Boston’s Heist

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By: Connor Lenahan

Yesterday night Jon Lester was supposed to start for the Boston Red Sox against the Toronto Blue Jays. The operative word here is “supposed.” Lester was scratched a few hours early by manager John Farrell. This was widely believed to be indicative that Lester was to be traded the following day.

This morning those rumors became reality. Lester, along with 2013 champion and fan favorite Jonny Gomes, was sent to Oakland, the current best team in all of baseball. Lester, who’s in the midst of the best season of his career, is another arm for an already stacked Athletics team that is making as serious a World Series push as any team in my life time. Lester was the best pitcher the Sox had this year, but given their also-ran status and the unlikelihood that they could make another playoff push this season became an expendable piece of the equation. Lester could command a high return. How high?

Yoenis Cespedes. For those who are unfamiliar with the Cuban superstar, allow me to better introduce you.

He blew up SportsCenter when he threw an off-balance, 300 foot strike to get Howie Kendrick out at home a few months ago.

Then he threw out Albert Pujols on a similarly incredible throw the next night.

He also has won the last two Home Run Derbies. He doesn’t just hit home runs, he massacres spheres. He did this to AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer last fall in the playoffs.

Oh and Fenway Park will actually allow him to hit better than Oakland’s Coliseum did.

Plus Jon Lester’s contract runs out after the year. So he is then capable of signing anywhere he wants. He already started talking about how he wants to re-sign with Boston for 2015.

So for Jonny Gomes and 4 months of Jon Lester the Red Sox get an incredible bat/defensive presence in the outfield and Lester back next season.

Yeah, that was a heist if you ask me.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in journalism.

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Invisible

By: Connor Lenahan

One of my favorite things in the world to do is to plug myself into an audiobook and walk around Boston. When I’m not in Boston I drive around my hometown doing the same thing. I just like to explore the world and listen to a story. It’s peaceful and oddly interactive with the story. It’s strangely rewarding versus watching a movie quietly in one seat.

Recently I have been re-listening to a few books by my favorite author of all time Chuck Klosterman. Over my vacation I listened to Downtown OwlSex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; and Chuck Klosterman IV. Tomorrow afternoon I will begin another listen through of Klosterman’s 2011 novel The Visible Man. The story deals with a man who has come across the ability to make himself invisible to the naked eye thanks to a body suit developed for military purposes. With this suit he decides to conduct his own form of social experiment about how people act when they are alone – or in this case, when they think they are alone.

The book tells stories of the lives of the people observed. It’s fascinating and stunningly accurate on the lives of those that live entirely on their lonesome like myself. I loved this book and can vividly remember spending five hours of a road trip to and from Penn State’s campus listening to the story.

The most appealing part about it aside from the book itself was the trailer above. I was already reading The Visible Man when that trailer premiered, but it changed my perception of the book. It suddenly dictated how the story would be translated into the images in my mind. And you know what? I loved the book because of it. Even if you never intend on reading The Visible Man watch the trailer above. At the very least you will be asking yourself one important question.

Wouldn’t this make an incredible movie?

I cannot wait to wake tomorrow to a world where men are secretly observing my solemn lifestyle. I can’t believe I wrote that sentence either.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in journalism.

Really Useful Engines

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By: Connor Lenahan

For all of 2014 I have been able to post an article every single day. This is incredibly fun and rewarding for me to do, as I felt I’ve grown as a writer and as a person going through this exercise. It’s truly fantastic to have to challenge myself to find something new to talk about every day. What’s great is that most of the time I just get to write about the things I love.

While a lot of the posts I’ll put up are simply reactions to the news of the day or the only worthy idea I can come up with before I fall asleep there are certainly a bunch of articles that mean a great deal to me on a personal level. A few weeks ago I finally published an article about my love of Thomas the Tank Engine, a piece I had been working on in my head for months beforehand. I was going to be delighted if anyone read it, but that was entirely secondary. I just wanted to talk about something so near and dear to my heart and my childhood.

Not long after I posted it I got comments from many people I know about how they loved the story. I felt great being able to share such a meaningful part of my life with those around me.

I also decided to reach out to one of my favorite destinations in this eternal wonderland we call the internet – Sodor Island. They are the home to the greatest content about Thomas the Tank Engine in the world. Everything from episode guides, to behind the scenes stories, to interviews with the people behind the show, and beyond. I emailed the man behind the site, Ryan, to thank him for making the site something that I would often visit to reminisce about such a bright part of my childhood. I have gone on Sodor Island for years now and spent countless hours learning everything I can about the show.

I also included a link to the article for Ryan figuring that he, of all people, would understand the love for the little blue tank engine.

Let’s fast forward to today.

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Yes, that is me, Connor the Train, on the front page of the site. That same day the Sodor Island Facebook page posted this:

“When I received Connor’s initial e-mail, praising the work we did with SiFansite, I was touched by his kind words and thoughts.

Then I read his blog entry, which he has never asked me to link, but it was probably one of the most moving and brilliant pieces of writing I’ve seen in a long time. We’ve all got our own personal journey with the little blue tank engine, but this was exceptional.

If you’re doing nothing else – take a look at it and pass it on. Get this thing viral!”

To have something that I have loved for so long be so otherworldly kind to me has been the absolute sweetest thing. I cannot put to words how sweet this all is. I simply wanted to share how much the cheeky #1 on Sir Topham Hatt’s railway has meant to my life. Now I have been able to share that story with others who have also had their life changed by Thomas.

This is why I love my life. I can share something so personal and meaningful to me with the world and have the world give me a high five back.

Never doubt that there are great things in this world. If you keep your head up, keep working, and stay positive, you will be a really useful engine. Along the way, your tracks will cross with other really useful engines as well, and everything will be perfect. Just like it is tonight for me.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in journalism.

Crossovers

By: Connor Lenahan

So this fall Family Guy and The Simpsons will be crossing over for an hour long episode.

Look, I’m an optimistic person and all, and I would be lying if I claimed that I didn’t laugh a few times at the trailer above, but I am legitimately horrified of this idea. The little sensor in my brain that goes off for red flags is starting to warm up every time I hear that these two shows are crossing over. It’s a bad decision just from a comedy aspect.

I mean, the funniest parts of the trailer are the jokes that Family Guy characters make on behalf of the constructs of the shows and the crossover itself. The problem is that this might not match up stylistically as well as it was thought to behind the scenes.

Stewie’s attempt at a phone prank following Bart’s is semi uncomfortable to watch. I found the fight between Peter and Homer to be entirely out of place. There are ways that Family Guy does things – always more absurd, more vulgar – and ways The Simpsons does things – save for moments designed around jokes Springfield represents the real world almost always. Just because they are two popular shows on the same network does not mean they should crossover. That logic would dictate that Curb Your Enthusiasm could crossover with Game of Thrones which… actually might get me to watch Game of Thrones now that I think about it.

I’m going to hope they pull this off. I really am. I mean, The Simpsons pulled off a Lego episode last season that was genuinely great, not just by Season 25 standards, there’s a chance they will figure this out.

I hope they will. I’m just not sure. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in journalism.

The Bracket of Me

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By: Connor Lenahan

Lists and Brackets. These are two things I cannot get enough of. I can’t quite place my finger on it, but I think I might know why. Its a way of organized discussion to determine the best of something. Whenever someone asks me what my “favorite movie” or “favorite show” is I will inevitable have to give a list. I consciously rank things to keep track of what I deem the “best” of something.

I love the bracket idea because it allows for a tournament – always fun – and for me to challenge my own brain to make tough decisions. I will do random tournaments for fun. This is one of them.

Shockingly, the only bracket I’ve published previously is “The Tournament of The Dan,” determining the best Steely Dan song of all time last July. I also announced just last night that my masterwork, a 512 episode bracket of episodes of The Simpsons is coming soon.

So what is this monstrosity above? It’s a completely insane way of determining what I consider my favorite song of all time. It is entirely crazy and basically doesn’t make sense, as bands like Alabama 3 make it over Fiona Apple. Here’s how I did this. I took the most played songs in my iTunes. The highest played song was “Black Skinhead” by Kanye West, which makes West the #1 seed overall. I then chose my favorite West song, “Runaway,” to represent him. I then went to the highest played song by someone else, “Favorite Song,” by Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino, and that became the #2 seed representing Chance. I’d continue to go to the next highest played artist and pick a song to represent them until I fielded a 64 song bracket. Did you get all that? Me either.

At the very least this will be a peak into my musical tastes which legitimately make no sense.

Lets’s go.

 


Northwest Region – Round 1

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#1 “Runaway” – Kanye West vs #16 “Get Ur Freak On” – Missy Elliot

Okay there is no question in my mind who wins this matchup, but can we just take a second to remember how great Missy Elliot is? It’s sad that she hasn’t had a new album since 2006. She really made some classics, especially “Get Ur Freak On.” But sadly that’s gone for Kanye’s Magnum Opus.

#2 “All My Friends” – LCD Soundsystem vs #15 “Ignition Remix” – R Kelly

I’m about to commit an act of treason against the United States by knocking out “Ignition,” but it has to be done. While it is the epitome of “party” and “classic,” it isn’t nearly the beautiful, perpetually building longing for a life removed that James Murphy gives the world in “All My Friends.” Sorry R.

#3 “Banana Clipper” – Run The Jewels vs #14 “Wake Up Alone” – Amy Winehouse

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Killer Mike of Run The Jewels after he was not only kind to me backstage at Governor’s Ball, but also after he put me on his Instagram (it’s there, look it up). The Run The Jewels album is one of the most fun listens I’ve ever had, but it sadly pales in comparison to the 10 song masterpiece that is Back to Black. I was sad the day Amy Winehouse died and I’m still sad now. “Wake Up Alone” is beautiful. It’s the song off Back to Black that makes me angriest that she will never release anything else.

#4 “Harder To Breathe” – Maroon 5 vs #13 “Runaway Baby” – Bruno Mars

Songs About Jane starts with “Harder To Breathe” and immediately becomes one of the best albums of the 2000s. I challenge you to disagree with me there. Peace, Bruno.

#5 “Public Service Announcement” – Jay Z vs #12 “What Goes Around Comes Around” – Justin Timberlake

I hate everything. I hate everyone. This is like being asked which of your children lives and which dies. This is awful. I hate everyone. Why God, why?

“PSA” is the only rap song that I have ever successfully rapped all of of the top of my head without any music playing. It’s my favorite Jay Z song and seeing it live with my friend Montana Rispoli remains one of the best moments of my life. It’s gotta go through. I love you Justin. I always will.

#6 “Higher Ground” – TNGHT vs #11 “Yeah!” – Usher

Fact: TNGHT’s Hudson Mohawke is a genius. Fact: “Yeah!” is probably the greatest dance track in history. We’re done here.

#7 “Big Spender” – Theophilius London/A$AP Rocky vs #10 “It’ll All Work Out” – Blake Mills/Fiona Apple

“Big Spender” is a fun song, but I cannot even begin to fathom putting it into the same category of song that “It’ll All Work Out” is in in my brain. I heard the song for the first time when I saw Fiona Apple last October. It’s as haunting yet amazing today as it was that night.

#8 “Take Me Out” – Franz Ferdinand vs #9 “Only” – Nine Inch Nails

“Take Me Out” has one of the 15 best guitar riffs of any song in the past two decades. No contest.

Round 2

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#1 “Runaway” vs #8 “Take Me Out”

I give my apologies to the Scottish rockers of the latter song, for in another bracket section they would have faired much better. Sadly they happened to run into the proverbial Grizzly Bear with Chainsaw Arms of this tournament in “Runaway.” Yeezus takes no prisoners.

#2 “All My Friends” vs #10 “It’ll All Work Out”

True story, James Murphy’s closing “If I could see all my friends tonight” was the final thing I heard in my car when I parked in my driveway the night before I moved to Boston. I still get chills thinking about that moment. It all became real that second that I was moving away. Yeah, that song means a lot to me. I think that’s pretty much a clear cut win.

#4 “Harder To Breathe” vs #5 PSA

Whenever I hear the first second of “PSA” I put my hands together in the diamond. “Allow me to reintroduce myself my name is HOV” causes me to throw said diamond skyward and lose all control of my emotions. “Harder To Breathe” reminds me of 2003. Game, set, match, Hova.

#6 “Yeah!” vs #10 “Wake Up Alone”

This was actually pretty close, but I’m giving the nod to “Yeah!” which was my favorite song from 2004 to at least 2007.

Round 3

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#1 “Runaway” vs #5 “PSA”

Do I want to be shot in the left side of my head or my right? Dammit this is hard. Why do I do these things to myself?

Here’s my quick reasoning. In 2010, thanks to “Runaway,” Kanye West completely transformed my perception of him and his music. He has since become one of my three favorite artists ever. Jay Z gradually won me over, but “PSA” was one of many that did so. Direct responsibility gives it it Kanye.

#2 “All My Friends” vs #6 “Yeah!”

Usher will always be in my heart. But his time has come. The hammering piano intro to “All My Friends” builds for the entirety of the song to the need to return to a life surrounded by friends creating this beautiful movement of music. LCD storms through.

Round 4

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#1 “Runaway” vs #2 “All My Friends”

For one of the most wonderfully delusional people in human history to have a moment of beautiful self-awareness – a realization of all the shit he has put people through – and tell people that maybe he isn’t worth the trouble he causes is one of the most heartbreaking yet genius things I’ve ever witnessed. Kanye hits that on “Runaway.” It’s a flawless song.


Southwest Region – Round 1

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#1 “Little Sister” – Queens of the Stone Age vs #16 “Tighten Up” – Black Keys

There is a rule in this universe that we all must follow. That rule is that when faced with the decision “Cowbell of Whistling” you must always choose the former. Cowbell is life. “Little Sister” is awesome.

#2 “Too Much” – Drake vs #15 “Grindin'”- Clipse

I’m still speechless about hearing “Too Much” for the first time last fall. I remember being blown away by how emotionally honest it was. Not just in reminiscing about Drake’s own beginnings to his career, but also his family. It was real. In a world of personas, he was a person. “Too Much” remains a highlight of Drake’s career.

#3 “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'” – Wu-Tang Clan vs #14 “Nosetalgia” – Pusha T/Kendrick Lamar

Here’s the reason why Wu-Tang wins. “Represent the GZA, Abbot, RZA, Shaquan, Inspectah Deck Dirty Ol’ getting low wit his flow
Introducing, the Ghost..face.. Killah!!”

That may be my favorite line in rap history. And for those of you who have no idea why it stands out (2:24):

#4 “Problem” – Ariana Grande/Iggy Azalea vs #13 “The Way I Are” – Timbaland/Keri Hilson

I love Ariana Grande as much as the next red-blooded American male, but can we all agree that “The Way I Are” should be on the playlist for every party for the remainder of history? If you disagree you are wrong and should be deported.

#5 “Ain’t It Fun” – Paramore vs #12 “Thrift Shop” – Macklemore

Lol Macklemore. Yeah, that was funny. Let’s go Paramore.

#6 “Switch” – Will Smith vs #11 “Play The Guitar” – B.o.B/Andre 3000

It is impossible to say the word “squiggle” or “bubble” and be angry. It is similarly impossible to listen to “Switch” and be upset. You could get mugged and still bust a move when the hand claps start for “Switch.” It’s incredible.

#7 “Talk Dirty” – Jason Derulo vs #10 “Sweater Weather” – The Neighbourhood

All credit for me finding “Sweater Weather” goes to my brother Chase, who recommended it or played it in the car once last winter. It’s been stuck in my head ever since. That chorus is just hypnotizing. Also, as pointed out to me by Elyse Notarianni, “Talk Dirty” is awful once you hear the vastly superior Spanish version.

#8 “1 Thing” – Amerie vs #9 “Kid Charlemagne” – Steely Dan

Is there gas in the car? Yes there’s gas in the car. Steely Dan all day every day.

Round 2

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#1 “Little Sister” vs #9 “Kid Charlemagne”

Look I love Queens of the Stone Age and all, but they don’t even enter the same county as Steely Dan in this conversation. Ballads of LSD Chefs win forever.

#2 “Too Much” vs #10 “Sweater Weather”

Every single time “Too Much” comes on I stop what I’m doing. It shuts me down. It’s crazy powerful. That’s a special song.

#3 “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'” vs #6 “Switch”

More and more “Switch” has become my happy song. It’s a sign that all is right with the world. It is also key to go crazy and have fun. How can you not love this song?

#5 “Ain’t It Fun” vs #13 “The Way I Are”

“Ain’t It Fun” is an incredible song. If the only voice you heard from it was that of Haley Williams then the track would be one of the best Paramore has ever made. The choir backing her voice elevates everything. It makes this into one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. Plus, “don’t go crying to your mama, cause you’re on your own in the real world,” is one of the most brilliant lines in music.

Round 3

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#2 “Too Much” vs #6 “Switch”

These two songs cause two polar opposite reactions for me. “Too Much” shuts me down while “Switch” fires me up. It’s a razor thin margin, but I’m giving the nod to “Switch.” I like living life, and that’s what I want to do when I hear “Switch.”

#5 “Ain’t It Fun” vs #9 “Kid Charlemagne

I’m not sure how, but Donald Fagen and Walter Becker made a story of a drug dealing outlaw hilarious. Seriously, more than ten years later I still laugh at “Is there gas in the car?” like I did in my dad’s car the first time I heard it. Actually, because I can clearly remember the first time I heard this song, I think I need to go with Steely Dan.

Round 4

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#6 “Switch” vs #9 “Kid Charlemagne”

Shocker: Steely Dan is my favorite band of all time. After all, I did write a 5000 song bracket dedicated to their music. They have made a gargantuan impact on my life. This fall I’m going to see them for a fifth time. When they fire up “Kid Charlemagne” I will stand up and sing every word. It’s part of who I am.


Northeast Region – Round 1

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#1 “Favorite Song” – Chance The Rapper/Childish Gambino vs #16 “Brand New Day” – Sting

“Favorite Song” was introduced to me last fall by my friend Jason Kohn. Ever since it has been playing on my iPod constantly. It has become, more or less, the song of my summer in 2014. The only problem for it is that I have loved the song “Brand New Day” since I saw Sting in concert in 2001. That’s right, I saw Sting live when I was seven years old. And he was terrific. “Brand New Day” exceptional. Upset of the day, Sting goes on.

#2 “Blackbird” – Alter Bridge vs #15 “Antidote” – Swedish House Mafia

We are going to have a lot of time to talk about Alter Bridge. Quick shoutout to Swedish House Mafia, but this isn’t your day.

#3 “Reptilia” – The Strokes vs #14 “Turn Down For What” – Lil Jon

While I made clear on Twitter recently that “Turn Down For What” is better than any song Bob Dylan ever wrote (and quite possibly lost a follower in the process) I cannot in good conscience send it past Julian Casablancas and Co. “Reptilia” is too good. Thanks to Matt Bruzzano for showing me it way back when.

#4 “Pepe Lopez” – Action Bronson vs #13 “Ready to Start” – Arcade Fire

While “Pepe Lopez” is hilarious, it’s just Bronson rapping over the song “Tequila,” it’s simply not as good of a song as “Ready to Start” is. That was the first song by Arcade Fire I ever heard and still my favorite.

#5 “Retrograde” – James Blake vs #12 “Live Fast, Die Young” – Rick Ross/Kanye West

I wrote about “Retrograde” with one of my first articles of 2014. I still think it is a beautiful song. I also happen to have “Live Fast, Die Young” as not only one of my favorite Kanye beats ever made (seriously, he produced this song) but one of my favorite Kanye verses as well. Another upset here. Rozay and Yeezy advance.

#6 “She Knows” – J Cole vs #11 “Goldie” – A$AP Rocky

I happen to love both of these songs. I needed a tie breaker because I couldn’t find a reason as to why I’d pick one over the other. I’m not hyper passionate about wither, but I love them. My tiebreaker was that I am unable to sing along to “She Knows” as I don’t know all the words. I might be able to rap all of “Goldie” off the top of my head. That told me what I needed to know.

#7 “House Party” – Meek Mill vs #10 “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” – D’Angelo

Fun fact: Meek Mill has two volumes – screaming and not talking. While this makes for a great song to get pumped up to it can also give you a headache. Meanwhile “How Does It Feel” is the epitome of what Ron Burgundy would call “baby making music.” I love it too much to let it leave. Thanks for yelling Meek.

#8 “Shabba” – A$AP Ferg/A$AP Rocky vs #9 “Pretty Thing” – Bo Diddley

In the very likely case you don’t know what song “Pretty Thing” is, it’s the track playing when Leonardo DiCaprio dances at his wedding in The Wolf of Wall Street. That scene made me laugh hard enough that “Pretty Thing” was in rotation for a few months. Alas, Ferg and Rocky absolutely murder the “Shabba” beat and advance here.

Round 2

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#2 “Blackbird” vs #10 “How Does It Feel”

Yesterday I was trading songs with my friend Laura LaBrecque when I needed to pick one of my all time favorites. This was going to be a representation of my musical tastes. What did I choose? “Blackbird.” That’s saying something. I’ll always love you D’Angelo

#3 “Reptilia” vs #11 “Goldie”

“The room is on fire while she fixes her hair” gets me every single time. That is pure gold. I lose it. I love “Reptilia.” Thanks Rocky.

#8 “Shabba” vs #16 “Brand New Day”

When you come back to a song for the first time in years it’s a magical moment. You fall in love again. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll remember the words to the song. I remembered every word to “Brand New Day” after going years without listening to it. That song just sticks with me.

#12 “Live Fast, Die Young” vs #13 “Ready To Start” 

Yeah this is pretty much a no contest in Kanye’s favor.

Round 3

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#2 “Blackbird” vs #3 Reptilia

“Blackbird” came out seven years ago. That is a lot of time I spent listening to music and discovering thousands of new songs. Through all that time I stood by one belief, that the guitar solo played by both Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti was the best I have ever heard. It still is today. It’s going to be tough to take this one down.

#12 “Live Fast, Die Young” vs #16 “Brand New Day”

The album version of “Brand New Day” is pretty good. But that’s not the one I ever listen to. No, I go for the live version from 2001’s All This Time live album, recorder the evening of 9/11. It hits me like a sledgehammer every time I listen of how powerful this performance was on such a tough night. But the message was there, tomorrow is a new day. It’s really a special song.

Round 4

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#2 “Blackbird” vs #16 “Brand New Day”

When I saw Alter Bridge a few months ago the only song I cared about seeing was “Blackbird.” I had waited seven years to hear Myles Kennedy belt out the song dedicated to a friend of his that had passed. When I heard it I knew in that moment that it was perfect. That was a central point to my childhood and one of my favorite songs for an almost decade. As much as I love “Brand New Day” it just doesn’t have the power that “Blackbird” maintains each listen.


Southeast Region – Round 1

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#1 “Rosa Parks” – OutKast vs #16 “Wolf Like Me” – TV On The Radio

One of the toughest parts of this bracket was picking which song I’d put in for OutKast. There were a bunch of candidates. The truth is that most if not all of them would have beaten “Wolf Like Me” like “Rosa Parks” does.

#2 “Heartbeat” – Childish Gambino vs #15 “Freakum Dress” – Beyonce

Yes, my favorite Beyonce song is really “Freakum Dress.” And yes, I did just knock Beyonce out in the first round. Come at me.

#3 “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” – Arctic Monkeys vs #14 “Oblivion” – Grimes

High energy, danceable, British, insane guitar work – give me a reason not to love Arctic Monkeys.

#4 “Hot In Herre” – Nelly vs #13 “Dip” – Danny Brown

One of my favorite articles I’ve ever written was about when a San Francisco radio station played “Hot In Herre” for four straight days. I listened to that station for over two hours listening to Nelly. It was flawless. God Bless America.

#5 “Backseat Freestyle” – Kendrick Lamar vs #12 “Holocene” – Bon Iver

“Backseat Freestyle” was the first time I realized that Kendrick Lamar was absurdly talented. The more time I’ve spent with the song the more I realize how gifted he is. No on, read: no one, makes that song other than him. It’s incredible. I love “Holocene,” but my real favorite Bon Iver song is “Lost In The World,” which happens to be a Kanye West song. Rules are rules, Kendrick goes on.

#6 “Fancy” – Iggy Azalea/Charlie XCX vs #11 “Collard Greens” – Schoolboy Q/Kendrick Lamar

I remember my buddy Eric Fanning putting on Collard Greens while we were cleaning up his suite one night and him starting to dance to the track. Now, reflexively, I too dance to “Collard Greens” like our 6’5″ small forward. This might be embarrassing when I begin to dougie in a supermarket, but it’s so much fun.

#7 “212” – Azalea Banks vs #10 “Bad Religion” – Frank Ocean

“212” is great, but “Bad Religion” is “Bad Religion.” If you aren’t sobbing at the end of it then you are heartless. Frank marches on. Thanks to Celine Brunetti for showing me “212.”

#8 “Woke Up This Morning (Sopranos Theme)” – Alabama 3 vs #9 “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke/TI

Two things Robin Thicke will not be getting: 1. Paula Patton back, and 2. Into Round 2.

Round 2

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#1 “Rosa Parks” vs #8 “Woke Up This Morning”

I found out a few months ago that “Woke Up This Morning” is a whole lot better than you’d imagine given that it’s a TV theme song. It’s actually an awesome song to set the mood for a huge sporting event, which is exactly how I used it last year for basketball. But when I needed to get excited about the Seahawks running away with the Super Bowl I turned to “Rosa Parks” and started dancing for hours. It’s a special song.

#2 “Heartbeat” vs #10 “Bad Religion”

This is weird. Even though Childish Gambino is one of my absolute favorite artists alive, he just happened to hit bad luck early twice. While “Heartbeat” is incredible, it cannot match up to Frank Ocean ripping himself open and showing you his heart. I love you Donald.

#3 “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” vs #11 “Collard Greens”

When my brother Cary got to meet Alex Turner in the lobby of our hotel in Dublin it was entirely no fair. When he told me that he did I almost punched him in the face. I think that means Arctic Monkeys should go on.

#4 “Hot In Herre” vs #5 Backseat Freestyle

Okay the narrowest of margins falls Nelly’s way here only because “Hot In Herre” is a singular classic whereas “Backseat Freestyle” is  a single classic surrounded by other songs of equal quality on good kid m.A.A.d city. Plus “Hot In Herre” is the catchiest thing ever.

Round 3

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#1 “Rosa Parks” vs #4 “Hot In Herre”

One word: Hoedown. The breakdown in “Rosa Parks” into a hoedown led by the greatest harmonica this side of Stevie Wonder makes me jump up and go crazy every single time it comes on. While “Hot In Herre” is flawless it falls to an even more flawless song in “Rosa Parks.”

#3 “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” vs #10 “Bad Religion”

“This unrequited love, to me it’s like a one man cult.” Tears. So many tears. I can’t stop crying.

Round 4

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#1 “Rosa Parks” vs #10 “Bad Religion”

I am more emotionally moved by “Bad Religion” than just about every other song I’ve ever heard. I also happen to connect “Rosa Parks” with some of the happiest memories I have ever had. I am an optimist by nature, so I make the judgment call to go with “Rosa Parks,” while still maintaining that I want to give Frank Ocean a hug every time I hear “Bad Religion.


Final Four

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#1 “Runaway” vs #9 “Kid Charlemagne”

I have been thinking how to make this decision for hours now. I think I finally figured it out. When I made the Steely Dan bracket last year I had “Kid Charlemagne” in the final two. It ended up losing there to “My Old School,” which a year later I still believe is the best song that Steely Dan ever made. “Kid Charlemagne” just happens to be my favorite. But I’m going “Runaway” for almost that exact reason. I think it is not just my favorite Kanye West song by a mile, which it is, but I also think it’s the best song he’s ever made. It was a peek behind the curtain at Oz. It’s when Kanye stopped being Kanye West and was finally Kanye West. He was human. And it was perfect.

#2 “Blackbird” vs #1 “Rosa Parks”

“Rosa Parks” is one of my absolute favorite songs ever, but this is actually an easy choice to make against them. “Blackbird” has been etched in stone atop the list of my favorite songs for the seven years it has existed. It’s almost like a symphony. I have never heard guitar work like that of Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti before or since. I haven’t heard a vocal performance like Kennedy’s ever. He hits inhuman notes on that song. It’s a masterpiece. It’s one of my favorite pieces of written work ever.


Championship

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#1 “Runaway” vs #2 “Blackbird”

In the end, I knew what it had to be. While “Blackbird” remains a beautiful, amazing, perfect creation, it is just that – a creation. It’s a construction made by the band as this unbelievable work. But “Runaway” is real. It’s a person, admitting faults, apologizing for actions, and warning those to stay away for he’s nothing but trouble. Kanye West is a gigantic influence on me, only in the best possible ways, and this song is what showed me that he was and is a genius. As someone who appreciates honesty and emotional openness over anything else, “Runaway” speaks to my soul. That’s why it wins for me.

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Here’s how the entire tournament panned out.

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Thank you for reading, and hopefully now you have a better look into my psychotic musical mind.

- Connor

 

 

The Project

THE SIMPSONS: SEASON 21

By: Connor Lenahan

Last fall there was an announcement made regarding my favorite television show of all time, The Simpsons. The announcement was that the cable channel FXX had purchased the rights to every single episode of the show so it would be able to broadcast them. FXX became in that instant the one stop shop for Simpsons reruns. It was also announced that an app would be launched that would contain every episode available for streaming, Netflix style, in the coming year.

I waited patiently to hear more. Then, just this past week, we got confirmation. On August 21st FXX will air “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” the first episode ever made. They will then continue to show the rest of the series in order until September 1st. If you are living life right, you will be watching every single minute of this as I am. Is it possible to go that long without sleep? Perhaps, and I’m going to find out.

But that’s not why I’m talking about it. I’ve been specifically quiet on the topic for a few days for I have finally begun to put together the project I have been tinkering with since last November.

On August 21st I will be publishing the longest article I have ever written. It is a bracket to determine the greatest episode of the show ever made to coincide with the marathon. It will take the first 512 episodes, the only mathematical way it properly works, plus no one is arguing that the latter half of season 24 and on really would make a dent, and have them battle it out for supremacy.

I have been working and mulling over this since Thanksgiving break of 2013. During the past few months I have rewatched just about every single episode of the series in preparation. This sounds more impressive than it is, as I watch the series daily regardless, but still.

I realize this is a tease, yet at the same time, its a call. A call to all Simpsons fans the world over to join me in this insane endeavor. Only 25 days until I release what is sure to be my masterpiece.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in journalism.

Fill In The Blank

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By: Connor Lenahan

“Since when is it noon?” This is a question I asked myself almost every day this week. Why? Because I had spent my down time in the office playing the most addictive website in human history. I speak of Sporcle.

Sporcle is a website that revolves around brain games. It could be a test to see if you can name every state in the country, or their capitals. It could be naming every song by Steely Dan (a quiz I sadly did not get 100% on). Just about anything you could think of.

There are difference tests to take, all of them timed, that challenge your knowledge. It is not only fun to play against the test but to challenge friends to establish dominance. I say this because my brain is freakily wired for Sporcle. When there are tests that give you a few seconds of a song and ask you to name it I normally clean up. On one such test, one designed around the top 50 songs of 2004, I was able to get 37/50 on my first try on one listen. They only gave you ten seconds of the songs. I challenged my friend Montana to this and she quickly replied “THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE.” That’s fair, given that we were in fourth grade when these songs came out, and I somehow remembered 74% of them, off the top of my head, a decade later.

So if you have some time tomorrow or tonight where you will just be sitting around the internet, feel free to fall into the wonderful world of Sporcle headfirst. It’s a ton of fun. And please, challenge me at will. I am hyper competitive on this site. It’s on like Donkey Kong.

I’m embarrassed for myself that I just said that. I apologize.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in journalism.

Buy The Ticket

By: Connor Lenahan

Two days ago I wrote about characters. I wrote about how my favorite part about movies were the characters rather than the story being told. I am always fascinated by intriguing characters.

“Go watch the Night Crawler trailer.” That’s a text I got this morning from my younger brother Chase. He knows of my absurd love of movie trailers and my propensity to watch them for two and a half hours at a time. Having read the title Nightcrawler in the news about a day earlier I decided to check it out.

Chase could have easily sold me with the description of the movie that I will give now: dark, intense, crime film, starring Jake Gyllenhall. I am an unabashed fan of Gyllenhall ever since I saw him in Zodiac a few years ago. Within reason, you could convince me to see anything he is in, especially after he turned Prisoners into one of my favorite films of 2013.

So when I watched the trailer above and saw how what appeared to be a well meaning man started to become slightly unhinged and a tad bit crazy, especially with his wide eyes coming through the screen, staring into your soul blankly, I knew that I would have a ticket opening night for Nightcrawler. This looks like a movie that is more than up my alley. I am all in on this movie.

I’m also all in on what appears to be a growing trend for this fall. With Nightcrawler, my list of anticipated movies is now topped by three names. It joins David Fincher’s Gone Girl and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher as two that I will skip a full day of class and/or work to see the opening day. All three of these films not only look visually stunning from the trailer (it may be a stretch to call Foxcatcher stunning given it looks permanently overcast, but I happen to like that effect) but appear to be dark stories. All three revolve around murder or crimes. This just so happens to be my favorite type of movie to watch. So it appears as though we may be heading for an Oscar race cater made for my tastes.

Thank you Hollywood, that was sweet of you to do.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in journalism.

Tiny Humans

Success-Kid

By: Connor Lenahan

Kids are awesome. When kids are in that fluid, golden age where they are smart enough to think and speak on their own, but young enough to do it without a filter amazing things happen. I’ve had two things happen to me, one a few weeks ago and another only an hour or so, that reaffirm my love of little kids and the innocent craziness they bring into this world.

The earlier of two stories came chile I was on vacation. While I did not get to witness this happen with my own eyes, I would have paid anything to have after hearing the story. On our trip to London we met up with our close family friends the Sprung family. The dad, Robert, has been a friend of my dad’s since they were kids. His wife Yuko is one of the nicest people to have ever lived. Their two daughters, Sophie, 9, and Hannah, 7, are entirely crazy while doubling as the most talented and brilliant young adults I have ever met. For example, Sophie is already a national champion figure skater in France, where she and the family currently live. Hannah is capable of not only recognizing things but expressing ideas in a manner far beyond not just her years, but my own as well. Oh, and did I mention that they are both capable of speaking three languages? English, Japanese (Yuko’s native tongue), and French. I’m a college sophomore who took Spanish for four years and remembers 25 words of it on a good day. Needless to say, this isn’t fair.

While at dinner one evening Robert told me about an observation that Hannah had made on a recent flight from France to New York City. Upon landing the flight attendant made the standard “Thank you for flying… We hope you enjoyed…” announcement in English before reading the same message again in French. Upon the conclusion of the French reading Hannah, who again is seven years old, turned to her father and uttered the now immortal line, “that was French with a New York accent.”

Name me someone else on the planet who would pick up on that. Not only is this brilliant, but it’s the most snarky comment I have heard in quite some time. And it came from someone who still watches Disney Junior on a daily basis. I’m going to be following up on this story in a decade as Hannah graduates from Harvard early with a degree in linguistics. You can lock that down.

The second story was far simpler. Tonight, with nothing else to do, I decided to jog from my room to the newly opened Uniqlo storefront at Faneuil Hall. This was a considerable task, given that it was four miles away and I’d be doing it in my wheelchair. I succeeded, but that isn’t the key. No, the funniest part was when I was maybe three quarters of a mile away towards the end of my run. I was coming downhill and heading into a crosswalk. On my way down I noticed a young boy standing to my right holding a Spiderman action figure. He watched as I raced downhill in the chair. Normally, kids are highly confused about why I use the chair when they clearly see my legs moving. Not this champ. No, instead he made eye contact with me, smiled from ear to ear, and gave me a thumbs up.

Why exactly he decided to give me affirmation is a mystery. He didn’t know what I was doing, nor did he know where I was going. He didn’t know my story. And if he did there are some significant questions to be asked. Yet he felt the urge to give me the universal sign for “You Go Girl” and I couldn’t be happier. I think I excitedly laughed, thanked him, and continued on my quest towards shopping to the tune of “LoveStoned” by Justin Timberlake.

The world can get to be a boring place. Day in and day out we normally do the same thing more or less. It’s the little spices of excitement, especially given to us by wonderful tiny humans, that make me love life anew.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in journalism.

Characters

true-detective__140415184301

By: Connor Lenahan

Something dawned on me the other day while I was finishing the first season of True Detective while flying back from Ireland. I have no business ever trying to become a film critic. Really a critic of television or film. I finally understood why.

Part of this I was already aware of. I’m a positive person by nature, this much is apparent if you even spend three minutes talking to me. I’ve had way too much good in my life to focus on the bad. Being positive is how I live my life every single day and what is responsible for allowing me to return to my feet after injury so often. I don’t like to go negative unless I need to.

Seeing as I view movies and television shows as entertainment I am, more often than not, entertained by them. I simply cannot bring myself to take a hatchet to the spine of something I enjoyed watching. I’m not going to make the argument that The Expendables 2, which I saw in theaters, is a great piece of cinema. I’m similarly not going to lie and say I did not enjoy watching it – I thought it was the perfect thing to shut my brain off and enjoy. If you asked me point blank I’d probably say I liked the movie, before having to describe that this was separate from how I liked a movie like American Hustle.

My friend Garrison Norton had made a comment a few months ago that I seemed to like every movie I saw while I was in college. He had a point, I would almost always come back with a positive review. In my defense, this was partially because I did my homework. I was not about to waste time and money on a movie I knew was subpar. Even though I actively wanted to see Runner, Runner last year I never looked up show times. Why? Because enough people who’s opinions I trust said the movie was “unwatchable.” Pass. Instead I would have weeks where I’d see Captain Phillips and Twelve Years a Slave within days of each other. To be fair, both movies were Best Picture nominees, so having a positive reaction was to be expected.

But that’s what I already knew. This was old news while I ate wasabi peanuts while watching Rust Cohle walk through the Louisiana marsh land. I fully understand that how I watch movies and TV shows is backwards. I’m watching for the characters almost always.

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I am far more interested in the people created within these movies than I am what’s going on in them. Obviously there are a ton of exceptions to this, but it’s what I focus on more or less. For example, take the aforementioned American Hustle. The plot to it was fairly complicated and almost purposely misleading for the sake of the plot. This led to some of my friends vehemently hating the movie last year. Meanwhile it was one of the best movies I’ve ever watched. This was almost entirely because David O’ Russell gets incredible performances out of his actors. It makes sense to me that I loved the movie the day I watched it and all four main characters went on to nab Oscar nominations. They were electric and kept my eyes on the screen the entire time. I was far more interested in the overconfidence of Bradley Cooper’s Richie DiMaso, and watching him become that character, than I was about, say the sting they were pulling off on multiple politicians.

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I loved watching True Detective because it featured two fascinating characters, Rust Cohle and Marty Hart, played by two of my favorite actors, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson respectively. While I love murder plots, especially serial murderers, I was fascinated by the brilliant insanity of Cohle and the dark realism of Hart. Watching them play off each other was electric. My favorite parts of the series were the moments when they’d draw the contrast between each other’s personalities simply by being alive. Well, that and the long take in episode four.

The plot to the show was highly interested and, admittedly, fairly confusing. I didn’t mind. It was less about the crime than watching them solve it. That’s why I loved the show.

frank-underwood-is-embarrassingly-ignorant-about-how-treasury-auctions-work

The more I pondered this discovery while moving onto my mid-flight Kit Kat bar, the more I started to think about my other favorite television shows from this summer. Just a month ago I finished House of Cards. For all of my life I have had a propensity to root for the villain in the story without a clear explanation past “because I like them.” In reality, it’s because the villain is always more interesting, at least in any good show/movie. Frank Underwood is one of my favorite television characters because he is electric, devious, and fascinating. I can’t turn away when he’s on screen. The plot to House of Cards is crazy, but I watched every episode with a giant grin as Kevin Spacey continued to be amazing.

Downtown_Owl_(Chuck_Klosterman_book)

Not much earlier before this revelation I had finished listening to Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman. This is one of my favorite books of all time, and again, it’s light on plot. In truth its a character study not only of the three protagonists – Mitch, Julia, and Horace – but the town around them. I’m fascinated by the world created.

And that’s the key. I love when I feel immersed by the world and the characters present. I feel as though I know how to roughly navigate the streets of the fictitious Owl, North Dakota. I feel like I could be of assistance to the campaign of Frank Underwood. I feel like I could bounce ideas off the brains of the two weirdest cops in the south. That’s why I love these shows. And that love makes it impossible for me to be objective, at least for the sake of this website. But that is okay with me. I’m happy liking what I like. I don’t need to be a critic.

Besides, objectivity is overrated.

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a sophomore at Boston University, majoring in journalism.

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