Thursday, June 15, 2006

Wait! Don't go yet!

It's safe to say my aforementioned "hiatus" is still in effect, but a strange situation that took place before one of my finals got me to thinking about something worth sharing. Imagine this situation, which my fellow (former) college students should know all too well...

You sit down for an all-multiple-choice final and, because you're a reliable person, you've got your tiny green Scantron and sharpened pencils in hand. Then the dude next to you lets out a just-loud-enough-so-that-a-handful-of-people-can-hear-it yelp of "Fuck! I forgot a Scantron!", or some variation of that. Going back to that whole "reliable person" thing, you managed to buy an extra Scantron before the test, just to play it safe. Now, do you:

(A) Ignore this dude's cry for help, figuring that either another classmate will have an extra Scantron to spare or this dude will learn his lesson about not being prepared
(B) Offer him your extra Scantron out of the goodness of your own heart
(C) Offer him your extra Scantron for a small fee, say 50 cents, considering that you paid money for it and this guy certainly shouldn't get away with being forgetful off of your spare change
(D) Stab him in the eye with one of your pencils

After taking a couple of seconds to reflect on my options (and hum a David Hasselhoff tune to myself), I went with option number C. To my surprise, dude responded, "Do you really want money for it?" I responded that I did, and he handed me 2 quarters. Publicizing this will probably put me at risk for a few "cheap Jew" jokes, but it wasn't about the money -- I mean, I'm far from rich, but 50 cents isn't going to make or break me. It was all about principle. If I gave dude a Scantron and just let it slide, who knows what other future mishaps he'd think could be solved by the dependability of an unknown neighbor? I take pride in thinking that maybe, from now on, he'll think ahead in such situations. Furthermore, him questioning my request for payment rubbed me the wrong way -- I'm not the Scantron fairy, contrary to popular belief. If this was a person I had known for some time, giving them a Scantron of mine would be no big deal, but some random, forgetful douche like the one I encountered? He's got to pay.

Looking back on it all, I probably should've just gone with D.

Friday, June 09, 2006

My only friend, the end

Isla Vista is a lot like the condoms whose wrappers have littered its streets for some time now -- its primary purpose is to provide pleasure, but after a few years it loses its freshness. That's not to say that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed every year I've spent here at UCSB, but the fear of the "real world" that awaits me following graduation has slowly turned into anticipation. As this final quarter has moved ahead at the speed of a tortoise, I've found myself asking, "when is college going to end already?"

Well, look no further than next Sunday at 1:00, when a likely-hungover self will be shaking hands with Chancellor Yang and hazily squinting at the crowd. Goodbye to a place that I will never find an equivalent to until I visit Amsterdam, and hello to that "real world" that seemed so far away not too long ago. Well actually, it'll be a semi-"real world" at 1st, unless I end up living with my mom for the rest of my life (at least I'd be guaranteed good meals). But, it'll be a good precursor of what's to come, as in a matter of weeks I'll be working 4 days a week as an assistant at a law firm (not sure which one yet, but I have a pretty strong resume), taking LSAT prep classes twice a week leading into our 2nd encounter at the end of September, working on law school applications, saving money, and desperately missing NBA League Pass. No more paying out the ass to share a small house with 3 other grown-ass men (YAY!), no more "7 beer and 3 tequila shot" Wednesday nights (NO!), and no more writing albums reviews and random shit-talking (**sound of crickets**).

For now, at least. It's not necessarily that I've run out of things to talk about, as I have had a few ideas to discuss at length this week -- why Carlos Mencia is not funny, why I'm not nearly as impressed by Gnarls Barkley as everyone else, why I still have love for Shaq but desperately do not want him to win a championship this year, why I'm saddened that Crunchy Black is no longer with Three-Six Mafia -- but with the importance of what lies ahead, I haven't been able to really focus on shit like that. So, let me summarize each of my 4 points real quickly -- Mencia merely repeats racial stereotypes rather than make jokes about them, the whole "dressing up like different pop culture icons" schtick in their press photos and performances gives me the impression that they're trying to be the "Family Guy" of pop music (which is the last thing pop music needs, and this is coming from a fan of "Family Guy"), Shaq's public demands for a trade ensured that the Lakers wouldn't get anything close to equal-value in exchange and coming from an otherwise stand-up guy that irked me, and Crunchy's dance moves were killer.

But more importantly, I'll have to shut down shop for at least the next couple weeks considering the circumstances of what lies ahead -- partially moving out this weekend, finals next week, completing the move-out and graduating next weekend, 3 days in Vegas with my girlfriend the following week, and a graduation party back home on Saturday, June 24th, which most of you reading this are more than welcome to attend (hit me up for details). Not to mention that I'm not exactly sure when I'll have a high-speed connection at home, and if my computer has to be put in the living room (which seems very likely), it'll bring added difficulty keeping this blog/former-subprofile a secret from my family, though I had a close call when I stupidly exchanged AIM names with my then 7-year old and 13-year old 2nd cousins a couple years ago -- I'll never know if they read the section about my mushroom experience, or if they even understood any of it.

I'll go ahead and call it a "hiatus", only because I rarely get to use that word. But in the mean time, allow me to say thank you to all those who have partaked in my memories along side me -- I'll never forget y'all, and I hope we can all keep in touch. So I leave you all with a smile for the memories...

... and, as an added bonus, some memories for your smiles...

House Quotes
[A fan-favorite of my subprofile. The majority of these come from sophomore year, which was easily the most quotable of my college time.]

"What time is it?" - Villa
"It is... November 12th." - me

This one's kind of cold, but hey, don't shoot the messenger...
"Hey, what's that?" - Kwaz, watching Men In Black and sarcastically pointing out a scene with the World Trade Center towers in the background
"A graveyard." - Villa

Villa compliments me on my "Junkyard Dog"-esque style of play in our opening game win in C-league basketball, a game in which I also took an errant pass to the head
[Quick background -- retired NBA player Jerome "Junkyard Dog" Williams was known for his hustle and energy on the court, as well as his fucked-up teeth.]
"You gotta fill (JYD's) spot. You just gotta lose a few teeth first." - Villa
"Well, if I keep taking balls to the face... no homo." - me

"Snoop could bring coke back." - me, in the midst of a discussion about how Snoop Dogg can basically smoke weed anywhere and still be loved by old white people

"Who the fuck's 'Scott'? And why did you steal his bike?" - me, to Kwaz, as he enters the pad with his new bike that has "SCOTT" written on the frame [Turns out that's a brand name -- who'd have guessed that?]

"That shirt got me some action last night." - Kwaz, about his spiffy new long-sleeve button-down
"Why, did you put it over your face?" - Villa

"In your office. NOW!" - Matt, to Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a dream he had

"We all lived in the 1400s last year." - Jones
"The 1400s? Was that the scholar's hall?" - Liz
"Haha, fuck no." - me

"See, before The Passion, I didn't even know the Jews killed Christ." - Kwaz, the Agnostic
"Yeah, it's like, 'Jesus died? Shit, I thought he bought a sack off of Brian last week.'" - me

"We can't drink. We need to get drunk." - Villa

I mention to Kwaz about how at his concert, Kanye West said "Steve" instead of "Eve" in the 1st verse of "All Falls Down"
"Who's Steve?" - Kwaz
"I'm Steve, motherfucker!" - me

"I want a Mickey's, a 211, an O.E., and a Steel Reserve." - G-Bo
"A 211 is a Steel Reserve. You want 2 Steel Reserves?" - me
"Nah, I want a Mickey's, a Steel Reserve, an O.E., and a 211." - G-Bo

"He's got a spoon in his pocket!!" - Brian, reacting to G-Bo waking up and pulling a spoon out of his pocket

"I saw it on Hey Dude." - G-Bo, justifying his technique of standing on his head to get rid of the hiccups

...and now, the "drunk Neil" saga
"It's time to get serious! Reed?" - Neil, pounding on table
"Yeah." - Reed
"Serious! Gannon?" - Neil, pounding on the table
"Yeah." - Matt [He looks like Rich Gannon, by the way.]
"Serious! Villa?" - Neil, once again pounding
"Yeah." - Villa
"Serious! That's Vi-ya, not Vi-la. Double L becomes a 'Y'! Buha?" - Neil
"Yeah." - me
"Serious! No 'if's' or 'but's' about Buha!" - Neil

"It's like, I could do that." - Neil, after seeing Conan O'Brien on TV

Neil grabs a cigarette and everyone proceeds to walk outside, except me
"Sorry, I don't smoke." - me
"It's cool, man. You still win." - Neil

"Buha, I got something for you." - Kwaz, after I told him I made out with a girl that had just left our house
"What is it?" - me
"A high-five!" - Kwaz

"Where we going? Back to my house?" - Brian to Kurt, while in our house

"I ate some tin foil the other day." - Reed

"You should name your kid 'Me-touching.'" - Omer, to Brian [If you know Brian's last name, you'd know why that's funny.]

Brian, off a Mickey's, a hit off the 4-footer and 3 hours of sleep, throws his jacket at Kwaz
"Who's jacket is this?" - Kwaz
"It's mine! Give it back!" - Brian

"You love the weed, don't you?" - me
"It beats doing shit." - Tyson

"I would die for an STD." - Jeff, on a tirade about SBCC bitches

"One of the girls in my group is Jewish." - Kwaz, who proceeds to look at me
"Let Steve B hit it. OH!" - me

"Freebirds is a pipe dream." - Villa

"Could've used you a half-hour ago." - me, to a condom

"I like this coffee table. We have a place to put our bongs." - Reed

"You're going to med school?" - Kurt
"No, I'm stoned." - Tyson

While sitting at my computer, Kwaz proceeds to enter, grab my shoulders and scream "BOO!" to successfully startle me...
"So... what's up?" - me
"Nothing. I'm just a big child." - Kwaz, who then leaves with his head down

"You missed your roommate last night." - Kwaz, in reference to me throwing up the night before
"What roommate?" - Brian

"Buha, you feeling okay?" - Kwaz
"Yea, I'm alright. I have that feeling like I don't want to drink tonight, but that'll go away in a matter of hours." - me

"Fuck this whole house." - Katie, after passing out the night before and having a penis and hairy nutsack drawn on her face with a Sharpie by Neil

"Today's the 1st day in a month and a half that I went to all my classes. But I missed 1." - Villa

"Mary! AY!" - Kwaz, screaming into his cell phone

"You can tell me when I ask you!" - me, being mean to Tara

"Did you know Abercrombie is racist against Asians and I'm Asian?" - Brian, to an Abercrombie-sporting Ashton

"I'm just drunk, I'm not an amusement park!" - a drunk girl in our house who we all stared at until she said something funny, hence the quote

"I don't role play. I just pound that pussy. I ain't Doctor Nurse!" - Brian, in reference to why he can't be a Cubs fan

"Do we have a VCR?" - me
"What's that?" - Brian

"Show me a good cookie and I'll eat it." - Villa

"I'm gonna piece a fat blunt in celebration of his death." - Brian, in reference to forgetful ex-President Ronald Reagan (R.I.P. ... and yes, he/we did)

"I bet he got a lot of pussy, dude." - Kwaz, in reference to Jesus

"Who put this Keystone in my hand? Hey, who's putting it to my mouth?" - me, defending my drunkenness

"The resin let's you know it's working." - Kwaz, in reference to... um, something

... fuck it, since I'm in a giving mood...

The Cheebas
[Another fan-favorite. These are all the things I've learned, and hope to have taught, based on my consumption of marijuana.]

Most Difficult Thing To Try To Explain: How porn works on computers

Best Smell To Come Out Of A Kitchen: Cooked bacon

Best Way To Scare A Stoned Person: Act like you're going to throw a bag of glass at them
[Note: To be most effective, obtain a bag of glass 1st]
[Runner-up: Act like you're going throw a dart at them -- nice try, Kwaz]

Worst Time To Drive: In the rain, while stoned

Most Awful Trend In Baseball: Fans wearing pink jerseys and caps [Fuckin' Cam'ron -- not that I don't like his music]

Brian's Favorite Song: "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley

Worst Thing To Listen To In A Hot-Boxed Car: Mike Ferry's "Handling Objections" [This is what happens when you have a friend working in real estate that forgot his CDs at home]

Most Entertaining Video Game: Bomberman 3
[Runner-up: Hot Shots Golf 3 -- who wants to buy some dirt?]

Most Oblivious When Passing Out: Kwaz, particularly with a partially-full beer in hand

Best Casual Vomiter: Kwaz
[Runner-up: Villa]
[2nd Runner-up: me]

Best Game: Name The Capitals [1st, international; then, states]
[Runner-up: Chief 'Til You Sleep]

Most Valuable Commodity: Money
[Runner-up: Corndogs]

Best Part Of 04/20/03: Everything except below

Worst Part Of 04/20/03: Domino's delivering a Pepperoni & Ham pizza instead of Pepperoni & Mushroom

Best Computer With A Cigarette In The Floppy Disk Drive: (tie) Kwaz's and Matt's, a.k.a. Ignignokt and Err

Worst Time To Get Blunted: The night before the day in which you plan to finally crack down and study for finals

Most Underrated Musical Genius: Ol' Dirty Bastard (R.I.P.)

Best Idea For Measuring When Without Scale: Create 2 identical piles; 1 to sell, the other to keep and measure out in the future (courtesy of Vilen)

Biggest "Reed" Ever: Putting a vaporizer on top of a chocolate-covered graham cracker, subsequently melting the chocolate onto the table and into the vaporizer

Biggest "Vadim" Ever: Confusing a leopard-printed bag with a bag of pretzels
[Runner-up: Not knowing the date of New Years]

Most Willing To Admit That He's Messed Up: Vadim

Worst Thing To Be Around While High: A computer with slow internet and no music
[Runner-up: Schemish bitches]

Best Sunday Ever: Saturday, 11/08/03 [If only it really were a Sunday]

Longest Movie: The History Of Everything That Ever Happened [Note: Not an actual movie]
[Runner-up: Matrix Reloaded]
[2nd Runner-up: The Postman]

Movie That Smoking Pot Can't Even Make Enjoyable: Robocop 3

Movie That Smoking Pot Can Make Enjoyable: Mulholland Dr.

Best Situation To Watch A Movie Under: Freddy vs. Jason, in a theatre full of rowdy Canadians

Worst Situation To Watch A Movie Under: Kill Bill Vol. 1, next to loud chicks
[Runner-up: Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, in friend's room w/ parents sleeping in next room]

Worst Rap Video: Lil' Jon's "Get Low" Remix w/ Busta Rhymes & Elephant Man, for combining three distinct music styles -- reggae, salsa and bad
[Runner-up: Nelly's "Tip Drill", which you can only see on "BET Uncut", for fantastic reasons]

Craziest House On MTV Cribs: Terrell Owens, for the pimped-out room in his basement which he calls the "Chocolate Parlor"

Best Name To Tag Into Fogged-Up Car Window: “STEVE”

Best Parking Job: Old guy parallel parking

Favorite Internet Pastime: Yahoo! Dominoes
[Runner-up: Warning people anonymously on AIM and pretending like it wasn't you]

Best Freshly-Baked Cookie: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip

Best Burger: In-N-Out Double-Double with grilled onions

Best Fries: In-N-Out "Animal Style"

Worst Burger: The burger In-N-Out forgot to give you that you paid for
[Runner-up: Smushed Double-Double]

Best Non-Burger Fast Food: Taco Bell Double Decker Taco (preferably 2)
[Runner-up: Jack In The Box Philly Cheesesteak, R.I.P.]

Most Underrated Fast Food: Del Taco

Best Non-Fast Food: Herb & Butter Rice-A-Roni

Worst Thing To Eat Prior To Getting Stoned: Chinese food

Best Thing To Buy In Bulk: Nesquik
[Runner-up: Marijuana]

Best Tastes-Good-With-Anything Seasoning/Sauce: McCormick Szechuan Style Pepper Blend
[Runner-up and Former Winner: Tapatio]

Worst Time To Play Pool: May, a.k.a. National Angle Month

Best Jacket: Bomber jacket (for Top Gun impersations)

Best High-Pitched Voice: Paul Bearer (Undertaker's old manager)

My New Nickname Which Hardly Caught On: "Stilleto" (because I'm "tall and smooth")

Funniest Misuse Of Words: saying "Actuality" instead of "Actually"
[Runners-up: "Courvasier" instead of "Concierge"; "Variation" instead of "Very Asian"]

Smartest Person To Light A Joint At The Wrong End: Me

What There Ain't Nothing Like: Money in a Ziploc bag

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Busta Rhymes - The Big Bang

Busta Rhymes never really came off as the type of rapper who craved the spotlight -- over the course of his 1st 3 albums, the spotlight just seemed to naturally cater to him. His energetic mic presence, growling voice and creative personality brought him to the forefront of his former group Leaders Of The New School, and as a solo artist, he made hit songs that bumped and accompanying videos that pushed the envelope. With the exception of "How's It Gonna Be", which featured Janet Jackson, all of his hit singles back then were solely his -- "Woo Hah!", "Dangerous", "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See", and so on. It was always Busta in front of the fisheye-lens camera, waving his dreads around, making faces, sporting big hats, just doing shit other rappers really didn't do. It was Busta being Busta, and the masses loved it.

Then some things changed in 2000, when he dropped album #4, Anarchy. Though it wasn't at all a bad album (probably underrated, in fact), and featured a stellar guest list (Jay-Z, DMX, Raekwon, Ghostface, M.O.P.), it lacked that sure-fire smash hit that Busta's reputation had been based on -- "Get Out" sounded too much like "Hard Knock Life", and as hard as MTV tried to push "Fire", it just wasn't happening. Ever the hard-worker, he released Genesis a year later and effectively ended his short-lived lack of buzz, because this time around, Busta tried something new that ended up working wonders -- employing heavyweight producers, in this case Dr. Dre and the Neptunes, to assist him on 5 tracks, among them "Break Ya Neck" and "What It Is". Seeing that the spotlight that had catered to him before was now growing to be bigger than he could fill alone, Busta began to bring in others to help, be it Dre, Pharrell, Puff Daddy, Mariah Carey, Sean Paul, singing Mary J. Blige, rapping Mary J. Blige, or any of the 20-something rappers he threw on his remix to "Touch It".

For his 7th commercially-released album, an accomplishment in itself, Busta's tried something new again, signing to an artist-run record label in Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records, a trend that had served to aid many a popular-in-the-'90s rappers -- Common is on Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music imprint, Nas just signed to Def Jam which is headed by Jay-Z, and Mobb Deep and Mase are now full-fledged G-Unit clones. The Big Bang not only puts pressure on Busta to live up to his full potential with "the good doctor" behind the boards, but also puts pressure on Dre, a notorious perfectionist who would more willingly drop an artist than release a wack album (Hittman, anyone?), even if that means making the public wait multiple years (Detox, anyone?).

Busta is most well-known for making party tracks, and one knock to his music is that seemingly, if you've heard one Busta album, you've heard 'em all. You know what he's going to say -- let's get high, let's get drunk, shake that ass, party goin' on over here, turn it up, you know we come through and give you what you need, and so on and so forth -- and for the most part, you know how he's going to say it. On The Big Bang, Busta limits this element of his career much more than on any prior album, but when he does bring it out, Dre's production and oversight makes it much greater than what you'd expect. The haunting melody on the opener "Get You Some" keeps it from being the prototypical "money, cars, women" track that most MCs will create, and "How We Do It Over Here" may be the 1st time I've successfully withstood a Missy Elliott appearance, though it was a very difficult task. On "New York Shit", Busta is taking a stand for his home state in the midst of the South's taking over of hip hop with rudimentary "snap" and "screw" music, and with DJ Scratch's infectious beat and Swizz Beatz' old school-flavored hook, its anthem quality is undeniable. Busta's always been wise in knowing when to dumb down lyrically in exchange for making a great record, and "New York Shit" is such a record.

These 3 tracks and "Touch It", which we've all heard by now, make up the 1st 4 tracks of The Big Bang, and up to this point its a Busta Rhymes album without a doubt. Then "Been Through The Storm" starts up, with who else singing on it but... Stevie Wonder?!? Busta's semi-autobiographical verses are a complete 180, and the marvelous Dr. Dre beat adapts throughout, building up to a symphonic ending. "In The Ghetto" follows, with more singing, this time from... Rick James?!? The late legend's crooning brings even more life to an already-funky track. Busta's freshness typically came from experimenting with new, often lightning-fast rhyme schemes, but on this album, it's his chemistry with 2 legendary music figures who've likely influenced every MC in some way, shape or form that produces truly standout music. This more mature Busta also shows up on another highlight track, "You Can't Hold A Torch" f/ Q-Tip, where the 2 N.Y. mainstays question the direction of hip hop over a soulful piano beat by another belated hip hop hero in his prime, J Dilla.

Though The Big Bang is not without its faults, they ultimately amount to one very forgettable, very skippable track -- "I Love My Bitch" f/ Will.I.Am and Kelis. It's downright silly, corny, awkward, awful, insert negative adjective here, and that's not even touching upon how contradictory it is to say you "love" someone who you'd willing call your "bitch". The Timbaland-produced "Get Down" is a slight misstep -- it would've served better amongst the more party-flavored opening tracks, and the minimalist nature of the beat is a far cry from the quality of recent Timbaland contributions to highly-anticipated albums (i.e. "Dirt Off Your Shoulder", "Put You On The Game"). The following track, "I'll Do It All", features another surprising guest spot in LaToya Jackson, (though I'm fairly confident that it's actually a typo on the leaked version because the female singing sounds distinctively like Snoop-protege LaToiya Williams), but the singing is not what affects the song for the worse, but rather the slow, dragging flute-based beat that gets boring rather quickly. Outside of these 3 tracks, one could also question, considering his goofy demeanor back in the day, when Busta got so deep into the crack game, but it doesn't musically affect "Cocaina" f/ Marsha of Floetry, or "Gold Mine" f/ Raekwon -- I guess if you're going to make a track about drug dealing, you might as well put Rae on it, and with Busta taking the role of co-executive producer on the forthcoming Cuban Linx II (which apparently is going to be released on Aftermath?), it's a sign of good things to come.

On the closer, "Legend Of The Fall Offs", Busta speaks emotionally on rappers, with no need to name names, who've been at it for a long time and are at the end of their careers, certainly speaking from experience considering that pre-Aftermath-deal-Busta was struggling to maintain popularity. Another powerful song produced by Dre, the beat works around the sound of a shovel digging up an dropping chunks of dirt on a grave, very impressively. Always one to talk about how hip hop has been changing for the worst, The Big Bang is Busta's attempt to do something about it. By the end, the highest of the highs ("New York Shit", "Been Through The Storm", "In The Ghetto") outnumber and overshadow the lows ("I Love My Bitch"), and one can't help but be impressed with how Busta and Dre collectively raised the bar. With Busta's affinity for making party-ready records, the fact that the majority of the tracks on here possess a deeper, darker, more sentimental feel was a risk -- but, a risk that worked for the best, making for one the best releases of the year.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Don't mess with the bull, you'll get the horns

R.I.P. Principal Dick Vernon. Oh, I mean, Rich. I wonder if Barry Manilow ever found out about you raiding his wardrobe. Man, that was a great movie.

Another tidbit of interest: Judd Nelson's name in the movie? Johnathan Bender.