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Friday, May 30, 2014

I'm Getting the Hell Out of Here

I was born in Minnesota, grew up in Minnesota, lived in Minnesota, and two weeks from now I'm leaving. I'm leaving the midwest entirely to move to New Mexico. But before I do, I wanted to make a couple lists of stuff I will miss and stuff I will not miss about being here.

I won't go into too much detail why I'm leaving. It's nothing interesting anyway -- seriously, I'm the most boring person on Earth, all I really need is my dog and a beer and I'm happy. But it boils down to one of those existential-type deals where you ask yourself, "Why not?" I'm 32, a good opportunity presented itself, might as well go. 

I'll start with stuff I won't miss about Minnesota, so I can end this post with sappy Jim-Nantzian warm smarmy shmaltzyness:


I WILL NOT MISS:

- The Minnesota Department of Transportation. Particularly the guy who thinks its a genius idea to schedule all major highway construction projects to begin at the exact same time. And the committee of people who close a random bridge and elect not to put up any sign/notification within 2 miles of said closure. (Of course, this isn't to imply that the New Mexico DOT won't cause their share of problems, but I can almost guarantee there will be a hell of a lot LESS problems.)

- Phantom traffic light changes. Related to the previous point, but these get special attention. I've spent extended time in Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin and New Mexico, but Minnesota is the only place where a traffic light will change even if no other car is waiting there. It'll just change for the sake of changing. Evidently, the purpose of a traffic light here isn't to regulate traffic, it's to stop every car. And if it's the Sheridan Road light on 66th in Richfield, even if it's 3AM, you will wait there for the full 90 god damn seconds GOD HELP YOU.

- The horrendous ragweed pollen that permeates the air from mid-August until the end of September. 

- Paul Allen's voice.

- Local news interrupting TV broadcasts with MONUMENTAL WEATHER UPDATES OH DEAR GOD IT'S RAINING WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE.

- All the silly weather nonsense that everyone is sick to death of hearing about. But special shout out to black ice. Goodbye, black ice.


I WILL MISS:

- Big V's. The shittiest, diviest shitty dive bar, but it was MY shitty dive bar, dammit.

- Pizza Athena at Pizza Luce. Food meant for kings among men, and I'm honored they let a mere mortal like me have one once in a while.

- Surly Beer. See above, replace "food" with "drink."

- Name-dropping random obscure athletes that have played in Minnesota at one point or another. I love conversations like, "Remember Richard Park?" and seeing people's faces light up with recognition. I've always loved the fact that the mere mention of names like Steve Lombardozzi, Hunter Goodwin, Stanley Roberts, Maxim Sushinsky, Jermaine Wiggins or Scott Stahoviak makes people happy. (Or angry, if you mention Nick Punto.)

- Target Field. And whatever the new Vikings stadium ends up being named. I'm bummed I'll miss out on that.

- the Triple Rock.

- the 3-4 week stretch in May and again in October when it's just friggin PERFECT outside.

- Just how friggin nice everyone is here. Minnesota Nice is a cheesy cliche but it's not a myth. 


I'm sure I forgot a ton of stuff in the MISS category but that's just off the top of my head. I have another two weeks to think of more junk.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ironclad Stone Cold Ice Locking Pick Lock Rock Plock Lick Picks for 2013

Vikings worst case scenario: 7-9. They suck but don't suck bad enough to get a good draft choice so they're stuck in purgatory. Ponder sucks worse than last year, so people cry for Cassel who will somehow be even worse than Ponder. Greg Jennings is the second coming of Bernard Berrian. Peterson gets hurt. Brad Childress somehow becomes head coach again.

Vikings best case scenario: 10-6, like last year. Ponder is competent. Cassel doesn't see the field. Jennings is a solid #1 WR. Peterson is Peterson. Childress remains a high school janitor somewhere. Harrison Smith is a beast all year. Everson Griffin has 10 sacks. All three first round picks do well. That Mauti kid from Penn State becomes a difference maker at LB.

The answer will be somewhere in between. But man, their schedule is bruuuutal. If they're over .500 I'll honestly be surprised.

Just as a reminder for Vikings fans, PLEASE, I beg you, keep these things in mind this season and repeat after me:

Matt Cassel is not better than Christian Ponder. Joe Webb is not better than Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder. McLeod Bethel-Thompson is not better than Joe Webb, Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder.

Now here's the rest of my predictions with some notes here and there:

NFC North
Green Bay 10-6 (Their o-line is still a problem. One-and-done playoff fodder.)
Minnesota 8-8
Chicago 8-8 (Talent is there but not sure about new head coach or front seven.)
Detroit 5-11 (D-line way overrated and secondary is TERRIBLE. No idea why they're getting buzz.)

NFC East
Dallas 9-7 (There's just too much skill talent there for them to not eventually have a good year.)
NY Giants 9-7 (Typical Giants season.)
Washington 7-9 (RG3 makes it to Week 5 before going down again.)
Philadelphia 4-12 (Defense is the worst in football. But hey, rabblerabbleChipKellyrabblerabble.)

NFC South
Atlanta 13-3 (Not crazy about defense but man, Ryan/Jones/White/Gonzo is effing strong.)
New Orleans 10-6 (Wild Card in Payton's return.)
Carolina 6-10 (Meh.)
Tampa Bay 4-12 (Bleh.)

NFC West
San Francisco 12-4 (Best defense in football.)
Seattle 9-7 (I'm just not buying Russell Wilson. But they get the Wild Card.)
St Louis 8-8 (Competitive but not good enough, typical Jeff Fisher team.)
Arizona 4-12 (Carson Palmer is the ultimate huge-stats-on-bad-team QB.)

AFC North
Baltimore 11-5 (Coaching and additions on D will put them in AFC title game again.)
Cincinnati 10-6 (Tons of hype for them but they're the same as last year to me, Wild Card again.)
Pittsburgh 8-8 (Tomlin and Ben are worth at least 8 wins every year.)
Cleveland 8-8 (A year away.)

AFC East
New England 10-6 (Brady + Belichick + easy division = automatic 10 wins.)
Miami 9-7 (I like their offense, will contend for Wild Card.)
Buffalo 6-10 (No idea about their coach or QB situation but decent amount of talent.)
NY Jets 3-13 (Clownin' for Clowney. Even then, Jets wouldn't be smart enough to draft him.)

AFC South
Houston 14-2 (Loaded roster. Crap coach but this should be their year.)
Indianapolis 8-8 (Love Luck but their D is right down there with Philly.)
Tennessee 6-10 (Meh.)
Jacksonville 3-13 (Bleh.)

AFC West
Denver 14-2 (Peyton. Welker. Thomas. Decker. Friggin' stacked.)
Kansas City 10-6 (Reid/Smith a ginormous upgrade over Crennel/Cassel. Wild Card team.)
Oakland 5-11 (Another year, another losing record.)
San Diego 5-11 (The beginning of a long, rough stretch for this crap roster.)

Playoffs
Seattle at Green Bay - Green Bay
New Orleans at Dallas - Dallas
Cincinnati at Baltimore - Baltimore
Kansas City at New England - Kansas City

Dallas at San Francisco - Dallas
Green Bay at Atlanta - Atlanta
Baltimore at Denver - Baltimore
Kansas City at Houston - Houston

Dallas at Atlanta - Atlanta
Baltimore at Houston - Houston

Atlanta vs. Houston - Houston

That's right, the friggin' Houston Texans are my Super Bowl pick. I do not feel the slightest bit good about it, but I don't have to worry because it has no chance in hell of being right.

Other random thoughts: Dallas' annual kick in the balls comes in the NFC title game this year. I also couldn't resist a Dallas/San Francisco playoff game, which would be awesome just for the uniforms and history montages alone. Baltimore/Denver will be touted as a "REVENGE GAME" ("Peyton's been salivating for this!")... and then the Broncos promptly get their asses handed to them. I love when that happens. (See also: Green Bay at San Francisco last year.)