Toronto! (Plus: How to recognize a Canadian!)

On the eight, I will be flying out to Toronto for a week in order to, among other things, visit family, see the zoo and watch the Jays. I will try to update my blog while on vacation, but I think it unlikely that I will be able to. If my blog goes un-updated for more than a week though, it means that I have either been murdered for drug money by Toronto’s crackhead mayor, or have watched Josh Johnson pitch and suffered a coronary as a result.

Fret not faithful viewers! Before I venture off into a pleasant getaway/impending doom, I will leave you with a healthy tip on how to recognize a Canadian!

How an American/Brit will pronounce “Toronto”:

To-Ron-to

How an American/Brit trying to sound Canadian will pronounce “Toronto”:

To-Ronno

How a Canadian will pronounce “Toronto”

To-Ronno

“Aha” You may think to yourself, “Those last two sound exactly the same! You’re a fraud, random blogger I found on the internet while searching for pictures of Emma Watson in revealing clothing!”

Well, if you weren’t thinking about it before…

But you see, there is a difference. When a non-Canadian says “Toronto”, nothing happens afterwords.

When a Canadian says it, however, “O Canada” starts blaring triumphantly in the background as water turn into maple syrup while Mounties arrive to serve ice-cold Molson’s as ice-skating beavers play an impromptu hockey game.

“O Canada! (Fuck Yeah!)”

See ya next week (At the latest)!

Musician Biography: 30 Seconds to Mars

There are a few things that are certain in this long, painful life that we lead. Specifically, death, the failure of the Chicago Cubs, shitheads on YouTube (Comment sections or otherwise) and celebrities who enter musical careers only because they once played a musician in a movie.

Ahem.

But it also seems that there’s at least a few exceptions to the aforementioned afflictions. Some people seem to cheat death against all odds including, but not excluding, Christopher Lee (Awesomely) and Fred Phelps (Unfortunately). People get out of paying their taxes all the time. Of course, by people, I mean the good people at heartless companies like General Electric. If you look past the commentators, YouTube has some good stuff on it (SourceFed, Vsauce etc.). The Cubs had that one championship more than one hundred years ago.

This seems as good a time as any to declare Fred Phelps to be an asshole again.

The exception for the last category (That is the actors turned celebrities) is the subject of today’s “Musician Biography”. Ladies and Gentlemen, give it up for:

30 SECONDS TO MARS

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Active From: 1998-Present

Genres: Alternative Rock, Neo-Prog, Space Rock, Experimental Rock, Hard Rock, SynthRock, Post-Hardcore (Early)

Legacy: The flourishing of Jared Leto’s musical career and the continuing public indifference to his film career. Also, making teenage girls buy into the misguided belief that the success of this band means prog’s cool again.

Teenage girls are into musicians for the quality of their music, right?

As you may or may not no, Jared Leto is an actor from Louisiana who has appeared in several moderately well-known movies, including Requiem for a Dream (In which he plays a heroin addict and dealer), Fight Club (In which he gets the shit beaten out of him by Edward Norton), American Psycho ( In which he is ax-murdered by Christian Bale) and Alexander (In which he plays Colin Farrell’s gay lover). He started 30 Seconds to Mars as a small family project with his brother, Shannon Leto. In 2001, the brothers recruited Matt Wachter to play bass and keyboards, and Solon Bixler on guitar. Bixler eventually left and was replaced by Croatian-American guitarist Tomo Milicevic.

Because the Leto family is, y’know, rich, they were able to get in the studio and start recording an album in 2001. In July, the band released their first single, “Capricorn (A Brand New Name)”. On August 27, 2002, they released their first, self-titled album, in which Jared played guitar, vocals, bass guitar and synthesizer. The album (Influenced in part by the science fiction novel, Dune) was received warmly by critics, who praised the lyrics, themes and musicianship. Personally, I though the album to be pretty fucking boring. On the plus side, Leto is a great songwriter and musician, but on the other hand, perhaps aside from “Capricorn”, the album is pretty nondescript and doesn’t grip me at all, but eh, what do I know?

Apparently, not too much, as the album zoomed to the top of Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart and hit 107 on the Billboard 200. “Capricorn” ended up peaking at No. 31 on the American Rock Charts while a post-relese single, “Edge of the Earth” hit No. 5 on the UK.

After touring for the album concluded, the band recorded and released another single, “Attack”, which critics and fans (And me!) adored, mainly because it showcased Leto’s amazing vocal talent. It isn’t often that an actor starts a musical career and actually has a passable voice, much less a good one.

Right, Bruce?

The following album, A Beautiful Lie, which was recorded over four years on Leto’s various film sets, was released in August of 2005 and was praised by critics (And me!) except for AllMusic, which surprises me, and Rolling Stone, because well, duh.

When you have to present terrorists in an attractive fashion on your albums to get some attention, then your musical opinion can be taken with a grain of salt, I think.

The album, which abandoned the prog metal of their first album for emotionally charged alternative rock, reached No. 22 on the Modern Rock Charts (And No. 1 in Canada!) and was eventually certified platinum, while a post-album single, “From Yesterday”, hit No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks (Though, to tell you the truth, I kind of hated it).

Having achieved mainstream success, the band embarked on the “Welcome to the Universe” tour, which lasted two years and solidified their rock star statuses. During the worldwide tour, they championed environmentalism (Of course they did) , shot the first ever American rock music video in the People’s Republic of China and had Matt Wachter leave the group to spend more time with his family and, eventually join Angels & Airwaves. He was replaced by Tim Kelleher, who is still with the band, but only as a touring member.

But wait a minute. What’s missing from the picture here? Hmmm…. Oh, that’s right, the obligatory dispute with an asshole record label? How could I be so foolish?

In August 2008, Virgin Records sued the band for a whopping $30 million lawsuit, claiming that the band failed to deliver the five albums that they were obligated to deliver. However, under California law, nobody can be bound to a contract for over seven years. Virgin, realizing that they hadn’t done their research in their quest to wring every last drop of money out of their bands, dropped the lawsuit and the band re-signed with them, for some inexplicable reason.

Although Jared Leto did make a documentary about the lawsuit, so maybe it was all for the purpose of an elaborate “fuck you.”

Fun fact: at the preview of the above-mentioned documentary, someone may have tried to kill Jared Leto. Could the labels have made their way from bullying and intimidation to murder? If so, then I have some potential targets that I think everyone can agree on.

Yes you, bitch.

On December 8, 2009, 30 Seconds to Mars released their third studio album, This is War. This would prove to be their most successful album yet, hitting No. 18 on the Billboard 200 charts, number 4 on the Rock charts and number 2 on the Alternative charts. In addition to this, three of the singles, “Kings and Queens”, “This Is War” and “Closer to the Edge”  got in the Top 10 pf the Billboard Alternative Charts, with the first two tracks hitting 1st place.

The album received  positive reviews as well. It is my personal favourite album on the 30STM catalogue, if only for the fact that “This is War” is on this album. Anyways, the resulting supporting tour won the Guinness World Record for “Longest Concert Tour by a Rock Band”, playing a total of 309 concert shows in just over two years.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Um, pretty much the same place as always. Their latest album, Love Lust, Faith and Dreams, showcases the bands full musical talent/pretentiousness, with elements of symphonic rock edging out a large amount of the hard rock edge. Still, it was both critically and commercially successful, hitting number 6 on the Billboard 200. Personally, I’d rate it as better than the self-titled album by far, but not as good as A Beautiful Lie. It’s just too damn pretentious for me to take completely seriously. Also, it has one of the ugliest album covers known to man.

As a rule, album covers should note make you think of Connect Four.

@ The All-Star Break! (American League)

So, what have we learned during the All-Star Break?

  1. The Home Run Derby is still tons of fun.
  2. Yoennis Cespedes rules.
  3. Wherever there is a ballplayer living in the United States who speaks poor English and needs a translator, lowlife rednecks will call him out for “ruining Americas pastime”.

Seen Here: America’s pastime.

4. Prince Fielder is capable of hitting triples. However, in doing so, the resulting tremors usually result in the complete destruction of a small Asian country. Nice knowing you, Singapore.

God forbid he slide.

5. Mariano Rivera is awesome and his last All-Star Game was quite heartwarming. However, if he pulls an un-retirement (Andy Petitte style) let’s all agree not to do that again, okay?

However, the All-Star Break is also a fantastic moment to take stock of the season do far. It’s not the halfway point that everyone keeps calling it for some reason, but who’s got time to calculate half of 162?

“Fuck math! From now on, dealing crack is the life for me!”

So, here are the current standings and my predictions for the major award winners and division/league/World Series champions.

AL EAST

My Pre-Season Prediction:

  1.  Toronto Blue Jays
  2. Tampa Bay Rays (Wild Card)
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. New York Yankees
  5. Boston Red Sox

Current Standings:

  1. Boston Red Sox (58-39)
  2. Tampa Bay Rays (55-41, Wild Card)
  3. Baltimore Orioles (53-43)
  4. New York Yankees (51-44)
  5. Toronto Blue Jays (45-49)

Well, this division is stacked.

Biggest Surprise: That would be the Red Sox who, in the wake of the tragic Boston Bombings, have been exceptionally good even after injuries to Clay Bucholz and Joel Hanrahan, putting together a great (Likeable!) team. While it’s kinda tough to determine what exactly made this team click, I’m pretty sure it was getting Alfredo Aceves to fuck right on off to AAA that relaxed the mood.

And to think it took the Canadian national team to kick his ass before…

Biggest Disappointment: Well fuck, I don’t really need to say it, do I?

Alright, fine. The biggest disappointments are my beloved Toronto Blue Jays. As it turns out, assembling a whole shitload of talent and throwing them onto a baseball field isn’t always the way to go.

On the positive side, we didn’t take the Marlins logo along with Emilio Bonifacio.

MVP: Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox

I will probably get brutalized for not picking Chris Davis (Or not, considering how much people read my blog) and for picking a Red Sox when I am a Certifies Red Sox Nation Hater, but goddammit, I LIKE Dustin Pedroia! A .316 Batting Average and excellent fielding don’t hurt, either.

Cy Young: Clay Bucholz, Red Sox

Even with his recent DL stint, Bucholz was leaps and bounds over any other AL East pitcher in the first half.

Rookie of the Year: Jose Iglesias, Red Sox

After a (Very) unimpressive cup of coffee in 2012, Iglesias got himself a starting job this year, with both Will Middlebrooks and Stephen Drew on the DL, and has run with it so far, hitting .367 in 180 At-Bats while playing excellent defense.

My All-Star Break Prediction:

  1. Boston Red Sox (98-64)
  2. Tampa Bay Rays (95-67, Wild Card)
  3. Baltimore Orioles (93-69, Wild Card)
  4. New York Yankees (81-81)
  5. Toronto Blue Jays (79-83)

AL CENTRAL

My Pre-Season Prediction:

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Kansas City Royals
  3. Chicago White Sox
  4. Cleveland Indians
  5. Minnesota Twins

Current Standings:

  1. Detroit Tigers (52-42)
  2. Cleveland Indians (51-44)
  3. Kansas City Royals (43-49)
  4. Minnesota Twins (39-53)
  5. Chicago White Sox (37-55)

Biggest Surprise: Cleveland Indians

The Indians have beat the odds by proving that you can stay over .500 despite having an aged, 250 pound Jason Giambi on your team.

Biggest Disappointment:

Fuck, I dunno. The White Sox, I guess? Truth be told, I just really wanna get to the AL West.

MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Well duh.

Cy Young: Max Scherzer

I don’t take too much stock in wins and losses, mainly because they’re bullshit, but thirteen straight wins is nothing to thumb your nose at.

Rookie of the Year: David Lough

Who? David Lough? Really? Fuck it, okay, let’s roll with it.

My All-Star Predictions:

  1. Detroit Tigers (93-69)
  2. Cleveland Indians (87-75)
  3. Kansas City Royals (69-93)
  4. Minnesota Twins (69-93)
  5. Chicago White Sox (61-101)

Lessons Learned: 1. The Detroit Tigers don’t have to do too much to win this division and 2. The White Sox suck pretty bad.

AL WEST

My Pre-Season Predictions:

  1. Los Angeles Angels
  2. Oakland Athletics
  3. Texas Rangers
  4. Seattle Mariners
  5. Houston Astros

Current Standings:

  1. Oakland Athletics (56-39)
  2. Texas Rangers (54-41, Wild Card)
  3. Los Angeles Angels (44-49)
  4. Seattle Mariners (43-52)
  5. Houston Astros (33-61)

Biggest Surprise: N/A

There haven’t been many positive surprises in this division. The A’s and Rangers have been as good as expected, and the Mariners and Astros have both been bad and terrible, respectively.

Biggest Dissapointment: Los Angeles Angels

It just wasn’t a very good offseason to spend big, huh?

MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

He probably should have won MVP last year, but Superfish (A nickname that I really want to have catch on) hasn’t ;et his lack of a trophy slow him down. He may be the best all-around player in the game at the age of 22.

Cy Young: Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners

His fellow countryman Yu Darvish gets most of the credit (And he is really, really good) so it’s easy to forget that Iwakuma has been just as or almost as good in his Big League Career. It was almost a tie, but I went with Iwakuma for the reason that he has played more games than Darvish.

Rookie of the Year: Nick Franklin, Seattle Mariners

With all due respect to Nick Franklin… I think the AL West might have blown their prospect wad last year with Trout and Cespedes.

Damn you, Superfish, you ruin everything!!!

My All-Star Predictions:

  1. Oakland Athletics (99-63)
  2. Texas Rangers (91-71)
  3. Seattle Mariners (77-85)
  4. Los Angeles Angels (73-89)
  5. Houston Astros (53-109)

Yeah, I’m feeling the A’s. The Angels, not so much.

AL AWARDS

Manager of the Year: John Farrell, Red Sox

I hate this motherfucker. He openly stabbed the Jays in the back and half-assed it in 2012 after not getting his dream job that year instead of when his contract was up. Not that he did a great job managing the team anyways, but still.

That said, raise your hand if you thought the Sox would be a great team this year.

No you didn’t, you fucking liar.

Rookie of the Year: Jose Iglesias, Red Sox

Cy Young Award: Max Scherzer, Tigers

I may reconsider if Clay Bucholz stays excellent when he comes back from his injury.

MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Mike Trout may have deserved it last year, but this year, it’s all Miggy.

Tune back in soon for the National League and my playoff picks.

The Scale of Douchiness-Inaugural Edition

So, on Monday, I decided to jump on the Game of Thrones  bandwagon. Like many others, I’m sure, it has come to my attention, three episodes in,  that many of the characters on this show are insufferable douchebags.

And there simply aren’t enough midgets in this show to keep them in check.

So, it got me thinking, what if I took a little break from my ongoing “Baseball people who suck” series did a blog post where I compared the characters’ varying degrees of douchyness and came out with the show’s overall “Douchyness Standing”. I then decided against it, considering that it is four in the fucking morning, and I don’t want to commit too much time to this, as I have several columns that I may be way behind schedule on completing, like the aforementioned baseball series, a mid-season MLB prediction, another musician biography, and a couple movie reviews. Oh, the tense, never-relaxing life of a sixteen year old on vacation.

“Why have I been forsaken with this endless, endless free time??!!”

So, I decided to add another feature to my ever-growing cornucopia of knowledge. I call it “The Scale of Douchiness”. In it, I take a character, be it real or fictional, and evaluate their “Douchiness Quotient” (Patent Pending) on a scale of 1 to 8. The criteria is as follows:

– Severity of douche-crime(s). (Douche-Crime is defined as pretty much any action deemed unacceptable by reasonable people). It can range from obvious but minor douche-crimes (Popping collars, spray tans, getting smashed) to blatant and major douche-crimes (Murdering villagers, enjoying the “music” of Avril Lavigne, walking your child on a leash).

– Frequency of douche-crimes. Is it a one-time thing (Drunk-driving) or is it a serial incident (BrokenCyde)?

Here. Now you can hate them with me.

-Circumstances of douche-crime. Did the situation call for a douche-crime (self-defense killing)? Was it done for survival reasons or to benefit his/her family (Say, poor guy selling pot to get his daughters a better shot at education)?

So, anyway, here’s a sample one:

SUBJECT: KENNY S. ROLLINS

This is who came up when I searched my actual name. For the record, I’m a sixteen year old boy. But whatever, we’ll roll with it.

Douche-Crime: Dropping acid at the mall and cross checking old ladies and toddlers into shop windows before running through a playground fountain and declaring that “he is the lizard queen.”

Picture this, except with a brown teenager running through, drop-kicking anything that moves and screaming mostly incorrect Jimi Hendrix lyrics.

Douche Points Awarded: 2/2

Severity Douche Points Awarded: 1.5/2. Would’ve been a one if not for all the children (And adults) who were in need of counselling afterwords.

Frequency: 1/2. He is unlikely to repeat the crime, considering that he now mainly speaks in tongues and lines from Soul Plane, for some reason.

Circumstances: 1.5/2. Would have been 2 had it not been for the fact that the entire purpose of being a teenager is to act like an idiot.

Right, Joffrey?

Overall Douche Rating: 6/8.

Pretty ingenious right? I sure think so.

Anyways, stay tuned for more posts. Also, no Game of Thrones spoilers or I swear to God, I will to unspeakable things to you.