You Think I’m Afraid Of Russia’s FaceApp? Give Me A Break Dude…

Okay, so it’s Thursday and the British Open is well underway and Tiger’s back. I’m sure I’ll have some commentary on the event in the future but I have some bigger fish to fry.

Throughout the week, the biggest infatuation on social media has been with this FaceApp thing. For those unaware, it’s essentially this app where you take a picture of yourself (or anyone, for that matter) and select a filter the nice people at FaceApp have labeled “old.” From there, it transforms you into a 75-year-old, meth-addicted pedophile.

Long story short, it’s just an easy way to rake Instagram likes. It allows people who aren’t creative to feel like they’re creative. Instead of just narcissistically ripping a picture of themself and stuffing it down the pipeline, they manipulate the photo because “See, I’m funny.”

And this isn’t the first time some facial recognition software has swept the Internet. Earlier this year, Snapchat allowed all of us to switch genders, which was incredibly convenient for people like myself who can’t afford the surgery.

The only difference is that the FaceApp company is from Russia, which means they’re obviously using it for world domination.

Like, grow up people. Pabst Blue Ribbon was sold to a Russian company, but that doesn’t mean they’re sprinkling mind control drugs throughout the fermentation process. You people are watching too much Chernobyl and Stranger Things

It’s the same thing with the whole Facebook privacy outrage from last year. Everybody and their mother just freaking out because Facebook was using our activity to better guage advertising demographics.

Point blank: If you don’t want these companies “spying” on you, don’t give them your information. In what world do you think that posting information for public consumption should be private. Give me a break…

As for Russia, come get me dude. You want my Senior photo? My Blockbuster Rewards Card ID number? My Outback Steakhouse gift card receipts? Take em’. Go for it. What the fuck are you gonna do with a picture of me? Sell it? Good luck…

Far From Home: You Can’t Replace Tony Stark But They Kinda Did…

Okay so it’s hump day, which means last night was $5 Tuesday, which means I finally managed to drag my cheap ass down to the movies for the first time in a while to see the latest Spider-Man movie.

One of the things I’ve been conscious of since I self-asserted myself as Branded’s movie guy is pretty simple: a.) most people don’t give a fuck about cinematography or mise en scène or editing; and b.) outside of events like Endgame or a Star Wars release, most people don’t rush their ass out to a theater on opening night.

Therefore, I’m going to start seeing and releasing these things on a belated basis. I don’t want people to see/avoid a movie based on something they read; I’d much rather discuss than dictate.

That said, Spider-Man: Far From Home is the second independant installment of the MCU’s version of Spider-Man, and perhaps more importantly, the first installment of the MCU’s second generation of Avengers. In other words, we’re looking at the initial Iron Man from 2008, only this time, there are MONUMENTAL expectations.

For the record, this is probably the biggest spoiler-heavy MCU movie in some time. If you haven’t seen Infinity War or Endgame—so if you’re some inbred weirdo hoarding canned beets out of some bomb shelter in Idaho—you’re going to be VERY confused. Given that, I’ll do my best to walk a tight rope.

So yeah, Tony Stark’s dead (sorry) and the majority of this movie concerns the whole “passing of the torch” narrative that couldn’t have existed in Homecoming, which was most likely the best independant Spider-Man to date at the time.

One of the things that’s tough about these narratives is that they’re essentially impossible. Point blank: You can’t replace Tony Stark. He’s arguably the most perfectly casted individual in a major cinematic franchise of all time.

That said, they didn’t… but they low-key did.

Everybody knows nostalgia normally wins out. It’s tough to battle your childhood and I grew up with Tobey Maguire as my Spider-Man. Since then, there’s been an absolute onslaught of different Spider-Mans but I’ve never seen a more overwhelming deference than the one with Tom Holland.

What I mean by that is Tom Holland is “my” Spider-Man and he should be yours. I mean, he’s virtually the perfect fit. Just remarkably unassuming and—given that Marvel has given him the keys to the franchise for the next ten years—I’m looking forward to see how his character develops over the next decade.

The second difficult thing to accomplish is a good sequel, which is even more difficult when its coming off the second highest-grossing film of all time… and they nailed it.

For starters, the style and tone of these Spider-Man movies are refreshing. With respect to the MCU, they just stand on their own. Very cheeky and quick-witted throughout. There’s a great deal of humor and all of it lands in a satisfying fashion.

As for the newly introduced characters, I LOVED Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio. There’s a huge twist in this movie I won’t get into it, however, I will say this: Mysterio’s one of the coolest fucking superheroes of all time. That suit absolutely SLAPS and he has one of the more intricate/developed set of “powers” in the MCU.

Also, I think I have a new movie crush on MJ. I like how they didn’t go the old fashioned, doe-eyed redhead route with this one. They gave her character an incredibly distinct, sort of hipster vibe which shouldn’t work as a lead but there’s an endearing quality that, with some further development, can really work.

I didn’t realize how long this blog would end up being so I’ll just wrap things up here…

I know I’m not alone when I say that Spider-Man was always my favorite superhero. I always found it weird that Iron Man—a character I never thought had much clout—was essentially the leader of a decade-long Marvel franchise.

Turns out that happened and, the way Marvel developed Holland’s character, I was weary he could step in and lead the way Downey did. It sounds crazy, but it’s weird to think Marvel’s most popular superhero may not be able to anchor the franchise for this second generation but Far From Home slams it home: He will…

Final Rating: 9.2 Boats out of 10

Fighting With My Family: 8.9

Captain Marvel: 6.4

How To Train Your Dragon 3: 8.7

US: 8.1

Dumbo: 4.3

Shazam!: 8.3.

Avengers Endgame: 9.6

Detective Pikachu: 5.5

Booksmart: 9.3

Rocketman: 8.3

Toy Story 4: 9.2

Music Festival People Are Absolute LUNATICS…

So it’s a reentry Monday and I’m battling. As I get older, getting back into the swing of things after a long weekend of cheap booze and leftover Papa John’s is no cakewalk. Contrary to consensus, garlic knots and spiked seltzers aren’t necessarily endorsed by the Surgeon General, but I digress…

Over the weekend, the annual Levitate Music & Arts Festival took place on the south shore. Basically, it’s just this 3-day live music event where swaths of political science graduates flock to take Instagram pictures, wear Toon Squad jerseys, and scarf down truck cuisine. It’s one of those places where everyone in attendance has spent the last few years trying to “find” themself.

So yeah, it’s pretty safe to say it’s not my type of environment but a buddy of mine offered me free VIP tickets so I just said fuck it and headed through.

For starters, I normally despise large public events. Not to sound like the Grinch, but there’s only so much “people” I can take, especially when showering within a week of the occasion is seemingly optional.

All things considered, I spent roughly nine hours breathing exclusively through my mouth. Between the weed, seafood trucks, porta potties, and JUUL vapor, the air quality rivaled that of Chernobyl. All that was missing was graphite and inexplicable British accents.

If that wasn’t enough, I managed to run into a couple ex-girlfriends and can honestly declare there’s nothing worse than running into a past fling/her current boyfriend and realizing she COMPLETELY upgraded. The guy’s seemingly always over six-feet tall with two 401k’s and I’m just sitting there like “Yeah, I microwaved baked ziti for breakfast this morning.”

With concerns to the music, I was probably the least educated person in attendance, which sucks because the people at these events are insanely passionate.

Festival life is like liquorice in that it’s not for everyone, but the people who do enjoy it absolutely LIVE for it. Literally 20% of the crowd lives out of conversion vans, financing their travel/admission by peddling glow sticks and uniquely shaped rocks in the parking lot.

All in all, I think I’m out on going back next year. It’s one of those things I’d highly recommend experiencing, but there’s only so many times I can hear “They’re so much better live than on the album” before I throw in the towel…

– Joey Boats (@joey_boats)

Fried-Ay: Women’s Soccer, Hot Dog Eating Contests, and Fireworks Suck…

Guys, guys, GUYS!!! It’s officially Friday, which means it’s Fried-ay, which means it’s time for me to mail it in until Sunday afternoon where I’ll try to work up the energy to address my future but inevitably fail with flying colors. Until then though, it’s pleated golf shorts, chewing tobacco, and the This Is: Shania Twain playlist on Spotify.

For those unfamiliar with Fried-ay, allow me to explain…

In life, isotopes shift, climates change, and Al Gores gore; however, the sanctity of Fried-ay perseveres like an irruption of crested Eurasian songbirds evacuating the nautical frontiers of Scandinavia to procure the succulent juniper berries coating the hillocks of Northern Ireland’s most temperate regions. 

In other words, it’s a weekly blog installment where I vomit an onslaught of arbitrary, often misinformed theories on anything from our criminal justice system to Taco Bell’s unwavering lack of menu diversity. Let’s get into it…

Last Sunday, the US Women’s team beat the brakes off Holland to win the World Cup and I must admit I flat-out enjoy watching the women’s game more than the men’s. I mean, obviously there’s a significant drop-off in regard to skill but—as a casual fan whose soccer knowledge exclusively correlates to the amount of FIFA I’m playing at the time—I could care less about the intricacies of the sport. Simply put, I just want to see more scoring opportunities and less rolling around on the ground. And from what I watched over the last month, that’s what I got.

Not to mention, the US Women’s team is an ABSOLUTE WAGON. Not only did they curb stomp the field, but they did it in the cockiest fashion ever. Just pouring in 30 goals on Taiwan before throat fucking England and shoving the entire island of Great Britain’s nose in it.

Even before the tournament started, that purple haired chick declared her team’s “not going to the fucking White House,” which prompted Overlord Trump and every right-winger with wi-fi access to call her out for counting chickens before they hatched. How’d they respond? By burying the most goals in tournament history and twerking France into the God damn Quantum Realm. It honestly reminded me of that Mike Tyson run in the late ’80s where he just kicked the living shit out of everyone without even breaking a sweat. These chicks just hopped off the bus and PUMMELED teams…

When push comes to shove, July 4th ranks pretty high on my holiday draft board but, due to work, I had a relatively quiet day this year. I donned my finest cargo shorts, drilled a week’s recommended intake of sodium, and reasserted my dominance in Cornhole/Spikeball at a family friend’s house. Turns out they had this saltwater pool (next level, “fuck you” type stuff) across from a private beach; and when I say “private,” I’m basically just referring to an area of sand with slightly less people than the glorified mosh pit everyone pays $40 to park near.

So I get there and, as is tradition, proceed to deny the inaugural onslaught of sunscreen offers. Every Summer you can set your watch to me disregarding my Irish heritage and refusing skin protection, only to look like burnt rubber the next morning. I don’t know why I do it either, but I want to say it’s an ego thing. For some reason, there’s a considerable part of me that’s low-key convinced I’m stronger than the sun. Like, if the sun and I squared off outside some dive bar in South Boston, I’m confident I wouldn’t end up stiff as a board, sucking wind on the WorldStar message boards. Don’t sleep on conviction…

After a couple ill-advised trips to the keg, we tossed on the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest because, in America, we inhale saturated fat for sport. For the next ten minutes, we watched as twenty federationally sanctioned morons muscled down troughs of uncured beef in 85-degree heat. I argue it’s our country’s lowest annual moment.

I mean, imagine having the following conversation on the way out the door:

Poor Woman: “Honey, where are you going?”

Ludicrous Human Being: “Oh, I’m just heading out to woof down 70+ boiled sausages in front of an audience of drunk sociopaths on ESPN2.”

How do you look at yourself in the mirror after that? Just disgraceful behavior, but I digress…

After migrating to the beach, obligatory conversation ensued. For the record, there are a few things New Englanders love more than misinformed shark discussion. Every year, the USA Network starts spraying out rebroadcasts of Jaws and suddenly everyone with access to the 5 o’clock news is a closet elasmobranchologist.

For context, picture a bunch of bloated Massholes sweating out Natty Lights on a sandbar and recklessly belting out things like “Yeah dood, I guess they spotted a couple bull shahhhks near Scituate. Due to the tide frequency, those cocksuckahhhs won’t come down here though.”

Like okay dude, then why even bring it up? That’s like getting on a flight and reassuring the cabin there’s little chance anyone smuggled a pipe bomb onto the tarmac due to the increased security measures. Maybe I’m just overly deferential, but I enter most situations confident I won’t tragically die and I’d like to preserve that frame of mind.

Last Note: Fireworks are more overrated than 3D movies and guacamole combined. I get it’s tradition but I’m not compromising sleep so I can watch things explode for 45 minutes while the guy next to me incorrectly predicts “Here comes the finale!” five times before everything concludes.

When it comes down to it, the only entertaining aspect of a public pyrotechnic display is the dick measuring contest that erupts between all the middle-aged guys on the shore who brought their own ammo. Dad hopped in the Tacoma and dropped a couple stacks in New Hampshire last weekend and he’ll be DAMNED if he doesn’t prove it…

Top 5 Things I’d Fix To Make Soccer “America’s Game”…

So it’s currently Sunday and the Red Sox bullpen just chalked up their seventeenth blown save of the year. More importantly though, it marks the first blown save ever recorded on European soil. I guess the MLB’s making a push towards globalization, and although the reception’s been great, I can’t help feeling that these people don’t really give a shit.

It’s similar to the United States with soccer. We’ll get off our asses and flood a few bars during the World Cup, but when push comes to shove, most of us won’t lose any sleep if the women get stomped out by England this Tuesday. That said, hope is on the horizon…

What makes America so great is that we take things and make them better: We took England and created “New England,” we took the internationally observed thermometric scale and created “Fahrenheit”, and we took fútbol and created “football.”

The only problem with that last one is that football—although objectively better in every conceivable way—is technically just a different sport; however, that’s where I come in…

After considerable thought, here are the five things I’d fix to make soccer great again:

1.) Abolish the Offside Rule: I absolutely hate that practically every scoring opportunity is axed because some dude was a pinworm’s length closer to the opponent’s goal line. Obviously it would change the entire dynamic of the sport but I don’t care if people are cherry-picking; and in fact, that’s what I want. The more chaos the better. Not to mention, you could start seeing some top level man-to-man matchups between premier forwards and “shutdown defenders”—guys whose assignment is literally just to shadow the opponent’s striker.

2.) Grant North Korea an At-Large Bid: Simply put, people love drama. There’s a reason why the Red Sox/Yankees were chosen for the London Series, there’s a reason why the 1994 Women’s Figure Skating Final is still one of the most-watched sporting events in US history, and there’s a reason why a United States/North Korea showdown in the group stage would ignite interest. Ever since the US occupied Japan following WWII, all North Korea’s done is talk shit from across the pond. In other words, we need to shut them up, and what better way to do that than to beat the living shit out of them on an international stage in a sport our country hasn’t played since grade school?

3.) Replace All Referees With Combat Veterans: I think I speak for most Americans when I say flopping is the worst aspect of soccer. You seemingly can’t sneeze within twenty yards of a player without that player dropping to the ground as if they got picked off by a sniper. Soccer enthusiasts often classify it as part of the game, but with all due respect, that part of the game sucks and I’d eradicate it by instating combat veterans as officials. Why? Because shame is a powerful thing and combat veterans are one of the few demographics of people you can’t be a complete pussy around. In other words, it’s incredibly difficult to hit the deck in a fit of theatrical pain when the guy who saw it has also seen boot camp and three tours’ worth of near-death experience.

4.) Allow Goalies to Check Inside the Penalty Area: One thing I’ve learned through my limited viewership of soccer is that keepers are complete lunatics. Regardless of what’s happening in the game, they’re always the most entertaining people to watch during broadcast cutaway shots. That said, they should be allowed to blow up offensive players like in hockey. Think of it like plays at the plate in baseball; if you breach the restricted area, you’re officially on the menu. Corner kicks would be fucking electric.

5.) Get Better at Playing the Sport: This one’s pretty self-explanatory. I understand the US Women’s team is an absolute wagon, but it’s tough for America to fully invest itself until our men’s team can get their heads out of their ass. Like, I understand soccer isn’t incredibly popular here, but we also have the fucking THIRD highest population in the world. Trinidad and Tobago—the glorified tourist destination that prevented us from qualifying two years ago—is the size of Delaware! That country discovered electricity last week for God’s sake! You’re telling me we can’t beat THOSE GUYS!?! Clean it up, dude…

An IDIOT’S Guide To The Democratic Debates…

Shamelessly self-serving disclaimer: I’m not some some pigheaded, gun-hoarding Francis Scott Key apologist; conversely, I’m not some sanctimonious, Twitter-slumming outrage manufacturer. I voted for Obama in 2012 and wrote-in “Ja Rule” two years ago so I could declare the US was under Ja rule. That’s not a joke. Scroll lightly…

Roughly two months ago, I made an executive decision to stop following politics. Given the divisiveness these days, it’s nearly impossible to facilitate a casual dialogue without accusations of bigotry or invitations of violence. It’s reached the point where I now look at anyone with a “Choose Life” bumper sticker or a “Make America Great Again” hat the same way I look at an above average-looking woman with operational standards—with just this emphatic “ehhh this isn’t worth it” sense of dejection.

Long story short, I determined life would be a lot better if I pulled a Captain Marvel during Infinity War and just said “Fuck it, you guys can fight over this for awhile.” Recently, however, I’ve entered the Endgame.

The second Democratic debate aired on Thursday and I folded like a cheap lawn chair. There’s just something captivating about watching a flock of socially detached, mouth breathing gas bags as they scratch and claw for concessionary applause in pursuit of being crowned America’s Next Top Grandstander. Gun to my head, I think it lies in the juxtaposition of it all…

Conceptually speaking, a leaders’ debate is a formal and monumentally influential affair. I mean, this isn’t an after-school PTA meeting where the most significant aftereffect is a patched pothole outside the local Panera Bread—the outcome of these things fundamentally influence the trajectory of the entire country.

Given that fact, you’d think they would consist of a little more civility but nah, it’s just a bunch of scrubs in a glorified Best Western conference center squawking about their working-class upbringing while reiterating how much they “appreciate” [insert relevant minority group].

It is low key funny though. Seemingly every major candidate has their “go-to” issue they can break out at virtually any moment. It’s essentially Washington’s version of a Get Out of Jail Free card with unlimited uses.

Whenever a candidate is pressed on a past, unequivocally damning anti-LGBT interview comment, the course of action is almost instinctive: Just reinforce that your position has “evolved” (fucking world-class spin zone term btw) but in no way, shape, or form has it evolved at a faster rate than the average global temperature in the past twenty years…

For context: Joe Biden has the former Vice Presidency, Elizabeth Warren has knockoff brand socialism and the fact she’s roughly 3% justifiably appalled by the Washington Redskins logo, Kamala Harris has the ability to assert she doesn’t believe Joe Biden’s racist while simultaneously accusing him of being racist, and Bernie Sanders has the 99% and his pledge that, if he wins the presidency, everything will be free.

In other words, everyone’s fucking insane…

I mean, could you imagine having the balls to strut into a sold-out auditorium, stare down the barrel of an NBC live television feed, and definitively claim you can eradicate systemic racism, vanquish over two century’s worth of atmospheric pollution, and convince Cletus from Tuscaloosa to just hand over his Remington 783 in a four-year span?

I struggle committing to yoga on Friday afternoons…