Saturday, February 22, 2014

Beer and football IV — playoffs, week three
AFC Championship

The game: Patriots at Broncos
The beer: Southern Tier Plum Noir Imperial Porter
The result: Fuuuuuuck
The commentary: What is loss? What is the passage of time? What is the intersection of these? I don't know, but surely it is black. Fucking black.

Nah. I'm over it and have been since before the last of the blue and orange confetti landed in a (no doubt) fat Colorado man's giant (no doubt) see-through beer. I was fifty-fifty before the game but that was generous, and had there been a successful comeback in the closing minutes I would have felt even more shaky going into the Super Bowl. Shudder. Maybe this is the offseason when we fix the non-Brady half of the team?

I need to remind myself that twenty-eight other sets of fans would have loved to lose in the conference final. Super Bowl/AFC Championship/AFC Championship. That's a nice run. It's likely not over. Last year at this time, entering the free agent/draft period, I wrote "Three players will get it done" and wanted to improve at cornerback, safety and wide receiver. Meet the new boss: three players will still get it done! Defensive end (pass-rushing variety), safety and defensive tackle. You'd think this defense sucks. It does. And if Talib doesn't resign then cornerback jumps to the head of the row. (Extended wishlist: depth at tight end, cornerback and offensive line.)

About that plum porter referred to ahead of a fourth consecutive "Fuuuuuuck" to close the season. When I saw it in a shop in Salem sometime in December I told myself "That's the Super Bowl beer." Confidence, unfortunately, waned as my prayers for death sleet went unanswered. I just couldn't get the beer, or at least the idea of the beer, out of my head. I like what I've had from Southern Tier and I love porters. And imperial porters are rare enough. What if… the unthinkable? I caved and so it's probably my fault the Broncos won. On top of that, the beer was just OK and didn't live up to the hype. What could? The stout I spied "for the Super Bowl" will have to hold until next season—a reprise of Newburyport Pale Ale kept me warm while Peyton did himself no favors (ouch). It's so long ago now, all I carry from the game is that our sweaty friends at RadioShack can apparently afford a Super Bowl commercial. Good for you guys!

Moving on, here's one more shot of G. until the draft, which is in May now? She took the loss well—sleeping through it helps. See how happy she is the following morning, where croissants from A&J King cure all. More news: she's started saying "yes" instead of "yeah" and it's one of the evolutions in her speech I actually welcome after the passing of li-nen ("lion") and other adorable adventures in mispronunciation. It's actually closer to "yeth." My kingdom for a lisp. She also calls the family (leopard-print) Snuggie a "Snuggity." A. and I will never correct that, though we might cash in on the name.

On to not-football. I saw Dead Meadow on Sunday. A. was supposed to be out of town and the originally scheduled Thursday night show didn't stand a chance. My first solo-parent overnight? Already ditching my daughter? No. Ahhh… but then it snowed the snow of fear and Captain Xavier P. Logan closed much of his airport. Dead Meadow's flight/van ride must also have gotten canceled because they rescheduled for Sunday. And how about that calendar! Thank you, Messrs. President, for Your Day, Your Monday Day. My Day Off Day. Let's go to Cambridge until midnight.

It was a good (if short) show in a cool new (to me) venue called the Sinclair. My favorite or second-favorite active band (above, below or alongside Mudhoney) switched on the liquid lights and everything. The new/old drummer wasn't as good as the old/new drummer but at least he stole the Jesus & Mary Chain's hair, and that will take you places! Loud places. Two friends were kind enough to join me without having heard much of their music, choosing to trust my highbrow tastes—once we heard "Sunshine of Your Love" and "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" over beers at the Cambridge Common and they didn't run screaming I figured it would be alright. Later, when I turned to them and nodded during the opening chunks of "Sleepy Silver Door," they nodded back. Right on.

Lastly, it's Tim Gunn week! Wednesday night A. and I listened to a Fresh Air interview with the man on the way home. It was a raw, fascinating half hour and I admire him even more after listening. Bless him. However. What was that bullshit on Under the Gunn Thursday night? Nick Verreos is the Chip Hill of mentors—he finished in fifth fucking place during his season of Project Runway and suddenly he's on par with winners Mondo (who should have won twice) and Anya? Through five episodes of this spin-off, he's thrust into a leadership position that consists of being undesirable to the most talented designers on the show, overwhelming and suffocating to those sad sacks unlucky enough to fall to his team and then, last week, punching that crazy Isabelle woman right in the face over and over—Biff! Pow!—and calling her a "diseased whore" in front of the judges. And then this week? And then this week! After Tim warned him for the hundredth time that he needed to "chill the fuck out" he supported the dazed remains of his team with "You figure it out" (one of those quotes is not paraphrased). Even Chip Hill had to change the channel, and that leper can barely move his arms.

The episode was shaping up to be one of those they-can't-possibly-survive-but-look! storylines that are a reality-television editor's wet dream, in the wake of Nick coming off worse and worse every week. On its original trajectory there were to be no survivors: every remaining Nick-er goes bang, bang, bang, all out in a row, and no more Nick. Would he go quietly? Would he slash the throat of everyone who doubted him?

(Nick's insecurity has been a heavy subplot throughout and probably fills forty percent of what's aired—it's one of those "major" subplots like the alien in Alien. There's more going on in this movie than a monster trying to eat a crew of space truckers: the hazy tension of being woken early for unknown reasons, the suspense and tragedy of leaving the comfort of the ship, the politics of a military-industrial complex, the brute strength of an android, the coverage limitations of future underwear. Our alien got maybe fifteen minutes of screen time in a two-hour movie. But what do you remember? I remember Nick's insecurity.)

Fix! Fix! The only way to prevent a bloodbath was to award one of his designers the victory. I hated it then and I hate it now—especially after re-watching the end last night because A. fell asleep early Thursday—and all credibility is out the window. How do I know it's fixed? Because they didn't send any of the "losers" home! Shan and Nicholas (even as Nicholas has disappointed) can out-design the Nick Three so thoroughly that even the producers can't ignore it. So toss Nick a bone, pretend it's "too hard" to choose between Shan and Nicholas and get ride of—in order—Natalia, Stephanie (who, if anyone on Nick's team, should have won last night) and Oscar over the next three weeks. "Sorry, Nick, at least you got a win in there. And it was great of you to admit, on camera, that you had nothing to do with your team's stunning success. Hey, what's that in your hand? Ahhh, my throat!" Then I can find someone else to compare to space demons that burst from their hosts' chests and terrify everyone from children to marines.

Except that I'm only half right. Tim and the producers will mix things up to help Nick save face after an embarrassing month-plus of television and allow him to snuff out whole new creative sparks. Regardless, though, book this shit: Natalia, Stephanie and Oscar are the next three who Dee Snider (or whatever that judge's name is) and friends send home. It will still be Nick's fault, but at least the body count will remain low. Yes, I'll still watch.

Seriously though, fifty degrees? In Denver? In January?

Up next: See you in 2014! What's that you say? Cheers!