lee “likes” Matt Stairs retweets

Matt Stairs retweeted me! (This was weeks before he was hired to be part of the Phillies broadcast team.)

Enough said.


* Yes, this Tweet is from February of 2014. This post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure. 🙂

lee “likes” PW interviews

When I was gearing up for the My Ruined Life Season 3 Premiere/Release Party/Concert, Bill Chenevert of Philly Weekly interviewed me for PW‘s style blog, which was a true honor. You can check out the original post from January 6, 2014, online here.
* Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.


Q&A: “My Ruined Life” creator Lee Porter

by Bill Chenevert

Lee Porter’s a busy guy. On the web. In addition to being heavily involved at the Azuka Theatre (”The Off-Broad Street Theater”), he’s been whipping up Web series’ galore and his pièce de résistance is about to debut its third season. To kick it off, he’s hosting a really bangin’ Underground Arts party on Wednesday night to get the word out and celebrate the third season’s launch. We cornered him to get some questions answered.

Season Three! Gotta say you guys have a great lil’ site that’s all clean and functional and user-friendly. Plug that web designer! Right now!
Indeed, we take great pride that our website is 100-percent original and slick. Web designing credit goes to my dear friend Mark Sokoloff, and our current coder is Paul Impellizeri, who also plays bass for the Philly band Wild Rompit.

How’d the idea for this series come about? Did you come up with that tagline, “Life is full of benches and theories. When your life is ruined, you sit on a lot of them?”
I had already come up with the name My Ruined Life when I was in Rittenhouse Square, and the bench idea came to me. Each episode is filmed on a different bench in Philly, featuring many of this city’s beautiful, diverse neighborhoods. It’s fun to recognize the neighborhoods and benches, which I scouted when going for a run or by recommendations from friends. The basic “plot” ofMRL is friends meeting on benches and complaining about their “ruined” lives. Yes, I came up with our tagline, and the deeper message is “As bad as you think you have it, life really isn’t that bad at all. So, let’s laugh at ourselves instead.”

Sure looks like maybe you guys have been actors and writers who’ve been in and out of service work. I would know absolutely nothing about that (Kidding: I, in fact, know all too well that shitty hellish cycle).
We all wear a lot of different hats, you could say, but that’s usually the life of the artist, isn’t it? For more info about our talented MRL family/team, check out our website for full bios of everyone involved.

Have you seen other web series online that have inspired you? Have you seenThe Outs, by chance? It definitely seems like there’s lots of growth potential in the idea of a “sophisticated” web series.
The web series is an interesting art. I think the difficult thing is expanding your audience. Today’s average attention span seems to be so short. Plus, there are millions of online programing choices. I’m confident that if you stick with it, and get just a little luck, people will eventually tune in. My favorite Web series have included smaller budget stuff, like Old Friends (whose team helped me get started with my first project fb4h.com) and Clark & Michael and larger projects, like Burning Love.

Do you guys shoot a whole season of episodes in one ambitious day or week? 
Yes, for budgetary reasons, we film and power-through each MRL season in two straight days. Our production team has grown so much stronger over the years. So, we’ve expanded from eight unique videos the first season to 13 unique videos in Season Two. This new third season consists of 16 unique videos filmed in just two days.

So what’s up with the big kick-off event? TJ Kong (& The Atomic Bomb) and Work Drugs are great bands! How’d you get connected to those dudes (Dan & Nero, anyway)?
We couldn’t ask for a better lineup for our release party! I have been a huge fan of TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb for four-some years now. I chatted with TJ Kong (aka Dan Bruskewicz) a few times and started reading at his monthly Writers Night in America at Jose Pistola’s. Now we’re good friends. I met Work Drugs’ Nero Catalano through my talented actor friend Davy Raphaely, who starred in my online project ProjectWink.com. I described how I envisioned our MRL theme song sounding like via email, and Nero did the rest. It’s a brilliant song, and Nero will be performing it live at our upcoming Underground Arts party.

Based on my experience in Philly, good people with creative minds always end up good friends, and that’s part of the fun behind this project. We’re friends having fun, not just looking for a paycheck.

That Brian Cowden is one handsome fella. That’s not really a question so much as a statement that I wouldn’t mind you elaborating on.
Brian Cowden (aka BC) is the man. His talents are amazing. He’s got the right look, as you allude to. The sky’s the limit for this guy. I admire Brian the most for not running off to NYC or L.A. like so many talented young folk do. He’s kicking butt in the Philly theater world because he’s true to his art and believes, as do I, that today’s talent can be “discovered” anywhere.

Wanna plug something happening/comin’ up at Azuka?
I’m a member of the board of directors at Azuka Theatre, and I first discovered most of my projects’ actors, including Brian Cowden and Kristen Egermeier, at Azuka performances. Azuka Theatre is hosting free readings the week of January 13th, so swing by and check out some outstanding actors.


* You can check out the original Philly Weekly post from January 6, 2014, online here.
** Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.

lee writes: down in front

I wrote this sports editorial/essay, and the awesome ZooWithRoy.com kindly posted it online. You can always see the original post from October 4, 2013 by clicking here.
* Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.


GUEST POST: “Down in Front!” — The Idiot’s Guide to Not Being an Idiot at the Stadium

by Lee Porter


(Editor’s Note: The views expressed below do not necessarily represent those of ZWR Publishing, LLC or its staff. I don’t really care what you do at games, yo)

It’s October, and alas there are no postseason baseball games being played in Philadelphia this year, yet again. (I wish I had an image of “the Phanatic consoling me as I cry” to insert here.) They call baseball a “gentleman’s game,” and this past season, it struck me how many fans at baseball games (not just in Philly) act rather … un-gentlemanly, shall we say. I’m not talking about simply getting drunk at a game. If you can afford it, put down all the ten-buck beers you want (and buy me one, too, while you’re at it), as long as you behave. In fact, most of the clueless fans that made me scratch my head were dead-sober, family folk, who seemed more intent on experiencing games like visits to theme parks or malls than actually watching the games themselves. This same behavior (or lack thereof) is visible at basketball, football and hockey games, too.

I attend sports games to actually watch the games. What a novel idea, right? I try to get to the park/stadium/center early or on time, at the very least. I watch for the intricacies of the game, which my father taught me about since we started going to ballgames together at the Vet back in the early 1980s. I converse with fans seated around me about strategies, bad calls, controversial plays and so forth. Believe me, I love Citizens Bank Park, the LINC and Wells Fargo Center (to a degree), too. In addition to the live games they showcase, they are great places to have fun — great (unhealthy) food, a variety of beers to enjoy (as I’ve chronicled at CBP for two seasons in a row and counting) and games and fun for the kids to have, too. Heck, these sports venues are my homes away from home. And I personally choose to enjoy them by taking advantage of the games that are played at these venues. Now if you so choose to enjoy the food and fun in the concourses instead of watching the games, that’s fine by me – more power to you. The odd behavior I’m examining in this piece stems from those fans who want to have their game-cake and eat their crab fries-cake, too.


So in honor of National Do Something Nice Day [Saturday October 5th], I’ve made some suggestions by which we should all try to abide when at the park, stadium or arena. Be sure to share it with “That Guy From Work” or “Your Cousin’s Boyfriend” or “Your New Neighbor” next time you attend a game with a rookie spectator.


The Idiot’s Guide to Not Being an Idiot at the Stadium


  • Rule #10: Do not exit your row in the middle of an at-bat. It’s the middle of the fifth inning, there’s a man on first and third, Domonic Brown swings through a low-and-inside fastball. The crowd groans and eagerly awaits the next pitch. So now it’s an 0-1 count, the opposing pitcher steps on the rubber and … someone in your row stands up to exit. What the Ph-anatic?! Do not exit your row in the middle of an at-bat, field goal attempt, jump shot or power play. Wait until the play or at-bat ends, and even then, if the football team is hustling to get a new play off or the pitcher gets right back on the rubber right away, simply wait until the next real stoppage in play.
  • Rule #9: Do not head to your seat during play, even if the ushers let you in. You still have to walk down the aisle, trouble everyone to stand up and then get all the way to your seat. Out of respect to your fellow fans, just wait until there’s enough stoppage of play for you to really make it all the way back to your seat before the next play/pitch. Understandably, both of these rules can be tweaked if you are seated on the aisle seats or extremely close to them.
  • Rule #8: Do not stand up in the middle of an about-to-be exciting play. Chase Utley rounds third base, the rightfielder has a cannon and throws to home plate, Chase lowers his shoulder to the catcher and … the guy in front of you stands up and blocks your view of the collision at the plate. What the Ph-anatic?! Don’t stand up in the middle of an about-to-be exciting play. If the entire crowd stands up, of course enjoy the pandemonium. But when the pass is about to be intercepted or when there’s a breakaway dunk in the early minutes of a basketball game, don’t be the first guy to stand up when no one else rises. Obviously, this rule should be tweaked when someone immediately in front of you stands up and blocks your view.
  • Rule #7: Don’t walk to the concourse to get a domestic beer without going to the bathroom. Cliff Lee just struck out the batter for the first out of the second inning. The crowd cheers, and four guys in your row excuse themselves. Cliff Lee strikes out the next batter, and all four guys return. They each have two domestic beers in their hands, and there’s no way in heck there was enough time to go to the bathroom. Ladies and Gentlemen, there’s no need to leave your seat for a domestic beer. Believe me, the beer vendors walk around selling American brews all the time (maybe even when we sleep through the night), and they will find you. Look there’s a vendor (with a parrot on his shoulder) coming your way right now.
  • Rule #6: If you’re in the middle of a section, rotate your entrance/exits of your row by using both aisles of your section. Don’t always bother the same people. Share the up-and-down dance with all your neighboring fans on both sides of your row.
  • Rule #5: Don’t try to entertain your section by yelling. Darren Ruf’s first at-bat, someone yells out: “Ruf Dog!” During his second at-bat, the same fan yells: “Hey, Ruf Dog, who let the dogs out?!” During his third at-bat: “Snoop Doggy Ruf!” Pipe down, all you aspiring Andrew Dice Clays. If we wanted to laugh at obnoxious wittiness, we would have stayed home to watch The James Franco Roast. Unless you are lucky enough to be in the first handful of rows, save your breath – the players cannot hear you from your seat.
  • Rule #4: Keep it clean. There are kids at the games. Boo all you want, but show a little class with the foul language. You don’t have to go there.
  • Rule #3: Police your shorties. Sure, kids are going to throw temper tantrums when you refuse to buy them cotton candy. That doesn’t mean that your kids can scream at the top of their lungs right in our ears whenever the mammoth video display says “Make Some Noise.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: That actually cracks me up; let your kids yell all they want) While you’re at it, it would be nice if your fidgety children would stop kicking the back of our seats the entire game. Get tickets in the row directly behind the visiting team’s bench/bullpen if they really can’t stop. They deserve it, not your fellow fans.
  • Rule #2: Never stand up to pay for food or drink. Newsflash: the vendor and your fellow fans will pass your food/drinks and cash/change back and forth for you. Don’t stand there counting your money and putting it back in your wallet. Sit down already, Mr. Monopoly!
  • Rule #1:


Don’t be this guy (getting tasered for rushing the field) …


Don’t be this guy (and throw beer at Shane Victorino) …


And definitely don’t be this guy (vomiting on a young fan at the game) …


* A few additional things to consider: (a) Waiving across the stadium at whoever you’re talking to on your cellphone during the game (you look like an idiot); (b) The Wave (a purist vs. modernist fan debate); and (c) Thundersticks (ugh). Obviously, when everyone is standing up for a playoff game, Opening Day, Monday Night Football or overtime, these rules can be tweaked – or entirely chucked away – when necessary.
When attending a game, enjoy the crab fries all you want. Just respect the fans who are there to simply watch the game. Game on! Play ball!




Lee Porter is the writer/producer of the award-winning comedy Web series My Ruined Life, which is entering its third season this coming winter, and the founder/editor of the food/drink site Chocolate Covered Memories. He has compiled the annual Good Brews at Citizens Bank Park Spreadsheet for two years in a row and counting. Lee’s work has been featured on Comcast SportsNet, The Gaggle, Liminal Fiction, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly.com, Shmitten Kitten, Zoo With Roy (prior ZWR post here) and even tweeted by Questlove. Lee lives in Philadelphia.
* You can always see the original ZooWithRoy.com post from October 4, 2013 by clicking here.
** Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.

lee writes: Jokes

A flash fiction (super short) story of mine was published on the very cool, flash fiction site LiminalFiction.com. You can view the original post from July 29, 2013 by clicking here.
* Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.


Jokes (by Lee Porter)

Just because I knew the guy from way back when didn’t mean I wanted the conversation to proceed, but he continued to stand in front of me, blocking my way. “Excuse me,” I said.

“Jeff Bridges died.” He spoke fast. “Order a White Russian.”

Towering over me, I had to look up at him to meet his stare. He took a large, slow sip of his American Double Stout, the liquid like chewing tobacco spit, and smiled. I expected the thick, dark brew to be clumped up in his mouth, sticking to his teeth. It wasn’t. Even his beer projected disingenuousness. I didn’t smile back.

“Did you hear me? I said Jeff Bridges died. Go order a White Russian.”

“I heard you.”

“So. . . .”

“So okay.”

“Okay then.”

I joined Giovanni at the bar.

“Did he try that one on you, too?”

“Jeff Bridges?”


I took a sip from my beer and glanced at the televisions around the bar – all tuned to the Phillies game – nothing out of the ordinary. “I don’t believe him.”

So we played with our smartphones for a second and then placed them on coasters, not surprised that there was no news about Jeff Bridges – good or bad – online.

“I should have said ‘Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man,’” I mumbled. Giovanni laughed, flagged down the bartender and ordered sweet potato fries.

We finished our beers, ordered another round, talked about our women – or lack thereof – and comics.

I let the door swing closed behind me on our way out. He was standing outside, as if waiting for us, leaning against the wooden facade, smoking a cigarette.

“You guys leaving?”

I had to ask. “What do you have against Jeff Bridges, man?”

He explained that he and his friends would do this frequently when out late. “Do you know how little milk a bar normally stocks? They have to send a guy out just to get more. The more people we get ordering White Russians, the more they send some sad sack out for milk. You know how hard it is to buy a gallon of milk at one a.m. in this town?”

He laughed and spat on the sidewalk.

I shrugged. Giovanni and I walked away, down 15th Street.

“Why doesn’t he just say it’s his birthday? Why’s the joke have to be about death?”

** Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.

lee “likes” Phillies beer interviews

If you haven’t heard, I have chronicled the locations of the draft beers at Citizens Bank Park for two seasons in a row and counting. The spreadsheet I create for my food blog Chocolate Covered Memories has gone viral throughout Philadelphia every year. When I walked Citizens Bank Park during the preseason, Kyle Scott from CrossingBroad.com followed me around and interviewed me for a video piece that was on Comcast SportsNet’s Great Sports Debate. You can check out Kyle’s original post and video, which was originally published on April 4, 2013, by clicking here.
*  Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.


A Comprehensive Citizens Bank Park Beer List

Kyle Scott —  April 4, 2013

Yes and please.

Last year, local web series producer and food blogger Lee Porter put together a list of the beers at Citizens Bank Park. It got him and his website, Chocolate Covered Memoriesquite a bit of attention from this site and many others. And what’s not to love? A list of all (well, most– more on that in a second) the beers at CBP and their locations? Like I said: yes and please. So, when Lee tweeted me a heads up last week that he would be painstakingly chronicling the 2013 selection during the On-Deck Series against the Blue Jays, I asked if I could join him, film his efforts, and put them on the site and potentially the Great Sports Debate (THURSDAYS AT 7 ON THE COMCAST NETWORK!).

Sure thing, he said.

My original plan was to get some footage of Lee, talk to him for a few minutes, and then get drunk with him. I figured he was just some dude who wanted to help you, the Phillies fan, get smashed more quickly, and with better beer. And while that’s not wholly inaccurate, I was immediately taken aback by Lee’s love of good beer… and general disdain for bad ones. For him, his list serves as a necessary personal guide to weed out awful domestics (Bud, Miller, Coors) and to find the best craft and locals brews, of which Citizens Bank Park has many.* After talking to him and his girlfriend, Suzanne, for about, oh, three minutes, it was quite obvious that Lee takes his list quite seriously.

*According to CraftBeer.com, Citizens Bank Park had one of the largest selections of craft brew in the Majors in 2012, and that list seemingly grew this year.

A full-season ticket holder with his family, Lee, who produces an award-winning web series called My Ruined Life, goes to about 40 Phillies game each summer and, as a beer guy, needs to know where he can find the best CBP has to offer. Last year, for the first time ever, Aramark changed tap handles at the kiosk behind his section. That’s what inspired him to spend an entire game going around to every. single. beer. stand. chronicling what was available on draft, in bottles and cans. When he posted his findings on his website, it just sort of became a thing.


“Philadelphia Inquirer’s Craig Laban had written an article a few years ago that, in his opinion, the best beer in the ballpark on a hot summer day was Sly Fox’s Royal Weisse, which was then only located at a beer kiosk behind section 139 in left field. When it was extremely hot and the game was a boring one or a blowout, I’d trek out to left field and get a couple of those Royal Weisses and bring them back. I was thrilled and shocked when they moved that to my section. I figured if they changed tap locations for that beer, there must be others. So I figured I’d chronicle it all.”

“It usually takes one full game to [do it]. Then another game to double check everything. And then I try to double check any changes every week or so. I consciously walk around double checking drafts. I get updates from fans once in a while. The first few weeks of the season, there often are many changes. Then, by June, the drafts are usually in check.”

But here’s the thing: Lee’s list doesn’t include every beer. No, sir. You won’t find Bud, Bud Light, Bud Light Lime, Bud Light Gimmick, Miller, Coors and the like. If you drink that stuff, Lee doesn’t like you (I’m kidding– he’s actually a very friendly guy… but he probably does look down upon you, just a little bit). The list has a very specific cutoff: Stella. Lee calls it the last beer in the ballpark that he’d drink.

A beer snob? Maybe. But Lee wants to help you (and himself) find the good stuff.

Here’s an extended version of the video that appeared on Great Sports Debate. With outtakes.

And here it is: The 2013 Citizens Bank Park Beer List. Be sure to bookmark this page, as Lee will update the list throughout the 2013 season.

Lee is a Fishtown Beer Runner (a local group founded on the theory that one pint of beer is better for you than water after a long distance run, which is something I would totally test out if I could run more than seven feet). He used to work in the beer world. He knows his stuff. Obviously. And like I said, he takes this very seriously. As an example, when I asked Lee to send me his favorite beer in each area of the ballpark so I could put them on a seating map of CBP, I got the following response: There’s a decent chance they’ll move brews in the first homestand or two (they’ve done that before), so the map would need updating STAT, if so.

Good point.

But I got him to tell me anyway.

As it currently stands, these are Lee’s favorite beers at Citizen Bank Park, by location:


Lee also has some immediate observations based on the On-Deck Series (I hate capitalizing that):

  • The new, expanded and renamed Alley Brewing Co. beer bar in right field corner is awesome. It features 10 draft beers on 18 different taps and an extensive craft bottle and can list. Expect many changes to take place here game-by-game and will update the list as often as possible.
  • Based on exhibition games, during each game, one high end craft beer is poured in a special Phillies plastic cup. This was Goose Island beers (which is from Chicago), but it will likely change quite frequently.
  • Victory Summer Love has replaced Victory Hop Devil on draft almost everywhere, which will be better for the really hot months.
  • Victory Hop Devil and Victory Headwaters Pale Ale are available in bottle almost everywhere, which is amazingly awesome.
  • Nice addition of Allagash, Ommegang and Philadelphia Brewing Company bottles in many more locations.
  • The newly named “Your Dad’s Beer” kiosk behind section 103 features, among others, Miller High Life and PBR cans.
  • They’ve added a full bar, including frozen margaritas and daiquiris, to the Budweiser rooftop bar in center field above Ashburn Alley.

Basically, Lee is doing the work so you don’t have to. Which will give you more time to drink.

Lee’s 2013 Citizens Bank Park Beer List.

Lee Porter is the writer/producer of Philadelphia’s award-winning comedy web series My Ruined Life and is the founder/editor of the food blog Chocolate Covered Memories, which features interviews with, and recipes from, national food industry folk and essential Philadelphia food/drink spreadsheets. This is Lee’s second year compiling the Citizens Bank Park Beer List, and he looks forward to enjoying many more great craft beers and Phillies wins.


* You can check out Kyle’s original post and video, which was originally published on April 4, 2013, by clicking here.
**  Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.

lee “likes” geek interviews

When Season 2 of My Ruined Life came out, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Geekadelphia. Check out the full interview, as originally published on Geekadelphia.com on February 7, 2013 by clicking here.
* Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.


Q&A with Lee Porter of Philly-Based Web Series My Ruined Life

By  | on February 7, 2013

Philly’s Retro Peel Productions are on a roll. Their Philly based web series My Ruined Life has recently returned for a second season of ennui/character-based laughs that builds on the momentum of the first.

Writer/director/producer Lee Porter was recently kind enough to take time from his increasingly busy schedule to speak about My Ruined Life, how the series really comes into its own in this new season, and getting mentioned on Twitter by Questlove of The Roots.

How do you feel about the reception that My Ruined Life has received so far?

The reception to MRL has been really great. In just our first season, we were named “Best Web Series Shot in Philly” and “Audience Favorite (Web Series)” by FirstGlance Film Festival. It’s always nice to hear that your friends and family like your work. But getting recognition from an unbiased national film festival, based out of Hollywood? That really made us feel legit, assuring us that we’re onto something here.

All the Philly sites, including Geekadelphia, were really awesome about getting the word out last year. That meant a lot, too, as we were the new kid on the block. So the immediate love was greatly appreciated and heart warming.

Did you approach the second season any differently from the first? Where would you like to go with these characters from here?

The second season definitely has a lot more substance to it than the first. First of all, we added a new character Kristen (played by local actress Kristen Egermeier) into the mix. We learn more about Nate (played by local actor/comedian and Web series host Nathan Holt), his job and his relationship with The Man in Tuxedo with Beard (played by local comedian Greg Bailey). Brian (played by local actor Brian Cowden) continues to steer this comedy ship, so to speak, while getting much more animated by all of the wackiness around him. We have multiple cameos of recognizable Philly faces, too. So there’s a lot more going on this season than just two guys on a bench, waxing poetic about baby wipes.

What we’re doing with this series, at this point, is a challenging tiptoe, comedy dance along a balance beam. On the one hand, our loyal audience understandably wants to learn more about these characters and be invested in some sort of journey. On the other hand, we’re still growing our audience base, so we need to make our episodes, even in this second season, accessible to brand new viewers. Combine all of that with the short attention span of Internet viewers, and it’s definitely a balancing act. I’m confident that our second season offers much more depth than our first season, while, at the same time remains easily accessible to brand new viewers.

Someday, hopefully, given the resources and a larger audience, we can expand on the depth and plot. At the same time, they’re two-minute comedy bits. So we simply want viewers to recognize and feel connected to us, and we want to make people laugh.

How would you describe the series to someone who has never seen it before?

The premise of the My Ruined Life series is simple: two friends meeting up on a different Philly bench each episode, discussing (or often complaining) about their “ruined” lives, be that their jobs, their interactions with women or some wacky neurotic quirks of theirs. Now in Season 2, we see them interacting with others, some real and some imaginary characters.

We film all over Philadelphia. So we always shoot on different benches in different neighborhoods throughout this gorgeous city of ours. While our show purposefully avoids the standard Philly references and jokes (no cheesesteak jokes ever), we love our connection to Philly. Our local audience gets a kick out of seeing which neighborhood each episode is filmed at and what benches we’re on. I’ve had people come up to me and say, “My apartment was in the background of your show.” So we get a kick out of being Philly-centric and identifiable to Philadelphians, while being accessible to someone who’s never stepped foot in this city before.

It’s short comedy bits, ranging from 40 seconds to four minutes, usually about two minutes each. And it need not matter if you’ve been watching since the beginning or are just jumping in now. The show started as a way for me to showcase some of my favorite jokes, which are bits from various screenplays of mine. It’s taken off to be much more than that now though.

In this day and age, in this economy, I think it’s important to take a step back and laugh at life. Our lives may not be perfect, but hopefully we can ease people’s moods, make them laugh and forget their complaints for a couple minutes and maybe even reflect that, no matter what, life is good.

Recently, Questlove tweeted about the show. How did you find out about this, and what was your response?

Man, was I pumped about that. We all were. The second he tweeted about our show, my cellphone blew up. A bunch of friends had seen it right away. So I got a kick out of that and fell asleep counting imaginary Questlove drumbeats instead of sheep that night.

Questlove is an absolute hero to me. I hate to date myself to you youngins’ out there, but I’ve been listening to The Roots since 1995. I saw them open for the Beastie Boys and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at the now-demolished Civic Center in May of 1995, I believe, on the Ill Communication tour. I mean, can you imagine The Roots opening for Jon Spencer Blues Explosion now?

So without spoiling the joke, there is a reason that Questlove likes this season’s second episode “Quest.” That two-minute episode is actually based on a full screenplay of mine. The premise is two Philly guys desperately trying to get in touch with Questlove for two distinctly different reasons. So the screenplay is filled with scenes featuring Quest, Black Thought, Jimmy Fallon, the entire Roots gang, including former bassist Leonard Hubbard. Hopefully, Quest, The Roots and Fallon team keep watching our show. And who knows, maybe one of them will want to read the full script. Man, that would be “The Ultimate” … I mean, sick.

Will there be a third season?

Absolutely! Is Geekadelphia ready to pay for it?  Haha. In all seriousness, it costs a lot of dinero to fund this project. For Season 2, we received tremendous support from friends, family and fans, backing our Kickstarter campaign. Ideally, I’d like to get a corporate sponsor or an executive producer on board for Season 3. I know most of our cast and crew are one hundred percent committed to this. My cast and crew are always family to me, and this gang is extra special and such a joy to work with. More than anything, if Questlove is digging it, heck, there’s no reason not to keep going, right?

What, if any, other projects are you currently working on?

Right now, I’m busy wearing my producer hat – marketing MRL – while also wearing my writer’s hat. Winter time is my favorite time to write. I’ve been working on a play that I’ve promised myself I’m going to finish. I’m working on my third novel. Both of those involve the modern food world. I’ve got a TV pilot I’m working on that I’m hoping to finish this winter. And I’m always working on new bits for the MRL gang. So yeah, I’ve got my hands full. And when I’m not busy writing and producing, I can always sit on a bench and complain about my “ruined” life, right?

My Ruined Life episodes are released almost every Sunday evening. For new episode announcements and news updates, follow My Ruined Life on Facebook.


Check out the full interview, as originally published on Geekadelphia.com on February 7, 2013 by clicking here.
* Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.

lee “likes” kitten shoutouts

We (My Ruined Life) received a very cool shoutout from the always-funny Anna Goldfarb of ShmittenKitten.com.

Check it out by clicking here.



* Yes, this shoutout is from February of 2013. This post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure. 🙂

lee “likes” questlove tweets


Enough said.

Check it out:

* Yes, this Tweet is from January of 2013. This post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.

lee “likes” comedy shoutouts

During our Season 2 Premiere Party, the My Ruined Life Team and I had the privilege of being interviewed by a talented, young comedian for the website witout.net. This piece was originally posted on witout.net on November 18, 2012, which you can alway view by click here.
* Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.


Recap – ‘My Ruined Life’ Season 2 Premiere Party


Who doesn’t love beards and benches? Who doesn’t love quirky-yet-relatable conversations between friends? Who doesn’t love Philadelphia? (Probably a lot of people, actually—don’t answer that last one.)

My Ruined Life has all of these and so much more. The local FirstGlance award-winning web series had its Season 2 Premiere Saturday night at L’etage, above Beau Monde on Bainbridge and I was in attendance, among a few dozen other fans, friends, cast, and crew.

First, a bit about the show. My Ruined Life is a short web series about two friends, Brian (Brian Crowden) and Nate (Nathan Holt), who sit on benches and talk about their quirky, messed up lives on benches around Philadelphia. Brian often plays the straight man, weird as he is himself, to the indescribable oddball that is Nate, who often has encounters with what seems to be a mental projection of his inner-thoughts (manifested as the Man in a Tux with a Beard, played by Greg Bailey). The series features the two having humorous slice-of-life conversations in various outdoor locations around the city, always revealing a bit more about their characters and the interactions they have in the worlds they live in off-screen.

Now, the party:

I arrived at about 5pm and already a small crowd had gathered inside, milling around the bar of the classily low-lit club venue. The atmosphere was jovial as more and more people started filing in. I had an awkward mishap with my drink ticket (this was my first experience with drink tickets) and I planted myself in a corner, clumsily observing the party-goers. Lee Porter, the creator of the series, was an affable and incredibly social host, flitting around from person to person.

As an awkward novice journalist, I waited patiently for an opportunity to score an interview with a cast or crew member, and when I saw it I pounced. I introduced myself to one of the two main stars of My Ruined Life, Brian Cowden, and pulled him away into a quiet corner with me to talk about the series (which he was graciously happy to do, I might add):

Matt Aukamp: Brian, how do you feel about Season 2? What are the differences between it and Season 1?

Brian Cowden: I’m excited about it because in Season 1, we didn’t really know what this was going to be. We didn’t know the dynamics between all of us. It was shot in three days and it was our first time with the characters and our first time working with Lee… And this one we shot twelve episodes in two days and it went so much smoother than it went the first time.

Matt: Did you still manage to travel around Philadelphia as much?

Brian: We traveled around more, actually. We shot in four different locations and with all that travel, usually, it’s hard to coordinate but it was really smooth and we were really on top of it. Me and Nate knew our dynamics and because we had that anchor going in, adding [the new character] Kristen—[a manifestation of my character’s subconscious] just like [the Man in a Tux with a Beard is a manifestation of Nate’s subconscious]—was very seamless. The foundation was there this time. It was more defined and we could play a little more.

Matt: Is there more improvisation in this season?

Brian: Yeah! There were certain parts where Lee chose not to write because he figured out – after Season 1 – that we riffed off each other really well. So he was like, “I don’t have anything written for this part of the scene, but I figure you guys will banter and we’ll just keep the camera rolling.” And that’s what we did. I’ve never had something go so smoothly. And in such dire heat! We shot in mid-July and I was outside on a bench with a button-down shirt on and a tie, sweating profusely.

Matt: Is there anything you think will be surprising to people in this season?

Brian: We find out a little more about Nate’s job. And there are some local celebrity appearances. Ben Franklin makes an appearance. Which is pretty awesome, and was very weird to shoot. And hopefully this season we see a little bit more of Philly and its benches. They range from over on the Waterfront to U Penn’s campus to Drexel and even down to Northern Liberties. So we jump around a good bit. And having Kristen enter and having her act with Greg Bailey’s character – it’s just expanding.

Soon, Lee came over and introduced me to Greg Bailey (Man with Beard in Tux) and Kristen Egermeier (Kristen) and we talked briefly about the differences between the first and second seasons:

Greg Bailey: You know, I think Season 2 is much more refined. We knew what was going on and so we had more time to sort of play with it and I think that made it much looser.

Matt: Kristen, had you seen Season 1 before you joined the cast?

Kristen Egermeier: Yeah. When Lee first asked me to audition, I watched it all. I think it’s kind of fun to be able to watch them back-to-back so you can see the [thematic] thread coming along and see them all progressing.

Matt: So how did it meet your expectations?

Kristen: It was interesting because I wasn’t sure how the dynamic would change since I’m the only girl. And [entering] this “bro-hood” who all know each other very well, I was like “I don’t know how it’s going to be adding this new addition.” But it really just carried on and it made sense, especially as a compliment to Greg’s character. I think it’s a great follow-up.

Matt: Is there anything people should specifically look for in Season 2?

Kristen: I think questions will be raised.

[Laughter] (I laughed along, but I’m not quite sure what the joke was, as I haven’t seen the season yet. Were they making fun of me? I don’t know… They probably all hate me now…)

Greg: The same questions that were raised in Season 1 are going to be raised in Season 2 and the question is going to be, “What is going on?”

Matt: Is there anything else you want to say about Season 2?

Greg: Honestly, I think it’s going to be better. Though I liked Season 1. I was in it.

[Laughter] (I got that one.)

Kristen: I liked Season 1 too!

Greg: I just felt that Season 2 will be the better of the two seasons. Especially with Kristen. I remember when she first came on, we had met at Lee’s house and Lee was like “She’s willing to do whatever crazy thing we want her to do!”

Kristen: They kept asking me if it what they were going to have me do was OK, and I was thinking,“This isn’t crazy!” and also, “What is my limitation for crazy?”

As the lights started dimming, we had to wrap up the conversation. I accidentally called Kristen “Lee” (which is on tape and very embarrassing), and we all found our seats, waiting for the premiere to begin. I planted myself in the “Reserved” section, which was a bunch of empty seats and me, sitting awkwardly on the corner of a cushioned seat pouf, as if to say, “I’m just resting here because it’s the first place I saw. I could get back up at any second, if someone more important comes and you need me to move.” Many other people sat around or stood at the bar or behind the seating area. The room hushed as two trailers and, subsequently, three full episodes played.

About the episodes: If you’re a fan of the first season, you will not be disappointed. Everything everyone said to me about this season being even more “fun” and “playful” came through from the first moments of the premiere. The energy was stronger. The characters, more comfortable in their roles. The writing was sharper. And the amazingly cohesive tone the whole series had since the first episode was sustained and furthered in a seemingly effortless way.

Afterward, people milled about for the next hour, chatting about the episodes. “Oh man, you didn’t see Season 1? Then you must not have understood all the jokes about the baby wipes and the elastic shorts!” was one thing I overheard. I met Nero Catalano, who wrote the theme music for the show, part of the glue that holds the aforementioned “cohesive tone” together. I also met the series’ video editor Sean Huber, local musician, improviser, and filmmaker. As I drifted around, talking to these people, the thing that struck me was how many talented and interesting people with ties to local music, improv, and theater scenes My Ruined Life has working on it. It really makes you root for the show and its cast and crew.

As things began to dwindle down around 7-7:30, I started to make my way out. I had left him alone the majority of the night, as he was the man of the moment and constantly rushing around talking to people, making sure everything went smoothly (and it did). But now it was time to get some words from Lee Porter, who, at this point, was probably exhausted. Here’s what Lee had to say:

Lee Porter: This started as something of a personal project. I got frustrated as a writer who’s written multiple novels and screenplays, knowing deep down that the first five pages – if I’m lucky – are being read by an intern who’s never going to recommend them further. And I know that my favorite joke is on page 60 or page 75 and it’s never getting read. And it happens so many times. I [started to] dread going to a movie and seeing somebody doing something where I’m like “Ahh! I’ve had that and it’s been in a screenplay for five years and now it’s never hitting pay dirt!” So I was like, “You know what? Why don’t I just start doing those favorite bits?” So that’s what we did. We decided to do it outside, which helps our budget with lighting and everything. And we show different neighborhoods that people can recognize. The first season wasn’t quite as diverse with the backgrounds, but the second season is going to be all over town. So I get to showcase some of my writing—I don’t like being in front of the camera—and we get to showcase a lot of Philadelphia talent, on both sides of the camera. [We have a] really talented cast and crew. And now the fun is just kind of seeing how Philly reacts to this now and seeing how Philly connects with this project. I want it to be very Philly-centric but at the same time, very universal. You can be watching this in LA, and you don’t have to know this is Philly—we don’t make jokes about cheesesteaks—but at the same time, it’s very connected to Philly.

Season 2 of ‘My Ruined Life’ premieres on Sunday, November 18th at www.myruinedlife.com, after which they will take a break for the holidays and resume a weekly release schedule in January.

Matt Aukamp is a writer, performer, and occasional improviser (The Win Show). You can usually find him bothering the world on Twitter at @mattaukamp.


* This piece was originally posted on witout.net on November 18, 2012, which you can alway view by click here.
** Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.

Lee writes: Before/Bephore

This Philly sports essay was originally posted online by the always-awesome ZooWithRoy.com, which you can always view by clicking here.
* Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure. 


Before/Bephore, by Lee Porter


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “A man walks into a bar …” You’ve heard that one? How about this one: “A man walks into a bar … in Philadelphia on Sunday, September 21, 2008.”

The bar’s walls are covered with a good dozen large flat screen televisions and Eagles and Flyers memorabilia. It’s a Sunday in the fall, so, of course, football is of interest to Philly and non-Philly fans alike. A man (who we’ll call “The Phan”) purposefully arrives early, around three o’clock, to save a table with a good view of a television.

“Which television is the Phillies game going to be on?” The Phan asks.

“The Phillies?” The bartender looks The Phan up and down. “Are you serious?”

The man, dressed in a 1987 game-worn, Glenn Wilson, Columbia blue, batting practice jersey, shrugs at the bartender. “They’re in first place.”

The bartender takes a deep breath. “Okay, fine. Look, I know you’re a local here, so I’ll put the Phillies on television number …” He studies the barroom. “Number 11.”

The Phan shrugs, says thanks and makes his way over towards television 11. It’s the smallest TV in the place, tucked in the corner where the out of town football games are scheduled to play. At least it’s J.Roll’s number, The Phan thinks. He got his photo with Jimmy back in 2005 in Spring Training, when players like Jimmy Rollins would casually hang out with fans after games. Back then, J.Roll still had Jermaine Dupri hair and rocked a gigantic Blackberry cell phone clipped onto the belt holding up his super baggy jeans.

The Phan smiles at the attractive waitress, orders a beer and studies the bar menu. The sports fans begin to make their way in. Some dressed in green; others in black and yellow. After all, today’s a classic, Eagles-Steelers, Keystone State match-up. All the male patrons, dressed in NFL gear, give The Phan a look. A few snicker. One says, “Phillies? C’mon!” They haven’t had enough beer yet to say much more.

The Phan’s girlfriend eventually joins him, wearing a pink camouflage Phillies hat, which he had given her as a spur-of-the-moment gift at one game the prior 2007 season. Hardly any ladies ever sport women’s fitted Phillies jerseys as of September 21, 2008.

Coverage for both games — Eagles and Phillies — begins at four o’clock. In Miami, Jamie Moyer takes the mound for the Phillies, who entered the day with a half-game lead on the New York Mets in the National League East with just seven games to play. Donovan McNabb starts at quarterback for the Eagles.

The games begin, and The Phan notices he and his lady have this corner of the bar, by TV #11, all to themselves. Eagles fans are standing doubled-up deep behind the bar to watch Week #3 of the NFL and not the first-place Phillies with just seven games to play. There’s not a single Phillies item up on the walls. He looks at the menu: Eagles specials every Sunday; no mention of the Phillies whatsoever.

The Phan shares a vegetarian appetizer with his girlfriend. Because, as Jules (played by Samuel L. Jackson) explains in Pulp Fiction, if your girlfriend is a vegetarian, that basically means you’re a vegetarian, too, even if you sure love the taste of a good burger.

In the third inning, at Dolphin Stadium, Chase Utley gets the scoring going, homering to deep right center field off of Marlins starter Chris Volstad, scoring Jimmy Rollins and sparking the Phillies to a 2-0 lead.

In Philadelphia, the first quarter of the Eagles game ends, uneventfully, with the Steelers leading 3-0.

Eagles fans pass by the corner table on their way to the bathrooms and outside for a smoke. “Phillies? Are you serious?” The passing laughter and heckles get louder now, more confident with beer.

In the fourth inning, J.Roll hits an RBI single, knocking in Carlos Ruiz. No one — absolutely no one — in the bar would know who/what “Chooch” means if The Phan were to yell this out right now.

Eagles running back Brian Westbrook gets injured early in the second quarter. McNabb connects with Westbrook’s replacement, Correll Buckhalter, for a touchdown. The two teams exchange field goals, and the first half ends with the Eagles leading 10-6. McNabb is banged up on the final play of the half at Lincoln Financial Field.

Now, with even more beer, the heckles and laughter from Eagles fans get louder. “Phillies?! C’mon!”

One bar patron dressed in green is not as ruthless. “Yo, man. You’re watching the Phillies? How they doing?”

The Phan gives the Eagles fan an update.

“Cool, man. Awesome. What jersey is that?”

The Phan explains the story behind his jersey.

“Glenn Wilson?” The Eagles fan clearly doesn’t know who Glennbo is yet remains impressed that the jersey is game-worn.

The Phan’s girlfriend orders a vegetarian wrap of some kind (maybe with pears, brie cheese or beets); The Phan orders some wings (extra hot). The beers keep coming.

The Marlins collect a run in the sixth inning off of Moyer and another in the seventh off of reliever Chad Durbin, making it 3-2 Phillies after seven innings.

The third quarter of the NFL game ends uneventfully with the score remaining 10-6 Eagles.

Eagles fans continue to playfully harass The Phan and his girlfriend watching the Phillies. The one nice Eagles fan swings by. “How they doing?” he asks. He’s pleased to hear they’re winning.

Third baseman Greg Dobbs leaves the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with an apparent foot injury. In his only at bat, Dobbs’ replacement, Pedro Feliz, proceeds to hit a two-run home run to deep left field, giving the Phillies some insurance with a 5-2 cushion.

In the fourth quarter, Jimmy Johnson’s Eagles defense is tenacious, picking up a safety, Brian Dawkins helps set up a field goal, and the Birds win the game 15-6.

Eagles fans pay their bar tabs and begin to exit, still razzing the two Phillies fans.

The bartender doesn’t switch all the TV’s to the Phillies game. Instead, they remain on the same channel for NFL post-game analysis.

Five Phillies relievers take care of the final three innings, including Brad Lidge, who needs 29 pitches in the ninth and strands two runners. It’s Lidge’s 40th save in as many chances. The Phillies win 5-2. Moyer, 45 years young, the oldest player in the majors, picks up the win, having pitched six innings in 90-degree sunshine.

Coupled with the Braves victory over the Mets, the Phillies extend their lead in the NL East to 1.5 games with just six games to play. The remaining bar patrons watch NFL analysis. No one watched the Phillies game besides this couple, not a single fan in this crowded bar.

The Phan pays his tab and leaves with his girlfriend. A 1987 Columbia blue, Phillies jersey and a 2007 pink camouflage Phillies hat walk through Center City Philadelphia; everyone else dressed in green, black or yellow.

About 40 days later Philadelphia changes almost instantaneously. Two million fans dressed in red — not green — lined up and down Broad Street for miles, a majestic sea of red, celebrating the first major championship in the city in 25 years.

Philadelphians wait in lines in the middle of the night to buy instantly-sold out Phillies playoff merchandise at Modell’s. The team begins selling retro, Columbia blue Phillies jerseys to the masses. No one asks The Phan about his jersey anymore, especially because last names weren’t on the backs of authentic batting jerseys in 1987. So his just says “PHILLIES” above Glennbo’s #12.

The bar where The Phan watched Moyer-versus-the-Marlins starts offering Phillies drink specials for all 162 Phillies games in 2009, their walls now covered in all red Phillies memorabilia; the Eagles and Flyers stuff have mostly been removed and replaced. “You have Phillies specials now? I was here during the Eagles-Steelers game last year, and you almost killed me for asking you to put on the Phils game that day.”

The bartender laughs. “Hey, man, I’m not going to deny that. We’re a business. Supply and demand.”

So, now four years later, we can sit back and examine the bell curve in fanhood. Everyone jumped on board, and now the majority seemingly have jumped off. It’s the fall of 2012, yet Phillies merchandise is oddly on sale in a corner in Modell’s, while everyone stocks up on green gear. Meanwhile, the Phillies team — now finally healthy — is playing much better of late. And yet it’s questionable, at best, if anyone really cares anymore, as indicated by the Phillies’ home game sellout streak coming to a halt earlier this season.

In November of 2010, The Phan walks into another crowded bar in Philadelphia. He wears a navy blue, Mitchell & Ness, Sixers flat brim hat. He eventually finds a barstool and sits down. A large tall man, The Behemoth, walks up behind The Phan, orders a beer and notices the hat. “Is that a Sixers hat? It takes a lot of guts to wear that in this town.”

The Phan sips his beer, knowing full well that The Behemoth can crush him. “You’re probably one of the same guys who made fun of me for wearing a Phillies hat before they won the World Series in ‘08.” The Behemoth studies The Phan up and down and walks away without a word.

So now, when September 21st rolls around and on Sundays during football season every year, The Phan walks into a bar in Philadelphia. He asks which TV will have the Phillies game on. He waits to see the bartender’s reaction. He orders a beer. He watches the game. He thinks about what it was like before the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

A man walks into a bar … in Philadelphia on Sunday, September 21, 2008. Stop me if you heard this joke before: Do you remember where you were on September 21, 2008 with seven games remaining in the regular season? No. Seriously. Do you? Because I remember where I was.


This Philly sports essay was originally posted online by the always-awesome ZooWithRoy.com, which you can always view by clicking here.
* Yes, this post is pre-dated on my blog here so the Eats/Shrugs can all be a row for your viewing pleasure.