Month: March 2014

Cubs Fandom Is Not To Be Taken Lightly

Tommy has made his case for the White Sox being Chicago’s true baseball team. It’s a well-written, thoughtful argument that classifies the obsession with the Cubs as flashy and misguided. Tommy is right on one point: The Cubs’ management, for many years, was far more concerned with earning an extra buck than it was trotting out a good team.

But that’s not the whole story. There’s a reason there are more Cubs fans in the city than there are White Sox fans. People don’t keep coming back to watch a team play simply for the experience. No one wants to pay $60 for a seat in the bleachers, $10 for 12-ounce Old Style, and $8 for a pretzel just to watch the Cubs lose. Cubs fans want to see a winner just as much as White Sox fans.

Love this guy, and Old Style, but that's not why Cubs fans go to the game.

Love this guy, and Old Style, but that’s not why Cubs fans go to the game.

Sure, we love Wrigley Field, but it’s because it’s where the Cubs play. Wrigleyville is awesome. It’s one of the best places to go out in the city. But that’s not why we love the Cubs, either. We love the Cubs because our parents grew up watching Ron Santo, Billy Williams, and Ernie Banks play. We love the Cubs because we feel a deep pain every time our grandparents tell us they hope they’re alive when the Cubbies finally break that disgustingly long title drought.

We’ve wanted the Cubs to win badly since we heard our first 7th inning stretch as children. We root, root for the home team because they’re our guys. We want to hear “Go Cubs Go” as we file out of the Friendly Confines not because it’s a particularly good song – it’s corny branding at its worst, or finest depending on your point of view – but because it means the Cubs won.

Winning matters to us, too.

In terms of being Chicago’s true team, what’s more Chicago than fighting against the odds? Chicagoans rebuilt an entire city after a cow kicked a lantern to start a fire that burned down every wooden building in sight. That really sucked. But Chicagoans – both on the North and South sides – came together to rebuild this city from the ground up.

Over the years, Cubs management has started fire after fire, but fans keep coming back because they want to win. We don’t come back for the overpriced beer. Hell, I’d buy overpriced beer if it meant I could use it to put out all the fires that guys like Jim Hendry started. We go back because we feel that our positivity – not blind hope – will rub off on the ball club. Is there some blind hope involved? Maybe. But isn’t that inherent in all sports fandom?

Cubs fans are just as tough as White Sox fans. We don’t like the title “Lovable Losers.” We do like being lovable, but who doesn’t? Might as well enjoy other’s sympathy as we continue to get our hearts broken. We hate being losers. There’s nothing fun about rooting a shitty team. But I believe there is something noble in showcasing unwavering support during tough times. Showing up to the park when your team is having a losing season is very difficult. Why do we continually get chastised for packing Wrigley when our team isn’t doing too well? Aren’t you supposed to root for your guys no matter what?

***

The future is bright on the Northside of Chicago. Theo and company finally have things moving in the right direction. Has it taken embarrassingly long to rebuild the organization? Yes. Have we spent far too much money on shitty beer in the meantime? Yes.

But all of it will be worth it when the Cubs finally win a World Series and become a perennial contender in the way the Boston Red Sox have. The Red Sox prove that there is precedent for these types of situations. I’m excited to begin to gather concrete evidence to present to our Southside brethren to prove that the “W” flag is a Cubs fan’s favorite sight, not a crushed beer cup.

This is the only sight Cubs fans want to see.

This is the only sight Cubs fans want to see.

Good luck to the White Sox and their fans this season, too. Let’s not forget that we’ll all have plenty of opportunities to come together soon when Joakim and the Bulls fight for their playoff lives against the Heat or Pacers, Kaner and Toews defend the Cup, and when Jared Allen reenergizes the anything but scary Monsters of the Midway defense.

In the meantime, Go Cubs Go. All Cubs fans are hoping that we see the W flag on a regular basis in the coming years. It’d be nice to see it at the end of October, too.

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Chicago’s Real Baseball Team

Opening Day is upon us. Wait, the Dodgers have already played three games? Two outside of this country. What the H? Dodger crazy LA might have been robbed of a traditional Opening Day, but for the many transients living in this suburban city the day of hope has arrived. For one day we can all believe our team has a chance. A chance to win a pennant, a chance to go 162-0, a chance to bring home a World Series. And for many of us that hope will be squashed before April showers has a chance to bring May flowers, so it is important to enjoy it while it lasts.

Before they give you their pick to clicks you at home select yours. I've got Adam Eaton today.

Before they give you their pick to clicks you at home select yours. I’ve got Adam Eaton today.

As a north suburban Chicago White Sox fan I dealt with a lot of slack from all my Cubs’ fan friends. It would egotistical and brash  to describe it as an Israeli living in Palestine, but let’s do it anyway. My mother raised me a Sox fan and it stuck. Perhaps because of some deep seeded Freudian Oedipus complex or just the mere fact she was one of only like four people I could recognize for the first four years of my life. Who knows, my Sox fandom never wavered. I grew up on The Big Hurt, Black Jack McDowell, the One Dog Lance Johnson, Jim Abbott, Robin Ventura, Ray Durham, Wilson Alvarez, and the voice of it all Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson. Really I grew up on Hawk and Wimpy, aka Tom Paciorek, whom five year old me that it was hilarious that his name was Wimpy. 

Those players forged my baseball fandom. To this day, I’ll argue that Frank Thomas was the greatest hitter of the 90s and there is nothing anyone can say to change my mind. Don’t believe me, check out the stats for yourself.  Take away the outlier that was 1998 and find me a guy who for 9 of 10 seasons can bat over .300 – making out at .347. Can hit at least 30 homers, tops at 43, drive in at least 100 runs, and have a OBP of over .400 with a max of .487. All of this without a hint of steroid use, best hitter of the 90s. The Big Hurt is a major reason why I’ve never wavered in my White Sox fandom, but that does not mean that I’ve never cheered for the Chicago’s other baseball team.

Why is he smiling? Because he's the best hitter of the 90s.

Why is he smiling? Because he’s the best hitter of the 90s.

Two times in my life have I openly rooted for the Cubs. The first was in the great home run race of 1998 when baseball became cool all of a sudden. As a 9 year old I was drawn by the flash of one Samuel Sosa. Slammin’ Samuel’s flashiness drew a lot of attention and as my friends in elementary school went Cubs crazy it was hard not to get caught up in the wonder. Again, Thomas was having a bizarrely down year and the White Sox were coming off the previous year’s “White Flag trade” and in the middle of a rebuilding process that would yield a Central division crown in 2000.

The second time I openly rooted for the Cubs was my freshman year in high school when they made their now infamous playoff run in 2003. As a teenager that gave into peer pressure easily and desperately wanted people to like him I was not going miss a bonding opportunity with all these new people I’d be spending the next four years of my life with.

I had no qualms in rooting for the Cubs in these situations. It has never sat well with me that Chicago, such a great sports town, has two baseball teams. I’m not sure if one team would become more important to the city than the Bears, but I think it would be close. Chicagoans love the summer and I’ll never waver from the belief that it is the best summer time city in the U.S. The rooftops, the lake, the joy of being able to walk outside without freezing your nuts off, the Taste, Lolla, and so much more. One baseball team with the backing of the entire city would have a raucous home field crowd that could not be matched anywhere else.

It might be too late at this point to eliminate a team, but lets say that proposal came up and one team had to go. Which one is it going to be? Sure, the obvious answer would be keep the Cubs because it has more fans and the best neighborhood for a baseball stadium. But the easy answer is not always the correct one. The White Sox better represent the city of Chicago and our attitudes. Chicagoans are proud people. We’re proud of our city and the people who come from it. A fact we’re never shy of sharing with anyone whether they want to listen of not. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder, which we wear proudly with the moniker Second City. We truly believe our city is better than any other and hate how much attention that cities like New York and Los Angeles get around the world. What team better represents this attitude than the team that is Second in the Second City. White Sox fans are Chicagoans on steroids. The chip on the shoulder is replaced by a gaping crevice.White Sox

Why do the Cubs, a team that has not won the World Series since 1908 get so much love and attention? It feels very flashy, more of a LA thing to admire flash and show over substance. The loveable losers moniker has never felt right for Chicago. We like our blue collar, rough and tumble, take no prisoners, us against the world type players and teams. The Monsters of the Midway, MJ and Pippens absurd competitiveness, “The Serious One” Captain Johnathan Toews, and “Our Guy” Joakim Noah. The attitude is certainly changing in the Cubs organization, but for too long the Cubs were satisfied with putting buts in the seats with the draw of the oldest stadium in the majors and all the drunken fun that happens in Wrigleyville. The organization did not seem so interested in winning as it did in selling a brand of fun, loveable losers. It just does not feel very Chicago.

We might not have the success of a Yankees organization, but damn it if we’re not going to go down swinging. It might not be the most popular decision, but it is the right one for Chicago. We need a team that better fits the image of our city and that is the Chicago White Sox. I know it will be sad to cut short Theo Epstein’s rebuilding process, but never fear the White Sox have an intelligent GM with great foresight of his own, Rick Hahn. He has put together a very sneaky good start to a rebuilding process of his own and in one and a half seasons has turned the worst farm system in the majors into a respectable one. Plus has infused a lot of youth into the Opening Day lineup. Only time will tell which rebuilding process will get done sooner, but here’s hoping for a Red Line series in the near future and perhaps that can be used to decide which team will be Chicago’s real baseball team.

The Thrill of The Chase

Any athlete who has achieved success will tell you that getting to the top is easy, staying there is the hard part. Human are very goal oriented. Get that job, earn that promotion, run this many miles, jump this high, etc. We like to set goals for ourselves and then check them off. As soon as we achieve them, then it is on to the next set of goals. Life is easier this way. It gives us something to strive for. If we achieve it, then we feel great, but even if we fail, it gives us a sense of determination to improve. However, what happens when there is nothing left to be achieved?

There are always more miles to be run or money to be earned. Bud Fox asked Gordon Gekko, “how many boats does he need to water ski behind?” We like to scold the absurdly rich for their greed when they go after more money, but really the money is of little consequence to them. It is about the pursuit. It is about setting a goal to earn more money and then achieving it. They could care less about the financial gain that the accomplishment brings. An aspect of life that leaves nothing more to be accomplished is a monogamous, faithful relationship. Once that is achieved what else is there? Just putting in the years? Not getting divorced?

There certainly is a lot of work left to do after committing to a person, whether through marriage or not. But there is no easily definable goal. It seems like everything is accomplished, which is why so many people become complacent as relationships progress. This is an issue that affects both sexes in different ways. For men, the goal is to sleep with a woman. All of his efforts are put into this goal. This is why in the beginning of relationships men are so thoughtful, caring, listen to everything that you say, and perform grand romantic gestures. None of that comes natural to men, which is why as the relationship goes on and men fall into their more complacent natural state that women are confused and hurt that they no longer do those things.

It is nothing personal, men were just focused on sleeping with you, a short-term goal. If we thought about the long haul, then we certainly would not set such a high precedent for ourselves. Once we have sex, then we feel accomplished and satisfied. All of that hard work we put in does not seem necessary and in typical male egotism we think that we can have sex with the woman any time we want without putting in the effort. Or we get bored, maybe even a little resentful that we put in so much work for a payoff that was ultimately disappointing. In general a man will never be as sweet, charming, and thoughtful as he was before he had sex with you. There are diminishing returns on each sexual act.

But what about women? What is there chase? It is stereotypical to say that all little girls dream of their wedding day, but I do know for a fact that no boy in the history of earth has ever given a single thought to it. A wedding is the Bride’s day, the Groom is merely a spectator, a necessary participant. This is the goal, the Super Bowl for women. Find a way to get the man that you love to stand in front of family and friends, then say “I do” while putting a ring on it. The problem is that a wedding is not some magical elixir that takes care of everything moving forward. There is sill a hopefully long life to be lived with this person and living together can be quite the challenge for men and women. All of those annoying habits: the messiness, the incessant sports watching, all of it does not magically disappear once he is a married man. Remember, the man has been turning in diminishing returns ever since you guys first had sex, so now that you’ve achieved your goal of walking down the aisle both of you are becoming complacent with one another. The extra motivation that drove the relationship to this point is lost and things start to become toxic.

What’s the best solution? Well it would be to recognize the fact that both of you have lost a little motivation and realize how silly that is to do with a person you love. Then focus on setting new goals for each other and sacrificing to achieve them. What’s the easy solution? Have kids. Children become a never ending series of goals and tasks, which help distract from the fact that you’re slowly drifting apart from the person you’ve given the rest of your miserable life. If you’re lucky, then challenges of child raising will bond you together. But it seems to be a flip of the coin as the divorce rate continues to linger around 50%. Hopefully some day, we can all come to the self realization of this accomplishment problem and realize that a relationship needs to be treated differently than anything else we set out to accomplishment. Until then, just keep popping out those kids.

March Madness Gambling Manifesto

Last week, for the second year in a row, I went to Vegas for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. I could not recommend putting this on your bucket list enough. It is a sports fan and gambling addicts heaven. Four straight days of games upon games. Sports books filled to max capacity. People from around the world coming to Vegas. The sheer level of bullshit spread around, like  how the MEAC is a stronger conference than people give it credit for is worth the trip.

Good old Freemont Street. Many miles spent walking up and down your hallowed grounds.

Good old Freemont Street. Many miles spent walking up and down your hallowed grounds.

Even if you’re not a sports fan or into gambling it is worth going for the spectacle. It is the busiest weekend of the year for Vegas and a people watching delight. The Strip can get a little overwhelming this weekend as prices skyrocket and a lot of sports books will charge you to be able to watch the games. A little tip, if you’re really invested in watching as many games as possible, then check out downtown Vegas aka Old Vegas. It is easier to get around, less crowded, and the drinks and food are amazingly cheap. $2.50 20oz beers made me feel like I was back in South Bend, IN for the weekend. Downtown isn’t as sexy as the Strip, but during the day it is a much more enjoyable experience having done both during this weekend. Plus there is a bus that takes you right into the strip at night and since the PT means that all games are over by 9pm that still leaves plenty of night to get into some crazy adventures.

It is such an exciting weekend that I’m already thinking/planning next year’s trip. Anyone interested in joining let me know. But it is not an itinerary that I’m making, no the more pressing issue is creating a March Madness Gambling Manifesto. As the saying goes, “Those who do not learn from losing a three team parlay are doomed to repeatedly lose money.” Or something like that. 

Here it is, Part One of my March Madness Gambling Manifesto.

1. Don’t do more than Two Team parlays unless it all money line bets on heavy favorites.

I only won one big parlay, a six-teamer involving Louisville, MSU, Michigan, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Syracuse all on the money line. I put down a $100 to win $41. And as Louisville was down 2 with two minutes to go I realized that the risk was not worth the reward. Thank God for Luke Hancock and his huge balls.

2. Take the Points in Round One. I still call it round one. Fuck that Round 2 BS. 

It is very difficult for any team to win by 20 or more points. I realized this last weekend. The favorites tend to be giving way to many points to these teams that no one has heard of before. These underdogs usually come out aggressive and surprise these heavy favorites, which leads to our first addendum.

2a. Take the points in the first half of the first round. 

As I said these dogs come out really aggressive. Even the favorites that did cover typically did it by running away in the second half, ala Wisconsin who beat American by 40 points, yet was up only 10 at half.

3. Take the favorites in Round 2 

Everything flips in the second round. A top seed that might have struggled in the first round and failed to cover ends up not giving enough points to a team that is still not in the same class. Ala Florida over Pitt, Louisville over St. Louis, Virginia over Memphis, and Michigan over Texas.

4. If the game is close at halftime, then take the 2nd half over. 

The free throw game typically ends up pushing these games into the over. Plus in close games a lot of threes get exchanged towards the end of the game.

4a. If the game is a blowout at half, then take the under. 

The team ahead will rest its players toward the end of the game and the team behind will end up doing the same in order to get Seniors into the game. The last few minutes end up being a sloppy, slow dribbling showcase.

5. Bet big on bad lines. 

There are three lines that I knew were bad and I really wish I bet more money on them. One was Wisconsin -4.5 in the second half against American. They were up 10 at half, but had a bad shooting half and had only scored 28 points. UW has been much improved on offense this season and they usually score at least 70, which means they were due for at least 40 in the second. Anyone who watched American’s anemic offense could see there was no way they were going over 20 points in the second half, let alone 30. It was basically like stealing, yet I only put $30 to win $27.30. My lack of balls cost me money I would later need.

The other two were Witchita St. giving only 16.5 to Cal Poly, by fart the worst team in the field, having gone into it’s conference tourney at 10-19 before winning three straight and then the play-in game. Every other one seed was giving at least 20.5 this was just total disrespect to the Shockers.

And third was Iowa St giving only 8.5 to NC Central. A team that is capable of dropping 100 in any given game should be giving 10.5 at least and really should’ve been closer to 15. I won a lot of money on these three teams in various bets, but it should’ve been so much more.

6. Stay away from games you’re unsure about. 

The atmosphere of the opening weekend makes you feel the pressure to put some action on every single game. Fight this urge, it will cost you money. I put three different bets on Oklahoma, one in the first half, one in the game, and a third in a parlay to cover the spread and the over. I did all of this because I had North Dakota St in my bracket and realized I did not know anything about them. But I knew even less about Oklahoma. This game had stay away written all over it, yet I bet big on it anyway. Stupid.

7. Put $5 or $10 on the money line for every 14 and 15 seed, unless you’re absolutely positive that the favorite will win. 

7a. Cap the total you bet on these dogs at $50.

The odds are very high for all of these teams and the trend seems to be that one of them wins each year. This year it was Mercer at +2000. If you hit on one of them it more than makes up for the losses of the rest. It is a low risk, high reward bet.

 8. Parlay NBA favorites on the money line. 

8a. Just make sure to wager the same amount of money on each bet. 

I made three such parlays last weekend. One for $30, another for $50, and a third for $100. I picked 11 of 12 games right in these bets, but guess which bet had the one losing team. Yep, the $100 one. Even worse, the team that blew it for me was none other than the hated Miami Heat when they lost to the Pelicans last Saturday.

I started betting on NBA games cause watching a bunch of teenagers miss free throws, make dumb turnovers, and shoot forced/ill-advised shots that all cost me money was driving me crazy. I needed to put some money on professionals whom are much more reliable and consistent. I highly recommend mixing some NBA bets in there, it will help with the stress.

There you have it. My March Madness Gambling Manifesto, so far…

The Comeback Sermon

Hello my flock. I apologize for being away for so long. I would like to lie and say that it was all work related, but when you spend five days in Vegas it really can’t be called work. Anyway, it is past time for a glorious comeback. Are you ready people?

And for my big return I’m recommending you all get on watching a little show called The Life and Times of Tim. What’s that? You’ve never heard of it? Well if you had then it would make my presence in your life meaningless. I’m not the lazy bum who watches a lot of TV that you deserve, but rather the one you need. I’ll sit through all the crap to let you know what is worth watching and what is not.

Tim is a slam dunk, home run, must watch. Imagine if South Park made sweet, brutal, punishing love with Family Guy and produced a child that then when on to be raised by Larry David. The result would be The Life and Times of Tim. It hits on every type of humor, satirical, dark, absurd, witty, dry, potty, sexual, etc. It is the Bruce Jenner of comedies. Full disclosure, I’ve watched a lot of 1976 Olympic replays, so I’m a big fan of Bruce Jenner’s epic decathlon gold medal performance. I have no idea where he is now, but I can only assume he is a great ambassador to the world of Track and Field. 

 

 

Where can you watch the show? Good question, unfortunately it is not available on Netflix and HBO Go took it off its series page for some bizarre reason. However, all is not lost. There is this old site called you toob, not sure on spelling as I did not recognize it, which has all of the episodes. As a personal favor I’ll make it easy for you by posting the first episode below and you can take it from there. Good luck and get ready to laugh.

Why Living Alone is the Most Dangerous of Activites

eastyncazin@outlook.com | No dick pics.

Hello! I’ve missed you all. So much. I want to say life happened, but what really happened was video games. To use a modern turn of phrase: Sorry not sorry.

Today I am here to discuss with you the dangers of living alone. I’m not talking about serial killers or anything. I’m talking about things that you just plain don’t think about until you’re by yourself for prolonged periods of time. Things that are totally feasible and legitimate hazards of day to day life of living by yourself.

The Kitchen: 

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  • If you live alone, who is to tell you that you can’t eat a whole cake for dinner? Nobody. You can emotionally eat your life away with nobody to shame you into not doing so.
  • Taking a cue from my spirit animal, Liz Lemon, choking. My diet now primarily consists of things that will not kill me if I am trying to eat it. I’ve had to give up my live squid obsession, and substituted it for juice and soups because those won’t get lodged in my esophagus.
  • That growing pile of dirty dishes is a breeding ground for all kinds of nasty shit, but you live alone. Nobody is going to judge you if you let that spaghetti bowl sit for a few days..weeks.

The Living Room:

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  • Chances are you have something that allows you to binge watch TV shows for hours upon hours on end. You will one day melt into a puddle of what was once a human and only be able to regurgitate pop culture references as your Hulu automatically starts season 10 of The Only Way is Essex.
  • Furniture Corners. My worst enemy. Need I say more?

The Bedroom:

lizlemonwakeup

  • Getting out of bed is hard 9 times out of 10. Without your mother to come in and ask you about wasted daylight, you might as well just stay in there for, I don’t know, all weekend?
  • Why make the bed? Let’s be honest, you’re not getting laid as much as you say you are. Hell, you’re not getting laid at all. You’ll just continue to alligator roll your sheets and blanket into a strangulation device as you quietly slumber, but it adds a little much needed excitement to your bedtime routine, right?
  • Sweatpants are your best friend. You’re not even ashamed.

The Bathroom:

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  • Most of my fears involving the bathroom stem around slipping and falling in the shower. There’s that terrible moment of panic when you feel your foot go right out from underneath you, you helplessly grab onto the shower curtain and you see your life flash before your eyes. The rest of your shower is then spent considering getting a gym membership, because if you’re going to die naked, might as well look fabulous while doing it.
  • You get a little overly confident about your singing abilities. You think it won’t start to go to your head, but it does. Here’s a hint: just don’t let it fall into your public sphere of life. Save yourself that mortification.
  • Why do you need to close the door? You don’t! You live alone. Its just sometimes you forget when you have company over… or when you are at somebody else’s home.

I mean, other than that, living alone is great. I definitely don’t talk to myself out loud at all.

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But really. It’s nice.

 

March Sadness: Most Of Us Suck At Gambling And The Lottery

We’re down to the Sweet 16, and as usual, a team in my Final Four (and NCAA Championship Game) has withered, died, and been buried. This year, I made the mistake of picking Wichita State to lose to Florida in the season’s final showdown. I was shocked to hear that all the experts picked the undefeated Shockers losing so early. Turns out, they’re called “experts” for at least some reason.

Wichita-State-Logo

Luckily, it’s another one of those wacky years where anything can happen, so I’m still alive in my office pool. Thank god so many people picked Kansas. Now I just have to hope the trendy Michigan State pick fails, too. Oh, an upset of Arizona wouldn’t hurt, either. Damn it. I’m not going to win this, am I?

My most recent failure to select all Final Four teams correctly got me thinking a lot about how us Americans love get rich quick schemes. Part of our identity as Americans is rooted in a shared belief that anyone can make it anywhere with hard work – but another very real, shared communal thought is that we can (and maybe will) become wealthy with a good stroke of fate.

This applies to contests, the lottery, gambling, and all kinds of sweepstakes. I’m as guilty as anyone else of thinking that spending a few bucks here and there might lead to making millions – or hundreds. Full disclosure: I filled out my bracket on Yahoo this year, pressed submit, and honestly had the thought, “I’m going to make $350 for these awesome picks. No one in my office can touch this. This is my year. My ticket.”

Then Wichita State lost, and I was reminded that things don’t work that way. While I won’t completely rule out ever getting lucky and winning some money, I’ve come to grips with the idea that I’m no one special in the sweepstakes lifestyle. In a way, my luck gambling is symbolic of the average American’s struggle. While there are plenty of lottery winners and gambling gurus, most of us don’t get rich quick.

Now this begs the question, if I know I’ll lose almost every time, why the hell do I keep entering my bracket into a pool, buying lottery tickets, and purchasing those penny scratcher games?

I blame The Gold Rush of 1849, the movie Blank Check, and J.K. Rowling selling a book about a wizard that she wrote on napkins in a coffee shop. In our country, we too often celebrate the person who made the quick buck instead of the new 60-year-old multi-millionaire who worked his or her ass off for everything she got (clarification: I don’t think J.K. didn’t work hard, but her story is a rare one).

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As a society, we’re obsessed with who won the lottery. “What state were they in?” “Oh, they bought it at a gas station, seriously?” “It was a teacher? I’m a teacher and I didn’t win, damn it!” “Why God, why not me?”

Soon everyone who bought a lotto ticket, or entered a bracket, or put some money down on a three-team parlay and lost turns on the winner in rage. Hate rears its ugly head, and we view the winner of whatever contest we entered as our enemy. They took our god damn money. We deserve it, not them! How is it that they get it to be a millionaire now and not me?

I understand the initial anger. It sucks to lose. But why not have a little perspective when it comes to this kind of stuff? After all, is it really losing? None of us average, hard-working folk have a greater claim to instant treasure than another one of our kind. If you buy a lottery ticket or opt into a bracket, you’re just as likely to lose as most of the other money-hungry entrants. There’s no point in harboring irrational hate in your heart. Someone else won, good for him or her! Maybe it’ll be you next time, but most likely it won’t.

The sad thing is that many people work very hard their entire lives and don’t get rich, either. For them, becoming a billionaire isn’t in the proverbial cards. But don’t let that get you down. It’s much nicer subscribing to the old American axiom that anyone can become Daddy Warbucks with hard work and determination.

As for me, I’ve still got a feeling I can win this office bracket. Then I’ll use that $350 I win on a bunch of lotto tickets. That’s got to work, right?

A Guide to Having an Adult Bedroom

Everyone hates getting older. You can’t drink as much, your hangovers are worse, and if you talk about alcohol too much, people think you’re an alcoholic.  People have invented creams, drinks and even surgeries to maintain that illusive glow that only the young obliviously possess. But, before I make you start crying about your upcoming birthday, I must remind you that with age comes wisdom and class. Maybe you don’t stay out partying until 4am as much, but you also aren’t throwing up in your bed… which is always a win in my book.

But with age also comes a need to “adult-ify” one’s life, and not throwing up in bed is, at best, a good start. The most fundamental place to start this “adult-ification” (yes, this made-up word is here to stay) is in your bedroom.  There are a number of steps that a budding millenial like yourself can take to turn your dorm room of college legend into an real-life adult master bedroom:

Clean It –

We’re going to start off basic because I’ve seen some bedrooms of men older than me that don’t even begin to meet this requirement. And while I promise I’m trying my best to sound as little like your mom as possible, there isn’t much I can do about it when I say: CLEAN YOUR ROOM! I’m not saying you have to dust and wipe down your nightstand every day, but if you don’t remember what color your carpet is, that’s a problem.  If you want to embrace your newfound maturity, you have to be able to walk to your bedroom door without having to kick any clothes out of the way.

Trash It –

This may be a hard pill to swallow, but everything you bought in college isn’t awesome. Your groovy blacklight lamp and your flimsy IKEA desk that were purchased under the guise of “well, at least it’s cheap” are just that… cheap. And as you enter adulthood, the number of flimsy and groovy things in your bedroom should persistently dwindle. And while you feel like you want to pass on the legacy of your white plastic dresser through the magic of craigslist, sometimes its easier and more practical to throw it away. Because if your dresser can fit in a garbage can, it should be in one.

Frame It –

This one is a two-parter so get ready. First part, PICTURE frames. The days of adorning your walls with concert posters and tapestries held up with duct tape and thumb tacts has long passed.  Now, it’s time to frame the things you want and lose that Grateful Dead/Audrey Hepburn poster that you bought at the campus store freshman year.

Second part, BED frame. I realize it once seemed very cool to own a bed that you could just walk near and drunkenly fall into.  It certainly made one-night-stands seem that much much spontaneous. But as it turns out, bed frames serve a purpose beyond making your bed look fancy. Bedroom floors are gross (because you probably don’t clean them) and the farther away you are the better.  And hey, who doesn’t want more storage, right?!

Rearrange It –

Arranging a room does not seem like the kind of thing an adult and a millenial do differenlyt but you’d be profoundly surprised. The organization of furniture to create room rather than drinking surfaces is one of the main differences.  And while this may seem a bit nuanced, how many adults do you know with beds pushed up against the wall? Almost zero.  That’s because adults plan on having someone in bed with them, which is either delightfully romantic or wildly over-confident. Either way, give that bed a push into the center of the wall, get a desk chair for your desk and get an area rug… It’s a good thing.

Don’t Worry About It –

This may be the most important step in the process.  If you don’t want to let go of the college posters, floor beds and blacklights of your past, then don’t! Remember, this is merely a guide for those interested in making the transition and are in need of a push in the right direction.  Make your bedroom reflect your own weird personality! Because it doesn’t matter how old I get, I will always have “George Carlins Incomplete List of Inappropriate Words” on my wall… and that’s about as adult as it gets.

Here’s One For The Underdog: Go Terriers!

America loves an underdog. That’s why everyone and his grandmother are trying to come up with the next Rocky film. Sly Stallone feels no shame in continuing to make Rocky movies, either. Somehow, someway, that savvy old salamander always convinces us that Rocky Balboa is still an underdog. These days, it’s mostly because he’s 70 and has two replacement hips. It’s hard to win without real hips.

I root for the underdog. Unfortunately, I often cheer for the wrong ones. I consistently get my heart broken after I fall in love with one of my teams and they get eliminated from postseason contention in a very painful way. I’ve never been a fan of a team – aside from the 90s Bulls – that has been a clear favorite to win a championship from the beginning of a season through its completion. I envy my parents and their friends for getting to watch the 1985 Chicago Bears rip up the rest of the league. It must have been fun.

***

Every so often, however, one of my favorite teams makes it to a championship game. Today happens to be one of those rare, wonderful days. My beloved Boston University Men’s Basketball Terriers will battle the American University Eagles at 7:30pm Eastern Time for a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.

For those of you who don’t know, BU is first and foremost a hockey school. I admittedly never got as into hockey as I probably should have during my time at school, especially considering we won a national championship during that period. Instead, I focused all of my sports attention on the basketball team, and was one person in a small group that tried to show up to every game.

(Full disclosure: I was not as diligent in getting to the arena in the winter as some of my more dedicated friends. I blame that on Keystone Light.)

I have closely followed BU basketball since graduating in 2011, which was coincidentally the last year we punched a ticket the tourney. I love rooting for my Terriers, and I don’t care that I have to watch their games online most of the time. I know we’re not Kentucky, Michigan, Duke, or any of the other programs that people around the country want to see on a weekly basis. We’ve got to fight to earn national attention. That’s what makes days like today so special. We get to take center stage, albeit on CBS Sports Network.

Last time we punched a ticket, my beautiful friends Luciano Fraioli, Greg Huntoon, Matt Cooper, Eric Dahl, Dan Reid, Colton Bozigian, and Brian Fadem were there to cheer them on. I was getting drunk in Naples and riding bikes in celebration with some other BU chaps.

Last time we punched a tournament ticket, my beautiful friends Luciano Fraioli, Zach Farnsworth, Greg Huntoon, Matt Cooper, Eric Dahl, Dan Reid, Colton Bozigian, and Brian Fadem were there to cheer the team on. I was getting drunk in Naples and riding (and falling off) bikes in celebration with some other BU chaps.

Today is a day when seniors like Dom Morris, DJ Irving, and Travis Robinson should get to cut down the nets at Agganis and wonder who the hell the tournament committee will pit them up against next week. Today should be a day when the nation notices Maurice “Mo” Watson Jr., a stellar sophomore who dishes out an amazing seven assists a game. Today should be the day that a young, freshman stud like Cedric Hankerson points to as a maturation point in his promising collegiate career. Today needs to be the day that Boston University students and alumni take notice of a basketball program that could be great with their consistent love and support.

***

As is custom, I’m getting too excited for this game. I came into work early so that I can leave early enough to get home, pop open a Keystone Light (for old time’s sake), and watch my Terriers (hopefully) earn a chance to go dancing. I haven’t been able to focus on anything else all day.

Dom Morris, DJ Irving, and Travis Robinson. Three stellar seniors.

Dom Morris, DJ Irving, and Travis Robinson. Three stellar seniors.

I know there’s a chance that I’ll get my heart broken, but I’m willing to risk that because today is the day that I get to hope that my team is Rocky. Sure, American U. is technically the underdog because they’re the second seed, but who cares? We probably have more guys from Philadelphia on our team, anyway.

The Patriot League isn’t the ACC, Big Ten, or Big East. That means if we can win this game, we get to be the underdog again. We’d slide into the tournament as 14 seed, which would give us a prime opportunity to upset an ill prepared, high profile program. Can you imagine if BU made the tourney and shocked a school like Syracuse? I can only dream.

But before that can happen, the Terriers have to fight for the right to call themselves the Patriot League Tournament Champions. In essence, they’re in a dogfight to earn the right to be THE underdog. I guess underdogs are bound to a life of proving themselves.

Today is a day for the underdog, and I’m hoping that dog is a Terrier.

The Day Veronica Mars Came Into My Life

Christmas 2005 will forever be in my Great Lakes of Christmases. Mt. Rushmore lists are done to death, so I’m ending it. From now on I rank things by using the Great Lakes. It was not because of what happened or whom I was with, no it was because of three gifts I received. Whom the fuck said it was better to give than receive? A dummy that is who. Lost

December 25, 2005 I received three sets of Season One DVDs that changed my life. One was the first season of Lost, tied with season one of 24 for the most exhilarating season of television ever. I finished it before 2005 was over. Hell, I finished it in three days. It was Christmas break. What else was I going to do? Hang out with my family? Hah. 

Another was season one of Arrested Development, the funniest season I had seen at that time. The Pilot episode of Arrested is the single episode that I’ve seen the most in my life. After watching a few episodes, I had to get everyone I knew hooked on the show. I honestly cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen that episode or how many people I’m responsible for turning into a fan of the show. However, I believe that if you followed my Arrested Development family tree it would have enough people to start a small nation. AD S1

The first two shows were burned out from going in and out of my DVD player while the third sat on my shelf collecting dust. By awhile, I mean a couple months, cause like all addicts I needed a new TV high. And that was the first season of Veronica Mars. How, why, or even if I asked for it on my Christmas list is beyond me. My TV obsession was still fresh at the time and very limited. I wanted to find a new series to get into and I vaguely remember reading something online about this UPN show being on some “Guilty Pleasures We’re Not Guilty About” list. VN

How it ended up under my tree doesn’t matter all that is important is the pleasure it has brought me ever since. It only took me one episode to fall madly in love with the show and even deeper for the titular main character played by Kristen Bell. At the time, Lost was a smash hit that I was late to the table for and Arrested was an easy show to share with friends, but VM I kept close to the chest. It was not about being embarrassed about the show, it was more about the personal, intimate connection I felt with it. The show had that indie band feel, where it felt special being one of the few that knew how awesome it was.

But now the secret is out, The Veronica Mars movie arrives in theaters this week thanks to $5.7 million raised on Kickstarter a year ago. A demonstration of how strongly the fans love this show and another example of why the Nielsen Ratings System sucks. Shows like Big Bang Theory, NCIS, and Modern Family are ratings juggernauts, but I would be willing to bet that $5.7 million that none of them would be able to raise more money for a movie. Partly cause most of its fans don’t know how to turn on a computer, let alone find Kickstarter. VM Kickstarter

There are still a lot of people out there that have yet to experience the joys of watching this show. Veronica is still the best female character in TV history. Rob Thomas, the show’s creator and not the lead singer of Matchbox 20, serves as an example of how to not let the restrictions of broadcast TV, specifically a channel skewed towards high school girls, restrict the creativity of a show. It is so much more than a show about a girl trying to deal with the turmoil of high school. And never falls into the trap of creating drama for drama’s sake, especially with its relationships, as so many teen shows do. Everything that happens within the show’s universe feels organic, natural to its surroundings. This is why the fans connect with it so deeply. Veronica, Keith, Logan, Weevil, Mac, Wallace, and company all feel like real people. People with needs, desires, pain, joy, and flaws.

Thomas never backs away from the characters’ flaws. No one would put Veronica on a list of anti-heroes with the likes of Walter White and Tony Soprano, but she is a flawed hero. She does not trust anyone, lies a lot (even to the people she loves), is controlling, rude, prideful, and at times flat out mean. Most of the time the other person deserves it, but there are times when they do not. The problem is Veronica dives so deep into her hard outer shell as well as the role of private investigator she has a hard time interacting in a normal relationship.

I would never, Veronica.

I would never, Veronica.

It would’ve been easy to make her a bubbly, spirited Nancy Drew-esque character and play up her cuteness, especially with Bell in the role. It might have attracted more viewers, made it an easier show for people to watch, but the show is not about easy. Just like the classic film noir detective stories that the series pays homage to this show deals with the challenging reality its characters face and never backs away from it.

Tonight I’m going to a screening of the Veronica Mars movie. The excitement kept me up last night and the little sleep I got involved dreaming about seeing this movie. It feels like a reunion with old friends. In a perfect world, this movie is a huge hit, at least in the relative sense, and someone, Netflix or Amazon perhaps, takes note and makes a Godfather offer to reboot the series. As great as this movie is, Veronica and Co. are meant to be savored on the small screen. The intimacy is better felt and the characters are too rich to be given enough in a 90-minute movie.

Come on Kristen! You're better than this.

Come on Kristen! You’re better than this.

It might actually be doable. Bell is the biggest star, and really the only thing B-list or above. For awhile I was disappointed in the way her career went. After the show ended I thought she would become the next Meryl Streep and just knock performance after performance out of the park. Instead, she has done mostly silly Rom Coms with a few supporting roles in Indie films. Currently she is on the far inferior House of Lies that somehow keeps getting renewed by Showtime. I’ve come to realize that Bell and Veronica are the perfect mesh of actor and character and that it is the only role that is a home run for her. Bell needs Veronica as much as the fans and if this movie can gather some momentum a series re-boot may get more eyeballs than ever before. It could lead to the audience and accolades the show always deserved.

Sadly, just as the show always pointed out, this is not a perfect world. The series probably will never get a re-boot and the movie may not get many eyeballs beyond the people who paid for it on Kickstarter. Maybe the best that we can ask for is a thrilling, enjoyable movie with the characters we love and a fitting conclusion that we did not fully receive when the show was cancelled in 2007. Also, please let Jason Dohring become a big star after this? Please America? I promise you’ll not be disappointed. 

No matter what I have to thank the show for all the joy it has brought me over the past eight years. Oh and of course, Santa Claus for leaving it under the tree for me.