Biff! Bang! Pow!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

In measured anxiety

Dear sirs,

The wilderness awaits! Follow the breadcrumbs as we flee this doomed idea-space and slake our thirst with… More Cream Please. Curse our enemies--curse fear itself!

Reveal nothing of our whereabouts, for a secret is only so pure as those who keep it. Charge!

Sincerely yours, in measured anxiety,
Charles Napier (not the actor)

P.S. We move tonight!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Beer and football XI — the new league year

The beer: True North Garuda Coffee Milk Stout
The commentary: Item! Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

So this is football, everyday football, for almost every other fanbase. Uncertainty, denial, malaise, a looming and socially distant draft in which the idea of selecting a quarterback is not relegated to later rounds for novelty backup purposes but rather a frenzied urgency to secure team legitimacy in the near and long terms. Complaints about reaching too early for special-teamers and game-day inactives will pale in comparison to incoming QBs who do no better than, say…

Rohan Davey
Kliff Kingsbury
Matt Cassel*
Kevin O'Connell
Zac Robinson
Ryan Mallett
Jimmy Garoppolo*
Jacoby Brissett
Danny Etling
Jarrett Stidham

Asterisks denote two—two!—non-Brady, non-Stidham (too early to judge) hits out of eight. "How do we feel… about a Bill Belichick… draft strategeeeee?? Awwww…" shit. Every team may have passed on Brady through six rounds of the 2000 draft but Belichick was right there with them. Brady wasn't even the first player they took in the sixth round! Take a bow, Antwan Harris.

Who knows, maybe Stidham is the man, the answer, and no presumed top-tier quarterback will be drafted tonight. (Count on at least a late-rounder.) Instead, have we an offensive lineman to look forward to? A safety? These are the building blocks of the future. The stable, boring building blocks. (On that note, I wouldn't mind trading Thuney for a second-rounder. Since when should a guard be one of the most expensive players on the team? Unless you bump him to left tackle, move Wynn to right and move Cannon to Detroit.) How about a tight end? Just twist the knife already. My reaction when a coworker messaged me about the Gronk trade was to hope the Pats held out for a first because why not? What I didn't realize were the salary-cap complications had Gronk been reinstated to the Pats roster. What in the worldwide fuck.

Was Seth Wickersham right? Probably. Brady and Belichick did win only one of three Super Bowls since then. As a Patriots fan—a real one, not one of these online jamokes—it's hard not to side with one or the other. Indeed, I wish that Brady were still our quarterback and I don't think Belichick can win much without him, certainly not this year. The terrifyingly shrewd guy was off by eight years, four Super Bowl appearances and three titles but that future, "our future," was inevitable, even if Edelman developed into a stud. Let's hope he and James White don't also get traded to Tampa. Their collective will staves off the fall.

Up next: A new era under heavy quarantine. Cheers?

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Beer and football X — weeks sixteen and seventeen; playoffs, week one

Week sixteen
The game: Bills at Patriots
The beer: Maine Fall Coffee Stout
The result: Win, 24–17

Week seventeen
The game: Dolphins at Patriots
The beer: Newburyport Overboard India Pale Ale
The result: Loss, 27–24

Playoffs, week one
The game: Titans at Patriots
The beer: Great Marsh London Brown Porter
The result: Fuuuuuuck

The commentary: Four games to glory? Not so much. But this was never the plan anyway. This was never the plan.

Losing to the Dolphins was bad enough and even worse after an encouraging, season-best win against the Bills a week earlier. Who says you can't enjoy a "Fall" beer on the first day of Winter? In retrospect, we as fans (and media) saw what we wanted and forgot that twenty-four points represented, at best, an above-average offensive effort in this league. That they lost the next game (and the second seed) a week later with the same output underscores its fine-ness.

Rewind. "The season is an unsettling one, not quite in the 2009 category (first-round blowout loss to the Ravens) but similar to 2010 (divisional-round stunner against the Jets)." Surely it was somewhere in between—not unforeseen, but brutal still.

"Can they win a playoff game? If the defense plays well and gives up, say, seventeen points, is the offense capable of scoring eighteen?" Nope!

"Assuming the team wins out and locks in the second seed–" Your services are no longer required.

A general recap plays out this way: the offense and defense beat the Bills, the defense lost to the Dolphins and the offense lost to the Titans. All season it was a model of inconsistency and failure to overcome weakness, in this case (mainly) an ineffective offensive arsenal beginning and ending with Brady (incapable of carrying mediocre players à la 2006) and a banged-up Edelman. The defense did its part but the offense wasn't given the chance, mainly because of Belichick's decision to surround Brady with no talent whatsoever. This was not a season plagued by injuries like the (goddamn) Eagles or bad turnovers like the (goddamn) Buccaneers—it was plagued instead by arrogance and incompetence, to which Belichick basically admitted with two in-season acquisitions. Antonio Brown was the ultimate panic move, a signing that went against everything we came to expect from Robert Kraft before he was caught paying for suburban-strip-mall handjobs. And a second-round pick for Mohamed Sanu (Sr.)? Sure, I'm one ⌘-Tab away from Googling his phone number to arrange our brewery tour, but can he qualify for last month's list of second-round busts? "Ain't never met nothin' like us." You are way off.

And the defense? And the defense! Actually, the defense was pretty goddamn good for once. Sure, a lot of them won't be back next year but… uh… at least we can't squander a second-rounder trying to replicate Van Noy's production with an injury-prone stiff who misses the preseason, never catches up and is traded to the Seahawks for a conditional seventh-rounder in late August 2022. "Defense wins championships," my ass.

One notable free agent has likely been Biff! Bang! Kapowed! more than anyone. Rather than break down the all twenty-two and examine safety (sāf·tē: "denoting something designed to prevent injury or damage") Devin McCourty's postseason performance, I offer everything I've written about his play over the years and leave it to my reader (!) to infer whether I am for or against resigning him. Enjoy the progression from Pro Bowl beginnings:

November 23, 2010
"The Bears are total frauds who will be exposed by the Eagles this weekend and death-killed by McCourty and Chung (plus maybe some more Sanders and a little reckless Meriweather) making crazy athletic interceptions and tackles all over the field."

November 29, 2010
"McCourty would be a lock for Rookie of the Year if it weren't for Suh, but timing is everything and them's the breaks."

January 27, 2011
"The quarterback just had the second-best season of his career (maybe the best, if you consider the talent differential from 2007), some defensive building blocks are in place with Vince Wilfork, Devin McCourty and Jerod Mayo (who still needs to emerge as a consistent playmaker) and the young guys learned the hard way that it's not all kittens and pancakes—hopefully they'll want to know what it feels like to win a playoff game."

February 8, 2011
"Count me among the people disappointed—at the time—with last year's McCourty draft pick. Not because I thought he was a lousy player—I don't follow college football in any capacity—but because the first thing the 'experts' on the NFL Network said about him was that he was a strong special-teams player."

September 17, 2011
"McCourty looked like Ellis Hobbs, in position to make too many tackles (which means too many catches allowed)."

September 27, 2011
"The 'new' pass rush stinks, but when the ball is thrown two seconds after the snap and Devin McCourty (what in the worldwide fuck is going on with him?) and Leigh Bodden are being dusted and racking up tackle stats then there is an inherent problem with the secondary."

October 9, 2011
"Devin McCourty has secretly switched places with his inferior twin brother Jason from the Titans."

October 28, 2011
"Almost as epic as Mike Wallace's undressing of Devin McCourty on Sunday."

December 8, 2011
"This wasn't a slam on [Brady's] offense not keeping up—it's a sign that his might just murder McCourty and friends by the time the playoffs roll around."

January 4, 2012
"Then, because Belichick's draft résumé from 2006 to the present is more luke-warm water (McCourty, Mayo, Maroney) than fire (Gronkowski, Hernandez, Mankins) with way too much ice (Meriweather, Darius Butler, Chad Jackson), no hotshots with limitless potential are in place to come in off the bench."

January 14, 2012
"The Pats go big on the defensive line to try to stop the run, entrust Ninkovich to escort Tebow wherever he goes and ensure that no passes are thrown behind Chung and (probably starting at safety again) McCourty."

January 21, 2012
"Any or all of McCourty, Arrington and Ihedigbo will still find ways to look foolish."

February 2, 2012
"Slumbrew Porter Square Porter [=] Devin McCourty. High expectations, but among the more disappointing beer- or football-related things all season."

March 12, 2012
"Two or three rookies who can start immediately, McCourty getting at least halfway to year one's production, Wilfork continuing to do what he does on slightly fewer snaps… suddenly you're a top-fifteen defense."

September 12, 2012
"Our McCourty—assuming Devin and Jason didn't switch places before last season so Jason could get a fat new contract—absolutely got away with pass interference on what might have been a first-quarter touchdown but I'm not sure the receiver could have caught it even if McCourty weren't assaulting him while looking in the complete opposite direction of the ball."

September 30, 2012
"Joeflacco had all the time he needed to scan the field and find his man—his man being Devin McCourty, who just isn't an NFL cornerback at this point."

November 2, 2012
"McCourty won Special Teams Player of the Week for: A) Returning a kickoff one hundred four yards for a touchdown with fifty-one and a half minutes remaining in regulation; B) Fumbling a kickoff with two minutes remaining in regulation; C) Threatening to Doublemint the wife of the guy who chooses the Special Teams Player of the Week."

February 1, 2013
"McCourty is locked in at safety. The rest of the secondary, in all its base, nickel and dime packages, is up for grabs as far as I'm concerned."

September 12, 2013
"Is it me or was this the week of the safety? I mean the two-point play, not the defensive position—I didn't hear McCourty's name all game."

January 17, 2015
"McCourty's volleyball spike (though Gronk was initially credited) sealed it."

October 1, 2015
"This game's fumble/incompletion mix-up looked like a fumble to me, even as multi-million-dollar safety Devin McCourty jogged right by the ball without worry of falling on it."

November 23, 2015
"Meanwhile, McCourty and Harmon are perfecting the bad angle in the presence, and continued mastery, of Professor Brandon Meriweather."

December 4, 2015
"It's a wonder how much Pro Bowl talk McCourty gets during national broadcasts from people who don't have to watch him every week."

September 21, 2016
"Miami's comeback is entirely because of a defense that earned their degrees from the Devin McCourty School of Exposure."

November 20, 2016
"…a bewilderingly expensive, middle-of-the-road safety in need of more ['Free Safety Advice'] instructional videos (Devin McCourty)…"

December 24, 2016
"Only toward the end when Devin McCourty made his first above-average play of the season and TJ Ward lost his mind by flexing a post-suplex exclamation point was I confident."

January 20, 2017
"Are Malcolm Butler, Devin McCourty and Logan Ryan (coming off a career game that he cannot match against not-Osweiler) on their way to holding [Antonio] Brown under a hundred yards?"

April 23, 2017
"I still want [Malcolm Butler] on the team this year and beyond—he was all in during Devin McCourty's hype speech before kickoff and those are the kinds of 'dependable' players Belichick wants around."

January 28, 2018
"The Pats could be down ten, fourteen, twenty-five points in the fourth quarter… Gronkowski pacing in street clothes on the sideline… McCourty perfecting bad angles against Alshon Jeffery… but you keep watching because it's Tom Fucking Brady out there."

June 17, 2018
"I was never comfortable, even after Gronk's go-ahead touchdown, thanks to eight years of Devin McCourty bouncing off tight ends."

September 8, 2018
"Don't let her enthusiasm to ride 'Again! Again!' fool you because she was scared out of her mind the whole time. Just like… me! Whenever McCourty (Times Two) & Friends are defending against third and long. Good grief."

October 20, 2019
"Devin McCourty, whose current edition of 'Free Free Safety Advice' instructs viewers to 'Just stand there and they'll throw it right to you,' gave my man Brandin Cooks some postgame love as the confetti fell."

December 21, 2019
"I would give up all five Devin McCourty interceptions if he could just make one contested tackle in a big spot. One."

Wouldn't you know it, yesterday I finished George Saunders's newly chronicled Lincoln in the Bardo, a much quicker read than its three hundred forty pages suggest due to the generous line-spacing of a script-like format. Halfway through the book (four stars out of five), single-page chapter fifty-four—stylized, like next month's Super Bowl, as "LIV"—consists entirely of the following exchange:

Had we—had we done it?

It seemed that perhaps we had.

Had the Pats advanced and repeated as champions—the improbable achieved—I would have written six thousand words about this "coincidence," complete with infringing Fox screenshots and in-game correlations to every character in the book. Can't you see it?

I run through a m___________'s face.
Offense, defense, special teams, whatever you want.


Drag. In its place, what of the nonfiction matchup? The Niners knocked off the Vikings tonight while G. fed goats at a friend's farm and A. and I sipped dark beer at one of the dozens of area breweries, so Jimmy G. dreams tonight of winning three of five Super Bowls (in four appearances) like Brady has since the 2014 draft. They seem like the NFC team to beat, but something about the Seahawks intrigues me—can they take out the Packers tomorrow? "Aaron Rodgers was on Letterman last night and admitted he didn't have much faith in his team's kick-coverage unit. That's exactly the kind of maturity you want in your Super Bowl MVP. On a related note, head coach Mike McCarthy will be out of a job in five or six years." (I was off by two years. Good luck, Dak.)

In the AFC, the Ravens (down eight to the Titans as I write this) are It, featuring a generational quarterback and forecasting a presumed dynasty. Hmm. The Chiefs, though? No one is talking about the Chiefs. Not even me! Yet here I am, predicting them to beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, say 35–30. The Saunders excerpt above, therefore, is my February 2 gift to the lucky Kansas City resident who maintains, I don't know, "" for no one but himself. Your city is wonderful and you're welcome.

Up next: G., Papa and I return to training camp and restore order to the dynasty… so long as Tom Brady is also in attendance. Happy new year!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Ed Muskie and Ebenezer Scrooge walk into a bar

Future updates: c/o More Cream Please
Continuing, for some reason, to chronicle every book and short story I've read since The Lord of the Rings in the Spring of 2017.

Part 1 (2017)|Part 2 (2018)|Part 3 (2019)|"Selected readings from the Old Lady Book Club"

Critical remarks are avoided…

Rereads coopt the register-mark symbol…

"Library Book Club" selections are noted in red to represent the spectre of death.

"CSGNFBØQEBCBBL" selections are noted in blue to represent the suffocation that is professional networking (i.e., my idea).

Gabrielle Zevin
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry (2014)

Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol (1843)

Jac Jemc
The Grip of It (2017)

George Saunders
Lincoln in the Bardo (2017)

Steven Millhauser
From Voices in the Night (2015)
"Miracle Polish" (2011)
"Phantoms" (2010)
"Sons and Mothers" (2012)

Aldous Huxley
Brave New World (1932) ®

Steven Millhauser
From Voices in the Night (2015)
"Mermaid Fever" (2009)
"The Wife and the Thief" (2015)

Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale (1985)

Steven Millhauser
From Voices in the Night (2015)
"A Report on Our Recent Troubles" (2007)
"Coming Soon" (2013)
"Rapunzel" (2011)
"Elsewhere" (2015)

Scott Conroy
Vote First or Die: The New Hampshire Primary—America's Discerning, Magnificent and Absurd Road to the White House (2017)

Steven Millhauser
From Voices in the Night (2015)
"Thirteen Wives" (2013)
"Arcadia" (2013)
"The Pleasures and Sufferings of Young Gautama" (2015)
"The Place" (2015)
"Home Run" (2013)
"American Tall Tale" (2012)
"A Voice in the Night" (2012)

Margaret Atwood
The Testaments (2019)

Yes, 2020 in the workplace kicked off with The Handmaid's Tale and its inferior sequel. Just give Aunt Lydia the whole second narrative—then you won't have to worry about readers anticipating "big reveals" a couple hundred pages in advance. And the mansplaining symposium postscripts? And the mansplaining symposium postscripts! Minus one star.

Philip K. Dick
"Fair Game" (1959)
"The Eyes Have It" (1953)
"The Father-Thing" (1954)
"Null-O" (1958)
"To Serve the Master" (1956)
"Pay for the Printer" (1956)
"War Veteran" (1955)
"The Chromium Fence" (1955)

Diane Cook
From Man v. Nature (2014)
"Moving On" (2014)
"Bounty," a.k.a. "The Way the End of Days Should Be" (2014)
"Somebody's Baby" (2013)
"Girl on Girl" (2014)
"Man v. Nature" (2014)

Agatha Christie
Ten Little _______, a.k.a. And Then There Were None (1939/1940 revision)

Diane Cook
From Man v. Nature (2014)
"Marrying Up" (2013)
"It's Coming" (2014)
"Meteorologist Dave Santana" (2014)
"Flotsam" (2013)
"A Wanted Man" (2014)
"The Mast Year" (2014)
"The Not-Needed Forest" (2013)

Simon Winchester
The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words, a.k.a. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (1998)

Kimberly King Parsons
From Black Light (2019)
"Nothing Before Something," a.k.a. "Guts" (2017)
"In Our Circle" (2016)
"Glow Hunter" (2019)
"The Animal Part" (2012)

Don DeLillo
White Noise (1985)

Kimberly King Parsons
From Black Light (2019)
"Foxes" (2019)
"The Soft No" (2017)
"We Don't Come Natural to It" (2017)
"The Light Will Pour In" (2017)
"Into the Fold" (2010)
"Fellowship," a.k.a. "Black Light" (2016)

Ellen Lupton
Thinking With Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors and Students (2004)

Kimberly King Parsons
From Black Light (2019)
"Fiddlebacks" (2016)
"Starlite" (2019)

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Beer and football X — weeks seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen and fifteen

Week seven
The game: Patriots at Jets
The beer: Avery Ellie's Brown Ale
The result: Win, 33–0

Week eight
The game: Browns at Patriots
The beer: Lord Hobo Dark Lager
The result: Win, 27–13

Week nine
The game: Patriots at Ravens
The beer: Ipswich Chucktoberfest Lager
The result: Loss, 37–20

Week ten (bye)
The beer: Montauk Wave Chaser India Pale Ale

Week eleven
The game: Patriots at Eagles
The beer: True North Portolan Rye Porter
The result: Win, 17–10

Week twelve
The game: Cowboys at Patriots
The beer: Black Hog Granola Brown Ale
The result: Win, 13–9

Week thirteen
The game: Patriots at Texans
The beer: Notch Experimental Jet Set Pale Ale
The result: Loss, 28–22

Week fourteen
The game: Chiefs at Patriots
The beer: SoMe Whoopie Pie Stout
The result: Loss, 23–16

Week fifteen
The game: Patriots at Bengals
The beer: Notch Černé Pivo Black Lager
The result: Win, 34–13; Tommy, 8–2–0

The commentary: The 2019/2020/"X" edition of your New England Patriots is setting the standard for: 1) a winning team; 2) that is flawed; 3) had those flaws exposed during three ugly losses on national television; 4) thus providing "the blueprint" for other teams to similarly defeat them; 6) before running the table because those other teams are pretty lousy. The season is an unsettling one, not quite in the 2009 category (first-round blowout loss to the Ravens) but similar to 2010 (divisional-round stunner against the Jets). Can they win a playoff game? If the defense plays well and gives up, say, seventeen points, is the offense capable of scoring eighteen? Assuming the team wins out and locks in the second seed, they'll likely have to beat the Chiefs–Texans winner at home and then the Ravens in Baltimore. They're 0–3 against those teams so far this season and 10–0 against a bunch of bums—anything can happen, but I won't be pulling that fuzzy "I think the Pats take six of ten games against these guys" bullshit next month.

Takeaways from the second, abnormally long leg of the season:

Patriots at Jets
Undefeated-season talk was at an all-time high but I have no memory of the Jets game other than "I'm seeing ghosts," which is what I also see after not writing for two months. Sorry, reader (!), but it's looking like a single-digit post count for 2019.

Browns at Patriots
I met Ivan and Oskar at Lord Hobo in Woburn to make up for Mudhoney selling out their Allston show ahead of our "Hey, shouldn't we order tickets?" group text. The drive there sucked eggs and the rain (and resulting bumper-to-bumper "I forget how to drive in the rain!" absurdity that is Massachusetts) chased me off 128, leaving Google Maps in charge and a series of resident-traffic-only neighborhoods as a result. That flooded parking lot was a welcome sight and, yeah, rainstorms make for entertaining football. For those who care about approval from bartenders, my man celebrated consecutive dark lagers with "I can't believe this isn't more popular, it's the best beer we make." I beam with pride at the memory.

Patriots at Ravens
Not nearly as close as the score indicates, if seventeen-point losses can be considered close. The Pats had their chances but were completely outclassed—Oskar and I were texting as much to each other during the game: "This is sub optimal." "They should call the punch-out-the-ball defense." "Pissed Belichick face." "It's an old-fashioned hole-diggin'!" "Lamar who??" "Good Christ." "I guess we just have to watch every game at Lord Hobo from now on."

Patriots at Eagles
I await our LII banner.

Cowboys at Patriots
Seriously, 10–0 against a bunch of bums.

Patriots at Texans
I had a great "Up next" comment in mind for this one. Drag. Maybe I can break it out in the playoffs.

Chiefs at Patriots
This was another the Pats had a chance to win and make me feel dirty about. A rematch is inevitable, right? Can I call it a rematch, Fred?

Patriots at Bengals
And we're back! I feel better about the win than a lot of people around here but those thirty-four points are deceptive. Still, if N'Keal Harry can make a few meaningful catches in the remaining games then that can only help.


I would give up all five Devin McCourty interceptions if he could just make one contested tackle in a big spot. One.

"Maybe he and I should do a brewery tour together sometime." I really liked the Sanu (Sr.) trade at the time but it hasn't amounted to anything. I still feel better about it than I did when Antonio Brown came on board—talk about feeling dirty—and maybe his production will improve if Harry draws coverage. Besides, what has Belichick ever done with a second-round pick since 2000?

Adrian Klemm
Matt Light
Deion Branch
Eugene Wilson
Bethel Johnson
Marquise Hill
Chad Jackson
Terrence Wheatley
Patrick Chung
Ron Brace
Darius Butler
Sebastian Vollmer
Rob Gronkowski
Jermaine Cunningham
Brandon Spikes
Ras-I Dowling
Shane Vereen
Tavon Wilson
Jamie Collins
Aaron Dobson
Jimmy Garoppolo
Jordan Richards
Cyrus Jones
Duke Dawson
Joejuan Williams

I mean, look at that Richards–Jones–Dawson trifecta from 2016–2018. Look at it! All busts, all gone. Gimme a break. And Ras-I Dowling? And Ras-I Dowling! Belichick had a night to sleep on it and still drafted him with the thirty-third pick. He is a student of injury histories. Aside from Gronk and Light, a lot of the ones that kinda worked out did so in weird ways: Branch was a rare success at wide receiver and the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX before holding out and forcing a trade to the Seahawks—he likely would have made a difference against the Colts in '06 and became G's favorite player when he returned four seasons later. Chung and Collins had to leave and come back before establishing themselves as good players. Vollmer played well but (like Gronk) missed his share of games and retired young. Garoppolo rode the bench and returned nothing in a seemingly desperate trade outside the conference. Wilson had cool dreadlocks. Hill died. I like the little I've seen of Williams but that cornerback success rate—Wheatley, Butler, Dowling, Jones, Dawson; holy living fuck—is null. At least Cunningham has led the league in sacks for seven of his ten years with the team and will be fitted for a gold jacket the minute he retires.

I've downgraded my exposure to the Around the NFL and Pardon My Take podcasts significantly this season. For the former, I basically love Marc, like Gregg, tolerate Dan and hate Chris. Episode length has bloated so it's the "flagship" recap show and nothing else, and not even that if Marc isn't around like this week. Enough. With Pardon My Take, I get that I'm forty-five and not the target audience, but their satire of macho culture runs so thick as to be credible. I'm all set with the dick jokes and gambling talk, not because I object to them from some moral high ground but because they're boring, the way listening to people talk about their fantasy teams is boring, the way that Howard Stern and Bill Simmons have grown boring. Old age is a bastard and it is, after all, "the golden age of content," so I'll stick with the well done "Fastest Two Minutes," pass on the rest and jump over to Stranglehold or The Allusionist.

Tommy won Survivor, huh? Weird conclusion to a weird season. Inappropriate touching; broken fourth walls; knocked-out statements that don't explain why harassing someone on the production staff is worse than harassing a series of players on camera; Dean graduating from bimbo to grinder to presumed sociopath; Noura doing unpredictable Noura things all along, to the point that everyone wanted to take her to the end because they knew she wouldn't get a single vote (wait, that one's normal); and the jury awarding a likeable guy who didn't achieve or impress much. He single-handedly voided the "value" of the season's conceptual theme of spending time with and learning from Sandra and Boston Rob by missing out on the chance and winning anyway. Island of the… What Now? But oh good, those two and eighteen others I didn't want to see again will be back for season forty, Jeff Probst's Wet Dream. My advice to future contestants will be to always watch the camera crew. What are they filming? Why did they point the camera at that tree stump for a second? And at my feet for a second while I stepped over that red board? And under the table during the challenge? Finding "hidden" immunity idols is de facto gamesmanship and producers want so badly for them to be found and played every episode that they're now painted blue and sprinkled with a bit of sand to disguise them. Failing that? Convince people that everything you stumble over is by design. It worked for Tommy.

Hey, everybody! It's Christmastime! Let's impeach the president and hope we're not forced to vote for Elizabeth Warren in November! Tuesday was the InterContinental VaGina party and I was looking at my watch by six thirty. Default beer options take a nosedive once you've eliminated Sam Adams from contention for political reasons—three substandard Harpoon IPAs in an hour (followed by one Coke and nothing else) strike all Harpoons from future consideration as well since I had the runs all Wednesday. Oh Edith, Get Me a Beer, Huh?

1. Bob Rivers Comedy Corp. – The Twelve Pains of Christmas
I don't know if this was/is the countrywide smash it was/is around here since being released by WAAF personality Bob Rivers in 1987. Its comic brilliance is New England Decembers summed up in four minutes. Since I love listing and ranking things—Goodreads for the win—here are the best one-liners from each standout character:

Lights guy – "Now why the hell are they blinking??"
Hungover guy – "Haangovahs!" (times five)
Cards guy – "Yo ho! Thending Chrithmath cardth!"
In-laws lady – "She's a witch, I hate her!"
Salvation Army guy – "Chaaarrritieees!"

2. New Bomb Turks – Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)
Darlene Love's stone classic garners a more-or-less straightforward punk cover from everyone's favorite frat brothers. Preppie pretty boy Eric Davidson sings the genuine shit out of it and things remain unironic until F-bombs emerge during the "Runaround Sue" bridge. He was so goddamn charming at the Middle East, prancing around the small Upstairs space with that plastic smile, and I invite him to join Sanu and me on our brewery tour. We'll hire a driver and everything.

3. Sam Spence – Winter Icicles
From the sixth—sixth!—volume of Music From NFL Films. What's better than music from old NFL documentaries? Nothing. No music.

4. The City – Snow Queen
Zenith year! Featuring a pre-Tapestry Carole King.

5. George Stavis – Winterland Doldrums
Taken from an "American primitive guitar and banjo" compilation called The Thousand Incarnations of the Rose. Just a little pop ditty to close out, you know.

Up next: With kickoff minutes away, Bills Mafia is out of luck if they waited too long to order giant dildos from Amazon. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Beer and football X: Even the most outrageous minxes lose their nerve

Week one
The game: Steelers at Patriots
The beer: Four Quarters Blackboard Jungle Imperial Tropical Stout
The result: Win, 33–3; Cowboys win, 35–17

Week two
The game: Patriots at Dolphins
The beer: Rapscallion Red Ale
The result: Win, 43–0; Ravens win, 23 –17

Week three
The game: Jets at Patriots
The beer: Cisco 182.5 India Pale Ale
The result: Win, 30–14

Week four
The game: Patriots at Bills
The beer: Mohan Meakin (Original) Lion Lager
The result: Win, 16–10; Rams/Jarrod lose, 55–40

Week five
The game: Patriots at Redskins
The beer: Radiant Pig Save the Robots India Pale Ale
The result: Win, 33–7

Week six
The game: Giants at Patriots
The beer: Night Shift Phone Home Peanut Butter Porter
The result: Win, 35–14

The commentary: I have my tricks. The other day I decided, in true busybody fashion, to split my engorged reading diary—thanks, Bridget!—into multiple parts: 2017, 2018, 2019, etc. Why? I don't know. To make updates easier for my reader (!) to follow? To invite others to join Michael Irvin and Tom Bombadil in that bar? To write anything, anything at all? That's it! Open the gates!

Why? Because my planned monthly assault on season X is now two weeks overdue. Motivation and artistry stand no chance against belabored quick sizzle and, therefore, we all lose. Paging Peter King! Rick Reilly! Bill Simmons!

Banner check: XXXVI/XXXVII/XXXIX/XLIX/LI/LIII. Right on.

Good god almighty, we have a defense. It only took fifteen years and countless busted first- and second-round picks. We're weeks into a historic performance so far but, you know, weeks into the season itself. Let's settle down with what kind of nickname we should apply to Hightower, Gilmore, Van Noy, Collins and friends until we play a worthy offense. There aren't any, you say? In that case I like "Red, White and Bruise" if it weren't already claimed by some roller-derby clan. Patriots Unfiltered's proposed/repeated "Boston D Party" and "The Fog" are alright but not nearly as good as the discussions around them. "Did you ever drive in the fog? It's scary!" D-Train Deuce "Sexual Dussault" and "Notorious MOB" are excellent additions—Andy Hart's tired act finally got him hired elsewhere—but anything would work with Fred and Paul in charge. I could do with less Pat from Agawam, Todd from Toronto and other callers who think listeners can't wait for their hot takes and score predictions but I take solace in Fred's itchy trigger finger lately. And "Nick Baby Love"? And "Nick Baby Love"! The caller I love to hate. "How long we goin' here?" Indeed. Under the radar, though, is Rob "Hardy" Poole's return to the pre- and postgame shows. He quickly supplanted Rich Keefe as my favorite host and even has a show on Lithium that I've never heard. It airs from twelve to six on Sunday afternoons. But… the pregame show… the postgame show… is Sirius XM not live radio?? Artist royalty fees well spent!

On Redskins Sunday, G. and I met Papa at Gillete Stadium to make up for missing training camp in the Summer. The plan was to grab a table at the CBS Sporting Scene, home of Crazy Eyes Burton, and settle in to watch a good chunk of the game. We weren't alone though, and the hostess's honesty about it being unlikely that a table would free up before the end of the game meant it was back to the reliable Red Robin across the way. It was dead quiet and G. got her ballon so we were all set, though a lack of a twenty-five-foot screen meant that watching the game wasn't much of an option. Hey, I have an idea. After eating, let's go into the lounge area so we can watch the game while G. doodles on one of those chalkboards for a bit. What's that you say, iron-willed Red Robin bartender? Children aren't allowed in the room, even at a high-top table twenty feet from the liquor? Fine! We'll take our money to the pro shop (new-Winter-hat photos to come in December) and the Hall at Patriot Place, Presented by Raytheon!

In other team (old) news, here are some leftover observations from the LIII editions of Mic'd Up, America's Team Game and Do Your Job (Part III):

Part of Josh McDaniels's deal to screw over the Colts organization was clearly to be more involved in post-championship retrospective programming. He's practically framed as a co-head coach, emboldening those who swear he is guaranteed to succeed Belichick upon the latter's retirement. Good luck cracking five hundred with Brady's successor, Josh.

I loved the 2005 sequence after McDaniels becomes de facto offensive coordinator, as Belichick shares wisdom with him, rookie Matt "Fourteen-Year Career, Suckers" Cassel and a (presumably) camp-body quarterback: "You're better off, in this situation where you're down by a touchdown, having less time and more timeouts than more time and fewer timeouts." Sure, the clock-management lesson is valuable, but give me correct "less"/"fewer" usage every time.

Hilarious America's Game screenshot alert! Amid assumptions that an inevitable Chargers victory will bring an end to the Pats dynasty, someone named Rob Parker sees controversy and raises humiliation: "Take a look at Tom Brady. He won't play as well as he has in the past. Everyone is living off the past and sometimes, you know what? The past strikes out." This—football?—hot take is brought to you by Cornball Brothers and the NFL Network. Look for Rob to graduate to polling analytics next November.

Belichick's postgame locker-room speech: "Don't believe all the other shit out there about how bad we are and how bad we suck and all that. Alright? How old we are. Just… keep doin' what we're doin'."

We're onto Kansas City. Radio color man Scott Zolak, following the Pats' opening scoring drive: "That is a big boy-drive." Not "big-boy drive"—the pause clearly comes between "big" and "boy" and, since the man is a model of coherence, his confessed arousal over this "boy-drive" should be applauded.

It's a shame that Pats–Chiefs wasn't the Super Bowl matchup. What a game. Both of them. Ahead of overtime, Slater (who scored his first-ever touchdown three weeks ago) ends it with a confident "We want the ball!" I've heard that before! So has McDaniels and—more importantly in this context—NFL Films editors, who cut to Do Your Job (Part II), which aired in LI's wake.

Sean McVay's cordial ass-kissing before the big game is difficult to watch. "You always do [a great job]… you're the best, man." Belichick cares more about the hole in the roof—that gets an excellent deep dive and Belichick obviously remains peeved about it months later.

McDaniels to Edelman and Hogan on the sideline before Michel's touchdown: "You guys be ready to go." Edelman, without affectation for the first time in his life: "Run it in."

"Intercept it! Right there! Yes!" Is this all greatness requires? Sign up any stiff in any bar.

Expanding upon my belated recap last month, here's the full exchange ahead of Gostkowski's game-sealing kick. Brady: "Why don't we just kick the field goal? It's a forty-yarder." Belichick [to someone off camera, probably Joe Judge]: "You good on the field goal?" Probably Joe Judge: "Yeah! We'll get the field goal!" Brady [exasperated]: "Forty-yarder, game's over." Belichick: "Yeah. Alright. Let's go. Field goal."

Devin McCourty, whose current edition of "Free Free Safety Advice" instructs viewers to "Just stand there and they'll throw it right to you," gave my man Brandin Cooks some postgame love as the confetti fell. Touching moment—it is just a game but despondency is despondency. And, unfortunately, Cooks's drop in a big spot—a sure touchdown even with Jason McCourty's heroics—is kind of what you get with him. It sucks to lose two in a row.

Belichick, first to Flowers and then (I think) Harmon: "Three points. Three points."

Slater, already one to measure his words ("Well…") at the age of six, was genuinely proud of Edelman's performance—"M-V-P!"—and tousled the man's hair the way you would to any scrappy, douchey, humorless underdog.

The best sequence of all might be Belichick and Gronk at the foot of the stairs, laughing it up and basically passing "You're the best," "No, you're the best!" back and forth. Gronk is the opposite of a scrappy, douchey, humorless underdog and I miss him like hell.

Edleman hoists Belichick's granddaughter onto the platform and looks to hand her off. "Grampa! Er, Coach!"

Brady during the trophy presentation, close to being one-upped by his daughter but making sure the (essentially) home crowd stays with him: "I think we might have a parade on Tuesday or something like that."

His daughter, full of joy and wonder: "Daddy, look!" "Jules, are you happy??" I don't think she blinked throughout the ceremony.

Radio play-by-play automaton Bob Socci: "Yes, it's still a dynasty." Snore. Zolak, still sounding virile in his refractory period: "They're still here, and I don't think they're done." The cover of the last-ever issue of Patriots Football Weekly, making the rounds on the field: "VIctory." Fred Kirsch for the win.

Beer-related ephemera:

Blackboard Jungle Imperial Tropical Stout: twelve percent alcohol by volume.

G., too easily swayed by NFL advertising partners and, therefore, upset about the Dale's I drank while watering the yard one September afternoon: "But Bud Light is the greatest beer ever!"

The "Original" Lion Lager, tolerated at an Indian restaurant in Newburyport, is not superior enough to be distinguished from a presumed glut of "Derivative" Lion Lagers.

October 19 text message to A. upon spotting the ET-themed "Phone Home" at Trader Joe's: "This checks SO many boxes." Greatest movie ever, greatest flavor ever, greatest beer style ever and a purple-and-orange palette? Gimme a break. I await Spielberg's direct-to-Netflix sequel in, say, nine years.

Oh, that's root beer pictured above. I'm not a monster.


'Twould be a shame—a shame—to put forth such an effort—such an effort—at rearranging my book post without providing capsule reviews of the two recent club selections. Georgia Hunter's We Were the Lucky Ones, to be discussed at work in a few weeks, was delayed from last December because no one could find a copy anywhere. Do you know what kinds of books you can't find copies of anywhere? Feel-good World War II books, that's what. We Were the Lucky Ones: it's right there in the title! Hunter seems to have based it so closely on her family's history that the non-nonfiction direction is confusing. I guess it excuses the shallow characters who all sort of blend into one another aside from Mila (plus Felicia), Halina and (later on) Genek without, you know, slagging off her ancestors. The titular luck is stranger and more preposterous than fiction as presented cliffhangers are resolved in asides—most of the drama is therefore sapped. Odd. At least it was a fast read, in that I tend to read meh books more quickly than anything else in order to be done with them.

Beautiful Boy, an actual nonfiction memoir, is a must-read for parents looking to feel superior. Would you let your grade-school son stumble upon you in bed with random women immediately following your divorce? David Sheff did. Would you smoke pot with your teenage son in order to, I don't know, demonstrate its non-gateway nature? David Sheff did. Would you publish a heavily padded three-hundred-page book while—within days—your adult son releases its companion piece, ensuring that consumers have to read (buy) both in order to fully understand the exploitable tragic story? Would your ex-wife be a non-character in your own book, meaning she'll probably cash in herself before long? And would Steve Carell play you in the movie? Etc. (Are you one cynical motherfucker? I am.)

Dare I rank the lot of them so far? I do dare! And I shall mark my contributions with an asterisk!

1. Rachel Joyce – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
2. David McCullough – The Wright Brothers
3. Jon Krakauer – Into Thin Air
4. Carl Bernstein/Bob Woodward – All the President's Men
5. Angela Flournoy – The Turner House
6. Matthew Dicks – Something Missing
7. Erik Larson – Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania*
8. Charlotte Gordon – Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley
9. Elizabeth Strout – Anything Is Possible
10. Katy Tur – Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History
11. Diane Ackerman – The Zookeeper's Wife
12. William Landay – Defending Jacob
13. Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird
14. Kirstin Downey – The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR's Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience
15. Nathaniel Philbrick – In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
16. Graham Norton – Holding
17. Georgia Hunter – We Were the Lucky Ones
18. Andre Dubus III – Townie
19. David Sheff – Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction
20. Jeffrey Eugenides – Middlesex
21. Sam Eastland (Paul Watkins) – Eye of the Red Tsar
22. Jeffrey Archer – Kane and Abel
23. Wes Moore – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
24. Fiona Davis – The Address
25. Ben H. Winters – Underground Airlines
1×10⁹. Arundhati Roy – The God of Small Things

G. entered a series of photo contests at the town library this Summer. Over the course of four weeks, she finished in second place in the "animals" category (nice close-up of a curious llama) and first place—first!—in the "portrait" category, with a truly stunning self-portrait (decidedly not a selfie). Her "natural world" entry didn't medal—in my opinion because they had to, you know, give other kids a chance—but her butterfly/flowery tree composition was as strong as any that we saw at the reception weeks later. Her grown-up camera—a.k.a., her parents' old camera—is out of the frame here but that butterfly had to be close by—she took hundreds of it and the cows and chickens out back at this rustic winery in Maine. Wait a minute… that's only three entries! What gives, baby? Um, those same parents might have dropped the ball there and mixed up the "portrait" vs. "close-up" deadlines, resulting in no submission for the latter. Drag. Earned gift cards to Dairy Queen and the local toy store helped to soften the blow.

Two Sundays ago we conquered the maize once more, themed this year about as USA! USA! as it comes. G. brought a friend to help us find our way and my stress level was zero, what with the Pats having already defeated the Giants on Thursday Night Football and the goddamn Buccaneers—the goddamn Buccaneers, the goddamn Buccaneers—knocked me out of six perfectly legal online knockout pools a couple of weeks earlier. We exited in half the time, allowing the girls to maximize the fifty-four-inch height limit of the giant Cars bouncy slide while I scowled at teenagers who joined actual children on some of the other attractions. I hope they enjoy living with their parents into their thirties.

Politics! How's Hindsight 2020 shaping up? We drove by a house yesterday that had signs for every remaining Democratic candidate in the front yard. Fuckin' A. So… are we OK with Warren cruising to the nomination? Are A. and I the only people who think she'll get blasted by Trump next November? I have to hand it to her in sticking close to the Trump playbook by saying (and avoiding) the same things over and over, figuring her base will be fine with it and blindly forgo the energy and enthusiasm that an all-in Buttigieg or Harris would deliver. But Democrats don't fall in line the way Republicans do, even with Four More Years staring them in the face. I'll vote for Warren, Biden or Sanders if one of them is the pick but I prefer an opportunity for excitement, if only because I know Warren would lose, I suspect Biden would and I fear Sanders won't survive another year.

Lastly, in the style section: "VSCO girl is a Gen Z clothing, accessories and lifestyle trend. Experts say it's representative of a larger shift in teen culture to strong brand associations. Brands like Vans, Pura Vida, Fjallraven and Crocs are all seeing a boost from the trend." Well ain't that a kick in the nuts. I'm not the first person to rock checkered slip-on Vans—I've certainly put up with my share of Spicoli jokes—but I have embraced them to the point where lace-ups bring about crisis. I'm unsympathetic to those who wear shoes around the house—it is a disgusting and degrading habit—but, shit, if you forget your keys it certainly is a pain in the ass to untie, loosen and remove a pair of high-tops. And then put them back on! So it's that hassle or, I don't know, being perceived as a creep looking to identify with teenage girls. "Checkered versions of the shoe are essential to being a VSCO girl." Shudder. With luck, adolescent fickleness will win out and a certain eight-year-old will shun their frumpy clique for years to come. Looking good so far.

Up next: "As Jets' hopes shrink, they hope the same for Sam Darnold's spleen." Cheers!

Friday, September 6, 2019

Beer and football IX — playoffs, week five
Super Bowl LIII
Part 1 of 1: Get out there, old man

The game: Patriots vs. Rams
The beer: Epic Big Bad Baptist Imperial Stout
The result: Win, 13–3
The commentary: Is this Super Bowl LIII recap, seven months after the fact, to be of the XLIX variety and feature a handful of Peter King-esque you-say-there-was-a-game observations? Or will it get the (essentially) minute-by-minute reconstruction of LI, rewatched and paused and rewound to absurdity? Your New England Patriots deserve no less than either, especially considering that the former would surely be broken into two parts, one of which would explore the author's self-important appreciation of, I don't know, Thee Oh Sees' "Henchlock." Or not?

XLIX and LI benefitted from multiple viewings and I can't say the same for LIII—complacency is one thing but low-scoring defensive battles are another. Since it aired I watched it once—last weekend, mainly out of obligation, largely jumping between plays and excluding all commercials ("NFL 100" aside) and halftime nonsense (controversy is in because it is newly unacceptable for men but not women to walk around shirtless). I got less out of it the second time since, like the re-remake of Murder on the Orient Express, it doesn't hold up well without the suspense. Maybe I'm missing something? Let's check in with our basement-dwelling friends at Pats Pulpit before I abandon for good their rose-colored analysis. In February they "re-rerank[ed] the rings" based on "impact, importance and significance," because we're talking life and death here:

1. XXXVI, Rams (I), 2002
2. LI, Falcons, 2017
3. XLIX, Seahawks, 2015
4. LIII, Rams (II), 2019
5. XXXIX, Eagles, 2005
6. XXXVIII, Panthers, 2004

And my response:

1. XXXVI, Rams (I), 2002
2. XLIX, Seahawks, 2015
3. LI, Falcons, 2017
4. XXXVIII, Panthers, 2004
5. XXXIX, Eagles, 2005
6. LIII, Rams (II), 2019

We agree that nothing tops your first love (win) and who knows what happens later on without her (it). XXXVI made possible everything to come since. Young people—goddamn millennials—will forever take this for granted and declare LI to be the best and they can fuck right off. It was great—well, half great—and the most epic single-game comeback in sports history, forever to remind viewers of future games in which a team is down twenty-five points (just like the most epic series comeback in sports history will stir the Red Sox over the Yankees in 2004). For that reason—and the hours of labor I put into the diary—I'll knock it down only one and replace it with the fantastic entire XLIX against the Seahawks, capped off with Malcolm Butler's heroics and Pete Carroll's snafu. Ending a ten-year drought wasn't too shabby either as the win reestablished the team's dominance, removed the consecutive-loss burden and (though we didn't know it) kicked off another dynasty. Partisans—miserable Jets fans, miserable Steelers fans—and nonpartisans—blasé Chargers fans, as in all of them—must agree this was an ace football game.

LI barely beats out XXXVIII, a number that single-handedly broke the Roman numeral system. That game kind of had it all: great defense, periods of exceptional offense, special-teams gaffes and another game-winning kick. Plus a female nipple this time! Hell is getting hot. Amy and I moved into our Cambridge apartment that afternoon and secured cable, pizza and hard cider (!) in advance of the win so it's a nice overall memory that might nudge this one higher than it deserves, but I don't think so. It was an exciting achievement and demonstrated legitimacy as a champion that did more than out-scheme a potent offense one time in fluky fashion. If I were weak then XXXVIII and LI would be tied. Instead I am a man.

XXXIX and LIII are kind of interchangeable, which is such a spoiled attitude that I can barely stand myself. The Eagles game kind of sucked and was never really in doubt, and even though it featured the best overall Brady/Belichick team and the win cemented them as a dynasty/team of the decade, more people probably remember it for Donovan McNabb throwing up. They should. That's a bad look for anyone.

And LIII? What can I say? Last year's Patriots, relatively, were not very good. They got hot at the right time and suddenly played top-notch defense for the first time in fourteen years. (Hmm, sounds like… the Giants. Twice. As if XLII shouldn't top all lists.) But one would need a specific, convincing reason to keep this from the bottom. What say you, Pats Pulpit-man? "I just can't do it." Marvelous insight. Have your mom call a mold specialist.

While we're ranking shit, let's tackle—har! har!—the top six lines from that glorious "NFL 100" commercial, which I hope will be in heavy rotation all season long. Shame on us if it's forgotten.

1. Joe Montana: "No can do, Cowboy."
2. Emmitt Smith: "Y'all know I have more yards than he do."
3. Dick Butkus: "Not the cake!"
4. Roger Goodell: "It's about the players, the fans…"
[responsorial booing inferred]
5. Peyton Manning: "Yeah, that hurt."
6. Tom Brady: "Hold these."

I'm impartial like the ocean. Let's zip through some actual gametime observations, noting first that the Rams' uniforms are twelve to thirteen times better than the Pats':

Merry Christmas! The imperial stout was good, if I remember right, and it had better be at eleven-plus percent alcohol. I even rounded it off with a Mean Old Tom afterward, held over from the AFC Championship game, to get me through hours of postgame "BREAKING NEWS: PATRIOTS WIN SUPER BOWL!" crawls on the local news. Taking February 4 off was a good idea.

On to football: Stop forcing it to Hogan. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.

Patterson was frustrating to watch, always one step forward and two back. I won't miss him and, from the no talk whatsoever about how the team will replace his "production," I doubt anyone else will. Best of luck when the overrated Bears win seven games and cut him next offseason. [Note: I wrote this last sentence on Tuesday.]

How was Goff's end-zone throwaway not a safety? Didn't Brady do the same thing against the (shudder) Giants the (shudder) second time? Jim Nance: "From the end zone, in trouble… heaves! It did not get back anywhere close to anyone, not even to the line of scrimmage." Gurley was a good six or seven yards away from where the ball landed. Shenanigans!

Gronk making Gronk plays from ten minutes left in the fourth quarter. Rams fans: "Shenanigans!" Patriots fans, who made it a home game: "Brady! Brady!" Romo and Nance: "What's that chant, 'Brady'?" "Sounds like it to me." Indeed. Gronk's huge catch in borderline-triple coverage leads to the first red-zone play of the game for either team, which explains six total points through fifty-seven minutes.

Michel runs it in from the two. That looked awfully easy for the game's only touchdown. The PAT makes it 10–3 with seven to go.

The Rams snap out of it on the ensuing drive and threaten to score before Gilmore and Harmon call bullshit on that. Gilmore was a little feely and got away with the first breakup against my man Brandin Cooks, who should have caught it anyway despite Harmon also being in the mix. They go back to Cooks on the next play and it's Harmon (pressure) and Gilmore (interception) again. Kraft, suffering from orgasm blindness, whiffs badly when high-fiving his sons in the booth.

Big runs by Michel and Burkhead—with yours truly shouting "Hold onto it!"—essentially seal the game before penalty drama brings everything to a halt. Romo is convinced that the Rams should decline both calls but isn't making sense. Amateur lip-readers agree with Belichick's "What the fuck's going on??" as the refs don't seem to know either. Nance keeps trying to get Romo to clarify his position, even after play resumes, but that was messy all over. Regardless, the Rams agree with him and second down brings us to the two-minute warning. I guess I should have done the time-stamp thing after all.

Third down, and Michel fails to pick up the first. Fourth and inches. The Rams are out of timeouts and the Pats run the play clock down before calling their own. Brady moseys to the sideline like someone walking to the corner store for milk even though he already has some in the fridge. Just in case, you know? To Belichick and McDaniels: "We're gonna kick it, right?" Belichick: "Ummmm…" Pats fans everywhere: "Ummmm…" Brady rolls his eyes but he has to admit that it's been a tough handful of playoff performances for Gostkowski, who missed one earlier.

The kick is up! [Holds breath.] And… [Panics.] It's good! [Exhales.] By about six inches! [Grimaces.] Kraft had to pull up his pants before standing to applaud.

A minute and change for the wide-awake Rams. Big gains to Woods, Cooks and Cooks again make things interesting dicey. Romo comes around to Nance's way of thinking and agrees that they should shoot for a field goal and then count on onside-kick madness rather than a touchdown first. I see both sides but agree with Nance… especially once Zuerlein sees Gostkowski's leftward lean and raises it by a couple of yards. No good!

Super Bowl kneel-downs are nice and 13–3 is the final. Apologies, everyone else, but I'd kill for a goddamn blowout win one of these times.

Postgame: This media scrum around Brady is intense. "Jesus, are you OK??" Live television rules but sometimes it needs to chill the fuck out. Leave the coverage to Skycam next time and then Tracy Wolfson will have plenty of room to begin interviews with rambling remarks that aren't actually questions. She must have been hanging out with Steve Burton earlier.

Sighting! It wouldn't be a Super Bowl recap if I didn't photograph the TV. Here's PFW in Progress Patriots Unfiltered hero Fred Kirsch making a post-victory cameo behind the team's disgraced owner. "Sexual Dussault" for the win.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, Vince Wilfork!" Looking good in a VERSACE… T-shirt. He launches 2019's "Kiss this motherfucker!" trophy march before handing off to a white-gloved Emmitt Smith, who then gives it to a bewildered Joe Namath. Joe is very uncomfortable with all of these live-TV kissing requests and tries to ascend the stairs before allowing Hightower his turn. The man had two sacks!

Boos rain down on Goodell as he presents a sixth trophy—in nine chances over eighteen years—to Kraft. "Spirituality, faith and handjobs are the cornerstones of our country."

Brady's daughter steals the show with joy and wonder. Girls rule.

Julian Edelman: Platitude-Maker will be the never-released sequel to this year's unseen (by me, ever) 100%. Nance wisely keeps the interview short. Edelman may be a douchebag… no, I'm not going to say "but he's our douchebag." I generally don't like him as a person. But as a player on the field (though not necessarily a second or two after every whistle) he is one tough motherfucker who seems to get an extra yard or two every time (when a sensational bobbling catch isn't making people forget his dropsies—never mind). Offensive bias may have earned him the MVP over Gilmore but ten catches (eight converting first downs) for a hundred forty-one yards is hard to argue with. He trails only Jerry Rice in postseason receptions and yards—how does this happen when his last catch of the night came with the score tied at three and eight-plus minutes remaining? Brady/Belichick… expanded playoffs… weak AFC East… grit… I don't know, I'll take Welker. A sense of humor goes a long way.

Hightower (two sacks), Van Noy (one sack) and Gilmore (one interception) had people talking about the defense winning a collective MVP(s) award. Chung also played well until he broke his (non-coke?) arm. These guys were all on the team last year so who knows what the fuck happened in LII.

Other big-picture positives? Pash rush (four sacks, twelve hits, pressure all over), O-line performance (one sack, four hits), limited penalties, overall physicality (XXXVI-levels of bullying, typified by Jonathan Jones's fourth-quarter sideline hit on Goff) and punting. Punting! Exit Ryan Allen, another MVP candidate.

"Quick, G., stand over here so I can take a picture before driving you to school! I'll pretend we did it yesterday. That's right, stare directly into the sun." ("PROTECTED BY FRONTPOINT®.")

I did go to work on Tuesday, if you can call ducking out for two hours at lunchtime to attend the parade "going to work." I outsmarted everyone but cutting through Chinatown to the corner of Essex and Tremont so I could watch each individual duck boat cruise toward me down Boylston on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Instead a fucking dump truck served as a large, obstructive indicator for the duck-boat drivers to not, you know, plow into the crowd. Bitchin' view from the copter though.

These miserable shrews complained about their coworkers the whole time. They kept looking back at me like I was listening in (clearly) so I took their picture. Meanwhile, around now is when a couple of guys walked through the crowd blasting Biggie's "Hypnotize [Explicit]" on a giant wheeled amplifier.

The duck boats are here! And they're shooting off confetti! What a moment! Everyone take a picture!

The rest are basically the same, as I moved up and over a bit to get a decent (distant) angle between the truck and the Masonic lodge, because those still exist in the twenty-first century. Elandon Roberts, of all people, really got the crowd go– who's the emerging shirtless guy? In the utility vest? It's…

Gronk! Forgive the varying quality. I was snapping away without much artistry or technical skill and the color's all out of whack. Come on, Photoshop.

I also had to zoom in and crop and it's difficult to make anything out. Denim-skull girl weeps.

But you get the idea.

Later: Time to go home! Leaving early was a good idea and I'm looking forward to an uneventful train ride after– what's this on my phone? An MBTA service alert? "Commuter Rail carried an historic number of riders this morning & will continue to do so this afternoon. Please consider travelling later in the day to spread ridership. Queue lines are in place at North Station & Back Bay. Extra trains will con't to run." "An historic," ampersands in place of "and," British spelling of "travelling," "queue lines," nonsensically abbreviated "con't"… no wonder the system is lousy with signal problems. The T may not have learned their lesson after October's Red Sox parade fallout but I certainly did, ignoring instructions to get in this line for this train only and instead looking out for number one. Still, had the hated Bruins won in June (June! hockey in June!) then I surely would have worked from home on parade day because Bruins fans are the worst, even if I was one of them for a week or so in rooting for continued regional supremacy. Sports are weird.

The forthcoming—and seriously so, with the new season a day old—"Beer and football X" will lack a "Training camp/the all-important third preseason game" installment because camp, unfortunately, never did work out this Summer. It's the first G. and I have missed since I started taking her in 2013, not even two years old. Drag. I blame the Pats for scheduling their joint sessions in Detroit and Memphis right in the heart of the calendar, leaving few fair-weather, non-walkthrough weekdays to choose from. Constant refreshes of did not result in a new batch of dates, but rather: "Thank you for your interest in Patriots Training Camp presented by Optum. There are no remaining 2019 Training Camp practices open to the public." We'll see you next year, Optum. Up yours. In the meantime, a non-game-day field trip to Foxborough is in the cards to atone—G. only cares about a Red Robin balloon but I'm sure we'll also browse for 2020-sized skirts and tank tops at the pro shop and check out the Hall at Patriot Place Presented by Raytheon. I hate to line the pockets of Robert Kraft, proud supporter of degenerate presidents and the war- and sex-mongering arts, but we'll bring counterfeit bills and plenty of hand sanitizer.

Up next: Don't worry, they expanded the championship banner area at Gillette Stadium. Cheers!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

You gotta have fear in your heart

Welcome back to May, dear friend and reader! Is this better? Are you again comfortable? Are you even there?

Welcome, also, to another round of Remember When? as I parse my own archives. Last year's Volume 10 was that in spades, compiling a Best of Me on the way to six thousand more words. I compare it to the (reported) moments before death when reflection can bring peace. Is this the end? Will there be a "Beer and football X"? Will I first conclude "Beer and football IX" with a Super Bowl recap? I just don't know, baby.

I do feel an urgency to bundle everything under a tidy bow in anticipation of one day telling a college-bound daughter, "Here's something to read if you ever get bored." Indeed, Trout Mask Replica recently got its final (?) round of copyedits a good six months after publication, a sure sign of difficulty to let go. ("College-bound daughter." Shudder.) But nothing—nothing—has undergone alteration as often as one-time seat-filler "The continuing adventures of an extended delay" from nine years ago, to the point where I've finally added an update reference. Know that whenever I change something there I have to do it over there too—just think what I'll now have to do here should I make further amendments. These are the problems I create for myself.

How does this retconned list of retconned Biffys hold up? I don't know, what day is it? Are my supposed "favorite albums of each year [since] 1964" represented fairly among the annual playlist blather, signaling confirmation of their achievement? And if not, why? Remember when??

The volume: Zero
The title: What Are the Hours?
The year: 2005
The Biffy: Stooges, Fun House (1970)
The song: "Fun House"
I'm not saying A Love Supreme is my favorite album of all time but it would kind of have to be to prevent Fun House from ascending to Super-Biffy-level heights. So I'm glad the title track gets us rolling, even though it somehow couldn't overtake Dead Meadow on 10 Dynamic Hits! What the!

The volume: One
The title: James Brown Is Dead
The year: 2007
The Biffy: N/A
The song: N/A
This null set, my first real effort and a deliberate CD-length (plus some) playlist, is mostly an artifact of its time (seven of eighteen non-extraneous-EP songs are no older than three years) plus highlighted new/old discoveries (George Brigman), heavy-rotation Technicolor Web of Sound favorites (Electric Banana) and random ain't-I-hip flavor (Julie Ruin). My original Sonik Truth was not yet filled with the physical classics then taking up space in our Cambridge apartment.

The volume: Two
The title: These Are the Problems I Create for Myself
The year: 2010
The Biffy: Groundhogs, Split (1971)
The song: "Split (Part 2)"
More title-track action, in fragmented form. Volume 2 is when I stopped being polite and started getting real.

The volume: Three
The title: Beauty and Perfection Are Mine
The year: 2011
The Biffys: Monks, Black Monk Time (1966); Flaming Lips, Embryonic (2006)
The songs: "Monk Time"; "Worm Mountain"
The honorable mention: "1970 (Take 1)" from the Stooges' The Complete Fun House Sessions
OK, good, there's more than one song here. This whole thing was starting to make me look foolish! So: two songs. Hmm. At least Fun House echoes from Volume 0 to contribute an early take of "1970," courtesy of the most aptly named and realized boxed set in history.

The volume: Four
The title: The Evolution of the Foot Eater
The year: 2015
The Biffys: Deltron 3030 (2000); Fugazi, The Argument (2001)
The songs: "Memory Loss"; "(The) Argument"
Now we're talking! Oh. Still two songs, you say?

The volume: Five
The title: I See You
The year: 2013
The Biffys: Pretty Things, SF Sorrow (1968); Chrome, Half Machine Lip Moves (1979)
The songs: "Old Man Going"; "March of the Chrome Police (A Cold Clamey Bombing)"
Two again. Do I need to write about these? I already did, right?

The volume: Six
The title: Wizard Observes Slam Dunk
The year: 2014
The Biffys: The Jesus Lizard, Liar (1992); The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Orange (1994); Six Finger Satellite, Severe Exposure (1995); Mr. Lif, I Phantom (2002); Sleater-Kinney, The Woods (2005); Off! (2012)
The songs: "Slave Ship"; "Flavor"; "Simian Fever"; "Status"; "Let's Call It Love"; "Man From Nowhere"
The bonus material: "Let's Call It Love" on 10 Dynamic Hits!
Six! Now we're really talking! These song titles read like chapters in the next tasteless Ben Winters narrative.

The volume: Seven
The title: Congratulations, It's a Yak!
The year: 2015
The Biffys: Kiss, Hotter Than Hell (1974); DJ Shadow, Endtroducing..... (1996); Yo La Tengo, I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One (1997); Comets on Fire, Blue Cathedral (2004); Shellac, Dude Incredible (2014)
The songs: "Strange Ways"; "Napalm Brain/Scatter Brain"; "Deeper Into Movies"; "Blue Tomb"; "Dude Incredible"
The bonus material: "Dude Incredible" on 10 Dynamic Hits!
Another triumph! Ben Winters, super-hack, may be onto something.

The volume: Eight
The title: From Out the Space to Yours
The year: 2016
The Biffys: Fuzz, Fuzz II (2015); Ty Segall, Emotional Mugger (2016)
The songs: "Say Hello"; "The Magazine"
The bonus material: "The Magazine" on 10 Dynamic Hits!
If I'd only looked into Gøggs three years ago.

The volume: Nine
The title: Instead of Small-Minded Arrogant Fools
The year: 2017
The Biffy: N/A
The song: N/A
"Nixon, Trump and their champions are obstruction" who, fittingly, lock the doors against those who actually accomplished things before them. There's no other explanation.

The volume: Ten
The title: Where Are They? Did They Ever Exist?
The year: 2018
The Biffys: Bad Brains, Rock for Light (1983); Metallica, Ride the Lightning (1984); Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993); Six Finger Satellite, Law of Ruins (1998); Thee Oh Sees, Orc
The songs: "Right Brigade"; "The Call of Ktulu"; "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta Fuck Wit"; "Sea of Tranquility (Part 1)"; "Animated Violence"
Flip "Sea of Tranquility" and "Animated Violence" and this is the best story of them all.

Now that formality and bloated preamble are accounted for (not quite), I direct the Lower Galactic Biffy Council to calculate the Biffy® Hit/Miss Ratio™ of engaged versus forsaken annual title-holders.

Fifty-five albums…

Twenty-seven "hits"…

Twenty-eight "misses"…


Trade war…


Forty-nine point zero nine zero nine (etc.) percent of Biffys generated one of the four hundred forty-one (!) collected songs. That seems low and shameful, so let's fudge the numbers, Russian-meddling style, for a more impressive result. In fairness, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (1965) and Led Zeppelin's first album (1969) were plenty glorified over the years, earning comfortable "MORE CREAM PLEASE" recliners at right. So we'll consider those covered…

Fifty-two point seven two seven two (etc.) percent.

Zeppelin I was also included as part of the Nomar Day festivities and "How Many More Times" even survived the hindsight. So, too, did Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, though a minor tonal shift was made from its "Don't Believe the Hype" to "Terminator X to the Edge of Panic." Who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy! The Ramones, though, moved up a year and replaced Rocket to Russia's "Cretin Hop" with the 1976 debut's "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World." These scabs play nicely back to back and will factor into our revised equation…

Fifty-six point three six three six (etc.) percent.

Once upon a time there was an inter-net. This (n)ether region was soon populated with elaborate email signatures, cat videos and stolen credit cards. "Apps" like Uber and Venmo were developed to destroy millennial budgets and others like, I don't know, Cougr made it OK for pervy train passengers to ogle and swipe through prospective mates right out in the open. And somewhere in there, perhaps in the whispered "dark web," was carved an eleventh commandment:


Scandal was avoided in 2014 when a consideration to sandwich both parts of Bernstein's "No No Man" around the Zombies' "Tell Her No" was incinerated by the Lord's personal stash of lightning bolts. Sin is a delicate art and, thus, Mudhoney's self-titled album (1989) and Thee Oh Sees' Carrion Crawler/The Dream (2011) fall redundant victims to their own 2018 siblings Digital Garbage and Smote Reverser, respectively. Disqualifying them…

Fifty-eight point four nine zero five (etc.) percent. A near ten-percent jump—larger if you exclude Smote Reverser prior to this, its first year of eligibility—is applauded by those who still believe in polling results. But what of the neglected forty-one point five zero nine four (etc.) percent? Who are these remainders?

Beatles – A Hard Day's Night (1964)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced (1967)
Curtis Mayfield – Superfly (1972)
Hawkwind – Space Ritual (1973)
George Brigman – Jungle Rot (1975)
The Damned – Damned Damned Damned (1977)
AC/DC – Powerage (1978)
Motörhead – Ace of Spades (1980)
Black Flag – Damaged (1981)
The Fall – Hex Enduction Hour (1982)
Mission of Burma – The Horrible Truth About Burma (1985)
Dead Kennedys – Bedtime for Democracy (1986)
Big Black – Songs About Fucking (1987)
Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet (1990)
Black Sheep – A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (1991)
Make-Up – Save Yourself (1999)
White Stripes – Elephant (2003)
Jay Reatard – Blood Visions (2006)
Dungen – Tio Bitar (2007)
Black Mountain – In the Future (2008)
Dead Meadow – Three Kings (2010)
Ty Segall – Sleeper (2013)
Thee Oh Sees – Smote Reverser (2018)

And whatever shall we do with them?

1. The Voices of Conquest – O Yes My Lord
2. The Damned – New Rose *
3. Make-Up – Save Yourself *
Fifteen hundred words and we're only now getting to the goods? A new low in self-satisfaction. To save time and pixels I'm going to group commentaries when appropriate—setting a dangerous and lazy precedent—for this Lord/Damned/Save Yourself trinity has potential! Unrealized potential, though, not like this Voices of Conquest drummer. Get a load of him! At least I'm checking off two Biffys from go. Let's stick an asterisk on them.

4. Black Sheep – Pass the 40 *
"Pass the 40 cuz my mother's not lookin'." Ten years later, "Pass the manslaughter conviction cuz the New York authorities are watching American's Most Wanted." Also, who knew that hip-hop songs with multiple guest stars passing mics and/or malt-liquor bottles around were called "posse cuts"? Thanks, Wikipedia! I'll see you several more times! So how'd everyone do here? The perfect lead-off and closing skills of Mista Lawnge ("I put gum in my ass cuz I like to pop shit") and Dres ("I play 'em like vitamins and take a hoe a day"), respectively, make it impossible to grade the rest without a curve. First up is our favorite Sing Sing resident, sounding twelve and leveling out at a B+. He's clearly the only non-Black Sheep with a rap future, if 1992's The Fabulous Chi-Ali constitutes a career. An unnamed child-abuse enabler follows who might go by "Hot Diggity Dog" and, if my timeline is correct, basically sketches out Snoop Dogg's entire career a year early. Other than that he's a D+ mess who hits bottom (har! har!) with "And when I'm fuckin' those bitches they go… hunnh!" Ur-Dogg then passes to "Chris," who was out sick the day they assigned street handles. I'll call him "Solid Cee" thanks to a passable effort hampered by "Here's a DWI for driving drunk with a mic," which would actually be a DDWM. The formally named Dave Gossett relieves Chris's weak grip and delivers the worst line of all: "They got their money, think it's funny, always scoopin' all the honeys. Oops! I meant to say 'hoe.' Broke my own rhyme." Actually you nailed it with money–funny–honeys. Those rhyme. Money–funny–hoe, though, they don't. Your closing "Act like gonorrhea and burn, baby, burn" is wonderful and nudges an earned F to a D–. Stick to A&R, Dave.

5. Dungen – Introduktion *
Technically this song is called "Intro" but I've done a weird thing where I'm renaming all instances of "Intro" and "Outro" in my music library. They're too common and vague. A simple tactic is to pull a bit of stage banter—"Perhaps They're Shy, Guy" from Fugazi's live Metropolitan University Student's Union—or crowd chatter—"Look at That Guy's Pants" from the Stooges' Georgia Peaches—in order to distinguish whose "Intro" is whose. But what to do with a studio instrumental made by foreigners? What's Swedish for "introduction"? On with the show.

6. Fela Kuti & Afrika 70 – Let's Start (Live)
7. 13th Floor Elevators – Gloria (Live)
8. Modern Lovers – I'm Straight (Live)
9. Mission of Burma – He Is, She Is (Live) *
10. Hawkwind – Time We Left This World Today (Live) *
11. MC5 – Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa) (Live)
The concept of a mini live set was born as I pondered how best to insert live tracks from Space Ritual (1973), The Horrible Truth About Burma (1985) and Three Kings (2010) into the mix without the jarring transitions that would likely result. And then Black Flag walked into the room like "Aren't you sure you'd rather give Loose Nut the Biffy? I know it's a little random but it's good stuff." And in comes Dead Meadow, all "You realize that 'Beyond the Fields We Know' is only on the special edition of the album, right? Maybe go with one of the studio tracks instead?" Well fuck! I need to pad "Time We Left This World Today" somehow! The abruptness of that ending! And then who struts in but Fela Kuti, trailed by ninety-nine topless wives. "Hey… erm… what happened to Zombie? That won 1976, didn't it? And now it's the goddamn Ramones?" Two wrongs make a right and I offered "Let's start with 'Let's Start'! Har! Har!" He was amused and appeased. Mission of Burma, though, slipped back in before the door even latched behind the ninety-ninth sweet ass. "Really? You do know we covered '1970' on this thing, right? Enough for the Damned but not us?" Well– "And 'Heart of Darkness'??" Fine, you're in again. The horrible truth is I don't know what I'm doing.

12. Curtis Mayfield – Little Child Runnin' Wild *
"Can't reason with the pusher man." You're telling me! Fat Freddie got pinched and was run over like a dog!

13. Jay Reatard – Waiting for Something *
"The music review online magazine Pitchfork Media placed Blood Visions at number 200 on their list of top 200 albums of the 2000s," with a score of eighty-one on their absurd zero-to-one-hundred (or zero-to-ten, out to one decimal, depending on their nitpicking mood) scale. #127: The Woods, with an original score of eighty-seven. #74: Elephant, with an original score of seventy-nine. #45: The Argument, with an original score of eighty-five. Hmm, something doesn't feel right. Is your sorting corrupted? Let's skim the rest of the list. Sleater-Kinney shows up again at #72 with One Beat, earning a score of… eighty-two? The White Stripes again with #12 White Blood Cells, eighty-seven points. A lot of albums scored eighty-seven points in their initial reviews, right up to inevitable #1 Kid A by Radiohead, which is now a hundred twenty-six spaces above its once-equal The Woods. Meanwhile, albums by Andrew WK and someone named Clipse can't even crack seventy points and still end up dozens of positions over Blood Visions, while Michael Mayer (who?) released a perfect-hundred Immer (what?) only to end up at #116 in this retrospective clickbait. Enough! No more clicks from me!

14. Stereolab – Harmonium
This 1992 single leads off the mid-nineties compilation Refried Ectoplasm and still can't get recognized under the "In popular culture" section of Wikipedia's The Sirens of Titan page. So it goes.

15. Doors – My Eyes Have Seen You
"It's time to include the Doors" is a fine (and accurate) example of a typical note I'll write to myself in Google Keep over the course of a random Tuesday morning commute. Its flip nature, though, is in direct contract to the amount of consideration I waste when assembling the final product: "Stereolab right into the Doors… of course!" "My Eyes Have Seen You" sounds strangely contemporary and I've come to realize that a lot of Doors songs sound out of place next to what was going on around them, excluding the Elvis-y strings and horns of The Soft Parade. "Tell All the People" was a contender here and my sixteen-year-old self would have rolled over in his sober virgin grave.

16. Ali Touré Farka – Karanda Bala Bozo
The Doors right into Ali Touré Farka… of course! "The African John Lee Hooker" had a hard time deciding where to place his "Farka" ("donkey") nickname: Ali Touré Farka? Ali Farka Touré? It's your call, man. In other translation news, "Karanda Bala Bozo" means "devilish right-wing bozos."

17. Michael Yonkers – Lovely Gold
Oh, what blossoms from a free "Sold America" Sub Pop download. Tis a lovely sunflower.

18. Ty Segall – Sleeper *
19. Helium – The Revolution of Hearts
20. Motörhead – (We Are) the Road Crew *
Main man Ty Segall, to my knowledge, has yet to release a studio album in 2019. Wither his trust fund? Regardless, "Sleeper"—a.k.a. "And, Goodnight (Part 1)"—took advantage and its understudy experience was not in vain. Despite a "quiet" 2019, he (solo, as a member of Gøggs and backing Tim Presley's White Fence on drums) and Ian Svenonius (Make-Up, the Nation of Ulysses and Weird War) lead the pack with three appearances each and should take a nap. Meanwhile, Helium's epic "The Revolution of Hearts" (split across two sides of The Magic City because vinyl is dumb) once stood in full glory atop the playlist until it was reminded of the twelfth commandment: "THOU SHALT NOT LEAD OFF BLOG PLAYLISTS WITH SONGS YOUNGER THAN THE AUTHOR, EXCEPT FOR VOLUMES ZERO AND ONE, WHICH DO NOT REALLY COUNT ANYWAY." Drag. Leading lady Mary Timony, too, is no slouch and will return with Ex Hex in eighty minutes. And Lemmy? Do not panic! He's making an encore after acting as Space Ritual's secret weapon earlier. "Himself!" For completists, and with a plea for leniency in the event I missed anyone, let's acknowledge other repeat offenders James Canty (Make-Up and the Nation of Ulysses), Steve Gamboa (ditto), Michelle Mae (Make-Up and Weird War) and Stephen McCarty (Dead Meadow—a better band with you in it—and Weird War). DC networking at its finest. Anyway, these do abide by the eleventh commandment as described above because while the individuals are indeed making (coveting?) more than one appearance here and elsewhere, the identified artist labels (eponymous solo project, group collaboration, guest spot, etc.) are not. Hellfire averted.

21. Atomic Rooster – Devil's Answer (Demo)
"1970 demo with Carl Palmer" and unheralded original singer Nick Graham, who really elevates this version over the official boogie-rock single. Taken from the bird-titted Atomic Roooster reissue, helpfully labeled "sic" due to the extra O.

22. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Love or Confusion *
Are You Experienced and the Rolling Stones' Out of Our Heads are the two exceptions I make when it comes to favoring reassembled American albums over proper sixties canon because they're the ones I grew up with. "Love or Confusion" plainly states the argument: preference (i.e., love) of one version over another, or disorder (i.e., confusion) due to multiple versions in the first place? You tell me, baby. "Purple Haze"… "Hey Joe"… "The Wind Cries Mary"… "The Last Time"… "Play With Fire"… "Satisfaction"… USA! USA! Eat it.

23. Thee Oh Sees – Last Peace *
24. Sonfolk – Homecoming
"Last Peace" into "Homecoming"… so much wasted spiritual potential. Thee Oh Sees earned the 2018 asterisk in a photo finish against Ty Segall's Freedom's Goblin, a good album that likely suffered from a January release and a little too much fat. Smote Reverser, though, is widening the gap and "Last Peace" or "Nail House Needle Boys" or "Moon Bog" (Lovecraft fodder) or "Sentient Oona" was a tough call. Maybe the answer lies in Sonfolk's bible, in Revelations. I wouldn't know. And I won't.

25. Public Enemy – B-Side Wins Again *
If this were a record—which it isn't, because vinyl is dumb—and if each side of a record could hold, say, an hour and fifty minutes of music, then PE appropriately rewards you for getting off your ass and walking over to the goddamn turntable to flip the sucker. Again and again, again! So dumb.

26. The Nation of Ulysses – Mockingbird, Yeah!
Featuring "the Doo-Wop Assembly" on backing vocals: Kathleen Hanna, Kathi Wilcox, Tobi Vail and Billy Karren from Bikini Kill; Brendan Canty and Guy Picciotto from Fugazi; and Complete Discography cover-boy Alec MacKaye. To Kill a Mockingbird, for all its hype, underwhelmed ahead of the first meeting of the CSGNFBØQEBCBBL but eked out an upturned yellow thumb and three out of five stars on Goodreads. Katy Tur's Unbelievable was better (though no Game Change or Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72) while Wes Moore's The Other Wes Moore was a self-serving humble-brag that became startlingly religious at its conclusion. And Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things? And Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things! Sandra Boynton and David Baldacci should make room on their hollow, gold-plated bench. It's a good thing I like the people and that our discussions have been interesting—I'm curious to hear from someone who did enjoy this garbage—because the selections themselves so far have disappointed, unlike the majority of my assignments with the Ladies. Rereading Into Thin Air in a couple of months, followed by my own All the President's Men nomination, will hopefully right the ship and avoid Roy's "extraordinary" bullshit; her "imaginatively supple" lack of character development; the "poignancy and considerable sweep" of the book's juvenile wordplay; a "lush, magical" miasma of overlong metaphors that underscores her "dazzling" lack of storytelling ability and "morally strenuous" effort to fill three hundred-something pages; and—finally! sensibly!—her "execrable" reliance on a disjointed timeline to disguise the fact that there isn't much happening here. Good riddance. (Hey Kathleen. What's up? You like to read?)

27. Mudhoney – Nerve Attack
28. Beatles – You Can't Do That *
29. Dead Meadow – That Old Temple *
These three hit it off last year and wanted to hang out again. Pass the hash pipe cuz their mothers ain't lookin'. If it weren't for Mudhoney's so-so Digital Garbage ("Nerve Attack" and "Oh Yeah" are the highlights) late last year I would have chosen Piece of Cake's "Thirteenth Floor Opening," not only for its nod to the stars of track seven but also because I work on my building's thirteenth floor, which shouldn't be acknowledged for mystical fears of "bad luck." As a result, elevator buttons read "13" whereas digital displays—existing only in a world that doesn't know how to count—insist upon arrival that "14" is your destination, so don't freak out! These are the problems superstitious architects and schizoid engineers create for themselves.

30. White Stripes – Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine *
31. Silver Apples – You and I
32. Black Mountain – Wucan *
33. Dead Kennedys – Chickenshit Conformist *
34. White Fence – Arrow Man
This was to be a silver-and-black sandwich on white bread until Jello insisted, loudly, that I should "Be a slave to the sequence and not to the construct!" So let's consider "Chickenshit Conformist" (or, "Chicken S. Conformist" at home) the, I don't know, Russian dressing over turkey (Silver Apples) and roast beef (Black Mountain), with the White Stripes and White Fence a hearty sourdough or something. Time for lunch.

35. Liz Phair – Shane
"Liz Phair has described Whip-Smart as a chronicle of the beginning, middle and end of a relationship: a rock fairy tale, from meeting the guy, falling for him, getting him and not getting him, going through the disillusionment period, saying 'Fuck it' and leaving, coming back to it." Plus draft-dodging. Don't forget the draft-dodging.

36. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Moonlight on Vermont
Well duh.

37. Chuck Berry – Oh Louisiana
"She shamed me in sorrow," alright. Oh Louisiana. Oh Kentucky. Oh god.

38. AC/DC – Sin City *
On the train in Salem last week a middle-aged woman boarded and asked to sit in the vacant seat between me on the aisle and another person at the window. (It's understood that people on the aisle will never slide to the middle seat unless the new arrival is pregnant or blind.) As she settled in I admired her backback, emblazoned with black-and-white AC/DC logos. "Nice backpack!" Simple enough, anticipating a standard "Thanks!" in return so I could get back to racing through, yes, the dreadful The God of Small Things. Book clubs, man. Instead, paraphrased and with my bracketed asides: "Thanks! I stole it from my daughter." [Lowers book.] "Haha." "She was like 'Mommm!'" "Well, she'll like them one day, right?" "Oh, she already does. She likes all my stuff. She's always like 'Mommm!'" "Haha. Nice." [Returns book to reading position.] "I just love this band. Rrrrrr! What's your favorite album??" [Lowers book again. Really thinks about the answer and its relationship to continuing adventures.] "Probably Powerage." [Actually prefers Highway to Hell, Back in Black and the original TNT but 1978 was a lean year.] "What?? No! I just love when the old drummer left and the way the new guy plays on 'Thunderstruck.' That's, like, so amazing." [Refrains from arguing that Phil Rudd is a much better drummer than Chris Slade and that she never explicitly declares The Razors Edge her favorite album.] "Mmm." "I was in a garage band… my daughter found us on YouTube… 'Mommm!'" "Mmm." [Resumes reading.] "Kiss! Deep Purple!" "Yup." [Despises book.]

39. Ex Hex – Good Times
Mary! Hello again! A. and I saw Ex Hex in Portsmouth in April, which was half the cost and a tenth the hassle that their Boston show in July promises to be. Logistics for the win. 2019's It's Real is pretty good but I prefer the plain good Rips and it's looser Ramones spirit. Much of It's Real (though not "Good Times" and its drop-dead harmonies) reminds me of bad eighties hair metal, thanks mainly to the other singer's contributions. Curious. Anyway, since I saw them in concert, I couldn't help but comply with the thirteenth commandment: "THOU SHALL FEATURE ON BLOG PLAYLISTS ANY HEADLINE ACT WITH WHOM YOU SHARE A BALLROOM." Done and done! What's that, L7? Twice, you say? I promise to get you back in 2020, even though you appear to be skipping Boston on your current tour. Drag. So it's you, Guided by Voices (whom I saw Friday and therefore after the April cut-off—"THOU SHALT NOT SPILL INTO JUNE AGAIN, MOTHERFUCKER"), Black Flag and the Fall, the latter two remaining orphaned since Damaged (1981) and Hex Enduction Hour (1982) have yet to find their forever homes. (Prior appearances in 2011, 2013, 2014 and last year sub as reliable foster parents.) How about "Shove," "Motor Away," "Room 13" and "Hip Priest" next May? Right. We good? (Hey Jennifer. Wanna join a book club?)

40. The Left Banke – Nice to See You
41. Gøggs – Vanity
Nice to see you. Nice to see me!

42. Mr. Airplane Man – Pretty Baby I'm in Love With You
43. George Brigman – DMT *
At last, our Super-Biffy flank is formally defended against all comers by Brigman's unique brand of low fidelity, which has nothing on Mr. Airplane Man's official debut.

44. Budos Band – Old Engine Oil
45. Big Black – The Power of Independent Trucking *
Double BBs taming ass and killing the environment with their machines. "I got an exit book here, shows the best steak on any mile of interstate in the whole pig-friggin' country."

46. Roxy Music – Editions of You
Thanks to Mudhoney for showing me a little more of Roxy Music. And thanks to the (no doubt) British Wikipedia contributor for (no doubt) his precious observation that "'Do the Strand' has been called the archetypal Roxy Music anthem, whilst 'Editions of You' was notable for a series of ear-catching solos by…" etc. "Whilst!" Woooooooo!

47. Lafayette Afro-Rock Band – Hihache
Our penultimate song is a mind-expanding instrumental for the third year in a row because "THOU SHALL–" oh forget it.

48. Weird War – Pick Up the Phone and Ball
"Weird War was initially formed as an umbrella organization in 2001 to encompass disparate anti-authoritarian groups and to challenge the idiocy of the new epoch." Man, Ian Svenonius for president. Unfortunately you can hear the exact moment Neil Hagerty grows bored with the band's "ideology" about a minute and a half into this: "Pick up the phone and ball! Pick up the phone and ball! Pick up the phone and ball! Pick up the phone and ball! Pick up the phone and ball! Pick up the phone and ball! Pick up the phone and ball. Pick up the phone and ball…"

With sincere apologies to Black Flag and the Fall: we've got nine songs from the sixties (three from '69), another fourteen from the seventies (just two from '71, quashing last year's uprising), four—four!—during an inclusivity exercise!—from the eighties, seven from the nineties, six from the aughts and eight from the teens (two from '19). God bless you, daughter. I'm in love with you.

More furious madness: Volume 1|Volume 2|Volume 3|Volume 4|Volume 5|Volume 6|Volume 7|Volume 8|Volume 9|Volume 10