Monday, September 28, 2009

Steelers Recap - Week 3

In the immortal words of Myron Cope:

I can’t believe we lost to those clowns. The Steelers dominated every facet of the game for 3 quarters and then just fell the hell apart.

Lets go to my notes, so I can remember what I thought about the game. But first, a word from our sponsor:
Today, to get into that ‘Burgh mood, I’m enjoying some IC Lights in the Extra Special 2008 Championship Tribute Can! So special, in fact, that they don’t even have to mention the Steelers, football, the Super Bowl or Lombardi Trophy for us to know what it’s all about. I guess they were too cheap to acquire some of that Extra Special licensing from the NFL. Remember the days when the actual Steelers were on the Iron City cans?
Those were the days. Any time the Steelers so much as sneezed, Pittsburgh Brewing Co would have a commemorative can out. They used to be quite a find, back when I was collecting beer cans rather than emptying them.

OK, bring on the notes:

* Ben spent most of the game looking like he could do whatever he wanted with the ball, just zinging it all over the place.

* Rookie Mike Wallace channels William Wallace and finds freedom all over the secondary. Every time it was 3rd down, it was a strike to Wallace. The kid’s going to be a good one. With a little more oomph on the ball, Ben has a long TD to Wally, rather than a 51 yarder. If he doesn’t have to wait on the ball, he walks into the end zone. Good luck getting back on the field, Limas Sweed. (And I wrote this even before Sweed dropped that perfect pass in the end zone.)

* Fast Willie Parker shows up today, but only when he can run wide. There’s still not much for him there between the tackles. If it were me, I’d run him wide looking for cutbacks all day.

* The Big Snack closes the fridge all over Carson Palmer. That’s a guy I do not want falling on me.

* Keyaron Fox annihilates a guy on special teams. Dude is a wrecking ball coming down on the kickoff coverage.

* We’re only up 13-3 at the half. Steelers should be crushing them, given this kind of statistical domination. At least Skippy is back on track with 2 shorties.

* Can’t blame Ben on the INT. Even I could see that Santonio was supposed to read the blitz and come back on that ball. It’s a shame to spot these guys a quick 7.

* What the hell is up with Chad Ocho Flake-O? Shushing the home crowd after a catch? Am I missing something or is that just another WTF moment from Planet Spaceballs? He needs to learn the art of timing from Max Talbot.

* Congratulations to Hines for hitting 10,000 receiving yards. Good on ya, Mighty Mouse! Sure you committed 2 penalties for blocking those poor defenders too vigorously, but you always make it up to us.

* The only guy more “money” on 3rd down than Hines is Heath Miller. Heath delivers every time.

* Skippy misses from 52. Dude’s got all the leg in the world, but he just can’t put it through from 50+.
* Nice long drive for a TD, Ben! That’s how you come back from a Pick-6.

* Holy ghost of Sam Wyche! The Bungles execute a fake punt, but miss a 52-yard FG themselves.
Steelers go conservative and go 3 and out. You know, we don’t have the Bus any more to grind out yards. Maybe we should forget about 4th quarter Cowher-ball and keep attacking. It seems to me that they can still burn clock by getting a couple of first downs.

* The Steelers impervious defense is looking very pervious in the last couple 4th quarters. Bengals execute 2 long drives when all we need is a stop to win the game. Converting on 4th and 15 is just sickening. When the Bengals got the ball at the Steelers 40, I wrote in my notes, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
* Sadly, the Bengals left only 14 seconds for Ben to use The Force. Rashard Mendenhall pisses away most of it with a lot of dipsy doo on the kick return. Why not just get what you can then get down and give Ben a chance for 2 plays rather than a single 60 yard heave? (That comes up 10 yds short, even if complete.)

* Game over… the Clowns are running the circus.

Mojo Recap
Going to retire the white Steeler shorts for the season. May still use the Willie replica for home games, as it was victorious at home vs. the Titans, but it should be retired for away games.

Next week, I’ll be attending the Sunday night game in Pittsburgh against the Chargers, so I’ll have my first crack at in-person mojo. Looks like I’ll just have to go there myself to make sure everything gets done right… Who’s got Tomlin’s cell number?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Mojo Boogie - Week 3

Today the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Bengals in Cincinnati at 4:15. This is a game we usually own. Big Ben has never lost in Cleveland or Cincinnati. The Bengals are coming off an impressive win over Green Bay last week. I say it’s impressive only because I had them picked to lose, after their dismal opening day performance against Denver.

My family and I used to always go to the Steelers games in Cleveland, stemming from when we used to live in Toledo. Then when the Browns left Cleveland, we began going to the games in Cincinnati instead. At first, the fans were pretty docile, as a long tradition of uninterrupted losing will do to a fan base. Then in 2005 when they got a sniff of respectability, they went completely off the scale.

My brother and I and some other friends went to that fateful playoff game in January of 2006… you know… the Carson Palmer/Kimo Van Olhoffen game.

We practically had to fight our way out of there that night. The whole walk to the parking lot we were getting screamed at by the riled up locals. I must have been called every name in the book… well, maybe not me personally, more the number 43 on my back. Now I know that a lot of visiting fans do a lot to bring grief on themselves with strutting and taunting, but seriously, we were just walking along minding our own business.

When we got to the car we tried to just linger for a bit and enjoy our victory cigars. But you know, a person can only turn the other cheek for so long before something gives. Guys from the orange colored, tiger-striped bus a couple slots down started screaming at us. My brother yelled back a bit and it looked like something may happen. But my brother has a wife and family, a good job and sterling reputation. He was not about to get into a parking lot brawl with a bunch of sore-loser Bengal fans. But then the ringleader started screaming at me about how Polamalu took the cheap shot at Palmer. Now everyone watching the game that had a pulse could see that Troy was nowhere near the backfield and it was the lineman, Kimo Von Olhoffen that rolled up on Palmer’s leg. So I yelled that back to him, more or less, and next thing you know, he comes charging over here.

Now you should see this guy… actually, you can… here’s a picture from earlier in the day:
This is one of those self-styled uber-fans that thinks he’s the living embodiment of The Bengals Fan. Note to dude: Real fans don’t wear feather boas.

Anyway, you’ve seen this kind of guy before… he thinks that since he’s all big, drunk and ugly, people will just back down from him. And normally, I probably would have. But I was just so pissed at his mis-attribution of the play I felt the need to set the record straight. Loudly. With colorful terminology.

So Big, Drunk and Ugly comes striding over to me, clearly expecting me to back away, but something made me just stand right there. I didn’t move an inch and he basically just came right up until his chest hit mine. So we stood there, toe to toe screaming at each other, like Earl Weaver arguing with an umpire, until my brother grabbed me by the back of my collar and yanked my ass out of there. We didn’t waste anymore time at the parking lot… it seemed to be a good time to get the hell out of Dodge.

Way to be classy, Cincinnati! As you can see, ever since that fleeting wiff of success, they haven’t done jack ever since. That’s a karmic smack down if ever I saw one. Thou shall win and lose with grace at all times. Or else thou shalt suck pond water.

(Then again, how do you explain the Patriots?)

Has anyone seen the Bengals on HBO’s Hard Knocks series? That’s where the team allows cameras to film everything that happens during training camp. They’ve previously done this with the Cowboys and the Ratbirds. They get such good footage that sometimes I wish they would do Hard Knocks with the Steelers. But that will never happen. The Rooneys would never allow that. They don’t need cheap promotion like that.

Which brings me to this cheap promotion:
Could you imagine, under any circumstances, the Steelers putting a goddamned advertisement on their jerseys? Training camp or not, that’s just an abomination. I’m surprised the NFL even allows it. What doesn’t surprise me is that it’s the Bengals that do it. Good old, Mike “Anything for a Buck” Brown. I guess this is to recoup the loss of revenue he missed out on by not selling the naming rights to his stadium. (Which is one thing I give him credit for. Heinz Field should be Art Rooney Sr. Stadium.)

Anyway, I have a suggestion for their next advertiser:
Douche bags…

Which brings us to today’s mojo… During Week 1, I watched the game at home and we won, so I’m not going to tamper with that success. I’m going with the Willie replica jersey over the gold Steelers Tee, with white Steelers shorts. I considered compensating for the game being an away game for the Steelers, but I’ve found that that is a secondary consideration, especially early in the season. Always try to prolong the streak. That’s a mojo staple.
I’ll be back later with thoughts on the game. Last week I ended up going 8-10 on picks, which was quite a comedown from Week 1's 16-2. Today I start 0-2 because I missed on both college games. (Thanks, Pitt and Miami! No sorority girls for you tonight.)

Game on!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Errand Boy

This is going to be one of those Seinfeld-type entries about pretty much nothing.

I was off today, with some errands to do. I still have a bit of a cold hanging on so the day off was timely. First stop was ye olde Hair Cuttery.

If being an old middle-aged bald guy has any advantages, it’s that getting a haircut takes about 10 minutes. I’ve waited longer for my order at Burger King. A young black girl cut my hair and as she was ringing my up at the counter, I noticed she had an unusual tattoo on her wrist:
Yeah… a blow dryer.

I’m wondering if this was some kind of beauty school bonding exercise. And if so, do other industries have similar rites? Do CPAs get together after passing their exam and get tattoos of a pile of beans? Do lawyers get reptile tattoos? What about doctors? Man, that’s another reason not to be a proctologist.

So, haircut accomplished, I set out for the main event of the day… Getting my driver’s license renewed at the Maryland MVA. I hate going through things like this; you just anticipate something going wrong or encountering some kind of runaround.

In actuality, it wasn’t that bad. I brought my Friday crossword puzzle and had it knocked out in about 20 minutes, just in time for them to call my number, B118. I suppressed the urge to holler BINGO. I imagine they’ve heard that before so many times that when someone does it now, they are struck down by a death-ray stare from one of the helpful clerks.

I was processed in about 5-6 minutes… honestly. They really have the drill down; I’ll give them kudos for that. So I walked out triumphantly, sparkling new hologrammy license in hand. The sun shone down brightly upon me as I exited the MVA lair and I realized I hadn’t eaten all day and as luck would have it, there was a Five Guys burger place in the plaza.

For those that are uninitiated, Five Guys is a primo burger joint that features giant 2-patty burgers, unlimited free toppings, boardwalk fries and free peanuts while you wait. If you saw the first time President Obama was on NBC (I think it was Dateline), when he got in the car with the Brian Williams and went to burger place to get lunch for himself and staff back at the White House, it was a Five Guys in DC.

Man, what a feast… hands down, the best fast-food burger going. It was so tall I could barely get my mouth around it. Sometimes I wish we were built with a snakelike, hinged jaw that folds all the way back, for just this kind of situation.

I say this was the best “fast-food” burger because I’ve had one better at a sit-down place in Pensacola Florida, called McGuires. This is their burger:

Hence the slogan on the side of the building: “Feasting, Imbibery, & Debauchery”, which happen to be three of my favorite things. Like I’ve said before, very few problems cannot be solved by eating a bacon cheeseburger the size of your head.

I don’t have a natural ending for this, so let me leave you with something I was wondering. Who named the anti-smoking drug “Chantix”? Chantix sounds like something the Gregorians sell for their concerts.

Badump bump. I’m here all weekend; try the cheeseburger.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Poisoning Pigeons in the Park

Have you ever noticed that getting sick makes your mind do weird things?

I left work early today because I have a cold coming on and I wanted to try and stomp it out hard in the early stages, plus I don’t want to spread it around. It’s not the H1N1, or as I call it, the Hiney Virus… just a cold… the same one I’ve gotten all of my life. Starts as a tickle in the back of the throat, then a sore throat, then it moves to the sinuses and causes the drip, drip, drip that keeps me up all night. Once I’m a sneezing, dripping mess, it goes to the chest and settles in so that I get to enjoy coughing up chunks of lung for a couple of days.

When I get a cold in my throat, my voice goes down a couple of octaves and I get my Barry White voice. This is when I want to do all my incoming voicemail messages.

“Hello, you’ve reached the bluuuuuuuuuuz duuuuude. I’m all laid up in my crib so leave a message! Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep, babeh.”

I don’t get sick very often, but when I do, I’m pretty much of a weenie about it. I’ve lived alone for a lot of my adult life and being sick is hard when there’s no one to see how miserable you are. I always thought there should be some kind of Rent-a-Mother service for when you’re sick. You should be able to call a number and they send a nice lady over to bring you some soup, make you some tea, pat your head and go “awwwwwwww, poor thing,” and then go away!

OK where was I going with this? Oh yeah, being sick does strange things to your mind.

When I got home, I tried to take a nap, but really, I’ve already been up, showered, dressed and worked half a day… it’s hard to just drop off. I probably should have scheduled a conference call to help out.

So I’m laying there whacked on cold medicine when my mind starts wandering and I started thinking about my blog.

“I wonder if there’s a way to embed a music file… never seen one done like that without using another service… They do it with movies on YouTube… why can’t they do it with a music file? Y’know, they have music files on YouTube sometimes… I wonder how they do that… Hey, there’s that Windows Movie Maker function on my PC… I bet I could import a music file… Yeah… and then I could download random on-topic pictures to go with it…”

There I was, trying to sleep, but instead attending PC and Internet Basics 101 about 5 years after everyone else in the blogging world. I felt like the cavemen in the beginning of 2001 - A Space Odassey.

So in a fit of trying to change the mental subject, my mind went from my blog to That’s Church and Ginny’s endless war on pigeons. She’s been taking a lot of guff from a group of pigeon lovers lately.
Then suddenly, my mind melded the two subjects… Ginny’s Pigeon War crossed with my potential music editing ability so I now had to get up and see if I could work something out using the Tom Lehrer song “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”.

Y’know? I’ll be damned if I didn’t figure out how to put together a primitive yet competent little clip in honor of my blogging inspiration.

Note: No pigeons were hurt on account of this exercise, however I was not too proud to scavenge what was already out there. Much like the pigeons.
PS. If none of this makes any sense, remember, I’m sick. Blame the NyQuil.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Steelers Recap - Week 2

Well, that sucked. Looks like this shirt is out of “Jilly’s rotation.” Nothing worse than when the Steelers lose and the Ratbirds win at the same time. Ughhhh…

I also realized that it’s a lot tougher to keep notes on the game when there’s no sound and you’re drinking copious amounts of beer. But for what it’s worth, these are my thoughts on the game as it unfolded.

* Ben had lots of time to pass and looked almost surgical on that first possession. Too bad they had to piss around for the rest of the half.

* In watching the Ratbirds game on another screen, diminutive running back Darrin Sproles almost broke Ed Reed’s ankle on a great inside cutback. Running backs should do that more often… how many times do you see someone trucking down the sideline and eventually get nudged out of bounds. I think as soon as anyone comes near them they should make a hard move to the inside. They should get a couple more yards at minimum, if not take it all the way.

* We’re actually running decently. Funny how much better the running backs look when there’s actually a hole to run through.

* Looks like a downpour started around the 2nd quarter. That had to de-motivate crowd at least a little bit. I’ve sat in games like that before and it’s just miserable. I remember a game in San Francisco where the sky opened up in the 2nd quarter and just poured for the rest of the game. I was so wet, even the money in my wallet was soaked.

* Tyrone Carter really laid the lumber on some guy, knocking them both out of the game. Ty came back… I don’t know about the other guy. (No sound…) Bears still drive and come out with a TD, tying the game at 7-7 right before halftime.

* 3rd down and 3 early in the 3rd quarter and Ben takes a sack? Where’s that quick hitter to Santonio across the middle?

* Chicago has 2 false start penalties on the same series in their own house? Sounds like the yips, to me.

* Welcome to the party, Mendenhall! He goes 10 yards with the ugliest screen pass ever and then rips off about 40 yards through a big hole.

*Ben dives over a guy into the end zone for a big TD. Ben versus a db is a complete mismatch. No way he wasn’t going to score there.

* After a good drive, Ben is sacked again on 3rd and 9, after which Skippy misses a 38 yard FG. Reed doesn’t miss those very often…

* It’s up to the defense now, but the Bears hit a wide-open receiver for about 30. They move down to the 10 with precision passing. Steelers are blitzing but just can’t get there in time. Bears score on a pass against Tyrone Carter. Troy looks pained on the sidelines. Skippy’s miss is looming large.

* Steelers ball 1st and 10 at the 29 with 6 minutes to go. It’s Ben time. Steelers drive down the field on a pass to Hines, Mewelde Moore goes for 15, Ben runs 5 for a first down. Suddenly it’s 3rd and 2 deep in Bears territory when Santonio has a ball dribble down his chest in the end zone. I know Santonio should have caught it but why not just get the 1st down? First things first!

* Skippy misses another one, this time from 43. I don’t think I ever remember the Foul Dwarf missing 2 FGs in one game… Why are we screwing around with these Chicago clowns? No sluts for Skippy tonight. Maybe he should grow that ridiculous hairdo back.

* Bears drive down the field, eating up all kinds of time and kick a field goal with 15 seconds left in the game. Steelers fumble the kick return and there’s your ballgame.

We had all kinds of chances in this game, but just seemed to bumblefuck it up. Not winning this game is going to cost us down the road. And now I’m going to have to listen to the obnoxious Ratbird fans cawing about being in first place. Bugger all!Last week I won the Football picks contest I play in each week, (all the pro games plus 2 select college games), going 16-2. As I learned when I hit the first 3 exactas at the
horse races at the State Fair a couple weeks ago, you can’t assume you know it all after some early success. On today’s pro games, I’m 5-9 so far. I’ll get’em next week.

The Mojo Boogie - Week 2

Last week’s game attire delivered a Steelers win, so I have that gear to keep under advisement. I can’t use it today because I won’t be watching the game at home. There are different rules for different locations.

Today’s game is on opposite the Ratbirds so I have to go out to watch it. Last year I went to watch 4 games at
Jilly’s, my neighborhood sports bar, and the Steelers won them all. I wore something different each time so I don’t have any trends to go on for today. While a previous year’s mojo doesn’t necessarily coincide with that of the current year, it does provide a starting point.

The downside of going to Jilly’s is that it is a “Raven’s Roost” bar, so Ratbird fan presence will be high. Also, the audio feed will be for the Ratbirds game so I’ll have to pay close attention to my game. This can be difficult sometimes because with all the games going on simultaneously, there is something to see everywhere. I ascribe this to one of Murphy’s Laws: “Anything requiring complete attention will coincide with a compelling distraction.”

I can usually count on some smack talk from the Jilly’s crowd and I don’t shy away. I’m never one to walk in and get in people’s faces but if people start with me, I’m ready. This year especially, I’m bulletproof. Just won the Super Bowl and Stanley Cup… Steelers beat the Ratbirds 3 straight games, including in the AFC Championship Game… what can anyone really say? “Steelers suck?” (the usual)

“Oh really? Blow me.” Then I just smile and hold up 6 fingers. Or 3. Or just the middle one.

Normally I don’t go the game jersey route at Jilly’s. The one time I wore one there, we got squashed, so that put me off the jerseys right then. I usually go with the polo or rugby shirt option and have done pretty well. Hats are also in play, so I have that choice to make as well. I never take the Terrible Towel to Jilly’s. That is reserved for my knee when watching the game at home, or attending the game.

On game days (or the all-important Friday before) I tend to shy away from gear that celebrates recent championships. Talking championship is cocky and cockiness gets the karmic smack down more often than not. It’s sad because I do love to wear the championship stuff, so for the sake of the mojo, I only wear it off-season or earlier in the week.
So here’s what I’m going with today: Black polo with yellow shoulder stripes, black hat, yellow bill w/ 2 black stripes and my Steelers socks.
I didn’t wear that shirt at Jilly’s last year but went 2-1 with it in 2007. I figure I’ll wear it twice this year and stop there.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Housekeeping

I don't have a lot to say today, but be prepared for my Pre-Steelers game Mojo Report tomorrow.

I spent the morning today cleaning up my "Labels" file. That's the long list of random topics that appears on the right side of the screen, after you get past all the fun stuff. I realized I'd been treating them like search tags rather than the broader subject buckets that they should be. That left me with a list about a bajillion subjects long, each with a single use. You'll now see that the list is much shorter than it had been and I hope more efficient. 'Cause I'm all about the efficiency, you know.

I send great thanks to all the bloggers I read, for being such good examples. And a special thank you to all who leave comments, for truly encouraging my behavior. It does wonders for one's motivation to know that there are actually people reading.

(hands-together "Ed McMahon" semi-bow)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Odd Bits - Brother Kanye Spare a Dime Edition

Flushing Meadows
I saw an article on MSN yesterday about restroom etiquette for the office. I went to link to it but it has since disappeared, so I’m linking to this
similar post. As a 10-year office denizen, this is a subject near and dear to my heart.

I have several major peeves with what I see in our company’s restrooms. First and foremost, please, if you don’t mind and you have time, would you PLEASE FLUSH THE GODDAMNED TOILET? That includes the urinal too. Like I really want to see and smell someone else’s “bouquet” after they’re done.

And I hate it when guys pee straight down into the thimble’s worth of water, with as much force as they can muster without having a simultaneous accident. This maneuver makes 3” of foam. By the time I stroll up, it takes me 3 flushes to clear it and in the process, kills my desire for beer that day.

Lastly on the subject of flushing, if you do flush in a stall, hang around for a second to make sure there are no “remnants” left. Stall leftovers make the aforementioned urinal latte look like nectar of the gods. One flush doesn’t always do it, people, especially on Burrito Day in the cafeteria.

What’s up with people talking on cell phones when they’re on the hopper? Are they that important that they have to multi-task during what could be the only moment of solitude they get all day? Or are we just a nation of people that go zero-to-bored in 15 seconds? When I hear someone yakking on the phone, I always make sure I give the urinal a couple of quick flushes as I go. Lets the guy on the other end of the phone know where he stands.

Thou Shalt Not… Anything!
Speaking of pieces of shit, I just heard about the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia. Seems he wrote a thesis when he was in his 30’s attending CBN University (founded by Pat Robertson), which included, per the
Washington Post, “a full-throated attack on liberals, modernity, the Great Society and inheritance taxes, among other supposed ills, which he linked to and blamed for homosexuality, declining morality and the degradation of the traditional family, along with the proliferation of pornography, out-of-wedlock sex, day care, birth control, pregnant teenagers, divorce, single mothers, working women and feminists.” He has opposed birth control even for married couples. He has also written, “homosexuality and abortion are both cause and effect of family breakdown."

I always thought the cause of family breakdown was the sanctimonious prigs that feel the need to dictate the terms of other people's personal lives. What exactly was the cause of the family breakdown in South Carolina's First Family, the Sanfords; was he actually gay and his Argentine rendezvous was just a cover? And the Ensigns out in Nevada? Maybe that staffer he was banging had to use the hush money he paid her husband to have an abortion, so I could be wrong.

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." ~Blaise Pascal~

This guy is such a tool; I just sent his opponent, Creigh Deeds, $25.00. Thank you, NARAL, for the tip-off.

A Swift Kick in the Pants
News media today was all abuzz over Kanye West’s mic-swipe from Taylor Swift. (or should that be ass-wipe?) Then later today, President Obama apparently called West a “jackass” while he was “off the record” and a flack from
ABC news twittered it, which begat another round of political hand-wringing and brouhaha.

I say “Amen!”

What Kanye did on the MTV Video Music Awards was obnoxious and self-indulgent, and as Katy Perry tweeted, doing that to cute little Taylor Swift was “like stepping on a kitten”. The President was calling it like he and the rest of America was seeing it.
Now, how long will it be before Republicans or Fox News claim West was just expressing his right to dissent and that Obama is trying to socialize rap music?

Silence of the Pens
Last week, the Pittsburgh Penguins again demonstrated why they are a class organization. As they have done the past 2 years, they’ve sent out their players and coaches to deliver season ticket packages to select buyers.

I said this when they first did it… what a great PR move. For practically no overhead, they reap the benefits of getting their young, personable players out face to face with their adoring public, which then gets videotaped and posted all over the web. The video below is a mash-up of various players making their deliveries.

I love looking at some of the Penguins Rooms these people have set up. I especially love one shot where coach Dan Bylsma is looking at a photoshop of him leading his players across the Delaware, patterned after the famous drawing of George Washington.
Around playoff time, I saw a picture that showed the Pens training room that had a whole collage of such photoshops. I love that. It really cements the bond between players and fans, even more so than wearing a particular game-day outfit.

But speaking of the ticket deliveries, I saw a lot of basements, but I didn’t see anything like my friend wants to do. She wants to get season tickets for the sole purpose of luring Kris Letang into the Silence of the Lambs pit she wants to dig.

She’s got it all worked out…

“Want to see my basement?”

“Sure. Hey what’s that pit for?”


“It puts the skates upon it’s feet, or else it doesn’t get a treat.”

Later, you’ll see her up in her room with Letang’s jersey on, gazing at herself in the mirror and making skating motions.
Maybe it’s a good thing there’s a waiting list for Pens season tickets.

"Put the puck in the basket. Put the f'n puck in the basket!"

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Day at the Races

I went to the Maryland State Fair the weekend before last for the express purpose of placing a few bets on the ponies. And by “placing a few bets” I mean study the program and tip sheets feverishly, analyze the odds, look for the biggest horse, scrutinize the jockeys and eventually place my piddley $2 Exacta box bets.

I like to bet the races at the Fair. I know I have the “legendary” Pimlico racetrack, home of The Preakness triple-crown race, about 5 minutes from my apartment. And by “Pimlico”, I mean that giant toilet sitting in front of a dirt oval track. I think the degenerate gambler factor is somewhat reduced at the Fair, as opposed to Pimlico. At the Fair, there are more casual bettors, who throw more money into the pot for people that pretend they actually know what they’re doing, like me.

As I mentioned, I usually bet 1 or 2 Exacta boxes per race, which is a $4 bet in which you pick any two horses to finish 1st or 2nd, in either order. (This is just a fancy way of making two $2 single Exacta bets, where you pick 1st and 2nd place finishers in order.)

Right out of the gate, I hit Exactas for the first 3 races. Whoo Hoo! Riding high, babeeee and now playing with $44 of house money. As you may have seen from my last posting, I’m all about the mojo, so I was going to the same teller, sitting in the same place and betting the same way. But in the 4th race, I tried adding a $2 Trifecta bet (picking 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in order) in addition to my 2 Exacta boxes.

Naturally I lost on the next 4 races. Funny how karma will whack you like that. I dared to alter the formula and got smacked. Eventually I won another Exacta in the 8th race and again in the 10th and final race. All in all, I played with house money all day.

Exactas won:
1st $13.40
2nd $14.00
3rd $37.00
8th $21.00
10th $14.20
Total: $99.60

Bet: $80.00
Net $19.60

So that’s nice. But then you have to factor out the $27.50 I spent on parking, Fair admission fee, the racing forms and tip sheets, 2 slices of pizza and a beer and I lost a grand total of a $7.90. Oh well… That’s 4 and a half hours of entertainment for less than the cost of a movie. I’ll take that bet any time. I may even have to get myself a special racing shirt.

Shot from the rail... this is what's fun about going to the track... feeling the ground shake when they run by. Papa Im noses Dutch Purple for 2nd. (The winner had already gone by.) I'm in favor of anything purple getting beaten, especially by something wearing black and gold. Plus, it gave me another exacta win. The winner, Royal Bayou. Hey, I didn't know Rush Limbaugh went to the track.
Steelers/Titans Post Game
It’s taken me a while to decide how to handle Pittsburgh Steeler game results. I took notes during the game, but to be perfectly honest, there are dozens of sites I know of and probably hundreds of site I don’t that already do recaps and analysis better than I. Ginny at That’s Church does the
funny recap better than anyone.

I know it’s been 5 days since the game the news is not exactly new any more, but geez, I already have the notes here, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to let the effort go to waste. So let me just hit some bullet points of my impressions of the game.

*Wow, the old ‘Burgh looks good all lit up. Nice fireworks. I wonder if they’re real, or Chinese Olympic’d up.

*Special Teams is going to be worlds better this year. Logan had a big night with returns and Daniel Sepulveda returned from injury last year to either pound the ball or drop it inside the 15-yard line. The first sequence demonstrated it all. Logan returned to about the 40 instead of last year’s customary return to the 22. We go three and out, then Sepulveda punts it 54 yards to the 2, rather than last year’s 35-yard shank. That’s about a 40-yard swing. When the Titans punted, we’re in business near the 50. Having a short field more often will pay off over the year.

*Troy Polamalu was just a torpedo out there. He was like that cartoon when Bugs Bunny plays every position on the baseball field. There’s Troy in the backfield. There’s Troy filling a hole in the line. There’s Troy pulling down a one-handed INT. Sadly then there was Troy getting his knee rolled up on after a blocked FG. Luckily, he’s only set to miss 3-6 weeks. Although Jerome Bettis said today that when he had the same injury, running straight ahead was fine but changing direction was a problem. As Troy is all about the change of direction, it might take a bit longer until he’s back to new.

*As all media outlets have pointed out, the Steelers running game was non-existent. I don’t blame the runners, however. There was nowhere for them to run. They were either hit in the backfield, or saw no holes in the line, unless you count the backsides of his offensive line. This needs to be fixed pronto.

*Welcome back Heath Miller. Dude was everywhere, early on. It was like he was the only one Ben could find. I’m glad to see that… Heath will latch onto any ball he can get his big mitts on and gets north/south immediately. Maybe a few more balls to Heath over the middle takes a little wear and tear off Hines.

*I’m the first guy to tell people that complain about the officiating to STFU, but the reffing in this game was horrible. When Steeler-basher Chris Collinsworth is saying the Steelers are getting jobbed, it must be really bad. They held Harrison all game, one time with full camera isolation on the horse collaring. No call. The holding penalty on Starks was bogus, as was the interference call on Troy. But the Steelers did what good teams do… they overcame it.

*How could you not feel for Hines fumbling on the 5, when all they needed was a field goal for the win? I don’t blame him for it, because it was a heck of a strip from behind by the defensive back. Hines could have went right down, but if you’ve ever watched the guy, he kills himself to get into the end zone any time he’s close. You don’t want to stifle that. I’m just glad rookie Mike Wallace came through with a long catch to the 15-yard line in OT and Jeff Reed knocked home the game winning FG. Skippy, the sluts are on Hines tonight.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Mojo Boogie

If I hadn’t called my blog “Darwinfish”, I was going to call it The Mojo Boogie. I’m one of those sports fans that gets into the team mojo… you know, must wear a certain thing, sit in a certain place, etc. It all started as kids living in the Ohio in the 70s.

Back then; NFL merchandising wasn’t what it is today. The only way to get Steelers coats, tee shirts, hats and jerseys was to go to Pittsburgh, or in our case, get Christmas presents from people living in Pittsburgh.

I’ll never forget getting my first customized jersey. This was probably after Super Bowl IX and I asked for a #63 Ernie Holmes jersey. (Even then I was trying to avoid all the Franco, Bradshaw, Mean Joe jerseys that were the most popular. I don’t think anyone in all of Ohio had a Fats Holmes jersey.)

So on the rare occasion that the Steelers were on TV, my brother and I would go get our jerseys on. We’d watch the first half, go out and play football during halftime, lose track of time and straggle in for the 4th quarter. But the thing is, we had to have the jersey on. That turned into sitting in our special spots. The Steelers went on to do pretty well in the 70s, thank you very much. Even today, my parents still dress for the games and sit in their mojo-approved football watching spots.

So, what defines mojo?

Ahem… Mojo is the unseen force that binds a team to its fans. It grows and abates in strength. It should not be underestimated. It is caused by people like me wearing our prescribed outfit and keeping our Terrible Towel over the prescribed knee. Other people fly flags, place special totems and drink particular beverages. I read about a guy from Indiana that drives all the way to Pittsburgh for each home game, to smoke a cigar with the statue of Art Rooney Sr. I always tell myself that "at least I'm not THAT bad..."

Mojo gives us all a sense of contribution to and involvement with our team. Maybe we can’t suit up and run the ball, but we can do that voodoo that we do while yelling our heads off at a TV screen.

Remember that Steelers/Jets playoff game in January of 2005? Remember when the Jets kicker missed one field goal and doinked another at the end of the game and in OT? That was caused by 65,000 fans in the stands yelling and waving, and millions around the world sending out vibes saying, “miss it!” Don’t mess with the mojo, man!

Starting the season after that, I began tracking my mojo activities, looking for trends and patterns. I even started an Excel spreadsheet just to keep it all organized. Seriously! Aside from the opponent, venue, day and time, I track what I wore during the week, what I wore the Friday before the game (last work day), where I watched the game, what the Steelers wore, what I wore, and the final score plus comments. Seriously.
Throughout that season, I learned that mojo is transient. You can change things up… in fact, you’re obligated to change things up when things are trending down. When things are going good, you change nothing, if you can help it. I learn what jersey I should wear when the Steelers are home on a Sunday afternoon, or that what works at home may not work when attending the game. The variables are many.

One thing I don’t worry about is the whole not washing an article of clothing thing. Mojo is what you believe it is. Therefore what you choose to have meaning is up to you. So I choose not to be stinky. Although I admit, I only wash the Terrible Towel after the season, lest I wash out all the game experience. I have several commemorative Towels, but I only use one for games… the original I bought in the Pittsburgh Airport in 1996. Been through a lot with that Towel and I’ll twirl that thing until it’s threadbare.

So I’ve been spreadsheet tracking my mojo for the last four years and we have won Super Bowls in 2 of them. You’re welcome.

All of which brings me to tonight, the cusp of a new season. This year I’m going to blog my season in mojo for the first time. Tonight, I’m going with the Willie Parker replica jersey over a gold block-letter Steelers tee shirt, with white mesh Steelers shorts. I always start the season wearing the replicas.
I tend to save the authentic jerseys for attending the games or at least crucial late season games. Why? If we start off losing while wearing my best jersey, I have to slum for the rest of the season in the cheap jerseys. You can be mojo-conscious and stylin’.

So now it's time to get dressed… I am SO ready for some football…

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

“What? You Agree With Me? Then I Change My Mind…”

I’m writing this Tuesday morning and I know this issue will already played out by the time I get this posted, but this week we’ve seen quite possibly the stupidest political controversy ever…

Oh my God, lock the doors, bolt the windows…
The President wants to speak to the children!! (The after-story can be found here.)


Immediately the Republicans became outraged, like they do when Obama does pretty much anything. Did they seriously think that the President was going to start talking health care, energy policy, reproductive freedom or anti-terrorism with a K-12 audience? Please…

The first I heard about The Speech was that he was going to encourage students to study hard and do well in school. I don’t know where all this other crap came from… no wait, yes I do… Fox “News”, of course.

They were busy whipping up the “controversy” because that’s what pays their bills. It didn’t matter that the facts didn’t bear out what they were alleging… Their audience isn’t interested in facts that don’t back up their point of view.

It’s really all very simple. Those that are opposed to having this speech broadcast are opposed to anything that President Obama is for, regardless of what it is. If he were to proclaim the sky blue and the grass green, they would claim he was trying to socialize nature and then they’d demand he hold a town hall so they could show up and yell about it.

Harford County Maryland is not going to broadcast the speech because they claim they are required to review it first to determine appropriateness.

Um, excuse me, but the speech is available RIGHT NOW (as it was yesterday) all over the internet. What are you waiting for?

I’ve heard arguments that boil down to this”
*He’s too liberal.
*He’s destroying the country.
*I don’t like his policies.

OK, that’s all fine and good, but it’s also totally irrelevant. Even if I agreed with those points, that doesn’t preclude the guy from having something valid to say. Believe me, I disagree with just about everything that President Shrub did, from raping the environment, to rolling back civil rights, to using the Justice Department as a political weapon, to letting religion dictate scientific and social policy, to covertly bring in oil industry cronies to formulate the country’s energy policy, to filling the pockets of the executives in the oil, drug, defense and insurance industries, to starting an unnecessary war… geez, I could go on for pages…

But if GW were broadcasting a speech to children calling for them to work hard in school, I say let the man speak. I may hate him, but he is still the President. This was a total non-issue when President Reagan and President Daddy-Bush did the exact same thing during their Presidencies. Both had their detractors, no doubt, but there was no second thought about whether it was appropriate to speak directly to the nation’s children.

Let’s see, what’s in the speech…
*Work hard in school. Go to class and listen.
*Set goals for yourself. Develop your talents.
*It’s up to you to make yourself better.
*A tiny percent of you may be a movie star or top athlete, so it’s best you get an education.

Aren’t those things that Republicans are always screaming for? Individual responsibility? Hard work? Only when they’re trying to keep poor people from getting help, I guess.

It just goes to show that they won’t even let Obama agree with them. It further goes to show what happens when you have a morally bankrupt platform and thorough lack of new ideas.

I’ve heard it posited in different forums that it’s a racist thing.

I think there may be a grain of truth to that, but I think that in this case, racism is surpassed by politics. The right just doesn’t want the President to succeed with anything, even with something they embrace. They’re so busy posturing about not destroying America or what it means to be American; they can’t see that their actions are doing just that.

And that, my friends, is hypocrisy at it’s purest.

There’s a difference between dissenting and shouting down everyone that doesn’t agree. People keep talking about compromising… I tell you, there can be no compromise when one side is only interested in securing the failure of the other. No matter how many people are hurting when the country goes down the tubes because of it, all the better come election time.

That’s the real lesson that “the children” are being taught right now by this asinine charade.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The "24" Drinking Game

I’ve written before about my guilt-ridden love for the super-action show “24”. This week I just finished up watching the DVDs for Season 3, after which I now propose the following 24” Drinking Game.
The Rules: Take a drink whenever you hear someone say…

· “Dammit!” The all-purpose epithet, along with the occasional “son-of-a-bitch”. You know whenever Jack Bauer screams, “Dammit”, it’s just a stand in for “Fuck ME!”

· “What?” You’d think everyone on the show is hard of hearing, because no one ever seems to hear anything important the first time. I realize that it’s just a exposition device to elicit more details, but still, it makes everyone sound dim.

“Assad Falafel is dead.”

“The bomb just went off; everyone in Fubar City is dead.”

“We don’t have The Package. I repeat; we don’t have The Package. I say again, we don’t have The Package. The Package is gone.”

Actually, I shouldn’t joke… with all the gunfire, bombs and people screaming “Dammit”, all the regulars probably are hard of hearing.

· “We don’t have a choice!” Also, “we don’t have any other choice”, “there are no more options”, etc. Anything that indicates that there is only one course of action and it’s going to be pretty distasteful. Anyone engaging in a plan in which “they don’t have any other choice” usually ends up bleeding somewhere.

· “We’re running out of time!” Also, “there’s no more time”, “we’re out of time”, etc. Count anything that indicates that the deep shit is imminent. For all the rushing around everyone does, no one ever seems to have enough time.

If you hear the following, chug whatever is left:

“Dammit, we don’t have a choice… We’re running out of time!”

Bleep Bleep Bleep Bleep

I kept score of these markers during my viewing of Season 3 and found the following totals:
Dammit = 12
What = 14
No Choice = 15
Running out of time = 18

That averages out to about 2.5 drinking opportunities per episode, although if you factor out the first 3 or so episodes while they’re just getting warmed up, you can up the totals. If these figures don’t provide enough opportunities for drinking, consider these additional signals for extra credit:
· If Chloe scowls, drink.
· If Chloe converses with someone awkwardly, drink.
· If Tony Almeida glances furtively, drink.
· If Jack’s daughter gets herself into trouble, drink.And if a major character gets killed, resulting in the “silent” 24-clock, chug.