TOP TEN THINGS FOOTBALL NEEDS TO GET RID OF

If you missed it, B4P live tweeted (twoat?) Super Bowl LII – it was a trip!  Stuff was happening too fast for me to catch everything.  My mind was on overload – what did P!nk just spit out?  How can I make fun of Tom Brady worse than he’s doing to himself?  Does anyone realize that Bill Belichick looks like Zuul?

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But one thing that I kept thinking about the whole time was, the NFL has got too much stuff going on and it’s time to clean house.  So either because of technology, or necessity, or just because it’s plain lame, here are the Top 10 Things in Football That Just Have To GO!

10. Helmet Visors

Okay, this one comes with a bit of a stipulation.  It protects your eyes from UV rays and cuts down on players “losing” the ball in the sun.  Indeed, this is a very useful piece of equipment and has its place in the sport.  But dude…you’re in a dome.

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9. QB Finger Licking

Dear Quarterbacks – you are not what KFC had in mind with the whole “finger lickin’ good” thing.  The ball has been all over the field, touched by God-knows how many people.  You’ve high-fived your whole team and how can you be sure they all washed?  You’ve been sliding on turf that has been sprinkled with blood and sweat and lawn chemicals and feet.  For crying out loud, your hands keep going back to your Center’s butt.  Is licking your hands before you throw the ball your best plan?  This is how you get worms.

8. Pre/In/Post-Game Interviews

What are you going to tell us?  “Coach, what are your thoughts going into this game?”  “Well, we have to stay focused on our offense and keep our defense.”  “Coach, what will you be focusing on as you prepare for the second half?”  “Well, we had a pretty solid first half.  We just need to make sure our defense keeps shutting them down and we keep putting points up on the board with our offense.” “Coach how are you feeling after that upset?” “Well we came here to play and I think we had a solid effort, but they just came out ahead of us today.”

How many ways can you say you want to win and plan on doing that by scoring more points and make the other team score less?  And how many times have we heard “We came here to play”?  Oh, did you?  Well, since it’s the whole purpose of your job, it should probably appear somewhere on your to-do list.

7. Dial-A-Down

You’ve got GIGANTIC Jumbotrons.  You’ve got multiple smaller digital scoreboards surrounding the stadiums.  The quarterbacks have a freaking computers around their wrists.  Do they really need the stick on the sideline to help them count to four?!

6. Water Caddies

These guys play hard and they need to stay hydrated.  I can’t even imagine how much water these guys need to take in over the course of a single game.  I also acknowledge that time is of the essence, so having a staff member run a water bottle out on the field is also necessary.  But isn’t squirting the water into their mouths for them just a wee bit too far?!!  You just got sandwiched between five 300-pound men running at top speed and you got back up without even being winded, but your delicate little digits can’t handle a squeeze bottle?  Suck it up, buttercup, or I’ll kick you in your Turf Toe.

5. Butt Streamer

With all the hand licking and water squirting (this is starting to sound wrong), it’s no wonder players need a towel.  However, does it need to be a tail?!  We’ll look past the fact that they have grass/mud stained clothes (or at least insanely sweaty if they’re on astroturf) but they won’t be caught dead wiping their hands on their pants (Burger grease? Sure wipe it on your pants.  Moist hands?  Oh my land and stars!  What would the neighbors say?).  So, sure, have a towel.  But…

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THIS is not a towel!  This is what happens when you use the bathroom and tuck toilet paper into your pants!

4. Excessive Celebration Penalties

Let them dance!  Where would we be without the Icky Shuffle or the Funky Chicken?!  The end zone dance is a gridiron tradition and to penalize it is unAmerican!  I don’t care if the Bears want to do the entire Super Bowl shuffle when they score a touchdown!  Except dabbing – that should be illegal everywhere.

3. Chains

You can computer-generate a line anywhere on the field that we can see at home.  You have cameras that can zoom in on the last blade of grass the ball touched.  Every nearsighted armchair quarterback can tell the second someone gets a first down.  But there is no technology for the guys on the field to use to replace the dudes with two sticks and a chain?!  You have algorithms for anything and everything you need statistically – but to have a computer tell you, “Yup” or “Nope” on whether a guy passed a certain point is WAY outside the realm of possibility.  And if the chain guys can’t tell with absolute certainty, they call up to the control booth on two cans and a string.

2. Over Zealous Statistitians

1,151 total yards at Super Bowl LII – the most of ANY NFL game!  That’s amazing!  Most Super Bowl losses was a record set by New England (as a Bills fan I say, na-nana-boo-boo) at 5.  There are great stats to know.  However, every so often the announcers will come on with a “Lowest scoring third quarter in November with a left handed Capricorn as coach when it hasn’t been snowing since the new lunar cycle.”  Calm the hell down, Calvin Calculator, if you’re that bored, bring some cross stitching or something.

1. The College Shout-Outs

Every starting player is featured giving their name and telling you where they went to school.  If you’re in your rookie year, okay.  It’s cool to know where you came from.  If you’ve already celebrated your 20 reunion, just stop, you’d be the creepy old guy hanging around campus if you went back now.  And you’d wear your college sweatshirt if you went back there for a visit, wouldn’t you?  Admit it!  They painted over your bathroom stall poetry and none of the current students have a Pulp Fiction or Phish poster on their wall.  If you’re in your 30s, you are no longer “from” that university.  It’s like referring to your 12-year-old as your 144-month-old.  At some point, you need to move on.  You’re an NFL football player, you don’t need to reminisce about your glory days like Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite.

**Hey – you can never have too many Idiots in your life so I’ve got one more for you!  Go check out the Blue Collar Idiot‘s new blog.  It’s sure to get you laughing and thinking!  If nothing else, it’s better than most newspapers!

“Hey, the offensive linemen are the biggest guys on the field, they’re bigger than everybody else, and that’s what makes them the biggest guys on the field.” ~ John Madden

This is Only a Test

The students in New York are currently in the throws of state testing season (it’s the season of the year that comes between winter and construction).  And NO I’m not going to be reporting on the test itself and NO I’m not going to be going on a pro-/anti-Common Core rant.  That is not the purpose of my blog.  I have standards.  I have professional discretion.  I have a mortgage.

First of all, I always found it weird how far we’ve come with technology in the classroom – I can Skype with people from all over the world and instantly have guest speakers in my class or have a person with a GoPro camera take my students on field trips that they may never have an opportunity to go on otherwise – but they are still not allowed to take a test with anything but a #2 pencil.  Has anyone ever looked into the mystique surrounding the pencil numbers?  Probably not, because you all have lives and hobbies worth spending your precious time on.  Luckily for you, I do not have these things and took it upon myself to do some digging.  And, my friends, WE ARE LIVING A LIE!  Modern scantron technology has advanced enough to recognize any difference in shading between the little bubbles on the sheet, be they made with a #2 pencil, a colored pencil, a pen, a crayon, or a Hershey’s syrup covered Q-Tip (who has these items in their pencil pouches, I don’t know, but it would certainly make these tests smell amazing).  So the almighty #2 Pencil Corporation is indeed in violation of the monopoly laws because there are INDEED other choices even in the world of numbered pencils!  Have you ever heard of a #1 pencil?  Or a #3 or #4?  How about the ever-elusive #2 ½?  Go to Amazon, my good readers, embrace the power of these little used Ticonderoga treasures!  The only difference is how hard or soft the lead is – softer lead means a darker mark but more easily smudged.  Mind blown?  You betcha!

I actually enjoy the testing days.  Mainly because I’m a people watcher (creepy hobby, I know, but way more interesting than birds) and when kids are taking a test, they forget that they aren’t alone in the room.  It’s kind of like when you’re driving alone – there’s no one to talk to or interact with, so you forget that you aren’t surrounded by other people on the road.  They all start off with their little “pre-game” rituals.  Some have their pencils sharpened when they arrive, some wait until they get to school to sharpen them (every one of these people think they know which teacher has the best sharpener in the building and will make a pilgrimage to their room to grind their pencil to the perfect tip – sharp enough to perform surgery).  Some have their own mini sharpeners to use during the test, just in case.  There are little packs of tissues and gum (mint, because that is the flavor that is supposed to help you think better), special “lucky” erasers, and other tchotchkes that lead me to believe that these kids will be the envy of every bingo hall in their golden years.

When the test begins, that’s when the real fun starts.  The kids start out about the same and then they start forgetting where they are.  You have the usual kids who play with their pencils: make them look like rubber, pretend it’s a car or a plane, and some adventurous ones who play a little game of “five finger fillet.”  Some start moving their lips while they read which eventually leads to them moving their lips while they try to figure out their answer and I finally end up watching them having a silent debate with themselves with really cool facial expressions and even some hand gestures.

Then you get the kids who hear music.  This also seems to be a situation that builds up during the course of the exam.  It starts with a little wiggle in the chair or a head bob.  Then you can tell they have an actual tune playing in their head because they start moving to the beat.  Sometimes the pencil drum solo starts or possibly even some silent lip-syncing.  This year I had a first for me: a student actually started “Whipping” and “Nae Nae-ing” during the test.  Dude had a full-fledged dance break right there at his desk!

My favorite kids are the ones who ignore my sage advice.  Sure, they should get plenty of rest and eat a good breakfast and go to the bathroom before the test starts…but I always tell the kids to shower.  “Shower, you say?”  Shower, I say.  And you can tell the ones who did not heed my warning.  You see, it’s easier to ignore someone else’s “stinkies” if you’ve showered because you know for a fact that it isn’t you.  But, if you smell something a wee bit gamey and you did NOT shower, you start wondering if it’s you…and the paranoia sets in.  Then you see the “stealth sniffing” begin.  These individuals try to figure out the most discrete way to contort their body to get their nose into their armpit to see if they are really the culprit.  It’s hard not to laugh when they are performing the pit check.  If they just gave themselves an extra swipe of deodorant they would have been fine…

#2 deodorant of course.

You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be led.” ~ Stan Laurel

Top Ten Things I Miss From My 80s Childhood

I am totally stoked to relive my gnarly childhood memories.  Some of you lived through the 80s with me, some of you had children who did, and some of you, like my poor children, will never know the greatness of some of these radical things.  Let’s go back to before Michael Jackson and Madonna were heard on the Golden Oldies station and our favorite things weren’t described as “retro.”

10. Not Knowing How Technology Worked

Now the kids have more power in their phone than NASA had back then!  Virtual Reality, apps, 3D graphics, and tons and tons of other technological breakthroughs are hardly even acknowledged, let along gawked at.  Back when I was a little kid, the most rudimentary technological breakthroughs were mind-blowing!  The Speak n’ Spell – you would type in words and it would talk to you and correct your spelling and play word games with you. How did this work?  Simple.  Magic.  I had a Teddy Ruxpin bear and I put a cassette tape in his back and when his voice came on, his mouth started moving.  If another character was talking, his mouth didn’t move.  What kind of technology was this?  None!  Magic!  The little known Action Max game system had a gun that shot at your television when flashing targets popped up in the short VHS movie you were watching.  Hit the right target, system counter gives you a point; wrong target loses you a point.  Technology?  Nope.  It was friggin’ magic!  I miss not knowing that some 12-year-old zit-faced degenerate is sitting in his basement reeking of Funions while he codes in 0s and 1s until he creates the next Candy Crush garbage.  In my opinion, it was way cooler when you pulled the magic string on the back of your magic Mr. T doll and he magically told you that he “Pitied the fool.”

9.  School Picture Laser Background

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8. Ridiculously Aw(ful)esome Wrestling

Before the age of John Cena and a plethora of “normal” guys beating the crap out of each other in their underwear, things were REALLY awesome.  I remember watching wrestling back when it didn’t take itself so seriously.  They knew they were ridiculous and they embraced their ridiculousness!  There weren’t a bunch of John Smiths and Mike Joneses – there was Kamala the Ugandan Giant who was supposedly a cannibal and Ricky the Dragon Steamboat who spit fire before his matches.  Guys were “killed” and came back from the dead a month later.  There were head shaving matches.  There were AT LEAST two characters who defeated their opponents using black magic.  There were wrestling cops and robbers and mounties and vikings and clowns and dentists and plumbers and even a monk!  It was a weekly circus, boxing match, and soap opera rolled together with more cheese than the whole of Wisconsin!  I miss those old matches like Hulk Hogan misses steroids!

7.  Flavored Drinks that Most Likely Were Horrible for Us but Tasted Awesome

What happened to all of those amazingly original Kool-Aid flavors that made no sense? Mountain Berry Punch, Rainbow Punch, Purplesaurus Rex, Sharkleberry Fin (okay, that one tasted like ass, but I applaud the combination of fruit, aquatic life, and classic literature).  None of these flavors exist in nature and most likely did horrible things to our internal organs – I mean, Great Bludini changed from a red powder to a liquid that was almost a direct match for antifreeze – but I’m thinking the majority of our generation is still alive, right?  Couldn’t have been too bad!  And Kool-Aid wasn’t alone in this endeavor – let’s not forget about Hi-C and their insanely addictive Ecto Cooler to pair with the Ghostbuster movies and cartoon!  Oh the controversy that surrounds this radioactive green beverage is stuff of (nerdy) conspiracy theorists’ legends.  I’d get into all the theories and legends here…but I really don’t care.  I just remember I could suck down that juice by the gallon and leave myself unblinking for hours!  Best of all, because Ghostbusters is getting a reboot this summer, rumor has it Hi-C is bringing this diabetes inducing drink back in all of its neon citrus glory!

6.  Simple Video Games

Now, I’m not saying simple to suggest that they were easy.  Confession time: I have yet to defeat the original Super Mario Bros.  The original Castlevania was damn near impossible! When I say “simple,” I mean not every game needs to have graphics sharp enough to give us the ability to see the characters’ nose hairs.  Not every game needs enough “cut scenes” to make up a 3-hour movie with a script written by Academy Award winning screenplay writers.  And if you can play your game for an hour and still be going through tutorial levels, you might have made the controls a bit too complicated.  I miss the games where you plug it in, turn it on, see nothing, turn it off, unplug the game, blow in it, put it back in, turn it on, and start playing.  Two dimensional, one directional, coin collecting, bad guy destroying, princess saving, goodness.  They were tough enough to be challenging but I didn’t need to think.  I could mindlessly let my thumbs take over.  If I lost a life it was because I wasn’t fast enough or I didn’t jump far enough, not because I didn’t correctly decode the algorithm to defuse the chemical warhead.  Run, jump, shoot, repeat.  Oh, and to all of you Call of Duty punks out there – can you beat that game with only 3 tries?  Yeah – didn’t think so.  Booyah.

5.  Ice Cream Trucks

Where the hell did they go?!!  I remember that they would come by at least once a day in the summer and if there was some sort of carnival or festival, they parked nearby.  There was no sweeter sound than that cheerful music on a 90-degree day.  Kids and adults alike would fly out of their front doors and line up at the little window for a twisty cone or a sundae crunch bar.  You’d risk life and limb sprinting in front of a speeding bus to make it across the street and get a Push-Up.  Now, I’ve seen a few ice cream trucks in my adult life, but I can probably count them on one hand and one of them is a sno-cone truck which, yeah, there’s some satisfaction attainable from a sno-cone, but there is no comparison. Where are you Mister Softee?  Come back to us!

4. Holiday Specials

You knew when the holidays were coming because all of the commercials for holiday specials on television you didn’t want to miss!  Whether it was the “Charlie Brown Christmas Special”, the “Garfield Halloween”, or “The Easter Bunny is Coming to Town,” you marked your calendars and figured out how to stop your VCR from flashing 12:00 so that you could set it to record the momentous event.  Even if you’d seen the same specials year after year, you still tuned in.  Part of the fun of the Christmas specials was to see the commercials for the hot selling toys you were asking Santa for that year and the classic commercials like the Coca-Cola polar bears and the tear-jerking Folgers “Peter” commercial.  Any show worth its salt AT LEAST had a Christmas episode and some of the bigger cartoons, like Peanuts and Garfield, had a special for just about every major holiday. It filled you up with the holiday spirit and gave you the perfect background entertainment while you decorated your tree or colored your eggs or blocked out the thought of your Mom being elbow deep up a turkey’s butt.

3. Action Figures

“But wait,” you might be saying, “you can still get action figures today.”  You, in your long history of being wrong have never been wronger.  What they have today are some sort of collectable, overly stylized version of the action figures I remember.  Action figures are toys.  Toys are meant to be played with.  Playing with toys involves more than keeping the toy in a box on the shelf.  Playing with toys involves, well, playing with toys.  And if you’re planning on playing with action figures, there is most likely going to be an epic battle or two in the cards for your little plastic friends.  I was an action figure junkie: Masters of the Universe, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Karate Kid, A-Team, and the list goes on.  LOVED.  THEM.  And I was far from gentle with these little dudes – they tumbled down stairs, fell from high heights, got slammed, bashed, and beaten in every way imaginable by their peers.  The best part is most of them have seen battle recently at the hands of my son.  I’ve passed them on almost in the same condition as when I bought them!  Out of nostalgia, I bought a few of the updated, re-released Masters of the Universe figures when they tried to relaunch the series back in the early 2000s.  I gave one of these figures to my son and, minutes after taking it out of the box, he accidentally dropped it about two feet and the hand snapped off (the kung-fu grip hand, no less).  Most of the really cool looking figures out today aren’t meant to be played with…what kind of crappy toy is that?!!

2.  Breakfast Cereals

Besides the normal cereals that we still have around today like Frosted Flakes, Honey Smacks, and Capt’n Crunch (because screw the roof of your mouth) – there were tons and tons of cereals that showed your fandoms for all of your favorite characters, movies, and television shows.  Smurf Berry Crunch, C3POs, Nintendo Cereal (with a different flavor for Mario and Zelda in each box), Pac-Man, GI Joe, and even buff Mr. T wanted you to munch on his sugary T-shaped crunchy nuggets…okay, sorry, that sounded wrong.  And each of these cereals had a prize in the box, not a prize you could mail away for with a couple proofs of purchase and $9 of real money – no, sir – it was IN THE BOX!  And even the box itself had games and fun things on them!  The best part of having all of these cereals was eating them and drinking the newly flavored milk while watching…

1. Saturday Morning Cartoons

With stations dedicated solely to children’s programming, Saturday morning cartoons seem to have faded away.  This weekly tradition is easily the most missed thing from my childhood.  My footie pajamas, my ET lap tray, and a solid five hours of cartoons!  That was the life!  I am slowly collecting the box sets of these old cartoons so that I can relive those glorious weekends.  Now I just need some insanely sugary, marshmallow-laden cereals and a new set of footie pajamas…very big footie pajamas.

“I spent my whole childhood wishing I were older and now I’m spending my adulthood wishing I were younger.” ~ Ricky Schroder

Aged to Perfection

Today I had the great honor and privilege to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday.  I’ve written about her before and her feisty ways and it never ceases to amaze me how she is still living in a full, two-floor house, still driving, still dancing, still going out and raising a ruckus with her friends, still playing and helping raise her great grandsons, and still living life to the fullest!  She is truly an inspiration.

It’s mind-boggling to think about everything that she has experienced.  When she was born you could get a house for $7000; a car for less than $400.  Marilyn Monroe, Queen Elizabeth, and Mel Brooks were just born and Harry Houdini, Rudolph Valentino, and Annie Oakley just died.  She has seen 14 presidents get elected, 2 territories become states, and the Berlin Wall go up and come down.  Most impressively she has been around to see all 9 of Zsa Zsa Gabor’s marriages and all 17 of Michael Jackson’s noses!

When she was my age there were no personal computers or cell phones, so today really got me thinking about what things are going to be like when I’m 90.  The year will be 2069 and it will be a wondrous place, my friends.  I will wake up early and grab a mug of fresh hot coffee from the Tim Horton’s attached to my garage – after having developed a location in all of the free business areas and still not being able to keep up with the demand of people’s addictions they just started building a franchise on everyone’s property.

I’ll turn on my television wall to see what is happening on the news.  President Trump, finishing up his 12th consecutive term in office, will be tearing down the wall along the Canadian border to solve the maple syrup shortage.  The wall along the Mexican border remains strong and intact ever since the day Mexico built it to keep us from fleeing into their country after Trump’s first election.

The people mourn the loss of Taylor Swift, however her funeral is interrupted by Kanye West who wanted the world to know that his wife, Kim Kardashian, had the best funeral of the year.  Her final wishes were to have an open casket and to be completely nude.  All of the West children: North, South, North-by-North, AFC, Go, and Wild were the pallbearers.

I’ll try to keep my day low key – I’m sure my family will have a party for me later, but I would really just like to go see a movie.  Most likely it will be the 50th installment of the Fast and Furious series.  I’ll be standing in line for my ticket behind a bunch of people chain smoking unfiltered cigarettes in an attempt to quit their addiction to vapor inhalers.  I’ll use the thumbprint pad to remortgage my home to purchase my ticket and a Venti (Starbucks has made the use of the word “large” illegal) tub of crunchy Organic Bulgar Wheat Germ and naturally unsweetened Acai berry slushy (since snack food is no longer allowed to be purchased anywhere…thanks Obama!)

I’ll get into my self-driving, electronic, zero emissions car and cruise on over to one of my kid’s houses and try to act surprised that they threw me a party.

***For the record my grandmother didn’t even try to act surprised.  In her mind I’m sure she was thinking, “I’m freakin’ 90 – you’d BETTER have thrown me an epic shindig!”***

I’ll demand the cake first – I’m 90, try and stop me – and then whatever else they made that’s supposed to be good for me…if anyone even hints that I’m not eating right, I’m grabbing another fistful of cake and shoving it into my gaping maw!  I will continue sitting in the corner eating cake hunks like apples until I bellow out a crumb-spewing “PRESENTS!”  I will have dropped hints to strategic family members, so I’ll have a pretty good idea of what I’m getting.  My two sons (who will both be very well off since I forced them into medical schools so that they can share the financial burdens of my retirement years) will be sending me on a trip to Disney World (not the park, the Walt Disney Corporation actually bought the lower east quadrant of the country and renamed it) so that I can see the Rolling Stones in concert (Mick and Keith, still going strong).  My less financially sound friends and family I will expect Bills and Sabres tickets from because, after about 6 losing decades, those tickets should be pretty cheap.

I’ll thank them for the party and go home to curl up in my Snuggie and binge watch Netflix.  They will most likely wait until I’m gone to sigh and roll their eyes because they know, with all of the advancements in medicine and technology, they are going to have to put up with me for many, many more birthdays.

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” ~ Satchel Paige