Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Costa Rican Vacation

My lovely girlfriend Natalie and I recently returned from a fantastic five-day vacation in Costa Rica. We spent the first two days and nights at the amazing Rafiki Safari Lodge nestled along the Savegre River, and the last three days and nights at Arenas del Mar—a resort hotel on the beach near Manuel Antonio National Park.
Here we present (in no particular order) the top ten best and six worst moments from our trip.
Ten Best
  1. Drinking beers at a commune-bar in the sleepy town of Il Silencio. This is very closely related to one of the worst/scariest moments of the trip. We stuck out like the non-palm oil plantation workers that we were… are.
  2. Eating a typical breakfast of rice and beans like every morning. Rice and beans (and hot sauce) for breakfast: Who knew!? The Ticas. That’s who.
  3. Riding horses to Giovanni’s (Rafiki’s chef) mom’s house in Santo Domingo where she had a very nice lunch set out for us. My horse (whose name was—ironically—“The Tank”) almost broke on the way home. I think he stepped on a jagged rock or something.

  4. Seeing monkeys from the golf cart path when we decided to not be lazy and walk down (rather than take a golf cart) to the beach from our hotel. There was a mama with babies on her back… and possibly a monkey fight. We were unable to get quality pictures.

  5. Swimming in the ocean and enjoying the beach in Manuel Antonio.

  6. Joining the “Ten Percent Club” at Rafiki. Legend has it that if you go down Rafiki’s 100-foot concrete water slide in the nude, you go 10% faster. I’m not sure if it’s true, but it was certainly fast. It was exhilarating, but I paid the price (more on that later).
  7. Seeing a sloth in a distant tree while eating at Agua Azul—the simplest and best restaurant in Manuel Antonio. We later went there for dinner. They had the best chicken fingers I’ve ever had in my life, and I’ve eaten a lot of chicken fingers. I love chicken fingers.

  8. This is actually several moments: Juan Carlos—our driver and whitewater rafting guide—was ├╝ber-excited to showcase the flora and fauna of his country. It was completely normal for him to pull the van off of the road to grab at a leaf (or a berry, or a twig, or a flower) for us to smell. He would earnestly try to explain to us the plant’s use (medicinal or other). During our final ride with Juan Carlos, I strapped on my earphones to listen to tunes and enjoy the scenery. When he would pull the van over, I became kind of annoyed in spite of myself. As I pulled off my earphones, I felt like saying, “What, Juan Carlos!? What is it now!? What does this berry do!?” But I didn’t. I listened and nodded. Natalie was better at feigning interest than I (or she was legitimately interested and I’m just a Philistine who enjoys listening to the Strokes while driving on Costa Rica’s back roads). In all honesty, I commented several times on the trip at how refreshing it is to see tour guides who really care about what they are showing off. They were all so proud.
  9. The warm welcome we received at Rafiki. We were starving, slightly traumatized, and generally mixed up upon arrival. I had the pork loin, Natalie the calamari.

  10. Sitting on our balcony after arriving at Arenas del Mar: enjoying a typical afternoon rain shower and drinking blended mojitoish drinks that we spiked with Bacardi that we brought with us in tiny plastic bottles. Later, we went to dinner and then bought six diet Cokes (to mix with the bottle of Bacardi Reserve [we bought while shopping at the Sky Mall on US Airways]), baked Goldfish© crackers (original flavor), and mixed nuts. The electricity went out in the supermarket for a brief moment before we left.

Six Worst
  1. Almost getting washed off of the road and into the Savegre River before our vacation even really began. Just a few kilometers from Rafiki, we encountered a road that was overrun by rapidly flowing water. Our driver—Juan Carlos—almost went for it. He got halfway and then turned back to us and said, “We cannot make it.” So we headed back to the last town—Il Silencio—and kicked it for a bit. Later, Juan Carlos used an alternative route and Constance—the owner of Rafiki—met us along the way and picked us up in a 4x4 truck. The road up to Rafiki was BAD—narrow and flanked on both sides by cliffs that plunged down hundreds of feet. Our relief was short-lived when we began to question; first, Constance’s driving skills and—eventually—his sobriety. Long story short, we made it.
  2. The guilt we felt after practicing unsustainable tourism and pretty much ruining Manuel Antonio’s ecosystem by feeding an Iguana four baked Goldfish© crackers (original flavor) from our balcony. On the bright side, he really seemed to enjoy them and was back the next day at roughly the same time. He may still be there… waiting for his free meal. We hope he’s learned to fend for himself again.

  3. Not seeing any animals after paying $10 (each) to walk around Manuel Antonio National Park. We did see a lot of Halloween Crabs, but that’s about it.

  4. Getting an accidental enema after joining the “Ten Percent Club” at Rafiki. Since I went down the slide naked and at night, I was unable to clench during impact. This resulted in water shooting up into my deuce. This was very uncomfortable. I’m still trying to figure out what club membership entitles me to.
  5. Feeling like we weren’t going to get home after our passports (and my iPhone) became permanently locked in our hotel room’s safe. Fortunately, the hotel had a contingency plan: to break out a huge drill bit and annihilate the safe. It wasn’t our fault… seriously. We remembered (and remember) the code. It was 2905. I couldn’t shake the feeling that they harbored resentment toward us for forgetting the code. But we didn’t! The thing just broke! Seriously…
  6. Smelling the breath on the guy sitting next to me on the final flight we had to take to get home (from Charlotte to Washington DC). It was so bad that when he ate his mini pretzels, I was relieved that it began to smell like poop covered in pretzels.

Over all, it was an amazing experience.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ten Facts You Will Not Find under a Nantucket Nectars Cap

  1. In the winter, Dead Horse Valley is the best place on the island to sled. In the summer, it’s the best place to kill horses.
  2. According to Census 2000, 4.1% of Nantucket residents speak Spanish (98% of whom clean homes for a living).
  3. Betsy Anderson’s Bearded Collie “Rooter” was commonly known as the mascot of the Nantucket Antheneum (until he had to be put down in 2006 after biting a Japanese tourist).
  4. Juice guys Tom and Tom both lost their virginity near Hummock Pond on the same night... to each other.
  5. Sankaty Head Lighthouse was the site of a gruesome triple murder in 2004. Neither a motive nor a suspect was ever found.
  6. The Nantucket Historical Association Whaling Museum is one of the most boring museums in the country.
  7. During the 2007 filming of The Nanny Diaries, two local teenagers totally saw Scarlett Johansson outside of the Nantucket Bake Shop.
  8. Legend has it Nantucket’s municipal cemetery is haunted. It’s also where local legend-fabricators gather to drop acid.
  9. “Nantucket” means “The Grey Lady” in Algonquian. Shortly after learning this, European settlers finished up eradicating the island of all natives.
  10. Emily Cisneros grew up on Brant Point. She’s a huge bitch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wade Boggs Lore: True or False?

a) In 1996, Wade Boggs helped the Yankees to their first World Series title in 18 years. It was the first (and only) World Series title earned by Boggs. He memorably celebrated by jumping on the back of an NYPD horse and touring the field with His index finger in the air—despite His self-professed fear of horses.

b) Shortly after his election to the Hall of Fame, in a televised appearance Boggs refuted an urban legend that He had once consumed 64 beers on a cross-country flight from Boston to Los Angeles. He did not divulge the actual number of beers consumed, but did admit to having “a few Miller Lites.”

c) Boggs once hit a chopper to short so hard that it went back in time and was fielded by Honus Wagner... in Pittsburgh. Boggs beat the throw to first.

d) Boggs once broke up a domestic dispute at Fenway. A drunken fan was beating on his wife in the 48th row behind home plate. Boggs' keen sense of hearing picked up on the situation, and He intentionally fouled back a 1-1 split-finger fastball. The man was pronounced dead when they found his head in the peanut guy's box (thirty feet away). When Boggs was asked later if He was sorry, He responded, "Yeah, I'm sorry... Sorry I didn't hit for the cycle today."

e) Boggs ate chicken before every game (Jim Rice once called him "chicken man"), woke up at the same time every day, took exactly 150 ground balls in practice, took batting practice at 5:17, and ran sprints at 7:17.

f) During his playing days, Boggs regularly underwent exploratory surgery to confirm that He was man—not machine. During the final surgery before His retirement, they discovered that His bones were made of adamantium.

g) When asked by a female reporter during an on-camera interview why He decided to go professional in only one sport, Boggs answered, "So that I would have ample time for the ladies, of course." Immediately after answering this question, Boggs made earth-shattering love to the reporter. The resulting video went on to be the bestselling adult film of all time, and the child sired by the encounter was LeBron James.

h) Boggs claimed that His at-bats improved when longtime mistress Margo Adams attended games while not wearing underwear.

i) Recently, Boggs was late-night channel surfing when He came across an episode of "Walker Texas Ranger" on TNT. After thirty seconds, He dismissed the show as "kids stuff," threw in a VHS tape of Game 6 of the 1996 World Series, and asked one of the seven bikini-clad ladies in the room to go down on Him. Later, He went to bed and slept for three days.

j) Boggs never wanted to retire from baseball, rather; the homoeroticism directed at Him in the Devil Rays' locker room became too much for Him to handle. He now happily resides in Tampa, Florida where—for fun—He uses telekinesis to lift heavy objects.

k) Boggs drew the Hebrew word "Chai," meaning "life," in the batter's box before each at-bat, though He is not Jewish.

l) One day—many years ago—Boggs decided to purchase a Corvette. He put on his cape, flew over to the dealership, and picked out a red convertible. When asked how He wanted to pay for the car, He leaned in a whispered something in the salesman's ear. That man went on to invent the iPod (and Boggs went on to shatter the land speed record, pushing His Corvette to 764 mph while running late for batting practice one day).

m) Recently, to win a bet, Boggs called a woman back 50 years* after getting her number to see if she'd remember Him. It turned out that the woman had been dead for several years, but she answered the phone anyway, and was enthusiastic to go on a date. Though not necessarily opposed to sleeping with the un-dead, Boggs refrained in favor of going out for beers with Chris Farley, Joe DiMaggio, and Jack Arute. *Boggs is 49 years old.

n) A 2006 Gallup poll found that 3.6 million people worldwide celebrate Christmas on June 15—the day that in 1958 Boggs sprang forth from His mother. Contrary to popular belief, this was NOT a virgin birth. Approximately nine months earlier, events were set in motion that changed our world forever when Boggs' mother had irresponsible anger-sex with her then boyfriend Bruce Banner.

o) A Red Sox coach once attempted to use a radar gun to clock Boggs' bat speed. With eight weighted donuts on His bat, Boggs took a practice swing while the coach attempted to calibrate the gun. Before exploding in the coach's hand, the gun briefly flashed the infinity symbol. Boggs picked up the coach's severed hand, dusted it off, and saying, "Go in peace, my son," miraculously reattached it.

p) Boggs once impregnated a woman by calling her sexy. What's most amazing is how good she looked immediately after having a hysterectomy.

True (according to Wikipedia): a, b, e, h, and k.
False*: c, d, f, g, i, j, l, m, n, o, and p.

*As of May 14, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

MSNBC: Depressed Teens More Likely to Try Pot

MSNBC has really busted things wide open with this story.
I am going to spend the rest of the day trying to pitch them on some other really awesome story leads:
"Fashion-forward and/or motorcycle-enthusiastic teens more likely to try cigarettes."
"Baseball-playing teens more likely to try chewing tobacco."
"Wealthy teens more likely to try cocaine."
"Club-going teens more likely to try ecstasy."
"Completely normal teens likely to try alcohol."
"Halitosis-crippled teens more likely to try Binaca."
"Heavy teens more likely to try Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream."

Ways to Kill Two Birds with One Stone

1) Strap down both birds with twine. Strike Bird 1 in head with stone. Strike Bird 2 in head with same stone.
2) Break large stone in half with large hammer. Throw first half at Bird 1 as hard as you can. Throw second half at Bird 2 as hard as you can. Repeat as necessary.
3) Force Bird 1 to ingest stone. Wait for death. With a scalpel, remove stone from carcass of Bird 1. Strike Bird 2 in head with same stone.
4) Using a slingshot, fire stone at Bird 1. Recover stone from yard, making sure it's the original stone. Strike Bird 2 in head with same stone.

Conversation I Just Recalled from My First Trip to the Dermatologist

Receptionist: So what are you here to see the doctor regarding?
Very Insecure Teenage Tobias: Uh… My complexion.
Receptionist: Your complexion or your acne?
VITT: Uh... My acne.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

McSweeney's WILL Publish Me, So Help Me God...

I think McSweeney's lists are hilarious. If you don't know about them, do yourself a favor: check out the link and take ten minutes to sample a few.

Anyhow, about a week ago, I decided that I wanted to create my own list and get it published. The first one I wrote was--admittedly--not that funny and got straight up rejected. In hindsight, I was a bit overexcited and hasty. My second effort was a bit more thoughtful. Unfortunately, it too was rejected--bringing my record to 0 and 2. On the bright side, this time, Chris the Listmaster offered the following pseudo-encouraging words:

Hi, Tobias -
This one is fun, but I'm afraid we're not going to use it. Hope you'll keep trying.

It's a soft-no, and I'll take it. Mark my words, Chris: I WILL keep trying.

Until then, here's the list that almost made it:

How Four Out of Five Dentists Explain the Fifth Dentist

Dentist One (out of five): “He just loves being difficult.”
Dentist Two (out of five): “This guy is walking proof of how powerful the pro-tooth decay lobby really is.”
Dentist Three (out of five): “I’d ask him what his deal is, but his breath reeks of fish sticks.”
Dentist Four (out of five): “He’s just trying to get back at us for quadruple-teaming his wife.”

More on this story as it develops...