Taking a Step Back From Sports

I’ve always loved sports.

I played several of them as a kid, watch them on a regular basis and at times growing up, they were my biggest concern.

For the first five-plus years out of college, they surrounded my job titles in radio.

When I took my job in Oklahoma, on top of doing news, I was doing a lot of high school sports.

I co-hosted a one hour show on the weekdays, called football, basketball, baseball and softball games, hosted a coaches show and of course, did a lot of interviews with people from Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley to coaches from small towns like Shattuck and Laverne that boasted 8-man football powerhouses.

I worked 12-hour days. Days with basketball and football games meant 16-18 hour days and half of them required me to drive at least an hour and as far as four hours for games in which I’d turn right back around and nearly fall asleep at the wheel on some state road in a remote area.

To be honest, the hours never got to me. I liked following the local schools, getting out of the studio and getting a few hours of peace while driving to the events.

My current job in Cincinnati has me invested more in news with sports sprinkled in, but it did require a big step back from being court-side or in the booth calling events, which I love and still want to do in the future. It also brings a more standard 8-hour shift, 40 hours a week schedule while making a little more money.

For me, it meant less time in the newsroom and more time for other things. Time I really didn’t have before. I could be more than just a “sports guy”.

When I lived out west, I took advantage of downtime and escaped to Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Kansas City, Denver and other places on certain weekends, especially in the summer, but being in your late 20s in a rural town puts you at a disadvantage. It’s a “it’s not them, it’s me” thing. My works hours and being from Pennsylvania meant I never got the chance to really develop friendships. I met some great people, but never really connected on a deeper level.

Living five minutes from downtown Cincinnati, a more urban setting and more free time has given me an opportunity to meet others like me: Single, late 20s/early 30s and focused on career while also maintaining a social life and developing relationships, which is tougher the older you get.

Since getting here in November, my time watching sports has gone down, but I’m still a college football junkie on Saturdays, a Steelers and NFL Redzone viewer on Sundays and watched as many Stanley Cup games as humanely possible this spring.

But I find myself getting out more than I did while living in rural Oklahoma, going to different festivals, concerts, and more events you’d find in a city setting. I initially missed the brewery boom but now live a five minute walk away from one. Most bars where I used to live would close before midnight on Saturdays.

It’s also given me a chance to work on myself.

When you’re working long hours, you sometimes forget to take care of yourself physically and mentally.

After settling in, I decided to change my workout routine. I’m lifting regularly (something I haven’t done since high school), I ran a 4-mile race in late June and want to do more races in the future.

Being around more people who can relate to the ups and downs of being a young adult and even those who are older that provide a positive attitude and guidance has done well for me socially and mentally. I’ve always considered myself an introvert with anxiety at times that some close to me can sense. I have found a more extroverted side lately, but I still have those insecurities that have followed me since I was a kid.

The step away from sports has also given me time to explore different hobbies and ideas. Starting this blog is a great example of that. My coworkers have shown me you can follow a passion outside of work or even within a current role.

It will be strange not having a game to prepare for in a couple weeks and that first Friday I’m not at the field will make me miss it. I played football. The first fall I wasn’t playing was surreal but eventually faded.

I haven’t said goodbye to sports in my work. I’m just working on another aspect of my radio career…and myself.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Air Conditioning

Here’s something you already know: It’s hot in the summer. Especially this one it seems.

I spent two summers in Oklahoma, and it gets really hot out there. We’re talking 100-plus degree temperatures for consecutive days, but it wasn’t as bad with the lower humidity.

When I moved to Cincinnati last November, I went from having central A/C in my apartment to a unit built into the wall of my new apartment building that was built before air conditioning became the norm.

I thought to myself “I survived the Oklahoma summer, so it can be as bad here.”

Then came my old arch-nemesis: Humidity.

For the last few weeks, especially since we’ve entered July, it’s been uncomfortably humid. My co-worker said they woke up angry knowing it was going to be hot and humid.

One day last week was so bad, two seconds after walking outside and I said “Nope. Not feeling this”. I couldn’t walk from place-to-place without developing back sweat. I know, that’s gross.

But back to the A/C.

You really don’t know how much energy that unit uses until you get the first bill of the summer. Living in a one-bedroom apartment, my electric bill is actually lower compared to my old place, but I know I’m paying more for rent and other expenses compared to when I lived out west.

I first tried opening windows and letting the outside air do its thing, but that failed once the mercury exceeded 80 degrees. I don’t have my box fans anymore, so that would’ve helped. I left those behind with a paper sign that said “Free” next to the dumpsters.

After running “fan mode” on the unit with little to no success, I caved and turned to the “cool” setting and no more back sweat. Again, I know it’s gross, but that’s what I was dealing with.

So this month’s bill is higher and next month will be more, but I’ve given in to the reality that the cool air blowing in is money coming out of my wallet. I just wished the air moved better into my bedroom. Haven’t used the comforter for two weeks now.

But I’m looking forward to September through May (might be a stretch) where I don’t have to run it and see my bill go down.

#BackSweat.

30 Thoughts Before 30: The Final Countdown

Well, this is it. The final day of my 20s, and I still haven’t finished this list.

#9. I Regret Making Fun of People Who Drank Muscle Milk

I finally got back on a lifting regiment I actually like over a month ago and knew I probably wasn’t getting enough protein in my diet. Now I’m drinking one Muscle Milk shake a day and it’s really helping. Sorry again to anyone I made fun of in the past for drinking it.

#8. Should I be putting money in a 401K By Now?

This and perhaps investing money in stocks might be a step I take in my 30s.

#7. The 12th is the Worst Day of the Month for Me

That is the day I make my credit card payment and am forced to see just how much money is in my checking account. To be fair, it’s always lower because of rent, car and bill payments happening at the start of the month. I have to mentally prepare myself for it sometimes.

#6. Why Can’t the Weather Always Be Nice on My Day Off?

Anyone else have that happen? You’re stuck at work on a beautiful day and when you’re off, it’s cloudy or just raining all day.

#5. I Don’t Think I’m Doing Instagram Right

Like most social media apps, I made an Instagram account in college when someone mentioned it. That’s how I also got sucked into Snapchat.

I didn’t know how stories worked until about 6 months ago.

#4 There Are Too Many People Running for President

Seriously. There’s a whole lot of people running who are not going to be around come February. I get why they’re running. If it can get me a book deal, or even better, a possible cabinet position, I’d test the waters and then bow out.

#3 .Writing This Series Was Harder Than I Thought

I started the “30 Thoughts Before 30” in the winter and thought I’d be well-ahead before the day came. Between work and other things, it became harder to keep up with it.

#2. Has Anyone Been Reading This Series?

I don’t think so, but whatever.

#1. It’s Actually Happening!

My 20s definitely had its ups and downs, but for the most part, it followed the normal track. I thought I knew everything at 20. I learned at 29 that I don’t, but it will help me as I start my 30s. Hopefully I’m smarter in ten years than I am now.

“By Gum!” The Blues Might Just Do It!

The St. Louis Blues took a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Final after a controversial Game 5, in which the eventual game-winner came after a missed penalty on St. Louis.

Aside from the controversy, the Blues have not only won three games in this series, which is three more than they won in the 1968, 1969 and 1970 Stanley Cup Finals, but they now head home with a chance win the whole damn thing on Sunday!

I would think tens of thousands will be at viewing parties, bars and restaurants in downtown St. Louis Sunday night and be like a powder keg ready to go off if the Blues win Game 6.

This was Pittsburgh during Game 5 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. The Penguins were up 3-1, and while they had already won three titles, it was the first time the team had a chance to win it on home ice. All these people showed up hours before the 8pm start for the viewing party outside, just to have the chance to say they were there if Pittsburgh won that night.

The Penguins didn’t win Game 5, but would win Game 6 on the road to win the Stanley Cup and a year later, won in Nashville. Not to sound like a spoiled brat, we’re still waiting on the day when the Cup is raised in Pittsburgh. It was in 2008, but by the other team.

I mean, just look at all those people! Imagine if the Penguins won that game!

People of St. Louis, do this on Sunday! There’s no better feeling than seeing your team win the Stanley Cup. To see them win it at home has to be even more exhilarating. I don’t know that feeling and I’ve been alive for all five in Pittsburgh.

“Veep’s” Uncle Jeff: Icing on the Insult Cake

It’s weird how “Veep” was a fictional portrayal of politics in Washington D.C. and after 2016 in the real political world, it seemed to become more of a documentary, but that’s not what this post is about.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Selina Meyer and everyone else in the cast was just marvelous, especially with the amazing, grotesque and hilarious insults they would throw at one another (especially at Jonah).

But if the cast of “Veep” was a baseball bullpen of insults, Selina Meyer is the starting pitcher, Amy, Dan, Kent, Ben and others act as the relievers and Peter MacNicol’s Jeff Kane character is the closer.

Some spoilers and bad language ahead: It’s Not TV. It’s HBO

Playing Jonah’s uncle, MacNicol’s character is a ruthless man with political power in New Hampshire and can swing the senior vote in a heartbeat.

We meet Uncle Jeff when he picks Jonah Ryan a.k.a. Jolly Green Ji** Face, to run for an open house seat in New Hampshire during a special election and act as a placeholder for cousin Ezra, who is overseas in Afghanistan.

“You f***ing shaved Sasquatch” and “you sentient enema” are two of the best Jonah insults from that first video.

It gets so much better later on. This scene in the hospital was Emmy worthy (more on that later).

“You epileptic Picasso painting!” is one of my favorites here, and it’s the first time we heard Uncle Jeff’s laugh, which makes a tremendous comeback in the final season.

When he turns heel and starts sucking up to Jonah in the finale, it’s funny to watch MacNicol take the character from 0 to 100.

Good Lord, what does “bad cop” sound like?

Same episode, this time, it becomes a crescendo of insults as he is joined by Selina.

Also, Amy’s “monument to vaginal dryness” is a nice appetizer to what comes.

MacNicol lost out on an Emmy nomination for Guest Actor in a Comedy Series because he was in too many episodes a few seasons ago.

There were only seven in the final season and I think he was in at most four, so that nomination won’t happen again.

But give it to MacNicol’s Jeff Kane for certifying the show as an insult-filled masterpiece.

30 Thoughts Before 30: #14-#10

#14: What was so good about “Game of Thrones”?

I just didn’t get the hype around this show. I didn’t read the books and even when I got HBO almost two years ago, I never felt the need to catch up and become a part of the hype.

To be honest, I was tuning into HBO on Sunday night’s this spring for the final season of “Veep” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”.

#13: Whatever Happened to Dane Cook?

I was in high school when Dane Cook ruled the comedy world. He had specials, played to full arenas and then slowly faded out. My taste in comedians has changed since 2006. I prefer the likes of John Mulaney and Patton Oswalt now, but Cook was a heavy metal version of Robin Williams.

#12: Are Trivia Night’s just a precursor to Bingo Nights?

Bar trivia has become a weekly thing in my life over the past several months. I’ve met a lot of new people through it and I’m at times a dumpster of useless knowledge, so it’s nice to meet others with the same problem.

As we get older, will trivia at the bar eventually turn into Bingo nights at the senior center? I’m hoping my generation just keeps doing trivia into our elder years and coming up with pun-filled and inappropriate team names.

#11: People who Pay for Parking Might Just Be Lazy

You can’t always avoid paid parking, but free parking is out there. You just have to be observant and be willing to walk a little longer to your destination. I found my free parking area in my neighborhood.

Do I have to walk an extra minute or two? Sure. Am I saving a couple of dollars. Yep! I am getting exercise? Uh-Huh!

#10: I think I Left my Dunkin’ Iced Coffee at the Title Office

Yep, sure did. Sat it down and forgot about it. Damn.

The Blues Are Now 1-13 in Stanley Cup Final Games

On Wednesday night, the St. Louis Blues, who are appearing in their fourth Stanley Cup Final, did something they’ve never done before: they won a game in the Final.

When the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams in 1967, St. Louis, along with the five other new teams, played in their own division (the West), while Boston and the other members of the Original Six, were in another (the East). This was done to balance competition…at least for the regular season and first few rounds of the playoffs.

The first Stanley Cup Playoff format used after expansion in 1967. Four teams from the Original Six (East Division) and four of the expansion teams (West Division) would qualify, with the West and East champions playing in the Final.

The Blues made the playoffs in their first three years, but got swept by the Montreal Canadians in the first two trips and then the Bruins in 1970.

This is how it ended…

Yep. Bobby Orr’s Cup-clinching goal in overtime, a classic moment in both the Bruins and the NHL’s history.

The moment began a 49-year drought for the Blues.

Carl Gunnarsson’s goal in overtime to win Game 2 Wednesday night was more than just one that evens the series with it shifting to St. Louis for Game 3 Saturday night. For Blues fan old enough to remember those first three Stanley Cup Final appearances, it’s just as big for them as it is for fans born well after 1970.

The way the league was set-up the first couple of years after expansion DID favor the Original Six, but that mood changed when the Flyers won the Stanley Cup in 1974 and 1975.

Somebody had to win the old West Division and play Montreal and Boston, and St. Louis was that team that was ultimately sacrificed.

In 2019, the power of balance is much better and the Blues finally have a fighting chance to not just win a game, which they’ve done, but actually win the Stanley Cup.

The city of St. Louis should be rocking on Saturday night. I’m pretty sure they’ll play “Gloria” once or twice before puck drop.

30 Thoughts Before 30: #20-#15

Woops. Thought I’d be further ahead with this series. My 30th is just over two weeks away so I’m picking up the pace…

#20: Does anyone really enjoy lifting?

I mainly lifted due to high school football, but once that stopped, so did the lifting. I mainly just did cardio and the occasional ab workout. I’ve started lifting again lately and while it’s not my favorite thing to do, it does have its benefits. I just don’t know if anyone really likes to do it or feels obligated to do it. Some appear to love it, but for me, it’s something that’s on my to-do list.

#19: Is CrossFit a cult?

I mean, is it? Also, they suspended their Facebook and Instagram accounts recently. Where will I see people flip tires and jump up on boxes. How will ever know they’re into CrossFit?!

#18: I can’t go out in a hoodie and sweatpants

This is a look most women and very few men can pull off. I would look like a complete slob. I’m still ashamed a wore Crocs to a night class in college one time.

#17: I’m surprised we’re still buying physical books

I have a tablet, so most of the books I have purchased over the years have been digital copies. It’s easier to just carry them all around on it instead of actual books. I guess if I want people to see I’m reading a book, I buy the actual book since nobody can tell what you’re doing on a tablet.

#16: Why does cold coffee cost more than warm coffee?

It’s late spring, so warmer days means a need for iced coffee. I don’t get why that costs $1 to $3 more than a cup of hot coffee? Is that a refrigeration and ice cube charge I’m missing here?

#15: It’s near impossible to have a one-page resume

I’m proud to say my resume now consists of jobs that weren’t summer gigs and that job I had for a couple months after college before getting my first radio job. Those could be moved off the resume. This is my third radio job since late 2012, so listing all the details of my positions, on top of listing skills and other information makes it hard to type “References available upon request” before the Word document goes to page two without using a font smaller than 10.

I’LL HAVE 6 MORE COMING UP SOON!

“Booksmart” Reminds Me How Long It’s Been Since “Superbad” Became my “Coming-of-Age” Movie

If you were lucky enough to be a senior in high school when a film like The Breakfast Club or American Pie came out, it’s a special moment. Each speaks to that specific era of high schoolers. It’s the one everyone quotes or talks about and if you haven’t seen it, it’s almost like you’re missing out on a great thing.

Booksmart is coming out this week and just going by reviews, it will be a must-see for young adults, especially those currently in high school and college.

Some are quick to compare it to Superbad, but critics say its not just a female version of the 2007 film, but its own, unique take on two smart high school seniors, one who is a lesbian, who got into good schools and attempt to have one wild night of fun before graduating.

Speaking of Superbad, that’s my “coming-of-age” film. That’s a film I can still quote 12 years later. Really? 12 years?! I was about to turn 18 when that came out. Do the math.

WARNING: Spoilers if you haven’t seen it. Also, why haven’t you? Also, I’m discussing an R-rated film. Some language.

Where do I start with this movie?

First, the idea that writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg starting writing the screenplay while in high school gives the film its own originality.

Second, the cast. Jonah Hill, who had smaller roles in prior films, got to be the star along with Michael Cera, who most, if not all of us, were introduced to in this film. Christopher Mintz-Plasse? “Who is this dorky guy?” we all thought when he appeared as Fogell. Who knew he’d become a legend of teen films. Emma Stone can win more Oscars than Meryl Streep in her career, but she’ll always have “Superbad” as her first feature film credit.

The plot seems simple. Two friends, Seth (Hill) and Evan (Cera), set out to lose their virginity before graduation. Seth is a little more aggressive in this quest, while Evan has his eyes on Becca, who actually likes him back and doesn’t know it until later.

Foggel (Mintz Plasse) is their dorky friend who gets a fake I.D. with just one name: McLovin. At that point of the film, you forget his real name. He’s McLovin for life.

Jules (Stone) is the girl Seth is eyeing and says he can get liquor for a party she’s having that night.

Superbad goes beyond the plot when it comes to the comedy in it.

The writing, for one, felt real. 17-18 year-olds swear. Your kid isn’t an angel, parents.

I said “shit” and “fuck” in conversations. I (casually) still do it today. I have some unique filter in my brain and have never done it accidentally on radio. I’m wired weird.

But anyway, high school kids swear, because it seems cool. Superbad didn’t shy away from it.

Hill’s Seth character paints a portrait of obscenities throughout, while Cera’s Evan does it in an awkward, but hilarious way.

Second, some of the parts that got the biggest laughs are just so random, but that’s where the comedy is at its finest.

Seth’s rant on the soccer field with Evan is one (several great quotes to pick from). Also, his fascination with the male anatomy as a kid is a montage of its own that is so gross but so hilarious at the same time. We all doodled in school, but that was, um, quite something Rogen and Goldberg came up with. Also, the scene where Seth and Evan realize Fogell has a fake I.D. from Hawaii that says he’s 25 and just named “McLovin” is just as quotable.

I can’t leave out Rogen and Bill Hader’s roles as cops who never act like ones, as they play along with Fogell claiming to be a Hawaiian resident of legal age.

Also, the scene where Hader is double-fisting drinks after he and Rogen bust a house party is 10 great seconds you may forget the first time you watch it. If I remember, they didn’t arrest anyone and just yelled random, stereotypical police cliches to mess with them.

When the kid opens the door, Hader says “Oh, no! It’s the cops!”

Later, as they walk around with their flashlights, Rogen says “I assume you all have guns and crack.”

In the end, Seth and Evan’s friendship gets tested, knowing both aren’t going to college together, with Evan venting his frustration about Seth’s behavior but in the end, they both realize how much they care about one another. We all have a friend we’d carry out of a party while they’re passed out when the cops show up, right? That’s where it goes beyond the over-used plot of teen movies previously discussed.

Superbad also has a very unique soundtrack.

The opening credits look like something out of a 1970s film (the old Columbia Pictures logo is in there, too) as silhouettes of Hill and Cera dance to Bar-Kay’s 1976 song “Too Hot to Stop”. You watch this the first time and say, “hmm, this will be different”.

Jean Knight, The Four Tops, Rick James and other artists, mainly in the soul and R&B genre, are featured in transition scenes, montages and other moments. We get “Big Poppa” from Notorious B.I.G. and Evan singing a rendition of The Guess Who’s “These Eyes” and the band’s original recording later on.

It would be so easy to include songs from the last five to ten years in this film, but music the target audience doesn’t know worked so well in this film and more modern tracks would have felt out of place. “Too Hot to Stop” has been on my iTunes playlist since 2007. I knew The Guess Who because my dad had their best of album in his car years before.

The film also sucked me into the Seth Rogen vortex. I didn’t like Knocked Up, he was great in the supporting cast of The 40 Year-Old Virgin, but I paid more attention to movies like Pineapple Express and Zack and Miri Make a Porno after Superbad.

In the end, Superbad did everything right in a “coming-of-age” film.

It helps that its writers started punching up a script when they were in high school, so it feels realistic and they’re not normal stereotypes being written by 40-something writers. The dialogue is realistic (again, your kid swears), the comedy is well thought-out and timely. Also, music you’ve never heard before ends up fitting like a glove.

Hopefully, the kids in high school and college today who see Booksmart remember why it was their “coming-of-age” film when 2031 rolls around.

Oh, Good. More Boston Teams in Championships

2018-19 continues to be the season of Boston sports teams in championship games or series.

The Red Sox won the World Series this past fall, the Patriots won a boring Super Bowl in February and now the Bruins, as I said last week, were probably the best team left in the Stanley Cup playoffs, will be in the Final for the third time since 2011, the year they won it all.

It feels like ages ago when most of the country had a little empathy for the city that went through a title drought before the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2001. Now it seems like there’s a parade of Duck Boats going down Boylston Street.

The Red Sox and Patriots have been responsible for most of the titles since then, while the Bruins and Celtics have collected one each.

The Bruins come off as a basic, Original Six team in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. They swept the Carolina Hurricanes, who swept the Islanders, who swept the Penguins. If there was ever such a thing as “Sweep-ception”, that’s it.

The National Hockey League is going to love that the Bruins won the East. Television ratings should be better than if Carolina made it. NBC loses its Saturday night game following The Preakness, but no Country House and Maximum Security in the race means a ratings nosedive for the network.

If I were to crawl into the mind of someone from the NHL’s front office, I’d say they’re conflicted over who’s better for TV ratings out West. San Jose or St. Louis? It is kind of a toss-up with maybe the Blues having the edge? I don’t know.

Regardless, I’ll watch the Final but might be pulling for the Western Conference team to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2015.

If the officials keep screwing up, we’ll see Sharks-Bruins. Ugh.