1. 2014 Kentucky Derby

    This year I’m going to skip the preamble and go straight to my picks. One item of note however: I’ll be attending the sheep shearing festival at Blue Hill Stone Barns in the early afternoon. If the gambling gods are feeling benevolent, I expect to see some kind of event featuring a monkey riding a sheep. In accordance with the familiar proverb, “Aye the bare sheep is tamed by the monkey, all wagerer shall be wagering,” I plan to double my bets. Follow @rolfantlers for all updates related to this omen. 

    Worst Bet

    Some might call Harry’s Holiday (50-1) the Tiger Woods of Derby contenders. He was dominant early in his career, but has struggled more recently. Also, when this horse was married to Elin Nordgren, he slept with about a dozen different women.

    Show

    Samraat (15-1) wanted to remember his trip to the Kentucky Derby so he’s been “lifecasting” the experience. So far all this has amounted to is Samraat’s hoof smashing three iPhone’s while trying to take selfies.

    Place

    You might have seen Chitu (20-1) on a recent episode of House Hunters. If you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t remember an episode of House Hunters where a horse was looking for a starter home,” think harder. Don’t you remember that episode where a horse was the realtor? That’s right - Chitu was that realtor. (Fun Trivia: Chitu’s sire AP Indy appeared in Seabiscuit as “Seabiscuit’s Uncle.”)

    Win

    Handicapper’s don’t like Vicar’s in Trouble (30-1) despite winning two of his last three races.  Some argue that Vicar’s won his races against weak fields, while others don’t think he can go the distance. Most agree that Vicar’s looks pretty foolish when he races because his horse tongue hangs out the side of his horse mouth. Look past all of that. Vicar’s in Trouble is a fine horse and the best bet to win the Kentucky Derby.

    Summary

    Win: Vicar’s in Trouble

    Place: Chitu

    Show: Samraat

    Prior Year Results

    2013 Prediction/(Actual Finish)

    Win: Normandy Invasion (4)

    Place: Vyjack (18)

    Show: Revolutionary (3)

    Worst Bet: Frac Daddy (16)

    2012 Prediction/(Actual Finish)

    Win: Bodemeister (2)

    Place: Creative Cause (5)

    Show: Alpha (12)

    Worst Bet: Daddy Long Legs (20)

     

     

  2. Cold Whispers

    The air conditioning had lowered the temperature from normal to uncomfortable.

    “It’s so cold,” Julia whispered from across the room, tucking her hands under her arms for warmth. “Please, please could you turn the air off?” she begged.

    Jake looked over at Julia, sitting scrunched up and frozen on the sofa.

    Who could refuse such a plaintive request? Her cold pleas whispered because she’s too frigid to speak. Who could reject such charm, such devotion?  Darling Julia who had let him pick the movie. Who could ignore this cold whisper? Who can say no?

    For a moment, the only sound in the room was the air conditioner’s whirr.  

    “Jake can say no – that’s who,” thought Jake, and then, “Too bad Julia has such a dick for a boyfriend.”

    Julia kept shivering. 

     

  3. If I Were a Squirrel

    Some afternoons, when all the other guys on the crew have gone back to work, I like to lie around and think about what type of animal I’d like to be. There are lots of great animals out there, but hands down, the animal I always come back to is the squirrel. That’s what I’d be - squirrel. A squirrel with a cute scrunchy nose and a big fluffy tail; dancing up amongst the highest heights to deposit another acorn in my stash. Oh what a life – so simple, carefree, une vie insouciante – or in a word perfect.

    Then again, I could be one of those squirrels with rabies. I’ve heard a lot of squirrels pick that up somewhere along the way. 

     

  4. MISSED CONNECTIONS: Washington Square Park Meet Cute

    ME: I was sitting across from you and your friend on a bench in Washington Square Park, early evening Thursday.

    YOU: Noticed me checking you out (mentally undressing you?) After seeing me, you said to your friend, “That creep sitting across from us is weirding me out,” to which she replied, “Ohmigod, his hands are in his pants.” I don’t know if your friend was jealous because I was giving you all of the attention, but after that she said, “Let’s get out of here.”

    Both of you got up and left. After a moment, I decided to follow. (A game of cat and mouse!)

    I tracked you both across the park until you ducked into NYU’s Hayden Hall. I am legally banned from entering that building which is why I didn’t follow you inside to introduce myself. Is that your dorm?

    Anyway, now that we’ve had our “meet cute” maybe you’d be up for letting me take you out on a proper date in the park so I can undress you physically. If you’re interested, I will be waiting across the street from you dorm for the next few days.

    BTW: Let your friend know she shouldn’t be jealous; she was pretty fetching too. In fact, I’d be more than happy to physically undress her if she’s down. Who is she? Is she your roommate?

     

  5. Doug, Undefined

    Is there a word that means “entertaining others to keep yourself from getting bored by them?” If that word doesn’t exist, I think we should invent one. There are dozens of examples that explain this boredom avoiding ploy, but I think it’s easiest to start simple. I propose we call this maneuver “telling an amusing story so Doug doesn’t have a chance to tell you about his vacation.”

    Another similar maneuver that merits mention is less popular because it’s very high risk. Again, for the sake of simplicity, let’s just describe the concept as: “I’m going to tell Doug a profoundly tedious story with the hope that he will get bored and leave.” This tactic usually fails in the execution. And a failed execution leads to the undesirable result called “Doug hasn’t left.”

    Please note the subtle difference between the aforementioned tactics and the less confrontational “Let’s take off before Doug gets here and we have to ask him about his vacation” or letsgoasap.

     

  6. 2013 Kentucky Derby

    Gambling on horses is the least boring way to spend tomorrow afternoon. With that said, picking the right horse to bet on can be confusing.

    There are 21 entries in this year’s Kentucky Derby field. Random selection alone means the safest bet is that your bet will probably be wrong. And what if you don’t select randomly? The hordes of useless data in the racing forms only obfuscate the true ability of the animals. So how is a gambler expected to make sense of the Big Race?

    The only answer is drink as much bourbon as you possibly can. Winning horses do not reveal themselves to the timid or the sober. With this in mind, the prospective horse gambler has two options: 1.) Put on your best clothes tomorrow and get drunk like a gentleman, or 2.) Bet my picks because I’ve drank enough bourbon to make sense of the race for you.

    Now then, the most honest section of the horse gamblers cortex begs for less analysis and more luck. With deference to this desire, I will reduce the details of my handicap to a simple fact about each horse.

    Worst Bet

    Frac Daddy (50-1)

    Not only is this horse slow, but it’s stupid too. The best evidence of this stupidity is the remark he made after a recent trip to Amsterdam that “I think Anne Frank would have made a great jockey.”

    Show

    Revolutionary (10-1)

    The most radical leap in Revolutionary’s development as racehorse came when his trainer Todd Pletcher tweaked his running style. The results were immediate. After Pletcher convinced Revolutionary to stop running races upright on his hind legs, the horse started finishing in the money. Note: This is a good rule to remember for any race. Nothing that runs upright has ever beaten a horse. Not an ostrich. Not Shaquille O’Neal.

    Place

    Vyjack (15-1)

    Vyjack has appeared in a sex tape. Everybody knows this. If you’ve watched the tape though, one thing you might understand that everybody doesn’t is that you can now fairly describe yourself as a total pervert.   

    Win

    Normandy Invasion (12-1)

    The one comment horse people keep making about Normandy Invasion is that he “Is pretty chill for a horse.” I couldn’t agree more. It’s with this sangfroid that I expect Normandy Invasion to win the Kentucky Derby. 

     

  7. Excerpt from Neil Armstrong’s Will

    Space Pioneer Neil Armstrong died on August 25th, 2012. The following passage is an excerpt from Mr. Armstrong’s last will and testament:  

    “…and finally, let’s deal with the matter of the Moon. When I planted the American flag on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission, a lot of people assume I said, “Now America owns the Moon!” This assumption is a huge misconception and simply not true.

    What I actually said was, “Now Neil Armstrong owns the Moon!” When I planted that flag, I claimed ownership for myself. That is the holy truth: Neil Armstrong owns the Moon. And if I could have made it to the stars, Neil Armstrong would own those too.

    Now that my Moon ownership has been established, it must be said that I bequeath ownership of the Moon to my cat, Whisker Kitten, and definitely not to any of my grandchildren.”

     

  8. Q&A: How do Santa’s reindeer fly?

    image

    Santa Claus likes to joke that, “a good reindeer flies at the shadow of a whip,” but this answer is just Santa’s clever way of evading the question.

    The truth is that a standard reindeer, also known as caribou, cannot fly. This is a problem for Santa Claus since he only uses standard reindeer. As such, to get his reindeer to fly, Santa needs to give them a little something extra. This something extra comes in the form of “elf magic.”

    There are many ways dispense elf magic to a reindeer, but the quickest and easiest way to give reindeer elf magic is to feed them ground elf meat. Elf meat has high magic content and is readily available to Santa Claus. In addition to high magic content, elf meat has the benefit of being gluten free.

    Reindeer prefer gluten free food because just recently, they found out they have a gluten allergy. Incidentally, this allergy is something the reindeer never realized they had, even though now that they know they’re allergic, it makes total sense. 

     

  9. Thanksgiving No. 2

    Non-Traditional Turkey Stuffing Ideas

    Refried Beans

    Balloons Filled With Heroin

    Helium

    Obama’s Birth Certificate

    Regret

    Drunk Brother-in-Law’s Car Keys

    Butternut Squash Risotto

     

  10. Thanksgiving No. 1

    My favorite Thanksgiving memory is from my childhood. My entire extended family got together to celebrate the holiday at my Aunt Kay and Uncle Ted’s house.  

    That afternoon, a huge snow storm rolled through our area and everybody had to spend the night. I’ll admit the house was crowded, but it was really fun being around all five of my cousins.   

    The next morning, after breakfast, my cousins and I were playing a game where we took turns punching each other’s shoulders. I guess the game had got pretty loud because my Uncle Ted came in from the other room and shouted, “If you don’t stop this in the next 30 seconds, everybody is going to separate rooms!” Two seconds after Uncle Ted yelled at us, my cousin Paul gave my Uncle Ted the finger behind his back. This made us start to giggle. The giggling just made Uncle Ted angrier, but right as he was about to explode, the doorbell rang. Uncle Ted left to go answer the door.

    I don’t know why, but we all followed my Uncle Ted to the front door. When he opened the door, two kids from the poor neighborhood were standing on the steps. They told Uncle Ted they were going around to houses on the block shoveling driveways to make some extra money. Uncle Ted thanked the poor kids, but told them he didn’t need any help. After he shut the door, my Uncle Ted looked at all of the kids and called us “lazy brats.”

    As you might imagine, we were pretty embarrassed to be called “lazy brats.” It also made us kind of mad. So much so, that we stopped punching each other, got dressed and went outside.  

    Ten minutes later, when we were all outside, my cousins and I were able to track down those two poor kids on the next block over. When they saw us, my older cousin Tommy yelled, “Nobody wants you in this neighborhood dirt bags!” and all of the cousins laughed. I followed Tommy’s lead by shouting, “Get the fuck out of here!” That got a pretty good laugh too which made me feel great.

    To make a long story short, we ended up taking the shovels from those poor kids and chasing them back to their own neighborhood.

    Now that I’m older, when I look back on that snowy Thanksgiving, I always get a good feeling because not a lot of people can say their cousins always stick together. 

     

  11. Q&A: Conventional Wisdom


    Q: What are some examples of clichés or conventional wisdom that are actually not true?

    A: Unfortunately, there is a lot of conventional wisdom that is not only misleading and false, but potentially dangerous. For instance, take the saying, “Thyme heals all wounds.” Not only does thyme not heal all wounds, but if the wound is serious enough, trying to treat the wound with thyme could be life threatening. Indeed, if you are faced with a deep cut or other serious injury, contact a professional medical practitioner for the correct herbal treatment.

    On the other hand, the cliché “Thyme is money,” is excellent financial advice. Shrewd investors would be hard pressed to find a better long-term investment than thyme.