Crap I’m thankful for

I’m thankful for Manning Faces, that particular shade of maroon Tom Coughlin turns when he’s pissed, Rex Ryan F bombs, Jay Cutler TAINTS, and that amazing deer-in-the-headlighs look on the face of whoever’s coaching the 49ers these days. Silly stuff like this is the main reason I still can’t give up the NFL despite everything I hate about the league.

I’m thankful for that stupid patch of fake grass outside Boston City Hall because it makes the scrawny stretch of lawn behind my apartment look a lot better in comparison.

I’m thankful for the three or four people who actually step all the way into the train. You know who you are. You’re the real heroes of the daily commute.

I’m thankful for pop-up power bombs, Bank Statements, F-5s, and RKOs-outta-nowhere. Say what you will about in-ring psychology, pacing, and selling, but a big finisher is the shit, yo.

I’m thankful for J. Pace’s Big Dig and chicken parm subs, Sebastian’s BLTTG, Yada Yada’s teriyaki chicken, and Sleeper Street Cafe’s frontega chicken sandwich. Lunch is serious business. I’m also thankful for the food trucks that suck giant crowds of people away from those spots. You really want to spend fifteen minutes waiting on the sidewalk to get food at a place that doesn’t have any tables and chairs? Alright. Have fun with that.

I’m thankful for toilet paper, because leaves are no good and bidets just seem like too much work. I mean, you’re wet after you use the bidet, right? So you have to wipe anyway? A gentle little spritz sounds like an unnecessary first step.

You haven’t experienced real sorrow until you think someone stole your meat

This is purely hypothetical. A thought experiment, if you will.

Pretend you get a monthly meat delivery. It’s one of your favorite things. It’s basically half your groceries for the month. It shows up on your back porch in a sealed cooler bag. Delivery day is the happiest day. It’s like Meatmas or Meatsgiving or, perhaps more appropriately, Meatdependence Day. It’s the best.

Imagine you skip the gym and come directly home after a long eight hours of daydreaming about your beefy bounty. The bag isn’t in its usual spot. It isn’t on the back porch at all. No big deal, you think. Your roommate obviously got home first and put it in the fridge. That’s happened before. But it’s not in the fridge. It’s not in the freezer. It isn’t forgotten on the counter or left on your bed as a silly joke. Confused, you check the front porch. It isn’t there, either.

Oh no. Now a feeling of dread has creeped into the pit of your empty stomach. It’s dark out, so you grab a flashlight and return the back porch for a closer examination. Perhaps a particularly powerful gust of wind knocked it away or some stupid varmint moved it. Nothing. As you walk up the driveway, pathetically shining your flashlight under the bushes along the side of the house, you begin rifling through potential alliterative insults for use slandering those who stole your delivery in a bitchy Facebook post. Meat marauders? Steak stealers? Pirates of pork? Victual violators? You finally settle on criminals con carne. A second exploration of the front porch is not helpful. That feeling of dread in your stomach has become a knot, a devilish sheepshank threatening to cut off circulation to your large intestine.

You check your apartment’s interior once more because you’ve spent far too significant a portion of your life looking for things that turned out to have been right in front of you the entire time. This is not one of those instances. As you head for your computer to email the delivery company, you debate what’s worse: that you’ve been robbed, or that you’re probably going to have to go to the grocery store. Fuck the grocery store.

You pull up the most recent email from the delivery company, read the subject, and somehow manage not to put your forehead through your keyboard. Your meat delivery is not to be found because today is not delivery day. St. Meatrick’s day, as it were, is tomorrow.

You’re an idiot. Hypothetically, of course. But at least you don’t have to go to the fucking grocery store.

So who steps in for Seth Rollins?

WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins is hurt. He tore his ACL, his MCL, his meniscus, and my heart attempting to power bomb Kane through a table during WWE’s current European tour. The company announced soon after that Rollins would vacate the title and that a tournament held at the upcoming Survivor Series pay-per-view would crown a new champion.

Losing Rollins is a huge blow, but it’s also a really interesting opportunity to potentially elevate someone new. The guys who’ve carried the company through tough times in the past aren’t on the list of possible replacements. John Cena’s working on something else. Randy Orton’s hurt. Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker are working very limited schedules. The obvious answer is just to put the belt on Roman Reigns, Rollins’s scheduled Survivor Series opponent and the company-approved heir apparent to Cena’s throne. Although Reigns is definitely going to be an important part of the title picture going forward, WWE might be better served using him to create a new top heel whom he can chase for a few months. That, actually, is my prediction for the Survivor Series tournament: Reigns will make the finals, and then someone on the list below will screw him over and win the belt and set up the next few months of programming.

Kevin Owens – If I were writing this shit, I’d put the belt on Owens. Who cares that he’s already Intercontinental Champion? He’s the best heel in the business right now. He’s the perfect combination of mic skills and in-ring ability that could really elevate Reigns via an extended feud. A beef between Owens, an indy darling who can do it all but looks like an angry Canadian dad, and Reigns, the pretty boy corporate choice who’s still a little rough around the edges at times, writes itself.  And they’ve shown some real chemistry in the ring lately. That pop-up power bomb into a Superman punch from a few Raws ago was dope.

Alberto Del Rio – WWE loves pushing this guy. Alberto’s typically excellent on pay-per-view and bathroom break fodder on Raw. I think he’s better in his current role as a secondary champion, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the big belt wind up around his waist. And then I’d have an excuse to quit on Raw after the second hour or so.

Dean Ambrose – It’s been awhile since WWE’s last really big heel turn. Putting Ambrose over his best friend would build a fun feud with some legit personal animosity you just couldn’t get any other way. Ambrose unleashed as a violent heel could really create a compelling character, especially since the smirk crowd would likely stay on his side instead of pulling for Reigns. This would be my bet.

What’s that? You think I forgot someone? No I didn’t. Sheamus ain’t shit right now, even with that Money in the Bank contract. Dude needs a few months of build-up before he can even stand in the same room as the World Heavyweight Champion.

NFL Picks, Week 9

We’re halfway there. Thank Christ. Picking games this year has been particularly difficult. Approximately 75% of the league is pure dog shit. When you’re staring at a pile of shit, it can be kind of difficult to determine which shit is actually shittier than the surrounding shit. Try it sometime. You won’t enjoy it. If it were up to me, the vast majority of NFL franchises would be relegated to the CFL or maybe the Arena League based on their performances this year. If we’re doing one of those fancy tiered breakdowns sports journalists rely on when they don’t have any better ideas, it’d look something like this:

New England
Green Bay

Kind of stinky:
Maaaaaaaaaaaaaybe the Jets

The shittiest shit that’s ever been shat:
Everybody else

This analysis is not a joke. The league itself is the joke here. Meanwhile, I went 10-4 last week to bring my partial season record up to 25-17. Onto my shitty picks!

Bengals over Browns – Andy Dalton could call Geico and save 0% on car insurance, but Cleveland sucks.

Bills over Dolphins – Tell me again about how the Dolphins are back and Coach Campbell’s a miracle worker, NFL commentators! Come on! DO IT!

Packers over Panthers – I don’t think Carolina’s got the necessary depth to seriously contend all season, especially on defense. And Cam Newton’s a dink.

Vikings over Rams – There might be something cooking in St. Louis. Great running back + stout defense + ok quarterback = …oh, wait, they don’t have a quarterback even close to good. SORRY.

Patriots over Redskins – The Redskins are attempting to defend their trademark in court by providing a list of other companies and products with objectionable names. Who’s running their legal team…me?

Saints over Titans – Smell ya later, Whisenhunt. Tennessee fired their coach this week after a couple seasons and a mere three wins. Three! Sure, the talent cupboard’s been emptier than the fruit drawers in my fridge, but I’m pretty sure most head coaches could win at least four games in two years by complete accident.

Jets over Jaguars – Remember when I put the Jets in the Kind of Stinky tier? I did that before I remembered Geno Smith’s starting for Ryan Fitzpatrick this week. Top-notch football analysis at its absolute best.

Steelers over Raiders – Yawn.

Falcons over 49ers – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert. Blaine Gabbert is never the solution unless the problem is “how do we tank the shit out of this season so we can get a real quarterback in the draft?”

Buccaneers over Giants – Just feels like one of those games where the G-Men are going to vomit all over themselves even though they should win in a walk.

Broncos over Colts – The Colts are what happens when you put too much faith in a quarterback and neglect to build a defense or a running game. Luckily for them, the AFC South is basically a port-a-potty someone tipped over and then lit on fire. Say hello to your first 6-10 division champ!

Cowboys over Eagles – Cassell > Bradford.

Chargers over Bears – Wait, why the fuck is this the Monday night game? Woof.

Rest in peace, Grantland

ESPN dropped a bomb on the quality sports journalism world when it announced during Friday’s designated shitty news dump period that it was immediately ending publication of Grantland. Started in 2011 by sports writer Bill Simmons, Grantland was a sports and pop culture blog focused on long form journalism generated by a wide variety of writers both established and new.

This is the one thing currently pissing me off more than the ass hats moving to Somerville who can’t fucking walk or efficiently order a burrito. I’ve spent around an hour perusing Grantland pretty much every weekday since its inception. Reading it on my phone quickly became a staple of both my lunch break and those awkward “I’ve got nothing better to do for a few minutes” periods at the bar or the waiting room or before meeting someone. Although the articles didn’t always feature topics I found immediately appealing, I’d read them anyway simply because I knew the excellent writing was going to suck me right in. I quickly got addicted to Molly Lambert’s trashy magazine synopses and Katie Baker’s NHL mailbags. The amazing basketball writing taught me about both the game and the personalities involved and got me interested in the NBA for the first time in years. Sometimes I even read about golf. Grantland was a fantastic mix of analytics and personality, of hard numbers beside silly commentary. You can find those themes individually elsewhere, sure, but if you want that combination – well, where the hell do you look for it now?

Given all that, I have to ask…what the fuck, ESPN? There’s no way maintaining Grantland cost all that much in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps it was just a final fuck you to Simmons, the site’s creator, who was fired earlier this year. The relationship between Simmons had reportedly been contentious at best for a while, most notably when Simmons was suspended for three weeks for criticizing douche bag NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Perhaps I’m looking too far into this and ESPN just needed the money to add even more daily fantasy “experts” to their stable of on-air “talent.”

More distressing, perhaps, is that internet sports journalism has lost one of its leading lights–and that the biggest sports media conglomerate in the world, ESPN, decided it wasn’t worth keeping around. That really says something about the sports media business, and that something isn’t good. I’ll be avoiding ESPN as much as possible from here on out. I’m not sure what’s worse: that they’re a bunch of stupid dopes who want to do nothing more than pander to the lowest common denominator, or that they’re a bunch of stupid dopes who let petty personal differences influence business policies. Either way: fuck you, ESPN. I hope everyone involved with Grantland moves on to bigger and better things that continue to highlight just how shitty ESPN’s sports coverage has become.

I don’t understand real estate prices

For real. Even though developers in Boston and the surrounding areas keep knocking down all the fun things, real estate prices and rental rates keep going up. This makes no sense. Who wants to live somewhere there’s nothing interesting to do?

Take, for instance, a travesty that has befallen Cambridge’s Porter Square neighborhood. The Gourmet Express, a 24-hour pizza and various etcs. restaurant and convenience store, has been demolished to make way for a 27-unit residential building. This is a debilitating body blow to the neighborhood that should have resulted in the collapse of the area’s real estate market.

For one thing, now there’s nowhere to get pizza at three in the morning. For real. There is essentially a pizza curfew enforced in Porter Square. Combine this with the recent conversion of Central Square’s Hi Fi Pizza to a fucking Clover and it’s not hard to imagine a dystopian Cantabrigian future where there is no pizza, only overpriced flatbread that’s a poor facsimile of our beloved pies of old. Herman Cain tried to warn us about this horror. Please tell me I’m not the only one who listened.

Gourmet Express was also frequented by quite the gang of misfits. Stoners, drunks, losers, bums…the place was full of the supposed dregs of society. Personally, I’d redefine that term so it includes investment bankers and people who enjoy the Big Bang Theory, but I digress. You’re probably wondering what the problem is. After all, the place in which those dregs congregated is now gone. Isn’t that a good thing? No, you fucking dope! Answer me this: do you know where the dregs are now? You don’t, do you. That used to be a really easy question to answer: they were in the Gourmet Express! Now the dregs could be anywhere. They could be in your bushes. They could be breaking into your house while you sleep looking for pizza that’s now become much more difficult to acquire. There could even be one behind you RIGHT THE FUCK NOW. You looked, didn’t you? Ha ha! Loser.

Similar scenes are playing out across the Boston area. Prices along Route 1 have failed to fall despite the loss of the Hilltop Steakhouse and the pending removal of the big orange T-Rex. Rent in the Seaport is sky high even though the closure of Anthony’s Pier 4 means there’s nowhere to get Ritz crackers with cheese from a chain-smoking waitress while enjoying an array of seascapes. This makes no sense.

Real estate is stupid.

NFL Picks, Week 8

I getting better at this. I went 9-5 last week, which makes me 15-13 since I started two weeks ago. Stick with me, babe. I’m shaking off the rust and rounding back into form as quickly as I can. I’m not quite back in the saddle yet, but I’m awkwardly trying to scramble up the side of the horse as it glances back at me and gives me the stink eye and probably takes a big dump on my rug. What, you don’t keep your horse inside? You’re a monster!

Patriots over Dolphins – You know what the worst thing was about last week’s Pats/Jets tilt? All the commentators crawling up Miami’s ass because they hung 40-something on Houston. Um, hello: Houston’s basically a high school team. I could grab ten junkies from the bus stop and beat the Texans. Miami’s likely got its shit together, though, and is set to be the slightly above average team they were always meant to be. The Patriots squash those teams.

Chiefs over Lions – Smells like a 13-7 barn burner with about eight borked time outs,  four dropped interceptions, and a kick off that goes out of bounds. If I’m the Chiefs, I’m thinking about expediting the onset of life after Alex Smith. Dude can win with a serious team around him, but it’s going to be a while before Kansas City can field one of those again.

Falcons over Buccaneers – I drafted Devonta Freeman in my fantasy league as a purely speculative play, then cut him after week two. He’s now the highest scoring player in that league. Had I kept Freeman, I’d have three of the ten highest scoring players (with Brady and Hopkins). I hate fantasy football.

Cardinals over Browns – I really wish the Browns had had the decency to be a shit show this year. If you’re going to be that terrible, you should at least try to be fun.

Rams over 49ers – Fucking Gurley, man. Fucking Gurley. Dude shouldn’t have any problem racking up crazy yards and three or four fancy GIFs against that sieve the Niners call a defense.

Saints over Giants – Just because, really. I’m not real sure what to make of either of these teams. A few weeks ago the NFC East seemed to be New York’s to lose. It kind of feels like they already lost it even though they’re in first place.

Vikings over Bears – Maybe the Vikings are finally coming around.  Maybe they’re only 4-2 because they played the Lions twice. The get the Bears, Rams, and Raiders before they finally play a real team again during a week 10 matchup with Green Bay. Smells like the second NFC wildcard team to me.

Ravens over Chargers – They both suck, but West Coast teams tend to vomit all over themselves when they visit the Eastern Timezone. I’ll take the non-jetlagged shitshow.

Steelers over Bengals – Big Ben’s back and Dalton’s due for One of Those Games™.

Jets over Raiders – Gang Green’s interesting. I’m not looking forward to the second time the Patriots have to play the Jets. Not at all.

Seahawks over Cowboys – Fuck Pete Carroll.

Packers over Broncos – Doesn’t it just feel like it’s about time someone blew out Denver? If the Broncos D doesn’t play out of its freakin’ mind, the Pack are going to roll. No way Manning keeps up with Rodgers in a shoot out.

Panthers over Colts – Carolina’s done a great job patching together a defense with chewing gum and duct tape. I don’t think it will last, but it should work for at least one more week.

The Single Loser Gourmet Presents: Open-faced Sloppy Joes on Texas Toast

This fun, hearty dish is simple to make and perfect for entertaining, regardless of whether that means talking to yourself, talking to your cat, talking to people on Tinder you’ll never meet, or talking to the dopes calling the ball game. It’s a one-way round trip ticket to Flavor Town’s annual No Bleached-Blonde Douches Day.


1 can of Manwich
1 pound of ground beef
1 box of Texas Toast
1 bag of whatever cheddar cheese is on sale


Prepare Manwich and Texas Toast as described on packaging. Deposit heaping ladle-ish spoonful of prepared Manwich on each slice of Texas Toast. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Stare at remainder and swear under your breath because even though it’s pretty good you’re going to be eating these fucking leftovers all fucking week. Makes about eight goddamn servings. Better hope you’ve got some decent goddamn Tupperware. Pairs well with frozen vegetables, text messages from concerned family members asking why you haven’t met anyone nice yet, and random bottles of beer discovered in the back of the fridge. Ahhh shit, all the goddamn Tupperware’s dirty in the goddamn dishwasher. Christ almighty.

Also, Royals in five.

All my Hell in a Cell predictions were wrong

I botched all the ones that mattered, at least. I got the preshow match right, but that doesn’t really count, and Owens and Rollins were so obvious that anyone who thought either match was going the other way should probably switch to real estate shows.

But you know what? I’m ok with that. Professional wrestling’s at its best when it defies, messes with, or subverts the expectations its narratives set. There’s a sort of calculus to pro graps–and the WWE style in particular–that often defines the direction of a storyline. Sometimes it’s as simple as “win on TV, lose on pay-per-view.” Sometimes there are more complicated twists and turns involved. But when that math is broken in a fun way, it’s magic.

In a lot of cases, those surprises are surprises primarily because wrestling fans think they know the way WWE writers work–or, in some cases, don’t work, because a lot of us are pretty sure their entire creative process is just throwing darts at bunch of post-it notes stuck to the wall. A lot of people assumed the Dudleys were going to beat The New Day because the writers love putting legends over the new hotness. When that didn’t happen, it was both a surprise and a sort of affirmation that maybe, just maybe, the people in charge actually get it. Yeah, that’s strange, but it is what it is.

Author’s Note: There was a pretty crappy paragraph here built from four or five awkward one sentence opinions on a few of the matches, but after thinking about it all day I decided to replace it with silly match grades. Whatever, it’s my blog and I do what I want.

Match Grades

Neville, Dolph Ziggler, and Cesaro over Sheamus, King Barrett, and Rusev – Online dating profile without body pictures. Yeah, I skipped this one. Don’t judge me. You do it too.

Alberto Del Rio over John Cena – Poopies. These guys couldn’t have seemed less interested.

Roman Reigns over Bray Wyatt – 93. Best singles match I’ve seen out of either. Hopefully they can both keep it going.

The New Day over the Dudley Boys – Giant sparkling unicorn horn. Bubba Ray and D-Von have been excellent foils for Kofi, Big E, and Xavier.

Charlotte over Nikki Bella – Two out of three Sasha vs. Bayleys. No, it’s not fair to judge every women’s match against what’s been going on lately in NXT, but that’s the world we live in. These two beat the bejesus out of each other and put on a great match.

Seth Rollins over Kane – I don’t remember. No, really. That probably means it wasn’t anything special.

Kevin Owens over Ryback – Boston Six. Would’ve been a four, but Owens was involved.

Brock Lesnar over the Undertaker – A-. The big spot/lie around for five minutes formula these two have perfected is fun because it’s THESE TWO, but it’s starting to lose its luster.

WWE Hell in a Cell 2015 Predictions

I spend way too much time thinking about this crap, so I might as well write it all down. I’m kind of excited for Hell in a Cell; the card’s pretty stacked and hopefully it’ll put an end to several storylines that have just sort of been running in place for a while now.

Preshow: Neville, Cesaro, and Dolph Ziggler over King Barrett, Rusev, and Sheamus – I had to stare at the blank space where Sheamus’s name was supposed to be for a few minutes before I remembered he’s the sixth man in this match. The writers quite obviously have no clue what to do with any of these guys right now. Dolph and Rusev’s feud was squashed when Ru-Ru real-life ringed Dolph’s fictional girlfriend. Neville’s said maybe three words since his debut. The crowd wants to love Cesaro and wanted to love the “Bad News” incarnation of Barrett and the powers-that-be killed the momentum of both. Sheamus would really benefit from a character trait more complicated than “I’m Irish!” Pretty apropos that they’re all in the same match.

The Dudley Boyz over The New Day for the Tag Team Championships – The Dudleys–a twenty-something-year-old act that hasn’t changed much except for a few misguided singles runs–have been a surprising breath of fresh air since their return. The New Day is consistently excellent, but they never really seemed like a much of a threat simply because there weren’t any other legitimate tag teams around for them to beat. The Dudleys have really helped elevate the New Day into a position where it seems like they could do pretty much anything–and that’s why I think there’s going to be a title change here and that they’ll be involved in another one later on. I’ll get to the second half of that thought in the next section.

Also, I realized the other day that I’d pay like $500 for the privilege of taking a 3D through a table from Bubba Ray and D-Von. Why isn’t this a thing at WWE fan events? Make it happen, Vince! Take my money!

Kofi Kingston over John Cena for the United States Championship – Cena’s taking time off after Hell in a Cell, so logically that belt he’s wearing has to go to someone else. Speculation on who’s going to answer Big Match John’s open challenge this weekend has been running rampant for weeks now, but I don’t think any of the commonly mentioned names (Ziggler, Rusev, Cesaro) are correct. I was thinking about Tyler Breeze, but you don’t debut a guy on Smackdown in the middle of the rancid Ziggler/Summer Rae story and then have him beat the Face that Runs the Place less than a week later.

So I’m rolling with Kofi. He’s been a midcard champion before, and he’s the only member of the New Day that hasn’t responded to Cena’s open challenge (I think). Putting the belt on Kingston gives the entire group something new and important to do while freeing up the Dudleys to work against other teams. Plus, it’s perfectly logical that a three-man beatdown could knock Cena out of action, and the New Day’s recent transition from fun comedy act to dangerous force could’ve been entirely to enable that outcome. This one makes too much sense not to happen.

Of course, I’m still going to stand up and yell happily at the TV when I’m wrong and Prince Pretty’s music hits.

Nikki Bella over Charlotte for the Divas Championship – I liked Charlotte a lot more before she started beadazzling her face. In NXT, she was essentially a female Brock Lesnar: a genetically superior force that filled whatever room she walked into and made everyone watching think “man, she’s about to fuck someone up.” Somehow that got lost in the transition to Raw. That air of confidence that used to follow her to the ring is just gone. I don’t like that. It makes me sad. Bring back bad ass Charlotte, please.

Now, about that prediction. Putting the belt back on Nikki so soon isn’t something would do, but it’s something I think the mysterious, oft-targeted they who write this crap would do. Charlotte’s done next to nothing since winning the belt. They haven’t even tried to build her up as a legit champion. Meanwhile, Nikki’s in 95% of the Divas segments and has beef with Sasha Banks. Smells to me like they’re going to put the belt back on Nikki so they can hotshot it over to the Boss. I’m ok with that end result, but man…when are they going to give all these talented women something to do? Charlotte’s been nerfed, Becky Lynch’s main job is making pinky swears with her pals, and Paige makes no sense. It’s getting ridiculous.

Kevin Owens retains the Intercontinental Championship over Ryback – Owens is easily the best performer on the entire roster right now. If he’s not World Champ by this time next year, something’s wrong. Meanwhile, whoever’s writing Ryback’s dialog should be sent down to NXT for seasoning. Woof.

Seth Rollins retains the World Championship over Kane – Even though it’s the most interesting potential outcome here, there’s no fucking way Kane walks out of Hell in a Cell with that belt. None. Not happening. This feud has always seemed like a way to give Rollins a clean win over a solid veteran before he moves on to whoever’s next.

The Undertaker over Brock Lesnar via shenanigans – Lesnar matches are like crack for me. I don’t even care who his opponent is; he could wrestle a file cabinet or a Segway or Buff Bagwell and I’d make it appointment viewing. I’m a little tired of the Undertaker at this point–especially given the way he’s been booked as the hero in this feud despite basically being a petty, dick-punching little bitch–but I think he and Brock will put on a good show. No way this one ends clean.

(Author’s note: I’m a dope and I completely forgot this one at publication, which is weird because it’s probably the match I’m looking forward to the most.)

Bray Wyatt over Roman Reigns – Yeah, that cell’s really going to keep Harper, Rowan, Strowman, and Ambrose out. Sure. Tell me another one. This is going to be an absolute mess and it should be a ton of fun. The Wyatt Family’s four men strong and Survivor Series is coming up, so Bray gets the win here to extend the feud into a four-on-four elimination match. Pencil in the Dudleys as Roman and Dean’s backup for that one.