29 things that will make you feel old

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller knew what he was talking about, and I always get a kick out of taking a moment to look at what’s happened — and how long it’s been since they happened. For example, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came out when I was just two years old. In honor of my 29th birthday (that’s right, Geoff Herbert has been turning it up as “DeafGeoff” since Feb. 20, 1984) here are 29 facts that will make you feel just as old as I am. Enjoy!

1. Kids born in the year 2000 become teenagers this year.
Whoa.

Britney kisses Madonna

Britney and Madonna locked lips during the 2003 VMAs. 10 years ago!

2. Madonna kissed Britney Spears a decade ago.
The two pop stars made out on stage during the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Madge also kissed Christina Aguilera, but no one remembers that.

3. Elijah Wood and Macauley Culkin are both 32.
“The Good Son,” starring both of the child actors, came out 20 years ago.

4. Magazines now out of print: Spin, Newsweek, Blender, The Sporting News.
Apparently people read stuff on this thing called the Internet nowadays.

5. Metallica’s first album came out 30 years ago.
James Hetfield is now 49 years old with three kids.

6. Cory and Topanga from “Boy Meets World” have a teen daughter now.
The TGIF couple married in 2000 (on the show, not in real life) and are coming back to TV with a 13-year-old child for “Girl Meets World.”

7. Every player on the 2012-13 Syracuse basketball team was born in the ’90s.
Senior James Southerland was born in April 1990 and the youngest player, freshman guard Jerami Grant, is younger than the “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam. (Jerami was born in March ’94 and the song appeared on Eddie Vedder and co.’s 1991 album Ten.)

8. Nintendo Entertainment System
The first NES was released in Japan in 1983 — 30 years ago — and Nintendo launched the iconic video game console in North America beginning in ’85.

9. 50 Cent’s “In Da Club”
Fiddy’s first massive hit came out in January 2003. That’s more than 10 years ago.

10. Curly Sue is married and the Spy Kids girl is divorced.
Curly Sue star Alisan Porter is 31 now and tied the knot last year, even welcoming a baby boy in the summer. Alexa Vega first played ‘Spy Kid’ Carmen Cortez in 2001 and she’s not only old enough (24) to play a slutty badass in Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills (coming this year), but also had her first divorce last year.

11. “Teletubbies” has been off the air for more than a decade.
Dipsy, Laa-Laa, Po, and Tinky Winky last appeared on TV in January 2002.

12. The Nirvana baby is old enough to legally drink alcohol.
Spencer Elden, who showed the world his penis on the cover of Nevermind, turns 22 this year.

The Nirvana baby!

The Nirvana baby!

13. The Mighty Ducks turned 20 last year.
Emilio! Estevez played triple-deke inventor and youth hockey coach Gordon Bombay for the first time in 1992. Kind of surprised a D4: The Mighty Ducks hasn’t happened yet at this point.

14. The New Kids are now in their 40s.
All of NKOTB (or New Kids on the Block, however you refer to them) are 40 years old or older. Jonathan Knight is 44.

15. Maggie from “The Simpsons” would be 24 years old today.
If she aged, that is. The first episode of the longest-running cartoon aired on Dec. 17, 1989.

16. ‘N Sync’s last televised performance was 10 years ago.
Justin Timberlake is busy with his “Suit & Tie” these days, too busy to get back together with Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick and JC Chasez. The boy band went on hiatus in 2002 but sang together at the 2003 Grammy Awards in a tribute to the Bee Gees.

17. Jurassic Park came out 20 years ago.
The first dinosaur epic came out in 1993. Jurassic Park IV is on the way, due in theaters in 2014.

18. ’90s bands are now playing nostalgia tours.
Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Gin Blossoms, Vertical Horizon, Fastball are touring together (if this was 1998, this would blow your mind!) this summer.

19. The final episode of “M*A*S*H” aired 30 years ago.
More than 100 million viewers tuned in for the Feb. 1983 finale — still the most-watched ever.

20. Eminem’s daughter turns 18 this year.

Don’t be a creep about it, but Hailie Mathers was born in December 1995.

21. McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” ad campaign started a decade ago.
Remember JT even did a song about it? Holy 2003.

22. The top songs 15 years ago include “The Boy is Mine,” “Truly Madly Deeply” and “My Heart Will Go On.”

Next’s “Too Close” and Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” also came out in 1998.

23. New TV shows in 1993: “The X-Files,” “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” “Frasier,” “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” and “Beavis & Butt-head.”
They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

24. Kids today have no idea what a floppy disk or a diskette is.
Yet they click on a picture of one to save files in Microsoft Word.

25. “1999” was 30 years ago.
Prince wanted to party like it’s the end of the millenium (which was technically Dec. 31, 2000) in 1983.

26.Brad Pitt turns 50 years old this year.
Speaking of Prince, he and Michael J. Fox, Ellen DeGeneres, Madonna, Colin Firth and Antonio Banderas are all in their 50s already.

27. The dancing baby has been around for more than 15 years.

First an Internet phenomenon in 1996, you may best remember the baby cha-cha-ing to “Hooked on a Feeling (Oogachaka)” in 1998 on “Ally McBeal.”

28. You can’t buy Surge, Crystal Pepsi, Hi*C Ecto Cooler or Squeezit drinks anymore.
I’m thirsty.

29. Michael Jordan first retired 20 years ago.
The now 50-year-old legendary athlete quit basketball in 1993, played baseball briefly, and then thankfully brought us more hoops greatness (and Space Jam).

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Lipreading Syracuse basketball’s Jim Boeheim: My first feature article in The Post-Standard

Lipreading Jim Boeheim

A sneak preview of Geoff Herbert’s first feature article in The Post-Standard, appearing in print on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

“Wanna see my picture on the cover, wanna buy five copies for my mother…”

I recently began my new position as Entertainment Reporter at Syracuse Media Group, the new home of syracuse.com and The Post-Standard newspaper. I mainly focus on writing about hot topics that can include movies, music, television, celebrity gossip, technology news and Central New York life. On Friday, I wrote about something a little different that people have asked about many times so it seemed fitting to share:

#Lipreading Jim Boeheim: How Syracuse basketball gets even more fun on Twitter.”

While everything I write appears online at syracuse.com, I’m excited to say that the piece will also be appearing in print on Sunday, Feb. 10 — my first feature article in The Post-Standard!

I’ll be buying a few copies for family members (Look, mom! I have a job!) but I also recommend picking up one for yourself if you live in Central New York. Not only does it include great photos of the SU coach making his priceless facial expressions, but it’s also a lot better than the first two articles I wrote on syracuse.com in 2010 when I started as an Associate Producer.

Thank you to all for reading and supporting me, and a big thank you to my hundreds of new followers. I’m excited to share with you more lipreading tweets from upcoming Syracuse basketball games as well as stories, news and observations in 140 characters (or less). Let’s go Orange!

Watch: Geoff ‘DeafGeoff’ Herbert speaks at TEDxBuffalo about being a deaf DJ

Geoff 'DeafGeoff' Herbert talks at TEDxBuffalo on Oct. 9, 2012

Geoff ‘DeafGeoff’ Herbert talks at TEDxBuffalo on Oct. 9, 2012 about being a deaf DJ and the importance of listening over hearing.

I was humbled and honored to be invited to speak at TEDxBuffalo, my first TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) event, about being a deaf DJ and the challenges I’ve faced in my life growing up mostly deaf. The event was held Tuesday, October 9, at Canisius College in Buffalo to an invite-only crowd and was also live-streamed online and recorded for future events.

In a speech titled “Listening Is More Important Than Hearing,” I shared how I was born with a profound binaural hearing loss and learned how to communicate through years of speech therapy. I demonstrated some of the challenges that come from lipreading, such as how “V” and “F” look identical but the sound is different by how much air comes out of your mouth and whether your voice box vibrates when saying it. I then talked about falling in love with music, and its transformative power that led me to pursuing a career in radio — and never once letting my “disability” stand in the way. I learned to appreciate music by listening to it, not just hearing it, and worked hard at radio stations in high school and college before landing a job at Clear Channel’s HOT 107.9 in Syracuse as a morning show producer and sidekick known as “DeafGeoff.” I worked with “Marty & Shannon in the Morning” for six years as possibly the only mostly deaf on-air personality in the country and our show was rated No. 1 in its target 18-34 demographic.

I’m now a producer/entertainment reporter at syracuse.com, the online affiliate of The Post-Standard newspaper but the challenges I face today are the same. At a radio station disc jockey (or as a club DJ), you have to listen to what your audience wants and respond to it. Social media users and website readers will often comment and/or share stories, and it’s the same thing — listening to the audience, responding to them, and continuing to inform and/or entertain.

I’m also still a DJ for parties, dances, weddings, events, etc. and I’m constantly listening to music and studying it, watching audiences to see how they react to songs. It’s amazing how hearing a favorite tune can change a person’s mood — or force them to start moonwalking (or shuffling or Gangnam-Styling or whatever) because the music is that infectious.

You can watch video of me speaking at TEDxBuffalo here, but please check out the other speakers as well. All had great, unique thoughts to bring to the event and I was happy to be a part of it.

Thank you to all who watched and tweeted me their thoughts afterwards, and thank you to Kevin Purdy for inviting me to speak at TEDxBuffalo. If anyone has any follow-up questions or would like to know more, please feel free to email me.

The 28 most ridiculous quotes from Geoff Herbert’s first blog

It’s my 28th birthday today and, as I look back, it’s weird to realize how long I’ve been using the web. I had my first website when I was 12 — “The Page of Qaz” — and I started my first blog on LiveJournal when I was in college, which ranged from poetry attempts to stream-of-consciousness writing to premature, emotional outbursts. Most was written from 2003-2005 and I’ve since removed almost everything from the site, but I thought it’d be fun to revisit the 28 most ridiculous quotes from that LiveJournal and share them. Y’know, so I can show how mature I’ve become since. And stuff. Enjoy!

1. “My heart swells like a passenger-side airbag as she drives me into a bridge abutment.”

2. “So take it all in stride, find the punch-line to life’s punches, and don’t take any of it too seriously. Be serious when you need to be, of course, but learn to laugh, too.”

3. “It may feel like a lot of baggage to carry for your future travels, but it’s not.”

4. “Reality wears an iron glove and it just bitch-slapped me in the face.”

5. “She doesn’t talk to me unless I talk to her, but when I do she gives all the tell-tale signs of utter infatuation. As if her favorite food is apricots, but only when someone offers them to her.”

6. “Another conductor waves their baton at me, urging my heartstrings to join the orchestra, but I’m held back by my own fears and desires. Maybe I’m in the wrong section or playing the wrong instrument.”

7. “I know that the last time I went on this ride, I was not wearing a seatbelt and basically went through the windshield in a beautiful disaster of glass and pain. It was too fast, too furious, and too frustrating. But that doesn’t mean I should never sit in a car again. Wounds heal, senses dull and skins grow thicker as time goes on and we live our lives. But the heart is equally vulnerable at all times, in all cars, on all kinds of rides.”

8. “In the real world with all the cookie-cutter stuffed-shirt conservatives and the brand-infected poster-boy prima donnas who think that Ludacris and Lil Jon represent the pinnacle of good music, I fit in about as well as a three-hundred pound woman does in a size four.”

9. “…I’m a person of function. I can’t dilly-dally, I can’t do small talk, and I hate just driving around aimlessly. I can’t even watch NASCAR because to me it’s just cars driving around in a circle. I’m still an impatient brat, and I currently have no plans to grow up.”

10. “I go swimming in my mind and I always seem to forget my floaties.”

11. “She was an angel — but from another angle, I don’t know anymore and I find myself losing faith in my own judgment.”

12. “Indecision and passivity are vices I can’t stand. They may not be biblical vices and they don’t need to be. In the church of Geoff, they are the unforgivable sins because there is no benefit or reason for them. ‘Whatever’ is a more damnable word than Carlin’s seven you can’t say on the air.”

13. “‘Dammit, Janet! Why do you have to crush my trapezoid like that?’ She sniggered and took another bite out of my smorgasbord of unfortunate disorders. So I retaliated, and threw the only ammunition I had in return. My heart missed, and fell into a precipice.”

14. “How the leaves dance across the quad to the tune of an 18th century ballad, flying with the grace of Fred Astaire over the concrete sidewalks without touching. A spiral of maple and pine children jump into the air, singing ring-around-the-rosy as they encircle a passerby who can’t help but smile at her playmates.”

16. “Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve, you’ll get blood on your shirt.”

17. “How wrong I was. And worse, how sure I was that I was right.”

18. “I think your true friends are the ones who stick by your side through all the stupid things you do [when you’re sober] — not all the stupid things you don’t remember doing.”

19. “It’s time to get your gonzo on, write a will, and decide what it was so you can decide what it will be. After all, redefining your redefinition of your refined refinements with referred references may be the only thing saving you from duct-taping your cellphone to your head and taking a long bath in Onondaga Lake.”

20. “Women. I understand women about as well as I do a braille keypad on a drive-thru ATM.”

21. “On second thought, wouldn’t giving someone time and space make them God?”

22. “I look in the mirror and it’s always an unfamiliar face that I somehow recognize. I see that little blonde-haired boy with blue hearing aids who needed a hand to hold — he’s still there, looking up at me for help.”

23. “Heaven is a dancefloor. And I think sunrise occurs when the club closes and the DJ watches a sweaty mass separate and drive home with a smile.”

24. “I wish I were a pen, dictating my life story and writing characters in and out as I see fit… It’s my book, dammit, and I’m the main character. I’m the star. There are no little-did-he-know moments because I know everything that is going on. I purge it all in a cacophony of words, sentences, paragraphs and terrible metaphors. The only thing I don’t know is what happens to the guest stars of chapter 3 after I edit them out and, frankly, I don’t really care what happens to them after chapter 3. We’re on chapter 24 now, baby, and there’s no room for you in the story anymore.”

25. “Wounded pride goes with every outfit.”

26. “I’ve always believed that leading with your heart is taking a step in the right direction. And I’ve always led with my heart, meaning I’m always stepping forward with my right foot. However, if you keep stepping forward with your right foot, you’ll just keep going in circles, won’t you? You’ve got to take a left step here and there.”

27. “Sure, looking at a happy photograph from days gone by makes you sad that you’re not still in that happy moment, but you gotta remember, Geoff, that the moment was only that: a moment. And getting rid of those remnants won’t make you forget them any sooner. So don’t. Don’t forget. Remember.”

28. “Life is a sexy Molotov cocktail of pain, misery and unabashed tears – with smiles in between each sip. Enjoy it all.”

Remembering the famous ‘Bird Girl’ of Syracuse University

Mary Jo Zawalski aka "Bird Girl"

Mary Jo Zawalski was also known as "Bird Girl" when she was a student at Syracuse University.

To say the famous Bird Girl of Syracuse University is a creative person would be an understatement.

Mary Jo Zawalski — or, as she was better known during her undergraduate studies in ceramics at SU from 2002 to 2006, “Bird Girl” — was well known across the campus for her quirky appearance, especially for clipping odd objects to the top of her head. Usually it was a plastic bird, but she was also spotted with other fake animals and even a plastic waffle once.

“All the birds I wear on my head are paper trained. Unfortunately, the alligator is not,” Zawalski told student newspaper the Daily Orange in 2005.

Any student that attended Syracuse University with at least one year of overlap with Zawalski’s time there knows about Bird Girl. When she was a freshman, she lived in the same residence hall as I did (Flint Hall on top of Mount Olympus) and I often saw her in the dining hall. I would’ve asked her about her headpieces eventually (just like how people tend to ask me about my hearing loss eventually), but the DO ran a feature story on her during our second semester on campus. (And she probably never asked about that deaf DJ on campus because the DO did a feature story on me, too.)

“I want to be visually interesting, instead of beautiful,” the Texas native told the DO in 2003. She explained that she started wearing birds in her hair (and plastic sandwiches, hamburger buns, etc.) as a way to express her pun-filled sense of humor and to gauge new friends. Obviously, if you don’t get the bun-in-her-hair joke or what she means when she’s “flipping the bird,” then she probably doesn’t want to hang out with you.

And a little Google research finds that Zawalski has been doing pretty awesome since she graduated from Syracuse. She got a masters’ degree in Clinical Art Therapy from Long Island University in 2009, speaks Spanish, some Hindi, and works on the Therapeutic Activities staff at an acute psychiatric hospital outside New York City.

In an interview with an acupuncture therapy blogger last year, she makes being an art therapist sound like an emotionally and psychologically exhausting job, but incredibly rewarding from both interaction with staff and patients. “I get to color with crayons and sidewalk chalk at work!” she exclaims. “Oh, and I get to dance and hula hoop too!!!”

And I assume she still wears the birds in her hair — at least that’s what’s she wearing in her default picture on Facebook still. Oh, Bird Girl. Don’t ever change.

Acton, Massachusetts: Fun facts about my hometown

Acton, Massachusetts: The hometown of Steve Carell, Big Bird, and DeafGeoff.

Acton, Massachusetts: Home of Steve Carell, Big Bird, and DeafGeoff.

Though I was born in California (my excuse for wearing Pacific Sunwear clothing all through my teen years), I grew up in Acton, Massachusetts, a small suburb of Boston. I went to school there for my K-12 years before leaving to attend Syracuse University and staying in the Central New York city after graduation. Although most acquaintances from those years living in Acton I only keep in touch with via Facebook (don’t we all?) I still go back several times a year to see family and my closest friends. So I thought it might be fun to share some fun facts about my hometown.

  • Acton is 21 miles west/northwest of Boston and 10 miles from Lowell, in Middlesex County. The town is essentially divided into five parts: North Acton, West Acton, Acton Center, East Acton, and South Acton.
  • The hilarious Steve Carell, perhaps best known for his role as Michael Scott on “The Office,” grew up in South Acton. He attended private school in the bordering town of Concord, MA, but his childhood home is just a stone’s throw away from mine. The “40-Year-Old Virgin” star told New York Magazine that the hardest, oddest job he ever had before making it big was sorting mail in Acton and then going out on a route as a rural mail carrier.
  • Acton-Boxborough Regional High School’s sports teams are known as “the Colonials.”
  • Tom Barrasso, who played goalie for the Colonials in the early ’80s, went straight from A-B High School to play in the NHL, skipping college. He won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
  • The ABRHS football team won the Eastern Massachusetts Division 2 state championships four years in a row, from 2001 to 2004. They also had a 52-game winning streak during that period.
  • The first American to die in the Revolutionary War was from Acton. Captain Isaac Davis died leading Acton’s Minutemen at the Battle of Concord & Lexington, the first conflict of the American Revolution between the Colonists and the British, on April 19, 1775. Actors re-enact the battle every year on the anniversary.
  • The anniversary, observed on the third Monday of every April, is known as Patriots Day. No other state in the union celebrates it, but Massachusetts (and Maine) takes the day off to remember the beginning of its escape from England’s tyranny (as the U.S. History teachers love to describe it). They also use the holiday to watch the Boston Marathon.
  • Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who created “Sesame Street” characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, is from Acton. I met him at a signing for his book “The Wisdom of Big Bird” once. Sweet guy.
  • The town is 20 square miles and has a little more than 20,000 residents despite a huge chunk of it being forests or conservation lands (Acton Arboretum, Nagog Hill, Nashoba Brook, etc).
  • My favorite meal of all time is in Acton at a pizza-and-sub shop called T.C. Lando’s — they make a sandwich/torpedo/hoagie called a “Budster” (first photo on this page) which consists of chicken fingers, bacon, BBQ sauce and cheese in a sub. Delicious, and I have yet to find any other place that can make the same combination as tasty.
  • Acton was named the 16th Best Place To Live among small towns in the country by Money Magazine in 2009 and in 2011.

Acton. It’s a pretty nice place. Stop by sometime.

Tell them Large Marge Geoff “DeafGeoff” Herbert sent you.

Remembering 9/11: Am I the only person who read what happened first, before watching?

On September 11, 2001, I was 17 years old and working in my high school radio station. I was the general manager of WHAB, a 10-watt station heard in a mile-radius on 89.1 FM in Acton, Massachusetts. That morning, I was working in the station during one of my free periods, gathering news for us to include in our broadcasts throughout the day. We had a continuous paper feed from the Associated Press that came out on a dot matrix printer, an old model that printed paper with holes on both sides, and all the pages were attached with perforations.

At 8:46 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 11 hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower, I was alone in the station with no television or Internet. The only computer in the studio was used primarily for audio editing. Sponsorship identifications were printed on index cards, and daily news reports were either hand-written or literally cut-and-pasted from the AP news feed.

Around 8:50 a.m. a one-sentence “breaking news” blurb said a plane had collided with one of the twin towers in New York City, believed to be an accident — no mention of terrorists, victims or anything that would indicate what would come next. It wasn’t a local news story (Acton is a suburb of Boston, about 25 miles west) but I thought it was at least significant enough to include in the morning’s first newscasts. (At the time, the student-run station was only on the air from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) So I cut. And pasted. I’m not even sure if I had chosen it to be the lead story.

Someone then walked by and waved at me, indicating that I should follow them to the A/V room. We joined a small huddle of people staring at a TV showing a live news feed of the World Trade Center. It was now 9:03 a.m. and we all witnessed, live on television, United Airlines Flight 175 crashing into the South Tower. Everyone reacted with horror and disbelief — two planes was clearly not an accident. Many began panicking, worrying if they knew anyone working in the towers at the time.

The rest of the school day was a blur as teachers played the role of counselors instead of sticking to lesson plans. As the facts developed, and two more hijacked planes crashed — Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA and Flight 77 into the Pentagon — September 11th quickly became a day we would never forget. My peers lost whatever innocence they had left as we all realized that the world is a dangerous place and no one is ever truly safe.

While the previous generation recalls exactly where they were when John F. Kennedy was shot, 9/11 became our shared moment in grief and we will always remember where we were and what we were doing that day.

I was alone in a radio station with a stack of printer paper. Was I the only person who read what happened first, before watching?

Today, on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, I pause to remember the many lives we lost that day and the countless volunteers and respondents who did everything possible to help. We will never forget.