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An Open Letter to SAMCRO

Dear Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club: Redwood Original Charter,Off Sides 200

As someone who works in personal finance, I have grown increasingly concerned over the years regarding your business model and prospects for the future. Generally I don’t recommend organized crime as a strategy to accumulate wealth. Being a smart investor with your time and money is all about maximizing reward vs. risk, and never have I seen an organization where the risk outweighs the reward as I have seen with SAMCRO. I am taking this opportunity to implore you to sit at your table and have a serious discussion about the future of your club. While I have enjoyed watching your internal and external struggles play out, it has become too painful for me to go on watching. I offer my advice for whatever it’s worth.

Three of these men are dead, one in real life.

Three of these men are dead, one in real life.

First, the mortality rate to just be a member of your chapter is higher than that of most cancers. I’ve sat back and kept my mouth shut as I’ve watched your original membership decrease rapidly due to violent untimely deaths. From what I can tell, the reward for members to take on such risk is to live the lifestyle of someone barely above the poverty line. I am pretty sure Jax and Jemma are the only people affiliated with the club who have a house. However, I’m pretty sure Jax’s house is being paid for primarily by his wife’s salary as a doctor. And Jemma could probably afford her house by taking on a job that wouldn’t have resulted in her getting raped twice in the last decade. I haven’t seen any of you change your clothes in 8 years. I guess running guns for the IRA isn’t as lucrative as it used to be. By my calculations, you guys are coming up on your 32nd consecutive losing quarter. I know Jax has made every effort to steer the club towards more legitimate ways of generating income, like porn and prostitution, but I think even his best ideas are ill advised and destined to fail. My advice is that you all ride your bikes to the nearest factory and fill out job applications. You guys can still ride around and hang out at your club on the weekends. And you’ll be much less likely to find yourselves in a situation where you have to shoot another member in the throat. This may be going too far, but maybe you even give up on the whole motorcycle thing. I’ll tell you what’s fun: fantasy football. Look at it this way, Tig; if you had been in a fantasy football league instead of SAMCRO, your daughter probably wouldn’t have been burned alive in front of your eyes. I’m just sayin’.

I hope your club heeds my advice before it is too late. I know that I and approximately 2 million others will continue following your exploits in hopes of a happy ending.

Sincerely,

Dustin White

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The Not So Funny Pages

Off Sides 200I was a comedian and performer in Chicago for over 6 years. Even though I haven’t taken the stage in over 3 years I still feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what’s funny.  I understand comedy is all relative, and I am not enough of a comedy snob to pretend that somebody is definitely wrong if they think something is funny that I don’t. That is, of course, unless it’s Bitstrips.

One of the worst things about social media is being constantly reminded of how many people incorrectly believe they’re witty. Never has there been a clearer example than this Bitstrips phenomenon. If you downloaded this app without really thinking it through and got caught up in the feeling that you could be like Jim Davis, it’s ok. I can’t judge; after all, I actually paid to join JibJab a few years ago. However, if you are a funny person then you know that there is nothing funny or creative about Bitstrips. So that just means that 11 million unfunny people have downloaded an app encouraging them to try to be funny publicly. God help us. I’m not going to call anybody out, but the Bitstrips I’ve seen in my Facebook newsfeed so far have been cringeworthy. I never thought I would say this but I’d much rather see your opinion on politics or religion than a poorly crafted avatar of yourself with a painfully corny thought bubble protruding out of its stupid head. It seems I’m not alone, as I browse the internet I see several articles about the immediate backlash on this annoying trend.

Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites have given us all a false sense of confidence and importance. The people posting Bitstrips are the same people who would never feel secure enough in their sense of humor to make a funny comment in front of a group of strangers. I am guilty of this too; I am quick to fire off a political status on Facebook, but in my real-world conversations with people I’ve always been severely uncomfortable debating politics or religion. And do I really believe anybody besides me wants to see a picture of my cat? I guess if I thought about it the answer is no, but that doesn’t stop me from posting a pic every time he’s sleeping in what I think is a funny position. Bitstrips is just the culmination of a growing problem with social media. We are all competing with our newsfeed to be funnier, smarter, and post better pictures. This is all driven by our human want to be liked and important. I know when I post a status on Facebook that gets fewer than 5 likes I start to wonder if there is even a point to go on living. All of this attention-seeking on social networking sites is inadvertently allowing people to see under the hood of our daily lives to a much higher degree than they ever could before.

Most of us go through our daily lives aware of how others are perceiving us. We think before we speak and act, and we take care to present ourselves in a dignified way while maintaining some level of privacy. All of that seems to go out the window when we log on to social networking sites. I think it’s past time that we all start thinking before we post.

Off Sides: Have Some Balls

Off Sides 200This week I heard a report about a Long Island middle school that decided to ban most balls including footballs, basketballs, and baseballs during recess. Apparently the decision was made to protect kids from injury. I wasn’t really  surprised since society has been metaphorically taking away kids’ balls for decades. It did, however, make me reminisce about all the fun and creative ways my friends and I found to hurt ourselves and each other when I was growing up.

Dirt Clods:

Don’t you wish as an adult you could still get hours of entertainment out of clumps of hard dirt? I can recall no greater feeling than beaming someone in the temple with a well-formed dirt clod. The real danger in this game is that there is really no good way to distinguish between a clod of dirt and a rock covered in dirt. Clod fights were synonymous with rock fights in my neighborhood.

Blow Darts:

Ah, county fairs. . . fair fish, rides, games, and dangerous weapons sold to children. At the county fair where I grew up the only thing the vendor at the weapons stand cared about was green. He had no problem selling brass knuckles, knives, samurai swords, or blow dart guns to teenagers who were able to score a $20 from their parents. My friends and I loved the blow dart guns. Our favorite game was to give someone a 5-second head start to run before we sent a sharp metal projectile going over 100mph at their back. If you were too lazy to actually use the blow dart gun itself the darts were also very good for stabbing.

Boxing Gloves:

Growing up I had two sets of Everlast boxing gloves that I’m pretty sure were bought at a toy store. We didn’t bother with silly weight classes or rules. There was no referee. We would just joyously and mercilessly beat each other until someone cried and threatened to tell. I’m pretty sure my deviated septum came from a good shot a friend of mine gave me to the nose.

BB Guns:

“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” I never shot my eye out but I think a few birds lost theirs. I remember my grandpa going to the woods with me to shoot my bb gun. He decided to shoot a half-deflated basketball we found in the woods. The bb came back and hit him on the cheek. Needless to say I learned from the best.

What were your favorite life-threatening games as a child? I think that instead of trying to keep our kids from getting hurt we should try to teach them how not to get hurt. If someone throws a hard ball at you, catch it or get the hell out of the way! That is a much better life lesson than leading our kids to believe someone will always be there to remove the danger from their lives. Let’s face it, life is full of hard balls.

Off Sides: Government Shutdown Day 2

Off Sides 200I woke up this morning feeling strangely like Kevin McCallister. But instead of walking around a big house looking for my parents, I was left feeling dwarfed by a vast country without a fully functioning government. Sure, I know all essential government offices are still running normally, but are they? And for how long? And how can I function even one day without ALL of my precious government there to protect me from myself and others?

I walked to my bedroom window and looked outside to the corner. The kids waiting at the bus stop were playing normally, naively unaware that their lives as they know them are over. Nobody there to give them money if they are unable, or unwilling, to earn it; nobody there to protect them from blindly falling for scams; nobody to tell them what they should and shouldn’t eat, who they can and can’t marry. I couldn’t help thinking they’d be better off if their bus careened off a bridge on the way to school putting them all out of their misery.

My wife left for work like normal. I’m not sure if I’ll ever see her again. I have enough food and water to last a couple of weeks, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t looked at my cat and imagined him cooking on my grill. Should I use precious propane, though? I might be able to trade that later for more important commodities like food or sex.

Most people seem to have joined factions calling themselves either Republicans or Democrats. I have to admit that neither side appeals to me, but how long can I possibly survive unaffiliated? I am certainly re-thinking my anti-gun stance at this point. What I’d give to have an assault rifle right now to keep me safe. Instead I stand tightly gripping the Louisville Slugger I used in Little League, waiting for the looters to come.

I’m not sure when, or if, I’ll be able to write another post. Hopefully our government will be back to sustain and protect us soon. Until then, stay safe everyone.

Off Sides: Top Halloween Costumes for 2013

Off Sides 200Ahh, fall: football, leaves changing colors, corn mazes, pumpkin spice lattes, scantily-clad women dressed as the slutty versions of popular characters from popular culture. Fall is personally my favorite time of year. I do have to admit I have no idea what a pumpkin spice latte is though, and if I hear one more person make a not-so-funny quip about them I’m going to lose it. Still, I do love most things about fall, and as someone who has done some acting I relish the opportunity to get to dress up and be someone else one day a year. So, I thought I’d offer some guidance as you plan your 2013 Halloween costume. Check out these awesome and unique costume ideas.

Naked Chick: BlurredLines

If we learned anything from popular culture in 2013 it is that it’s completely acceptable to walk around butt naked if you’re a young woman. You can go as Miley Cyrus; my idea is to go completely nude with an over-sized necklace that looks like a wrecking ball. Not a Miley fan? Then I suggest going as one of the girls from the Blurred Lines video. Save some money this year by shedding your dignity and transforming yourself into a shameless young woman who has no problem being an object for men to drool over. Whether you’re a horse-faced 20-year-old with spiky hair or a goddess with zero percent body fat and perfect natural breasts, you should be able to pull this one off.

Walter White: WalterWhite

As the final season of Breaking Bad wraps up, expect to see a lot of Walter Whites walking around on October 31st. If you choose this costume, add an accessory others might not think of by carrying around some blue rock candy in a plastic bag. If you really want to be original you could even make some actual meth. I have no idea how this is done but I think it has something to do with Sudafed. The last time I had a cold I’m pretty sure the DEA had my phone tapped.

The Duck Dynasty Guys:

DuckDynasty

I expect this to be a very popular costume for beer-drinking, meat-eating, all-American men this year. I have to admit I don’t watch the show but these guys definitely seem like interesting characters with unique looks. Just don’t annoy people by blowing into a duck call all night long.

The Governor:

dead2

Walking Dead fan? Don’t be a tool and be one of a half-dozen Darryls or Ricks walking around your party. Put on an eye patch and go as The Governor instead. He was one of the great bad guys coming out of television in 2013.

Jack Burton:

It's all in the reflexes.

It’s all in the reflexes.

You’re probably asking, who? Of course I’m referring to the character from John Carpenter’s 1986 classic Big Trouble in

Little China. I sported this stume a few years ago. Literally only one person at the bar recognized who I was supposed to be. But his excitement made it all worth while. Some quick trivia for movie fans: Jack Burton’s iconic tank-top is hanging on the wall in the bar in the beginning of Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, which also stars Kurt Russell.

If you decide to go with any of these ideas please send me pictures (especially if you go as a nude chick). In any case we at OTP hope you have a happy Halloween!

Off Sides: The Superbowl Halftime Show That Could Have Been…

Off Sides 200It was announced this week that Bruno Mars would be the featured performer at the Super Bowl Halftime Show in February. That is 3 years in a row that a pop act has been chosen. I have to admit I’m not extremely well versed in modern pop music. Last year it took me until the middle of the performance to realize the person singing wasn’t Mariah Carey. I understand the networks are trying to appeal to that key 18-34 demographic and draw more women viewers. I also understand that it’s called “pop” music for a reason, but come on, isn’t Bruno Mars kind of douchey? Yeah he’s got a few hits, but they don’t really pack a lot of punch. If I was in charge of booking the acts for the Super Bowl Halftime Show things would go quite a bit differently.

First, I wouldn’t even announce who the act is going to be. I would demand absolute secrecy to keep the element of surprise. Then when the lights went down and came back up at half-time people would be stunned to see a completely nude Miley Cyrus being lowered by wrecking ball onto the stage. Obviously, Miley is just for eye candy. Just to throw her a bone I’d let her sing a few bars of one of her “songs” but then the audio would screech to a halt and the lights would go down again. While the lights were still out millions watching around the world would hear the opening sequence of “Welcome to the Jungle.” Then, out struts the one and only Axl Rose. As Axl belts out the classic hard-rock tune, Miley would do her now-famous move of shamelessly twerking his pelvis into dust. Just when you think the show couldn’t possibly get any better out walks Janet Jackson’s boob. Not Janet Jackson, mind you, but just her boob. We can cover the rest of her with a blanket (not her nephew). That, my friends, is a Super Bowl Halftime Show.

You're welcome America.

You’re welcome America.

I know my brilliant ideas are destined to fall upon deaf ears. But feel free on February 2nd 2014 to close your eyes and imagine the fantastic Super Bowl Half-Time Show that could have been.

Off Sides: 10 Years Since I Sat in Scheumann Stadium

Off Sides 200As I watched the Ball State Cardinals defeat Illinois State in their first game of the season, I felt somewhat nostalgic about my time as a BSU student. I had some of the best times of my life in college. When you’re in your twenties you always kind of feel like you’ve just graduated from college, even if it’s been 5 or 6 years since you could walk into a college house party without people thinking you’re a cop. Something happens when you turn 30 and you suddenly realize you don’t feel––or look––like someone who belongs on a college campus. And you feel like if you even talk to a girl under twenty someone is going to call the cops. I’ve come to this realization before, but I was reminded of it during the Ball State vs. Illinois State game. I began thinking of all the things that have changed with me and my life since I left Muncie in the summer of 2004.

The Friday Night Blues:

Ten years ago there was no doubt what I’d be up to on a Friday night. I wouldn’t even think of not being at a party or closing down the bars in The Village. I would have to be forced out of Dill Street as I choked down one last drink. I would then proceed to wait in line for 3 Carter’s chili-cheese dogs before going home and sleeping 14 hours, only to get up and do it all again on Saturday. I’m sure I got hangovers back then but they apparently weren’t quite as memorable as the epic ones I get today. If I have more than 5 drinks now I wake up the next day feeling like I’ve been exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. There’s nothing like calling in sick on Monday because you went out on Friday night.

Few things seem less appealing to me now than going to a loud bar or club. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy hitting up a sports bar to watch a game with friends, or to see a good live band. But, if I’m being honest the major appeal of going to bars and clubs to get wasted was that hope that I’d somehow bring home the hottest girl in the bar. Like Gatsby staring at the green light across the bay, each Friday and Saturday night held mystery and hope. Now, I’m married. There is absolutely no chance I will ever hook up with a hot drunk girl ever again, unless it’s my wife. If you take away the hope and mystery of getting laid a bar suddenly becomes just an obnoxious and loud place where you spend a lot of money to feel like crap the next day.  Now my idea of an exciting Friday night is pizza and Dateline on NBC. Then I pop a Tums and am in bed before 9pm. Saturday is my day to get really crazy. We usually go out for dinner, and possibly even see a movie if we’re not too tired.

The Injured List:

When I was in college I could drink all night and easily get up and run 5 miles the next day. I was never a star athlete but I always exercised and felt like I was in decent shape. Even on a really bad day I could easily run a 5k in under 25 minutes. Today I feel like I’m running a 7:30 pace, but thanks to modern technology my smartphone is happy to let me and my Facebook friends know I was actually running at about a 9:30 pace. It seems like as soon as I turned 30 my body started to give up. My stomach appeared to get bigger almost overnight, my knees and feet hurt constantly, and every joint on my body seems stiff. I could never sneak up on anyone due to the constant popping of my joints.  From a torn pectoral muscle, to stress fractures and severe tendinitis, I can’t remember the last time I exercised without cringing. The scary part is I’m only 32, and I still get called “kid” by people over 50.

This looks like me after a two mile run except my knee only feels like it's been hit with a bat.

This looks like me after a two mile run except my knee only feels like it’s been hit with a bat.

Running on Empty:

When I was in college I remember going 24 hours without sleep. When I finally went to bed it wasn’t that I was really even that tired, I just knew I needed to sleep for health purposes. Today it seems like I’m always looking forward to the next time I’ll get to sleep. Awhile ago on a day that I was feeling particularly tired I drank two 5 Hour Energy drinks only to end up taking a 3 hour nap. A few days ago while shopping with my wife at the mall I told her to go ahead and shop while I sat down for a few minutes to “rest my eyes” in one of the massage chairs. I don’t remember falling asleep, but I woke up with drool leaking out the side of my mouth and a group of kids laughing at me. I thought of how I must have looked, and it was certainly not like the care-free college student I was 10 years ago.

Of course,  in many ways my life is much better than it was 10 years ago. But let’s face it, there is nothing funny about the good parts of being in your thirties. So I guess what I’m saying is if you’re reading this and you’re still in college you shouldn’t dread getting older, but please, for the love of God, enjoy your youth while you still can.

Off Sides: Why Sylvester Stallone Should Be the Next Batman

Off Sides 200Yesterday, we introduced you to the newest member of the OTP family, Dustin White. Today, Dustin’s premier column of Off Sides with Dustin White is ready for the world. Enjoy! -Ed.

I was a little surprised at the overwhelmingly negative response to the news that Ben Afflek would be suiting up as the next Batman in Zach Snyder’s follow-up to Man of Steel. I mean, ever since I saw Ben doing push-ups in a prison cell in Reindeer Games, I knew he was a certified badass. However, I do have to agree there is a glaringly better choice: Sylvester Stallone.

Reason Number 1:
From what Warner Brothers has told us about the plot of the next Batman/Superman movie, we know it will be at least somewhat based on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. A key part of that storyline is an epic battle to the death between Batman and Superman. Obviously, Batman going up against Superman is an underdog story. Who has more experience playing the underdog than the man who has starred in six Rocky movies? In fact, Batman vs. Superman seems much like Rocky vs. Drago in Rocky IV. Who wouldn’t love to see Batman beat Superman into submission with nothing but a series of telegraphed roundhouse punches?

sky stallone batman

The costume budget for the new batman is hopefully larger than the OTP art department’s

Reason Number 2:
Three words: sick training montage. Imagine an aging Batman gearing up to battle the Man of Steel. Sure, Superman might be able to leap a tall building in a single bound, but can he catch a live chicken? I would love to see a Rocky-style training montage culminating with Batman running up the Gotham Courthouse steps in full costume.

Reason Number 3:
Muscles—Sly’s got ‘em. True, leading men all tend to bulk up to play superheroes nowadays, but Sly is one of the original buff action stars. And even though he’s pushing 70 he still looks like he could bench-press a house thanks to good genes and a lot of Human Growth Hormone.

Superhero movies are rapidly becoming formulaic carbon copies of each other. I say let’s have some fun and mix things up a bit. Who better to play an aging Batman than one of our most cherished, aging action stars? Would it hurt the credibility of this entire post if I admitted I also would have chose Sylvester Stallone for Gatsby?