Nonconfrontational Arguments, Episode 2: Texting While Walking

On the second episode of America’s most passive aggressive podcast, Gotti and Boomka discuss texting while walking, math failures and a quack doctor in the East Village.

Also, Derika Jaffe makes a special guest appearance to discuss her Jewish Girl of the Week Award.

Click to listen:


Nonconfrontational Arguments, Episode 1

On the inaugural episode of Nonconfrontational Arguments, Gotti and Boomka discuss the perils, trap doors and awkwardness that results from talking to strangers. Click the link below to learn just how uncomfortable two young adults can really be in social situations!

Click to listen:

The Crazy Things I’ve Done to Help My Sports Teams Win

Sports fans are superstitious. This is not new. I am not writing something revolutionary. We do a lot of things as fans with the belief that our actions will transcend the boundaries of a stadium, television or radio (or Twitter updates). This can be explained by the psychological phenomenon called Magic Thinking. As future clinical psychologist Paula Freedman explained to me, magical thinking is the belief that actions can illogically affect the outcome of another event.

I engage in these crazy rituals all of the time while watching my teams play, thinking my actions will help Northwestern, the Ravens, the Orioles and any of my fantasy baseball players succeed. If I take a step back and look at things rationally, I know my actions are beyond absurd, with insanity not far out of the equation.

I’ve done a lot of crazy things with the belief that my teams would benefit from my sacrifices. Below is a list of many of those actions I have taken in the name of victory:


  1. Watched a game in the same place on a couch continuously
  2. Stayed in the same position while watching a game
  3. Stayed frozen in my same spot in the same position for well over an hour at a time
  4. Checked Twitter during every commercial break
  5. Refused to check my phone for an entire game
  6. Checked text messages religiously throughout a game
  7. Let text messages go unanswered throughout a game
  8. Worn the same shirt for every game (washing it in between games)
  9. Worn the same shirt for every game (not washing it in between games)
  10. Eaten the same food prior to each game
  11. Chewed a fingernail and kept it in my mouth for long periods of time (gross, I know)
  12. Kicked friends out of a room while I’m watching a game because they were “bad luck”
  13. Repeated the same sentence in my head before each play (sentence varied)
  14. Made deals with a higher-being that I would later retract postgame
  15. Held in urine for unhealthy amounts of time
  16. Tried to urinate during every commercial break
  17. Changed clothing when something bad happened to my team
  18. #17  includes underwear
  19. Muted the sound during a game even though the sound was not annoying me
  20. Reorganized countless aspects of the room in which I was watching the game
  21. Taken a shower in the middle of a game to wash away the bad luck
  22. Watched the game in complete darkness because things were going well
  23. Parked my car in a certain spot before the game
  24. Moved my car in the middle of a game if my team was losing
  25. Listened to certain bands before the game
  26. Made sure that band was playing on my ipod even if I didn’t listen to music before the game
  27. Thought about what it would be like for my team to win in the middle of the game
  28. Thought about what it would be like for my team to lose in the middle of the game
  29. Yelled at myself for thinking about the outcome in the middle of the game
  30. Turned my back on the TV during commercial breaks
  31. Watched each commercial as if it were the bottom of the 9th in Game 7 of the World Series
  32. Changed the channel during commercial breaks
  33. Covered my face during big plays
  34. Stood on one foot for big plays
  35. Stood during big plays, but on two feet
  36. Changed the temperature in the room
  37. Made the temperature uncomfortable just to help my team win
  38. Browsed the Internet during the game to help my team win
  39. Turned my computer off and placed it in another room during the game
  40. Just placed the computer on sleep
  41. Gone through the same routine prior to each game- meal, clothing, actions
  42. Shaved on gameday
  43. Let my beard (stubble) grow until after the game
  44. Clapped the same number of times before a play
  45. Clapped the same number of times after a good play
  46. Drank a sip of water at specific intervals during a game
  47. Gathered the same group of friends to watch a game
  48. Worried that my team would lose when one of the friends could not watch the game
  49. Repeated phrases such as “Come on, let’s go” before a string of plays
  50. If my team wins: Remember every action I took, food/drink I consumed and article of clothing I won for the next game
  51. If my team loses: Take all of the above and throw it out the window, figuratively and, in some cases, literally

Things I cannot do well…

In light of a recent experience in which I ended up massacring a mango with a butter knife, I have decided to compile a list of all the day-to-day activities in which I feel inadequate. This way, everyone will know which of my traits to exploit, while I can attempt to better myself, one pathetic task at a time. If any of you are embarrassed for me after reading this list, just think about how I feel compiling it.

Ready? OK!

Andrew’s List of things at which he’s not too competent…

  1. Cutting mango
  2. Singing with a falsetto that doesn’t sound like my voice just cracked
  3. Continuing to increase the amount of weight I lift
  4. Using apostrophes when writing contractions
  5. Refraining from talking over someone while on the phone with them
  6. Saying no to peer pressure
  7. Texting on my iPhone
  8. Finishing books
  9. Chugging beer
  10. Talking to random girls at a bar
  11. Chugging beer and then immediately talking to random girls at a bar
  12. Regularly writing blog posts/recording podcasts
  13. Making definitive decisions on whether or not to pee in the middle of the night
  14. Playing video games
  15. Playing Angry Birds
  16. Keeping an orange peel in one piece while removing
  17. Getting rid of the “orange hands” smell
  18. Timing whether or not to walk across the street when the “don’t walk” hand is blinking
  19. Using scissors in an efficient manner
  20. Removing the plastic tags from clothing with my hands
  21. Removing the plastic tags from clothing with scissors
  22. Drying clothing for the proper amount of time
  23. Keeping clothing from wrinkling, even after folding/hanging
  24. Seeing movies I “keep meaning to see.”
  25. Having cash on me when I really need it
  26. Using Bank of America ATMs instead of ATMs with $32409834098324 fees
  27. Using mechanical pencils
  28. Not hitting the snooze button
  29. Sorting recycling in NYC
  30. Ironing
  31. Getting rid of cramps while running
  32. Remembering to use cherry tomatos after purchasing them
  33. Resisting ice cream
  34. Keeping my self-esteem at a high level after making a list of the things at which I’m not good
  35. Keeping in touch with old friends
  36. Deciding whether or not to give a homeless person money
  37. Speaking up for myself
  38. Being confrontational when necessary
  39. Walking on sidewalks without tripping
  40. Saying no to people soliciting on the street for organizations like Greenpeace
  41. Writing legibly
  42. Motivating myself to be a morning person
  43. Packing
  44. Unpacking
  45. Refraining from overpacking
  46. Arriving at the airport without too much time to wait for boarding
  47. Keeping my shoes tied
  48. Refraining from biting my nails
  49. Reading e-mails in the middle of the night
  50. Not making impulsive purchases
  51. Quoting movies
  52. Remembering the names of actors/actresses/directors
  53. Singing lyrics correctly
  54. Anything handy- drilling, hammering, using power tools
  55. Constructing anything from IKEA
  56. Shaving my neck
  57. Checking Twitter too often
  58. Remembering to defrost meat
  59. Bringing lunch to work
  60. Eat avocado or guacamole and not getting the chills
  61. Drinking orange juice
  62. Not smearing while handwriting with pens or markers
  63. Not following through completely on seemingly good ideas
  64. Waterskiing
  65. Tying balloons…have never successfully tied one in my life
  66. Walking up an escalator going down
  67. Skateboarding
  68. Diving with any sort of noticeable form
  69. Operating on just a few hours of sleep
  70. Falling asleep while people are talking
  71. Sleeping through loud events/noises
  72. Leaving personal belongings in public places
  73. Cutting myself off after lists go on for too long…
  74. Just kidding
  75. Heading a ball in soccer
  76. Dropping it like it’s hot
  77. Dribbling with my right hand
  78. Finding sunglasses that fit my face
  79. Wearing sunglasses while doing activities that require looking into the sun
  80. Keeping my foot from falling asleep
  81. Washing dishes the night after using them
  82. Keeping headphones in good, working order
  83. Sending birthday/holiday cards
  84. Making lists that reach 100…

From Woody Allen’s Paris to the Pressbox: Part 2

Immediately upon accepting WNUR’s invitation to broadcast the women’s lacrosse Final Four, I felt a touch of anxiousness.

Admittedly, I had only followed Northwestern lacrosse from a distance all season long. Because of an unhealthy obsession with Twitter, I had received updates throughout the year on the team’s progress from Northwestern’s Athletic Department. Yet, having hardly seen the team play for more than a handful of minutes, combined with the fact that I had not called a lacrosse game since one year prior, I was very much self-aware of the potential for rust.

Since starting my broadcasting career as a freshman, I had never gone as long a time between broadcasting games as I had to this moment. The last game I broadcasted was a basketball game for the University of St. Francis in December, 2010. Much had changed since that time: I moved to a new city, the weather turned nice, I took a new job and I turned a few shades tanner (still working on the latter change. It’s a work in progress).

I had no idea whether the whole “it’s just like riding the bike” cliche would apply in this situation. Sure, I have done a little bit of podcasting in between. And yes, my job requires me to “broadcast” to clients on a daily basis about my company’s technology. But when the whistle blew, and play began, how would I handle it? Would I freeze up as if I had never done this in my life? Would I stumble over my words, forget to give location descriptions, repeat adjectives and verbs and forget the names of the players? Why was I bugging out/freaking out/worrying about this?

As the week progressed, and I got back into the flow of preparation for the game, I snapped out of my natural Jewishy-worrying state. I said to myself: “Hey! Andrew! Or Gotti, as many call you! Why don’t you cut your worrying crap and get ready for the game! Stop worrying about the worst-case scenario! Because when you screw up on Friday, you’re only going to have yourself to blame for not being prepared!

Apparently, my inner monologue speaks in many exclamation marks. I was just as surprised about it as you probably are.

After my internal struggle concluded, it was time to begin the preparation for the weekend’s games. On Tuesday, I called into a teleconference in which the Final Four coaches answered questions from the media. I even stepped up to the plate and ask a few questions myself! Seriously! If you don’t believe me, look at this transcript from the conference. It makes me sound almost…articulate

Thus, having reacquainted myself as a member of the working media once again, I began the deliberate process of reacquainting myself with Northwestern lacrosse and North Carolina lacrosse.

Over the years, I have changed the way in which I prepare for games. Every broadcaster has his/her own style, and it takes a ton of trial and error to find the most efficient and helpful means by which to study and create a resource for the broadcast. For lacrosse games, I have used a manilla folder, Sharpees and a lot of small writing to create something like this to use as my spot chart:

It’s not the prettiest thing in the world (but look at how pretty that comforter on which it lays is!), but it gets the job done. Player number, name, position are all in big, bold letters. Below that lists the height, year and hometown for each athlete, and the right side displays statistics and other noteworthy nuggets that may or may not be used during a broadcast. I have found that many of  the stats and notes I learn in preparation for a game are never actually used during a broadcast. Yet, when there is a little something-something that is relevant to a situation in the game, and I can recite that note without hesitation and it provides extra color to the listener, I know my prep work is not for naught (tongue-twister).

After a long week of preparing for Friday’s matchup, the process of memorizing the names and numbers of each player began.

Google receives millions of searches each day. Of those searches, there is no doubt that the phrase “how do I get a photographic memory?” is entered into the search bar a number of times. Many of those searches probably originate from college students taking an art history class. But another large portion of those searches have probably come from me, the guy who does not have a very good memory. Thus, the process of memorizing names and numbers is never an easy thing for me. It takes many repetitions of player names and numbers, mostly out loud. And if you think I am crazy for repeating “number 8, Kara Mupo” over and over again until it finally sticks, well, you’re probably correct.

So if any of you have cracked the photographic memory code, I’m all ears. Or eyes. Whichever sense it uses, I’m willing to barter.

Coming up on Part 3: The Broadcasts and my return to the Press Box

From Woody Allen’s Paris to the Press Box: Part 1

While sitting in a small New York City movie theater on Sunday, May 22, watching Woody Allen’s masterpiece Midnight in Paris, my phone received an e-mail. It went unnoticed by me, while engrossed in Owen Wilson’s time-traveling dilemma of  Ernest Hemingway and Rachel McAdams, and only upon exiting the theater and plugging back into the circuit did I read an opportunity that immediately gave my week a kick-start.

The story begins a year earlier, in Towson, MD, which hosted the 2010 NCAA women’s lacrosse tournament. Northwestern faced Maryland in the championship game, and I was the lead broadcaster for Northwestern’s student radio station, WNUR. Having won five consecutive national championships, it was almost unfathomable that Northwestern would lose. Yet, when the dust had settled,  I found myself declaring Maryland the national champion with more than a pinge of disappointment in my voice.

That would be the last game I broadcasted for WNUR as a Northwestern student. I broadcasted several games the following fall and winter, mostly for the University of St. Francis, a small, NAIA school in Joliet, IL. Upon moving to New York City at the end of February, I assumed my days as a play-by-play broadcaster were essentially numbered.

Fast forward 51 weeks from the 2010 Final Four. While walking the streets of SoHo on a cloudy Sunday afternoon, I was mentioned in several tweets by good friend Aaron Morse, who said another broadcaster who I did not know, Mike Radomski, sounded like I did while calling a game. The three of us exchanged several messages, culminating with Morse telling Mike that I no longer was “in the broadcasting game.” My roommate, Fus, then asked whether I had completely given up on the broadcasting dream. He was of the opinion that anything I did to keep the broadcasting dream alive was a step in the right direction. The ensuing conversation took place about 6 hours before I read the e-mail.

The 2011 women’s lacrosse Final Four took place in Stony Brook, NY this year. Located on Long Island, Stony Brook is not the easiest trip from, well, anywhere. The tournament also happened to coincide with Dillo Day, Northwestern’s annual spring concert, which is generally one of the most anticipated days of the school year. Still, I was surprised to receive an e-mail from Seth Bernstein, Sports Director for WNUR, asking me to broadcast the Final Four games because only one staffer was able to fly out to New York for the weekend.

Eric Mayo was the only staffer able to make the trip, a WNUR Sports staffer who I knew very well. I found the tone of the e-mail requesting my assistance quite amusing. The station needed my help, yes, and they were very kind in asking for it. Yet, after so many unbelievable opportunities that I had while a student at Northwestern, from roaming the sidelines at the Horeshoe to broadcasting the Outback Bowl and a million broadcasts in between, I owed it to WNUR to help out.

But I didn’t need guilt or an “I owe you” to accept this offer. The itch to broadcast sports has never left me, like a mosquito bite from a super-mosquito. Sure, you can spray Benadryl mosquito spray on it and feel the itch subside momentarily, but it will eventually resurface. It just so happened that a giant backscratcher presented itself just as the itch reared its head.

I was going to call the 2011 women’s lacrosse Final Four. A chance to broadcast a national championship victory. But that meant I had a lot of work to do to get ready.

Stay tuend for Part 2: Prep work, learning a season and the broadcasts.

In the meantime, check out the audio from this weekend:

National Championship Highlights vs. Maryland

The National Championship Call

Semifinal Highlights vs. UNC

Final Four Women’s Lacrosse Highlights

After coming out of retirement to broadcast a thrilling national semifinal game between Northwestern and North Carolina for WNUR Sports, we’ve got highlights of my first lacrosse broadcast since last May.


Much love goes out to the WNUR crew for keeping me in mind and giving an old man like me a chance to relive his glory days.