Welcome to Top 5 Fun Friday, a regularly-occurring blog feature where I give you a list of extremely specific pointless shit from my life no one asked for. Why? Because the internet is STILL incredibly un-fun in 2021 and I enjoy blogging. It’s Friday and these will be fun! This week’s list…
Top 5 Favorite Things That Have No Silver Medal
I don’t think I’m ever going to come up with a better list than this one. If you read that boilerplate intro up top, I promise to give you “a list of extremely specific pointless shit from my life no one asked for.” The following list is the apotheosis of that promise.
This list is dedicated to those things you love in categories you couldn’t possibly care less about. Categories in which one thing stands so far above the rest, everything else is basically tied for second place, or for which there is no actual second place. These are preferences so specific, you couldn’t rank anything else in the category because you probably haven’t dedicated any brainpower to their contemporaries.
In short, this is the weirdest shit I’ve thought of that I couldn’t possibly fit into any other list, even if I wanted to. And before you ask, no I was not able to come up with this list off the top of my head the way some of these other lists have been birthed into existence. When I thought of the first one, I knew I had to expand this list, so I kept a note in my phone that I’d add to every time a new entry sprung to mind. I’m not going to clue you into how long getting five entries actually took, let’s just say you could have missed a period when I thought of this concept, and had a newborn infant by the time I finished it.
I realize this explanation might not make any sense until you start reading the items, so let’s do that.
Favorite Runway: Jackson Hole, WY
Make sense now? Unless you were a commercial airline pilot and your job entailed thinking about runways professionally, why would you ever have a favorite runway? In terms of the experience of sitting somewhere in the nondescript rows of uncomfortable chairs covered in shitty upholstery inside this metal tube, pretty much every runway is going to be exactly the same.
What makes Jackson Hole different is that the airport is situated right in the middle of Grand Tetons National Park and sits right at the foot of the goddamn Grand Teton Mountains. No landing is more gorgeous, no approach more exciting, and, if memory serves, you have to deplane onto the runway and walk outside to get to the terminal. It’s an instant and immediate notification that you’ve now arrived in one of the most beautiful places on earth and it starts in earnest before you’ve even landed. I’m excited thinking about it right now, and I don’t even have any plans to go to Jackson Hole.
I’d like to give a small Honorable Mention to the approach into San Diego where it feels like you’re flying between skyscrapers downtown like Spiderman or some shit, but once you land, the view becomes like that of every other jerkoff airport at which you’ve ever landed. Just industrial buildings and warehouses and concrete. Jackson Hole has a stately glass terminal on one side, and majestic fucking mountains and nature on the other. Unreal.
Favorite Croutons: The croutons on the Caesar Salad at Oblio’s Pizzeria
Full disclosure: I love all croutons. I’ve made my own croutons, and once almost started a fire in my kitchen because I used too much oil and forgot about them in the oven. I had an evil genius friend at my high school in Texas who, when we’d go into Denny’s, would order stuff that wasn’t on the menu like whipped cream and cherries and a bowl of croutons to see if and what they’d charge us for it. Frequently this stuff was free. I’ll eat the garbage generic brand ones from the grocery store out of the bag as a snack. All croutons are fine-to-good.
But standing alone atop Crouton Mountain are the ones from Oblio’s Pizzeria in Park Hill. Why? They make ‘em the same way and out of the same stuff as their pizza crust. I hadn’t realized their pizza crust tasted distinctive to me until I ate these croutons, and now I could pick them out of a crouton lineup, which sounds like some dumb shit George Costanza would contrive (“They were all Twix! It was a setup!”). Uniquely herby, crunchy but not in that slice up the roof of your mouth way most croutons are, and just the perfect accoutrement to a cool, crisp, tangy, bracingly peppery Caesar salad. I can feel the smell on my palate right now, and it not only conjures up the elements of this simple-yet-delicious salad, but all the good times spent in this family pizza joint less than 10 minutes from my house. Those are good croutons!
Favorite Non-Singing, Non-Instrument Playing Member of a Band: Ben Carr
AKA “The Bosstone,” Ben Carr is the guy you see dancing onstage any time you’ve ever seen The Mighty Mighty Bosstones perform. He plays no instruments, occasionally will pop up in gang vocals, and behind the scenes handles some of the logistical elements of putting on live shows, but otherwise this guy is a full member of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and all he does is wear nice and/or ridiculous suits and dance his ass off for their entire set. There’s literally no one else like this in any band I can think of, anywhere.
What a job! I used to joke that this guy must’ve forgotten his instrument, and in order to keep contributing, he just got up and danced anyway. The truth is, since the Bosstones have been around forever, at an early gig while loading in, some bean-counting dickmouth maintained that everyone had to be 21. The Bosstones alleged Ben was in the band, so when showtime came, they’re like, “You gotta get onstage now!” He knew all the songs, got up there, and here we are 30+ years later.
Look, I know he’s not the most inspired or creative dancer, but damned if he isn’t the most diligent. When you watch the Bosstones, your eye always finds its way back to him. The dude is inexhaustible, which I suppose you’d have to be in order to stick around without playing an instrument or even really singing backup for more than three decades. And now I can’t picture the Bosstones without him. That’s probably why he gets an equal cut from all Bosstones proceeds, something so unspeakably cool I can barely handle it.
Favorite Time Zone: Mountain Daylight
As of 2015, only 6.7% of the total United States populace lives in the Mountain Time Zone. We are “the forgotten time zone” for a reason. I recognize that. But it’s also the only time zone my feeble brain is able to use as a starting point for thinking about what time it is and what time it should be. I am not a crackpot (™ Drew Magary).
I spent an entire year living in Texas, and the whole time I was there I couldn’t help but feel like it was an hour later than it was supposed to be. Again, I am not a crackpot (I don’t think). I used to watch Monday Night Raw religiously, and it annoyed me that it was now on from 8-10 instead of 7-9. I thought constantly about how my friends had an extra hour to do stuff when I was going to bed or, frankly, doing whatever. They didn’t, but my brain would not reset to Central Time as a default. Going to the East Coast is even worse as the evening just fucking ANNOUNCES itself without warning and all of a sudden it’s like, midnight, when you weren’t prepared for it. I like the West Coast because relative to the rest of the country, it always feels like there’s more road in front of you than behind you. Here’s where I’d like to repeat that I am not a crackpot, but after writing out this modest paragraph, I’m becoming less and less sure.
Here’s one thing I am sure about: Mountain Daylight Time kicks the everloving crap out of Mountain Standard Time. Give me more daylight in the evening than in the morning every single time. Early nightfall is one of about 10,000 things I don’t like about winter, but it’s notable because it’s near the top. Plus, my kids wake up with the goddamn sun, so any time we can delay that from happening by even a few more minutes, I’ll take it. Also, Lock the Clock!
Favorite Horse Track Public Address Announcer: Travis Stone
If you’ve been reading me since Cru Jones Society, first of all – THANK YOU! Also, holy shit! But if you’ve been reading me since CJS, you know that Derby Day is one of my favorite days on the calendar. Our coverage of Derby Day started out of pure necessity as we needed something to write about, and this seemed like fertile ground. And that first article we wrote was so fun to write and so funny, we made it a yearly thing. Makes sense, right? A humor website named after a character from an 80s BMX movie riffs on horse racing while eating Bagel Bites™ and drinking gin. Nothing about that sentence is unusual!
(Turns out I am a crackpot.)
During this year’s coverage last weekend, they did a brief segment with the Public Address Announcer Travis Stone where he answered a question on many people’s minds. How the hell do you call a horse race and keep everything straight? He said (and I’m paraphrasing), “If you want to know the horses, you have to know the jockeys’ silks. I use flash cards.” And then he whipped through like a dozen flashcards in about 7 seconds. He continued, “But once it’s race time, no more flashcards. Just me and a pair of binoculars.”
Holy shit, hook that story up to my veins! As someone who built an entire podcast whose origin story starts with this sentence, “I’m Jon, and I love nothing more than listening to someone with an interesting or unusual job talk about the ins and outs of that job.” that story is pure catnip. Travis Stone is now a bucket list guest on the Jon of All Trades Podcast.
I couldn’t even name you another horse track public announcer, and couldn’t possibly care less to learn any others, because my interest in horse racing pretty much begins and ends with the Kentucky Derby every year. Kentucky Derby fans are the Easter Christians of horse racing fans.
I’ve casually brought up the idea of a list like this with other people, and I’ve yet to hear anyone actually come up with a worthy entry to it. So think about it: What’s something you love that stands totally alone? Because I’m dying to hear yours. Drop in the comments, or anywhere on social media. Maybe that’ll move you into the rarefied air of “favorite Jon of All Trades” patron. Everyone else will be tied for second.