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?


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!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How Unpredictable Are New York Post Puns?

Me, last night:

Today's actual front cover:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How Unimportant Is The Most Improved Player Award?

Goran Dragic was named the NBA's Most Improved Player on Wednesday, an "honor" that was also once claimed by NBA greats Gheorge Muresan and Bobby Simmons. The Suns guard took home the hardware easily, earning 408 voter points votes, compared to 158 for second-place Lance Stephenson and 155 for third-place Anthony Davis. (Hilariously, one voter made a bit of a mistake.)

Dragic had a great season, leading the surprising Suns to the cusp of the playoffs. But the MIP* doesn't really do justice to The Dragon's performance. And that's because nobody agrees what the award even awards.

*"MIP" doesn't exactly have a nice ring to it.

I'm sure that Dragic's teammate P.J. Tucker really meant this...

...but what does it actually mean to deserve the MIP? The NBA leaves the guidelines pretty ambiguous ("to honor an up-and-coming player who has made a dramatic improvement from the previous season or seasons"), and Davis and Stephenson certainly seem to fit the bill as well as Dragic.

Let's take a look at some of the arguments/questions/issues the voters probably considered:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How Come These Cities Are Funny?

Kavanaugh and I have spilled a lot of Internet ink in discussing some of America's most popular cities. Just last Friday, I compiled a list of my favorite city nicknames. Now, apparently the New York Times is joining our conversation. On Sunday, the paper's Website published a review of a study to determine the funniest cities in the country. The rankings were compiled based on "surveys of residents (on the prevalence of humor in their daily lives) and of comedians, number of visits to comedy websites, tweets, radio stations, comedy clubs per square mile and native-born comedians per capita."

I don't really understand how anyone could create an objective list of "funniest" cities, but it's a fun idea anyways. I examined the cities that made the top 10, and I tried to determine what makes each one funny. (Important note: The fictional Springfield is actually the funniest city in the U.S.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

How Are We Gonna Do This Until the End of June?

So you've all seen the Kevin "LJ Grandmama" Durant four-point play by now.

Then there was Kendrick Perkins tying the game at the buzzer from the only spot on the floor where he's allowed to shoot:

The Grizzlies took a four-point lead on a Zach Randolph basket with just over two minutes left in overtime. Still, with that crowd and that KD, the Thunder were going to win. You just knew it.

Sure enough, Durant nailed a three to give him 36 points and cut Oklahoma City's deficit to just one point.

And then ... Memphis pulled it out. The Grizz improbably became the latest low seed to steal a road win. I can't ever remember the NBA Playoffs being so wide open.

Tuesday is the last day of my spring break, and I honestly don't know how I'm going to be a productive worker from now until late June. With one or more games like this every night, especially in the Western Conference, productivity should plummet among the NBA fan labor force. Good Lord, this league has no regard for our time. On the bright side, at least we're almost halfway done with Round 1 already.

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

Friday, April 18, 2014

How Fitting Are These Cities' Nicknames?

Today marks the end of Grantland's Detroit Week, during which the Website featured "various stories of this wholly original place." With that in mind, I decided to rank the American cities with the best nicknames. At How Blank, we've already chosen our favorite sports cities, and this post should continue the conversation about the richness of our country's metropolitan areas.

Top 10 American City Nicknames

10. San Francisco: "The City by the Bay"
This is about as literal as city nicknames come, but it's a great moniker. The bay is one of the main characteristics that makes San Fran so wonderful and unique. California will be heard from again on this list.

9. Philadelphia: "The City of Brotherly Love"
This is a literal translation of the city's Greek name. Philly gets docked a few spots because its sports fans are anything but loving.

8. Los Angeles: "The City of Angels"
This is another translation from a foreign language. One more great L.A. nickname is "Tinseltown," which usually refers specifically to Hollywood.

7. Chicago: "The Windy City"
This isn't the most flattering label for a city, but it's endearing. There seems to be some disagreement about the origin of the nickname, but anyone who's ever attended an April game at Wrigley Field knows that the simplest explanation is probably the correct one.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How Superlative Will Round 1 Be?

As a teacher, I'm on spring break this week. One of my only goals for the week* is to finish the eighth-grade yearbook.

*Other than watching Seasons 2-3 of Game of Thrones, drinking beer, and sleeping 11 hours a night.

With the yearbook in mind, I'm going to hand out "superlatives" to all of the NBA Round 1 playoff matchups. I'll also make a prediction for each series. Here we go!

Eastern Conference

Ugliest: Indiana Pacers (1) vs. Atlanta Hawks (8)
The Pacers secured the top seed because of the strength of their defense, while the Hawks made the playoffs because of the weakness of the East. Atlanta went just 22-31 after losing Al Horford for the season in December, and it might be the worst playoff team in modern NBA history. The season series between these two teams was tied 2-2, with each team cracking 100 points just once. Besides some possible highlights from Paul George and Lance Stephenson, don't expect anything pretty from this series.
Prediction: Pacers in 5 games

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Many Sips Do You Take?

Last weekend we had a heated discussion about how many sips it should take to finish a beer. One of our friends demonstrated how he drinks a bottle in four spread-out gulps, whereas most of us said that taking shorter, steadier sips is the proper strategy.

The argument was kind of like that old Tootsie Pop commercial*:

*When I watched this video, I immediately thought that the boy with the Tootsie Pop was voiced by the same person as Charlie Brown. I was wrong, but Paul Winchell did provide the voices for Pig-Pen -- who I wrote about recently -- and Tigger from "Winnie the Pooh". Winchell was an under-appreciated legend.

Just like the world may never know how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know the ideal amount of sips required to finish a beer. It seems to me that there are four distinct methods of imbibing:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How Fantastic Are These Movie Montages?

On Saturday, I was watching a Rocky marathon with Kerry and our friends Jaime and Kevin.

We were midway through Rocky II, at the scene when Mickey first introduces Rocky to the idea of chasing a chicken to develop speed.*

*I always thought that you can't teach speed, but whatever.

"Is he going to catch it?" Jaime asked.

"Don't worry," Kevin told her. "He'll catch it during the montage."

Sure enough, 30 minutes later, Rocky was holding that chicken over his head at the end of the "Win, Rocky, Win" montage.

All of which begs the question, What are the best movie montages of all-time? Let's hash this out.

How Bad Are These Pairings With Jay-Z?

Much and more has been made of John Calipari & his "succeed and proceed" model at Kentucky since they made it to the Final Four. Even this blog has touched on Coach Cal here and there, and personally I could never talk enough Cal, Kentucky, or one and dones.

But this little factoid rose above the noise last week: John Calipari is boys with Jay-Z.

via sports.yahoo.com

Monday, April 14, 2014

How Will the Suns/Grizz Situation Pan Out? (Power Rankings, Week 24)

The NBA Playoffs begin next weekend, and the field is almost set. There's just one more spot to be determined (more on that later), with several teams jockeying for higher (or lower?) seeds. Be sure to check back later in the week for a preview of each playoff series.

In the last edition of these rankings, the Spurs held onto the top spot, and the Thunder rose to the second position. Unsurprisingly, the Bucks and 76ers finished in the bottom two slots.

Below are the complete power rankings, followed by deeper looks at the two Western Conference teams fighting for that last open playoff spot. Consider these rankings a final appreciation of the Suns and Grizzlies, one of which will unfortunately miss the postseason.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How Do Our Sports Cities Compare to GQ's?

In January, FranT and I drafted 5 sports cities each that we'd like to live in. Today, another cultural tastemaker, GQ, published "The Best Sports Trips to Take in 2014". The criteria for each are different, but I couldn't help but notice the similarities. How many cities overlap? 

Here's GQ's full list:

  • Texas football road trip
  • Staples center NBA double header
  • The NFL Draft, Day 2 & the Little 500
  • The Masters
  • Kansas University home basketball game
  • The Boston Marathon
  • Kansas City Chiefs home game
  • LSU Football home game
  • Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field
  • Packers game at Lambeau Field
  • FC Barcelona game
Here's where How Blank's top 10 sports cities agree...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How Do We Prefer To Gamble?

After a bit of a break from our world-famous drafts, Kavanaugh and I ran through another one this week. Here's what transpired:

FranT: Why don't we do the next draft on the best types of gambling? We'll leave that as the open-ended question, and we'll each take five choices. What do you think? If you like it, you can pick first. 

Kavanaugh: That sounds great. With the first overall pick, I'll take the unofficial sports bet. By that, I mean anything that requires money and isn't bet against a book, but is bet against another person or people. Included in this type of bet are fantasy football, survivor pools, March Madness brackets, Super Bowl squares, and every "I'll take the Yankees, you got the White Sox for 5 bucks"-type bet you've ever taken in your life. 

All of these are fun and increase the intrigue of the given sport you're betting on. I also have this theory -- and there's an entire blog to be written here but I'll keep it short -- that it's not really the money we want in a lot of these bets. What we want more than anything is to be right, and the money just puts consequence behind that wager. That's what makes this stuff so exciting. So while I'll often make fun of "Fantasy Football Guy" or "March Madness Guy", I'm all in on both of them as well as all other unofficial sports bets. 

As a side note, my buddy Doyle and I have a great long-term unofficial bet. Started in 2012, we bet $100 on who would have more championships in the next 10 seasons. He took Kevin Durant, I took LeBron, so I'm up 2-0. If nothing else, it will give the winner a reason to re-connect with the loser and collect the $100, should we fall out of touch in the next eight years. 

FranT: Nice strategy, taking five different types of gambling with your first pick. I figured you'd take March Madness brackets ('tis the season) or fantasy football with the first selection, but I'll let you have both of those and the others that you mentioned. I suppose it's my fault for not putting more rules in place.

All kidding aside, with the second overall pick, I'm taking horse racing betting; I guess that should include on- and off-track wagers. The Sport of Kings has appealed to gamblers for hundreds of years, and with good reason.

Monday, April 7, 2014

How Much of a Chance Do the Knicks Have? (Power Rankings, Week 23)

Do you like nachos and beer? Well, I can't give you either of those things, but I can show you some dunks! Like Marreese Speights reaching new heights. And Russell Westbrook stealing then dealing. Finally, don't forget about Brandin Knight, the posterizee-turned-posterizer.

In this week's rankings, the top four (Spurs, Clippers, Thunder, and Houston) remained intact. Meanwhile, the Bulls (who we covered last week) moved into the top 10 on the strength of a five-game winning streak.

Below are the complete power rankings, followed by deeper looks at a pair of teams trying to secure playoff spots -- the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

How Much Do We Love Jim and Pam?

In mid-February, Kavanaugh and I drafted our favorite TV couples ever. It was lots of fun, and we wasted many hours completing it.
Here's how we drafted:
1. Jim and Pam Halpert -- The Office (BK)
2. Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski -- Saved by the Bell (FT)
3. Jay and Gloria Pritchett -- Modern Family (BK)
4. Homer and Marge Simpson -- The Simpsons (FT)
5. Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine Benes -- Seinfeld (BK)
6. Michael Scott and Jan Levinson -- The Office (FT)
7. Don and Betty Draper -- Mad Men (BK)
8. Ricky and Lucy Ricardo -- I Love Lucy (FT)
9. Tim and Jill Taylor -- Home Improvement (BK)

10. Frank and Marie Barone -- Everybody Loves Raymond (FT)

After the draft, I asked our readers to vote for their own favorite couple. Here's how that turned out:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How Filthy Are These Dirts?

This post is dedicated to my Aunt Bernadette, who said I've been blogging too much about sports lately. She's also very fond of using the term dirt as a noun to define a dirty person. (See also: skells.) Here, then, are the best fictional dirts ever, broken down by division. Let's see how this goes.

Charles Schulz Division (for dirts who just love wallowing in their own filth)
1. Pig-Pen
(Photo via peanuts.wikia.com)
Schulz created a true dirtbag in Pig-Pen. In It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Pig-Pen dresses up as a ghost, but he's easily recognized because of the filth surrounding him. He once said, "I have affixed to me the dirt of countless ages. Who am I to disturb history?" Pig-Pen is the epitome of a dirt.

2. The Delta House Brothers
Bluto was pretty much the king of the dirts, spiking bottles, crushing cans, and pissing all over the place. Training a blacklight on the Delta House would be a horrifying experience.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014