Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 NFL playoff predictions

The moment has finally arrived!  Amateur night!

It's the one night in the Ohio Valley when all the weirdo freaks come out and instantly become active, joyous participants in that which is ultimately meaningless.  So what's it gonna be?  Ballroom dancing with a Frank Sinatra Jr. impersonator at Ernie's Esquire?  Or how about a "ring in the New Year" celebration at the Oglebay Park conference room?  You get a "complimentary" $5.00 glass of champagne and side of escargot (with ample salmonella poisoning) - that's how I want to bring it on home - puking my brains out during the epic Arkansas vs. Boise St. game.  What about celebrating the big night at one of the countless gambling parlors?  How exhaustively depressing is that?  I think I'd prefer the food poisoning.

Obscenely revolting.  That's how I describe NYE in the valley.  Hell, it could be worse I suppose.  Wheeling's bad enough.  What about hanging out in neighboring Bell-Dirty or some kind of Beech Bottom Route 2 shit?  Seriously, what the fuck is that?

So I'll likely be having a calmer, more introspective New Year.  Gigi's working, so I'll probably just be hanging at the homestead.

The upside to all of this - you get to read my NFL playoff predictions.

Wildcard weekend:

San Diego at Cincinnati (-7)

I like the Bengals to get their first playoff victory in ages.  Chargers are coming off that insane finish.  I look for a major letdown.  Cincy's run defense is tough.  Look for huge numbers from AJ Green.

Cincy  34
San Diego  17

San Francisco (-2.5) at Green Bay

This is the tough one.  San Fransisco has a strong run game (both defense and offense).  That plays well in the cold of Lambeau Field... BUT, I think the return of Aaron Rodgers is just too much.  I like the momentum factor.  At some point, Kaepernick will make a critical mistake.  I'd take Green Bay by a field goal.  Home upset.

Green Bay  23 (OT)
San Fran  20

Kansas City at Indianapolis (-3)

Indy looked strong in their recent victory at Arrowhead.  I like them even more indoors - on the fast track of Lucas Oil Field.  Andy Reid looks slower and heavier than ever.  I think Indy comes out firing (quick 17-0 lead) and KC just won't be able to get back in the game.

Colts  31
Chiefs  10

New Orleans at Philadelphia (-2.5)

This is the big upset.  I know.  I know.  Saints don't play well outdoors.  Big whoop.  I'd sooner go with Sean Payton's experience over Chip Kelly (rookie NFL head coach).  And Philly has had some bad, historic chokes at the Linc.  I think this game will be a shoot-out thriller.

Saints  37
Eagles  34


Division round

Cincinnati at New England:  Predicted line (New England -9)

I'd go with Bill Belicheck over Marvin Lewis and Tom Brady over Andy Dalton any day of the week.  Nothing too shocking there.  Patriots at home in January.

New England:  30
Cincinnati:  21

Indianapolis at Denver:  Predicted line (Denver -10)

Denver:  34
Indy:  21

I think Indy will put up a fight and keep it close in the first half.  But Manning is just too much of a professional.  I'd look for him to blow it open in the second half.  I just can't envision a divisional round Broncos dismissal.

New Orleans at Seattle:  Predicted line (Seattle -8)

I remember a playoff game when New Orleans came into Seattle as 10 point road favorites... and they lost.  Seattle is too just tough at home.  Here's where the outdoor elements catch up with the Saints.  Situations are reversed this time, but Seattle wins again.

Seattle:  24
New Orleans: 19

Green Bay at Carolina:  Predicted line (Carolina -4)

Division round home teams generally fare well, but out of all the match-ups, I think the Panthers are the least likely to advance.  Take head coach McCarthy and Rogers with the experience factor, even though their team is not as strong.

Packers:  21
Panthers:  20

AFC Championship:

New England at Denver (-5)

Yeah!  A weirdo 5 point favorite.  I just think Peyton wins it this time at home, especially after that heartbreaker loss to the Ravens last year.  The injuries and the altitude finally catch up with the Pats.

Broncos  24
Patriots  14

NFC Championship:

Green Bay at Seattle (-4)

Sounds like a low-scoring, rough day for Aaron Rogers.  I'd look for the Seahawks defense to tee off on him.  I think Seattle is due.  Way more noisy and disturbing than that synchronized "Go Pack Go" routine.  I'm just glad that all of the championship games will be played outdoors (unless Indy pulls off a miracle).

Seattle:  23
Green Bay:  13


Seattle at Denver (-3.5)

Probably the most easily predictable match-up in the past decade or so.  Ahh, the half point hook.  I'd love to see it in a Superbowl.  I like Pete Carroll and all, but I just can't envision him hoisting the trophy.  Hopefully, I'm wrong since I've always been a big Seahawks fan.  Let's just hope the executive crowd freezes their collective asses off at Met Life Stadium.

Prediction:  Hopefully some freezing night rain and a close Denver win.

Broncos:  21
Seattle:  19


I'll be having a party for the AFC/NFC Championship games.  The exact time hasn't been set but if history is any indication... 3pm sharp on Sunday, January 19.  BYOB.  I'll be doing an all APPETIZER extravaganza. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Celebrating a Cowboy Christmas

Newsflash:  I don't celebrate Christmas.

Not hard to fathom why.  I figure there's sufficient holiday joy emanating from the mall store Santa pedophiles and the mentally challenged.  Seriously... why on earth would any rational parent embrace the notion of having their young children sit on a stranger's lap who's probably on some sex offender list?  Oh yeah, I forgot.  We really needed that picture of little Nevaeh (that's "Heaven" backwards!) and brother Toby for the living room mantle.  Sad.  Do not fret though - The new year will offer an excellent opportunity to put that horrific lapse in judgment behind you.

So yeah, I don't do the holidays.  I just can't tolerate the thought of American sheeple buying tons of worthless crap.  I know.  I know.  You really needed that monogrammed handkerchief and state-of-the-art syrup dispenser.  Maybe it's something deeply ingrained in my genetic makeup.  Maybe it's cuz I'm not much of a band-wagoner.  Chances are that when all of society is collectively embracing something... whether it be deliberating over the Duck Dynasty debacle or denouncing Dennis Rodman for directly dealing with a diminutive despot...

but I digress.  Simply stated, the holidays aren't for me.

However, I do like the final week of the NFL regular season.  Sometimes, it's even more interesting than the playoffs.  We get to find out the final playoff seedings.  Although I do find the wild card weekend and AFC/NFC Championship games to be highly enjoyable.  The division game weekend, not so much.

Tomorrow, we'll get to see who squeaks in and who gets tossed out.  And tomorrow's night game is gonna be really cool.  The Cowboys, led by their fearless leader, egomaniac Jerry Jones and man-boy, ginger head coach Jason Garrett face off against the fans who booed Santa Claus and pelted him with snow balls.  

The Eagles are heading into the game as 6.5 point favorites.  Personally, I think the spread is too high.  I'd say Eagles -3.5, but that's just me.  I don't set the lines.  But I do make observations.  Which of course leads us to the meme of the week.

If you're unacquainted with old school WWF wrestlers, that's Cowboy Bob Orton.  One of the lamer, more uninspired heels of the mid 80's.

For those who don't know, quarterback Tony Romo required vaginal reconstructive surgery and is out for the remainder of the season.  Perfect timing I suppose (considering there's only one game left).  Journeyman veteran Kyle Orton will be filling in.  And yesterday they even signed Jon Kitna to back him up.

I have deeply mixed emotions about this game.  I always root for a crushing Dallas loss.  The more mind-numblingly humiliating, the better.  The best scenarios are the ones where something "crazy" happens in the final seconds.  A muffed extra point, an easy dropped pass in the end zone, etc.  Or how about that Thanksgiving Day Leon Lett fiasco.  I was much younger at the time, but still very thankful.

So Saf, what are you hoping for tomorrow night.  A heartbreaking fumble?  A brain boggling interception when Kyle Orton throws into triple coverage?  You're getting close.  Maybe a late-tying field goal that bounces off the upright?  Getting closer.

Here's exactly what I want for Christmas.  I'll spell it out for ya.

I want to see that owner douchebag Jerry Jones penalized and ejected from his own stadium.  In the waning moments of a 4th quarter Dallas scoring drive, I want him down on the sideline arguing with a ref over an instant replay.  The side judge throws an unsportsmanlike flag for him using foul language.  And best of all, the automatic 10 second run-off kicks in - thus squandering any last chances.  Now that's my idea of a Christmas miracle.  The last thing I'm hoping for is an Eagles blowout victory.  I want this one to hurt.  After all, tis the season.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

original memes

I just found this meme generator site.  I'm gonna try and make about 2 per week.  I'll provide a tiny bit of background info just in case you can't figure it out.  Hopefully, it won't be necessary.  The essence of a decent meme is that 75% of the population should be able to "get it" without it being spoon fed.  20% of the country doesn't "get anything" under any circumstance.  5% choose to not participate and are irrelevant.

I think this Paulie Walnuts one has broad appeal.  It's in response to the recent A&E boycott/Duck Dynasty nonsense.  And just so everyone knows my thought process --- REAL free speech is meant to keep the government from arresting you.  It has nothing to do with money, or even worse, bible quotes and hurt feelings.

This second one was based on a sign I took to the Steelers/Bills game a few weeks ago.  The insinuation being that even a former U.S. Senator from New York, a brilliant politician and stateswoman, with a deep commitment to pandering to her constituents no matter what the cost...

Well, even she hates Buffalo. And she's running for POTUS!

You could use this sign for any team playing the Bills.  I think it would go over particularly well in the AFC East parking lots (mostly the Jets).  And once every four years - at Lincoln Financial Field in Philly.

My temporary new hobby will likely be political in nature, but you never know.  I get pissed off about all kinds of weird shit - Donald Trump, trinket consumerism, Toby Keith-themed restaurants, Jagermeister, the Metamucil-like regularity of fantasy football conversations, etc.

If you have a good idea for one, lemme know.

Friday, December 20, 2013

bumper sticker memes

I just saw this on facebook.

While I do appreciate the notion of pissing people off from a political perspective, I think this has far greater applications.  After all, politicians come and go.  I'm not gonna print all this shit out and take the obligatory photos... but if you want to, feel free and run with it.  You can take as much credit or embrace as much hatred as you feel warranted.  I kept most of the main text identical because I'm the most boring person on the planet.  Seriously, if you want, you can mix it up.  You have my blessing.

In keeping with that sentiment...this omnipresent school of Jesus fish

Hi Friend,

I just wanted to let you know that some knucklehead vandalized your car by slapping multiple Jesus fishes on it.  The last you'd want is people thinking you believe in that nonsense.  After all, even a salmon swimming upstream is smarter than a religious imbecile.  At least it actually knows where it's going. 

See you in hell,

Hi Friend,

I just wanted to let you know that some knucklehead vandalized your car by sticking pro-life propaganda on it.  The last thing you'd want is people thinking you're a misogynistic, self righteous asshole who doesn't value the rights of women.

Save me,
Aborted Fetus

Hi Friend,

I just wanted to let you know that some knucklehead vandalized your car by sticking a Dallas Cowboys sticker on it.  The last thing you'd want is people thinking you're a moron who seeks inspiration from a homo quarterback and an arrogant, obnoxious owner with a bad face-lift.

Cowboys Suck, Jerry Jones Swallows
Your Black'n'Gold Buddy

Hi Friend,

I just wanted to let you know that some knucklehead vandalized your car by slapping a Notre Dame sticker on it.  The last thing you'd want is people thinking you wish to be sodomized by a Catholic Priest while simultaneously administering a blowjob to a ginger leprechaun.

Michigan Fans Unite

Hi Friend,

I just wanted to let you know that some knucklehead vandalized your car by slapping a CHRIS CHRISTIE - 2016 sticker on it.  The last thing you'd want is to be driving around all day and having people think you're going to vote for an obnoxious fatso.

HILLARY in 2016,
Liberal Democrat

 Hi Friend,

I just wanted to let you know that some knucklehead vandalized your car by sticking a Grateful Dead sticker on it.  The last thing you'd want is people thinking you're an unemployed stank hippie pothead.

Keep on Truckin',

Hi Friend,

I just wanted to let you know that some knucklehead vandalized your car by sticking an OBX sticker on it.  The last thing you'd want is people thinking you're a douchebag who brags about drinking Jagerbombs, eating at Applebee's and vacationing in North Carolina.

Duke Blows,
North Carolina Chancellor Holden Thorp

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Chrisagis Christmas Story

Lately I've been thinking about the true meaning of Christmas.  For someone who literally doesn't give a flying fuck about the endless parade of holiday idiocy, you can probably surmise how this presents a dilemma.  Let me be honest.  I'm not the kind of person who's interested in decorating a tree.  Ornaments don't interest me.  However, I do like the notion that Frank Costanza finds tinsel distracting.  But other than that, I do not care.

I don't care about little kids getting their pictures taken with Santa.  I also don't care for the charitably incessant bell-ringers outside the local Kroger.  It gets old.  I don't like holiday music of any ilk - whether it's a Jewish ditty about a dreidel, wanna be thug rappers layin' down the Kwanzaa beats, or a little drummer boy with a little drummer dick.  As far as I'm concerned, you can take that BE Taylor shit and stick it up your Christian ass.  I just don't enjoy this stuff. 

But there is an exception.  I do like the Chrisagii.

I DO like the idea of the Chrisagis brothers trying to save the spirit of Christmas.  Hear me out on this.  I conjured up a movie in the deep recesses of my brain.  Basically, it's the same concept as Toy Story.  It's a whole new genre - an animated Christmas horror story... but with a twist.

The dolls are under the tree and magically spring to life.  The premise of every scene is that when an unfortunate holiday situation arises, the Chrisagis toy brothers enter the fray.  But every time they intervene, they somehow make the situation incomprehensibly worse.  And after every scene, they do their trademark laughing and chortling.  It's this total buffoonary.  They just never seem to learn.

I'll break it down into 5 major scenes.  First, there's some overly sappy Christmas intro.  Some good Christian parents purchase presents (Shawn and Brian dolls) for their twin kids.  As the family laments the horror of the local news (Steubenville rape case, 20 car pile-up on I-70, crick ice jams and flooding on Wheeling Island, etc.), the dolls secretly come to life.  The dolls are on a "heavenly mission" --- do anything and everything to bring back that true Christmas spirit.  Their motto... if Justin Timberlake is gonna bring sexy back, we're gonna bring Jesus back.

Incidentally, we failed last night at Consol Energy Center.  UNPRECEDENTED!  As far as concerts at that venue, we are now officially on a losing streak.  Up until then, we were probably about 23-0.

The toy dolls don't necessarily come to life, but they are "reborn" of course.  I'm still working on the conceptual nature of this part.

First stop is Walmart (let's go with the Highland store instead of the one in St. Clairsville).  The dolls have heard that long lines are gathering and the store manager must hire additional security to prevent crowd unruliness.  The toy Chrisagis brothers decide to show up and entertain the crowd.  Brian looks at Shawn, "This will be a wonderful holiday distraction from all the hustle and bustle!"

But on their way to Walmart, the news outlets run a story about how the Chrisagis dolls have instantly become the most sought after holiday gifts.  These toy dolls have become limited edition collector items.

As they prepare to address the crowd, a pipsqueak cries out, "Those dolls are worth millions.  Gimme, Gimme!"  Naturally, a human stampede breaks out and several young children are crush asphyxiated.  The luckier ones are trampled to death on the cold asphalt.

The next stop is a private holiday Christmas party at the Dillonvale mayor's house.  The toy Chrisagis brothers are worried about people drinking and driving.  They're worried that some attendees will get loaded on eggnog and assorted libations.  On the way to the party, a seedy character approaches them in a dark alley and sells them an "anti-drinking potion" that allegedly counteracts the effects of alcohol.  It's labeled "inebriation mitigation."  Shawn looks at Brian, "sounds like this scientific stuff should work."

But little do the Chrisagitts know - this potion is actually a vial of liquid LSD.  After they secretly "spike" the punch, the family begins to hallucinate.  They suddenly thinks they're birds.  So they climb out on the roof.  In unison, they decide to fly.  Naturally, the entire family simultaneously plummets to their death.  Correction - the parents survive but are left in a coma.  They eventually recover from their vegetative state but are forced to live the remainder of their lives confined to outdated wheelchairs from goodwill.

The Chrisagii seem to be having a really bad luck streak.  They come to the conclusion that nothing says Christmas spirit better than St. Nick himself.  So they decide to hire an "independent Santa" and let all the parents take free pictures with their wee children.  But needless to say, they neglected to perform a background check.  Turns out that this particular Santa is a child molester with a laundry list of pedophilia crimes dating back to the Nixon administration. This "bad Santa" even uses the Chrisagii as sex toys on his unsuspecting victims.

Everything has just really gone downhill.  The Chrisagis brothers decide they need to get "back to basics."  You can sum that up with one word --- CHURCH!  They head to the nearest house of worship.  What they fail to realize is that this particular church is Southern Baptist/old-school Pentascostal.   

Shawn and Brian join the congregants and begin violently shaking, dancing and speaking in tongues.  When the snakes come out, it becomes apparent that these aren't your typical reptiles.  These ones are boa constrictors imported from the Amazon.  Confused by the appearance of the animated toy brothers, the snakes attack the parishioners.  They quickly constrict around the pastor and organist.  Witnessing this horror, the entire congregation collectively denounces their faith and instantly adopts a brand new direction of secular humanism.

And that's how the story ends --- on this ardent note of skepticism and non-belief.

Have yourself a very Chrisagis Christmas.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Maury Povich episode with the Juggalo - Juggalette couple

I'm currently writing some really stressful, challenging stuff.  I needed a break.  So I will now skip to matters of far greater importance.

To say I was a little bewildered with this latest Maury Povich clip would be a major understatement.  It's even up there with the Obama claim, "Hey, if you like your health insurance, you can keep it!"  Fox News really needs to revisit that timeless refrain.  It's gold... pure gold.

Back to Maury.  All you really need to see is the youtube title:  Maury: Did he cheat with a Juggalette?  Normally, I'd be satisfied.  But pray tell, there's so much more.  I suggest you watch the clip in its entirety and then I'll touch on some of the finer points.


Okay.  This story revolves around Jasmine, Tommy and baby Ryder (I'm assuming it's not spelled "Rider."  As you may expect, I'm not a big fan of all these male baby names that end in the letter "r" - Ryder, Skylar, Lancer, Prancer, Sparkler, etc.  Maybe if you're an Arab it's a go (Bashar, Hamir, Tafar).  But hey, let's just steer clear if you're Texas transplants from Dayton, Ohio.  Just make the commitment - no more boy band names.  Justin's okay I suppose.  We'll find out this Saturday.

Right off the bat,  Maury describes her difficult pregnancy as "hormonal."  You can always infer how the producers grilled the female guests.  They need that info.  Any problems with your baby (premature, asthma, congenital defects)?  Then, they invariably shift to the mother's experience (prolonged bed rest, near miscarriages, STD's, diarrhea).  Other than the emotional turmoil, I suspect she had a fairly uneventful pregnancy.  She likely capitulated at some point and said, "well, I was kinda hormonal."  Sure enough, Maury seizes the opportunity and declares, "You were hormonal!"  Nice segue into a cheating, lie-detector bonanza.

Now check out the Asian man who comes alive when he hears news of fiancee Tommy engaged in a "live sex chat."  I think this guy might actually be an audience plant.  They're probably looking for that intellectual, ethnic slant.  The audience plays off the guests and vice-a-versa.  For the remainder of this blog, I will assign said Asian Man the name of "Tofu."  This is strictly for reference purposes.  I'm well aware that orientals are intellectually superior to mindless Americana.  Think about it.  How come you never see people of Asian descent on the Maury show?  I'll sum it up with 5 words.  They... Are... Better... Than... Us.

So after mentioning the live sex chat, Maury kicks it up a notch.  Witness that delightfully sardonic smile as he chimes, "and yes... he was TOUCHING himself!"   Only MoPo could get away with this shit.  For he is the master.

I adore the way Jasmine describes their relationship, particularly the stoic, almost scripted trance-like reading of them being Juggalos and Juggalettes.  I particularly enjoyed her edited concern of Tommy cheating on her with "one of 'dem Juggalettes."

Incidentally, I actually knew this couple who were big ICP fans.  And this is WAY back in the day.  1991 to be precise.  These two were exceptionally cool, pleasant and sharp.  I once ran into them at a Metropol concert.  They both had the makeup and excessive clown laughter going on.  Old school, legit ICP fans.  I still have no idea what their names were.  I remember encountering him while camping out in a line at Kaufman's at the Ohio Valley Mall.  We were getting New Kids on the Block tickets for a show at the Wheeling Civic Center.  He was sent to purchase tickets for his teenage sister.  Rest assured, I was there to scalp.  When the profiteering issue became apparent, the crowd (comprised mostly of local moms and dads) totally turned on me.  True story.  At one point, I silently farted and everyone started making verbal accusations.  "You stink!  Go home, you smelly scalper!  Nobody here likes you!"  I'm not joking.  Seriously, you can't make this shit up.  Truth be told, the stench was unusually bad.  I never admitted it though.  But still, I knew what was what.

The moral of that story is this --- I knew a few hardcore ICP fans, and to this day, I still know some (foosball players from the Tiger Pub in Shadyside, OH).  They weren't/aren't nimrod dumbshits like Jasmine 'n Tommy and to a lesser extent, baby Ryder.  It might be tempting, but please don't assume that ICP fans are indicative of this oblivious, societal consternation.  They might not be Harvard Law Review, but they certainly aren't Jasmine and Tommy.

When Jasmine says that baby Ryder "fights for his attention every day," I would like a more detailed version of the what this actual "fighting" entails.  Does the baby murmur ICP lyrics?  Does he have an angry scowl when pooping?  Greater specificity is warranted.

I'm sure we all enjoyed Tommy's description of "what it means to be a Juggalo."  Gripping stuff.  I did like how they incorporated the makeup application.  And how can you not appreciate his blase comment about being caught in the act while sex-skyping?  "Hey, it's what guys do!"  I say, "Right on, Thomas!"  Tommy could possibly be the most simpleminded ICP representative of all-time.  He seems beyond dense.  I'd loosely term him a "quixotically lovable retard, skittishly oafish yet resolute, dork-a-licious but determined." 

The Tommy interrogation reaches a pinnacle at the 3:30 mark.  They show a mysteriously hostile background pic.  Suddenly, Tofu (aka Hong Kong Phooey) gets back in the act with an accusatory finger-to-chin motion.  Tofu must be some kind of underground thespian or off-broadway star.  His timing and choreography are stellar.  Tofu shines.  In all honesty, he's the real star... a vegan gem if you will.

One other anecdote.  When growing up, I always thought the lyrics to the Hong Kong Phooey cartoon theme song were... "Hong Kong Phooey!  Better than a seafood shop!"  Turns out it was, "Hong Kong Phooey!  Number one super guy!"  You decide.

Not sure what I was thinking.

During the lie detector results, Tommy's expression never changes.  It's pure dufus 24/7, all-day all-night.  He just can't rid himself of that weirdo smirk.  And Jasmine is equally loud and defiant.  This provides a nice counterbalance.  Yin-Yang.  Jugallo-Juggalette.  Kind of reminds you of Forrest and Jenny.  I could see Tommy saying, "we was like peas and carrots."  This would not be a stretch.

Faced with the lie detector results, Jasmine reaches her limit and hollers "You're out!  You're done!"  It reminded me of the dark alley encounter between Nana and this miscellaneous hoodrat on Seinfeld.  "It burned!  It's gone!"

Still, you gotta love Tommy.  He's just this unabashed dunskie.  Even as the scene fades, "We can do this.  We can work it out."  Reminds you of that Tammy Wynette song - "Stand by your Clown."  This will have to suffice.  In honor of those who dance and jump around on the great stage of that which is Maury...

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Blizzard of thoughts - Steelers/Dolphins (12-8-13)

Just before I zipped down to Heinz Field, I got a text message from Crickdude.

Crickdude:  Any plans for Steerel game?

Saf:  Heading down to the stadium.  My prediction is 10,000+ no shows.

Crickdude:  I was wondering what the official attendance over/under was.

Saf:  I just set the attendance line at 54,875 (out of 65,050).

Crickdude:  I'll take the under.

A few hours later, they flashed the official attendance figure --- 52,489.  

Score one for the legend of Wooly Swamp, or Crickity Crick or whatever.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Steelers Nation is for the most part, a sick joke.  When the going gets tough (losing record, inclement weather), Steeler fans stay home.  Not only do they steer clear of the stadium, they barricade themselves indoors.  If by chance, they do summon the courage to go to the stadium, they eat tickets by the mouthful and stream out the exits at halftime.  No big surprise.  I've seen this scenario play itself out about a gazillion times.  Must leave early.  Must go to the casino and play vidiot games.  Must chain smoke cigarettes.  Must go to the bar.  Must beat traffic... in that defining order.

Literally tons of empty seats, row after row after row.  Yesterday, the only place worse was Fed Ex Field.  Maybe Daniel Snyder can blame Redskin attendance woes on insensitivity toward Native Americans.  What could Rooney blame the situation on?  I don't know... maybe "hatred of the sidelines and cold Primanti's."  

Anyway, I was meeting up with Crickdude, the Professor and G Minimum - so I set out to score all us tickets.  I spotted this one couple holding up a pair, so I asked them if they were freebies.  Surprisingly, the guy said, "Yep, we just can't get rid of them.  And they're club level, too."  Hot damn!  Free club seats!  A good score for two reasons ($200+ per ticket - this meant nothing as all tickets had quickly become worthless... but, it would offer an indoor respite from the cold river winds and wet snow).

So I engaged them for awhile and all seemed well.  I was barely out of earshot, when I saw them talking with this other couple.  "Ohh no!  I just gave two tickets away to this guy about 30 seconds ago.  If I knew you needed them, I would have given them to you guys.  You could have sat with us in the club"

So I was faced with a moral quandary.  What would I do?  If you're guessing, I bet Saf took off running... you would be INCORRECT.  I walked over and insisted they take back the tickets and give them to their friends.  Everyone in the circle was blown away.  Little did they know that I had suddenly morphed into some kind of atheist-jew-angel-do-gooder.  Just in time for Festivus I suppose.  Seriously, what was I supposed to do???  Be an asshole?  Truth be told, I knew that ticket acquisition wouldn't be an issue with all the worthless stacks floating around.  So, aside from stampede prevention, this was my good deed for the year.

I ended up talking to the beneficiary couple for about 10 minutes.  Turns out they had come all the way from Duisburg, Germany.  We talked soccer - the 2014 World Cup draw, German Bundesliga, English Premier League and of course a little bit of stampedes thrown in for good measure.  Very nice couple.  Turns out they were staying at the same hotel with the other twosome.  They were all partying at the hotel bar the night before.  That's how they all "knew" each other. 
They headed inside and I resumed my search.   Scored 1 extra from the wife whose family owns Monitcello's restaurants (about a dozen locations).  These people were exceptionally cool.  Gigi and I went to the Monticello's in Shaylor a few years ago.  I think I had the lasagna.  Moral of the story - support their establishments.  They are most certainly worthy.  So many yinzer assholes would rather EAT their tickets rather than actively try to give them away.  But I digress.

Anyway, I scored 2 more tix and a print-out off this other dude and we were all set.  When everyone showed up, I learned they had already acquired 2 tix, so it turns out that most of my shenanigans were unnecessary.  More ticket stubs for the downstairs bathroom wall I suppose.

On the way into the stadium, I noticed one of the new security signs:

You can't see the items in his right hand, but it's a cell phone and a wallet.  You'd think that the NFL or any of the people responsible for stadium security would issue a simple warning --- that while a game is in progress, any evacuation order or panic-inducing information delivered over a cell phone is a deadly hoax.  After all, this sign visually acknowledges that everyone has a cell phone on them (something that irreparably alters emergency evac protocol and is the most seemingly obvious, dirtiest secret in the history of mankind).  You would think the NFL front office and Roger Goodell would give just the slightest of a damn.  Seriously though... why would the NFL or Heinz Field security give a fuck about saving lives?  Why should the societal burden fall upon them?  The truth is simple.  They only care about that which involves money, is blatantly obvious or has a minimal impact on food and beverage sales.

And here's the greater irony - they weren't doing any pat-downs yesterday.  Just the metal-detector wands.  I guess "their version of what constitutes security" becomes less important if the weather sucks and everything becomes a "hassle."

We took our seats on the edge of the 500 level.  Front row.  Not that it mattered.  Anyone could have sat anywhere, but it was a good vantage point.  The game lumbered on, back and forth.  Exciting stuff.  The weather reminded me of the regular season Chicago Bears game during the 2005-06 Superbowl run.  Another total white-out for the first half.  You couldn't see the skyline, the city or anything beyond the stadium.  We won that game 21-9 and rode the Bus to the Superbowl.  Not so fortunate this time around. 

We headed down to the pit for the 4th quarter.  When Big Ben went 4 and out, late in the 4th quarter, we exited the stadium with about 2:12 remaining on the clock.  We were only down by 3 points but I couldn't fathom us getting the ball back.  Plus, if Miami didn't score a touchdown, they would most certainly kick a field goal (which they did).

I get back to Gigi's house and she's talking about the thrilling finish and Antonio Brown stepping on the sideline.  I was a little confused but began to process everything.  On the brief trip back to her place, I heard them on WDVE yapping about "what almost happened" but couldn't put it all together.  Then I saw the lateral replay madness.

For the love of Christ, yesterday I became one of "those Steelers fans."  The kind I despise.  The kind that always leave early.  The kind that show up in a limo.  The kind that only go to playoff games and spend hundreds or thousands on stubhub tickets.  The kind that buy a brand new "official NFL" Steelers jersey every year.  The kind that would rather eat tickets, preferring NOT to give them away.  The kind that need a hotel room waiting nearby.  The kind that bitch about the quality of service at a packed Jerome Bettis Grill on game day.  The kind that don't go if it's cold or raining.  The kind that suck.

Now I have officially become one of "those" fans - the kind that suck.  Well... maybe I'm not quite one of "them."  But I did learn an important lesson, n'at.  Real fans stay til the final whistle blows.

Thank God we lost.  Like I saying... as of yesterday I joined the official battalion of Steeler douchebags.  Somebody stick a tampon in my ass!  I am done.  Well, until next Sunday.  Big night game against Cincy.

Maybe I'll make some "SIDELINES SUCK" t-shirts.

2014 World Cup predictions cont.

Please keep in mind.  All this is months away and totally speculative.  But that's what i like to do... that's what I'm all about... right?  Predicting the future.

Round of 16

Brazil vs. Chile - (3-1) Chile puts up a fight, but Brazil runs away with it in the second half.
Mexico vs. Spain - (0-4) The world learns why Mexico should have never qualified.

Ivory Coast vs. Italy (0-2) Italy has too much experience, firepower.
Columbia vs. Uruguay (1-1) - penalty kick victory (neighboring Uruguay edges on).

Ecuador vs. Nigeria (2-0) - Nigeria won't be able to score against an acclimated Ecuador.
France vs. Argentina (0-3) - Everyone hates the French.  Argentina shows them no mercy

Germany vs. South Korea (4-1) - Determination doesn't win games.  Asian teams always buckle.
Portugal vs. Russia (0-1) - Russia takes an ugly, mean-spirited victory.



Brazil vs. Spain (1-0) -Viva Brazil

Italy vs. Uruguay (0-0) - Italy advances on pk's in a total heartbreaker.

Ecuador vs. Argentina (0-1) - Argentina in an exhaustive grinder.

Germany vs. Russia (1-2) - I think Russia is the "wildcard" in 2014.  A shirtless Vladimir Putin will show up at this game.  If I had to bet between the KGB and the Nazis, I'd go with the KGB.



Brazil vs. Italy (2-0) - Vince Welnick (shitty Dead keyboardist said it best... Samba in the Rain)

Argentina vs. Russia (3-1) - Russia's fairytale ending comes to a... well... it comes to an end.



Brazil vs. Argentina (3-2) - in a classic for the ages.


BRAZIL wins it all.  That's pretty much what everyone expects.  I'd be inclined to go with the favs.

Here's the current odds (these shift periodically, but I think it's fairly accurate):

Brazil 1:3
Argentina 5:1
Germany 5:1
Spain 7:1
Belgium 14:1
Columbia 20:1
France 20:1
Italy 28:1
Netherlands 28:1
Uruguay 28:1
England 33:1
Portugal 33:1
Chile 40:1
Russia 50:1
Switzerland 100:1
Ivory Coast 125:1
Ecuador 125:1
Mexico 150:1
Japan 150:1
Bosnia 150:1
Croatia 150:1
USA (no f'in way) - 150:1
Ghana 150:1
Nigeria 200:1
Greece 200:1
South Korea 200:1
Cameroon 300:1
Australia 500:1
Algeria 750:1
Iran 750:1
Costa Rica 1000:1
Honduras 1000:1

Like I was saying, I'd stick with Brazil.  Especially with them going off at 1:3.
If I were looking for another strong pick, I'd take Argentina at 5:1

If I wanted a "credible" longshot - I'd probably go with Russia (50:1).  I just think they'll gain plenty of momentum since their group is unusually easy.  They could be the shocker, get on a roll with a few lucky breaks and end up in the final 4.  Definitely fits the narrative and adds credibility to them hosting in the Cup in 2018.

I think Ecuador shouldn't be as high as 125:1.  They play everyone tough in the World Cup.  And they've got the history to prove it.  I think Mexico (150:1) and Ivory Coast (125:1) are undervalued.  I don't think they'll win it all, but I do think they'll advance to the round of 16... and then hey, it's doubtful... but you never know.

I think Belgium and the Netherlands are the most overrated.

And for all those who think soccer is lame, check this out.  If you are not emotionally moved in even the slightest, you have no soul...

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Saf's 2014 World Cup Predictions: Group Stage


Group A: Brazil, Mexico, Croatia, Cameroon

Croatia is in a tough spot.  They open against the host country in Sao Paolo.  Call me naive, but the entire country will be on FIRE.  I'd expect Brazil to put on a clinic.  Maybe 4-0.  I think they'll be one of the few teams to run the table and get the full 9 points.  Then, Croatia has to play Cameroon in the rainforest climate of Manaus (the city in the heart of the Amazon).  They may have grungy, talent, but I think the Croats will fold early with 2 quick losses.  

Mexico was atrocious in CONCACAF qualifying, needing to win a bizarre playoff against New Zealand to slip into the tournament.  Nonetheless, they still have plenty of talent.  I think their fan base reignites and they rebound strong in South America.

Brazil - 9
Mexico - 6
Cameroon - 3
Croatia - 0

The headlines from group A: Croatia's early exit.  Brazil romps.  Mexico rejuvenated. 

Group B: Chile, Spain, Netherlands, Australia

I think just about all the South American teams will exceed expectations in 2014.  I think the early games set the stage.  I'd look for a draw in the Spain vs. Netherlands match.  Both teams share a point.  Meanwhile, Chile kicks Australia in the outback. 

The decider game will be Spain vs. Chile in Rio De Janeiro.  Whoever wins that game should win the group.  Could be a high scoring tie (3-3).  I think this will be one of the highlight games of the entire World Cup.  Call it a hunch.      

Spain is in the dominant position because they finish the round against Australia (who, by then, will likely have nothing to play for).  I suspect Australia will not even salvage a meaningless point (even if Spain is comfortably on top and can rest their marquee players).

The Dutch have to finish the group stage against Chile in Sao Paulo (not an enviable position for the pot smokers).  I think they'll fold.

I think Chile wins the group.  Spain a close 2nd.  Netherlands fade.  Australia is way out of their league.

Chile - 7
Spain - 5
Netherlands - 4
Australia - 0

Group C: Ivory Coast, Japan, Columbia and Greece

The Ivory Coast are the only African team with a legitimate opportunity to win their group.  They are loaded with solid veteran players from top European club teams (Eboue & Drogba - Galatassary, Toure & Toure - Liverpool & Man City).  Plenty of star power, good mix of youth and endurance but a lack of world class goal-tending could be their achilles heel.

Columbia is the star of the group and FIFA has them ranked #4 in the world.  They fared unbelievably well in the arduous South American qualifying process, but I think they're a bit overhyped.  Columbia vs. Ivory Coast should easily determine the outcome of the group.  I think Ivory Coast wins a thriller.  Give Greece and Japan one point each in their head-to-head. 

Ivory Coast - 7
Columbia - 6
Greece - 1
Japan - 1

Headline shocker - Ivory Coast top Group C.

Group D: Uruguay, England, Italy, Costa Rica

Uruguay barely qualified.  They had to engage in a lopsided "win and you're in" versus arch nemesis Jordan.  Who comes up with this shit and how on earth is "Jordan" in a position to reach the World Cup.  Who was their last opponent???  The vestigial remains of the Syrian chemical weapons disposal unit?  Call me crazy, but Michael Jordan may have been a stronger opponent.  Nonetheless, I suspect they'll come on very strong in neighboring Brazil.  I'd look for them to come out of the gate blazing against Costa Rica. 

The much heralded England vs. Italy match-up (in the muggy rainforest of Manuas) will be a disappointing 0-0 tie.  Remember - you heard it here first.

Italy is always a slow starter.  Then, they somehow manage to finish second and slip into the knock-out phase.  I think that same scenario plays out again.

I like Uruguay to top the group.  They know the terrain.  Italy snags second, as usual.  I think England disappoints big time.  I have a weird hunch they'll lose to Costa Rica.  They'll have their bags packed before the final match.

Uruguay - 5
Italy - 4 (advance on a tight goal differential)
Costa Rica - 4
England - 1

Headlines: England finishes dead last, coach fired, team in disarray.  Costa Rica exceed all expectations but get screwed in the end.

Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras, France

Switzerland had a surprisingly good qualifying run but I think they're the "best" team that everyone "wouldn't mind" playing.  They're definitely at a disadvantage having to open against Ecuador and then France.

Honduras is a capable team (in CONCACAF) , but their first two matches against powerhouses Ecuador and France will not bode well.  I just don't think they have enough international star power.

I think Ecuador sweeps.  France is uninspired and stale, but gets some narrow 1-0 victories.  Honduras shows up, but it will be too little, too late.  The Swiss come up completely empty with the exception of some hot cocoa for the plane ride back to Bern (where my parents tied the knot).

Ecuador - 9
France - 6
Honduras - 3
Switzerland - 0

Headline:  Ecuador is for real.  If it's not cold, the Swiss fold.

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzgovinia, Iran, Nigeria

Definitely an oddball group.  Historically, Iran can be a quirky team.  But having to open against Nigeria and then shift to the dominating Argentines will be too much.  I expect they'll collapse.  The same with Bosnia who had an incredibly weak European qualifying group (Latvia, Liechtenstein, all kinds of strange teams you've never heard of).  I usually look for a European underdog to over-perform on the grand stage.  Bosnia won't be that team.

The final match between Argentina and Nigeria could be a thriller.  However, I think both teams will know their fate and settle for a tie.  The outcome might hinge upon who's jockeying for position with the winner and runner-up of Group E.  Would Argentina rather face Ecuador or France?  Hard to say.

Argentina - 7 (by way of a convincing goal differential)
Nigeria - 7
Iran - 3
Bosnia - 0   

Group G: Germany, Portugal, United States, Ghana

 Yep - it's the alleged group of DEATH.  I can see it.  Good intrigue with U.S. coach Juergen Klinsman facing his old national team in the group stage.  Ghana surprised last time around.  I don't think lightning strikes twice.  I think U.S. beats Ghana in the opener and Germany sneaks a close win against Portugal.  Portugal sticks around though.  U.S. has plenty of talent... but just not enough.  They falter against the Germans and Chancellor Merkel gets her revenge against the USA for tapping her cell phone.  The NSA fucks us again.

Germany - 6
Portugal - 4
United States - 3
Ghana - 0

Group H:  Russia, South Korea, Belgium, Algeria

Probably the weakest of the groups.  Whoever wins Group G will be salivating if their opponent turns out to be South Korea.
I expect Russia to dominate.  South Korea always has a great work ethic but when you advance to the World Cup on the backs of Taiwan, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, etc... well, that's not really saying too much.  Still, I think they make it to the round of 16.

Although Russia doesn't really "fit in" that well in Brazil, they've got the chemistry and talent.  I expect them to gradually steamroll through the group.  Plus, they have the luxury of closing against Algeria whom I suspect will be thrilled just to "be there."  I think South Korea will bounce back from an opening defeat and finish a strong second.   

Russia - 9
South Korea - 6
Algeria -  1  
Belgium - 1


Final synopsis - I think the major, general headline will be the strong performance of the South American teams and the lack of showing from the Europeans.

Going home early - Belgium, Switzerland, Bosnia, Netherlands, England, Croatia, Greece and maybe France.   

I think the South American teams will dominate the latter stages in the quarters and semis.

2014 will be a big year for South American football.  Their teams will NOT disappoint.  Much will made of the climate, elevation, heat and humidity.  In its aftermath, I suspect you'll hear some renewed bitching regarding the utter absurdity of Qatar hosting the World Cup in 2022.  And rightfully so - Qatar securing the World Cup is hands down the worst decision every made by FIFA.  None of the governing body's other bullshit even comes close.


Predictions aside, this will be arguably the biggest party on the planet earth (possibly all-time).  I'd have difficulty conjuring up a better scenario.  An entire month in Brazil for the World Cup.  Doesn't get any more entertaining than that.  If you've got the cash and a penchant for taking a ride on the "wild side," my advice is to skip the Motley Crud concert and hit Rio or maybe Sao Paulo.  Porto Allegro will be a scenic, hot spot too - it borders Argentina and Uruguay with lots of fans likely to make the trek (not the best early match-ups though).  To be honest, anywhere in Brazil would do nicely. 

The only problem - all the host cities are 8-10+ hours apart.  So you'd probably have to fly if you want to check out multiple destinations = $$$.

My advice - go for the early games (June 12-16) or the early knock-out round of 16  (June 28-July 1).

My next blog will focus on predictions for the round of 16, the quarters, semis and eventual champions.  I'm sure everyone is salivating with excitement.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Top 10 "theoretically public dumpsters" in Wheeling, WV

Top 10 "theoretically public dumpsters" in Wheeling, WV

10.  Stoney Hollow Tire in Martins Ferry.  Technically across the river in Ohio, but I have my reasons.

9.  Overlook Terrace apartments.  Discreet brick-walled coverage in a pleasant Wheeling Park atmosphere.

8.  Oglebay Village/Wheeling Station.  Wide open mayhem in an unpleasant Oglebay Park suburb.

7.  Wheeling Jesuit University - "Your Dumping Begins Right Here!"

6.  Long John Silvers dumpster was once the recipient of a human being involved in a fight outside the 19th Ho.  Someone allegedly yelled, "It's time to take out the trash!"

5.  Exxon at the end of Washington Avenue.  If they can spill oil, we can dump trash.

4.  The Mull Mansion.  Nice entry way. 

3.  Vacant mud-filled lot next to the McDonald's drive-thru in Whorewood.

2.  Back to Ohio.  Anywhere in Bell-Dirty!

1.  Anywhere in Triadelphia a/k/a Tri-Dirty!