Sunday, February 5, 2012

Madonna Was Wearing Fishnets During Superbowl Halftime Show

Here is the definition of Fishnet Stockings:  In the field of textiles, fishnet is hosiery with an open, diamond shaped knit; it is most often used as a material for stockings, tights or bodystockings.  This photo is from the Super Bowl halftime show, and you can clearly see the diamond shape in the knit of her stockings.   RULING = She was wearing fishnet stockings

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Monday, September 26, 2011

2011: The Year Of The Injury

Is your fantasy football season in a tailspin? Every NFL year comes with it's fair share of injuries, but it is tough to remember a season filled with so many high profile players going down long term.  Here is a look at one of my teams bitten by the injury bug:

Count the "Os"
Peyton Manning would be the most notable injury so far this year.    The Colts have said recently that he will be evaluated on a "month by month basis."  That's never a good sign. The Colts have yet to place Manning on the IR, so there is a chance (however small)  that he will return before the end of the season.  His absence has put his importance to the franchise on display for the world to see so far this season.  The Colts have started off 0-3, and have shown an offensive prowess that is reminiscent of the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Manning isn't the only quarterback feeling the pain.  In week 2, Michael Vick sustained a mild concussion, but was cleared to play in week 3.  Of course in week 3, he immediately broke a bone in his non-throwing hand. Also in week 2, Tony Romo broke a rib, and punctured his lung. Somehow Romo managed to brush off the lung hole, and play in week 3 (I hear he may have been huffing Fix-A-Flat.)

The running back position has taken a few big hits in the injury department as well. Jamaal Charles, the superstar of the Kansas City Chiefs (and pretty much their entire offense,) suffered a season ending injury in week 1. That was devastating for the 2010 AFC West Champions, as they too have started the 2011 season 0-3. Arian Foster, 2010 NFL rushing champion, has been suffering from a nagging hamstring injury since the preseason.  Up until now, he has been operating on a week to week basis.  Although, he has yet to see any significant playing time, only getting about a half of work during week 2. 

In the wide receiver department, Miles Austin is expected to miss at least one week with a hamstring.  As of right now, Austin "isn't being ruled out" of the Cowboys week 4 match up with the Lions, but it doesn't look promising according to reports.  Marques Colston of the New Orleans Saints has already missed two games this season with a fractured collarbone, and is likely to miss at least two more.

At tight end, Aaron Hernandez has a sprained MCL, which sidelined him for at least week 3.  This news was met with delight from all the Rob Gronkowski owners, who now get to reap the benefits of only one pass catching tight end in New England. 

Even the kickers are getting in on the injury fun.  Garrett Hartley of the New Orleans Saints has yet to kick this season.

The NFL season is only three weeks old, and already the damage is piling up for a lot of teams.  Look no further than Indianapolis to see the effect that the loss of one man can have on a franchise.  Every player that I mentioned is the number one guy at their position for their respective team.  It will be interesting, moving forward, to see how the loss of so much talent will be compensated for by all parties involved.

Friday, September 23, 2011

NFL Playoff Predictions After Two Weeks: The AFC

Week three is just two days away, and what could be more fun that making some really early playoff predictions?  Obviously, there is a lot of football to be played before anybody can seriously start talking playoffs, but since I was too lazy to do it before the season, I am going to do just that right now.  I do have a slight advantage over everyone else, as I have had the privilege of watching two weeks of football before making my playoff picks. I will number them by what I think their seeds will be.


1.) New England Patriots

In my opinion (and just about everyone else on the planet), New England is the clear favorite to win the Super Bowl this year.  Tom Brady has played incredible in the first two games, breaking the record for most yards to start the season..  The offense in general has looked almost as unstoppable as the 2007-2008 Patriots team that finished 18-1. I don't really see anyone, including the Jets being able to stop this juggernaut.

2.) Houston Texans

I am picking the Texans to get the second seed, and the bye solely because of their division.  Houston has been on the cusp of reaching the playoffs for a few years now, and with Indianapolis losing Peyton Manning to injury, I feel that this will be the year.  The Texans have five division games left. That will probably act as a huge advantage to them considering the lack of any conceivable talent in that division.  Besides, with Manning out of the picture, nothing really stands in the way of the Texans rolling over the mediocrity that the AFC South has become.

3.) San Diego Chargers

The Chargers are another case of outclassing the rest of their division.  The Raiders seem to be a solid team, just not great.  In addition, Oakland just doesn't seem to like winning close games that come down to the wire.  Last week they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by being unable to hold off the Buffalo Bills in the waning seconds of the game.  I feel Oakland will be no better than a .500 team this year.  The Kansas City Chiefs might just be the worst team to ever grace a football field, especially now that Jamaal Charles is out for the year.  And the Denver Broncos really just look like an average team at best.  Of course if they end up as an average team this year, that is vastly improved over what most experts were predicting from them before the start of the season.

4.) Baltimore Ravens

I think the Ravens will emerge on top in the yearly blood bath that is the battle for the AFC Central.  Joe Flacco gradually improves every year, and finally removed that giant monkey from his back by soundly defeating his arch nemesis Ben Roethlisberger in week one this year.  The Baltimore defense is still in the upper tier of the NFL, and Ray Rice is one of the games top running backs.  Truly, the only real hurdle the Ravens must overcome is the Pittsburgh Steelers, and after the Week One thrashing, the Ravens hold huge mental and mathematical advantages.

5) New York Jets

As impressive as the New England Patriot offense has been, the New York Jets defense has shined just as bright.  It seems inevitable that these teams will once again meet in the playoffs, and the winner of that game will in my opinion be the AFC Super Bowl representative.  The only downside to this Jets team is quarterback Mark Sanchez.  Believe me, I do realize by the way that I am not breaking any new ground with that statement. It seems to be the general consensus that Sanchez is just not a big time, franchise supporting quarterback.

6.) Cincinnati Bengals

I realize that I look like a crazy person by typing the words Cincinnati Bengals here.  Everybody and their mother would probably put the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens as division winner and wild card representative.  I like the Bengals for a few reasons.  For starters, with the exception of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bengals schedule hits just about every terrible team in the NFL this year. Meanwhile, the surprisingly effective play of rookie quarterback Andy Dalton has added an exciting element to the Bengal offense.  As for what the Bengals can't control, I think the end is finally here for this version of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Between the aging defense, and the stagnant offense, I think a major drop off is in their very near future.  I definitely think the Steelers miss the playoffs this year, and someone has to take their place.  Really the only other real possibility is the Miami Dolphins. They however, have started the season 0-2 and still have three more games against the Jets and Patriots.  Those two factors are major blows to their playoff hopes, even this early. A few people might be wondering about the Buffalo Bills.  They may be off to a great start, but again, they play in that brutal AFC East.  Also, lets not forget, that this team is only 8 months removed from a 4-12 season.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

NFL Week 2: What To Look For

Week 2 of the NFL season is upon us, and there are a few questions posed during Week 1 that are begging to be answered. Here are some things that I will be watching for:

Pittsburgh Steelers:

Last week was one of the worst losses by the Steelers in recent memory.  Only the 13 point loss to the Patriots last year in Week 10 comes close to the level of domination the Steelers felt last week in Baltimore.  Luckily for Pittsburgh, one of the NFL's worst teams is flying in from the left coast to help erase the memory of last weeks debacle. 

Last year the Seattle Seahawks were the 27th ranked defense in yards allowed, and the 28th ranked offense in yards gained.  With Matt Hasselbeck gone, and Tavaris Jackson at the helm at quarterback, one could only assume that the offense is trending downward. 

Prior to the season, most analysts put Pittsburgh among the elite in the AFC. After last weeks pathetic performance, those predictions are in serious doubt.   Questions that were raised about the aging defense, and the stability of the offensive line are now at the forefront of the debate.  Only a lights out defensive effort, and stellar offensive performance can put those issues to rest for the time being.

Detroit and Buffalo:

I will grant the fact that the Detroit Lions are a much improved team compared to the last few years.  The problem I have with all the hype surrounding them is that they are The Detroit Lions. In recent years the Lions have been the Pittsburgh Pirates of professional football, and until they prove otherwise, I am not buying. 

They beat a decent Tampa Bay team last week 27-20, and this week face the Kansas City Chiefs.  With the Chiefs embarrassing 41-7 loss to the Bills last week, the Lions won't prove much with a win this week.  A loss however goes a long way to saying that the Lions are just pretenders once again.  So like the Steelers, Detroit needs to pull of a fairly convincing win to quiet the naysayers such as myself.

The Buffalo Bills are another team that is garnering a lot of attention thanks to that blowout victory last week in Kansas City.  Coming into this season, nobody put them near the top of any power ranking.  Now, thanks to one big victory, Las Vegas has them three point favorites at home over the Oakland Raiders,  I am not saying that the Raiders are a juggernaut, but they are the superior team of the two in my eyes.  Regardless of the Vegas line, any victory in this game is a huge step in the right direction for the Buffalo Bills.

Arian Foster:

The NFL's top rusher in 2010 missed Houston's Week 1 game vs. Indianapolis due to a nagging hamstring injury.  According to Coach Gary Kubiak, Foster "looks ready to play." Hamstring injuries are one of those problems that can linger on, and cause issues all season long. 

While a full workload is out of the question, it would be nice to see a strong performance without any signs of weakness from Foster.  If he can make it through the game without limping off the field, then a huge weight will be lifted off the Houston Texan's backs. 

Arian Foster is one of the cornerstones of that perpetual middle of the pack team, and they need him 100% to finally break through to the top of the AFC.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A New Twist On Survival Football

This year I joined a survival football league with a slightly different format.  I thought it was interesting, because it takes away the chaos of week 1.  Here is how it works...

In a traditional survival league, you choose one team every week, and when you miss you are out.  In this new format, you skip week 1 altogether.  Starting in week 2, you select 2 teams.  So for example, last week I didn't pick, and this week I have chosen the Steelers to beat the Seahawks, and the Packers to beat the Panthers.  If both the Steelers and the Packers win this week, I will not pick again until week 4.

Should one of my teams lose, then I will be forced to pick again in week 3.  I will pick one team every week until either a winner is declared, or I pick another loser.  If I pick a second losing team, I am totally eliminated from the survival league.

If both the Steelers and the Packers lose in week 2, then I am totally eliminated from the survival league.

Now, as for the people that picked both games correct in week 2.  All of these teams will not make any picks in week 3.  In week 4 these people will once again pick two teams to win.  If they miss both teams, they are once again totally eliminated from the survival league.

If they miss one team in week 4 they must pick one team in week 5 and every week following until they eliminated, or a winner is declared.

And if they get both teams correct in week 4, they skip week 5 and once again pick 2 teams in week six.

This process continues until only one person is left, and that person is declared the winner. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Home Brewing For By Dummies

One of the latest trends in the world of DIY is home brewing.  Myself and two friends took a shot at it this past weekend.  Why not? What could be better than creating your own supply line for a rather expensive product? The average brew kit will yield about 2 1/2 cases of beer per attempt. A pretty sweet return for 3 hours of work, and after the initial investment, each batch will cost very little compared to buying the finished product. But, judging by all the bumbling we did throughout the process, I can't imagine wanting to ingest what comes out of the fermenter in two weeks. It is really important by the way to get a great brew kit. Here is a five star rated brew kit from Coopers Brewery DIY Beer Kit

Going into this adventure, the only experience any of us had at brewing beer was in quality control (drinking). So if you are a prospective brewer, and don't know what to expect, read ahead for a rundown.

Setting up:

Every instruction manual will stress that the most important step to successful brewing is sterilization. Anything that will be touching the wort (the liquid that becomes beer), must be sterilized. The problem is, different books recommend different methods.  One book will say to use bleach.  Another book will say to never use bleach.  Make sure to set aside a few hours at the start of brewing to both sterilize all materials that will touch the wort, and to argue with your friends over the best way to do it.

Making the wort:

Once everything has been properly sterilized, it is time to make the mixture of what will eventually turn into beer.  In this step, you basically mix a bunch of malt and hops in some boiling water.  Within minutes, the wort will give off a delicious smell, not unlike a great homemade soup.  By the end of the first hour however, this smell becomes unbearably awful.  I don't know if the smell itself changed, or if I just got sick of it, but it was horrific.  It was the kind of smell that not only stinks up a house, but also leaves little particles of shittiness embedded in your nose for days.  The best part of this step is the insane volatility of  the boiling wort. Don't panic too bad, its not going to explode, but it will probably boil over.  It is messy, and will spread that noxious, vomit inducing liquid all over your stove top. When this happens, much like when you jostle a homeless guy, the smell will become even more unbearable.


After all the wort making is done, all you really need to do is transfer it into the fermenter and wait.  There isn't much to this step other than dumping the wort into a plastic bucket with a couple holes drilled into it.  Here, it will interact with the yeast, and magically become beer.  Be careful when installing the airlock to the lid of the fermenter, as my friend almost broke the entire unit by pushing too hard.  It is very delicate, and will probably infect the wort mixture with bacteria when you are fishing the rubber seal out of the mixture.

Two Weeks Later:

After waiting two weeks or so, the fermentation process should be complete.  I'm not really sure what comes next, as we haven't gotten that far yet.  I'm guessing that you will open the plastic bucket, and do something to the liquid inside. See, I didn't read ahead in the instruction manual, so I don't even know if it is called beer yet.  There were a few things in the beer kit that went unused in the first few steps, so I figure there is some work left to be done.  Your guess is as good as mine.  Good luck with that.

In Conclusion: 

In the end, it doesn't really matter what comes out of the fermenter.  The whole beer making adventure was a lot of fun. Throughout the process, I discovered that brewing is really more of an art than anything else. The different styles and flavors of beer that can be created with just a stove and a bucket are endless.  All you really need is the patience to perfect the process. If you can do that, the world of beer is yours for the taking.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How To Embarrass Yourself Playing Fantasy Football

 I started playing fantasy football when I was 16 years old.  I got into it when a few friends asked me to join a league they were starting.  Before that season, I had never heard of fantasy football. Keep in mind that this was back in the mid 1990's, long before the game had gained a level of popularity that bridges all age, gender, and racial gaps.  There weren't 10 different fantasy football magazines to choose from in every grocery store, drug store, and book store in America like there is today.  Before my very first draft, nobody told me anything about strategy.  All I had to go by was a list of last years players, and the fantasy points they scored.  So, looking over that list, one thing jumped out at me immediately.  Morton Anderson scored the most fantasy points out of any other player in the NFL the previous season.  (It is actually painful to write this story down.  It is vividly bringing back the humiliation I am about to share with you)

I don't remember exactly what position I was drafting, but i think it may have been 3rd.  I remember the joy and shock when the first two picks went by, and Morton Anderson(along with every other kicker) remained on the board.  I distinctly remember a feeling of smug satisfaction washing over me, as I internally gloated about being the smartest person in the room.  "How could these morons be taking running backs, when the kickers score so many more points?" I thought as i laughed to myself. Of course it never occurred to me how interchangeable kickers are, as opposed to the unique value that comes with a top five running back or wide receiver. So, when it is finally my turn to draft I proudly announce, "I take Morton Anderson!"  As soon as I spoke, there was maybe a second or two of total silence while the words permeated the room.  Then, all at once, as if someone flipped a switch on a laugh track machine, the room erupted.  I immediately realized that I had just made a complete ass of myself.

As the laughter began to subside, the guy running the draft asked, "Are you serious?"

I responded, "Of course not, I'll take..."

Now here is the key.  If you are going to pull off the "I was just joking when I said I wanted Morton Anderson" ploy, then you have to be ready with a legitimate name to replace him with.  I have to admit, I don't remember exactly who I said, but I do remember that it got quite a few laughs as well.  I am pretty sure it was someone who would have been around in the 5th round or so.  Basically, I threw out the first NFL players name that popped into my head, and it wasn't great.  At least I didn't say, "Bill Cowher."

Another great way to embarrass yourself during a fantasy football season, is to completely over think a simple decision.  During the 2001 Season, my starting running backs were Marshall Faulk, and Stephen Davis.  Marshall Faulk was a beast that year.  He ended the season with 2,147 all purpose yards, and 21 touchdowns.  Stephen Davis ate up the yards, but he had problems finding the end zone. He finished with 1,637 all purpose yards, and only 5 touchdowns.  Going into week 15, the first round of the 2001 fantasy playoffs, I had what should have been an easy start at running back.  I was however concerned about Stephen Davis.  He was more than capable of putting up big numbers, but a mediocre performance was also not out of the question.  Going into week 15 he was held under 80 yards five times, and on two of those occasions he was held under 40 yards.  Considering that almost the entire season had already played out, there weren't any legitimate #1 running backs available on the waiver wire.  However, there was one little golden nugget sitting out there that I couldn't resist.  Can anyone tell me who Trung Canidate is?  Trung Canidate was Marshall Faulk's main backup in St. Louis at the time.  If you remember, this was back in the days of "The Greatest Show On Turf."  The St. Louis Rams were putting up huge offensive numbers almost every week, and a lot of times, Faulk was being sat at halftime to protect him from injury because the game was already a blowout.

In week 15 the St. Louis Rams were up against the pathetic Carolina Panthers.  The 2001 Carolina Panthers finished a with a woeful 1-15 record.  That fact alone would not lead me to do something as insanely stupid as benching Stephen Davis in place of Trung Canidate.  Here is what would lead me to do something that stupid. In week 9 of the 2001 NFL season, the St. Louis Rams beat the Carolina Panthers 48-14.  Marshall Faulk had 197 all purpose yards and 2 touchdowns.  Now for the "work", Trung Canidate had an astounding 146 all purpose yards and 1 touchdown.  So coming into Week 15, the Rams are 11-2 and basically have the division on lock down. It's only reasonable to assume that Faulk will put up huge first half numbers, and Trung Canidate will get the bulk of the workload in a game that can pretty much be added to the win column before it even starts.  Well, I was half right.  Marshall Faulk's final line was a mind blowing 252 all purpose yards and 2 touchdowns.  Unfortunately the game ended up closer than anyone expected.  Trung Canidates final numbers were zero all purpose yards on zero attempts, with zero touchdowns. What made this even more embarrassing was that Stephen Davis put up 66 all purpose yards and a touchdown. In case you are wondering, I ended up losing my first round playoff game that day by 3 points.  So, making that bold coaching move single handedly ended my fantasy season that year.  And 10 years later, I still remember it vividly.