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Something to aspire to

21 Jun

So, if you haven’t figured it out already, we’re Boston sports fans. Big time. I actually just got back from a trip back east–hence the lack of posts–and it would be an understatement  to say that we caught Bruins fever. Full disclosure: I am an absolute bandwagon Bruins fan. Every year, I ignore them for the duration of the regular season, then tune in for the playoffs just in time to watch them get their hearts ripped out by the Canadiens.

Anyhow, this year started out no differently. After we blew two home games to open the series against the Montreal Cocksuckers, I was disheartened, but I kept watching. When the  Bruins pulled through, it was all the more rewarding. When they went and crushed the Flyers, the same held true. Beating the Lightning in seven? Same, of course.

You see, hockey occupies a weird place in my childhood. From the ages of 6-13, my dad and I played the latest version of EA Sports NHL on Sega Genesis every night, and the loser had to do the dishes. Dad always played as the LA Kings. Why? Because he was an asshole who was all about Wayne Gretzky. He was all about taking the easy path to victory. I, on the other hand, was a diehard Bruin. Cam Neely was, and to this day remains, my favorite player. I sill maintain that Ulf Samuelsson’s pathetic cheapshot, which happened when I was all of five years old, was what turned me off of hockey. It was partly because it put my dad in the awkward position of having to explain to me that in the world, sometimes there are people who just overtly suck. But more importantly, why would I invest myself in a sport where talentless piece of garbage could rob the game of an amazing player like Neely? It made no sense, so I said “fuck this” and bailed. I stuck around insofar as following Bourque and Neely and gaming every night with my dad required, but I never got emotionally invested in the team again. Not like I did with the Patriots, Celtics, and, to a slightly lesser extent, the Sox.

All of this being said, it’s no surprise that Milan Lucic has become my favorite Bruin. Patrice Bergeron and Tim Thomas are the obvious choices, and for their performances in Game 7 they will go into the Curt Schilling tier of athletes to whom I would gladly give a lung, kidney, eye, arm, or anything else that I have two of. Marchand, too, is too badass for words to describe. Lucic, though, is different. That wild-eyed stare that he skates around with reminds me of Happy Gilmore. As he relentlessly and mockingly jammed his finger down Burrows’ throat in game 3, I couldn’t help but wonder how close he was to simply removing his skate and attempting to slash the shit out of the guy with it. That’s the kind of player that Lucic seemed to be; prowling the ice with absolute murder in his eyes, you just never knew what he might be capable of. I like that in a hockey player.

The gods of drinking

Anyhow, just today, I saw the above image. While I may be the most shameless of bandwagon hockey fans, I am a tried-and-true fan of epic alcoholic feats. And this, my friends, is a feat of legends. Forget the $100,000 bottle of champagne. I don’t care how big it was, it was still a retarded gimmick. Forget the $5 Bud Lights, because let’s be honest, that shit is ridiculous. Bud Light is worth $2 per bottle tops, with bar markup. Forget all of that, but still marvel at that receipt. That is, for lack of a better word, awesome (in the real sense, not the Keanu Reeves sense). I am slow clapping them right now, and that’s only partly because I’m drunk out of my mind on cheap tequila at 4AM on a Tuesday morning. No matter how optimistic I may be, I know for a fact that I will never produce a receipt as straight-up baller as that one is. I can only tip my cap to you all, you magnificent bastards. And that is, at best, still only half the story. The other half is that somehow, in my head, dad is doing the dishes for the next decade. If the Sedin sisters are the spiritual successors to how he played  NHL 92-95, then Marchand’s persistent knuckle sandwich was how I played. Once and for all, the Bruins have made it clear that an aggressive 8 year old who couldn’t give less of a fuck about the rules really can beat the holy hell out of a too-slick-for-his-own-good old man, and I, for one, couldn’t be happier.

Thank you, Bruins. Thank you Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Nathan Horton,  Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, et al. 20 years after the fact, you finally allowed me to prove to my dad that I was right all along. More personally, you finally cancelled out the blind, impotent rage of my youth, and turned me into a full-fledged hockey fan once again.

I wish that I could taste sounds too…

1 Jun

Check this guy out:

http://wellcometrust.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/the-man-who-can-taste-sounds/

Why? There are many reasons. Mostly so that I could mess with people by telling them that their voices taste like random and disconcerting things. It’s pretty much the ultimate trump card in any argument.

Someone else: “You’re making no sense, farrell!”

Me: “Well your voice tastes like failure and regret!”

Done. As far as superpowers go, this one wouldn’t be as useless as it first appears.

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.

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.

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.

Problems That Are Their Own Solutions: Trepanning

17 May
Yes, seriously. People did this.

People did this back in the stupid ages

Recently, we decided that the problems that face the world can be more or less divided into two categories: those that solve themselves, and those that don’t. The latter category is the one that gets all of the attention, which makes enough sense. They, after all, are the problems that persist throughout time, making everyone’s life difficult with no end in sight. They require neither introduction nor further attention.

So instead of beating a series of dead horses, we’ve decided to draw our loyal readers’ attention to that other category: Problems that Solve Themselves. These are issues that, in chemistry terms, are endothermic. In human terms, they’re simply too stupid to live on.

Which brings us to the first topic: trepanning. I could describe it to you, but instead I’ll just point to the picture to the left. See that picture? People used to do that. Seriously.  Go ahead and click on it, and it’ll take you right to Wikipedia, which is about as ironclad as sources get on the web.

Why did people do it? Apparently to increase oxygen flow to the brain or something like that, and apparently it’s still done in rare, medically valid cases to treat intracranial diseases (this second group is the exception to everything that I have to say on the matter from this point forward).

The real answer, of course, is: who the hell cares? I genuinely couldn’t care less why perfectly healthy people once thought that drilling holes in their skulls sounded like a good idea. All that matters is that it would have required such uncompromising stupidity that harsh and unforgiving punishment may have actually been warranted. But even I, as cruel a bastard as I am,  would have come up with a punishment far short of “having a hole drilled in your skull”.

So thank you, everyone-who-thought-trepanning-was-a-good-idea. Thank you for lobotomizing yourselves, and thereby improving the world by hastening your departure from it. Your (clearly indirect) descendants owe you a debt of gratitude.

Note: for future installments, we’ll at least try to come up with things more current and/or not-obvious than this. Think of this as a warm up.