Is chocolate the opposite of vanilla? Friendly’s says it is

Friendly's sign in Wilbraham, Mass.

Friendly’s headquarters are in Wilbraham, where a sign along the Massachusetts Turnpike greets drivers to “Wilbraham, home of Friendly Ice Cream.”

Let me start by saying I’m a fan of Friendly’s restaurants. I grew up in Massachusetts about an hour from where the company began in Wilbraham, MA, and I have a lot of fond memories of being a kid and going to Sunday brunch with my family, having a Fribble with fluffy pancakes and a Happy Ending for dessert. I still love seeing the Wilbraham Friendly’s sign on the Mass Pike when I’m driving on Rt. 90 from Syracuse to visit family and friends in the Boston area, and I also still dine at the chain occasionally as an adult and look forward to their ice cream creations, from the classic Cone Head to their other sundaes.

But while at a Friendly’s restaurant in Central New York recently, I noticed that the kids’ menu has a crossword puzzle with an interesting clue: “1 Down — The opposite of vanilla.” Sure enough, the corresponding space had nine boxes for the word “chocolate.” Two other clues from Across confirmed the word had to be chocolate as they were for the words “rainbow” and “baseball,” forcing 1 Down to be _ _ O _ _ _ A _ _. (Go ahead and fill the letters in, CHOCOLATE fits.)

Is vanilla the opposite of chocolate? And is chocolate the opposite of vanilla? I’m not sure if I agree.

Ice cream has been around for hundreds of years and different flavors have long existed — Baskin-Robbins had 31 flavors in 1945, so it’s not like chocolate is (or was) the opposite of vanilla by default because of a lack of other flavors. If we’re talking color, cocoa beans are brown and vanilla beans are pale yellow, almost beige — anyone who’s ever had a box of 64 Crayola crayons would be hard-pressed to say brown is the opposite of yellow. And while I’m not a taste connoisseur (despite being hard-of-hearing, the “lose one sense, gain another” adage is mostly a myth) in my personal experience I’ve never eaten chocolate and thought “Man! This is completely the opposite of vanilla!” as both are sweet and not the other classic tastes (sour, bitter, salty, etc).

Friendly's crossword puzzle

A crossword puzzle on a Friendly’s restaurant kids menu suggests chocolate is the opposite of vanilla.

And of course, if we’re accepting Friendly’s premise that vanilla is the opposite of chocolate, then what about other flavors? What’s the opposite of strawberry? Or orange sherbert, or chocolate mint? Would Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food or Half Baked have an opposite? (I guess one could argue Half Baked’s alternative could be Fully Baked or Un-Baked, but that’s still not really an opposite.)

What do you think? Is chocolate the opposite of vanilla?

April 29, 1992: Sublime’s lyrics still a powerful time capsule of Rodney King beating, L.A. riots 20 years later

April 29, 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the day that a jury acquitted four Los Angeles police officers of beating Rodney King, despite a video that clearly showed otherwise. According to CNN, four white cops yelled racial slurs as they hit the 25-year-old black man more than 50 times with their wooden batons and shocked him with an electric stun gun, and outrage over the not guilty verdict caused nearly a week’s worth of insanity in the streets. “Can’t we all get along?” King famously asked, but the L.A. riots and violence in other cities led to more than 50 deaths and $1 billion in property damage.

The incident has been immortalized in several songs, but perhaps none more so than Sublime’s “April 29, 1992 (Miami)” from their 1996 self-titled album. Lead singer Bradley Nowell, who overdosed on heroin just months before the band’s breakout release, adds to the confusion of those riots by singing the wrong date in the lyrics — indeed, on the album most fans of the ska/punk/reggae group have, Nowell sings “April 26, 1992” which is clearly a mistake but the band supposedly kept it because it was the strongest take. (He sings the correct lyric in the “April 29, 1992 (Leary)” version that appears on 2006’s 10th anniversary two-disc deluxe edition of the album, produced by Butthole Surfers guitarist Paul Leary. Sublime with Rome sings it as “April 29,” also.)

The song includes samples of southern California police radios, scratched clips from rappers Doug E. Fresh and Mobb Deep, and describes a list of towns and cities where riots took place that week (starting with Miami). Though the pseudo-anthem troubles one writer 20 years later, Nowell brags about looting his local liquor store and stealing equipment from a music shop, “’cause everybody in the hood has had it up to here.”

“April 29th, 1992 (Miami)” lyrics:

(SAMPLE: “I don’t know if you can, but can you get an order for Ons, that’s O-N-S, Junior Market, the address is 1934 East Anaheim, all the windows are busted out, and it’s like a free for all here, and uh, the owner should maybe come down here and see if he can secure his business, if he wants to”)

April 26th, 1992
There was a riot on streets
Tell me where were you?
You were sittin’ home watchin’ your TV
While I was participating in some anarchy
First spot we hit it was my liquor store
I finally got all that alcohol I can’t afford
With red lights flashin’, time to retire
And then we turned that liquor store into a structure fire
Next stop we hit, it was the music shop,
It only took one brick to make the window drop
Finally we got our own P.A.
Where do you think I got this guitar that you’re hearing today?

(SAMPLE: “Call fire and tell them respond local station out to meet us at Anaheim. It’s uh, flaming up good.” “10-4 Alamidos at Anaheim”)

When we returned to the pad to unload everything
It dawned on me that I need new home furnishings
So once again we filled the van until it was full
Since that day my livin’ room’s been much more comfortable
‘Cause everybody in the hood has had it up to here
It’s getting harder, and harder, and harder each and every year
Some kids went in a store with their mother
I saw her when she came out she was gettin’ some Pampers
They said it was for the black man
They said it was for the Mexican
And not for the white man
But if you look at the streets, it wasn’t about Rodney King
In this f*cked-up situation and these f*cked-up police
It’s about comin’ up and stayin’ on top
And screamin’ 1-8-7 on a mother f*ckin’ cop
It’s not in the paper, it’s on the wall
National Guard
Smoke from all around

(SAMPLE: “Units, units be advised of an attempted 211 to arrest now at 938 Temple, 9-3-8 Temple,
thirty subjects with bats trying to get inside the CP’s house…he thinks out there trying to kill him”)

‘Cause as long as I’m alive, I’ma live illegal

Let it burn
Wanna let it burn, wanna let it burn
Wanna wanna let it burn
(I feel insanity)
Riots on the streets of Miami
Whoa, riots on the streets of Chicago
On the streets of Long Beach
In San Francisco
Riots on the streets of Kansas City
Tuskaloosa, Alabama
Cleveland, Ohio
Fountain Valley, Paramount, Victorville
Eugene, Oregon
Eureka, California
Hesperia
Santa Barbara
Winnemucca, Nevada
Phoenix, Arizona
San Diego
Lakeland, Florida
f*ckin’ 29 Palms

(SAMPLE: “Any unit to assist Frank-74, Willow at Caspian… structure fire and numerous subjects looting)
(10-15 to get rid of this looter”)

» Video: Rodney King looks back without anger
» Al Sharpton, Trayvon Martin family urge peace on 20th anniversary of L.A. race riots

The power of social media: How one tweet to 1,500 followers can quickly spread to 7 million people

Tweet by @DeafGeoff

One tweet by @DeafGeoff, sent to 1,532 followers, was retweeted 4091 times and viewed by as many as seven million Twitter users.

April 20th is a day filled with lots of negative history — Adolf Hitler was born on the date in 1889; 19 men, women, and children died in the Ludlow Massacre during a 1914 Colorado coal-miners’ strike; Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed 13 (mostly students) and injured 24 more before committing suicide at Columbine High School in 1999; and two years ago BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil well exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 and starting an oil spill lasting six months.

The only “holiday” that exists on 4/20 is an informal celebration of marijuana. The significance of 420 to pot-smokers is filled with myths about its origin (FYI, 420 is not a police code used for the drug) but most believe it started with California teenagers who met at 4:20 p.m. to find weed. Today, thousands of cannabis enthusiasts use April 20th to celebrate, smoke and (sometimes) hold political events calling for the legalization of non-medicinal marijuana.

With all of the above in mind on Friday, April 20, 2012, at 6:29 a.m. EST, I tweeted “I judge anyone who tweets ‘Happy 420’ today. It’s Hitler’s birthday and the anniversary of the Columbine shootings.” At the time, I had 1,532 followers on Twitter and slightly fewer Facebook friends.

When I posted it, “Happy 420” may have been trending, but the rest of the topics on Twitter were a hodgepodge of hashtags, news and Justin Bieber (though “Hitler’s birthday” and “Columbine” trended hours later). But my brief complaint about the glorification of a day that’s filled with tragedy, somehow, went viral. 24 hours later, my post was retweeted 4,091 times, copy/pasted by several hundred more, and responded to — angrily — by many who disagreed with me.

I assume the retweets mean those people agreed with me, and it was also favorited by 100+ users and I picked up about 85 new Twitter followers over the course of the day, too. I compared 20 at random, saw their numbers of followers and calculated they had an average of 1,724 followers each. (One person in the sample had 30,400 followers.) 1,724 times 4,091 is more than seven million, which means that my one tweet sent had been seen by as many as 7 million people in just one day, across several countries.

It’s an amazing example of how a small audience can quickly grow on the Internet thanks to the power of social media. Working in radio for a decade, one thing I learned is that more fans means more people who hate you. A musician with five million fans always has way more enemies than an independent filmmaker with five hundred fans, and that’s just a simple fact of life — you’re never going to please everyone.

Here’s a sample of some of the responses I received to my tweet:

  • “It’s not Hitler’s birthday” Yes, it is.
  • “All the more reason to toke up.” I’m sure that’s comforting to Jewish families with friends and relatives persecuted in the Holocaust, or to the parents of 12 children in Littleton, Colorado.
  • “Every day is filled with tragedy.” Yes, it is, but I would never say “Happy 8/6” because it sounds like you’re celebrating the day Hiroshima was bombed. I’ll wish someone a “Merry Christmas” because that’s an actual holiday, whereas “420” is not — it’s just a date, filled with more tragedy than most dates.
  • “Happy 420! LOL” Cute.
  • “4/20 is the day my ex proposed to me.”
  • “It’s Bob Marley’s birthday.” No, it’s not. Robert Nesta Marley was born Feb. 6, 1945 and died May 11, 1981.
  • “I wish you could hear yourself” and other disparaging remarks about my hearing loss were made, since my Twitter handle is @deafgeoff and I’m 90% deaf.
  • “Only God can judge me.” So can a court justice, Randy Jackson on “American Idol,” and anyone who’s ever had an opinion.
  • “It’s Earth Day” No, it’s not. Earth Day is April 22.
  • “Your dumb.” “Your retarded.” No response necessary.
  • I also got called “buzz kill,” “bitch,” “idiot,” “stupid,” “dumbass,” “Debbie Downer,” “amature” (I assume they meant “immature”) and a “morose maaffacka.”
  • “It’s my birthday.” It’s also the birthday of George Takei, Carmen Electra, Luther Vandross, Crispin Glover and Joey “Whoa!” Lawrence. I’m not arguing that people born on 4/20 shouldn’t celebrate their birth — if you say “Happy birthday Mr. Sulu!” I would never object. But “Happy 420” is an inappropriate sentiment because it means you’re celebrating the date itself, not an actual holiday.
  • “#UR2OLD4TWITTER” The average age of a Twitter user is 39 — I’m 28 years old. And that has nothing to do with anything.

I didn’t respond to these messages on Twitter, partly because they were coming in faster than I could, but mostly because there was no point in arguing with strangers who disagreed with me even if only to correct their grammar (or facts). I’m not begrudging people who partake in recreational drugs, either. I may have been overly harsh when I said “I judge,” but I just want real events to be respected, and not ignored at the expense of stoner glorification.

Titanic 100th anniversary: If the Titanic sank today, how would the news break on social media?

Titanic's Passengers All Rescued -- The Syracuse Herald

100 years ago, the Syracuse Herald and many other newspapers around the world mistakenly printed reports that all the RMS Titanic's passengers had been saved. In reality, 1,514 people died when the 'unsinkable' ship hit an iceberg and there were far less lifeboats than could hold its 2,223 passengers.

“Breaking News” and “Newsflash” are almost completely outdated terms in the world of social media, yet “old media” like newspapers, television and radio stations, still use them. They’ll even use the term when someone else has broken the news and it’s all over Twitter and Facebook, hours earlier. Sometimes it’s a result of which sources have the better credibility or a bigger audience — if the Pleasantville Daily News “breaks” something to its 98 followers, then it’s fair to say CNN is actually breaking the news to most people when they pick up the story.

Ultimately, though, the desire to be FIRST! in breaking a story is no longer just a traditional media problem. Even Joe Schmo can “break” a story to his 254 Tumblr subscribers if he posts it early enough, which is why news breaks today on the Internet in confusing yet fascinating ways.

On the 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic’s sinking, I wonder how the news on April 15, 1912, would have been covered on social media.

Here’s a few possible tweets that could’ve occurred:

  • @FanOfSeaStuff: “Just heard over the radio that the Titanic hit something.”
  • @RoseDawson: “I could not be any happier than where I am right now.” (Sent using the ship’s wi-fi before the rising water took it out.)
  • @NewsGuy04121912: “Reports coming in that the Titanic has hit something — could be an iceberg or a whale — but all passengers are okay.”
  • @KateWinsletFan: “Don’t believe the reports the Titanic hit anything. Just look: RT @RoseDawson I could not be any happier than where I am right now.”
  • @CNNBRK: “BREAKING NEWS: RMS Titanic has hit a large object, believed to be an iceberg, and is taking on water.” (retweeted 1087 times)
  • @DudeNamedDude: “I heard from @NewsGuy0412912 that a whale hit the Titanic. Bet he’s looking to make a nice snack out of some passengers.”
  • @FoxNews: “NEWSFLASH: The ‘unsinkable’ ship RMS Titanic is sinking on the Atlantic; passengers being taken to lifeboats.”
  • @NYTimes: “White Star Line confirms the Titanic ocean liner has been hit by an iceberg and boats are headed to rescue its passengers.”
  • @HersheyChocoholic: “Tweeps, don’t worry about the Titanic — @FoxNews says passengers are being taken to lifeboats.”
  • @TMZ: “Inside sources tell us someone yelled ‘women and children first!’ as the Titanic began rescuing passengers.”
  • @ReporterGuy: “Coast Guard reporting Titanic ship is slowly sinking as passengers fill the lifeboats.”
  • @MotionPictureGirl: “Someday this’ll be a movie, and they’ll probably make the Titanic sinking WAAAY more dramatic with cheesy music.”

Eventually, the true story would emerge, but as the news breaks there’s all sorts of conflicting opinions and reactions that confuse the world wide web. Even before social media, inaccurate reports happened all the time. The Syracuse Herald newspaper first ran a front page headline that said “Titanic’s Passengers All Rescued” with a dramatic telling of how they were all taken to lifeboats.

Apparently, what happened was: A wireless message went out stating ‘All Titanic’s Passengers Safe.’ A week later it was discovered that this message had been wrongly received in the confusion of messages flashing through the air. In reality the message should have read ‘Are All Titanic’s Passengers Safe?'” Can you imagine THAT going viral on social media? Reporters would lose their jobs and Mashable readers would lose their minds (because Mashable would’ve written a story about it, too, in an effort to get SEO traffic even though they claim they focus only on web/technology news).

While many of us (including Titanic director James Cameron) are shocked that some audiences are just now finding out that Titanic was real and not just a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, can you imagine if the Titanic sank today how it would be covered on social media? Ponder that the next time you see “Breaking News” somewhere on the Internet, and think before you tweet.

Social media #fail: How AARP’s Notorious B.I.G. tweets lost sight of their audience

The Notorious AARP

Social media fail: The Notorious AARP

March 9, 2012, was the 15th anniversary of Christopher “Biggie Smalls” Wallace’s death. “R.I.P. Notorious B.I.G.” was a trending topic throughout most of the day as fans mourned the loss of one of rap music’s most loved artists in the ’90s and the voice of hip-hop gems like “Hypnotize,” “Mo Money Mo Problems” and “Juicy.”

Some brands choose to capitalize on social media trends by joining the conversation and attempt to draw some attention. That’s not necessarily a bad idea, but it’s so easy to do it in the wrong way (See: Kenneth Cole) and anger thousands of customers.

AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons, touts itself as “leading a revolution in the way people view & live life after 50.” In other words, they’re an organization that helps retired people — older people, mostly senior citizens. (Seriously, in this economy, how many retired people do you know between the ages of 50 and 65?)

Yesterday, AARP joined the conversation with #NotoriousAARP tweets and requests for fans (plus artists like Jay-Z, MC Hammer, Justin Timberlake and Snoop Dogg) to submit ideas for #AARPrapsongs. “We miss you, Biggie,” their official account posted Friday morning, sparking a conversation that was dubious at best.

“That tweet makes me forgive you for being on your mailing list for the past decade, although I’m under 40,” @macvitula responded. @NickReisman added, “Clearly this is designed to make my father feel less old when getting membership offers.”

As one blog pointed out, it sounded like someone’s grandson was running the association’s official Twitter account instead of their target older audience (who may or may not still be having trouble with webcams). That’s when social media is making a mistake — know your brand’s voice and, perhaps more importantly, know your audience.

Notorious B.I.G. would have turned 40 this year. Even if the AARP really has a significant number of members that are in their early 50s, a 50-year-old still would have been 34 when the single “Big Poppa” earned the rapper his first Grammy nomination in 1996 — already out of the age demographic of MTV and radio stations that would have played his songs.

Luckily, AARP hasn’t seemed to spark much of a furor — yet. Most of their members may still be figuring out this “Facebook thing” and haven’t even heard about what’s going on Twitter. And in case you were wondering, their Facebook page has zero mentions of Biggie. All they posted yesterday was pictures of a puppy contest called “Mutt Madness” and a link for members to get 10% off from exercise equipment from Smooth Fitness, which bears repeating my other point: keep your social media voice consistent.

By the way, for those hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel, @AARP still thinks their audience is a twentysomething (or even thirtysomething) hipster. “Working on a Storify curating the top #SXSW news, ideas and info for 50+… Tweet us if you hear something cool,” their Twitter account posted on Saturday morning.

Lipreading and live-tweeting: Bring something unique to Twitter during events

Lipreading: Examples of sounds and what mouths look like when saying them

Lipreading: Examples of sounds and what mouths look like when saying them

Twitter is an increasingly fun way to watch live events on TV. By following live-tweets with a #hashtag, you can be watching alone in your pajamas but feel like you’re at a party with thousands of fellow fans who are making interesting observations and comments.

That being said, there’s an important rule for live-tweeting any event — if it’s on TV and being watched by millions, DO NOT TWEET A PLAY-BY-PLAY. Posting “I can’t believe she won that award!” or “And Otis Spunkmeyer passes it to Scrooge McDuck, who scores and puts the Lone Rangers on top” serves no value to a nationally televised event considering other people can watch the same thing — its redundant and annoying. Use Twitter to add a third dimension to the game or show by posting original content or unique reactions.

With that in mind, I started live-tweeting Syracuse University basketball games with #lipreading tweets of what players and coaches, especially Jim Boeheim, are saying when the TV shows close-ups of their faces. Since there’s no audio from them in those shots, I’m adding an extra element to the game that viewers who aren’t deaf and hard-of-hearing likely can’t follow.

I got the idea for specifically focusing on tweeting lipreading (or lip reading, speechreading) from a German deaf woman, Julia Probst, who reads the lips of soccer players and coaches during matches and tweets them, providing fans with a running dialogue that they would otherwise not be privy to. It’s made me enjoy sports more and I hope to continue it with Orange football this fall and other teams I’m a fan of, like the Boston Celtics, New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox.

Some examples of lipreading live-tweets I’ve posted:

  • #Lipreading Jim Boeheim: “That’s a flagrant…” after Rutgers fouled Dion Waiters #GoOrange #BeatRutgers
  • #Lipreading Jim Boeheim: “Are you kidding me? … [not nice words] Come on, Brandon!” #GoOrange #BeatWVU
  • CJ Fair clearly said “F***, man” after he was fouled. He looks WAY too young for that kind of language. #lipreading #babyface
  • #Lipreading Jim Boeheim: “Listen. LISTEN! You can’t be fouling like that…” to SU’s Rakeem Christmas #GoOrange #BeatWVU.

Everyone can lipread a little bit, whether they realize it or not — being hard-of-hearing, I did speech therapy as a kid so I could understand speech (as well as speak it better). Lipreading is simply the visual interpretation of the movements of the lips, face and tongue. Without hearing aids, I’m 90% deaf but with lipreading, context and residual hearing I can follow conversations pretty well most of the time.

If you can’t lipread, don’t feel bad — just add something different when live-tweeting an event. Give people a reason to follow you on Twitter.

A few additional notes on lipreading or speechreading:

  • So many sounds and shapes look exactly the same, which means only about 30 to 40 percent of speech is accurately visible. “Get the mail” and “Catch the pail” look very similar, for example, and obviously have completely different meanings. Oftentimes, lipreading is only accurate with context (such as listening with hearing aids) and/or visual cues. For example, if a basketball player just made a bad play, you know the coach is more likely to say “That was stupid, don’t do that” than “Taco soup is delicious.”
  • When communicating with a deaf/HOH person, face them and speak clearly and naturally. People change the way they talk all the time — resting your chin on your hand affects speech, as does gum, mustaches, tongue-piercings, talking out of the side of your mouth, etc. Also, when people talk faster or slower it makes it harder to lipread and, when people yell, their mouths get wider and it becomes very difficult to see what they are saying. (Translation: Shouting at deaf people doesn’t help them understand you.) It’s very difficult to read lips on a person’s face/mouth that’s constantly moving or is facing in another direction, too.
  • While many references to hard-of-hearing in comedy lean offensive (i.e. the basketball coach near the beginning of “Van Wilder”) lipreading can be very funny. Marlee Matlin, the only deaf actress to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, starred in a “Seinfeld” episode as a tennis lineswoman who dates Jerry and helps George lipread another woman’s conversation from across the room while Kramer interprets for her in sign language. She thought they said “Let’s sleep together” when they said “Let’s sweep together” — which actually isn’t a likely mistake for a deaf person to make as “sw” and “sl” form very different mouth shapes, but was still a funny example of how a subtle misinterpretation can change an entire conversation’s meaning. For more outrageous (though unlikely) lipreading mistakes, check out “Bad Lip Reading.”

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.”

‘Linsanity’: 17 reasons why the Jeremy Lin media obsession is perfectly rational

Even Jeremy Lin is jumping with 'Linsanity.'

Even Jeremy Lin is jumping with 'Linsanity.'

Everyone, especially the media, has become obsessed with New York Knicks breakout star Jeremy Lin. Headlines everywhere are filled with awesome puns about his ‘Lincredible’ basketball skills or his ‘Linsane’ fans but I, even as a Celtics fan, am OK with it. In fact, the media obsession is perfectly rational, and here’s 17 reasons why:

1. The little guy that finally got a chance. At 6’3″ and 200 pounds, he’s not your likely NBA star, especially next to Knicks stars Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. But when Amare took a week off for a death in his family and ‘Melo was injured, Lin stepped up. Big time.

2. Fans catching ‘Linsanity.’ I believe media should report on what audiences care about and, in one week, Jeremy Lin sparked higher ticket prices than last year’s “Melodrama” when the former Syracuse University star first joined the Knicks. His #17 jersey was #1 in the NBA Store this past week, and celebrities like Mike Tyson, Whoopi Goldberg and Mary J. Blige were all spotted at Wednesday night’s game.

3. Harvard University. Far too many professional athletes make academics a small part of their lives — Kobe Bryant skipped college altogether, for crying out loud. Kids look up to sports stars, so it’s nice to see they may start wearing jerseys or hang posters of a guy who had a 4.2 GPA in high school and not only finished college, but graduated with a degree in economics at one of the most prestigious colleges in the world.

4. MSG controversy. Time Warner Cable’s contract with MSG lapsed January 1 after the cable company refused to pay an extra 53 percent, meaning 2.8 million subscribers in New York couldn’t watch Lin until the dispute ended February 17.

5. Talent. You can refuse to believe the hype, but the fact is Lin scored 136 points in his first five career starts, the most by any player since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976. He may not have Rajon Rondo’s speed or LeBron James’ strength, but he’s Ivy League smart and can make shots when he needs to — just ask Jose Calderon.

6. Elevates the team. When Stoudemire returned Tuesday, Lin switched to passing — he’s averaged 12 assists in the past two games, and you can expect it to go up when leading scorer Anthony returns from a groin injury. New York also had seven players score in double digits for the first time in 2+ years.

7. Fresh star in an unexciting season. Until Lin emerged, the lockout-shortened season slogged along with too many games crammed in, leading to tired/injured players. Sadly, the most exciting things to happen were either LBJ and Blake Griffin’s back-to-back dunks or Will Ferrell’s hilarious player introductions at a New Orleans Hornets game.

8. First Asian NBA star since Yao Ming. Lin, a Taiwanese-American, is in the minority in the league, but Toronto saw a rare sellout crowd Tuesday thanks to the city’s 11% Asian population that was excited to see him.

9. Ignore the racism. Floyd Mayweather and Jason Whitlock both made racist comments recently, and both MSG and ESPN have been offensive, but to pretend that bigotry hasn’t existed in sports before is naive. Lin doesn’t react to it, even when a teammate made a mock Chinese bow after his game-winning three against Toronto.

10. He never gave up. No team picked him in the 2010 NBA Draft, but he stuck with it in the NBA Summer Leagues and was eventually offered a contract with the Golden State Warriors. The team later waived him to clear up salary cap space.

11. He’s the league’s answer to Tim Tebow. The Denver Broncos quarterback fueled hype for success on the field and his religious beliefs, and Lin is not much different — his mellow playlist includes Christian artists Hillsong and Lecrae.

12. Modesty. Lin wasn’t making millions but made enough to get by, yet he was still living on teammate Landry Fields’ couch until this week. Of course, now that he’s moving into Trump Towers, that may change…

13. That nerdy handshake. He and Fields, a Stanford graduate, pretend to read a book and put on glasses in the dorkiest handshake since the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

14. Even the President is a fan. Barack Obama, the Commander-‘Lin’-Chief, went to Harvard law school so of course he loves the 23-year-old alumnus. “It’s just a great story and the President was saying as much,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

15. His goofy sense of humor. Mashable found his Xanga blog (holy old Internet stuff!) where he joked as a youth about trying different styles for wearing his headband.

16. His name. If Lin’s last name was Okafor, then this hype wouldn’t be as much fun. It may be getting excessive, but let the media have fun with the nicknames ‘Lin-Sync,’ ‘Lin it to Win it,’ and ‘Linsider.’ You know you love it.

17. All he does is win Lin. The Knicks started the season 8-15, despite having two NBA All-Stars and Chandler, who won the Championship with Dallas last season. They won all of Lin’s first 7 games as a starter to finally reach a .500 record.

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.