Sunday, December 31, 2017

Beer and football VIII — week sixteen

The game: Bills at Patriots
The beer: Two Roads Holiday Ale
The result: Win, 37–16; Ravens win, 23–16; Ben wins, 5–2–1
The commentary: Completing last week's poem:

Wine before beer…
Death, I fear!


Wednesday was not so clean, as happens to the best of us in weaker moments. Weak, like Paul and Undefeated Tim trusting the traveling Lions more than the home Pats and Ravens, respectively.

Week sixteen outcome
Dan – Panthers over Buccaneers
Katie – Chiefs over Dolphins
Oren – Patriots over Bills Panthers over Buccaneers
Paul – Patriots over Bills Lions over (home) Bengals
Robin – Chiefs over Dolphins Bears over Browns
Tim – Ravens over Colts Lions over (home) Bengals

You've got to make it to week seventeen, Paul, if you're saving the Pats for then. And Tim? And Tim! He joins the rest of us with one loss and might be in trouble this week. (As if my locked-in… Lions… and I are feeling any better.) We are down to six, single-elimination style, with all level playing fields leading to playoff tiebreakers. The "Shall we split the pot?" emails are flying and Commissioner Rico isn't having it.

Week seventeen predictions
Dan – Vikings over Bears
Katie – Redskins over (home) Giants
Oren – Patriots over Jets
Robin – Saints over (home) Buccaneers
Tim – Ravens over Bengals

As indicated, I'm not feeling great about the Lions today. Jim Caldwell's hot seat has grown cold (since he reportedly won't be sitting there any longer) and if the Chiefs weren't locked into the fourth seed and starting a rooking quarterback in Denver then I'd be on them instead. Elsewhere, Dan, Oren and Robin should advance/finish easily while Katie, Tim and I are in toss-up territory. Who knows what happens with Rams–Niners so the Redskins are the only team that "makes sense" for Katie. I considered them for a few minutes but they have nothing to play for and probably stink anyway. Had Tim taken my Ravens last week then he'd likely be sweating over the Lions today so what do I know, though he'd still be undefeated and could avoid watching the Bengals purposely injure his team all afternoon as they normally do against NFC North opponents to close a season. What was I thinking with those assholes?

A quick comment regarding Survivor: once Jeff told Chrissy with a straight face that her "advantage" allowed her to choose one person to take to the final three instead of the usual two then they might as well have handed the check right to Ben. It was the equivalent of the AFC and NFC champs being told "Congratulations, you each get to play one more game before the Super Bowl!" Oh well. I actually liked the twist because the final immunity winner always had too much power but call it something else. A "crippler" or a "snafu." At least they're bringing in all new people next season—I think they've gotten the hint that A. and I, the only people in the world who still watch this show, don't ever want to see Rupert again.

More entertainment! Today it is official:

Crowned 2017 Biffy® champion
(Thee) Oh Sees – Orc

And next year might be sealed up as well with the promise of what looks like a double album. Shades of Emotional Mugger's January inevitability:

Projected 2018 winner
Ty Segall – Freedom's Goblin

Here's hoping the rest of 2018 plays out so smoothly, with (election) results rewarding those who remember a time before "FAKE NEWS" defended all criticism. Someone should change our president's diaper. Pathetic! (But thanks for the Twitter template.)

Up next: Should I have insisted we split the pot after all? Happy new year!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Beer and football VIII — week fifteen

The game: Patriots at Steelers
The beer: Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale
The result: Win, 27–24; Jaguars win, 45–7
The commentary: Survivor's Jeff Probst, wisest of the wise, laid on the tribal-council empathy last week and—moments before Devon incomprehensibly voted out his lone ally, positioning Ben as his future destroyer instead of a possible swing voter in a Devon/Ashley–Chrissy/Ryan showdown—reasoned "I cannot look at tonight's vote, I have to look at the end and start looking backwards." Other than the "look" redundancy and my personal preference for "backward" over "backwards" (likewise, "toward" over "towards," etc.) I have to start thinking the same way before I lose my marbles. How will others pick? Who do I expect to… survive… each week based on the teams available to them? Is Undefeated Tim going to ride some Not-Browns bullshit to the end?

Call it the game within the game within the actual game(s). After four eliminations last week—Bengals–Bears took out Andy and Mike, who apparently can't read, and revived some bitter quick sizzle for breaking my streak; previously undefeated Dan similarly busted on the Pats, who struck Whining Peter outright; and the Titans took out Thomas because they're playing well enough to trust wholeheartedly with the Saints, Vikings, Seahawks and Ravens in his pocket (all of whom lost… oh well)—we're down to seven and, unless Paul's Falcons lose tonight, there will again be no movement after last week's relief. Drag.

Still, it doesn't hurt as bad if I see it coming. Four of the six picked the team I would have were I in their positions: Katie and Tim had the Vikings, Asterisk Oren the Saints and Paul the Falcons, even though I couldn't possibly wait until Monday Night Football. Dan decided he didn't want to save the Ravens for the Colts next week—like I did—and Robin preferred the Wentz-less Eagles and another nail-biter against the Geeee Mennnn instead of Saints–Jets. Survive, advance and do anything to keep it interesting.

Week sixteen predictions
Dan – Panthers over Buccaneers
Katie – Chiefs over Dolphins
Oren – Patriots over Bills
Paul – Patriots over Bills
Robin – Chiefs over Dolphins
Tim – Ravens over Colts

Shit, since we're here…

Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers finale forecast
First elimination – Devon (four against one, he votes for Ben)
Second elimination – Chrissy (three against one, she also votes for Ben)
Third-place bystander who receives no winning votes – Ryan
Runner-up drag-along who never stood a chance – Mike (with Lauren's vote)
One! Survivor! – Ben (with the rest, including the producers')

This is fun! A Bucs upset tonight could affect Dan—and certainly Paul—while a Panthers blowout maybe sways Robin to their side. Oren and Paul will be tempted to do the same and push the Pats into a potentially meaningless week seventeen (Jets). Too risky. What do I know.

(That's right, I'm back to talking almost exclusively about the knockout pool. You stopped reading ages ago anyway.)

Pats–Steelers was unspoiled primetime action, with a professional (despite the photo) and surreal (aren't they all?) performance of The Nutcracker in Beverly (same theater) taking precedence that afternoon. Clara might as well have joined us in the audience for the second act. The evening's main event featured a less-itchy trigger finger in order to appreciate how these teams match up—it was an important game and I didn't want to miss anything… except for replays of several huge Steeler gains. For this reason I pouted and blew past the catch/not-a-catch drama, skipping ahead to the inevitable point-after kick. And skipping. What was taking so long? Arriving at Tony Corrente's reversal I was slightly euphoric and, upon watching one replay and determining "No catch!" without wondering how I'd feel were Gronk the tight end, braced myself for a third down that would likely clinch the win. (Later, re-watching the entire sequence, it was obvious that the television angles did not show enough to overturn the touchdown call—was Jesse James's right hand under the ball when it moved?—and that Jim Nantz and Tony Romo didn't even consider an incompletion to be in the cards. Three minutes later Roethlisberger and the offense were equally perplexed and, somehow, seemed unprepared to run another play. Exhibit A if you're wondering why Belichick and Brady have won five in a row and eleven—eleven!—of thirteen overall against these guys.

The acronym holiday party takes place on company grounds tomorrow before we likely regroup at some bar or other afterward. Consensus proclaimed Monday's InterContinental VaGina affair a Pats-usurping, shrimp-less letdown that produced no drama—cutting myself off after four more-or-less chugged Sam Winters was proper etiquette. A respectable train ride home reading Agatha Christie and marveling over my strong core (i.e., bladder) meant I could blast through that steaming pile of Dolphins game in an hour and keep Tuesday equally respectable. Will Wednesday be so clean? What completes the "Wine before beer" couplet?

Up next: The whole hood want Gronk? Fine. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Beer and football VIII — week fourteen

The game: Patriots at Dolphins
The beer: Samuel Adams Winter Lager
The result: Loss, 27–20; Bengals lose, 33–7
The commentary: You get what you ask for and this defense still blows. Phooey.

Up next: Mike Tomlin oozes masculinity out of his pores. Cheers!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Beer and football VIII — week thirteen

The game: Patriots at Bills
The beer: Long Trail Ale
The result: Win, 23–3; Chargers win, 19–10
The commentary: Nothing more about the knockout pool until people start getting knocked out again. Three straight weeks at eleven with the playoffs likely coming into play? Gimme a break. In the spirit of "nothing," I'm a bad father who took no pictures of his daughter last weekend, so here's one Facebook reminded me about from six years ago. Those cheeks! That skepticism!

Leaving work last week the friendly security guard pointed at my copy of Player Piano (not as good as I remembered, though the second half triumphs) and asked how many books I read a year. "Do you keep track of them?" "Um, no. I should!" I met E. Christopher Clark at a local author fair recently and liked the sound of his Those Little Bastards story collection. One sample download later and the opening "Revelation" was strong enough to earn my three bucks on Kindle—he had me thinking of Vonnegut, for crying out loud. A dozen pages later he lost me with the hateful and tasteless "Hacker." Two more sexual-awakening romps reminded that a bag of Doritos also costs three bucks. "Deux ex Machina" returned, with less success, to the enjoyable "Revelation" storyline but the juvenile, erectile, bad-fantasy stink lingered like a broken-in Body of Evidence cassette. Several stories remain, some with promising titles "Death by Cursor" and "Two Weirdos, a Shovel and Lots of Open Land," but Clark has a lot to overcome—keep it to adult themes instead of adult situations, alright? Bokononism weeps.

And hey, sixty-nine (har! har!) cents more and I've got Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Essays, Literary Studies, Criticism, Cryptography and Autography, Translations, Letters and Other Non-Fiction Works in response to lingering "complete works" despondency. Now I can read three essays about street-paving techniques of the mid nineteenth century: "Why has not the mineralizing process been adopted in the preparation of the wooden blocks with which we have so frequently experimented in the pavement of our streets?" Compelling!

Speaking of marginalia, is it Christmas yet? Let's start naming these playlists: I'm Weary All the Time the Time.

1. Billie Holiday – Stormy Weather
"Billie Holiday received numerous awards and accolades while still alive and posthumously. These include being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame and the Biff! Bang! Pow! Hall of Early December 2017 Excellence in Holiday Sequencing."

2. Fuzz – Sleigh Ride
Newly anointed "Christmas music" copied over from my regular library this year, alongside Fuzz's "Sleigh Ride": Guided by Voices's "Snowman," Nazz's "Under the Ice," the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's "High Gear," the Groundhogs' "Snowstorm," Unwound's "December," Captain Beefheart's "Steal Softly Thru Snow," the Mothers of Invention's "Uncle Bernie's Farm," DR Hooker's "Winter," Six Finger Satellite's "Deep Freeze," the Misfits' "TV Casualty" ("Christmas cards to which I never reply!") and Metallica's "Trapped Under Ice." Ridiculous.

3. Ginger Baker's Air Force – We Free Kings
That Blind Faith redesign is my crowning achievement.

4. Second Hand – Death May Be Your Santa Claus
Merry proggy Christmas! These are the seasonal problems I create for myself: ten minutes deciding between the standard "Death May Be Your Santa Claus" and its extendo-jam "Reprise" for inclusion in a blog post no one will read.

5. Bobby Timmons – Deck the Halls
Timmons' great Prestige Records release Holiday Soul from 1966—not to be confused with Don Patterson's good Prestige Records release Holiday Soul from 1964—is a welcome addition this year since A. is embracing more of jazz's depth. Meanwhile, G. just wants to hear "Christmas Wrapping" over and over. How much better would new wave bands have been without bad eighties saxophones?

Up next: Sure, go ahead and schedule that InterContinental VaGina holiday party during the Pats on Monday Night Football. Cheers!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Beer and football VIII — week twelve

The game: Dolphins at Patriots
The beer: Little Wolf Pale Ale
The result: Win, 35–17
The commentary: Discouragement looms over a new installment of "Beer and knockout-pool drama." Six projected outcomes resulted in eleven wins: Katie, the third and final Mike, Robin and I went with the Pats; Andy and Dan with the Falcons; Asterisk Oren and Paul with the Ravens; Peter with the Eagles; Thomas with the Panthers; and Tim with the Bengals. Regret, too, looms as a last-minute decision to forego the Redskins on Thanksgiving night—karma, etc.—means the Pats are no longer an option. Drag. I'm formally sketching out the remainder of the season with teams I don't fully trust or even understand. Chiefs? Lions? Bengals? Who are you people?

The silver lining is a fair playing field: when Paul related to me Tuesday that he emailed his Pats pick to Commissioner Rico a few minutes after one o'clock on Sunday—am I the only one who cares about this thing?—he was told "Too late, no dice." The lack of mercy is appreciated. The pathetic Texans against his fallback Ravens were not.

Rooting for lousy teams to overcome odds, outside of Chiefs–Giants, has been a degrading experience. Sunday should avoid this miasma, assuming everyone falls in line behind me and the Chargers over the Browns. (Jaguars—who the hell are they, anyway?—over Colts is off the table for all but me.) The Chargers are the pick—everyone can and everyone should. Those who don't are either scared off by last season's affair—I don't know if the Browns' first and last win affected the pool because I was out by then—or… whatever. Garoppolo in Chicago? (Tempting.) Geno time in Oakland? (Not so much.) Gronkowski in Buffalo? (Save it for the home rematch.) "LAC" will likely fill the Excel row despite Rico's Not-Browns disdain and, should that be the case, I'll again root for a lousy team to overcome odds, eliminate eight players and leave Dan, Tim and me with one strike apiece. "No mask? No mask!" Beautiful.

Then next week I can take the Chiefs, the Lions or the Bengals. Goddammit.

Up next: Remember when the Bills were good? Me neither. Cheers!