Archive | May, 2011

Drinking for Free(dom) in the Finest of Establishments

26 May

The way I see it, everyone has a few truly epic stories from their younger years. Our last post got me thinking about it, and I realized that most of mine are the kinds of stories that you really shouldn’t tell, at least to anyone who I want to have a decent opinion of me. There are a couple, though, that are too great not to tell, and this one even has a practical lesson to it. So why not, I figure: this is the internet, and I’m anonymous, so here goes.

First things first,  I grew up a few hours from Boston. When I go back to visit, I typically take Virgin America’s direct flight from Los Angeles to Boston, stay in the city with old friends from high school and college for a few days, then head back to my hometown. In this particular case, it was a standard December day, and for whatever reason I had opted not to take the red-eye flight like I usually do. Instead, I left pretty early in the morning, so that I arrived in Boston at about 6 or 7pm local time. I didn’t pack a winter jacket, figuring that I would be fine for a few days in Boston before I got back to my father’s house (where I keep all of my winter clothes). From the outset, the plan was to meet a friend–I’ll call him Frank–in Boston, at which point we would go and get aggressively drunk at one of our favorite bars before taking the train out to Salem.

Sometimes, random and seemingly innocuous events transpire in front of you, and you don’t even begin to realize their ramifications until well after the fact. This is exactly how I would describe Virgin’s decision to comp me an upgrade to first class. I’m not sure why they did it, and I wasn’t particularly pumped when it happened. I wasn’t really excited by it, in fact, until well after the plane had taken off, and I discovered that: a) first class served free drinks, and b) Virgin America carried absinthe. I also had a few shots of vodka that I’d snuck through security, so I was good to go. Naturally, I proceeded to get pretty loaded.

When I finally did land, I strolled out of the airport, hopped right on the silver line (I never check baggage), transferred over to the red, and met Frank at our bar of choice. There, we proceeded to drink some more, making sure to try all of the drinks that had recently been added to the menu. After a couple of hours, we finally headed out to North Station to pick up the commuter rail back to Salem. The next day, we both realized that neither of us had any clear/sustained recollection of this train ride, so it’s safe to say that we were in pretty deep. My only memory is using my phone to look up every iteration of the Courage Wolf meme that I could find, all while playing The Final Countdown for the enjoyment of myself and everyone else in our car.

When we did finally arrive in Salem, I immediately urinated directly outside of the train. By that, I mean it was either on the train as it departed or, more likely, in the parking lot. I’m not totally sure. We proceeded directly to the liquor store, where I attempted to buy a bottle of absinthe. The man at the counter refused to sell to me on the grounds that I was too intoxicated already. He clearly expected me to dispute that fact and/or become combative, but, as drunk as I was, I still recognized that he was 100% in the right.  I merely nodded, said “yeah, that’s fair, thanks anyways!”, then apologized and left.

So that should pretty well explain how the night began. By this point, I had already traveled 3,000+ miles, blacked out, then somehow come back from that blackout, so that I was now in a strange state of being drunk, tired, displaced, and jet-lagged.  The solution, of course, was that I demanded to go to a bar so that we could keep drinking. Frank, his roommate John and I all ventured out into the night, and sure enough, we were soon at a standard Boston-Irish pub.

We went directly to the bar, grabbed stools, and went to work on hamburgers and whiskey. After a couple of glasses, I decided to switch to gin and tonics, while Frank got the brilliant idea that we should do shots. Long story short, I blacked out pretty hard… again. I remember only bits and pieces from here. The high point was probably when I looked across the bar and noticed a woman who was particularly well-endowed, so I took an instant interest in her. Being my suave, eloquent self, I simply raised my voice 40 or 50 decibels and shouted “HEY…. TITS. C’MERE!”. I guess that she was too surprised to be  angry, because she actually came right over, and, while I was clearly too drunk to hold a conversation, John spoke with her at length. To this day, I’ve never been more proud to have a pick-up line work than I was then and there.

After a couple more drinks, we were finally ( inevitably) cut off. John and Frank both tried to pay in cash, but I refused to let them. I insisted that the bill–which came out to a shade north of $200–go on my credit card, on the basis that credit cards exist so that you don’t have to pay “real” money. Yes, apparently my understanding of how money works pretty much evaporates when I’m that kind of drunk. As it came time to leave, it became clear that I could no longer walk, so John and Frank were forced to drag me back to their apartment so that I could pass out on the couch. As they pulled me out the front door, the bartender shouted “hey, guys- you didn’t drink here!”

You know what’s the real kicker here, though? A few months later, I was reviewing my credit card statements, and I noticed that there was a conspicuous absence of late-night $200+ charges from a bar in Boston. I immediately called up Frank, and led with “holy shit Frank, they never charged my card!” The only real explanation that we could come up with was that I had been too drunk to charge. In their eyes, they must have been fairly certain that I was going to either die or kill someone that night, so they decided to play it safe and not run my card, so that there would be no paper trail implicating them in the whole ordeal.

It was at once my greatest triumph as an early-20s drinker and one of  my real low points as an actual adult. The following day, as I sat in a diner and drank a pitcher of ice water, I decided that those days were over for me. I still go and get hammered from time to time, but never like that anymore. That day-long, continent-spanning bender was the last hurrah for college-farrell, and my parting gift was $200 worth of free booze.

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The Home Turf

24 May

While it is true that the name of our blog is a fairly self-explanatory sports reference, it (unlike many other things you will find on here) has some deeper meaning.

First, it was thought up when Capt. Farrell was retelling the story of his first post to me – explaining that a celibate lifestyle was his home turf, and with how funny that story was to me, it was clear we need to start writing our adventures down, and that “The Home Turf” was the clear choice for a name – that was one week ago.

*Some people chose celibacy. I had it thrust upon me.  This is captain farrell, and yes, I just shamelessly stole a joke from the Simpsons. Don’t be alarmed, I’ll be popping in here and there on this entry. 

Second, as you may know or at least have guessed by now, we are both from New England, and we miss it terribly.  The northeast (this excludes any and all of southern New York – we still like northern New York)  is our home turf – it is cold but virtuous, has ridiculous accents but wonderful expressions (example: Wicked Pissah), and it has the greatest sports franchises in the world.  Not surprisingly, we will both believe until the day we die, that there is nothing more beautiful than New England in the fall.

What Capt. Farrell and I were like as children (had one of us been of a different ethnicity)

Third, the home turf for Capt. Farrell and I, is just what we are doing here.  We have been known to communicate in many ways: simultaneous conversations while watching t.v./playing video games; cost-to-coast phone calls; text message, email, and once or twice even through the mail; we have also been accused of telepathy.  The common thread through all of these interactions is that they are all for the purpose of telling stories.  We have always had stories to tell one another, no matter the stage of life.

*My dad and Thor’s older brother still talk about this all the time. Personally, I think that it’s a byproduct of spending 300+ days per year together, every year, between the ages of 3 and 17 or so. The resulting rapport borders on low-grade telepathy.

A few examples:

To start the day in elementary school

We were in the same elementary class for every year but one, and we always sat next to one another, and began the day with stories from our wicked exciting lives outside of school.

*One of my favorites is  was in fourth grade or so, when I was giving you a hard time for not coming over to my house the previous day when you said that you would. You explained that it was because the pedal came off of your bike, leaving sharp, exposed metal that continued in its circular path as it slashed through your thigh, causing you to bleed all over the place and need stitches. I think you even showed me the blood trail on the sidewalk.  Or when you excitedly came in one day and told me that you’d given yourself a concussion and knocked all of your front teeth loose while ice skating.

When we were in elementary school, Capt. Farrell had a cat. I don’t remember its name right now, but sadly the cat passed, and his father, (we’ll call him Maverick because I like him as an X-Men character) buried the unfortunate feline beneath a lilac tree.  This was in the spring/summer, and we went on with our summer plans, sad, but having learned a lesson about the circle of life.  One day that fall however, Capt. Farrell came to school and he was visibly upset.  As we were in New England, as fall rolled around the frost descended upon the shallow grave of Capt. Farrell’s cat.

*That cat had many names. We got him on Christmas, so his initial name was Noel. We all agreed that that was a pretty stupid name, though, so dad and I lobbied for Shithead. My mom deemed that “too offensive”, so we went with Dickhead instead. Finally, it fell to me to rename him. Big mistake: I chose Zeke.

Now, I am no geologist, but my understanding is that the frost tends to move the soil around a little bit, or more specifically, when it freezes things within the soil, they might expand or contract.  Unfortunately, Maverick had not buried the cat too deep, and before long that fall, there was a solitary paw sticking out of the ground.  Capt. Farrell arrived to school white as a ghost and proceeded to relate the story to me, despite our teachers objections, of how his cat had been buried alive several months ago and had perished while trying to escape.  Needless to say we were freaked – it was all too Stephen King-ish, (a-la Pet Cemetery) especially because he too, is from New England, and had been recently sighted in our hometown.  It was soon explained that we were incorrect, but just to be on the safe side, we didn’t go near the lilac tree very often.

*My all-time favorite memory to recount from our childhood is that we had a running contest on who had the most cumulative stitches. I was pretty much in the driver’s seat from day one, on account of a german shepherd nearly mauling me to death when I was four years old. That ~40 stitch lead was just insurmountable. You made a valiant effort, between the ages of 5 and 12, to catch up, but you were only doing it 3-7 stitches at a time, so you never quite pulled it off. I kept adding to the count in my own right, but you still almost caught up.

In college, to keep up with one another

Capt. Farrell and I went to very different schools, one in Massachusetts and the other, Illinois.  As a result of our dramatically different college experiences, we always had fantastic stories to share with one another, like the time CF introduced me to the concept of Jungle Juice, and explained just how it had affected his previous evening.  (It involved a three man slingshot, full cans of beverage, and the other end of his hallway) or when I taught him what a lobby-couple was, and explained our sophisticated method of driving them away. (water balloons, five gallon buckets, and of course, a three-man slingshot, culminating in a car chase, my roommate hiding in a drainage culvert for two hours, and lots of awkward tension with classmates)  other examples include the infamous mushroom story, the locked in a medieval church, my roommates chasing a raccoon across our roof, the Munich adventure, four dates w/ four girls in six days, and the ever popular CF “what do you mean this test is open book/open note?!?” story.

*The Munich Adventure was amazing, and actually inspired me to adopt the practice of ‘teleporting‘. In short, whenever I was at a bar and I was just too drunk to deal with the hassle of the walk/cab ride home, I would simply keep drinking until I woke up, the next day, in bed. After all, if you could find your way back to your hotel in Munich in that state, then I could surely navigate my own neighborhood. 

*My personal favorites from my own experiences were 1) waking up in the woods with no pants on and 40’s taped to both hands, and 2) standing in the snow, soaking wet, in nothing but shorts- when my girlfriend declared that I wasn’t allowed to pass out, I loudly declared “goddammit woman, I’ll do what I want!” and passed out purely out of spite. Both are probably worth their own posts. 

After college, to stay up to date

After college, CF and I stayed in touch more regularly, for several reasons.  1) I was getting married.  2) We lived much farther away from one another 3) We still had awesome stories to tell, but they were now mixed in with semi-adult topics, like marriage and relationships, money, and of course, stupid people around us.  For CF, it was often stories about people he met in California, like the time he texted me at 5 a.m. LA time to tell me, “Dude, I just did shots of Patron with Dennis Rodman!”  Other times, he regaled me with tales of allowing rich-from-their-divorce cougars buy him drink after drink, until he decided it was time to go home, by himself.

*To be totally honest, that cougar thing only happened once or twice. The quickest way into my heart is still to buy me a beer, though. Women don’t typically buy drinks for guys, so it’s a total power move. On a side note, one of my sincerest regrets is that we didn’t have any chances to hit the bars especially hard in our younger, singler, recklesser days. Not even because I think we would wingman excellently for each other, but, setting that completely aside, mostly because we have too much shame nowadays to do stuff that used to be commonplace. 

*One of Thor’s more interesting quirks:

Part of my job description is listening to entrepreneurs, at the very earliest stages (oftentimes pre-seed funding), describing their latest and greatest business ideas. Understand, one of my mantras is that the idea doesn’t matter a tenth as much as would-be entrepreneurs think it does. Things like work ethic, connectnedness, access to capital, and good old-fashioned luck matter at least as much, and in many cases far more.  

Still, there is a certain threshold for quality of idea that any startup with big aspirations must hit. The idea has to immediately be both intimidating and deceptively simple. If your reaction is “wow, this could actually shake things up a bit, and the path to that outcome is plausible too. It’s really surprising that only 1 or 2 other people have thought of this” then you’re onto something. So it’s frustrating, to say the least, when most of the entrepreneurs that I speak with abjectly fail at this. The ideas that I hear are usually just no good (pro tip: if your business idea is to “be the Facebook of (blank)”, then just stop. (blank) already has a Facebook. It’s Facebook. Same goes for Google.).

The best part, though? Thor routinely calls me up with ideas that absolutely pass that test. Seriously, the man is a machine. He’s better at coming up with viable startup ideas than I am, and I work with startups. Some incubator should just put him on retainer and throw small amounts of capital and qualified manpower at his ideas. Not even joking, they would make an absolute killing. 

This quirk has developed over the years, due to my incessant scheming of how we will become wildly rich, very quickly, and CF’s patience in explaining to me what constitutes a good business plan.  So far, no dice, but I still have a few ideas…

RIP Macho Man Randy Savage

20 May
The world is a worse place today than it was yesterday

Good-night, sweet prince

To be honest, I’m a little torn up about this right now. I don’t think I could write a post that would do him justice in this state. This is just a placeholder- the real tribute will come later this weekend, after I’ve done 10 or so shots in his honor.

Captain Farrell and The Golden Cadillac

20 May

As you have by now realized, Captain Farrell is unafraid.  He is unafraid to speak his mind (which got us both in more than one fight as children); he is unafraid of hard work (he, unlike me in school, chose to actually do some readings and try to understand things like AP Statistics [We had partner tests – I had an A in the class but had to leave the essay question blank on the AP exam – clearly I was not pulling my own weight]); and he is unafraid to drive ridiculously fast over very short stretches of road.

Now, I am known to have a bit of a lead foot myself, and I do hold several unofficial records for commuting time, including from Chicago to Philadelphia in 1o hours.  (Google maps says nearly 14)  I also may have the world record for 15 passenger van speed, at somewhere around 110, but that was in South Dakota and the road was flat and straight for about 100 miles.  My crazy speeding has limits however, and I usually wuss out before it gets really hairy.  Not Captain Farrell.

The Caddy in Question (or one very much like it)

Farrell’s grandfather, the very same sweet and sage man who drank Carlo Rossi like he had stock options in it, also had a behemoth of a Cadillac; specifically a gold Cadillac Deville.  It had a V-8 that would have moved a herd of elephants, let alone two moronic teenagers tearing down winding stretches of New England road.  As we grew into responsible young adults, and as Farrell’s grandfather aged, Farrell got to drive the Caddy more and more.  Each time Farrell pulled out of the drive he always had a goal in mind: Bury the needle.  Now, I know that’s not all that uncommon for a young man to want to test himself by burying the needle on his first real car – its kind of a right of passage.  The problem was that Capt. Farrell didn’t just want to bury the needle once – he wanted to do it every time he left the driveway, and here I am not exaggerating.

I distinctly remember watching cows fly by my passenger window as we passed 95 on our way to well over 100 on a road that may have been designed for 35, at best.  While I will certainly not advocate this to anyone – let alone any other teenagers (in hindsight, we’re lucky not to be dead after all the stupid stuff we did) – the sheer thrill of moving that fast was awesome.  Though we never got a ticket, and more importantly, we never wrapped it around a tree, I have rarely been so genuinely terrified yet irrationally excited as when Captain Farrell got to drive the Caddy.

TWO BUCK CHUCK

19 May

If you are a wine snob, you’re probably not going to want to read this. You’ve been warned. This is your first and only warning. 

You can’t beat Charles Shaw. It just can’t be done. For $1.99, I can get a bottle of wine that’s drinkable, thank you very much (that’s the best I could come up with, but for $1.99, it’s good enough). Sure, you go ahead and drink some pretty-good $20 bottle of whatever pinot strikes your fancy at the moment. While you’re doing that, I’ll just drink 10 bottles of Chuck. In the end, I absolutely guarantee that I’ll be having a better time than you are.

Working for a tech startup, I have a keen appreciation for efficiency of capital. In fact, I’d argue that the precise moment where a company stops being an agile, innovative enterprise, and instead becomes a standard, run-of-the-mill, decaying behemoth, is when it stops caring about that. As a cultural value, it is everything that’s wrong with modern corporatism, and it’s the kind of shit that makes some asshole at some scumbag insurance company hire 20 prostitutes to ‘reward’ its top salesmen. I don’t know if this says a lot about me, but “wow, that’s just disgusting” was my second thought after seeing that headline. My first thought was “and they passed that cost on to the consumer?? That’s ridiculous, if I was a customer I would switch on principle, because that is an insanely inefficient use of my capital!”

I dare you to chug this

Wine of the gods

You know who did understand efficiency of capital? My grandfather. He lived with us for years, and he always bought those massive jugs of Carlo Rossi’s Paisano. He always had at least one of them hanging around, and I eventually got around to asking him why, exactly, he bought it. His answer? “Because I’m old. It all tastes like grape juice to me, so might as well get the cheap stuff.”  He was a man who understood. That, I think, is why I am proud to drink the cheap stuff.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Thor and I benefited just a little from his purchasing habits. One of the first times we drank together (I think the very first was when my older cousins taught us both to shotgun beers: they were excellent role models), our weapon of choice was a jug of Paisano. My grandfather wasn’t around, and neither, for that matter, was my dad. We were probably about 15 at this point, and I don’t think either of us had any real idea how to drink. In fact, I know that we didn’t, because if we’d had any idea at all WTF we were doing, we probably would have realized that chugging wine is a terrible idea. Honestly, this story doesn’t get too incredibly interesting from here: Thor did try to walk up the hill to visit a friend of ours, only to fall over, realize that a 10 degree incline was more than he could handle, and give up like a champ. Mostly, though, I just remember the hangover. Now, I’m very familiar with hangovers. To “farrell” a drink is to mix it so absurdly strong that it is undrinkable to everyone but me, after all. Regardless, I gotta admit that that’s the most hung over I’ve ever been.  Damn, though, that was an efficient hangover.

Why it still astounds me that Thor is a teacher

19 May

On the surface, it should come as no great surprise that Thor became a teacher. For starters, between the two of us, we had three teachers for parents. It pretty much runs in the blood, especially for him, and he has the whole intelligent/respectable/hardworking/presence thing down. If, through some unfortunate chain of events, I somehow ended up with a child one day, I could only hope that the brat would have teachers of his caliber. So please, don’t take what I’m about to say the wrong way.

Thor being a teacher will always be disconcerting to me, to put it nicely. The reason why, of course, is that he absolutely tortured teachers back in our day. To be fair, he had an uncanny knack for singling out shitty teachers to harass, but seeing it in action really was something else. Part of it was because, if he gave the impression that he wasn’t trying particularly hard… well, it was because he really wasn’t. If there was a hypothetical list of people who got a 5 on their AP English Literature exams without ever actually reading any of the books in the class curriculum, it would a) be a very short list, and b) have his name on it.

In hindsight, what really stands out is how his tactics evolved over time. In elementary school, I recall him being overbearingly exuberant. It wasn’t that he had a problem with learning–he clearly enjoyed it, in fact–so much as he had a problem with remaining still and silent for more than a few seconds at a time. At the same time, he was a good student, he was genuinely curious about the subject matter, and he didn’t have a mean bone in his body, so our teachers didn’t have much choice but to like him.

By middle school, all of these qualities still remained, and were supplemented by a highly developed sense of sarcasm. This development would prove crucial, as pretty everything that we did to mess with our teachers over those few years revolved around it. The first victim was probably our 70-something sixth grade science teacher, who, after being challenged on his ability to do so, attempted to jump from a standstill onto a desk. He actually came pretty close to succeeding, but since this was kind of a pass/fail endeavor, it ended with him laying flat on his back while a roomful of 11 year-olds laughed at him. There was also the severely mentally unstable math substitute, whose authority we persistently questioned and undermined until we finally made her cry.

But the crowning achievement, of course, came in the form of our 7th grade algebra teacher. There were plenty of reasons not to like the guy, starting with the fact that he came into class every day reeking of booze and clearly hung over. Needless to say, Thor made short work of him. I’m not even entirely sure what prompted the beleaguered teacher to act as he did, but the end result was a unilateral ban on Thor entering his class room. Mind you, Thor was still a student in that math class; he simply had to remain on the bench outside while the rest of us came in and ‘learned’. Our parents responded by hiring an algebra tutor, who quickly concluded that we didn’t actually need tutoring, because we’d essentially said “fuck that guy” and just learned it straight from the book. That was the worst grade that I ever received in class (by a solid two letter grades), but nowadays I look back at it as a badge of honor. After all, we’re successful, highly motivated people who happened to get D’s in algebra. He, on the other hand, is still a miserable alcoholic who is universally loathed by everyone who’s ever been done the disservice of having to know him.

Compared to that, the high school years were actually pretty mild. I could tell a hundred stories, but they would all revolve around the same theme: even knowing that Thor hadn’t bothered to familiarize himself with the subject matter, teachers still ended up having to give him A’s because he’s just about the most convincing and elaborate BSer you’ll ever meet. I also slacked, but at least I had the decency to lie about it. Thor couldn’t even be bothered to do that.

And now, he is a history teacher. I’m sure that he is a fanastic one, at that. As the ultimate BSer, I’m sure that there isn’t a trick in the book that he’s not familiar with. He’s knowledgeable, personable, and pretty much unbullshittable, and isn’t that exactly what you’d want in a teacher? But still, even knowing that, it just feels somehow wrong that my old partner in crime joined the other side.

Second Things Second: Why Should You Care?

17 May

       Now that Capt. Farrell has established what we are doing here, I would like to take my turn, and explain just why you should care.  It really boils down to this: You may love us or you may not, but you will be entertained, amused, shocked, aghast, defiant, and strangely intrigued – not always all at once, but you never know.  Also, Capt. Farrell, having never seen How I Met Your Mother, is the real-life Barney Stinson – it is scary, uncanny, far less p.c., and far more entertaining.

     While not giving too much away, we are from a small town in New England, and while I reside on the east coast, Capt. Farrell has gone all west coast on me, though thankfully he is still sans botox.  I work in education, and you will from time to time find gems of wisdom from my students on the blog, and Capt. Farrell is involved in e-commerce.  I am married, and Capt. Farrell’s situation is nothing if not self-explanatory after his first post.  Aside from that, we share a love of all teams from Boston, and a hatred of the Yankees.  If we were to have a common manifesto, or a credo of beleif, it would read something as follows:

We affirm that Tom Brady (despite the flowing locks and tears on ESPN) is the epitome of man;

It is ok to swear in public as long as it is followed by a member of the Yankees name – for example: %(*)& A-Rod

No word should ever end in “-ing” – that’s too much flippin’ work.  (This works especially well if in reference to the above) as in:  %$&#in’ A-Rod.

Bill Belichick should run for President in 2016, when Brady retires (though we don’t agree on much politically, we’d both vote for him)

Brady should replace Belichick when he retires in 2016

You get the idea…

We will talk about other things, like relationships, economics, idiots, politicians, books, movies, and of course, why the name Thorgeous is beyond fantastic.  More to come soon….