Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 In Review - Movies

To say 2011 was a sub par year for movies could be an understatement.  One of the biggest commercial and critical hits is my most overrated of the year.  Not that any movies were terrible, but most had a 'been there, done that' vibe I couldn't shake.  Maybe I've watched too many movies.  Or am too old.  Or both. 

Whatever the reason, my lack of passion for this year's crop should be evident.  I should point out that I'm usually six months to a year behind people that actually...you know...go to the movies. 

For better or worse, let's run down the year that was. 

MOST REWATCHABLE

Inception:  I'm hooked every time I stumble across this on HBO.  Doesn't matter where it is, my thumb hovers over the channel button until I slowly put down the remote and get sucked into this bizarre and addictive universe for the 50th time. 

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World:  For completely different reasons as I catch new details every viewing.  That and it's entertaining as hell.  The bass duel between Scott and the vegan has more care and craft put into it than most entire movies. 

Knight and Day:  Not because there are several scenes that were filmed in my neighborhood (although it helps), but because I still crack up over Tom Cruise's depiction of a secret agent who has become so bored with the spectacular nature of his job that he lays out compliments while hanging on the hood of an out of control car or politely giving a message to a henchman before knocking him out.  That he can't understand why Cameron Diaz is freaked out by gunfire and car chases makes this all the more entertaining. 


FAVORITES

Piranha:  Rarely have I fallen in love with a movie so totally and quickly as I did with this one.  The opening scene (which I won't give away) had me laughing immediately.  Funny, legitimately suspenseful and gory, and contains one of the more gruesome spring break parties you'll ever witness.

The Social Network:  Despite all the accolades and buzz I was prepared for a let down.  Not so.  Just as great as everyone has been raving about. 

127 Hours:  How a movie about a dude stuck in a dark cave wound up more involving and exhilarating than 90% of the movies release this year is a testament to one of the best directors working today: Danny Boyle.  'Trainspotting', '28 Days Later', 'Slumdog Millionaire' and now '127 Hours'.  Not a bad resume at all. 

The Town:  Ben Affleck proves 'Gone Baby Gone' was no fluke by directing and starring in one of the best heist movies of the year.  A bit over dramatic with the girlfriend, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. 

Winter's Bone:  Cold, depressing, disturbing, yet oddly hopeful after a teenage girl goes looking for her missing father in order to save her younger siblings from eviction.  One of those films that seems like a documentary nobody would allow to be made. 

TrollHunter:  Swedish movie that's a cross between 'Blair Witch' and the most demented children's show ever created.  Team of journalists follow self proclaimed 'Troll Hunter' around the country side only to learn he's been telling the truth the entire time.  The special effects are much better than you'd expect. 

Easy A:  Any other year, this wouldn't have made my list.  I'm stretching this year, so I'll add it mainly because I'm in love with Emma Stone (but still won't see 'The Help') and she kills it here.  Hated the ending, but enjoyed this for the most part. 


BEST MOVIE I FINALLY WATCHED

City of God:  Rented this through Netflix after the urging of several readers and was blown away.  You will literally never see a more disturbing movie the rest of your lives.  That it's based on real events makes this even more haunting. 


MOST OVERRATED

Bridesmaids:  Don't get me wrong; I laughed quite a few times at this movie, loved Kristen Wiig, John Hamm (who stole every scene), Melissa McCarthy, and all the actors.  I just didn't think it was GREAT.  If anything I was distracted that this was the same movie as 'I Love You, Man'.  Replace Paul Rudd with Maya Rudolph, Jason Segal with Wiig, Rush with Wilson Philips, ad lib a few scenes and presto, new movie everyone loves. 


OVERRATED RUNNER UP

Black Swan:  Granted, any movie that has Mila Kunis going down on Natalie Portman is worth watching, but the 'descent into madness' angle we've seen a hundred times and the fake shocks with later realizations they were hallucinated wore thin.  I did like the theme that all artistic genius has a touch of madness behind it, but I can't figure out why this garnered so much attention.  Other than....you know...Mila Kunis going down on Natalie Portman.


BEST PERFORMANCE

Casey Affleck - The Killer Inside Me:  Be warned, do not watch this movie if you can't handle some intensely brutal scenes (including one in which the love of my life - Jessica Alba - gets the living shit beat out of her).  Affleck is supremely creepy as a sociopath who thinks he's smarter than everyone else (and just may be).  The movie has flaws, but is held together by Affleck as a genial, aw shucks, cold blooded killer. 


BEST USE OF MALE NUDITY

Hall Pass:  The scene were Owen Wilson falls asleep in the hot tub.  I will say no more, other than I'm glad the Farrelly Brothers can still bring their A game now and then. 


BEST USE OF FEMALE NUDITY

The American:  Which I liked because of it's bleak view of being a professional assassin.  While many tend to glamorize it, this movie creates a lonely, bleak, paranoid world that is only broken by falling into the wrong kind of love...with a smoking hot girl who's naked a lot.  Sounds like a perfect relationship to me. 


MOVIE THAT WAS MUCH BETTER THAN EXPECTED

Predators:  Frankly, any movie that begins with some dude free falling into a jungle is worth my time.  That it didn't let up for over 90 minutes is why I'm mentioning it.  Some serious dysfunction between the characters makes this more demented and entertaining than I could have ever hoped. 


MOVE THAT WAS MUCH WORSE THAN EXPECTED

Dinner for Schmucks:  No, it wasn't terrible, but when you have Paul Rudd and Steve Carell together again I was expecting a classic.  Some amusing moments, but wanted so much more. 

Think that's it for this year.  Everyone enjoy their New Year's!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011 In Review - Music

I realize music is very personal. What I enjoy may not be what you would ever listen to in a million years (unless you're Kos). Therefore I would never dare title my musical entries 'The Best of 2011'. I'm nowhere near educated enough to declare anything better than anything else.

I merely present to you - dear readers - what I've enjoyed the most over the past twelve months. I ask only that you listen to the examples I post (and, please, listen to the entire song and give it a chance) and make up your own minds.

Three quick hits before we get this going:

1: You'll notice quite a few hard core entries this year. My musical tastes tend to reflect my moods and I was not in a good mood due to work related reasons. I'm better now, but my anger is represented strongly.

2: I know I'll forget something. Happens every year and I don't expect this year to be any different.

3: 2011 was a great year for music.  Prepare for lots to sift through. 

Off we go!


MOST ENTERTAINING

Beastie Boys -Hot Sauce Committee Part II: The Brooklyn trio return with more funk, hilarious name dropping (John Salley and Tippy Hedren in the same song?), and musical inventiveness than any other 10 albums combined. Easily my most addictive album of the year.

Check out: Really, you can pick any song from this and be happily bouncing along in seconds. Here's 'B-Boys in the Cut' for one. Or how about 'Lee Majors Come Again' which demands to be played loud. Hell, here is 'A Little Something For Ya'. You're welcome.


OTHER FAVORITES

Mastodon - The Hunter: Still trying to smash the prism through which heavy metal should be viewed and, most importantly, heard. These guys are ferocious, yet intelligent and thoughtful in how their songs are constructed. It should say a lot that this isn't their best album but is still head and shoulders above what everyone else in their field is even attempting.

Check out: Even you non metal heads, please listen to 'Dry Bone Valley'. Just once. If I can convert just one of you, my mission will be accomplished.


MuteMath - Odd Soul: This album is all over the place in the best way possible. A soulful rock album whose best moments are the seemingly random instrumental breakouts midway through some songs. Even the lyrics are weirdly abstract yet personal enough that it makes you wonder if they came from one of the band member's dreams.

Check out: 'Walking Paranoia'. Jesus is coming back...gonna catch me...at the porno rack...


Talons - Hollow Realm: According to my iPod, I've listened to this album more than any other over the past six months. And I have no argument whatsoever. A creative, hard core, completely instrumental album that I simply can't get enough of. Besides, who am I to disagree with a piece of computer electronics?

Check out: 'In The Shadow Of Our Stilted Homes' for some of the best guitar work you'll hear this year.


Crooked Fingers - Breaks in the Armor: I’m 90% positive Eric Bachman (former Archers of Loaf leader who will make this list, too, believe it or not) could grab three people off the street and crank out a great album. Proof that the 'singer songwriter' label doesn't mean things have to be dull.

Check out: A live version of one my favorite songs of the year 'Bad Blood'.


Bayside - Killing Time: I've always enjoyed this NJ band, but I never fully committed because I got the impression they were trying to be something they weren't. Namely another emo-pop punk band with darker lyrics. I even debated wasting a buck on their new one until I heard the opening song. Rock on!

Check out: Allow this song to do the talking for me. Apologies if you need to skip an ad.


Hard-Fi - Killer Sounds: Dance rock at its most addictive. Think I listened to this album straight through six times in a row when I first got it. Even Wifey enjoys it - which sort of alarms me.

Check out: 'Stop' which epitomizes the Hard Fi sound - catchy music combined with amusing, self loathing lyrics. I really enjoy these guys!  For the hell of it, here is 'Bring It On'.  Get your grooves on!


Imelda May - Mayhem:  Foot stomping, jazz - rockabilly fusion that somehow invokes old school while being completely fresh and lively.  While Adele deservedly gets a lot of attention, I wish May would get her reward.  Instead she'll have to settle for being mentioned in my yearly review that (maybe) 10 people read. 

Check out:  Live version of 'Mayhem'.  If you like this song, pick up the entire album. 


TV On The Radio - Nine Types of Light:  Bittersweet that the last release before TV's bass player died of lung cancer is also their strongest, most consistent, most enjoyable and best so far. 

Check out:  A strange, dance video for a song about abusing drugs



NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

MachineHead - Unto The Locust:  Since we're into my hard core phase, allow me to scare the shit out of people.  Old school throwback metal with machine gun drums, guitar solos and pulse pounding bass.  I cranked this from work to home and my entire car was vibrating.  Bonus points for covering two of my old favorite bands - Judas Priest (The Sentinel) and Rush (Witch Hunt) and doing them justice. 

Check out (if you dare): 'Be Still And Know'.  The cover art on this album is - as my boys would say - SICK!  That means good. 


Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage:  An epic mix of death metal and opera like atmosphere.  Creepy and exhilarating. 

Check out (if you dare): 'Astral Blood'.  I'm fully aware this proves I have some underlying issue I have yet to address. 


Cave In - White Silence:  Uncompromising (as usual), eclectic and completely original.  These guys truly make music for themselves and really don't care who they please and who they alienate. 

Check out:  Here is live version of  'Centered'.  Here is 'Heartbreaks, EarthQuakes'.  And, yes, these are both off the same album.  Now you get the idea. 


Russian Circles - Empros:  Six epic, hard core songs that express more musically than most bands do with words. 

Check out: One of the milder songs, Mladek.  Note how even this one turns dark about 2 minutes in. 


HONORABLE MENTIONS

Arctic Monkeys - Suck It And See:  The Monkeys take a step back in their warped time machine and do some old school, classic rock anthems while maintaining their trademark, quirky lyricism. 

Check out:  A live version of 'That's Where You're Wrong' that sounds fantastic.  I now want to see them live.


George Thorogood and the Destroyers - 2120 South Michigan Ave:  Thorogood sounds reinvigorated while covering a bunch of Chess Record tracks (hence the address of the title).  Guess he wants to show how the old school operates. 

Check out:  A live version of Chuck Berry's 'Let It Rock'.  Man still has it. 


Bombay Bicycle Club - A Different Kind of Fix:  Straight ahead, sensitive, school boy, pop which is totally not my bag.  Yet, I find this blissfully distracting. 

Check out:  'Take The Right One'


Elbow - Build A Rocket Boys:  Like Mastodon, this isn't their best stuff (for my money 'The Seldom Seen Kid' is going to be tough to beat) and - like Mastodon - their lesser stuff is still better than most other bands on their best days.  Bet you didn't think I could compare Elbow to Mastodon, did you?

Check out:  A real live version of 'Lippy Kids'.  I love how the lead singer always looks like he just rolled out of bed. 


The Generators - Last of the Pariahs:  Punk rockers return with a ferocious bunch of new songs that provide the argument they should have never gone away. 

Check out:  The video for 'You Against You'


Talkdemonic - Ruins:  In the past ten years, I've probably bought one or two completely instrumental albums. This year I have three that I love.  Ironically, a band named Talkdemonic is the gentlest and most atmospheric of them all. 

Check out:  Their video for 'City Sleep'.  Give this one a few minutes before making up your mind.  On a side note, is it me or are all female violin players hot?


Thursday - No Devolucion:  I've always been a bit frustrated with Thursday and their lack of commitment.  While Cave In use variety to define their sound (and somehow always sound like Cave In while doing so), Thursday seems to just go with what's trendy.  While that continues here (esp on the electronic laced 'Magnets Caught In A Metal Heart), the intelligent songwriting and the use of different genres blends into their heavy sound rather than detract from it.   

Check out:  'Past and Future Ruins' which sums up the glorious schizophrenic nature of this album. 


The Wonder Years - Suburbia I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing:  Nothing extraordinary here, just good old fashioned pop punk at it's finest.  Crank and sing along!

Check out:  'And Now I'm Nothing'.  Enjoy. 


BEST RE-RELEASE

Archers of Loaf - Ickey Mettle:  If you want to check out my personal musical evolution, you can start with Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Rush and Judas Priest then stumble across Arches of Loaf who open your eyes for all sorts of alternative possibilities.  Holds up shockingly well after 20 something years. 


THE WORST

The Kooks - Junk Of The Heart:  A band I thought had no boundaries takes another misstep.  They've gone from a fun, freewheeling band to one that would have a hard time making the cut on a 'Very Special Grey's Anatomy'.

Lady Gaga:  I don't even care about her music (although 'Born This Way' sounds an awful lot like Madonna's 'Respect Yourself'), I just want her to stop showing up like a performance art exhibit or Al Pacino.  I'm no psychological expert, but when a person goes to any length to be anyone but herself, I think help is required.

OK, need to stop and do some actual work.  Hope you find something you enjoy.   

Monday, December 5, 2011

2011 In Review: Television

That's right, ladies and gents!  It's that time of year again.  The time we run down the good, bad, and worst of the year that was.  So let's stop dilly dallying (I hate when we do that) and get right to it.

I've been operating under the theory that this past year has seen more quality television than it had movies.  Quick, I asked Wifey and now you, name me one GREAT movie you've seen this past year.  Anything spring to mind?  I'm normally a year behind so 'Inception' pops up.  Possibly 'Scott Pilgrim' if I give it enough thought.  But other than that?  I can't think of one 'WOW' movie I've seen recently. 

But television?  Now we're talking. 

BEST OF THE BEST

Modern Family:  I've spewed on enough about this show that I'll keep things brief. I was worried that success would go to this shows head, but, if anything, it's better than ever.  So consistently funny that we take for granted how memorable and relatable the characters are.  Top notch work by everyone involved for three years running. 

The Good Wife:  Still as intelligent, absorbing and thought provoking as ever.  Getting Eli to 'work with the team', Will and Alicia's complicated fling, the work/family stress, the Alicia/Kalinda mess (which just got messier than ever after last night's episode), Cary and  his new girlfriend (who Kalinda is attempting to seduce), Peter investigating Will without trying to seem biased...I really could go on, but if you're not watching already there's nothing I can say that will sway you.  Just know you're missing one of the best shows of recent memory.  Human, heartfelt, often hilarious, and - like life - complicated and messy. 

Suburgatory:  A cynical, sarcastic, hilarious look at the lily white suburbs from the point of view of an inner city teenage girl.  Every character is quirky and slightly deranged and it affects everyone and everything in town.  Up to and including the PTA.  The Halloween episode is my favorite.

Boardwalk Empire:  After sauntering out of the gate in it's first few episodes, this show has steadily picked up momentum while fleshing out every character we meet.  If I had to pick one show at gunpoint as my single favorite, this might be it.  Might be...

The Walking Dead:  Some spoiler alerts here, just in case.

I freely admit to having a dark side, having my doubts about the existence of any holy creator or overseer, and am a bit fed up with television and movies sugar coating the workings of the real world.  Bad things to happen to good people every day.  It's a fact and refusing to admit such is ignoring reality.  I don't wish it so, but it's true. 

Enter this season of the Walking Dead, which not only has it's main character (and the viewer's emotional connection) openly question the existence of God (in a church no less), but who's challenge for a divine sign from above is answered with his own son being shot in the woods.  If that's not a spiritual 'fuck you', I don't know what is.

Keep in mind this is the same show that has done the following:  Had the main character's best friend and his wife get it on while they thought he was dead, resulting in a (now unwanted) pregnancy; have a character watch her sister die, then come back as a zombie only to have to shoot her in the head; have another character fall into a ravine, awaken with a zombie gnawing on his boot and an arrow through his torso only to get shot by his own crew after he staggered back to camp; have a now missing character saw off his own hand because he lost keys to the handcuffs that chained him to a pipe; and recently have a little girl go missing for weeks after our hero misdirects her back to the highway.

But even I wasn't prepared for the climax of the search for the little girl that ends with her as a zombie trapped in a barn and being shot in the head by the best friend who is now if full psycho mode.  This show isn't just dark, it's pitch black and it is leaving viewers with little to no hope.  Forget sticking together, this group may not even survive. 

And, yes, I fucking love this show.  Would you expect anything less?

Boss:  Kelsey Grammar stars as the corrupt (and terminally ill) mayor of Chicago.  Another example of television now drawing in quality talent from movies.  Martin Scorcese is involved with Boardwalk Empire and Gus Van Sant directs a few episodes of this shockingly well made show on Starz.  Grammar is eye opening as the vicious and cold hearted mayor who thinks he's above it all.  I love the (possible?) hallucinations caused by his disease.

The opening scene from the series contains the best acting I've seen on TV all year:  Grammar listening to a doctor give his diagnosis while the camera lingers, uninterrupted, on his face while he attempts to process.  Just fantastic.  I did have a hard time buying into the extremes other people would go in order to please him, but it's not a deal breaker.  He's just a mayor.  Not even the President would get that kind of reverence. 

ESPN'S Documentary Series:  This used to be the '30 for 30' series, but they don't use that title any more for some reason. Regardless, these are some of the most absorbing shows you'll ever see.  My favorites being the ones on Steve Bartman (who comes off as the only rational, considerate, intelligent person in the entire debacle), real life Rocky, and Chris Herren (because I remember him from his high school days). 


BEST OF THE REST

New Girl:  Surprisingly funny is all I can say.  Not a huge fan of Zooey, but she gives enough freedom to her co-actors that the guys she lives with wind up stealing every episode.  Oddly, a show about a girl is one of the few that honestly portrays male friendships:  Rude, insulting, argumentative all solved with a simple 'You want to come with us?'

Up All Night:  Amusing sitcom about new parents.  Many laugh out loud moments (often throw away lines, at that) and someone has finally put Will Arnett to good, 'Post Arrested Development' use. 

Community:  Not as good as it has been, but some stellar episodes (The multiple time lines, the 'Heart of Darkness' spoof) keeps me coming back. 

Parks and Recreation:  I finally got  hooked on this show two seasons ago and have not been disappointed. At this stage, it's better than 'The Office' (see below).

House:  While not in it's prime, it's still better than most of the crap out there.  I'm thiiiss close to being done.  Although I've been thiiisss close for three seasons now.  Guess as long as Hugh Laurie is on board, so am I. 

GUILTY PLEASURE

Revenge:  I'm not proud I watch this, but it's been entertaining and addictive enough that I keep coming back.  Plus the lead chick is hot and you root enough against the bad guys that there is satisfaction in their come uppance.  Been slowing down a bit, which I don't like.  No revenge has been taken in three episodes now. Let's get to it. 

DISAPPOINTMENTS

The Office:  It's not terrible (yet), but Steve Carrell leaving should have put everyone on notice.  I'm hoping this is simply growing pains and they figure it out, but it's not looking good. 

Bones:  Unlike 'House' I am done with this show.  Babies being born everywhere, personal crisis neatly resolved every week, Bones and Booth now romantically involved.  Pick a 'jump the shark' reference and this show has had it over the past season and a half. 

The Big Bang Theory:  After some friendly urgings, I gave this show a shot.  I laughed once while that 'audience' laughed hysterically at every 'joke'.  Don't get it. 

WORST

Terra Nova:  Not only does the premise make no sense, but they can't even pull off the action scenes properly.  All the characters are one note and the family we're supposed to care about is annoying and pouty.  I wanted to punch the son in the face after 15 minutes and that urge hasn't abated.  Made it through two and a half hours before bailing. 

Whitney:  I'm convinced the only reason this show was created was because Whitney Cummings is hot in an anorexic, plastic surgery addicted kind of way.  I've never seen her stand up nor any of her comedy, but if this show is any indication, I wouldn't laugh once.  Far and away the worst show I've seen all year. 

Two Broke Girls: WTF, CBS??

Music entry coming soon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Belated Wishes

It occured to me with alarm this morning that I never wished one of my favorite people a raucous 'Happy Birthday!'.

Then I realized there was no appropriate way for me to send her that message with Wifey on round the clock monitoring of all things electronic.  Enter the blogosphere.  What better way to wish DA a belated Happy Birthday then the one place designed specifically for her to waste time. 

Happy Birthday!!!  What are you, 35 now?  37?  I'm sure you still look fantastic however old you are. 

And while we're on the topic, here are some other belated wishes. 

For my old co-workers:  the ability to survive the changing tide.  Word from old friends is things are getting very ugly there. 

For my fantasy team:  A good doctor to get you back to 100% next season.  Since starting 3 - 0, I've lost Kenny Britt, Mike Vick, and now, devestatingly, Fred Jackson.  I'm heading towards 4 - 8 after this week.  What a disaster. 

For the Patriots:  That this new found defense isn't simply an illusion but the sign of great things to come.  I have my doubts considering Vince Young just threw for 400 yards against you. 

For the NBA:  The realization that you really shouldn't start your season until Christmas anyway.  Nobody pays attention until then regardless.  Cut your games down to 70, compress the playoffs (always loved the best of five first round) and be done before July 4th. 

For Kos:  Two albums to check out (although I'll bet you already have) - Machine Head's "Unto The Locusts" and Wolves in the Throne Room's "Celestial Lineage".  Not sure how you feel about Thursday, but their new one, "No Devolucion" is fantastic. 

For Bigs:  Another drunken, post coital blog entry from some pretty girl's apartment.  Still one of my favorites.  Oh, and a private office so he can avoid the fat, wheezy woman at work.  Least I could do since the first part was more for my benefit. 

For Jum:  Success at the new job and the chance to watch the JayHawks celebrate in March.  Right...from..your...desk.  Actually, that sounds fun.  The best view I had was the 'Occupy Boston' tent city and hoping for a police induced riot.  Alas. 

For Rob: Continued success at whatever it is you do for a living and that you son stays as addictively entertaining as he seems to be now. Whenever I need a laugh I go back and watch that video you posted. Cracks me up every time.


For C:  The ability to get back to Boston so we can booze it up properly.  Doesn't seem like a ton of travel with this new gig, so I should be around. 

For 10 (assuming he still reads here): That his new family is still healthy and happy.  Perhaps there is a new addition since last we spoke?

For the Red Sox:  The ability to make a fucking decision about anything. 

For Kevin Garnett:  A surprisingly short NBA season so you can make one last run on rested legs...wait a second...

For my new coworkers:  The revelation that, yes, I am like this all the time.  Suckers!

For my replacement at my old company (who I just heard looks like Jon Lovitz):  A sense of humor to protect you from the lunacy you just inherited. 

For the rest of you, just keep up the good work.  Or start doing good work if you've been slacking. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Unacceptable

Red Sox fans have been through the wringer the past few months.  Yeah, I know.  Boo fucking hoo. 

None of it was really bothering me much.  Not even the September collapse.  It was obvious this team was not going to go far even if they made the playoffs and swore off beer. 

Judging from the stories, it certainly seemed like Francona had to go. 

Theo leaving has been inevitable since 2005 when he walked out in a hissy fit over control of the team.  Let's be honest, his recent moves won't be included in his career retrospective.  Still, we wish him well and he'll always be viewed as the local boy who ended the World Series drought and made the Sox a juggernaut. 

Big Papi is entering his twilight years and it really won't matter if he resigns with the Sox. 

Papelbon has been a thorn in my side for the past three years.  Spectacular at times, but I never felt totally comfortable when he entered the game with a one run lead.  Plus Sox fans won't be subjected to his four minute routine for every pitch.  Man, that drove me nuts.

I suspect the John Lackey's Tommy John 'surgery' is code for 'get the fuck away from this city for a year and hopefully they'll forget what a complete tool you are'.  Wonder if the Red Sox are hoping Lackey becomes a full fledged alcoholic and puts on 130 pounds so they can void his contract.  Or they'll wait until he 'rehabs' (which, for Lackey, offers so many meanings) from the surgery, leak stories about how great he looks and trade him.  One way or another we won't see Lackey in a Red Sox uniform again.  That's what I'm trying to say. 

And, still I was ok with all of it.  Or, at least, not heavily emotionally invested.  I had other shit going on, after all. 

But this!!!???

This is going too far!!  Why, Heidi??  WHHYYYYYYY??????!!!!!!

And to be the Lakers' sideline reporter, no less??  Farewell, Heidi.  Thanks for the info and the view.


How are they going to replace that?

Fuckin' Sox!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lovin' Life

There are times when fuck ups are rewarded. 

Since January I've been toiling away for a company that did not have my best interests at heart.  As many of you know, this can take a serious toll on your mental well being.  I certainly had checked out and stopped caring as far back as March (I'm sure there is a ranting entry in my past that will get into the gory details and the exact date of when I mentally walked out on my last job). 

The logical step would be to start looking for a new job, but in a recession that isn't always a great option.  I had many interviews that went well, some that I knew I had no interest in after the first 10 minutes, and some I'm sure my wise ass personality leaked out and rubbed people the wrong way.  Happens all the time. 

I had a few offers, but it was lower pay for jobs I didn't feel great about.  There were two jobs I really wanted, but they fell through for whatever reason (I still don't know why since they never returned my calls or emails.  Bastards!).

Then I made a mistake. 

I found out today talking to my new boss that he was going to create my position an 'entry level' slot, but saw my resume and decided having someone with more experience would be a much better idea.  Thus he called me in, I met him and my coworker, hit it off and the rest is history. 

The thing is I didn't even notice the phrase 'Entry Level' in the job posting.  I saw the requirements, the location and thought 'Hey, that looks good'.  Whoops!

Best screw up I ever made.  So far (and granted, it's only day three), this has been the best job I've had.  I've already learned more in three days here than I have all last year.  The guys are funny, laid back and just told me that their 'Team Cohesion' exercises involve strip clubs, cabs, and hung over team meetings the next day. 

Yeah, I'm gonna fit right in here.  Wait until I introduce Beer O'Clock to this crew. 

Try to post more often, but I'm already balls to the wall here and the future looks more intense.  Carry on! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

End Of An Era

Sorry for the lack of posts the last few weeks, but I've had many balls in the air.  That would include my own. 

See, I've had this expensive, Churchill sized cigar sitting on my bookcase since August.  The idea was to spark it up the day I gave notice at my ungrateful, inconsiderate, backstabbing company. 

Tonight I'm lighting that motherfucker up and smoking every inch of it to ash. 

That's right, folks.  I just quit.  Bagged myself a prime job that keeps my pay at the same rate, maintains my three weeks of vacation and gets me out of the city.  My commute time is now 15 minutes!  More importantly I don't have to take the train to work everyday (which becomes a major hassle in the winter). 

Barring any set backs in the background check and/or drug screen (always a possibility when dealing with me) I'll be starting on November 7th. 

While I'm super relieved to get out of here before the outsourcing Armageddon (Jan 1st), I'd be lying if I won't miss all the friends I've made here.  A quick list of all the buds I still chat with:

Z - co-creator of the spontaneous liquid lunches.

DA - one of my favorite people ever and the person directly responsible for this blog even existing.

ML and BH - two more favorites who are such close friends they belong together on this list.

AR - My crowning 'Beer O'Clock' achievement.  Arrived an alcohol virgin and left with a full blown appreciation (some would refer to it as a 'problem') of beer. 

MF - who brought sarcasm to levels I never thought possible.  She's nearly made it an art form. 

RS -  Golden Tee partner in crime who loses his shit by any new politically correct term or by anyone calling a Christmas Tree a Holiday Tree.  Also invented the international hand gesture for 'over the edge'.  (This was a total inside joke for DA, btw)

SS  -  The game master who has a putting green, Nerf basketball and football obstacle course around his office.  Also played the best practical joke I ever witnessed: His boss just comes back from getting laser eye surgery and he hands him a report with a straight face.  'I know you just got back, but could you look this over when you get a chance?'.  The report has been written in teeny tiny, italicized font with shadow background.  Boss' response: 'You fucking asshole!'

AL - who is as obsessed with lunch as I am. 

CS - who appreciates historical fiction as much as I do. 

Sadly, most of these people have already left me which is why I'm not terribly upset at moving on. 

Still, it's been a fun ride.  I'll hopefully keep posting on a more regular basis once the new gig settles down. 

Enjoy the weekend.  If you hear of a fire in the Boston area, that might just be me smoking the celebratory cigar.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NFL Postmortem - Week 5

Since I missed last week, let’s sprinkle in other random thoughts throughout.  Need to keep you guys on your toes. 

This week’s alternate working title can be “What we’ve learned so far”.  Week 5 is usually a fair barometer of which teams have glaring weaknesses. 

Off we go. 

-  I have two words to explain the Eagles woes this season:  Andy and Reid.  There is talent on both sides of the field on that team, Vick seems to be dynamic as ever (he can’t be blamed for three of those four INTs) and with McCoy they have one of the best running backs in the game.  What is killing them is lack of focus and execution and those two factors are a direct result of the coaching. 

We just learned in Boston that it doesn’t matter how great a manager or coach you have; eventually the players lose the ability to listen.  It happened with Bill Fitch with the Celtics; just happened with Francona (more on this in a bit); KC Jones, Phil Jackson, Larry Brown…hell you name a great coach and they’ll admit they’ve lost a team’s ear at some point in their career.  Bill Parcells knew this better than anyone which is why he would search for a new job after 4 or 5 years with a certain team. 

They could turn it around, but it certainly seems like Reid has lost this Eagles team. 


-  Started Josh Freeman in my League That Doesn’t Matter and he netted me a whopping three (as in 3) points.  WTF??


-  Is San Fran really that good?  They look it, but I keep thinking ‘They have Alex Smith as their quarterback’. 


-  The Jets have some serious problems, as well.  Sanchez looks terrible, Tomlinson is barely being used, Greene is going to be bruised, battered and beaten before week 8, and their defense doesn’t look nearly as good as it has the last two seasons.  And, no, I couldn’t be happier. 


-  Let’s not get all excited about Kansas City’s comeback against the Colts or Battle’s killer day.  The Chiefs are still a mess and Indy’s defense is one of the worst in the league. 

That said, I picked up Battle on waivers….just…in….case…..


-  Chores completed around the house this weekend:  Four windows fixed and painted, entire first floor cleaned to perfection, lawn mowed (for the last time this year, hopefully), garage cleaned and organized.  In short, I rock. 


-  Three quick movie reviews

TrollHunter:  Entertaining Swedish movie about a group of college students stumbling onto the one Troll Hunter employed by the government.  Takes a Blair Witch treatment claiming that the footage was found, but is much more than a low budget, cheapo knock off.  Some very funny moments (including the hunter’s armored getup and attempts to lure a troll onto a bridge) and better special effects than I was expecting. 
Them:  No, this isn’t the classic horror movie about giant ants.  This is a French movie about a couple terrorized in their country home by unseen forces.   I have to be careful here, because I can’t give away too much.  This starts off as a typical horror movie and has some effective and truly frightening moments.  What’s interesting is what is actually going on is more disturbing than any super natural or inexplicable events could ever be.  I will say no more although I did have many questions when it was over. 
Both of the movies above are available on Netflix streaming, if you have any interest. 
Transformers: Dark of the Moon:  A typical Michael Bay mishmash of explosions and jumbled story lines, but it’s better than the last piece of shit Transformers movie.  Although the Sam character comes off as an arrogant, spoiled brat much of the time and I was amazed that it seems like the Autobots let thousands and thousands of people get slaughtered simply to prove a point. 

-  Can we declare the Kevin Kolb era over in Arizona already? 

-  Question for Vikings fans:  Do you want Adrian Peterson carrying the ball 30 times a game this season?  Your team is 1 – 4, in the same division as the only undefeated teams left in the NFL, and have Donovan McNabb as your starting quarterback.  Do you want to put that wear and tear on your one true star player when the season is – for all intents and purposes – lost?

-  Eli Manning continues his Jekyll and Hyde routine.  Three TDs, three INTs, many ugly throws.  How does someone with his ability and genes continue to make the same stupid mistakes?  Hell, if it weren’t for some acrobatic catches by his receivers his stats wouldn’t even be that good. 

-  Is it wrong that I’m tempted to trade for Chris Johnson this week?  Just get the feeling he’s going to rip off a spectacular run of touchdowns and hundred yard games within the coming weeks.  What do you think it would take?  Dez Bryant?  Steve Smith?  Nah, keeping Smith.  I might dangle Bryant to see what kind of feedback I get. 

-  I don’t care that Carolina is 1 – 4.  I believe.   Although Cam needs to stop running the draw at the goal line.  He’s going to get hurt.  This is why you have Stewart and Williams behind you.  Use them.

-  Fascinating article that documents the collapse of the Red Sox season.  According to sources it wasn’t enough that Lackey sucked royally this season, but it seems as though he contributed to the deterioration of the entire starting pitching staff.  All of them would spend time in the clubhouse drinking beer and eating fried foods on their off days.  All of them put on weight and lost interest in their conditioning.  And I’ll bet this lack of conditioning contributed to Buchholz’s back injury.  I fucking hate all of them.  Way to back your team, fuckers. 

-  Did you know the Bengals have a 3 – 2 record?  And that their rookie QB looks pretty good?  In fact, between Gabbard, Dalton and Cam Newton, this rookie class of quarterbacks is looking like a gold mine.  Who knew?

-  What’s Carson Palmer up to these days?

-  The last play of the Houston – Oakland game could be the single worst pass attempt we’ll see all year.  What the fuck was Schaub thinking?

-  Am I the only one amazed at the amount of weight Miguel Cabrera has put on since joining the Tigers?  I barely recognized him watching the game last night.  Oh, and don’t think I don’t watch Fister pitch and wonder what could have been.  The Sox contemplated trading for him but took Eric Bedard instead.  As Homer would say, ‘D’OH!’

-  Something tells me Tebow becoming the starter in Denver won’t make one bit of difference. 

-  Is it too early to declare the Falcons over rated?  No?  I didn’t think so. 

-  Detroit 5 – 0.  Buffalo 4 – 1.  Is this 1999?

Stat of the Week:  Heading into Week Five, Adrian Peterson had three touchdowns.  He had three touchdowns in the first quarter against the Cardinals. 


Today’s distraction:  Enjoy some shots from ESPN’s Body Issue.  My latest crush Hope Solo proves she’s anything but shy.  Although why she’s watering the lawn is a bit of a question mark. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

NFL Postmortem - Week 3

There is a saying in basketball that has proven correct every time:  Live by the three, die by the three.  It basically means that if you depend on three point accuracy to win games, you will lose at the worst possible time when that typically low percentage shot stops falling.
 
This can now translate to the NFL:  Live by the pass, die by the pass.  The Patriots have actually proven this the last three seasons.  Going pass heavy and not even bothering to establish any sort of running game.  Eventually passes will go astray or get tipped or bounce off a random helmet and the outcome will not be pleasant.  Except for Bills' fans. 

This can now - albeit loosely - be translated to fantasy football, as well: Live by the Vick, die by the Vick.  I've been dying by him the last two weeks and am now giving serious consideration to Colt McCoy simply because he finishes games. 

I know I'm a day or two late with this, so let's cruise through the games.  If anyone still remembers them. 

-  Allow me to dispense with the fantasy boredom first.  Not only did I have Vick playing half games for me, but Kenny Britt was my leading wide receiver.  Things have quickly gone south for me this season, but I'm vowing to bounce back.  I've still got Dez Bryant and his girly tendencies, DeSean Jackson (who has done nothing the last two weeks) and Steve Smith.  I'm going to attempt to trade for Jordy Nelson, too, but don't want to give up too much.  Frank Gore will be my chip since he apparently retired two years ago and never told anyone. 

-  Post I left on my fantasy league site.   'Subject:  On The Block.  Wanted:  Medical/Training staff experienced with concussions, broken hands, MCL/ACL tears.  Bionic knee replacement experimentation preferred.'

No replies yet.  Humorless fuckers. 

-  Whether or not Buffalo is for real, they've got me convinced. They just don't quit, Fitzpatrick never loses his cool, and Fred Jackson is a beast.  If their defense can pick it up a bit, we'll be talking about them in January. 

-  That said, what were the Bills doing in the final two minutes of the game?  Why weren't they using Jackson to pound in the ball?  I get killing the clock, but doesn't it make sense to get the 7 points and force the Patriots to tie it up?  Instead we had half hearted kneel downs and confusion and penalties and Fitzpatrick nearly losing the ball on a snap.  Just give it to Jackson, let him fall down once, then use the other two tries to get a TD.  I shouldn't second guess since it worked out.  I was convinced the field goal was going to miss after all that which would have been hilarious. 

-  Great to see Ochocinco chipping in for the Pats finally.  Insert sarcasm face here. 

-  Not so convinced about Detroit now.  They looked TERRIBLE in the first half at Minnesota.  Good thing they were playing the Vikings. 

-  Game that told us nothing about either team and might double as the worst game of the year:  49ers 13  - Bengals 8.  The 49ers may have the worst offensive line in the NFL.  Just watch them try to run the ball.  Or protect the passer.  Or not false start.  Or stand up straight. 

-  How you know your team has QB issues:  When your starter throws for 250 yards, one TD and everyone is raving about how well he played.  Welcome to the Chad Henne Express.  Oh, and they lost the game. 

-  Do I dare buy into the Matt Hasselbeck resurgence?  He's still available in my League That Matters and has outscored my three roster quarterbacks.  I think not.  I've been down the Hasselbeck Trail before and it never ends well. 

-  The Ravens make big splashes with the Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans trades only to see a no name rookie (Tory Smith) explode for 152 receiving yards and 3 TDs.  Did anyone anywhere have this guy starting on their fantasy team?  I say no.   Well, maybe his brother or father. 

-  Watched some of the Raiders - Jets and Sanchez does not look like he's improved at all.  Aren't we supposed to see some sort of improvement?  Seems like he's making the same mistakes he made in year one. 

-  Is there any way to stop the Packers offense?  They are so versatile and potent they're going to have to beat themselves.  It might be time for me to insert Ryan Grant into my fantasy lineup, too.  He ran for over 90 yards on 17 carries.  James Stark?  11 carries for 5 yards.  Five. 

-  The Steelers have not looked great so far this year.  They barely beat the Colts despite holding them to under 150 yards passing.  This Post-Peyton Era is going to be ugly. 

-  I like to watch the stats for the number of times a receiver was 'targeted' by a quarterback.  It helps me figure out who he likes throwing to and gives a fairly accurate estimate on whether the balls thrown were being forced.  For example, Reggie Wayne was thrown to 13 times.  He caught 3 passes.  That could mean he had a bad day or his QB sucked (it was this one) or he was covered extremely well.

On the opposite side was Mike Wallace who was thrown to 7 times, caught 5 of them for 144 yards and a touchdown.  That, my NFL friends, is efficiency. 

I should point out that my sleeper for the year was Emmanuel Sanders who caught 2 passed but was targeted 5 times.  Lame. 

-  Can we pause on all the Tony Romo love for a few games, please.  He had a QB rating of 70.5 and did not look good for most of the game.  Yes, I get it, he was hurt and proved what a 'warrior' he is, but if Dallas had lost everyone would be asking why he didn't sit out and give his team a better chance to win.  And they were perilously close to losing that game. 

-  Is there a more exciting open field player than Darren Sproles?  Have I already asked this question?  If so, did anyone answer?

-  One of my fantasy competitors decided to play Cam Newton in place of Matt Schaub.  He protested 'But all the fantasy guys were saying Cam was going to have a huge game'.  True, but they didn't predict a monsoon hitting Carolina at game time.  And, seriously, these so called 'gurus' are just guessing like we are. 

-  You know you've made it in sports when you're referred to by one name.  Larry, Magic, Peyton,  Shaq, Ronaldo, Cam....you know exactly who I mean without any need for a last name.  Took Cam Newton two weeks to enter that stage. 

-  Game number two that told us nothing about either team:  Tampa Bay 16  -  Atlanta 13.  Although I'm thinking Atlanta may have been severely over rated heading into the season. 

-  Game not even worth mentioning:  Seattle 13  -  Arizona 10.

Stat of the Week (continuation):  The Vikings have outscored their opponents in the first half 54 - 7 and have lost all three games. 

Until next week! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Random Weekend

I'll get to the NFL tomorrow.  Today, let's sit down and catch up with each other.  That sound good?  I feel like our quality time together has been at a minimum. 

-  Friday was a roller coaster of disaster followed by hope and fun.  Allow me to explain. 

A bunch of us were scheduled to attend the annual Children's Hospital fundraiser, which is fun in and of itself.  Only this year it was scheduled to be held at Fenway Park.  The idea was to show the Yankee - Sox game on the new HD center field screen while we got our charitable drink on. 

So go the plans of mice and men, right?

Friday morning my niece suffered some sort of seizure.  According to Wifey, her father was asking her what she wanted for lunch that day and she simply stared straight ahead.  He turns around and asks again.  Still nothing.  Like she was transfixed to the television set.  He gets closer to her and hears her uttering a strange sound before suddenly collapsing. 

They rush her to the hospital (ironically, Children's Hospital), have her checked out, she seems lucid and aware, the docs give her some medication to take and send her home.  She's home ten minutes and has a full fledged seizure which was 100 times worse than the first.  Back to the hospital, two night stay and one 24 hour brain wave study to figure out what the hell is going on later and they send her home again. 

She's 16, was just learning how to drive, is entering her senior year of high school and will not be able to drive at least six months, not play sports for the next two and will have to be on this medication for the rest of her life (if they can't trace what's causing the seizures). 

Understandably, her parents were no longer going to the Fenway event and Wifey wasn't sure she wanted to go, either. 

Fortunately, we had to bring in some of the donated auction items to the gig.  Wifey and I hung out at Fenway, didn't get to watch the Sox game since it had been rained out, and had a blast.  We wound up coming home with a nice bottle of wine, two hand painted pictures brought back from Ghana, five tickets to Trampoline Land (a free hour of bouncing!), two tickets to an F1 Racing circuit (you drive real F1 race cars) that I CAN'T WAIT TO USE, and a full fledged turkey dinner for ten people that we're going to use for Thanksgiving. 

Oh, and the women at these charity events are mind boggling.  What happens when a bunch of rich dudes get together in one room? They bring all their trophies. 

-  As part of the event we got a free tour of Fenway Park, complete with a history lesson that nearly bored me to tears.  I did find out what happened to the Coke bottles that used to be attached to the light stands on the Green Monster:  They took them down because the owners found them ugly.  They'll be put up in the new spring training facility in Florida next season. 

Here are a couple of pics from the night.  Enjoy. 



Fenway Press Box.  Imagine 50 fat dudes sitting in the empty seats.



Rainy, empty Fenway.  Or how it looks next time John Lackey pitches at home.



-  A good friend of mine just left our company last week.  I have a rule that anyone who I enjoy working with needs to leave me a token of our friendship.  What she left was perfect:  A shot glass with our company logo on it and a card with a picture of Bender from Futurama.  It says 'Work While Bent.  A sober robot can't do his job, he depends on your beer'.  Rest assured, this will travel with me to every future job. 

-  Not only is John Lackey the worst signing in Red Sox history (beating out JD Drew and Dice K by a mile), he's apparently a first class douchebag as well.  He played the 'how dare the media ask me questions even though I make 85 million dollars for playing a kids game' card after last night's game.  He was pissed that someone had the audacity to text him a question regarding his personal life.  How dare they!!????

Today it comes out he's filed for divorce from his wife who is battling breast cancer.  Lackey better hope the Red Sox don't play another home game this season, because he is going to be crucified when he takes the mound.  If he gives up another 8 runs in 5 innings, we could see our first mob related death of a player.  Boston fans rushing the field and tearing him limb from limb; using his head as a soccer ball.  He is officially not welcome on our team any longer.  It's one thing to be terrible.  It's another to be arrogant.  It's still another to be terrible, arrogant and a complete asshole to everyone in life. 

I think I speak for every Sox fan when I say we'd rather have your soon to be ex-wife pitching every three days than have you spend one more minute on any Boston team.  Go fuck yourself, Schlackey.

-  'The Good Wife' returned last night and I couldn't have been happier.  Well played by Felicia and Will at the office.  Well played.  I could enjoy the Peter - Felicia work rivalry, as well.  Eli, as always, was pure Gold. 

-  Anyone else checking out 'Terra Nova' tonight?  Might give it a shot. 

-  Recommended new shows (so far): 'Up All Night', 'The New Girl', and 'Free Agents'.  I'm hoping 'Free Agents' focuses more on work life than the two leads.  I've been looking for a 'Better Off Ted' replacement and this could fill the bill. 

-  Also watched the first episode of 'Revenge'.  Not sure I'm in for the long haul.  I did enjoy the innocent, socially adept way revenge was taken the first time around, but there are a lot of red flags.  Terrible flashbacks, terrible wigs in the flashbacks, random people popping up and figuring it all out less than two days after she arrives in town.  I'm hoping it evens out, because all the ingredients are there for a mean spirited war of the classes, but I get the feeling it's going to turn into 'Dynasty'. 

-  Since the lead chick won an Emmy I figured I'd check out 'Mike and Molly'.  Didn't get it.  Seems like every sitcom every made.  Only with heavier people.  Out after 20 minutes. 

-  Send me some suggestions folks.  Really want to check out 'HomeLand' but I don't have Showtime.  I think 'Boardwalk Empire' began Season 2 last night, as well.  Need to check my DVR. 

-  What else?  Boys are kicking ass in school already.  Both got 100 scores on their first tests.  First grader is all excited because he's starting to read and write at a more advanced level.  Since they did so well, Wifey and I told them they could pick out new Nerf guns and we had a battle royale in our house.  It got intense.  I was shot in the throat and balls at the same time.  My youngest picked out a gun so huge it's nearly as tall as he is.  It also shoots from one end of the house to another.  Nerf knows how to do it right. 


That's it for now.  Back to stupid work. 


Today's distraction:  What happens every 60 seconds on the internet.  Let's assume this is an estimate.   

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NFL Postmortem - Week 2

It didn't take long for me to be reminded fantasy football is a double edged sword.  For every thrilling Fred Jackson sprint into the Raiders' secondary (honestly, I didn't realize how fast he was until this past weekend) there is Mike Vick getting knocked out of the game by his own lineman. 

Stupid concussions. 

At least I didn't own Jamaal Charles who is now lost for the season.  He was my man last year and is one of the few players I love to watch.  Every time he touched the ball there was the possibility for an electric outcome.  Sorry, Mr. Charles (and all his owners).  Get back soon. 

-  As bad as losing Charles will be for fantasy owners, has there been a more destructive injury in the history of fantasy football then Peyton Manning missing time?  Every one on the Colts is having sub par years.  Reggie Wayne had four receptions for 66 yards.  Dwight Clark is now a mediocre tight end.  Pierre Garcon is...well...he's still Pierre Garcon.  The Colts are now 0 - 2, their franchise QB is flying to Europe for experimental stem cell therapy, and they just lost to the Browns for the first time in a generation.

Safe to say, Colt fans are a mopey bunch this season. 

-  Running a close second are KC fans, who have lost their best player, their first two games in embarrassing fashion, any self esteem, yet still have a terrible head coach.  We'll see how they bounce back this weekend, but it sure seems like Haley has lost this team. 

-  Buffalo - Oakland was the most exciting game of the weekend.  Fitzpatrick certainly cemented himself as a top notch quarterback, as well.  Let's see how they do against the Jets or Pats before we all pile on the bandwagon, though. 

-  Speaking of the Pats, Brady and offensive coordinator....whoever it is....are reinventing the tight end position.  Hernandez and Gronkowski are a two headed monster and could be prototypical of a new generation of players.  Linebackers who run routes like wide receivers.  How do you defend them when there are two on the field at the same time?

-  Two teams I don't know what to make of:  Baltimore and Chicago.  Both looked great in week one wins; both got their asses handed to them in week two. 

-  One team I definitely know what to make of:  Detroit.  Potent on both sides of the ball.  It's early, I know, but they certainly look legit.  Can you imagine the Lions in the Super Bowl?  Holy shit!

-  Not only does Cam Newton look like a legitimate star, it appears he's rejuvenated Steve Smith's career.  Smith was flitting around the field like a lightning bug all game.  Yeah, he fumbled one, but this Carolina team is fun to watch.  Even Jonathan Stewart got into the act with 100 receiving yards. 

-  Despite the Steve Smith resurrection, Kenny Britt is far and away the best pick I made at the fantasy draft this year.  The dude has been on fire and looks fully recovered from his knee injury (or whatever it was).  Go Titans!

-  Game that told us nothing about either team:  Redskins 22  Cardinals 21

-  Should we be impressed with the Jets' defense this past weekend?  Or is Jacksonville that bad?

-  Despite the ass kicking given to them by the Ravens in week one, the Steelers could be 6 - 1 by the time they meet the Patriots.  Upcoming schedule:  Colts, Texans, Titans, Jaguars, Cardinals. 

-  While I'm not super impressed the Cowboys needed over time to beat the 49ers, I'm glad we can put away the questions regarding the toughness of Tony Romo.  I wouldn't have come to work to sit at my desk with a punctured lung and/or cracked rib.  He was throwing his team to victory.

-  While everyone is jumping on the Cam Newton bandwagon (myself included), the other rookie quarterback running Cincinnati quietly had a very good game in Denver.  332 yards, 2 TDs, zero INTs.  Yes, he lost.  Just like Carolina. 

-  Has there been a better fit than Darren Sproles joining the Saints this year?  It's like he was custom made to play with Brees and that system. 

-  Watching SportsCenter this morning, you would have thought Eli Manning was an MVP candidate.  I watched the first half of this game and he was nothing short of horrendous.  Under throwing nearly every pass.  Even his TD passes were way off the mark and were more a result of great receiving.  Why do commentators sugar coat what we can all see for ourselves?  They did it all the time with Brett Favre and now seem to be protecting Eli Manning from any harsh words.  Say it:  He sucked last night.  It's ok.  We all know it. 


Stat of the Week:  The Vikings have outscored their opponents by a combined 34 - 7 in the first half and lost both games.

Stat of the Week #2:  The NFC West is a combined 2 - 6 and been outscored by 51 points.  The AFC East is a combined 6 - 2 and has outscored opponents by 73 points. 


Today's distraction:  Intriguing twist regarding Full Tilt Poker that involves the terms 'Ponzi Scheme', 'Money Laundering' and 'Fraud'.  I'm a bit boggled of the mind at the amount of money being discussed, as well.  Online poker is really that big?

Monday, September 12, 2011

NFL Postmortem - Week 1

As always week one of the NFL provided more excitement, surprises and action than the first 150 games of any Padres game.  Even with the shadow of the tenth anniversary of 9/11 darkening everything. 

I would like to address a serious aspect of 9/11 that rarely gets mentioned, but something I noticed during all the rememberances:  Not one good song has resulted from this tragedy.  Not one!!  All of them are overly somber to get people to cry.  Even that stupid country song by somebody we haven't heard from since was terrible.  10 years and not one good song.

Off we go!

-  I picked up Steve Smith in the 11th round of my LTM draft on the off chance so called 'NFL Experts' were wrong about Cam Newton.   There's a chance he could be decent, I thought.  Decent?  He obliterated Peyton Manning's rookie record for most passing yards in his first game.  By 121 yards!  He threw for 2 TDs (both to Smith) and rushed for another.  The only people not impressed were D'Angelo Williams fantasy owners. 

Keep in mind this took place against an Arizona defense that is probably terrible.  Definitely worth considering. 

-  Smith's stats:  8 rec, 178 yards, 2 TDs....while sitting on my bench. 

-  Not that I should complain as I started Kenny Britt, Dez Bryant, and DeSean Jackson who all played well.  Guess you could say receiver is not my weak position this year. 

-  Lost amid the Cam Newton orgasmic Monday was Kevin Kolb's steady hand in leading the Cardinals to a week one win.

-  Wonder if we had the wrong Ohio team picked out as one of the worst teams in the league. Cleveland's offense looked terrible. 

-  Speaking of preseason thoughts, I was sure Baltimore was going to have a subpar year.  Their defense is aging, Flacco still hasn't proven himself and, frankly, I thought they over acheived last season.  After kicking Pittsburgh's ass yesterday, I now wonder if it's the Steelers I should have been viewing this way.  They looked a step slow all day. 

-  What was the bigger week one surprise?  Cincinatti beating Cleveland?  Baltimore beating Pitt?  My vote is for Buffalo not just beating KC, but crushing them.  The Ryan Fitzpatrick - Steve Johnson combo is as lethal as any other combo since midseason last year.  And now, my man Fred Jackson, is anchoring the running game nicely. 

-  Maybe Detroit's defense is just really good this year, but Blount rushing for 15 yards is alarming.  Of course when a team rushes 16 times (and 4 of those were Freeman scrambles) and passes 46 times, the game is not going your way.  Run more, Tampa.  You won't win many games with such an imbalanced attack. 

Want an example?  Look at the team that just beat you:  33 passes, 35 rushing attempts.  Well done, Detroit.  We may actually have an entertaining Thanksgiving game this year. 

-  Main reason Vick is the MVP of fantasy football:  187 yard passing, 2 TD, 98 yards rushing.  When one aspect of his game isn't working, he makes up for it in other ways. 

-  Perfect example of why nobody can never predict fantasy production:  Mike Tolbert.  9 receptions for 58 yards (6.4 per catch).  12 carries for 35 yards (2.9 per carry).  3 TDs.  Go figure. 

-  It certainly looks like Donovan McNabb was who we thought he was - a suck ass. 

-  I was shocked to see how well Rex Grossman (yeah, THAT Rex Grossman) was playing in the first half of the Redskins - Giants game.  Then he reverted back to taking 25 yard sacks (twice in a row) and fumbling the ball on a simple tackle.  He pulled it together for the win, but it was a reminder that this is still the Rex we remember from Chicago.  Sorry, DC fans. 

-  By the way, the Giants look terrible.  Not a good year for the Manning boys, so far.  Don't be surprised if Couglin gets the boot this year, as well.  When you need 1 yard for a first down in a tight game and you give the ball to 5'10, 214 pound Ahmad Bradshaw and not 6'4, 264 pound Brandon Jacobs (who was also averaging more yards per carry) you have rightly earned many doubters.  Not a big fan of Coughlin showing up his players after a bad call on his part, either.  When Bradshaw got stuffed, Coughlin made a big show of tossing his head gear and acting like the players messed up.  Team game, coach.  It was your call, it is you who prepare these guys.  When they fuck up, it's on you. 

-  What a collapse by Dallas last night.  Was so hoping the Jets would start 0 - 1.  Oh well.  Looks like Wade Phillips wasn't the issue in Dallas after all. 

-  Game that tells us nothing about either team:  Jacksonville 16 - Tennessee 14. 

-  Prediction #1:  Peyton Manning will not play this season.  They fucking fused vertebrae together.  FUSED!  Doesn't that involved an arc welder or something?  No way he plays.  Especially when they start off 0 - 4. 

-  Prediction #2:  Cam Newton will top the list of fantasy pickups this week. 

-  Do the Seahawks still consider Tavaris Jackson the answer?  If they do, maybe they're asking the wrong question. 

-  New Orleans at Green Bay:  What football was meant to be. 

Stat of the Week:  If you include Green Bay's ass whooping in the playoffs, Atlanta has been outscored 78 - 31 in it's past two games. 

Today's distraction:  Part five of learning something new everyday.  Love the Titanic factoid.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fantasy Life

I just realized Monday will mark the return of my Postmortem NFL entries.  And I can't fucking wait.

I also realized I haven't bored everyone with my fantasy drafts.  My bad.  

I'm a member of two leagues.  One includes huge money so it's my League That Matters (LTM) while the other is just friendly comp.

Real quick, off we go.

LTM


I had a discussion with another member just before the draft where I argued Michael Vick should be the number one over all pick.  My point, even if he was three quarters as effective as he was last season, Vick has the potential to average 35 - 40 points a game.  And there is the very real possibility he could explode for 60 - 70 points any given week.

He wasn't sold and took Chris Johnson with the number two pick.

I had the number eight pick and took Vick.  While everyone muttered stuff about 'he won't be nearly as good this year' and 'Oh, I have my doubts about him', the guy I had talked to before hand looked at me across the table and said 'Shit, you were serious about him.'  Turns out he thought I was trying to talk him into drafting him way too early.  I will argue - barring injury of course - Vick will have more fantasy points than Chris Johnson by the end of the season.

We'll see.

My team for League That Matters.

QBs:

Vick

Josh Freeman (who is the perfect Vick backup and provoked another member two picks behind me to scream 'You MotherFUCKER!'.  Love then that happens.)

Colt McCoy, who could be my trade chip by Week 4

RBs:

LeGarrett Blount

Frank Gore

Fred Jackson (as you can see I went with dependable if unspectacular with the RBs)

Ryan Grant

Ryan Torain (because I have no faith in Tim Hightower)


WRs:

DeSean Jackson, who I love paired with Vick

Dez Bryant, who everyone stayed away from.  Something I don't know?  Got him in the 11th round.

Kenny Britt, my gamble who I am debating starting over Dez this week.  Thoughts?

Steve Smith (CAR), in case Cam Newton is actually good.

Emmanuel Sanders, who is my sleeper. Hines Ward can't play forever, right?

TEs:

Only took one:  Mercedes Lewis and, no, I'm not happy about it.

K:

Neil Rackers


DST:

Eagles.  When DeSean runs a punt back for a TD, I'll get double points!


My other team (which actually looks spectacular on paper):

QBs:  Josh Freeman, Colt McCoy

RBs:  Adrian Peterson, Jahvid Best (I know, right?), Jonathan Stewart

WRs:  Mike Wallace, Larry Fitzgerald, Danny Amendola, Sidney Rice

TEs:  Dallas Clark, Brent Celek

Ks:  Mason Crosby

DSTs:  Miami and San Diego.  Don't ask.  I signed off the draft too early so the computer autodrafted another defense in my absence.  Oh well.

Enjoy the weekend and NFL kick off!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reigning Chaos

This morning was the first day of school for my boys. 
Which, of course, means it's a day of total chaos for me.  Let's do a quick time line. 

6 am:  Haul my aging, ugly ass out of bed ignoring the ever increasing aches and pains that now accompany every morning.  Seriously.  Fuck mornings.  And fuck aging, too.  Fuck everything. 

6:03 am:  Need caffeine.  Coffee is on (I get it already the night before so I can just flip a switch in the morning to get it brewing.  Work smarter, not harder, folks). 

6:15 - 6:30 am:  Eat breakfast while watching the miserable forecast (60s and rain all fucking day) and miserable traffic report from two smoking hot chicks.  Bad news is always easier to take when there are good looking women involved.  Companies need to hire smoking hot models to deliver layoff notices. 

6:30 am:  Wake up eldest son.  He's starting middle school this year and needs to be at school roughly four hours ahead of last year.  By four hours, I really mean 45 minutes.  Just feels like 4 hours. 

6:45 - 7 am:  Get eldest breakfast, make his lunch while he's eating, stop to watch SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays. 

7 - 7:15 am:  Say goodbye to Wifey who has the luxury of only getting herself ready every morning.  Make youngest son's lunch. 

Quick sidenote:  Youngest has decided he wants to make his own lunch from now on.  Two slices of bread and cheese.  Nothing else.  I pack this poor excuse for a sandwich in with healthier options.  Go diet!!

7:15 am:  Eldest is taking the bus this year since his new school is on the opposite side of town.  According to Wifey, the bus will pick him up at the bottom of our massive hill at 7:20 every morning.  She tells him to be out of the house by 7:15.  He heads out, I say goodbye and am quite impressed how easily he's taking it.  His last comment is 'Well, hope I don't die'.  That's the spirit!

7:16 am:  Time to wake up youngest, which is always a chore.  Imagine my surprise when he is already coming down the stairs!  I'm so excited I scoop him up and give him an airplane ride to the couch. 

7:17 - 7:20 am:  Chat with youngest regarding our game plan for our first day of school.  He wants to walk, but it's friggin' pouring out so we decide (read: I told him) that driving would be better since he has a lot of stuff to carry. 

7:21 - 7:24 am:  Exchange the following texts with eldest:

Him:  I missed the bus
Me:  Seriously?
Him:  Yes, nobody is here
Me:  Come back to the house.  I'll have to drive you.

7:25 am:  Tell youngest to get dressed.  'You're coming with us'.  To his credit, he runs and gets ready in record time. 

7:26 - 7:40 am:  Fight horrific traffic due to idiot drivers to get eldest to school.  Decide to jump on the highway on the way home since it would actually be quicker.  How does rain make people stupid?  Have we done a study on this?

7:40 - 8 am:  Get youngest breakfast, pack his bag, shower, tell youngest he can play quick video game after he brushes his teeth, brush my own teeth, dress, take call from Wifey who asks - in an unnecessarily accusatory manner, I might add - why eldest didn't take the bus.  When I tell her he missed it she tells me 'It's supposed to pick him up between 7:25 and 7:30!'.  I answer 'You told him 7:20 and there was nobody there when he walked down.'

'I only told him that so he wouldn't be late and miss it.'

Well done.  Well fucking done.  I did not say that not everyone is constantly running late like her even though I really REALLY wanted to. 

8 - 8:20 am:  Get car packed with approximately 430 different bags every first grader needs to bring in.  Paper towels, crayons, markers, pencils, tissues, notebooks, hand sanitizer, soap.  Name it, he had it in the bag.  Drive to school, get shitty space because the entire city is driving their kids to school today.

8:20 - 8:25 am:  He meets up with his buddy from kindergarten (who I can't stand because he's such a mama's boy and cried every day last year during drop off) and we walk in together. 

Two notes here:  1:  It is possible for an adult to despise a child.  2:  Normally the kids line up outside, but since monsoon season has arrived from the other side of the world they lined up inside to prevent drowning. 

8:26 - 8:35 am:  Complete and total chaos.  They let the parents come in with the kids because it's the first day so there is barely room to move. My son's buddy immediately starts crying.  My son sees him and he starts freaking out.  I get him calmed, tell him I have to go to work which starts him crying.  'I don't want to go to school!' to which I respond 'I don't want to go to work, either, but I don't cry about it until I'm alone.'  This gets a laugh from the cry baby's mother and my son lightens up a bit. 

A strategic problem arises when son tells me his bag of supplies is too heavy for him to carry.  I ask teacher if I can take them up to the class for him and she agrees.  Son says 'You're coming right back?'  I tell him yes and debate if running out the door would traumatize him too much.  I decide to go back. 

Fortunately, he's perfectly fine when I get back.  He's used to the commotion and seems to like his new teacher.  I tell him I'm leaving and he says 'Ok, see you tonight'.  Wait, who is this kid?

8:35 - 9 am:  No that's not a misprint.  It took me 25 minutes to get back to my house.  That would be approximately 1.2 miles from the school.  As I said many times during this commute, 'Are you fucking kidding me?'

9 - 9:45 am:  Commuted to work.

9:48 am:  Realized I never had coffee and left the coffee maker on.  If I'm lucky my house will be in ashes by the time I get back. 

Yay, school.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Scattered To The Wind

Why, hi!
I'm back from vacation, caught up on work and this blog's best friend's personal life, nearly ready for my fantasy football draft and now have time to share some random thoughts.  Consider yourselves lucky because, according to the over hyped news machine, the most destructive and scariest hurricane since Katrina is  bearing down on New England.  It's going to kill everybody, man!!!

So this might be my last entry.  Enjoy. 

-  Let's start with work first.  My second day on vacation I get a text from a coworker that reads 'Call me'.  So, since I do what any text tells me to do, I call her after I get home from the beach have a gin and tonic, a shot of Goldschlagger, and open a beer.  Yeah, it was that type of vacation. 

Anyway, she goes on to tell me that they laid off a bunch of my coworkers and they want me to go to the new outsourced company when they take over in the new year.  Good times!  Oh, and thanks for ruining my vacation.  She adds that our manager will be calling me soon to go over what the hell is happening in this crazy company. 

Sure enough, he emails me asking to chat.  I tell him tomorrow morning even though he would like to talk that night.  Fuck that!  I'm already well into my third beer and I know if I get pissed I'll wind up losing my job.  I have a hard enough time keeping my trap shut when I'm sober. 

Next morning arrives, I take the call on the couch of the condo we're renting, Wifey is puttering around getting breakfast made and packing for the beach.  While listening to my side of the conversation she keeps motioning me to 'Calm down'.  That was until my manager says 'Unfortunately, you're move will involve a slight paycut' and I respond with 'Define slight pay cut'. Wifey whips around and mouths 'WHAT???!!!'

So, yeah.  They 'want to keep' me on board, but they're moving me to a different company, making me take a pay cut, and basically taking away my ability to do my job in any effective way.  My response: I now have a head hunter working to get me the fuck out of this place and my attitude towards everybody is horrendous.

But, hey, this is a 'global economy', right?  As my manager said, 'At least you have a job' which was small consolation when I found out the laid off employees were getting paid through the end of the year.  Fuck, give me that instead.  I'll do contract or temp work and get double pay for three months. 

-  We're in the midst of a religious experiment, by the way.  My mother in law called to tell me she was 'praying' for me and my job situation.  Let's see if her god helps me out at all.  Although I suspect the gods of headhunting will be much more effective. 

-  Heard through a reliable grapevine that CIO (who is spearheading this outsourcing model) got his ass reamed by our CEO because of the way things were handled.  It's not looking good for him, which I couldn't be happier about.  It's only been a week and we've fired two of the contractors brought in to replace the laid off workers.  Well done.  So far the experience has been less than ideal.  I get the feeling it's only going to get worse, too. 

-  Let's talk about my (sort of) relaxing vacation.  Excluding the job drama, we basically beached it every day, my brother in law caught a 41 inch, 29 pound striped bass which we all had for dinner, I drank my fucking face off for six straight days, and managed not to get sunburned.  All in all a great week.  Wish I were back there now. 

-  School is starting soon, so my life becomes dictated by the boys' schedule once again.  I love summer for a variety of reasons, but not having to drop them off every morning ranks right up there. 

-  I'm supposed to visit the Philly office next week, but Irene (that would be the DEADLIEST HURRICANE EVER) is causing travel problems.  Already canceled my train tickets and will probably just drive down when the storm passes.

-  I should point out that all this hoopla surrounding the hurricane means it's probably going to blow out to sea and not bother us in the least.  That's usually how it works.  Stupid news whores. 

-  JC Monahan - my morning weather hottie - is off this week, too.  Not only is she the sexiest forecaster in Boston, she's the most accurate.  I want her take on this hurricane before I make any decisions. 

-  Just like old times:  I had a lovely and long over due conversation with DA who still possesses one of the greatest laughs in human history.  Nothing makes my spirits soar higher than making her laugh while she calls me an asshole.  Twice.  Got her to do it twice. 

-  Also, like old times, she nearly ended my marriage for the third or fourth time.  Long story, but if you ever met DA, you'd completely understand.  Miss you, my friend. 

-  Speaking of assholes, my six year old called another kid that exact word and nearly got into a fist fight with him while doing so.  My older son broke it up before anyone was hurt and six year old spent a LONG time in his room.  But, as I told Wifey when she called me about it, in his defense that kid really is an asshole.  Sort of proud that 1:  he stuck up for himself and 2: he used the term correctly. 

-  Oh, hey, we had an earthquake here.  One I actually felt while I was working.  I leaned back in my chair and suddenly thought I was suffering from vertigo.  Everything swayed, my bookcase shook a bit and I immediately texted Wifey with 'Either something exploded or we just had an earthquake'. 

I thought earthquake immediately because a few summers ago I had experienced what an explosion felt like when one of the power grid's huge transformers blew up.  It brought down everyone's computers at work and made the lights flicker dramatically.  We could see the black smoke a few blocks away.  Ever smelled an electrical fire?  Man, it is nasty. 

Earthquakes make everything sway, explosions make everything shudder.  You can definitely tell the difference.  Not sure if I should be glad I know that. 

-  Between Japan's tsunami, the first major earthquake the east coast has felt in decades, birds and fish dropping dead without explanation, my brother in law actually catching a fish, and me writing a new entry I'm thinking the Aztecs were right:  Maybe the world is ending in 2012.  In which case we're all going to look like idiots for keeping those 401Ks.  If French or 10 pop up with a new blog entry I'm going to be really freaked out, man. 

-  Went out drinking with some coworkers last night and was introduced to Scholar's on School Street.  Enjoyable, spacious and the prices were surprisingly low for the look of the place.  Five bucks for a bottle of Sankaty Light (it's made in Nantucket).  Plus they have a HUGE upstairs with pool tables and a second bar.  Highly recommended.  My only issue was the seemingly overwhelming number of lawyers that were there.  I could do without them. 

-  Speaking of beer, a west coast buddy of mine shipped me a huge bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale (which I can't buy around here).  Very hoppy and bitter, so it's not an every day beer, but I loved it.  Hell, it's beer.  Of course I loved it. 

Need to get ready for a conference call now.  Maybe I'll do a running blog of Hurricane Irene over the weekend.  Here's a preview:

-  It's windy.  And rainy. 

-  Yep, still windy and rainy.  Hoping those two trees blocking my view topple over. 

-  Just windy now.  Rain has let up. 

The end. 

Today's distraction:  Six people who screwed up entire economies.  I can relate to number six.  Enjoy your weekends.