Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Goals....The Verdict

I wrote a blog about my goals for the year and now it's accountability time.

My goals for 2014. And here we go:

I'm definitely in much better financial shape now than I was at the beginning of the year. That said, while I didn't publicize it, I did have a goal in mine as to a dollar value and I did not accomplish that. So, while I can't beat myself up too much, I have to chalk this up as a NOT QUITE.

...and, perhaps more importantly, blogged about.

Pretty early on, too, thanks to some encouraging friends at the gym. I think I had this one sewn up within a month of publishing my blog.

This is the 60th blog I've written this year (50th since my goals blog came out in April). Last time I checked, there are 52 weeks in a year, and that'd mean about 40 weeks from mid-April to year's end. Pretty happy about this one, getting back into the swing or writing again....

....which leads me to my last goal....

Yep, this feels like the eternal goal, and while I got more work done on my novel this year, I certainly don't feel it's ready yet....

....so I guess I know what'll top my Goals 2015 blog.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Adventures in Roller Skating

I went roller skating. That doesn't sound like such a big deal, but keep in mind the following:

* Prior to this I've only been on roller skates once in my life.
* I wouldn't describe that previous occasion as a successful experience.
* I don't remember exactly when this previous occasion was, but I'm pretty sure it was sometime during the Clinton administration.

So when a female friend proposed that we do this, I can't exactly say it was my idea of a dream Saturday night. But 2014 has been a year where I've tried a lot of new things (line-dancing, boxing, jumping rope, the list goes on). It couldn't hurt to add this to the list, could it?

I put on the roller skates, tentatively stood up, and like a cartoon almost immediately collapsed and fell to the ground. This was going to be more of a challenge than I thought. But hey, I had to give it a shot.

FIRST LAP: Basically I kept my hands along the wall for balance the entire time. I still fell three or four times. It took awhile but I eventually got around the track. I was pretty content to be a spectator the rest of the night, until a random guy asked why I had skates on if I was sitting on a bench.

SECOND LAP: Motivated by that guy, I went around one more time, spending less time hanging onto the wall and doing a lot better.

THIRD LAP: My friend offered her hand for me to hold. (Before you get any ideas, she's already involved with someone, but she did pay me some nice compliments that made me feel really good about myself.) I was able to take the whole lap without any wall assistance, though she said I may have broken her hand I was clutching it so hard.

FOURTH AND FIFTH LAPS: Now I was starting to get a little bold, so I went to the DJ station and requested two songs that I thought might be fun to roller skate to -- "Blow" by Ke$ha and SAIL by AWOLNATION. I was starting to feel a lot more confident now. I did take probably my most violent spill on one of these laps, but it was because I was starting to experiment with going for speed, and it actually made falling a little more fun.

I'm not going to say I'd be up for roller skating every Saturday, but overall I'd say it was a fun experience. It's usually a good experience for me wen I broaden my horizons. My friend seemed happy as well. Everybody wins.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

NFL Week 17 Predictions

So, with one week left in the 2014 NFL regular season, here's where I stand against the douchebags on CBS' The NFL Today pre-game show:

Phil: 161-79

Bart Scott: 155-85
Bill Cowher: 150-90
Tony Gonzalez: 146-94
Boomer Esiason: 145-95

(I'm counting that tie between the Panthers and Bengals earlier this year as a loss, since I picked the Bengals to win and Cincinnati did not win.)

So, mathematically, the best Esiason can do is tie me (if he gets every pick right tomorrow and I get every pick wrong). Everyone else would have to pretty much school me -- if I go 11-5 or better tomorrow nobody can catch me. After the first two weeks (in which I went a miserable 13-19 and began to question whether I really follow football all that well anymore), I've had 13 winning weeks and one .500 week.

Here's hoping I bring the title home, and that CBS Sports takes notice.

This week's picks:

Ravens 20, Browns 16 -- I would say the Johnny Manziel Experiment gives Cleveland zero chance to win. Then again, the way Joe Flacco played against the Texans last week....

Texans 42, Jaguars 28 -- Houston still has an outside shot at the playoffs. Jacksonville still has an outside shot at the 2015 No. 1 draft pick.

Chiefs 27, Chargers 24 -- Another improbable, clutch road win last Saturday by the Chargers (who control their own destiny for a wild-card berth) virtually assures San Diego will lose this game.

Jets 20, Dolphins 7 -- Jets will win this one for Rex.

Vikings 17, Bears 13 -- Bears acquired Jay Cutler from Broncos several years ago, still have him. Denver now has Peyton Manning. If this is end of the Cutler era in Chicago then holy shit what an epic fail.  

Bills 34, Patriots 20 -- All I'm really looking for in this game is for Jimmy G. to look good in his limited appearance.

Giants 42, Eagles 7 -- Giants could be a scary team next year. This year they were scary for their own fans.

Saints 42, Buccaneers 17 -- Could totally picture New Orleans mailing this one in, except that Tampa Bay is in a dogfight with Tennessee for top overall pick.

Colts 23, Titans 20 -- See above thumbnail, replace "New Orleans," "Tampa Bay" and "Tennessee" with "Indianapolis," "Tennessee" and "Tampa Bay," respectively.

Cowboys 28, Redskins 18 -- Bad midseason loss to Washington virtually eliminates any chance Dallas has of getting home field throughout the NFC playoffs. That said, since for once Cowboys don't have to win their final game of the season to make playoffs, they'll probably kick some ass.

Panthers 21, Falcons 20 -- It's true: someone really has to win this division.

Broncos 34, Raiders 14 -- Thank you, Cincinnati, for that early Christmas present beating the Broncos and clinching AFC home field for New England. Your card is in the mail.

Packers 45, Lions 41 -- This is the Lions team everybody thought Detroit was building three years ago, but I think the Packers slightly better. Then again, Green Bay lost to a Buffalo team that turned around and lost to the Raiders last week....

Seahawks 27, Rams 9 -- St. Louis: beat both of last year's Super Bowl participants (Seattle and Denver), yet still finishes with a losing record. Gotta think that's never happened before in NFL history.

49ers 23, Cardinals 20 -- Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco can't end with five straight losses, can it?

Bengals 23, Steelers 17 -- I'm 7-8 picking Steelers games this year; I'm willing to bet that's my worst record picking any one team in the NFL in 2014. Kinda feel like the Steelers will win this game, so I'll pick against them and see what happens.

LAST WEEK -- 10-6
SEASON TO DATE -- 161-79

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Phil's Top 10 Xmas Songs: 2014 Update

I try to do some sort of Xmas-related blog every year. Around this time four years ago I blogged about my favorite and least favorite holiday songs.

Well, like the college football rankings, things change and I've updated my list. Some songs have moved up or down, a couple have dropped out. Here's my 2014 list:

10) The Ronettes, "Sleigh Ride". I feel like I've heard this song more often than in past years, and for whatever reason it's grown on me. Maybe I need more '60s girl groups in my life.

9) Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Linus & Lucy". This still technically isn't a holiday song; you'll hear it at some point on nearly every Peanuts special. But it only gets radio airplay around the holidays, and if I'm fiddling with the radio in my car and stumble upon it, it's a total win.

8) The Waitresses, "Christmas Wrapping". I used to have this song up higher. I'm not necessarily down on it; I still like it a lot. I think it's just that it's become a little too much of a default Xmas song on every radio station. Still, a great holiday love story....

7) The Royal Guardsmen, "Snoopy's Christmas". I mean, let's face it Snoopy is a World War I Flying Ace. A great (if a little goofy) war story for the holidays, about Snoopy' epic battle with the Red Baron.

6) Vince Guaraldi Trio, "O Tannenbaum". Continuing on the German theme. Also, a song that you feel like you could jam to on a Saturday night at a jazz club has to make the list.

5) Trans-Siberian Orchestra, "Christmas Eve / Sarajevo 12/24". Now we're getting to the point where it's really tough to sort out the top 5. This is such an intense song -- I used to hear this song at December Patriots tailgates all the time. So intense, and we all know I have a thing for intense songs.

4) Straight No Chaser, "The 12 Days of Christmas". This mashup is so random it's tough not to love. The best part is when the Jewish guy in the chorus breaks into "The Dreidel Song."

3) Vince Guaraldi Trio, "My Little Drum". This is a song that doesn't get radio airplay but it's on the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Kinda wish they would bust it out on the radio.

2) Barenaked Ladies featuring Sarah McLachlan, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings". Like all other songs, holiday songs become stale when you hear the same song over and over again, but I feel like I could listen to this song 10 times today and not get tired of it. Canada's greatest contribution to Xmas.

And of course....

1) Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Chrsitmas Time Is Here". This is pretty much the Xmas staple -- you know "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is just coming on when you hear it on TV. Still #1. The dynasty continues.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NFL Week 15 Predictions

Oh man, the season is almost over. This has been exhausting. Two more weeks left. (There are playoffs, of course, but only at most four games a week in the playoffs.)

This week's picks:

Jaguars 23, Titans 17 -- For its Thursday Night Football finale tonight, NFL Network schedules arguably the worst game of the entire 2014 season. Not to be outdone, tonight NBC schedules The People Magazine Awards.

Eagles 27, Redskins 20 -- Philadelphia rallies from 21-0 down Sunday night to take lead over the emotionally fragile Cowboys, and then blow the game in the fourth quarter. Not a good sign for Eagles' playoff prospects.

Chargers 38, 49ers 15 -- I went back and forth on this one. 49ers have clearly quit on the season and Jim Harbaugh. But Chargers have a way of putting themselves in playoff position and then quitting.

Panthers 13, Browns 6 -- Derek Anderson has a slim chance of starting against the team where he had his one good season in 2007, just like Johnny Manziel has a slim chance of being a good NFL quarterback.

Lions 26, Bears 21 -- Jay Cutler benched in favor of Jimmy Clausen. The sad part: I didn't even realize Jimmy Clausen was still in the NFL.

Ravens 23, Texans 19 -- Ryan Mallett and Ryan Fitzpatrick both now out for the season, meaning Texans NFL-record streak of games started by a QB named Ryan comes to an end.

Dolphins 20, Vikings 17 -- Maybe for once, the Dolphins will win some clutch games next December.

Saints 26, Falcons 13 -- All rational thought should lead me to pick Atlanta here, because it'd mean Saints, Falcons and Panthers would be within a half-game of each other going into the final weekend in this godawful division. What the hell am I thinking?

Patriots 31, Jets 21 -- Not gonna lie: it won't be the same without Rex Ryan.

Steelers 24, Chiefs 19 -- Steelers have had an abusive relationship with their fans this year, thumping the Bengals, Ravens and Colts while losing to the Buccaneers, Jets and Saints. Just what exactly that means against the 8-6 Chiefs is unclear.

Packers 17, Buccaneers 14 -- The way Aaron Rodgers played last week against Buffalo, I think maybe he needs to switch up his Hans and Franz workout routine.

Giants 31, Rams 10 -- Giants have a way of looking pretty damn good once they're eliminated from playoff competition.

Colts 37, Cowboys 13 -- Picking the Colts because, by law, the Cowboys are required to have a playoff berth on the line in their final regular-season game.

Bills 37, Raiders 21 -- Just when you thought the Raiders might be the best team in the Bay Area (not setting the bar high, I know), the old Raiders returned last Sunday and got pummeled by Kansas City.

Seahawks 17, Cardinals 10 -- Cardinals and Texans combine to use 37 quarterbacks in 2014.

Broncos 24, Bengals 23 -- Can someone please beat Denver!? Anyone?!

LAST WEEK -- 12-4

SEASON TO DATE -- 151-72-1

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Week 15 NFL Predictions

After an off-week in which I went 8-8, I bounced back and went 13-3 last week.

Anyway, let's just get this over with. This week's picks:

Cardinals 30, Rams 28 -- Arizona's slumping; Rams have shut out two consecutive opponents. So of course those trends are due to reverse themselves.

Falcons 57, Steelers 33 -- The last three matchups between these two teams have gone to overtime, with each team winning once and the third game ending in a tie. As for the 2014 edition, we've got a team (Pittsburgh) coming off a gut-check win over Cincinnati but also has the AFC North's only two losses against the NFC South, and a team (Atlanta) that is 5-8 but tied for the division lead and playing better of late. Who the hell knows?

Ravens 27, Jaguars 7 -- Jacksonville is dead last in the NFL in point differential in 2014 (-157). Baltimore, despite being on the outside of the playoff picture as of now, is third (+101). This has the makings of an ugly game.

Packers 29, Bills 20 -- Nice bounceback season for Buffalo but it's starting to look like the party's over.

Buccaneers 24, Panthers 0 -- Cam Newton misses opening day game against Tampa Bay, gets into car accident this week and looks to be out again Sunday. Looks like someone's too scared to play the 2-11 Buccaneers....

Bengals 23, Browns 20 -- I think I speak for all of America when I say that I hope Johnny Manziel's first start for the Browns is an absolute trainwreck.

Colts 29, Texans 17 -- Roger Gooddell catching shit again: nothing in the NFL's new personal conduct policy would force Andrew Luck to shave his beard.

Chiefs 29, Raiders 23 -- Oakland trying really hard to piss away the first pick in 2015 draft.

Patriots 21, Dolphins 0 -- Got a little nervous when I picked New England to win 45-7 last week and Chargers got off to a 14-3 lead. Hopefully Patriots take care of business and clinch AFC East.

Giants 20, Redskins 7 -- Giants suck, but they have a way of running off streaks (lose 2, win 3, lose 7, win 4). Redskins just flat-out lose.

Broncos 48, Chargers 20 -- Would love to see San Diego pull the upset here.  Would also love to see a scantily clad Jennifer Lawrence fall through my bedroom ceiling.

Jets 35, Titans 10 -- There are five teams currently tied with the league's worst record at 2-11 and two of them are featured here. Hence, the outcome of this game will send shockwaves across the league, just like Geno Smith did when he said he's "flashed Pro Bowl potential" this year.

Lions 34, Vikings 28 -- Detroit offense so disappointing this year, team will be referred to for the rest of the year as "Detroit Lions Featuring Calvin Johnson."

Seahawks 40, 49ers 21 -- Let's face it: Jim Harbaugh has pretty much quit on the 49ers.

Eagles 30, Cowboys 27 -- After watching Mark Sanchez play for Philadelphia this year, Geno Smith probably can't wait to leave the Jets so he can latch on with another team and actually play well.

Saints 27, Bears 24 -- Here's how bad the NFC South is: if the Bears were in the NFC South, this game would be for the division lead.

LAST WEEK -- 13-3
SEASON TO DATE -- 139-68-1

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Icy Walk To Stop & Shop and Back

Yesterday morning I woke up and realized I needed to go grocery shopping. Only problem: we were in the midst of an ice storm. I ventured outside and in less than 90 seconds saw two cars on my street slide across the pavement and into a ditch, while a third tried unsuccessfully to get up the hill.

The meteorologists said it'd change over to rain by late morning. Meteorologists are wrong a lot. Also, I was hungry. I wasn't going to be able to wait that long.

According to Google Maps, the Stop & Shop on Lincoln Street is 1.3 miles from my place.

That's it, I thought, I'm walking.

This required a plan. The sidewalks were just as icy as the roads. I started walking along the edges of lawns and on dirt embankments, which, not having as smooth a surface as the pavement allowed me better traction. At some point I had to cross Plantation Street. There's a crosswalk there, and Public Works seemed to have done a good job clearing the ice but drivers don't always handle storms well even when precautions are taken. I started thinking about a line from the blog I had written the previous day, "I could walk outside tomorrow and get hit by a bus," and cringed a little.

I got to Stop & Shop and it was devoid of customers. This really was a great time to shop. I picked up a few days' worth of groceries and headed home. On the way home I got a little bolder and walked more or less at a normal pace, which caused me to nearly fall on my ass a couple of times. By this time I'm more amused than anything else.

Back on my street a couple of people said, "Oh my God I can't believe you walked all the way to Stop & Shop," which I thought was funny. What else was I going to do? The entire event took less than an hour, and I promptly made breakfast for myself. Now I just need to do a better job of remembering to shop before the storm hits.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Relaxation (Or Lack Thereof)

One of the things I've gotten back into this past year is yoga. It's a surprisingly good workout, but it also helps me -- a classic Type A personality -- de-stress and feel more relaxed.

Or so I thought.

The other day we're in the cool-down period at the end of a yoga session, and after it's over the instructor tells me I need to relax better. You're supposed to close your eyes and lie completely still for 3-4 minutes. Apparently the entire time I was drumming my fingers or tapping my feet or doing something other than being motionless.

Oddly enough, I was unaware I was doing any of this. I actually felt pretty damn calm.

Is it possible to suck at relaxing? I guess I've found a way.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Appointment(s)

Back in the spring of 2010, I got a letter from my doctor saying that he was retiring.

Around this time last year, I stared thinking to myself that I haven't had a physical since then (actually, I think my last physical was in 2009). I might be seriously ill and not know it. This suddenly became a source of considerable stress for me. Still, time constraints are a powerful motivator to keep pushing off seeing the doctor.

Until one Friday night this past August, when I had to drive myself to the emergency room of Marlborough Hospital. (It wasn't as serious as it sounds. It was just one of those things where, something happened and I needed to be seen, it's after hours and hell, I didn't have a doctor anyway.) They prescribed some medication to take and a list of primary care physicians in the area who are accepting new patients.

It's time, I said to myself.

So I called up one of the doctors on the list, and we scheduled an appointment for early November. I told him it's been four or five years since I've had a physical. And, because of my family history of certain conditions (diabetes, heart disease), he scheduled me for two other appointments. Fun. I got my arm shot up with a needle to give a blood sample, and then a few days later got myself hooked up with electrodes and spent about 20 minutes running on a treadmill for an EKG/stress test.

After a battery of tests for blood sugar, cholesterol and bad cholesterol, blood pressure, resting and active heart rate, triglycerides, and other stuff I can't quite think of right now, the end result: as best as the doctors and nurses can tell, I'm in pretty good shape. The only improvement they wanted me to make was to lose some weight (I've lost quite a bit of weight over the past year since joining the gym, and we have a slight disagreement on how much I need to lose, but on the whole I could still stand to lose a few more pounds).

Testing isn't foolproof. They could have missed a terminal disease. Or, no matter how good my health is I could walk outside tomorrow and get hit by a bus. But around this time last year I wasn't happy with the kind of shape I was in, I wanted to do something about it and I've made great strides. There's still some work to be done. But I'm happy with myself.  



Thursday, December 4, 2014

NFL Week 14 Predictions

I went a mediocre 8-8 last week, the first time since Week 2 that I failed to have a winning record for the week.

I can do better. (And by "I can do better," I mean, "I can write another non-football-related blog in the next few days.")

This week's picks:

Cowboys 45, Bears 28 -- Our punishment: Thursday Night Football in 2014 means we have to listen to Phil Simms twice a week now. Phil Simms' punishment: he has to watch the Bears on back-to-back Thursdays.

Steelers 23, Bengals 7 -- Pittsburgh: kicks Indianapolis' ass, loses to lowly Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Cincinnati: beats Tampa Bay and New Orleans, gets ass kicked by Indianapolis. Welcome to the schizophrenic division.

Colts 41, Browns 23 -- Johnny Manziel leads Cleveland on one garbage-time TD drive and he's the second coming and Browns are now in QB Controversy Hell. Way to ruin your team's playoff chances, Mike Pettine.

Lions 23, Buccaneers 16 -- When I was writing this blog I accidentally almost skipped this game. By a weird coincidence, Buccaneers skip most of their games on purpose.

Texans 27, Jaguars 0 -- Here's how good JJ Watt is: if he had played quarterback vs. Tennessee last week, he, too, would've thrown 6 TD passes.

Ravens 22, Dolphins 16 -- Baltimore Twitter still erupting over controversial pass interference call on Chargers' game-winning drive vs. Ravens last week. The way Dolphins played last week vs. Jets, no late-game letdown will be possible.

Jets 23, Vikings 21 -- I've decided that Teddy Bridgewater is the Geno Smith of the NFC.

Saints 31, Panthers 13 -- Classic trap game for New Orleans. Then again, 2014 Panthers have pretty much quit....

Giants 32, Titans 29 -- Giants can't truly be this bad, right?

Rams 23, Redskins 20 -- Rematch of the 1945 NFL Championship Game (won by Rams, then in Cleveland, 15-14). That's about all I can say that's interesting about this game.

Cardinals 34, Chiefs 24 -- Two teams in freefall mode. That's about all I can say that's interesting about this game.

Broncos 30, Bills 19 -- Would love to see Bills pull the upset here. Would also love to see $100 million dollars fall through the sky into my bedroom.

49ers 38, Raiders 7 -- Never has a matchup of the two Bay Area teams been so uninspiring.

Seahawks 27, Eagles 20 -- After a somewhat disappointing season, imagine how insufferable Seahawks will be if Richard Sherman has truly gotten his mojo back?

Patriots 45, Chargers 7 -- San Diego travels to the East Coast, gets physically dominated, somehow finds a way to pull it together in the end and upset Baltimore. That was totally the kind of game Chargers normally lose. So it seems logical that they'll turn around and lay an egg at home. Then again, I hope I haven't jinxed the Patriots....

Packers 35, Falcons 31 -- Here's how bad the NFC South is: if Bears and Vikings were in the division, they'd be tied for first place.


LAST WEEK -- 8-8

SEASON TO DATE -- 126-65-1

Saturday, November 29, 2014

On Jump-Roping and Gender

I remember a day in third-grade gym class. Our gym teacher, Mr. Banks, set up stations with different activities. One of these stations featured several jump ropes. I saw a couple of girls playing with them, and (probably in a futile attempt to rock some 8-year-old swag) I went over there and grabbed a jump rope myself.

I looked at the jump rope quizzically, the way a zoologist might look at a new species of snake. Before I knew it, Mr. Banks came over and steered me away.

"You don't want to play with that," he said. "It's for the girls. Why don't you go over to the pull-up bars?"

That was my entire life experience with jumping rope until last month, when I was taking a Boot Camp class at the gym. In this particular class we were required, among many other ass-whooping activities, to jump rope 100 times.

This, of course, was traumatic for me, not having ever successfully jumped rope. The big mistake I made was failing to realize that you're not really "jumping." You're only supposed to hop high enough off the ground so that the rope can skip underneath your feet. For me, this is very counterintuitive. When I jump, I don't cheat myself -- it's like I'm trying to leap out of the building. And so I'm jumping as high as I can and it's only a matter of time before I land awkwardly and feel a serious twinge of pain in my calf muscle. I've pulled my calf and I spend the rest of class doing the various exercises while limping around the gym.

Several days of ice and aspirin ensue, and the calf muscle gradually feels better -- until the end of the week, when I hop on the treadmill and after about 10 minutes of running tweak the calf muscle again. More ice. More aspirin. Feeling better and then the following week I'm doing box jumps at Boot Camp and again I feel that twinge in my calf.

He's probably retired now, maybe he's even passed on, but I'm pissed at Mr. Banks. I'm not saying I would've become a jump-roping legend -- I may have decided jumping rope wasn't for me, regardless of what he said. But, looking back on it, I can't believe a teacher would propagate those kind of stereotypes. And it clearly steered me away from jump roping, which, years later, came back to bite me in the ass (or, I suppose, calf).

I'm also pissed off at myself. Because nothing Mr. Banks said should've made me averse to jump-roping. Even when I was 8, I had that "question authority" mentality clearly ingrained in my head, and I should've asked myself, "Why?" It's a big part of training in the boxing circuit. And I shouldn't avoid something just because someone labels it as "for the girls." I practice yoga fairly regularly, and after some initial awkward feelings on my part I've become very comfortable taking classes even though I'm usually the only male in the class. Part of me feels like, by letting Mr. Banks talk me out of trying to jump rope, I contributed to sexism in society, and that makes me mad at myself.

This past week was the first in about a month in which my calf was 100% twinge-free. I was able to go to Boot Camp and jump on the treadmill without any trepidation. I'm going to be careful when jumping rope, I've gotten a lot better at it but it's still an exercise that I need to take slow. Jumping rope is clearly great exercise for anyone of any gender, no matter what Mr. Banks believes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NFL Week 13 Predictions

The worst part of Thanksgiving Week: for the rest of the season there's a full slate of games. No more bye weeks.

This is exhausting.

Anyway, my picks:

Lions 28, Bears 25 -- Bears lose because they got their asses kicked slightly worse in Foxboro than Detroit.

Cowboys 38, Eagles 33 -- Went to bed Sunday night, Giants were moving the ball up and down the field, I'm like "Giants are gonna win" and I started to drift to sleep. Woke up the next morning and Dallas had won. Then again, Philadelphia doesn't suck....

49ers 20, Seahawks 17 -- Jim Harbaugh even surlier than normal when he can't have Thanksgiving dinner with brother John.

Ravens 32, Chargers 14 -- All four AFC North teams are 7-4 or better. But thanks to tiebreakers, if the season ended today, only the division-leading Bengals would make the playoffs. But don't you worry. The 7-4 Chargers (who would qualify for playoffs under the above scenario) and their maddening inconsistency will change that.

Bills 13, Browns 6 -- Detroit's best NFL team in 2014: the Buffalo Bills (2-0 in Detroit this season).

Titans 24, Texans 10 -- Tough week. Texans QB Ryan Mallett out for season after sustaining torn pectoral muscle before last Sunday's game vs. Bengals. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt out for season after sustaining crushed ego following 43-24 loss last Sunday vs. Eagles.

Colts 34, Redskins 21 -- Also benching RG III in favor of Colt McCoy -- Subway.

Giants 24, Jaguars 20 -- If only Odell Beckham Jr. could coach as well as catch.

Panthers 31, Vikings 17 -- How bad is the NFC South? Carolina Panthers, on a five-game losing streak, had a bye last week and nearly leapfrogged over Falcons and Saints into first place.

Steelers 27, Saints 24 -- The NFC South is dead to me: two of my three losses last week came picking NFC South-AFC North matchups. Then again, Steelers lost to the lowly Buccaneers....

Rams 20, Raiders 14 -- When both these teams played in Los Angeles, people in Los Angeles still didn't care about this game.

Bengals 16, Buccaneers 13 -- I see Cincinnati is on one of those "We don't suck" streaks again.

Cardinals 40, Falcons 37 -- Seriously, I'm not kidding, the Panthers could be in first place after Sunday.

Packers 31, Patriots 27 -- See my Week 9 Patriots prediction: "My heart says New England. But I just can't. Not quite yet."

Broncos 35, Chiefs 28 -- Starting to be bearish on Denver, but hey, Kansas City lost to the Raiders last week.

Dolphins 23, Jets 3 -- As a friend of mine pointed out today, Jets play better when they don't show up.

LAST WEEK -- 12-3

SEASON TO DATE -- 118-57-1

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NFL Week 12 Predictions

Yeah I've been really frustrated lately. Not at my picks (which have been pretty good). I have some other good blog ideas, but they would take a little more time to write and I've been so crazy-busy with life lately and I just haven't had the time to sit down and work on them.

I promise you, they are coming.

(I mean, football season will eventually end.)

Anyway, this weeks picks:

Chiefs 17, Raiders 7 -- There's a Twitter site that tweeted recently that the Raiders have the longest current losing streak in the NFL. Well no shit! They're the only winless team in the league. By definition they would have to be.

Falcons 23, Browns 7 -- Here's how bad the NFC South is: the division-leading Falcons are 4-6, at one point went 50 days between victories, and are 4-0 in the division and 0-6 outside the division. "Yeah," say the Browns in their rebuttal, "but we handed Jacksonville its only victory of the season."

Bills 9, Jets 6 -- Here's the good news for the Jets: they'll be playing in 5 feet of snow, but their offense never scores anyway so it won't be affected by the weather.

Bears 27, Buccaneers 15 -- Probably missing out on an Upset Special here, as I kinda feel like Lovie Smith would love to stick it to the team that fired him a couple of years ago. Alas, Buccaneers already reached their win quota for November (1).

Cincinnati 20, Houston 19 -- Ryan Mallett threw his first career TD pass to defensive lineman JJ Watt, which is quite a coincidence. I'm pretty sure Andy Dalton's first INT returned for a TD was to Watt.

Colts 28, Jaguars 25 -- A scoring error was caught midweek that lifted Jonas Gray's rushing total against Indianapolis last Sunday night from 199 to 201. Jaguars hoping a scoring error will give them two additional touchdowns this week.

Packers 24, Vikings 3 -- Here's how bad the NFC South is: Falcons allowed 41 points to Teddy Bridgewater-led Vikings in his first start.

Patriots 28, Lions 21 -- Fifth consecutive matchup between these two teams that has been in either that season's Week 12 or 13. Three of the previous four were Detroit's annual Thanksgiving Day home game. Gobble gobble.

Eagles 15, Titans 13 -- Titans are 2-8. And to think they opened the season by beating Kansas City (who's now 7-3). And to think I correctly picked Titans to win that Opening Day game.

Chargers 31, Rams 17 -- St. Louis keeps knocking off good teams (Seahawks, 49ers, Broncos). Unfortunately for Rams, Chargers are only an average team.

Seahawks 33, Cardinals 28 -- Arizona beats everyone except last year's Super Bowl teams.

Broncos 17, Dolphins 7 -- Broncos did beat the Raiders, but they're 0-2 in November against NFL teams.

49ers 35, Redskins 8 -- That awkward moment when Redskins owner Dan Snyder says, "JAY Gruden? Oh, I thought we hired JON Gruden as head coach."

Cowboys 24, Giants 21 -- Me: "I feel like Cowboys are long overdue for a bad loss." A Friend: "Didn't they lose to the Redskins a couple weeks back?" Me: "Oh yeah, right. Never mind, then."

Saints 35, Ravens 22 -- Here's how bad the NFC South is: the division is 1-8-1 against the NFC North, and the one win comes from the 2-8 Buccaneers beating the Steelers.


SEASON TO DATE: 106-54-1

Thursday, November 13, 2014

NFL Week 11 Predictions

I screwed up. I promised a non-football related blog last week before this one. Then I forgot about how busy this week was going to be for me. Oops. I suck.

I will make the same promise again for next week. Which probably means nothing to you.

But, hey, at least I went 11-2 last week (and who the hell would've picked the Jets to beat Pittsburgh anyway).

This week's picks: 

Dolphins 19, Bills 14 -- Two teams I hate, two teams that suffered tough losses last week, hopefully one of those tough losses sends that team into a downward spiral.

Panthers 45, Falcons 28 -- Imagine of Matt Ryan could throw against his own defense every week?

Bears 34, Vikings 17 -- Bears defense is the Jay Cutler of defenses.

Browns 27, Texans 17 -- Brian Hoyer vs. Ryan Mallett to determine who looked better on the sidelines backing up Tom Brady?

Chiefs 42, Seahawks 24 -- Pete Carroll denies reaching out to put feelers on Randy Moss' interest in coming out of retirement. Of course he didn't. Any good Seahawk would call Steve Largent first.

Saints 26, Bengals 6 -- New Orleans, at 4-5, is in first place in NFC South. If the Saints were in the AFC Central they'd be in last place. Alas, Andy Dalton played like he was on crack last Thursday so I go with New Orleans here on principle.

49ers 48, Giants 14 -- Giants collectively need to see a shrink.

Broncos 36, Rams 33 -- Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Peyton Manning is throwing better than he ever has. He watched tape of the Broncos-Patriots game, right?

Buccaneers 19, Redskins 13 -- If only Jon Gruden still coached Tampa Bay, this could be the Gruden Bowl -- and people still wouldn't care about the outcome.

Chargers 40, Raiders 34 -- Chargers were so bad against Miami, a San Diego fan blocked me on Twitter when I made a comment about it. Raiders fans should be blocked on principal alone.

Lions 45, Cardinals 21 -- Detroit has lost five straight vs. Arizona. I should pick against them just for that, but....

Packers 27, Eagles 24 -- Should be a hell of a game, which means it probably won't be....

Patriots 31, Colts 28 -- I'm probably jinxing the Patriots. I hate myself for that.

Steelers 30, Titans 7 -- Who scheduled this game for Monday night, anyway?



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Week 10 NFL Predictions

Before I go into this week's picks, a promise -- I will blog about something other than football before next week's games.

Now, some predictions: 

Bengals 35, Browns 23 -- I can't figure out the AFC Central, kind of like how most people can't figure out me.


Ravens 27, Titans 26 -- Tennessee is 2-6 but not in last place in its division. Ravens are in last place in their division with a 5-4 record. Call it the Ray Rice Factor. Karma's a bitch.


Chiefs 17, Bills 16 -- Two up-and-coming teams. Game could be closer than Massachusetts gubernatorial election, minus the negative campaign ads and boring personalities.


Lions 23, Dolphins 8 -- Miami took advantage last week of a warm weather team (Chargers) taking a long flight to play on the road. Exactly that Detroit will do this week against Miami.


Cowboys 21, Jaguars 19 -- The bad breaks keep on coming for Jacksonville: NFL rejects Jaguars' petition to have this London game played under rugby league rules.


49ers 31, Saints 15 -- Saints are in first place in their division with a 4-4 record. San Francisco is 4-4 but in third place in its division.  Call it the Ray McDonald Factor. Karma's a bitch.


Steelers 19, Jets 16 -- Rex Ryan has a way of getting 2014 Jets to play hard against Super Bowl-winning QBs (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady) but fall just short. Fat Rex Ryan, Circa 2010, would've found a way to get 2014 Jets to win those games.


Falcons 27, Buccaneers 14 --  Falcons laid 56-14 whooping on Tampa Bay earlier this year. That said, Falcons are not a very good team. Karma's a bitch.


Broncos 37, Raiders 20 -- Raiders suck. That is all.


Cardinals 20, Rams 14 -- Rams have upset both the Seahawks and 49ers in the past three weeks. Therein lies the Catch-22: once people notice you're sneaky good, though, you can no longer sneak up on anybody. 


Seahawks 30, Giants 28 -- Funny how after Richard Sherman started talking too much about how teams never throw against him, teams started throwing at him with success just to shut him up. Karma's a bitch.


Packers 35, Bears 28 -- It's getting personal in Chicago, where former linebacker Brian Urlacher says he "hasn't played like an elite quarterback." Now Urlacher says in Cutler's guest appearance in an episode last year of The League that Cutler "hasn't performed like an elite actor."


Eagles 20, Panthers 9 -- Every time Steve Smith scores a TD for Baltimore, a part of Cam Newton dies.








Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Week 9 NFL Predictions

Some hastily assembled picks this week. Because I'm busy. And tired. Thankfully there are only 13 games this week.

Panthers 30, Saints 20 -- Thanks for being my upset special last week, New Orleans. But, playing on the road you might as well be the Raiders.

Bengals 28, Jaguars 21 -- Jacksonville: Repeat last sentence from previous thumbnail.

Browns 42, Buccaneers 31 --  Johnny Manziel launches another embarrassing tantrum when he's informed he can't trade himself to Tampa Bay.

Cardinals 21, Cowboys 10 -- Tony Romo, having an MVP-caliber season, throws out his back against Redskins, makes a Willis Reed-Curt Schilling-type comeback back into the game, just in time to blow it in OT. Nice job.

Eagles 34, Texans 24 -- Hi, we're the Houston Texans. We love to beat up on bad teams but we can't beat anybody good.

Chiefs 27, Jets 7 -- Screw you, Rex Ryan. I believed that you guys weren't that bad and picked you against the Bills, and you get smoked. Never again.

Dolphins 24, Chargers 14 -- That sound you hear is me jumping off the San Diego bandwagon.

Vikings 44, Redskins 38 -- RGIII back? Redskins wouldn't be the dysfunctional bunch they are if he won in his return.

49ers 21, Rams 20 -- Speaking of dysfunctional bunches, I present to you the St. Louis Rams.

Broncos 30, Patriots 26 -- My heart says New England. But I just can't. Not quite yet.

Seahawks 33, Raiders 3 -- When was the last time the defending Super Bowl champions were playing a 4:00 game and would be seen by about 1% of the national offense?

Ravens 23, Steelers 20 -- Ben Roethlisberger has had a Jekyll & Hyde season. Last week he threw 6 TD passes. You do the math.

Colts 27, Giants 19 -- At least when Eli Manning loses to the Colts now, he's not losing to his big bro anymore.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Week 8 NFL Predictions

Just call me the Cardiac Kid.

There were several games that went down to the final seconds last weekend -- Detroit-New Orleans, Washington-Tennessee, Buffalo-Minnesota, Kansas City-San Diego. And I picked the winning team in each of them.


Or, I'm just really f'ing lucky.

Still, I went 12-3 in Week 7, my fifth consecutive week batting .600 or better in my picks. On that note, here are some hastily assembled Week 8 picks:

Broncos 33, Chargers 17 -- I couldn't stand to watch Peyton Manning break the all-time TD pass record, so I went out and watched my friend in a roller derby tournament instead. Thursday, I will submit myself to root canal rather than watch Peyton Manning break some other obnoxious record.

Lions 27, Falcons 21 -- The good news for Mike Smith is, if Falcons owner Arthur Blank fires him, he could probably get Smith a job as a stocker at Home Depot.

Seahawks 23, Panthers 17 -- Not saying the post-Super-Bowl-champion Seahawks are frauds just yet. But I did get an email from Pete Carroll informing me that I'm the heir to a Nigerian prince's fortune.

Ravens 26, Bengals 20 -- Remember a couple of weeks ago when the Bengals were the league's only remaining unbeaten team?

Dolphins 24, Jaguars 10 -- If nothing else, Dolphins prove they are the best team in Florida. (Buccaneers already forfeited this award with two embarrassing blowout losses.)

Chiefs 28, Rams 20 -- If nothing else, Chiefs prove they are the best team in Missouri. (Buccaneers already forfeited this award by not being in Missouri.)

Patriots 33, Bears 30 -- I was going to call this game as 33-7 until the Patriots last Thursday night made Geno Smith look like Jay Cutler. Imagine what Patriots defense will make Jay Cutler look like.

Jets 27, Bills 11 -- Meanwhile, Bills will make Geno Smith look like Kyle Orton.

Buccaneers 27, Vikings 24 -- If you're a Fox color commentator and you get assigned this game, it's time to look for another line of work.

Texans 28, Titans 22 -- Every time the Titans lose, Charlie Whitehurst has that look on his face like he left his ID at home and just got carded for cigarettes.

Eagles 21, Cardinals 7 -- When trying to pick a game between two 5-1 teams with bird nicknames, always ask, "In real life, Who would win in a fight between these two birds?"

Browns 38, Raiders 17 -- Browns were off to a good start; however, of they lose to the only remaining winless teams in back-to-back weeks, they will be banished to Canadian Football League.

Colts 17, Steelers 16 -- Steelers played about 75 seconds of good football against Houston last week and won. Come to think of it, Steelers have played about 75 seconds of good football just about every week this season.

Saints 32, Packers 27 -- New Orleans looks pretty bad this year but, after seeing those Aaron Rodgers Discount Double-Check commercials with Hans and Franz, I have to pick against the Packers on principle.

Cowboys 35, Redskins 20 -- I can't believe the Cowboys are one crappy opponent away from starting 7-1.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NFL Week 7 Predictions

Here's my question: how do I score myself on last week's tie between the Bengals and Panthers?

I did not pick the game to end in a tie (ironically, also in last weeks blog I wrote about how I feel like the Falcons-Bears game should end in a tie), so in that sense I was wrong in making my pick.

Then again, I picked Cincinnati to win. And, Carolina did not win. So in that sense I was right.

I'm going to go ahead and, for the purposes of scoring my picks, call that game a tie.

Screw you, NFL, for allowing tie games.

Anyway, this week's picks:

Patriots 20, Jets 13 -- Jets coach Rex Ryan said it makes him "sick" to see Darrelle Revis in a Patriots uniform. Also making Rex Ryan sick: seeing Geno Smith in a Jets uniform.

Ravens 20, Falcons 17 -- Atlanta head coach Mike Smith got the "vote of confidence" this week from management, which means he'll be fired within the month.

Bills 31, Vikings 27 -- Teddy Bridgewater looked pretty good against the Falcons. Fine. But shouldn't his first start have been against an NFL defense?

Dolphins 46, Bears 13 -- Seriously, I just flipped a coin on this one.

Lions 27, Saints 10 -- Lions are making some nice progress this year...in finding a field goal kicker.

Packers 32, Panthers 29 -- I sense we're on the verge of a long streak of amazing Aaron Rodgers last-second heroics and terrible Aaron Rodgers State Farm Discount Double-Check commercials.

Colts 31, Bengals 10 -- If the Bengals stretch their winless streak to three games we'll be dangerously close to "It's-OK-to-talk-smack-about-Andy-Dalton" territory again.

Browns 23, Jaguars 17 -- This Brian Hoyer-Johnny Manziel feud has all the makings of a new reality TV show, doesn't it?

Seahawks 17, Rams 9 -- The awkward part about Kurt Warner being in that commemoration of the 1999 Super Bowl last Monday night? Warner's QB rating that night was higher than Austin Davis' in the second half.

Redskins 28, Titans 14 -- NFL threw a curveball at me last weekend by moving the Patriots-Bills game (an AFC matchup that normally would be televised by CBS) to Fox. What the NFL really should do is move this game from CBS to cable-access TV.

Chiefs 42, Chargers 41 -- San Diego nearly losing to the Raiders last weekend caused me to lose confidence in them for this game, though I will probably regret this pick in a year when Tony Romo and Philip Rivers (two QBs who are mirror images of each other on the chokability scale) are both leading their teams to amazing starts.

Giants 41, Cowboys 35 -- See above Chargers-Chiefs commentary, replace first phrase with "Dallas upsetting the Seahawks last weekend caused me to...."

Cardinals 22, Raiders 9 -- Bad news for the Raiders' attempts to avoid an 0-16 season: Jaguars are not on their schedule this year.

Broncos 24, 49ers 16 -- Is Peyton Manning close to some record or something?

Steelers 17, Texans 10 -- Sounds like they're really calling for Mike Tomlin's head down in Pittsburgh, which is too bad -- he's the most reliable guy on their kickoff coverage team.

LAST WEEK: 9-5-1


Thursday, October 9, 2014

NFL Week 6 Predictions

OK, one moment of gloating. Not only did I go 14-1 in last week's picks, I also picked the exact score of Monday night's Seahawks-Redskins game.

Suck it, Bill Cowher.

Not only that, but the Detroit Lions were so pissed that they were the only team I picked incorrectly to win -- largely because kicker Alex Henery missed three field goals -- that they cut Henery on Monday.

Here's the bad news: it's all downhill from here. I can't possibly go 14-1 every week, or (most likely) ever again. But hey, you can't blame me for trying:

Colts 38, Texans 20 -- At some point this season, there has to be a Thursday night game that won't have a margin of victory of 20 points or more. This is the week. Indy wins by a razor-thin 18.

Patriots 14, Bills 3 -- This is one of those games that could go either way and last week everything broke right for me on those games. The new, Angry Patriots vs. the new, Kyle Orton Bills. My heart says go with the Pats. DISCLAIMER: my heart was wrong about my high school and college crushes.

Bengals 17, Panthers 14 -- The Bengals can't be subjected to two ass-whoopings in a row, right? "Sure they can," says a team that lost to two AFC North opponents by a combined 75-29 in back-to-back weeks.
Steelers 51, Browns 35 -- No doubt Browns are an improved team, and Pittsburgh has sleepwalked through its last two games against inferior opponents. But....I just can't quite pull the trigger on calling the upset in this matchup yet. Plus, Johnny Manziel's way overdue to slip something in Brian Hoyer's Gatorade.

Packers 23, Dolphins 20 -- Green Bay gets the edge because, if they go to a spelling bee to break the tie, Aaron Rodgers has it wrapped up.

Lions 24, Vikings 20 -- Giving the Lions 24 points is a gutsy call. It means that, in all likelihood, somewhere along the line they get a field goal.

Broncos 24, Jets 20 -- Rex Ryan may be slowly fading into the twilight of his New York Jets coaching career, but he's not going to go down without a fight. Unless he lost a lot of muscle with all the fat.

Ravens 25, Buccaneers 0 -- Tampa Bay was hoping to upset another AFC contender. Unfortunately, Lovie Smith used up all his lifelines already.

Jaguars 30, Titans 3 -- Recurring segments on ESPN's Monday Night Countdown: C'mon Man!; Teams at 20; The Jake Locker Injury Report.

Chargers 28, Raiders 14 -- This is the kind of game the Chargers of the past were spoiling to blow. Based on early returns, I believe San Diego has turned the corner and is a legit contender. So of course, the Chargers will blow this one.

Cardinals 38, Redskins 14 -- If Subway's meals are so healthy, why do they have a spokesman (RGIII) who's always hurt?

Falcons 22, Bears 20 -- Two potent but turnover-prone offenses, two bad defenses. I've never seen these two teams at the same time. This is the kind of game that deserves to end in a tie.

Seahawks 27, Cowboys 0 -- Well, this suddenly looks like a good game now, doesn't it? And Dallas' newfound commitment to the running game is just the sort of thing that could cause problems for Seattle. Still....Tony Romo. I....just....can't.

Giants 24, Eagles 13 -- Giants' offense: streaking. Eagles' offense: sputtering. So of course I go with the current trends and will probably get burned.

49ers 27, Rams 10 -- Imagine if the Rams weren't stuck playing in a division with three legit contenders? Yeah, you're right, they'd still suck.




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Telling the Landlord I'm Moving -- Reality TV Style

I've lived in Northborough for the past year. It's been mostly enjoyable. Northborough is a nice town. The place I live in is quiet.

Nevertheless, there have been some nagging annoyances in my time here:

1) The driveway slopes uphill, which made for a tough 2013-14 winter that put me at odds with my landlord after one snowstorm in particular.

2) When I first moved in, my landlord insisted on being paid rent in cash. I tolerated this for awhile, up until the point when he became erratic about when he'd swing by to pick up the rent, leaving me with a giant wad of cash in my wallet that I wasn't comfortable carrying around or finding a secure place to stash. Also, in addition to my full-time job I also have a super-secret part-time job, as well as an active social life. When you tell me, "Hey I'll swing by on Friday," and then you don't show up on Friday, you'll most likely be chasing me around for days.

I finally drew the line and sent him a text:

"I'm happy to attach a check to my bedroom door. But if you insist on being paid in cash then you work around my schedule, not the other way around."

3) As part of my super-secret part-time job I accumulate a lot of boxes, many of which end up going to the town transfer station. This never sat well with my landlord, because it left him with extra trash to take with him to the dump (though I discussed it with him prior to moving in and somehow it wasn't a problem then). He told me to take the empty boxes somewhere else. In return, I asked him to explain to me where else he expected me to take them.

I never got a response from him.

4) A couple of weeks back my landlord approached one of my roommates about dropping our rent $20 a month, but then making us pay for heat and plowing in the winter. I'm not stupid. This means he's actually raising the rent.

Anyway, you can see where this is headed.

I felt compelled to start looking around. I saw at a couple of places that were cozy, but for one reason or another (rent, neighborhood) not a good fit. Then I saw a third place that fit most of the criteria I was seeking. So I put down a security deposit. I'll be leaving Northborough at the end of the month.

This past Friday my landlord swung by to collect rent. As is now my custom, I left a check attached to my bedroom door. But I figured I'd be there to have this conversation with him.

He must've walked out on the porch first and seen the boxes, because I heard "What the FUCK," followed by him flinging the front door open and screaming at me.


Which led to me firing right back at him. A lot of profanity and yelling was ensued. One of my roommates uncomfortably followed us around the house as the exchange continued, apparently worried this would escalate. After a minute or two I realized what I really needed to say.

"I wouldn't obsess about those boxes too much if I were you, because I'm moving at the end of the month anyway," I said.

Part of me is mad at myself that I stooped to his level with the yelling and the profanity. That said, he went out of his way to be confrontational with me. I don't deserve to be spoken to like that and I'm not going to tolerate it.

I've moved a lot of times in my life, and they "Hey, I'm moving out," conversation with the landlord has never been as spectacularly melodramatic as this one. But it's over and done with now and at least it's off my chest.

The ironic part about it is, my landlord stormed out of the house without grabbing my rent check.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thursday Night Death Shift: Law & Order Edition

I don't normally work nights but every once in awhile my night cashier has some time off coming to him and he's currently on vacation. So lately I'm working more nights than usual.

Enter the Thursday Night Death Shift.

There's something about Thursdays. Not sure if people gets antsy on Thursdays waiting for the weekend, or if there are more full moons on Thursdays. But Thursdays are weirder than other days of the week.

Tonight's episode of the TNDS actually takes place after closing. I've just locked up the store for the night. Usually on the way out I carry a trash bag from inside, toss it into the dumpster and then head over to my car to leave, and this night is no exception. Tonight I've parked on the opposite side of the parking lot from the dumpster, so I'm walking across the length of the property.

As I do this, I notice, idling in the convenience store across the street, a state police cruiser. It suddenly shuts it's lights off and pulls out of that lot. For some reason, I don't really think much of this.

As I'm about to pull out and head home, however, this same cruiser comes careening into our lot and literally blocks me from exiting.

"What are you doing?" he asks.

"Umm, heading home." I say.

"What are you doing here?"

"I work here."

I have business cards in the store that I could give him that would prove I work here, but that would mean I have to unlock the doors, which would set off the alarm system for an early open alarm, which would be counterproductive and bring more police to the scene. Also, I'm in my work clothes. I feel like my attire should be a dead giveaway that I work here. Also, I've been doing things (locking doors, taking out trash, heading to my car which has been parked here for hours), that I feel should be dead giveaways that I work here.

"You just closing up the store?"


"OK, just making sure." He drives off.

I realize he's just doing his job, and there have certainly been times in history when a lack of hypervigilance on the part of law enforcement has proven costly.

But man, I somehow don't think I could have acted like I belonged here any more. I walked across the parking lot, in uniform, with a purpose that strongly indicates I belong here, walked back across the parking lot like, "Hey everybody! Look at me! It's almost midnight and I'm strolling around casually. Nothing to hide here!"

I guess acting like you belong somewhere that you truly belong at that moment in time makes people suspect the criminal element in you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

NFL Week 5 Predictions

Week 5 was was my second consecutive winning week. I was actually a pretty gaudy 8-3 until the Saints and Patriots royally sucked in their respective Sunday and Monday night games. Oh well.

Here are this week's picks:

Packers 37, Vikings 24 -- Packers insist former Green Bay wideout Greg Jennings looks like "the Greg Jennings of three years ago." Continuing the theme, Pack and Vikings trot out Brett Favre and Fran Tarkenton as starting quarterbacks for this game.

Panthers 23, Bears 6 -- Because Jay Cutler's meltdowns are more spectacular than Cam Newton's.

Cowboys 34, Texans 6 -- Barring a tie, one of these teams will be 4-1 after this game. The last time they met in the regular season, it was Wade Phillips' last win before the Cowboys fired him. For that completely irrelevant reason (and because all the Tony Romo jokes are on hold until his next bad game), I'll give Dallas the edge.

Lions 22, Bills 13 -- EJ Manuel gets benched for Kyle Orton, the guy who got benched for Tim Tebow. Actually, Orton is one of those classic good/bad QBs, which means Buffalo could rattle off 8 straight -- wins or losses.

Colts 22, Ravens 20 -- After beating Carolina, Ravens WR Steve Smith tells his former team to "mow his lawn." This week he tells Colts to "take out the garbage, do the dishes and shovel his car out of the snow."

Steelers 26, Jaguars 21 -- The bad Florida teams are lining up trap games for Pittsburgh: next week Steelers play Florida International University.

Saints 20, Buccaneers 17 -- We're secretly switching Saints' normal defense with Folgers' crystals; nobody notices the difference.

Giants 34, Falcons 20 -- At work tonight, ran into a young woman who's a Giants fan. Told her I hate the Giants. But she was cute. I don't hate the Falcons in any way, but did not run into any cute Falcons fans tonight. So, Giants is the pick.

Eagles 34, Rams 3 -- One more loss and the Rams will be relegated to the Canadian Football League.

Browns 31, Titans 10 -- Imagine if you told Johnny Manziel on Draft Night that it'd be Week 5 and he's still not the Browns' starting QB.....

Broncos 37, Cardinals 20 -- Arizona: one of two remaining unbeaten teams (did you ever think you'd see that sentence written?). Would love to see Cardinals pull this off, but some things in life are too good to be true.

Chargers 25, Jets 10 -- That awkward moment when Jets fans kinda-sorta wish Mark Sanchez was still the starting QB.

49ers 26, Chiefs 13 -- San Francisco dominated Philly last week, but gave up three non-offensive TDs and had to come from behind late to win. If they fall behind again, Jim Harbaugh may set Levi's Stadium on fire.

Patriots 27, Bengals 21 -- There's no earthly reason for me to pick New England to win, other than the fact that there's no earthly reason for Cincinnati and Arizona to be the only remaining unbeaten teams.

Seahawks 27, Redskins 17 -- If Kirk Cousins struggles again, maybe next week Rex Grossman will be Redskins' starting QB.



Thursday, September 25, 2014

NFL Week 4 Predictions

Wow. I was a shocking 11-5 last week. It's almost like I tried.

Anyway, the best part about Week 4 is that the bye weeks start, so I have fewer games to pick.

Here goes:

N.Y. Giants 23, Washington 9 -- The Giants are the type of team that, whatever you pick them to do, they'll do the opposite. I hate the Giants, so I'll pick them to win and hopefully that'll jinx them.

Baltimore 23, Carolina 21 -- Steve Smith promised "blood and guts everywhere" if the Ravens WR gets matched up against his former team, so expect him to begin serving a six-game suspension next week.

Packers 38, Bears 23 -- Week 2: Packers rally to beat Geno Smith and the Jets. Week 3: Bears hold off a late rally to beat Geno Smith and the Jets. The bad news for both teams: neither is playing Geno Smith this week.

Bills 31, Texans 24 -- Giants beat Texans last week and afterwards accused J.J. Watt and Houston defensive line of "tapping out" late in the game. Are the Giants on crack? Did they watch Matt Schaub play for the Texans last year? Now that's tapping out.

Colts 31, Titans 10 -- Be afraid, Tennessee: last week I picked Atlanta to beat Tampa Bay by this same score. A few hours later, the Falcons were up 56-0.

Lions 17, Jets 10 --  Antonio Allen's goal: hold Megatron without a catch on Sunday. Antonio Allen's other goal: hold Kanye West without a meltdown on Sunday.

Dolphins 35, Raiders 17 -- The London series continues, which brings up the question: who will score more points per game in 2014-15 season: Oakland Raiders or Manchester United?

Steelers 17, Buccaneers 12 -- Tampa Bay offense performs much better after Lovie Smith inserts a new starting QB: Bucs' mascot Captain Fear.

Chargers 34, Jaguars 21 -- Someday, both these teams will move to Los Angeles and this will be a more interesting -- if just as apathetic -- matchup.

Falcons 30, Vikings 10 -- A silver lining after a rough couple of weeks for Minnesota: Vikings players lead the league in successful completion of the Cinnamon Challenge.

49ers 24, Eagles 23 -- San Francisco: 0 points in the 4th quarter this season. If Jim Harbaugh is such a great coach, maybe he should explain to the team that the games don't end after 45 minutes.

Saints 21, Cowboys 20 -- Tony Romo has thrown at least one TD pass in 31 consecutive games, and at least one interception in 2,463 consecutive games.

Patriots 17, Chiefs 16 --  Belichick's done it again. Patriots unleash their new deep threat WR: Vince Wilfork.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NFL Week 3 Predictions

I did slightly better last week -- 7-9. I'm 13-19 overall after two weeks. Hey, it's better than the Oakland Raiders' record over the past two years.

Here are my picks for Week 3:

Atlanta 31, Tampa Bay 10 -- The NFC South is shaping up to be a bad division. In fact, it's only three weeks into the season but if the Buccanneers win Thursday, I'm pretty sure Carolina clinches the division title.

Buffalo 27, San Diego 19 -- I have a tough time envisioning the Bills at 3-0. However, getting that huge win over the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks last week virtually assures that the schizophrenic Chargers will lose this game.  

Cincinnati 20, Tennessee 13 -- I've received complaints that I'm too tough on Andy Dalton, so I'll take a week off from piling on to say...wow, Jake Locker is one mediocre quarterback.

Cleveland 24, Baltimore 17 -- One of two scenarios is true: either the Browns are not as bad as usual, or the New Orleans Saints are among the most overrated teams in NFL history.

Green Bay 37, Detroit 31 -- Winner of the Most Likely To Resemble a Street Football Game award.

Indianapolis 21, Jacksonville 14 -- The Colts can't start 0-3, right?

New England 38, Oakland 23 -- Belichick's done it again. He convinced a grand jury to indict Adrian Peterson two days before the Pats-Vikings game. This week he's managed to get Maurice Jones-Drew thrown in the slammer for jaywalking.

New Orleans 33, Minnesota 16 -- BREAKING NEWS: Vikings, "after giving the situation additional thought," also deactivate Matt Cassel.

N.Y Giants 34, Houston 10 -- NFL warns Giants that if they don't start playing better, league will reschedule all their home games from 1pm to 1am.

Philadelphia 34, Washington 31 -- It's only a matter of time before it gets real ugly in Congress, when Democrats and Republicans start choosing sides in the RG III-Kirk Cousins quarterback controversy.

Dallas 31, St. Louis 7 -- These same two teams were also matched up in last year's Week 3 (won by Dallas by the aforementioned score), so instead of playing they're going to have a slumber party and watch the film of last year's game.

San Francisco 24, Arizona 10 -- Someday, the 49ers will lose a game and Jim Harbaugh's head will explode. Unfortunately, today won't be that day.

Miami 31, Kansas City 0 -- This bears watching as the season progresses: right now I'm on pace to pick the Chiefs to lose every game in 2014.

Seattle 24, Denver 13 -- You know it was a bad Super Bowl when there's a rematch the following season and the NFL schedules it for 1pm local time.

Pittsburgh 30, Carolina 14 -- This week's Useless Piece of Trivia: all five previous meetings between these two teams occurred Dec. 15 or later. Obviously, somebody complained.

Chicago 19, N.Y Jets 13 -- 2013's Hot Defensive Trend: a big, physical secondary like Seattle's to neutralize opposing receivers. 2014's Hot Defensive Trend: sit back and wait for Marty Mornhinweg to call a timeout.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

NFL Week 2 Predictions

OK so I went 6-10 in my picks the first week. That's OK. The picks are for entertainment purposes only. Always read the prospectus before investing.

Here are my picks for Week 2:

Pittsburgh 30, Baltimore 13 -- Just in time for the season to start, Gatorade rolled out some NFL special edition 32oz. bottles featuring cartoonized versions of the Manning brothers, JJ Watt, RG III and Cam Newton. Thankfully it was only those five. Right about now it'd be really awkward to see a cartoonized Ray Rice on a bottle of Fierce Strawberry Gatorade.

Miami 9, Buffalo 6 -- Good matchup. It's Week 2, pretty late in the season for both these teams to be undefeated.

Detroit 31, Carolina 7 -- Once again NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell comes under fire: in a prepared statement, Goodell claims he wasn't aware of the Lions' high-powered offense until it was publicly released this past Monday.
Cincinnati 29, Atlanta 27 -- Just imagine how good A.J. Green would be if he had a better quarterback throwing to him.

New Orleans 28, Cleveland 21 -- If Johnny Manziel doesn't get on the field soon he's going to give the Cleveland coaching staff the finger.

Minnesota 36, New England 6 -- Why the hell not? Start the Jimmy Garoppolo talk three years earlier than expected. (Also, I picked the Pats to win last week and they gagged in the second half, so I'm playing the reverse psychology game here.)

Arizona 20, N.Y. Giants 17 -- This is why I go 6-10 every week. Arizona is one of those teams that, just when you think they're on a roll they stumble against a team they should handle. The Giants are the kind of team that just when you think they're done they turn it around. So, of course I pick Arizona to win.

Dallas 21, Tennessee 13 -- Great. Now Jerry Jones is accused of assaulting an exotic dancer, forcing the NFL to refocus its "point of emphasis on illegal contact."

Jacksonville 24, Washington 12 -- Embarrassing moment occurs when referees inform Washington that it can't stop the Jaguars defense with a filibuster.

Seattle 49, San Diego 35 -- The Chargers are the type of schizophrenic team that would run up and down the field against a great defense like Seattle's, and yet blow the game by making Russell Wilson look like Joe Montana.

Tampa Bay 10, St. Louis 9 -- If it were possible for teams to finish a game with negative points, these would be the two teams that could accomplish it.

Denver 26, Kansas City 10 -- That career season Alex Smith had last year? Derek Anderson once had a season like that with Cleveland, too. Just sayin'.

Green Bay 24, N.Y Jets 3 -- Remember the good ol' days, when the NFL's biggest off-the-field issue was Rex Ryan's foot fetish?

Houston 31, Oakland 24 -- Google says GMail "wasn't hacked." Google also says Raiders offense in Week 1 "wasn't hacked."

San Francisco 32, Chicago 20 -- 49ers won't get the kind of help they got last week from Tony "The Human Interception" Romo. San Francisco will, however, be matched up against the Chicago defense, which is like playing offense against a beached whale.

Indianapolis 38, Philadelphia 6 -- Here's the problem for the Eagles: unlike Jacksonville, which went up last week 17-0 in Philly and then mysteriously flew home at halftime, this is a home game for Indianapolis.


Friday, September 5, 2014


One of the pitfalls of living on a busy street is, sometimes I have to wait for oncoming traffic to subside before I pull into my driveway. Occasionally, even at night.

This was the situation not long ago as I'm coming home for the evening. And as I'm stopped, patiently waiting in the road, I see headlights in my rear-view mirror. A car is approaching behind me.



And suddenly I realize, this car's not slowing down. It's going to slam into me from behind.

And I still can't pull into the driveway because I'll get hit by an oncoming car.

So I hit the gas and gun it as fast as I can. The car behind me barely misses rear-ending me, finally swerving at the last minute about 50 yards up the road from where I was initially stopped, nearly ending up in a ditch along the side of the road.

I don't normally spend that much time looking in my rear-view mirror. I'm glad I did tonight.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Week 1 NFL Predictions

All the cool sportswriters do it. So just for kicks, I will attempt to predict this week's final scores.

Green Bay 34, Seattle 24 -- With Green Bay's passing attack, and the league's supposed "point of emphasis" on defensive holding/illegal contact, there will be enough incomplete passes and penalties for this to become the first game in NFL history to end after sunrise the following morning.

New Orleans 36, Atlanta 28 -- Falcons still reeling that their defense finished second to Modern Family for Outstanding Comedy Emmy.

Baltimore 17, Cincinnati 10 -- New drinking game: everybody drinks when TV cameras zoom in on Bengal QB Andy Dalton looking confused after throwing another incomplete pass.

Chicago 35, Buffalo 20 -- The Bills may be inching toward a move to Toronto. Fine. But asking the league to force the Bears to punt on third down is way out of line.

Houston 16, Washington 13 -- The over/under on Robert Griffin III demanding new Redskin head coach Jay Gruden's firing: the 12:14 mark of the third quarter.

Tennessee 20, Kansas City 19 -- The worst part of the iCloud celebrity photo scandal: leaked nude photos of Kansas City coach Andy Reid.

New England 24, Miami 10 -- Adapting to the Logan Mankins trade, Patriots roll out a four-man offensive line and confuse the Dolphins into submission. Belichick's done it again!

Oakland 31, N.Y. Jets 0 -- What better way to get the season rolling than to have Jets fans screaming for the glory days of Mark Sanchez?

Philadelphia 38, Jacksonville 21 --The good news: doctors have officially removed the Jaguars' offense from its medically induced coma.

Pittsburgh 34, Cleveland 7 -- This game is in Pittsburgh, so it won't come into play here, but what I really want to see is what happens when Johnny Manziel gives the finger to the fans in Cleveland's Dawg Pound.

Minnesota 38, St. Louis 10 -- This outcome assumes that some 9-year-old video game whiz uses all the cheat codes for Viking QB Matt Cassel on Madden NFL '15.

San Francisco 35, Dallas 22 -- This year, the Cowboys are changing their ways. They'll make sure they get eliminated from the playoffs before the final game of the season.

Tampa Bay 16, Carolina 10 -- ....That awkward moment when Panthers QB Cam Newton is throwing to guys who were tailgating outside the stadium earlier that morning....

Indianapolis 55, Denver 23 -- In an update to last year's Old Spice commercial, Wes Welker takes  a 40-minute amphetamine bender, and misses the first four games of the season.

N.Y. Giants 30, Detroit 16 -- This game, by itself, could fill a whole segment of ESPN's C'mon Man!

San Diego 27, Arizona 20 -- The second game of the Opening Week Monday Night Doubleheader actually has the potential to be one of the best games of the weekend. Of course, the everyone on the East Coast will miss it because the Giants-Lions game will put them to sleep.

Enjoy this week's games! And Happy Football Season!