Neighborly Etiquette: Posting Useless Signs And Dealing With Robberies

When I lived in San Francisco, every now and then another unit in our apartment complex would throw a wild party that raged on until five in the morning. One time my roommate got particularly mad about it and he posted some signs in the elevator/common areas that basically said, “Hey Assholes who were partying all night, please cut the shit and stop being assholes. You’re such assholes. Sincerely, The Guy Who Was Trying To Sleep”

I remember thinking that my roommate had good intentions with his message but the execution was all wrong. I don’t think swearing and badgering people in a forum like that really works. I think it only incites them further.

So a few days ago in our mail room I spotted this sign:


Is that one any better? No swearing, but lots of name calling. Do you think the jerky idiot rich brats are going to suddenly take their dogs outside to pee just because of one neighbor’s note? I don’t. That’s one of the down sides of living in such a large apartment complex. Nobody feels any sense of responsibility to be decent because there’s no accountability. A dog pisses on my welcome mat, it could be any one of over a hundred dogs that live in this complex.

I think the only way to curb bad behavior from your neighbors is to catch them in the act and seriously threaten them. Nothing else works.

But I am curious to know if other people think the note-in-the-common-area routine works. If so, do you think I’ll get a response to this note I’m considering putting up?


Yes, we got robbed earlier this week. I know it’s not really a joking matter, but…. I can’t help but laugh at the poor guy who took the trouble to kick in our door only to waste five minutes of his precious time looking for something valuable. Sorry, but it doesn’t exist in our apartment. I was thinking of getting one of those stickers that says “These Premises Monitored by ADT” or something like that and putting it on our front door, but I’m wondering if a sticker that says “We seriously own nothing that’s worth more than $200. Come on in and have a look if you want” would be more effective.

For those of you wondering, our “guard dog” was in her crate when the intruder came in, but even if Molly had been roaming freely, I doubt she would have done anything more than lick the guy to death or follow him from room-to-room. Those are her only moves.

Depending on whether you hear me talking to a friend or our insurance company, the person stole either $400 or $2,000 in cash (turns out insurance only covers a couple hundred bucks in cash usually…and I totally understand why. Jerks like me would too easily be able to commit insurance fraud for the chance to continue being unemployed. Well played, insurance companies. Well played).

You  may have noticed in my sign above that I said “Dear NEIGHBOR Who Robbed Us.” Yes, me and the detectives think it was an inside job. We have our reasons, but I don’t want to put the case in jeopardy by disclosing the details at this time.

A Weekend Full of Complaints: Parking Garages, Dog Owners, Fast Food…And My Sympathy Goes Out To Bikers

Ever wonder why a group of four people walk down a sidewalk side-by-side, taking up the whole thing even though they clearly see you walking towards them? Or for you skiers and snowboarders out there, don’t you shake your head in frustration at least once a ski session because people don’t seem to know the basic rules of merging two chair lift lines? Why are you taking the time looking out for others on the sidewalks and waiting your turn in line if no one else is?

Unfortunately I don’t have the answers to any of these questions in this blog post. I merely have a couple more examples of this self-absorbed, inconsiderate behavior that makes my blood boil.

Call it a return of the ShitList if you want.

Considering I had to experience each of these frustrating situations last weekend, let’s just go in chronological order.

Bitch Sesh #1: Long Lines at Fast Food Restaurant That Are Entirely The Restaurant’s Fault

I can never be an objective observer when it comes to waiting in lines. That’s when I’m at the height of my impatience. Whether it’s waiting in traffic or an airport security line, nobody constantly re-evaluates which line to be in as much as I do. So you can imagine my horror when I walked into fast food joints on consecutive weekends and was faced with 30-minute waits. This past weekend’s nightmare was at Noah’s Bagels. I popped in there at 10AM to grab two toasted bagels topped with cream cheese and cucumbers. But after waiting to order in a line that was 15 people deep, I started to hear other customers asking for refunds. Some of them had ordered, then went to the grocery store to do a full week’s worth of groceries, and when they came back their bagels still weren’t ready. After most of the place had revolted, I decided to change my order to two untoasted bagels and a container of cream cheese to go. Veteran move that saved me at least 20 minutes. But I owe it all to a worse experience I had a week earlier at McDonald’s. Coming back to LA from a weekend in Mammoth, the dining options are particularly limited as you commute across the desert. So I wasn’t surprised when I popped into Mickey D’s in Mojave and the place was littered with people. But this is nothing new, right? The whole point of McDonald’s and its fast food cohorts is to mass produce unhealthy food and get customers out the door as quickly as possible. Obviously you know I’m about to tell you that I had a long wait on this particular day. It’s true. I waited more than 30 minutes for a simple #9 (Chicken McNugget Meal).

My gripe with Noah’s and McDonald’s has nothing to do with the amount of people or slowness of the service. It has everything to do with the expansion of these restaurants’ menus. Call me crazy, but I’ve never thought implementing a “Cheesecake Factory” type of menu for a fast food place made much sense. McDonald’s was built on burgers, fries and speedy service. When I walk into Noah’s, I’m looking for an average bagel toasted with some simple toppings. But do you know how many items are on the full McDonald’s Menu? 156.

While I was waiting for my McNuggets and fries, people were ordering “the Premium Southwest Salad but with blue cheese instead of Ranch.” And “the Fruits & Walnuts but with no apple slices and instead sub in extra grapes.” My first thought? “Where the fuck am I?”

My second thought? “I wonder if my order would be coming out a little quicker if the employees weren’t fielding requests to ‘cook my fries a little longer’ and ‘add whipped cream to my McCafe Mocha.'”

I think you get my point. If I’m going to McDonald’s or Noah’s, I want a fast solution to my hunger with a burger or bagel, respectively. Now that these restaurants are trying to cater to every dietary need and preference, where am I supposed to get unhealthy food in a hurry?

Fast food restaurants turning into specialty food stores might be one of the biggest tragedies of the 21st century to a person like me who can’t stand waiting in lines.

Bitch Sesh #2: Parking Garage Jerks Who Fixate On The Spot That Isn’t Open Yet

So on Saturday morning after the Noah’s near-catastrophe, we drive over to Santa Monica to go for a bike ride. Just a block away from the Santa Monica Pier there are several parking garages with state-of-the-art electronics to help cars flow smoothly in and out. You’ve probably all seen it before. As you enter the parking garage, you see a sign like this:

parking spaces available

Let’s say you drive by a sign like that and it says Level 2 has 6 spots available, but Level 3 has 188 spots available. As you drive through Level 2, you see a person walking to his car. You also notice there’s a line of 17 cars behind you waiting to park. Do you stop in your tracks and wait for the guy to get in his car, back out and drive away? Or do you continue up one more level and easily park in one of the many available spaces?

If you’re the asshole who waits for that one spot on Level 2 while there are literally hundreds of free spots just 50 feet away, I am going to abuse you with my horn, my middle finger and all of the creative cursing I can muster up. It’s beyond indecent to be this selfish. If my own mother pulled this kind of move and I witnessed it, I’d key her car. That’s how douchey it is.

Bitch Sesh #3: I Guess I Don’t Understand The Meaning Of “Bikes Only”

I used to think bikers were a bunch of whiney babies, always complaining about cars not sharing the road properly and what not. I guess it’s because I didn’t grow up in a big city. I could ride my bike wherever I wanted as a kid and not have to worry about sharing a narrow road with cars, walkers or other pedestrians.

But now that I’m a biker I understand it all (in this case, “biker” means “rented a bike twice in the last seven months”).

The good people in charge of the Santa Monica and Venice boardwalk and beach area have set up a nice system where there is a “bikes only” lane that is completely separate from a path for all other pedestrians. This is exactly what it looks like on the Santa Monica end:

bikes only

A nice, paved pathway for the bikers, and a separate paved area for everyone else. So how come on Saturday I was constantly maneuvering around walkers, rollerbladers, moms and dads pushing strollers, skateboarders and stupid Segway people? Is it because I rode a bike on the walking path instead of the bike path? No. Obviously I’m not an inconsiderate bastard. Is it because the majority of mankind can’t be bothered to read a sign and follow the rules?

It’s hard enough trying to avoid the piles of sand that are blown onto the bike path, not to mention the bikers coming the other way. I’m trying to get my sweat on with a morning pedal. How the hell am I supposed to do that when the path turns into a minefield of jerks?

Maybe I need a better understanding of “bikes only.” I thought that phrase meant “People on bikes are the only thing allowed on this path. Everything else is prohibited.” If I’m wrong, and “bikes only” means “bikes, skateboards, rollerblades and Segways allowed,” just put that on the sign so I know never to come back here.

Bitch Sesh #4: Our Dogs Are Friends. You Could At Least Say Hello.

This last one doesn’t upset me as much as it makes me laugh at the unfriendliness of people. We take our dog on a lot of hikes where she’s off leash the majority of the time. Since she’s only nine months old, it’s pretty much a guarantee that she’s going to approach every dog she passes and say hi. Sometimes when she senses the other dog is also young, she’ll try to engage in a play session with it. What’s strange is that at least 35% of the time when we go to say hi to that dog’s owner or ask him a question about his dog (something super intrusive like “How old is she?”), he remains completely silent and walks past us like we’re ghosts. It’s the strangest damn thing. Your dog is sniffing my dog’s ass. You’re not going anywhere fast. Would it kill you to give a polite “hello” or even an acknowledging nod? I thought we were linked by the bond of dog ownership.

It’s especially awesome when you don’t tell us that your 13-year-old dog isn’t a big fan of puppies and then proceed to get upset when Molly starts chewing on your dog’s neck fat. I know, I know…we should have magically guessed that you didn’t want our dog touching your dog.

All these examples tie back to the fact that we live amongst a bunch of indecent, inconsiderate, self-absorbed A-holes. They’re not going away anytime soon so I suggest you deal with it like I do. Just out A-hole them. Be a bigger prick to them than they are to you.

Wake Up Boston: The Bruins Are The New Patriots & There’s Still Time to Jump on the Bandwagon

Being a diehard sports fan isn’t a skill or a talent. It’s an investment. For the most part it’s simply an investment of your time, but every now and then you’ve gotta dip into the wallet and make a financial investment to properly keep up with your team.

I live in LA, but I bleed Boston sports. Unfortunately for me, following my teams isn’t as easy as tuning the TV to NESN. We have to pay a ransom to watch Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics games out here. When I bought the Major League Baseball package last April, it was easily one of the worst investments in my life. That’s the risk I run every year when I ponder the benefit of sinking my money into one of the sports packages. The Red Sox were such a disaster last year that I was basically done watching them by August 1st. And you know what? I haven’t decided yet if I’m buying the MLB package for the 2013 season. It’s sad that Red Sox fans are even considering not forking over the money this year, but that’s how pessimistic we are about a franchise that’s been more drama than baseball over the past 18 months.

Buying the NHL package like I did four weeks ago is on the opposite end of the spectrum. There is little downside in investing in the Boston Bruins right now. I’d go so far as saying at this current moment in Boston sports, the Bruins are as sure of a bet as the Patriots.

Here’s my disclaimer before you continue reading: Any legitimate diehard Bruins fan can probably stop reading this article. I don’t think I’m going to tell you something you don’t already know. This is really for the fair weather fans who haven’t decided whether to jump all-in on the Bruins bandwagon. I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to hockey and basketball I am a bit of a bandwagonner. There’s only so much time in the day, and football and baseball have ruled my sports life for a long time. I realize the NHL just had its second work stoppage in eight years and hockey isn’t covered in the media as thoroughly as the other major sports, but that doesn’t take away from how incredible of a sport it truly is. And really if you’re a fair weather fan you should have been pretending to like the Bruins as far back as two Springs ago when they won the Title. Last year they rolled to a #2 seed in the East before losing to Washington in a classic seven-game series. So if you started backing them in 2011, I have no idea why you would have stepped off the bandwagon between then and now.

If you’re still having doubts, right now is your last chance. You can still get ahead of the laggards and the extreme casual fan curve and not look like a total fool after the Bruins win their second Stanley Cup of the decade (That’s not a guarantee that it’ll happen this year, but I’ll be stunned if it doesn’t happen soon).

It’s not an exaggeration to think these guys might be the “new Patriots” over the next five years. As you’ll see below, they may even be better-positioned for multiple title runs than the Patriots.

Here are some stats and tidbits that should help you understand why I’m pushing this so hard:

  • First of all, after Sunday’s 4-1 win at Florida, their record now sits at a sterling 11-2-2
  • By my count, 17 of the Bruins’ 20 regular players were a significant part of the 2010-11 Stanley Cup team. There really hasn’t been much turnover, so even if you were out on them last year, you can hop right back in without skipping a beat.
  • They have one player who’s the son of a Bruin legend. That would be Chris Bourque. How can you not root for the son of #77.
  • They’ve got a high 1st round draft pick from 2011 who looks like he’s going to be the stud they thought they were drafting. That would be Dougie Hamilton. He’s already a regular defenseman and he’s 19 years old.
  • They have their own version of Dustin Pedroia! Or is it Wes Welker? Or Rajon Rondo? Whatever it is, they have an undersized, not-much-to-look-at guy of their own. His name is Brad Marchand and he’s leading the team with nine goals.
  • They have 10 “key players” under the age of 30.
  • Their top seven point scorers so far this year are all under the age of 28. You really can get behind this team now and feel good about their chances over the next five years. They have a young cornerstone goalie, a young cornerstone defenseman, and several young cornerstone forwards.
  • Speaking of their goalie, his name is Tuuka Rask, and he’s actually not a new guy on the scene. This is his 6th year in the league and 4th playing meaningful minutes. In the 2009-10 season, he led the NHL in both goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.931). If not for Tim Thomas’s resurgence over the last couple years (which I’m absolutely not complaining about), Rask would be a household name along with the best goalies in the league.
  • It’s unfair to judge a hockey team purely on a traditional win-loss record because it’s somewhat irrelevant to the standings. For the uninitiated, here’s how it works: a team gets two points for a win (regulation or overtime) and one point for an overtime loss (whether they lose in the extra period or the shootout). So it’s much better to gauge a team on the number of points they’ve captured as a percentage of their total possible points (example: This current Bruins team has played 15 games. At most they could have 30 points. They currently have 24. That puts their “points captured” percentage at .800…Still with me?) By comparison, an .800 win percentage in baseball would have the Red Sox winning 130 games in a season. That same win rate for the Patriots would give them 13 victories in a 16-game schedule. If you want to argue that this 14-game sample isn’t sustainable, I totally agree. But over the last two-and-a-half seasons, the Bruins are playing at a .640 clip. Translating that number into baseball once again, the Red Sox would put up 104 wins, or just a handful more than Josh Beckett said they’d win in 2011. My apologies for nerding out in this paragraph, but hopefully you get my point. The Bruins are damn good, and it’s been that way for a while.
  • If fighting and physicality is more your game than scoring, the Bruins roll out Shawn Thornton, Lane MacDermid, and Milan Lucic on the regular. They are all badasses, trust me (hopefully you saw Lucic absolutely bury that Panthers player who hit him from behind on Sunday). And for pure comedic value, just watch a Bruins opponent (especially a rookie) get pissed off at Zdeno Chara. There’s nothing more entertaining to me than seeing a guy on the other team get a borderline cheapshot from Chara, quickly turnaround to confront the offender, and only then realize it’s the 6’9″ Bruins captain (aka the biggest player in NHL history).
  • The Bruins are tied for 5th in the league in fights per game. Just read some of the opposing players’ or coaches’ quotes after they play the Bruins. They regularly call it “the most intense game we’ve played all year” and comment on the “physical, crushing style” the B’s play. I promise you this all lends itself to even more entertainment.
  • Yeah the lockout sucked, but the Bruins’ season just began and already they only have 33 games left. Surely you can get on board with such a short season.
  • In March, the Bruins play 17 games and will have more than one day off in between games only once. So you can count on meaningful hockey every other day.
  • Hey, it’s not all sunshine and pixie dust for the Bruins. If there’s one knock on their “watchability,” it’s that their highest point scorer ranks 63rd among all NHL players. That’s pretty ridiculous. When you’re trying to make the case that Boston is one of the best and most enjoyable teams to watch in the league, that’s a damning argument against them. But remember those three Patriots Super Bowl winning teams? How they never really had just one guy standing out on the stat sheet? And that Celtics championship team in 2008, no one averaged more than 19 points per game? And even the Bruins title team two years ago didn’t have a guy ranked higher than 39th in the league in points. What I’m trying to say is, yeah it kinda sucks not to have a Crosby or a Stamkos or one of the Sedin Sisters to dazzle you every night, but last time I checked, regular season flash doesn’t translate to postseason success.
  • And then there’s the gigantic woolly mammoth in the room: the Bruins power play. We’re now into year four of all Bruins fans asking if they’re allowed to decline the power play rather than play with a man advantage. It’s that pathetic. But if they’re going to suck on one special teams unit, at least they are far-and-away the best in the league on the man disadvantage. So even the dark power play clouds have a nice silver lining for this team.

The point of all this? Fair weather fans in Boston have naturally gravitated towards the Patriots and Red Sox over the past 10 years, and for good reason. They’ve been the more consistent contenders in their sports. But the landscape has shifted, and the Bruins are ready to take the reigns for the foreseeable future.

Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Movies: Handicapping the Oscars & Your Guide to the Best Movies of 2012

It’s February 15th and that means The 2013 Oscars are looming. It’s that time of year when all you people who didn’t see a single movie in the last 12 months—because you were too busy holding down a job, raising your kids, spending your time and money on something more fulfilling than “sitting in a theater while consuming 4,700 calories of grease, butter and sugar”—start scrambling to watch as many Oscar-nominated films as possible.

If you’re someone who thinks “Life of Pi” is a movie about the mathematician who came up with that confusing 3.14 number, or you think “Amour” is a romantic comedy about a man and a woman falling in love at a yard sale where they both tried to buy an antique piece of furniture, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

With so many different films and actors nominated it’s impractical to try to see it all. So which movies do you prioritize? Lucky for you this article includes a worst-to-best ranking of the 19 movies I saw in 2012. I have great taste in movies so just follow my list blindly and you won’t be disappointed.

But Oscar season isn’t just about seeing as many good movies as possible. It’s about predicting who will win each major award even though none of us know the first thing about acting, directing, adapting or costume designing. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun to argue with a friend that “Tommy Lee Jones should never win any award because he’s such an asshole in real life.”

For the readers who are gamblers at heart, you’ll be happy to know that many betting websites allow you to bet on who will win each of the major Oscar awards. So of course in this article I’ll provide you the odds of the favorite in each category as well as a long shot that I like.

So let’s rip through the important Oscar categories real quick so you know what films to see in the next nine days, either by going to the movie theater or re-organizing your Netflix queue. I’ll make some very subjective comments next to the movies I’ve seen, and perhaps next to some of the movies I haven’t seen. (Disclaimer: I haven’t seen all the movies that are relevant to the Oscars. I’ve only seen the ones I thought I might actually enjoy.)


  • Amour: I haven’t seen it. When “elderly” and “love story” are used in a movie’s synopsis, you can just about guarantee that I’ll never watch it.
  • Argo: A great movie where the story is a lot more memorable than the acting. Awesome job mixing in some light, humorous moments in an otherwise very serious plot. If there was a “fan favorite” Oscar award, this would probably win (or be a close runner-up to “Silver Linings Playbook”).
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild: This movie arrived via Netflix over a week ago and it’s been sitting on my coffee table gathering dust ever since. I just don’t think I’m going to like it very much. I hear the little girl who’s nominated for Best Actress is incredible, but I don’t typically watch movies for just one individual acting performance.
  • Django Unchained: During the first 30 minutes of this movie, I was worried it was going to be one of Quentin Tarantino’s worst films. It turned out to be one of his best. There’s no other way to describe it other than to say “it was just a fun movie to watch.” Such an enjoyable movie with some awesome acting performances (which we’ll talk about it in a minute). I’m rooting for this one to win even though I know it won’t.
  • Les Miserables: I can’t even correctly pronounce this movie’s name, and I heard a crazy rumor that it’s a musical. I doubt I’ll ever see it.
  • Life of Pi: Another movie I haven’t seen, mostly because in the previews the tiger on the raft didn’t look real enough to me.
  • Lincoln: I heard that the Academy would only allow one Lincoln film into the Best Picture category this year, and Spielberg’s “Lincoln” only narrowly beat out “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” All jokes aside, this movie was surprisingly great. I say surprisingly because it’s essentially 150 minutes of 19th century politicians blathering on about amendments and slavery. The fact that this film held my attention should automatically put it in the lead for Best Picture.
  • Silver Linings Playbook: Loved it. It might be the movie I re-watch the most out of all the Best Picture nominations. But it’s pretty much a romantic comedy (even if it is a well-disguised romantic comedy). I don’t want “Silver Linings” to win and set the precedent that if all of Jennifer Aniston and Kate Hudson’s future movies just include a few more plot twists, they’ll suddenly be Oscar worthy.
  • Zero Dark Thirty: Better than “The Hurt Locker,” which was Kathryn Bigelow’s previous movie that won Best Picture. But up against much tougher competition than “Locker” faced in 2010. Best edge-of-your-seat, hold-your-breath story of all the nominees. And c’mon, it ends with the killing of bin Laden.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Argo (1/5 odds)

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Amour (100/1 odds)…Because the Oscars love picking the boring, stuffy, old people-bait movies. Just like “The Artist” did last year, an “Amour” win will set movies back 100 years.

(A quick side note: How interesting that this year featured three movies where the audience knew the ending of the story with 100% certainty before walking into the theater (Lincoln, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty). And yet, they were three of the best movies, and one of them is probably winning Best Picture. Somehow these movies were able to keep me in suspense the entire time even though there was zero chance for a surprise ending. Incredible work by everyone who made these three films.)


  • Michael Haneke (Amour): I don’t have a goddamn clue if he did a good job directing.
  • Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild): I’m going to assume he did a good job because he coaxed a Best Actress performance out of a nine-year-old.
  • Ang Lee (Life of Pi): Apparently there’s an unspoken rule in Hollywood that says you should stay away from using children, animals and large bodies of water in your movie. Something about any of those three variables making things much more difficult. And yet all three were major players in “Life of Pi.” I haven’t seen it yet, but if people voted in this category based on “biggest headaches overcome,” I bet Lee has a great chance to win.
  • Steven Spielberg (Lincoln): Spielberg isn’t quite the lock for directing as his lead actor is for that category, but he’s probably going to win his 3rd Best Director Award on February 24th. Regardless of “Argo” being the frontrunner for Best Picture, Spielberg has the inside track here because Ben Affleck somehow didn’t get nominated for the directing category.
  • David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook): Adding to my “this movie is just a dressed-up rom com” comments from before…anybody who can mask a romantic comedy as well as Russell did with “Silver Linings” deserves a ton of credit. Trickery or not, the movie was still an A+.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Steven Spielberg (1/4 odds)

Long shot that I might put a bet on: David O. Russell (14/1 odds)…If this really is a “fan favorite” year and “Argo” wins the Best Picture, then it makes sense for David O. to win for directing. I promise you it’ll be the movie you stop the channel surfing on most often when you see it pop up on HBO or Cinemax over the next few years.


  • Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook): In 12 years this guy has gone from playing the gay dude in “Wet Hot American Summer” and the asshole villain boyfriend in “Wedding Crashers” to a bona fide A-list actor who can carry a movie. He’s legit and deserves to be recognized for that. Unfortunately this year he’s up against a guy who seriously made me question whether Abraham Lincoln had actually risen from the dead to play himself in a movie. Thinking Cooper will get his Oscar due eventually. I don’t think this will be his last nomination.
  • Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln): Just the man I was talking about. The Lead Actor category is not a competition this year. If ever there was a situation where someone shouldn’t bother preparing an acceptance speech, it’s the other four men in this category. I’m pretty sure Day-Lewis could murder the head of the Academy tomorrow and they’d still feel obligated to give him this award. I wasn’t alive when Abraham Lincoln was doing his thing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a recording of the big man Presidenting it up, but I honestly believe he looked and sounded exactly like what Day-Lewis brought to this movie. This is one of those movies that’s worth watching purely for one man’s performance.
  • Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables): Didn’t see it so I have no idea about his performance.
  • Joaquin Phoenix (The Master): Ditto.
  • Denzel Washington (Flight): I actually watched this today. It was my first ever rental from a Red Box machine because I really wanted to see if there was any chance Denzel could unseat Mr. Lincoln. It was a solid, dramatic performance, but I thought the movie was a little boring. Washington had some very memorable scenes, but I knew I’d never take this movie seriously when I saw the trailer for it months ago and a plane was flying upside down.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Daniel Day-Lewis (1/50 odds)…That means you have to bet $50 just to make $1 of profit. Normally I wouldn’t recommend this, but if you’ve got $50,000 to spare, I guarantee you’ll make the $1,000 profit off of it.

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Bradley Cooper (40/1 odds)…It’s a waste of money, but maybe the Academy has a lot more white supremacists who are still irked by Lincoln’s freeing the slaves than we imagined.


  • Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty): Not to take anything away from her performance, but I think the intense storyline and the emotional appeal of hunting Osama bin Laden carried this movie much more than any single actor did. She was damn good, don’t get me wrong. But if you threw Heather Graham into Chastain’s role as the CIA Agent in this movie, I don’t know if the film would take that big of a hit…and Heather Graham is an awful, awful actress.
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook): She would certainly win if we were voting for which actress we most want to see up on stage on Oscar night. But I don’t know how she wins Best Actress without Bradley Cooper winning Best Actor. He was a bigger piece of the movie and probably carried a lot more scenes than her.
  • Emmanuelle Riva (Amour): Didn’t see it.
  • Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild): Didn’t see it, but hopefully I will by Oscar night.
  • Naomi Watts (The Impossible): Didn’t see it.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Jennifer Lawrence (4/7 odds)

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Quvenzhane Wallis (50/1 odds)…Because I’m lukewarm about the two performances I saw, and it would be awesome for someone this young to win while watching whoever presents the award try to pronounce her name.


  • Alan Arkin (Argo): Basically him and John Goodman should have been co-nominated for “Argo” because they were in the movie almost equally and both were hysterical. Good performances from both guys, but not Oscar worthy in my opinion.
  • Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook): The problem here is that De Niro’s character is supposed to be a bookie in the movie, and I know far too much about sports to buy into his performance as that bookie.
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master): Didn’t see it so let’s just assume he won’t win.
  • Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln): I came out of the theater after seeing “Lincoln” and all I could remember was Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance. Everything else in this movie seemed like background noise. TLJ was actually really good in his role as Thaddeus Stevens (especially with the twist at the end of him wearing a wig!), but I’d only be rooting for him if he’d never won an Oscar before. Oh, and I hear he’s a real asshole.
  • Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained): Just like Waltz steals the show in Quentin Tarantino’s last film, “Inglourious Basterds,” so too does he steal the show in “Django.” In “Basterds” he was opposite Brad Pitt. This time he shared the screen with Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio. Quite a feat to overshadow all of those guys. He might have given my favorite performance of the year in the non-Daniel Day-Lewis category.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Tommy Lee Jones (+110)

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Christoph Waltz (+140)…OK so it’s not really a “long shot” in the traditional sense, but I don’t care. He’s not the favorite and he should be.


  • Amy Adams (The Master): Didn’t see it, but I like her moxie.
  • Sally Field (Lincoln): If you can win an award like this based on one scene, then Sally Field should win for the scene in “Lincoln” when she talks circles around Tommy Lee Jones’ Thaddeus Stevens as she’s welcoming him to a dinner party. Great scene, but that’s all I really remember from her performance.
  • Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables): You already know I didn’t see it. I assume she’s going to win, but I hate her new short haircut.
  • Helen Hunt (The Sessions): Is this a real movie? Haven’t heard of it.
  • Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook): I saw this movie so long ago now that I barely remember her role as the Mom. I know she tried to break up the fights between Bradley Cooper’s character and Robert De Niro’s character, but I’m struggling to recall any other pertinent details.

Odds-on favorite to win according to gambling sites: Anne Hathaway (1/50 odds)…Apparently she’s as much of a shoo-in as Daniel Day-Lewis is.

Long shot that I might put a bet on: Jacki Weaver (50/1 odds)…Because it’s one of only two supporting actress performances I’ve seen and I’m a sucker for the big long shot.

And now, here’s my arbitrary, subjective and illogical ranking of the 19 movies I saw that came out in 2012:

19). Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

18). Snow White & The Huntsman

17). Wanderlust

16). The Campaign

15). Men In Black III

14). Prometheus

13). The Amazing Spiderman

12). The Hunger Games

11). Flight

10). This is 40

9). Ted

8). The Avengers

7). Dark Knight Rises

6). Lincoln

5). Moonrise Kingdom

4). Zero Dark Thirty

3). Argo

2). Silver Linings Playbook

1). Django Unchained

Happy Birthday To The World’s Fastest-Growing Blog: Highlights and Lowlights

What a great day for celebration! This is definitely my favorite day of the year. And no, I’m not talking about Valentine’s Day. If you read yesterday’s V-Day Post, you already know I don’t celebrate the day of lovers on February 14th.

Today we’re celebrating the Will Blog For Food Blog turning One Year Old!

My friends and family know I’m a modest man so I didn’t have big plans for celebrating this milestone, but the staff at Will Blog For Food had other ideas. This morning they presented me with a surprise anniversary celebration, complete with a candle in my favorite dessert, Peanut Butter Cups:


Photo on 2013-02-14 at 08.41

You’re probably asking yourself, “What the hell is he celebrating? He constantly mentions how his stretch goal is to get 45 page views in a single day.”

C’mon, you know that’s just my self-deprecating way of making fun of my own failures before someone else beats me to the punch. If the website that hosts my blog, WordPress, is telling the truth with all its stats, this has in fact been an extremely successful year. Let’s take you through some of the highlights in number form:

  • 16,606: Number of views my website got in its first year. And no, I don’t think the 16,603 times I clicked on the blog myself counted towards that stat.
  • 551: Number of views my site got in its first month alive. Not bad, right?
  • 2,551: Number of views my site got in its 12th month alive. I dare you to find another company who grew its customer base by nearly 500% in one year. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
  • 112: Number of countries where at least one person has clicked on my blog.
  • 193: Number of countries in the world that the United Nations recognizes.
  • 58: Percent of the world’s countries that I’ve “captured in one year. If blogging was a game of Risk, my friend Ben would be screaming and flipping the board over because it’s not fair how easily I’m rolling through all the countries.
  • 12,000: Number of views out of the 16,000 that the United States has accounted for. Still love ya, U.S.A.
  • 239: Number of views that the non-English-speaking country with the most views of my blog has accrued. That country is India.

Clicks and Pageview stats are nice, but what about the most successful individual blog posts? I’m glad you asked. Out of the 180 posts on this website, here are the five best that I’ve written based on the number of views they’ve received:

  1. A Thorough Examination of Bird Poop Being Good Luck: I don’t know what it is about this blog, but it’s singlehandedly putting my kids through college. This particular post gets a minimum of 25 views per day. I think it’s due to the fact that there’s no good info on the web about why people say being shat on by a bird is good luck. After monitoring the success of this post for the last nine months, I walk around all day praying to get bird diarrhea all over my head. I want a reason to write a second post about this topic. It might take my monthly views from 2,500 to 25 Million.
  2. Perfectly Good Excuses For Leaving Work Early: What does it say about the American work ethic that this blog post has been at the top of the standings since I wrote it 10 months ago? I guess people hate their jobs enough to be googling for excuses. If you hate your job like I did, stop making excuses and quit. Then move to a really expensive city, adopt a dog that racks up twice the amount of expenses as you were expecting and continue to plan vacations long after your money has run out. Worked for me.
  3. My Life is Complete: Boo Urns!: Pretty self-explanatory, right? People love The Simpsons. People love reading about other people who love The Simpsons. I never thought seeing that license plate on March 23, 2012, would be such a life-changing moment.
  4. Bob Costas is Literally Murdering the London Olympics: If I was making an “Editor’s Pick” for favorite blog post, this might be it. I still LOL and LMFAO when I think back to how awful Bob Costas’ opening monologue was on the NBC broadcast of the Opening Ceremonies. In my entire history of blogging, that goes down as the quickest turnaround from when I saw something blog-worthy happen to when I posted the blog. I literally ran to my computer when I heard him defecating all over the London Games. Well done, Bob.
  5. Adoption Process Complete: Announcing Our Little Bundle of Joy: I think there was an initial spike in views on this blog post because people saw the title and freaked out over the possibility of me adopting a human baby. Luckily I have no interest in raising a human baby. This blog also tugs at the heartstrings of every dog lover out there. Posting about Molly has always been an easy pageviews boon and I will continue to exploit her for my own success. By the way, anyone who has seen Molly in person in the last few months and knows how big she is, go back and look at the pictures in this first Molly blog. Unbelievable that we chose a dog who went from 23lbs to 90lbs in six months.

As far as the lowlights from year one, I’d say any time I allowed a guest blogger to write something it was an unmitigated disaster. I’m not saying I’m the only person capable of successful blogging. I’m just saying the particular people I chose to feature on my blog throughout the year never really found the tone I was looking for. Submissions are still welcome by outside bloggers, but this year I’m going to be a lot more cutthroat about who has what it takes.

So what’s coming in year two of the fastest-growing blog on the web? Probably a lot more of the same. But maybe I’ll start to delve into some entertaining childhood stories. After all, you guys haven’t heard about the time I ran face-first into a parked car and knocked all my teeth out (silver lining: I got to eat only McDonald’s milkshakes for days) or the time my parents gave us a puppy only to maliciously take it away from us three weeks later and return her to her original owner (I was so scarred from this that I wrote multiple college papers on this traumatic period of my life). There’s also the time my asshole brothers convinced me to wear my jean shorts backwards to a family event because I’d be “as cool as the guys from Kris Kross.” Or how about the time that I thought my older brothers and their friends were saying “condoms” when in reality they were saying “condiments.” I ran home to Mom and Dad and told them about the bad words they were saying. I’ve also given my Mom at least two near-heart attacks by convincing her that my brother Aaron was failing out of high school and dead (two separate pranks that went a little too far).

See, there are plenty of shenanigans from my childhood to write about in order to milk more page views from my readers. I’ve just barely gotten started. Thanks for all of your loyal reading and don’t be shy about spreading the word.

Valentine’s Day: Re-Running My Same Plays From Last Year & Two Things Women Should Do In Return

How can I possibly top my blog post from February 14th, 2012? After all, it was the most important article ever written on this website. Why was it so important? Because it got me more than 17 page views for the first time, reinforcing my decision to become a full-time blogger. If you’re struggling to remember that post, or if you’re someone who started reading my blog within the last 363 days, take a minute to review The King of Romance’s Valentine’s Blog.

Now if you just read that post, you obviously pissed yourself with laughter and realized there’s no way I’m going to top it with a new Valentine’s Day post. I completely agree. But let’s review my four rules from that 2012 post to see if I’m sticking with it this year:

1). Celebrate Valentine’s Day on any other day but Valentine’s Day

Success! This year it was a combination of not wanting to compete with amateur hour on the actual day and the fact that we’re leaving town at 6AM on Friday morning. No need to fight Los Angeles’s other couples for a reservation while stressing out about how early we have to wake up the next morning. We actually celebrated V-Day twice this year. First, we went to a comedy show on January 25th (because it was seriously the only weekend night we had available in the month surrounding February 14th), and then we went out for a romantic French bistro dinner on February 12th.

2). You need a post-dinner plan…and it needs to be more elaborate than “I hope she invites me back to her place after.”

First of all, I don’t have to hope she invites me back to her place anymore. We live together. And as I mentioned above, this year we split up the dinner and the post-dinner plan into two separate nights. So after our filet and mussels dinner last night, instead of going somewhere to waste time until she didn’t feel fat anymore, I decided on a different tactic. I made her buy me gelato at the local gelatotarium and then I complained about feeling fat, which made her feel skinny because she didn’t eat the gelato. Unfortunately this didn’t have the effect of ending our night on a sexy note like I had hoped. It just caused us to get into a big fight where she yelled at me for “being a gigantic fat ass who eats too much ice cream.” I calmly told her that it’s gelato, not ice cream, and boy did she feel stupid.

3). The end-of-the-night payoff

OK, that fight didn’t really happen. Here’s how our night ended. After we got home from our super romantic dinner and even more romantic gelato-binging, she was totally in the mood I was hoping for. So she wasted no time taking…our dog outside to poop while I watched the Bruins game on tape delay. That’s romance to a couple of co-habitating 30 year olds.

4). Don’t completely ignore Valentine’s Day

Last year I made the case that even if you celebrate on a different day, you should still do something nice for your girl on the actual day. I still believe that theory, but this year because of our travel circumstances, I decided to also give her flowers early. She got them yesterday, and they’re awesome of course. But I’m curious what other people think. She now has two days to enjoy the flowers before we’re gone for almost four days. When we return, I fully expect the flowers to be dead. Should I have waited until we returned from our trip and surprised her with post-Valentine’s Day flowers? Or did I make the right move by getting them early? Anyway, the best chance she has of getting something from me on the actual day this year is when we stop for gas on our way to Mammoth and I surprise her with beef jerky and a sleeve of Pringles (obviously the orange sleeve, her favorite).

A couple more notes:

  • The astute observer will notice that I pretty much copied my exact plan from last year this time around: a comedy show and dinner at a French bistro. What can I say? I’m not one to change things up when everything went as smoothly as it did last year. But I do think I’ll be pushing it if I run it back one more time in 2014.
  • If you read this blog and wisely choose to surprise your girlfriend with Valentine’s Day dinner on February 12th or 13th and she gets mad because you didn’t celebrate on the actual day, she’s a complete fucking asshole and you should surprise her on the actual day by dumping her.
  • For the guys who are muttering under their breath right now that this is a bullshit holiday because it’s completely geared towards women, I totally agree with you. It doesn’t seem fair, but there’s nothing we can do about it at this point. Whatever men were alive way back when Valentine’s Day was created should be rotting in hell right now. This whole charade of a holiday started on their watch. But I do think there are two things we can ask our women to do in return for us making them feel so special on Valentine’s Day:
    1. Don’t just be ready on time for once. Be ready five fucking minutes early. Is that too much to ask? This is a night we planned specifically for you. Chances are us men aren’t even going to enjoy this night because we’ll be constantly calculating the cost of all this pomp & circumstance in our heads (“Waited too long to order the flowers…$60 F-ing dollars for six roses.” “Couldn’t pronounce the name of the cheapest bottle of wine on the menu, so we had to order the $55 bottle of Pinot Noir.” “She wants to try the creme brulee dessert…I know she’s only gonna have one bite before she starts to feel fat. Fuck, I guess I’m paying $11 for her one bite of dessert.”) Just surprise us and be ready early. It won’t kill you.
    2. Steak & BJ Day is on March 14th. Don’t make us tell you twice what you can do for us in return for the amazing Valentine’s Day. You don’t think it’s a real thing? Well would a fake holiday have a legit website with a live countdown on it? Steak & BJ Day

Tough Mudder Conquered! What’s My Next Challenge?

I’m very rarely at a loss for words. You’d think after writing more than 75,000 words about football and probably another 25,000 about my dog’s antics in the past six months, it wouldn’t be possible for me to come up empty when trying to describe an event. But maybe that’s the most challenging aspect of competing in Tough Mudder—accurately trying to describe the event to people who didn’t experience it themselves.

Maybe rather than try to sum up one of the craziest things I’ve ever been a part of in one neat little sentence, walking you through the entire day (as best as I can remember it at least) will better describe the insanity that took place in Temecula, California:

Team Ross Is Born

The story actually begins not in Temecula, but in Los Angeles, where a world-renowned blogger decided he needed a real challenge in his life (side note: This is where I transition from talking in the third person to talking in the first person the rest of the blog). After cruising through countless half marathons and crushing the Boston Marathon, it seemed like there was no physical challenge on this planet that could get the better of me. I felt like what Forrest Gump must have felt like after he ran to the edge of all the world’s oceans. What else was there for me to do? I know what you’re thinking. “Climb Mt. Everest,” right? Well world-renowned blogger or not, it’ll be years before I can afford to plant the Flag of Ross in the world’s highest peak. And I know your next thought: “You should try an Ironman race. If you think you’re such hot shit, try to do the triathlon that features 2.5 miles of swimming, 112 miles of bicycling and 26.2 miles of running that some of the world’s best athletes compete in every year.”

Again, I had that same thought after I conquered everything else. The only problem, once again, is that this blog-writing job doesn’t pay enough for me to buy a bike. Can’t do an Ironman without a bike. Hand to god if I could afford a bike, I’d sign up for an Ironman race.

So back in July, just when all hope seemed lost, the organizers of Tough Mudder contacted me out of the blue and said they’d like to have me compete in one of their races so I could bring some popularity to the fledgling competition (Fine, here’s the truth: I was sitting in front of the TV with some friends enjoying my 11th beer of the afternoon and watching the Red Sox lose their 57th consecutive game when someone said we should try to do a Tough Mudder. A moment later, I grunted at something that was happening on the TV, and this friend interpreted that noise as me agreeing to do the race. He started spreading the word that I was in for the Mudder, and suddenly it was too late to back out.)

I posted THIS BLOG on July 25th to recruit teammates, and suddenly Team Ross exploded from two to four people.

Over the next few months, the four of us would train daily for the February 9th race. To some of us, training meant either running or hitting the gym every day. To others, training meant sitting at their work desk nine hours a day, going home and drinking a bottle of wine, and then passing out facedown on the living room floor after attempting to do one pushup. Everyone has their own training regimens that work for their own body.

When the entire team was back on the East Coast for Christmas, we recruited one final member. She wasn’t the perfect teammate because she was in particularly good shape or had any relevant experience for this race. She was the perfect teammate because she was a woman and we felt we needed her to be “race buddies” with the other woman in our group. That way when one of them had to slow down and walk during the race (which was inevitable) the other one would feel bad and walk with her. That type of sympathy didn’t exist with me and the other two men on the team.

So the second woman, broke as she was, signed up and booked a flight out to LA with only five weeks to go before the race. Some might say this wasn’t nearly enough time to train. Others would say she was the leading candidate to suffer serious injury.

Oh, and we also had some people who were gung-ho about joining the team back in July who eventually dropped out when they realized watching college basketball 16 hours a day was not an appropriate training strategy. In hindsight, I’m extremely jealous of those people.

The final team consisted of:

  • Me: A self-proclaimed elite athlete who has won “finisher” medals at more than six half marathons. Best example of my toughness: I can wrestle a 90lb dog to the ground and pin her, despite the onslaught of lick-fighting that I have to deal with while tangled up with her.
  • Julie: A woman who’s idea of a hardcore athletic challenge is joining an adult recreational bowling league. Best example of toughness: She once ran a full marathon without any training and completed it. She learned how to effectively roll herself around in a wheelchair during the three days following the marathon, but still, she finished.
  • Neil: A former triathlete who spends as much time choosing his outfit for a race as he does training for it. Best example of toughness: I know this sounds like an exaggeration, but I once saw him jump from a stand-still position onto a chair that was two feet high when he spotted a mouse scampering towards him.
  • Aaron: A jet-setting mountain trekker whose body defies science by being able to turn alcohol into useful energy. Best example of toughness: He once purposely scalped his head on a rusty shipwreck in the Caribbean just because he enjoys the pain of a fresh tetanus shot.
  • Caroline: A typical New York “tough girl” who’s been taking a physical and mental beating all her life from her five older “siblings.” Best example of toughness: Just for the hell of it, she once had a piece of her vertebrae removed. Rumor has it that she wouldn’t even let the doctors give her anesthesia during the procedure.

The Pre-Race Routine

Rather than booking hotel rooms to ensure a good, comfortable night’s sleep before the race, the five of us decided to cram into my 800 square-foot apartment in LA. This meant one person was sleeping on a couch, and two people were sleeping on the air mattresses I had. Of course when one of those air mattresses ended up having a hole and completely deflating within an hour of going to sleep, those two people were forced to share one mattress between them. But we planned for the possibility of uncomfortable sleeping conditions by hitting up a local happy hour and drinking as many 32-ounce beers as possible prior to a giant pasta dinner. Passing out the night before the race wasn’t a problem.

The next morning all five of us piled into my modestly-sized car to make the two-hour drive to Temecula. Again, why would we go for comfort when we could assure ourselves a muscle-cramping and joint-stiffening car ride?

To kill time in the car, we pulled up the list of Tough Mudder obstacles and reviewed them as a team. Here’s the easiest way to explain it: a 12-mile run with roughly 20 obstacles throughout the course. Some of the obstacles were as simple as crawling through mud while avoiding barbed wire above you, climbing a series of 10-to-12-foot walls (with the help of teammates, of course), and carrying objects of different weights. Other obstacles were less about  the physical challenges of crawling, climbing and carrying, and more about breaking you mentally. Some of these obstacles included jumping into 34-degree water and running through a field of live wires carrying upwards of 10,000 volts of electricity.

After we reviewed all the challenges, two people made comments that they’d live to regret. After a couple people expressed concern over the difficulty of the race, Julie felt pretty confident that “we’re gonna be going through these obstacles and laughing at how harmless they are.”

I then told the group that after watching a 15-minute video earlier in the week of someone doing the Tough Mudder “I’m concerned it’s gonna be boring because there seemed to be a lot of standing around and waiting in line to do the obstacles. I’ll be pissed if this turns into us walking from obstacle-to-obstacle and waiting in 20-minute lines.”

Since I was so sure this would be more of a “hike with cute little obstacles,” when we stopped for a bathroom break 10 miles from the race, I decided to eat a Burger King Sausage Croissan’wich and hash browns while washing it down with a fountain Diet Coke. This surprised some of my teammates, but not nearly as much as when Caroline emerged from Burger King with a Whopper Jr. in hand. I honestly didn’t know they were allowed to serve Whopper Jr’s at 9:15 in the morning.

When we got to the parking lot about a mile from the start line, two aspects of Tough Mudder we hadn’t counted on loomed over us: the weather and the terrain.

As we made the drive southeast from LA, my car’s temperature gauge for the outside weather went as low as 41 degrees and as high as…48 degrees. When we got out of the car and realized the temperature probably wasn’t going to hit the 75-degree mark that we were hoping for, we all got more than a little nervous about running 10 miles after the first “jump into a 34-degree ice bath” obstacle. It was out of our control; we couldn’t train for it; but it sucked.

The terrain, on the other hand, wasn’t out of our control, we could have trained for it, but it still sucked. For some reason, none of us ever considered the possibility that this race would be primarily run on a mountain. Which is interesting considering someone left a comment on my July 25th blog that said, “We did one in May…the obstacles and miles turn out to be the least of your concerns. It’s the constant climbing up and down the black diamond hills that sucked.”

From a pure running standpoint, I was probably the best-prepared in our group because I had just run a half marathon the previous Sunday. But never in my months of training for the half did I consider running any hills. While walking a mile to the start line, we looked up and saw thousands of people who were in an earlier heat running up and down some serious mountain ridges. If someone had asked me after the race to sum up the difficulties I had with five words and one body movement it would have been “the temperature and the hills” with an accompanying head shake.

One final note about the pre-race stuff. When it was time for our heat to begin, they had all the participants jog to the start line and then climb a 7-foot wall to get to the starting area. This served as a way to pump everyone up and get that adrenaline going. And it worked too. You came off that wall ready to crawl through mud, dive into ice cold water, rip out trees with your bare hands and fight someone to the death. Unfortunately before they’d actually let us loose on the course, we had to sit through a 20-minute sermon by a guy named “Startline Sean.” Now this guy’s role is to be the official hype man for Tough Mudder. He gets you pumped up by talking about how tough Tough Mudders are. He goes on and on about how big of an accomplishment this race is for anyone who completes it. He makes you yell “HOO RAA” a lot. He has you stare at the American Flag while the National Anthem plays over the PA system. Then he has you take a knee for a never-ending 10 minutes while he continues his speech. And then when people can’t take the pain from being on one knee on the hard ground for that long and start to stand up, he makes the whole crowd kneel back down because “he didn’t say to stand up yet.” And finally, FINALLY after all of that nonsense, he lets us get on our way. For some people, he’s probably an inspiration and his Jesus-like spiel gets them where they need to be mentally. For me and my teammates, we were already there after climbing that first wall. All he did was sap us of that adrenaline and get our knees and backs hurting from kneeling for so long. I honestly believe Startline Sean caused me as much pain as sliding down a 50-foot rocky hill did that day.

Oh, You Wanted Details of The Actual Race?

After 2,000 words on forming the team and getting to the race, you certainly don’t want me to take you through each mile and each obstacle. But let’s fly through the highlights:

  • Possibly-major injuries were suffered by everyone except for me. Aaron pulled his calf muscle in the first mile and it seemed like he was in agony on every hill and obstacle the rest of the day. Neil may have broken several toes on the “Cliffhanger,” which was a 40-foot hill at a 45-degree angle covered in mud that we had to climb up. By mile 6, Julie either had a seriously-injured internal organ in her midsection or a bruised hip flexor. And Caroline was on the brink of hypothermia only 45 minutes into the race.
  • Actually I’d love to tell you that Caroline just needed to “suck it up” (like I told her at one point during the race, at which point she tried to push me off a cliff). Because after all, she is my little sister. But her skin was turning gray and she had goosebumps that didn’t go away for the entire 4 hours we were on the course. I think it was serious.
  • So Caroline ran 55% of the race while wearing one of those foil “space blankets” that they give marathon runners at the finish line. And she needed it. But it’s probably a good thing that Neil reminded her not to wear it through the electro-shock obstacles. Is there a scientist reading this post that can tell us what would have happened to her? Would she have caught on fire?
  • Regardless of “Startline Sean” sucking all the life out of us, we definitely were all on a high during the first few miles. It’s impossible not to be in that euphoric state when you’re running next to a thousand people and jumping over walls and shit. I was probably a little too high at mile 3 when I told the group, “If they had a signup desk right here where I could commit to 10 more Tough Mudders for $20, I would definitely sign up right now!”
  • Two hours later my tune changed to, “They couldn’t pay me enough money to run another one of these.”
  • By pointing out that bad things happened to everyone except for me I’m not trying to insinuate that I was in superior shape or anything. I’m just stating the facts. And the fact is that by the end of the race, everyone on the team except for me seemed to have come down with a case of rapid-onset bronchitis.
  • The best way to get non-Tough Mudders to understand our state of mind during the race is to listen in on a conversation Julie and Caroline had around mile 8:
    • Caroline: “I feel so weird right now. My body’s like…”
    • Julie: “Yeah, it’s like my body’s not even there. Or like I’m not inside my own body.”
    • Caroline: “Yeah, exactly. I can’t feel my body.”
  • They literally had an out-of-body experience and I’m pretty sure I did too.
  • Here’s a good example of how sadistic the Tough Mudder organizers must be. One of the obstacles is called “Walk The Plank.” Basically you jump off a platform 15 feet high into freezing cold water and then swim 20 yards before getting to dry land. This was the 18th obstacle we faced, meaning it came after 11 miles of running. But my description of that obstacle apparently wasn’t difficult enough in the eyes of the organizers. Just to get up on the platform, you had to scale a 10-foot wall that was only slightly angled. So as tired as we all were, we had to push each other up the wall before we could actually take on the obstacle. Sick, twisted bastards planning this race, I tell ya.
  • I might have mentioned once or twice on this post that I ran the Boston Marathon a couple years ago. I spent the entire second half of Tough Mudder trying to determine which was tougher, the Mudder or the Marathon. I’m still not sure I have the answer. The marathon was harder on my legs, obviously, and it was more mentally challenging because it was extremely boring to run for nearly 5 hours by myself. But Tough Mudder almost killed me, literally, on a number of occasions. People don’t typically get hypothermia while running marathons. They also don’t pull all the muscles in their neck, shoulders, arms and back. The marathon was a difficult physical challenge. But the Tough Mudder was a grueling fight just to stay alive.
  • Three days later and each of my nipples is still one giant scab.
  • I’ve spoken with several of my teammates today (Tuesday, the race was on Saturday), and new bruises are still showing up on all of our bodies. Knees, elbows, forearms, ass, you name it, there’s a bruise on it.
  • We finished the race in about 4 hours and 20 minutes. They gave us a t-shirt and an ice cold beer at the finish line. They should seriously rethink those handouts and put the money towards having 100 hot tubs onsite for people to climb into.
  • After the long drive home—complete with a stop at McDonald’s for our victory burgers—the only energy we could muster up the rest of the night was to soak in the hot tub in my apartment complex for 30 minutes. After that we were in bed by 9:30.
  • Glad we didn’t commit to Julie’s post-race plan, which was, of course, to go bowling.

The Final Consensus

It’s probably a little too early to make an unemotional, non-rash decision about doing another Tough Mudder. We all need time to heal. But our discussions on Saturday night all revolved around the weather. IF we were to do another one, we’d only consider a Tough Mudder that takes place in guaranteed warm weather. The temperature took this race from “really fucking tough” to “almost impossible to complete without risking severe injury or death.”

I guess that’s why they make you sign a death waiver.

death waiver

Man Vs Dog: A Game of Psychological Warfare

This fucking dog…


Every time I think I’ve got her figured out, she throws a ridiculous curveball just to show me she’s always going to be one step ahead.

“Figured out how to get me in my crate consistently? Fine, I’ll start chewing on all the furniture every chance I get. Oh, you sprayed that disgusting sour stuff on the furniture so I wouldn’t wanna chew on it anymore? No problem, I’ll just start tearing all my toys to shreds… Damnit, you took all my destructible toys away? Actually, that’s fine. But just know I’m going to start having some fierce diarrhea every time you take me outside to the point where you have to spend hundreds of dollars at the Vet’s just to figure out that nothing’s really wrong with me.” 

And on and on it goes…

Her newest “quirk” is that she decided in the last few days to no longer be interested in the dog food she’s been eating for the last month. This isn’t totally new because the same thing happened a couple months ago. When it happened the first time, we caved and got her cans of wet food to mix in with the dry food. She loves the wet food, but it’s not economically sustainable for us to buy her cases of wet food for the next 10+ years.

So this time I’m calling her bluff. If she doesn’t want to eat the food that we’ve decided she’s eating when we decide it’s time for her to eat, then she’s going to starve. And I’m going to let her. This is probably a little sick and twisted, but I gotta tell you that I’m enjoying teaching her a very important lesson. When I Gchatted Julie at work yesterday to ask for her approval on this plan of attack and she gave me the OK, I was so excited. Not because I want my dog to go hungry, but because I want her to learn once and for all that eating is a privilege. There are starving dogs in Africa for Christ’s sake!

Rather than cater to Molly by giving her the opportunity to eat multiple times throughout the morning, I’m putting the food in her bowl once, and she has exactly 10 minutes to show some sort of interest in it. If she doesn’t, then breakfast is over and she can try again around 6PM for dinner.

I have a pretty strong suspicion that after two or three days of her missing out on at least 50% of her daily food intake, she’ll never skip the opportunity to eat again.

Meanwhile, she’s being a gigantic pain in the ass because even though she doesn’t want to eat her food, she’s acting hungry. She basically wants to eat anything except for her food. She’s licking everything, trying to chew all the things she’s not supposed to chew, trying to eat pieces of the carpet, looking for any kind of nutrients she can get. If only she knew all the nutrition she needed was right in front of her just a few minutes ago.

And for all of you “dog experts” out there who wanna throw in your two cents on this matter, save it. I know what you’re going to say. “Molly must be sick, or maybe she’s allergic to the food. You should probably ask the Vet about this.”

No, this is simply a game of psychological warfare. And so far, I think we’ve got a stalemate. But just like in a real war, I’m pretty sure the side that controls the supplies (food, water, toys, belly rubs) is the side that comes out on top.

Fighting The Good Fight For All Younger Siblings: It’s OK That You Didn’t Turn Out To Be The Best At Anything

Over the past 100 hours, I’ve probably skimmed through something like 7,000 tweets in my Twitter feed. Some were boring, some were witty, many were useless, but none of them were as ridiculous as this one:

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And after my jackass oldest brother tweeted this out on Friday afternoon, at least one other friend of ours immediately piled on, saying he completely agreed with that statement.

I’m not posting this to get sympathy. After all, I’ve been the little brother for 30 years, I can take it. And besides, I’ve slowly been carrying out my revenge on my brothers (see: the world’s greatest best man speech/roast of Neil, given on July 11, 2009). I’m posting this because I wanted to argue against the preposterous notion that my other older brother, Aaron, would crush me so easily in the Super Bowl. I also wanted to take this opportunity to expand the conversation about brothers competing in general and who should grow up to be the better athlete or competitor.

First, back to Neil’s tweet. I’m willing to admit that in a vacuum Aaron probably would have the upper hand if we were facing each other as opposing head coaches in a Super Bowl. Neither of us has ever played or coached football at any competitive level, but the reason I’d give him the edge is simply because he’s better at everything than the average person. I have no doubt that if you locked each of us in a room for two weeks with our 53-man team and plenty of video to watch of the opposing team, Aaron would come up with a better game plan than I would.

But this is where Neil’s argument breaks down. The Super Bowl isn’t played in a vacuum. The coaches and players aren’t locked in a room for two weeks. They’re out in the real world. Specifically they’re trying to prepare for a Super Bowl in a city like New Orleans, Miami or Dallas. For anyone who knows us, take a second and think about which brother is more likely to forget his priorities and get sucked into the party scene for those two weeks? If it took you longer than two seconds to come up with “Aaron” as your answer, you obviously don’t know us very well. Rather than spending 18 hours a day in the weeks leading up to the game practicing and watching film (this is the amount of hours I’m guessing most coaches spend getting ready each day), Aaron would spend five hours walking around the city and barhopping, seven hours participating in an underground poker game, two hours handing out beads to women (assuming we’re in New Orleans), three hours at the beach or laying out by his hotel’s pool, and then finally he’d have just about one hour each day to squeeze in some game-planning. And how about his assistant coaches and his players? What would become of them if they had this loose cannon as a leader? Total anarchy is my guess.

And on the other side there’s me. Obviously I’m not saying I wouldn’t be tempted to go the Aaron route and just party my balls off for 10 days. But the thought of sweet revenge for 30 years of little brother treatment would keep me motivated and focused. I’d be reminding myself that 30 years of oppression could be erased in a single day. I’d probably get too obsessed and forget to sleep, eat or shower for the two weeks leading up to the game.

Aaron may be naturally better than me at a lot of things, but he’s also the one most likely to take his skills for granted and show up unprepared. I’d particularly love his post game press conference where he’d explain to the media, “Yeah, I just figured we’d wing it out there today, considering we were playing my little brother who’s never beaten me at anything. I did what I thought was best for our football team, and Ross’s team just got lucky today.”

So that settles it, right? Again, anyone who knows us well should be nodding in agreement because Aaron in New Orleans for two weeks could only turn out one way.

Oh and one other thing. Even if Aaron did somehow build a 30-point lead on me in the game, I’m pretty sure he’d start popping bottles of champagne or mixing himself gin & tonics on the sidelines without waiting for the game to end. He’d stop coaching and my team would start to put up some garbage-time points. So even if he was to sneak out a win, it wouldn’t be 63-0 like Neil suggested.

Obviously I was stewing over Neil’s tweet all weekend, and I started thinking about another douchey comment he’s made about me several times in the past. One of his favorite things to say when we’re in a conversation about the three of us growing up and playing sports against each other is that “Ross should have been a professional athlete, or at least a D-I college athlete because he grew up having to compete against older and bigger kids.”

Basically his point is that spending my entire childhood facing much better competition should have groomed me to be one of the best athletes in my own age group. It’s like if you’re in second grade but decide to only read books that are appropriate for sixth grade and up. It might be frustrating at first to not immediately understand all the words, but once you’ve looked them up in the dictionary and memorized them, you’d have a huge vocabulary advantage over the kids your own age.

Once again, in a vacuum this seems to make sense. Younger brother competes against his older brothers all his life, he’s going to get even better at sports than he would if he was only playing against kids his own age.

But what about when you have a couple of bastard brothers who go above and beyond to stack the odds against you? For example, what if the older brothers aren’t only constantly beating the youngest brother, but they’re also trying to ensure that he loses competitions to some of the neighborhood kids his own age?

To be more specific, my brothers used to make me play one-on-one basketball games against a neighbor who was a year younger than me. One of my brothers would be the referee and he would openly root for the neighbor to win while making sure all the calls went against me. And it wasn’t just when I played this one neighbor in a sport. It was any time I was up against anybody in anything. The last thing my brothers wanted to see was me winning (writing all this down makes me realize I should have shut them out of my life years ago).

So here’s my argument against Neil’s theory: When your childhood is filled with losses in everything to your brothers and then they rig every game you play against your peers to ensure you don’t win, you lose the motivation to compete pretty quickly. I don’t mind facing a tough challenge or being in a situation where I know I’m a big underdog. I just don’t like being in a no-win situation. And to all the neighborhood kids who have been wondering for 20 years why I always used to quit whatever sport we were playing at 5PM to go watch “Saved By the Bell” and eat yogurt, that’s the reason right there. It was no fun when I knew my brothers would never let me sniff a victory.

A final note: Unlike Neil, I actually did some research to see if there’s any validity to the “youngest brother should be the best athlete” theory. It turns out there’s no data to support his claim. For every youngest brother who turned out to be the best, there’s an oldest brother who’s the best in his family. As a matter of fact, guys like Peyton Manning and Joe DiMaggio make me think there might be something to the middle brother being the best athlete.

That would certainly be supported by how the Gariepy family turned out.