A Drinking Game Guide to The Office

The Office is the greatest television show of all time. Bar none. If you disagree, this blog ain’t for you.

Now the greatest tv show of all time obviously has one of the most thorough drinking games of all time. The Office has 201 episodes spread across 9 seasons. They’re almost all great but not created equally. Characters come and go but many of the familiar jokes remain the same. So looking at our rules above, the obvious question is:

Where should you start if you aim to have a truly irresponsible night of drinking with your friends?

To find the answer, I’m gonna guide us backwards through a series of eliminations based on the different rules until we have a truly special set of episodes that will leave you and your friends irresponsibly drunk on the couch.

(on the contrary, if your friends are peer pressuring you into this dangerous drinking game, this is a reverse guide to not launching a full assault on your brain and liver)

ELIMINATION 1: Seasons 8 and 9

Manager Michael Scott is the basis of rule #6, #9 and #11, plus indirectly rule #3 with the That’s What She Said Rule. Our beloved manager Michael leaves at the end of Season 7 (a moment of silence please), thus a large chunk of drinking opportunities leave with him. The latter seasons are obvious cuts.

That leaves us Seasons 1-7.

ELIMINATION 2: Seasons 5-7

Rule #1 is based on the irreplaceable plain hearty woman of Scranton, Pam Beasley. She spends the first 4.5 seasons as the receptionist for Dunder Miflin Scranton, thus has ample opportunities to say “Dunder Miflin, this is Pam.” In Season 5 she abandons her position to go start a competing paper company with scorned manager Michael Scott. Even after their company is absorbed by Dunder Miflin, she returns as a salesperson and a new receptionist is brought in eliminating an entire rule from the game.

ELIMINATION 3: Season 1

No particular rule causes this elimination. However, Season 1 of The Office is the driest and most grounded with a lack of development for all the side characters like Angela, Toby, Kelly and even the Jim/Pam dynamic. The best way I’ve heard it described is each character is still honing their individual comedic style and thus they lean less into the ridiculous. Also, Season 1 is short and Michael-centric without his lovable defects that gift us all the drinking opportunities.

We’re now left with what I consider the golden era of The Office, Seasons 2-4. These seasons are the absolute peak of the show’s powers both as a collective and for the individual characters.

ELIMINATION 4: Season 3 (gasp)

Season 3 is a hard elimination for me as it’s my favorite. However it lacks one key element that can be found in ample supply in Seasons 2 and 4: Rule #7 Swoony Jim/Pam moments.

Season 3 sees Jim transfer to another branch then return mid-season in a new relationship with Karen. The awkwardness between them leaves us with ZERO swoony moments whereas Seasons 2 and 4 overflow with them.

ELIMINATION 5: Keep Reading Damn

Depending on your definition of swoony, Seasons 2 and 4 provide possibly too many opportunities to drink based on Rule #7. In Season 2 there’s an abundance of cute awkward encounters between the engaged Pam and the single but longing Jim. In the opposite way, Season 4 sees the culmination of 3 seasons of cat and mouse with their relationship starting and the adorable honeymoon phase lasting throughout the season. Because of this honeymoon phase, they provide a swoony moment damn near every 3.5 minutes.

That rule aside, Season 4 starts off with 3 double length episodes that feature an entire storyline about Angela’s cat (numerous references for Rule #4), a short Kelly/Ryan petty battle with ample “OMG”s (Rule #5) and a frustrated Michael calling nonstop conference room meetings with tons of questions and that’s what she saids (Rule #3, #10 and #11) and a healthy dose of Toby hatred as the evil snail from HR asks Michael to chill (Rule #6).

While Season 2 is both excellent in its storylines and drinking opportunities, it all crescendos at the start of Season 4 with the three hour long episodes that no liver could survive.

Final Cut: Season 2

Your best drinking opportunity: Season 4, Episodes 1-3.

My advice: Be strict on the swoon and hatred or your liver and brain will attempt to box you.

Enjoy.

Advertisements

Powerless Police

This past Saturday I was pulled over for a nonsense traffic law, asked to leave my vehicle along with my 2 friends (also black people obviously) and had roughly 5 police officers and a dog tear my car apart searching for marijuana they claimed to smell (but that did not exist). I came back to my friend’s purse emptied on the floor, my backpack poured out and my plastic Walmart bag of mostly fast food garbage rummaged through. The officers swore I had marijuana. They did not apologize when they were proven wrong. I was given a “warning” for the traffic violation (for the record, I impeded traffic by using the left lane?). I overheard one officer say to his coworker “you ain’t find ANYTHING??” They left visibly disappointed.

I don’t want to dive into the general injustices of the American justice system, racial profiling or even how stupid they must have felt to lose a case of driving while black to 3 young black people. I don’t even really want to talk about the mental health ramifications of having to be on constant alert when a cop gets behind you in the white part of town, as you all hold your breath and hope he ain’t notice that you’re all young and black.

Nah. I just wanna talk about one thing.

One of those officers was an UGLY ass muthafucka. Boi had gnarly ass dip stained teeth and the head of a man you know lost his hairline EARLY. Old Doodlebob version of Vin Diesel lookin muthafucka. Old teeth so spread apart he could’ve fit the weed he was looking for between em ass boi. Old teeth too grimy to be grinning like that headass. Old original flavor dip dragon breath having ass mufucka. Boi was UGLY.

*whew*

That felt good. Aside from being ugly, that officer in particular (the 2nd to arrive with the K-9 unit) looked ECSTATIC to bust us. He was grinning ear to pointy ass ear and made a point to threaten us with jail time and call us liars. He was the only one to speak besides the initial officer (also a short ugly white man FYI) and the only one to look thrilled to sift through garbage and clothes designated for goodwill. He was happiest to snap his gloves on and the most frustrated to take them off.

He is emblematic of everything wrong with policing in this country. Powerless, ugly, probably got picked on in school and lost his girl to somebody cooler type white men dominate the field. They use the little power allotted to them by the state to, for once in their rhythmically challenged lives, exert some power over the people to whom they feel inferior. That man’s breath reeked not only of tobacco, but of pussylessness and powerlessness. A cornball ass man reveled in the chance to finally win one against the niggers who have perpetually been cooler, smarter and funnier than him. And he lost anyway. But because he lost, and because he had to watch us laugh as we climbed back in the car victorious over white supremacy for the day, a weak man like him will only come back out doubly determined tomorrow. Determined to try and flex some power over another car full of young black adults who made the mistake of driving through the part of town I know he also can’t afford to live in. So to the next kids he pulls up on hoping to flex his state sponsored muscle, I say: be careful. And to him and his gnarled teeth, I say: fuck you.

“I say fuck the police that’s how I treat em, we buy our way out of jail but we can’t buy freedom.”

-Kanye West, “All Falls Down”

Individualism vs….Damn What Could Be Better…?

In college, on a whim (and against my advisor’s recommendation), I took a class on African Philosophy. It was difficult and filled with long reading assignments and papers. It also felt like one of those random things you do that couldn’t have been an accident because it proved to be so important. It was absolutely crucial for validating the personal philosophy I had cultivated, exposing me to something beyond traditional Western Philosophy.

Now, I was going to write a really detailed, well-sourced essay style blog on Western, and specifically American philosophy, and why it fundamentally disagrees with human nature and the rest of the globe. But I don’t really want to. And all that isn’t really necessary. So instead I’m finna rant about something and hopefully make some cohesive sense. There’s your warning. Here we go: 

Individualism is fucking stupid.

That’s it. That’s the essay. That’s the paper. That’s the thesis, support and conclusion.

No, but seriously, American philosophy, and thus our government, economic system and the various institutions birthed from the above are filled with the notion of individualism. In my singular act of academically valid writing in this blog, here’s the definition of individualism: the idea that freedom of thought and action for each person is the most important quality of a society, rather than shared effort and responsibility*. As with anything in the world, balance is crucial. Individualism isn’t all bad. It’s human nature to act in self preservation and protect oneself and one’s interests. That’s normal. The extent to which American culture has placed the individual and their interests above the group is, however, not normal. The United States of America was founded on a philosophy of rigid individualism. Our constitution was ironically enough, devised as a pushback to ultimate and absolute individualism exerted by kings over entire nations of people. Contrary to the typical American perspective, the notion of a king exerting his power isn’t reflective of “big government”, but outrageous sized individualism where one man’s interests usurp entire populations (go google the divine right of kings). Individualism asks what is best for me and places that answer on a pedestal above all else. A dash of individualism is necessary for personal survival, but the amount American Philosophy indulges in leads us to possible global extinction and planet-wide resource exploitation in the name of personal profit.

Humans are community-oriented creatures that have survived by leaning on one another. Simply said, we would go fucking crazy in isolation and likely die of starvation and exposure. There’s a reason exile was a death sentence for ancient civilizations and solitary confinement is considered torture in the modern world. There’s a reason historically humans have formed societies, rather than killing each other in the wild. We’re stronger together. Any Disney movie will tell you that. The obvious pooling of resources aside, humans need one another to maintain our sanity. Isolation is unhealthy for the mind (see my blog on stepping outside your head to battle anxiety https://turtlewithapen.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/a-way-out/) and guarantees death for the body.

Entire schools of thought were built on the idea that the group is more important than the individual and that your very sense of self is defined more by how others perceive you than how you perceive yourself (my favorite example was, if everybody in your community who interacts with you thinks you’re an asshole, but you think you’re kind, barring some dramatic move-like circumstances, you’re probably just an asshole). I realized the things my parents said and the way they survived was fundamentally human, based on the dominant philosophy in much of the globe: people need people.

If only there was a word that encapsulated the very prefix “com-”, meaning “together”. Damn. Why isn’t there an -ism for that? A system in which a SOCIety COMbines their resources and skills to keep the group afloat. One where us SOCIal creatures, humans, COMplement one another’s gifts and strengths, A system that promotes a SOCIety to cultivate a culture that COMforts one another, shows COMpassion and encourages people to COMmunicate. Now if only there was a political and economic system the people had come up with that valued the SOCIal well-being of the COMmunity over the individual and capital (profit). If only, if only.

*whispers* if somehow you missed it, I’m talking about socialism/communism

*https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/individualism

“From Englewood to a single hood in Botswana,I see the I in We, my nigga, yours is my drama.” – Common, The People

Multilingual Love

Happy Valentines Day y’all. The day for love, hearts, flowers, candy and all that other beautiful and delicious commercialized shit; a dope day to express love to friends and significant others. But how does one express that love? What gifts and gestures will REALLY hit that I love you spot? It all depends on what language the people in your life speak.

I’m not going to break down the 5 love languages or link the quiz, y’all have Google if you want that. I will say I don’t think the 5 love languages are an exact science, but they are a great starting place for understanding how others give and receive love. The 5 Love Languages according to Gary Chapman are as follows:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Physical Touch
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service

Again, I don’t this is a perfect science, as some overlap and there are multiple ways of interpreting each. But this is a great starting place for learning a very hard lesson for many of us (and one I’ve failed more than a few times): We aren’t supposed to love people “the way we would want to be loved”. Love people with the effort you want. Love people with the passion you need. Love people with the intensity you seek.

BUT, love people in the language they speak.

For me, the things that make me feel most loved are words and time. That’s the language in which I’m fluent. If my partner, friends or family speak that language, we’ll never have a miscommunication. Those are the easiest people to love. Those in my life who speak other languages however, they require labor on my part if I want them to feel my love. Much like screaming your English at a Spanish speaker won’t make your message more clear, love languages face a similar barrier. You can scream your love from the rooftops, but if it isn’t their native tongue, there will only be confusion.

It starts with acknowledging the differences in our languages (awareness is half the battle for any and all problems). Thats easy. Shit, y’all can take the quizzes together to see what you speak and in what tongues you struggle. Then comes the hard part, putting in the work. Like learning a new spoken/written language, you’ve gotta put in work to learn the language your loved one needs. And like a spoken/written language, the most effective method is immersion. Practice it. Speak it to others. Show it off as you learn. Think in it. Over time, it will become as natural as the type of love you naturally understand. An effective love is a giving and sacrificial love. Learning a new language as an adult is hard. It’s labor that most don’t undertake unless it’s necessary for work or pleasure. In love, the work has to be put in if you want working and pleasurable relationships.If there seems to be a miscommunication in your relationship, explore those love languages and see where you match up. It’s something I’ve been undertaking since late last year and keep having to study my notes on, but it’s making my relationships more fulfilling than ever. Happy Valentine’s Day. Love yourself and others today.

*Fun Fact* The same people who created the book and quiz have also generated an apology language quiz. It’s worthwhile.

“Hold me like your only tomorrow, show me I’m the one you would die for. I’ll be everything you could ask for. Just you and me babe. Stay here with me babe. Silkk like my shocka, popp.a Silkk like vanilla waves. Your entity babe, my remedy babe. Silkk like ‘you wanna get freaky with me’. Mentally, spiritually, what you waiting on?”

-Akenya, on Smino’s Silk Pillows

Soundcloud’s Siapha, The Kid Paradox

2019 has been a relatively underwhelming year for music thus far. Through the first quarter of the year we’ve gotten hype>quality projects from big names like Future, Offset, Solange (I know, I’m sorry) and 2 Chainz and a slew of random singles from other artists teasing future albums without dates. But, in the midst of a storm of mediocrity shine brightest the gems you didn’t realize you were looking for. That sums up the debut project Kid Paradox from up and coming Soundcloud artist Siapha. I’ve never been a particularly big fan of Soundcloud, both because there’s too much garbage to sift through and because frustratingly, the few gems from indie artists I enjoy can’t be put on my playlists over on Spotify. However, the lone reason I’ve continued opening my Soundcloud app this year has been running back the uniquely conversational and sample-heavy Kid Paradox.

True to its title, California rapper/producer Siapha showcases the range to reach from feel good party to contemplative late night drive joint. Siapha showcases a simple but conversational flow over a variety of smooth production, paired together by skits ranging from deep thoughts from himself and his inspiring Liberian mother to comedic relief via throwback movies and tv shows, such as I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. I might argue there are a few too many skits between the tracks but I also could not pick a one that’s out of place or could be removed to enhance the pacing. As the project spins track to track, the conversational nature of the skits match the tempo of the music. Coming in at only 39 minutes, the skits and voiceovers are also never so time-consuming that they distract from the music itself.

Siapha shows off his unique ear for samples in his choice of skits, but also in the production work. No song exemplifies the ear for all the above better than single, and best song, “Steve Jobs”. It opens with powerful thoughts on love from his mama and a sample from Australian quartet Hiatus Kaiyote’s “Nakamara” (who’s best version includes a fire verse from Q-Tip) operate as background vocals for Siapha’s cool flowed verses on the apple of his eye. While “Steve Jobs” is the best track, it also kicks off the best three song run on the project, “Steve Jobs”, “No Fonk” and “Jim Carrey”. In those three songs, Stephen goes from contemplating on his mom’s powerful words on love, to shaking himself out his feelings with a hard bassline and some clever jokes then combines the two previous songs sounds with a soft soul sample and a more aggressive paced flow on Jim Carrey. In three songs, Siapha showcases the fullness of his arsenal both lyrically and with his production.

“Somebody stop me, I’m Jim Carrey, gettin green man, somebody stop me, I’m in command, in control c, but I don’t copy, it’s obvi, no one can top me, my shit be rockin, so fuck it’s poppin”

Siapha showcases a lyrical gift while never coming off like he’s working particularly hard. His flow is reminiscent of a young Childish Gambino, with just enough melody to raise it from a conversation over a beat to a rap verse. The combination of comedic lyrics and powerful feelings make for a project that’s never asking you to be too invested in one feeling or the other.

“I kick you out my office, Toby, a nigga’s hairline is on Ginobli but I’m Kobe

 “Cause when we gazed, our eyes knew, I was yours you were mine too”

It took me about 3 tracks to get used to his voice and flow, but once I got caught up in the conversation that is each song, I ran the album back multiple times without realizing it as it’s comfortable pace kept me plugged in. Siapha shows a comfortable control of every beat, always skating across it rather than slipping and sliding.

True to the project’s name, Kid Paradox, the dichotomy of jokes and thoughts pair together a cohesive project from a complex artist in Siapha. He also puts us onto two other rappers (who come as weighty recommendations given they’re the only features) named RJR and CB Yess. Both only provide one verse, but they don’t waste the opportunity. I hope to hear more from Siapha in the future and if I’m lucky, I’ll see his name on Spotify so Capri Sun and Steve Jobs can find their places on my Sunday afternoon playlists.

TOP TRACKS: Steve Jobs, Capri Sun, Jim Carrey, No Fonk

“Love can be like witchcraft. But you know, that it’s [the] closest thing we get to magic now.”

-Siapha’s mama, “Steve Jobs

“I can’t hate another black man, I made a pact man, I want all my niggas eatin like Pac-Man.”

-Siapha, “Love”

https://soundcloud.com/user-536969905/sets/kid-paradox

2019 Music Preview

2018 was a dope year in music. We got amazing movie soundtracks, great sophomore projects from young artists, collab albums from legends and from rookies, concept albums and a slew of mixtapes. Similar to 2016, there was a lot of content from a wide variety of artists. But there was some people we didn’t hear from who were missed and some we did hear from but were left wanting more. Here’s my list of artists I’m looking forward to for 2019.

  • Schoolboy Q

Top Dawg Entertainment had a great 2018 with Kendrick Lamar executive producing the Grammy-nominated Black Panther Soundtrack and Jay Rock dropping his first universally acclaimed project, Redemption. That followed up a great 2017 that was dominated by Kendrick and Sza dropping certified classics. However, TDE’s in-house gangster Schoolboy Q has been absent from the limelight. With the exception of a few features, Q has stayed relatively quiet since dropping 2016’s Grammy-nominated Blank Face, establishing his place among the West Coast’s best storytelling gangsters. He teased a new album in 2018 but publicly halted production to grieve following the death of industry favorite and Schoolboy Q’s close friend Mac Miller. I’m hoping in 2019 we finally see the follow up to Blank Face and something dope Mac would’ve been proud of.

  • Ari Lennox

The queen of Dreamville dropped a series of absolutely amazing singles at the end of 2018 (close this and go stream “Whipped Cream” and “40 Shades of Choke” right now if you’re not hip) but has yet to deliver a full length project. Her LP Pho has been in consistent rotation but I’m hoping for more this year. She offered to put out a rap diss for corny ass Tory Lanez after he said he could take on all of Dreamville this month, so hopefully when she’s done washing 5’4 Drake-Lite, we’ll hear a full project of her sultry R&B sound.

  • Chance the Rapper

My expectations for Chance are constantly changing and evolving, but I’m hoping we get a full project with less religious overtones this year. I don’t want a new Acid Rap or 10 Day because artists evolve and young stoner, acid-tripping Chano is gone. He’s a dad now, cashing out with endorsement deals out the ass, trying to make big changes in local Chicago politics and defending his musical dad Kanye on Twitter in his spare time. We were supposed to get the Kanye-produced Good Ass Job in 2018, but with Kanye we know that may never come or could be delayed greatly. We got 6 singles with a shared theme for their cover art last year, so optimistically Chance is building towards something musically as it’s been almost 3 years since his last full project.

  • Syd

Syd dropped easily the best album out of the solo projects members of The Internet dropped in 2017. Her unique sound and style stood out on Fin and her voice always stands out on their full band projects. I didn’t love 2019’s Hive Mind sonically, although a few songs have stayed in rotation. Hopefully this year’s crop of solo projects from the band members see them explore more new sounds that stray from the bass heavy Hive Mind. I’m also hoping for full length albums this year rather than short EPs. Syd’s will be my most anticipated, but I’m also enthused to hear from her bandmates Steve Lacy and Matt Martians.

  • Kanye West

It’s no secret that I liked Ye (I ranked it the 10th best album of 2018 https://turtlewithapen.wordpress.com/2018/12/18/my-top-10-albums-of-2018/) , even though it faced a lot of backlash and boycott last summer after Kanye’s dumbass comments. He also teased a new album titled Yandhi, presumably named after Gandhi with an album cover similar to his 2014 hot garbage project, Yeezy. With a similar title and cover, it’s expected that Kanye is going to go left on this new album like he did in 2014. Yeezy is easily the worst project Kanye has ever produced, but the Kanye stan in me is still excited for whatever the hell futuristic ass sounds Kanye is cooking up for Yandhi. Hopefully we see both Yandhi and Chance’s Good Ass Job in 2019, lest they disappear into the lexicon of promised hip hop albums that turned into urban legends.

 

Turtle’s 2019 #Goals

Last year at the end of the summer I decided to write out some final third of the year goals in my journal and post them on my whiteboard. I did a better job fulfilling them than I expected. I completed many, I got close on some and I missed the mark on a few. I’m gonna do some personal goals in my journal for the first quarter of the year again, but I also have some for the year I want to make public to hold myself accountable over a longer period of time. Hopefully January 1, 2020 I’m looking back at all green check marks. Here they are:

Meditate twice a week

Meditation proved to be a really dope outlet for me last year. It was huge for managing my anxiety and for adding some structure to my mornings before my mind had a chance to start running wild. However, trying to do it every day was hard. I’d love to get there over time, but for now I’m aiming for two 10-15 minute sessions a week. Shoutout to the headspace app for its guided meditation. I wish they were paying me for this plug, but it’s a worthwhile app (even without spending money) if you’re trying to investigate meditation. I’m tryna get an annual subscription  this year so I can dive into their giant ass library and knock out this goal.

Write at least twice a month

I wanted to write 3 blogs a month from September through December in 2018. I got close. I wrote 11 total blogs over those 4 months, so I was short by 1. I’m proud of what I did (all while still trying to adjust to my first job in education). For this year I’m aiming for 2 blogs/month. Some months there will be 3-4. Some months only 1. But by 2020, Turtlewithapen will have 24 new blogs published and hopefully I’ll also have purchased my domain.

Keep weight between 200-205

This one is simple. I wanna cut like 8-10 lbs. Eating better and exercise are also big helps with managing my anxiety and keeping to my meditation schedule.

Get certified to teach high school Math and English

Get a HS teaching job

I’m currently a certified 7-12 grade social studies teacher who is stuck teaching outside my subject and age group lol. I wrote last year about the disappointment of graduating college and doing my certification work only to find the summer ending and no teaching job offers. It sucked. It was hard. But I lived. This year I’m rebounding with an adjusted goal. I’m going to add subjects to my qualifications to make myself more hirable and hopefully start next fall teaching in a high school. My goal is still to teach high school History, but as I learned in 2018, I need my life and goals to be flexible. Right now I’m a teacher. Next year I want to be a high school teacher. And optimistically I’ll be a History teacher, but if not, I’ll be teaching Math or English. I’m casting a wider net at the job market and hoping to come out with a step forward from where I am now.

 

Those are my 5 goals for 2019, spanning my personal, professional and artistic life. If you follow me anywhere, hold me accountable, check in on them and hit me up with some goals of yours so we’re all walking into 2020 feeling accomplished.

“I’m a star how can I not shine.” – Kanye West

The Complexities of Juxtapositioning Theoretical Perceptions of Blackness, Colorism and Vernacular in Jordan Peele’s “Us” Trailer

In this essay I will break down the intricate levels and complexities of why ya’ll need to shutcho dumbass I want extra credit in the discussion today, my AP Lit project is due in 4 hours and I haven’t read the book so lemme make something up, trying to be too damn deep ass up.

Jordan Peele dropped the trailer for his next venture into horror on Christmas Day and has us all shook. I didn’t realize the I Got 5 On It beat could be so terrifying. After the Oscar-nominated hit Get Out shocked the world and showed what Jordan Peele could do in the horror genre (after years of being mostly known for his knockoff Chappelle Show), nobody is going to miss out on Us. Get Out was full of witty imagery and metaphors that led to it being labeled a “social thriller” and led to millions of words on the internet about the theories for what every sound, image and line of the movie meant. Jordan Peele validated many of the theories. He also identified many as reaches, #hitsblunt thoughts and some even more clever than he could possibly be (see below). It was a fun time. But all the theories for Get Out have us losing our goddamned minds after only a trailer for Us that lasted roughly two minutes and forty seconds. Folks are tripping over themselves to break down how Jordan Peele is likely tackling any and everything the internet loves to debate about like racism, colorism, toxic masculinity, the fragility of the black boy experience, the communal values of those of African descent and the existential crisis of code-switching. We have to chill the hell out lmao. Every social media and blog site is beginning to look like a mass collective of literature students stepping on each other to impress the teacher.

I know none of us want to miss a thing after the brilliance of Get Out but let’s just wait for the movie to release to decide what issues he MAY be tackling and how the plot, soundtrack, visuals and casting choices lean into those conversations. Or this might just be a regular horror movie. It probably won’t be given Peele’s comedy and now horror track record, but we need to all take a deep breath and enjoy “I Got 5 On It” (or better yet the remix) until March 15. Take a deep breath and deal with the trauma of your first literature class. Because I promise we’re not in English class anymore and nobody is grading you on finding every piece of symbolism in every piece of art you interact with.

When it IS time to break down the movie and argue our favorite theories together, “I got fiiiiiiive on itttt, partna let’s go half on a staaaaaack”.

Enjoy the trailer for Us below:

 

MY Top 10 Albums of 2018

After much procrastination, playlist sifting and internal strife, I’m going to give ya’ll the top 10 albums of the year followed by my 3 honorable mentions. This list took quite a bit of time, particularly in deciding the order. Before I dive in however, I’m gonna establish some ground rules:

  1. Mixtapes vs. Albums. Idc about mixtapes vs albums vs EPs vs LPs. At this point in the streaming era, a musical project is a musical project. Idc if it came through your label, if it can be found on the major streaming sites or only on the mixtape sites, the project is the project.
  2. These are MY 10 best albums of the year. There’s far too much music out for any reasonable person to hear everything. So if I miss something, it means I never heard it, didn’t go back to it again after a few listens or it was good but not better than the 10 listed. In this era of mass music production, I find it easier to check for your faves, the people who make similar music to your faves and then add in recommendations from others. Trying to take it all on is simply too great a headache. 
  3. The albums will be listed from 10 to 1, followed by the honorable mentions. Each album will get a short paragraph and a list of the top tracks. 
  4. If I’ve already written a review of the album, I’ll link the original review. 
  5. If you disagree, cool. Be sure to share or RT it when you bitch me out.

Let’s go:

  1. Kanye West – Ye

This nigga Kanye. Kanye managed to do real damage to his image this year by saying a lot of stupid shit. He also dropped a fire 7 track album with great production and just enough lyricism and damning honesty to make for another hit in his all-time great discography. Kanye opened with his own frantic thoughts and a double entendre of an opening track in “I Thought About Killing You” leaving us to question if he was homicidal, suicidal or both. Quite the start for somebody seen in MAGA hats and questioning slavery this year. Still, he said silly things like the 2018 version of the bleached assholes line with “I love your titties cause they prove I can focus on two things at once” and honest things like “You know I’m sensitive, I got a gentle mental, every time something happens they want me sent to mental”. Wouldn’t Leave, No Mistakes and Ghost Town is one of the best 3 song runs on any album this year. Kanye gave us his struggles with bipolar disorder over smooth beats and Ty Dolla $ign and PND hooks. If you can get over your anger at the hat, Ye is another fire Kanye West album worth playing. 

Best tracks: Wouldn’t Leave, No Mistakes, Ghost Town

  1. Noname – Room 25

Noname did it again. Room 25 has continued to get regular spins in my rotation. A product of Kanye West’s musical legacy, Noname reminded us she’s a natural poet on the mic and has the right ear for production that both matches her skills and extends her range. Noname’s debut album speaks for itself and if you haven’t heard it or her first mixtape Telefone, catch up then read my review below: https://turtlewithapen.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/noname-takes-us-into-room-25/

Best tracks: Ace, Montego Bae, Don’t Forget About Me

  1. Future – Beast Mode 2

Future continues his run of mixtapes and albums that will inevitably earn him a spot on any all time hip hop lists that are honest about including trap music and southern rap in general (besides Andre 3000). Beast Mode 2 is a short 9 track mixtape following up the classic, Beast Mode. Like most of what we’ve gotten from Nayvadius, it’s perfect for getting ready to hit a party or club, can be spun straight through at said party or club and showcases Future’s range of ain’t shit masculinity and drugged out self-loathing. We have to start being honest about this run Future has been on for 4 years because he’s continued to shine as one of the best trap rappers in a generation that’s becoming oversaturated with his sound.

Best tracks: 31 Days, Hate the Real Me, Racks Blue

  1. Nao – Saturn

Nao is, by my best estimation, an underrated artist in the current R&B landscape. Indie R&B women are dominating the genre and London-native Nao is of a similar ilk. Her sophomore album Saturn is a cohesive project featuring heavy astrological themes regarding love and self-discovery. I’m not an R&B snob nor do I pretend to know a goddamn thing about runs, strong natural vocals or what qualifies as real R&B anymore. However, I do know that Nao’s high pitched yet soft voice has been more pleasing to my ears than most of the music that’s come out in the 2 years since her debut album, For All We Know (another must listen if you haven’t already). And I know Another Lifetime is one of the prettiest songs I’ve heard since I first heard Nao on one of her first singles,  Bad Blood. Being an astrology fan myself, Nao touching on the ways in which the stars and planets align to impact the paths our lives follow as they intertwine with others was refreshing, because I’d much rather thank the stars than the Heavens for the love in my own life. Nao changes pace throughout the project enough to not lull you to sleep and delivers with few features, carrying this full length project almost entirely alone. 

Best tracks: Another Lifetime, If You Ever, Orbit, Yellow of the Sun, Drive and Disconnect

  1. Kendrick Lamar & Various Artists – The Black Panther Soundtrack

Black Panther was one of the most popular movies of this year, turned into a cultural movement for black people nationwide and ALSO featured one of the best soundtracks in recent memory. Current Compton legend Kendrick Lamar executive produced the album and he managed to link some of the best young black artists in U.S. (particularly the West Coast) with a diverse cast of rappers and singers of African heritage, stemming from England, South Africa etc. Knowing how cerebral Kendrick is, this was obviously on purpose. The album matched the movies various themes and the combinations of artists Kendrick brought together mirrored the movie’s link between Wakanda and Los Angeles through villain, short-term king and 2018 black debate topic, Killmonger. The album features a WIDE variety of sounds from the fast-paced (and best track) Opps in which Long Beach native Vince Staples and South African native Yugen Blakrok traded some of the year’s best bars to the slowed down Jorja Smith track I am to the Gqom-inspired Redemption, pairing California’s Zacari with South Africa’s Babes Wodumo. I won’t even pretend to know every genre or every non-American artist featured on the album, but to summarize, the album is black as fuck. Kendrick pairs artists who would have likely never worked together all over the album and put us Black Americans onto a bevy of black artists and sounds from other parts of the world. It’s exactly what Black Panther deserved and might even bring home a Grammy. Kudos to Kendrick, Top Dawg Entertainment and our siblings across the African diaspora.  

Best Tracks: Opps, King’s Dead, Redemption, Black Panther

  1. Buddy – Harlan & Alondra

West Coast native Buddy dropped his debut album and it was a goddamn work of art. The art of G-Funk is alive and well with heirs to the throne like Buddy ready to step up. Harlan & Alondra was raw, honest and hungry. Buddy spits highly relatable and impressive bars about the work he’s put in to get to this debut album, his neighborhood and his love life. From the opening, Real Life S**t, hrough it’s outro, Shine, Buddy raps his ass off. Even on the project’s slowest tracks, Buddy’s delivery is quick and full of wit. The beats are sonically pleasing and Buddy’s flow matches up well with the funky sounds and samples all over the album. While funk and rap have always been linked on the West Coast, Buddy brought it to life best this year and staked his claim to the West Coast revival. The album art alone tells listeners this album is about to have a very retro feel, and Buddy delivers. The album is as diverse as it is special. Buddy is going to be an important artist over the next few years and he’s already got the co-sign of his G-Funk OG, Snoop. Like Vince Staples and Amine, Buddy is a West Coast artist you’ll wanna be hip to in the coming years.

Best tracks: Trouble on Central, Shameless, Shine, Hey Up There

  1. Vince Staples – FM!

22 minutes of west coast energy and another cohesive and unique Vince Staples experience. It’s the perfect length for a car ride to just about anywhere and is like listening to the radio (a damn near vintage experience in 2018) without hearing the same 4 whack ass songs on repeat. Check out my review below:  

https://turtlewithapen.wordpress.com/2018/11/11/vince-just-wanna-have-fun/

Best tracks: FUN, No Bleedin

  1. Amine – ONEPOINTFIVE

I’ll be honest, in 2016 when Caroline dropped with an amazingly catchy hook and a fun ass video, I thought Amine was just another one hit wonder viral sensation. Then his debut Good For You came out and I was proven very very wrong. Now he’s come back twice as hard on ONEPOINTFIVE. Portland’s dreadheaded son Amine gave fans a fun and introspective album. From the opening track which serves as a 4 minute therapy session, Amine jumps into a flurry of upbeat songs with the lyricism that separates him from many of his fun contemporaries. For an alternative and woke black guy, Amine shows his range by only having 3 rappers featured, all outside his typical audience’s range, in Gunna, G Herbo and Rico Nasty. He explores more sounds on this project than on his debut and it extends his range as an artist. Amine, like other members of this list Noname and Smino, doesn’t make conscious rap (with all the spoken word stereotypes that come with that), but he makes fun and honest music from a self-aware young black man who’s making pronounced strides against racism (and for black people) and his own battles with toxic masculinity. Young and very sure of himself, Amine is sure to be around for years to come repping for the real niggas of Portland.

Best tracks: Together, Ratchet Saturn Girl, Hiccup

  1. Smino – Noir

If you not kicking it with a shorty during cuffing season and bumping Noir, I know you not winning like you could be winning. Check out my full length review below:

https://turtlewithapen.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/a-sultry-smino-noir/

Best tracks: Klink, Bam 2x, Hoopti, LMF

  1. Mac Miller – Swimming

It’s sad that I have to make this qualification, but Mac Miller’s Swimming is not my album of the year because he passed away shortly after it’s release. His untimely death looms long over the album, particularly because it centered on his battles with depression and the addiction that would eventually take his life. However, Mac delivered his best album to date and second in a row that was extremely cohesive (see The Divine Feminine), taking it from a good album to a complete work of art. The album was also extremely important to me personally as it dropped when I was struggling the most with depression, loneliness and a general dissatisfaction with life (see my personal blogs from the summer for more details). Anyway, I already waxed eloquent about Swimming in a track by track breakdown below and also wrote an emotional eulogy for the greatest white rapper of all time. RIP to the kid. Hip hop has a hole it can’t fill without him. 

https://turtlewithapen.wordpress.com/2018/08/20/macs-swimming-in-the-deep-waters/

https://turtlewithapen.wordpress.com/2018/09/08/rip-to-the-kid-mac-miller/

Best tracks: 2009, Wings, Jet Fuel

There were 3 albums that I wanted to include but they just missed the cut. They were as follows:

  • Anderson .Paak – Oxnard

Easily the hardest album for me to leave off. Oxnard took me a few listens but it grew on me quickly. It might feature (this is hard for me to say lol) too many rap features and Dr. Dre’s hand in the production makes the album both unique and  while also making it not what I expected sonically and a little underwhelming compared to Yes Lawd, Malibu and Venice. It just missed the cut.

  • The Internet – Hive Mind

The Internet hit the scene hard in 2016 with their classic album Ego Death. That album certainly set high expectations for newer fans and they delivered all throughout 2017 with solo albums from the various band members. I wanted to include Hive Mind in my top 10 for this year. It felt like it belonged, but I had to be honest about how much I actually spun it. It’s for sure an enjoyable and very Internet-esque album, but I think it was a little slower and more bassline-heavy than their previous projects, like Ego Death and Feel Good. I found myself spinning many individual tracks but not the album as a whole, as I did with past projects. I still enjoy Hive Mind, but it missed the mark by a beat.

  • Pusha T – Daytona

Controversial album art, absolute demolition of Drake and controversy surrounding Kanye West aside, Pusha T delivered again on Daytona. As part of G.O.O.D. Music’s summer rollout of 7 track, Kanye West-produced albums, Daytona gave us exactly what we expect from Push: dope dealer bars. Push gave us quality tales of drug dealing days gone by over some of the best production he’s ever gotten. To be honest I wanted to include his album to spite Drake fans, but it was just not good enough. It however was highly enjoyable and worth many revisits.

Toby Flenderson, HR, Scranton Strangler

The Scranton Strangler was a long-running and ultimately unfulfilling background story on The Office during the latter seasons. His identity was revealed to be George Howard Skub, mentioned frequently in HR Rep Toby Flenderson’s random and poorly timed speeches regarding the trial. It was all a lie. Toby Flenderson was and is the real Scranton Strangler. Those who know me know I don’t believe this to be a conspiracy theory, in my world, this is as much canon as Jim and Pam’s marriage. The evidence is stacked up against the human snail that was Toby Flenderson. Here’s my case *Law and Order beat drop*:

First the obvious facts:

  1. Toby is a middle-aged, balding, single, white, male divorcee with none of the charisma necessary to start a new relationship (as we see with his Season 2-4 crush on Pam). He is by all evidence an incel* which recent news indicates is damn near a requirement to be a mass murderer. In 2018, he would be an active women-bashing Reddit user.
  2. Toby’s relationship with his young daughter Sasha is mediocre at best. She is rarely mentioned and never shows her father any affection in the one episode in which she appears (Season 2, Episode 18, in which she also befriends Toby’s greatest enemy, his boss Michael Scott). At one point in Season 5, Toby, on the verge of tears, pays $400 for a doll to give his daughter desperately trying to score a win with her for Christmas (still botching the chance, as he overpaid for a black doll, rather than a white one, and accepts it to not appear racist). He rarely has her and can’t break through to her because he is extremely boring.
  3. Toby’s work life (the main place he interacts with people by his own admission in Season 8, episode 18) is miserable. In an office filled with relationships, affairs, friendships and general human interaction, he sits in the office annex, mainly isolated from his coworkers, never dates or befriends anyone and rarely  flirts/jokes successfully. He appears most often to stop inappropriate but otherwise fun activities by his coworkers, most often his boss, Michael Scott. He is also frequently berated by his boss in front of his coworkers, including but not limited to:
  • having “no” screamed at him when he came back to work after a half season hiatus (see section 2, point 2)
  • having his lunch pushed off the table in the corporate cafeteria
  • having a caprese salad planted in his bag so he could be accused of drug possession
  • being asked “Why are you the way that you are?” followed by “I hate so much about the things you choose to be.” because he protested having Boy Scouts at the Office’s Casino Night
  • being told that if he were in a room with Osama Bin Laden, Adolf Hitler and an armed Michael Scott with only 2 bullets, Michael would shoot Toby twice

So now, we know Toby’s life is generally miserable, but that does not make a Strangler. However, the connections run deeper. Here’s the trail:

  1. In season 3, episode 7, Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton Branch was set to be shut down. Toby stated in a confessional that he would use the severance money to move down to Costa Rica, his dream retirement. This move has been the one thing he has to look forward to that MIGHT make his miserable and lonely life and career worthwhile. The branch did not shut down and he was stuck in said miserable life.
  2. Toby does eventually move to Costa Rica. After retiring early due to the sheer embarrassment of touching the knee of his crush (and coworker’s girlfriend) in front of his remaining coworkers after a successful joke. Followed by the most dramatic going away party of all time**, he leaves to Costa Rica. He spends the first few months of season 5 living his dream retirement (and presumably leaving his daughter behind in Scranton). However see an update from Toby’s retirement early in season 5. Toby is in the hospital in a full body cast after breaking his back in a zip lining accident on only his third day in Costa Rica.  The singular glimmer of hope keeping Toby’s spirit alive has gone terribly, so terribly in fact that he returns to Scranton to his miserable job only 9 episodes into the season, presumably less than 6 months after leaving, with nothing left to look forward to in his life besides watching his daughter grow further apart from him and his former crush fall deeper in love (she is now engaged).

We now know Toby Flenderson’s life is miserable and lonely, and now hopeless and empty. These are all indisputable facts. He is the perfect candidate for a man ready to snap and become a serial killer. Here’s the remainder of the case:

  1. The Scranton Strangler is first mentioned in season 6, episode 18. In the episode prior, Pam (Toby’s longtime crush) goes into labor with her now husband Jim Halpert’s baby. Salesman Andy Bernard framed a newspaper from the day as a gift to Jim and Pam, but her labor lasted through the night leading him to replace it with a newspaper from the following day. The headline of that new newspaper was “Scranton Strangler Strikes Again”. Pam went into labor at the office and was quickly ushered to the hospital. Toby, being present at the office, saw Pam go into labor and in a fit of rage, continued his streak of stranglings that night leading to the headline. He is also mysteriously absent as the entire staff of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch awaits Jim and Pam’s baby at the hospital.
  2. The Season 7, episode 8 introduction showed the entire staff of Dunder Mifflin surrounding a television, not working, watching a standoff and then car chase between the police and the Scranton Strangler. Toby was mysteriously absent. I don’t believe he was the man being chased, as he was caught. However I believe he was busy completing his framing of George Howard Skub that led to the standoff and chase.
  3. Toby, once described as a sad snail by Michael, was summoned for jury duty for the Scranton Strangler trial. He of course could not finesse that summoning, but his excruciating blandness enabled him to be a part of the jury. He not only broke the law by FREQUENTLY discussing the trial, he seemed fairly confident at the time that they convicted the right man and used it as a conversation piece to seem more interesting to his coworkers. This does not align with his attitude regarding the trial down the road.
  4. In later seasons, Toby is OBSESSED with the possible innocence of George Howard Skub, due to the overwhelming guilt of framing and being allowed to help convict an innocent man. Throughout seasons 7, 8 and 9, Toby frequently and publicly denounces the guilty verdict and espouses Skub’s innocence. His own conscience could not let go of the frame job he succeeded in pulling off (see OJ Simpson’s tell-all book about if he would have done it).
  5. In Season 9, episode 16, Toby is forced by his coworker to stop talking about Skub’s presumed innocence and goes to confront him in prison. He returns with a neck brace on, presumably from being strangled. This is used as evidence that Toby was wrong and Skub was truly guilty. However, I see it differently. Toby’s visit to the prison was not recorded by the documentary crew thus we do not know what he said to Skub. Why would a serial killer assault a man who came to say he believes he is innocent and wants to help him? I believe Toby confessed both his true guilt and plot to frame Skub and, being enraged empty-handed, Skub attacks Toby and eventually strangles him. Toby never mentions the Strangler again, and with a cleared conscience, eventually moves to NY to be write crime-mystery novels.
  6. The writers of The Office stated they intended to make the Strangler an employee of Dunder Mifflin but felt it would be too dark and abandoned the plan. George Howard Skub is never seen on The Office, has no connection to any of the characters (except jury member and true Strangler, Toby) and was never mentioned before Toby’s return from trial. In season 5, Michael called Toby “the silent killer” in response to a suggestion that the Office have its air quality checked to which Toby eerily replied “You’ll see.” That moment, a season before the Strangler arc, seemed like foreshadowing for a plan that would later be abandoned. I believe, like Toby, Skub was a placeholder, framed as the Scranton Strangler to absolve Toby of bearing the guilt of his actions.

Toby Flenderson IS the Scranton Strangler. I’ve seen cases made for Creed (too easy, he was out committing much more complex crimes involving military-grade LSD, cults as both a leader and a follower, heroin from Al-Qaeda etc.) and Robert California (who did not come to Scranton until after the Scranton Strangler trial). I’ve even seen cases made for Dwight or his creepy silent cousin Mose. However all of these choices seem cheap and obvious. Toby Flenderson, the emotionless HR representative who was harboring years of disappointment, frustration and most importantly loneliness, exploded in fits of rage resulting in a one year terrorizing of the small city of Scranton, PA. Case. Closed.

*incel is short for involuntarily celibate, Google it at your own risk

**orchestrated by his boss to once again insult him by celebrating his departure “as if the devil were to explode and all evil was gone from the world” (see goodbye song below)