RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Sunday, January 11

Zywiec Porter


AFFORDABILITY: Like the other Polock porter beer I talked of the other day, this one was around $3 for a just-over-a-pint bottle. The Zywiec also be claiming 9.5% alcohol. 6 out of 5.
DESTROYABILITY: 9.5% bro... strong enough to have a slight hint of burn like you’re drinking grown folks alcohol, yet still just a beer, and that touch of chocolate but not overbearing like a good porter would do. Shit, I missed out on this one on New Year’s Eve, because the other dude drank this one, and I went back to the fancy beer store to get a couple of these, and it got me nice, real nice. 4 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: Black, brown, burgundy, and gold colors, fancy shield with a crown and an old timey couple in old fashioned clothes dancing like it’s the wedding scene from The Deerhunter... fucking awesome. 5 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: Made by Grupa Zywiec S.A. of Zywiec, Poland, and the back label (which I had neglected to stare at to this point) has a black-and-white proud industrial communist picture of what I would assume would be Zywiec about forty years ago when the smokestacks by the river were still emitting profitable pollutants into the ozone. This is obviously made by good people, if by good you mean “knows how to get fucked up to forget how fucked up everything is.” 5 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: I also hadn’t noticed how the label said “FAITHFUL TO TRADITION” which is how I feel - faithful to my genetic tradition of being proud of drinking too much, yet another example of people being proud of the fucked-up places they come from. It is like I’m an Armenian or something. 4 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 4 & 4/5 STARS!

Saturday, January 10

Ephemere Ale


AFFORDABILITY: From the Unibroue company of Canadia, so it came in a 4-pack, and probably was more than it should've been. But I'm fairly sure it was less than a 4-pack of Sammy Smith Nut Brown Ale. Therefore, 2 out of 5.
DESTROYABILITY: It is brewed with apple juice, coriander, and curacao, and is basically a fauntleroy hard cider, which means higher alcohol content, but also makes me feel like Fred Sanford’s gonna wave his hand for funny man sign language. So I only drank one to keep the rest for the ol’ lady, and it was tasty with a tingle to my belly, so I will give it the benefit of the doubt. 3 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: Fruity lettering font, plus a seductive yet classy fairy on the label - basically, it looks like an absinthe ad in the back of Spin magazine before absinthe was legal again. Interesting for a beer label, but I would feel gay for admitting I like it. 2 out of 5 (but really 4, just don’t tell no one I’m down with weird celestial fairy shit). One thing I wonder though is if a beer is bottle refermented, how can they be so scientific with their decimal point alcohol by volume calculation?
CORPORATE MASTER: The Unibroue company of Canada - which is cool I guess since that’s basically gay Alaska - but the French Canada - which is not cool because that’s basically like the lost colony of France. But I give them credit because they do the La Fin Du Monde beer that makes your head hurt like you fought a berserker, and the Maudite beer too, which looks more like a beer that King Diamond would drink than any other beer I’ve seen on this earth (granted, I haven’t seen all that much, but let’s pretend). 4 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: The coriander was a nice touch, yet I am not a woman, although I am not afraid to play one on amateur TV, so long as nobody sticks a finger up my ass. That never feels as good as people pretend it would. Or maybe I need to relax more. Hard to say. 3 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 3 & 1/5 STARS!

Friday, January 9

Friday Love/Hate

Man, I love me some beets, cooked from raw beets, not in the can. Steamed, or better yet slow roasted in the oven with some turnips as well, sitting in a nice vinegar in the Pyrex tray, smelling up the house with goodness because there's five cloves of garlic scattered in there as well, that is the fuel for my ass to keep moving along my lifeline. Kids running around the kitchen, wanting to play checkers, dancing wacky space dances because some electrofunk instrumental jam that I was into for like three weeks four years ago pops up on the iPod's shuffle madness, that's the shit. My family - the immediate one of my wife and kids, not the one we grew from that we all blame all our insufficiencies on - my family is strange and oddball and probably technically a good long rut below the poverty level, but we are blessed like a hundred Emmitt Otters, no doubt about it.
As for hate, man, I'm full of a thousand hates. Being broke, plus being self-unemployed (and looking at my schedule, most likely self-unemployed in nine days), and not really feeling positive about my ability to ever stop being a broke ass underclass fucker, I have lots of hate, most of it misdirected at people who have what I have not. I hate the players, hate the game, hate the whole fucking thing. Some days I wish for religion-crazed terrorists who somehow never learned compassion for human life in their spiritual studies to blow the whole fucking planet up into little lava rocks floating through space. It is during those times I try to reflect on my home family and the good scenes like described above. But then I stop at a light and only have 39 cents in the truck and the person next to me, big redneck diesel truck with small fu manchu Stone Cold Steve Austin fan sitting behind the wheel with his small penis, sucking on a Pepsi, and I think, "Man, I want a Pepsi. Why can't I have a Pepsi?" And I get all pissed off and full of hate again, overwhelmed by stupid material emotions of entitlement.

Jamaica Brand Red Ale


AFFORDABILITY: I was bedazzled by their 6-pack box looking like some sort of early-'90s Grateful Dead homemade sticker my wife would have put on her trunk. But it was over $9 a 6-pack, and my carefree world of holiday spree has come crashing back down to earth in post-holiday bills, with little work booked for the next two months while it's too cold to work outside, so not only is this an unbearable price, but fuck man, what a stupid fucker I am. Negative 1 out of 5.
DESTROYABILITY: The Jamaica Brand Red Ale is a bitter ale, and therefore I think I drunk one, maybe two. Not enough to put a cobra clutch on my tolerance level. 1 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: Rasta colors on bright yellow background, with a heart surrounded by a booming star, all done simplistic style like a hippie girl dreaming of following String Cheese Incident in algebra class would doodle and then color in at home with her art school level colored pencil set in a tin case while she was all high as fuck on dirtweed with her lava lamps plugged in and warming up, that one first thick sphere of wax just starting to float upwards. So even if it corny by today’s jaded hipster hodgepodge internet doofus standards, I have a fetish for hippie girls - I have often said it’s the bright flowing skirts but I think it might actually be the hairy conkshells - so I have to give this label mad love... one love. 4 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: Hahaha, it’s made by the Mad River Brewing Company of Humboldt County, California. That’s almost too stereotypically goofy to be true, but it is. And the 6-pack box even had suggestions of nice river trips you could take in the area. Hilarious. I hope I get the braid in the hippie pie. 2 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: My initial innocent joy at the goofy naiveté of the Jamaica Brand Red Ale was pretty quickly overridden by my cyber-hipster “LOL stoopid hippies” internal meme... yet now I am filled with regret. Can it be it was all so simple then? 2 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 1 & 3/5 STARS!

Thursday, January 8

2009 Goals #4: Get Rich (Or Try Dying)


If the economic collapse of America has taught me anything, now that it’s finally seeking it’s creepy tentacles into my life, it’s that I’ve got to get rich, or at the very least less broke. I hate painting houses for the most part, unless I get hired to do wacky 17-color accent wall faux finish oddballing stuff, but that doesn’t raise up too often. Mostly I make white things whiter, and easier to scrub with a sponge. But I am bucking up, and have decided to be more professional this year, not really in the work I do but in my business outlook. I’ve set a monthly goal for net billing for the first three months, with the plan of adjusting upwards every quarter of the year as we move on. Then again, I’ve got to start taking Wednesdays off to chill with the kids so the wife can teach at this herbal clinic, which is good for her life’s desires long-term, but damn, she’ll make $75 and I’ll leave $200 on the table. But I’ll get to kick it with my kids, and will have to take the oldest two to ballet, which is always fun. Except that shit is $136 a month, which is far above what I should be paying for something that doesn’t put food in my belly or drive me to work.
But I guess that’s the point, to move beyond my bullshit, which has moved beyond my parents’ bullshit. My middle kid is only 5, and already halfway through her first full year of ballet school. I hate to be all Tiger Woods dad on my ovaried sperm grown into humans, but hey man, when I was five, I was smashing Matchbox cars with cinderblocks and hammers so I could recreate Dukes of Hazzard and Chips accidents in the backyard. I want better for my kids. (Of course, I did show them how to smash up Matchbox cars with a cinderblock to pretend there had been an accident in the sandbox and have ambulances and cop cars show up... the key is to have two copies of the same car so you can smash up one, keep it behind your back, pretend the good one has an accident, and then pull the switcheroo and pretend you didn’t see yourself do it.)
So yeah, lottery salvation hasn’t been giving me shit for a long ass minute, so I guess I’m just gonna have to, you know, work and all, like some dumbass. This of course means I’ll never be rich because rich people don’t work, they just rip motherfuckers off. (I am full of ridiculous stereotypes about how the wealthy have become wealthy. My father was an alcoholic chain saw mechanic with a 7th grade education, but had read enough books in his own adult time to understand how to put together a good conspiracy philosophy.)

Okocim Porter


AFFORDABILITY: The Beer Run store in Charlottesville is a nice store with plenty of selection of high end beers, plus they can get kegs of pretty much anything that is kegged up on two days notice. They had a nice big holiday beer display in their cluttered store (which also has a bar and serves lunch and the like), and on one shelf on the far wall was a bunch of porters from east Europe, which I had assumed was part of their holiday display. The Okocim was one a few Polish porters, promising high alcohol content, in just over a pint bottles, for $3, about the price of big molotov cocktail bottles of Sierra Nevada or Newcastle or Red Stripe at the regular grocery store, so I can tolerate that I guess. 3 out of 5.
DESTROYABILITY: I had actually bought a couple of Polish porters for New Year's Eve when another couple and their kids came to the house to throw down. Me and the dude cracked open a porter each, me choosing this one (and it promising me 8.3% alcohol). Turns out he was a full quarter Polish, like me. My grandfather was the son of Polish immigrants, and when he pass away this year, while we digging through his shit for legal effects, we found the green card my great grandmother got passing through Ellis Island. So me and the other dude bonded in our neglected Polock heritage, and happily and heartily rang in the new year sucking down these porters. And really the only testament as to the destroyability of the Okocim is the fact that by the time the night was over, I was lighting cheap Chinese fireworks on the picnic table, sloshy and loud, and woke up in a new cycle of the calendar boxes with oddly parallel burn marks all over my writing hand. I would assume this was from attempting to light more fireworks as already lit fireworks exploded beside me. 8 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: Nice black, brown, and ominous eastern European dark red, with words using far too many of the last five consonants in the English alphabet to seem normal to me. Plus, a little shield of a goat, full horns twisting behind his head while he drinks from a giant flagon of drunkwater. I would proudly wear this label on a t-shirt, especially since I go through shirt phases. One point, it was all Hawaiian shirts (which sometimes meandered into the similar genre of old black man button-down shirts), and then it was t-shirts where I put iron-on letter messages on them ( a blue t-shirt with “MY GRASS IS TALL” in a play on the one that one dude in Lynyrd Skynyrd is wearing in the Street Survivors LP), or when I was wearing knock-off football jerseys with color matched t-shirts underneath. But lately, as I’ve become bored with styles again, I just want to wear jeans and black t-shirts (perhaps relapsing to my early teen years) and the only two I really have to wear are one from some junkyard my homeboy Benji gave me (says “recyclers do it again and again”, wink wink nudge nudge heh heh heh), and an ominous Costa Rican beer shirt my wife got me when they all went to Central America and I was still here working like a fool. So yeah, nice label, and I want a t-shirt like this. 6 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: Made by the famous Okocim Brewery of Brzesko, Poland, which of course I don’t know shit about. But even the importers - Stawski Imports of Chicago - sound like good shit. My grandfather lived in Chicago for a while after running with some injuns after the war he was in. I used to be a pretty proud southerner, like lots of shitty people get fake proud of their shitty home to give themselves a higher level of low self-esteem, but in my meanderings, I have to say the strange ethnic identities of various white breeds in pockets of the north is interesting to me. In the south, it’s basically just white people, without knowledge of individual flavorings. But those ethnic whiteys, man they have some good looking sausages in their stores. Whitefish sausage? Sign me up. With some homemade countertop fermented sauerkraut? Fuck yeah. My mom was pretty emotional in memory mode this past Christmas, first one without her dad, so I think I’m gonna take some of these Polish pints of porter down there and we can burn up some old furniture in the back yard. 7 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: Maybe it caught me at the right time, remembering old acquaintances that shouldn’t’ve been forgotted, and it got me feeling good. And I might just be in impulsive semi-responsible, semi-degenerate mode, but this is the greatest beer ever. 9 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 6 & 3/5 STARS!

Wednesday, January 7

100 VINYLZ: #78 - Play Their Own Records LP by The Mummies


(1992, Estrus Records)
When I was running my stupid confederatemack.com website back in the day, a lot of things happened. But what probably made me giddiest inside was when this chick (who ended up marrying a friend of mines) passed along contact info and I got to do my goofy 23 Questions with the Semi-Famous with the dude who played drums in The Mummies. I can’t remember if it was my old roommate Ten Dollar David or my man Boogie Brown that first played me a Mummies 7-inch, but it was good shit, because garage rock hadn’t been overdone ridiculous at that point. Plus, the whole wrapping themselves in mummy fashion and riding around in a shitty Hearse, it put them over the top of all the wack-ass fuckers that would appear after all the Back From the Grave collections from Crypt Records started getting more circulated.
This record is a collection of their earlier 7-inches and motherfucking great. I would like to give you more specifics and all that hooha, but it is 34 degrees and icy raining outside and I am feeling good in my bootleg mesh Michael Jordan with the Bulls fake practice gym shorts and am going to walk out on the porch where the beer is stored and yell out “FOOD! SICKLES! AND GIRLS! FOOD! SICKLES! AND GIRLS!” until the cold sneaks past the Yuenglings in my bloodstream, and I run back inside, probably stubbing my naked toe on one of the screws working its way back out the porch boards.
Also, even though I don’t actually own it (and I’m not even sure if I ever did or just lived with someone who did), there is no better 7-inch cover ever than the one to The Mummies “Welcome to Shitsville” 7-inch. And fuck you if you disagree.

2009 Goals #5: Accumulate More Critters


My last goat has been dead for a while now, yet all I have hanging around the house are my daughters' cats (plus the stray one living under the trash shed). It's time to tear up some shit with retarded animals. And being a housepainter, I have lots of free brain time to think about stupid shit. So here is what I'd like to get, sectioning off our pasture into separate segments, and starting to cultivate some hawthorn bushes as hedges... A) more goats, preferably useless ones like I used to have, banded dehorned male goats, and I will want to give them evil named but they will get goofy girl names from my family, B) a pig, who will not get a name, because he will straight up be for eating later in the year, although I hear it is better to get pigs in pairs or they get depressed and unhappy, and the last thing I want inside my homegrown slabs of bacon is the energy of depression (this is why cheap pork products are so unhealthy for humans, not the meat itself but the molecular energy contained therein, due to creeping living standards of agribusiness pork farms, as well as the robotic slaughterhouse technology they use nowadays, where most pigs are genetically designed to be the exact same fucking size and shape, so the robot knives don't have to be tinkered with), C) a couple mutt dogs, because it's time to have some fucking dogs again, hopefully going to the SPCA for my birthday next month, and I had told my wife I wanted a yellow lab mix of some sort who I would name Ric Flair, but we'd make it one word to say fast like Ricflair, "C'mere Ricflair, sit Ricflair," and obviously for the other dog I'd like a hound dog mutt named Manson, because everybody needs a dog named Manson, although I guess that stupid Ben Stiller sketch from his stupid sketch show kinda makes that seem kinda gay, D) the wife and kids have wanted burros for a while, and I figure I try to emulate the Mexican man's chronic laziness and overpopulation of the world, so I might as well have some burros, and being we are retarded as a family unit and not just on my own, me and the wife thought it good to named them Manhattan, Staten, Brooklyn, Queensbridge, and Boogie Down, so that we'd have the five burros - a stupid pun, yes, but if we actually had five living creatures grazing lazily on our property to carry the stupid pun out to full effect, I guess that would make it beyond simply a stupid pun and something remarkably over-the-top stupid that I could be proud to explain uncomfortably to my mother, and E) a white tiger on a leash that eventually I run away with to live underneath a rock overhang in the Blue Ridge mountains, idly scribbling drunken ramblings into the rocks with old railroad spikes.

Lagunitas Brown Shugga Ale


AFFORDABILITY: This was the Wine & Beer Warehouse store as well, and I actually took it to the counter and asked eastern Euro-looking dude who worked there about it (all dudes who work at beer stores and used record stores are Eastern European looking, for some reason, unless they are non-whiteys) and he didn’t know nothing about it. I was intrigued by the promise of brown sugar flavoring, as well as the 6-pack box talking up how it was all a mistake and they never meant to make this but they did and here it was and it was awesome. It was expensive I think, but I took the last 6-pack off the shelf. Then, while waiting to check out, a young couple was looking for a sixer of it as well, and there was none on the shelf, so the other eastern Euro-looking dude, the older one, who worked there, looked it up on their computer and was like, “Well, it says we have 116 bottles, so it’s either in the basement or there’s a few six-packs up here,” and he starts looking in boxes with the top half cut off along the counter and wall. I start looking and the couple is looking, and the girl of the couple goes, “THERE’S ONE!” So the older eastern Euro-looking guy starts playing six-pack Jenga with beers and cardboard and eventually unearths it for them to check out. All the while, I’m chatting up the dude of the couple about it, because I’m reluctant to give a shot in the dark to a $9 6-pack, especially more than one (and I would bet my hands were full), and he talks it up a nice game, so I’m sold on what I was already ready to buy, but now with less immediate regret. The whole thing was a great moment of forced deliberation and unique experience that made the purchase secondary to the memory. 8 out of 5.
DESTROYABILITY: Aside from it’s other brown sugar sweet release promises, it says “Life is Uncertain. Don’t Sip.” It also says 9.5% alcohol. It helped instill in me a gangsta lean, so much as a rural white dude raising three wholesome daughters and trying to maintain a small business on his own can be considered gangsta. 3 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: A very plain light yellow label, but with giant red “BROWN SHUGGA” on it embossed in the blackness. Plus, there’s mad Dr. Bonner’s soap bottle style nonsense kicking it in such a small space. At first, I would’ve been all like, “Man, fuck this shit,” but eventually I was like, “Nah, it’s cool.” 4 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: It is a thing called Lagunitas Brewing Company of Pacoima, California (actually, Petaluma, but I like to say Pacoima more because Christmas just passed and I’ve listened to Cheech & Chong’s “Santa Claus and His Ol’ Lady” 139 times). I don’t really know anything about all this, but in my brain I have morphed together the George Lopez Show and the Drew Carey Show, and have imagined a funny sorta longhaired Mexican guy overseeing the assembly line of a beer manufacturing plant, and I’ve thrown in that scene from Take This Job & Shove It where they drink beer in bathtubs back in the woods (which is kinda warped now because of those dick drug commercials), and this all takes place right before lucha libre comes on Galavision on Tuesday night and I get to see Satanico teach Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero how to be properly awesome rudos, so awesome that that old guy rings his goofy bell like madness. 5 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: You know, after the alcohol dork store pre-drinking hype, I was a little let down by the delivery of this beer. But I only drank like 2 of them mixed in with other shit, melting pot genetics style, which makes it harder to recognize the inherent beauty of a single entity contained within the mix. The second time a few days later that I drank upon this 6-pack, the couple of beers gave me a glorious feeling. There are beer dork blogs and websites that pour beers in glasses and describe all those aspects to you, but I am not from that cloth cut. The internet is made for such people, with science in mind to explain their own madness, but in an entertaining manner for random strangers. I know I’m fucking retarded, and I know I drink too much. Way too much, and this is even without ever allowing myself liquor drinks. Yet still, through all this, I can say, when I put on my professorial air and like to pretend I’m more than the average drunkard and want to dabble in fancy-pants beers, I can assure you, this here Brown Shugga Ale bridges that divide, making a fancy-pants closeted homo turn into a good ole drunkard (which is not to insinuate homosexuals aren’t good, or old, nor as good as drunkards; basically it’s all just SHOCKING TERMINOLOGY which has all become pretty played out inside the internets but I still use it because I don’t allow myself to talk shit like that around my kids, because I don’t want to raise daughters who end up in public service announcement commercials with Wanda Sykes). 4 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 4 & 4/5 STARS!

Tuesday, January 6

100 VINYLZ: #79 - One Nation Under a Groove LP plus bonus 7" by Funkadelic


(1978, Warner Brothers Records)
When I was a young teenage boy reading Hit Parader and RIP magazine like a little dork, there was some company based in Brooklyn that I can't remember at all, but basically you sent them money and a list of bands you liked and they mailed you records back. It was something like 4 LPs for $10, 9 for $20, 25 for $50, and 60 for $100. I never did those bigger ones, but I remember saving up poker money to do the 9 LP thing a few times. Everything you got was still shrink-wrapped, but it was all cutouts, meaning records sent back to the labels from record stores (called cutout because the corner was cut off, or had a hole punched in it), so a lot of it was variations on things you listed, and often times not that great. I think I got every Rossington-Collins Band album ever made, for example. Although I did get Neil Young's Trans, which sucked and I sold while in college, and of course now is some uber-genius Neil Young dabbles in electronica must-have and probably worth a billion dork dollars (which usually averages around $23 on ebay). So most of the stuff I got wasn't that stellar.
I did, however, get my first actual in-the-flesh taste of P-Funk, by getting this One Nation Under a Groove album, by the Funkadelic branch of P-Funk (the superior arm of their attack on lame whitey sensibilities, in my opinion). I mean, I knew of George Clinton, but rap music was still too busy looting James Brown's music to have gotten deep into the P-Funk pillage yet. But this album taught me about things I take for granted now. Wacky gatefold art, for example, which was, as I'm sure you've probably heard some fag on VH1 talk about by now, was an integral part of the P-Funk LP experience. But really, you could be high (or sober) and read that motherfucker for hours. Makes me wonder what great artistic treasures were lost from this American world by black people not doing enough psychedelic drugs.
As for the music itself, you know, a lot of funk - even P-Funk funk - is repetitive and kinda gay. But I did dig "Groovallegiance" a lot. And more importantly than the actual LP itself was the bonus 7", which included a live version of "Maggot Brain". People, especially inside the internets but without academic backing, tend to overanalyze music to try and explain how something can be emotionally great to us in such unexplainable ways. We are more scientist than religious and need everything figured out. I say all this because the live version of "Maggot Brain" is one of the greatest musical things ever and a perfect example of drug music as high art, because now that it has made such multi-molecular sense to me under the influence of various drugs, the guitar solo plucks at your brain and actually sounds like you are under the influence of thangs, somehow. There is no college professor who can teach you how to do this, and the internet is full of drug- and alcohol-free individuals who feel themselves an expert on this or that who will try to lay such things out for you in an understandable and self-important way. But you can't. I can tell you right now, I don't claim to know shit about shit. I probably should've googled this shit to make sure I had the songs spelled right or that it was actually a live version of "Maggot Brain" and not an alternate studio version or some shit. But I don't give a fuck. I knows what I knows, and I knows that this "Maggot Brain" contained therein this LP on that little bonus chunk of vinyl is one of the greatest goddamned things ever. And you can download it probably, but it won't come in the shitty ghetto comic book art-covered gatefold LP you could cut the seeds and stems out your reefer bag upon, nor will you give it the same chance, because you know of George Clinton and you just read what I just wroted about all this. That shit blind-sided me as a naive, unsuspecting kid, hip to the metal and punk and angsty whiteboy musics of the time, but not so much music made by black people above the age of 30 at that time. This album probably opened me up to where I ended up wanting to go to college, as opposed to going to the Winn Dixie to shoplift Mad Dog 20/20. It didn't really, but wouldn't a normal internet fag write some shit about how "This LP changed my life!"
A great sidenote to this is George Clinton's barely concealed crack addiction. I know of two situations (second-hand) where young fanboy people saw Clinton doing crack, personally. One time, this dude who was attending to extra details for James Madison had to go pick up Clinton and others from the airport to drive them to the campus for a college concert. Clinton asks the kid, "You mind if I smoke?" Kid says no, but roll the window down it's a campus vehicle. So Clinton rolls the window down, riding through a small town, and fires up a crack pipe, right there in the JMU ride. The other time, this goofy kid who was like the only artsy kid at shitty private Hampden-Sydney College where tomorrow's white overlords lord over grades today, he got to design the outfit Clinton wore to another college concert (Clinton obviously knows how to keep his hustle going, and where the money is at for drugged-out meandering black hippie music), and he got to take the outfit to Clinton at the Comfort Inn, which at the time was the nicest hotel in Farmville, Virginia. Going into the "suite", the college kid, all stoked to meet an idol and give him a carefully created outfit, basically just had to drop it on the bed while Clinton and others sat around the table smoking crack rather obviously. These stories fill me with joy, because white kids (myself included when I was one) are naive as fuck, and crack is always seen as such a debilitating downtrodden drug. It's nice to hear about examples of successful people, financially artistically and otherwise, enjoying that hardened chemical form of cocaine which is mostly demonized by the lame ass media.

NFL WK 19: Divisional Playoffs

The big dork fuck argument after the wild card round was, "OH MY GOD! NFL OVERTIME IS AN ATROCITY AGAINST SPORTING SPORTISMS AND IT IS A HITLER AGAINST US ALL!" Whatever man. Who the fuck cares? I mean, I could see them saying, "Let's just play a 15 minute period and whoever is winning after that wins," but if they do the college bullshit, fuck that. That style is not of the enjoyment variety, just nonsense at the end of a game, doubling the score for everybody involved, and makes a mockery of sporting sportisms far worse than sudden death. I mean, if anybody wants to hear it, I've got a ton of ideas on how to improve pro football (you go one man down after personal fouls for one play, limited to four punts per half so that you save them and go for it on 4th down more, plus many others), but college overtime fixing overtime is way off that list. So quiet down shocked and insulted white sports writer talking head thinker guys, because you were denied your Manning Bowl or feel indignant about the shitty Chargers advancing through another week. So anyways, here's the rankings of the divisional round playoff teams, with wacky nonsense wordtalk accompaniment. I'd really suggest playing some of that Sam Snead NFL film music in the background while you read these...

#1: NEW YORK GIANTS (12-4, 1st overall) - And then there was one Manning. The Giants last year were underdog upstarts who rallied their way through the playoffs into holding shiny Lombardi justification. This year, they've been the most highly regarded team most of the year, and have struggled towards the end. Usually, in the NFL's engineering of storylines, tihs means they will win a game this weekend, to seem like they've got it together, sell some shit at the NFL Shopzone, but then they'll get trumped by someone else next week, most likely Carolina. The Eagles beat the Giants last time in New Jersey, which makes it seem POSSIBLE! And the Panthers lost a tough one that next to last weekend in primetime to the Giants, very similarly to how the Giants lost a high profile game last year to the Patriots the last week of the season. The Panthers have been set up man, mark my words. But the Giants will win this weekend, because the Panthers beating the Eagles means much less than them beating the much-ballyhooed Giants.

#2: PITTSBURGH STEELERS (12-4, 2nd overall) - The Steelers have quietly pumped up maybe the best all-over defense of my adult lifetime this year. Polamalu was already known as a headhunter, but Ryan Clark (former Redskin) has developed into quite the concussion missile himself. Fucking James Farrior, Lamar Woodley, a slew of other scary black men, all swarming on defense from unsuspected directions. Fast Willie Parker seems stuck on three-quarters, and Ben Roethlisberger has been apt to stand around in the pocket until people push him into the turf, but their offense, chugging along as best it can (usually better than normal when Hines Ward gets a chip on his shoulder for first downs and TDs instead of decapitating defenders under the guise of blocking like he usually seems to be looking for), if it can throw up a dozen and a half points, I can't see them losing. I know the Chargers are allegedly an offensive juggernaut, and I've already read people acting like they're better with Sproles than with Tomlinson. Ridiculous. Mike Tomlin got his boys amped the fuck up and the Bolts, reined in by Norv Turner's born loserdom, will be no match.

#3: BALTIMORE RAVENS (12-5, 3rd overall) - My homey who's a Ravens fan came by with his fam to watch the game this past weekend, and we put a hunk of venison in the crock pot I got from the cop fellow I've been painting for, through in some turnips and potatoes and a ton of garlic, drank beers, watched the Ravens win handily, all the while discussing the very obvious differences between the Ravens and Redskins, and then it was warm so we all sat at the picnic table and ate good fucking food while the kids ran around throwing meat scraps at the dog, and it was good warm January Sunday football time. I hope one day Dan Snyder will no longer own the team I've given my senseless emotions to for my entire life and I can enjoy such a Sunday in the Redskins favor.

#4: TENNESSEE TITANS (13-3, 4th overall) - Seems like every few years, a 13-3 team storms into the playoffs making false claims to the NFL throne. It is Tennessee's year for such an event. I trust rookie King of Maryland/Delaware/New Jersey tri-state region Joe Flacco far more than I would old drunken racist roofer Kerry Collins. And Chris Johnson won't be so quick to be quick after a Ray Lewis spinebreaker. And next year, I guess it's back to Vince Young, or they could just run a full-time wildcat formation. The Titans defense has carried them this season, and with Lord Albert Haynesworth not even close to 100%, consider them a sham of a contender.

#5: CAROLINA PANTHERS (12-4, 5th overall) - I see an engineered Panthers/Steelers Super Bowl, aka Cowher Bowl, except something happened to where Cowher decided he liked laying back on the pre-game tip, so they didn't set him up to be Panthers coach like it had been planned. But we will still get a Cowher Bowl, just not with Cowher in Carolina like originally scheduled. The Panthers will cruise past the Cardinals, who are still just the Cardinals. I can't wait to see what Steve Smith has airbrushed on his cleats this week.

#6: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-6-1, 6th overall) - Donovan McNabb dancing at the end of game, pretend snatching the football from people was hilarious. He knows this is his twilight, and he will enjoy it immensely. I am rooting for him to go another weekend, although I know it won't happen. It also seems retarded every team doesn't just have their most athletic linebacker shadow Bryant Westbrook constantly. Why even fuck around?

#7: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (9-8, 13th overall) - The fucking Chargers, faking their way further, under the tutelage of that pockmarked loser Norvell Austin Turner. If anyone was ever a cancer on a team, it's him, because most alleged "cancers" are easily removed. You can waive a T.O. But Norv lingers and never quite goes away completely. Shit, the Redskins still suck because of him.

#8: ARIZONA CARDINALS (10-7, 16th overall) - I hate Kurt Warner almost as much as I hate Norv Turner. This, of course, means Warner likely will sign a multimillion dollar 4-year contract to play for the Redskins next year, probably joining T.J. Houshmanzadeh and their stellar draft class of a 2nd round pick and a sixth-rounder, with all the rest traded away for inactive players.

Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout


AFFORDABILITY: I had found a new store in Charlottesville that's been there my entire 9 years here called Beer & Wine Warehouse, but it's in a little den of nothing beside a Jiffy Lube hard in a busy intersection with no obvious escape route should it be full of wine snobs attempting to molest with me with corduroy elbow patches and snifters full of grey beard hairs, so I have never stopped there until the past week or so. Once there, although most of the store was all wine all the time, there was a glorious corner of beer on shelves, all sorts of fantabulous strange labels as well as the obvious. I stifled my desire to go, "'Scuse me, you got any Bud Light?" and ended up picking a few stupid things. This was my most exciting purchase as I am a fan of the idea of pumpkin beers, although I would say at this point most of them suck the life from me because they are pumpkin beers in the sense of having pumpkin on the label rather than having pumpkin in their taste. My dead grandma who died from the breast cancers used to make me a special pumpkin pie and set it on the dryer in the bathroom covered with a hand towel so nobody else ate it every Thanksgiving once I became grown, showing how much I appreciate a pumpkin and how much she appreciated my passion for stupid shit. Props to her, and props to teh Pumpkin Stout for being available, fuck affordable. (Side note: in my brain, I often ignore the fact that in beer "stout" means "tastes like a handful of plant" and I think of stout like I was in a locker room splitting a bottle of lemon-lime Mad Dog with a couple of dudes on the basketball team and we were talking about how cock diesel some dude on the other team was, but we were consulting our degenerate teenage brain thesaurus for synonyms, which would've said "stout".) 4 out of 5.
DESTROYABILITY: I drank four of these, kissed a girl, and I liked it. I hope my boyfriend doesn’t mind. He probably shouldn’t since it was my wife who was the girl. 3 out of the 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: A dark and ominous label, with shadowy fisher dude steering one of those old school wood wheels. The label is mostly dark colors but has orange letters and subtle almost-orange leaves, and talks a tale of the summer’s end and the impending holidays and hypes you up to drink their beer. But there is a strange Scooby Doo opening montage quality to the whole thing. 2 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: I don’t know much about the Cape Ann Brewing Company, beyond what is on their label in the little box with their name, which their logo is two lighthouses shining a light in opposite directions, and underneath all that it says they “Donated to the Northeast seafood coalition,” which means they help make it more likely I’m gonna eat some goddamned tuna medallions for dinner tomorrow night, conceivably. 4 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: It was good and gave me joy, but it was still not Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale, which is how I thought of it about with the word “pumpkin” on the bottle. 2 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 3 STARS!

Monday, January 5

Monday Morning Feedback

So what's going on? Who is here? Why are you here? What the fuck do you think? Let it be known. Point me in direction, even if the abyss. I am going to attempt to be regular (although secretly irregular) about this bullshit for the time being. I am sure that motivation will dissipate, as I have little respect for the insides of the internets. But nonetheless, this will be a weekly post for you to say what you enjoy here, what you don't, or ignore completely, or not even be here and I won't know and nothing will happen and the world will spin and I'll sit around and that's all that will happen.
This week my brain appears to be on beer, and beer appears to be on my brain, to co-opt that old rap lyric. It is a new year and I'm an old dude, but not for-real old, just internets old. I don't think it ever really got better than Madden' 93 and Kool G. Rap's "Ill Street Blues". I buy dollar coffees at the gas station and hit it hard with the butternut flavor fake milks, and then I waste the money I saved on magazines about cars that feature shiny enough things to trap raccoons in tunnels. That is my lot in life, and it's a partially retarded, completely perverted lot, but it is my lot. Well, not really, but I've been renting this lot for a while now, so feel emotional attachment to it fairly strongly.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale


AFFORDABILITY: By regular man's standards, Sierra Nevada is never affordable, yet somehow women love it. Therefore, it is much like vagina itself - costly, both financially and on a personal level, yet unlivewithoutable. 3 out of 5.
DESTROYABILITY: I have mostly left this in the fridge for my wife over the holidays, and only tapped into it when it is late and I'm not sure what else is kosher for me to drink. On one hand, this usually means I am feeling alright like people not on a cruise ship with the Grand Funk Railroad, but on the other, how much can I attribute to this particular beer and how much can I attribute to its predecessors (much like how we should judge Obama’s impending inevitable failure as the President dude)? Still, benefit of the doubt is 3 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: Poinesettias and a log cabin. I would hate it if I wasn’t such a sucker for Little House on the Prairie, and it makes me think of Paw selling off his repainted wagon wheels to buy Maw that wood stove she’s wanted. And all the kids get stick candy in their socks on the mantle, and there’s no jingle bells because it’s Little House on the Prairie and they believe in God, not fat dudes in red velvet whored out in retail advertisements. And, of course, thinking of Paw painting that wagon wheel to sell at the general store makes me think of “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show, which I’m highly apt to sing real loud inside the anonymous confines of my truck while no one is around, not even the God they believe in on Little House, since things like that aren’t real, although if Michael Landon landed in the passenger seat of my truck to convince me of it, I’d probably believe, although he’d probably have a hard time explaining it with one of the empty Pepsi bottles on that side of the truck stuck up his ass, which would probably be inevitable. 3 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: Dude, it’s Sierra Nevada. If it’s not in distro collusion with the big boys, it’s strong-armed its way nationwide because of the Mafia. Can’t truss it, although at this point what do I truss? 1 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: When they did that Mr. Show skit where they had the hippie pie, I laughed a hearty laugh that can only be laughed because you know it to be funny because it’s true. Because of such a truth in my blackened heart, I disdain Sierra Nevada like a hater of the player, ignoring the game completely. 0 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 2 STARS!

Sunday, January 4

2009 Goals #6: Drink More Growlers


In case you ain't know, growlers are those big jug-like bottles of beer that more drunkerly smaller brewers make. I have decided to drink more of those this year, for a multitude of reasons. First off, hopefully me and the wife will jump back into homebrewing pretty heavily, and filling growlers with five gallons of homemade alcohol tends to go faster than filling 22 ounce bottles, although I'm not sure how the twist cap would help the bottle fermentation. But secondly, drinking something called "growler" seems like a good thing to put myself behind. Just saying sounds like a good drunk, walking the railroad tracks by the river and trying to figure out if you really know what stars you think you know you are looking at, but there's no way to check because you're just out there, so you figure fuck it.
There was a growler at one of the fancy beer stores when I went the other day, but it was like $13 for it, and I didn't feel like justifying that to myself. I think one of the local brewery places, which doesn't even sell their shit at stores, sells carry off growlers at their bar spot which is where you can usually only get their swill. I think a lot of our homebrew shit actually indirectly came from there through a friend of my wife's. Perhaps I shall try them for growler action. The worst that can happen is they'll say no, I can steal some empties from behind their building, and fill them with my own beer. I've got a pumpkin beer recipe I want to try, and I also want to try it with butternut squash. I've never heard of butternut beer, and there's probably a good reason for that, but I've never been one much for good reasoning.

Me and Brown

My wife and me, we both had our respective dogs before we became attached legally ourselves. In fact, on one of our first “dates” was after some party, taking what was left of a half-gallon of Jack Daniels green label and about a dime bag of shake, we rounded up both our dogs, and “borrowed” a friend’s minivan to go to Montana, a direct sudden escape from Richmond, Virginia, pressing in on us, except my wife-to be passed out, and I finally did too, behind a K-Mart somewhere near the West Virginia state line.
Once we actually were married and living together, the dogs ran together for years, making it to almost ten years apiece, before they both died in the tragic ways dogs in the country always die – getting hit by unmufflered trucks or mauled by loose pit bulls or always something violently sudden, within a couple weeks of each other. So we probably looked a little too easily for new dogs to replace these old ones.
The first one to come along was a small, gun-shy, lost hunting dog who came cowering from the woods, wagging her tail, looking for food. I didn’t really want her, but the wife and kids, even though she’d never get close enough for you to pet her, had attached themselves to this hound. That became our first new dog – Burdock. You could hardly ever touch her, and if you did it was because you cornered her and she’d cower down onto her belly, holding her head under her body while still wagging her tail - the classic runaway beaten stray.
We acquired our second dog of the new pair from my youngest sister, who still lived in the hopeless home base where I grew up, where the factories have plywood windows and folks’ favorite leisure activities are testing life’s limits through suicidal recklessness. This may involve machines, drugs, or whatever else is conveniently enough at hand. My youngest sister had gotten wrapped up in meth, leaving the house only to go to her job as a waitress, her and her boyfriend holed up in their cave-like tract house along a back road, indulging beyond their limits to pull back. Turned out her boyfriend had also started dabbling in crack use as well, and the whole time together, they had this part lab/part chow, big yellow goof of a dog named Buddy who basically stayed chained up at the front door so as to scare away all the more thievish members of the black folks who lived nearby. One night, while driving home from something or another, my sister dropped her cigarette in the car, and her boyfriend held the wheel while she fished for it. He decided it better to slam the wheel to the left and smash them into a tree since he’d - without her knowing - been stealing thousands of dollars from his job to help keep up with his taste for crack rocks. The car burned up, destroyed half of what my sister owned, and he ran off into the woods and disappeared. When they got there, the cops explained they had already been looking for him, and suspected he wrecked the car on purpose. That was my sister’s wake up call, and she moved back home to get herself together. So we took in Buddy.
Buddy had that strange survivor aura about him. While in transit in the back of a pick-up, when they were moving to their drug cave, Buddy dove out, hobbling off into the woods miles away from where they’d left and where they were going. They looked and looked for him, but never found him. Three weeks later, he came limping down the road, goofy as ever, and he had somehow made it to his new home. My sister’s boyfriend had found him a few years earlier from some other similarly mangled experience, so Buddy was an impervious freak of an animal, more feral than pet-like, although friendly.
Buddy and Burdock – our new pair of dogs – they never quite worked out. They ran the roads around the farms we lived near too much, dragging home deer carcasses, coming back with scrapes from scraps, and just being general nuisances. They scared our kids half the time, and when they dragged in an unskinned baby deer, I realized they weren’t just finding redneck hunting leftovers in the woods, but actually running down weaker deer on their own. I never could see the logic in having a dog in a rural setting and keeping them chained or penned up, so I tried to train them, older dogs that they were. No luck though. Buddy’d chase every motorcycle or dump truck that drove past, and Burdock wandered home with trash or critters in her mouth half the time. I waited for the day when some back road hot shot on his crotch rocket wiped out because the dogs dove out the tall grass in the ditch, trying to bite at his rear tire.
I had tried half-heartedly to find somewhere for the dogs to go, asking around and calling the local shelter, which was always booked beyond capacity. But the last straw came when I got home from work one day, and my wife was down in the field, hollering for me. We had three goats – a mom and two kids - and we never got around to milking like we planned. But I’d become attached to them. Goats are strange creatures, and a lot of fun to roughhouse around with, though they’ll clip your knee from behind like a middle linebacker from the leather helmet days. Growing up a metalhead myself, it seemed perfect having these album cover-like creatures, and I forever wanted to name them things like Exodus or Kreator or Cirith Ungol or some other band name from my youthful doodles of skeletons thrashing stages in front of a thousand impaled, decapitated bodies on notebook paper meant for math problems. Having two daughters and a wife though, the goats ended up with names like Carrot or Gingerbread or Lavender all the time.
Well, the dogs, which apparently had gotten more feral than we realized, cornered our oldest goat in the pasture and mauled her good. My wife fought them off and was holding them at bay, standing protectively over the dying goat, holding our two-year-old on one hip, who for months afterward would ask in broken child talk, “Goat hurt? Goat die?”
I grabbed both dogs and threw them in a couple rabbit hutches I found at the dump one time, and went down to tend to the goat. She was bleeding heavily and had innards dragging along underneath her. I’d always been the one to feed and play with the goats, and I’ve got a weight bench out there by their pen, so I’d get high and lift weights and sit on a milk crate and just hang out at the edge of this field with the goats a lot of the time So they became attached to me, goats being pretty social creatures. This goat perked up when I got there, so instead of dying like she should’ve done, she wobbled on her gnarled-up legs, looking at me like, “You gonna fix this?” But there wasn’t anything I could do, and I didn’t have money enough for phone bills and car insurance, much less something like getting a timid, animal-loving, pseudo-doctor to overcharge me to act like my goat was my grandfather and sew on her and operate on her and all that noise.
After about an hour and it getting dark, it was obvious the goat wasn’t going to go on her own, so I threw a towel over her head. She was pretty weak from the blood loss, and I leaned on top of her hard, suffocating her, finishing off what the dogs had started. A friend we called who has farm animals told me the quickest way was to slit their throats or shoot them, but I don’t keep guns and couldn’t quite build myself up to using my Marine knife to slice the family’s elder goat.
The problem now was the dogs had to go as well. Growing up, we had stray dog killings from time to time, when we’d look around and realize there were about seven half-wild, mange-ridden beasts running around the yard all the time; and my dad and his buddy would pull out pistols and shoot them all down when necessary to thin the herd. But like I said, I don’t keep guns, so the knife was the only choice, and that still seemed pretty twisted to me. I took the smaller dog – Burdock – with a rope looped around her neck for a lead, as neither dog wore a collar, and took her back into the woods behind the house. I thought about how easy in physical effort it had been to choke out the goat, so I mistakenly convinced myself I could just strangle this little stray hunting dog, without having to use the knife I’d brought with me. I tightened the rope hard, wrapped it four or five times around my one fist and pulled, pushing against the back of the dog’s neck with the other hand, straddling the mutt in the pitch black woods. But no matter how hard I did this, the dog wouldn’t die. I’d let up, and listen to see what was going on in the darkness underneath me, and the dog would whimper meekly, still struggling to wag her tail.
Here I was, a grown, educated man, sitting on top of a dog who’s whole life had been beat downs and abuse, trying to strangle her away. I felt like some degenerate killing a hooker, the whole affair putting me far too in touch with some primal urges buried inside us all. Finally, after about ten minutes of this torture, when I realized there was no turning back since I’d probably brain damaged the dog, so there was no letting the rope loose and have her wobble around like a halfwit, I had to slit her throat. Now I’ve sliced at deer before that have been dead for a short time already, but never cut the throat of a living animal. Sitting there in the heavy dark on a stump, wanting to make sure the dog was dead, hearing the sounds of the blood pumping through the gaping slash I had put across her neck… it was the worst sounding noise I’d heard, etched right into my heart. There was no way I could do that to the other bigger dog, the same one that had been chained up outside my sister’s house for years. I don’t know; maybe I’m too weak or too emotional, but I didn’t want to start making a practice nor even one more memory of doing things like that to a dog.
I took the bloody rope lead off of Burdock, buried her, went back to the rabbit hutches, and slipped it onto Buddy. I dragged him to my car, and drove to the forever overfull shelter that was forever overfull in the middle of the night, looping the lead to the front gate for them to find in the morning. It might not have been right in their eyes, but they’d probably mind that less than me killing him with a foot-long blade.
The whole incident, though normal old school farm activity, knocked my non-old school, non-farming ass out of whack. The creepy degenerate killing a hooker parallel kept bouncing around in my head, and I just didn’t feel right, dirty over the whole ordeal, even though all I’d done was what I had to do.

Anyways, I had been building myself up for months for a springtime road trip out to rural Illinois to see this once-a-year, giant demolition derby called Metal Mayhem, with a $10,000 purse. It’s one of the biggest there is, with a couple hundred cars, and me and my travel buddy named Brown were hyped. I was hoping this trip, wandering the road free of responsibility, even if just for four or five days, might wash me of my guilt.
I’d never been out to the Midwest before. The endless sprawl and sterilized looks of Chicago creeped me out. My mother was actually born there, and it was strange to imagine I could’ve been bred amidst that instead of rural Virginia. Before and after Chicago on the trip through, the Midwest just tweaked me and Brown out, nothing but flatland, forever.
Apparently, demolition derbies are big-time in that part of the country. Back home, they might have five or six in the whole state all year long, usually at county fairs. Out there, demo derbies are large affairs, and crews of guys actually form teams of drivers and travel together a couple of states in any direction to go for bigger trophies and the promise of less meager pay-offs. The make-up of the land has to have something to do with it, because back home with all the hills and mountains and curves and creeks, you’d be hard-pressed to drive for half an hour without seeing a plastic bouquet on a guard rail or wooden cross in a ditch where someone died in a car wreck. Out in the Midwest, the roads are so straight and the land so flat, it’s got to be really to wreck a car bad enough to maim yourself, so the demo derby gives these guys, who all seemed to be pretty young, a chance to test life’s limits through recklessness, just like the folks back home.
The first day of the derby starting out, it was drizzling and cold, just pure miserable weather, which also made the derby pits muddy and slow. The forty car overflow heat for $2500 we were watching took almost three hours to finish up. The whole event was obviously going to take forever. It was great enjoyment for a while watching how cars could become so mangled, fenders crumpled, tie rods broken, one car even having its wheel turned sideways so that one tire laid flat on the ground like a frisbee, but its old Detroit engine still powering through, forcing the smashed metal to move around further than it ever should. But demolition derbies end up a lot like pornography in that any sane person doesn’t need to sit there and watch it eight hours straight, there being no ultimate climax to be gained from such a sensual over-indulgence. This Metal Mayhem was at the Ogle County Fairgrounds in Nowhere, Illinois, whole families hunched together inside the cover of the drizzle-free grandstands. Sad sacks like us stood around, jockeying for visual positioning against the concrete railings bordering the derby area, getting rained on and mud splattered at us from the crashing cars. Me and Brown made a pit stop out to the car to pull a couple beers out the cooler on the back seat, and sitting in the car, in that rainy, miserable flatland field, we decided to forget it. We’d go back to the hotel and get good and drunk and come back tomorrow for the second day when hopefully the weather would be better.
On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at a roadside dive called Labon’s Oasis for a beer or three. It was a comforting place – biker-style rednecks sitting around in satin jackets drinking Old Style tall cans. I put “Longhaired Redneck” on the jukebox, and we drank a couple, soaking in the local vibe. All these guys and girls looked like the type of folks who would’ve ran with my parents, except all they all talked funny, with an accent that hadn’t had the Europe baked out of it by the Southern humidity. Labon’s jukebox had nothing but outlaw country and southern rock, full of my homeland twang. The entire scene was amusing, and if we’d stayed, one of these guys eventually would’ve talked trash at us, being we were strangers. But for that moment, I just flashed my chipped-tooth smile, wild dimple hiding inside an unkempt beard, got a knowing grin from the sad waitress while we settled up, and me and Brown went back to the hotel.
The next day it was raining even harder, and we made the decision to meander back towards home, so we didn’t have to drive the whole twelve hours on Monday. And most of the Midwest still was not to our liking. We had occasional joys – riding through the Hispanic chunk of south side Chicago where folks appeared to still understand the importance of laying back. We ended up getting a cheap room in Dayton, Ohio, surrounded by the underclass comforts of a ghetto, complete with bass-thumping vehicles passing by now and then, dingy Chinese buffets, check-cashing joints and the like. Methed-out chicks were walking through the hotel parking lot, two of them even catching me opening the door to stand there and drink a beer, and trying to talk their way into coming in to wait for a ride, which in all likelihood would’ve ended up being wherever we drove them. Forget all that noise. I know tweaker chicks, and they never look as good as they remember themselves looking, and it’s almost always never worth the trouble.
The next day, after what seemed like forever driving along 35 South through Ohio, we started to see signs of depth to the land, instead of it being stamped into long, square fields. The four-lanes of 35 through Ohio narrowed down to two once we crossed into West Virginia, the ground started to rise and fall, and it started to look like home again. Me and Brown began to unclench. Sometimes, a road trip is good for nothing more than reminding you of what you love about where you ended up in life. Piedmont Virginia’s been my home my whole life, outside of brief forays in one direction or another, and whenever I end up getting back towards that part of the country, whether in my own car or someone else’s or on a Greyhound bus, it feels like home more and more each time. Hell, I’m raising my own kids there now.
About half an hour along the increasingly rough two-lane road into West Virginia, we passed a conversion van pulled over onto a patch of gravel along the side of the road, with a frizzle-haired woman frantically waving her arms. There were a couple cars in front of us and a couple behind, and the ones in front kept on trucking. Me and Brown decided to turn back around to see what was going on, the car behind us honking at us for slowing below the speed limit, searching for a spot to turn around. When we got back to where the van was, a tractor and trailer had already pulled over, the driver running back at the van full speed. I pulled up behind just as he reached into the back of the van, and a teenage boy’s body fell out, head first, into the gravel, feet still stuck inside the van. I ran over and asked if anybody had called 911. The truck driver pointed me to his rig, to grab his cell phone. After dialing, I passed the phone off to the frantic woman, having no idea know where the hell we were. The kid, looking about fifteen or so, and with cut mark scars all over the inside of his forearms already, had somehow wrapped the seat belt around his neck in an attempt to commit suicide while no one was paying attention to him in the van’s back bench seat. He was lifeless, no pulse, foaming at the mouth, his eyes open and glazed over like my goat’s looked when I took the towel off after choking her. A long minute after the truck driver had cut the belt from around the boy’s neck, he started gurgling and gasping a little, and a pulse came back. He was still alive. There was a thick, purple ring around his throat from where he’d tied himself up. As he regained consciousness, the first words he choked out were, “Am I dead?” We told him no, made him lay there still, and wiped water on his head. Coming back now, he started to freak out, asking about his mom and about what happened and how he didn’t mean to do it. I leaned over and told him to calm down, don’t worry about none of all that right now. Still laying on the gravel, feet hung up in the van, mangled-looking and sobbing lightly, he asked, “Am I going to be all right?”
The frizzle-haired frantic woman who’d been driving assured, “You’re going to be just fine. These angels stopped and helped you.” She looked at me and Brown and the truck driver. “Every morning, I pray for angels, and they came today.” And she hugged us all, and the volunteer rescue squad showed up, so me and Brown cleared out quickly and anonymously.
And even though I don’t feel like I did much, that incident seemed to have righted me after bending over top of a dying dog’s backside in the dark behind my house that night the goat got killed. I don’t feel like there was anything special about me and Brown stopping, nor do I feel like I did myself any karmic good along that foreign road, throwing in a small hand to keep some sad kid from killing himself. But I do feel like I got myself on an even-keel again. The old cliché says life’s a gamble, and clichés tend to still have a bit of truth hiding inside; but in most gambles, there’s a lot more losing than winning going on, to guarantee the house comes out on top. I feel like if I can play my way through all this noise called life, and deal with the bad hands it feels like I’m dealt, coming from where I come from and thinking the way I think, if I can come out even, then I’m doing pretty damned good.

A couple months later, I went back to the local animal shelter, looking for some kittens to get as a surprise for my daughters, and on the dry erase board by the front door walking in, it had “Buddy adopted” written on it. Now, our Buddy had no name tag, so it couldn’t have been him. But also knowing his history of dodging all the death that surrounded him, who knows, it might be. And he could be digging his dirty, yellow snout into someone’s back yard trash can right now.
Also, the biggest demolition derby that happens in Virginia is going on next week at a local county fair, the same place I go to watch the dirt track races from time to time. It’ll be nice to watch cars destroy each other in a comfortable environs where people have the same bad accent that I do, and I can still see that familiar blue ridge skyline along the edge of it all.

Lights Out Holiday Ale

AFFORDABILITY: Also around $9 a 6-pack, and this one was only made the next fucking county over. How can a fauntleroy beer from California be just as cheap (meaning expensive) as one made 30 minutes from my house? I don't get it. Hopefully, at Blue Mountain Brewery in Nelson County, I can at least get growlers of their beer. 2 out of 5, on sheer growler speculation.
DESTROYABILITY: This beer gave unimportant hops and IBU data on the bottle, and promised 7.0% alcohol by volume, but kinda sucked, so I never got around to getting drunk. I actually think there's one or two of these still in the fridge, almost two weeks later. 2 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: Blue Mountain Brewery just started up this year, and you can tell it's a start-up. The label, which has some rinky-dink Christmas light strand running around the edge of the main shield, is a good enough idea, but it's like somebody's 20-year-old nephew who works bar at college did the design. It's budget looking. That's fine, it's a start-up company, but if you're gonna charge me premium prices, come with the premium snappiness. The glossy paper of the label even seems odd to me, but I could just be looking for shit to pick at. Although the alleged Blue Mountain brewmaster, according to the label, is a man named Taylor Smack. 2 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: Like I said, Blue Mountain Brewery, in Nelson County, which is actually two counties over, because I always forget the non-rich fucker part of Albemarle County in the southern and western mountainous part of it is actually still part of Albemarle County. I heartily endorse small breweries being within driving distance of my home. The people who started this one even tried to put together a brewery tour idea, to hit the three or four of these in the area, to try and capitalize on the same idea the local wineries have done to make Virginia wine a pretty big fish in the small pond that is American wines not made in California. I can stand behind such an endeavor, especially if Taylor Smack is for-real. 5 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: A disappointing first taste of this new company's beer, although they have another one called Full Nelson that I'll probably give a shot too. But I can probably do without the Lights Out next holiday season, especially with every two-bit brewery making seasonal ales nowadays. 1 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 2 & 2/5 STARS!

Saturday, January 3

2009 Goals #7: Learn the Banjo


I was growed up in a little shithole town called Meherrin, Virginia, which is a nasty grocery store, a post office, an SPCA, and a mom-and-pop greasy spoon. There is a nice slate sign going into town the one way that says "Welcome to Meherrin, the home of Roy Clark," and it has a banjo on the stone. It is our claim to fame. It has been my goal to one day have my name etched on there too, but let's be serious, that shit ain't gonna happen.
Anyways, I've been doing the rapping musics with a few people the past few years, namely with my man PSY/OPS nearby, and then with my boy Boogie Brown who I've done music with off and on for a long ass time. But Brown is married now, and already lived like 3 hours away, but us both being married you might as well triple that distance. And PSY/OPS has been maladied with physical ailments, and it seems like he might be bored. I know I am. I have gotten pretty tired of writing rap lyrics, as even if you try to work a storytelling angle, it's just so fucking played out and done before. And then there's 300,000 aspiring clever MCs just with a simple myspace search, and everybody is the realest thing ever that is most amazing and cunning with the linguistics and blah blah blah... it's just so boring. I find myself listening to Jim Croce or Steve Earle or stuff like that more than any hip hop that comes out. And I find myself wanting to write retarded shit within the confines of actual instrumental music, as opposed to the blip bloops of standard hip hop. You can really hear the difference in music now that we're deep into the digital age, where everybody has a home studio. It is no coincidence that the last real wave of grimy hip hop beats came in the early '90s when people were still using hardware samplers like the Ensoniq EPS 16-plus. Now that it's all moved to inside the robot boxes, a lot of that grime is gone too, and everything's too polished to be grimy, which sucks because most everything in my life is covered with a layer of grime, including my offspring and my eyeglasses, which are scratched up to where only looking straight ahead gives me a clear view, and there's a bleached out dot on the lens of the right eye even straight ahead. So I've kind of given up on the hip hop music really being pleasurable.
Bring in the banjo. I, as much as anybody else, hate dudes that pick a guitar fireside or bang on a drum the same pseudo-African rhythm for 3 hours straight. I tried to learn guitar when I was about 12 or so, but learning chords on an acoustic guitar wasn't taking me to Cliff Burton status fast enough, so I bailed. But I am older now, and a smart enough guy that I can be taught new shit, even teach myself when halfway motivated. So I figured it was time to learn an instrument, which ultimately I hope to complement with retarded songs about back woods drunkards, crackheads on Greyhound buses, people wrecking cars for leisure, just good general rural miscreant nonsense, because I'm glad to make up rhyming stories of such things. And as I thought about what instrument to play, it came down to two things - the banjo and the lute. I thought about a lute because that's some seriously old school bullshit, and plus me and the ol' lady been watching The Tudors on DVDs, but I also quickly remembered about those renaissance fairs and the type of people they draw, drinking ale out of horns and wearing druid amulets and shit like that. I'm not ready to jump into that mix, hoping to making music, even if I never share it with the rest of the world, that the type of guy who has a long grey beard and ponytail and spends Saturday afternoon riding around on a lawn mower with no shirt on would appreciate. So it was the banjo, which, to be fair, is the most speed metal-like redneck instrument you can find.
I was talking to a dude on New Year's Eve about all this as we got drunk on Polish beers, and he's a regular musician (meaning he doesn't need computers to make music), and he was telling me about how you had to practice your finger rolls all the time and that was the key. I found this disturbing as I have enough creative clutter fighting for every spare moment of my brain while the body is in transit between obligations. I also, without really knowing, know that ultimate banjo dork guys play with both hands using all sorts of finger wackiness. I would say at this point in my life, my physical body is gimpy at best, and that's as a whole. When you get down to tiny specific parts, that might be a lot to ask of me. But if I can find a good shitty starter banjo for under $100 (and I can find $100 as well), then I'm gonna give it a shot motherfucker. What else am I gonna do? Sit around and wait for people who make beats on distraction-heavy computer screens get around to letting me do more boring assed lyrics over top of beats that aren't what I'd want ultimately but I don't know how to do that shit and can't explain what I hear in my head well enough for others to do?

Snow Cap Seasonal Ale


AFFORDABILITY: I have come to associate cost tolerance with how good or bad the beer ends up being. I would assume, with my credit being shitty, and work about to run out, pretty soon I will be rating 40s of malt liquor that I get with spare change. But for now, with the consumer frenzy of the holiday season having swept me up there for a minute, I did not care. This 6-pack though, being it ended up shitty, was too expensive at like $9 a 6-pack. 1 out of 5.
DESTROYABILITY: I do not know, honestly I couldn't drink them abundantly enough at a rapid pace to get a wobbly head from it all. Seems like every fucking beer thinks tasting like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale makes it a good beer. This one claimed to be a "full-bodied winter warmer," which conjured up, in my head at the store, you know, Harpon Winter Warmer. Probably the best thing about this beer was buying it, as it was Christmas Eve, and we took our kids to this living history old pioneer style farm museum, except my wife had sewn some old-fashioned skirts for the girls, and we all wore old-timey shit. I had on a pair of overalls and some strange colonial worker shirt, which I'm not sure why we had it in the house. My wife said it came from the billionaire's place I worked at from time to time, but I have no recollection of it. So me and the wife and kids look like some odd Mennonite offshoot cult, strolling around the grocery store in Waynesboro, buying sliced turkey and a couple 6-packs of beer on Christmas Eve. We got a few strange looks, but everybody sort of diverted their attention if we happened to look at them looking at us. It was fun. Makes me want to start a cult. Still, Snow Cap had nothing more to do with this than getting bought in the process. 1 out of 5.
LABEL AESTHETIC: The label is pretty tight, big snow-capped pyramids with pine trees and a moose and beaming circle of winter stars. So I'll give them credit for their stupid fucking label, being there's not much more I feel like giving them credit for. 4 out of 5.
CORPORATE MASTER: It says Pyramid Breweries, with noted locations in Portland, OR, and Berkley, CA. This would suggest left coast liberalism microbrewery, except I have become distrustful of such affairs with how the bigger brewers buy up these smaller ones and act like it's some separate shit when it's really just major beer brewer bullshit. The fact the Pyramid Breweries are using twist-off bottles I find suspect. For one thing, you would assume twist-offiness means mass produced, although I know the twist-off ones have become cheaper. The guy at the homebrew store and me had a nice paranoia-inducing conversation one time about how he thinks the smaller brewers have moved way from capped top bottles to discourage home-brewing, or to at least make it more difficult. That would not surprise me. And since my paranoia has been induced, being this was a less than impressive beer in a less than straight-up capped bottle, I'm gonna assume, until somebody proves to me otherwise, preferably on a Greyhound bus during a long ride through the Arkansas flatland, that Pyramid Breweries is some shady Illuminati front at being a microbrew. 0 out of 5.
OVERALL AMBIANCE: In case you did not notice, even with my good holiday spirit, which I was full of, due to mad cookie baking in the compound, and plenty of firewood to keep the woodstove kicking, this beer was not on my nice list. 1 out of 5.
TOTAL RATING: 1 & 2/5 STARS!

S14: 2008 MLB Best Payroll-Per-Victory Rates

This is the opposite end of the spectrum of that last payroll per victory for Major League Baseball teams thing that I put up a while back. I had meant to be more immediate with this, but hey, often times regular life interrupts my own ridiculous internal nerdery. It is a great source of frustration, as I'd like nothing better than to sit around and waste my body completely letting my mind wander through useless date. But no, I have to go do shit all the time. Anyways, this list is of teams that had the lowest amount of payroll per regular season (and postseason when applicable) victories they achieved.
#1: Florida Marlins ($259,660.71 per victory) - Ever since Wayne Huizenga gutted this team after that first World Series, they’ve consistently been in one of the top three or four spots when I do this. Their payroll this year was almost half of the next lowest team, and they still competed well enough. It makes me wish the AL and NL were separate leagues in more than just having a DH, so that the NL could institute salary caps for their teams, and let the Yankees and Red Sox continue driving the cost of doing baseball up ridiculously high in the AL.
#2: Tampa Bay Rays ($417,339.02 per victory) - Your shocking AL champions, who upset the glorious kingdoms of Boston and New York to win the AL East and make it all the way through to the World Series. They signed a couple of their previously unknown budding superstars (namely Evan Longoria, who is gay married to Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs) to healthy contracts, meaning they will be doomed in two years kind of like how the Detroit Tigers fucked themselves up. Basically, the entire league other than the Yankees and Red Sox should just play like they are a Triple-A farm club for those two teams, and never think long-term beyond "how many hot prospects can I get for dumping this guy off before his contract expires?"
#3: Oakland Athletics ($639,561.68 per victory) - Billy Beanball continues to make fiscal sense, even if the A's are completely irrelevant. At least they don’t have an Eastern European’s gross national product wrapped up in Barry Zito and Randy Johnson though, like their crosstown franchise the Giants do.
#4: Minnesota Twins ($646,963.25 per victory) - I’ve never actually been to Minnesota so I can’t be sure it actually exists, because the internet lies about all types of shit. Minnesota might be like the Israeli CIA videotaping 9/11 from New Jersey and Bigfoot’s remains in Georgia for all I know.
#5: Pittsburgh Pirates ($726,713.18 per victory) - My only knowledge of the Pirates this past year is somehow they sent Jason Bey to the Red Sox, who sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers, who sent like an autographed picture of Tommy Lasorda to the Pirates. Also, Dock Ellis died, who I always thought was a white dude since he claimed he pitched a no-hitter on acid, and I normally assume people who do acid are white, especially if they pitch no-hitters in Major League Baseball. Black people usually play centerfield when they’re young and left field when they’re old, or third base in baseball, unless they are Hispanic black people. I think I’ve always assumed the person I’ve seen who is Bill “Spaceman” Lee, or maybe Tug McGraw’s crazy brother, was actually Dock Ellis. But apparently I was wrong about all that because I saw a scan of a baseball card inside The Secret Clubhouse where Dock Ellis was a black guy.
#6: Kansas City Royals ($776,606.67 per victory) - Why the fuck they don’t have purple uniforms, I’ll never understand, although I’m sure there are plenty of ghetto-fabulous stores in the run-down mall on the south end of town that sell purple Royals hats, as well as plaid ones, lime green ones, black ones, and grey ones with the KC embroidery in a barely different shade of grey.
#7: Arizona Diamondbacks ($807,350.15 per victory) - Sadly, this team, as far as I can remember, is the one that started the tank top jerseys over top of practice shirt trend in baseball, which somehow, despite all the odds, made baseball players look even gayer in a “I called it gay because it’s stupid” sense than previously thought possible. Apologies to Wanda Sykes.
#8: Texas Rangers ($857,118.05 per victory) - Chuck Norris can spinkick four motherfuckers unconscious at once. He still couldn’t beat Billy Jack. That’s why Billy Jack was framed and put in jail. Billy Jack’s real name? Leonard Peltier. Now you know the rest of the story.
#9: Milwaukee Brewers ($889,423.07 per victory) - They worked C.C. Sabathia like a little league team with one good pitcher, and still didn’t do shit to be proud of. Prince Fielder is the greatest name in pro baseball though, since I’ve become tired of Coco Crisp. You know how you can tell baseball is a weak sport? No converted black muslim names in baseball. Baseball even went further in the opposite direction, with converted jew Rod Carew. Yes, in my mind, muslim and jewish are opposite, and muslim is cooler because the Poor Righteous Teachers weren’t jewish. Wait a second... they were on that Haile Selassie kick. I think that might be black jew religiousness. Still, naming your son Prince is high style, although were I to have had a son, we were gonna name him Mountain, but I probably would’ve just called him “Crunch” which is the proper form of Crunchy.
#10: Colorado Rockies ($927,777.03 per victory) - A little known fact is that Denver was awarded an expansion franchise when John Elway beat Burt Reynolds in a bet as to who could carry an urn full of Jackie Gleason’s ashes to Miami to pick up Paul Williams and bring him back to Denver to karoake sing Freddie Mercury songs at the private members only gay bar Elway and Reynolds both hang out at. Burt got Jeff Gordon to drive for him, but Elway, hip to the younger set through him having “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. as a ringtone on his iPhone, got Carl Edwards to drive for him. Carl was hungrier, as Jeff Gordon is highly dedicated to his beard of a trophy wife. After winning, Elway showed Burt Reynolds how Carl Edwards mouth is big enough to fit two penises at once.
#11: Washington Nationals ($931,542.37 per victory)
- And they bought my heart, by having the wacky menagerie of fuck-ups they have, all at once.
#12: Philadelphia Phillies ($954,076.50 per victory) - I think in the five or six years I’ve tabulated this thing, this is the first time that both participants of the World Series made the lowest payroll per victory list. I am always glad to see Philadelphia win something, because you look at Boston, basically a bunch of dirtbag white people muddied by Mediterranean blood, and they start winning world titles in American sports leagues, and they become spoiled. Philly people, although also muddied up, are alcoholic enough deep down in their genetics to be retarded like soccer fans about success. Like if soccer was actually popular in America, Philadelphia would be the best place to go see the big soccer games if you wanted to see people catch on fire in the stands.
#13: Cleveland Indians ($974,939.09 per victory) - Cleveland is a hopeless sports town, which is why they put up giant posters of Lebron all over downtown, because he was their ticket to success. Except he’s gotten too big for his baggy britches and is already angling to go to NYC, because if he can become a ridiculously wealthy black man there, he can be a ridiculously wealthy black man everywhere.
#14: Baltimore Orioles ($988,180.09 per victory) - Honestly, I couldn’t name you one Orioles player. I am, however, of the hope that everybody takes to calling them just the O’s, and the rest of the word is forgotten in ten years time. Orioles are one of the meanest, dirtiest, little birds you will ever see. I can’t put BBs in them enough.

Friday, January 2

Friday Love/Hate

I love the freezer on my front porch, overstuffed with dumpster diven bagels and bread, homemade sausage, like 10 pounds of fatback from our friends' pig that my wife really needs to make lard out of since it's only wrapped up in butcher's paper, plus chinese restaurant takeout soup tupperwares full of turkey and chicken broth. The seal is sorta not most proper on the freezer so I have a big jug of water I use to hold the top down tight. (Also, if you like to pretend to be a cooking nerd and are all like "The correct term is stock if it is made with animal matter; a broth is a derivative of cooking down vegetables," then go the fuck back to France, and take your stupid bagels with you.)
I hate, not really hate, but I guess that's the gimmick so let's use that word for now, white dudes who have dreadlocks but shave their face. I don't understand. To me, having dreadlocks as a white dude (which I had for like five years) is already a pretty embarrassing personal statement, so if you are going to make it, you should probably be doing it to not give a social fuck at all. But if you neglect the personal care to put a brush to your head hair, yet take the time to carefully scrape the visible hairs off your face, it's a contradictory action, and really just goes to show what a woman you truly are inside emotionally. You should probably pray to your fake appropriated Rasta Gods who conveniently have abandoned their hatred of whitey in your mind that you don't go to jail for possessing with intention to distribute tha kind, because a longhaired, smooth-faced, emotional woman of a white man has a tough time in the jails. From what I heard.

(7s) 2009 Goals: Intro

I don't make new year resolutions, because shit like that is like swearing off alcohol while hungover - you are going to abandon it, and once abandoned you are done with it. Instead, I try to toss into my head little goals for this new year, rather than resolutions, so that if I fail, which I tend to do, I don't have to jettison the whole process and pretend it never happened, adding to my overall sense that I never finish a fucking thing I start, my life full of half-assed attempts to accomplish things beyond the abilities given to me by my upbringing and allowed by my retarded brain.
Speaking of retarded, this is the first post in my attempt to do a 7-list each week this year, so I guess it would be obvious I will be talking upon personal goals for the 2009 calendar cycle of boxes on the wall. If it's not obvious, let me tell you, that's what I'm gonna do this week. Pretend you care.

NFL WK 18: Wild Card Weekend

We have finally entered the playoffs, and I have finally, after a couple of weeks of not giving a fuck, done my weekly NFL thing on time. The Redskins sucking it up as usual sort of killed my motivation for the foozballs, but my boy Hub is a Ravens fan for as long as the team has existed, so hopefully his fam will come by and hang and watch the wild card game next weekend and I can live vicariously through him. But utilizing my secretive mathemaniacal methodry, here is the order currently ranked of the eight teams playing the game of the egg this weekend...

#1: INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (12-4, 4th overall) - The Colts are on a roll, and Peyton Manning, according to the sports meme machine that rules our menly thoughts, has turned a corner and become an even more complete player this year than ever before (similar to how things were engineered for Bill Belichick to become an even better coach than ever before - the NFL is great at creating storylines for you to believe in better than Jesus). They are the hottest team going right now, and somehow end up travelling to San Diego for the wild card weekend to face the second hottest team going right now, and a notable rival of recent years. This shit couldn’t be more fixed if Vince McMahon was doing it. But I would expect the Colts to win, as Norv Turner is not a higher-up in the football illuminati, and Tony Dungy may be making his farewell run this year, though we don’t really know. But I’m sure they will tell us at the most tear-jerking moment, complete with mentions of his kid who committed suicide. The NFL is sports entertainment at the ultimate level.

#2: BALTIMORE RAVENS (11-5, 6th overall) - I guess with no horse in this race, I am going to jump on the Ravens bandwagon, even though I think Maryland is the least useful state America ever came up with. I am not sure why states, even when within fifteen miles of the arbitrary state line, can be so different, but you can feel the suck when you crossover to Maryland. Such a strange place. I usually like to fill up with gas before I get there so that I don’t have to even stop the car in that piece of shit state. But I guess I can root for their football team, especially considering, technically, my piece of shit football team plays in their piece of shit state. Also, they stole my name, so I can’t front on that. Too bad their logo is so gay.

#3: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-6-1, 8th overall) - I guess the big question is whether or not Donovan McNabb has bought himself another year in Philly. The Vikings/Eagles game is a perfectly scripted story of the two ends of the black quarterback experience. You have the fading old veteran in Donovan McNabb, who’s welcome has been worn, but still maintains he is a credible NFL QB; and you have the young Tarvaris Jackson, who is shaky as fuck yet full of promise, although it’s hard to tell how much of the promise is honestly earned and how much is Vikings PR department hype. Making this even the more perfect Black QB spectacular is the history behind these teams, where Randall Cunningham made a name for both, on opposite ends of his own career, as the pre-eminent black QB double threat of his time. I would expect the Eagles’ glass slipper to come up short this week though, even if they are playing the Vikings. Losing to the Redskins on the road, 10 to 3, that is not the makings of a solid winter time road team.

#4: MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-6, 9th overall) - Warren Moon also closed out his career in Minnesota purple, suggesting they have the NFL’s richest history of black QBdom, when you include the couple of good years Daunte Culpepper had. Makes me wonder if McNabb doesn’t end up there next year if they suck it up this weekend and Philly goes ahead and runs him on down the road. Remember when the Vikings and Chargers were both 0-2 and everybody on the TVs were like, “0-2 teams never make the playoffs blah blah blah”? Also, is it just me or is Adrian Peterson like half the size of most NFL running backs? Seems like he could get broke in half at any moment, much like Warrick Dunn always seemed, except Dunn had those dreamy eyes to take your mind off his fragile frame. Plus, he was always buying houses for single moms to knock boots with.

#5: ATLANTA FALCONS (11-5, 10th overall) - I think I will be rooting for the Falcons this weekend, even though they will probably lose to stupid Arizona and their stupid Arena League-in-the-desert offense. I wondered this week what must be going through Michael Vick's head, sitting in jail, out of football, the Falcons coming on a run-up in his absence, moved on completely. Jails are full of fools like that, contemplating back on those glory days where the clothes were fresh and the money was endless. I am sad for Michael Vick. I think I'll look for him on that prison penpal website. (Honestly, if I try to google that up, I'll either end up looking to see if there are new registered sexual offenders near my house, or searching for Filipino prison wives.)

#6: MIAMI DOLPHINS (11-5, 11th overall) - "Ain't no genius like a Parcells genius, because a Parcells genius negotiates a contract where if the owner sells the team Parcells can split town immediately getting paid his contract in full all night!" At the grocery store tonight, as the stoner kid rung up my heaps of nutritionless garbage, he called over to an older black dude checking out the next line over, "You're a Cowboys fan, ain't you?" "Nuh-unh. Miami." And we made small football talk, the older black dude stoked that his team didn't suck this year. The stoner kid was a Steelers fan and he used some strange meandering stoner math in his brain to get around to the realization that the Dolphins could play the Steelers next week. The older black guy left after friendly sign-offs, and the stoner kid said something about how you don't fuck around with Troy Polamalu, he was a headhunter. I signed my receipt, told him my grandfather was a Polynesian chieftain, and I found his headhunter comment racist, and pushed my cart as angrily as you can really push a shopping cart, which means you just kinda bump by the Food Bank donation box and don't stop to politely the ugly, fat white lady coming in enter at her ambling convenience.

#7: SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (8-8, 15th overall) - Norvell Turner survives yet again like the poorly-complexioned cockroach he is, and Chargers fans are doomed to chronic underachievement for another full cycle of the calendar. It really is amazing though (meaning suspicious) how they ended up hosting the Colts in a wild card game. The NFL is really good at maximizing storylines. Honestly, I'm already excited about the Tom Brady vengeance-against-the-NFL angles arising next year. But, thinking of the entire thing as fixed, that leads me to believe the Chargers will lose this weekend. There's no real high interest in the Chargers at either Pittsburgh or Tennessee, and sneaking them into the playoffs as a punishment for Mike Shanahan (who I hear molested Bill Walsh's grandson, which is why the Broncos were forced to choke out and Shanahan released to never be heard from again in the NFL) has kept the Chargers and L.T. relevant just enough, and it gives credence to the "Phillip Rivers should be MVP" talk that is very much like what people used to say about Peyton Manning a few years before he started winning playoff games. The Powers That Be obviously have big things in mind for the young Phillip Rivers.

#8: ARIZONA CARDINALS (9-7, 17th overall) - The never-punt philosophy has crossed my eyeballs like four times in the past week in one of those odd strokes of something you never see but know about all of a sudden being all over the place. I think about the only thing that could make me like the Cardinals is if they made their punter inactive this weekend and decided to go with the never-punt game plan. Before this season, I never much cared for Kurt Warner, but this year, I've learned to appreciate him being the wily veteran QB because it helps Matt Leinart not have film study and gameplanning cockblock him sitting around in hot tubs with Arizona co-eds. He's sooo cute.