50 Shades of Confused: When Bad Ideas Go Even Worse Than Planned

Even though it probably seems like every blog idea I have is brilliant, I’ve gotta come clean and own up to a terrible mistake I’ve made.

The plan was to read Fifty Shades of Grey and write a couple of posts that would be a CliffsNotes-like overview of this popular book. My thinking was that it would be a uniquely funny set of posts because most men haven’t read this book (and never will), and rather than focus on the erotic and serious parts of it, I would dig out the humorous and ridiculous pieces and share those with the world.

A bad idea doesn’t begin to describe my miscalculation. This was a bad idea:

Reading this book was more like a catastrophe stuffed inside a disaster wrapped around a tragedy.

I’ve wasted a lot of time in my 29 years, but I’ve never been this upset over losing three hours of my life—about the amount of time I’ve spent getting through the first 160 pages of this book. The only comparable thing that comes to mind in terms of being this upset was when the girls in my 7th grade class talked some of us boys into going to see A Walk in the Clouds at the movies. We were so pissed off we threw candy at the screen, mocked other moviegoers and eventually stormed out before the movie ended.

And just like that experience from 1995, I’m ready to throw something at this book, metaphorically speaking…except instead of some harmless jujubes, I’d like to fling my feces at this book and its author.

In case it isn’t crystal clear yet, I’m out. I won’t read another page. And I will lose respect for anyone who reads it and claims to enjoy it.

Even if the book wasn’t a boring and repetitive mess—any time someone speaks in this book they are “murmuring” according to the author, and every time the two main characters are together, she is biting her lip and he is running his hand through his unkempt hair—the writing is so poor that it’s beyond distracting.  Here’s a two-sentence example of the typical writing in the book:

“We are besieged by do-it-yourselfers wanting to spruce up their homes. Mr. and Mrs. Clayton and John and Patrick—the two other part-timers—and I are besieged by customers.”

I think they had a lot of customers in the store that day…

Also, four of the first 13 words in sentence two are “and”…it’s seriously the writing of a slightly inept third-grader.

If you’re still interested in CliffsNotes from the first 10 chapters that I actually read, here they are:

-A college senior, Anastasia Steele, is forced to go interview the richest man in Washington because her roommate, the editor of their school’s newspaper, got sick.

-The author makes this girl seem like the least appealing person in the world…a cross between Drew Barrymore’s character in Never Been Kissed and Anne Hathaway’s character in the beginning of The Devil Wears Prada.

-That comparison may make you think I’m only making fun of this character’s physical appearance. But from a maturity standpoint, she’s apparently a 22 year old who frequently uses the phrase “double crap,” and somehow through all of college has essentially never even kissed a guy. She’s just exploding with sex appeal…

-The billionaire she interviews, Christian Grey, is basically described as a cross between the hottest man on the planet and God.

-And yet somehow, as everyone in the world already knows, this book is about the steamy love affair between these two people. Totally, 100% believable.

-Anyway, the first five chapters are basically a back and forth of this man being unsure if he wants to get involved with the college student…not because he’s not attracted to her (because he so believably is!), but because he “doesn’t do the girlfriend thing.”

-But finally, after 80 excruciating pages, this guy decides he has to have this ugly duckling. For the next few chapters we get to read all about him taking her virginity while he simultaneously convinces her to enter into a S&M relationship where he is essentially her master (the dominant, I think they call it), and she has to be his submissive and do any and all sex acts that he desires…double crap!!

-When I reached chapter 11 and saw that for the next 12 pages I’d be reading an actual contract that Christian makes his women sign (complete with a three-page appendix) before starting this formal relationship, I gave up. Did I really need to read a bunch of legal clauses to enjoy a smut novel? Here’s an example of those 12 pages:

“The Dominant reserves the right to dismiss the Submissive from his service at any time and for any reason. The Submissive may request her release at any time, such request to be granted at the discretion of the Dominant subject only to the Submissive’s rights under clauses 2-5 and 8 above.”

That is some steamy, sexy shit right there.

And for anyone who hoped I would read the entire book and give full CliffsNotes so you could hear how it ends, I just read the final page and it sounds like Anastasia leaves Christian, the only man she ever loved.

Tear.

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What Kind of Asshole Makes a Joke About the Colorado Movie Theater Shooting?

I’m trying to figure out just how outraged I should be over a friend’s Facebook comment that said the following:

“Just had the unfortunate experience of sitting through all three hours of the new Batman movie. Those people who got shot during the first hour were actually lucky. (Yes, it was that terrible.)”

That’s just a horrible thing to write, correct? I’m not even gonna say it’s “too soon” for a joke like that because there won’t be any time when it’s not too soon. Am I overreacting to this comment? Is it ok to joke about this if all you’re saying is “better that they got shot during the first hour than the third hour”? I don’t think so, but then I look at the comments below her post from her other friends and there are only six of them, and only in one did someone say she shouldn’t have said that.

After that one person did respond to her comment negatively, the original “friend” I’m speaking of followed up with this:

“Also, of course the massacre was a terrible tragedy, and I’m sorry for the families of everyone who died (…anyone who knows me is aware that goes without saying). But I’m sure anyone who actually suffered through the entire movie would agree: it’s probably better for everyone involved that it happened during the beginning of the movie, rather than right at the end — that would have added insult to injury.”

Does her clarification here make it any better?

I’m so torn on how to react to this…Ignore it? Make a comment on her wall about how awful of a person I think she is? Post her name and all of her info on my blog for others to send her nasty messages? My problem is that if I comment on her wall, I will probably go way over the top and tell her how I hope she gets gunned down while trying to do something she enjoys.

I’m going to let my readers decide how I should respond to this with a vote (see below).

This is beside the point, but…she’s totally wrong about the movie. Dark Knight Rises was a solid B+/A-.

Bob Costas is Literally Murdering the London Olympics

I promised myself I wouldn’t “live blog” the Olympics, but I just couldn’t help myself.

The broadcast for the Opening Ceremony just kicked off (7:30pm Pacific), and we’re live with Bob Costas and Tom Brokaw to ring in the festivities. Everyone’s excited, looking forward to a fun 17 days…I’m sure Costas is going to build upon that excitement….no, wait…he opens the broadcast by talking about terrorism and London’s potential lack of preparation against deadly threats. I’m sure he’s just getting that elephant in the room out of the way; he’s gotta move on to happier topics after this…no, wait a minute, now he’s talking about how horrible the economy is in London and asking Brokaw if the Olympics will possibly jumpstart such a bad economic condition.

OK…NOW he’s gotta move on to positive storylines. Wait, what’s that, Bob? The weather in London has been terrible, the rainiest June in history and as of a few days ago they were worried about being able to have the events go off as scheduled? AND you felt the need to reference when the Germans were occupying London during World War II?

Jesus Christ, Bob, what the hell did London ever do to you?

Thankfully they just flipped it over to Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, who have got to be able to do a better job.  Wait, actually it seems like they just wanna say funny English words back and forth like the “tele” (telly?) and “queuing.” They also felt the need to mention that London couldn’t possibly top the Opening Ceremonies of Beijing from four years ago.

Good times and positive vibes from the entire NBC crew.

Summer Olympics Preview Part 4: Obscure Trivia, What to Watch, and Phelps vs Lochte Revisited

[Editor’s Note: And just like that we’ve arrived at Opening Day of the 2012 Summer Olympics. It seems like just yesterday Nkilla and I were discussing the crazy sport known as the Modern Pentathlon or the phenomenon that is olympic swimming. While those posts were actually weeks ago, we pretty much did just get done discussing the olympic sport best suited for a normal civilian to compete in successfully. We decided for our final email exchange to really empty out the proverbial notebook. In this fourth post, we ask each other some very obscure trivia questions, talk about the best events to watch and how to watch them, revisit the Phelps vs. Lochte debate, and show you the next “big” thing in Beach Volleyball. There’s something for everyone so please enjoy.]

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

OK, we’re in the home stretch for the London Games to kick off so it’s now or never to get any final words of advice out there to our beloved readers. Rather than pose the question of who are the hottest female athletes in the Olympics, several websites have already done the hard work for us. Here is the Bleacher Report’s “100 Hottest Female Olympians of 2012.” http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1223953-100-hottest-olympians-of-2012/

That covers all countries.

And Men’s Fitness has come out with their version, the Sexiest US Olympic Women: http://www.menshealth.com/olympics/sexiest-female-olympians

Instead of us debating who’s the hottest athlete, I’ve run some stats on the top 30 according to the Bleacher Report I referenced above (because who cares about anyone outside of the top 30 honestly?).

Here’s what I found:

-In terms of countries, Italy has 3 women in the top 30, Russia has 4 women in the top 30, and the US has a whopping 10 women in the top 30.

-In terms of sport, tennis occupies 3 of the top 30, volleyball and beach volleyball each have 3 in the top 30, track & field has 4 in the top 30, and soccer has 7.

How do you feel upon hearing those stats? Does it line up with what you would have expected? Is it really possible that the US has 1/3rd of the hottest 30 female athletes in the olympics? After all, there are 205 total countries competing in the olympics…seems a bit absurd to think such a large concentration of hotness is coming from one country.

And what about Soccer having the most spots? Are soccer chicks really that good looking? Would you have expected any other sport to make a run at soccer before I showed you these stats?

A little random trivia for you…I just mentioned that 205 countries are competing in this year’s Olympics. Can you guess how many countries are competing from each of these continents…Africa, Asia, and Europe? Don’t google it, just try to guess.

And finally, do you wanna weigh in for our audience on the whole “London is 8 hours ahead of the West Coast of the US so watching the important events on TV without having Twitter, Facebook or ESPN ruin the results ahead of time is going to be a challenge” issue? What’s the best way for people to watch the events? And remember that some people can’t sit in an office and stream the games live on their 2nd and 3rd monitors like you can…

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

Regarding the attractive and obviously-smart-as-well women of the Olympics:

You retrieved your lists from websites that are primarily visited by US citizens, so I am not surprised how many of the top 30 are American. If you found a popular German site that came up with the same list, I wonder what the results would be. Although, the US tends to be able to qualify women for all events, which cannot be said for most other countries, so since US women make up the largest percentage of all female Olympians maybe it makes sense that they have a higher percentage of smart and attractive athletes. I almost want to apply math to the soccer situation as well. Each soccer team has 22 or so ladies to choose from so it probably makes sense mathematically that soccer yields the highest percentage of smart and attractive women. My prediction though is that there is going to be some women’s beach volleyball team that garners a lot of attention for something other than their play. I feel like it happens every Olympics. Misty May and Kerri Walsh are getting a little older now so they are past their prime with their “non-athletic appeal,” but someone is going to step up. My prediction is Kolocova & Slukova.

As for your “countries by continent” trivia, here are my answers:

Africa = 35

Asia = 37

Europe = 44

Those are all just guesses; I did not google it. Here is an interesting question related to country participation. For international soccer, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all field their own teams as independent nations. Yet for the Olympics, they all compete as the single nation of the United Kingdom. Why? And could Canada and Australia join the UK team if they wanted?

The best way to watch the events is live, either at home or on your computer. Most of the medal events will happen late in the day London time, which means sometime between 9am-noon Pacific Time. When NBC shows the replay, you know they are going to save the best events for the end of their primetime broadcast, so we are talking between 11pm-midnight. I do not believe the average sports fan can keep themselves from finding out the results for up to 15 hours, so really if you care about not having it spoiled for you, then you need to find a way to watch it live.

I bought a copy of the Sports Illustrated Olympic Preview issue the other day because they try and predict the winners of every single medal, and I am toying with the idea of tracking how accurate they are. My guess is that they are going to be around 20% with picking the exact winner of the exact medal for each event. In terms having their three picks for each event win any medal, do you think they will be over or under 50%? I’m going to go with slightly over. They are also predicting the US and China to tie with 42 golds each, and the US to edge out China in total medals 99 to 97.

Another fun thing about the SI preview: They put a fun little sentence about the sport or competitor for each event. For instance, after the Men’s Individual Archery picks, they wrote “Two-time champ Im (the gentleman they picked for the gold) has 20/200 vision.” So my guessing game back at you: here are my favorite tidbits; Can you figure out what event they belong to?

“The Wangs are not related.”

“Nevin beat his cousin Michael to win the Irish nationals.” (This one is only good once you figure out the sport and imagine that the Irish qualifications happen drunk one night outside a bar.)

“McKeever will soon qualify as a chartered accountant.”

“Ex-bartender Heath can mix 150 cocktails.”

“Daley’s coach taunted Qiu on Twitter this year.”

“Fox-Pitt’s middle name is Speed Lane.”

“Orozco had three background roles in Law & Order.”

“New Zealand’s Logan Campbell opened a legal brothel to fund his training.”

“Cheywa attended police college.”

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Let’s tackle the trivia portion of your email first.

Africa actually has 51 countries participating while Asia and Europe have 45 countries in the olympics. The reason I asked—and really the only reason this caught me off guard—is because my entire knowledge of Africa and its countries is from the board game Risk. And in that game, there are all of six countries represented. I always thought there was something like 6-12 total countries on that continent.

For your really random and obscure trivia questions, here are your quotes again with my answers and my rationale:

“The Wangs are not related.” = Table Tennis: because Wangs = Asians and Asians = Good at Ping Pong

“Nevin beat his cousin Michael to win the Irish nationals.” (This one is only good once you figure out the sport and imagine that the Irish qualifications happen drunk one night outside a bar.) = Wrestling: because your clue of being drunk outside a bar makes me think it’s a head-to-head fighting type of event, and I don’t see the Irish having anyone entered into Boxing

“McKeever will soon qualify as a chartered accountant.” = Sailing: because people charter things like planes and boats, right? And a lot of accountants probably like sailboats.

“Ex-bartender Heath can mix 150 cocktails.” = Handball: because playing handball seems to be as athletic of a sport as mixing cocktails.

“Daley’s coach taunted Qiu on Twitter this year.” = Badminton: because I have no fucking clue.

“Fox-Pitt’s middle name is Speed Lane.” = Track & Field: because speed lane makes me think of a fast runner.

“Orozco had three background roles in Law & Order.” = Shooting: because this one was obvious…Law & Order is about the police, who have guns, which maybe means this guy shot a fake gun in his background roles and that helped him become an Olympic shooter.

“New Zealand’s Logan Campbell opened a legal brothel to fund his training.” = Water Polo: because it seems like the type of sport that New Zealand would be randomly good at.

“Cheywa attended police college.” = Modern Pentathlon: because at police college you’re probably schooled in shooting, riding a horse, running and maybe sword fighting, and those are four of the events in the Pentathlon.

One final topic I want to revisit before we sign off for good on the Olympics Preview is the Phelps vs. Lochte debate. Even though the rivalry’s cooled down a bit since the US Swimming Trials were broadcast a few weeks ago, it’s going to be ratcheted back up on Day One (July 28th) when they begin their first event, the 400M Individual Medley. Are you rooting for the favorite, the dominant force, the Tiger Woods of swimming (Phelps, obviously)? Or are you rooting for the underdog, the guy who would be the favorite if Phelps wasn’t around, and apparently the more likable guy (Lochte)? Everything I read says that while Phelps doesn’t show much personality to the public, and he doesn’t do much with his time besides swim and pretend to eat at Subway, Lochte is the polar opposite…he’s apparently a “fun-loving, easygoing guy,” and besides swimming he likes to play basketball, volleyball and go surfing.

Do you root for dominance to continue, even if the person doing the dominating doesn’t relate to regular people very well? Or do you root for the underdog who’s apparently a lot more relatable to a normal person?

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

OK, here are the answers to my trivia quotes:

“The Wangs are not related.” = Women’s Singles Badminton

“Nevin beat his cousin Michael to win the Irish nationals.” (This one is only good once you figure out the sport and imagine that the Irish qualifications happen drunk one night outside a bar.)  = Boxing (Irish not entered in boxing? Come on, Rmurdera, they would not let the legacy of Hurricane Peter McNeeley die.)

“McKeever will soon qualify as a chartered accountant.”  = Men’s 200m Kayak Singles

“Ex-bartender Heath can mix 150 cocktails.” = Men’s 200m Kayak Doubles (Seems like if you are good at kayaking you have a lot of free time. Maybe you should take this up).

“Daley’s coach taunted Qiu on Twitter this year.” = Men’s 10m Platform 

“Fox-Pitt’s middle name is Speed Lane.” = Equestrian (So just to be clear, “William Speed Lane Fox-Pitt” is the name of the jockey, not the horse.)

“Orozco had three background roles in Law & Order.” = Gymnastics

“New Zealand’s Logan Campbell opened a legal brothel to fund his training.” = Taekwondo (Makes sense, right? A pimp needs to be able to beat down both employees and customers when necessary.)

“Cheywa attended police college.” = Steeplechase (Also makes sense, the running and jumping over things.)

As for your Risk perspective on Africa, does that mean you have thought the USA was made up of only two states (an eastern state and a western state) for the past 30 years? Also, in any history class throughout high school or college, if there was a question on a test as to how a war started, did you simply just write the one word answer: “Siam”?

I’m going to keep the Phelps vs Lochte argument simple since I already talked about it in part two of our Olympic preview:

After seeing Lochte’s picture on his wikipedia page and seeing he is from New York, I decided he looks like a typical Yankees fan so I am completely “Team Phelps” when they go head-to-head, but I’ll switch back to “Team Lochte” any time he is competing against the Russians.

Finally, for anyone wondering what events they should consider watching over the first weekend of the games:

MUST WATCH:

Men’s 400m IM Final – Saturday 11:30am

Women’s 400m IM Final – Saturday 12:10pm

Women’s 4×100 Free Final – Saturday 12:40pm

Men’s 100m Breast Final – Sunday 12:00pm

Men’s 4×100 Free Final – Sunday 12:50pm

Men’s 200m Free Final – Monday 11:40am

IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE BY A TV:

Men’s 132 lb Judo Medal match – Saturday 8am (Although if this is not exactly like the All Valley Karate Championship from Karate Kid, including music, I’m going to be pissed.)

Men’s Team Archery Medal Match – Saturday 10am (I’m expecting Hunger Games, but with adults)

Men’s 400m Free Final – Saturday 11:50am

Men’s 145 lb Judo Medal match – Sunday 8am

Women’s Team Archery Medal Match – Sunday 10am

Men’s Individual Sabre Final – Sunday 11:10am

Women’s 100m Fly Final – Sunday 11:30am

Women’s 400m Free Final – Sunday 12:15pm

Men’s 161 lb Judo Medal match – Monday 8am

Women’s 100m Back Final – Monday 11:50am

Men’s 100m Back Final – Monday 11:55am

Women’s 100m Breast Final – Monday 12:10pm

IF YOU WANT TO MAKE YOUR WIFE/GIRLFRIEND HAPPY:

Men’s Team Gymnastic Finals – Monday 8:30am

To: Nkilla

From: Rmurdera

I know you had addressed the Phelps/Lochte rivalry earlier, but I was hoping you’d give us a little more substance than “Lochte’s a Yankees fan so I don’t like him.” My opinion is that I want Phelps to dominate again. I hate an underdog success story. I always root for the scenario where I’ll be able to tell your kids someday that I saw the most dominant athlete at a given sport in his prime. That’s why even amidst the Tiger Woods personal life meltdown a few years ago, I’m still hoping he crushes the Major Championships record. I always root for the favorites, at least until the first sign of disappointment. No one jumps off a bandwagon quite as quickly as me.

Back to School: Week Two…When All the Assholes Hijack My Writing Class

Heading to Week Three of Television Writing Class in just a bit, and I thought I could piece together a blog about my experiences so far. I blogged about my Week One Class, but never got a chance to check in after Week Two.

If Week One was all about everyone getting to know each other, then Week Two was all about people trying to prove their intelligence and show off their TV obsessions. Seriously, one minute the teacher is asking us what existing TV shows we’re thinking of writing a script for (the goal of the class, after all), and the next minute people are discussing how “Louie isn’t a sitcom; it’s a show full of existential vignettes.”

I’m not joking…someone actually said that.

Week two was a bit of a reality check because I was hoping all along that it was only in my previous life of being around sales people where there was always someone in the group who had to prove they were the smartest in the room. I wanted to think it was unique to typical sales guy douche baggery, but alas, it seems like every group has one…or three.

After a 15 minute tangent of a conversation between two people in class arguing about Louie and 30 Rock, the teacher finally asked, “So are either of you picking Louie or 30 Rock as your shows to write?”

Nope. Of course not. They just wanted to waste our time and hear themselves talk.

I honestly thought a room full of writers would make for a quiet setting, a bunch of recluses who are scared of public speaking and attention. I was very wrong.

I’m trying to figure out what I should do the next time a conversation is going off the rails. I might go with yelling out, “Can you two shut the fuck up so this guy (pointing at teacher) can teach us something?” But I was also thinking of going the less mature route of making a super loud farting noise to break up the discussion. I can’t decide which way to play it.

A few more random notes before I pack up my grapes and M&M’s and head off to class:

Arrested Development is the absolute gold standard of TV writing according to my classmates. If you try to say anything negative about this TV show, you will get ostracized from the group. Our teacher said one negative thing—that the writers of this show only wrote jokes for themselves, not for the general public—and I’m pretty sure at least five students are dropping out of his class because of it.

-If Arrested Development is the gold standard, then Whitney is…the poop standard? The pyrite standard? (ahh, that’s a thinker’s joke. You see, pyrite is a metal compound that’s often referred to as “fool’s gold” because it looks a lot like gold, but is actually worthless compared to gold.) Whatever the opposite of “gold standard” is, that’s Whitney, according to my class.

-The TV show I’m picking to write a script for is Happy Endings. If you don’t know it, give it a shot. It’s a good one. And if you do know it and happen to have some really brilliant ideas on what would make a good episode for that show, feel free to send it my way.

-Finally, I think our professor has done too many drugs in the past. Why do I think this? Well, for one, he’s constantly referencing all the drugs he’s done in the past. And two, he seems to keep forgetting which class he’s teaching while he’s lecturing us. And in Week Two, he was supposed to bring in DVDs that had episodes of sitcoms on them for us to watch as a class, but he screwed up and brought only Portlandia episodes, which is a sketch comedy show. I’m trying to figure out how long until I’m allowed to scream out, “Hey, Prof, I’m paying for this class out of my own pocket. That’s right…not my parents’ pockets, not through some loans that I won’t see the repercussions of for years…MY. OWN. POCKET. So why don’t you get your head out of your ass and bring the right material to class?” It’s probably still too early to do that, but it’s coming.

Signing Up for Tough Mudder Really Means Signing Up for Enemas, Hypothermia and 3rd Degree Burns…I’m In

Am I crazy for trying to do a Tough Mudder event in February?

Before I ask that question, I should probably give you my credentials and then describe the Tough Mudder event.

My credentials: I have run one full Marathon and a handful of Half Marathons in the past. Everytime I’ve finished one of these events, though, I’ve been on the verge of hallucinating, collapsing or vomiting (or all three). I haven’t run farther than five miles in more than a year, and I now get “winded” walking one block to the fast food joint for my daily Milk Shake. As for the legendary staircase that I referenced in THIS BLOG, well, I can officially run up seven of the 280 stairs before keeling over.

Now here is how Tough Mudder is described on its website: “Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses…Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world.”

Let me try to further describe this event based on reviews I’ve been reading.

The 10-12 miles are usually setup on varying terrain, meaning plenty of hills to run. There are about 25 obstacles to conquer over those 12 miles. Here are some of the obstacles and their descriptions:

-Cliffhanger – Scale a 40-foot cliff of slippery mud angled at 45 degrees.

-Arctic Enema – Jump into a giant pool of ice and find the mental and physical strength to swim through the ice, under a wooden plank and pull yourself out on the other end before you become hypothermic.

-Fire Walker – You’ll be running through a trench of blazing, kerosene-soaked straw. You can expect flames at least 4 feet tall. While the flames might seem like the most intimidating aspect of this obstacle, participants often forget that with fire comes smoke. Take a deep breath before you enter this obstacle because believe us, you don’t want your lungs full of this thick smoke. Build up your lung capacity while training for Tough Mudder or you’ll be forced to inhale some nasty carcinogens.

-Electroshock Therapy – Sprint through a field of live wires—some carrying as much as 10,000 volts of electric shock. Watch out for hay bales and deep mud, or you will face-plant into some electrifying mud. You are guaranteed to get zapped with as much as 10,000 volts of electricity and it does NOT tickle. This is typically the last obstacle Mudders must overcome before they cross the finish line.

So if I’m able to run 12 miles while scaling an impossible cliff, avoiding hypothermia, and not setting myself on fire, then all I have to do is not pass out from being shocked by 10,000 volts over and over, and then I’ll be an official Tough Mudder?? Yeah, let me go ahead and sign that release of liability form right now.

In case you’re still not getting an idea of what this event is like, here’s the official highlight video:

In all seriousness, we are getting a team together for early February to do the Southern California event. Assuming I did a good job of selling people on how much fun this is going to be, send me a message if you’re interested in being part of Team Ross.

And finally, here’s a quick poll for my readers on my chances of succeeding in the Tough Mudder:

Groupon Has Failed Me For the Last Time

Isn’t Groupon supposed to have deals specifically tailored to individuals? Why the hell do I go through the trouble of telling Groupon that I’m a male who lives in LA and only enjoys Sports and Food if the company’s just going to ignore all of my demographic data and clog my inbox with random deals? Even if the only thing they pay attention to is my gender, you’d think I wouldn’t have gotten this deal.

This is exactly why I pretty much ignore all Groupon emails at this point. At least Living Social sends me deals for Brazilian Steakhouses, Palm Springs getaways and Surfboard rentals.

Anyway, I’m curious from the ladies in the crowd: Is changing your name a big enough annoyance that it’s worth buying a Groupon deal to help out with this? Isn’t it as simple as changing your Facebook profile name?

Summer Olympics Preview Part 3: Which Olympic Sport Could You Best Compete In?

[Editor’s Note: You’re about to read Part Three of our ongoing Olympics Preview, where Nkilla and I debate which olympic sport a “normal person” (read: nonathlete) could best compete in. If you’re worried about reading part three before reading parts one and two because you think the chronological order of these posts matters, don’t. But if you do want to catch up on the internet’s most entertaining London Games Preview, here are the links: Part One discusses the ridiculousness known as the Modern Pentathlon, while Part Two focuses on every American’s favorite fake interest: Olmypic Swimming. With part three, Nkilla really did the heavy lifting as you’ll see by the record-setting length of his emails to me. I’m starting to think there is no one more excited for these Summer Olympics than him. Buckle up for a lengthy debate, and as always, enjoy.]

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

In our previous email exchanges about swimming, you mentioned that swimming and track & field are likely popular spectator sports at the Olympics because most people know how to swim, and everyone knows how to run, so they are events we can personally relate to. That’s a fair point, but obviously we would never try to say that a civilian spectator could just show up the day of an olympic swimming or track event and put up a fight against the world’s top athletes in that sport. That’s insane.

But are there events in the Summer Olympics that we think might be unathletic and random enough that a civilian like you or I could presumably compete with the world’s best in?
Which event or events do you think a lay person could best compete in?
Let’s specifically take the two of us as those example “civilians” and talk about which events we’d best compete in.  Keep in mind that in order to compete in these events, we’d actually have to be willing to show up and participate. This means Boxing and Taekwondo are out because I’m pretty sure neither of us would even step into the ring or onto the Taekwondo mat to face an Olympian in these events.
Thoughts?

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

OK, so I think what you are asking is what events could a random civilian not only compete in but actually have a chance of medaling in, or at least a top 10 finish.

I want to go back to boxing first. You realize that olympic boxing requires all competitors to wear helmets, and that the bouts only go three rounds, correct? So in order for a civilian to do well all you have to do is get in the ring, dance around for nine minutes, hope to not get drilled in the head, and then hope the judges like your tactics and make you the winner. And if you don’t think that could happen, remember that in 1988 Roy Jones Jr. lost the gold medal after he dominated the bout because all three judges admitted they did not want the South Korean he was fighting to not get any votes in front of his home crowd. Unfortunately for Roy, the judges decided to conspire separately instead of together and he lost 3-0. I also found three official-looking summaries on the interwebs of the Olympic Boxing Judging Rules, and all three summaries used these words somewhere in their description about the process: controversy, bias, scandal. So maybe we shouldn’t dismiss boxing so quickly.

So the first thing we need to do here is rule out all the events that use any type of weapon. The people that are pros with swords, bow & arrows and guns are pretty accurate. Maybe we get lucky and hit the center of the target once, but not the hundreds of times it would take to advance past the first round. As we know from this we therefore need to eliminate the Modern Pentathlon as well. I think we can safely rule out all the other “fighting” sports as well for a combination of lack of training and getting a serious beat down, so that eliminates Judo, Taekwondo, and Wrestling. Also, I know I hit the gym every once in a while but Weightlifting is out as well.

Certain events we can rule out because we simply physically cannot perform the act required (all gymnastic events), know how to perform the actual movements but would get slaughtered (swimming and diving), or are just stupid (synchronized swimming). As for the nautical events, let’s eliminate anything that requires rowing because we probably do not have the correct development of our rowing muscles to go more than fifty yards. I was wondering if we could hop in a sail boat, point the boat in the right direction, and get the correct wind and luck ourselves into the top ten. Then I looked at the footage of some olympic sailing races…a lot of ropes and throwing body weight around and hanging off of boats, so I think all nautical events are out.

Let’s look at the raquette sports. Tennis is out because if we could compete in olympic tennis, we would have played at Wimbledon earlier this month. Ping Pong is out because world-class ping pong players are insane and hit the ball ridiculously hard and fast. But what about badminton? My instinct was that no matter how hard someone swings, that shuttlecock thing can only go so fast based on what I know about physics. Go to youtube and search for “olympic badminton.” I think this one might be a possibility.

So let’s talk team sports for a bit. I think for this category we have to evaluate if you could actually start on the team and contribute. That eliminates basketball, field hockey and both types of volleyball. I was thinking water polo might be a possibility. I can tread water and swim pretty well, can throw a ball around…so based on visuals and my personal perception, I would think water polo would be in play. The problem is, I know a couple people who played water polo in college and they are extremely adamant that you can not imagine how much swimming you have to do until you actually play. So I’m not sure I could make it five minutes through a match without needing a lifeguard to jump in and save me. That leaves handball. Again, you will have to do some youtube research to see how the game is actually played, but it looks like a bunch of guys pass a ball around, the defense forms sort of a wall 15 feet from the goal, one team tries to throw the ball in the net, and then you repeat down the other end of the court. I feel like I could do that right now.

We know most of the track and field events are out, but did you know “race walking” is an event? That’s right, “who can walk the fastest” is an actual olympic event. We can walk, right? We can walk fast when we need to, right? So we could probably compete in this one, right? Wrong. The men’s race is 12.4 miles. The time needed just to qualify for the medal round in 2008 was 1 hour 23 minutes. That is a 6:40 pace. Could you even go and run a 6:40 mile right now?

Now on to “events with bikes.” The triathlon, road cycling events, and BMX events are not options. Sorry to keep saying “check this out on youtube”, but check out Olympic Track Cycling. If the race is four times around the track, it seems like the object is to barely move for the first 3.8 laps so you are not in the front, then sprint the last 30 yards and try to win. Is there any reason we could win a couple of short sprints or get lucky and have our opponent fall? Or am I completely wrong on this and once our opponent sized us up they would spring their entire race against us and destroy us?

I want to discuss trampoline for a minute because I think this would be a lot of people’s first answer. In fact, many people (myself included) would question why trampolining is even considered a sport. So naturally I went to watch some olympic style trampolining on youtube. Unfortunately I have to admit I could not show up without any training to compete in this. Remember that we are trying to decide if we could make the top ten. There is no way I could do so many flips with such perfect form on a single jump. I’m not arguing whether or not trampolining should be an Olympic sport. That is an entirely different conversation. I’m saying there is no way I could do what I saw on youtube.

One final option: Equestrian. Again, not arguing that this should even be in the Olympics as the horse does 98% of the work, but that is a good argument for why I could show up at the ranch on medal day and possibly pull off the upset, right? As long as I can get the horse to follow the designated route, he will do the rest. If this horse made the horsey olympic team then I assume that as long as I have him running towards a gate he is going to jump it whether or not I give the right command. I would hope he is not going to plow right through it just because I don’t shout “ole” and flex my left calf at the correct time.

So to summarize, in no particular order yet, here are the events I think an average mobile person could compete in during the Olympics and have a reasonable showing with the right tactics:

badminton
boxing
handball
equestrian
track cycling

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Wow, that was a very comprehensive reply to my question…It seemed like the answer of a guy who is awake more hours than usual and couldn’t find anything better to do with his time.

First of all, I love how easy you make it sound to just jump into a boxing ring (18 feet x 18 feet) and “dance around for nine minutes” while a skilled boxer chases after you. Sounds really simple.

Are you sure you wanna rule out synchronized swimming? You remember me, you & Pueto (our middle brother, for the uninitiated) pulling off some pretty amazing synchronized moves in grandma & grandpa’s pool back in the day, right? It may be a stupid sport, but all I care about in this case is what we can admirably compete in. This might be one to go for. We have previous “training.”

I took your advice and watched some Olympic Badminton highlights…I couldn’t disagree with you more. Sure, it’s not like the “pro’s” are gonna hit the cock harder than you can, it only goes so fast. But I have a feeling that they place the cock exactly where they want on the court every time. Meaning you’d be diving for their shot by the 2nd time they send it over your way, and even if you luckily return it, they’d simply place it where you’re not. No chance.

But wow, you might be 100% right with handball. How is this an olympic sport? There are a lot of things about the olympics that make it seem like a sham, but including handball as a sport might be the most egregious of them. If the highlights I watched are equivalent to how all handball is played, then you’re right. We could get a team of seven from our group of friends and possibly medal in this event. It looks like there is absolutely no contact allowed between players, and if that’s the case, there’s really no difference between those olympians and us. I’m moving this to my top nominee for our question for now.

Regarding your question around Track Cycling, I’ll make it easy: I doubt either of us could stay upright on the bike if we had to ride it on one of those curved, sloped tracks. Moving on…

With the Trampolining event, I’d only think I had a chance if the Olympic Committee allowed a slight rule tweak. I would need another person (specifically Eamon Moran) on the trampoline with me so that he could “double bounce” me. If I got the perfect double bounce with Eamon sending me twice as high as I could normally jump, then I give myself a chance. Not a good chance, but a chance.

And for the Equestrian option you threw out there…we should probably consult with someone who’s at least ridden a horse once because I know neither of us have, and maybe there’s more to it than just lining the horse up on the course and letting him go at it. But I think this is worth a shot, and the bonus is if you do poorly at this event, you can say, “I guess old JohnnyComeLately didn’t have it in him today.”

I want to throw one more event out to you before I give my ranking: Canoe Slalom.

I would never dare to think that we could compete in the Canoe Sprint, which seems like you actually need to be athletic and skilled for.  But the Slalom doesn’t seem that much more difficult than some of the rafting we’ve done on weekend trips in the Bay Area over the years. The river’s doing a lot of the work for you. I feel like you could just throw the paddle away and get lucky with the river taking you down without a problem. Those one-person kayaks/canoes are super easy to control and again, I’ll reiterate, nine times out of 10, you can screw up and take the wrong line through a rapid, and the river will still guide you to the bottom. Check it out and let me know if you agree:

So here’s my current ranking from toughest to easiest of which events a civilian could compete in reasonably well at the London Olympics:

5). Trampoline (with my proposed “Eamon Moran” addendum to the current rules)

4). Equestrian

3). Synchronized Swimming

2). Canoe Slalom

1). Handball

Agree? Disagree? Are your rankings different than mine?

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

I stand by my boxing position. The heavyweight division is for anyone between 179 and 200 pounds. I would be on the “spry” side of that weight class so I really think I could dance around some of the slower, huskier gentlemen. I also really think the helmet helps. I might be able to absorb two good punches before I go down. I just think that with the history of olympic boxing corruptness, it makes sense to put yourself in a situation where a well paid Ukrainian can help you win an undeserved medal.

I remember you and Pueto doing synchronized swimming routines, but I am pretty sure I just watched and made fun of you. Especially if this is going up on a public internet site, then for sure I just watched. Also, I do not want it in my search history (unless it is this exact video) so I did not do it, but you should go youtube some olympic synchronized swimming. Yes, it is completely lame, but there is a lot of breath holding and keeping of legs completely straight for long periods of time. How about this: if you go to a pool and do a handstand in the shallow end for 30 seconds while keeping your legs compeltely straight, we can re-open the synchronoized swimming discussion. After you fail at that, also remember that touching the bottom of the pool with any part of your body during synchronized swimming is either a serious point decuation or complete disqualification (I do not even care enough about the sport to see which of those options is correct, but I know one of them is).

I went back and watched some badminton a little more carefully. Seems like the strategy is to hit lobs to the back corner, and if you don’t, your opponent is either going to unleash a volleyball style spike or do a little drop shot. You are probably right, too much skill and too much moving to just show up for this one.

I talked to a friend who is very into cycling. We would not fall off the curved track; they are not very steep. The other gentlemen in the competition though, they can get their speed up to 52mph in less than a quarter of a lap. Probably safe to rule track cycling out now based on that. Also, no rule tweaks allowed with your trampoline theory. I could make a case for winning twenty or so different events with a single rule tweak (probably an entire separate conversation) so you can not have Eamon the “double bouncer” help you in trampoline.

As for canoe slalom, you are out of your mind. First of all, those are probably class IV rapids they are canoeing in. Secondly, in the first 36 seconds of the video you referenced, the competitor stops on a dime and does significant paddling against the current. I couldn’t find anything remotely close on youtube, but I really wish there was a video of someone just “letting the river do the work” on one of these courses. I would probably pay up to $20 for that footage if it existed.

So after all this I think my rankings are:

4. Trampoline (even without the rule change, at least you wouldn’t hurt yourself).

3. Equestrian

2. Boxing

1. Handball

Seems like we have come to a consensus. Do we need to look for any proof that handball might be harder than we are seeing? Or should we just assume we could medal with a competent team around us?

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

The canoe slalom argument is very timely because I’m going canoeing on a river in Rumsey, California, this weekend. I believe there is a single Class III rapid. Even though Julie will be with me, I will go ahead and throw both of our paddles out of the canoe right as we approach this rapid and see if the river “does the work for us,” as I suspect it will. And if I can handle a Class III without a paddle, liquored up, with a cooler and an extra person on board, then I think it’s safe to say I could finish top 10 in the olympic canoe slalom.

Also, a few years from now when we both have more money than we know how to spend, let’s organize this experiment: you step into a boxing ring against an olympic boxer and try to last three rounds, and I’ll hop on a canoe and go through a series of Class IV rapids by myself. We’ll see who comes out of that in better shape.

My biggest problem with attempting Equestrian is what happened to Michelle Tanner on that Full House Episode when she got thrown from her horse and lost her memory. I don’t need that.

So I guess the only consensus we can come to is that Handball is ridiculously easy, and Trampoline is a low-risk option. Let’s hold tryouts for our Handball team in the Fall.

Topeka’s Biggest Celebrity Visits LA Then Writes About It…Sort Of

[Editor’s Note: You’ve probably noticed guest blogs popping up on the WBFF blog recently. Not only does this give me more free time to sit by the pool at my apartment complex and take random weekday trips to Palm Springs (my current location), but it allows me to tweak my resume to say something like, “Responsible for managing a team of writers on an internationally-renowned blog.” I’m happy to introduce a new guest blogger today, Matt Blanchette. And he’s not just any ordinary Schmoe…Matt happens to be the pride of Topeka…Yes, Topeka, Kansas. Feel free to read more about my most famous guest blogger HERE. Matt was our first official visitor in LA over the 4th of July week, and we did our best to stay busy. We agreed that having him write about his experiences would be a good way for other would-be-visitors to decide if visiting us in LA is worthwhile or not. For some reason he seemed nervous about writing too much in this blog post (something about boring people, which I try never to worry about), so I’ve taken the liberty of adding to his thoughts (my comments in red). Enjoy.]

First off, I want to thank Ross for allowing me to be his second guest blogger, and god help me I am determined to do better than a series of blogs about Euro League Soccer.

I found myself with some free time over 4th of July and campaigned some friends for a free place to stay. Ross and Julie were very insistent that I head west, so LA it was.

Our visit started with a look at Ross’ new “haircut.” And by “haircut”, I mean “letting it grow out in any direction for as long as possible without ever trying to tame it in any way.” Turns out, I missed the accompanying mustache by a few days. So if this whole comedy writer thing doesn’t pan out, I am sure there is a 70’s era porn star impersonation gig available for Ross. [It’s true, I haven’t gotten a haircut in at least three months. I tried to keep the mustache going for as long as possible, but it got really itchy and almost caused me to be unexpectedly single. Here are some pictures of the three-week experimental mustache and the “hair growing in any direction.”]

First stop on my trip, a hike in Malibu. Aside from getting lost looking for a lake, which turned out to be nothing more than a puddle, the highlight came from a 15-year-old girl at the swimming hole. Basically this was a cliff jump into the water, but one girl decided to stand on the edge of the cliff for 20 minutes while everyone screamed at her to either jump or die.

Long story short, after we left, three fire engines and ambulances raced towards the hole. I can only assume this is her:

[Matt’s totally underselling just how ridiculous this swimming hole scene was at Malibu Creek State Park. It was a small swimming area littered with douchey teenagers who had absolutely no adult supervision. If it hadn’t been so damn hot out, and if we hadn’t been promising Matt an awesome lake to swim in, we probably wouldn’t have bothered jumping into the swimming hole because it just seemed like something bad was going to happen with all those kids. Julie even said this out loud while we were swimming. The funny part (if there is a funny part to this story) was when we left the hole and were walking down the trail towards the parking lot. We heard sirens in the distance and joked about how they must be coming up to Malibu Creek because that girl who refused to jump fell off the cliff and killed herself. Two minutes later those fire engines and ambulances are tearing up the trail towards the hole. Anyway, below is a picture that kind of shows you what we’re talking about. And also, getting lost wasn’t a total downer because Matt & Julie got to play inside some props from M*A*S*H.]

After Malibu Creek, it was off to a Malibu Vineyard…where they happened to be shooting season one of “Ready For Love,” the new reality show from your favorite housewife and mine, Eva Longoria.

The setup is simple: a good-looking guy takes multiple women out on dates one after another. In this case Ben, the good-looking guy, had his choice of five or six very attractive, though malnourished, females. I admit, I do not watch reality dating shows, but it was wild.

One of the female producers (who we called Scissors, for her ability to scissor the girls to put them in a good mood) had the unenviable job of coddling each woman while Ben was on dates with the others. In one case a hysterical woman was only put at ease when she was handed another bottle of wine to suck on. Basically all the women sit in the “bullpen” and wait for Ben to call on them.

Ben did get some action, to which I gleefully proclaimed “They’re kissing, they’re kissing.” (I had an entire bottle of wine.)

Look for this scene on the show on NBC this fall!

[Matt’s description of the “They’re kissing, they’re kissing!” moment doesn’t come close to doing it justice. Here’s how I would have described it: “And after two hours of staring at these reality show contestants nonstop—to the point where we wouldn’t have been surprised if security had asked us to leave the premises—we finally saw Ben essentially choose his favorite girl by making out with her…at which point Matt turned into a fifth grader who was seeing two of his classmates kiss for the first time, and he exclaimed in a pre-pubescent shriek, “They’re kissing, they’re kissing!!!”]

Day two (4th of July) was Dodgers Day. If you have not been to Dodgers Stadium, don’t, or at least do not sit in left field. It is basically a stockade. Fans have no access to center or right field, nor the rest of the stadium. You have one bathroom, and one concession stand, which has limited food options (dodger dog, chips, and cracker jacks).

And check out the scoreboard:

I felt like I was watching RBI baseball 1993. Nicely done, Frank McCourt.

As for transportation options, there are none. The traffic is a nightmare, and to walk (which we did) takes about 30 minutes to get to civilization. Luckily we found a dive bar that included a shot of Patron with every beer.

But hey, at least the fireworks at the stadium were good.

[OK, I gotta stop you right there, Matt. The night of the baseball game escalated quickly because when we finally got to “civilization” and jumped inside a bar, the bartender confused me with a drink special to the point where I ended up ordering each of us a beer and two shots. And even though we decided that was too many shots, we went ahead and ordered a third shot just moments later. Other things of note that happened after those shots were: Matt contemplating drinking a beer that a stranger had left on our table, Matt buying a 12-pack of Budweiser over Miller Lite just because the cans had an American Flag symbol on them, Matt & Julie getting in an argument over the difference between a pizza with buffalo sauce on it and a pizza with buffalo mozzarella on it (I did the sensible thing and ordered the pizza with buffalo mozzarella AND got a side order of buffalo wings), and finally, Matt working up the courage to get a picture with one of our childhood idols, the Ultimate Warrior…see below.]

Most of you have stopped reading the blog by now so I will speed through days three and four.

[Matt is really underestimating how bored the WBFF blog readers are at their jobs. He doesn’t seem to understand that people have been reading my ramblings for months now.]

Going to the beach is never a sure bet in LA, as far as I can tell. We were not blessed in that arena.

[What Matt is trying to say here is that we didn’t get good beach weather, and as a matter of fact, I haven’t yet been to the beach in LA when it has been beach weather. I hope that changes soon because why the hell did I move here if it wasn’t for the beach? Here’s a picture to show you just how non-beachy the weather is every time I try to bring someone to a beach in California.]

[For some reason, Matt decided to leave out two of the coolest things we saw on Day Three of his visit: the back of the Hollywood sign (sure everyone can see the front of it from all over LA, but how often do you see the back?), and people randomly getting foamed up and washed down at Venice Beach.]

And if you plan to be a tourist and do sightseeing when you go to LA, appeal to Julie. Ross is not sympathetic in that area.

[Completely true. I will pretend like LA has no sightseeing or landmarks until you’re convinced. And if you’re still not convinced, I’ll tell you that they are all closed for maintenance.]

Also in LA, everyone seems to be in the entertainment business or curious if you are. And you “think” you see celebs everywhere, but we really did not see any that I know of.

[Wow, Matt totally glossed over the fact that on Night Three when we went to a free concert at the Santa Monica Pier, him & Julie spent the entire time staring at a group of people and debating whether one of the women was a celebrity. The entire night. I’m not even exaggerating. Matt was saying things like, “I watch A LOT of TV so I’d know if she was famous…unless she’s on one of those Real Housewives shows or reality TV.” To which Julie quickly replied, “Oh, I’ve got those covered. She’s not from one of those shows.”  This topic is ripe for an entirely separate blog…thinking we see famous people but never being able to put a name to the face.]

So I guess the point of this blog is to get others to visit LA, so I would recommend it. Maybe that will buy me a second blog.

[Gee, thanks for the ringing endorsement, Matt. “I guess Ross wants me to say LA was fun so others will visit…so yeah, it was fun.”]

[For anyone who does decide to visit, I can’t guarantee that we’ll see the filming of a not-going-to-be-on-the-air-long-anyway reality dating show, but I promise we can find a group of people to stare at in Santa Monica and discuss how each of them might be famous.]

Back to School: My First Relevant Learning Experience Since Diagramming Sentences 20 Years Ago

Have you ever seen someone so ready to rock their UCLA Extension writing class? Me neither. So what if the class was from 7-10pm…nothing was going to stop me from bringing my brown bagged lunch on day one (If you’re curious, the bag contained m&m’s, grapes and a lollipop. If only I would have stopped at Starbuck’s on my way to class to grab a hot chocolate, then my classmates would have really known they were dealing with a mature adult).

Since it was my first time in a classroom in more than seven years, I decided to actually pay attention and observe my surroundings. Here’s what I learned in week one:

-It was a strange sensation to sit in a three-hour class and not have my mind wandering to every topic besides what was being taught. Out of 32 undergrad classes at BU, I can’t recall more than four or five where I was actually paying attention to the content being discussed. That gives me hope that I’m finally enrolled in the right class.

-When I was last in school, Smartphones didn’t exist. Waiting for class to begin back in the old days of 2005, your only option for entertainment was to actually talk to people. Scary stuff. I feel bad for teachers mostly because it’s gotta be nearly impossible to hold 20 students’ attention for even an hour when every one of them has their iphone right next to their notebooks. Or it could be even worse, like the girl next to me who was using her laptop to “take notes,” but really was just doing silent video conferencing with her husband the whole time.

-But I did discover one huge benefit to having an iphone in this setting. Halfway through class, the teacher asked us to go around the room and introduce ourselves, including where we were from, what writing experience we have, what our favorite TV shows are, and why we decided to take the class. Of course you all know that in a group of 20, there’s going to be a couple people who decide to hijack the conversation, stretching their time to speak from two minutes to 10 minutes, deciding instead of answering the teacher’s questions to focus on their whole life story (if you don’t think you’ve been in a group of people where someone is doing this—whether it be school or work—then I’m happy to tell you that you are that person, and you should shut the fuck up sometimes). Anyway, to show these people that I was just about done with their story, I combined a shameless “whip out my iphone and pretend to be playing games” move with a loud throat clear, ensuring even the dumbest person understood the social cue.

-After hearing all these boring stories from my classmates, I was a little shocked to learn I was the only one who purposely quit his job, became unemployed and expected to make it as a writer before money runs out. Most people in the class think they’re going to have to work hard for years just to get noticed in the entertainment industry. Boy, are they clueless…

-The three-hour night class felt a little strange in that I was sober and it was a real class. The only night class I ever had at BU was called “Sports Management” where the most difficult task over an entire semester was creating a practice schedule for the fictitious sports team I was pretending to manage. And we usually went to the BU Pub and pounded beers before class. Now I show up sober with grapes and a canteen of water. So sad.

-The teacher totally validated himself in week one by showing us a New Girl episode at the end of class and then promptly tearing it to pieces. That’s how you get on my good side, which I’m sure was his goal all along.

-I hate to predict failure for any of my classmates, but I wonder if the woman who doesn’t own a TV, hasn’t watched a TV show in over 10 years, and claims not to have any time to practice writing is going to do well in a Television Writing course?

-If karma has a sense of humor, my teacher will pair me up with that woman for some kind of important project.

-Oh, and just for a comparison so everyone knows I haven’t changed a bit since the last picture of me going to school was taken, here you go:

God. Damn. I want that square knit tie back.

Cami Secret: The World’s Most Destructive Invention

Good Lord…I thought the “Trendy Top” was a killer. If you don’t remember my blog post from way back in April on a destructive invention called the Trendy Top, please read this now: Trendy Tops Literally Killed My Friend.

Apparently there is now a potentially more destructive product on the market in the form of Cami Secret. Once again, you’ll want to watch at least the first minute of this video for context:

The jist of the informercial is that girls love wearing low-cut tops when they’re out at night slutting it up, but that same top is just horribly inappropriate at work. Rather than assume a woman has a wardrobe consisting of work-appropriate clothes and “night out being a woo girl”-appropriate clothes, this company wants ladies to wear the same shirt to work as they wore out to the club the night before…the one they woke up in at a strange guy’s apartment…the one with the smell of puke all over it. The Cami Secret wants you to wear the same top, but just cover up all that booby goodness with one of their stupid fake tank tops…or I guess it’s called a camisole?

After re-watching this informercial more times than I care to admit, here’s my take:

1). This is why women shouldn’t be allowed to run businesses, or at least not run product development within businesses. No guy would come up with a product that covers up breasts.

2). The product has a fatal flaw—it doesn’t work if you’re wearing a strapless bra (Ha. Take that, genius R&D team behind this awful product).

3). Do women really use safety pins to try to close up a shirt near their cleavage? I can’t believe this is true because I’m always looking at this area of a woman and have never seen one.

4). One size fits all? Bullshit. You show me 1,000 different women, and I’ll show you 2,000 different breast sizes (that’s right, not even the two boobs on the same woman are an exact match).

5). Between the Trendy Top and the Cami Secret, it’s like these people are telling women to cover up all the exposed skin on their bodies. I’ve got a great product I’m willing to sell to any woman who feels overly exposed by what she chooses to wear.  I’ll sell it for the low price of $20. Here it is:

But wait! For a limited time, I’ll cut the eye holes out for you in advance at no extra charge!

If women really want to cover up more, I think there’s a place in the world that supports and even encourages this kind of behavior. With the Trendy Top and Cami Secret, you’ll fit in perfectly with these people:

That looks like one helluva birthday party!

Summer Olympics Preview Part 2: Swimming, Team Phelps vs Team Lochte

[Editor’s Note: You’re about to read Part 2 of our Summer Olympic Preview.  If you missed Part 1 and you’re dying to know more about the Modern Pentathlon, click here. In Part 2 we discuss Swimming, perhaps the most popular Summer Olympic event.  But just why is it the most popular? You’ll have to continue reading to find out. Also, a big congrats to Nkilla for giving birth to a baby boy yesterday. Well, his wife gave birth actually; he sat outside in the waiting room working on this blog with me the whole time. As happy as we are for him at the WBFF blog, we are giving him no excuse to stop blogging.  If anything, he should be blogging more frequently while he spends time with his new bundle of joy.  That baby’s going to sleep for like 20 hours a day…that’s prime blogging time.]

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Now that we’ve covered perhaps the most obscure olympic sport—the Pentathlon—let’s change gears and talk about some of the more popular events. Have you guys been watching any of the qualifying stuff that’s on at primetime every night?

I assume if you’ve been watching anything, it’s the swimming right?

If so, is your wife getting as illogically excited over the races and specifically Michael Phelps as my girlfriend is?  Maybe it’s because Julie was a swimmer in high school, but she’s dancing around the house saying things like, “oh my god, this is the best sport ever.  Why isn’t it as popular as football?”
She was screaming for Phelps one night last week and just kept going “Come on, Michael, come on!” Apparently they’re on a first-name basis. Oh, and after one of his qualifying events she said that she wishes she had the same birthday as Phelps. No explanation on that.
I was enjoying the swimming trials right up until we had to watch an eight-minute event, the 800M Women’s Freestyle. They went to commercial in the middle of the race…that, to me, means it’s too long of a race.
Anyway, my question is what’s the main reason, in your opinion, that swimming is the most popular sport in the Summer Olympics?
A). Like Julie said, it truly is just the best sport ever.
B). It’s only popular right now because of Michael Phelps and as soon as the next olympics comes and he’s not around, the popularity will drop off.
C). The Summer Olympics sneakily has mostly really terrible events so swimming wins as the default only decent event.

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

I think the answer lies somewhere between B and C.

First of all, I would argue that the Summer Olympics has two major events that do not fall within the realm of main stream sports: swimming and track & field. The Olympic Committee knows these are the main attractions because all the swimming happens in the first seven days, all the track & field happens in the last seven days, and they don’t overlap. I think the general population is attracted to these two events because almost everyone knows how to swim, and almost everyone knows how to run and jump, so people feel some sort of kinship to the athletes. I also have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of people are either into the swimming or into the track & field, but not both.

Back to the original question: I went back and looked at the swimming results for every olympics since 1988 (since that is the first olympics I can remember following) because I had a feeling that each olympics had a dominant swimmer involved. It turned out I was mostly right: 1988 Matt Biondi (7 total medals, 5 gold), 1992 Alexander Popov (5 total, 3 gold), 2000 (Ian Thorpe 5 total, 3 gold and all happening in his home country), 2004 Michael Phelps (8 total, 6 gold), 2008 Michael Phelps (8 total, 8 gold). The only year without a dominant male swimmer is 1996, and that year the US as a whole dominated the swimming, including winning gold in all six relays. What I am getting at here is that I think there is a chance that swimming is only popular because there is a dominant swimmer to follow in each games. I expect that to be fueled additionally by the “Phelps vs Lochte” hype this year. (Side question: Have you done any research yet to see if we should be “Team Phelps” or “Team Lochte”?)
Do you think my theory on “swimming only being popular because there is a dominant swimmer” holds water (pun intended)? Do you have a favorite discipline or race you look forward to more than others in the swimming area? And finally, the front crawl, back stroke, and breast stroke all seem to be natural swimming motions, but where the hell did they come up with the butterfly?

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

I’m in agreement with you that swimming is only popular because there’s a dominant swimmer we can latch onto each year. I think that’s how being a casual fan works. If the network broadcasting the olympics (with the help of ESPN and other media outlets) doesn’t create a compelling storyline that makes us connect with a specific athlete in these obscure olympic sports, then we won’t follow. There’s no such thing as a true, hardcore olympic fan. If someone tells you that they really are fans of any of the sports we’ll be seeing in August (except basketball or soccer of course), be sure to ask them when was the last time they caught the swimming, gymnastics or wrestling world championships on TV.

This brings me back to why I’ll be tuning in for swimming this summer, but won’t even notice when things like track & field, cycling, archery and gymnastics are going on. Swimming has done an incredible job creating compelling storylines for us. And the storylines vary. In the past 14 days, I’ve been tuning into the US swimming trials to see the greatest olympic athlete ever try to qualify for another chance at eight gold medals (Phelps), a 45-year-old woman trying to earn a spot in her sixth olympic games (Dara Torres), a 17-year-old phenom outswim the field over and over on her way to qualifying for seven events in London (Missy Franklin) and Phelps’ closest competitor and biggest “rival” try to overtake Phelps once and for all (Ryan Lochte). There’s so much drama, intrigue and stimulation that my nipples just got hard from typing the previous sentence.

As for my favorite discipline to watch, all I can tell you is breaststroke is my least favorite…it’s just so slow. I think the individual medleys are pretty sweet because the swimmers are tested in all four strokes, and I’m always expecting one of them to screw up and do them in the wrong order. I can also tell you I won’t be watching any events where NBC could theoretically take a full commercial break, return to live action and inform us that the race still has halfway to go (sorry, Women’s 800M and Men’s 1500M Swims…I don’t have time for you).

And by the way, don’t bother googling the history of the butterfly…it’s far less exciting than when I googled the Ancient Pentathlon. Basically some guy didn’t like how slow the breaststroke was and decided to tinker with it. Boom, butterfly born in 1933.

What are your thoughts on Phelps’s decision to drop out of the 200M Freestyle, thus ending his chance to repeat the eight gold medal haul from 2008?

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

I know one true olympic fan: my father-in-law. He loves track & field almost as much as we love football. He watches the world championships every year in his living room and times the races with his own stopwatch to make sure the official timer does not mess up. (I’m only slightly exaggerating. I went to the Olympic trials with him in Sacramento in 2004 and he did bring his own stopwatch.)

I’m fine with Phelps not doing eight events again. That was such a ridiculous goal he set for himself in 2008 and amazing that he made it happen. He should treat these olympics as his victory lap and only do the events he knows he can win with minimal effort. He deserves it. Though I do wish he would have dropped one of the relays instead. Phelps and Lochte will go head-to-head in the two IM races. Phelps holds the world record in the 400, Lochte in the 200. So assuming they split the IMs, the 200m Freestyle would have been the tiebreaker. I can definitely see the potential for a “Dan-Dave” situation where Lochte fails to qualify for the finals in the 400 and faults his way out of the 200 or something like that. Also, after just seeing Lochte’s picture on his wikipedia page, I decided he looks like a typical Yankees fan so I am completely “Team Phelps” when they go head-to-head, but I’ll switch back to “Team Lochte” any time he is competing against the Russians.

The compelling story lines are nice, but let’s not forget 50% of the reason to tune into the swimming events, Finland’s Finest.

Another thing that makes swimming highly popular amongst the viewing audience: for the first eight days of the games, swimming will have four medal events per day. Should I rank the eight days of swimming from best to worst medal events by day? I think I should:

1. 28-Jul (M: 400 IM & 400 Free; W: 400 IM & 4×100 Free)

2. 4-Aug (M: 4×100 Medley & 1500 Free; W: 50 Free & 4×100 Medley)

3. 3-Aug (M: 100 Fly & 50 Free; W: 200 Back & 800 Free)

4. 31-Jul (M: 200 Fly & 4×200 Free; W: 200 Free & 200 IM)

5. 29-Jul (M: 100 Breast & 4×100 Free; W: 100 Fly & 400 Free)

6. 1-Aug (M: 200 Breast & 100 Free; W: 200 Fly & 4×200 Free)

7. 2-Aug (M: 200 Back & 200 IM; W: 200 Breast & 100 Free)

8. 30-Jul (M: 200 Free & 100 Back; W: 100 Back & 100 Breast)

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

I love when you put the TV schedule/event logistics in your email because it tells me it’s time to wrap this conversation up. I never answered your “Team Phelps” vs “Team Lochte” question, but I think it’s fairly obvious from my original email that if I don’t choose Team Phelps, I’m likely to have a girlfriend who refuses to talk to me until the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Summer Olympics Preview Part 1: Pentathlons, the Modern & Naked Kinds

[Editor’s Note: Now that I’ve found my obscure-sports guest blogger, Neil “nkilla” Gariepy, I’m ready to expand his role on the WBFF blog.  With the Summer Olympics less than four weeks away, nkilla and I will be previewing the London Games on a weekly basis.  There will be no rhyme or reason to what we talk about, and we will make absolutely no attempt to educate ourselves properly before throwing out wild theories and opinions.  The format of these Olympic blogs will be that of an email exchange between the two of us.  Basically one of us will ask a question via email to kickoff the conversation, and then we’ll trade emails back and forth until the topic has exhausted itself.  Sometimes that might be 15 emails; sometimes it might be one.  When we finally kill a topic, I’ll post the transcript as a new blog post.  Enjoy.]

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

So I was doing some research for the Olympic preview at lunch today. Came across the event known as the Modern Pentathlon. I would like you to guess which five events make up the Modern Pentathlon. Don’t google it, just guess first. I feel like there should be a $10 million prize if you could somehow guess all five. It is probably worth $100 if you could even guess three of them.

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Off the top of my head:

-Steeple Chase
-Equestrian Jumping/Obstacle Course
-Joust?
-400M running
-Discus
As you can tell, I wouldn’t even stake $5 on me getting one of those correct.

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

The actual answer is:
Fencing
Pistol Shooting
Show jumping (on a horse)
200m swim
3k run
How does someone become good at all five of those things?

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Better question than “how does someone become good at all five of those things?”….in which order does someone usually become good at each of these things?  Are there people who are good fencers, then they try shooting a pistol one day, discover they’re good at that, and then research what they can do to combine these two skills?  Leading them to have to get good at the other three events if they ever want to be relevant?

Is it people who are only mediocre at running and swimming, knowing they’ll never be able to compete with the best of the best in those individual events so they decide to learn the other events?

I think we track down the US team’s representatives of the pentathlon after the olympics and try to interview them to find out all the answers we’re seeking.

Seriously, which order do you think they get good at these things in?

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

If I had to guess I would say you are good at the horse jumping and shooting first, then you add the other three things. And only because I can see some crazy scenario where people are riding through the woods on their horse shooting at foxes and they somehow realize they’re 40% of the way to being good at a sport.

But the real question is how did this even become a sport in the first place? Did this exact sequence of events happen enough times circa 1850 that it evolved into a sport:

Winston and Charles have an argument that results in a sword duel. After 10 minutes of dueling, Winston gets tired with the sword fight and decides to just shoot Charles. The authorities hear the gun shot which requires Winston to ride his horse through town while being chased. At some point Winston gets to a river, which his horse cannot cross, so he has to swim across. Once Winston makes it across the river, he needs to run a bit to create more distance if the authorities decide to cross the river after him.

Also, if this is the “modern” pentathlon, I can only imagine what made up the “ancient” pentathlon.

From: Rmurdera

To: Nkilla

Well thanks to google and wikipedia, you don’t need to imagine what made up the ancient version:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Olympic_pentathlon

Long Jump

Javelin

Discus

Stadion (short foot race)

Wrestling

At least a few of these events are actually somewhat related to each other (four of them being part of what we think “track & field” is).

Because the “ancient pentathlon” is so, um, ancient, there’s a lot of speculation around the origin, the order of the events, the scoring, etc.  But the historians seem to think that each of these events was thought to be useful in battle.  That’s the functional relevancy of the five being grouped together.  For the Modern Pentathlon, I like your Winston & Charles story as the reasoning for the five random events to be grouped together.

I’m really glad I read the entire wikipedia entry on the ancient pentathlon because the very last line says, “In the classical games, it was traditional for all of these events to be performed naked.”

I’d love to see the modern one performed naked…especially fencing.  I wonder how NBC would handle the broadcast and highlights of this event if that was the case.

Since you’re probably more on top of the TV schedule for this event and any significant rule changes for this year’s contest, why don’t you bring these emails to a close with some final thoughts and predictions.

From: Nkilla

To: Rmurdera

Apparently they are tweaking the format a little this year to make it more TV friendly. For the first three events (fencing, swim, horse jump) the athletes score various points based on how well they do. Based on their standings after that, they stagger the start for the combined run and shoot portion. So depending on scores in the first three events, the person in first place may have a three second head start for the run and shoot over the second place person, eight seconds over the third place person, and so on. The result is that the first person to cross the finish line at the end of the run and shoot is your gold medal winner. Obviously this works way better for TV because the average Winston sitting at home can tell who wins. A surprisingly logical move by the Olympic committee on this one. For those interested, the run and shoot part for the men should start around 10:45am on Saturday, August 11th, and 10:00am on Sunday, August 12th, for the women.

Do we think the USA has a chance in this obscure sport? Not likely. Currently, the highest-ranked US male in the world rankings is at number 40, and a US male has not medaled in the Modern Pentathlon since the 1960 games. Based on the current world rankings there is a good chance the men’s medals are going to go to some combination of the Russians and Hungarians. A US woman won a silver medal in this event in 2000, but the highest current world ranking for a US female is 41. For you degenerate gamblers out there, the men’s favorite (Andrei Moiseev) is at +250, so there does not seem to be a clear cut favorite on the men’s side. It is even less clear cut on the women’s side, as favorite Lena Schoneborn is at +350.

Final verdict: People should tune in for the 60-minute finale (the run and shoot portion) on the 11th and 12th. It should make for good television with an interesting finish. Bonus points if someone falls on their gun during the run and it goes off, or if they “accidentally” shoot a competitor in front of them.

Also, one reason to watch besides the competition: Chloe Esposito

I’m Applying a Temporary Self-Ban From Entering Home Depot

This post has two themes to it:

1). I shouldn’t be allowed into Home Depot

2). I need to hire a camera crew to follow me around at all times

Let’s tackle number one first…Julie and I walked into Home Depot on Saturday and began shopping for materials we needed to build a shelf in our tiny storage closet.  The word “build” in that sentence should raise a red flag to anyone who read my entry about Julie thinking I’m the Least Handy Man Alive.

Anyway, we started by finding a piece of “lumber” that was roughly the size we needed, and when we asked an employee if they could cut it for us, he said, “You can do that at home on your own, just score it.”  We told him we didn’t have a saw, but he told us any kind of knife could cut it or we could even break it over our knee.  Oh, great, we can just take care of it when we get home.  As we were about to walk away with our new shelf, he asked us what we were using it for.  When we told him, he just started shaking his head in disappointment and told us if we try to put any weight on it at all it’ll crack.  It made me realize I probably wasn’t holding lumber after all.  Drywall, maybe?  And what the hell did he mean by “just score it??”

Next on our journey we actually found real wood…a piece of one-inch thick plywood.  We needed only a small amount cut off for it to fit in our storage closet.  When we asked a different employee where we go to have them cut it, this possibly-mute gentleman motioned to aisle 23 and mumbled something about doing it ourselves.  Fast forward three minutes and this was the situation at Home Depot:

Yup, that confident-looking woman is Al Boreland’s biggest fan getting ready to cut a one-inch thick piece of wood with a saw that was probably not made to cut that material or thickness.  We were flabbergasted that they’d even have a station setup that allowed civilians to play with saws.  Luckily another employee saw us and put us out of our misery.  Apparently we were at the station where people cut their own molding (which I believe is an easier material to cut and much smaller than a piece of plywood).  He cut our shelf with a different tool in about four seconds and sent us on our way.  You think that’s the end of the Home Depot escapades, but you’d be wrong.  And this is where theme number two of this blog comes into play.  I need a camera crew following me around at all times, especially while doing domesticated things that I have no experience with.

A gas grill was the other item on our list.  We found one we liked, but the store we were at had preassembled all 50+ that they had in stock.  My Accord wasn’t fitting a preassembled grill in it so we found another Home Depot close by that had the same grill unassembled in a box.  Perfect.  We drove over there, paid for the grill and a propane tank and wheeled them out to my car.  If I had hired that damn camera crew to tape my every move, you would now be seeing a video of two people trying to squeeze a 120-pound box into a car that clearly wasn’t big enough to handle it.  Not in the trunk, not in any of the side doors.  What you’d see next is a flurry of activity with styrofoam and box pieces flying into the air, and grill parts being hastily thrown into a Honda Accord.  You’d see two people scrambling to unpack an entire four-burner grill from its box and shove every piece into the car, trying not to cause a traffic situation in the parking lot.  This is probably a good time to mention that the first store told us we could rent a pickup truck from their tool rentals department for $17/hour and haul an assembled grill home.  No, that would be way too much of a hassle.  We’d much rather unpack a grill in the parking lot, bring it up to our apartment piece by piece, and spend the next two hours putting it together.

I screwed up big time not getting any pictures of the mayhem in the parking lot.  This picture in our apartment doesn’t come close to doing it justice:

And yes, we got it setup just in time to overcook some chicken on Sunday night:

And how about the shelf that we almost screwed up five different times at Home Depot?

Nailed it!  How else are two 29-year-olds supposed to store all of their water guns and boogey boards?