Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reporting from the celebration

The noise in here would drown out jet engines. An estimated crowd of 40,000 is cheering, clapping, stomping, and dancing to the blaring tunes of John Cafferty’s “Hearts on Fire.” A door opens in the back of the arena, and the main attraction appears. His arms are raised.

“… Burnin’ with determination, to even up the score! Heart’s on fire, strong desire, rages deep within. Heart’s on fire, fever’s risin’…”

For a good 30 seconds, he soaks in the adulation. Breaking into a trot, he heads up the center aisle, slapping high fives along the way, letting security take care of the more crazed fans. If the taxman charged a million dollars for smiling, every single person in this room would owe big.

“… Rules and regulations have no meaning anymore! Heart’s on fire, strong desire, rages deep within. Heart’s on fire, fever’s risin’…”

The center of everybody’s attention has reached the stage, and he bounds up the steps with the grace of a tap dancer. Turning around, he finally faces the throng. A microphone rises from the floor, stopping just in front of his face. He takes it from the stand.

“Please!” he yells. “Please! Calm down!”

Almost impossibly, the noise level rises. His pinstriped suit glimmers.

“Absolutely! Absolutely! Give yourselves a hand! The best fans in the world!”

This continues for a good minute, until the speaker’s pleas soak through. He begins again once things simmer to a dull roar. The music dims.

“We’ve all been a part of history, there’s no doubt about that,” he says. “When we started, everybody doubted us. When we hit roadblocks, everybody doubted us. When we announced our intention for perfection, everybody doubted us. But you know what everybody else did? Lost to us!”

Fantasy football coach Josh Massey pumps his fist as the crowd explodes in approval.

“People said an undefeated season was impossible! That it couldn’t be done! Well, they won’t say that anymore! They can’t say that anymore! Because Rooster Illusion has done it!

“Let’s take a look at our accomplishments. Not all of them; that would take the next four or five days. But the highlights. We lost our starting quarterback and first round draft pick, Tom Brady, in the opening minutes of Week One. But our insurance policies – back-ups Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan – stepped in and proved how invaluable good insurance is! Buy insurance! From me!”

The walls shake. The tremors of excitement can be felt a mile away.

“They laughed at us when we drafted Michael Turner in the third round. They scoffed when we started the run on defensive players in the sixth. They said, ‘Why is he signing a rookie running back like Steve Slaton? That guy sucks!’ No! He doesn’t! He doesn’t suck!”

A chant of “He! Doesn’t! Suck!” envelops the room for a short time, until Massey raises his right arm above his head.

“Now we stand on the other side of the playoffs, on the far side of the regular season, and we look back at a perfect 17-0 record. Back-to-back fantasy football championships, and the first three-time champion of Doug Gillett’s Big Ass Football League!”

Windows shatter in the back of the room.

“Now we have work to do. Our record might have been perfect, but there are other improvements to be made. Mistakes have to be corrected. Drafting DeAngelo Williams was genius, but cutting him after a few weeks – not a good idea. Drafting Darren McFadden in the fourth round – not a good idea. And I still haven’t figured out who the fuck Leigh Bodden is, much less why we took him in the 12th round. Those are imperfections, and they will disappear in '09! Until next year's draft, however, bask in the glory of beating Tim Kelly three times in the same season!"

The roof begins crumbling, women convulse, locusts appear.

"Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 Big Ass Football League champion Rooster Illusion fantasy football team! Let's celebrate!"

"One day, one night, one moment. My dreams could be, tomorrow. One step, one fall, one falter, east or west, over earth or by ocean. One way to be my journey, this way could be my Book of Days..."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Confessions of a dangerous mind

A South Philadelphia man enraged because a father and son were talking during a Christmas showing of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button took care of the situation when he pulled a .380-caliber gun and shot the father, police said.

I just have one thing to say about that gun-toting criminal:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Betcha Bottom Dollar: Week Seventeen

Seven weeks have passed since the last NFL game. Or five days, according to the calendar. But I trust my own sense of timing over what some piece of paper says, and I know it's been seven weeks.

Incidentally, Christmas day lasted 223 hours. Weird.

The picks:

Oakland @ Tampa Bay (-13). The NFL really messed up this week. I'm sure there are networks and rights and contracts and stuff, but why didn't we have an NFL game on Thursday night? And Friday afternoon? And Friday night? And all day Saturday? The Christmas season is long enough as it is, and all football fans had to subsist on were subpar exhibition games featuring the likes of TCU, Central Michigan and - shudder - Notre Dame. The networks can "flex" good games to primetime, why not move crappy games to Fridays? Nobody will watch Kansas City @ Cincinnati on Sunday, but it could have gotten a few million disinterested-but-at-least-still-watching viewers a couple days before. Seattle @ Arizona will garner no interest two days from now, but gambling alone would have propped up the ratings last night. PICK: Tampa Bay

Detroit @ Green Bay (-9 1/2). At least Matthew Stafford will have plenty of cash to buy winter clothes. And fully-automatic weaponry. PICK: Green Bay

Carolina (-3) @ New Orleans. Alright, here's my perfect scenario for Sunday. The Falcons finish off the Rams 42-0 with Michael Turner rushing for six touchdowns (fantasy championship game this weekend), the coaches meet at midfield, and the team congratulates each other on the impressive victory and the 11-win season. Before the Falcons leave the field, however, all screens switch to this game, where the Saints are leading by two scores with a minute left. The seconds tick away, and everybody remaining in the Dome gets to celebrate "the NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons" together. Is that too much to ask for a guy who didn't get a 52-inch 1080P flatscreen TV for Christmas? PICK: New Orleans

St. Louis @ Atlanta (-14). When I bought my season tickets, I remember looking at this game in particular and thinking, "Man, I'm not going to get anybody to go with me." If popular reason had prevailed, this game would be matchup of 4-win teams, and home team fans would secretly hope for a loss so we'd move up in the draft. Nope, didn't work out that way. Instead, we'll have at least six folks at our tailgate, and even in a blowout will stay to the bitter end - because, as I said, the NFC South and a bye week is perhaps on the line. This one is gonna be fun. PICK: Atlanta (yes, I picked Atlanta all 16 games, but it worked VERY well)

Chicago (-4) @ Houston. I'm thrilled about the apparent success of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, because it will likely give director David Fincher more freedom in the future. However, part of me is even happier because of Valkyrie's surprisingly good numbers. Tom Cruise may be a fruitbat off-screen, I have no idea, but the guy makes consistently great movies. In 20 years, he has made just two truly bad ones: Mission: Impossible 2 and Lions for Lambs (and the latter wasn't his fault at all). That's an absolutely amazing run, and I can't help but root for him. PICK: Houston

Kansas City @ Cincinnati (-3). A website called Silicon Alley Insider has dug up Newsweek's Christmas 1997 wish list. It really is amazing how far technology has come in 11 years. (My favorite is the $1,200 Motorola "cellular phone," complete with built-in answering machine). PICK: Kansas City

Dallas @ Philadelphia (-1 1/2). The Cowboys win, and they're in. Philadelphia is pretty much out, as they'd need a loss by Tampa Bay (unlikely) and then a loss by either Minnesota or Chicago. And the NFL did Dallas a huge favor by moving this to 4:15, so the Eagles will likely already know they're out of the postseason running by kickoff. Far be it for me to call shenanigans, but, well, fuck it - SHENANIGANS. PICK: Dallas

Jacksonville @ Baltimore (-12 1/2). PICK: Jacksonville

Tennessee (-3) @ Indianapolis. What could have been the biggest game of the AFC year ends up being Vince Young @ Jim Sorgi. Everything is wrapped up for both teams, so expect to see a gaggle of backups getting some time - and because Young has something to prove, it should put the Titans over the top. PICK: Tennessee

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh (-10 1/2). "I drive trucks, break arms, and arm wrestle. It's what I love to do, it's what I do best." Oh man, I should know better than to unwittingly type the title of a Sylvester Stallone film. Over the Top rules. PICK: Cleveland

Miami @ NY Jets (-2 1/2). "In a lifetime there is only love/
Reaching for the lonely one/
We are stronger when we are giving love/
When we put emotions on the line/
Know that we are the timeless ones/
Meet me halfway across the sky/
Out where the world belongs to only you and i/
Meet me halfway across the sky/
Make this a new beginning of another life."

Ok, the Kenny Loggins song from Over the Top is sort of terrible. PICK: Miami

New England (-6 1/2) @ Buffalo. Of course my focus Sunday is the Falcons winning the NFC South, but this game could provide a little cherry on top. To make the playoffs, the Patriots need a win here and a loss by either Baltimore or Miami. Imagining Bill Belichick sitting on a couch watching the first round of the playoffs, realizing the Jets essentially knocked them out with that overtime win, is a wonderful vision. PICK: New England

Seattle @ Arizona (-6).
Upset alert. The Seahawks will send Mike Holmgren out with a road victory against the slumping Cardinals (who, incidentally, the Falcons will face should they not win the division. Sweet.). PICK: Seattle

4:30 p.m. update: I posted this a couple hours before Bill Simmons called this his "upset special." Just FYI.

Washington @ San Francisco (-3). Getting Bill Cowher is the only reason for Washington to fire Jim Zorn. And the 49ers could be nasty next year - they're just a few pieces away. PICK: San Francisco

Denver @ San Diego (-9). The classic scenario: Win or go home. I like the Chargers to win the game, but this spread is absurd. PICK: Denver

Last week: 6-9-1
Overall: 55-63-4

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Thank you, mom and dad, for not being these people.

Seriously. Thank you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Checking it twice

The Atlanta Falcons needed a lot of things to fall their way the past few days. Let's take a look at the list:

1) Baltimore beating Dallas. Check.
2) San Diego beating Tampa Bay. Check.
3) Washington beating Philadelphia. Check.
4) New York beating Carolina. Check.
5) Oh, and of course, Atlanta beating Minnesota.


That's absurd. Dominoes don't fall that straight.

The Falcons clinching a playoff spot this week wasn't terribly realistic, and yet it happened. Which is pretty much par for the course for this 2008 team.

Atlanta takes on the horrible St. Louis Rams at home on Sunday, but everybody's attention will be a bit divided. Carolina and New Orleans also play at 1 p.m., and assuming a win over the Rams, the NFC South belongs to the Falcons if the Panthers lose. The division would come gift-wrapped with a bye week and a guaranteed home playoff game.

If Carolina wins on Sunday, they take the division and the Falcons head to Arizona for a first-round date with the Cardinals. This is yet another piece of good news, as the Cardinals are easily the worst playoff-bound NFC team, and have been playing like hot garbage recently.

Of course I'm hoping for a home playoff game, but it wouldn't be so terrible to take yet another football related trip to Arizona this year. Anybody with me?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Aviator cap

See, that's the problem with a historic 9-3 season. You have to deal with all the bandwagon jumpers.

12/21 update: Scratch that. As Scott points out, it is likely a Grambling cap. I guess DiCaprio graduated from there.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Betcha Bottom Dollar: Week Sixteen

'Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the house/
Not a creature was stirring, except a big goddamn mouse...

Last week, I told a sappy, puke-inducingly sweet story about a little pug I saw in a pet store. A cutesy, wootsy puppy that would melt the heart of any Grinchy Winchy. If PETA read it, I'd probably headline their next made-of-recycled-hemp newsletter due to my unending dedication to our animal friendsee wendzees.

Animal love has its limits, though, and I'm not just talking legally.

To get this story, by the way, you have to understand my house is retarded. My brother's bedroom is in the basement, my room is a floor up, the den and kitchen are another floor up, and my brother's other bedroom is another floor up. So when I say "my brother was upstairs watching TV," he's actually in our den. Anyway.

So my brother was upstairs watching TV - probably one of his many TIVOed episodes of "Two and a Half Men" or a Pay-Per-View showing of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 - when there was a scratching sound from behind the flat-screen. We talk about the things that "go bump in the night," but what fell from behind the screen was more of a big-ass thump.

THUMP. Scurryscurryscurry.

A rat had found its way into our walls, and only found one way to escape - the hole we had drilled in our wall to hang our TV.

Well, from downstairs, I hear the THUMP and then the scream of a 4-year-old girl. Which was my 31-year-old brother. The pitter-patter of plumber feet scurryscurryscurried up the stairs, never managing to say an audible word or grab his dog out of harm's way.

My phone rings 10 seconds later. It's the guy two floors up.

"Hhh-hhh-hhh," he says (that's my way of spelling 'out-of-breath'). "Hhh-hhh-hhh. It's big. Big. Hhh-hhh-hhh. Definitely a rat. Fell down from hhh-hhh-hhh behind the TV. Hhh-hhh. What am I going - oh shit. I left the remote control downstairs. Oh God, and that Martin Lawrence movie Black Knight is on up here. I can't change the channel. Shit."

So now my brother has seen Black Knight.

The story only begins here, though. My brother has yet to sleep in our house since Monday. But I have gone to battle, waging a war that's increasingly costly and frustrating. I've tried bait. Small traps. Big traps. Huge they-should-have-used-these-in-Cloverfield traps. And nothing works. Worse, the fucker is taunting me.

I lace these things with peanut butter as instructed, but each morning I wake up to find the traps just as I left them - sans peanut butter. He's still in my house somewhere - a fat and happy son of a bitch - confined to the den and adjoining wall. But this is getting personal. At first, I wanted to kill him in a humane way, a quick trap that would take care of everything in a relatively painless way. Now, though, after the nights of silent listening and study, I'm researching torture devices that would catch the rat today and kill it sometime around March, Saw VI-style.

Any direction is appreciated.

The picks:

Baltimore @ Dallas (-4). The biggest non-Falcon game of the week. If the Ravens can pull the upset here (a manageable proposition) and the Falcons can win in Minnesota (a very manageable proposition), Atlanta is very likely headed to the playoffs. Come on, propositions! Be managed! PICK: Dallas (trying to double reverse whammy jinx the game)

Pittsburgh (-2) @ Tennessee. The AFC - who cares? PICK: Pittsburgh

Miami (-4) @ Kansas City. The AFC - who cares? PICK: Kansas City

Arizona @ New England (-7 1/2). The AFC and an already playoff-bound NFC team - who cares? PICK: New England

Cincinnati @ Cleveland (-3). I've been involved in this company contest for a couple of months - far too boring to go into detail about - but yesterday I left work early for a related luncheon. The luncheon, as luck would have it, was at a bowling alley. Now I'm not one to brag, but let's just say the lessons I learned in my University of Georgia bowling class have survived over the years. 134, bitch - suck on that. That's like almost perfect. My issue, though, is that today I am absurdly sore. From bowling. I really need to get into shape. PICK: Cincinnati

Philadelphia (-5) @ Washington. The worst playoff scenario involves Tampa Bay getting in ahead of Atlanta because of Philadelphia's tie against Cincinnati. Believe me - this stuff gets tricky once you hit the seventh or eighth tiebreakers. PICK: Philadelphia

San Francisco (-5) @ St. Louis. I get too enraged when I discuss this topic, so just read this article about possibly allowing Sunday alcohol sales in Georgia. Please note the guy who compares selling beer on Sunday to legalizing prostitution. I had no idea prostitution was already legal six days a week. (By the way, is the fact that this is my #1 political issue a surefire sign of alcoholism?) PICK: San Francisco

Atlanta @ Minnesota (-3). For those who didn't spend the last week poring over playoff scenarios for like 20 hours - like what the hell is wrong with you? - let me bring you up to speed. Most likely, Atlanta has to win its final two games to make the playoffs, coupled with one loss from either the Cowboys or Buccaneers, or two losses from Carolina. That's the easiest scenario to explain. Or, I guess, even easier: "Yay Atlanta! Boo Dallas! Boo Tampa Bay! Boo Carolina!" PICK: Atlanta

New Orleans (-7) @ Detroit. Something about this game screams "upset," but not enough to actually call it. (As you may have noticed, my upset calls have been spot on lately). PICK: Detroit

Carolina @ NY Giants (-3). Alright, New York failed me last week against the Cowboys, so let's see if they can repair our relationship on Sunday. They don't want to be on my bad side. Nobody wants to be on my bad side. PICK: NY Giants

NY Jets (-5) @ Seattle.
Being on my bad side, incidentally, involves being tied to a chair while I drink whole milk facing away from you. If my lactose intolerance had been used in the War on Terror, we would have sewn that shit up years ago. PICK: Seattle

Houston (-7) @ Oakland. PICK: Houston

Buffalo @ Denver (-7). PICK: Buffalo

The original Styles. Recognize.

San Diego @ Tampa Bay (-3). Let me be the latest to congratulate Bucs DE Greg White for changing his name to "Stylez" because of his love for Teen Wolf (and attention whoring). I thought Georgia's Bacarri Rambo was a runaway to be my favorite player of 2009, but I'm reconsidering. PICK: Tampa Bay

Green Bay @ Chicago (-4). The fantasy playoffs have started, and my undefeated regular season means zilch if I can't pull off the two-week postseason. My semi-final matchup against Mr. Gillett will likely hinge on this game, when Aaron Rodgers faces freezing Monday night weather. If you'd like to come over and watch the game while cheering on my team - not Green Bay, but my fantasy team - just let me know. Either the rat will be dead by then, or we'll have a new overlord in residence. PICK: Chicago

Last week: 7-9
Overall: 49-54-3

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm not gonna lie. I got goosebumps.

Thursday football:

Indianapolis (-6) @ Jacksonville. PICK: Indianapolis

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We have our answer!

My 20th anniversary Die Hard diary is the blog post that won't die.

A New Jersey television critic linked to it yesterday on his blog and newspaper's website. And yet again, attention turned to a simple question I had asked: "One thing I never understood, though: who is firing the machine gun out of the window?"

This refers to the scene in which John McClane is trying to get the attention of Sergeant Al Powell, about to drive away from Nakatomi. McClane drops a terrorist's corpse onto Powell's car, Powell slams his car in reverse, we get the famous "Welcome to the party, pal" line - and then a machine gun begins peppering Powell's car. Turning it into, of course, swiss cheese. The shooter is never revealed.

That question spurred debate in my comments section, as it has on other websites that linked to my post. Some are convinced - John McClane was definitely firing the gun. Some are convinced - a terrorist was definitely firing the gun. And some just think it's a logic flaw in an otherwise tightly edited film.

Well, thanks to this latest link - and specifically commenter "Matt" - we have our answer. Matt was smart enough to do what I never thought of: read the script. He quotes directly from it.

Suddenly a barrage of MACHINE GUN FIRE from Alexander on the third floor drowns out his call! Powell ducks and flattens against the seat as bullets blow out the front window, covering him in glass.

Alexander, played by Joey Plewa, who would go onto fame and fortune as "Bandstand Tough Guy" in Road House. Not McClane.

Rest easy tonight, my friends.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

No, I'm pretty sure he'd be the first player to do that...

ATLANTA -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Warrick Dunn became the sixth player in NFL history with 10,000 career yards rushing and 500 receptions in a game Sunday against his former Atlanta team.

Emphasis mine.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Welcome to the party, pal

As I enter the weekend with New York Giants love in my heart, a Giants website has coincidentally linked to the Die Hard 20th anniversary thing I wrote a few months back.

I call attention to this only to celebrate that I'm not an idiot. After much discussion on my blog and their site, apparently nobody has any idea who was shooting the gun after McClane dropped the corpse. For years, I thought I was dumb for not being able to figure it out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Betcha Bottom Dollar: Week Fifteen

I made a stupid mistake on Tuesday.

On my lunch break, I went to a local mall to get some holiday shopping accomplished. After getting you something nice, I was headed into Border's to buy yet another book I won't read, and I got distracted - by a puppy barking.

So who knew malls still had pet stores. I remember those things flourishing in the '80s, but haven't seen one since, and seem to remember disgusting stories about freezers full of kittens I'd rather not revisit. Of course, considering Conyers is about 20 years behind the rest of the world, maybe it made sense.

I walked in. A little plastic open-top cage full of rabbits. Cute. Some kittens in cages. Adorable. And then this:

A 4-month-old pug, my favoritest kind of dog in the world. I asked to see the little boy, was ushered to a "play area," and he was brought in. We spent about 15 minutes together - I began rehearsing the introduction of my new pug to the older lady pug I have at home, and I'd be lying if a few names hadn't popped in my head ("Puga" and "Rambo" were leading contenders). And then I thought to ask the price.

Seventeen-hundred-for-fuck's-sake-I'm-not-exaggerating dollars. $1,700 for a dog, and upon seeing my color drain, the saleslady coldly informed me that I shouldn't worry because if he died, they would replace him for free. Do these people not understand the relationship between human and dog? Wouldn't that be a qualification of their job?

I parted ways with Puga/Rambo, and apologized we wouldn't be going home together. I tried to take solace (a quantum, maybe more) in the fact that anybody who paid $1,700 would provide a nice home, but I heard his cries as he was put back into a cage. They were a punch in the dick.

Screw those puppy mills and their freezers and their cold, dead hearts, anyway. I'm headed over to where I'm wanted - Pug Rescue. And once the deed is done, I will be sure to post arm-gnawingly cute pictures of my new little guy/gal. (That website makes me cry. Seriously. I'm such a pussy.)

The picks:

Green Bay (-1 1/2) @ Jacksonville. I don't think there's any doubt, by the way, that I like dogs about a hundred times more than humans. If I ran into a burning house and had to save either a puppy or a baby, I really would try to grab both - but the little brat would be the first drop if things got too heavy. PICK: Green Bay

Washington (-7) @ Cincinnati. Ok, keeping with the theme - if you walked into a store and saw babies in cages, would you feel any worse than when you see a cute puppy in one? I'd feel worse for the puppy - because they have an understanding of what's going on, while babies are just dipshits. PICK: Cincinnati

Detroit @ Indianapolis (-16 1/2). Drew Brees's MVP candidacy took a serious hit last night, which is fine with me - because a team that doesn't go to the playoffs shouldn't have an MVP. Remember, the V stands for "valuable." The Saints would have gone to just as many playoff games this year if they had started ME as their quarterback. I bring this up now because I am firmly (and obviously) on the "Matt Ryan for MVP" bandwagon if the Falcons go to the postseason. How different would the season have been with Chris Redman as the starting QB? That's how you have to measure this. The only other candidate in my mind is Peyton Manning, for the same reason - with Jim Sorgi (or whoever is backing him up these days) as the starter, the Colts might have won two games by now. No teams would suffer more than the Falcons or Colts from the loss of one player. PICK: Indianapolis

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta (-3). If possible, I've actually gotten more excited about the Falcons' season this week. Because now, I guess, we really figure out where the team is headed. To get to the playoffs, Atlanta probably has to win the rest of its schedule - which is really doable. If we get past the Bucs here, we go to an average Vikings team, and a way-less-than-average Rams team comes to us (yes, I've earned the right to say "we" and "us," because I did it when WE were winning three games a year). And hell, you don't have to be a gambler or a fantasy football player to care about the other action this week. Falcons fans also have very vested interests in the fates of the Giants, Broncos and Cardinals (and those teams are conveniently spread out over the late afternoon and night games on Sunday). PICK: Atlanta

Seattle (-2 1/2) @ St. Louis. Last week, I was excited to watch the Falcons on the big screen - I mean, a really big screen, meaning digital projection at a local movie theater. A movie theater that serves beer. I mean, come on, how can that fail? Well, here's how.

Ok, the picture was OK. They were basically just projecting the TV feed onto the screen - not exactly HD, but big enough to work. The problem, though, is that we were in a movie theater. It felt weird to talk. It felt even weirder to stand up and cheer (the last person I saw do that at a movie was my dad, at the end of Glory when all the yankees died). Plus I think that theater is where all the Katrina refugees ended up. We were the only Falcons fans in the place, and I thought with one more yell, I was going to get shanked. At halftime, the move was made to a local sports bar, and viewed on a small TV from a large distance - and it was grand. PICK: St. Louis

San Francisco @ Miami (-6 1/2). Color me unimpressed with the Dolphins, who I heard described this week as "the surprise story of the NFL this year" (excuse the fuck out of me?). They had a nice win against a reeling Patriots team early on, but since they have only a single victory against a team with a winning record (Denver). Other than that, their win list is a veritable shit waft - San Diego, Buffalo twice, Seattle, Oakland and St. Louis. Plus, once the Patriots got their sealegs back, the Dolphins were slapped around 48-28. Take the 49ers if you'd like, by the way, but the safer bet is probably the "under." PICK: San Francisco

Buffalo @ NY Jets (-7 1/2). Let's review what I said about last week's Jets game, when they were favored by four over the 49ers: "Upset alert. ESPN's Monday programming will be full of 'What's happening to the Jets' stories." Take a look at ESPN's main NFL page yesterday:

Thanks to DAve for his fancy image-grabbing techniques.

Come on, I'm having a horrible year picking games. I need to highlight everything of the blind-squirrel-gets-a-nut variety. PICK: Buffalo

Tennessee (-3) @ Houston. My other upset alert - Alabama 27, Florida 24 - came tantalizingly close to happening, by the way. If the Tide had been able to take their last realistic drive to the end zone, that would have been the exact final score. And I'd be even more obnoxious than I already am. (Speaking of upsets, the Texans win this game.) PICK: Houston

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (-2 1/2). I was shopping for some Christmas gifts yesterday when I came across a perfect item for the - uh, Washington Nationals fan in your life. This is at the Toys R Us in Conyers, GA:

Those are an absurdly large amount of action figures in the likeness of Nationals' closer Chad Cordero. Because that's what every kid is looking for under the tree, right? I started to think that maybe there's a Toys R Us in a Conyers, Virginia that these were intended for, but I don't even think you could sell them at Nationals games. PICK: Pittsburgh

Denver @ Carolina (-7 1/2). Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. Go Broncos. PICK: Denver

Minnesota @ Arizona (-3). Another big game for the Falcons. Chicago got the win on Thursday, so let's have 'em take the NFC North and have the Vikings retire to Valhalla. (I'm only educated enough to make that reference because my high school mascot was the Viking, and our yearbook was named Valhalla). Viking heaven. Word. PICK: Arizona

San Diego (-5 1/2) @ Kansas City.
There was a concert in Atlanta this past week. Based on this picture taken there, guess who was performing.

You didn't get it right. PICK: San Diego

NY Giants @ Dallas (-3). Oh God, I can't wait. CAN'T WAIT. Whether or not Atlanta wins Sunday - but especially if they do - this game is monumental to Atlanta's playoff chances. My buddy Lu - such a Giants fan he forked over cash he could have spent on a decent camera to get second row seats to the Super Bowl - has offered me a Giants jersey to wear Sunday night. Upon hearing it would say "Shockey" across the back, however, I had to decline. A brother's got some pride. PICK: NY Giants

Cleveland @ Philadelphia (-14). In news you absolutely won't hear on CNN, 650+ scientists have disputed Al Gore's case that "the science is settled." If ya think Mr. Gore will debate even a single one of them, though, you're mistakin', sister. He's too busy counting the money he's made of this "crisis." (See, I had you all the way to the last entry and had to screw it up.) PICK: Cleveland

Last week: 7-9
Overall: 49-54-3

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Like football without a playoff

I mean, really - what's the point?

Thursday night football:

New Orleans @ Chicago (-3). As far as I can tell, Falcons fans, we're sorta rooting for Chicago here. Based on an absurdly long, unhealthy study of the remaining NFL schedule this week, we don't really have to worry about the NFC North. Between Chicago and Minnesota, one will win the division, one will miss the playoffs - so pulling for the Bears here seems to make sense, if only to push the Saints back and to diminish the Vikings (who we play next week). If that made any sense, you have studied this far too much as well. PICK: Chicago

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Wax off

I don't know why I found this so wonderful, but hell, here it is.

The alternate ending to The Karate Kid:

Friday, December 05, 2008

Betcha Bottom Dollar: Week Fourteen

In 10th grade, I got home from a weekend camping trip to find my grandfather waiting for me. I had expected to find one of my parents in that cold parking lot, but there Granddad was, his breath coiling up.

My parents hated me riding with my grandfather, damn near forbidding it after he was in a series of wrecks in the mid-'80s - one with me in the passenger seat. So yeah, something was wrong.

It turns out dad wouldn't have been able to object this time, as he was at Emory, having suffered a heart attack earlier that afternoon.

Sixteen years later, dad hasn't experienced any more major heart problems. He's dropped about 70 pounds, and he's kept it off. The nightly dinner of two cheeseburgers and a bag of Doritos - an entire bag - has been replaced by fruit, veggies, stuff with "organic" on the label, and pungent blender concoctions that convince you, if the man is willing to drink that crap, he really wants to live. The guy is healthy.

Still, on Thanksgiving morning, when my phone showed him calling but revealed a woman's voice on the other end, I saw my late grandfather standing in the parking lot all over again.

"Josh, your dad has had a heart attack. You need to come home."

I was in Florida, and the holiday meal was just hitting the table at my mom's house. Fifteen minutes later, though, my brother and I were headed north, figuring out how to eat mashed potatoes out of Tupperware on I-75.

I won't prolong the drama nearly as long as it was on that six-hour drive - dad is fine. It turns out, after being initially diagnosed with a heart attack, he turned out to be suffering from a much less serious problem with his esophagus. He was prescribed medication, told to see his regular physician for a follow-up, and released within 24 hours.

I had already changed my original Saturday plan, though, and I wasn't about to change it back. Instead of going to the Georgia/Georgia Tech, I wanted to spend the day with my dad. He was still in a weak state, so I gave my tickets away and we watched it together at his house. Late Saturday afternoon, I looked at my dad and decided to tell him what was weighing on my heart at that moment. I cleared my throat, wiped a tear from my eye, and we locked stares.

"Dad, I'm glad you're alive and all, but thank God you went to the hospital. If I had gone to that game, I would fucking kill myself."

The picks:

Jacksonville @ Chicago (-6 1/2). My back is bruised after I patted it so much for calling the Jaguars' sucktastic season a few months ago. PICK: Chicago

Minnesota (-7 1/2) @ Detroit. Let's see if this makes sense - Minnesota's pair of Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams were suspended four games for having an illegal substance in their system. Yet they go to court this week and get the suspension temporarily overturned - meaning it can easily (and probably will) be reinstated next week. The Vikings have four games left. If the guys play in this game - against the capital-S Shitty Lions - but still end up getting four games off, they would miss any potential first round playoff game. Take a look at your opponent, Williamses. This is one of the weeks you want to take a seat. (Of course, as long as they're out in two weeks against the Falcons, I truly don't care what they do). PICK: Minnesota

Houston @ Green Bay (-5 1/2). Oh, Houston, Houston, Houston. The team of my new favorite non-Falcon player, Mr. Steve Slaton. See, last week ol' Josh was down in his fantasy football matchup with only four minutes to go. Seemingly insurmountable odds, especially for a late Monday night game. Alas, Slaton took our Rooster Illusion team onto his back, rushing for two touchdowns in the final four minutes, including a 40-yard scamper to seal the win. Yes, another win. Take a look at the schedule so far:

What is missing from that? Here's a hint: it starts with an "L." Yes, two weeks from the end of the regular season, I am living the impossible dream. What every little boy from coast to coast sees when he closes his eyes at night - the prospect of an undefeated fantasy football season. Are you getting chills yet? PICK: Green Bay (sorry, Steve)

Cleveland @ Tennessee (-14). I've said a couple times that it's nice to feel, for once, the Atlanta Falcons are better off without me as their General Manager. For over a decade, I've honestly felt I would have done a better job drafting and signing players than Atlanta management (and the history has mostly proven this). But the current Falcons front office is finally smarter than I am, and I'm thankful. Now it's on to the Braves. With John Schuerholz as general manager, the Braves were in good hands. New GM Frank Wren, though, has been consistently unimpressive, and the recent signing of Javier Vasquez doesn't change my opinion. I don't mind giving up prospect catcher Tyler Flowers - the guy was never going to play in Atlanta. I do mind, however, giving him up for a pitcher whose best years are behind him, and whose best years weren't even all that great to begin with. PICK: Tennessee

Cincinnati @ Indianapolis (-13 1/2) @ . My primary complaint about Vasquez so far, by the way, has been his age. Just too old to invest that kind of money in, too many years already on that arm. And then it hit me like a ton of Depends. I am five months older than him. PICK: Indianapolis

Atlanta @ New Orleans (-3). Oh ma' goodness. I found out this week that a local movie theater - one of those fancy ones that serves beer and food - shows the Falcons games on the big screen. Every week. For free. And maybe afterward, I can sneak into Twili - I mean The Punisher: War Zone. Because it's manly. PICK: Atlanta

Philadelphia @ NY Giants (-6 1/2). Go Giants. Not because I care, it's just "Go anybody playing the Eagles, Cowboys, Redskins, Vikings, Bears, Packers, Buccaneers and Panthers." PICK: NY Giants

Kansas City @ Denver (-9). In my Netflix recap this week, let me direct your attention to two slabs of delight: Wall*E and "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia." Of course, I'm anywhere from six months to two years late on these, so there's a chance you're already awares. But having watched the entirety of the former and the first disc of the latter, I implore you to begin digesting each one immediately. Wall*E is the biggest reason yet I've seen to get a Blu-Ray player, actually. I didn't love it quite as much as The Incredibles (my personal Pixar fave), but that might change when I see it in HD. PICK: Denver

Miami @ Buffalo (PICK). And by "@ Buffalo," the NFL actually means "@ Toronto, in a Dome stadium at room temperature." Dolphins roll. PICK: Miami

NY Jets (-4) @ San Francisco.
Upset alert. ESPN's Monday programming will be full of "What's happening to the Jets" stories. And the NFL will instantly start rigging Jets games so they can get the NYG-NYJ Super Bowl it so covets. PICK: San Francisco

New England (-4 1/2) @ Seattle. And how about another one? As I type up these picks, I'm noticing the SEC Championship point spread has Florida by 10. Against undefeated Alabama. I'm in the minority here, I get it - and I'm also viewing this through a pair of Gator-loathing eyes - but I'm sensing an upset here. This has all the makings of USC/Texas 2006, when the Longhorns were more-than-a-touchdown underdogs and given almost zero chance of an upset. So I'm calling it. Alabama 27, Florida 24. PICK: New England

St. Louis @ Arizona (-14). PICK: St. Louis

Dallas @ Pittsburgh (-3). PICK: Pittsburgh

Washington @ Baltimore (-5).
Yeah, I wanted the Falcons to take Jake Long over Matt Ryan. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. A thousand times wrong. But my desired QB - Joe Flacco - ain't exactly lookin' like a smelly pile either. PICK: Washington

Tampa Bay @ Carolina (-3).
Well, at least one of these teams will lose. As a Falcons fan, I really can't tell you who I'm rooting for here. It is a monumentally important game in the NFC South, but I won't know who to pull for until next week, when Atlanta finishes their game with the Bucs. Maybe a tie? PICK: Tampa Bay

Last week: 8-8
Overall: 42-45-3

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Betcha Bottom $180 Dollars

Ok, how absurd is this?

Oh, of course:

ab⋅surd [ab-surd, -zurd]
1. totally fucking awesome; cooler than your butt:
ex. Michael J. Fox is absurd in "Teen Wolf"

I'm not sure if you can tell by the picture, but that thing is full-sized, man. Three feet tall, professionally framed. And all for the low, low Sam's Club price of $177.99.

I'm not kidding - the Conyers, GA Sam's Club is selling a framed, mounted art print of Rocky III for $180. Who did they think was going to buy that? Hell, I'm not even going to pay $180 for that. And by "I'm not," I mean I probably will. By the end of business Friday.

Please talk me out of this, if you possibly can.

Thursday night NFL:
Oakland @ San Diego (-9). PICK: San Diego

Facebook Status Updates: The Rule Book

The iPhone has many features, but one of the most addictive/maddening ones is the Facebook application.

With the easy tap of a little blue box, you can see a friend's "status update" as soon as it's posted. Very user friendly. That said, my whenever-I'm-bored-which-is-a-lot update checking habit leads me to believe ground rules are required.

Far be it from me to proclaim myself the King of Facebook, but what follows are a few helpful tips that will lead to a more productive, happier, safer experience online. More productive, because you won't waste your time writing frivolous crap. Happier, because you won't be reading other people's frivolous crap. And safer, because if you don't break these rules, I won't want to kill you.

1) Two updates a day, max.
I don't care if you're having the most exciting day ever, it's not worth clogging everybody's screen with each little step of it. A girl I knew in college updates her status like Georgia Tech runs a toss sweep. "Jennifer is going to the store." "Jennifer is at the store." "Jennifer is home from the store. LOL." Lemme just tell you: If I saw that bitch right now, I'd knock her big buck teeth out, and if she didn't have big buck teeth anymore, I'd get pliers, make her have buck teeth, and then knock them out. I think she's a youth minister now.

2) "John Smith is."
Stop. Don't do that. You're not deep, you either didn't take or failed the fuck out of philosophy in college, and most importantly, it makes you sound like a dickbag. Just like it did for the 5,000 other people who've done it this week.

3) Play by the rules.
You do notice the format, right? "John Smith is _______." So "John Smith is Pancake Breakfast!!!" doesn't work. "John Smith is eating a pancake breakfast." Much better. Now you can avoid the "is" by deleting it altogether, like when some folks put quotes after their name. Like so:

John Smith "Come out to the coast, we'll get together, have a few laughs."

Martians Attacking Indianapolis is can live with that.

4) No politics.
Dude, nobody fucking cares. The most irritating day in Facebook's short history was November 4, 2008. Every update was professing an unwanted, unneeded and mostly unsmart (yeah) opinion on the election, and I found myself wanting to dip my leather-bound, glue-soaked knuckles in glass and punch people in the neck. And then there were the people I disagreed with...

5) Be clear.
"John Smith is mourning." Well, what the fuck man? Who died? Be prepared for 50 messages within 10 minutes from concerned friends, who'll all be seriously pissed when they learn you're upset "Two and a Half Men" moved from Mondays to Wednesdays.

6) Nobody cares about your goddamn kids.
Yes, this is coming from a childless 32-year-old who's seen a lot of friends fall victim to the disease of parenthood. I understand you love your children. You're proud of them, and want to share that pride with the world - even though you partially understand the world couldn't give two shits. I get it. Let's put some rules on it, though. Only twenty percent of your status updates may contain your child's name. Half of those status updates may contain a description of an allegedly cute thing they did. Only a tenth of those status updates may contain the word "playdate," as that word bugs the fuck out of me. Addendum: Any update that contains a hilariously gross description of some fucked up thing your baby did - eating poop, pissing straight in the air onto your face, etc. - do not count toward those percentages. Bring that shit on.

7) Stick with the point of view.
"John Smith is a little bit gay for Neil Patrick Harris. I would probably make out with him." Do you see what just happened? No, not the homo shit. The third-person-to-first-person switch that came out of nowhere. Don't use the word "I" in status updates. He. She. It's not hard. And neither is writing about Neil Patrick Harris without using "came" and "hard" in the same paragraph. Or at least it shouldn't be. Dammit.