It’s Not Cool to Hate Soccer Anymore

America has a long history of scoffing at soccer. Things are slowly changing, although trolls still use tenuous reasons to rationalize the hate against the international sport.

If you haven’t heard, the World Cup is happening right now. It’s been pretty great so far, actually, with the US team exceeding expectations. Also, because it’s all being hosted by Brazil, we’ve been seeing a lot of commercials featuring Adriana Lima. Thank you, soccer.

 

The most surprising thing about this is how many Americans have been watching the international tournament. The United States has a reputation for really hating soccer. The reasons behind that range from reasonable to completely dubious.

And, as usual, there have been the usual trolls – I mean, detractors – cautioning against the popularity of soccer here in the US.

Two names that come to mind are Ann Coulter and Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe.

Generally speaking, I don’t really care if another person hates something as trivial as a sport. I don’t really like baseball that much, nor do I pay much attention to sports at the collegiate level. People don’t mind and I respect them for that.

I also respect people who don’t like soccer, mostly because that’s a fair belief to have. I also respect them because I didn’t like soccer for years, until maybe a one year ago.

Here’s the thing: I tried to figure out why I didn’t like soccer, and I realized the biggest reason was simply because so many other people didn’t like it. I had no valid reasons. It was just a popular opinion and I naively went along with it.

Once I actually watched soccer, it became a beautiful thing for me. It’s filled with the geometry and angles of tennis. It takes real skill to do all that stuff with your feet, especially in a world where many of us trip over ourselves just by walking. Perhaps the most impressive thing about soccer is the amount of conditioning a person needs to play.

In basketball and (American) football, there are a load of timeouts and required stoppages of play for commercial breaks. Yet basketball and football players must be conditioned to play at a consistently high level.

Well, in soccer, there are barely any timeouts and there are no commercials at all (or only a little). Basically, players play for ninety minutes straight and stop only when there are injuries, or if something like a penalty kick is being set up. But even those don’t eat up much time.

I don’t think people argue whether soccer is a sport or not, but people who say it isn’t are clearly wrong. It’s not a matter of opinion. Soccer is clearly a sport.

But that’s only a trivial detail here.

Now, while I have respect for soccer detractors, I do have to point out flaws in their logic because there’s nothing like a good debate.

Let me just say from the beginning that I will not be addressing Ann Coulter’s opinion that the popularity of soccer is equivalent to moral decay. She’s being skewered by everybody for that – and deservedly so – so I really don’t need to help kick her ass.

Instead, I will be focusing on the more reasonable criticisms of soccer:

  • There is not enough scoring. Too many games end in a tie.
  • Players are too soft. They fake injuries way too much. The flow of the game gets killed.
  • Ninety minutes of continuous play is impressive, but for the viewers it’s not so great.
  • Not being able to use hands is a real killer because hands are a big deal. Or something.

Scoring

I think scoring is relative. Baseball is also a very low scoring game… compared to football. Yet, football is a low scoring game… compared to basketball. So what? Does that mean basketball is the most entertaining game to watch? No (well it is to me).

I would think the low scoring actually adds to the suspense. The outcome is that much more unpredictable because one goal can mean all the difference. It’s not like football or basketball where points can come in bunches from both teams on the field.

There’s a reason why soccer fans (and players and coaches and everybody ever) get so hyped when a scoring opportunity emerges – they know they should never take those for granted.

Never take it for granted!!!

Never take it for granted!!!

Faking Injuries

I don’t really have an argument against this particular criticism of soccer. It really is an annoying trait and what makes it worse is when guys like Luis Suárez decide to bite other players.

The fake injuries are horrible in soccer and some of the intentional injuries are just as egregious. Having said that, there are people out there who don’t like soccer solely because of the fake injuries.

That’s fine, I guess, if you also choose to hate any other sport for a relatively minor reason. If you also hate basketball because of flopping, or you hate football because of bullying, then I think you can hate soccer for the fake injuries. Otherwise, it’s just something you live with.

There is no perfect sport, and it’s unreasonable to expect that from soccer specifically.

Ninety Minutes

This is actually somewhat related to the lack of scoring, but mostly this is people complaining about the lack of breaks. How can they go to the bathroom if there are no commercials? Whatever will they do?

Surely they can’t just go anyway. It’s not like we live in a world of constant social media or anything. Besides, if goals are so rare, you might as well risk the probability of a goal going in during the thirty seconds you’re gone. I mean, is this really a valid argument against watching a sport?

No Hands

This category is dedicated to Dan Shaughnessy for his asinine belief that the ability to use hands is somehow directly correlated with the quality of a sport.

This guy actually had the nerve to ask how we would know the glory of guys like Larry Bird if they weren’t allowed to use their hands. Um, I’m pretty sure that goes the other way too. How would you know the greatness of guys like Lionel Messi if they didn’t play soccer?

How would you know anything if that thing did not happen? What a dumb argument.

Besides, if the exclusion of body parts is such a big deal, maybe they should allow basketball players to dribble with their feet. Why have a kicked ball violation at all?

Just ridiculous.

If anything, having to use just your feet (and your body technically) is a testament to how skillful a person needs to be to succeed at soccer at the highest level. Really, if you can’t use your feet, you can’t play the sport.

It’s not like basketball where there’s a ton of guys who can’t shoot in the NBA. Think about that for a second. You can succeed in the National Basketball Association without being able to shoot the ball into the hoop, which is like the main point of the game.

Really, all of the reasons above are a pretty poor excuse to completely hate soccer. If you don’t like watching it? Fine. But insulting a sport and calling it “gay” or whatever is really immature.

Honestly, I think people who use excuses like the ones described above are people who have never actually watched the game. I know this because I used to say soccer sucked because the scores were low and the players were all sissies. Of course, I really had a lot of credibility because I never watched a game until very recently.

Whatever. I mean it really isn’t that big of a deal, but people should try having their own opinions for once. Don’t just follow what everybody else says.

Of course, now that soccer is becoming more and more popular on a professional scale, I guess many members of the American public will “suddenly” find themselves enjoying the game. Okay then.

How to Have an Awkward (SFW) World Cup Conversation with a Customer

The following is a transcript showing exactly what to do make a World Cup conversation awkward, yet safe for work.

Me: Hey there.

Customer: Hi!

Me: How are ya?

Customer: Good, you?

Me: Pretty good, thanks.

[brief silence]

Customer: You following the World Cup? The US is losing by one right now.

Me: Nah, I’m somebody who consistently ignores a sport I don’t care about. But I know South Korea plays today.

Customer: Haha I see.

[silence]

Me: How much time is left?

Customer: Oh about thirty minutes.

Me: Ah there’s still time.

Customer: Yeah, one can hope.

Me: Is Altidore still out?

Customer: Yeah, Clint Dempsey is out too.

Me: What? How?

Customer: I don’t know! He didn’t make the team or something.

Me: Wait, I thought he scored that quick goal against Ghana. The one thirty seconds in.

[customer frowns]

Customer: Hmm… I don’t know. Maybe I’ve got the guy mixed up or something –

Me: Oh you must mean Landon Donovan.

Customer: Oh yeah! That’s right.

Me: Yeah haha.

[brief silence]

Customer: Wait, I thought you don’t follow soccer.

Me: Oh, I don’t.

[silence]

The Art of the Pop Culture Trailer

Looking at the appeal of trailers and the common occurrence when trailers are better than the finished products. (Also this post is an excuse to watch a bunch of cool stuff!)

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 as it’s affectionately known, ended on June 12th. During the four days it was in session, a lot of cool video game trailers were shown as usual.

I’m not a video game connoisseur (although I’m pretty good at playing them), so my interest in E3 mostly resides in the trailers. One of my favorites is still from 2011’s E3.

 

I’ve never played an Assassin’s Creed game, but that franchise is known for having some of the best video game trailers in the business. This year, for example, the franchise featured yet another cinematic beauty.

 

Of course, if you know anything about video games, you’ll know trailers are not very accurate in terms of what to expect in terms of both in-game graphics and gameplay. Assassin’s Creed does a great job of replicating some action sequences from their trailers, but even then it’s not as sweepingly epic.

Consumers have become so annoyed by the discrepancies between the crisp trailers and the actual games that nowadays, many video game trailers will make sure to point out whether the footage being shown utilizes in-game graphics and/or actual gameplay.

Fortunately, technology is a boss which means trailers and graphics are coming closer and closer together. For example, this NBA 2K14 trailer from October blew people’s minds because it showed in-game graphics and they were phenomenal.

 

At E3, people were buzzing about the new Star Wars: Battlefront because, for one, the best Star Wars video game franchise is coming back. Two, the graphics are amazing, even though they are still in the early stages of rendering.

 

Video game trailers are tricky by nature. Because presentation is so important, and because everybody is doing the same thing, video game trailers tend to be inherently unrealistic. They skew towards the cinematic, which is no longer an issue because everybody knows the deal by now.

People have come to accept that games will usually be less impressive than their trailers because the trailers try to be like movie and TV show trailers.

And in the end, it really doesn’t make that much of a difference. People will still buy games and play games based on cool trailers while knowing the cinematics are not representative of the actual in-game experience.

That relationship becomes trickier in the world of movies and TV shows, where the trailers utilize clips from the actual productions and have to persuade the viewers to invest; it’s advertising, marketing, and a job interview rolled into one.

Nowadays there are awards for just about everything. In the Hollywood industry, there are the usuals for acting and directing. There are also awards for posters and yes, trailers as well.

As movies and TV shows have advanced, so have their trailers. I remember back in the day when every trailer was just a set of scenes, the names of the actors, and vaguely appropriate music in the background.

While those basic foundations are still present in the trailers of today, the times they are a-changin’.

That was a reference to this? Bob Dylan? Anyone?

It seems like trailers are becoming their own art forms, which makes a lot of sense. They are like short films, although some movies may take a little too much liberty with that.

I mentioned music right above the picture of Dr. Manhattan mercifully covering his dong.

From my amateur analysis, I think music might play the biggest role in how trailers are perceived by us common folks. In the present, the sound of trailers is being utilized like never before.

Back in 2011, when Drive came out, I was listening to the radio when I heard an advertisement for it. The ad was just the audio from the theatrical trailer, but it had me hooked because of the unique combination of music, and um, violence. In fact, I was so excited, I took my parents along to see it and it became my favorite movie until I saw Her.

Anyway, check out the trailer for Drive.

You got goosebumps, right? Yeah you totally did!

While the trailer inadvertently gives away the entire movie, it was still excellent. Of course, it helps that the movie itself was pretty damn good – at least for professional critics (and me).

Moving on!

Watchmen had two trailers that actually used the visual and the audio really well (it’s all about that sloooow mootiioon).

The first one here uses “The Beginning is the End is the Beginning” by The Smashing Pumpkins.

The second one uses “Pruit Igoe & Prophecies” by the Philip Glass Ensemble and “Take a Bow” by Muse.

Director Zack Snyder must make some movies perfect for trailers because 300 won a Golden Trailer Award back in 2007.

So what is it about a good trailer that makes it, well, so good? What’s the appeal here?

I think the phenomenon is not limited to just trailers. As human beings, we’re attracted to glimpses into the unknown. While movies and video games might not be as intense as the coldness of space or the deep depths of the oceans, it’s still fun to speculate and ponder.

That is why sneak peaks are such a big deal, like revealing Batman’s outfit and Batmobile in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which is scheduled to come out in 2016. The same obviously applies to the new Star Wars movie and basically everything that has to do with pop culture.

Hell, it applies to politics and sports as well. ESPN gets made fun of all the time because they always have “anonymous sources” that tell them where Free Agent X will sign or what coach Team Y is considering.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, trailers are more than just speculation. They are intertwined with the movies they represent, yet the ones that are really good can be just as good as the movies themselves.

In some cases, the trailers are actually better!

Every movie trailer above was better than the actual movie, maybe with the exception of Drive.

But why wouldn’t trailers be better than the movies, generally speaking? Or why wouldn’t trailers be better than the video games?

They are the ambassadors and they must say/show the right thing.

Most of the time, they accomplish just that.

People, Tragedies, and Time Machines

Do people really think they could singlehandedly stop Hitler, 9/11, or any tragedy if they had a time machine?

The most poignant moment of Napoleon Dynamite occurs right after Uncle Rico sidearms a steak into Napoleon’s face.

As Napoleon sulks off in disbelief, Uncle Rico returns to the front steps and plops down next to Kip. As their conversation resumes, so does Uncle Rico’s reminiscing. If only he could go back in time, he says, then he would win the state football championship, make it to the big leagues, and be chilling with the ladies in a hot tub. Eventually – almost inevitably – the conversation turns to time travel.

This is where Kip comes in. He’s done his research… but not enough, which leads to minor crotch injuries for both Uncle Rico and Napoleon.

 

The entire fiasco is extremely amusing, but there is an important question imbedded here, which is the question in bold at the top of this post.

Now Uncle Rico’s hypothetical NFL career isn’t necessarily a tragedy, especially when you look at more serious events like terrorist bombings and war. But it is to him and at the same time, the thought process is exactly the same when it comes to almost all people, all tragedies, and time machines. For whatever reason, it seems as though Uncle Rico thinks simply going back in time would allow him to play that important football game and potentially change his life.

But how? How would he convince his coach to let him play? Would he just barge onto the field? He would probably reference the future, which nobody would believe, naturally. So how would he accomplish his mission?

His desire for a better life is a sentiment he has within him, yet he doesn’t actually have a concrete plan to achieve it, in the event he actually found a time machine. Maybe he would make an actual plan if he found a way to travel through time. Maybe not. Maybe he would just go straight in and emerge back in high school, only to find history repeating itself and this time, he knows what’s going to happen.

It would be like Source Code or any other movie where the person has to keep going back. Yeesh.

Of course, you may be looking at me a little concerned, like maybe I’m a little crazy. Why am I taking it so seriously? It’s Napoleon Dynamite for crying out loud!

Oh no, don't cry Uncle Rico!

Oh no, don’t cry Uncle Rico!

That’s true, but think about every conversation that revolves around time travel. Each time, some idiot says he would go back and kill Hitler (you may know this already, but Hitler and time travel are in a complicated relationship). Like that would work, am I right, Louis CK?

 

 

I was talking to a girl once (yeah it happens sometimes hehe) and she said if she could time travel, she would go back and stop 9/11.

My head almost exploded. I had some many questions. Or, just one.

How?

Just as I predicted, she faltered and couldn’t come up with anything coherent. She mentioned something about evacuating the World Trade Centers. Oh yeah? How?

She didn’t know. Then I mentioned the Pentagon and United 93, which crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. How would she prevent those particular aspects of 9/11?

No clue.

And that’s my problem with people and time travel. Apparently they think being from the future would make them invincible or something. Or, if you want to be an optimist, they have noble intentions but haven’t actually thought about the specifics. Which is fine, I guess, since time travel doesn’t exist (yet).

Maybe they would plan everything out before going through time. Look at the disconcerting state of our society, however, and you can understand why I might be a little dubious in that regard.

I don’t know.

Maybe I am a little crazy?

The Future Significance of the 2014 NBA Finals

This year’s NBA Finals carries more historical weight than usual.

Last year the Spurs and the Heat met in the final round and it looked like the Spurs had it all wrapped up in Game 6.

 

Or not.

Tim Duncan failed to win his fifth ring, which would have tied him with Kobe Bryant. LeBron James won his second consecutive championship.

This year, Duncan has a chance to get revenge and get that elusive fifth ring. LeBron has the rare opportunity to win three championships in a row which hasn’t been done since the Lakers did it in the early 2000s.

In other words, shit is getting real.

Real.

Real.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the legacies involved.

The San Antonio Spurs

There are a lot of numbers out there showing just how great the Spurs have been as an organization over the years. For example, the Spurs have won four championships, which is the fourth most in league history behind the Celtics, Lakers, and Bulls. Tim Duncan was around for all four wins – well, he was way more than just “around” – and the Duncan Years have been exceptionally exceptional in a franchise that’s always been pretty prolific in quality.

Tim Duncan has been on the Spurs for seventeen years. Never missed the playoffs. The four championships came in 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007. What else came? Six conference titles, eleven division titles, and basketball purists all over the nation.

A surprising number of people question whether the Duncan Years count as a dynasty. I think it’s because those championships were always a few years apart. There were no three-peats like the Lakers and the Bulls. The Spurs never even defended their titles successfully – in fact they never made the NBA Finals two years in a row (except for this year). The remarkable consistency they’ve shown, however, over the course of seventeen years is more than enough to qualify for a dynasty. At least in my opinion. Winning the championship this year will cement that opinion.

It’s been seven years since the Spurs won a championship. Yet here the Spurs are, with the same core group of guys, waiting to get their revenge from last year’s collapse.

Five championships would put them one behind the Bulls, who won all theirs in the 1990s thanks to that guy, Michael Jordan.

Shown here being modest.

If the Spurs win, the fact that all five titles came within a span of almost two decades, along with all those playoff appearances and whatnot (in a perennially tough conference), will put the Duncan Years firmly in the conversation for one of the greatest NBA dynasties in history.

If they lose, it will certainly add to the belief that the Duncan Years were exquisite, but not dominant. People will say they were great, but not dominant.

Honestly though, maybe the Spurs don’t have much else to prove at this point.

Regardless of the outcome of this series, they’ve made their mark on history. If they lose, so be it. Greatness has its limits. Besides, winning a title in 2014 may not ease the critics very much. Sustained success is impressive. But the Spurs were never actually completely and utterly dominant over the years. That’s why people have kept writing them off for about five years now. And the Spurs kept proving them wrong… but not really.

I guess the question is: do you take points away from the Spurs for never being truly dominant over several years, or do you applaud their ability to be consistently good for almost two decades?

I’m not sure, but the Spurs are a dynasty. It’s just a matter of where they rank – one thing we know for sure is that there was never a better group in the 2000s than the San Antonio Spurs. Nobody.

Tim Duncan

You could say Tim Duncan is going after Kobe Bryant for the title of that generation’s best player. Duncan might not say it publicly and he might not even be inclined to think that way as a person. But even if it’s inadvertent, it’s still true. In terms of popularity, Kobe has definitely been on top, which has contributed to many people’s opinion that Kobe was the best player of that generation.

And Kobe certainly has the numbers and such to make it a legitimate case. But that Tim Duncan guy, though!

It’s arguable that Duncan has been better than Kobe in all sorts of different ways. More reliable. Less controversy. Better teammate. Always been the main guy on the team (even with David Robinson around for a little bit). If Duncan can win his fifth ring this series, he will have the same number as Kobe. Duncan already has more regular season MVP trophies than Kobe, although the Black Mamba should probably have more than one.

Regardless, Duncan is considered to be one of the ten greatest players in history and perhaps the greatest power forward of all-time. If he wins one last championship and retires, I don’t see how he wouldn’t finally surpass Kobe on a more public and general scale.

Kobe would be ranked lower than Duncan, which would certainly put a dent into the whole MJ comparison. How can Kobe compete with Jordan if he’s not even the best player from his era?

Besides, as Bill Simmons once said (and I’ll just paraphrase here): you take the guaranteed center over the guaranteed guard. Simmons was talking about Olajuwon being drafted by the Rockets in the draft that also featured Jordan. Basically, the Rockets made the right choice (they certainly could have done worse).

In terms of Duncan’s legacy and this series, I’m not sure the needle moves too much except for the Kobe thing. Like the Spurs, Duncan’s longevity has given him the opportunity to rack up a lot of accolades and numbers. If he wins another ring, maybe he moves up a couple of spots on the all-time greatness list. Maybe not.

If he loses, I don’t think it shakes his legacy at all – well a little, but I mean the impact should be negligible. A loss would make Duncan’s NBA Finals record 4-2. That’s still really good. And the fact that both losses came at the end of his career should be accounted for, as opposed to losing in the Finals in his prime.

Either way, there will not be a significant jump. Duncan with five rings doesn’t suddenly make him a contender for GOAT or anything. His place in history is already pretty much settled, it seems, and five rings would just make his current position in history even stronger (against future contenders for the greatness list).

Coach Gregg Popovich

Duncan and Coach Pop have a strong relationship. It’s so strong, in fact, that it’s been called “the greatest love story in sports.”

Coach Pop has guided the Spurs for a ridiculous seventeen years and has four rings to show for it. He’s already considered one of the greatest coaches and minds in the history of basketball and gets mentioned in the same sentences as Phil Jackson and Red Aurbach. He is currently fifth on the list of coaches with the most rings, behind Pat Riley and ahead of a bunch of coaches who maxed out at two rings (guys like Bill Russell and Chuck Daly).

You’re not going to believe this, but there seems to be a trend here, which is the idea that Pop’s legacy is also pretty much in place. Ring number five would tie him for fourth place on the list, which is awesome.

But let’s be honest: if the Spurs lose this series, are we going to think any less of Coach Pop?

I didn’t think so.

The Miami Heat

The Spurs are pretty much set. But the Heat’s Big Three have been together for about four years now. If they continue to stick together, they’ve got some more quality seasons in them. They’ve already made it to the Finals every year since they joined forces, which is an amazing accomplishment in its own right. They’ve won the last two titles and will be playing against the Spurs for the second straight year.

If they win, the Heat will suddenly be vaulted into rarified air. If they win, the Heat will have to enter the conversation in where they rank compared to other dynasties like the Spurs, the Bulls in the 1990s, the Lakers and Celtics in the 1980s, and more.

Just to make things concise: the Heat, LeBron, and even Coach Erik Spoelstra have more at stake here than the Spurs do. All four years, they’ve been criticized for all sorts of things. They need to win this for them to get the general public to concede, albeit begrudgingly, that history is in the making. If they lose, they’ll be 2-2 in the NBA Finals. That’s not too bad, since they made it four straight years, but a three-peat would enhance their status considerably.

The Heat may be unpopular, but a three-peat should – in theory – make all the haters be quiet.

Or, they’ll just rage even harder because they’re still inexplicably angry about “The Decision.”

Get over it!

LeBron James

Since the beginning, LeBron was called the next Michael Jordan. Well, here’s a chance to get closer to MJ. LeBron has a ton of accomplishments to his name already (and a ton of haters), so it shouldn’t take a genius to figure out what winning three rings in a row would do for LeBron.

He has a lot more to lose than he does to gain, however. If LeBron loses, people will be eager to tear him apart. In this era of instant social media and endless comparisons from all sorts of people (like yours truly), LeBron really can’t risk another “failure” to his name.

And like the Heat as a team, many people will still hate him even if he wins.

Anyway, we all know about LeBron. But there’s an even more interesting Heat player to discuss.

Dwyane Wade

If the Heat win this series, do you realize D-Wade would have four rings? That would tie him with Duncan!

"Say it ain't so!"

“Say it ain’t so!”

Where do you put Wade on the greatness list? Top thirty? Top twenty?

Just check out Wade’s numbers and accomplishments.

Would you take Wade or Kobe if you could take one as a rookie and build a team around him?

When are these hypothetical questions going to end?

Coach Erik Spoelstra

Depending on how you feel about Coach Spoelstra, you either think he’s just lucky because he’s got three All-Stars on his team or you think he’s a vastly underrated coach. I think he’s underrated.

Do you realize he is already tied for sixth on the list of coaches with the most championships?

That’s how difficult it is to win it all in the NBA. And Coach Spoelstra is already on the path to tie Coach Pop in the next couple of years, theoretically speaking. That’s crazy.

Because he is so underrated, I don’t think his legacy is impacted too much if he loses. In his case, he has more to gain than to lose. People would just say he got outcoached by Coach Pop if the Spurs were to win it all.

Of course, winning it all would probably not do much for him either, except for moving up the aforementioned championship list. The credit would undoubtedly go to the players, or maybe even to the Spurs, if the Spurs play poorly.

Just remember that coaching in the NBA – head coaching – is more difficult than it looks.

Impossible for some.

Impossible for some.

Greg Oden

Hey, maybe he’ll win an NBA title before Kevin Durant!

Quick recap: the Spurs are established. They can pad their legacy, but in the end, their success will be remembered more than their failures.

For the Heat, the stakes are much higher, although public perception of them will always be biased.

As for Dwyane Wade, his place in history must suddenly be looked at if he wins ring number four, in terms of where he is compared to Kobe Bryant.

It’s gonna be a fun series.

If Michael Westen Narrated Mundane Life Events

How would Michael Westen describe eating cereal? Or what about heavy traffic?

If you don’t know who Michael Westen is, shame on you.

"Are you kidding me?"

“Are you kidding me?”

Go watch Burn Notice immediately. That’s right, all seven seasons (it helps if you have Netflix and the ability to stop time).

Are you finished?

Okay, let’s get started.

But first, a little history (as in, I talk about myself, duh).

When I watch a really good movie or TV show, characters are contagious. Sometimes, it’s like I’m becoming a character because of their awesomeness. For example, highlights include affecting a Boston accent after watching The Departed, a Russian accent after watching Eastern Promises, telling everybody I drink their milkshakes after watching There Will Be Blood, and acting like Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation.

“Ann Perkins!”

That’s what happened while I was watching Burn Notice. It also helps that the character Michael Westen, portrayed by Jeffrey Donovan, has very specific character traits and mannerisms. But Westen might be most known for his constant narrations during each episode, usually informing viewers on how to do things like build improvised flash bang grenades and deal with being taken hostage in a bank. You know, really useful stuff.

Because his narrations are so amusing, borderline condescending, and polarizing (some people say they’re overdone while others say it suits Westen’s personality), I decided to narrate regular events like Michael Westen would.

I posted some parodies on Facebook a few months ago, which ended up being fairly popular, surprisingly so. Therefore I’ll be posting the Facebook ones here (slightly edited) and then expanding on the concept.

All for you guys! Well, and me – it’s fun as heck.

 The most efficient breakfast and dealing with expired milk:

A breakfast operative knows two things: breakfast is crucial and cereal is most efficient with milk. It’s even more basic than basic chemistry. But milk can be tricky because it has an expiration date. If you’re smart, you use it up before that date. But even the best operatives make mistakes.

When that happens, it’s time to improvise.

The quickest and most efficient solution is to use the milk even though the date has passed. Milk is usually fine for a few days after the date printed on the container. Cautious operatives will note the risk, however, of drinking spoiled milk.

The best operatives choose to eat the cereal plain. While it’s not as good, both in taste and nutrition, it’ll get the job done in a pinch. If you’re desperate, water is an option.

Water is to be used when there’s no way out and you’ve got nothing to lose.

Being male in a lingerie store:

Operatives can often be inserted into awkward tactical situations. No amount of training can prepare you for the mixture of dread and fear that try to take over your body. For a male operative, one of the most difficult assignments is in a lingerie store.

Look too uncomfortable and people will think you’re there for the wrong reasons. Look too comfortable, on the other hand, and those same wrong reasons will be in play. The best approach is the natural approach.

Seasoned operatives will use their natural awkwardness to their advantage, erasing suspicions and lowering barriers with disarming ease. Remember: access to important information can often come from making the enemy operative feel superior.

Getting into an online argument:

Online commenting operatives often find themselves engaging in shadow warfare. Shadow warfare, by its nature, is disadvantageous because the enemy is usually anonymous and invisible.

The best solution in a fight like that is simply to retreat. No matter how smart you are, or how much experience you have, all the factual data you reference won’t stop an enemy trolling operative from using the low road as his primary weapon.

Remember: trolling operatives have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Defeating them takes skill – not to engage, but to run away. Tactical awareness is essential in situations like this.

No plan is foolproof, however, and enemy trolling operatives have been known to use their secondary weapon: rage.

Raging enemy operatives must be avoided at all costs. They will take everything down with them. Do not engage unless the mission’s success hinges on it.

The nuances of going on a date:

Going into any situation blind is a tactical nightmare. Preparation is the main battle, but going in without much warning usually leads to serious mistakes like death. Dating operatives may deal with this stress more than any other operatives.

The worst thing for a dating operative is when a date goes bad. A bad date can take on many forms, but escape is the most important aspect in each one. The most obvious solution is to get up and walk away. While that may raise red flags, sometimes the direct plan is the best plan.

The dating operatives with the most experience tend to use the timeless “friend calls at designated time” technique. It is classic misdirection at its best that can fool even the most cynical enemy dating operatives.

The friend calls at a designated time and during this exchange, you can choose to abort the date or continue it. What the friend says is irrelevant – the presence of being on the phone will be enough to convince the enemy that the date must stop for personal reasons.

Other solutions exist as well, although they involve more grisly methods. Those solutions must be used only when the outlook looks especially grim. In other words, lethal force may only be used if that same lethality is directed at you.

Overreactions are the downfall of any operative. Much like a game of poker, an operative must remain calm at all times, unless emotion can be utilized to your advantage.

Trying to fall asleep:

Rest must never be taken for granted. Sleep is a luxury in the world of special ops and must be utilized at its fullest. However, adrenaline may be high. Tension may be high. Sleep may not come, even though you are tired.

Civilians may use drugs to aid their passage to Dream Land. Unfortunately, as an operative, that is not a viable option. Instead, the mind must be used to induce sleep. One of the most reliable methods is the “blank mind” technique.

The operative must clear the mind and specifically can’t think about sleeping. Thinking about sleeping while trying to sleep is counterproductive and will most likely result in tactical blunders later on. Instead, the operative thinks about nothing and eventually the operative will fall asleep.

If sleep is still elusive, the next best thing may be to prepare for the next day’s work. Whether it means chowing down on some yogurt, or cleaning guns, make the most of your time awake. There’s little use in trying to do something that simply won’t happen.

 Waking up in the morning and feeling like P. Diddy:

When an operative wakes up and feels like P. Diddy, there is bound to be a serious problem. It could be chemical, it could be psychological, it could be neurological. An operative under those circumstances must immediately be removed from the field. You can’t trust somebody to have your back when they’re constantly thinking about what name to use next and how to spend their $700 million.

If an operative is taken hostage, it may be a clever move to pretend to feel like P. Diddy. The enemy operatives will be thrown off and time will be gained by the operative to deduce the next plan of action. However, it’s important to keep the self and P. Diddy separate. Going undercover is strenuous work and many good operatives have fallen into the deep and never climbed back out.

Embrace the role, but don’t lose yourself. That’s the motto.

Watching a movie with your parents. A movie that has moderate to strong sexual content:

An operative may occasionally have to work with family members to accomplish a mission. While those instances are incredibly rare, they do happen. Your family’s safety will naturally be your first priority, but you have to make sure you get your mission done. When those two objectives conflict, problems arise.

One of the most common examples of this is when an operative watches explicit content with family members. This is an uncomfortable tactical situation to be in, but it must be dealt with swiftly. New field operatives have a tendency to forget their training and overreact to the images being shown on the screen. They will make the situation worse, which inevitably leads to mission failure.

The most appropriate plan is to address the elephant in the room by displaying subtle signs of emotion. A light chuckle may ease the tension. Observational comedy can do the same. Tension is a dead giveaway something is wrong, so it must be dealt with quickly.

If the family members become uncomfortable, they may evacuate the combat zone. Once they are out, their safety is almost guaranteed, leaving you to complete your objective. Unfortunately, that occurs in only the most ideal of scenarios.

When the wi-fi suddenly stops working:

There are many obstacles that a spy comes across and equipment malfunction should always be accounted for. In the case of wi-fi suddenly failing to work, the power source is usually the place to go. Turning the router off, waiting thirty seconds, and then turning it back on will usually bring the wi-fi back online. It’s a quick, easy, and free method of improvisation, which is the best trifecta an operative can ask for.

Other possible solutions are out there, such as troubleshooting the computer, although they take more time, more resources, and more expertise: the worst trifecta an operative can ask for.

Handling heavy traffic:

A well-trained operative will prepare for traffic before leaving for an assignment. However, traffic can often be unreliable, ebbing and flowing almost randomly. When an operative encounters traffic, patience is usually the only option.

If the distance isn’t too much, traveling on foot may be considered. While the vehicle is stuck, a person unburdened can slip through the other vehicles and approach the target destination more quickly.

If the distance is too long for running, or if time is of essence, the operative may choose to break the rules of the road. When that happens, it’s best to make sure the police are not around. If the police start tailing you, it’s time to perform evasive maneuvers.

Once evasive maneuvers are completed, it’s safe to head towards the goal.

Going into a job interview:

A job interview is similar to hostage negotiations and prisoner exchanges: do it right and you get what you want. Do it wrong and things go south in a hurry. An operative looking for a job has to make sure to do research before going in. Identifying the company’s needs and addressing them will make an impression.

It is also important not to seem too good to be true. Deception often means intentionally making mistakes or showing signs of weakness. Those strategies apply here as well. A good operative will make sure to point some of their flaws out, but will then flip the table and show how those are actually good things.

Much like seducing an enemy spy, job interviews are stressful but rewarding when done right.

“You are not the father”:

If you find yourself on Maury, you’ve done something wrong. Covert operations are impossible when every move is being displayed on television. This is a foolproof way to get burned. Escape must be immediate and stealthy.

If you find yourself on the stage, hearing the results of a DNA test, it is basically too late. Lethal force is not cleared, because the sheer number of witnesses and cameras will lead to your arrest and trial under the government of the United States of America.

In a case like this, a solid operative will listen to the results and show no reaction even if the news is good. An operative must express nothing and make the appearance the least memorable in the show’s history. Making a mark is the wrong thing to do and will result in getting blacklisted and burned. Assassination may also be considered in the most extreme cases, so caution is necessary.

This is perhaps the worst situation a spy can be in. Media coverage is the killer of all black ops.

Deception may truly be the only option. Faking a heart attack is cliché, but could save your life.

If all else fails, playing the P. Diddy card may be the only thing left.

You know, some of those weren’t very mundane life events. But then again, Michael Westen is so badass, even his narration makes people’s lives suddenly become more action-packed.

The photographer is literally trembling from fear.

The photographer is literally trembling from fear.