Welcome back to "Ask Alex", where I answer all of your stupid questions with even dumber answers. Have a question you need answered? Tweet it, email it or submit it here and I will get to it (maybe) next week.
Yea...I have been really derelict. I know, and you can accept my deepest apologies. It’s just that sometimes, actual work for which I get paid, and therefore feel obligated to complete, gets in the way. Also, the weather has been really nice and I have been occupied with things keeping me outside. Like my kickass new roofdeck that needed breaking in!
On the plus side, I found out yesterday that a royalty payment coming in July is going to be much bigger than I expected, which is obviously good news (we sold a company and part of the sale price was to be paid in subsequent years based on certain sales benchmarks...and the calculation on this year’s payment was finalized yesterday and it is about 50% bigger than we were expecting. That’s good for the firm, obviously, and really good for those of us who also had personal stakes in the company:-D).
On the downside, I may have used that as an excuse to over-celebrate last night. My head hurts.
Submitted by: GorT at Gormogons
I’m not a fan of bands named after cities or states. Why don’t you rank them?
This came out of my realization that my two home cities have eponymous bands that suck. And by God, GorT...I think that you're onto something here. Place-name bands are, as a rule, pretty awful.
Let’s run down the list:
Chicago - Wretched, syrupy drek.
Kansas - The eye patch...
Boston - Covered this last month
America - How can you name yourself after America and be this bad? And how can you cross an entire desert on a horse and not think to give him a name? Also, camels are a better choice.
Asia - There are over four billion people in Asia. Literally, most people are Asian. And somehow, the continent’s namesake band is four white guys from London...
Linkin Park - They’d be better if they were, you know, actually from Chicago and knew how to spell Lincoln.
Alabama - Alabama sold nearly fifty million albums. FIFTY MILLION. They recorded 43 #1 hits. And I couldn’t name a single one of them.
Florida-Georgia Line - They are probably gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Nazareth - I’m pretty sure that Jesus hoped that someday his hometown would be remembered mostly as a Scottish Metal band. They have a ways to go to be that famous, but with the Lord's help...
Berlin - I only hope someone takes their breath away in the literal sense...we’d be better off if they shut up. OK, I am not really going to wish death on them...that seems harsh.
Europe - Goddamnit I wish I was really ranking these bands, and that it was the last ranking I ever did. The...wait for it...final countdown.
Miami Sounds Machine - How did Gloria Estefan get to be a global superstar? I mean that very seriously...how did that happen? Did she ever make any music that anyone liked?
New York Dolls - We are starting to include bands that use place names as adjectives now. Wikipedia lists twenty-five different members of the New York Dolls. Which makes them the Wu Tang Clan of punk bands, I guess. But, they definitely knew Velvet Underground, so they are OK.
Detroit Spinners - It’s Motown, it can’t be bad.
L.A. Guns - The Hydrox to Guns N Roses Oreos.
Orleans - Not clear whether they are named after Joan of Arc’s home city or the charming Cape Cod town, but that doesn’t really matter. They are Still the One, so long as that One is “awfullest band out of Woodstock, NY”
Cypress Hill - Now we are getting somewhere, damnit!!! Sadly, they never learned to write music that wasn’t about pot, so they sorta ran out of ideas pretty quickly.
Beirut - Who names their band after a city most known for horrible, horrible things? These douchebags, that’s who.
Ohio Players - I believe that John Kasich’s father delivered their mail in the 1970’s.
Phoenix - They’re from France, obviously.
Portishead - Eight miles west of Bristol sits the village of Portishead, which gives us the inspiration for probably the best Place-Name Band in music history.
The Georgia Satellites - One hit about some annoying prude stuck in the 1840’s mindset that women are nothing beyond their vagina and men are so lecherous as to not be trusted until contractually obligated.
Portugal. The Man. - They’re not from Portugal, they're from Alaska. Wasilla, to be exact, just like Sarah Palin. That’s all I have to say about that.
So, really, other than Portishead, Cypress Hill and the New York Dolls, it seems that naming your band after a place is guaranteed to make it suck. Instead, name it after insects or non-moss gathering rocks or something...
Submitted by: Ingenious Firebrand
We need a power ranking of the most important cast members on Vanderpump Rules.
Do we, though? Honestly, the only part of this question I am interested in addressing is your desire to spend even one moment thinking about Vanderpump Rules. Clearly this comes from somewhere...you were both watching the show and taking enough interest in it to ask the question. And for that, you really should be ashamed of yourself.
I'm going to come right and say that this, surpassing some of Jimmy's, is the most embarrassing question I have ever been asked!
I can’t really answer because I don’t know anyone on the show other than “that one chick that was a real Housewife” and I refuse to do the minimal amount of research that I usually do on these questions. I will say, thought, that The Real Housewives franchise and its spinoffs are quite possibly the worst things about America.
If the FBI were interrogating a bunch of guys that they found in a terror cell after an attack, and the leader answered the “Why did you do it?” question with a recap of the Real Housewives of New Jersey...well, I think we’d have to let the guy walk, right? I have a hard time arguing America’s inherent superiority while we watch that shit on TV.
I am going to take a special moment to shout out to Luann from New York as the absolute worst person on television. She’s certainly pretty enough for a 53 year old battle axe, but beyond that she brings absolutely nothing to the table as a human being. I mean, she’s from godawful suburban Connecticut and somehow called herself “Countess” because...um...her ex-husband was French, or something? She was his fourth wife, and I have to believe that there are rules in there somewhere about how many people you are allowed to bring into the nobility via marriage. King Louis gets as many as he wants...seventh rate inbred nobles don’t.
Anyway, I’m super happy to report that Luann got arrested for drunk and disorderly in Florida and charged with felony assault on a police officer (I think she pleaded to a lesser charge). Turns out that knowing which fork goes where in your place setting does not, in fact, keep you from being an absolute trash human being. Don’t worry, though, she went to rehab so I am sure everything is totally OK! If only they had rehab for being dumb, arrogant and lacking self awareness...
Changing cities...my absolute favorite moment in Real Housewives history (I say this having watched maybe 10% of the total volume) was the first season finale in Atlanta. By the end of the show, they all hated each other (because, other than the one normal one that they kicked off the show for being normal, they are all pretty hateable...at least until Kandi came on in season 2). In an effort to make a great hour of television, the producers scheduled a dinner with all of them and their spouses and then the cameras rolled while these crazy broads yelled at each other for the whole show. Suddenly, there was a slight break in the yelling, and one of the guys made an excuse to go outside and the other four husbands basically rushed out of the room after them.
The season ended with the five women more or less throwing glasses at each other while the husbands stood in the parking lot laughing, smoking cigars and basically wondering how it came to be that they were all married to such raving lunatics...
Submitted by: Dan, on behalf of Musket, Brickhouse and AJ
Brick: If you feel the urge to cut the sleeves out of your shirt...STOP. Nobody wants to see your puny arms sticking out of your homemade tank top.
Musket: How else am I supposed to show off my barbed wire tattoo?
AJ: My ex has one of those. He also wears sleeveless shirts and shaves his arms. Part of the reason I use the word “ex” with such glee
Dan: I feel like Alex needs to weigh in on this thread.
I’m not sure you really need me to opine on this, to be honest. I feel like my response is going to be fairly predictable. I’ve spent the last several years wondering when the rest of you are going to realize that gainfully employed, tax paying adults shouldn’t be wearing cargo shorts, so clearly I am going to frown on “homemade tank tops”.
As you likely expect, I’m fully in agreement with everyone here...if you feel the need to wear a sleeveless shirt, just go ahead and buy a sleeveless shirt. Even if you live in Central New Hampshire and that sort of thing seems like it is OK. Lots of people need or want sleeveless shirts, like basketball players, and...um...I’m sure some others. But unless you are Bill Belichick, you can drop the charade of having arms that just don’t fit in your poor restrictive shirtsleeves. Just buy a tank top.
This does raise some questions for AJ, though. Did you not know about the tattoo and the shaved arms when you first started dating? Did you overlook it because he was charming or rich or something? I feel like we need some answers around why he ever got past your girl radar in the first place...
I do like Musket’s barbed-wire tattoo, though. That's a really solid indicator that you came of age around 2000 and maybe once spent a summer sporting frosted tips and following Korn around the northwest. (Says the girl with the sun on her lower back and Japanese characters on her shoulder). Outside of sporting hip-hugging flared jeans with a necktie as a belt, a trucker hat and a Livestrong bracelet, there isn’t a whole lot you can do that screams “early Millennial” quite like an armband tattoo...which, of course, means that I endorse the idea fully.
Submitted by: Dan
What is a worthy investment of the $3 that you won in HQ Trivia, Alex?
That’s right...I won $3.03 in HQ Trivia last night. Worth noting I was in a bar with spotty wifi and a blood alcohol level somewhere above the 1 year Yen LIBOR rate…
For $3.03, you can buy more than one share of Scorpio Tankers ($STNG), the official stock of #AskAlex! A couple months ago, you could have bought two, but they refinanced their most pressing debt issues, and the market reacted well to the news.
You can also buy 60% of an ice cream cookie sandwich from The Cookie Monstah truck, which is what I had for lunch because I am really a 12 year old. And I have absolutely no ragerts about that decision at all.
More practically, there are some pretty simple rules that I think most people can follow to help with any sudden inflow, be it $3 of mobile game show winnings or an investment payout of tens of thousands times that. First off, look to pay down “bad” debt. I don’t want you prepaying your low-cost deductible mortgage or other cheap, affordable debt, but I do want you paying off more expensive debts. Credit cards, expensive car loans or other personal loans, 401K loans, whatever...before you go buying any kind of investment, shed any debt that likely costs more than that investment will earn.
Once you are comfortable with your debt load, ensure you have an emergency fund. This is typically considered to be anywhere from 2-6 months of expenses, held in a highly liquid, no-risk vehicle (a bank checking account, or a money market mutual fund if that makes sense). But don’t let that number scare you if you worry about trying to scrape together that much money: anything is beneficial. Having $100 to cover a blown tire instead of putting it on a credit card you will pay interest on is going to help. Having $250 or $500 to cover some of your rent in case you miss some shifts at work or need to repair a drain or something might be a lifesaver at some point.
After that, you need to evaluate your life goals. Are you saving for a house? Or for some other major expense that you expect to come relatively soon? Then your $3 should go into a risk-free (or low risk if you have more than, say, a year) financial account with safety as the primary objective. Is it for your kids education in 5-10 years? Or your retirement? Well, then it should be in something more aggressive with more risk exposure in hopes of finding a higher return.
As for the specific investments, this may come as a surprise coming from someone in my profession, but I would advocate for simple and low cost. Money that you think is appropriate in stocks? Use an S&P Index fund, and then add in other asset classes as needed...some small cap, some developed international and then some emerging markets. Don’t chase managers, just find the lowest cost index option and go with that. Same goes with whatever kind of a bond option you think you need...identify the asset class you want and then find a low-cost option from a reliable manager (Fidelity, Vanguard, etc.)
I’m not sure the $3 is going to solve any of your major financial questions, but the thought process is the same, and you can apply it to a more substantial inflow as well.
Happy Father’s Day, all!
Alex’s random old song of the week
Bands named after places might suck...but songs don’t! And here’s some proof! L.A. Woman, which is the best Doors song by a country mile. Maybe several country miles….
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.