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“So, what is the closest you have ever come to death?” I saw Britney’s small pink lips curve into a sinister smile of her short petite face.  I could even hear her tongue  lingering on the last word of her question. I was slightly taken aback. I wasn’t surprised by the random question. I was surprised at how she casually asked it. Most people pause and ask carefully because they understand the weight behind such a question yet she seemed so unperturbed about asking me something as significant as Death. It was as if the question never had any power on how to dictate her approach for she had the  gravity of question’s power deep within her and could summon it whenever she pleased. Her confident glance fixated on me and I tried to match hers. She could barely contain the excitement in her pale blue eyes from anticipation to hearing my answer. I got the feeling that the stories I’d share with her would be intimate and sensual for her. I watched her part a lush golden strand of hair from her forehead while she smoked her Marlborough with the feigned elegance of a star actress. The end of her cigarette lit up in glowing amber and I watched curly thin grey strips of smoke float and fade into the atmosphere of a chilly November night. I wanted another sip of my Heineken but the cold forced my hands into the comforting pockets of my favorite blue hoody.  We were only separated by a small stone table in an outdoor seating area on a clean sidewalk with the strip of neon-lit bars and small business stores. Despite the noisy and indistinct voices and the wailing of cop sirens in the distance, it was only her presence that prevailed throughout the night. I felt relaxed. I even felt important as I caught passersby looking twice our way because a girl like her was with me.

“Well?” She asked again with graced impatience through the guise of her constant smile before I realized I had been nodding the whole time without saying anything.

“Oh yeah, the closest I’ve ever come to Death? Wow,  that’s a really interesting question,” I chuckled nevoursly trying to stall for more time. “Umm,” I slowly kept bobbing my head as if the answer would jumble into my mouth.I tried to capture or even recreate the scariest memories that I thought I wouldn’t live through but then I realized that I was most sheltered and cared for boy who ever lived. A perfect childhood of toys, first birthday parties, Saturday morning cartoons and games of hide and seek with friends and siblings. Even at 22, I still hadn’t lost my…innocence.

I lifted my head up to Britney. Her confident gaze still held me, waiting for my answer. The thing about Death is that It’s never been apart of my life. Britney had asked me a very irrelevant question. To truly come close to Death, it has to directly affect you someway or you will never understand. I mean I have some grandparents that are dead but I didn’t really know them. I didn’t even care for them. Same with uncles, aunts and a close friend’s other friend who I thought was an asshole. If it’s never happened to someone that you love, then there’s no impact. That didn’t mean I turned my back on Death. Death could come for me or someone who meant a lot to me any day any second. It’s always on the back of my mind. Every damn second. I’m not scared. I’m  just aware. Sometimes when I wake up I feel bad for not thinking whether I was going to die today. For now, I guess Death wasn’t ready for me yet. Death wouldn’t give me the time of day so sometimes Death sent its close cousin Danger. I had brushes with Danger and even those experiences were pitiful. I broke  my left wrist falling off a slide but was immediately soothed by my mother to comfort me through the pain. I had glass cut deep into my ankle but had my father yanked out the bloody shard and shut me up before I could even scream, I fell into a 35-foot well trying to chase a soccer ball but had my friends pulled me up before I felt the fear of what it’s like to drown. Death never humbled me. Death never marked me. Not yet anyway. So I just didn’t know how to deal with it or what to expect. It became this useless game of torture and I decided to move on with my life but I never moved on so far enough that I ever forgot. I wished I had said all of that to Britney. Instead I just told her about a car accident that happened to me and my mother when I was nine. Some drunk driver  smashed us from behind then somehow  flipped his SUV  onto oncoming traffic.  Him and five other people  died. One of them was five-year old kid. My mother caught a serious neck and head injury and had to get admitted to the hospital. I was fine.

Britney’s smile was gone. She paused  and took a long draft  from her cigarette then blew a grey darted mist in my face.  ” Lucky. I guess that’s death’s way of saying I can have you when I want.”

I took in what she said with reflective silence and nodded. “How about you?”

The Theory of Hipster Relativity by Dustinland

If you ever heard someone say or tell you “I was using Twitter before it got popular,” or “Dude, I was like wearing thick rimmed glasses before Kid Cudi made them look cool,” chances are that person is someone who really has low-self esteem but tries to make up for it through social narcissism and an elitist choice of lifestyle. In simpler terms, that person is a hipster. Well, that’s not a nice thing to say but I will try and tell you why it came to that.

Hipster- a word that is so horribly vague that there is no way to pinpoint its meaning or origin. So I will be honest. This projection is only based from what I’m experiencing or more like discovering in my society of 20-somethings and over. I don’t know what the word specifically means or who it is supposed to define but through the shifting of pop-culture between the underground and mainstream, its connotation now is not good. To my understanding, I believe something terrible happened for the word hipster because it is now  branded with a certain stigma. At first, if you were a hipster, you were someone who was cool and unique. A person who brought innovative creativity that changed the way people think and do things for the better. Whether it was music, art, fashion or even politics. The hipsters were people who brought about inspiration in others.

Now, a hipster is someone who believes they are doing all those things but know too well that they are wearing a mask of fakerism and deceit. A hipster does things because it’s “cool” not understanding why or how the choice they made is essential to themselves. The hipster now is not genuine or sincere. The hipster wants to take credit for a movement they didn’t start but wants to highjack for their own personal gain. The hipster now wants all that is good to be drowned in his or her own delusions of confidence. The hipster is a douchebag.

So where did it all go wrong? Well like I said, it started with my social interactions and experiences- on the YouTube comment section of videos,  the parties I go to, and the things I hear. So there are no facts here but I’m making a plea that I hope you can identify with. Sometimes, I just feel like I’m surrounded by people who think they are better than others because they don’t share their same plane of “unique” tastes. Just because someone doesn’t  know what you know or doesn’t agree with you on a certain topic doesn’t give you the right to insult or belittle others. Here’s exactly what I mean:

I don’t know how skinny jeans for dudes became a trend but they did. To be honest, I like them and I even think they are fashionable. It’s 2011, and we’re transitioning from the baggy basketball jerseys of  ’02 to the H&M of body hugging button-up shirts. That’s cool. I have a lot of friends who make skinny jeans look good and more power to them. However, I will never wear them because  they look impractically tight and are clinically proven to be unhealthy for the scrotum. That’s been my thought out decision from day one. Another thing that I don’t like about skinny jeans are the assholes wearing them who think they are so irresistibly cool with swagger and superior to anyone who doesn’t wear them. I remember telling some guy at a party that I didn’t like skinny jeans because they weren’t my style. This guy looked at me  like as if I had insulted his mother. He replied “Seriously? That’s lame bro.” It was as if his crotch-hugging jeans were the foundation of his character and I had attacked it with my honest opinion. To me that’s your hipster. A person who places their sense of being into material things and activities. Desperately wanting to gain the approval of others through those things instead of who they are as a person.

One YouTube comment I highlighted from one user had the cynicism of a typical hipster all over it. “Toro Y Moi is such a great artist. He makes really good music and I’m glad a lot of  people don’t know much about him. The radio plays shitty music and I can’t stand people who think Kesha and Katy Perry are great artists. Those idiots don’t know anything lol.” I agree, Toro Y Moi is a great and upcoming techno artist but I don’t think it’s great that “a lot of people don’t know about him” because they should at least check him out if they like Electronica or techno music. I know I’d be happy if I heard him on the radio but his presence is mostly based online via music blogs and social media.

When I said I didn’t like dubstep and that it sounds distorted to me, some hipster douchebag told me “Man, you don’t know good techno. Dubstep is the greatest thing on earth but only few people know about it. You’re obviously not one of them.” But here’s one of most typical hipster statements I hate the most. “Man, I was way into Drake before you got on him with ‘Best I Ever Had.’ Y’all just bandwagon. Y’all don’t know about that Comeback Season when he was underground.”

Oh Wow! Do you want a freaking cookie? What credit are you possibly trying to claim? Yeah, you’re awesome and obviously a better human being because you heard this song three months before I did. I must be definitley wrong if I don’t agree with you on something that is totally relative to preference. My hat’s off to you for pointing that out and achieving  such an accomplishment. I don’t get it- because I don’t know what you know, listen to what you to listen to, dress like you or do what you do, I’m a loser? I’m an idiot? I’m not cool? I’m not up to your snobby standard of quality to pick out bands people have never heard of? It’s people like that who give the true hipsters a bad name.

First. I don’t get why people need to hold on these insignificant things about pop-culture to uplift themselves or justify whatever they do. It’s coming to downright narcissism. You say you were wearing plaid shorts before some  artist made it popular. Hmm… so how come when you started wearing plaid shorts that they didn’t become popular? Oh yeah, that’s right that artist made plaid shirts popular by marketing them under a brand name but you’re just jealous because you never made any money off plaid shorts. Don’t worry I get it.

So to all the “hipsters,” if you think wearing certain clothes or listening to “underground” music equates to some sense of individualism or higher being than others, you’re dead wrong.  That’s a dreaded misconception that has been placed within our society by ignorant people such as yourselves. The real hipsters do whatever they want  because it is simply  true to their nature. Their style, fashion and beliefs are genuine to them. They love what they do and will share what they have learned with others who aspire to do what they do. Real hipsters don’t need approval of others or go around begging others to follow them. They already have people who want to follow them out of their own will.

Your true hipsters are people like Madonna, who brought about the art of weird costumes and pleasantly strange music only for others like Lady Gaga to follow the same road or Barack Obama who heavily used social media to connect with and make use of younger vote to make history. (Okay, being black helped too)

But all that’s been destroyed by a young society of people that are so narcissistic and think they deserve credit for things they never created but are lucky to be a part of. Sadly, today’s hipsters will never realize that because they are too busy telling others how cool they are because of some obscure band they discovered on Pandora. This is why people hate hipsters.

Despite the 3-0 scoreline Arsenal triumphed over a relentless defense of Bolton Wanderers. Two hard-earned goals from the prolific Robin Van Persie and a stunning finish from Alex Song brought  the Gunners three  points and a 12th place on the Premier League table.

Even though Bolton were without their main enforcer Gary Cahill, Arsenal had nothing to show for the first half. Notably, Bolton left-back Paul Robinson with the help of  Petrov, managed to foil runs from Theo Walcott. Meanwhile Zat Knight from Bolton put in crucial blocks to further frustrate the Gunners.

In fact, Arsenal were even fortunate not to go down one goal. In the third minute,  Bolton were given a free-kick with a dangerous ball floated into the Arsenal box. Wheater won a header and the ball broke  to Darren Pratley who launched a surprise volley but Arsenal goalkeeper Szczcesny pulled out another diving save for the cameras as he tipped the danger away.

Other Arsenal attacks followed with RVP shooting straight at Jaaskelainen. Walcott also looked sharp but flushed a shot wide after cutting in from the right during stoppage time of the first half. On the other end, Bolton were more on the defensive end with only Petrov  putting in dangerous balls from the wing that were not met by his teammates.

Despite Arsenal having 66 percent of possession, more shots and three corners, both teams would finish the first half goalless.

If Arsenal’s uninspiring first-half were an old car with worn out paint, dull colors and a broken down engine, then the second half would be that same old car that went on Xzibit’s Pimp My Ride and came out transformed into a thing of beauty.

There was nothing but flashes of brilliance, exquisite passes, SHOTS and goals from Arsenal! Thirty-three seconds into the second-half. Arsenal forward Gervinho was fouled but Aaron Ramsey took advantage and rushed with the ball and found RVP with a short pass into the 18-yard box. Despite pressure from a defender, RVP took the ball to a tight angle to squeeze in a shot that beat Jaaskenlainen for pace at the near post. 1-0 to the Arsenal.

From then on Arsenal never looked back and Bolton struggled to keep up. David Wheater’s red card in the 54th minute did not help either. Arsenal dominated as Jaaskenlainen was forced into a flurry of saves as a revived Arsenal kept mounting on the pressure. Even Laurent Koscielny got to try his luck with a well taken volley that stung the keeper’s hands. Soon, Bolton gave way-  Walcott accelerated on the right wing with blistering pace to curve in the assist for Arsenal’s second and RVP’s 100th goal. The Dutch forward skillfully guided Walcott’s low hit cross into the back of the net but gave all props to Walcott.

By the 74th minute Arsenal had taken 24 shots to Bolton’s two with RVP, Gervinho, Arteta and Walcott at the heart of excellent attacking moves. Alex Song was brought into the mix after Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna found him with cut back pass in the opponent box. Song, a defensively solid player with an eye for goal made it three after he cleverly faked to his right to throw off Pratley and curl the ball past Jaas for some sweet icing on the cake in the 88th minute. Cheers erupted through out the stadium but none said anything louder than the grin on Arsene Wenger’s face.

After conceding 14 goals in five games and a disappointing loss to Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal fought hard for a well deserved victory to move up the table. Poor Bolton have only been able to manage 3 points out of six games and have conceded 16 times- Something Bolton Manager Owen Coyle will want to address soon. For the winners, this game was a much needed display of quality from the Gunners.

You’re right up in the hustle of work, knocking out hours and taking orders from the man. You are overworked but can’t move from your desk. What you need- is to relax. Plus there’s no harm indulging in a short time-waster before you move on to your next assignment. No, definitely not Facebook. That’s counterproductive, what’s not counterproductive is to Learn Something Everyday– a blog that posts educational and absurd fun-facts through hilarious cartoon sketches.You can impress your friends with by telling them that it takes 595 oranges to charge an iPhone or the glaring piece of  irony that Bill Gates used a Mac to design his house.

Rock stars are twice as likely to die prematurely

The creators simply known as Young from Manchester, England have been posting these fun gems since August 2009 but ended their run with a 2-year anniversary. It’s a shame I just found out about this blog recently and I’ve read up on all the facts available. On the plus side, fans can get new content by purchasing the complete Learn Something Everyday book at Amazon.

At one time Hugo Boss made uniforms for the Nazi's

 

 

 

Less than three years ago, U.S. President Barack Obama drew up national plans to bring  U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan back home.

In a war that has threatened the rights of people in the Middle East and the safety of the Americans since the tragic day of 9/11, clashing promises have been made to fight the “War on Terror” and bring troops home.

Until December 2009, Obama fully asserted to withdraw over 180,000 soldiers servicing in Iraq & Afghanistan by 2014. Throughout his presidency, he has been following up with his plan but current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta advised and supported a plan that about 3000-4000 troops remain in Iraq- A figure which commanders say is not enough.

Regardless of numbers, any potential decision to let soldiers stay past the deadline may contradict the strong promise Obama made as president.

“”As a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war. As president, that is what I am doing. We have brought home more than 90,000 troops since I took office.” said in a weekly radio address back in August 2010.

As of now Obama has witdrawn troops to fewer than 50,000 now from more than 140,000 in January 2009 according to the New York Times but is now pressed to follow instructions from Panetta. The Secretary of Defense said such a plan was necessary due to rising car bombings  and violent Al-Qaeda attacks that have caused instability in Iraq. With the deadline for removal of troops in Iraq approaching the end of 2011, Obama will have to make a tough choice.

 ANALYSIS: Actually, this issue with troops  is a no-brainer. As of June 2011, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press states a majority 56 percent of Americans say that US troops should be brought home as soon as possible, while 39 percent favor keeping troops in Afghanistan until the situation has stabilized. Well of course, a war that has been going on for almost eight years will have a negative impact on people and resources for any country involved.

With the 2012 Elections coming around, Obama is not the popular candidate this time around. Others are looking to challenge him vigorously. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney says “Obama doesn’t have a clue.”  He also added his 59-point plan for the economy will create 11 million jobs.

If Obama wants to keep his bid for president, he has to start by sticking with his guns on crucial policies. As a president who feels strongly about the environment, I was disappointed with him after he decided to back down from Republican pressure and halt a planned increase in clean air standards

I also came accross a  survey from the Washington Post and ABC News stating approval ratings of Obama had fallen to 43 percent, while for the first time a majority of 53 percent disapproves. This is due mainly to his wishy-washy attitude on issues and the economic downturn regarding the debt ceiling, recession, and unemployment rate nearing 13 percent. In addition ABC also reported a shocking 77 percent of polled Americans feel the country is “heading in the wrong direction.”

No doubt, Obama is having a lot of crisis to deal with and is doing poorly as a president. He got a lot of things wrong with the economy plus the stimulus package had little impact. It created jobs but as not as much as people would like or need. Overall the economy was a gamble but one thing he can help is seeing out his promises. So falling back to the issue of  US troops- if Obama said he would have all troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan by 2014 without having any detrimental effects on the US or Middle East, he should see to it and tell Panetta to shut up.

The Twittersphere is going ablaze with trends today but for Arsenal fans, Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta is the main highlight.

Today is transfer deadline day and BBC sport states Arsenal have submitted a 10-15 million pounds for the Spanish veteran. With the departure of Fabregas and Samir Nasri, Wenger is looking to field the gap with a player of similar style and vision. Arteta, 30  is no stranger to the EPL  who has been playing for Everton since 2005. Other reports have also linked Chelsea midfielder Yossi Benayoun with the Gunner but Arsenal fans are skeptic because the Israeli international has been plagued with injuries and has struggled to get into the Chelsea first team. Who else would you like for Arsenal to bring in before the deadline comes to a close?

Mikel Arteta, Everton (2005-2011)

Appearances: 208

Goals: 35

Assists: 41

Manchester United- 8, Arsenal- 2. After such a humiliating and hopefully an eye-opening loss last Saturday, Arsene Wenger did what he does best- swinging in last-minute signings before market-transfer deadline.

It has been confirmed Arsenal have acquired striker Park Chu Young from AS Monaco this Tuesday. In addition, BBC Sport reports Brazilian left-back Andre Santos and Werder Bremen Per Mertesacker are close to completing moves to the Emirates.

A bit of relief after Arsenal’s colossal defeat at the hands of a very deadly Manchester United. For every loss there is a an excuse. In fact this scoreline did not come as a surprise because Arsenal’s excuses were very apparent. Before this game, Arsenal were cruelly exposed. Injuries sidelined consistent players Sagna, Vermaelen, Song, Wilshere and Gibbs. Red cards to Frimpong and Gervinho took away steel and quality from our game respectively. The loss of game-changing players such as Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri didn’t help either.

What followed during the game was nothing but pure disaster. A helpless Arsene Wenger watched dumbfounded from the decks. Arsenal fans sat in the stands hopeless in a frustrating and ego-crushing game as they watched Rooney, Young and company belittle a struggling team of inexperience and low-morale.

What is more frustrating other than this game was the fact that Wenger could have avoided major squad depletion if  he had brought in much needed experienced and positional players earlier in the summer. After losing Gael Clichy, Fabregas and Nasri, we were going to need a left-back to cover for Gibbs and a center back to compete with the inconsistent Djourou (widely deemed so after his poor display at Old Trafford)

The media reports Arsenal are closing in on the players they need now but why did it take for a 8-goal throbbing to happen before Wenger and the board realized they had to be active in the market? Other than that, there’s nothing to do but move on. It’s only the third game of the season so all is not lost.

Objectively, new signings such as C.Y. Park will add depth and versatility experience alongside Robin Van Persie. He is a regular competitor with experience coming from Ligue 1 who has bagged 25 goals and 8 assists in 91 appearances. In addition, he has bursts of creative flair and pace thus fans will see what he brings to the squad.

To that, fans can finally be happy with Wenger bringing in players to the team. If reports are true we will also see Santos and Mertersacker in Arsenal shirts Wednesday.

You will know what the big deal is once you’ve had your first Pronto-pup, or over-sized bucket of home-made french fries. Out in the mid-west, Minnesota is a place that takes its State Fair foods to heart- and arteries.

The food at the Minnesota State Fair is as crazy as it sounds- chocolate-covered jalapenos, pizza kabobs and cheese curds, the lines between normal and absurdity are blurred. Even the vendors themselves know it as one sign in front of the Bacon kiosk reads, “Deep-fried and chocolate covered bacon. It’s bad for you but tastes fantastic, any questions?”

Just for the fun of it, you have to indulge yourself in such ridiculousness. Other than the rib-sticking foods, there are other noteworthy attractions, There’s Minnesota’s largest pig that’s almost bigger than a tractor and weighs 1160 pounds and The Grand Stand- an enormous dome with vendors and features performances from big artists such as Weezer, Train and Maroon 5. Fair warning, the State Fair can get overwhelming with an ocean of people crowding on Underwood St- so be prepared to do a lot of walking.

With 1.7 million visitors annually, The State Fair is one of the most anticipated events to hit home and is also a symbol of tradition that is The Great Minnesota Get-together.

In the midst of the London riots, the media has continued to surface over the issue for some time now. Social commentators and news anchors have interjected their opionions and assertions about the rise of crime.

Until now, none of these comments have been racially misguided and prejudiced as historian David Starkey’s claim that the “whites have become blacks” and have been subdued to the criminal culture of Jamaicans and so forth.

What’s worse is that I can’t believe such bigotry was allowed on a prominent news source such as BBC. Starkey an “educated” man may have advocated that Blacks are the main cause and reason for the riots but here’s what London comedian Nabil Abdul Rashid had to say.

If there was such a thing as emo R&B then Toronto-based singer Abel Tesfaye would be its pioneer. The artist appropriately goes by the stage name The Weeknd which captures all of the harrowing and crazy nights in his music. Continuing with his tragic trilogy, The Weeknd dropped Thursday this August following the successful embrace of House of Balloons in March 2011.

His first endeavor left a great impression on critics and was described as “a true album, a true labor of love” despite being a mixtape. Thursday follows the same suit of House of Balloons but with more of the atmosphere that’s full of drugs, lust and pain swooning softly with disembodied and echoing vocals.

Despite the raunchy and shallow content, Thursday is shockingly captivating. Songs including “The Zone” are cold and unapologetic for crimes such as infidelity. The lyrics “I’ll give you what you called for/Just let me get in my zone/I’ll be making love to her through you/So let me keep my eyes closed” moan effortlessly over the track. The melancholic “Rolling Stone” flows with constant acoustics that strum along to soft and easing vocals.  Most of the tracks are hard to distinguish from each other at first because of same-sounding elements but are not necessarily repetitive. Through the pleasure and regret, the whole experience of Thursday is like a hypnotic trance that traps you in a wonderful nightmare.

With 180,000+ downloads just the first day, The Weeknd will continue to bring more of those brilliant and fucked up moments. I’m looking forward to how it all ends with Echoes of Silence later in the fall. Visit The Weeknd official website to download House of Balloons and Thursday.