Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Classics

This is awesome on many levels, especially for a former piano student like me.  Grade 8 and first two theory levels, baby!  This is so well-structured that the addition of the few modern/semi-pop numbers generated legit laughter from me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Cineplex Snowman

Since I go to the movies as often as I have hot meals, I’ve seen Cineplex’s pre-movie “Lily & The Snowman” commercial roughly 3828 times in the last two months.  In fact, not only have I had the ad itself burned into my brain, I’ve also seen the “making of” clip they’ve aired during the preshow commercials in January.  Cineplex can’t stop patting itself on the back for this ad…this monstrous monstrous ad.

So, this little girl creates a snowman that comes to life.  The icing on the cake of this already-insane miracle is that the snowman can somehow project incredibly lifelike films using only its hands and reflected light.  In order to keep this creature alive, Lily stashes him away inside the freezer in her parents’ garage.  Now, this is a practical measure since, y’know, the snowman is a snowman, but by all appearances Lily then leaves him in there, assuming that he doesn’t require any sustenance or interpersonal interaction.  (Then again, for all I know, the snowman can communicate with the frost caked on the inside of the freezer.  How would I know, this is a phenomenon beyond the limits of human experience, I’m grasping at straws here.)

Lily does visit the snowman again, and while the montage implies that she only lets him out once per year, I’m willing to believe that she’s releasing him more often than that.  Of course, Lily apparently has neglectful parents that somehow don’t realize that their young daughter is spending all-nighters in the backyard in the freezing cold.  Hell, for that matter, it’s pretty implausible that neither parent ever goes to the icebox even once over the years and notices the goddamn living snowman, but sure, whatever.  Maybe the unwritten message here is that Lily is watching her movies to escape a living hell of a home life —- while she frolics with her snowman buddy, her alcoholic dad is in a drunken stupor on the couch, leaving the TV on and thus creating the light that leads to the snowman’s projections in the first place.

So eventually, Lily starts to ignore her snowman, as shown as the universally-recognized anti-millennial trope of a teenager gabbing away on her phone.  Teenagers can be blasé about many things, granted, but keep in mind that she’s now ignoring a LIVING FILM PROJECTOR OF A SNOWMAN IN HER FREEZER. 

The years go by and the commercial involves into true horror — Lily just straight-up leaves the snowman in there to rot for years and years.  How long, exactly?  I’d guess a bare minimum of six years for “phone Lily” to become “harried working mother” Lily and that would be presuming that she was already pregnant during her phone call (“omigod, you’ll never guess what, I’m late!”) and her own daughter is six years old.  I’m guesstimating six since Lily’s daughter looks roughly the same age as Lily was when her godless abomination of a snowman first arose to tragic life.  So that’s six years minimum, but man, you could easily argue it’s anywhere within the 10-20 year range. 

By the time frazzled Work Lily spills her coffee, she’s apparently completely forgotten about the MIRACLE OF CREATION AND EVIDENCE OF MAGIC THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSE living in her icebox.  Again, maybe, just maaaaaybe I could buy that Lily’s gotten a bit tired of the experience.  I mean, maybe the snowman’s films aren’t very good.  Are we supposed to believe these are originals?  You’d have to think so, since it would be hilarious if Cineplex was advertising the idea of pirating movies.  In any case, maybe the snowman’s films are aimed at younger audiences and as Lily grows up, she has the uncomfortable realization that these movies are pretty weak.  It’s essentially the same reaction I had a few years back when I caught an old G.I. Joe episode on Teletoon. 

Even if Lily has outgrown the movies, however, that’s really no excuse for blithely forgetting the snowman’s existence altogether.  For instance, when she finally goes to release the creature, she moves a bunch of stuff out of the way to get to the icebox.  Now, I’m extrapolating from this that Lily bought her parents’ old house and is living there herself now, as evidenced by the montage of junk piling up in the garage over the years — had new owners moved in, that garage would’ve been cleaned.  Since Lily was taking over the house herself, her deadbeat parents probably didn’t even bother cleaning their junk out beforehand.  Or, another theory: the deadbeat parents are dead of alcohol poisoning and/or liver failure and Lily received the house in the will to raise her child from a possible teenage pregnancy.  Again, this commercial is supposed to be a feel-good Christmas ad.  My point is that since we see stuff get piled up in front of the icebox, Lily really should’ve clued in and thought of the snowman AT SOME POINT in all the years of his entombment.  I mean, she’s been in the garage within the 6-20 year span, right?  She may have been so self-involved as to ignore the snowman once on the phone but that kept on going for as many as two decades?! 

The Geneva Convention should come down on Lily like a ton of bricks.  And the worst part is, when Lily finally releases him, he SMILES in a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome.  This poor creature may not have had the cognizant awareness to realize what was happening to it.  I suppose if you left a dog alone for years and then returned to it, the animal could still recognize you and be friendly.  Of course, if you left a dog in your goddamn fridge for years, you’d be rightfully thrown in jail for wanton animal cruelty.  Again, this commercial is supposed to be a feel-good Christmas ad!  Replace the snowman with a dog and this is the most horrific thing Cineplex has ever shown on its screens, and that includes all of the Saw movies, the Paranormal Activity movies and Mark Wahlberg’s “The Gambler.”

This poor snowman then returns to its captive state, showing movies to Lily and her daughter like nothing had happened.  If these movies are original creations, I wonder if the snowman ever included plots about a hero being trapped in captivity for years and years, leading Lily to nervously tug on her collar.

So, this was Cineplex’s heartwarming Christmas message.  The movies are all about forcing a miracle to do your bidding, or how it’s cool to keep a sentient being locked away for years with no repercussions.  The message is also apparently about how fun it is to enjoy movies at your house and not at a theatre, so Cineplex is apparently endorsing Netflix.  Oops.  Maybe the new slang term for spending a night in to watch movies provided by your miraculous living snowman is "Cineplex & Chill"

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Mark And The Amazing Toque-Nicolour...

Big news in the world of my head, as I recently purchased a Raptors toque.  My collection of toques is now up to seven, which means that if I wanted to (and you better BELIEVE I want to), I could wear a different toque on each day of the week.  A rotation of haberdashery, if you will.

Also, I seem to have unintentionally created a rainbow of headwear for myself.  I now own a....

* red toque (Raptors)
* blue toque (Blue Jays)
* green toque (Packers)
* mostly yellow toque (Packers)
* yellow-green-white toque (Packers...I should note that these Green Bay toques were all Christmas gifts, as even I would find it excessive to buy three different toques in support of the same team.)
* black toque (my 'winter is coming' Game Of Thrones hat)
* grey toque (my plain hat that looks not unlike the kind worn by the Edge, which was intentional)

I'm only a few colours away from being a regular Roy G. Biv.  I guess I could get a purple toque in honour of my alma mater, though Western's taken so much of my money that I'm hesitant to give them another dime.  (Donation letters and e-mails make me laugh and laugh and laugh.)  Not sure what chain of events would lead me to buying an orange toque.  I do like orange juice, at least.  That would actually be a pretty hilarious answer to hear from somebody about their clothing choices:

"Nice orange toque."
"Thanks!  I love orange juice."

Why a Raptors toque, you may ask?  Well, it looked kinda cool.  Drake and I do share a birthday, and all.  My grandma attended a Raptors preseason game years ago and the team's PR staff really went out of their way to show her a good time; moved her seats closer to the floor, got her pictures and autographs with several players, etc.  If this team is so kind to my grandmother, the least I can do is buy a toque out of appreciation.  This isn't to say that all of my toques were purchased due to some family association.  House Stark has never done anything for my grandma --- she wasn't even invited to Robb's wedding.  (Wait...)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Packers Postmortem

The COIN didn’t FLIP.

You know, it’s no secret that I wasn’t expecting much from the Packers in this game.  I didn’t even expect them to beat Washington last week, nor (realistically) did I really expect that much from the 2015-16 campaign the moment that Jordy Nelson blew out his knee in the preseason.  So really, just the fact that they got to the second round of the playoffs is awfully impressive.

That being said….ugggghhhhhhhhh.  Are you kidding me?  I would’ve much rather Green Bay just lost by 20 points and gotten the misery over with than suffer yet another excruciating overtime playoff loss.  And the way this one ended, my god, the roller-coaster.  Going from the literally unreal ecstasy of that improbable Hail Mary (the Packers’ second Hail Mary TD in two months!) to the idiocy of the non-flipping coin to the defense’s inexplicable decision to not double-cover LARRY BY GOD FITZGERALD….it was too much.  I was texting multiple friends throughout the game and my phone’s battery died just as overtime began.  By the time I got home and got it charged again, I had 4-5 messages wondering if I wasn’t responding to texts because I’d thrown my phone against a wall in anger, or perhaps if I’d simply spontaneously combusted.  (In either case, really, not sure why they’d be expecting a return text.)

The Hail Mary underlined just how winnable a game this seemed to be for Green Bay, since a few things were revealed about the Cardinals.  Firstly, Carson Palmer has had so little playoff exposure over his long career that I think people may have just assumed he’d be his usual self in the biggest games; with some of the off-target passes he threw on Saturday, that may well not be the case.  Secondly, losing the Honey Badger has thrown a much bigger wrench than anticipated into Arizona’s defense.  (Not that this mattered too much for the Packers, as once Randall Cobb got injured, their receiving corps was down to the practice squad and maybe a few guys from the stands.  Having Patrick Peterson cover James Jones was like using a rocket launcher on a mosquito.)  You can certainly argue that the Pack were lucky in the closing seconds, yet the Cardinals weren’t any less fortunate to manage their go-ahead touchdown on a lucky bounce.

Now, I realize I may not be the most impartial source on this given that my team has had back-to-back gut-punch overtime playoff losses on the first possession.  But really, NFL, why not adjust the rule so that both teams get a possession in overtime?  You’ve already gone halfway with the “game ends on a TD but not a field goal” adjustment, so why not so the whole nine yards?  The league tweaks its rules to help offense every season, yet when it comes to deciding games, they’re content to have a partial sudden-death system that allows teams (or star quarterbacks) to see their seasons end without ever getting a chance with the ball.  It makes zero sense.  It would be like if tennis decided tiebreakers by only giving one player a chance to serve.  It would be like if MLB decided extra innings by saying a game could end on a homer in the top of the 10th, but if a team only scored a regular run, it would go to the bottom of the 10th.  It would be like if the NFL ended overtime games with only one team getting a possession if they scored a TD….that’s right, this rule is so dumb that it’s its own absurd analogy!

Of course, the Packers may well have won that coin toss had it not been for the fact that the referee somehow managed to flip a coin without flipping it.  The Packers won the unflipped call, yet since the damn thing didn’t make even a single rotation in the air (how is this possible?), it had to be re-flipped and the Cardinals got possession.  Right then and there, you knew karma had turned back on Arizona’s side.  If there was ever a doubt that NFL referees don’t know what they’re doing, that about sums it up.  Who would’ve thought the refs in this State Farm ad wouldn’t be the most incompetent crew Aaron Rodgers would encounter this season?

Two big take-aways from this game…
* Green Bay needs to heavily invest in wide receivers this offseason.  Davonte Adams should be cut.  Jones should be cut.  If Cobb’s struggles this year weren’t due to injury, you might even explore cutting him too.  The Packers only seem to invest in a big free agent once per decade, though if the Lions end up cutting Calvin Johnson, I would be all over that like stink on a hog.  Perhaps playing for a real franchise would re-ignite Johnson’s love of the game and keep him from retiring.

* Arizona is suddenly looking kind of shaky rather than looking like a Super Bowl contender.  Squeaked by the Packers here and blown out by the Seahawks in Week 17…that doesn’t bode too well for them facing the Panthers or Seattle again next week, or even facing New England/Pittsburgh/Denver in the Super Bowl.

And finally, there’s one bright side to this Packers defeat.  Next week, I’l be making my annual trip up to visit my buddy Kyle and his family.  For each of the last THREE YEARS, this trip has coincided with my watching the Packers get eliminated from the playoffs from the comfort of Kyle’s living room.  Since I wouldn’t have been bullish on Green Bay’s chances next week against Seattle or Carolina, there was a solid chance that this hellish streak of bad luck at Kyle’s place could’ve continued for a Bills-esque fourth year.  I did joke with Kyle that if it happened again, I’d burn his house to the ground, so it’s fortunate for all that that was avoided (since I wasn’t joking). 

Friday, January 15, 2016

(Unexpected) NFL Playoff Picks

* Arizona over Green Bay
Well, here’s a post I didn’t plan on writing.  As I said last week, I’d predict the rounds of the NFL playoffs as long as the Packers were involved, fully expecting them to lose to Washington.  Instead, Green Bay played its best overall game in months, laying the smack down on Washington and advancing to Arizona.  Even the first quarter and half was the same stultifying Packers offense we’ve become sadly used to in recent weeks until they seemed to just flip a switch and suddenly looked like the smoothly-run offense of old.  I’m not complaining at all, I’m just surprised.

Well, maybe complaining a *bit* since a first-round exit might’ve gotten Mike McCarthy closer to fired, but c’est la vie.  I’m certainly not expecting another upset this week.  Whereas Washington was a pretty flawed team, the Cardinals have been destroying teams all season, including the Packers themselves in Week 16.  A rested, prepared Arizona club should have little trouble dispatching the Packers, and right now, the Cards are my pick to take the Super Bowl.

* Carolina over Seattle
That’s right, I’m continuing to disrespect the Panthers by already having Arizona take the NFC, so tough break, 15-1 team.  At least I’m giving Carolina the duke over Seattle when seemingly everyone is expecting the Panthers to fold.  It seems a little too simple to just assume the Seahawks have gone into kill-mode and will roll through the Panthers, especially since it’ll be Seattle’s third road game in as many weeks, they played in Arctic conditions last week in Minnesota, and (not to be ignored) they barely won that game.  I’m not ready to crown the Seahawks just yet, especially when Carolina has been so good all year.

* New England over Kansas City

Man, part of me reaaaaalllly wants me to take the Chiefs here.  When you have a random Team A who’s won 11 straight games facing a Team B who’s been decimated by injuries, I think most would take the former…but here, Team A is coached by Andy Reid and Team B is the dynasty of the 21st century.  I feel like New England’s defense might keep KC enough in check that it won’t completely matter that Gronkowski, Edelman, literally every offensive lineman and even Brady himself are all some degree of banged up.  Then again, predicting something like a 14-10 game is also difficult since if it’s low-scoring, the Chiefs could just as easily come out on top.  Arghhhhh

* Denver over Pittsburgh

I’m chickening out and just taking the home teams in every matchup, looks like.  Boo to me for my lack of intestinal fortitude.  I would’ve certainly considered Pittsburgh had a) Antonio Brown been playing or b) if Roethlisberger wasn’t the walking wounded.  Even if it comes down to a Manning vs. Roethlisberger battle of who’s in worse shape, I’ll take Osweiler over Landry Jones in a battle of the backups if it comes to that.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Oscar Nomination Reactions

It’s another eight-movie field for Best Picture, as the Academy’s weird and byzantine voting procedures that guarantee “between five and 10” Picture nominees have again rolled a snowman.  Still, at least we can take solace in the fact that this year’s field is streets ahead of last year’s disappointing octet.  Birdman was an excellent movie and deserving winner but overall, the 2014 Best Picture field was a stinkeroo.

Not the case this year.  Some thoughts on the Oscar nominees….

* I haven’t seen the Revenant yet and Bridge Of Spies was a wholly disappointing bore.  The other six Best Picture nominees, however, all range from very good to great.  If Revenant is as good as others seem to believe it is, this is one of the stronger BP fields in recent memory.

* And “Mad Max: Fury Road” was nominated!  Despite all the critics’ awards and recognition the film received, part of me still feared the Academy would snub it since it’s SO not an “Academy movie.”  Highly well-deserved honour for George Miller and company.

* The question now is whether Mad Max has a shot at actually winning, and I’m tending to think no.  Best Picture is probably a three-horse race between Spotlight, Revenant and the Big Short, since while the Academy liked ‘Room,’ it strikes me as too small a film to actually win.  (I’m probably safe in writing off the chances of Brooklyn, Bridge Of Spies and the Martian since those films didn’t rack up the usually all-important corresponding Best Director nomination.)  That being said, MM:FR clearly has a ton of popular support behind it since it’s made it this far, so what the hell, why not think big and hope it can go all the way.  If there’s a significant “science fiction/action movie/genre picture” voting bloc within the Academy, they can mobilize their votes behind MM:FR now that Martian or Star Wars aren’t factors.

* I’m still not sure if Spotlight is the new “Up In The Air” (the assumed favourite that just fades away as the Oscar season goes on and other movies step up) or if it’s the quiet consensus favourite that everyone likes and will hold its position the whole way.  The film missed a couple of key precursor awards in the leadup to the Oscar nominations yet it scored big across the board with the Academy — the editing nomination was a good sign, as were the nominations for McAdams and Ruffalo within hard-to-figure supporting categories.  I also still have to laugh that this generation’s best movie about committed journalism was directed by the guy who played Scott Templeton, one of TV’s worst-ever journalists.

* It was a nice of mix of up-and-comers (Brie Larson, Alicia Vikander) and old-timers (Charlotte Rampling, Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mark Rylance) amongst the first-time nominees.  Also not really fitting into either category are Tom Hardy and Rachel McAdams, both of whom were well-deserved.  It’s a wee bit surprising that Hardy hadn’t gotten one already given how many acclaimed films he’s appeared in in recent years.

* It’s another kick at the can for Thomas Newman, who’s now been nominated 13 times in the music categories and is still looking for his first victory.  Nothing against Newman but I’m hoping he loses again since ENNIO FREAKING MORRICONE is in the category.  Morricone has never won a competitive Oscar, so the Academy can right a long-time wrong this year.

* Everything that carried Adam McKay’s personal brand on SNL (i.e. his digital shorts or when he appeared on the show himself as the audience heckler) was notably terrible.  Watching SNL at the time, I kept wondering why the hell this guy got any screen time, not realizing he was the show’s head writer or that he was the brainchild behind countless classic Will Ferrell sketches.  Fast-forward about 20 years and here he is, Best Director nominee and a good chance at being a Best Director winner.

* I saw several variations of this line on Twitter, but the Best Supporting Actor category consists of little old Mark Rylance against Rocky, Batman, Bane and the Hulk.  It’s also crazy that you have Sly Stallone in an acting competition against heavyweights like Rylance, Bale, Ruffalo and Hardy, yet Stallone would be a completely deserving winner.  (Frankly, I thought his performance was the best of the bunch.)

* My favourite nominations….Anomalisa as Best Animated Film, Morricone, Inside Out for Best Original Screenplay, anything from Mad Max.

* My least-favourite nominations…anything from Bridge Of Spies, Michael Fassbender’s poor man’s Josh Lyman impression as Best Actor, Straight Outta Compton for screenplay (that cliched pile of Dre/Ice Cube hagiography was the worst part of the movie), the category fraud of Vikander and Rooney Mara somehow being categorized as ’supporting’ performances. 

* And now, onto the snubs!  The big ones were Ridley Scott not getting a best director nod and Carol not getting into Best Picture, though don’t sleep on Idris Elba being left out of the supporting actor field and thus creating another #OscarsSoWhite scenario.  Supporting Actor was such an odd category this year that I thought Elba actually had a strong chance had he gotten the nomination — Stallone and Rylance seem to be the two consistent favourites in most precursors, though who knows how the Academy could’ve swung.  Had the voters done their jobs and nominated Mara in Best Actress (ousting Jennifer Lawrence), that could’ve opened the door for another good supporting actress candidate like Kristen Stewart or Julie Walters.  I’m ok with Vikander’s nomination since I’ll just pretend it was really for her also-deserving work in ‘Ex Machina.’

* And here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write….Wiz Khalifa was robbed of an Oscar nomination.  “See You Again” didn’t get into the original song category, and am I wrong in thinking that the least the Academy could do is get Wiz and Charlie Puth to perform it at the ceremony over the In Memoriam list?  I guess it might be weird to have a song so associated with Paul Walker linked with various other deceased film notables, but still.

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie

They say the music that’s popular when you’re in high school will always be the music that you think is “best,” a saying that has some merit but has proven to be demonstrably untrue throughout my life.  Still, I think it’s fair to say that the music released from 1995-2000 did, in many ways, sort of form a fixed point for me in how I perceived certain artists.  Artists who were big in that era always “seemed” pretty big for years afterwards, despite how they were clearly just the one-hit wonders or jokes of their era, in the way that many bands who were big just a few years before my musical prime seemed impossibly dated.

To wit, David Bowie released the Earthling record in 1997, which featured the “Little Wonder” and “I’m Afraid Of Americans” singles.  Both songs were, and are, pretty weird.  To my musically-uneducated ears, they didn’t sound appreciatively different from some of the other electronica or dance music of the era, i.e. the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, etc.  I knew who David Bowie was, of course, though my knowledge of his music didn’t extend too much beyond “here’s this guy who’s a legend trying to appropriate modern sounds.”

Little did I know then, however, that this was basically what Bowie had done this entire career.  Minus his self-admitted sellout periods throughout the 80’s, Bowie was a guy who never seemed satisfied unless he was zigging (or literally Ziggy-ing) when others were zagging.  Even once he’d carved out his own niche as to what a “David Bowie song” was, he could’ve comfortably mined that corner for years but he kept changing things up.

In my own case, I think I was just on the periphery of getting into a full-on Bowie deep dive.  Within the last few years, I have…
a) watched ‘Labyrinth’ for, somehow, the first time
b) adopted ‘Modern Love’ as one of my all-time favourite songs.  (Two excellent uses of the track in Sleeping With Other People and Frances Ha have contributed heavily to this designation)
c) put not only ‘Modern Love’ but ‘Under Pressure’ on an iTunes playlist tentatively titled “My Favourite Songs Ever” that I’ll somehow burn onto a CD when I finally feel satisfied with the tracklist in 25-30 years.


Friday, January 08, 2016

Radiohead, "Spectre"

With all due to respect to Sam Smith (who I think is a fine singer), I never thought I'd see myself saying "yeah, good thing they went with the Sam Smith track over the Radiohead track."  This one...isn't quite there.  Apparently Radiohead has a new record coming out soon, and it's crazy to think it's been over eight years since a proper album from them --- I'm not really counting 'King Of Limbs' since that EP was pretty mediocre, save for the big exception of "Lotus Flower," one of my very favourite Radiohead tracks.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

NFL Playoff Picks

As always, I’ll be writing NFL playoff predictions for as long as Green Bay is in the postseason.  This year’s entries may be brief.

* Washington over Green Bay
Well, let’s get right into it, the Packers stink.  I don’t know what the hell happened to this team after the 6-0 start, or if perhaps that 6-0 start was just a mirage and a nice bit of lucky scheduling.  Whatever the case, the Packers haven’t looked good in so long that it’s fair to say they’re no longer just “in a slump,” they’re a mediocre team.  I noted after last year’s NFC title game heartbreaker that one of the worst aspects of that loss was that Green Bay blew a healthy season; after injury-plagued years in 2012-13, the 2014 Packers enjoyed relatively few major injuries and failed to capitalize.  Of course, the injury bug bit hard again in 2015, chomping down especially hard on the offensive line and Jordy Nelson.  As much as I like Nelson, I wouldn’t have thought that his absence would completely torpedo the Packers’ offense.  The team desperately needed a receiver to step up with him gone and not only has nobody stepped up, but it seems like guys have actively regressed — Randall Cobb is having a rough year, James Jones is much more “guy cut by the Raiders” than “guy who thrived as a Packer,” and Davonte Adams is just an outright bust at this point.  Adams not only rarely gets open, but when he is open, he’s dropping ball.  Combine this with the shaky O-line and virtually non-existent running game, and it’s no wonder Aaron Rodgers is having an off year.  Accuse me of being a Rodgers apologist if you want, but the guy is being given nothing to work with here.  It’s not a surprise that he’s throwing more picks since he’s trying hard to force plays to happen on sheer will, yet it just isn’t happening.  There’s also no support from the coaching staff, as the always-incompetent Mike McCarthy somehow managed to find an even more incompetent play-caller in Tom Clements.  Big-time Peter Principle at work in Green Bay, with everyone on the coaching staff seemingly promoted one level above their ideal level.

Whew, enough Packers ranting.  Basically, they look like a team who know they’re shot and are just trying to get the season over with at this point.  It really annoys me to no end that they’re going to lose to Washington, one of the most deplorable franchises in pro sports.  That’s salt in the wound at this point.  I could’ve handled a playoff loss to Seattle or even Minnesota (the division rival I easily hate the least, probably due to their lovable futility) but Washington?  That’s a bridge too far.  My hope is that the Packers pull a Tampa Bay and make a surprising coaching firing but I suspect the injuries will buy McCarthy another year.  I really can’t stress enough how over that guy I am.

* Seattle over Minnesota
Part of me wonders if this seems a little *too* obvious a result given that Seattle is a) red-hot right now, b) destroyed the Vikings in Minnesota just a month ago, c) the friggin’ two-time defending NFC champion against a “happy to be here” surprise division winner.  Unless the Vikings somehow hire Jeff Fisher to coach them between now and Sunday, however, I really can’t see a way they can slow the Seahawks down.  Russell Wilson is playing absolutely out of his mind right now.  He’s playing so well that when they get down near the goal line near the end of Super Bowl 50 and Pete Carroll calls a run this time, people will be ripping him for NOT calling a pass.  (I’m assuming Lynch would fumble in this scenario, possibly because his hands weren’t quite sticky enough with Skittles residue.  And how about that, turns out ‘Skittles’ is in my spellchecker.)

* Houston over Kansas City
Man, if the Chiefs were coached by literally anyone besides Andy Reid, I’d have them as the AFC favourites.  Unfortunately, they’re led by a guy who’s on a six-game postseason losing streak and who hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008.  There is no reason on earth the happy-to-be-here, won-a-lame-division Texans should win this game since K.C. has them beat in every category aside from the admittedly important “can unleash J.J. Watt” department.  Yet, here I am going against the Chiefs solely based on Reid.  Maybe I’m off base and this is just a charmed year for Kansas City sports, but who knows.

* Pittsburgh over Cincinnati
Speaking of coaches that just seem cursed in the playoffs….at least Reid has had some playoff success in his career.  Poor ol’ Marvin Lewis is looking for that inaugural playoff win and yet his team’s hopes were flushed down the toilet as soon as Andy Dalton got injured.  Well, ok, maybe that wasn’t quite such a killer given how Dalton is a playoff pariah himself, but perhaps the real game-ender was being matched up against the Steelers.  While Pittsburgh is certainly prone to a hiccup (their inexplicable loss to Baltimore two weeks ago), I actually think they might be the best team in the AFC.  When it comes to good playoff karma, who wouldn’t take Sixsburgh over the Bungles? 

The AFC is a very weird conference and it’ll all come down to matchups.  I totally think the Steelers can beat any team except Denver, and that’s who they’ll be facing next week with a win in Cincy.  I’d actually take Kansas City (despite the Reid factor) over Denver except that matchup won’t happen unless the Bengals beat Pittsburgh, thus setting up Bengals/Patriots and Chiefs/Broncos in the second round.  If the Steelers fall to Denver, that should theoretically clear the AFC for the Patriots, who I think beat everyone else unless their team continues to be decimated by injuries.  It’s all very confusing.  Check in next week unless Green Bay gets embarrassingly blown out and I swear off football altogether.

Friday, January 01, 2016

It's 2016!

Leap year!  Olympic year!  Election year!  The year I can no longer ignore that I'm in my mid-thirties!  Yahoooooooo!