This is everything I've written here or elsewhere over the last few years. You can search, filter by publication, or choose from some highlights below.

a year without netflix

i really just hope she's happy


It was almost exactly one year ago that I gave Netflix the heave-ho, the 86, the Heisman. Having been told my $9.99-a-month deal was going to soar to $15.98 and include a reported massive cut in streaming selection, I really didn't hesitate.

My belief, and this holds true today, is that Netflix is a luxury service, even for an entertainment junkie like me (and my wife) with three kids who, through no fault of my own, can sing every Fresh Beat Band song there is.

God save us all.

And I was also right about this: The price increase and the public relations dumpster-fire that followed couldn't have come at a worse time for Netflix.

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wait! don't next me girl

why chatroulette is the most awesome thing that will never work


If you're looking for one of the most ingenious uses for the Interwebs that's come along in the last three years, look no further than Chatroulette (Caution: do not go look at Chatroulette). This video chat service that allows users to spin a virtual wheel and connect with a random stranger anywhere in the world with the ability to instantly spin said wheel again to leave them behind should, theoretically, be a fascinating way to connect, learn, and discover new people, places, and cultures.

But if you're looking for a rock-solid definition of the lowest common denominator of our one-world society, or more specifically, if you're looking for an endless stream of random male junk, and who isn't, then Chatroulette is exactly what you're looking for.

Oh, by the way, this column is not for the kids. Kids, stop reading. Go read Seanbaby. Sorry to be so late with the warning.

I had heard about Chatroulette and the sordid nature of what you could expect to find there. I don't know what else I expected to find, but the technology aspect of it fascinated me. I see it akin to teleportation, being able to instantly transport across the country or across the world, and get a look at what other people are up to. Like - "What's going on in China right now?"

And yeah, I guess it's a little bit voyeuristic.

Turns out it's a lot more than just a little bit voyeuristic.

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burn this office to the ground

all it takes is horrible writing


I can't understand how something could go so bad in such a short amount of time.

Don't get me wrong. I've been in relationships with seemingly unpsychotic women, I've had an eighth or ninth drink that I felt pretty good about before it delivered poison into my bloodstream, I've left milk out on the kitchen counter on a hot day. So I know how something can go from dream to nightmare within an extremely small window.

But what the shark has happened to The Office?

The Office wasn't always a great show, but it was the most consistently funny show from its second season until Steve Carrell left, with an incredible amount of realism that was never overshadowed by the comedy or the brief moments of excellent drama, most of which had to do with Jim and Pam and their non-romance.

Within the space of half-a-season, The Office has devolved from an honestly funny and relatable workplace comedy to a ridiculous circus of unbelievable setups and dick jokes, including a five minute conference room discussion on impotence.

My point is this never should have happened. And here's why:

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girls rock

an open letter to my daughters as they approach their tweens


Mighty Mites,

I know you're only seven and I know you've got plenty going on what with the first grade and the Jonas Brothers and the constant barrage of Barbies and unicorns trying to pry away your hard earned lemonade profits. I get that.

Not that I relate perfectly. When I was seven it was all Star Wars. It was easy. I had Han Solo as my guide. But it isn't just the nostalgia for the olden days that makes my upbringing seem so radically different from yours. Let's face it. I'm a boy. And that in and of itself lowered the expectation bar.

You've got a different path to walk.

So as you start to put away the baby dolls and the pocket pets and start wondering why my mobile phone gets Angry Birds and yours only lets you talk to an obviously over-medicated Cinderella, I'm going to give you your first primer on becoming a tween.

You're starting to figure yourselves out. Even in the relatively short time that I've known you, I can see dozens of traits and talents forming like buds in the springtime. And one of these that applies to both of you, I'm pretty sure, is your desire to rock.

How do I know this?

Let's call it an educated guess.

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van halen: a different kind of review

ranking the tracks from super incredibly awesome to not as awesome


Very quickly. This is not Van Hagar. There is no Love Walks In. If you had been waiting for that to happen, it is safe to buy this album and you totally should.

There. I just gave you the sum total of every navel-gazing "where-does-this-fit-in-the-history-of-Van-Halen" review I've read about this album. No one cares about the feud anymore. It's been too long. I wish Sammy and Michael the best, even though I never really cared for the direction, especially after the first three songs on OU812.

And I won't say anything bad about Van Halen III except that the only song I can remember from the era is that irritating ballad "More Than Words."

Done. Now, let's talk about this record.

It's brilliant.

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why the movies almost broke the internet

chris dodd, the mpaa, and pirates


Man, now I got a new hate.

I thought it couldn't possibly get any worse than the music industry, a cadre of corrupt suits and ever-willing lackey artists who, in the name of stopping piracy which they sort of disguised as an effort of saving art for the entire universe, resorted to suing housewives they caught downloading free mp3s onto a home computer.

I mean, it wasn't bribery, but that's still some kind of new record for douchbaggery.

Some ten years after it all stated, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the lobbying arm of the moving pictures business, failed at their attempt to pass two laws, known as SOPA and PIPA, in the face of a firestorm of pushback from... well... everyone. But it hasn't stopped the effort.

Here's what MPAA frontman Chris Dodd said about the debacle:

"Those who count on quote 'Hollywood' for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake,"

That's. Just. Awesome.

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it's the most horrible time of the year

how to beat post holiday stress disorder


I don't know about you, but when I woke up on 1/1/12, I felt awful. My head was splitting, my kids were missing, and my body was screaming with pain that, on a lesser man, probably would have meant a series of bruises.

I don't bruise. I internalize.

Oh, and I found the kids. They were at Grandma's for the night. Just forgot. Man, that was a relief. The cops had a good laugh too.

But as I rolled out of bed at the crack of noon, I felt pretty good about the 2012. See, long ago, I discovered that life has a way of presenting you with patterns, and the worst and most frustrating times in your life can usually be boiled down to either dismissing or denying those patterns.

I knew that the morning of 1/1/12 was going to be a septic tank. It's always a septic tank. And strolling down that same path, the entire month of January usually sucks. Bad.

Once you understand this and accept it, you have a much better chance of not only surviving it, but actually thriving in it.

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five holiday films for your inner scrooge

immunize yourself against the douchebaggery


I'm constantly surprised at the amount of people who lament the ushering in of the holiday season immediately after Halloween. To me, it's not the season itself that's the issue.

After all, what is it encroaching on really? Are we being distracted from fully enjoying shitty weather? The all-important first 10% of the NHL season? Have our fast-food and beer commercials gone all sellout trying to capture some of those Santa dollars?

"Aw man! Now there's a stupid polar bear on my can of Coke!"

Look, if you're bitching about the onslaught of the holidays, it's my opinion that you're trying to save the wrong whale.

Yeah, there are Christmas decorations up in Wal-Mart in November, totally obscuring the Shake Weight display. There are Christmas songs on the radio, and every Johnny Mathis ditty is one less opportunity to hear artists like Nickelback or Lady Gaga. And God forbid we have to miss one of the CSIs this week to make room for Rudolph?

Effing kids.

My point is, the culprit is not the holiday, it's that the holiday is being exploited in ways you already hate.

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much higher education

a plus b no longer equals c


Many, many years ago, I made one of those life-altering decisions that seemed like the only option at the time, felt like giving up, and would eventually cause pangs of regret in the years to follow. But now, in full hindsight, it turns out to be the smartest decision I ever made.

After graduating from high school on the positive side of the grading curve but not necessarily smashing that curve in any notable manner, I wound up at a prestigious, private technical school in upstate New York (Go Fractals!), one that I had worked very hard to get into and to which I had even earned a partial scholarship covering a good chunk of the total cost.

But from the moment I attended orientation and got the speech about which two thirds of us nerds would not be there at the end of four years, I got the shakes. Bad.

It wasn't about the courses, or the work, or the looming social scene or complete lack thereof. It was about the money.

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laughing in the face of death

potentially stupid, definitely necessary


Please note that I wrote this in OCTOBER OF 2011. This happened a long time ago.

After an exhausting four-day combination conference/lost-weekend, one that required a lot of driving, I returned home, crashed, and woke the next morning to the news that my Grandmother had passed away a few hours earlier.

This was not unexpected. In fact, I had packed a suit on the trip just in case I got the call. She was 93, she had been ill, and although she was lucid, she was ready to go.

Oh, and everyone claims their Grandmother is a saint, but mine was indeed a saint. Saint Grandma.

She was the only grandparent I ever knew, she single-handedly raised my father and his brother when my Grandfather died shortly after returning from WWII. She also pitched in a lot when my own Mom got sick during my pre-teen years. I'm the oldest of four. Four hellions.

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why i broke up with netflix

the beginning of the end


So I dumped Netflix a couple days ago. It wasn't much of a big deal. The woman on the other end of the line was very understanding, somewhat apologetic, and even a little cheerful throughout the entire ordeal, which lasted maybe 90 seconds.

Although I like to imagine she slammed the phone down and then went on her break to hatch an elaborate plan to stalk me and eventually win me back.

With poetry.

But it didn't go down like that at all. There were no histrionics. And conversely, I didn't go out in a blaze of rage. Deep in my heart-of-hearts, I still love Netflix, and I'm already going through withdrawal.

Maybe, once all this blows over, we'll end up together again when I realize I can't live without the comfort of having movies to come home to every night.

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5 things you must do to quit being such a douche

social media and writer laziness are killing quality content


I know. You see a title like that and there's a little part of you, no matter how savvy you are, that thinks: "Jeezus, I'd better read that and make sure I'm not doing and/or won't do one of those potential things. And thank God somebody distilled it down to five, so I can check them off my list quickly, before I have another chance to exhibit any douchiness in public."

Or some variation of that.

I'm also pretty confident that you'll forgive me for that ruse of a title. First of all, you ought to know me by now, after having tricked you into reading such classics as "Intrepid Media Got Me Laid!" and "You Suck." But also, this is definitely not the first time you've seen a title like that on the internets, probably not the first time today.

It's an ugly trend that has sprung up mainly because we've all gotten too lazy to read How to Win Friends & Influence People but we'll take a glance at 10 Ways To Tell If Your Boss Hates You.

Here's the formula:

X things Y must do to Z

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getting up, crossing the street, and sticking your face in the fan


Back in what the kids now call "the day," my best friend Greg and I had an incredible knack for daring each other into doing some unbelievably stupid things.

And when we were hanging off a 50-foot embankment hiding from state troopers or flying down the thruway at triple digits in a car that made way too liberal use of duct tape or pouring the x-teenth shot of some expensive stolen liquor, one of us would invariably smile and quip:

"How'd they die?"

This became a tradition, more in the spirit of a rhetorical question than a gut-check. The point of it was to clarify that we had probably crossed the line while attempting to achieve whatever it was that seemed more than worth the anticipated risk at the consideration of said attempt.

It usually had to do with girls.

Thus, I learned to calculate risk at an early age. And not long after that, much like Han Solo staring down the asteroid field, I learned it's probably best to ignore those calculations.

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yeah, you do it too


When you waste as much time as I do staying on top of social and popular culture, there are certain trends you can't ignore, even if they do kind of stab you in the eye once in a while.

For example, I recently discovered, through the painful task of reviewing the long public history of my own writing, that I was one of the first to start using the now pedestrian "Did that just happen?" (1995) and "I know. Right?" (2005). This culminated recently in the totally immature prospect of sneaking in a wittily ironic usage of the latter in a national if nerd-oriented column where it didn't belong, just to put an exclamation point on an inside joke with a friend.

I'm that cool.*

But social and cultural trends can be much more than the adoption of slang. I've been at the forefront of the shallow task of documenting the evolution of our social and communication universe as it has exploded over the last 10 years or so via email then blogs then Facebook and Twitter, so while other people are out there rescuing people from burning buildings or discovering new surgical procedures, I can tell you if what you're saying is "dope" or not. (Bonus! Hidden Humble!)

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end it

why bin laden's demise is only the beginning


I had something else planned for this space today, something a lot more funnier, but a very bad man met his end a few hours ago. And while I don't celebrate the death of anyone, I also don't need a whole chunk of time to analyze or reminisce.

When Twitter blew up with the news that Usama Bin Laden had died, then been killed, then been killed by American forces, then in a ground battle, and then when it was revealed that it was a proactive strike that had been in the works for months, a couple of things became evident.

One is ... just badass, military people, brav-freaking-o. Two is that we can't, and therefore won't, go back.

But we've got to move forward.

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