November 22, 2011


Ah, MTV. That bastion of integrity. The molder of minds. The universally accepted metric for that which is both normal and popular. I'd like to state from the jump that this is not going to be a "y dusent MTV play muzik nemore?!?" rant. There are enough of those out there, and they all suck.

This also isn't going to be a "lol Rob Dyrdek suks!" diatribe. I don't find him particularly entertaining. But that doesn't mean I think he's a bad person. This is about a giant media conglomerate willfully profiting off of a human being's death.

November 15, 2011

Occupy My Street

Allow me to preface this by saying that I try to abstain from overtly political posts. This blog is intended to be funny. Whether it succeeds or not is up for debate. I ask your indulgence on this topic, however.

Look, nobody with a rational brain thinks that corporate America are angels. But this is the worst possible representation of the opposition.

As I watch these protests, what I mostly see is young white people. And the people that I personally know who support this are young white people. Most with college education. The same people who, without the system they're railing against in place, would not have that precious college education.

November 9, 2011

Take A Look At My (Cloud) Girlfriend

We here at Required Reading are not in the business of advertising. If that were the case, I'd advise you to click that pretty little banner you see above. I'd tell you how easy it is to click that banner, and how I'd get a small bit of money each time you clicked it. I might even point out how much effort each of these seemingly effortless posts take. And how I embark on this Herculean task for you, my dear reader. And that to click on a banner really isn't asking all that much, is it? SO JUST CLICK ON THE GODDAMN BANNER!

Sorry. There was a point when I started writing this. Oh yeah, I remember now.

Are you a single fella? Looking for that special someone? Nightlife not your scene? Don't auto-erotically asphyxiate yourself just yet, Johnny! The answer lies over yonder jump!

October 25, 2011

Fan Mail

Man, I loved this whole thing from start to finish. Your writing style is amazing. I've dealt with bullies & nasty racism for 12 years. The emotional pain was excruciating & I don't think I'll ever recover. However, the side effect was a blessing. I too developed a broad sense of humor & was a counselor & campus ministry leader in high school. I held positions that required confidence. The only thing was I never had confidence, I only faked it. I cant assert myself verbally or stand up for what I think is right. That's why I admire who you are & the character you molded yourself to be. I'm glad to know there's someone I can relate to. Never change yourself for anyone & never stop being a cynical ass hole.
That's a comment from my I'm A Cynical Asshole post. To be honest, that's one of my least favorite posts. It's not funny, it's not clever and it's way too honest for my liking. I wrote it at a time when I was hurt. And being hurt oft leads to overly emotional outbursts. Having distanced myself from the piece, I think I somehow managed to avoid that. But the responses it evoked, both in the comments section and in real life (you know, like, outside of the internet) are something I could never have expected. The above selection in particular touched me. To think that there is someone who would read the silly little words I type, and that they take something positive out of it, something that might make their life just the slightest bit's too much for me to fathom. 

I don't know the person who made that comment. And I'd prefer not to. Selfishly, it's better to help a complete stranger than a friend. Or maybe it's easier for me to deal with the complex problems of someone who's not so intertwined with my daily life. Trust, I have plenty problems that I avoid answering. I'm sure most of you can relate. Physician heal thyself and all that. 

I recently had the honor to eulogize a friend of mine's grandfather. Frankly, the family felt that they couldn't do it. They would be far too emotional. And there were others considered before me. They, too, felt as if they wouldn't be up to the task. When asked, I immediately accepted. You know that saying "anything I can do to help?" Well, that was what I could do to help, and I knew it. See, I was detached enough to be clear, while still being close enough to bring a human element to it. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. To summarize an incredible life in a concise 5 minutes in front of their grieving loved ones. A Herculean task if ever I'd been charged with one.

           It's funny though. I wrote in a purposely upbeat manner. I deliberately avoided certain words and phrases. I'm seldom ever pleased with my first draft. That goes for blogs to papers to music reviews. But this one...this one I knew I got right on the first try. I read it from start to finish exactly one time. The morning of the funeral, I was blindsided with the task of reciting a poem that someone didn't feel up to reading. Ok. I'm a pro. I read it over a few times, making sure of my inflections. I was nervous about being seen as a hog, taking up too much time. I actually tried to get someone else to read it. Then I was informed that I was the sole speaker. In other words, if I didn't do it, it wouldn't get done. 

I read the poem. I damn near lost it on the first line. Some pro. Then I beseeched the room for its indulgence as I read my own thoughts. I blacked out at this point. The only things I remember are my legs shaking uncontrollably and my friend's uncle loudly chiming in with each anecdote I relayed. I'm told everyone clapped for me at the end. I have to take their word for it, because I don't remember that.

Why do I tell you this? Because several people came up to me afterwards and told me how surprised they were by my eulogy. How eloquent and poignant I was. How they didn't know I had that in me. How skeptical they were of me doing the eulogy.

I tell you this story to say this: You can change people's perception of you. It doesn't matter what it is. Chances are what people see you as is not what is inside of you. YOU determine your perception. It's entirely in your hands. Your story is still being written, and you have the amazing gift to craft your own ending. Do it.

On a personal note, I'd like to express my immense gratitude to a group of people who took me in as one of their own and entrusted me to send off their hero. I can never repay the faith you showed in me, but I hope my words did something to ease your pain. Someone's watching M*A*S*H reruns forever and he's happy.

September 5, 2011

What's So Funny?

When I was in grade school, one of my teachers told me I'd make either a great stand up comedian or cult leader. Thus far, I've played it down the middle, not committing wholly to either. At that age, I never understood why people told me I should be a comedian. To my young brain, the idea of standing in front of people, their eyes expectantly burning through you, waiting for words to spill out of your mouth that change their mood, it just seemed gross to me. What kind of masochist would put himself through that, I thought.

To a degree, I still feel that way. To my way of thinking, if humor is discussed, it ceases to exist in that situation. Sure, you can then turn the situation humorous by commenting on the lack of humor, but why go through all that? Having said that, I decided to write about humor. The laughs stop here. You've been warned.

August 23, 2011

Allow Me To Re-introduce Myself

My name is Sy. It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you. Every now and then, though, I just...don't....feel like writing. It's not so much writer's block as it's "writer's not giving a fuck." But, in keeping with the self-centered theme I've neatly established here in my own little corner of the webs, I believe a little re-introduction is in order. Let's, yeah?

July 28, 2011

Real Sitcoms: Perfect Strangers Part I

Ah, sitcoms. That little half-hour slice of conflict, comedy and resolution. They're as American as hot dogs and birth control. As a product of Reaganomics, with both parents working, I was more or less raised by TV. And I turned out TV. It was TV that taught me that any situation can be handled with a perfectly timed one-liner and a knowing wink to the audience. TV encouraged me to pursue whatever crazy get rich quick scheme I hatched that particular week. What harm could there be? At the very worst I'd be back where I started from, but richer for having gone through the experience and wacky mishaps.

Life, however, is a cock block of imagination. Like the fat friend that ain't getting any, it likes to interject itself where it doesn't belong. And now, the real world (no Miz) has gone back in time and rubbed its greasy, smelly paws all over our favorite TV shows.

In the first of an ongoing series, I present: Real Versions Of Sitcoms: Perfect Strangers.

July 25, 2011

IWISYDHT: Confessions Of A Superhero

There is not one American child who grew up wanting to be something other than a superhero at some point in their childhood. Most of us grew out of that fantasy when we realized how impractical codpieces were. Others carried it on, and are known as LARPers, or Live Action Role Players. LARPers are the creepy guys at the park that make the guy in the trench coat with candy seem like a good babysitter.

And still others, such as those featured in Matt Ogens' fascinating documentary Confessions of a Superhero, found a way to make money pretending to be superheroes. At least on the outside, anyway.

July 24, 2011

This Is Not About Amy Winehouse

I lied. It kinda is. At least, as a jumping off point. As everyone (except, as it seems, her father, which is incredibly sad) knows, Amy Winehouse died today at age 27. It took less than a tenth of a second for the "OMG JIMI, JANIS, MORRISON, KURT NOW AMY" tweets. This was immediately followed by the inevitable jokes, of which I supplied my fair share. It's not out of any malice or joy in her death. It's just...what I do. If I could explain it, I probably wouldn't do it.

There are a lot of separate points to this post, one not necessarily having anything to do with the next. So I'll attempt to address each individually.

July 19, 2011

Are You There, Sylis? It's Me, God.

Note: I've started writing this post in some form or another several times over the last few weeks. They were all scrapped due to my utter inarticulate...ness? Here goes nothing.

It's the oldest question in the world: is there a God? Should god be capitalized? Does he care? Or, should I ask if she cares? Would he/she care if his/her name was capitalized? After all, if you're god, I think you'd be accomplished enough to not worry about the semantics of your name when it's printed on The Watchtower. If there is a god, he/she is definitely Anti-Semantic. Deal with it.

I'm always up for a good debate. And this is probably the best one you can have. But it seems people are incapable of using the rational brain that god allegedly gave them when it comes to discussing that very god.

July 17, 2011

My Dinner With Steven

They say you should never meet your heroes. Chances are they'll destroy whatever preconceived notion you have of them. Being that I'm a fan of comedy, I had no such fear when I intrepidly tweeted Steven Weber the other night.

July 8, 2011

IWISYDHT: Playing For Keeps (1986)

Playing For Keeps (1986)

I'm a sucker for teen movies. Horror, comedy, drama, it really doesn't matter. Because, you see, the vast majority are written by people so far removed from their own teenage years, and even further removed from what current teenagers find relevant. Unintentional hilarity is sure to abound.

Playing For Keeps is a recently discovered gem, lost amongst its more highly regarded 1980s teen comedy brethren.

July 1, 2011

Album Review: The Silversmiths "A Tandem Of Giants"

The Silversmiths
"A Tandem Of Giants"

Rappers are not social creatures. They are, by and large, insecure, defensive, greedy monsters who will die before giving another rapper time to shine on their song. This mentality makes two MC rap groups the equivalent of a circus side show attraction. It's usually one MC clearly out classing the other, while neither has the space to do his thing the way they would on a solo song. Groups like Organized Konfusion and OutKast managed the delicate balance of featuring each rapper's strengths, while truly complementing each other's style.

The Silversmiths have done their homework on these blueprints and their latest album, "A Tandem Of Giants", is the fruit of that labor.

June 26, 2011

I'm A Cynical Asshole

As I write this, I know that there are things I should be doing. Deference to my duties though seems to be something I specialize in. I tend to internalize things, and thus by the time they come out, the initial idea I wanted to express has become so entangled in anger, self-doubt and disbelief that it's presented in a jumble of incoherent rage. Which in turn frustrates me further.

June 23, 2011

Album Review: Open Mike Eagle - Rappers Will Die Of Natural Causes

Open Mike Eagle
"Rappers Will Die Of Natural Causes"

Hip-Hop (alternately spelled hip-hop, Hip-hop, hip-Hop, and, phonetically, hiffop) has as many weirdos as any other genre. There's Lil Wayne, who thinks he's an alien, MF Doom, who has sent impostors to do shows in his stead, and of course, the batshit Blastmaster KRS-ONE, who believes Nas needs to talk to NASA about hiffop on Mars.

So, being weird alone will not allow you to stand out. For Open Mike Eagle, this isn't a problem. He's got the oddball part down, but he backs it up with silky smooth flows and wordplay that will make you question if you really heard what you thought you did (yes, you did.)

On "Rappers Will Die Of Natural Causes", Mike brings all of the above in abundance.

June 10, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up (Tracy's A Girl's Name Edition)

Yes, I intend to do these wrap ups every week, but I was sidetracked by doing things that are more fun than writing on the webbernets. Basically, I just discovered Angry Birds. How come no one told me how much fucking fun this game is?!

Let us continue.

June 1, 2011

Music Review: ApologetiX

The Lord works in mysterious ways. Be it by sending tornadoes to Massachusetts or sending Christian parody songs my way while I'm looking for things to write about. Just as The Weather Channel is now showing live coverage when there's even the slightest chance of a twister, so too am I on the look out for a good parody.

Sometimes we get what we're looking for. And sometimes we get much, much more.

May 28, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up (Death To Despots Edition)

As I alluded to with the first edition of I Watch It So You Don't Have To, I'm always trying to come up with new and interesting topics to write about. After much thought, I've settled for just something new. Each week I'll wrap up all the news that you need to know about. This way you can save time in your busy week and allow me to be the filter through which all your information is received.

Well, I don't think I could've picked a better week to start this wrap up feature. The last 7 days has seen countless lives torn apart, great uncertainty and left people wondering just what to do next. And that's just from Oprah retiring.

May 24, 2011

I Got A Letter From The Government (Guess Who Has A Stalker!)

No, it didn't say they were suckers. In fact, of all the government letters I've received in my life, nary a one has been an admittance of suckership. I'm starting to wonder where Chuck D gets his facts from.

So what was it about?

Story time:

A few years back, 9 to be exact, a 17 year old Sy Barnaby was involved in an incident. And while I'm not at liberty to discuss the details, this incident resulted in a number of people being sent to federal prison. And this may or may not be because of what I may or may not have said about what I may or may not have seen. (Stop Snitchin' didn't become en vogue for a few years, so you'll have to forgive my squareness.) So, I got a letter today from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, notifying me that one of those lovely fellas is not only set to be released soon, but is headed back to my city.


May 21, 2011

Dig It (Rasslin' Memories)

Ed. note: I had intended this post to be about the impending rapture. But, as Winston Churchill once famously remarked, shit changes.

I woke up to the smell of pancakes and cigars. And maybe a little bit of weed (thanks, Uncle Chet). The fresh mountain air, though, was the dominant force invading my nostrils that morning. I couldn't tell you the date, but I know it was a Saturday. At this time, Saturdays were the only day you could watch wrestling. Well, maybe Sunday if you were lucky enough to have cable. But at 11am Saturday, it was wrestling time. Or rasslin, depending on your location relative to the Mason-Dixon.

May 20, 2011

IWISYDHT: ThanksKilling

Being a smug blog overlord is tough work. You're up against your own lack of motivation and viral videos of dogs talking about bacon. So, every now and then you have to spice things up. Thus, I humbly present a new feature, called I Watch It So You Don't Have To. Think of it as my version of At The Movies, except I'm still alive and have a jaw.

When deciding what movie to feature in the inaugural induction, many factors were considered. What does my audience like? What cinematic expressions speak to their experiences? And most importantly, can I rest peacefully knowing I've spread worthy art to those who wouldn't otherwise be exposed to it?

These questions were answered when I found ThanksKilling.

May 16, 2011

Ok, That's Enough, White People

Been a bit, eh? Well, funny story, I had a brilliant piece ready to go that I'd worked on for quite some time. Months, actually. I was going to post it a few Sundays ago, but figured "eh, it can wait a day. The brilliance will still resonate." The title of the piece? "10 Reasons Why bin Laden Will Never Be Found." Thanks alot, Barack Obuzzkill.

So, white people. What's their deal? It always seems like they're either ruining the global economy or engaging you in awkward small talk at work that just NEVER. FUCKING. ENDS. Both are equally horrible.

But you know what? For all our heinousness, you gotta admit, we're kinda adorable. You just can't stay mad at us.

That is, until now...

April 27, 2011

They Say It's My Birthday

Yeah, It's My Fucking Birthday

Don't act so surprised. Anyone self-indulgent enough to have a blog is certainly self-indulgent enough to use that blog to commemorate their birth. Unlike my conception, this will be brief and painless. I promise.

April 22, 2011

Dreams Of Smashing A Syndicated Chick

We've all been there. A late night, you're home alone. Your texts are going unanswered. You're starting to doubt yourself. That six pack of Twisted Tea in the fridge beckons.  So you start flipping around the old idiot box. As usual, you land on Nick At Nite. And suddenly, you feel a surge of life coursing through your veins. Something deep inside of you stirs anew. It's the ladies of syndicated television. They are our goddesses of projected fantasies. But who, of our harem of hotness, reigns supreme?                                 

April 16, 2011

Songs Michael Bolton Sings Better Than Black People

I've made no secret about my love for the music of Michael Bolton. My first boat was named the "SS Michael Bolton How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?" And when that disappeared in a mysterious fire, my second boat was the "SS Michael Bolton How Am I Supposed To Live Without You? II."

That doesn't make me special. It just means I have a set of working ears. Because anyone who can't instantly appreciate the velvety tones and lyrical imagery that Mr. Bolton graces us with is either a)a hater (who's gon' hate) or b) deaf. If I ever go deaf, I might just have to end my life if I know I'll never again hear Michael pontificate on the grandeur of love.

But more than his voice, there is an essence of Bolton. An aura, if you will. It's a certain something. It's what causes a deer to look up quizzically as it laps gently at a babbling brook. It's what makes the purple mountains shine with just that much more bit of majesty. It's what gives even the straightest arrow a halfie upon glimpsing his golden mane, suggesting that perhaps in his lineage there was a tryst between a mighty lion and one of his Adonis forefathers.

It's what allows Michael Bolton to sing the following songs better than black people. 

April 5, 2011

Album Review: Chaz Kangas "A Personal Reference"

Chaz Kangas "A Personal Reference"

Eminem, Beastie Boys, 3rd Bass, Vanilla Ice, Aesop Rock and Asher Roth. Now that I've completed my obligatory references to notable white rappers, let's move on to the album in question.

March 29, 2011

Your Facebook STILL Sucks

A few weeks ago I took a look at the various personalities that permeate the Facebook realm. And since I can't leave well enough alone (not to mention Charlie Sheen didn't pick me as his intern, so no more free pub for you, Carlos!), I've decided to tarnish any genuine qualities the original post had by rehashing the idea to include a few of the Facebook dwellers I overlooked.

March 22, 2011

The Greatest Thing I'll Never Use

If there's one thing I believe in, it's the existence of highly evolved life on other planets. If there are two things I believe in, it's the existence of highly evolved life on other planets and my right to ridicule those I deem ridiculable. For the record, there are numerous things in which I believe, otherwise this blog would be nothing more than my mocking aliens from my lofty perch upon Mother Earth.

March 16, 2011

I Think I'm Turning Japanese (I Really Think So)

A guy walks into a bar in Japan. Except the bar doesn't exist anymore because THERE WAS A GIANT FUCKING EARTHQUAKE LAST WEEK.

So everyone knows what happened. Or, I guess, what's continuing to happen. Because it seems like every day there's a new report of more earthquakes, bodies washing up on shores and potential nuclear meltdown. Worst of all, we're constantly being inundated with people's worthless fucking opinions about all of this. And what we need now is the opinion of just one more asshole. That's where I come in. 

February 22, 2011

Your Facebook Sucks (And Here's Why)

So I was thinking the other day. And then I stopped. Then I started again. I thought, "Gee, how can I separate my blog from the literally hundreds of other blogs out there?" And then it hit me. A wall. I should stop walking and thinking at the same time. Then I had an idea: original content! The type you can get nowhere else but right here at Required Reading! And thus I present:


As I see it, there are a few distinct Facebook personalities that people seem to take on. Usually these are just extensions of their every day personalities. But in some cases, these Facebook personalities manifest themselves in ways that the person (or host, as it were) never saw coming. Regardless of where the persona stems from, they all suck equally hard (nh). Let's get into it then, yeah?

February 16, 2011

Steve Christ: Public Defender

Perhaps you've been able to decipher from my infrequent updates that working on a steady deadline isn't really my thing. This has been a motif throughout my life as a shorty (which shouldn't have been so rough) to my current adultlescence. In fact, my most vivid memories of school are of teachers constantly reminding me of how I handn't turned in a first draft when it was due. And then how I handn't handed in a revised copy, again at their deadline. Without fail, they would all just assume I wouldn't have a finished project ready for them. After all, their deadlines were law. And one couldn't possibly work on their own schedule. My favorite memories, however, are of receivig the graded papers which would almost always be in the 95 or A- range. This showed me 1)That they recognized the quality of work I submitted and 2)They absolutely begrudged my refusal of adherence to their way of doing things and their petty way of showing it was by not giving me the A or 100 that the paper deserved.

This rambling incoherence is all to introduce you to:

Steve Christ: Public Defender

February 13, 2011

More Random Tandems

So I was racking my brain trying to come up with something relevant to add to the discussion about the recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. All I could come up with was a pun about it being a pyramid scheme. So here's some random thoughts, yo.

February 2, 2011

Wah. I Got Bullied. Wah.

By now I'm sure everyone has heard of the case of the kid in Philly who got bullied. And while what happened to him was certainly unfortunate, I can't help but see this as emblematic of a much larger problem. And no, it's not bullying.

January 27, 2011

Requiem For A Sheen

It's been a while since I've written. Simply put, I've lacked the subject with such import to warrant a post on a blog of such esteem. Sadly, I've found just such the cause.

January 15, 2011

The Worstest Time I Was Drunk Ever

So, since this blog has seemed to have quickly taken on the attitude of drunken miscreants, I thought I'd write about one of my worst best times.