Saturday, December 20, 2014

How Hirsute Are These Hoopsters?

The other day one of my students asked me a rather personal question that led to a pretty funny outcome.

"Why does your face always look like that?" she inquired.
"How does it look?" I responded.
Then came the hammer. She paused for a few seconds before saying: "It looks ... like ... dirty."

I guess a six-day-old beard isn't the best look for me. Here's a sample of what I'm often working with:


I guess she had a valid point, huh?

Anyways, that little embarrassing story got me thinking about real men, ones who can actually grow beards. Men whose beards look like hair, not like dirt. So I logged onto my Internet machine and punched in nbabeards.com, because why wouldn't there be such a site? No dice. How about nflbeards.com? Same result. Maybe a Madison Bumgarner-themed site called mlbbeards.com? No, sir.

After 40 seconds of frustration -- a veritable eon in Internet years -- I finally found a Website called sportsbeards.com. Unfortunately, the only recent basketball beard featured on the site belongs to Brian Skinner, whom a blogger named roc called "mayor of pube city."

But Brian Skinner is nowhere close to the pinnacle of Bearded Mount Rushmore. With that being said, let's count down the best beards in basketball right now, with consideration to both the NBA and college ball:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How Recycled Is 'Dumb and Dumber To'?

When I used Dumb and Dumber quotes to recap the beginning of the NBA season, I promised a review of Dumb and Dumber To as soon as I got around to seeing it. On Saturday night, amidst a Christmas pub crawl*, our friend Jaime bought a bootleg copy of the movie. We watched it on Sunday, and this is your review.

*Word to the wise: Don't start a pub crawl after a six-hour "pregame."

Any review of Dumb and Dumber To has to start with Dumb and Dumber as a baseline reference point. The reason so many of us loved the original film, despite its inherent stupidity, was that it featured so many original jokes. Clever jokes. Jokes that didn't follow the typical buddy-comedy pattern. Even the bathroom humor felt fresh. (Even though it definitely didn't smell fresh.)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

How Does That Count as a Football Throw?

During halftime of Oregon's rout of Arizona last night, Dr. Pepper sponsored a contest in which the two participants threw as many footballs into cans as they could in 30 seconds.

However, the competition might as well have been sponsored by Pop-A-Shot because here's a snippet of what happened:

video

Friday, December 5, 2014

How Insightful Is Grandma's Letter?

For those of you who enjoy my accounts of my grandmother as a character on this blog, you're in luck. The most awesome old lady in the world made it through another Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How Office-like Is The Newsroom?

I've been enjoying this season of The Newsroom through my pirated HBO GO account, but I can't get past the show's obsession with casting characters that have already been typecast as other characters.

First off, in my mind, main character Will McAvoy will forever be Dumb and Dumber's Harry Dunne. I just can't look at Jeff Daniels* in any other way.

*My Dumb and Dumber To review is still forthcoming.

And in the past few weeks, The Newsroom has adopted a pair of characters from my favorite TV show ever. In Episode 2 of this season, the audience heard a whiny EPA administrator aboard an Amtrak. When the camera finally showed his face, it was Toby!

Monday, November 17, 2014

How Important Is Keeping Your Word?

At halftime of Notre Dame's eventual pitiful loss to to Northwestern, with the Irish looking sloppy but still leading 27-23, I said something that I'm now regretting. "If Notre Dame loses," I blurted out, "I'm not watching another game the rest of the season." There might have been two f-words included in the original statement, but you get the picture.

Sure enough, the inept Irish allowed Northwestern to hang around, and the Wildcats scored a touchdown with 4:10 left in the game to cut ND's lead to 40-37.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How Can Dumb and Dumber Explain This NBA Season?

I plan on seeing Dumb and Dumber To next week, and I have a review coming. In order to get excited for that, I figured I'd review the NBA season with the help of some quotes from the original Dumb and Dumber. Let's take a swing around the Association with Harry and Lloyd as our guides.

(All NBA stats are current through Wednesday. All Dumb and Dumber quotes will be funny forever.)

"Pretty bird."
The sickest scene in the movie -- as the blind kid pets the headless parakeet -- goes to the sickest athlete in the NBA. Anthony Davis has put up absurd stats thus far (24.9 points and a league-leading 12.9 boards and 4.4 blocks per game). Davis, unibrow and all, is a much prettier bird than Petey or New Orleans' mascot Pierre.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How Grateful Should We Be?

It turns out that both my grandfathers fought in World War II so that I could spend most of today completing report card grades for my students. Take that, Imperial Japan!

On a more serious note, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Veteran's Day and the sacrifices of American soldiers past and present.

Here's what I wrote about the video of the Normandy Kid:
http://howblank.blogspot.com/2014/08/how-come-i-just-cried-on-my-couch.html

And here's a link to something I posted about the Battle of Gettysburg:
http://howblank.blogspot.com/2013/07/how-do-we-remember-battle-of-gettysburg.html

As for today, let's make this short and sweet. This is one of my favorite movie scenes, from Saving Private Ryan:


All of us should always remember that our freedom has been earned for us. Even the freedom to complete report card grades in safety is something that shouldn't be taken for granted.



If you want to subscribe to How Blank, just type in your email address on the right side of the page. You'll get a notification every time we post new content.

Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

Sunday, November 9, 2014

How Off-Base Do These Covers Look?

I was flipping through ESPN The Magazine the other day, and I saw a photographic reference to an old issue of the magazine:


You see the problem with that cover, right? Derek Jeter's defense has been a constant battleground for argumentative fans, and it now seems doubtful that he ever actually possessed one of "BASEBALL'S BEST GLOVES." Even shortly after that cover was printed, it was seen as a mistake by some savvier writers.

The Jeter "KILLER D" cover got me thinking about some other classic swings-and-misses by the magazine industry. We all know about the concept of the cover jinx, but I want to highlight 10 covers that were simply poor attempts to take the pulse of their subject matter -- sports or otherwise -- at the time. I'll probably miss a few because this is off the top of my head, but here are 10 of the most regrettable magazine covers I've ever seen:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How Is Carmelo As An Older Teammate?



My favorite TV show returns tonight when the Knicks begin their season at home against the Bulls. And while many are wondering how the Knicks will fare in rookie coach Derek Fisher’s iteration of Phil Jackson’s Triangle*, my burning question is this: how does the main character interact with the younger supporting cast this season?

Monday, October 27, 2014

How Many Words Is This Picture Worth?

Let's find out. Bear with me as I try to come up with as many comments as I can based on this one photo. Add some of your own at the bottom!

"I go back to December 2012 all the time"

"And the story of us looks a lot like a tragedy now"

"I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22 mid-range jumpers tonight"

Sunday, October 26, 2014

How Inaccurate Was the Gameday Kid?

I love looking at the College Gameday signs every Saturday morning. They usually feature a great mix of college humor, snark, and shout-outs to friends or celebrities. This week, I was particularly interested in one sign. Here's a screenshot of Les Miles and the backdrop of signs behind him:

"IF YOU CAN READ THIS YOU DIDN'T GO TO OLE MISS"

Saturday, October 25, 2014

How Do We Track the New York Athlete Championship Belt? (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1 of the New York Athlete Championship BeltSorry it took me a little while to finish Part 2. Still, I hope you enjoy!


1971: Tom Seaver
If you go back to Part 1, you'll see that Seaver won the Belt in '67 and Frazier took it home in '70. Well, in the early '70s, those two traded the Belt back and forth like the U.S. and Russia traded nuclear threats. Seaver gets the nod for a '71 season in which he put up an absurd 1.76 ERA.*

*He somehow finished second in the Cy Young Voting to Fergie Jenkins, who had an ERA that was a full run higher but logged four more wins than Seaver. Yay, wins!

How Cool Was Jeter?

A singular glimpse into a multi-faceted history. Don't we all miss pinstripes in October?!




(Writer's Note: As you could guess by the timestamp, this was a home-from-the-bar post, part of a long binge of old New York sports clips that saw me pass out a happy man. I thought about taking it down, but it's kind of funny, and, more importantly, I stand by it. Man I miss playoff baseball.)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How Cool Are These Nicknames?

FranT and I just drafted a list of our favorite sports nicknames. We got fifteen picks each, and what we're left with are the best 30 individual nicknames in sports, according to us.

1. FT "Yogi" Berra

I'll take a great player with an even better nickname with the top pick. Lawrence "Yogi" Berra is the selection because -- even though I've never seen a yogi -- Yogi looks more like a yogi than any other person I can imagine.

2. BK The Hick From French Lick (Larry Bird)

His friends speculated that if he couldn't play pro ball, he'd have been the head garbageman in French Lick, and 100% happy with that.

3. FT The Sultan of Swat (Babe Ruth)





How Practical Is "Skell-on-Skell Mayhem"?

Last month, I rejoiced after FOX's Gotham organically worked a "skell" reference into its dialogue. Well, a scene from this week's episode was even better. After a deadly drug hits the streets, crooked Gotham cop Harvey Bullock lays out his solution:

video

Did you hear that? "There'll be mayhem, that's for sure. But it's skell-on-skell mayhem. If we keep the decent citizens indoors for a couple of weeks, let the scumbags have at it...Voila, the end of crime."

Monday, October 20, 2014

How Does the NBA Look? - West Preview

As promised, the Western conference version of Triangle Offense's all-nonsense season previews



Friday, October 17, 2014

How Much of a Character Is Grandma?

In the past few months, my grandmother has become a pretty regular character on this blog. In May, I wrote about her hilarious gambling habits. Then, a few weeks ago, I expressed my appreciation for her in a post entitled "How Awesome Are These Old People?".

Needless to say, there's no way her 90-year-old eyes and fingers could operate a computer well enough to read either post. But when my sister told her about it today, here's what happened:



If you couldn't tell, Grandma is grinning maniacally as she fans out a wad of cash. Touché, old lady.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How Does the NBA Look? - East Preview

Triangle Offense is a site dedicated to the NBA, and it oftentimes throws out content that borders on the absurd.

It's NBA Season Preview tweets were just that. You'll find tens of thousands of words and stats and Goldsberry charts elsewhere for NBA Season Previews. Triangle Offense? One image per team.

Here they are all in one place. Well, one place broken up into two blogs, one per conference.




Monday, October 13, 2014

How About the Other Chris Columbus?

In honor of Columbus Day, let's examine the feats of the most important Chris Columbus -- that is, Chris Columbus, legendary filmmaker.

Here are my five favorite Columbus movies:

How Do We Track the New York Athlete Championship Belt? (Part 1)

In a recent edition of the New York Daily News, Mike Lupica penned a column about how Eli Manning is taking the mantel from Derek Jeter as New York's No. 1 athlete. In the rival New York Post, Mike Vaccaro wrote that Carmelo Anthony has the best shot to "become the next Jeter." That's two of the Big Apple's top sportswriters, rushing to find a replacement for the city's most important athlete of the past two decades.

While reading those articles, I had an idea: I should rip off a gimmick from myself that I had already ripped off from Grantland a few months ago. Grantland has given out championship belts in a bunch of different categories, including the Action Hero Championship Belt and the Pitching Championship Belt. In July, I hijacked that idea and retroactively determined the Dominant Team Championship Belt. This week, let's track the New York Athlete Championship Belt!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How Did I Not Know About the Original Angels in the Outfield?

TV is slow this time a year, especially if you're like me and you pretty much watch only sports. With the MLB Division Series all refusing to go the distance, I was at a loss for something to watch on Wednesday night. As I channel-surfed, though, I became intrigued by the title of a film on Turner Classic Movies, my dear old grandma's favorite station. The channel guide read "Angels in the Outfield (1951)".

1951???!!
I couldn't believe that one of my favorite movies from growing up could have been a remake of a decades-old film. After all, the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles/Orange County Angels have only existed as a franchise since 1966. How could a film called Angels in the Outfield predate the team by more than a decade?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

How Cool Are These Nicknames? Preview

I'm embarking on compiling and ranking the greatest nicknames in two categories: sports and music. What I'm learning is that there are so bleeping many good ones. So - what's everyone's favorite? The Boss? The Iron Horse? The Hick from French Lick? Hit me up and help me out, and stay tuned for rankings.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How Impatient Are Little Kids?

Last weekend, I visited my parents' house and my young cousin Neil challenged me to a game of NCAA Football* on Xbox. I accepted, fully expecting my classy Notre Dame team to get throttled by Neil's degenerates from West Virginia University.

*It doesn't matter what edition of NCAA Football, because I hadn't played a sports video game since FIFA 2009.

I elected to receive the ball first, and Neil attempted an onside kick to start the game. Of course. Because he's 11.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

How Awesome Are These Old People?

Pope Francis recently stressed the importance of elderly people, and that message was echoed by priests across the world. No, this post isn't just an excuse to mention the pope with whom I have so much in common. However, it is an excuse to count down the 10 coolest old people in pop culture.


Let's do this, because there's (literally) no time to waste.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

How Profoundly Did Jeter Impact My Life?

There's been a lot of love going around for Derek Jeter the last few months, and it's reached a fever pitch these past few days. Some of my favorite tributes are here and here. And here:



I'm just warning you now that I'm about to break the idol-worship-ometer in this post. You've been warned.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How Mainstream Is the Word "Skell"?

I thoroughly enjoyed Monday's series premiere of the show Gotham, in large part because of this scene:

video

Monday, September 22, 2014

How Important Is the Courtesy Flush?

I went out with a friend from Atlanta on Sunday afternoon and we were hanging out in a bar on the Upper East Side. After a few hours, a bacon cheeseburger, and several pints, nature called. It was time:

Via austinpowers.wikia.com
When I entered the bathroom, it smelt like Harry Dunne had just finished in there. As I sat on my own porcelain throne, I reflected on the two main reasons we courtesy flush:

1. It helps rid the bathroom of the foul odors emanating from your body. 
Sunday mornings, especially, cause demons to leave our bodies during trips to the bathroom. Courtesy flushing allows the pooper to drown those demons as quickly as possible.
2. It allows you to gauge the flushing capacity of the toilet. 
There's nothing worse than a toilet that's weaker than Roger Goodell's credibility. On the flip-side, there's nothing better than an industrial-strength flusher. The courtesy flush allows you to see how much flushing leeway you have.

So please remember to courtesy flush.

(This public service message has been brought to you by Kohler Toilets. Please flush responsibly.)


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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

Friday, September 19, 2014

How Involved in Baseball Is Duffman?

Duffy is a great surname. It's short, it's memorable, it's Irish, and my neighbor once had an awesome golden retriever of the same name. Most of all, Duffy is a great surname because of Duffman references. Which leads us to Wednesday night's Giants-Diamondbacks game. With one out in the top of the ninth, Giants rookie Matt Duffy laced a single to center to score Pablo Sandoval and give the Giants the game-winning run. What made the at-bat even better was this:
Duffy's big hit wasn't the first time that Duffman inserted himself into baseball affairs. Here are a few others that I can think of:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How Hideous Is Miss Trunchbull?

On Friday night, we had a throwback to our '90s childhoods. Adult beverages couldn't stop us from watching Hook, some of The Goonies, and Matilda. Since I already blogged about the first two movies this summer, I figured I was due for a post about Matilda.

So let's talk about Miss Trunchbull. In the book version of Matilda, Roald Dahl's narrator tells us that Trunchbull "had an obstinate chin, a cruel mouth and small arrogant eyes." The narrator also says, "Looking at her, you got the feeling that this was someone who could bend iron bars and tear telephone directories in half."

Yikes! I guess the director of the movie tried to capture the book's description of Trunchbull. Still, on Friday, the headmistress was even more horrific than I remembered. With that in mind, let's check out my five favorite Trunchbull Faces:

Monday, September 15, 2014

How Good/Bad Are These Divisions?

Football is back, and so am I!

Crappy football is better than no football, but Thursday night's game between the Ravens and Steelers was crappy. Personally, I was excited for it because I had Pittsburgh +3 in a pool (in which I am slowly drowning), but I thought to myself "the AFC North is just kinda...bleh". I don't know what it is. Could be the traditionally defensive-minded teams. Could be weird jerseys. Could be the Browns. But I thought: what are the best and worst divisions to watch?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How Is Another Football Season Already Well Underway?

I can't believe that it's Week 2 of the NFL and Week 3 of college football this weekend. Football wore its sneakers this year and sneaked up on me. Even though I've already been out to one Notre Dame game, I still haven't done a true American sit-on-your-couch-and-drink-and-eat-until-your-ass-has-bedsores weekend. But that's about to change!

To get myself pumped up for football, I went back and read How Blank's odes to the pigskin from last fall. I've linked to them below and included the best line from each post and something that I'd add this year.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"How Could That Be Worth It?"

Do you see the title of this post? Well, I heard many variations of that question last week as Kerry and I prepared to head (Mid)west for the final iteration of Notre Dame-Michigan over the weekend.

More precisely, I heard many variations of the question "How the hell could that possibly be worth it?".

Well, as of Friday night, I agreed that it might not have been worth it. We left New York at about 4 on Friday afternoon and -- aside from the normal George Washington Bridge traffic -- we were cruising on I-80 for most of the evening and night. Then, somewhere near Bumblefuck, Ohio, the skies opened up. Suddenly, I-80 was virtually indistinguishable from the Cuyahoga River. I honestly thought we might have to ford the highway, Oregon Trail-style.

Friday, August 29, 2014

How Awesome Are Collisions? (An Appreciation of Bumper Cars)

Humans love collisions, and the world constantly feeds into that fascination. Our prevailing theory of the beginning of the universe involves a "big bang" in which an impossibly tiny, hot, dense...thing expanded to form our world. Presumably, that event involved some collisions.

At the atomic level, shit* is constantly bumping into other shit* to cause all the world's natural phenomena. How does ice melt? Something causes the water molecules to bump into each other faster and faster until the water returns to liquid form. Why do telephone wires sag during the summer? Because heat causes the atoms in the wire to vibrate more quickly, causing volumetric expansion.

*Apologies to Ms. Stevens, my high school science teacher.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How Awful Is the Accidental Shotgun?

While coming in from work today, I was carrying a bunch of different things, including car keys and a can of soda. As I shuffled with all that stuff, I accidentally smashed the keys into the soda, spraying myself and everything I was carrying. That's right: the Accidental Shotgun.


Now, I'm usually all for shotgunning, the act of siphoning a beer down your throat by punching a hole in the side of the can. But this Accidental Shotgun was the pits. Not only did I lose most of the soda, but I also ended up as a sticky man with an armful of wet.

It got me to thinking about other things that are normally cool but become horrible when done accidentally.

Monday, August 18, 2014

How Underrated Are These Baseball Plays?

Earlier in the week, a rabbit hole of baseball articles led me to one written by Mike Fast in 2011 about the value of the hit-and-run. It got me thinking about the many underrated plays we see in the course of a baseball game. These plays are ones that make me say "You just don't get it" when people call baseball boring.

We all love a good home run robbery, bare-handed catch-and-throw, or inside-the-park homer. But I want to focus on subtler plays that elicit "Did-I-really-just-see-that?" murmurs from spectators at the ballpark. The utility and wonder of these plays usually cannot be quantified by statistics. Rather, they reflect baseball's creative, artistic side. In no particular order, here are seven of my favorite underrated baseball plays...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How Little Love Is "Hook" Getting?

I've read a bunch of Robin Williams tributes over the past 36 hours, many of them moving and insightful. But I have also noticed a disturbing trend in those eulogies: None of them makes more than a passing reference to Hook.

Most Williams appreciation articles have placed Hook into a "family-friendly" box with movies like Toys, Jack, and Jumanji. (Unfortunately, Flubber has been mostly ignored in these tributes.) But Hook was so much more, at least for those of us born in the mid-1980s.

Hook provided my generation a seamless bridge from cartoons to live-action films. For those who don't know, Hook is an adaptation of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan that made the story fresh for millions of kids who had already seen the Disney version. The special effects, the focus on the Lost Boys, and Williams' unique sense of humor all made Hook a seminal movie. No 31% rating from snooty viewers on Rotten Tomatoes can change that.

Friday, August 8, 2014

How Come I Just Cried on My Couch?

Yeah, it starts out a little slow, but you'll be tearing up by the time the trumpeter hits the scene.


(Here's a link to the video.)

I've been thinking a lot about World War II lately, partly because I'm reading Ken Follett's Winter of the World.

On the anniversary of D-Day, I took my students to the Statue of Liberty and we watched as helicopters dropped one million roses on the Statue. We also stopped in front of a small ceremony, which an active-duty soldier told us was a gathering of New York City's World War II veterans. When I told my students that my late grandfathers had fought in the war, they were amazed. "History is mad interesting!" one girl exclaimed.

But the group of World War II veterans seemed notably small to me, forcing me to remember that most of the men who fought are now about 90 years old. As there are fewer and fewer World War II veterans around, it's so important to see kids engaging with history. Forgive my use of a cliché, but let's never forget.

How Do the Yankees Look for the Pennant Race?

I know I've written a lot about baseball recently. I love it, and I can't get enough of the pennant race. So sue me. Actually, that's the opposite of the point I'm trying to make.


Today, let's tackle a few interesting questions about a Yankees team that just took three out of four games against the Tigers and their fully-loaded pitching staff.

Monday, August 4, 2014

How Surprising Is Each MLB Team's Top Performer?

On Sunday night, America* watched as Brett Gardner completed a torrid week and led the Yankees to an 8-7 win over the Red Sox. Gardner slammed his fifth homer of the week, bringing his season total to 15 dingers.

*By "America," I actually mean "people who enjoy staying up until midnight to watch mediocre baseball." 

Gardner's superb recent play has unquestionably left him with the best stats among Yankees regulars. The left fielder has been 30 percent better than the average MLB offensive player by park- and league-adjusted measures. When you factor in Gardner's stellar defense, he's been one of the main reasons the Yankees have remained in semi-contention throughout this injury-riddled season.

Friday, August 1, 2014

How Poor Was My July Blogging?

I normally compose a few blogposts a week, and by the end of each month, I aim to average a post every other day. In June, for example, I squeaked out 11 posts of varying length; in May, I wrote 16. Some months I post over 20 times, and others I barely crack double-digits.

Well, in July, I managed just five posts. Horrible, I admit. But just how poor was that output?

My total of five posts in 31 days averages out to .161, or 16.1%. For context, that's worse than...
  • ...newly-enshrined Hall of Famer Greg Maddux's career batting average (.171). In my defense, my July average was better than Dan Uggla's historically-bad mark at the plate this season (.149).
  • ...the winning percentage (.250) of the 1962 Mets, who went 40-120 in their expansion season. That's right, my July production was worse than a team that inspired a book titled Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?.
  • ...the 76ers' winning percentage last season (.232). I couldn't beat out a team whose mission statement has been edited to read: "We apologize for any wins we accidentally stumble into." I hope my July failures allow me to draft an injured center that won't play until at least 2015.
  • ...Manute Bol's career 3-point percentage (21.0%). I did post a better mark than Shawn Bradley's career 10.3% from beyond the arc, though.
  • ...the percentage of Trouble with the Curve I managed to stay awake for (19.54%). That's an estimate, but I'm pretty confident in it. 
  • ...the percentage of Americans who believe in ghosts (45%), according to The Huffington Post. I guess How Blank has been one of those ghosts for large chunks of July.
So in August, I hope to perform better than a pitcher at the plate, a center shooting threes, or a person trying to stay awake through a horrible movie. And since I broke my foot playing in a grown-ass men's softball league last week, I should have plenty of time to do so.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How Do We Track the Dominant Team Championship Belt? (Part 2)

On Wednesday, we retroactively passed out the Dominant Team Championship Belt from 1921-70. Click here for Part 1, which also outlines the criteria we're using to select each titleholder.

I'm excited for Part 2 because, despite the relative lack of dynasties compared to Part 1, the Belt was shared more evenly among the four major sports during this later period. Giddyup!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How Do We Track the Dominant Team Championship Belt? (Part 1)

Over at Grantland, they've posted a bunch of features about the "Championship Belt" holders in various fields. Those articles basically determined who mattered most over the years in various areas of sports and pop culture. Two of my favorite editions in the series were Bill Simmons' Action Hero Championship Belt and Bill Barnwell's Pitching Championship Belt.

I've decided to apply* the idea of the Championship Belt to outline the most dominant sports teams in history. Which teams in the four major American sports have held most of the national spotlight, and for how long? I wanted to examine that question for two reasons:
1) I love the Championship Belt gimmick and its ties to pro boxing and wrestling.
2) I'm all for any list that will prominently feature a bunch of Yankees teams.

*By apply, I actually mean steal, but that's just semantics.

Some of our most dominant teams, like the 1970s Steelers and the Bulls of the '90s, have more staying power than others, such as the early-'80s Islanders. Still, each of those teams held the Championship Belt for a few years.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

How Unintended Are Certain Song Associations?

Kerry and I were driving home on Thursday after a great week in Chicago. At some point in Ohio, as amber waves of grain extended in each direction, the song "Goodbye Stranger" came on the radio. While the opening chords played, I asked Kerry, "Is this the 'Goodbye Toby' song?" I was referring, of course, to the classic scene from The Office in which Michael bids farewell to his least-favorite H.R. rep through a mean-spirited parody.

"Goodbye Stranger" was written by the English band Supertramp in 1979, about three decades before the English version of The Office made its way to the U.S. I find it interesting that my main association with the song is through that classic episode and scene.

I decided to assemble a list of songs that have associations completely unintended by their creators. In other words, when you hear certain songs, do you think of something completely removed from the song itself?

Before we get to my list, here are some of the major reasons for many of our song associations.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How Depressing Did This Yankees Season Just Get?

I've raved about Masahiro Tanaka a few times on this blog and many more times in drunken discussions of the merits of his splitter. This morning brought news that he'll miss at least six weeks with a partially torn UCL, a.k.a. The Power Pitcher's Worst Nightmare. If he can't rehab the injury, he might need Tommy John surgery in this season that has been described as the one Tommy John took. Really crappy news.

So, barring a miracle, the Yankees' season is over. They're missing 4/5 of their starting rotation, and the 1/5 that is still pitching happens to be their oldest starter (Hiroki Kuroda, 39). Their offense, meanwhile, ranks in the bottom third in the majors in park- and league-adjusted performance. Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran have been huge disappointments, their starting middle infielders should be scooting around in wheelchairs, and a position loaded with league-wide talent (third base) has once again become a black hole for the Yanks.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How Can We Define "Crunchies"?

This is one of my first posts as a food critic, but I promise that every foodie should read this.


Last summer, we met our buddy Joe in a bar and he was wearing a Marino's T-shirt. My wife, a Midwesterner, had no idea what product the shirt was advertising, and we had to explain that Marino's is only the best commercial Italian ice company in the world.*

*Luigi's sucks, hence the nickname "Loogies."

Naturally, once we began discussing Marino's, we reflexively described the key ingredient in the Italian ices: crunchies. The mere mention of the crispy, syrupy bottom layer of the ices made me salivate. "Crunchies are ahh-mazing," I told Kerry through a thick layer of drool. My friends were equally complimentary of crunchies, if not quite as disgusting about it.

Each of us detailed a strategy for maximizing crunchies:
Me: "Flip the Italian ice as soon as possible to catch the crunchies before they melt."
Joe: "No, allow some of the ice to melt, then mix the crunchies with that melty part to take advatage of all the syrup."
Girl Joe Was Hitting On: "Crunchies are sooooo good..." (Okay, so hers wasn't really a strategy.)

We even discovered that someone has created a Facebook page honoring the miraculous crunchies.

Monday, June 30, 2014

How Overdue Was My First Goonies Viewing?

Back in March, I wrote a post about evil adult villains in children's movies. I linked to the article on Facebook, and my buddy Dermot mentioned the Fratellis from The Goonies. At that point, I had to admit that I never saw the film. Since I was presenting myself as an expert in children's movies but hadn't seen one of the canonical works in that genre, Dermot responded as I knew he would. "You're dead to me, Fran," he wrote on my Facebook timeline.

In order to win back Dermot's friendship and correct a fundamental problem in my life, I rented The Goonies on Monday. Here, in descending order, are the top 10 moments of that solo viewing party:

Friday, June 27, 2014

How Did We Choose Fictional Drinking Partners?

A couple months ago, Kavanaugh e-mailed me about another collaborative project. "How about this for the next draft?" he wrote. "TV drinkers, drafting five each for your crew." As usual, I went overboard, suggesting we expand the draft to include all fictional characters and pick 10 each. Predictably, it was slow-going. We didn't get through the entire 20-character draft for a variety of reasons (fatigue, busy jobs, getting drunk in real-life, etc.).

But we did complete eight picks each, and the draft had its moments. Since I didn't want to rob posterity of our Mensa-level exchange, here it is:

Monday, June 23, 2014

How Cool Was Meeting Larry Johnson?

A few weeks ago, I took my students on a field trip to Central Park. I was playing basketball with some of the boys, and one of them hit a three-pointer while also drawing a foul. I did the "LJ" hand sign, and the kids looked at me like I had been reincarnated as Randle McMurphy.

I was confused at first, then I realized that Larry Johnson's famous four-point play took place in 1999, before any of my students were even born.


Friday, June 20, 2014

How Similar Are the Yankees and Spurs?

In an ESPN "Daily Dime" column Monday morning, J.A. Adande tried to put the Spurs' fifth NBA title into perspective. Here's one sentence that stood out to me:

"[While] Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees have as many championship rings as Tim Duncan, dating back to 2006, Jeter also had more managers and has reached the World Series only once since 2003."

Adande essentially argued that the Spurs have been the most consistently great professional sports team since Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. He mentioned the Belichick-Brady Patriots and Kobe's Lakers as other teams with a claim to that distinction.

Whether the Spurs were indeed the best franchise of the last 20 years is arguable. It might be instructive to compare them to those aforementioned Yankees. Even if we don't learn anything groundbreaking, it will still be fun to take a side-by-side look at two of my favorite teams ever.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How Punny Was Today's Post Cover?

Back in January, I wrote a post about all the shit Masahiro Tanaka was in for after he signed with the Yankees. I discussed the media, the high expectations, and people gawking at his hot wife. Most of all, I questioned whether Tanaka knew about the absurdity (and borderline racism) of the New York tabloids. Here's what I wrote then:

I wonder if Tanaka is familiar with horrible puns about his nationality. The New York tabloids are great at this. I remember when Hideki Matsui hit his first homer in Yankee Stadium and the back page of one of the papers said "UPPER DEKI!"

Tanaka better prepare himself for seven years of forced, sometimes insensitive Japanese jokes and puns. After a bad outing: "TANAKA SURRENDERS AFTER A-BOMB". After a strong playoff start: "TANAK-OUT PUNCH!". After an arm injury: "MASA SHAME". It should be pretty fun.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How Important Is Going for It?

I saw my sisters on Sunday for a Father's Day celebration, and I told them that a bunch of people informed me recently that they've been "murdering life." Apparently, my college-age sisters have been having a lot of fun lately, or at least they're faking it really well on Instagram.

They confirmed that they have indeed been living it up, standard behavior for a bunch of girls in their late teens and early twenties. The three oldest sisters told me they planned on going to Saloon in Manhattan to watch Monday's U.S.A.-Ghana World Cup match.

"Isn't that the Barstool party?" I asked.

"I don't know," Leenie said. "But the people with the best, most American costumes win a free keg of beer. We're GONNA win that keg."

How Good Does That Patriotism Smell?

The U.S.A. sandwiched a couple strong offensive attacks around 80 minutes of mediocre play yesterday, good enough for a 2-1 win over Ghana. Ghana had been the mongoose to America's snake, the Laertes to the USMNT's Hamlet. But in both teams' 2014 World Cup opener, the Stars and Stripes did just enough to defeat their African foils and grab a much-needed three points.

Now, the U.S. will face a Portugal team that was just obliterated by Germany. If the Americans can pull out a tie, they'll sit in the driver's seat for the second spot in Group G. If that happens, our boys will simply have to hold their own against Germany in order to advance to the knockout stage. Basically, the U.S. will just have to avoid performing like France in every war against Germany ever. In fact, that should be the American mantra before the game against the Germans: Just don't get demolished (like France).

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How Cartoonish Is My Uncle?

My uncle Pat is a lawyer in Brooklyn, and he called his sister to tell her that he recently won a pretty big case. She looked it up and found this sketch in the newspaper:

Photo via brooklyneagle.com
My uncle is pictured on the far right, and we had a few laughs teasing him about this caricature over the weekend. He, of course, claims that it "doesn't look like me," but that's pretty dubious.

Monday, June 9, 2014

How Philosophical Are These TV Dads?

With Father's Day looming next weekend, it's important to remember all the wisdom we've gleaned from our dads over the years. For instance, my old man taught me how to scalp tickets, why nothing good ever happens after midnight, and where to find the hidden parking spots in Manhattan.

In many ways, fathers are like philosophers. If I had to choose one famous thinker to represent my dad, I'd pick Socrates because of his ideas about minimalism. It seems like my dad hasn't bought a material item for himself since the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, when he splurged on a couple commemorative pins. This quote from Socrates sums him up pretty well:

Phoro via frugal-science.com

With that type of comparison in mind, here's an assortment of TV dads and the philosophers they most closely resemble.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

How Sportstacular Are These Next Three Weeks?

In the hockey episode of The Simpsons, Marge tries to tell Lisa that sports is just a small part of life. At that point, Homer marches in chanting "Sports, sports, sports, sports..." Homer then informs his wife that Bart will be riding in the front seat of the car because he's a "good guy at sports."

What's that? You've never watched that scene? Well, here you go. Always remember that Uncle Fran loves you.

Anyways, Homer would love the next few weeks because they'll be full of -- you guessed it -- sports. Here's what I'm so excited for:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How Creepily Funny Are Doll Jokes?

I went back to Notre Dame last weekend for my five-year college reunion, and my buddy Matt shared this photo from his phone:


The doll is creepy as hell, I know. There are just so many uncomfortable things to process at once. But here are my favorite features, in order:
1. "Real Pregnancy Action" gives this toy the feel of an action figure, theoretically making it just as appealing to boys as girls.
2. Baby's pregnant baby means that there are three generations of baby in one box. Talk about value.
3. The back of the box actually says "Waters really break." For some reason, the plural "Waters" kills me.
4. The tiniest baby bottle is so cute.

In actuality, Baby's First Baby isn't really a toy. Artist Darren Cullen created the doll to make a statement about the idea that "toys intrinsically train girls to have and care for children while they are still only children themselves."

Whether or not Mr. Cullen intended for the doll to be funny, my friends found it hilarious. It looks like Chucky, has a pregnant baby, and boasts of "Real Pregnancy Action." If you don't find that hysterical, then I guess you're just a little too "normal" for me.

Despite the creepiness inherent in all doll jokes, there have been a bunch of funny ones throughout the years. With Baby's First Baby as a jumping-off point, let's count down our five favorite doll jokes:

Thursday, May 29, 2014

How Wrong Was I About Tanaka?

It's time for a mea culpa. Before the baseball season started, I made a big mistake about Masahiro Tanaka. When Sports Illustrated featured the Japanese rookie on its MLB Preview cover, I wrote:

"The Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx is a real thing ... Tanaka's doomed, and the season's over before it has started. Hey, at least Tanaka's got a hot wife."

Well, it's been almost exactly two months and Tanakasaurus Rex is one of the main reasons the Yankees haven't been doomed. While dominating the White Sox last weekend, the righty dropped his ERA to 2.29. He's been one of the best starters in baseball, posting the sixth-best fWAR among pitchers and striking out more than 10 batters every nine innings. His splitter has been one of the toughest pitches in the game, making hitters look absolutely foolish. Oh, and his wife is still hot.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How Embarrassing Was 50 Cent's First Pitch?

Last summer, I outlined some of the horrible ceremonial first pitches we've seen through the years. Well, before last night's Mets game, 50 Cent might've topped them all.


A few thoughts about the disgraceful throw:
1. Fitty grew up in Queens during the heyday of the wild Mets team that won the World Series in 1986. Apparently, the rapper emulates the team's cocaine use more than their stellar play on the diamond.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

How Great Is Memorial Day, Still?

Here's a link to Kavanaugh's post from last year about Memorial Day. Have a great holiday weekend!

From 2013:
MDW Kicks Off the Summer

Friday, May 23, 2014

How Depressing Is the Shameover?

One of my good friends -- who will remain nameless in this post -- often complains about feeling anxiety on Sunday morning as a result of some of the mistakes that may or may not have been made over the weekend.

Last week, I posted this on that friend's Facebook wall:



Initially, I was dumb enough to think I invented the term "shameover." Of course, a quick Google search spit out 221,000 results, including that Urban Dictionary definition. Damn! Nobody can make up anything anymore.

Still, I have a few original thoughts to add to our society's valuable conversation about the shameover. Bill Simmons' famous Levels of Losing theory contains 16 tiers of pain experienced by sports fans. I've come up with a more streamlined list for shameovers, with just five levels. Here they are:

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How Frustrating Is "Saving" the Closer?

I HATE the "save the closer in a tie game on the road" strategy. Here's the thinking behind it: Your closer usually pitches just one inning, so there's no need to bring him into an away game unless your team has the lead. In other words, your offense needs to score in the top half of an inning to warrant using the closer to finish off the home team.

Jonah Keri and some other prominent writers have moaned and groaned about baseball managers' groupthink in late-game situations. Here's the conclusion Keri reached:

"[A]s much as some managers might talk a good game when it comes to bullpen usage, the vast majority of them can't resist following nearly identical usage patterns. Ned Yost might not be making the right choices, but he's hardly the only one."

Well, in Wednesday afternoon's Yankees-Cubs game, Joe Girardi continued the trend of "saving" his closer so that his closer might net a save. After tying the game in the ninth inning, the Yankees used every one of their relief pitchers before scoring the go-ahead runs in the thirteenth. Every one of their relief pitchers, that is, besides David Robertson. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

How Crowded Is This Rangers Bandwagon?

All aboard!

video

How Nice Is it To Be Appreciated?

I first wanted to ask "How Does it Feel to Cheat on How Blank?". The answer: not great. I've been putting together weekly recaps of the Knicks' offseason for the fan blog The Knicks Wall. It's fun, but tends to lead me away from my home here at H.B. Check 'em out every Thursday afternoon/Friday morning from now until the regular season begins.

Speaking of basketball minutiae, tonight I happened upon a story in the Jalen Rose Podcast on Grantland that was too good not to share...

Jalen changed his pick for this year's NBA Champion from Miami to Oklahoma City. When asked why, he said it all had to do with Kevin Durant's MVP acceptance speech, in which he thanked each of his teammates individually for helping him achieve that individual honor.

Friday, May 16, 2014

How 'Bout That NBA "Parity"?

When the NBA playoffs started, there was a sense that the road to the championship was wide open, with five or six teams feeling like they had a real shot to least make the Finals. A frantic first weekend of Round 1 -- which was filled with road wins and fantastic finishes -- only reinforced the idea that the NBA was moving toward a system of greater parity.

Now? It's the eve of the conference finals and those possible Round 1 "upsets" seem like a distant memory. In both conferences, the top two seeds will clash for a chance to make the Finals. And in both conferences, we'll be watching matchups that many people correctly predicted way back in October. Did we really need each team to play 90 games in order to figure out that the Heat and Pacers were the class of the East?

At the same time, isn't it great that the NBA cream almost always rises to the top? As exciting as it was to watch five series go the distance in the opening round, the best teams made it to the Final Four. Unlike the other three major American sports, pro basketball has a postseason that always rewards its most-talented, well-run franchises. Home-court advantage and the seven-game series usually ensure that the best squads move forward.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How Funny Are Disney Bit Characters?

In animated movies and shows, much of the comedy is provided by the bit characters. Those of you who have seen Frozen know what I mean. (Olaf, represent!)

One of the first-ever posts on this blog outlined some of the best bit characters on The Simpsons. Today, let's count down the best minor characters in Disney movies.

Top 10 Disney Bit Characters

10. Iago (Aladdin)
Iago was voiced by Gilbert Gottfried, who possesses one of the most obnoxious voices I've ever heard. When I was in college, we had a Greek Myth professor who sounded just like Gottfried, and we blurted out countless Iago lines throughout the semester.

9. The Hyenas (The Lion King)
My cousins actually named their cat "Ed" after the dumbest hyena. God, I hated Ed the Cat. The last time I checked, Ed was actually still alive. Is that possible? How long do cats live?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How Fluky Are MLB's Division Leaders?

The surprising Brewers took two of three from the Yankees over the weekend, winning 5-4 on Saturday and 6-5 on Sunday. Those two games ran Milwaukee's record to 8-4 in one-run games.

As of Wednesday morning, the Brewers and every other first-place team sported winning records in one-run games. That group includes the Orioles, who are 9-3 in such contests and sit atop the AL East. In 2012, Baltimore was a surprise playoff contender, largely on the strength of a record-setting 29-9 record in games decided by a single run. Last year, they went 20-31 in one-run games and found themselves outside of the playoff race by the end of August.

Clearly, a fringe contender's record in close games is often the difference between a successful season and an October vacation in the tropics. Moreover, success in one-run games is subject to factors over which teams have limited control. As Rob Neyer wrote last week, "Despite what you might hear on the radio, a team's record in close games is determined largely by luck, along with a small dollop of relief pitching."

So getting back to those division leaders, let's try to figure out which ones are for real, and which ones have benefited most from good fortune in one-run games.

Monday, May 12, 2014

How Much Does Grandma Love Gambling?

This weekend, my cousin had her First Communion party, giving me the opportunity to see a bunch of relatives and drink a case of beer in honor of an eight-year-old. My grandmother attended the party and one of my aunts informed her that I've been making fun of her on my blog. The particular insult in question appeared in How Blank's Gambling Draft post, in which I wrote this:

My grandmother is absolutely ADDICTED to scratch-offs. Sure, she also loves slot machines like all old cooters do, but scratching like a fiend is the highlight of her day. Fortunately for her, she experiences the highlight of the day about five times per day because that's how often she goes out to buy a new round of scratch-offs. 

By the time my aunt pulled this post up on her phone to show Grandma, the old lady had already scratched at least 20 tickets that day. And we're not just talking about $1 and $2 tickets. Those are too small-time for her. Grandma had bought several $20 tickets in the morning, and most of us gave her a few such tickets for Mother's Day. My uncle, meanwhile, didn't buy her scratch-offs, but his gift was her favorite. He framed this photo, from her $2,500 trip to the casino on Easter:


Thursday, May 8, 2014

How Did Rust Cohle Make Those Beer Can Men?

Kavanaugh and I are in the middle of a draft of our favorite fictional drinkers. One of us drafted Rust Cohle from True Detective and I started thinking back to Rust's beer can men. All of a sudden, I had a great idea: I'm going to build a beer can man of my own.

However, this being the Age of the Internet, someone already pursued that exact same idea. Aaron Goldfarb at Esquire wrote about this topic back in March. You know, back when people were still interested in reading about True Detective. Still, I really wanted a beer can man.

Here's what I was shooting for:

Photo via esquire.com
For the last 15 minutes, here's what I've been up to:

How Dedicated Is My Mother as a Sports Fan?

In anticipation of Mother's Day this Sunday, I thought I'd share a few anecdotes about my mom's history as a sports "fan." Some of these stories might have gotten exaggerated a bit through the years, but they're mostly true.

Now, don't get me wrong here; my mom doesn't have an aversion to sports. She played Division I tennis in college, and she's always enjoyed running, swimming, and competition in general. But her past as a sports fan is checkered at best. To wit:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How Many TV Man-Crushes Have I Had Since Jack Bauer Last Left Me?

Five. Before Monday night, 24 had last aired on May 24, 2010. Here is my quintet of recent TV man-crushes, in no particular order:

1. Jesse Pinkman (Breaking Bad)
Jesse had me crushin' the first time I heard him exclaim "Bitch!"
2. Tywin Lannister (Game of Thrones)
He's adorable, cunning, adorable, funny, and adorable.
3. Ron Swanson (Parks and Recreation)
A man's man. Ron loves steak, hates the government, and sports a truly impressive 'stache. Also, I think he'd give Jack Bauer more of a fight than any of these other guys. (Meaning it might take Jack at least five seconds to snap Ron's neck.)
4. Phil Dunphy (Modern Family)
He's a good father and successful real estate agent, but he never takes himself too seriously. Oh, and he always stays fit.
5. Nick Miller (New Girl)
I'd get along well with Nick -- we're both dirtbags who don't mind a few cocktails.

I was already over some of those guys before Monday night, but a few of my TV man-crushes got dumped hard with the return of 24. As you might have learned on Twitter, Jack is back...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

How Are NBA Players Similar to 24 Characters?

I don't do this too often, but I'm re-posting something I wrote a couple months ago. In honor of the convergence of these magnificent NBA playoffs and tomorrow's return of FOX's 24, here are the NBA players that most resemble characters from the show.

The most addictive show I've ever watched -- 24 -- is returning to FOX for a 12-episode series entitled "Live Another Day," beginning on May 5. In honor of the show's triumphant return, here are the NBA stars most similar to 24 characters. (Warning: Spoilers abound.)

Kevin Durant -- Jack Bauer

(Photos via huffingtonpost.com and realqm.com)

Durant's been the calmest, deadliest player in the game this year, especially after losing running-mate Russell Westbrook for a few months. Similarly, Jack becomes even more cold-blooded after the death of his wife in Season 1. He tortures Russian assassins and American traitors like Durant has been torturing NBA defenses all season.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How Much of a Bandwagon Fan Am I?

I was walking to the bar to meet my friends for Game 7 of the Rangers-Flyers series last night, and a horrific thought crossed my mind: Have I become a bandwagon Rangers fan? I haven't followed the team that closely, but I'm sure as hell catching Playoff Fever. I've always despised the fair-weather/bandwagon types but I think I might be one of them now.

I don't usually do this, but I'm going to try to objectively answer the title of this post. How much of a bandwagon fan am I? Let's break it down.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How Does Parks and Recreation Compare Historically?

Last night, Kerry and I watched the Season 6 finale of Parks and Recreation, and we laughed through much of the hour-long episode. After it was over, though, I realized how many of the jokes had been variations of ones I'd heard before. But that's not a bad thing -- Parks and Rec just has so many hysterical running gags.

Baseball writers and fans love to write about historical comparisons. TV writers and fans may do the same, but not as religiously as baseball lovers. Baseball-Reference.com even lists each player's comps through specific points in his career. For instance, as a hitter, Robinson Cano is now most similar to Nomar Garciaparra, Chase Utley, and David Wright.

Let's apply the same concept of historical comparison to some of Parks and Rec's best running jokes. For each one, I'll provide a brief synopsis of the jokes and come up with a well-known historical comp for each. Let's see how this one goes.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

How Many Ways Can You Duck In?

Some offshoots and sub-categories of the Duck Ins established by FranT

1. Killing Time Duck In

via dailyscandinavian.com

You're often doing the K.T.D.I. when you're in transit. Airport bars are filled with patrons doing this sort of duck-in. Grand Central bars are filled with people waiting on the next train or trying to soothe the sting of watching the train pull away on the platform. 

There's an alternate way for me to get from downtown Boston to my apartment that I take every now and then when I have to. The station where the T connects to the bus has a great bar above it, and when I look up the next bus, I'm always secretly hoping that it's either coming immediately or in 20 minutes. Immediately, I get to go home. 20 or more minutes, I "have no choice" but to wait it out with a Killing Time Duck In. 

How American Is the New Budweiser Commercial?

Phenomenal:


Frogs, "Wassup," Clydesdales, Baseball, AMERICA.*

*But would it have killed them to include a shot of Clemens shooting a needle into his ass while holding an ice-cold Bud?



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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

Friday, April 25, 2014

How Sweet Is the Duck-In?

Last week, Kerry and I decided to take a long walk with our friend Liz, Kavanaugh's former prom date and How Blank's lone groupie. Before we left, I grabbed my wallet, something I'd never do prior to a normal walk. We mockingly claimed that we were ready for "an adventure."

Our trio strolled around Woodlawn before entering Van Cortlandt Park, the third-largest park in New York City. As we wound along a serpentine path on the edge of the 1,146-acre expanse, we started inventing hypothetical situations.

"What if we ended up in Riverdale?" Doable -- just a few miles through to the other side of the park.

"What if you saw a bear?" Dumb question. Next?

"What if one of us got raped?" Ummm, let's just move on.

"What if we found a bar?" BINGO!