement, crazy world we live in — let them talk at least before we start offing the future! The likes of Luiz, Hazard, Mata, Oscar, Ramires, Cahill, Lukaku and even Courtois seem a brilliant place to compose a winning side for the next four to five seasons, but will they get the chance to gel, or will new singings influence the chemistry we have been waiting the past 24 months for? As the Old Guard transition their way out of the club (statutes will be made and everything), new players will be bought and can Mourinho steer the club in a winning direction when the likes of Lampard, Terry and Cêch are past due? We’ll see. He’s seldom had to construct a team, just buy, so hopefully he can flex his muscle in that area of managing as well. Inserting new talent, while retaining the Chelsea ethic if you will. Much like Sir Alex did at Old Trafford for 10,000 years, give or take a few.

4) Roman.
It’s basically like a breaking up with a girl you had a great, but rocky relationship with — you end up in a bad relationship(s), she does too — both of you break up with your respective others at the same(ish) time, and there is no better option than seeing if the magic still exists with your ex. Either it works or it doesn’t. You still both like the same things (in this case winning), but will the thing that broke you up in the first place (pride) have made you smarter and wiser, or more steadfast in your ways? Fingers crossed both Roman and José realise they probably need each other more than ever, and find a way to make the relationship last.

5) The – Not-So – Special One
This past season at Real Madrid, the aura of Mourinho has taken a bit of a hit. No longer was he this genius manager, a step ahead of the game, but rather a man in need of a hug for the most part. Is this stint at Chelsea in ways a pitstop? Sure (as I do think there is something quite nomadic in the man), but it’s also a time to build back the confidence and swagger he had when he came and when he left. This is a good thing for Chelsea. They will be getting a manager with something to proof to himself, and to Europe, that he still is the best, and still is the self-proclaimed “Special One.” Other than actual tactical procedures, this is Jose’s biggest task, getting himself, and in turn his club, winning and holding silverware.

All in all I feel the partnership has the potential for tons of headlines, tons of drama, and hopefully — tons of trophies.