The MBTA is the Snowpiercer

Spoiler alert.

I really enjoyed Snowpiercer. It’s a clever, visually stimulating little piece of dystopian science fiction powered by a pair of excellent acting performances from Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in that kind of thing.

And the train it takes place on is basically the MBTA. No, I’m not kidding. Look at all these similarities:

  • You don’t want to eat anything you find in the last few cars.
  • The rich people make it worse for the rest of us. The idiots who run the MBTA? Rich. The annoying tourists who can’t figure it out? The entitled students who don’t shut up? The inance bros who wedge themselves into places they don’t fit? All well off, for the most part.
  • Drugs. Yup.
  • It takes an entire fucking year for it to get where it’s fucking going.
  • It gets downright weird on New Years Eve.
  • There are pregnant ladies with machine guns. Alright, not really, but those Klingon battlecruisers people are calling strollers these days are just as dangerous.
  • If you ever reach the very front, you’ll be exposed to some terrible, horrible shit – like employees who text while driving the train. Oh, the humanity!

Back to the movie for a second. Man…what’s up with that ending? You’re telling me a  leader patient enough to sit and watch and bide his time while children are kidnapped and limbs are taken as punishment is reckless enough to blow a hole in the side of the train? I don’t think so. Curtis chose to let his own best friend die so he could capture the leader of his enemies. This is a guy who takes the engineer position even though he fucking hates it and works slowly to make things better for his people. Smells like Hollywood stuck its nose in this one.

I Demand Truth in Liquor Advertising!

There’s an insidious trend infecting our otherwise wholesome television broadcasts, ladies and gentleman. By now we’ve all seen the new generation of liquor advertisements. These invariably feature a well-dressed, classy dude waxing philosophical about life and liquor while a sample of the advertiser’s product waits somewhere nearby for the guy to stop yapping and drink it. Occasionally this classy dude is a pirate. Regardless of their nautical abilities, these men all have one thing in common: they’re completely full of shit. These douche nozzles are not even remotely indicative of the people who really use these products, and personally, I prefer the real thing.

But what is the real thing? How can the various liquor companies properly represent themselves to the drinking public? Luckily, I’ve got an eight degree black belt in alcoholism.  Let me lay some knowledge on you about how commercials for various brands of hooch should go.

Jameson – Two thirty something men who’ve been pals since college but drifted apart due to work and marriage and all sorts of stuff that shouldn’t stop the drinking but does anyway get a night away from their wives, so they hit up the old college dive. After a few hours of pounding Bud Light and talking shit about people they can barely remember and may have invented on the fly, the drunker one suggests shots of Jameson. Both choke. One pisses himself in the cab ride home.

Jack Daniels - Fed up with always having to take out the trash and being forced to watch Dancing with the Stars, a father of two stops in the local shithole on his way back from picking up diapers and laundry detergent. He orders Jack on the rocks and spends the next four hours playing Keno, flirting with the unattractive waitresses, and ignoring his cell phone. Someone steals his diapers. He stumbles home and finds the misses waiting for him on the front stoop. He has to sleep on the couch for the next three weeks.

Jose Cuervo – A young professional bombs three margaritas without eating at an after work social with her coworkers. Jane from accounting finds her vomiting into the toilet and tells everybody.

Patron – A young professional bombs three margaritas without eating at an after work social with his coworkers. Bob from IT finds him vomiting into the urinal and posts a photo to Instagram.

Grey Goose - A throng of young ladies skips joyfully off the party bus and into a hip club, flocking merrily around the bride-to-be in her sash and tiara. The flirtinis don’t stop flowing – at least not until someone suggests a round of woo woos. The maid of honor goes home with the bouncer. They lose track of the bride to be and find her playing craps in the alley out back with the kitchen staff from the pub next door. Brunch the next day is awkward.

Jagermeister - Some guido from Rhode Island says it’s a good idea. Cut to stock footage of car crashes, crying babies, sad puppies, the Buff Bagwell’s mama on a pole match, and an atomic detonation. Fade to black.

See, aren’t those better? Every single one of those would make me think about investing in some sweet hooch, and that’s because these concepts include the most important ingredient of all: booze, untainted by bullshit.

Scott Colby for Boston.com’s Best Dressed List!

Every year, Boston.com, New England’s favorite online purveyor of smut, garbage, and crap pretending to be news, releases its list of the area’s most fashionable residents. Every year, the list includes one glaring omission: yours truly. This is the year that tragedy finally ends and those of us who really understand Boston fashion can stop crying ourselves to sleep every night. I belong on Boston.com’s best dressed list for a wide variety of reasons.

  • My diverse collection of plaid shirts is both functional and fashionable. I can bounce from lumberjack to new age cowboy to trendy coffee shop denizen without missing a beat. My preference for snappy buttons makes me a real hit with the segment of the female population that prefers men in easy-to-remove shirts.
  • My favorite pair of undies is dappled with anthropomorphic bottles of beer holding up smaller bottles of beer.
  • My ragamuffin hairdo is both a throwback to days gone by and a forward-thinking expression of what’s to come, evoking memories of old school newsboys and Dickensian street urchins while simultaneously preparing me for the inevitable dystopian future in which we’ll be too busy scavenging the odds and ends we need to survive and things like combs and gel will be naught but legends spoken of in hushed voices around radioactive campfires.
  • My second favorite pair of undies is decorated with hot dogs.
  • I never have and never will hesitate to wear a CM Punk hoodie over a Funkasaurus t-shirt in public.
  • My impressive collection of baseball caps means I’ve got the perfect hat for any social engagement. Beer fest? Milwaukee Brewers. Giving a talk to disadvantaged youth hoping to climb the social ladder through hard work and intelligence? Oakland A’s. Douche bag convention? Tampa Bay Rays.
  • I bought a Butt Stallion shirt at PAX East and I’m not afraid to use it.

Seriously, any best-dressed list that doesn’t include yours truly is an outright sham. I’m going to be either President of the United States or a post-apocalyptic warlord who rules Somerville and Everett with an iron fist, so media outlets should get to me while they still can.

Tom Brady is still a top five quarterback

An article published on ESPN.com today whipped New England sports fans into a certifiable tizzy. Tom Brady, the article said in no uncertain terms, is no longer one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

This is absolute horse shit, primarily because the vast majority of quarterbacks in the league are…well…absolute horse shit. But let’s play the ranking game. Let’s build some tiers, make some comments I’m not going to bother backing up with numbers, and crap all over a terrible article I can’t actually read because I’m not paying ESPN for their shit content. But that’s alright! I’ve spent more time drunkenly watching and yelling at football than anyone I know, which qualifies me to make value judgments without doing any research.

We’ll work through the assumed starters in reverse order, knocking off the lesser quarterbacks before building to a crescendo that will undoubtedly prove my point.

Tier 9 – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

32. Blake Bortles
31. Brian Hoyer
30. Whoever Starts for the Vikings
29. Geno Smith
28. EJ Manuel
27. Jake Locker
26. Ryan Fitzpatrick
25. Sam Bradford
24. Matt Schaub
23. Ryan Tannehill
22. Josh McCown

This crew makes me appreciate Tom Brady all the more. Look at all the AFC East quarterbacks in there! Hooray!

No one named Blake Bortles is going to be a good quarterback. Someone get this dude a scholarship to Subway’s sandwich school ASAP.

Tier 8 – Lucky Goobers on Good Teams

21. Andy Dalton
20. Jay Cutler
19. Joe Flacco

What a fucking goof troop. Dalton’s a big red joke, Cutler’s a head case, and Flacco lives in a panel van on the Chesapeake.

Tier 7 – Throw It More, Dummies!

18. Robert Griffin III
17. Colin Kaepernick

I like both players and think they can be successful, but there are some serious questions here about health, make-up, and accuracy.

Tier 6 – Something’s Missing

16. Carson Palmer
15. Matt Stafford
14. Alex Smith

They’re not great. They’re not terrible. They’re never going to take over a game for you. They’re the modern day equivalents of Trent Dilfer or Neil O’Donnell, except the modern game has inflated their numbers to the point that people think they’re somehow something more.

Tier 5 – Knocking on the Door

13. Nick Foles
12. Cam Newton

I want to see more out of these two. They’ve got a shot to be great, but neither’s there yet. Newton especially needs to work on his reads.

Tier 4 – Tony Romo

11. Tony Romo

You fucking heard me. Romo’s done more with less than any quarterback in the league, and I sincerely believe that most of his brain farts are the result of attempts to a carry a shitty team that’s too heavy for him to put on his shoulders. Put him on a team with some talent and a head coach that isn’t either a befuddled idiot or a robot running out of batteries and you’ve got a perennial winner.

Tier 3 – The Solid Vets

10. Philip Rivers
9. Ben Roethlisberger

You can absolutely win a title with these two guys if everything else goes right. Everything else.

Tier 2 – One Hot Streak Away

8. Matt Ryan
7. Russell Wilson
6. Eli Manning
5. Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck is the only player in this group I wouldn’t punch you in the face for putting above Brady. The dude’s physically dragged a relatively shitty Colts team into the playoffs each of the last two years, but he’s prone to big turnovers in bad spots. I make fun of Eli Manning more than any other player in the league, but there’s no denying he’s got it when he needs it. Wilson’s tough to judge given the talent in Seattle and his relative youth, but he’s matured quickly and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Matty Ice can be a force if he isn’t getting knocked on his ass every play.

Tier 1 – The Elite

4. Tom Brady
3. Drew Brees
2. Peyton Manning
1. Aaron Rodgers

These guys are undoubtedly the best of the best. Ranking them is prohibitively difficult; we’re really looking at numbers 1a through 1d here. Separating them means picking at nits so tiny as to not really matter. Brady’s not as accurate as he used to be and gets itchy against a solid rush. Brees and Rodgers have only won the big one when they’ve had strong defenses and a solid running game backing them up. Nobody poops himself in a big game quite like Peyton.

Regardless of how you rank this group…that’s still only three guys not named Tom Brady. Three. Even if you add in Luck, the only other quarterback with a case for this level, you don’t get the number required to knock Brady out of the top five. By that math, the ESPN article is certainly wrong, because science. And probably slight homerism.

The Cast of the New Star Wars was Announced – and I Don’t Give a Shit

You know why? Because the Expanded Universe has been declared non-canon. The new movies will progress as if 99% of the last twenty years of Star Wars never happened.

That’s completely unacceptable. I grew up with Han, Leia, and Luke – and, perhaps more importantly, their children. Although there were a fair amount of Star Wars properties that sucked, many of them have stuck with me. I know what happened to these characters, except now I suddenly don’t.

I called in sick to work because Chewbacca died saving Han’s son. I called in sick to work again because Han’s other son turned to the dark side and murdered Luke’s wife in cold blood.

Mara Jade, Jaina Solo, Jacen Solo, Anakin Solo, Kyp Durron, Corran Horn, and Kyle Katarn no longer officially exist. Our heroes never really overcame Grand Admiral Thrawn, Joruus C’baoth, Admiral Daala, Admiral Pellaeon, or the Yuuzhan Vong. Ben Skywalker, Luke’s son, just had the rug pulled out from under him just when he and his relationship with the Sith girl, Vestara Khai, were starting to become interesting. Even Knights of the Old Republic, the property that proved Star Wars could work without anything to do with the characters and stories told in the original trilogy, has been rendered invalid.

I’m done. Any property that thinks it can pick and choose what’s official canon and what’s not is not something I want to be involved with. Realistically, I should’ve seen this coming; for years it’s been said that George Lucas himself didn’t give a shit about the Expanded Universe. I’d hoped things would be different with the property’s new Disney overlords, that someone in the Magic Kingdom (my money was on Donald Duck) would recognize the value in these stories and utilize them in some fashion. Nope.

So that’s it for me. If Disney can say that the Star Wars stories I loved so much no longer exist, I can do the same to their versions. May the Force be with you.

Just Say No to an Olympics in Boston

Note: This article also appears at The Rec Room.

There’s been a lot of chatter around here lately about the possibility of bringing the Olympics to the Boston area. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to organize my thoughts on this matter and failing pretty miserably. It’s not that I don’t have a strong opinion on the topic; rather, the problem is expounding upon a rather simple thought in an informative and entertaining manner. My opinion in this case is really pretty simple.

Fuck no.

For one thing, we simply don’t have anywhere to put all the people involved. Visitors would be spread across hotels far and wide, likely taking over lodging in places as distant as Providence, Worcester, and Hartford. I mean, do we really want to stash important dignitaries and high powered executives at a Holiday Inn in Lynn or Weymouth? Well, I kind of do, but I’m an asshole and the thought of shoving fancy pants people into dumpy places puts a smile on my face. Needless to say, that would not reflect well on New England.

We also don’t have the necessary transportation infrastructure. Our highways couldn’t possibly deal with that traffic; getting anywhere would be akin to heading for the Cape at 6 pm on a Friday in the summer. The public transportation would simply implode in a huge cloud of dust accompanied by the panicked cries of frightened tourists, a Chernobyl powered by people who can’t figure out where Park Street is. And for the love of Mayor Menino, we sure as shit don’t need more tourists clogging our lumpy, irregularly shaped sidewalks.

Those who think the previous paragraphs are invalid because new infrastructure could be built have obviously never experienced the joys of construction in Boston. Let me tell you something, pal: there’s nothing quite like being trapped in single lane traffic on Storrow Drive because some asshole thought it was a good idea to put off fixing a few bridges, and MBTA shuttles that have to do great big loops around Boston Common and Beacon Hill to get to Cambridge are really special treats – doubly so when they’re filled with smelly, confused tourists who haven’t yet figured out that they need to hold onto something if they don’t want to fall over when the driver guns it to get around a corner. Sure, our infrastructure definitely needs an overhaul, but repairing and expanding everything in the small window of time prior to one of these events would be akin to having David Ortiz hit every commuter squarely in the crotch with his baseball bat every morning. Beyond that, the additional capacity added simply to host an Olympics would never be fully utilized again unless we brought in another Olympics; it’s shit we don’t need, and the future costs of maintaining it all wouldn’t be worth it.

And those costs? Whoa. A report released today by No Boston Olympics (who just so happen to have a totally awesome WordPress template) posits that it would cost between $10 and $20 billion dollars for Boston to host the games. Hell, Chicago’s failed hosting bid is estimated to have cost $80 to $100 million. That’s enough scratch to rebuild the Good Times Emporium, put an industrial strength air freshener in every MBTA subway car, and bribe NESN into putting Jenny Dell back on the field as sideline reporter despite her relationship with third basemen Will Middlebrooks – you know, shit that would actually make a difference to the people who live here.

Therein lies the real rub: the benefits simply aren’t there for your average citizen of the greater Boston metroplex, which makes the annoyances and inconveniences impossible to swallow. The only thing one of these huge events would do for Sully from Dorchester is make his drinking problem worse because his previously ten minute commute now takes an hour and a half. It’s not like we locals can actually afford to attend any of these things. The inevitable story about a Russian speed skater causing a kerfuffle by stealing someone’s parking spot in Southie or an Australian swimmer getting stabbed in the Glass Slipper would be good for a few chuckles, but that’s about it.

Boston just isn’t built for events the size and scope of the Olympics. I’d argue that’s part of the region’s charm. Do that shit somewhere else. But if you want to put Wrestlemania in Fenway Park…do it. Immediately. Sully from Dorchester and I would love that!

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Could Better Empower Its Authors

Kindle Direct Publishing is the rather blandly titled service that takes the dumb crap I type into my computer and turns it into books people like you can download to your Kindle devices and apps. KDP, as all the cool kids who selfie their Instagrams call it, comes equipped with a few discount functions and a basic set of sales reports. It’s pretty swell, but it could be a lot better if Amazon would stop bogarting their data.

Here’s the thing: KDP authors know very little about their audiences. I’ve got sales numbers, but those numbers exist in a vacuum. Without context, I can’t help myself help Amazon make more money off the free products I’m basically handing them. It’s a great big circle of sadness.

For instance, I don’t know how many people have seen my books’ pages. That means I don’t know if I need to change the information on them to try to generate more sales. With that data, I could tweak and retweak my descriptions to find the one that works best.

I also don’t know how people are finding my books in the first place. I’ve tried Twitter and I’ve got a Facebook page I’ve neglected worse than your average redheaded stepchild. I’ve completed author interviews for various blogs and posted in all sorts of forums. Is any of that helping? I have no fucking idea. Every single purchase of All Your Fault could’ve come from people who found a link on a pet grooming site based out of Tanzania for all I know.

And imagine what we authors could do if we had a clear view of our customers’ paths through the store. For example, if I had data proving my readers overlapped heavily with Stephen King’s, I could reach out to him to see if he wanted to work on some sort of self-promotion. He’d surely ignore me and I’d have to move down the list until I found a similarly small-time indy guy to work with, but whatever. It would help.

Here’s the kicker: as a technology professional, I know Amazon has this information. That’s just how modern web analytics work. I know how you got to this page. Well, not you specifically, but I know where my page views on this shitty site are coming from. If I can do that, Amazon certainly can.

So why don’t you share, Amazon? Pretty please?

2013 NFL Preview: NFC West

Only one team in this division has its act together. The other three train wrecks, each of varying entertainment value, just don’t stand a chance. Kind of like most groups out and about in the Faneuil Hall area at 1:00 am on a Saturday night.

1. San Francisco 49ers (Super Bowl champions) - I can’t remember the last time an NFL team was this loaded on both sides of the ball and came with a brilliant coach to boot. Injuries have left them looking a little bit thin at receiver, but the 9ers are deep enough and smart enough to compensate. A run at 16-0 is not out of the question.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Scarlett Johansson. Got it all and not going anywhere without an act of God.

2. Seattle Seahawks - SCREW YOU PETE CARROLL. I HATE YOU. I HOPE YOU RUN OUT OF TOILET PAPER AND HAVE TO WIPE WITH A PARTICULARLY ROUGH NAPKIN. I HOPE THE PILOT LIGHT ON YOUR STOVE GOES OUT AND YOU HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE MISSUS TO GET HOME BECAUSE YOU CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO RELIGHT IT. I HOPE YOU ORDER A BIG MAC WITH NO ONIONS AND GET NO PICKLES INSTEAD. I HOPE THE DRIER EATS YOUR FAVORITE PAIR OF SOCKS. I HOPE YOU LOSE YOUR LOCKER ROOM KEYS AND SECURITY CHARGES YOU $20 FOR A NEW PAIR. I HOPE YOU MISS THE TEAM PLANE AND HAVE TO FLY TO ST. LOUIS ALL BY YOURSELF IN COACH IN THE MIDDLE SEAT BETWEEN TWO FAT DUDES WHO SMELL LIKE PAULA DEEN AFTER A BUTTER BINGE. OH, AND YOUR TEAM’S UNIFORMS ARE UGLY.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Megan Fox. Hot but HOW DARE SHE LEAVE TRANSFORMERS.

3. Arizona Cardinals - The number of talking heads going on and on about how Carson Palmer is this team’s answer at quarterback is astounding. Put him on a loaded team with a nigh impenetrable offensive line and he’d do just fine. In Arizona? With a shitty line and no running game? Right. Tell me another one.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Whitney Cummings. Not going to be the next big thing regardless of how many supposed hot new shows they throw her in.

4. St. Louis Rams - Free Sam Bradford! He seems like a nice young man. He’s perfectly capable of challenging for a job somewhere nicer, like Jacksonville or Miami. This team is a joke.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Honey Boo Boo’s mother.

2013 NFL Preview: NFC South

Oh man. Another exciting division–and one that’s been historically unpredictable. No team has ever won the NFC South two years in a row and each has gotten a turn at the top. The NFC South is the NFL equivalent of your mother.

1. New Orleans Saints. The defense is still kind of crappy and there are questions on the offensive line, but Sean Payton, the ballsiest head coach in the league and one of the best at making in-game adjustments, is back in the saddle. Brees and company have one more run in them.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Keira Knightley. Hasn’t done much lately, but still one of my favorites. 

2. Atlanta Falcons. I don’t trust this team. Maybe it’s the uncertainty in Matty Ice’s eyes. Maybe it’s Head Coach Mike Smith’s defeated bearing. Maybe it’s the ACL new running back Steven Jackson is sure to blow by week four. Like Houston, Atlanta just feels like it’s missing that one transcendent superstar that can put them over the top.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Olivia Munn. Overrated.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here comes the end of any talk of Josh Freeman as a legitimate NFL starting quarterback. The Bucs aren’t terrible, but they don’t have nearly enough horses to keep up with the top two teams in the division. Putting a pirate ship in your stadium will only get you so far.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Portia de Rossi. What the hell happened to her?

4. Carolina Panthers. Really? They still exist? Is it just Cam Newton and a bunch of beer league castoffs at this point? Talk about a franchise that needs to throw some dough at a big time head coach or personnel man. Years of piss poor drafting and stupid extensions have left Carolina bit of a mess.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Amanda Bynes. Jesus Christ.

2013 NFL Preview: NFC North

Now here’s a division worth giving a crap about! A case can be made that all of these teams belong in the playoffs; put any of them in the weaker AFC and they’d be automatic. With so much talent among these traditional rivals, every divisional game is going to be fantastic. I want to watch them all.

And I originally titled this 2013 NFL Preview: NFC Central because I’m old and stupid.

1. Chicago Bears. That’s right. I said it. Chicago’s biggest issue the last few years (besides former Head Coach Lovie Smith being a useless dildo) was keeping defenders from turning Jay Cutler into a particularly bitchy pile of bruises and broken bones. New boss Jim Trestman’s offense focuses on protecting the quarterback. Hooray! He built it in the CFL where they allow an extra guy on the field, though, which will make those first few 12-men-on-the-field penalties a real hoot at parties.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Emma Stone. The new hotness.

2. Detroit Lions (Wild Card). They’re young. They’re talented. They’re finally a complete team thanks to the addition of Reggie Bush. They’re a bunch of hot-headed dumb asses, and Head Coach Jim Swartz is one of the worst offenders. Detroit’s going bankrupt, however, and that’s just the kind of story that typically spurs borderline playoff teams into unlikely postseason runs.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: I don’t know, who’s broke but kind of ok looking? Lindsay? Probably Lindsay.

3. Green Bay Packers. What? No wild card? That’s what happens when a team known for shaky offensive line play loses its starting left tackle for the season. Poor Aaron Rodgers had better discount double-check some extra health insurance; the dude’s going to need it, especially given that the Pack still hasn’t found a running game capable of making opposing pass rushers think twice about turning on the afterburners. Maybe they should give that dude with the red hair and the cheesehead a crack.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Jennifer Lawrence with a broken leg. You really just want to give her a great big hug and remind her it’ll probably be better next year.

4. Minnesota Vikings. So, about 2,000 yard rushers. They don’t repeat. Just doesn’t happen. You know what else doesn’t happen? Teams with shitty quarterbacks don’t make the playoffs unless they’ve got a tailback that can put them on his shoulders and carry them there. Adrian Peterson’s the best back in the league, but banking on another otherworldly season with a 6.0 yards per carry average is foolish.
Hollywood Starlet Equivalent: Lucille Bluth. I miss the inappropriate boat rides.