" That's just the sort of blinkered, Philistine Pig ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage!"

John Cleese

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bi Polar Football Weekend

OK, we're just going to kinda ignore the dump the Iowa special teams took in Arizona Saturday night except to say that the Iowa Message Board Moron Brigade was in strong form afterwards. Geez. Y'know, guys, the fact that the game was tied with 8 minutes left AFTER the team gave up blocked punt at their own 10, a Pick Six (Sigh...Again with this shit?), a KO return for a TD, and a missed extra point (although that kick looked good on TV to me but I guess ESPN decided it wasn't a big enough play to show us a fucking replay!**) might make you actually feel pretty good about the team? Just maybe. Even with a complete Hayden era like special teams meltdown in the 1st they actually could've won the damn thing. And the national championship wasn't gonna happen anyway, folks. Iowa flounders at least once a year, somewhere, and if it's gotta be this game then fine. Just win the conference or something..
BTW, I'm betting the house on Cal against Arizona Saturday. Just a bit too much energy for one game methinks...Paging Dr. Letdown.....

**(Side note: OK, WWL, I get that the Auburn-Clemson game went into OT and you can't control that but do we need 12 motherfucking minutes of interviews with Gene Chizik and Auburn players after the game? Jesus.).....

ANYWAY, the Chiefs took care of Christo's Perennial Clusterfuck known as the Cleveland Browns yesterday in less than dominant fashion but still, the Chiefs are 2-0. Yep. The same KC Chiefs that were a stone's throw from 1999 Iowa Hawkeye Bad the previous two years. I like what I see out of the defense and running game. Matt Cassell is average and overpaid and always will be but he doesn't need to be great. Just don't throw picks and manage the game. Done.
My gut tells me talent wise they have matured into a 7-9 or 8-8 team but take a gander at the remaining schedule:

Sep. 26 San Francisco
Oct. 3 BYE

Oct. 10 at Indianapolis
Oct. 17 at Houston
Oct. 24 Jacksonville

Oct. 31 Buffalo

Nov. 7 at Oakland

Nov. 14 at Denver

Nov. 21 Arizona

Nov. 28 at Seattle

Dec 5 Denver

Dec. 12 at San Diego

Dec. 19 at St. Louis

Dec. 26 Tennessee

Jan. 2 Oakland

2 games against Oakland and 1 against St. Louis, Tennessee, Jacksonville and Buffalo? Yes, please.

10-6 is not that crazy of a thought. Can't believe I just typed that.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Favorite Crappy Professional Football Team Is Soooooo Going To Beat Your Favorite Crappy Professional Football Team

24-21, Browns.

It's my LOCK of the week.

("That's a pretty big lock, all right.")

Friday, September 17, 2010

Al D'Amato!!

Firstly, he's still alive?

Second, he's my new hero. Fantastic beatdown of some Tea party hack douchebag.

Gotta watch the whole thing..

Also, privatize Homeland Security?! Good thing the guy is a racist asshat to sweep that little idea under the rug.
Privatizing the homeland security in the same way the city of Chicago privatized those parking meters. That went well.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mangy Dogs, Byzantine Airports & A Place To Return

Two days in any city can always preserve the magic and wonder of feeling something new.

Four days, even with a gap in between to a truly beautiful place, washed some of the bloom off the rose of Lisbon for us.

Ten years ago, during a whirlwind backpacking tour of Europe, Lisbon always stuck with me. It may have been the functional decrepitude of the place or the surprising kindness of the people or maybe it was the sea air after sweating in the same three shirts for three weeks.

I wouldn't say, ten years ago, it was magical, necessarily. Just that it stuck. Like I may have missed even more beauty below the surface in my short stay there.

After this past week, I don't think I did. It's a newer city, more urbane and European instead of being only nominally connected to the Continent as it seemed before. Dots and splashes of Euro-glitz litter the landscape with more BMWs, Mercedes, Benetton and Prada than I've seen in a long time, but feeling more like a grab for new Euro-rich status than anything. Never crass or out of place, just a stark contrast for a country that, in so many other ways, shuns such grabs for attention. A palpable sense of a conscious generational break from its conservative past - right down to the dress, style and walk - was always present with anyone under 25 but Lisbon seemed to stay a sleepy city, a quiet city, a city fine with itself in every way. And the people are some of the warmest I've met.

But two or maybe three days of city quietude would have sufficed. Four days left us wanting. And we were left in such a state because we missed more aggressively-seasoned food. It's not a bland cuisine but, as confirmed by a fine gentleman in the Douro, Portuguese people like their food more...white bread. More...restrained. A little ham, a little cheese, a little bread, a little game and a lot of fruits of the sea drizzled with some olive oil will fill the bill. Maybe some fruits to accompany the party but nothing more...adventurous.

In short, we missed salt. And herbs. And we missed food that goes with the reason we took the trip in the first place - the wines of the Douro.

Two days in the Douro Valley squeezed between the four in Lisbon wasn't nearly enough and if we inverted that, this might have been the best trip yet. But if I could impart one thing to anybody, you simply will not regret one thing about staying in the Douro and, in particular, staying at Quinta do Vallado winery.

Silk Magic. Sleepy and quiet in a different and superlatively best way, the entire valley made me ruminate in the same way people bloviate about Tuscany. So...unless you want to hear about it, don't ask me about the Douro, especially if I have a little wine in me. I will sicken you. Enchanting is the best word I can think of, a word I don't think I've used...ever. Two beautifully slow days, two solid restaurants, a countryside that's a blast to drive in a rental, an infinity pool overlooking the steep, undulating hills jammed with vines just can't be beat and a winery/hotel staff that we'll remember for years. Great people, period. And there's little funnier than listening to a dog continue to bark at the echo of his previous bark as it bounces all around the valley on a pitch black and utterly silent night.

So a good trip, a relaxing trip (hot but didn't rain once) and a trip that offered a wine-centric world that we will return to very soon, maybe coupled with a Rioja excursion (just four hours away by car).

And with a total of 20-something hours in the air, I got to watch an array of movies I probably never would have seen: Date Night, The Joneses, Iron Man 2, Robin Hood and Clash Of The Titans, which I missed the last five minutes of. I'm going to pretend the Kraken wins.

One last note: British Airways...you're nice (except for your deep passion for mayonnaise and mayonnaise-based products). But unfortunately we won't be flying with you again. Because it means the probability of having to experience the Byzantine nightmare that is Heathrow Airport again. Lick my balls, Heathrow. During a connection that included four separate busses and seemed to go on forever, on the third leg, I swear we were dropped off, went inside, immediately went up an escalator, immediately went down an escalator and GOT IN ANOTHER BUS THROUGH THE SAME DOOR! If you told me that Terminal Five was in Back Ass, Arkansas, I might have believed you.

Bottle Rockets Go Off At BRE Headquarters!

No, not for the Tea Party Nut Bag victory in Delaware last night that pretty much ensured the GOP of not taking over the Senate but this news!

Via the Onion AV Club:

TBS cancels My Boys

According to Entertainment Weekly, TBS has canceled My Boys, the Jordana Spiro-starring sitcom about a female sports columnist hanging out with her platonic guy pals and making frequent overt references to their Chicago surroundings. The show lost a major player this year when comedian Jim Gaffigan left, but admirably retained the same likeably low-key charm that earned it a loyal (if not exactly fervent) following—although its decline in ratings was apparently significant enough that the network felt it was not worth renewing. Its fourth season wrapped this past Sunday with a finale that was made to double as a series finale should things go this way. As the EW article mentions, Spiro and co-star Kyle Howard were already predicting the end, making plans to take roles on NBC’s Love Bites and Perfect Couples, respectively, but were forced to exit due to the demands of their TBS contracts. It remains to be seen whether this news comes too late for them to reclaim those lost jobs.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Can We Just Play This Fucking Thing Already And Move On?

I'll be the first to admit that I grew up in an era where the Iowa-Iowa State game was a joke. I was gone by 1998 when the streak ended. Thank God. So, my views are skewed a bit I suppose...


Jesus, I hate this game. It's an annual game against a program that acts like they win the national championship when they win the Independence Bowl! But it has been competitive at times and that just makes Iowa fans shake in fear at the incredibly mediocre Iowa State football team. 2002 was a long time ago, guys. And if Brad Banks didn't have three good fingers on this throwing hand the game is over by the 3rd. And the 2005 and 2007 teams were awful. Let's move on.
If you really want a true sense of what this "rivalry" has evolved into just take a gander at some of these Iowa State message board threads: Holy Mother of God. What the Fuck?

Not to be outdone, here's one from the Hawkeye Board: Wow.

I could've picked several from each.

Holy Christ.

I'm going to break it down:

Iowa State's small ass defense looked decent against an unbelievably awful Northern Illinois quarterback while Austen Arnaud wasn't a complete disaster and actually looked competent for 85% of the snaps. He also looked like a staggering boob in the other 15.

Iowa played a middle of the road FCS team without it's best player and a first time quarterback. They could've won by 40 if they wanted but Stanzi decided to fumble a snap and miss a wide motherfucking open Marvin McNutt by about 800 feet.

Iowa will only lose if they turn the ball over and this year's Stanzi turns into Stanzi from 2009. Could happen. Will it? Probably not.

Iowa is better. Should win. Done.

Iowa 31 ISU 13. Hawks block a punt.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

T of A Winner!!!

So, we're down to 4. Instead of doing head to heads I'm going to do a bit of a quick elimination round. Who will take on Picky Eaters in the final?

All are worthy no doubt..

The March Edition will not be at a snail's pace we promise. Or don't.

Dan McNeil's Dopey Love For NFL Training Camp would have had a chance if not for it being pretty darn close to last year's winner, NFL Off Season. I know they are technically two different things but they both encapsulate why the NFL, for me, went from can't miss to mostly meh. I just can't take the dopiness anymore. So, I watch the Chiefs and that's about it now. Oh, and Bear Schadenfreude.

Woooo! was something that I thought would've died by now but it's still in the Idiot American Vernacular of Stupid Ass Shit. It's why the idea of going to Mardi Gras or anything with more than 14 people doesn't appeal to me much anymore. I know I'm going to hear at least 500 of these. It's like the Rebel Yell for Mindfucks.

Summer Movie Season was just godawful but a one shot deal, ultimately. Will next Summer be better? Maybe. But I can't guarantee it. So, it may be a part of a whole different level of awful that we will have to sit through again and again. But it was abysmal and was a real dark horse to win but, in the end.....

Darth Vader Going NOOOOOO! is just so goddamn bad and frustrating and terrible and symbolic and ridiculous that it has got to be the winner. Usually you can get past something like this after a few viewings but it's atrociousness is Gouda Cheese like. Better with age and extremely smelly. Really, Lucas? Really? Frankenstein? Wow.

So we have a final. It has been put up to me to choose....

Picky Eaters vs. Darth Vader Going Nooooo!

Yes, picky eaters are annoying and just awful. I have several in my life and they get under your skin the same way a harsh dog bark or a shrill Jewish woman's voice will. Your neck twinges and you rub your eyes. Why? Because you can't say anything! It's in the same league as people who smack their food. It makes you want to kill them but it's socially unacceptable. And some people even like the picky eaters. "Wow, that's some pallet!". It's not. It's boring and predictable. It gives someone a sense of sophistication in a world that revolves around diapers and soccer. Don't think it doesn't.
But seriously, how can you top this?

This year's T of A August Edition Winner:


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mate's Final 4

One of my favorite things to do in this blog is the bi-annual T of A. Sadly, this session has been hampered by my schedule ( I actually have writing projects to do! It's finally gonna pay off! Cue Price Is Right Failure Horn....) and my wonderful allergies which have been killing me in the insane humidity. Fun.

So, I'm gonna give you my winner today and we'll finish this thing up a week and a half slower than we usually do.

! vs. E-mailers : Wooo! wins because I was face to face with it on Saturday. At least fifteen times. It's like a disease with these people. The e-mailers are definitely annoying but you can rip them and they usually will then call. Usually.
Wooo! keeps on trucking in a 89-67 win.
Job Advice/Darth Vader: This is a tough match up but again I'm going to have to go with what has affected me more recently. I watched Revenge of the Sith yesterday. Well, part of it. The Vader scene? It's as awful as the first time I saw it. Maybe moreso....That's a sure sign of an awful thing. Job Advice is something you get even when you HAVE a job. It's unwarranted nosiness that isn't really escapable and you just learn to live with it. Vader cruises, 99-74.
McNeil vs. Man Up Ads: Two things equally meatheaded. But I think the Man Up Ads will die out. Dan McNeil's dopiness won't. Now the actual NFL season starts. Get ready for 18 consecutive hours of Jay Cutler Groin Watch on the Score. And Danny Mac will be right at the front of the parade.
The Man Up Ads are terrible but are, after all, commercials. They are predestined to be awful.
Summer Movie vs. Rush Racism: The Summer is over and I saw three movies. Three. And one was "Eat.Pray, Love"...Nuff said. Yeah, yeah I'm sure "Inception" was good but in a normal year that movie is the "HellBoy" of the Summer. This year? Citizen Kane!
Rush is a racist, homophobic, drug addled hypocrite but that's the same as it was in 2002 or 2004 or 1990 or now. He's an asshole. But I don't have to listen and I don't.
Summer Movies win after being down by 3 at half, 66-57.

The rest later today..I promise!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Christo's Winner

Oddsmakers saw them as a sleeper before the tournament began.

After a first round defensive clinic that dismantled Josh McDaniels' Hard-On For Bad Quarterbacks, every bookie's phone in the country went ballistic.

The palpable desperation and utter shallowness dripping from The Type Of Personality That NEEDS To Be On TV squeaks by Reality Cooking Show Contestants' arrogance and weird delusions over what their existence means to the world in the other Final Four game in my bracket, 51-48. The insane similarities between the two teams turns it into a bore-fest. Like watching a last year's Iowa basketball team play itself. And everyone's thoughts are on the next match-up.

Picky Eaters are the Rosetta Stone for human relations.

First, something should be said. There's a difference between discerning eaters or even finicky eaters and Picky Eaters. The difference between them, I can only say, is like the Supreme Court's definition of pornography - you know it when you see it. It's in the certainty of it all. It's in the arbitrariness. It's in the seeming snap judgments. It's in the reduction of a meal down to its most basic, boring essentials because they don't like onions...and olives...and cilantro...and wet cheese...and mushrooms....and carrots...and fennel...and anything they've never tried...and my personal favorite, anything that sounds like they wouldn't like it. In short, anything that brings depth and flavor to taste.

But those proclivities are just the symptom that's showing at the moment. A Picky Eater sees the outward social world as something that needs to be controlled, a chaos that must be tamed. Their rightness and certainty on how their little world should be steered is on display at every turn and the details involving every other person circling in their dimension aren't pretty. It's going to be loud, it's going to be awkward, it's going to be boring, distressing, soul-dragging and worse, it's rarely going to be fun.

But maybe the worst of the worst is that a Picky Eater is usually someone that doesn't understand the joy of discovering something entirely new to them. They've stopped caring about new discoveries, different thoughts, challenging preconceived notions and being open to being wrong. In other words, not one scintilla of humility is typically present in a Picky Eater.

As a personality trait, it's the Rosetta Stone in many ways. If you encounter someone new in your life, pay attention to the charm and grace with which they tackle challenges to their preconceptions. A Picky Eater doesn't care about the imposition or infliction of their tastes on anybody else. If it's over something as simple as food - the basic act of chewing and swallowing something that might be as scary as new - how do you think anything else is going to go? How's that going to age? How's that going to be around on a regular basis?

It's not the only indicator when trying to understand other people. But it's a canary in the coal mine for many. Life should be fun and new. And a Picky Eater is the first sign that the person is never going to allow themselves to encounter anything new. And that's never going to be fun.

Picky Eaters wreck havoc on NFL Training Camp Optimism's defense, 110-66 and toy with The Type Of Personality That NEEDS To Be On TV in the final, cruising to a 101-74 win.

My Winner:

Picky Eaters

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Christo's Final Four

Today's action brought to you by something that's not awful - the new Big Ten divisional alignment.

I may not know much but I know what I hate.

...and I don't hate this.

The 2011 Iowa football schedule has a hard, thorny shell and a soft, gooey center.

Eight-game conference schedule until 2015 means we can expect two doormats in non-conference, one fair-to-middling team from a good conference (I predict Texas A&M is in Iowa's future) and Iowa State. Make that three doormats (ooooh, you're bad, Christo). So...back to Hayden scheduling but with an excuse: the conference be tough.

Penn State and Ohio State only four times each in a ten-year span? Yes, please. I'll take a dozen to go.

The Iowa out-of-division rivalry seemed like an afterthought. I would have drooled over getting Indiana but Purdue will do. Not Wisconsin is fine with me. I barely know what the Heartland Trophy looks like. It's a bull, right? I'm sure the Iowa-Nebraska game will have some weird-ass, corn-based trophy with a name that feels forced so there's that to look forward to. But Thanksgiving now means Iowa-Nebraska instead of Iowa-Minnesota, a game that always felt like a slow limp into the interminably long trek to the bowl game, anyway.

I think I like this. The schedule has a better flow. Seems linear and balanced with a build up to an ending game that will most likely mean something on the field instead of simply avoiding disaster.

I'd much rather take my chances with Michigan and Nebraska having down years or strings of down years as opposed to Ohio State and Penn State.

F'in Northwestern every year but fine...whatever.

Let's get started.

Vuvuzela Region

9) People Who Desire To Open A Restaurant vs. 12) Reality Cooking Show Contestants

Got another taste of the god-awfulness of Reality Cooking Show Contestants last night on Top Chef. Apparently, Jesus wanted Angelo to win a car and Tiffany to go home. Didn't know Jesus cared so much about who gets the Toyota Avalons in this world. The Tea Partiers would be pissed to hear such things. Everybody knows Jesus prefers American cars. They should make a misspelled sign or something.

People who want to open a restaurant typically want strangers to like them. There's nothing inherently wrong with that. It's a bit odd but most restaurant owners I've known actually do have an altruistic, community-based spirit in tow. That's odd to me but...fine!!...I guess it's a good thing.

Reality Cooking Show Contestants need strangers they can't even see to understand just how special they are and how more wonderfully wonderful everything would be if the world just understood their genius. They're attention whores. And usually mind-blowingly stupid ones at that.

Winner: Reality Cooking Show Contestants with a full-court press of narcissism, 92-61.

2) The Type Of Personality That NEEDS To Be On TV vs. 3) Leininkugel's Ads

See above. But replace the delusion over their "genius" with a sad desperation and need to be loved...once again by strangers they can't even see. The world doesn't NEED Guy Fieri people like Ryan Seacrest but they're there. Oh, they're there. Everywhere, actually. I don't bemoan someone gettin' paid while they can but offer something outside of screaming and sunglasses on the back of your head. Jus' somethin', outside of "That's Awesome!" I don't know what Seacrest offers. That whole thing baffles the shit out of me. He's a $50 million man, y'know.

Leininkugel's Ads are annoying as no Wisconsinite knows when to turn the schtick off. It's in their blood. I don't even think they know where the schtick ends and the real person begins. It's one and the same, completely melded together down to their very molten cheese-filled core. The Leininkugel's Ads are like a thick syrup of Wisconsin schtick and not a beat is missed. But every state has a weirdly cobbled together identity that feels like it was made by a focus group. It's cold up there. And it's pretty. I'll give them a break.

Winner: The Type Of Personality That NEEDS To Be On TV with a huge rebounding edge, 81-64.

BP Crosstown Cup Region

1) Picky Eaters vs. 5) The Internet

This would have been a great final. Take every person that's ever annoyed you to death with their omnipresent annoyance and I guarantee you that he or she is a picky eater. You know, like people who make taking a simple trip to Target a HUGE production...bet they're picky eaters. Or people that are always the poop in the group's soup whenever you go out for drinks after work...bet they're picky eaters. Or the person screaming at the store clerk over something ungodly stupid...bet they're picky eaters. Or the friend that can't seem to keep a boy/girlfriend...bet they're picky eaters. You get it. Every person that seems incurably annoying in your life...I will bet $20 that they're Picky Eaters.

The Internet is, in so many ways, entirely worthless. But my world's easier because of it. Not necessarily better, but oodles easier. I have complaints but what a time-saver! And time-waster but I choose to focus on the time-saving qualities for today. That will change tomorrow at around 10:45am when I get the 40th update on Paris Hilton's cocaine bust from the Chicago Tribune.

Winner: Picky Eaters in the biggest drubbing of the tournament so far, 138-78.

11) NFL Training Camp Optimism vs. 15) Getting Old

I guess NFL Training Camp Optimism is expected. Who wants to think their team's gonna suck balls from day one? Training Camp gives us that safe zone to be stupid. The NFL is so hard to predict top to bottom compared to other sports. Players turn from a gazelle to a rotting corpse so quickly and the game itself relies so much on bounces, spots, flukes and generous helpings of luck. But bad is bad and the sports media - in every town but seemingly more pronounced here - lead the armies of the stupid by beating the warrior drums with reckless abandon. I'm dumber for listening to "Bears All Access". And reading the Tribune's coverage. And watching any local TV news Bears' training camp recap.

Physically, Getting Old has sucked. But being a fat-ass for four years of my early adult life prepared me for many of the things that ail me now. I got a crash course in backache real early. Carrying weight akin to being pregnant with twins will do that. Mentally and psychologically, Getting Old hasn't been that bad at all. In fact, it's been much more breezy than I EVER would have thought. Been a pleasure in so many ways.

Winner: NFL Training Camp Optimism as their fans stuff the arena, chanting, throwing crap on the court and just generally scaring the shit out of Getting Old, 100-65.