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Archive for the ‘Top 5s’ Category

There’s a group of guys that gets together every Sunday afternoon and plays a fairly organized game of wiffleball at the little league fields next to our house. Regrettably, I am not one of those guys, but I support them nonetheless. They have what looks like a manual scoreboard, a video camera on a tripod, and at least 4 regulars per team. By the way, when I say I “support” them, I mean I am fiercely jealous of them.

Seeing these guys play reminded me of days of yore, when assembling friendly sporting events was the most significant source of stress in my life. I had it so good. I spent the majority of my time with friends playing baseball, basketball, street football, floor hockey, and something called ‘Aviva Ball’ which we ever-so-creatively named after the company that produced and stamped its name on the sponge-like ball used in competition. We also had something called the “Ball of Hope” but I can’t recall if we ever successfully integrated it into a game. Regardless of the contest, we always had to modify the rules in some way to accommodate our circumstances. Here are some examples:

crappy baserunner

Ghostmen

Any form of baseball was always the most difficult sport to organize. To get a good game going, we needed more bodies than necessary for any other sport. One on one was ugly (though played often- what stamina we had as kids), and two on two was not much better. When we were fortunate enough to have the players necessary for a baseball game, there would still be the inevitable need for the ghostman. The ghostmen were an imaginary roster of invisible baserunners, always ready to pinch run for a real-life player whose services were needed in the batter’s box. Ghostmen were perfectly impartial and shockingly similar in speed to the actual players, as they reached each corresponding base at the exact instant their human counterpart reached their next station. Sending ghostmen to do the work of humans is by far one of the most innovative advancements in human history, and yet we stop using it around age 12.

this is the only one we have!

Lost ball rule 

Most games played by children are likely supplied with one official ‘game ball’. Spares were a rarity, so these game balls had to be protected with vigilance. Some of the fields and yards where we played had built-in obstacles or restrictions such as fences, dog-protected neighboring yards, inaccessible nearby roofs, or closed-for-the-season swimming pools. If a game ball were to enter any of these territories of no return, the game was over. Countermeasures had to be put in place to deter this type of transgression. If a hitter was to foul a ball up onto a roof or into a neighbor’s yard, that was an automatic out, and they were tasked with rescuing the ball from it’s purgatorial fate. In the most extreme cases, losing the ball was a forfeit of the entire game. A punishment fitting of such a heinous crime.

Shirts and Skins

Some of you reading this had no problem with ‘shirts and skins’. You people were the reason that people like me hated it. Proud of your body, eh? What’s that like? Must be nice to willingly shed your shirt to promote unity with your team. I’ll be the guy in the corner faking a sudden injury to avoid the game until teams are re-drafted and I make the ‘shirts’ squad.

Throwing the ball at people to make an out

Another ill-effect of a baseball game with undersized rosters, this rule was another brilliant contrivance of adolescent ballplayers. “Hey, since we don’t have a first baseman, if I drill you with the ball as you scamper to first base, you are out.” Great idea. I couldn’t wait to hit a ground ball to the pitcher so he could pelt me square in the back from short range with a hard plastic ball. My favorite! The best part was that after you got nailed the first time, there was a throbbing red target on your skin so the next time you were running for your life on the basepaths there was a brightly-colored target to aim at.

in retrospect, this would have been an ok All-Time QB

All-Time QB

The curse of the odd number of available players. By far the most revolting of childhood game rules, the All-Time Quarterback was the most corrupt abomination of sportsmanship ever. On a small enough field, any size football game was possible. However, whether it was two on two or six on six, the problem arose when there was that one extra person. Someone would inevitably volunteer to play all-time quarterback, a position unique in that it was the only place in all of sports where you were guaranteed to be instrumental in every single play of the game. So much so that all time QBs were basically a pre-pubescent puppet master of sorts, the fate of the entire contest was subject to their whimsy. Without fail, every all time QB would be seduced in the huddle by one team more than the other, and the QB would play just a little bit better for that squad, compromising the integrity of the game. Maybe his best friend was on that team, maybe he had a crush on a teammate’s sister, perhaps he owed one guy a favor. Whatever the motivation, the payoff was obvious. All time QBs always sucked for one of the two teams. If only we could have called in a ghostman to do the job.

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1. CM Punk

This article that ran recently on Grantland, the fantastic sports and pop culture website from ESPN’s Bill Simmons, accurately sums up the way most true wrestling fans feel about CM Punk. He is refreshingly honest, his matches never disappoint, and he’s entertaining and accessible on Twitter. His tweets are candid- I can’t eat at Chipotle without thinking of Punk’s tweet praising the restaurant’s consistently solid music playlists. Punk disguising himself as a member of a mariachi band to sabotage Chavo Guerrero’s in-ring championship ‘fiesta’  is one of the highlights of the short-lived WWE version of the ECW show. Punk’s ability to draw the best out of his opponent should not be overlooked. This hidden talent is a common trait among the best pro wrestlers of all time.

2. The Miz

This guy just gets it. He understands what kind of work ethic and professional output it takes to achieve stardom with WWE as a company. Mike Mizanin says and does all the right things backstage so that he is granted freedom for The Miz to say and do the right things on stage. Miz is one of the few top-tier WWE talents who is actually in touch with modern society.When he is not competing, he is impeccably dressed, and carries himself professionally. His ability to manipulate a live crowd is extraordinary, and the fact that we got to see him pre-WWE as a cast member of MTV’s The Real World gave us insight into his background. As a youth he idolized WWE wrestlers and dreamt of one day achieving his own WWE stardom, the common dream shared by all young fans. To know this and see him achieving his goal through hard work and dedication is fulfilling to fans of the wrestling business.

3. John Morrison

Morrison has the potential to be an amalgamation of Randy “Macho Man” Savage and “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. Like Michaels, Morrison was one half of a successful tag team (where have those gone, by the way?) called MNM, in which he consistently outshined his partner. He invaded the singles scene, where he was accompanied to the ring by WWE Diva and real life girlfriend Melina. His on-camera relationship with Melina evaporated without much fanfare but further exploration of this partnership could have led to a classic “Macho Man/Elizabeth/insert third point of love triangle here” storyline. Morrison only swam in the singles pool for a moment, as he was again saddled with a tag team partner. This time it was an up-and-coming Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, who at the time was half the star Morrison was, but has since gone on to much greater heights. Morrison is probably the most athletic and talented performer the WWE currently has, and thankfully he is back to competing sans tag team partner. I hope his character can continue to evolve, because he already has a firm mastery of the unteachable physical skills.

4. Kofi Kingston

A throwback to the 1980s heyday of professional wrestling, Kingston is hands down one of the most athletic performers in the WWE today. He has an instant likability factor, a characteristic that cannot be taught. His gimmick is classic WWE, slightly overdone at first, but then his natural personality has meshed over time with the character’s identity to the point that the viewers feel like they are getting the real Kofi. He is one of the few WWE Superstars in history that gives the on-screen appearance of loving his job night in and night out, which must be near impossible considering the physical and psychological grind these gladiators put themselves through every day. Kingston’s 2009 feud with then top heel Randy Orton was extremely entertaining, culminating in Kingston’s comical destruction of Orton’s cool new car on Monday Night Raw.

5. Santino Marella

Successful WWE Superstars must possess two qualities: in-ring ability and charisma. A strong charisma factor, referred to in pro wrestling circles as “mic skills”, can cover up a lot of physical and athletic shortcomings. Santino has never really been allowed to engage in much physicality in the WWE, as it seems they prefer to exploit his incomparable verbal talents instead of his grappling skills. This decision is fine by me, although I’d like to see more of the latter, if only to prevent him from becoming obsolete way before his time. Sadly, this dreaded fate seems to be taking hold, as more and more WWE shows pass with nary a Santino sighting. Live crowds and television audiences alike hang on Santino’s every mispronounced word, please don’t take him away from us too soon.

By the way, 4 weeks ago this guy would have absolutely been #1

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I’m a word guy, always have been. Give me shapely sentence structure over numbers and formulas any day of the week. When a conversational partner drops some top notch phonics into an everyday exchange it turns me on. If you break me off a voluptuous vocab treat that I am not familiar with, you can bet your posterior that I’m heading to a dictionary site to look that baby up yarely (with quickness or agility). The other day my boss described someone he had once met as “oleaginous”, which means “rich in, covered with, or producing oil; oily or greasy. I had to look it up, but how awesome is your vocab when you can assign that adjective to someone instead of just calling them a slimeball? Pretty awesome if you ask me. Kill ’em with words, I say.

Yes, a sharp tongue will certainly earn you points a plenty, but for all the sexy semantics in the world there are still a few rotten apples that try to ruin it for everyone. That’s right, I’m referring to the words I hate. This list is at least 15 years in the making, there’s a lot of hate in them there words…

Here is the 2011 version of the Top 5 Words I Hate list:

5. Blog

Hate it, always have. I get that it is supposed to be a cute and short amalgamation of web-log. It still sucks. I just picture Eeyore when I hear it. No one ever says the word ‘blog’ excitedly and with pep, it’s always so “blah”. If you say it out loud and look in a mirror your face actually gets longer when you say it. Say it enough, and your face will melt and you will permanently look like the mask the killer wore in the Scream movies. My default internal response when anyone asks “Hey, have you read my blog?” is “Hey, I hate you!”

4. Anal

This word has come to replace perfectly good words like careful, perfectionist, and particular. Some time ago it became cool to assign the adjective ‘anal retentive’ to people who wanted things a certain way. Ha ha! I get it! Your butt hole puckers when things don’t go your way! A disgusting reference that I can’t wait to have to explain to my kid now that everyone uses it. When I was a manager at Enterprise I was interviewing for an assistant manager and one of the candidates mentioned “being anal” as one of their strengths. You just referenced your anus in an interview. Let’s wrap this up so I can shred your resume and then shred the shredder.

3. Fresh Fish

Yes, I know, that’s technically two words. Thing is, I don’t hate the word ‘fresh’, and I have no issue with the word ‘fish’. Put those two non-offenders together, and we got problems. Not sure if it’s the alliteration, or the double dose of ‘-sh’ at the end of both words, but I hate it. I’d rather hear someone describe day old halibut or rotten mahi mahi than have to hear the double F bomb.

2. Pamphlet

Me and this word get off on the wrong foot every time it comes up. The first part of it, ‘Pam’, is cringe-worthy and we haven’t even reached the second syllable yet. I hate the name Pam. It’s a stupid name for a cooking spray, and it’s a stupid name for a girl. I like Pam from “The Office” in spite of her name. Pamela Anderson lost sexy points every time she was referred to as ‘Pam’. Pam Pam Pam. Ugh. I don’t have it in me to break down the ‘-phlet’ part. Phuck it.

1. Moist

I’m not alone in this one, folks.  I can’t begin to tell you how many people chime in with the M word when I bring up the topic of words I hate. It’s hideous. Google ‘Duncan Hines‘ and look at the top result. I never want brownies again. I don’t even want to talk about it. Maybe we can discuss it next year when it is undoubtedly in the top 5 again. Has been for 15 years.

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I love a good metaphor, cliche, or otherwise witty and symbolic saying. They are especially funny when used incorrectly, but that’s another list unto itself. The other day someone I was talking with used one of these crowd pleasers during conversation and for some reason I mentally envisioned the literal interpretation of the sayings’ words. I thought about it a few more times that day and decided to compile a list. To me, these are the funniest cliches when you stop and picture their literal interpretation. Please feel free to leave comments reminding me of any snubs I may have omitted…

Does the 64GB come in white?

5. Costs an arm and a leg

“Welcome to Best Buy, can I help you?”

“Why yes, I’m interested in purchasing one of your new Apple iPads.”

“Are you looking for the iPad 2?”

“Yes, that’s the one.”

“No problem, sir.  Did you have any questions about it?”

“Actually no, I think I’m all set”

“Ok, I can ring you up right over here.  Would you like the optional protection plan?”

“Yes please. I value the piece of mind that your plan provides.”

“No problem.  After tax your total is an arm and a leg.”

“Hmm, ok… let me just… I have to… just… trying to get this off… BRRRRRAAAGGGGHHHH!!!”  [heavy labored breathing and massive blood loss] “Here is the arm, let me get you the leg…”

one of my favorite memories

4. It’s raining cats and dogs

“Howdy friend!  Would you like to play tennis with me?”

“Sure!  Let’s walk on down to the tennis courts.”

“I hope the weather stays nice, it’s starting to look a little cloudy.”

“I agree, amigo.  Hopefully the rain holds off long enough for us to get in a set!”

“Uh oh, I think I just felt a drop… and that dark cloud is moving in fast.”

[hundreds upon hundreds of common house pets begin falling to the ground as far as the eye can see]

“Jesus! What sort of unspeakable hell has been unleashed upon us?! RUN!!!!!”

the opposite

3. Drop dead gorgeous

“I heard Jerry’s new girlfriend is smokin’ hot.”

“Yeah, me too.  Can’t wait to meet her…oh, here they come!”

“Greetings fellas!  I’d like to introduce you both to…”

[THUD]  [THUMP]

say hi to The Unholy Angel of Deepness for me!

2. Go to hell in a handbasket

Picturing anyone going anywhere in a handbasket is hilarious but specifically envisioning this whimsical fancy-free journey in such a dainty mode of transport ending at the front door of eternal torment and agony is funnier.

I am TOTALLY gonna clean this up

1. Bull in a china shop

Just do yourself a favor: close your eyes and picture your clumsiest f*ck-up of a friend casually walking into the glass and tableware section at Ikea only to begin uncontrollably flailing his or her arms and legs while launching their entire body into each and every glass case, shelving unit, and table display of fragile glassware. Picture them crouching down momentarily like a frog and then violently uncoiling, driving off the ground with their heels and launching into the air like a human dish missile. They don’t stop thrashing until every single piece of merchandise on the premises is decimated, even if it takes them like three swings to knock that one gravy boat off the shelf because they are becoming fatigued and their coordination is compromised. If you don’t at least smile at this thought you are dead inside.

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"Order! Order in the court!" "I'll have a ham & cheese" -one of my dad's favorites

5. Doculegal inRochester, New York

I graduated from Coastal Carolina University in 1999 with a bachelors degree in Political Science.  Why?  Because I was a Liberal Arts major until the last possible second and I chose a major based on my favorite course at the time (Constitutional Law).  Armed with this degree, I felt the need for my first “real job” to be somehow connected to the world of law, and I was half considering continuing on to law school.  Ok, more like 1/8 considering law school.  I was tired of homework.  My sister, being a respected accountant, had many clients in the city of Rochester and hooked me up with Doculegal, for which I will always be thankful.  I was helping prepare legal documents for trial, exhibits, etc.  Translation = copy boy.  It was Kinko’s without the apron.  Making copies in a shirt and tie.  The shirt and tie did make me feel more professional and prestigious, so I was happy.  Besides that, my immediate supervisor was a guy named Ford Collins.  I assumed Ford was a few years older than me, what with all the professional experience and rank he had on me.  Ford was skeptical of me as a new hire, and showed such dissent during the interview.  At approximately 8:45 AM on my first day of work we discovered we had a pretty similar sense of humor, negligible age difference, and a great time working together.  That is why out of 20+ jobs I’ve had Doculegal made the cut as the #5 place I’ve ever worked.  I only worked there for about 6 months, but that was long enough to form the band Appaloosa, cover Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, and learn why you can’t have an Assy Hose without a Nipple Coupler.

"I pledge allegiance to Grimace's balls" why?

4. McDonald’s in the Greater Rochester International Airport

A virtual lock for a top 5 spot, McDonald’s was the second job I ever had (the first being Wegmans in Chili, NY).  Imagine if a relatively successful and financially sound business man opened a franchise location of one of the world’s most profitable and recognizable businesses and put you and your high school friends in charge of it.  With no supervision.  That’s exactly what happened in the mid 1990s in The Greater Rochester International Airport.  I’ve italicized ‘International’ because the airport gained that distinction by offering one flight to Toronto.  One flight.  For those unaware, Toronto is closer to Rochester than Rochester is to New York City.  Flying to Toronto was like flying Myrtle Beach to Charlotte, NC: as soon as you end your ascent you begin your decent, 50 minutes on a bad day.  Anyway, I felt pretty official because I got to wear a shirt and tie.  Salting french fries in a shirt and tie.  In “Full McDonald’s Regalia” as one friend puts it.  To this day, I always think that I didn’t get the complete traditional McD’s employee experience, since we didn’t have a drive-thru window (being in an airport).  However, if the full traditional experience includes cross-generational pedicures in the employee break room, the most racially-socio-economically diverse workforce ever assembled (we were like the United Nations of Quarter Pounders), and scientific testing on cheese danishes, then yes, I did get that.

When I got hired, one of my best friends whom I would later learn is a semi-distant cousin (still so weird) was the afternoon shift manager.  Of course based on this knowledge I would specify strictly afternoon availability.   I made some amazing friends at that job whom I still have varying levels of contact with, but that wasn’t enough.  Shawn and I went on to recruit and hire a handful of our best friends to the point where the payroll looked like my graduation party invite list.  At one point on an otherwise non-noteworthy shift I took a customer’s order and turned around to the kitchen area only to glance around and realize I had 4 of my best friends working with me and no one else.  How the hell did someone leave the 5 of us in charge of a McDonald’s?!  A question that lingers to this day.

"Pick Enterprise, We'll Take the Gun Out of Our Mouth Long Enough to Pick You Up!"

3. Enterprise Rent-A-Car all over South Carolina

During my last semester of study at Coastal Carolina (the first time around), I worked part time washing cars at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Conway, South Carolina.  I got to wear shorts and a t-shirt, work outside, pretty much come and go as I please, a great setup.  The management had asked me on more than one occasion if I would consider joining the team full-time as a Management Trainee once I graduated.  At this point I would be remiss if I did not advise you to see the movie Step Brothers if you haven’t already.  It’s the only movie I know of with a reference to the ERAC Management Trainee program, a joke tailored to such a relatively small audience that it still blows my mind.  Although if you or a loved one have worked for Enterprise in the past, once you are out it is like a secret society of alumni who know each other just by looking at one another.  When I meet someone I can tell within 6 minutes if they ever worked for Enterprise, and once that distinction is made nothing else needs to be said.

Enterprise really did make me feel like I was on a fast track to running my own business.  I mean, how do you not feel like an up-and-coming travel industry tycoon when you are out behind a grocery store strip mall vacuuming out a Ford Fiesta while wearing…. you guessed it, a shirt and tie.  Sensing a trend?  I can say without a doubt that of making copies, flipping burgers, and washing cars, it was the car washing scenario that made the shirt and tie get-up feel most inappropriate.  I remember my boss telling me I needed to wear a “shineable shoe” as part of my uniform.  Odd request, since this job was not a “shineable turd”.

The job itself isn’t the reason that ERAC ranks at #3 on this list, it was the people I worked with.  At McDonald’s I worked with people who were already some of my best friends.  At Enterprise I made some of my best friends.  There are way too many stories and jokes to recount here (ooh that’s an idea for another top 5 list!) but as far as I’m concerned, Mitch clogging the toilet and unwittingly announcing it to a waiting room full of customers, and Brady’s “pardon me” after painfully obvious forced flatulence in front of a stranger is the stuff of legend.

a house

2. Centex Homes in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

No exaggeration here whatsoever when I tell you that my coworkers and I would look at each other every day and say “Best job ever”.  Centex is a national home builder that has since been bought out/reorganized/I don’t know I stopped paying attention.  It seemed to be a holding ground for disgruntled ex-Enterprise employees to cleanse their systems of rental car toxins and return to a normal American work environment.  I worked there with a pretty significant sample of my former ERAC coworkers, all of us ushered into the pearly heaven-like Centex gates by trailblazing pioneer Mitch Laps (the toilet clogging dude).  We were all pretty burnt out from the brutal nature of the rental car business (70 hour workweeks, repossessions, cleaning trashed cars, 3 day benders).  The Centex work environment was at the other end of the spectrum and we took advantage of that.  I can’t tell you how many days I left at 1pm for the day, and the only reason I stayed that long was to finish an office chair Nerf hoop tournament and have the Mexican “gut-bomb” for lunch with my buds.  As if that wasn’t enough gross misappropriation of company assets, here was the clincher:  the company took all 400+ division employees plus a guest to Cancun for a long weekend.  Insane.  All-inclusive resort, airfare, all paid for.  This job should probably rank #1 on this list because my plus-one for the Cancun trip was one of my best friends who would later turn out to be my beautiful wife, Jessica.

not where I worked

1. Studebakers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

I know, I know, the reconnecting with the old friend who I later married thing is huge!  Like I said, for all intents and purposes (I hate when people say “for all intensive purposes” – there’s another list for later) it should be #1, but this list ranks the jobs, not the by-products of the circumstances of the hypotenuse.  Confused?  Perfect.  Now you know how we all felt the night that one of the hardest working, most loyal and beloved Studebakers bartenders got fired for comping a customer a free beer.  That’s right, a tried a true bartending practice, a regular customer, a busy night, A BEER. And yes, I’m intending it to be said the cute way “ahh beer”, as in ONE f’ing beer. Fired.  On the spot.  K.P.  Gone.

That’s obviously not what made this the best job I’ve ever had.  I went on to be K.P.’s roomate when I moved back to South Carolina after the Doculegal experiment (see #5), and for those concerned, he’s doing just fine.  No, this job had its glory days well before the K.P. beer bone incident (which we’d all agree happened post-prime, on the downside of the proverbial mountain) (kinda like when Dan Marino threw like 8 picks in that last NFL playoff game against Jacksonville).  This job had moments like Eric Bellamy (Uncle E) teaching me dance steps “stupid shit, stupid shit”, Mike hurdling himself down an entire flight of stairs literally to get two of us to laugh (seriously, what if we weren’t looking?), and me forever enhancing Jeremy’s enjoyment of the song “Wang Chung” by heroically sliding in for the guitar solo at the last second.

Studebaker’s was the anti-office environment yet it was the first place where I felt like I was working my way up the corporate ladder.  I started as a floorwalker (insert drunk Jedi joke here), then worked the door a bit, moved up to barback, and was promoted to bartender (the hallowed highest honor) in short order.  I was making cash at an alarming rate and starting friendships that still hold strong today.  And I wasn’t even wearing a shirt and tie.

The beer thief is the one on the far left

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