22 May 2017

It's Not Luck

So much can change in a week. Sometimes entire months go by when nothing happens and you’re droning on-and-on but then in a span of three days your life gets turned upside down. That’s amore! Of course I’m talking about my Boston Celtics!  For a seventy-two hour span, there was a chance that the Celtics would win a GM7 against the Wizards, win the #1 overall draft pick in the 2017 draft, and then win a GM1 on their home floor against the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. That would have qualified as the greatest Celtics period since our championship almost ten years ago. As it turned out, only the first two happened, but they were the most important happenings. It’s been a banner week. Let’s recap.

May 15: I start the day meeting some friends at Tea N More for boba and some laptopping. Then, while I sit in a PacArts programming meeting, I discretely have the BOS-WAS game on. Turns out I don’t even need the leave the room because Kelly Olynyk is the One True Manbun and had a career night to give Boston the victory.

Mostly I’ve been avoiding watching the actual games this season because every time I watch we lose. Case in point, I watched the first two games and Boston went down 0-2 to the Bulls. I stopped watching for six games and we ripped off four straight victories and went up 2-0 on the Wizards. I resumed watching after a GM3 loss to Washington and we go on to lose GM4. By now I’m ready to start watching games again, but during a huge GM7, my friend — who had been texting me and filling me in all playoffs — told me to shut my viewing device off as GM7 started winding down. As soon as I stop watching, the Celtics pull away for a huge win.

May 16: Regardless of any game results this season, the most important thing for the Celtics this year has been to win the #1 pick. We had the best chance based on Danny Ainge’s prescient deals with Brooklyn years ago, but “best chance” was only 25%. Twenty-five percent is pretty damn low, and no sure thing. (Plus there was a decent chance that the NBA would conspire to let the hated Lakers vault over everyone for the first pick.) The last three times the Celtics had such high lottery picks we lost a player to cocaine overdose two days after he was drafted, and then we whiffed on the Tim Duncan and Oden/Durant lotteries. So yeah, there was no way I was going to watch the lottery, not with my luck. Instead I played League of Legends to distract myself until someone told me Boston had won.

I was beyond excited and texted ๐Ÿ€ emojis to anyone within internet distance. I was planning to stay home but sheer joy lured me out and I went to my friend’s house to laptop and chat until 3AM. Again, ๐Ÿ€๐Ÿ€๐Ÿ€! Note: I want the Celtics to just take Markelle Fultz, and not trade away the pick. Please just take Fultz!

May 17: Still giddy over our last night's lottery win, my banner week includes the premiere of MTV’s Champs vs Pros. George orders $75 worth of Thai food for three adults and a baby, and we watch as Lolo Jones becomes the Kevin Garnett of the Challenge and destroys ex-WNBA star Candice Wiggins with her competitive intensity. I didn’t know about the Lolo hate from before but now I'm caught up and am still solidly cheering for her. Also, the Celtics get blown out by thirteen points in GM1 against LeBron and Co., but who cares, we won the lottery! Woohoo!

May 18: I go for day one of volunteering at a museum downtown. I not only prove that I can use a hammer and a level, but I meet my name/life doppelgรคnger working on archiving the collection. Let’s just say that this person and I have the same last name and our first names are only one letter off. Plus we graduated from college the same year. “Who are you!?” I kept saying to her. Life always surprises.

After we attend my friend’s non-profit networking event in the evening, I go back with my friend to her apartment to counsel her and her friends on a future Taiwan trip. I learn the power of modular furniture — and vehicles — and decide I must have more modular items in my life as well.

May 19: The Celtics suffer one of the worst defeats in NBA history, losing by 44 points in GM2. In addition, Isaiah Thomas, the King in the Fourth, goes down to injury. For "weeks that a lot happened,” nobody can top Isaiah. He lost his sister, played in a playoff game the next day, had his teeth knocked out soon after, received oral surgery, and then scored a career-high 53 points for a GM2 win over the Wizards. And now it’s revealed that he’s been hurt most of the time, thus explaining his slightly sub-par performances recently. Everyone loves Isaiah.

As for me, I was up from 7AM-4PM, most of that time spent hanging stuff at the museum and trying to be handy. It felt productive and unusual, and I liked it. Banner week continues.

May 20: After the second of four upcoming airport runs, I am at the museum briefly for a tea lecture before I head off to book club — Sarah J. Maas’ Court of Thorns and Roses series. I had severely underestimated the length of the last two books, and I didn’t exactly finish the 600/700 page books, respectively. However, I did dive deep into the fandom of Maas, and her haters. While I didn’t love the series, nobody should be hated/bullied this much.

After a cat nap, I get Indian food and then have a PS4 game night with friends. Among other things, we played What Remains of Edith Finch, a sort-of game about a girl who returns to her house to figure out how her family members died. Edith Finch is incredible, from both a mechanics and storytelling perspective. (It's also Annapurna Pictures' first foray into video games, and more than lives up to their quality reputation.) I had been waiting to play it with a friend, in case it was scary. Turns out, it really isn’t scary scary, but neither would I play it alone.

May 21: I stumble around at home until the afternoon, when I must hit the airport again to pick up AMR/George from their weekend in San Franciso. On the way back we pick up (in this order): a New York deli sandwich, many bobas, Mexican food for soon and then their child.

And somehow, magically, even without Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics battle through and win GM3 on a last second three-pointer that bounces around and around. If my sister’s next child isn’t named "Lolo," I am going to push hard for “Avery.” Or maybe “Avery Kelly Jonas” Although those names have a few too many negative connotations. I know the Celtics (probably) can't beat Cleveland, but even taking one game off them -- in a beautiful comeback to boot -- was enough. The sprinkles on top.

My favorite thing about this Celtics playoff run — the first they’ve had any success in during the Brad Stevens era — is how a different hero steps up each night. Isaiah is the star but Al Horford has more than proven he was worth last summer's free agency splurge. And Avery has transcended his “defense first” reputation by leaps and bounds. Even Gerald Green and Amir Johnson have had their moments. On top of all that, Marcus Smart going 7/10 from three in GM3 was the most unbelievable plot twist I’ve seen all year — Smart normally can’t shoot. And when Jonas Jerebko is hailed as playoff hero, it’s a good time to be a Celtic fan.

In fact, it’s a good time for bandwagon jumpers to jion us now, as we’re set for at least a decade of success. That’s how important winning the lottery is: ten plus years of happiness ahead. Make wise choices, plan for the future, execute where you can, get ๐Ÿ€. That's how May 15-21 will go down as the week that my life got so much better. See you on the hardcourt (of life)!

19 May 2017

Thinking of a Master Plan

Around a year ago I started my Cool It Now newsletter and now I’m on the fourteenth issue, a special all music themed one! It contains links to an incredible article about the rise of flute rap, as well as a Spotify playlist of my seventeen tracks for the summer. It’s a winner, just like my all Gosling edition from earlier this year. So while the frequency of the newsletter has stalled, the quality has gone up! I mean, I hope. Here are all the past issues, and below is my song notes for the seventeen tracks included in Cool It Now, Vol 1. And for the record, "Paid in Full" is always the best flute rap!

1. Bishop Briggs, “Wild Horses” (2017)
This twenty-four year old British singer by way of Japan seems fond of wearing Chun Li buns and got inspired to sing via Tokyo’s karaoke bars.

2. DJ Khaled, “I’m the One” (2017)
I’m starting my hunt for the dance jam of the year, the one I hope will be everywhere on a dance night. This one features Bieber, Chance, Lil Wayne, and Quavo — the latter whom I had to Google to clarify his role in Migos. I’m not 100% sold on it but after ten listens it really sticks in your head...

3. Tegan & Sara, “Boyfriend (2016)
For some reason I haven’t really gotten into T&S’s post-Closer album, Love You to Death. A clear oversight.

4. Khalid, “Location” (2017)
Only nineteen, Khalid is calls upon Eighties new-wave for the cover art to his debut, American Teen. This track is straight alternative R&B though, and is simply ear candy.

5. Lady Gaga, “The Cure” (2017)
Gaga back!

6. Sheila E, "The Glamorous Life, Re-Recorded” (1984)
I have a pretty big hole for songs from the Eighties — FOB life — and am only catching up now. Unfortunately I got addicted to the non-canon version of “The Glamourous Life” because I didn’t know it wasn’t the original. Whoops. If this song gets played on any dance floor this summer, I’m golden.

7. Little Dragon, “High” (2017)
Hey Little Dragon, where you been? “Ritual Union” was 2009, and while the nothing else caught my attention on Season High, this moody confection was perfect.

8. Paramore, “Told You So” (2017)
I know exactly nothing about Paramore aside from recognizing their name. Apparently it’s lead singer Hayley Williams plus a rotating cast. Their new album is a shift into 1980s new-wave also, and I’m digging into it now.

9. Anya Marina, “Shut Up” (2016)
Featured on the Riverdale soundtrack, Marina hails from Ann Arbor, MI and started her career in San Diego. I only knew her previously from a cover of T.I.’s “Whatever You Like.” Her 2016 album Paper Planes has some gems.

10. Drugdealer, “Suddenly” (2016)
I asked Ameer what he’s been listening to recently and he answered “Drugdealer” aka Weyes Blood. That’s enough of a recommend for me!

11. LL COOL J, “I Need Love” (1987)
It’s officially/unofficially breakup season so a little soft side of James Todd Smith always helps right?

12. Hailee Steinfeld, “Starving (Acoustic)” (2015)
I love Stenfeld the actress but I’m starting to suspect I like her better as undercover pop starlet.

13. Marvin Gaye, “The Shadow of Your Smile” (1968)
I asked my friend D for her recent listens and here was her answer: "I've been listening to an obscure [posthumously released] Marvin Gaye record on repeat. The record is called Vulnerable. I guess he lost his woman or something so he's all sad and shit. But I love it.” Clarinets are sad…

14. Linying, “Paris 12” (2016)
Intrigued by a twenty-three year old Singaporean Feist? Yeah, me too. Her voice is penetrating. Oh yeah, Feist herself has a just released new album, Pleasure.

15. WILDWOOD, “Moonrise” (2017)
I can’t even find anything about this artist, and she’s got just one track on Spotify. One shot, one kill.

16. A Taste of Honey, “Boogie Oogie Oogie” (1978)
Recently we looked up our birthday jam, the number one song on the Billboard charts when you were born. Mine turned out to be disco cut from A Taste of Honey. Alright alright!

17. Cat Stevens, “Father and Son” (1970)
The closing song from Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Ronan Keating did a cover of this song in 2014, which is fitting because the villain from the first Guardians was named Ronan the Accuser. Marvel synergy?