Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How Blue-Collar are These Athletes?

The Indiana Pacers and many of their fans have been wearing T-shirts that read "BLUE COLLAR" during the conference finals against the Heat. The phrase aptly describes these Pacers, who are giving Miami tons of headaches with their defense and gritty play.

Seeing all the bright yellow "BLUE COLLAR" shirts got me thinking about the most blue-collar athletes that I've had the opportunity to consistently watch. Even though pro athletes make decidedly white-collar salaries, some of them work hard enough during the daily grind to be called blue-collar. Here are a few of my favorites:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How Hilarious are Local Ads?

I was watching TV earlier tonight and was amazed by the stupidity of the commercials for local businesses. I guess this isn't exactly a revelation, but it was jarring to me because I usually go on my iPad during commercial breaks. (I'm a dork, I know.) In the span of two commercial breaks, I saw ads for ambulance-chasing attorneys (standard), Bob's Discount Furniture (corny), and -- of course -- North End Wine and Liquor. If you don't live in or near the Bronx, you're probably unfamiliar with North End Wine and Liquor ads, but I know all of the characters. There's Fernando, an insane Hispanic party animal. There's also his evil cousin Juan Carlo, who pretends he's Fernando and ruins your party. Here's a sample of what some of you have been missing:

And I didn't know this before, but apparently they also run these ads in Spanish. Fernando gives members of every race an equal opportunity to get hammered.

As good as the commercials were this afternoon, though, no local ad can ever top the one in the "Local Ad" episode of The Office.

Sorry I've been bombarding you with so many clips from The Office lately, but Michael Scott's commercial is awesome. "Good news travels at the speed of time." Truer words have never been spoken.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

How Would I Spend a Day in Springfield?

If you're not an avid watcher of The Simpsons, skip this post. Also, you're not my friend anymore.

On Friday, Universal Orlando announced plans to open a model "Springfield" within the larger theme park. Let's just hope it's not anything like the time the Simpsons actually went to an amusement park.

And that was just a prelude to the mascots attacking all the patrons at Itchy and Scratchy Land.

Anyways, the announcement about the imitation Springfield got me thinking about how I would spend a day in the actual town.

Friday, May 24, 2013

How Great Is Memorial Day?

The first leg of the Big 3 summer holidays and the true kick off to summer might be the best. Why? Because you still have the rest of the summer after this. The anticipation and full potential is always a better feeling than actually living through it, or especially on Labor Day when Summer is on its last breaths. Our cups runneth over, literally and figuratively, with great possibilities this time of year.

"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!"
 -William Wordsworth
Right you are, Bill! He may have been referring to the French Revolution and the upheaval of the old order, but we undergo a bit of an upheaval of our own every year as the old regime of harsh Northeast winter and spring slowly crumbles. To be alive and young is very heaven!Fittingly, the forecast for this weekend is like low 60s and rainy. But I'm not going to let that dampen my mood. I'm going to let the good times roll and enjoy the fact that the entire summer lies ahead. Allow Keith Apicary and Flo Rida to illustrate how I'll be enjoying the weekend.

Happy Memorial Day to everyone! 

Memorial Day ADDENDUM:

With all the comedy show chatter on this blog recently, there's extra reason to celebrate this weekend as the 4th season of Arrested Development comes out all at once on Netflix on Sunday. I'm going to go as far as to say that AD is #3 funniest show of all time if Seinfeld and The Office are 1 and 2 in either order. This is only the 4th season and it probably won't go past 5, so it's a little Barry Sanders-esque in longevity but anyone who enjoyed the other two needs to give this one a hard look. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

How Unsatisfying are These Pyrrhic Victories?

Yesterday we covered the most satisfying moral victories ever. Well, buckle up, because today isn't going to be nearly as pleasant. We're covering the five worst Pyrrhic victories of all-time. In other words, we'll be looking at the victories with the most unpleasant consequences attached to them.

Bottom 5 Pyrrhic Victories

1. The Original Pyrrhic Victory
The term originated in 279 BC when the army of King Pyrrhus defeated the Romans. Even though his army won, it suffered heavy losses, including many of Pyrrhus' friends and best generals. Afterwards, Pyrrhus said that another victory like that one would mean defeat for his army. And so the term Pyrrhic victory was born. As we'll soon see, most Pyrrhic victories are not pretty.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How Could The Office Compare to Seinfeld?

There’s no need to refute or add on to FranT’s Seinfeld/The Office breakdown because it was so complete. But I could talk about this stuff forever, so I’m going to attack this from categories that immediately jump out regarding one show and see how the other holds up. Then I also will give a biased final vote.

I noticed that a common thread in Fran’s breakdown was depth vs. breadth...

On Length of Peak, Seinfeld went strong for nine seasons whereas The Office started to slide off in the final seasons. However, at its BEST, Fran says that The Office packs an overall funnier punch than Seinfeld, and I would be inclined to agree.

On Minor Characters, Seinfeld has a countless number of hilarious characters that are either semi-recurring or only appear in one episode (breadth), while The Office has fewer funny minor characters but we come to know those characters better (depth) over the course of the seasons.

This idea applies to some of the categories I singled out

How Satisfying are These Moral Victories?

During college, I thought that a "moral" victory was the same thing as a "Pyrrhic" victory. For instance, after scoring an amazing goal in FIFA on the XBox even though I was losing 5-2, I'd yell, "PYRRHIC!" In other words, I knew I wasn't going to win, but the outstanding goal made the loss tolerable. By calling it a Pyrrhic victory, I thought I was just using the more educated term for moral victory.

In fact, a Pyrrhic victory is the opposite of a moral victory. A moral victory is when an individual, team, army, or other group loses a confrontation but achieves some other gain. A Pyrrhic victory, meanwhile, is a win that comes with with such a devastating cost that it carries the implication that another such victory will ultimately lead to defeat. In a Pyrrhic victory, the heavy toll cancels out any sense of achievement or profit.

For the most part, I think both moral and Pyrrhic victories are B.S. Vince Lombardi wasn't far off when he said, "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." Still, I think there are some exceptions, so I'm going to run a two-part blog on these two types of victory. Today, I'll tackle my five favorite moral victories of all-time. Later in the week, I'll deal with Pyrrhic victories, which I think I now sort of understand.

Monday, May 20, 2013

How Could My Ancestors Do This to Me?

I understand that I have it pretty good. I was born into a terrific family in a great country during a technologically-advanced time period. I'll let Louis CK sum up some of the other advantages I was born into:

Still, I won't let that stop me from complaining. Every once in a while, I wonder what the hell my parents and more-distant forebears were thinking. Here are the top 3 things that make me think, "How could my ancestors do this to me?"

1. Giving me a girl's name
The name Francis is bad enough, although the new pope was named after me. But Fran? Really? The name Francis has been in my family for a few generations, but that's because the name was actually popular a few generations ago.

2. Stopping in New York City
Every time I go to Colorado, I wonder why my ancestors were so lazy that they stopped in New York.


I mean, they didn't know any better, but it's so much nicer out West. Sometimes I just can't wrap my head around their reasons for staying on the East Coast. Which brings us to Point #3:

3. Passing down a love of The Drink
Ah yes, alcohol. The Irishman's burden. I guess once my ancestors from the Land of Eire saw the abundance of pubs in Manhattan and the outer boroughs, they were in no rush to travel 2,000 miles to a state like Colorado. Especially if it consisted of passing through states like Ohio and Nebraska to get there.

Those are just three of the reasons why I did not win the genetic lottery. In fact, I'm so mad just thinking about my ancestors that I need a drink.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How Does The Office Compare to Seinfeld?

The Office went out in style the other night, with an episode that had the perfect blend of comedy and sentimentality. The days leading up to the series finale reminded me of 15 years ago, when my parents and their friends were talking constantly about the upcoming Seinfeld finale.

The Office and Seinfeld were the two funniest sitcoms of my lifetime and both lasted nine seasons. But which show was better? Many of my friends' parents would say Seinfeld. Most of my friends would say The Office. As an unbiased lover of both shows, I figured I might as well pit them against each other in a 10-category, battle-royale breakdown.

YouTube clips will appear throughout the post, in homage to Michael Scott, who didn't work for five days after he discovered the site. I tried to keep most of them under a minute long.

As always, feel free to skip over the clips if you'd prefer to simply read the less-than-insightful analysis of both shows.

Let's break it down:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

How Do You Neglect Cool Ranch Doritos?

Kavanaugh just posted about the top three chip flavors he would stack up against each other, and while the post was funny, it was also utterly wrong.

How could he have neglected Cool Ranch Doritos?

They are, hands-down, the most addictive chips ever created. They're so good that Taco Bell had to hijack their flavor to create a tortilla shell out of it. They're so good that, in Europe, they are known as "Cool American." They're just so good.

Don't tread on me, Salt and Vinegar.

In Colin Broderick's memoir Orangutan, he details how he overcame drug and alcohol addiction to become a successful author. Broderick compares addiction to a key, of which everyone has at least one. Sometimes, the key is a good thing, like marathons for runners or God for religious people. Sometimes, obviously, the key is bad. Broderick said that he used to have so many bad keys, such as heroine and booze, that they formed a set bigger than a janitor's keychain. Those keys, he says, jingle constantly and remind an addict of their presence.

Well, my key doesn't jingle as much as it crunches, the sound of Cool Ranch Doritos being ecstatically chomped. I'm sure I'm not alone in this addiction. In fact, Jay Leno's been addicted since before Kavanaugh was born.

Salt and vinegar? Get real.

The moral of the story, as usual: Kavanaugh is a dumbass.

Friday, May 17, 2013

How Do You Stack Your Chips?

Well this is as lunchtime of a blog as lunchtime blogs go: How would you rank the Big 3 of Potato Chip flavors, BBQ, Sour Cream & Onion, and Salt & Vinegar?

Let’s do this in the best format for deciding between any 3 things: MFK

First, let’s acknowledge the fact it depends on the type of chip and the brand. Experienced chip eaters know that SC&O work best in the ridged/ruffle style, BBQ are probably the best when kettle-cooked, and S&V work in any medium of chip. Actually, those might just be my preferences, but everyone has their own, so you can’t ignore the fact that the type of chip is a factor.

But this ranking is type or style ignorant. It strictly considers flavor, so you have to think about what you’d want on any kind of chip.

Here’s how anyone with a brain and a refined palette like me chooses

M: Salt and Vinegar
F: Sour Cream and Onion
K: Barbeque

K - BBQ. 

What is Barbeque? So I’m supposed to believe these chips taste like Barbeque....sauce? That’s my main issue with these. I’d rather be eating the food this chip purports to taste like. It’s why I stay away from Dill Pickle chips or Buffalo Hot Wing Doritos. Conversely, you would never catch me eating a bowl of sour cream and onions or slugging a vat of salt and vinegar. But they make for excellent chip flavors. I’m killing BBQ, and focusing on the other two..

F - Sour Cream and Onion

You F these because they’re not good all the time, they’re phenomenal once in awhile. Not your purchase week after week at the grocery store, but then you get a bag of Sour Cream and Onion ridges with lunch and they’re so fantastic you wonder how you ever put up with your other chips for so long. Or in a drunken moment when people are passing around a bag of these bad boys and you go to town, only to wake up in the morning wallowing in regret with crumbs on your hands.

I have to admit that the Sour Cream and Onion ridges in my cabinet are slowly becoming my mistress.

M - Salt and Vinegar. 

Utz S & V put hair on your chest

Salt? Goooood. Vinegar? Goooodd. Put em together? Now we’re talking. I’ve been a S & V guy from day one. Sometimes the flavor is subtle, sometimes it tastes like acid and feels like sandpaper, but it’s wonderful all the same. Friends and family over the years have expressed their disgust - but true love like this endures all.

I defy anyone to come up with a different order. GO!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How Awful is the Huggies "Connected Diaper"?

I just read a Fox News Technology story about whether people are too connected nowadays. We've all considered both sides of the argument. On the one hand, you just chose to read another ridiculous post by a guy with a girl's name. On the other hand, Kavanaugh hasn't posted on How Blank in like seven weeks, so obviously some of us aren't too connected.

On a third hand, though, the Fox News article mentioned an invention that makes me sure we're too connected. Here's what it says:

They call it “the Internet of things.” But is it too much of a good thing?
Recently, Huggies announced a connected diaper called the TweetPee that will debut in Brazil this summer. It includes an app that notifies you when it detects the presence of urine.

I've written about pointless inventions in the past, but the TweetPee takes the cake.

As the oldest of seven kids, I babysat a lot as a teenager. I guess I should rephrase that: I was the oldest one in the house whenever our parents left us alone because we drove away so many daytime babysitters over the years. Anyways, part of my "responsibility" was changing diapers. Yet, I averaged probably one diaper-change per week (and that's overestimating).

Usually, I paid my younger sisters one dollar per diaper-change and let them struggle with a toddler that was more than half their age. "A little pooh left on a baby's lower back never hurt anybody." -- That was my motto.

The TweetPee -- pissing me right off.
It just comes down to the fact that babies will let you know when they really need to be changed. They'll eventually cry so much that changing them seems less irritating than listening to them anymore. Scientists would describe this phenomenon as reaching a critical mass of urine in the diaper.

I'd say the TweetPee will be about as useful to parents and babysitters as the GPS was to Michael Scott.

How are the Yankees Doing So Far?

After last night's thrilling 4-3 win over King Felix and the Mariners, the Yankees are 25-14 through 39 games, just shy of the one-quarter mark through the season. It's always smart to hold off on judging a baseball team too early in the season, but April and half of May are enough to draw some conclusions despite the still-small sample size.

In mid-March, I wrote an optimistic post in which I detailed the five things the Yankees had to do in order to make the playoffs this year. Let's look back and see how they've done with those five keys to the season so far:

Friday, May 10, 2013

How Many Skell Species Live in Atlantic City?

Kavanaugh already alluded to the fact that we're going to my Bachelor ParT in Atlantic City this weekend. One thing I'm very excited to see is the different types of skells that claim Atlantic City as their habitat. I'm traveling with a bunch of Weekend Skells, and I'm sure we'll see other packs of Weekend Skells throughout the area. I also plan on rubbing elbows with a bunch of Barfly Skells on Saturday night to watch Game 3 of the Knicks-Pacers series. So that means I'll be a Skell by Association (SBA). And we'll definitely see some Skelderly Skells, like this guy:

The majestic Atlantic City Skellderly Skell (Latin name: Skellderlus atlanticus)
Skellderly Skells surely love AC because old people love casinos and skells love free booze. The Atlantic City casinos have both. So that means we'll come across 4 of the 5 classes of skells that I outlined in my March blog post. The fifth is the Recovering Skell, a depressing animal that I really hope we don't encounter. That would probably mean a member of our group ended up in the hospital, which would be no bueno. Still, 4 out of 5 ain't bad. Still, I can't help but wonder whether we'll come across a new breed of skell.

Part of me thinks that the diversity of skells in Atlantic City will be similar to places like Rockaway Beach and Woodlawn. Odds are, that's the case. But another part of me hopes there's a special type of skell, one native to AC. Maybe there is an awe-inspiring Amphibious Skell that can live in and out of the ocean. Or a Gambler Skell that used to hibernate under the boardwalk when he needed sleep but had his shelter destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and now he doesn't even bother to sleep. I feel like Frank the Tank in Old School.

"Maybe it's something really cool that I don't even know about."

Either way, I cannot wait for Skell Weekend 2013.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

How Frustrating is No Cable & Internet?

I predicted to FranT that I might go off the grid for a few days while changing apartments, but I had no idea what would follow: due to some scheduling complications and Comcast being the worst, we've had no cable or internet since May 1st. While I've dusted off a few books and had some phenomenal excuses to sit at the L Street Tavern by myself on a Tuesday night, my blog writing has suffered. I received a letter from a raven on parchment paper yesterday, saying internet will be restored within the fortnight, and I expect to come back out of seclusion soon.

The question is: what have I become during my period of isolation - have I gone to the spiritual and intellectual depths, to emerge with a great sense of enlightenment and purpose?

Or have I simply become (more of) a raving lunatic, more disconnected from reality than ever?

We'll find out shortly. I'm sure a weekend trip to Atlantic City with 30 dudes will work wonders for sorting it all out.

How Non-Rich are These Other Sports Experiences?

Last night, I wrote about how the other half lives at the Kentucky Derby. Here, we're going to take a close look at some of the other experiences of the non-rich sports fan.

Going back at least to the Colosseum in ancient Rome, there has been class segregation at sporting events. According to, "The special, un-numbered gates, were used by the magistrates, emperor, wealthy patricians, senators, visiting dignitaries and the Vestal Virgins. The emperor could also access the Colosseum via a richly decorated tunnel which started at the Imperial Palace."
Pret-ty baller.

Here are some of the main differences between the haves and have-nots in today's sporting world:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How Non-Rich are Some Kentucky Derby Experiences?

How Blank's consistent readers (thanks again to all 12 of you) realize that Kavanaugh and I have a fascination with the differences between the rich and the non-rich. Last weekend during the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby, I found myself thinking about it again.

You know all about the Derby: beautiful thoroughbreds, the Twin Spires, Southern belles in huge hats, celebrity sightings, mint juleps, all that.

Well, I went to two Derby Days during college and spent almost no time experiencing those things. A few years after hanging out in the Churchill Downs infield for two consecutive Derbies, I have much different memories:
--A mud-fight that included hundreds of people and ended with my buddy getting arrested for accidentally pegging a cop. The cop ripped off my buddy's Barcelona jersey then form-tackled him to the ground. Now, that was the Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.
--The running of the Port-A-Potties, a staple of both the Derby and the Preakness.

--Meeting the guys geniuses that created the website, which is now defunct. (I just checked.)
--Sleeping in the car for two nights straight in a Wal-Mart parking lot, eating White Castle burgers and drinking warm Natural Lights.
--Finding the last of those Natural Lights with my non-arrested buddy Keating and nursing it like a mare nurses her foal.

I guess what I'm saying is that "I'm going to the Derby" has widely-varying meanings for different people. So for those of you that throw Derby parties in the future, be careful not to stress the big hats and mint juleps too much. Make sure you have a lightly-iced cooler of Natty Light somewhere as well.

Coming later this week: Other Non-Rich Sports Experiences

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How Good are Some One-Man Teams?

As Kevin Durant took over in Oklahoma City's Game 1 win against Memphis on Sunday, many people around the country were impressed by the superstar carrying his team in the absence of the injured Russell Westbrook. Durant scored 35 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and dished out six assists despite being surrounded by a collection of Thunder role players. Before the series, several analysts said that Durant would pretty much have to be superhuman for the Thunder to defeat the Grizzlies. He was, at least for one game.

In sports, we often refer to situations like Durant's as a "one-man team." But the concept of the one-man team has also applied to pop culture on many occasions. Here are a few of them:

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How Annoying Are Whistleblowers?

If you've been following the Rutgers basketball story the last week, I'm sure you're as tired of hearing about it as I am. And if you haven't been following the story, I have to ask: What's it like living with the Geico Cavemen?

But as tired as we all are of hearing about Mike Rice, I'm just as sick of this Eric Murdock character. Murdock, a former Rutgers assistant coach, was the whistelblower on Rice's behavior and he's now filing a wrongful termination suit against the university. If he just wanted the school to get rid of Rice for the "good of the players," fine. But it just feels a lot like he's trying to cash in on the whole situation.

Anyways, instead of talking more about Murdock and Rutgers, let's look at some of the other famous "whistleblowers" throughout history. (By the way, "whistleblower" is just a nice way of saying snitch, rat, or tattle-tale.)

How 'Bout We Discuss Boy Meets World?

I was walking past a newsstand in the city the other day and noticed something that would have made 12-year-old FranT swoon: Topanga on the cover of Maxim!

In honor of Danielle Fishel finally giving the people what they asked for, I decided to put together a list of the Top 10 Boy Meets World characters.

How Many Time-Travel Destinations are Acceptable?

Earlier this week, I wrote about how to pick a time-travel destination. To view Part 1 of this series, click here.

I've thought a lot about this during the last few days, and there aren't many time-travel destinations that I'd accept. When you consider the high mortality rates, lack of technology, and inferiority of other countries to the U.S. of A., the past doesn't seem nearly as appealing.

However, I've ranked the top three destinations that I would choose for time-travel.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How Do You Choose a Time-Travel Destination?

My eighth-grade history class is currently studying the Roaring Twenties. Yesterday, one of my students asked me what time period I would travel to, if I could choose only one. She said she would have picked the 1920's.
"I actually think about that a lot," I told her.
"So what time would you pick?" she asked.

I realized that despite frequently pondering life during different eras, I didn't have one picked out.
So I decided that I wanted to run a two-part blog. Part 1, which you are currently beginning, will deal with the criteria for choosing a time-travel destination. Part 2, which I will post later this week, will detail my top choices for time periods I would like to visit.

Part 1--How Do You Choose a Time-Travel Destination?

There have been many great stories, literary and cinematic, about characters traveling through time. Some of the most famous are H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and Steven Spielberg's Back to the Future. However, in those stories, the characters usually end up time-traveling by accident. Here's another of my favorite examples:

But what if you could pick your destination, instead of accidentally stumbling upon it like Marty McFly or the Ninja Turtles? That's what we're trying to delve into here.