Sweet Nothings

A Goodbye to Seymour High

I was only a couple of weeks into my full-on career change from journalism to education when I got home from Seymour High one day in September. I walked into the kitchen, dropped my bag on the counter, and I stared with bewilderment at nothing in particular while one thought dominated my mind.

What the hell am I doing?

I didn’t know what to do during classes. I was frustrated with all the immaturity. I had 650 names I wanted to learn but it wasn’t happening. And I earned a whole zero dollars a day trying to juggle all that with a full load of graduate work.

But now, as I sit here writing this post the morning after my first group of seniors graduated, I can’t help but think much differently than I did about nine months ago.

I’m so happy I did this.

Continue reading A Goodbye to Seymour High

About That Time I Won Powerball … on Twitter

Powerball’s $1.5 billion jackpot brought out the very best in this world — and my ability to be a hilariously dickish, deadpan prankster with a knack for Photoshop.

I decided a few hours before the Powerball drawing Wednesday night that I was going to make social media believe I’d just hit the big one. So I took a selfie — sounds gross now that I read it back to myself — with the ticket I actually bought. I thought it would be very important for me to actually be holding the ticket with at least part of my face in it. Gotta sell believability, and boy, my face is believable (among other things)!

I loaded the photo into my computer and dialed it up in Photoshop. I saw that it was going to work perfectly, since A) the flash on the camera washed out most of the background color on my ticket, and B) I had eight of the 10 possible digits on my card (and, of course, you can just flip a six upside down to make a nine).

I transcribed the numbers as that way-overdressed dude in Florida — why in the hell does he need to be wearing a tuxedo to read a few balls? — gave me six numbers that, of course, were not on my ticket. Not important. I typed those babies into Notepad, ordered them and got to work.

Speed was key. If I waited even an hour, it would have lost its potential oomph.

I originally planned on posting it with a bunch of exclamation points — I imagine if I’d actually won, I’d have no real words (and certainly wouldn’t be posting to social media) — just to Facebook to dupe friends. I decided to open it up to Twitter as a social experiment (read: late-night self-amusement). That turned out to be a good decision.

I don’t remember who Retweeter Zero was, but God bless him or her. Here are some of my favorite tweets that came in shortly afterwards.

I gained many cousins of different races.

(Not really clear on the whole “peanut daughter” thing.)

That’s some damned good tan retention by this white guy, yeah? Anyway, props to this guy for not settling with the cousin bit.

This is a good time to say that I had to whip out Urban Dictionary a few times during this whole charade. Turns out “wybo” is (or at least was in 2008) “an exuberant and strident indication of excitement or joy.” Wybo, indeed.

I also had more interest from ladies than I have for basically my entire life.

… and interest from a non-lady.

I had a lot of folks who really wanted me to turn on my geotag so they could see where I live. (In my Twitter bio, I make no bones about the fact that I’m from Beacon Falls, Conn.)

I saw numerous robbery and criminal references, some of which have been deleted by kids who probably realized they shouldn’t joke about that these days.

(That was one of the tweets that got a hearty laugh out of me.)

This brings us to my second visit to Urban Dictionary. “Finna” is an “abbreviation of ‘fixing to.’ Normally means ‘going to.’” That’s pretty much what I figured.

Moving on … two different ladies offered their bank account numbers to me.

I did not take up either on their offers.

Anyway, this guy was really mad that I could have won $1.5 billion without any real effort.

This guy isn’t really sure how Powerball works.

These ladies were saying something.

OK, back to Urban Dictionary! I had to check to see if “big head” meant anything in particular, or if they just thought my head was big because of the close-up. It seems more like they think I was full of myself because I allegedly won. Oh well. I did, though, find out that “wyd” simply means “what you doing?

I decided to turn off my direct messages for people I wasn’t following because it looked as though it might have gotten wild. (In hindsight, I wish I’d left them on. That would have been thoroughly memorable.)

Anyway, before I flipped that switch, this gentleman slid in.


Some very nice folks lent me their advice on how to proceed with life.

My name would have been all over the place, I tell you.

All of that mostly happened within the first half-hour or so. I pretty quickly realized that I was going to have to call off the dogs a lot earlier than I’d planned. Actually, things didn’t go over on Facebook as well as I thought they might. All the gullible old people were already sleeping; a lot of the younger folks know my penchant for shenanigans. I got a few, but Twitter was the gold mine.

Still, I came clean.

Some people responded with the equivalent of “say it ain’t so!”

This fellow was not happy at all.

(I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure by “FUCKS” he means “white guys who know how to use Photoshop.”)

Once nice girl saw people starting to call me names in anger over their wool-covered eyes and came to cheer me up.

A few folks were so impressed by my Photoshopping that they’d like to use my services (though I’m not sure either realizes what’s happening).

Some news reporter out in Oklahoma City got in on the game.

One fellow was very conflicted on his race relations.

This all brings me to my new friend Austin Calhoun, who experienced a true roller coaster of emotions as this all played out in front of him.

Thanks, Austin. Go ‘Dawgs.

Finally, here are just some funny things I saw (and tweeted myself).

Thank you, YouKnowNothnNickey.

This should be a fun next few days while my phone buzzes off the hook. People will retweet anything, you know.


Sunday Six, Fitness for Regular Folks Debut at Rep-Am

One of the fun parts of being a sportswriter is that there are plenty of opportunities to do some fun stuff. Believe it or not, getting paid to watch and write about sports isn’t always the fun that some folks might make it out to be. So when we get chances to do something different, we have to take advantage.

Over the last few months, I’ve launched a couple of new weekly features for my newspaper, the Republican-American, and our website. They’re fun.

The first one is called the Sunday Six, which shockingly runs Sunday mornings on our commentary page (as well as a section on one of our blogs). Our world — at least the media world — is overrun by lists these days, and I’d be damned if I didn’t get involved myself. So every weekend, I choose a (usually timely) topic and rank the top six items of that topic. A podcast on our website accompanies each list with some debate among weekly guests.

I try to stay away from the trite, mainstream nonsense that usually pollutes sports cable TV — you know, top six quarterbacks and top six free agents and that sort of stuff — but rather have a little fun with things. My debut piece was about the six worst fashion statements in sports, and since then I’ve tackled topics such as short tempers, WrestleMania matches, fruit and Garth Brooks.

Yep, that’s right: I get outside the sports world in the sports section. Now that’s having fun.

The newest of the two features is called Fitness for Regular Folks, a weekly column in which I share some insight on how a regular guy like me has gone about getting back into some shape. (I’m down about 70 pounds from my peak weight thanks to P90X and good eating, among other things.)

I don’t claim to be an expert, but I often see fitness articles written from that expert point of view and sometimes experience a little bit of a disconnect. My goal is to share some of the tips I’ve picked up (mostly by myself) and what’s worked for me. I also produce a short video to accompany each column.

Between the Sunday Six and Fitness for Regular Folks, I’ve got a couple of regular features for our newspaper that go beyond the ordinary types of stories we often see that might only pander to small segments of our audience. It’s all about giving people content to which they can relate, right? (Not that they can relate to me. I’m weird. But still.)

Remembering Roger Brennan

Over the years, I’d see people mark the anniversaries of their parents’ or grandparents’ deaths — nowadays, mostly on Facebook — and almost invariably the remembrances included something to the effect of, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you,” or “I miss you more every day.” I used to roll my eyes a little bit at those words. They’re just being dramatic, I used to think to myself.

I want to take back all my private eye rolls.

Today is the first anniversary of the passing of my grandfather, Roger Brennan. It’s not as though today caught me by surprise — our family has talked about it here and there over the last few weeks — but it just seems impossible that it’s been a whole year since it all happened.

Have there been days when I haven’t thought of my grandpa? Yeah, probably. But they’ve been few and far between. Now I get it.

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The Animated Grinch Is 1,000 Times Better Than Its Remake

I just want to make sure we’re clear on this.

I was brought up in a household that held “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” — yes, the original animated version released in 1966 — as sacred during the Christmas season. I’m glad my dad made sure I watched this several times a year throughout my formative years so that I couldn’t be corrupted by the 2000 live-action remake with Jim Carrey.

That’s not to say Carrey’s version was bad or anything, because it was OK. But there will never be a live-action remake of an animated Christmas special that will ever be as good as the original. Ever.

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