Thursday, October 29, 2015

Beer and football VI — weeks four, five, six and seven

Week four (bye)
The beer: Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback India Pale Ale
The result: Raiders/Jarrod lose, 22–20
The commentary: Jay Cutler, of all people, has made me a better father. The Pats were off and my gambling hopes rested on, rested all over, the Silver and Black Attack. Or, precisely, rested against the Bears of Chicagoland. The undefeated Falcons tugged on my sleeve to ask "Are you sure?" and I answered "Of course! I'll save you dirty birds for a later date as I remain unconvinced of your significance." Were it more likely for the Bears to remain winless than for the Falcons to remain undefeated? And were it likely for the Raiders to ascend to 3–1 before correcting to an inevitable and representative 3–2 next week against the Broncos? I thought so on both counts. In the playground behind the elementary school—G. on her belly down the slide, G. spilling off the pint-sized suspension bridge—I wondered how to break it to A. that the fucking Bears (them again) just won on a last-second field goal. Forty-five dollars later the run to repeat is over and, as a result, I am able to be more present as a parent the next several Sundays. "I take care of my kids." You're supposed to!

Week five
The game: Patriots at Cowboys
The beer: Newburyport Yeat! Extra Special Bitter
The result: Win, 30–6
The commentary: "'Yeat!' is a colloquial word used in Newburyport, Massachusetts at least before the Second World War (1939–1945), allegedly shouted from one naval ship to another to identify a resident of Newburyport." Sailors were just floating around the Mediterranean shouting "Yeat!" at one another? Looking for Bobby from Plum Island? How did we win this thing? "Also used to show both affirmation and disapproval." You clarify nothing and doom the Allied Powers.

Despite this, life Up North is certainly easy on the event calendar. After a trip to Portsmouth (and the Portsmouth Brewery, where yonder Pinner outshone the flagship offerings) last weekend to sell more CDs and cash in a used bookstore credit, this one found us attending the eighth annual (though our first, after 2014's week-too-late visit left me staring in horror at an outdated banner) Chili Cook-Off & Craft Beer Fest. The beer was an afterthought—decent offerings, but at two ounces a pop how can you really tell? I'm sure the Jack's Abby's "Fire in the Ham" bacon beer would have graduated from tolerable to disgusting halfway through a pint. The chili, though, was good all around, even if David's Tavern (my favorite) didn't place. Drag. At least our quarterback didn't break his collarbone. At least our quarterback isn't Tony Romo in the first place. And at least the Browns gave up on their forty-five-year-old first-round draft pick after two seasons.

Week six
The game: Patriots at Colts
The beer: Stone Enjoy by 10/31/15 India Pale Ale
The result: Win, 34–27
The commentary: The Colts game started with Tom Brady running onto the field to a chorus of boos… and to channel 4's embarrassing Steve "Thee Crazy Eyes" Burton snapping pictures of him on his iPhone. This is the man who shoots dim, short-sighted daggers at my guys Mike Reiss and Paul Perillo whenever they have the nerve—the nerve!—to forecast single-touchdown victories for the hometown team at the end of Patriots All Access every Friday. (On a related note, my favorite part of Patriots Game Day each Sunday morning hits at prediction time when the "season records" of Scott "Murdering the Legacy of Edward R. Murrow on a Weekly Basis" Zolak, Levan "Ignorant and Spoiled Homer Representing an Ignorant and Spoiled Fanbase" and Dan "Seems Nice, but What Exactly Is His Role? Fantasy Bullshit?" Roche match whatever the Pats' record is so far. Strong critical analysis informs those picks, I'm sure.

As for the game: fuck yeah. The entire Colts organization and satellite media deserved a botched fake punt and can eat a bowl of dicks. (Yes, I still think Brady ordered the balls improperly deflated.)

Week seven
The game: Jets at Patriots
The beer: Berkshire Russian Imperial Stout
The result: Win, 30–23
The commentary: Rebel IPA, Rebel IPA, Coke, Rebel IPA, Coke. This pattern served me well at the Beantown Pub on Tuesday and, subsequently, I did not miss my train and I did not sleep through my station. The 9:20 was the plan and the plan was realized. Were it a Thursday? Who knows, maybe I decide "Shots, you say? And so the 11:45 will do for me!" An outcome most foul! (Please pardon as I just finished The Turn of the Screw. I fear its parable is more classist than supernatural… and that its length could be halved.) And—oh!—an evening of stick-and-ball most certainly did provide for fine entertainment. That is to say, among my peers and friends and otherwise, said tournament upon the greenest felt, played fairly and leisurely though nonetheless competitively, produced much laughter amid a Black (Sabbath) and Pink (Floyd) cacophony. How the "Echoes" do echo!

My team of two, calling ourselves "It's in the Way That You Floozy," showed well against a series of strong players and progressed further than expected. The brains behind the bracket, though, realized too late that ten teams do not break down evenly round to round, so four (of which we were one) were made to compete in a play-in round after poor—nay, dreadful!—showings in a Halloween-themed word-search puzzle. Drag. Said opening round: win. Proper round one, against one of the better teams: win. I was playing as well as I had in years. Semi-final round, all the darker: scratch on the eight-ball! Lo, what hath bewitched my mastery o'er physics! O'er geometry! One ball away, and the opponents played defensively to tuck the cue behind their remaining stripe and leave me a shot I would not make in ten tries. Try I did, aye, and nearly succeeded on a four-banker toward the near right corner before excess force—physics!—and misjudged angle—geometry!—conspired to drive the Pale Orb into the side pocket. Drag. With a cry of "Motherfucker!" I set my stick on the table and accepted our fate, evermore, as spectators during a final, well played match. I would still pick against the Bears—and again—and I would still take that shot.

Up next: The Pats and Dolphins preempt Project Runway as the resolution of Edmond's contrived limbo is postponed, via DVR, until tomorrow. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Beer and football VI — week three

The game: Jaguars at Patriots
The beer: Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
The result: Win, 51–17; Seahawks win, 26–0
The commentary: Returning to my roots, I beckoned Samuel Smith from oversea adventure among the whores and skyscrapers of southeast Asia in order to lubricate a week-three, buy-back Seattle victory. Thank god those guys are checked off the list—only twenty-six points against the worst team in the league (seriously, I'm thinking of taking the Raiders this weekend in Chicago); in a must-win game; at home; for Kam Chancellor's return. That's what you could muster? Surely, Sam, you were my safety net as I neared the bottom. Surely, too, it's looking like the Packers, the Cardinals and then everyone else in the NFC.

After twenty of us—twenty!—were knocked out of the pool during week two and nine of us bought back in, eleven of the original twenty-five remain heading into week four. At this point last year only ten of nineteen remained so I'm feeling pretty good.

"I'm feeling pretty good."
Napoléon Bonaparte
June 24, 1812

For the most part I was successful in avoiding Patriot updates at G's friend's birthday party. It takes a special brand of… [undefined]… to schedule anything at one o'clock on a Sunday, especially in a year when we Pats fan (for I had to have been the only one in attendance, right?) didn't luck out with Sunday or Monday Night Football this time. (Indeed, children's parties are my future.) Unfortunately I did suspect a blowout when someone emerged from the house and declared "The Pats scored again," at which point I covered my ears and barked aggressively so as not to overhear more than that. Somehow I was the only one recording the game and planning to watch later with virgin eyes, whereas the rest were content to go inside here and there to see a few plays and report back. Patriots fans are the worst.

As for the game, the results speak for themselves. The most surprising thing was Sergio Brown eliciting this exchange after an admittedly strong pass breakup:

Kevin Harlan: "What a defensive play by Sergio Brown!"

Me: "Pardon?"

Bill Belichick: "Pardon?"

Here's my multiple-source summary of his career in New England, written after Gronk threw him out the club last year: "For two seasons I progressively referred to him as a disappointment who celebrated accidental success, made Patrick Chung look like a superstar and teamed up with Brandon Meriweather to form an ongoing nightmare." The pregame analysis declaring him the best player in the Jags' secondary foretold, clearly, the fifty-one goddamn points they eventually gave up.

The least surprising broadcast development was Rich "League MVP" Gannon complaining about Walt Coleman and the tuck rule. I could listen to Gannon complain about that call for a lifetime. 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. Just to be safe, you know. "I should've probably scooped up that fumble on the strip sack, and Bill let me know." Easily the most overpaid, overrated guy on the team. I do love his "Free Safety Advice" bit though. "Smart decision with the hat to block the sun. Keeps the sun away." I wonder if there's a "Free Free Safety Advice" video for him to watch.

Up next: You really couldn't wait until the bye week to rent a bouncy house, huh? Cheers!