Thursday, March 12, 2015

The 25 most hilarious, bizarre, and downright creepy Tinder profiles you'll ever see.

Launched in 2012, Tinder became an overnight craze as the social media/dating app for that shallow opportunist in all of us. A typical Tinder profile doesn't give a flying squirrel shit about your chemistry, compatibility, how many children you want to have or how you save baby dolphins. The meat and potatoes of any Tinder interaction is reserved for one profile photo and a blurb. If that catches someone's eye, they swipe right to accept you and try to connect. If not, they swipe left and discard you forever into the overflowing trash bin of other losers. It's so deliciously utilitarian that the app has spread to over 50 million users in 24 languages, and expected to reach the 100 million mark by the end of 2015.

As with any cultural phenom, a counterculture has sprung up, those who choose to get noticed and compete with their sense of humor and bizarreness, not their six pack abs, Bieber-like coif, or big rack. These Tinderites are so bad, they're amazing. So we scoured the Internet for the 25 worst, funniest, and creepiest profiles on Tinder, and this is what we came up with. Would you swipe left, or right for these profiles?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Music programs in schools offer a host of educational benefits.

I remember music classes in elementary school. This was back in the late 1970s and early 80s, so please bear with my trip down memory lane. But music class at Ridge Hill School in Hamden, Connecticut was quite an event, with the beloved Mr. L holding court over our impressionable young minds, and ears. Children had trumpets, violins, and cellos to play, and got to take them home in sleek black cases to practice after school. No one wanted to play the tuba because it was so big to lug home, but the cool kids played the drums, which they practiced on a drum pad at home after dinner, giving their sonically-tortured parents an excuse to drink copious amounts of Scotch every evening.

There was also a chorus at school, where we sang cutting-edge new hits by Barry Manilow, Chris Cross, and Neil Diamond. Mr. L first weeded me out as a soprano because my pre-pubescent voice most resembled Rosie Perez sucking on a helium balloon, and then I was dropped from the chorus all together – albeit gently – because well, basically, I couldn’t sing.

So I was assigned a different instrument: the recorder. For those of you who don’t know, the recorder was a plastic flute-like instrument they gave the kids with absolutely no musical talent because it made barely audible sounds like a whale mating which could be drowned out by the real instruments. I was given a recorder because it was harmless, and I couldn’t hurt myself with it – basically, the equivalent of padded furniture in soothing colors.

I even practiced the recorder once, tapping my Velcroed Zips sneakers and corduroy pant leg along to some erroneous rhythm in my head. But I never dared take it home again because the recorder was the antithesis of cool and I didn’t want to risk Fat Pete, the neighborhood bully, see me carrying it because he’d throw me a beating.

But I digress. Those music classes started my life-long love affair with music, but as someone who appreciated and respected the end result, not played it. Still, I have to think those music classes helped me later in life. For instance, the first live concert I every attended was Barry Manilow on a class trip with Mr. L. And I learned other valuable lessons, like you should quit something if you suck at it – like I did with the recorder, and no matter how talentless you think you are, there is still the triangle to play.

In all seriousness, music classes are a vastly important part of the fabric of educating our youth. However, these days, music, and arts programs are endangered species in our public education system. Let me quantify that: the quality, access, and resources of music programs are shriveling up at schools on the lower end of the income scale, and that is further widening the achievement gap. In fact, since the Great Recession, school districts in Florida, Kansas, Arizona, and other states have gutted their music programs to the point they barely exist only on paper. In 2009, California chose to dip into the education budget and “divert” $109 million from music programs for other uses, which caused music departments to be eradicated in about half of the 100,000 state public schools. And currently in New York, educators say that about 85% of public school students don’t receive even adequate music instruction in school.

These de-fundings and closures are shortsighted, and not just from the perspective that we should all appreciate and encourage the arts. There are proven and tangible benefits to having music programs and instruction in school. Here are a few of them:

Many studies have found that studying a musical instrument helps children perform better in their academics, work better in teams, increase critical thinking skills, stay in school, and make better life choices later on.

Research shows that secondary students who had music activities at school have lower lifetime use tobacco, alcohol, and narcotics than those who didn’t.

Schools with music programs graduate 90.2% of their pupils and have a 93.9% attendance rate. Meanwhile, schools without music have only a 72.9% graduation rate and 84.9% attendance.

You may think those numbers are due to correlation, not causation (like the better schools have music and therefore the better numbers), but that’s not the only factor:

In fact, no matter what socioeconomic status or school district a child belongs to, it’s been proven that third graders who have music programs score higher on reading and spelling tests.

Children who take music classes have larger vocabularies, more advanced reading skills, and increased language function than those who do not.

Young children with learning disabilities like dyslexia or are Autistic benefit from music lessons as a teaching tool.

A study at Stanford University revealed that youngsters who took music show different brain development, improved cognitive skills, and better memory than their counterparts who didn’t.

In fact, students who had music classes and appreciation in school scored an average of 63 points higher on their verbal SATs and 44 points better for math SATs.

A report by the National Endowment for the Arts found that at-risk youth were particularly helped by music programs, going on in life to register higher numbers of high school graduates, those who went on to college and earned degrees, exercised their right to vote, became civic advocates, did volunteer work, and became working professionals in white collar careers.

There are also benefits to emotional development, empathy, cultural sensitivity, higher self esteem and cope better with anxiety and stress.

According to the Children’s Music Workshop: “Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain’s circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds.”

Friday, February 27, 2015

20 Reasons why Madonna is awful and needs to just go away.

Yes, there was a time, 30 years ago or so in the 1980s, when Madonna could do no wrong, her name synonymous with damn entertaining music and videos that broke cultural boundaries and redefined pop music like no one other than Michael Jackson. But since then, Madonna has seen a sad and slow decline, one which even her billions of dollars and the best dancers and producers and concert promoters in the world could delay, but not avoid. Now, pushing 56 years old, Madonna has become a weird cautionary tale, diluting her legacy past the point of repair and becoming a bizarre caricature of herself. If it was just bad music and uncomfortably awkward performances befitting someone 30 years younger, she’d join the ranks of Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones and we wouldn’t think much more of it. But Madonna is a victim of her own fame, one which she refuses to relinquish as she gets older and so keeps making desperate and futile attempts to reinvent herself and become relevant once again. In summary, there is no more narcissistic, out of touch, self-possessed, and generally b-a-n-a-n-a-s superstar in the world. While there are countless examples of her bad career choices and scummy misbehaviors as a bad human being, we collected these 20 reasons why Madonna is awful and needs to go away.

1. Her recent concert at Hyde Park in London failed to sell out, despite the fact that she hadn’t played there in 4 years. Of course she didn’t endear the fans by saying, “I love you Poland,” at one point. It turns out, many concert goers walked out early, calling it the worst concert they’d every seen.

2. Although in her mid 50’s, Madonna tried to rely on her typical sexually charged bag of tricks at that concert, putting on a strip tease show that had people yawning – or just grossed out.

3. That’s still better than her 2012 concert in Istanbul, Turkey, where she pulled down her lingerie to expose her nipple to 50,000 concertgoers…in a conservative Islamic country.

4. To further trample on and disrespect the cultures of millions of fans who put money in her pocket, she wore Hindu facial markings during her MTV performance of the song Ray of Light. Unfortunately, the markings signify the ideals of chastity, purity, and devotion in the Hindu religion, and she wore them while simulating sex acts and basically making a mockery of their religion.

5. By the way, her 11-year old son is now on stage with her as a backup dancer at some of these concerts as his mommy writhes, gyrates, simulates sex acts, and exposes herself. Mom of the Year?

6. Apparently her new album and concert tour, MDNA, is all a shallow attempt to be cool with a younger generation who sometimes use the designer drug Molly, or MDMA. Just to remind audiences how “hip and trendy” she is in case they didn’t catch on, she’s been known to yell Molly references to the crowd during concerts.

7. Never one to avoid a cheap prop to try to shock audiences and critics into giving a shit about what she’s doing, Madonna had a music video where she was holding prop guns to her head and pointed at other people, as well as another video where she committed all sort of violent crimes, both of which were censored off of MTV and VH1. (Just imagine the backlash if she was black and singing rap music?!)

8. She once put out a book called Sex, which of course she starred in because apparently, she invented sex. In the book she posed in compromising erotic positions with Vanilla Ice, Naomi Campbell, and other sycophants.

9. Because her ego couldn’t be confined to music and had to spread like a fungus over cinema, too, she made the movies Evita, Shanghai Surprise, Swept Away and Who’s That Girl. We really wish she hadn’t.

10. Her brother is homeless. Let that sink in. Anthony Ciccone lives on the streets in poverty. Says Ciccone about his rich and famous sister, “My sister’s a multimillionaire, but she earned it. I have to give her credit for that. But you’d think there’d be some more family loyalty, and that’s not the case. Just to communicate would be nice.”

11. She talked trash about Lady Gaga in a classless display, while Gaga had done nothing but show her reverence and give her credit as being a huge influence on her music.

12. She wrote a children’s book called English Rose, filled with lessons from the Kabbalah after she adopted those spiritual practices. Is Madonna really the person we want teaching our children, and what makes her an authority on Kabbalah after following it for like, 5 minutes?

13. She once tried to sabotage her appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in 1994, dropping 13 F-bombs and disparaging the host during the live network television broadcast. Luckily, her foul language was bleeped out and Dave gave it right back to her, but why would she do that? It’s funny that she got all sorts of mad at MIA during their 2012 Super Bowl performance when MIA flipped the national audience the bird.

14. To reignite her failed persona of a sexual icon, Madonna appeared at the 2003 Video Music Awards and shared a faux-passionate tongue kiss with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. But instead of turning people on it was just sort of pathetic and creepy.

15. She’s literally had plenty of “No eye contact!” moments, like when her security guards ordered her own volunteers to turn the other way while she passed at the Toronto International Film Festival.

16. For some unknown reason, Madonna released a series of photoshopped promotional photos via her Instagram in which she likens herself to civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and others, except she photoshopped in cords wrapped around their faces and torsos. All this while she calls her white son “#disnigga” on Instagram.

17. Never one to turn down a ridiculous display of self-importance, Madonna appeared hanging on a cross during her performance of “Live to Tell “ during her 2006 Confessions Tour. So now she’s Jesus-like?

18. Even worse, her face appears with a Nazi swastika on it during her MDNA on-stage video performance, as well as superimposed on the forehead of the French president.

19. Madonna steals. A lot. Like, a whole lot. It’s a fact that during her career she’s made a mockery of copyright laws by ripping off songs, beats, lyrics, and just about everything she can from scores of other artists. She’s dealt with hundreds of lawsuits but has the money and the power to make them go away without redress. Her photo shoots, too over the centuries – oops, I mean decades –that’s she’s been in the public eye have blatantly imitated Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol photos, and many others. She has absolutely no respect for other artists.

20. Just a week ago she took a tumble on stage at the 2015 BRIT Awards show, when her cape wasn’t unfastened and a backup dancer pulled her to the ground in a choreographed move gone terribly wrong. The spill, in which she adeptly reenacted the gyrations of a newborn giraffe, kindled a barrage of hilarious memes and tweets in which people expressed concern that she didn’t break a hip or fell and couldn’t get up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Biggie Small’s song, 'Ten Crack Commandments' is actually genius business advice.

There is no debate that the Notorious B.I.G. was one of the best rappers ever, captivating and energizing worldwide audiences with his honey-smooth flow of shockingly raw lyrics. Unfortunately, he was a victim of the East Coast-West Coast beef, shot to death in 1997 as a young man and artist just reaching his prime at 25. But the musical legacy Big Poppa left us still endures, and he’s widely known as one of the top three rappers of all time, if not the best.

We all know him as a rap prodigy, street poet, musical vanguard, neighborhood poet and even part time drug dealer, but Biggie Smalls was a genius businessman?

I been in this game for years, it made me a animal
It's rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual
A step by step booklet for you to get
your game on track, not your wig pushed back

He sure was if we look closely at the lyrics of his song, Ten Crack Commandments. In it, Biggie spits flow about the ten fundamental rules of dealing crack in his native Brooklyn, or anywhere. While on face value it seems he’s just laying out base street knowledge how to illegally vend a controlled narcotic, his advice is actually apropos to any business or product. In fact, suits in the boardroom and investors on Wall Street will find his advice just as prudent.

Let’s break down the genius business lessons of Biggie’s 10 Crack Commandments:

Rule numero uno: never let no one know
how much, dough you hold, cause you know
The cheddar breed jealousy 'specially
if that man fucked up, get your ass stuck up

Nothing good can come out of people knowing how much money you’re making or your financial position. Too much and you’ll incite jealousy, envy and become a target. Too little and people will perceive you as weak or unsuccessful. Always keep your financials close to the vest.

Number two: Never let em know your next move
Don't you know bad boys move in silence or violence


Always keep your opponents guessing. Don’t talk too much or reveal your strategies, desires, or plans. In business, action should be your only language.

Number three: Never trust no-bo-dy
Your moms'll set that ass up, properly gassed up

Simply and plain, don’t trust anyone. Of course you can still take on business partners, team up with people, and form alliances, but everyone looks out for themselves in business. Even your best friend – or your own mother- has a price where loyalty goes out the window, so don’t ever let your guard down and fully trust someone.

Number four: Know you heard this before
Never get high, on your own supply

Don’t over invest in your own product, or one product at all. Always diversify to keep a balanced portfolio so you’ll be able to profit in the good times but won’t be wiped out when things crash. And never get emotional or become too excited about your own commodity.

Number five: never sell no crack where you rest at
I don't care if they want an ounce, tell ‘em bounce

Separate your personal and private life exclusively. This advice applies to your physical space, privacy, and also your time and energy. If you’re doing business, then it’s all business. If you’re not, then you won’t touch business.

Number six: that god damn credit, dead it
You think a crackhead payin you back, shit forget it

People who want to borrow money from you do so for only one reason: because they don’t have the money to pay you back.  It can be tempting to extend credit because we all have a desire for profit, but it rarely works out. Move on to paying customers and keep it simple.

Seven: this rule is so underrated
Keep your family and business completely separated

Don’t do business with family. You’ll usually enter into business arrangements with family because of familiarity, comfort, convenience, and a sense of trust, not because it’s the smartest business decision. But all sorts of lines get blurred and expectations violated when money and business mix with familia, so don’t do it!

Number eight: never keep no weight on you
Them cats that squeeze your guns can hold jobs too

This is Biggie’s lesson in reducing liability. Take reasonable precautions, slow down and make sure you do things right, and always plan to minimize risk. Remember that it’s not how much you make but how much you keep – and how long you stay in business – that really counts.

Number nine shoulda been number one to me
If you ain't gettin bags stay the fuck from police (uh-huh)
If [ninjas] think you snitchin ain't tryin listen
They be sittin in your kitchen, waitin to start hittin

Be careful who you talk to and are seen with. Even perceptions are very important in maintaining and elevating your business brand. Don’t do entertain business deals with snakes or people with a bad reputation, or you might be guilty by association. Biggie knew that not all money is good money!

Number ten: a strong word called consignment
Strictly for live men, not for freshmen
If you ain't got the clientele say hell no
Cause they gonna want they money rain sleet hail snow

Don’t over extend yourself in any business deal, or essentially write checks that you’re not positive you can cash. Also, don’t let a client or business partner get too indebted to you before righting the accounting.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

30 Interesting facts about the Grammys!

1. The first Grammy awards were held on May 4, 1959, incredibly, as a way to keep the newly emerging Rock & Roll threat at bay.

2. Perry Como and Ella Fitzgerald one best male and female artists at the first Grammys.

3. The first year, there were only 22 awards. These days, there are more than one hundred every show.

4. That didn’t last long, as a Best Rock & Roll award was added in 1962. In 1974, a Latin music category was added to the Grammys.

5. The most prestigious honor in music is to win the Big Four Grammy awards: album of the year, recording of the year, song of the year, and best new artist.

6. Only two artists have done it: Christopher cross in 1981, and Norah Jones in 2003.

7. The first rap music award was given in 1989, which Dj Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince won.

8.  Michael Jackson won the most Grammys in one night with eight awards in 1983, followed by Santana in 1999.

9. Sinead O’Conner won best alternative album but refused the award and boycotted the Grammys because of their  ‘extreme commercialism.’

10. Believe it or not, Elvis Presley never won a rock & roll Grammy. He was nominated and won three in the Gospel genre.

11. The Beatles, for all of their decades of success and hit songs, only won eight Grammys total.
A category for heavy metal was added in 1989, with the first award going to Jethro Tull.

12. Classical conductor Sir George Solti has the most lifetime Grammys, with 74 nominations and 31 awards.

13. Quincy Jones holds the record for the most nominations with 79.

14. Billy Gillman was the youngest to ever win a Grammy at 12 years old, followed by LeAnn Rimes at 14.

15. Snoop Dogg has never won a Grammy, despite his career longevity and popularity. He has, however, been nominated for 12.

16. That’s not the record for futility; Brian McKnight has been nominated 16 times and never won.

17. U2 is the only band to win 22 Grammy awards.

18. Stevie Wonder has the most ever Grammys for an artist with 28.

19. 1971 was the first year the Grammys were broadcast live with musical performances.

20. The name ‘Grammy’ was actually chosen from entries in a contest. A normal music fan named 

21. Jay Danna was the winner, and he received 25 LP’s for his contribution.

22. Before that, it was called the Gramaphone Awards.

23. Those little Grammy statues weigh 5 lbs., 2 ounces each!

24. Can you believe that Led Zeppelin, The Who, the Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Bob Marley, and Chuck Berry never won a Grammy?!

25. The awards are chosen through a voting system conducted by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.

26. The Academy passes out 20,000 ballots to musicians and music professionals every year. 

27. On average, they get about 7,000 ballots back to determine the winners.

28. Milli Vanilli is the only Grammy winner to have their award revoked.

29. Kanye west went on stage TWICE to interrupt awards to other artist he though weren't deserving; first with Taylor Swift, and now with Beck.

30. He's now the first artist to our knowledge to be banned from all future award shows!