Thursday, October 31, 2013

How Spooky Is the Internet?

Yes, you already know that the Internet is a creepy place. In honor of Halloween, though, let me give you an example.

My buddy Ken emailed me today with the subject "I'm Famous", the text "A little inspiration for your blog", and a link. The link was to a Website called Mandatory, and it led me to this photo:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How Informative Are Video Games?

This year I'm teaching seventh-grade Social Studies, which covers early American history. Today I asked the kids what they knew about Colonial Boston and the Revolutionary War. Surprisingly, a few of them knew a lot.

One boy who rarely participates raised his hand and spouted out information about the Old North Church and the Redcoats. One of his friends followed suit, describing Boston Harbor and the Sons of Liberty. I asked them how they learned so much about this topic. "Assassin's Creed," one of them answered.

Of course. Video games. And here I was thinking my students might watch the History Channel or something.

It makes sense, though. Video games are such a huge part of kids' lives now that they don't even say "video games" anymore. They simply call it "playing games." They don't feel a need to differentiate video games from other games, of which they may or may not be aware. What the hell is Checkers? I play GTA 5.

I wasn't much of a gamer when I was a kid, but I did learn a few lessons from the arcade. Here are 10 of the most informative nuggets I picked up from video games. In no particular order:

Monday, October 28, 2013

How Important Is Correspondence from an Athlete?

Long before Don Mattingly was the the Dodgers manager getting frequently criticized for curious in-game decisions, he was my idol. The mustoachioed face of the Yankees, Donnie Baseball was my first favorite player. So I did what many young baseball fans did before me, and I wrote Mattingly a letter.

Over a year bled by and I didn't hear back from Mattingly. I figured he was just too busy, and even my eight-year-old self wasn't naive enough to assume he would write back. Still, I hoped.

Then, one day I came home from school and my dad told me I had received a letter from Evansville. As in Evansville, Indiana. As in MATTINGLY'S HOMETOWN!

I ripped open the envelope to find a type-written (yes, type-written) letter apologizing for the delay in correspondence. The short note was signed by Mattingly. Also included was the same baseball card I had sent him -- 1994 Topps -- signed by Donnie Baseball. I was like Indiana Jones if the Holy Grail had been delivered to his doorstep.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How Much Do Ppl Love Abbrevs?

On Monday I wrote about some of the ever-present acronyms in our lives, and it got me thinking about a story from college. We had a friend who loved valley-girl abbreviations like obvi in place of "obviously," and totes instead of "totally." One day, someone asked her, "Do you think you could talk in all abbrevs?" Her response: "Def."

Another of my college friends was fond of the word dece to describe anything that was just okay. He often called girls dece, which always reminded me of the Bruce Springsteen line "You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright."

Some other college abbrevs are well-known (dormcaf, frat), but a few of the ones my friends used are less common (bangled to shorten "belligerently mangled" and dia for "diarrhea"*).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How Many Fictional Bars Would You Frequent?

In last week's post about Skelly Barney Gumble, I mentioned that one of my friends posed the question, "Would you rather get drunk at Moe's Tavern or The Drunken Clam?"

I'm taking the question one step further and examining the 10 fictional bars at which I'd be most eager to hoist a few.

Top 10 Fictional Bars

10. Paddy's Pub (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
With the Gang at the helm, Paddy's is a true skell-hole. At various points, it has been converted to a gay bar and an underage bar, but it always reverts back to a place for the Gang to hatch schemes. You'd probably pee your pants laughing at Paddy's, but the bar can't move higher on the list because Charlie burns trash in the furnace, giving the whole place a smoky trash-like smell.

9. The Avalanche Bar and Grill (Dumb and Dumber)
I love Colorado and many bars there, but I wouldn't want to be called "a raging alcoholic" by Lloyd Christmas if I went to the Avalanche at 10 in the morning. We only get to see this bar for a couple minutes in the movie, but it gives us one of the great fictional bar lines in history:

"WE'VE LANDED ON THE MOON!...That's great!"

Speaking of Dumb and Dumber...

Monday, October 21, 2013

How Much Do People Love Acronyms (HMDPLA)?

I work for the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), which -- like any bureacracy -- loves to use acronyms. In the United States (US) Government, the use of initials is similarly commonplace. Think NASA, DoJ, and USMC.

I often make fun of the DOE and the governement, but most other areas of our lives are teeming with acronyms as well. I woke up this A.M. and turned on the TV at the same time that I fired up my PC. Speaking of PC, I flipped the channel to the Today Show on NBC and was bombarded with several politically correct stories.

I rode an MTA train to work and read Sports Illustrated (SI) on the way. After arriving at school, I had to fill out an OP-175 form, so that the DOE's HR Department can help the IRS can keep track of my earnings.

Acronyms permeate our lives, often defining who we are to others. Do you have photo ID? Did you vote for the GOP candidate?  Have you ever had a DUI?  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

How Can You Not Love a Good Sports Story?

No, I don't mean Field of Dreams or Sandlot, much as I love both.

I'm talking about a great storyline that unfolds within the world of real professional sports. We have such a narrative this Sunday when the Denver Broncos travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts in Peyton Manning's first game back since signing with Denver a year and a half ago after Indy all but kicked him to the curb. Most games that I watch with my girlfriend, I try to provide some sort of context as to why it's important, or supplemental information like who each of the guys are married to/dating, what legal trouble they might be in, etc.. This story, though, should sell itself. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How Skelly Is Barney Gumble?

On Sunday, I was on the train with a group of buddies and one of them asked, "Would you rather get drunk at Moe's Tavern or The Drunken Clam?"* The next question, from someone else, was just as intriguing: "How much of a skell is Barney Gumble?"

*To be answered at a later date.

So just how skelly is Barney?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How Does it Feel to Always Root for a Loss?

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”

Precursor: The Horror Show

This past Sunday is already being billed as the greatest day in recent Boston sports history, and I happened to have a front row seat for it. I watched the Patriots game alone at my apartment in South Boston, and the Red Sox game at the L Street Tavern with my roommate Doug (also from NY, thank God). The feelings that I experienced during David Ortiz’s grand slam and Jared Saltalamachia’s walk-off single the following inning can only be described as a potent mixture of bewilderment, anger, and nausea. But as I walked home from the bar, head hung low in defeat as the clock had just officially brought us into 12:01am Monday, I had a few thoughts on how such a night could happen and what it meant for a NY transplant like myself.

Monday, October 14, 2013

How Much Do Americans Love the Supernatural?

On many occasions in the last few decades, people have pointed out that at some point football surpassed baseball as America's professional sport of choice. However, it seems to me that another national pastime has cornered the market in this country. People are now more interested in fictional accounts of the supernatural than they are in sports, or almost anything else for that matter. Zombies are the new shortstops, vampires our new quarterbacks.

According to The New Tork Times, AMC's "The Walking Dead" drew 16.1 million viewers last night, the largest audience for any show this season. Until last night's episode, every top-rated program so far this season had been an NFL game. Most startling to me was the fact that "The Walking Dead" attracted almost 6 million more viewers than the series finale of "Breaking Bad." That's right: A zombie show blew out a show that many critics consider one of the best ever.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

How Come the Baywatch Stars Had to Be Thin?

FOX News--As one might imagine, it isn't easy to maintain a bikini-ready body all year long, but the former stars of "Baywatch" told ET that's precisely what they had to do at the height of the show's popularity.
"The suits were regulation standard for part of our partnership," Erika Eleniak divulged of a very strict weight clause in many of her female co-stars' contracts, which gave them a mere five pounds leeway before facing termination.

Wait, you mean the show that was commonly called "Babewatch" or "Boobwatch"? They expected their stars to stay thin? Get out!

Isn't this story the equivalent of the Yankees expecting Robinson Cano to remain good at baseball if they give him a 200-million-dollar contract?

I hope Pamela Anderson & Friends weren't scarred too badly from those weighty expectations.* That must have been very traumatic.

*That's called a pun, just like you read about in your English textbooks.

There is a lesson here, which I learned in Berlin last summer. As always, DON'T HASSEL THE HOFF!

Friday, October 11, 2013

How Useless Is LASIK?

Whoopsy-daisy! I posted this picture in a post on Wednesday:

I couldn't figure out, for the life of me, how that m-f'er Dustin could sit in such a position. I even tried (unsuccessfully) to do it myself. Well, it turns out...

Dustin, you sly sack of shit!
After about three seconds of looking at the photo, Kerry said, "I think his foot is just leaning back against the wall."


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How Excited Are We for the NBA?!

FranT and I share an affinity for Grantland. But much like Fran has adopted the Grantland concept of BestCoolest and wondered how he could create his own lists by that measure, I read Zach Lowe's categorization of NBA teams the other day, and loved it but wasn't wholly satisfied. After reading countless preview articles and thousands of tweets, I had to make a preview list of my own.

Here are how I see all 30 NBA teams, from worst to first so you at least have to skip down to the bottom before closing out. This is how I see the best teams, not necessarily the most wins, as there is speculation some of the older teams will rest guys more often, and some teams won't get key players back from injury until certain points in the season. So the ranking also assumes full health unless otherwise noted.

To save you from my rantings, and to save me from myself - I'm keeping commentary in "twitter verse", 140 characters or less, or so. Here goes!

How Can Dustin Pose Like That?

I'm in my buddy Mike's wedding party next month, and he just sent us all the information about our tuxes. He also sent us a picture of the shoes he wants us to wear:

Pretty snazzy, no doubt. I'll be looking fresh in those jams.

But now, look at another photo of the footwear:

Monday, October 7, 2013

How Do I Rank the BestCoolest Offensive Football Players?

On Friday, I ran through the BestCoolest defensive players of my NFL-watching life. Today, we're gonna have even more fun with the guys on the offensive side of the ball.

A quick review of the rules:
--I have to be old enough to remember watching the player in his prime. That means anyone who peaked before 1992 is pretty much disqualified from these lists. Sorry, Bo.
--BestCoolest simply means "most fun to watch." Flair counts as much as skill.
--We'll select 11 offensive and 11 defensive players, but not exactly a full team. Again, it's the most fun-to-watch players. For instance, you won't see too many linemen on the offensive list, because I don't derive much fun from watching sumo wrestling in pads.

Gosh, it was hard to trim this list to 11. Buckle up, because this is gonna be a long one. As Kramer says:

Friday, October 4, 2013

How Do I Rank the BestCoolest Defensive Football Players?

Jonah Keri at Grantland wrote a few of my favorite baseball articles of the summer in his BestCoolest series. (Click here for his BestCoolest Pitchers and here for his BestCoolest Hitters.) Keri invented the term BestCoolest in an attempt at "combining the best players of the past generation with the coolest ones, the ones that were the most fun to watch."

Now that we're one-quarter of the way through the NFL season, I thought it would be fun to rank the BestCoolest football players of my lifetime.* Since a quick Google search confirms that nobody else has used Keri's gimmick for another sport, I'll have to be the one to shamelessly steal his idea. Hey, if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'.

Since the Giants are 0-4 and my fantasy team is 1-3, but I still want a reason to think a lot about pro football.

Keri had a bunch of rules for his rankings, but here are my only three selection criteria:
--I have to be old enough to remember watching the player in his prime. That means anyone who peaked before 1992 is pretty much disqualified from these lists. Sorry, Bo.
--BestCoolest simply means "most fun to watch." Flair counts as much as skill.
--We'll select 11 offensive and 11 defensive players, but not exactly a full team. Again, it's the most fun-to-watch players. For instance, you won't see too many linemen on the offensive list, because I don't derive much fun from watching sumo wrestling in pads.

One of the BestCoolest athletes ever couldn't crack these rankings.
We'll start with the BestCoolest defensive players today, then we'll count down the BestCoolest offensive guys later this week.