Best Of The Blog: Remembering 6 Years of College Reunions

[Editor’s Note: I’m hopping on a plane in less than three hours to meet up with the 10 people from college who were most responsible for my Dad once telling me “it’s time to look for another college if you’re gonna be getting grades like that.” I have no time for a new post so instead I’m running back the blog I posted before last year’s BU Reunion. Two reasons for this: 1). It might entertain you, and 2). I want people to know who I’m with this weekend in case I’m never seen alive again (I hear there’s going to be alcohol and an axe on this trip). I’ll be in Portland, Oregon, and if something happens to me, most likely a guy named Brad did it. Enjoy.]

From August 2, 2012:

In three hours I’ll be boarding a plane for a four-day vacation in New Braunfels, a city that’s best known for operating the oldest dance hall in Texas. It has a population of 55,000, is expected to be over 100 degrees everyday I’m there, and there is literally only one recreational activity available…sitting in the Guadalupe River while trying not to melt.

So why am I so excited to be heading deep into the belly of Texas to spend my vacation in such an uninspiring place?

Because it just so happens to be the seventh consecutive year that a small group of us from college is getting together in a random location for a weekend of reminiscing and reliving all of our most memorable college moments. It’s a weekend where 10 of us booze heavily, sleep in a cramped house that wasn’t meant for 10 people, and play any and every kind of drinking game you can imagine. We basically turn back the clock and act like we’re in college again.

Notice that I didn’t say the weekend included “catching up with each other.” That was on purpose. I’m pretty sure out of the 10 people that usually join me on this trip, I only know what three of them actually do for a living. This is because we don’t waste time on inconsequential details like “what do you do for a job these days?” or “are you still married?”

When we all get together, we immediately fall back into our college lives, spending every minute talking about the most ridiculous shit that went on in our time at BU. And now that we’ve been doing the reunion for seven years, there are plenty of stories from those trips to relive as well.

Vacations are always fun no matter who joins you, and everyone has plenty of groups of friends with plenty of memories among those groups. But the reason this vacation with this group seems so unique should be obvious to anyone who went to college. College breeds such a tight-knit group of friends that can only come from living with those people in such close proximity for those four years. During that first year of college, everyone’s in the same unprecedented position—being truly on your own and living without your family and the friends you’ve grown up with for 18 years. Once you experience the euphoria of living near only people your age, you want to keep it going, and whether you stay in dorms for the next three years or you eventually move into an off-campus apartment, you stay unhealthily close to your friends.

And sure, most of the people in our group have moved on to adulthood—some of them are married, others bought houses, and maybe a few understand what a 401(k) is—but I’m pretty sure at times we all ache to be back in that college lifestyle, if only for a weekend.

That’s what makes this seven-year run so impressive. Sure, every group of college friends would like to get together once a year for a mini-vacation, but the fact that we’ve been able to pull it off is pretty surprising.

Maybe this blog is irrelevant to anyone who’s not part of the group, but maybe going over the highlights from the first six years will help demonstrate why we keep coming back for more:

Year 1 Boston

1). All I can remember is being psyched to return to Boston for a Sox vs Yankees “five games in four days” showdown, and then spending the entire weekend trying to drown out the memories of each mounting loss for the Red Sox. It was a five-game sweep for New York.

It’s not like there isn’t more memories from this trip, but the reunion as it stands today really hadn’t come together yet—not all of the current participants were there, we couldn’t all stay in the same house on this trip, etc.

Year 2 San Francisco

1). Renting a 14-person van for a trip to Napa, “hiring” my brother to drive (hiring in quotes because we didn’t actually pay him), 12 people finishing 12 bottles of champagne at our fourth tasting of the day and still thinking we needed to bring two more bottles of champagne into the van for the ride home…which turned into the most awful-sounding hour of karaoke in history.

2). Almost letting the group talk me into driving that same van down this the next day:

It would have guaranteed me a spot on that evening’s news.

Year 3 Florida

1). One of the group members who claims he hadn’t drank alcohol in almost a year decides to indulge on night one…promptly tries to walk by himself to the beach at 3am, stumbles through a neighbor’s yard while screaming at the top of his lungs on his way to essentially walking through a jungle and getting 2,000 gashes on his legs, then puking on the house porch and sleeping right next to that puke spot.

2). On night two, a couple of us take this same guy to a bar for shots instead of getting the groceries we were sent out for. This guy falls asleep at 7pm with french fries in his mouth.

3). One more from this same guy…watching him the morning after the puking incident lather up his entire body in sunscreen only to alternate between dry heaving in the bathroom and laying on the couch the entire day, never once stepping foot outside.

4). The strange girl in our group sleepwalking on the final night of the trip, ending up outside in the front yard by herself, coming back inside where we were all playing cards and ominously telling us, “I was outside talking to himHe was out there.” Except there was no one outside.

Year 4 Arkansas

1). A canoeing trip down a very calm river ends when the two douchebags who were talking up how good of canoers they are and arrogantly high-fiving every time they did something right somehow flip their canoe, losing the cooler of beer, most of their personal possessions and one of their oars. I’m proud to say I was one of those douchebags.

2). Remember the guy from Florida that caused all the problems? In Arkansas he somehow caused the entire group to fall out of their chairs laughing when he farted so loud in his sleep that it shook the house. And of course it didn’t even wake him up (you need an offensive farter in your college reunion group…it’s an incomplete group without him).

3). The slowest-moving person in the group decides three minutes before we’re all trying to leave to go boating that he needs to take a shower. He spent the entire morning watching TV and playing on his phone, but as soon as we’re ready to walk out the door, he feels the urgent need to get clean.

4). One of the guys decides to sleep in his car on night one even though there was plenty of room in the house. He says there was no room, but really he was just pissed off at a new nickname the group had given him earlier that night. Strangely the nickname was a compliment given by one of the girls about how skinny he looked.

5). The group kidnaps a dog for 18 hours. This is no joke. On our final night of the trip, coming back from the lake, part of the group stopped at a store to get some supplies and they spotted a dog sitting in the road. Now, there are dog lovers in this world, and then there are some of the people in our group that have a flat out obsession with them. So rather than think logically about the dog in the road, the group decided it was a stray dog who looked sick so they brought it back to the house. For the next 12 hours, we fed the dog, played with it, gave it a name…pretty much adopted it. The next morning one of the guys in our group finally called the owner to tell him we “saved” his dog (don’t ask me why we didn’t call him the night before when we first captured the dog; this detail is escaping me at the moment), and the owner was beyond confused, saying that his dog wasn’t missing and that he always hangs out on that road where our group found him. He asked that we drop the dog off where we found him the night before. So in my opinion, we did indeed kidnap an animal.

6). Of course, the Sox get swept by the Yankees in four games while we’re all together, strengthening a creepy trend of the Red Sox always having a terrible weekend against New York when the BU group reunites.

Year 5 Rhode Island

1). Playing flip cup isn’t enough of a drinking game. We add a new rule that says the losing team of each round has to vote for its worst player to take a shot. Of course one team dominates while the other blacks out.

2). The guy who is obviously becoming the star of most of my previous memories tries to cook 30 hotdogs on the grill at one time, but forgets to remove a bathing suit that was drying on top of the grill, leading to a melted bathing suit and a ruined grill, and burning about 23 hotdogs.

2). Almost no one in the group wants to visit Foxwoods, but when we all convince each other to go just for a quick visit, the group loses a collective $1,200 in 30 minutes.

3). One of the girls shows up with an “adult pinata” in the shape of a former BU friend (once considered part of the group) who turned out to be a wacko. We get absolutely no pleasure from beating the pinata until we see that it’s filled with more alcohol.

3). Leaving the owner of the house (who was the younger brother of one of the group members) a pile of cash and leftover booze with a note that said, “Sorry for ruining your grill and kitchen table. Hope this helps.”

Year 6 Boulder

1). Rafting Boulder Creek and almost winding up with no survivors. I don’t know how to explain this better, but we thought we were going on a lazy rafting adventure where we could relax on inner tubes and do some boozing, and we winded up fighting just to survive. There was a nearly broken tailbone, a narrow miss of a broken hip, and we actually almost lost three people.

2). The invention of the “drawing a name out of a hat to see which sucker has to be designated driver” game. It was the most stressful 40 seconds of my life. This year there will probably be a new game invented called “I’m gonna get so drunk before we do the ‘name out of the hat game’ that even if my name gets picked no one will want me driving.”

3). Deciding we needed to tailgate/pre-game with Miller Lites while in the Coors Brewery parking lot waiting to go on a tour.

4). Noticing a disturbing trend that the person in our group who seems to still party the hardest always is the first in bed on these trips. Discussing whether we should still invite her.

5). The introduction of arguably the greatest drinking game ever invented, “Slapping Cups.” (also possibly the worst name for a drinking game ever). If you don’t know it, I promise it’ll be the best game you ever play. And it’s simple, which I learned the morning after the group sent me to bed because I couldn’t figure out the two rules that make up the game. Here it is:

6). Playing a three-hour trivia game where we had to answer questions about our own college memories. Even with over 100 questions involved, the game naturally ended in controversy with no clear winner when the creators of the questions couldn’t even decide on the correct answer to the tiebreaking question.

Every Year

1). Ten college-educated adults can’t figure out how to properly divide up all the expenses from the weekend so we all crowd around a computer and watch in awe as the one person who knows what he’s doing crunches the numbers. I blame it on the astounding amount of brain cells lost over the previous four days.

2). Underestimating the amount of alcohol we need when we make our first grocery run of the trip. When we inevitably run out on day two, we go back to the store and severely overestimate how much more alcohol we need for the rest of the trip…leading to that final night where everyone is overtired, but feels like they have to stay awake and try to drink their share just so we’re not left with so much extra.

3). The guys in the group wanting to play poker, and the girls acting like this is a mortal sin, like they didn’t watch us waste five nights a week in college playing poker and ignoring them.

4). There’s one person in the group who tends to have the least flexibility with his time off and work schedule, causing him to arrive late and leave early on every trip. It wasn’t until year 6 that we realized he was doing this on purpose so he would avoid having to be part of the chaotic grocery store trip in the beginning and the house cleaning at the end. Now that we know, we’ll be subtly punishing him for this…like when he left his sandals at the house last year and we decided to throw them away instead of sending them back to him.

Although it seems like these reunion trips are all sunshine & candy corns, there’s a bit of a cloud hanging over them…the knowledge that someday we won’t be able to do this anymore. The cloud gets bigger with each passing year, and it’s starting to be impossible to get full attendance. Everyone seems to think it’ll come to a screeching halt when the first person in the group has a kid. I disagree. I think it ends when our drunken antics turn from cute to calamity (i.e. instead of setting just hotdogs and a bathing suit on fire, we burn down the entire house).

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Wrapping Up A Great Stanley Cup Final (And Some Reflection on The Overall Boston Sports Landscape)

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The immediate aftermath of the Bruins’ game 6 giveaway to the Blackhawks was so strange. I had no urges to set all my Boston sports gear on fire. There were no chairs or couches kicked across the living room. And I barely even thought about lining up four shot glasses to try to erase the painful memories.

Of course I thought about the missed opportunity. And I was definitely kicking myself for daydreaming earlier on Monday about eight Boston Championships over 11 years. But there was a weird sense of being able to immediately step back and appreciate an incredible Stanley Cup Final, and an even more impressive Boston Bruins season.

This might be an unpopular thought in Boston, but it sort of feels like a gut-wrenching loss in the Championship round is a right of passage for this current installment of Boston athletes and their fans. We’ve had three Patriots Super Bowl victories, but also those two unthinkable losses to the New York Giants. We got Celtics banner #17 when the new Big Three was assembled, but no one’s forgotten how close they were to #18 when they fell to the Lakers in game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. And while the Red Sox haven’t lost in the World Series during this extended run of Boston sports success, their game 7 losses in the 2003 and 2008 ALCS belong in the same miserable category.

So now it’s the Bruins turn.

Are you one of those people who can filter out the missed chances when thinking back on this ridiculous run that started in February 2002? Or are you going to remember David Tyree and Mario Manningham’s catches, Ron Artest’s three-pointer, and Aaron Boone’s home run more than anything? (You’re right, no one will ever forget Boone’s home run. That moment is not erasable. And no, I would never link to that clip in a blog post)

Maybe part of the reason this Bruins loss will bring a shorter grieving period is because it was never about anything more than this particular Stanley Cup Championship. It wasn’t about anyone’s legacy or needing another banner to win an argument over another city’s fan base. Every time the Patriots’ season ends short of a Super Bowl Title now, we can’t help but think of Brady and Belichick needing just one more to solidify their places atop the all-time quarterback and coaching ranks, respectively. And another Larry O’Brien trophy for the Celtics is always needed to stay ahead of the Lakers.

LeBron James got all of two days to enjoy his latest NBA Championship before people were talking about how he needs a few more if there’s ever going to be a real comparison to Michael Jordan.

In hockey they don’t talk like that. Think about everything you’ve read and heard about the Bruins and Blackhawks over the past 10 days. It was all about the hockey. There were no sideshows. No talking about how badly one star needs to get the monkey off his back. There was no Spygate, no PEDs talk, no flopping or referee conspiracies, and no former or current murder suspects on either team. Every bit of analysis concerned matchups on the ice or strategic line-shuffling by the coaches.

Am I the only one who finds that refreshing?

Even if I kind of do hope that a report surfaces this summer saying the entire Chicago team was more doped up than Lance Armstrong before a leisurely ride through the Alps.

A few more notes before I put an amazing hockey season in the rearview mirror:

  • It took me about two hours last night to go from stewing over the disappointment to throwing myself into fantasy football analysis. Just like an athlete turning the page to focus on the next game, we can’t harp on this too long or else we’ll be missing out on the next sports priority.
  • We’re spoiled as Boston fans. We get to turn our attention to a surprising 1st place baseball team and a perennially contending football team (Aaron Hernandez drama notwithstanding).
  • Since you may not have taken a step back recently to do the math on this 11 year run, I did it for you. Boston teams have won seven Championships in that time (3 Patriots, 2 Red Sox, 1 Celtics, 1 Bruins). Those teams have also combined for four Championship round losses and six more Conference Finals round losses. That means 17 times in just over a decade our teams have been on the doorstep of winning it all (or a step away from the doorstep).
  • The odds are against that kind of success happening again. I hope you were paying attention.
  • Looking on the bright side of this Bruins letdown…we can all start acting like normally-functioning humans again. We can wash our lucky shirts (they were becoming as firm as cardboard due to all the dried up beer, pizza sauce and tears on them). We can shave our playoff beards (and some of us can even knock down our playoff afros). And we can cut our lucky playoff lawn (heard a rumor that fans in Chicago and Boston were letting the grass in their yards grow for good luck….so random)
  • People will naturally point to games 4 and 6 as missed opportunities, but don’t sleep on game 1. Remember, the Bruins took a 3-1 lead with just under 14 minutes left in the 3rd period. A win in game 1 means the Bruins would have taken a 3-0 series lead eventually if things played out the same otherwise.
  • Of course if things had really played out the same after that, we’d be talking about how the Bruins have to win game 7 on Wednesday to avoid the crazy choke job of blowing a 3-0 series lead.
  • This is the first time in my life that I’ve felt the need to congratulate the opponent and their fans after a Boston loss.

Just a great series that hopefully we’ll look back on fondly even though our team came out on the wrong end.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy a new Patriots hat so I have something to set on fire when Tom Brady falls short of Super Bowl #4 in about seven months.

Get Your Summer Movie Experience Started Off Right (Skip The Magic, Go For The Raunchy Apocalypse)

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It’s officially the first day of Summer, and that means movie theater overload is upon us. We’ve made it through the dark days of March and April (where you were ultimately choosing between The Incredible Burt Wonderstone or Jurassic Park 3D if you really needed to get to the theater), and we’re suddenly nipples deep in potentially solid movies. If you decide to head to the theaters this weekend, you’ll have to choose one film to see among the following: World War Z, Man of Steel, This Is The End, The Bling Ring, Now You See Me, Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious 6, or Monsters University. All of them could be great, depending on your personal preferences.

If you’re planning to go see a movie this weekend, and you’re thinking this blog is going to give you reviews for all eight of those movies I just listed, well I’m sorry to say you’re about to be 62.5% disappointed. I’ve only seen three of the eight.

But if this blog post helps even one person pick the right film among the few that I’ve seen, then I guess I’m doing my job. And of course, you can find professional reviews from professional critics all over the internet. I’m not trying to replicate the type of review you’d read from a reputable critic. I’ll just cut through the bullshit and give you the bottom line on these motion pictures.

  1. Star Trek Into Darkness: The first thing you need to know about this movie is that you don’t need to know anything about Star Trek’s lengthy film and TV history to enjoy it. You don’t even need to have seen the 2009 first installment of these new Star Treks to understand this one. You should see this movie if: You enjoy sci-fi movies that are grounded in reality almost enough to not be considered sci-fi; you like a movie that’s about 85% action, 12% comedy and 3% romance; you think Chris Pine is so hot that you’d sit through a two-hour movie about space exploration and alien planets just to watch him on a giant movie screen (Chris Pine is available in 3D for this film). You should NOT see this movie if: Thinking of Star Trek immediately makes you yawn or have a glazed over look in your eyes; you think Star Trek and Star Wars are the same thing and you’d end up spending the whole movie whispering to your boyfriend about when he thinks Darth Vader’s going to make his first appearance; you hate awesome action movies. On the Ross Watchability Scale (RWS), I give it a 7.5 out of 10.
  2. Now You See Me: Based on the trailers for this movie, my expectation was for it to be an intellectually stimulating heist story with the unique twist that the criminals are these great illusionists with a ton of tricks up their sleeves. Unfortunately my expectations were aimed way too high on this one. The opening 15-20 minutes is solid as you get sucked into these magicians’ worlds and their first great robbery together. But the rest of the movie is an extremely lame chase between the bumbling FBI agents and the magicians who continue to perform in public even though the FBI is after them (the FBI literally stands by and watches these performances at times, making you wonder if there’s an unknown law that states people can’t be arrested while performing magic). Just because they threw together a movie with six or seven well-known actors doesn’t mean it’s going to be a well-acted movie. It’s not, and the lame, overly complex plot doesn’t make up for the awful acting. You should see this movie if: You’ve always wanted to watch a film that’s more confusing and less interesting than Ocean’s 11; you are obsessed with magicians; you enjoy watching Mark Ruffalo look like the world’s worst Cop; you enjoy the “Shyamalan twists” at the end of a movie no matter how little sense they make. You should NOT see this movie if: You enjoy good movies only; you don’t want to spend a whole movie-going experience thinking about how old and tired Morgan Freeman looks; you like to spend your money wisely. On the RWS, I give it a 2.5 out of 10.
  3. This Is The End: I don’t know if this movie looks stupid or brilliant to the average person. When I walked out of the theater last night, I was leaning much more towards the brilliant side. And I still am today, but the one caveat to this movie’s brilliance is that it might only be good to people who are familiar with these actors. Not like you need to have met these actors in real life, but you’ll probably enjoy this movie the most if you’re familiar with their previous work and the type of personalities they have. In case you don’t know, this film stars Seth Rogen, James Franco and many of their friends playing exaggerated versions of themselves during a sudden apocalypse. At times it almost feels like one big inside joke that you’ll only understand if you have a general sense of how the public perceives these actors. For example, if you don’t know going into the movie that Michael Cera always plays characters who are soft-spoken, sweet, a little dorky and mostly awkward, then it probably won’t be as funny when you see him snorting coke and being an asshole to everyone at the party that gets this movie started. You should see this movie if: You were a fan of movies like Superbad, Knocked Up, Pineapple Express and I Love You Man; you live for raunchy sex & toilet humor as well as alcohol & drug humor; you have the ability to enjoy a movie for its amazing humor no matter how nonsensical and far-fetched the plot is (that really shouldn’t be too hard). You should NOT see this movie if: You’re uncomfortable with the words fuck, cum, jizz, or the C-word; you have absolutely no interest in seeing actors play themselves and make fun of each other for 90 minutes nonstop; you aren’t OK with seeing several gigantic (fake) penises on a movie screen. On the RWS, I give it a 8.5 out of 10.

So to recap, we’re working with one solid sci-fi/action movie, one incredible comedy and one gigantic flop. You’re free to make your own choices when you head to the theater this weekend, but don’t say I didn’t warn you when you’re stuck watching magicians and FBI agents running in circles while you hear people in the next theater over laughing hysterically at yet another amazing semen joke.

Job Opportunities For The Underemployed (Six Potential Jobs I’m Seriously Considering)

Like any legit financial genius would do, I’m always evaluating and re-evaluating my money situation. A few months back I took a look at my cash flow and realized there was no actual flow, just a rapid bloody hemorrhaging. After calculation upon calculation, I finally figured out what was happening. I hadn’t been on the receiving end of “income” in about 10 months. Apparently money only flows one way when you don’t have any coming in.

After squeezing every penny out of my stock market plays, my online gambling website and any family members who were dumb enough to believe that I was self-producing a movie and needed donations, I did what any person would do as his last resort for income: I got a job.

Over the past four months I’ve been making lead generation cold calls for a software company from my couch. It’s part-time work that nearly covers my monthly living expenses. When I agreed to this job (which is way, waaaaaay below my qualifications as a former sales wunderkind, but that’s another discussion for another day), I liked the plan. Work about 20 hours per week, have enough time to continue pursuing my writing, and make enough money that my savings account status goes from “rapid hemorrhaging” to “controlled bleed.”

And so far it’s pretty much worked out how I expected. But soon enough there will come a time when I probably want to make more money than “just enough to come up short of my living costs.” Isn’t that every American’s dream?

Here are some of the supplemental job opportunities that I’d be willing to consider to bring me from “voluntary poverty” to “upper lower class”:

  1. Los Angeles Apartment Hunter: This isn’t an actual title of an actual job, but I bet there are people out there willing to pay good money to have someone go to an apartment they’re potentially looking to rent and check it out for them. Let’s say you’re relocating from the East Coast but won’t have a chance to come look at apartments yourself. You could pay a stranger to visit the apartment, ask questions, take pictures, survey the safety of the neighborhood and haggle with the landlord about the security deposit. It wouldn’t surprise me if this type of job already exists. And I’d totally do it, but I’d get fired almost immediately. You know how I know that? Because last week a friend who is coming to LA for two months asked me to look at an apartment in West Hollywood that she might rent. And like any good friend, I helped her out. She asked for pictures and a general sense of the safety of the complex and surrounding neighborhood. I ended up getting about 14 good pictures of the living room, all from the same angle. No pictures of the bedroom or bathroom. One picture of the roof deck, but somehow I missed the pool and hot tub setup. I essentially asked zero questions to the woman who rents the place. And I spent the whole time thinking about how much it sucks that a five-mile drive home from this apartment might take 45 minutes. So while I think this could be a good part-time job, I just don’t think I have the eye for detail that’s needed for success.
  2. TaskRabbit Task Master: Are you familiar with this company, TaskRabbit? Probably only if you live in one of the nine cities they currently serve. It’s basically a forum where people who need a task done for them post a request, and then someone agrees to do that odd job for a certain amount of money (grocery shopping, yard work, delivery of 50 buffalo wings to a group of drunk poker-playing guys). So if you’re feeling lazy, you can post on the website that you want someone to buy your groceries and deliver them to you. And for about $40 (plus the cost of the groceries, obviously) someone will arrive at your house a few hours later with your grocery list fulfilled. The randomness of these jobs is endless. And if you spend some time on the site, you’ll see that there is quite the range when it comes to making money. I could make $300 one day by helping someone move out of his apartment, and then $15 the next day by delivering cupcakes to some unemployed weirdo who’s too lazy to get off his couch (though seeing someone who is an exact replica of me might be a mind-numbing experience). This idea has some potential, except for the fact that I don’t have a car most days, and I’m a little concerned I’d be the unlucky person who goes to clean someone’s gutters and it turns out he’s a psychopath who wants me to give him a handjob instead. Let’s move on.
  3. ChaCha Answer Master: The lazy man’s version of TaskRabbit. Instead of getting paid to perform odd jobs that may take you out of your house, you get paid to find answers to random questions people have while sitting on your couch. So if you’re at a bar arguing with a friend about how Grady Little should have never gotten another managing job in Major League Baseball after his 2003 meltdown with the Red Sox, and the friend says Grady Little never did get another job in baseball, you can text your question to ChaCha (242-242) and some fat slob will research the correct answer and send it to you within minutes. Why you wouldn’t just google the answer from the bar is beyond me, but this company exists so plenty of people must be going to it for answers. You may be surprised to know that I actually was a ChaCha answer person for a little while in 2010. But after spending about seven hours spread out over three days answering questions for all the idiots who use the service, I found out I had only made like $3.10 total. I decided it probably wasn’t the most lucrative job I could find at that time. I don’t think I’d consider this again unless I suffer a terrible injury and literally cannot leave my apartment.
  4. Company Name Thinker-Upper (aka “I Steal Your Money Right From Under Your Nose”): I stumbled upon this industry when I was researching a company for my current part-time job the other day. The company is Namella, and their value prop is that they’ll come up with the perfect name for your new company in 72 hours for only $97!!! It immediately struck me as a bold business venture, mostly because I think it’s absolute bullshit to pay someone to come up with your company name. You’re an entrepreneur, right? A creative, think-outside-the-box type of person? And you can’t even think of a good name for your company? On Namella’s customer success stories page, they give examples of the great names they’ve come up with for existing businesses. “John wanted a name that reflected his company being a real estate company but that it was a professional one that you would be glad to seek out. 72 long hours later, we came up with ‘ProSeek Properties’.” Or… “Janet wanted people to know that her technology services really are unlimited, so after a few all-nighters with the creative team here at Namella, we came up with ‘Limitless Tech Solutions’.” Brilliant! Hey, if people are dumb enough to pay you hundreds of dollars for you to not add any value to their company, by all means you should take it. That’s why I’m happy to announce my new business venture. It’s called “Ross Names Your Company Because You’re Too Stupid To Name Your Own Company.” Fortunately for my new customers, I only charge $96 and promise to give you the new name within 71 hours of your payment (*71 hour commitment not guaranteed if an important Boston sporting event is happening within that time period).
  5. Online Gambling Addict: On the one hand, I did make over $1,500 last year during football season on a combination of fantasy leagues, elimination pools and yes, online gambling. But on the other hand, it took five months to make that money, and football is the only sport that I know well enough to consistently make a profit. So the next step would be playing online poker all day long for money. Tempting, no doubt about it. I knew some guys in college who would constantly have four separate poker games going at once, and they made thousands of dollars by basically being patient and playing the odds. Unfortunately I don’t know the odds, don’t have the patience, and I’d feel like such a loser when my girlfriend came home from work every day to find me on my 11th straight hour of poker, hoping and praying that I make $100 before the night’s over. College Ross should have done this instead of going to those useless journalism classes.
  6. VOLCANOOO!!: OK, the name of the job isn’t volcano. But whenever I think about waiting tables one more time, the first thing I think of is my interview at RainForest Cafe in San Francisco eight years ago. Since I worked at Pizzeria Uno (or Uno Chicago Grill, whatever the fuck they call it) for three years, I thought I knew what I was getting into with working at another chain restaurant. But RainForest Cafe went to the next level. Any time it was someone’s birthday, you’d have to bring out the volcano dessert and scream “VOLCANOOO” at the top of your lungs until all the other servers joined you to sing the cheesy birthday song to the kid. And don’t get me started on their forest ranger uniforms. If I had taken that job, I would have absolutely stabbed myself in the neck with one of those sparklers that sits on top of the volcano. I’m pretty sure this guy wants to do the same thing:

So there you have it. My six best job opportunities right now, and they range from “undesirable” to “doesn’t actually exist as a job.” Perfect. I should have the cash needed for the tropical vacation I promised my girlfriend in no time.

Dog Owning Weirdos Weirding Me Out (And Why Do All The Strangest People Have Strange Business Cards?)

This is what I get for exchanging pleasantries with strangers. I should just follow my natural inclination, which is to keep my ear buds plugged into my phone and into my ears at all times. I usually do that on planes, buses or any other public place where I feel I might get suckered into having a conversation with a stranger.

I have a socially awkward brother who bases every decision in his life around how to avoid interacting with people he doesn’t know. I’ve always thought that had to be exhausting for him, constantly evaluating every move he makes to avoid being social, but now I’m starting to see his point.

This is one of the downfalls of having a dog that you enjoy taking out in public.

When I go hiking or to the park and my dog starts playing with other dogs, it seems necessary to at least acknowledge the other owners. I always thought it would be so weird to ignore those people as our dogs take turns violating each other. But now I’m thinking it might be the way to go…because the alternative is to be in a one-sided conversation with a weirdo who wants nothing more than a captive audience to push their bullshit theories on.

I thought the dude I used to see at the dog park who was trying to be a comedian was as bad as it would get. He always wanted to try out jokes on all the other dog owners. It was one of those “I have to laugh because I’m his only audience right now and it’ll be so painful to not laugh” situations (side note: This guy would also walk around the park with a spray bottle and spray other people’s dogs when he thought they were misbehaving. Totally acceptable behavior).

But now I long for the days of Wannabe Comedian in my life.

Last week I was hiking with Molly and she started playing with these two dogs. The owner was a guy in his 40s who seemed normal enough when we exchanged pleasantries. Our dogs kept walking and playing, so we kept walking together. One thing led to another and all of the sudden he’s telling me that A). he moved to LA because his girlfriend died in a plane crash a few years ago and he had to get out of New York to stay sane, and B). there are many advantages to being a vegan and I should seriously consider it.

I couldn’t think of the right follow up question to ask about the plane crash situation, and I didn’t care to discuss his vegan lifestyle because I’d rather die than not be able to consume animals ever again.

Undeterred he continued to talk for the next 45 minutes—about how he broke up with a girl last week because she wouldn’t give up hamburgers for him, about how I should really give my dog the rattlesnake vaccine, about the quality of women in LA versus New York—and I just basically nodded along while secretly hoping my dog would attack one of his so we’d have no choice but to split up.

My favorite part of the interaction was him telling me he was unemployed and focuses on volunteer work. But then he proceeded to hand me his business card…

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Identifying info has been covered up

Now because of his 45-minute rant, I already knew he was vegan and into animal rescue activities, but ladies clothing manufacturer? Such a random business card, such a random dude, but not nearly as insufferable as this next guy.

 

 

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Another business card from another unemployed guy. With the first guy, I really had no choice but to socialize with him. We were walking in the same direction, our dogs were playing with each other and there was no one else on the path. But the guy who handed me this confusing business card totally swindled me into a conversation.

I was at the dog park where there were a bunch of people so it’s not like I was stuck somewhere with just one guy. But this gentleman came right up to me and feigned interest in my Red Sox hat (I asked him, “Oh are you from Boston?” “Nope.” “But you’re a Red Sox fan?” “Nope, I just like that hat.”).

Then he asked me if he could try out my “Chuckit” dog launcher because he had the larger version and didn’t like it that much. And finally, he pretended to be interested in my dog. Before I could answer his questions about Molly, he cut me off and said, “Do you mind if I run something by you?”

The next 20 minutes was a full sales pitch from him on why I should go to his website to learn about Buddhism. He talked about how he found spiritual enlightenment, and that it was because he chanted those words at the top of the business card that he was getting everything he wanted in life (except for a job, apparently).

You can imagine how quickly I scurried away from this individual after he was done, but sure enough he found me sitting on a bench a little while later and said, “Surely there’s enough room for both of us on that bench.” And then I had to withstand 20 more minutes of his thoughts on religion, how he works in the public safety business but it’s all politics now and it drives him crazy, and how he started a dog-sitting business recently, with some help from chanting “NAM-MYOHO-RENGE-KYO.” Chanting out to his gods apparently gave him guidance on how much to charge for dog-sitting.

I swear none of this is an exaggeration.

I left the park telling him I’d check out the website and give him feedback next time I see him. I will make it a point to either never see him again or train my dog to destroy his dog so that we can’t be near each other.

I can’t figure out what it is with unemployed people and business cards, but I feel like they all have them. As an unemployed veteran, I think the self-promoting business card is a waste of money. But like my parents always taught me….when in Rome…

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The moral of the story is I hate talking to people who just want to talk about themselves and push their beliefs on me. I might start asking a stranger before I talk to them whether it’s going to be an actual conversation about normal shit, or if it’s going to be a one-sided sales pitch on why their lifestyle is better than mine.

But one thing’s for sure…everyone at the dog park is getting a Ross Gariepy business card.

A Rivalry A Decade In The Making: Guest Blogger Breaks Down The Stanley Cup Finals

[Editor’s Note: One more time, guest blogger Nkilla is delivering all the bloggy goodness of the Stanley Cup Finals matchup. He sent me this preview with less than 8 hours to go before the puck drops for Game 1. You’ve probably read plenty of previews about this series already, but what’s one more? You know you’re looking to kill some time before you convince yourself it’s acceptable to crack open a beer and turn on the TV anyway.]

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Well here we are, the Stanley Cup Finals. Two of the original six teams (and two of the last three Cup Champions) going head-to-head to lift arguably the best trophy in sports. Before we break down the rivalry and breakdown the matchup, let’s take a quick look back at the Conference Championships.

Boston defeated Pittsburgh 4-0. As you can see from my previous post, I fully expected the Bruins to advance to the Finals, but I did not think they would dominate Pittsburgh the way they did in this series. In games one and two, Pittsburgh decided they were going to try and play Boston’s style of hockey: very physical. Boston totally dominated both games, Pittsburgh started up the goalie carousel, and the series was basically over. Some may argue that games three and four were one goal games that could have gone either way, which is true, but both those games were dominated stylistically by the Bruins. They were not final scores of 5-4, but rather 2-1 and 1-0. Also, Tuukka Rask and the Bruins defense gave up a total of two goals the entire series. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had a total of zero combined points in the series. Again, complete domination by the Bruins.

Chicago defeated Los Angeles 4-1. Admirable title defense for the Kings. In order to beat Chicago though, they were going to need a fairly healthy team and for Jonathan Quick to steal them a couple games. Neither happened. In retrospect Quick played so well to steal the series against San Jose that he had to have a little let down against Chicago. As for the Blackhawks, Corey Crawford outplayed Quick in this series and the offense got more than enough goals to advance fairly easily. A dominant, quick performance for the Blackhawks which is probably exactly what they needed coming off the long series against Detroit in the previous round.

And now onto the rivalry. And I’m not talking about the Bruins vs the Blackhawks. I’m talking about me and Rmurdera against our friend Todd. I’ve been friends with Todd for at least a decade, and Rmurdera has been associated with him for six or seven years. Todd is the Chicago fan equivalent of me and Rmurdera. He loyally follows all the teams from Chicago, he has well-formed and informed opinions, but also the occasional irrational opinions and emotions. [Editor’s Note: If I’m not mistaken, during game 5 of Chicago’s first round series against Phoenix last year, Todd watched the entire 3rd period and overtime with his pants pulled down because it was “good luck.” So I can back up Nkilla’s claim that Todd is as irrational as us Boston fans.]

Todd doesn’t have to go running out for Blackhawks gear for himself and his kids for the next two weeks because he just jumped on the bandwagon…he already has everything he needs. When the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, Todd did not celebrate. He said something along the lines of “who the fuck cares, I’m a Cubs fan.” Again, a true sports fan and a loyal Chicago fan. You can understand why we became friends.

So anyways, Rmurdera and I have been waiting for Boston to face Chicago in a championship round for several years. Up until now Todd has always been able to say “Super Bowl 20” which stings a little, but is also pretty dated. In the grand scheme of things, there isn’t really any hatred between Boston and Chicago. I actually have no ill-will towards the Blackhawks unless they are playing the Bruins (this could all change in two weeks). Now that the Red Sox have two championships in my lifetime, I hope the Cubs fans get theirs someday. This is all to say that the banter between myself and Todd will be of the “fun-loving” nature, as opposed to the “murderous nature” that exists when Boston goes head-to-head with New York for a title, or any time Chicago plays Green Bay or Minnesota. Since the Red Sox playing the Cubs in the World Series would be a sign of The Rapture, and by the time the Bears rid themselves of Jay Cutler, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s career might be over, I’m glad the Bruins and the Blackhawks are finally giving us a very meaningful Boston/Chicago title bout.

OK, enough about our somewhat awkward “tough love” style rivalry with Todd. Let’s breakdown the series. One very important note: Due to the lockout, the Eastern Conference and Western Conference did not play each other at all this year, so we have no idea if there was a huge disparity in talent between the two conferences or not. This is somewhat of a wild card heading into the finals and makes all comparisons a little less certain.

Important: Goaltending. It may seem obvious that goaltending is going to be important in the Stanley Cup Finals, but that doesn’t mean I should just ignore it. I think at this point we know we’re going to get above average to outstanding play from Tuukka Rask in every game. With a few more games like the way he played against the Penguins, Rask can make himself the defining player of these playoffs. (Side note: Do you think Peter Chiarelli wishes he rushed onto the ice and signed Rask with ten minutes to go in game seven of the Toronto series? Or was it twelve minutes left?) What are we going to get from Corey Crawford? Do we get the Crawford who outplayed one of the top three goalies in the world in the previous round, or do we get the Corey Crawford that can be shaky at times?

Not Important: Home Ice. Both these teams have proven they can win anywhere and that crowd noise/taunting does not bother them.

Important: Physicality. Boston wants this series to play out almost exactly like their series with Pittsburgh. Play very physical, hope Chicago tries to match their physicality, and in turn Chicago forgets how potent their offense can be. This is not to say Chicago is not physical, but they will want the physical aspects of the game to be an ancillary story rather than the determining characteristic of the series.

Not Important: Special Teams. Both teams’ penalty kills are awesome, and both teams’ power plays suck. And by “suck” I mean both teams should check the rulebook to see if declining power plays is allowed.

Important: Coaching. Somewhat related to the physicality point. Both coaches need to remind their teams to play their style of hockey and not get sucked into the other team’s style. The Bruins need to dump the puck into Chicago’s zone and chase after it. Chicago needs to get their defensemen (and therefore their forwards) flying up the ice with the puck and staying out of the extracurricular physical altercations that Brad Marchand and company will try and suck them into.

Not Important: Coaching. Not a typo. In terms of X’s and O’s both coaches and their staffs are great. And both coaches have won Cups with their respective teams. So from a tactical point of view there is no advantage.

Most Important: Forechecking. This is the biggest factor in the series as far as I’m concerned. Chicago’s defense is very fast, very big, and very offensive-minded. You could argue that two of Chicago’s top four offensive players are defensemen. When Chicago is clicking offensively their defensemen are carrying the puck out of the zone and starting the offensive break. The Bruins forwards need to get the forecheck going all series. They have to make it so that Chicago’s D is sick of getting hit in their own zone, are turning pucks over, and most importantly making Chicago’s forwards come back to help on defense, which slows the entire offense down. A daunting task, but fear not Bruins fans as this is what the B’s do best when they are playing well. If the Bruins’ own defensemen are feeling comfortable in a game, it is really, really hard to score on them. Chicago’s forwards have to create a steady forecheck to tire out the Bruins defense, create some turnovers (the Bruins are not shy about turning the puck over in their own end when they are under duress), and get better looks at Rask. Not an impossible task, but do Chicago’s forwards want to commit to this? It’s easy to imagine the Bruins’ top two lines sacrificing goals for a good defensive play because that is what they do every game. Do you think Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp want to commit to that style of play for six or seven games? They might, but I think it’s the less likely scenario. Sorry Todd (and his fellow Chicago fans), Bruins in 5.

[Editor’s Note: One of the many reasons why I like having Nkilla do these predictions is because I find it pointless and impossible to get an accurate read on two hockey teams. For instance, every expert in the world said that in the Eastern Conference Finals the key was for the Bruins to stay out of the penalty box, you know, because Pittsburgh had such an amazing power play. Well the B’s didn’t stay out of the box, but the Penguins’ power play was a complete non-factor. I said it would take a minor miracle for the Bruins to advance over the Penguins, but that four-game sweep looked more like a precise surgery than a miracle. Therefore, I’m abstaining from making a prediction. I will continue to grow my good luck afro and wear the same Bruins t-shirt that has helped them win 9 of their last 10 games. I’m just trying to do my part to make sure the dominating Boston sports run continues.]

Prepare to Be Jealous of All the Celebrity Sightings From My First Year in LA

As with all things at the ol’ blogging headquarters lately, the “I’ve been living in LA for one year” blog is going to be late, probably by a year or so. June 1st was officially the one-year anniversary of me executing my half-assed scheme of coming to LA, getting hired to write for TV immediately, and then drowning in money for the rest of my life. That flawless-sounding plan hasn’t gone exactly how I expected. But soon enough all the pieces will fall into place. Until then, I guess I’m stuck blogging for free for all you freeloading blog readers.

Since I don’t have time for a full recap of the first 365 glorious days of my new life, I figured you’d at least want to know about all the amazing celebrity sightings my girlfriend and I have experienced over that time.

After all, it seems like you’d have to be a complete loser not to constantly be seeing celebrities all around this area.

Let’s run through this murderer’s row of incredible celebrity sightings:

1). Will Arnett

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Yes, Will Arnett is the closest thing we’ve seen to an A-list actor since we arrived in LA. Which is to say we haven’t come close to seeing a true A-list actor yet. But for fans of Arrested Development, Blades of Glory and Up All Night (not sure any fans of that show actually exist), this is a big score. We saw Will while hiking with our dog one day. Usually our dog has to stop and play with every other dog she sees on the trails, but for some reason she completely ignored Will’s dog…the one time we wanted her to go after another dog so he would have to stop and talk to us. I was ready to start pitching TV pilots with great characters for him to play, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Apparently Will has a role in the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot so his star is certainly on the rise.

2). Ian Gomez

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You know it’s a pathetic list when the #2 person on it is someone Julie and I couldn’t even name when we saw him multiple times at our favorite sports bar in Culver City. It took Julie hours of collaboration via text message with a friend of hers for us to finally figure out who the hell we were staring at. He’s this high on the list because he’s a regular on Cougar Town. Just the fact that he’s on a current TV show puts him ahead of most of the others on this list. He’s mainly a TV actor who started out way back in the 90’s on shows like Murphy Brown and Melrose Place. He’s credited with appearing in over 70 shows or films, but Cougar Town seems to be his first extended run of success on a single show.

3). Blake Anderson

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My personal favorite on this list. I’m not sure if it counts as a true sighting because I actually met him on the set of Workaholics when a friend of a friend brought me along to watch them tape an episode. So it wasn’t a random spotting around the city or anything. But we’ll count it. Besides, I got to shake his hand and tell him I’m a comedy writer. I missed a huge opportunity though by not making a joke during the 17 seconds we talked. A perfect joke there could have had me set for life as one of his writing partners. If you haven’t watched Workaholics and you’re not adverse to raunchy college stoner humor, you should give it a try on Netflix Instant immediately. The only reason I ranked him below Mr. Gomez is because Blake doesn’t have the longevity in acting that baldy has. But Blake’s star is on the rise big time, as any Arrested Development fans should remember seeing him and his Workaholic co-stars in episode 1 of the new season.

4). Gilles Marini

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Oh, you’ve never heard of him either? I would have never spotted this “celebrity” on my own. We were hiking in Runyon Canyon one day, a place known for its celebrity sightings, and Julie is 98% sure we walked right by him. She didn’t know his actual name either, just that he was the hot neighbor from Sex and the City, the Movie. According to IMDB, that really is all he’s known for. It looks like he’s appeared in some  well-known TV shows like Modern Family, Castle and Brothers & Sisters.

5). Kerr Smith

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Ten years ago, Mr. Smith might have been #1 on this list because his role as Jack McPhee on Dawson’s Creek would have been relevant back then. Another Julie sighting that might have gone unnoticed by me. We were at a Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica for Cinco de Mayo when she spotted him with a group of friends. We both decided that he must have given up acting in 2003 when Dawson’s ended, but to my surprise it looks as if he’s appeared in many TV shows and films since then. To me, he’ll always be the gay guy from Dawson’s Creek whose name I never bothered to remember.

6). Brian Wilson

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Only at #6, and already we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. Maybe he should be higher on my list because his ridiculous beard coupled with the San Francisco Giants’ 2010 World Series run made him somewhat famous, but currently he’s not on a baseball team and has disappeared from the limelight entirely. So we’re sticking him at the (near) bottom. Another spotting from a Runyon Canyon hike. He was jogging and still had the long beard. Obviously that made him unmistakable. He was also wearing a lot of spandex at the time, in case that’s the type of detail that interests you.

7). Benjamin Patton

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Who the fuck is Ben Patton, right? Anyone who doesn’t have their own Wikipedia page can’t possibly be a celebrity, right? Well I present to you the 7th most exciting celebrity we’ve seen in LA: a reality show contestant whose 15 minutes of fame really did last about 15 minutes. Ready For Love, an NBC matchmaking reality show executive produced by Eva Longoria lasted all of a few episodes before it was cancelled. Since we had an actual connection to one of the contestants, we taped the show, and I can promise you it was horrific. Last July we went to a winery in Malibu and were pleasantly surprised to see that they were taping an episode of this show only a few feet away from our table. We were nearly kicked out for stalking all the people involved with the show, but not before we got to see some of the women that were vying for Ben’s affection start fighting with each other because they were so drunk off the unlimited supply of wine (not physically fighting, more like yelling at each other and crying to the producers behind each other’s backs).

So there you have it. Potentially the worst celebrity sightings list in the history of celebrities. At least we get to hear all the time about our luckier friends bumping into a Kardashian or an Oprah around town. Maybe in year two Julie and I will finally graduate from C-list sightings to B-list sightings? Fingers crossed.

In Case You’re Having Trouble Finding Any Bruins Coverage On The Web, Read These Expertly Crafted Notes

I wasn’t sure if any websites were going to have Bruins-Penguins coverage today, so I’ve been keeping notes throughout the first three games just in case you can’t find anything else on the web to read regarding the Bruins’ unthinkable 3-0 series lead.

Yep, a real blogger would probably be posting notes after every game, but we’re a little backed up right now at the blogging headquarters, mostly moving furniture aimlessly around the facilities.

  • Listen, as we get older and sports becomes much less of a life-or-death scenario, we’re naturally going to shed some of our crazy superstitions. For instance, I’m no longer one of those insane people who has to sit in the same spot on the couch for every game and drink the exact same beverage. Now I just grow the lucky playoff afro and keep wearing the same t-shirt for as long as my team keeps winning. I hear that if there’s a game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, it’s scheduled for June 28th. I cannot imagine keeping my hair growing for another three weeks (but I have to because the Bruins might lose if I don’t…).
  • As for Tuukka Rask, when I was back in Boston for Memorial Day weekend, I made the mistake of putting sports talk radio on in the car (should have listened to you, Eamon). The Bruins had just handled New York in five games, but the radio hosts were saying they weren’t sure if the Bruins should pay top dollar to keep Rask this summer because he hadn’t had a “put the team on his shoulders” series yet. Stupidity. As for the impending negotiations between Tuukka’s agent and the B’s this summer, I’m thinking by the end of this Penguins series all Bill Zito will have to say is this:
  • I actually wrote that last note about Tuukka after game 1 of this series. I’ve never felt like he had to have a signature series to be paid like a top guy. He’s been proving it all year, and as a matter of fact, if he didn’t make some ridiculous saves when the Bruins were down 4-1 in game 7 against Toronto, the only thing you’d be reading about regarding the Bruins is whether they should fire Claude Julien or not. And now, after that performance in game 3 against Pittsburgh, the negotiations to keep Tuukka should be especially easy.
  • Going back to game 1 here…Did the Bruins become the first team to ever blow a two-on-oh fast break?
  • That was ridiculous, we all know it. But it’s not like anyone should be surprised. The Bruins might have the least skill on offense in the history of the Conference Finals. I’m not saying they’re bad offensively. It’s just that they don’t really have much in the way of finesse players or snipers. Well-executed scoring chances isn’t their thing (Usually. Seems like they’ve been proving this wrong in games 2 and 3). But blowing these easy plays shouldn’t worry us at all. During the Celtics 2007-08 Championship Run, my group of friends had a running joke about how the Celtics were the only team in the NBA that couldn’t execute a simple alley oop. It’s an exaggeration, but they really did seem to screw up an inordinate amount of alley oop opportunities. And it’s because the running, fast break, athletic style of play just wasn’t their thing. Didn’t stop them short of a championship though.
  • Goalie controversies are fun, specifically when it’s the other team trying to figure out the lesser of two evils between the pipes (maybe the best subplot to the 2011 Cup Finals was the Roberto Luongo drama), but I doubt we’re seeing another goalie change for Pittsburgh regardless of how many more games are in this series. Tomas Vokoun seems to at least show up for one of every two games. But even the most optimistic Bruins fan couldn’t have dreamed of the first goalie change for the Penguins coming with 3:29 left to go in the 1st period of game 2!
  • Unlike the goalie change, here’s something that did actually take a lot longer than expected in this series…At 11:08 to go in the 2nd period of GAME 3, the Penguins finally tied the score up for the first time in the entire series, other than when each game begins at 0-0. Think about that…the Penguins have never had a lead in this series, and they only finally tied the Bruins up after 149 minutes of game time. DOMINATION.
  • Gregory Campbell just became a playoff legend in Boston sports history. Blocked shot, broken leg, killed off the penalty for another 30 seconds before his season was officially over. It’s not the exact same scenario as when Nathan Horton was cheapshotted by Aaron Rome in game 3 of the 2011 Cup Finals and missed the rest of the playoffs, but I’m sure the Bruins will be playing for Campbell, and it would be nice to see him hoist the Cup on whoever’s ice the Bruins win it on in a couple weeks.
  • Did everyone enjoy last night’s stress and anxiety? It’s been a while since we felt the nerves of a close game. I hadn’t felt nervous about the Bruins since the Rangers series was in doubt, which was midway through game 2 almost 20 days ago. But this one was an edge-of-your-seat, pacing-the-room situation from the 2nd period on.
  • And with 5:00 left in the 3rd period, I thought it would be an absolute miracle for the Bruins to win this game. The fact that they even made it to overtime, and then to a second overtime, was more than we could even ask for with the way they were outplayed.
  • Good to see Sidney Crosby blow a great three-on-two opportunity with 10:50 left in the second overtime. He just straight up bobbled a flat puck. This really is the worst three-game stretch he’s ever played, probably in his entire life.
  • Is there any difference between Sidney Crosby seven years into his professional career and what we thought of LeBron James after his first seven years? LeBron’s first seven years were in Cleveland. He made one Finals appearance, was widely regarded as the most talented player in the NBA, but seemed to choke or shrink in the biggest moments of the playoffs. Sure, Crosby has a Stanley Cup Championship and has played in two Finals, but isn’t the best player in the world supposed to be playing like at least an average player during the Conference Finals? Evgeni Malkin has been five times as good as Crosby in this series.
  • I’m convinced Jaromir Jagr couldn’t score on a pulled-goalie penalty shot…if that sort of thing existed.
  • If the Jagr hook on Malkin that started the game-winning goal happened against my team, I would go berserk. Like complete meltdown burning my possessions type of berserk. But since it benefited the Bruins, it’s gotta be one of my favorite non-calls in sports history.
  • And finally, if you were the Penguins, how could you possibly show up next game? You just played the game of your lives, and you only put up one goal, and you lost. It wouldn’t be spineless of them to fold up shop and forfeit. Sometimes you just know when it’s not your series.
  • But I will try to be the voice of reason for Bruins fans. Before this series began, if someone told you that the Bruins would have a 3-2 series lead going back to Boston for game 6, you absolutely would have said, “Great, let’s fast forward to that. We’ll take it.” Right? I’m not saying I think it’s going 6 or that I want it to go 6. I’m just saying that if it happens where the Penguins pull off the next two, let’s try to stay a little bit calm and realize the Bruins are facing what was the best team in the East during the regular season. And now the Bruins have to do it without Campbell. This series might go a little longer than you think.

Really Enjoyed the Free Carpet Cleaning Our Landlord Gave Us For Renewing Our Lease (He Said With Heavy Sarcasm)

So my girlfriend and I renewed our lease for another year a little while back, and they tried to jack up the monthly rent on us. But they said they’d negotiate with us as best as possible. I told them we were moving out if the additional rent didn’t go away, and they came back and lowered it by only about $49 per month. BUT they did offer up a free professional carpet cleaning upon renewal. Let’s just say one of us who lives in this apartment thought that was a great concession on the owner’s part, and the other one of us realized that even $15 more per month off the rent would be much more valuable than a one-time cleaning. I’ll let you decide which one of us leaned which way on the issue.

Anyway, we finally scheduled them to do the carpet cleaning today. They’d need a few hours in here where I could take the dog and not be around. So it worked out well that the dog had a vet checkup and then we could go for an extra long hike nearby. Even though I thought the cleaning was a bullshit counteroffer on their part, of course we wanted to maximize its effectiveness. So we essentially moved an entire apartment’s worth of possessions into the bathroom, kitchen and on top of our bed.

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Well since I’m taking the time to post about this experience, you can probably guess that it didn’t turn out well. After waking up hours earlier than normal to move all the furniture and pack up a day’s worth of stuff to keep the dog entertained (think “bringing a baby on a two-week vacation” amount of stuff), I was off. At about 11AM I get an email from my property manager saying to call him, but I had no service and was enjoying the extra long hike. When I call him 90 minutes later, he informs me that the carpet cleaner had to deal with some flood in a different apartment this morning so he can’t come today after all (Let’s not even get into the issue of whether the carpet cleaner was the one who caused the flood in that apartment, which would make me a lot less confident in him not creating a natural disaster in our apartment).

Well F me in the A. I have enough days of not being productive because of my penchant for procrastination, and then I schedule an unproductive day so these guys can come do a half-assed job on my carpet. And then they’re a no-show??

Apparently they’re going to come tomorrow morning and take care of things. So I guess I’ll have some free time tomorrow. But my question is how should I react to this atrocity? You decide:

P.S. If you don’t think I purposely stuck those flowers in the background of picture #3 to show off how great of a boyfriend I am, then you know nothing about me.

Six Days of Boston: Next Time I’m Bringing a Defibrillator and a Spare Liver

My visits home to Massachusetts always seem to unfold the same way: Spend the first few nights partying in Boston, reluctantly drag myself to the sprawling metropolis known as Central Mass (not reluctant because I don’t want to see my family, but because it’s just not Boston), continue the partying at family gatherings for a couple more nights (where “night” = “start boozing by 3PM every day”), walk around like a zombie for the final day or two in Fitchburg, realize how F-ing boring it is once I’m stuck there by myself on a weekday where everyone I know is working, hightail it back to Boston.

Basically if you’re in Massachusetts and want to hang out with the fun version of me, you’ll want to find me in Boston or during the first two days of my return to Fitchburg. For the people who had to see me in my final two days of this most recent trip, I’m sorry.

This was a Memorial Day trip, but I’m just now getting around to posting because there’s always a one-week adjustment period when I get back to the real world. The alcohol and junk food withdrawals tend to mess with my sleeping patterns and therefore my productivity level.

If you’re thinking, “Ross, why the hell would I wanna hear about your trip back to Massachusetts? Do you really think you’re that interesting?” …I hear ya, but all I can do is promise that you’ll laugh at least once during the next several hundred words. As a matter of fact, to laugh immediately just scroll down to the bottom where I unveil the ridiculousness that was my diet for six days.

I have no way to organize the following thoughts because they are all jumbled together in my head. Let’s just go with whatever pops into my memory first:

  • With some time to spare on the afternoon I landed in Boston before meeting up with a college friend, I decided walking through the Copley/Boylston Street area where the Marathon bombs went off was the best course of action. I honestly had no idea if there was a memorial of any kind out there on the streets to all the victims of Marathon Monday, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to check it out. After a quick Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger at the Boylston St. Wendy’s, I was off to pay my respects. Below are a few of the pictures I took when I made my way over to the makeshift memorial across the street from the Boston Public Library. But as for the atmosphere, I can only describe it as hushed, calm, respectful, and of course a little eery. Not something you’d expect from one of the busier streets in the city.

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  • For those of us that were born and/or raised in Massachusetts and had been lucky enough to never experience any major tragedies that hit close to home, this Marathon terrorist attack ended that streak almost certainly. It feels like everyone knows someone who was injured, or knows someone who knows someone who was injured. It’s one thing to hear the crazy stories from secondary sources, but it’s something entirely different when a person who was hurt during the bombings is recapping the experience as you look on from three feet away. Hearing a dad say he was pretty certain his son, who had just crossed the finish line before the first bomb went off, was dead, and then hearing him say that his son thought he was dead when the second bomb went off…just a different level of a major tragedy sticking with you.
  • The details still need to be figured out, but I’m confident that we’re getting a group of people from Fitchburg together to run next year’s Boston Marathon, with the goal being to raise money for all those affected this past year, and to specifically honor the family we all grew up with who was hurt on that Monday in April (though none of them critically injured, thank god).
  • OK, enough with the grimness, right? Right. Well, if you happen to be in your thirties and feel like you’re lacking a bit in maturity, just know that there are people in your age range who still need their mother to write their names in marker on their toothbrushes or else they’ll forget whose is whose and accidentally share the same one. I know because I live with these people whenever I go home.
  • And in possibly the greatest example of someone simply not giving a fuck about his appearance in public, I went to the movie theater with a guy in Fitchburg who strolled in wearing a fancy dress shirt on top and sweatpants on the bottom. So if you’re 35 years old and can dress yourself and remember what color your toothbrush is, you’re doing better than at least one person your age.
  • Speaking of acting their age, good to see my grandparents finally acting more like the 80-year-olds that they are. My grandfather has a history of saying borderline inappropriate things to women that dates back to the FDR administration. But it’s always been contained to good-natured joking, and only when the woman he’s talking about is present. But on his way out of my Dad’s house over Memorial Day weekend, he looked me in the eyes, made sure I was paying attention, and said, “Tell Julie I said hi and that I’ve been thinking about her.” Julie, of course, is my girlfriend who was 3,000 miles away at the time, and was presumably NOT thinking about my grandfather. Though I’m kind of afraid to ask…maybe they have some strange connection that I didn’t pick up on the last time they were in the same room together.
  • And this trip home marked the moment my grandmother gave up even trying to half-remember things I told her during my last visit. First she asked me how my book was coming along. I told her I was never writing a book, and she basically got mad at me for lying. I told her I’ve been working on TV and film the entire time. But I’m sure she’s telling people right now that my book-writing is going OK. Then she asked me if I’m still finishing up school in September, which I’ve never told her because I’ve been randomly signing up for classes whenever something looks good. So why would I tell people I had a target end date to my school work? Then she asked me if I ever write about my dog with my comedy stories. I told her the dog doesn’t play into my writing very often. So about five minutes later in front of a group of eight other people, she announced that my sex life was suffering because my dog is always in the bed with me and my girlfriend. I had no conversations with her in between the things I just told you above, but she somehow created this sexless narrative based on the few things I told her about writing, comedy and my dog. At least now we can all re-calibrate our opinion of her. Because after my grandparents left the house on Saturday night, at least two people said, “Oh, your grandmother is so sharp for her age.” Really? Did we switch the meaning of sharp recently and no one told me?
  • Not to be outdone, my other grandmother asked me one day later if I remember playing with my Mom’s dog, Bruno, who died when my Mom was like 12 or something. I need to learn to just say “yes” to any question or assumption my grandparents make at this point. It will save me hours of miscommunications.
  • But the socially-inept people that I hang out with apparently aren’t limited to my grandparents. At one BBQ I attended, I felt like I had to make small talk with a guy that was sitting next to me on the couch, so I said, “Oh, congrats. I heard you guys have a little one on the way soon.” His response was a 15-minute rant about his wife’s period, or lack thereof. I promise there are plenty of acceptable ways to discuss your wife’s pregnancy, but going into elaborate details about the tardiness of her period is not one of them. Whatever, the party had good hotdogs at least.
  • So the real reason I was home for this particular weekend was to attend a benefit event for a high school buddy who passed away last November. His family organized a great event with a ton of raffle prizes and a live auction (where I proceeded to field remote bids from my brother on items such as a signed Tom Brady jersey, a chainsaw and a cord of wood. We were outbid on every one of those items).

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  • But I don’t know if that’s the right setting for grown adults to be running around giving each other ball taps and hitting on the grieving friends of the guy who died. I haven’t been to a lot of benefit dinners though, so maybe I’m the one who doesn’t fully understand the etiquette?
  • Everyone that I saw over my six days home complimented my afro (aka “gray bush”). People just going out of their way to say they like when I have long hair, which I’m growing for good luck for the Bruins by the way. It’s like my version of the lucky playoff beard since I still can’t grow dark facial hair. Anyway, I can’t figure out for the life of me if these people really do like my hair in its afro state, or if they all got together before my visit and came up with this big practical joke to pay me back for everything bad I’ve ever done to them. If that’s the case, I’d just have to say well played, everybody. Well played.
  • Serious question: If a person talks throughout an entire movie at the theater—I’m talking repeats every line of the movie out loud to his significant other—is it OK to hit him? I bet you said yes. What if instead of a man it was a woman? Would you still say yes? I still say yes. Lucky for me she only ruined the worst comedy movie ever made.
  • Here’s why true Red Sox fans shouldn’t be upset at all with the drop in attendance at Fenway Park this year: Tickets were so hard to come by when I was in college that I was one of those people who slept on the sidewalk overnight while waiting in line for Red Sox-Yankees tickets. For the game I went to on Memorial Day against Philly, a group of four of us strolled up to the day-of-game ticket window one hour before the game and bought four seats at face value. And in theory, we could have picked any section of the ballpark to sit in. If that’s what the end of the sellout streak means, then I officially hope the teams I root for can never fill their stadiums again.
  • But here’s the moment where I almost decided not to be a Red Sox fan anymore. The ticket window that’s specifically for day-of-game sales has moved, and now it’s kind of inside one of the entrances. And there’s a Red Sox employee that tells people who enter that area that they’ll have to go directly into the ballpark once they purchase their tickets, even if it’s 5:15PM and the game doesn’t begin until 7:10PM. But then you ask the person at the ticket window about leaving that area with your tickets, and he says it’s perfectly fine. So you buy the tickets and then that first person who said you’d be stuck inside the park really tries to make it happen. But then you realize he has absolutely no authority, maybe even less authority than you have at that very moment, and you simply move a barrier and exit the park. After discussing this whole  scenario that played out when we bought the tickets with my group, we realized the Red Sox wanted to make it seem to people as if they had to enter the park right away so that most people would do so and obviously spend a bunch of extra money during the time leading up to the game, but they have absolutely no lawful way to enforce this. It just feels so unnecessarily sketchy to me. I know these owners want to squeeze every penny out of their fans, but come on. I can’t think of any other reason they would have this soft enforcer trying to persuade people to go immediately to their seats two hours before the game.
  • Final sports note: If there’s one thing I miss about Boston, it’s the palpable buzz that energizes all parts of the city when one of our teams has a big game on the horizon. We got a large group together for the Bruins-Rangers game 4, and walking around the city all day leading up to that game, you could feel the excitement. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in the other two major cities I’ve lived in. I need to return for more big playoff moments.

And now, the moment you’ve probably all been waiting for. I mentioned just before my trip back East how bad my eating habits are when I’m traveling or away from home for an extended period of time. I just want to show you all how bad this sickness gets for me. And there’s really no reason for me to embellish this list, so I promise I won’t:

Wednesday

  • Bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich at airport in LA
  • Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, fries, Diet Coke at Wendy’s on Boylston St.
  • A home-cooked meal of oven-roasted chicken and sweet potatoes, made by my Wednesday night hosts (and easily the only thing I ate all weekend that could be described as “reasonably healthy”)

Thursday

  • Carnitas Super Burrito, Diet Coke from Anna’s Taqueria
  • Turkey club sandwich, several rounds of fries from the bar where we watched the Bruins

Friday

  • Two eggs, two sausage links, two strips of bacon, two pancakes, two pieces of toast at breakfast in Boston
  • Peanut butter cup ice cream for lunch in Fitchburg
  • 8-10 slices of pizza at the benefit event
  • Peanut butter cup ice cream on top of a brownie as a late-night snack

Saturday

  • Omelet for breakfast in Fitchburg
  • Popcorn, Peanut M&M’s at movie theater
  • Cheeseburger, hot dog at a BBQ
  • Peanut butter cup ice cream on top of a brownie as a late-night snack

Sunday

  • Brownie, pasta salad for breakfast
  • 2 hot dogs, two peanut butter cookies, slice of strawberry cheesecake at BBQ
  • Steak & Cheese grinder from D’Angelo’s

Monday

  • Bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich from Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Cheeseburger, hot dog, Diet Coke for lunch
  • Nachos and boneless buffalo wings at Game On before the Red Sox game

Tuesday

  • 2 breakfast burritos, hash brown, Diet Coke from McDonald’s at Logan Airport
  • Pulled BBQ pork, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, texas toast, Dr. Pepper (no Diet Coke available) from restaurant at airport in Dallas

No presence of vegetables or fruit in that entire six-day run. And keep in mind that my liquids for six days were a revolving door of soda, beer and Jack Daniel’s.

How much salad do you think I need to eat over the next month to offset the damage that was done in Massachusetts?