TERA MELOS in review.

I'll be the first one to admit that I know next-to-nothing about music.

The Beach Boys inside and out. Frank Sinatra's best and worst. The Paul Simon discography. Done. That's the sum total of all my musical parts. Can't make it, can't sing it- - - well, save for "Enter Sandman," a few, stray Beastie Boys lyrics and, with a gun to my head and shame in my eyes, maybe some 311?

The problem is that my new-music intake probably died with my high school Rolling Stone subscription. When I listen to music, I tend to fall back on standbys and constants, leaning heavily towards nostalgia and its many comforts.  There is one exception, though. The sole collision between new music and an old friendship.

All musicians have old friends. I think. I hope. People they grew up with that can relate to the aesthetic they've built across their catalog or cite specific truths in their lyrics. Hidden jokes, inspired soundscapes. It's the "inside baseball" perspective and one that I share with one very specific weirdo-rock band that was born, like I was, in Northern California-

Tera Melos.

In its current and most long-standing state: Nick Reinhart, Nathan Latona, John Clardy. Formed by way of a shit-toned concert in my parents' backyard on my 16th birthday. That band was Guilty Bystanders and their crowning achievement was a mostly-spot-on cover of Beastie Boys' "Sabotage"-

It all comes back to those three boys from NYC for me, doesn't it?

Guilty Bystanders gave way to No Regard which gave way to Tera Melos.

Kind of. It's more complicated than that. More parts, more people.

But Nick Reinhart-

The band's guitarist, lyricist, vocalist and head maestro of weird-

Was my dude. Is my dude. From 11th grade onward.

I tried to skateboard like he did, dress like he did, piss people off like he did. The one thing I could never touch - none of us could - was his music. His addictive need to hear certain songs over and over and over again. And then specific snippets inside those same songs, over and over again. We used to drive around all summer in a boiling hot, 1987 beat-down Honda Accord, looking for some kind of trouble to get into. There was always music on these drives, looping and repeating. A mobile, punk and retro-rock dance club. Nick was also the one who started our long-standing weekend tradition of driving to downtown Sacramento to see live bands. Sometimes Auburn and sometimes Grass Valley. Anywhere his/our bands were playing-


Link 80-


And later, Hella-

I'm sure they have a special place in Nick's heart just as they do mine, but that dude was grinding towards his own musical agenda early and often. Really anytime our lives slowed down long enough to allow it, he was on it. In high school, when we'd have a sleepover, Nick would always be the first one awake. Bare-chested, oversized, costume-cowboy hat on his head and a guitar in hand. Noodling and grinding until he was lost inside the kind of noises that annoyed us straight into our cars and back to our homes.

Listening to the new Tera Melos album, TRASH GENERATOR, was the catalyst for these words. I've never written about music before and I can barely take myself seriously doing it now. I can't help it, though. To my ears and the memory rotting between them, this record is a biographical slam of my shared past with Nick and our collective futures. It sounds like someone who loves Disneyland but also has to pay his fucking bills. It sounds like someone who kept an obsessive collection of Wonder Years VHS tapes and grew up to be a dog-raising Catan-a-holic. For all I know, I'm the only one who hears these particular truths inside the tracks, but-

Structurally or sonically or however I'm supposed to talk about music, both Nick (guitars) and Nathan (bass) have told me it's a bit of a "fuck-it" album, meant in the most freeing way imaginable. Playing towards a specific trend or critical plateau wasn't the goal, though to be fair I don't think it ever has been. It's just that now, with the trio split between California and Texas and Switzerland (!), the sum of their collective parts - when reunited - is a lot more concentrated than it used to be. This is rock and roll by way of cold brew and no one on this album is fucking around and wasting time. Theirs or ours.

This album sounds like a dungeon in the original Super Mario Bros. when time starts running out. Dangerous and dire and immediate. Honestly, I hear old school NES all over this album and not just on the track titled, "Warpless Speed Run." The song, and its breakneck speed, seems clearly inspired by Nick's fascination with YouTube videos of gamers trying to break timed play-through records on old NES games.

There's another track on here - the first one, "System Preferences" - that builds and punches in a style that borders on an all-time Primus tune, "Southbound Pachyderm." There's gifts like that on every track, little junkyard accidents that hit me from every direction at once. And that's just the frosting, the ever-changing design of what makes Tera Melos who they are. The indefinable noise, the endless argument of genre.  It's a needless, pointless chase as far as I can see it.  

Nick publically claims what - two influences?

Squarepusher and Aphex Twin?

Maybe Kate Bush?

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I lived in Korea Town, right down the street from The Wiltern. One time Nick and Nate drove all way down from Sacramento just to see Dido play. I went with them. Once. It was all I could afford or enjoy. Nate, too. Nick, though, he went two nights in a row, the second one solo. Not for laughs or ironically, either.

So what genre of music does Tera Melos make? The good kind.

Their songs and untouchable catalog of Fannin-fueled music videos, for all their merits, are rarely mentioned alongside their lyrics. If there was ever a turning point, I hope TRASH GENERATOR is it.

Nick is notoriously cagey with his words, even with me. His lyrics are treasures left for his listeners to decode. I don't believe there's official liner notes for any of their post-lyric albums, though I'm just lazy enough not to verify that. What's online now, I think, is the product of hardworking fans or determined enemies.

There is a song on this new album - "A Universal Gonk," one of my favorites - that is straight-up biographical. When I decoded the song, obsessing in a way that most closely mirrors my middle grade obsession with JAGGED LITTLE PILL, I was shocked by its subject, having lived through a great deal of it myself. I texted Nick immediately, curious about a lyric. He laughed and told me I'd heard it wrong. It was something else, something even better. "That's good," he said. "I didn't want it to be too obvious."

That's what the track "Dyer's Lane" is for, a Silverstein-esque list of the putrid filth that gathers around the road that literally and figuratively haunted our youth. Worth a deep dive in your browser, if you've got the time.

Another one of my favorites, the title track - "Trash Generator" - hit me with coded, lyrical familiarity. The sound is creepy - in spaces it seems to dance around the Haunted Mansion and storm-themed levels on old NES games. The lyrics, though, seem to infer a character that is either the same goof in "Slimed," my all-time favorite Melos track, or at least related to him.

He doesn't like odd folks to get too close to him. He keeps obsessive-compulsive time with his footsteps along the sidewalk. Doesn't this sound like the same guy who says, if I've heard my "Slimed" lyrics correctly, "something about my face, always makes me sick. Try to comb my hair, but the slime is thick.."

I know that guy.

I am that guy.

Everyone who ever questioned their own self-worth is that guy.

I told my dad, a near-encyclopedia of music history, about these lyrics recently and he smiled, saying it reminded him of one of his all-time favorite lyrics from Bruce Springsteen, the one that goes, "I check myself in the mirror - I want to change my clothes, my hair, my face."

Now can we talk about those Melos lyrics and their merit?

It shocks me to digest the words on this new album considering that this was once a band without any lyrics at all. Back in the days when that exact same dad of mine, upon hearing that first album of theirs, asked if, "they were making actual songs or just noise." Back when they had their former drummer, Vince, and their wildman guitarist, Worms. Back when you had to know the exact length of their guitar cables to make sure you didn't get a headstock to the face. Back when they used to play to the rooftops and beyond, when the physical manifestation of their sound seemed to be, at times, a giant middle finger.

That energy isn't gone, though. Not on TRASH GENERATOR or anything else that came after those wild and crazy chainsaw days. Nate still swings his bass like a lumberjack, John punches his kit like he's auditioning for a supergroup and Nick, well - Nick still kicks his pedals at the most unexpected times and rips big chunks of digital dirt across the middle of their songs. This band, since day one, has never been content to let a clean beat lay alone for along. Chop it up and chuck it, ad infinitum.

I had the pleasure of seeing Tera Melos whirlwind their way through a set a few months ago at The Fonda. They were playing in support of Chon and I claimed a spot at the edge of a tiny floor section that overlooked a good portion of the crowd. I almost prefer the non-headlining shows, where there's still something to prove, still some reluctant observers on the scene. Now sure, I'm well aware they're deep into an established fandom where people are still hyped to see them no matter the billing, but it delights me to no end to see them win new folks over. From my vantage point, I saw a few different knots of friends decide to suddenly shut up and listen. Big smiles. Elbow nudges, head nods. Pointing. What are those guys doing, Dude?!

The best part, the part I'll never forget, was watching those three Melos men catch the two guys manning the sound and light boards off guard. It was like some sort of silent-era comedy gag. Every time they tried to fold their arms and chill out, the band zigged left instead of an expected right. Changed the rhythm or the style, flipping tiny tremors into ear-wincing earthquakes on a dime. The two guys on the boards finally got to the point where they had to stand up and chase the band along the knobs. There's one song on TRASH GENERATOR, the aforementioned "Universal Gonk," where Nick works his guitar to sound like an honest-to-goodness sax. And he does it live, too. When he bent those noises into his guitar at The Fonda, the sound guy finally walked over to the lighting guy and whispered something in his ear. They looked stunned, maybe a little pissed. Mostly impressed-

That's the same chaos from back before, only now the musicians are men and they're punching their headstocks into the music. TRASH GENERATOR, then, is the moment when we take notice of what has disappeared behind us and what, thankfully, is still to come. Shit gets hard when you get older, but it gets real rewarding, too. This album is certifiable proof of that. Enjoy-

And congrats, Old Friend.


People Hearing Without Listening.

In the wake of every tragedy that has crossed my lifetime, my country's elected leaders have always assured me that there will not be a 'next time.' They tell me that if I pray with them and share silence with them, there will come a change... There has not and there will not.

I spent a lot of today combing through the facts and the conjecture and the heartache and the anger. Much of what I've come to believe - right here and now - is an amalgamation of ideas put forth by wiser folks than I, and I wish only to echo what I have learned. I will credit the proper thinker wherever I am able.

The time for 'silent moments' are over. This is the time for screaming. This is the time to knock on the doors of our elected leaders and demand immediate change. I am disgusted by all the carefully-crafted, political condolences I saw today that avoided using the word 'gun.' One need only look at the Twitter feed of Igor Volsky, the Deputy Director of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, to see why. He was doing this all day long, and rightly so-

As writer Mark Harris pointed out, all but ONE Republican senator is fine with selling assault rifles to people on terror watch lists-

If you'd like to see the names of every senator who voted against the 2013 assault weapons ban, JUST CLICK HERE.

Scream, my friends. Be heard. Now and forever. The motivations and religions vary from one massacre to the next, but the lone constant is guns. Think about that for a moment and then read the tweet by Uncle Chaps that I lifted it from-


I read some version of the following sentiment throughout the day, but none were as wounded and angry and honest as Brett White, an editor at CBR-

Brett White will not be silent and I applaud him for it. Rob Whisman will not be silent, either:

This is not a time for tiptoeing and crawling towards progress. People are hurting and will continue to be hurt until we, the many, do something about it. If we wait, we risk having our officials waste the rest of our lives with their heads firmly up their asses-

And that's the second unpardonable sin of today's massacre. We need to make a commitment to changing the language of fear and tolerance and get-over-it-we're-all-humans understanding. It is unconscionable for our elected leaders to simply call the Orlando tragedy an act of terrorism. It was also an act of homophobia, a poison that continues to find refuge within our country. It festers amongst an increasingly volatile, dying minority of our elders and all the turds that they have spawned. We need to let our leaders know that we are the majority, that our ever-expanding population is LGBTQ friendly and we stand ever-impatiently ready to bury those who are not. Adapt or find a hole to lie in - the hate that was evoked today is endangered and condemned for extinction. Period. 

Furthering that same point, I give you Exhibit Drumpf-

And if those aforementioned Republicans dare balk - and anyone on either side of the political aisle, really - these two, complimentary tweets should damn any selfish politician with a beating heart to shame:

We need change now. NOW.

If they do not come to the doors when we knock upon them, it is our right to break them down and elect someone moral enough and strong enough to hear our demands. And how do you do that? Start with any of the politicians taking money from the NRA - as detailed above - or the list of senators voting to stop the ban on assault rifles - as detailed above - find the source of this insane and irrational roadblock to change and tell them they need to do their job and LISTEN TO US. It is easy and quick and it's all laid out in the Huffington Post. Just CLICK HERE.

The time for silence has passed. I promise, to all my friends who - through sheer, fucking luck - were blessed with a road more difficult than my own, that I will call or email everyone on that list. I will make my outrage be known and I will demand the change that you deserve-

I'm for you and I'm with you.

In Solidarity-


6/13/16 Addendum: I saw a comment on a friend's Facebook page that, in response to the man behind the Orlando massacre, said 'fuck these people.' I was moved to immediate anger by the ignorant, all-encompassing dismissal of an entire sect of people. I was not born into an Islamic home by an act of luck. My mother's California-born egg shook hands with my father's California-born sperm and tah-dah, out came a ME. I came into a home that was - for most of my childhood - Roman Catholic and well stocked with food and love. I had nothing to do with any of that. People born into different religions and different socio-economic regions started the same way I did, as a human child with no control over anything they were brought into.  By luck I was born with a clear-cut path to my sexual identity. Some are not. For anyone to stand on any sort of "I know better than everyone" moral high ground is to admit to being totally stupid or completely self-centered. One bad person does not make everyone that looks, talks or worships like them the same. And to that end, I give you this - my favorite image from yesterday-

THE CASE FOR GHOSTS: Why I Believe and Why I Wish I Didn't

I've seen Ghostbusters about one million times. Maybe a touch under. I wasn't a Slimer kid and I never signed off on Sigourney being the proper choice for the bombshell. With that hair? With those awful, shimmery peach curtains she tries to pass off as a dress? One look in those manic eyes and you can tell she'd much, much rather be lighting a flamethrower in space. Yuck. Give me Annie Potts or give me death!

But I digress. I did it all for The Murray. My hat is off to the new 'Busters, of course. I wish them well, love their style, please don't invite The Sigourney - but you can't replicate that hungry, Second City energy that those originals brought to NYC. You can't replicate the contagious fervor that was the original Ghostbuster's theme song, either. You can not and should not. Please.

Has anyone ever tempted fate so foolishly as Ray Parker, Jr.? Doesn't he know anything about anything? It's one thing to pretend you, "ain't afraid a no ghosts." I've told myself the very same thing when I've wandered into old, iffy houses. It's a bluff and a necessity. The part where Parker, Jr. openly claims that, "bustin [made him] feel good," though? That was downright suicidal. Was he insane? Where were his advisors? Has anyone checked to see if he's still alive?

You don't mess with phantoms and specters and wraiths and what-have-yous, Ray. I don't. Not ever. Because I'm not an audacious musician and I'm not Rick Moranis, his retirement be damned. You spit in the face of a spirit, Ray, you're asking to get iced. Because they're super cold. That's a known thing. Ghosts are also intangible, so you can't mess with them physically. Ghosts are also scatter-brained like you would not believe, so you can't prepare for them, either. Sometimes they just kind of lurk and hang out and mope, sometimes they're getting weird with scream and scare-a-thons, sometimes they just tease your pets and babies. They're incorrigible and invincible, and never has there ever been a worse pairing of traits in the history of the known universe. I'm not even speculating on this stuff - this is stone cold fact. Sure, ghost movies have gotten into my head and my dreams, but it's my friends - trusted, honest and completely sane friends - that have poisoned my waking life. Facts are facts, and ghosts are real. You want proof? I'll put it in the pudding. 

First, you take one part Jeremy Meyers. I've known him for about fifteen years. He's a real straight shooter, sings like an angel and his bones are made out of glass. Well, almost. He's very fragile. Like a bird. Anyway, he always makes me laugh and he loves to learn how to do everything ever - but only passably so - and animals pretty much always make him cry. The bottom line is, he's one of my best friends and I trust him implicitly. We've talked about everything under the sun. Including ghosts. The only reason it came up was because I insist upon talking to my friends like we're always on first dates. I ask them hypotheticals, force them to commit to ranked lists of their favorite things and I almost always want to know their stance on ghosts. Unsolved Mysteries, by the way, was the villain that put the paranormal in my head to begin with (and I will slap my mother in the face if it means I never have to hear that theme song again). Anyway - Jeremy has had 'experiences,' and he doesn't like to talk about them. So I will. 

Jeremy was a horrible student in high school. I didn't know him at the time, so it was impossible for him to be inspired by my own scholastic dominance. One of Jeremy's punishments for his poor grades was to assist with his dad's janitorial company. At the time, the company had just begun cleaning up a church.

...Tell me you don't feel dread already. 

Now this church kept odd hours, so Jeremy and his dad were forced to clean it late at night. Like ten or eleven. On the first night, Jeremy had a strange vibe. He was cleaning a room by himself when he felt a presence. He turned around and, to his relief, it was only his dad. Only his dad didn't look so good. "Were you just in the other room with me?" Jeremy shook his head, and his dad explained that he'd just seen Jeremy standing behind him. When Jeremy didn't say anything, his dad says, "I get a weird feeling about these people," and gets back to work. That's when he feels ghost-Jeremy put his hand on his shoulder, squeezing hard enough to bring Jeremy's father to his knees. 

Check, please!

On a different night, Jeremy was working alone at the church - and probably saying, "I ain't afraid a no ghosts" over and over in his head - when things took a turn for the awful. The double doors at the front of the church opened up to a larger main room before shrinking back down to a narrow hallway. The narrow hallway fed into a lot of smaller side rooms before it ran right into the double doors at the back of the church. The layout, if I may lay out a lazy visual, was like an olive pierced with a toothpick. On this particular night, Jeremy was near the back doors, cleaning out the bathrooms. One side of the hallway for women, the other side for men. He was cleaning out the women's restroom when he suddenly hears a toilet flush in the men's restroom. When he goes over there to check it out, he watches the water in one of the bowls fill up to the line and stop - only he still hears running water. Confused, Jeremy goes back to the women's restroom where all three sinks are blasting hot water. He takes a deep breath, tries to relax. When he shuts the water off-

The double doors at the front of the church start rattling. Jeremy steps into the hall, waiting for someone he knows to make an appearance. The doors are not locked - he had draped the unlocked chain through the handles - but whatever's shaking it doesn't shake hard enough to open them. Jeremy doesn't know what to do - personally, I would have screamed a Rogue-like shock of white hair into my head - so he just stands there in the hallway at the back of the church, wishing and praying that the noise at the front of the church would stop. Out of nowhere, it finally does. You know why? Because the back door, the one Jeremy's standing a foot away from, suddenly starts shaking instead. What's worse, Jeremy can see out the window and there's definitely no one there. It stopped - eventually - and the second it did, Jeremy ran out of there. His father cancelled the account the next day. This is one of many stories Jeremy has shared with me. 

I've found that to be a common thing - people who have these kinds of experiences (aka 'curses') tend to have them on multiple occasions. I have another friend, Jeff, who I've also known for about fifteen years. Jeff is definitely tuned into "stuff." He's a real hunk, a great singer - the only kinds of friends I allow myself - and he's also the kind of guy that will stick his finger an inch from your face if you piss him off. A few years ago, Jeff's grandmother wasn't doing so hot. Jeff was living in NY at the time, his grandmother was in California. He was sitting in his apartment around two in the morning when he felt this thing coming up the stairs outside. There might have been a noise, too. Whatever it was, he felt it come through his door and up around the back of his couch. He literally shouted out loud, "I'm not ready!" and the thing, whatever it was, disappeared. The next morning he got a call from his mother, letting Jeff know that his grandmother had passed away the night before, right around 11PM. Do the math. That's 2AM New York time.

Really, the only way to make this medicine go down is to give you some of my own ghostly sugar. A few years back, I was filming a movie with some friends from elementary school. It was about a bunch of old friends in the woods that get attacked by a bigfoot. The awards, as you can imagine, are still pouring in. Anyway - we shot it in Northern California and, due to the fact that hunting season snuck up on us and we were running around in a giant bigfoot costume, we had to move our production to Tahoe. As luck would have it, a friend was housesitting at a cabin and offered it up as a place for all of us to stay. 

The cabin, as we soon discovered, was of the serial killer variety. Built of dark, splintered and water-stained wood. Thin, rickety doors, minimal lighting. Oh, and a whole lot of warnings. When we were given the tour of the upstairs bedrooms, our friend told us he didn't like to go up there. Just because. He showed us a room with a ceiling that came down at a forty-five degree angle - you had to duck to walk along one side - and said that the owner himself never went in that room. The final room he showed us, the one I stayed in, had an old dresser with a large, rotating mirror. The mirror was spun around so that it faced the wall, rendering it useless. We were told that it was best to keep it that way. Owner's orders. For some strange reason, that room was also prone to wild, woodland animals shitting in it. 

Two things happened in this fantasy suite while we stayed there. The first occurred while the room was occupied by the two brothers who wrote and directed the movie. They were going over some notes late at night and had latched the door closed with a little hook. It's important to note that it was latched tightly - the hook barely fit in the little eye - because, while they were working, the latch came free and the door swung open. Maybe that's just baby ghostliness, but it still happened. The second thing occurred when I was by myself. We were all heading out for the day when I suddenly realized I'd left my script in the house. Upstairs. In the poo-poo room. I didn't think twice, just ran inside and went upstairs. When I got to the room, however, I felt this terrible... This is so clichéd... Presence? There was a tangible pressure in the air, the feeling of being watched. As I grabbed my script, I felt a cold sweat rush over me and I ran for the stairs. On the way down, it felt as though something was right behind me. To the point that if I stopped, I felt like I would be swallowed up entirely. I still get the chills when I think about it. So there's that.

What do you say, Beliebers? Come on in, the water's warm. I trust my friends and I buy into their stories - and I certainly buy into mine. I don't want to, but I do. The complications these things add to conversations about spirituality and faith are a mountain unto themselves. If there's a ghost reading this, do not mention it to me. Also, please understand that bustin' does not make me feel good. You go your way, I go mine. Do it up and boo it up, just don't do it here. Seriously. This is a warning. I did it all for The Murray, but I won't hesitate to call The Wiig. 

Citizens of Hope and Glory.

I saw Richard Linklater's new film, BOYHOOD, a few weeks ago. I haven't written about it yet because I haven't figured out what to do with it all in my head.

It rocked my life.

Filmed over the course of twelve years, the story tracks the life of a boy names Mason as he traverses through his childhood and into young adulthood. Transitions between the years weren't marked by intrusive title cards, or big birthday party scenes or 'when I was sixteen…' speeches. The movie simply was

Mason's parents weren't perfect, but neither are ours. His grandparents and stepparents and sister and friends were complicated and unique, just as they are for us. People and homes and treasured toys came and went. Life and our dearest or deepest memories roll away behind us - and sometimes wash back over us - whether we want them to or not.

I manny'ed a little girl up until three months ago. I took care of her for almost eight years, from the age of two to nine. On one of our last days together, she told me she wanted to fall in love like my wife and I had. I was struck by the sweetness of her desire, but also the weight of it. I told her it takes a long time to get to that person. I told her to enjoy her friends and her youth, because finding THE love requires great sacrifice and pain. You will be hurt, and you will hurt others.

BOYHOOD gave me that same kind of gut punch. A taste of everything life can bring and take away. The things we must fight through to get what we want or the moment we must cede to defeat in the hope of something better. It made me think of everything my parents had to do in order for me and my sisters to survive. It made me appreciate my closest friends - secret songs and jokes that we've shared - and it really made me appreciate the love of my life, sitting beside me in that theater.

The night I met her was the tiniest of moments. One simple decision to go to a weekly backyard BBQ that had been going on for weeks and hosted by a friend that I hadn't seen in over a year. She can tell a similar story on her end. Two tiny decisions that changed the course of our lives forever. For the better.

BOYHOOD was packed with life's simple truths, with honest scenes and emotions and characters. It cut a lot of my writing right down the middle and has since made me pick it all apart for the truth. I write not just to make the voices in my head stop, but to honor exactly what it is they are saying.

Right now, they are inspired. They are full of love and appreciation and a commitment to honesty in all that I do. To BOYHOOD and manhood and every single speed bump that makes me, ME.

Sports and the Hateful Heart.

There is a plague going around sports-fandom, a willy-nilly behavior that threatens true fan behavior from one coast to the other. I can't sit back and take it anymore.

This is my stand, my plea for a return to war.

Look. You can't just like whatever team you want.  I'm sorry, but it's not allowed. It waters down rivalries and it's also cheap and lazy and gross.

So stop it already and follow the rules:

When you're born, you have two choices. You pick the team in your region or you pick whatever random team your nomadic family has brought into your region. You pick it and you stick with it as soon as you're able. Pick and stick.

If you live in Colorado, you get the Nuggets and the Broncos and the Rockies... Unless your parents happen to be from Minnesota. Then you get the Timberwolves, the Vikings and the Twins. There is an asterisk here: if your parents have adopted the teams in the Denver region, YOU can't switch back to Minnesota teams because YOU were not born there.

How might one be able to 'adopt' a new sports team? So glad you asked.

You must live in a new region for the same amount of time you lived in your old region. Period. Don't argue - rules are rules. And those are just the most basic.

Sidenote: rules apply to clothing, too. Don't travel to New York and buy a Yankees cap just because. If you like your trip so much, buy a stupid-looking hat that says NEW YORK on it! Sports teams are not fashion statements! A Lakers' hat should not be something you buy simply because it goes with your purple pants - such seemingly innocent purchases end up supporting franchises that routinely get their way (and their championships). And really, why did you buy those purple pants to begin with?!

You want to get deeper? Fine.

When you're watching a game on TV that doesn't involve your team, you need to back whoever helps your team the most. I was born just outside of Sacramento. That region comes with the Kings and all the inherent misery and it comes with the 49ers and the Giants. NEVER THE A'S. Pick one and hate the other. You don't get both. YOU NEVER GET BOTH, BALLHOG. 

So, as I was saying, if I'm watching the most recent NBA finals, and I did, I'm rooting for the Miami Heat on multiple levels.

Level 1: The San Antonio Spurs were the Western Conference Champions coming into that battle. Which means they beat down a mostly-awful Sacramento Kings team to get there. So to Hell with San Antonio from the start.

Level 2: As a long-suffering Sacramento Kings fan, you must hate anything Lakers-related. Their big-market power and admitted-to-cheating-refs crushed our Championship-bound team in 2002 and my heart along with them. Facts are facts - stay with me. Tied into that heartbreak was a lot of disparaging remarks about Sacramento via the entire Lakers organization and their really-rotten fans. These are all things that should make any sane person HATE KOBE BRYANT. 

But back to the 2013-14 Finals. If The Miami Heat had won, it would have given an-in-his-prime LeBron James three rings. Kobe has five. If LeBron gets three, he's halfway to beating my forever-enemy, Kobe Bryant, and that would make my forever-enemy, Kobe Bryant, super mad. See how this works?

And no, I don't care that Tim Duncan got five. Kobe Bryant doesn't care about a tie. Duncan doesn't care about a tie or about breaking it. That old man is done. He hasn't helped my cause a bit.

Side-note: Stop it with the LeBron hating. He's a terrific player. He handled "The Decision" terribly. He has since apologized and the millions of dollars that the TV special created went directly to charity. Also, he has never had any crazy public incidents and he is a family man. Kobe had those Denver allegations. He is generally rude to the media and doesn't accept criticism very well, if at all. He also licks his lips way more than any human being should. How is Kobe completely absolved of those actions and LeBron is still hung out to dry for his?

Sub-note: Sports hate is forever. I don't care what Kershaw did the other night, even if I do live in Los Angeles. I live amongst the enemy. If you argue that I should enjoy an athlete's good performance simply because 'hey, a good performance is a good performance,' then I'm going to argue that you watch sports wrong. Admiring players on rival teams is for your head. I watch with my hateful heart.

Whatever. Back to the last rule.

FANTASY SPORTS. They're great. I love fantasy football. I'm addicted. Have a blast, pick who you want... I guess. I don't touch anyone on the Seahawks or the Cowboys, but that's because I'm doing it right, but whatever - the point I really want to make is this: if you have to decide between your fantasy team winning or your team winning, your REAL-LIFE TEAM, then you pick the real-life team, Dingus!

Look, watching sports doesn't have to be hard, but it shouldn't be soft, either. All I'm asking is that we stop with the willy-nilly and heap on a bigger portion of the nitty-gritty.

Please and thank you...

And if you're a Lakers or Dodgers fan, those closing manners were not for you.