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.

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Goodbye, Michael Scott: The top 20 Steve Carell moments on ‘The Office’

Steve Carell is leaving “The Office” tonight in a special extended episode. As you brace yourself for the tears, remember the laughs he brought us. Here are my favorite Michael Scott moments from the past 7 seasons:

20. The Golden Ticket Idea
Michael adopts a little Willy Wonka ingenuity and hides “golden tickets” in random paper shipments. One company received all of them, getting 40% off their purchase, causing everyone in Scranton to freak out about the consequences.

19. Michael speaks to Ryan’s business school
In the middle of every speech, a speaker should throw out candy bars.

18. Dunder Mifflin’s local ad: The Michael Scott Director’s Cut
Great Scott!

17. Stanley and Michael LOVE Pretzel Day
“Can I get one with everything on it?” The pretzel with the works sends Michael into a sugar coma.

16. Scott’s Tots
Apparently, Michael promised a bunch of students 10 years ago that he would pay for all of their college educations. They’re so pleased when they finally graduate high school that they put on a big production to thank him — until they discover he can’t afford it.

15. “Lazy Scranton”
Michael welcomes his new employees from the merger with an introduction to Scranton – what! – the Electric City.

14. “Hug it out, bitch.”
Michael busts Dwight’s attempt to overthrow the position of office manager after his appointment with a dentist named Crentist… after his hilarious dude hug, he later forces Schrute to wear a sign that says “Liar.”
>> Watch the clip on NBC.com

13. Michael starts a Cafe Disco
After leaving the Michael Scott Paper Company to return to Dunder Mifflin, he used his old office space to be a combination dance party venue and coffeehouse for him to escape work once in a while.

12. “I… declare… bankruptcy!”

11. Michael kisses Oscar after his gay witch hunt
This scene was improvised — Carell wasn’t supposed to kiss his outed employee, but he did and it’s easily one of the 10 most unforgettable moments on the show.

10. Which Asian girl is Michael’s date?
After picking up two girls at a Japanese restaurant, Michael marks one of their arms with a pen so he can remember which one is supposed to be his date.

9. The Dundies
Best. Awards. Show. Ever.

8. “Booze Cruise” Motivational Dance
It’s a toss-up between this and his speech about how the ship is sinking for best moment of the episode. Okay, maybe it’s a three-way tie with “I’m king of the world!”

7. Michael vs. Toby
“I hate so much about everything you choose to be.” He just wanted to have a kickass Casino Night, yo.

6. Scott cooks his foot on a Foreman Grill
“I like to wake up in the morning to the smell of bacon.”

5. Threat Level Midnight
The Michael Scarn movie is finally realized, and it was even funnier than I imagined. Extra thumbs up to Jim playing “Goldenface.”

4. Michael hits Meredith with his car
It’s okay, it actually ended up saving her from the “incurable” disease of rabies. Of every season-opener, this was by far the single best moment.

3. Prison Mike
In Season 3, Michael got a little jealous of the attention that one of his new employees from the Stamford branch was getting when they found out he had a prison record. Scott’s solution? To scare people straight with his own prison experiences.

2. “That’s what she said!”
There are countless TWSS moments on the show, but the best one had to have been when Scott told his employees he was retiring from comedy over concerns of sexual harassment. Jim made it hard. (That’s what she said.)

1. Michael Scott vs. Michael Scott
When he waited to find out if Holly was engaged to her New Hampshire branch boyfriend, he recorded two videos to help him get through the result. One was a sad Michael to talk him out of killing himself. The other, the one we got to see, was a happy Michael that talked back at himself and danced along in a ridiculously awesome moment. Two Michaels are better than one.

By the way, Steve Carell grew up in Acton, Massachusetts — my hometown — and attended school in Concord, the next town over. (Sigh.) I’m going to miss him, but I’m still optimistic the show will be good after he leaves. But, as the 20 clips above show, it’s hard to imagine life at Dunder Mifflin without Michael Scott.