Author Archives: Jeff Vrabel

About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more.

Why Your Children Can’t Stop Watching Other Obnoxious Children Play Video Games on YouTube (via the Washington Post)

VenturianTale, I guess?

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — When I was 12 or 13, I busied myself with a range of pursuits, from the dumb to the very dumb to the hugely and galactically dumb. Every month, I purchased a new issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. I memorized the entirety of Young MC’s debut album, which contained “Bust a Move” and 12 songs that weren’t “Bust a Move.” I got really, really into  “Dr. Mario” (but I stand by that one, as over time I became startlingly good at it).

When you’re in those weird culturally formative years, you explore a lot of weird culturally formative options. So I understand that it is a middle-aged cliche to say that my kids’ penchant for watching videos of bothersome millennials playing video games on YouTube is a remarkably idiotic waste of time.

There is a monster cottage industry of millennials who record themselves playing video games, and my boys, ages 13 and 6, have plunged into it. Mild-mannered on most days, my children, when presented with these videos, spot-mutate into glassy-eyed replicants who draw the shades, hide under blankets and watch as many as they can before I dramatically stomp in and do my impression of the dad at the beginning of that Twisted Sister video.

Here’s why, maybe.

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This is Definitely Not a Review of ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ (via Backstreets)

Backstreets — We’re bound by decades of theater-media tradition not to review Springsteen on Broadway while it’s in previews, making the October 5 performance I was lucky enough to witness off-limits for setlists, spoilers or critical interpretation.

For instance, I can’t say “Holy (redacted)-ing (redacted)”; I can’t tell you how many times my hair stood on end, how many tears fell, or how many times I had to stuff a Playbill in mouth to stop from screaming “HE’S PLAYING (REDACTED) ON (BLANK)” and getting booted right into Dear Evan Hansen. On the other hand, for hours after after I left the Walter Kerr, the best I could come up with is “Gah,” and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t need to be redacted.

So instead of reviewing a show I can’t review, or listing a setlist I can’t list, I’ll instead share these few key pieces of safe, functional, non-review information for those Backstreets readers who may consider attending Springsteen on Broadway.

Can I bring a backpack?
The nice people at Jujamcyn Theaters, which is a word I cannot say (every time I try, it comes out “calvary”), ask in a pre-show email to “Please avoid bringing large bags or backpacks” and later to “Please refrain from bringing large bags and backpacks.” As you may have determined, these are less “hard restrictions” and more “polite requests.” I brought in a backpack containing a portable charger, a notebook, my wife’s backup shoes and a bag of airline almonds I’d totally forgotten about. But the seats are a tight enough squeeze that Jujamcyn probably has the right idea.

The answers to all your burning questions here. 

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The ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Trailer: Fine, You Win, Porgs (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

I am all in on these guys

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Rejoice with me, Internet, for this day we can stop stocking the panic room with Spam and Pop-Tarts and briefly pause from remembering that Hollywood is apparently filled with fat entitled sex offenders BECAUSE THE “STAR WARS” TRAILER DROPPED LAST NIGHT, during a piping hot matchup between the (shuffles papers) 2-2 Vikings and 1-3 Bears? God, no wonder Disney jammed space movie news into football. (That massive low rumble you heard at 10:03 p.m. was everyone changing the channel.)

The release of any “Star Wars” trailer causes all fans to ignite their lightsabers in glee and most of them to spend the next day online. So let’s go through the trailer, piece by piece, and see if we can ruin some surprises for when the movie arrives on Dec. 15.

 

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Tom Petty: This One Hurts (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

The Loop / Golf Digest — Tom Petty was not a particularly handsome guy, he’d be the first to tell you. He had the same floppy haircut for, as near as I can tell, approximately 45 years, that iconic mix of hippie sweep and Florida dust that I suspect he never regarded in the slightest. Aside from the Mad Hatter video, which can throttle me with nightmares now and I’m a grown adult, or the one in which he danced with the corpse of Kim Basinger, I don’t remember a lot of costumes. Bruce Springsteen is idealized masculinity, a consciously maintained sculpture of the Best of America. Mick Jagger is, you know, Mick Jagger. Prince was essentially sex in the form of a four-foot-tall Minnesota magician, David Bowie an alien from space. Tom Petty watched some TV in Gainesville, Fla., decided he wanted to be a musician and that’s pretty much it, really. Iconic rock stars, particularly those we’ve recently lost, shaded their images by maintaining a thick barrier of pre-social media distance and mythology between themselves and their fans. Petty was a guy, and that was his power, and that’s why his out-of-nowhere loss hurts all the more.

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With 280 Characters, Twitter Changing the Only Thing People Like About Twitter (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Leading cyberbullying platform Twitter announced this week that it’s mulling the possibility of doubling its current 140-character limit to 280, a dramatic change for a company that’s become as synonymous with 140 as Jordan is with 23. What does this mean for you, the pithy user or your valuable brand? The pros and cons of Twitter going all 280:

PROS

• Expanding to 280 characters gives users way more room to be racist

• After a natural disaster/mass shooting/one of 2017’s 300 hurricanes, politicians will no longer have to abbreviate “thoughts and prayers”

• Should reduce ampersand use by 700%

The full list at The Loop.

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And Then There Was the Afternoon In Which I Fell Out of the Sky in a Fighter Jet (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Mark “Crunchy” Burgess is not the thick, beefy, Iceman-type of fighter pilot who spends his time promoting his upper-body definition and flight hours. He’s methodical and quiet — often pinpoint — in his words, manners and speech. The kind of guy to sit, arms folded, listening to a debate or a monologue or a branch-superiority battle unfold until finding the perfect moment to jump in and dismantle everything and everyone around him with precision, and physics, and the assured, unforced calm that comes with craft mastery. Crunchy has nearly 4,000 flying hours to his name. Upon my arrival at the NAS Oceana Air Base for a test flight in mid-September, my count was precisely 4,000 less.

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Crunchy — no one calls him anything else, and I didn’t even know how to pronounce his last name until 20 minutes before I left — is a retired Navy lieutenant commander and the lead pilot with the Warrior Flight Team, an all-volunteer charity organization that raises funds for wounded vets partly by taking hopelessly green writers up in flights that they inexplicably call “VIP rides.” (On a master jet base populated by active-duty servicemen and women, my VIP status is basically rock bottom.) My flight was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spin space, to actually no-shit-for-real-aileron-roll-a-jet, to fly a fighter for about 30 exhilarating seconds. For these men and women, this was a pretty routine Friday.

The full and slightly vomitous story over at The Loop / Golf Digest.

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How to Enjoy Yourself in a Weirdly Empty Football Stadium (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Generally speaking, you can expect stadiums to be jam-packed full of teeming and gross humanity: Cheering, screaming, singing throngs of people who have gathered together to pay $75 for parking and sit in four hours of endless postgame gridlock to enjoy the communal experience of things like rooting for the Cleveland Browns, I guess.

But what happens when the stadiums don’t cooperate? What happens when you find yourself in a stadium that’s mostly empty, because the team is hot garbage, because they got bounced out of the playoff race, because they play football in Los Angeles, because you elected to buy Indiana football season tickets for some reason? It’s an eerie feeling, sitting in a place designed for tens of thousands and being surrounded by a couple hundreds, with every whistle, boo and call echoing off the empty seats. It sucks, but it doesn’t have to be hopeless. We here at The Loop have some ways you can pass the time at an empty stadium before your surprisingly convenient drive home:

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Happy 33rd Birthday to CDs, Terre Haute and “Born in the USA,” Not in That Order (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Thirty-three years ago today, an event of monumental cultural significance took place just down the road here in Terre Haute, Ind., a quiet, unassuming southern Indiana town known primarily for smelling like a barn full of tire fires.

The event: The first-ever production of a music compact disc—a.k.a. the CD—which occurred on Sept. 21, 1984, forever burning in Indiana’s place in music history, alongside (rifles through papers) Michael Jackson and Cole Porter and Axl Rose and Hoagy Carmichael and John Mellencamp and David Lee Roth and Wes Montgomery and yes I get me a little defensive about Indiana. You guys make your flyover-corn and Fat Bob Knight gags, but without us, there would be no “Mr. Brownstone” and that is a Hoosier fact.

All the warm birthday wishes here. 

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U2, power, nostalgia and the arms of America at Lucas Oil Stadium (via Indianapolis Monthly)

Photo / Tony Valainis

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Indianapolis Monthly — First things first: It is futile to resist the first 45 minutes of the tour marking the 30th anniversary of U2’s The Joshua Tree, a nine-song block of monolithic power so expansive and relentless that it’s profoundly insane to put it at the beginning of a concert. This is a show that schedules “Pride (In the Name of Love)” fourth, because the rest of the set is frankly already too crowded.

On Sunday night at a packed Lucas Oil Stadium—with the roof wide open, because outside it’s America—U2 mobilized the assembled force of its history to deliver two hours of sturdy argument for the best show of the year. The first half nearly did it alone: Unfolding more or less chronologically, it fires to life with the militant bangs that open “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and going through “New Year’s Day,” the glistening “Bad” and the flight-worthy “Pride (In the Name of Love)” before the stars-coming-out riff of “Where the Streets Have No Name” directs things to the task at hand, which, you’ll remember, is the start of an album that then serves up “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “With or Without You,” and “Bullet the Blue Sky.” It’s a good 45 minutes before you really have a chance to mull another drink.

The full review at Indianapolis Monthly.

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Guys, It Cannot Be This Hard to Direct a ‘Star Wars’ Movie (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

Ozzel_croaks

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The Loop / Golf Digest — The Star Wars franchise lost another director this week — its third in the last four months — with the abrupt announcement that Lucasfilm had fired Colin Trevorrow, who was announced back in 2015 as the director of Episode IX and has been working on a script treatment since. With yesterday’s tersely worded announcement on StarWars.com, Trevorrow takes a seat on the bench next to Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who were themselves canned as directors of the as-yet-untitled Han Solo movie a full four months into production and replaced by your reliable movie-making dad Ron Howard, who’s been recording over their footage since.

In golf terms, this is like shooting par for 16 holes, then walking onto the tee at 17, lighting your clubs on fire, selecting a new caddy, driving to an entirely different golf club and beginning to play soccer. It’s weird, it guarantees most of the Han Solo movie is hot wacky garbage and it makes those of us on planet nerd scream IT’S A STAR WARS MOVIE, HOW HARD IS THIS, and by “scream” I mean “cleverly tweet” because that’s the only way we can work out emotions.

A list of directors who’ve come and gone through the Star Wars universe, all signed because they were reasonably young and hip, most with blockbusters under their belt, and all canned when their new-era vibe crashed into Lucasfilm’s (let’s be honest, well-established and reasonably successful) plans.

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