Merry Movie Mayhem: Candy Cane (Round 1)

Welcome to Round 1 of Merry Movie Mayhem!! Over the next few weeks we will be looking at 64 of the most notable holiday films & TV specials. Obviously Christmas is the focus of this particular genre, but there have been some prominent stories told about Thanksgiving & Hanukkah, so I am including them as well to round out the field. Most of what you’ll see here is pretty familiar…stuff you’ve watched on TV every November & December your whole life. While that may be an indictment of modern creativity, it is also a testament to the enduring affection that fans have for quality entertainment that soothes the soul, tickles the funny bone, & warms our cockles in a season that encompasses a range of emotions from joy to sorrow to wistful nostalgia. Don’t hesitate to leave feedback. The statements & decisions you’ll see here reflect my preferences & sensibilities, but sometimes I’m wrong. I would love to know what The Manoverse enjoys, so share your thoughts!! We’ll kick off the competition with the Candy Cane Division. Enjoy.





Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Released                                           5/2/47

Starring                                              Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwenn, John Payne, Natalie Wood           

Director                                              George Seaton (Airport)

Rotten Tomatoes                              94%

A cynical retail executive & her precocious daughter befriend the department store Santa that Mom hired. It turns out that Kris Kringle believes he is the REAL Santa Claus, a claim that lands him in court, where he is defended by a lawyer who is also smitten with the jaded Mom.




Silent Night, Deadly Night

Released                                           11/9/84

Starring                                              no one you’ve ever heard of         

Director                                              Charles E. Sellier Jr.

Rotten Tomatoes                              31%

Holidays have been horror movie fodder for decades, with deranged serial killers stalking their prey on Halloween, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, et al. Christmas hasn’t escaped, though the sacred nature of the occasion makes such a film a tricky proposition. This campy classic finds a young boy witnessing the murder of his parents by a thief dressed as Santa Claus. After growing up in a harsh orphanage the youngster becomes a homicidal maniac when he gets a job as a department store Santa. There were a few sequels made in which the younger brother also becomes a psycho Santa, but I’ve only seen bits & pieces of a couple of them. I remember the original mainly because our church youth group once watched it at a gathering at Christmastime. Wrap your head around that.


The Verdict:       Miracle on 34th Street. Easy decision. I’m not really a horror movie guy, but even if I was it’s difficult to overlook the awesomeness of Miracle.




Home Alone

Released                                           11/16/90

Starring                                              Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern        

Director                                              Chris Columbus (Only the Lonely, Mrs. Doubtfire, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

Rotten Tomatoes                              55%

A mischievous child is accidentally left behind in Chicago while his family jets off to a holiday getaway in Paris. The boy is then faced with having to defend his house on Christmas Eve against two inept crooks who are looting the entire neighborhood while everyone is out of town. There was a sequel made a couple of years later that is pretty good and will be a part of this project, and then a couple of other “sequels” that may retain the title but have none of the magic of their predecessors.




Mixed Nuts

Released                                           12/21/94

Starring                                              Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Rita Wilson, Adam Sandler    

Director                                              Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail)

Rotten Tomatoes                              7%

An all-star cast makes this blip on the pop culture radar somewhat memorable. The story revolves around employees of a suicide hotline that’s about to go under right at Christmastime. There are a lot of interconnecting storylines in a madcap adventure that…on paper…should work, especially given the amount of talent involved. Unfortunately it’s a hot mess and has appeared on various Worst Movies Ever lists.


The Verdict:       Home Alone. A no-brainer. I assume I’m not alone in adoring the work of many of those involved with Mixed Nuts, but all of those ingredients thrown together inexplicably results in something that I suppose has fans somewhere, but they are surely few & far between. Conversely, Home Alone has become a beloved Christmas tradition.





How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Released                                           12/18/66

Starring                                              Boris Karloff, Thurl Ravenscroft   

Director                                              Chuck Jones

Rotten Tomatoes                              100%

Dr. Seuss wrote Grinch in 1957, and a decade later it was turned into a 30 minute animated special featuring the voice talents of horror icon Boris Karloff and Thurl Ravenscoft, known better as the original voice of Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger. The story is about a bitter cave dwelling creature who hates Christmas and decides to “steal” it from the delightfully optimistic & cheerful villagers in Whoville. We’ve been watching The Grinch every holiday season for over a half century, and it is adored by multiple generations. A live action film was made in 2000 starring Jim Carey as the titular character, and while I am aware that it has its fans I do not count myself among them. I’ll stick with the treasured original.




Christmas Every Day

Released                                           12/1/96

Starring                                              Erik Von Detten, Robert Hays      

Director                                              Larry Peerce (The Other Side of the Mountain)

Rotten Tomatoes                              40% (a)

This was a made-for-television film shown on The Family Channel (aka ABC Family, now known as Freeform). I’m not typically a fan of made-for-TV movies. The production values are usually subpar and the writing isn’t always that good. Hallmark shows a ton of Christmas films every December that are mildly entertaining but ultimately forgettable, and Freeform, thru its many incarnations, has made contributions to the sub-genre. This movie is one of the few examples of such entertainment that has tickled my fancy and remains on my radar. The story revolves around a bratty teenage boy who relives the same Christmas over & over until he gets it right. Essentially it is a Christmas version of Groundhog Day, sans the talent of Billy Murray & Harold Ramis. I’m not sure why I like it, but I do.


The Verdict:       The Grinch. Another easy decision.




The Ref    

Released                                           3/9/94

Starring                                             Denis Leary, Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis, Glynis Johns           

Director                                             Ted Demme  (Blow)

Rotten Tomatoes                              71%

A thief on the run on Christmas Eve kidnaps a bickering couple and hides in their house while cops comb the town looking for him. Things are further complicated when the couple’s delinquent son comes home from military school and the dysfunctional extended family drops by for dinner. Kevin Spacey is phenomenal in almost everything he does, and standup comic turned actor Denis Leary is perfectly cast as the acerbic criminal. In contrast to Mixed Nuts the cast of The Ref takes an otherwise pedestrian script and spins it into comic gold.




Fred Claus

Released                                           11/9/07

Starring                                              Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks           

Director                                              David Dobkin            (Wedding Crashers)

Rotten Tomatoes                              21%

Vince Vaughn stars as Fred, the slacker brother of Santa. When Fred runs into money problems his brother agrees to bail him out only if he pops up to the North Pole to help during the Christmas rush. Hilarity ensues. The conceit here is that Santa, because he is a saint, has been able to make his family ageless, so there is a time travel element that is sort of cool though sadly glossed over. Paul Giamatti is one of my favorite actors, and he puts a unique spin on a character that has been portrayed numerous ways in countless movies. Vaughn plays the same loveable loser that he portrays in almost all of his films, but that’s alright because it’s a formula that seems to work for him. Critics despise Fred Claus, and it didn’t do that great at the box office, but it is a pleasant enough diversion on a cold winter’s night.


The Verdict:       The Ref. There is a really funny scene in Fred Claus involving Frank Stallone, Roger Clinton, & Stephen Baldwin, all guys with brothers more famous than them. Outside of that Fred Claus is a rom-com wannabe that just doesn’t stick to one’s ribs, although it isn’t nearly as terrible as you might have heard. The charms of Vaughn & Giamatti are considerable, though not quite enough to make the movie anything close to memorable. Conversely, The Ref is an underrated gem that deserves to be shown on TV a plethora of times every December, but it’s never quite achieved that level of popularity.




A Christmas Carol (1938) 

Released                                           12/16/38                                                        

Starring                                              Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart


Director                                              Edwin L. Marin

Rotten Tomatoes                              100%

There is no shortage of A Christmas Carol adaptations out there, and we’re going to be discussing several of them. The 1938 version is a jovial take on Dickens’ novella that omits some of the more macabre aspects of the story and takes other liberties in altering or expanding the plot. I’m not a huge fan of needlessly changing a book’s narrative for the film, but I must admit that this one works.




Bad Santa

Released                                           11/26/03

Starring                                              Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Lauren Graham

Director                                              Terry Zwigoff

Rotten Tomatoes                              78%

Department store Santas provide a convenient jumping off point for Christmas movies, and this one puts a…unique…spin on that particular element. Reflecting a 21st century move toward defining vulgarity as funny, the Santa Claus here is a hard-drinking, profanity spewing horndog who also happens to be a thief. He & his partner-in-crime, a “little person” who can conveniently portray Santa’s elf, are using the holiday season to case a shopping mall that they plan to rob on Christmas Eve. Things get complicated when Santa gets a girlfriend and befriends a strange young boy. Critics…surprisingly…really like the film and Billy Bob Thornton was even nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. I know there are those that absolutely love Bad Santa and laugh hysterically at every F-Bomb. I don’t consider myself a prude by any stretch, but I do try to be a Godly man and also pride myself on having a somewhat sophisticated entertainment palate. This movie is targeted toward teenagers & 20-somethings with a serious case of arrested development. A sequel was made in 2016, and it’s equally as….ehhhh…let’s just be nice and say neither film really frosts my cupcake.


The Verdict:       A Christmas Carol. This is purely a personal choice for me. If you love Bad Santa I won’t judge you, and if you dislike this particular version of A Christmas Carol I completely understand & might even agree with some of your reasoning. That being said, if I’m flipping thru the channels on a lazy Saturday in December and both of these movies are on TV I know which one I’d choose to watch.





Released                                           11/23/88

Starring                                              Bill Murray    

Director                                              Richard Donner (Superman, The Goonies, the Lethal Weapon franchise)

Rotten Tomatoes                              68%

I was a little late to the party when it comes to Scrooged, having not ever watched it until atleast a decade & a half after its release. It is a modern, strange, yet oddly faithful retelling of the Dickens tale, with Bill Murray as a greedy television executive who is verbally abusive to his employees and still pines for a lost love. It has become a cult classic that’s not necessarily thought of as being on the same level as other holiday favorites, but three decades after its release it is still shown on television annually and seems to have grown in reputation in the past several years.




Love the Coopers

Released                                           11/13/15

Starring                                              Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Diane Keaton

Director                                              Jessie Nelson

Rotten Tomatoes                              19%

There seems to be a growing trend in the holiday movie genre of putting together a large cast of well-known and highly regarded performers in a story that usually revolves around family angst. I get along great with my nuclear family as well as other relatives like aunts, uncles, & cousins, so I can’t really relate to such anxiety. Our Christmas gatherings are normally quite pleasant. However, I assume such dysfunction does actually exist. Love the Coopers is a newer entry into the mix, and though I really like the actors involved, at the end of the day it is a completely forgettable movie that I’m not sure I’d bother to watch again unless I was really bored.


The Verdict:       Scrooged. Citizens of The Manoverse will recall that I consider repeat viewings an essential indicator of a good film. If it’s being shown on television years after its initial theatrical run and if I’m still being entertained by it after I’ve seen it dozens of times then somebody somewhere did something right. Scrooged fits that description…the competition does not.




The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause        

Released                                           11/1/02

Starring                                              Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell        

Director                                              Michael Lembeck

Rotten Tomatoes                              54%

All three of Tim Allen’s Santa Clause movies are included in Merry Movie Mayhem, and I feel like this one gets shortchanged. You may have noticed that the original film and the third entry in the trilogy show up on TV often enough, but this second film is frequently skipped over. I read somewhere that the notion that Santa must find a wife to keep his job is considered by some to be old-fashioned or even misogynistic, which is utterly ridiculous logic. Elizabeth Mitchell, known by some for her work on the television show Lost, is radiant & enchanting. The biggest issue with The Mrs. Clause is that it came out eight years after its predecessor, which was probably 4 or 5 years too late.




Home for the Holidays

Released                                           11/3/95

Starring                                              Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr. 

Director                                              Jodi Foster

Rotten Tomatoes                              62%

Dysfunctional family dramedy isn’t reserved for Christmas…families gather on Thanksgiving too. Another highly regarded ensemble cast is involved, which means that critics praised the film upon its release. It even has a well-known director, a rarity for the genre. I’m pretty sure Robert Downey Jr. was whacked out on cocaine throughout the film, and I find his manic display distracting. Two decades after its theatrical run I don’t feel like Home has really aged well, although it still pops up on TV occasionally around Thanksgiving.


The Verdict:       The Santa Clause 2. This matchup would likely generate a spirited debate among film buffs. Home for the Holidays certainly has the stronger cast and is admittedly well-written, but I’ve just never been able to embrace it. Conversely, there are those that consider The Mrs. Clause to be the weakest entry of that trilogy, and it does seem to get shafted as far as being shown on television, yet I find it completely charming.




Scrooge (1970)         

Released                                           11/5/70

Starring                                              Albert Finney, Sir Alec Guinness

Director                                              Ronald Neame (The Poseidon Adventure)

Rotten Tomatoes                              75%

I generally prefer movies that stay true to the books they are based on, but I understand that when a story like A Christmas Carol is remade over & over people want to try something new and distinctive to stand out from the crowd. This version of Carol is a musical that is actually more faithful to the novella than one would think. It is a testament to the acting ability of Albert Finney that he was only 34 years old when he portrayed the elderly Ebenezer Scrooge, and he was rewarded with a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.




Blackadder’s Christmas Carol

Released                                           12/23/88

Starring                                              Rowan Atkinson, Robbie Coltrane          

Director                                              Richard Boden

Rotten Tomatoes                              84% (a)

You probably haven’t seen it and may not have even heard of it. Blackadder is the titular character of a British television series that aired on the BBC in the 1980’s, with comedian Rowan Atkinson starring as Edmund Blackadder, an opportunistic descendant of an unspecified royal family. In this Christmas special Blackadder, in contrast to the traditional portrayal of Scrooge, is “the nicest man in England”, with the twist being that the ghost (there is only one…portrayed by Robbie Coltrane, better known today as Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films) who visits him on Christmas Eve showing Blackadder that “bad guys have all the fun”, resulting in him waking up bitter, disillusioned, & meanspirited. I am not a huge fan of British humor, but Atkinson is hilarious and this bizarro world take on the familiar story is unexpected fun.


The Verdict:       Scrooge. This is a tough one, but I lean toward Scrooge a) due to its award winning pedigree, and b) because Blackadder is tough to find if you’re not really searching for it. Scrooge has shown up on American Movie Classics (or maybe it’s Turner Classic Movies) with some regularity over the years.

2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 14

After last weekend’s upset losses by Alabama and Miami I jotted down my thoughts on who should be in the college football playoff as well as which teams I’d still have in contention. My top four were Clemson, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, & Auburn, with Georgia & Alabama right there ready to pounce and Miami & Ohio St. still having an outside shot. The playoff committee looked at things a little differently. They also have Clemson #1, but like Auburn a couple of spots higher than me, with Oklahoma & Wisconsin one spot lower. They also have Alabama & Georgia knocking on the door, just flipped, and Miami & Ohio St. exactly where I had them. So the same eight teams, in slightly different order. Speaking of last weekend, Zach was 3-4, while I bested him by one game at 4-3. I’m really glad we had UCF-South Florida as one of our games, not because I won (UCF didn’t cover the points) but because it was so much fun to watch. Ohio State failed to cover as well…by half a freakin’ point…which worked out well for Zach. Anyway, we now move on to conference championship week and what are essentially playoff quarterfinal games. Four of the five major conference title game outcomes will have a direct effect on the playoff, which is pretty gosh darn cool for football fans. These will be the last college games we pick this season since the only thing remaining on the schedule is next week’s Army-Navy game. We’ll do our usual Bowl-a-Palooza, but that is a separate deal. Enjoy this weekend’s lineup…it could be really entertaining.

My Season:     42-39

Z’s Season:     42-39






Stanford             vs     USC (-3)                                

Pac 12 Championship (Santa Clara, CA)

Neither one of these teams are getting into the playoff, and since the Rose Bowl is one of the playoff games the winner won’t go there either (one of the issues I have with the current system…a topic to be addressed some other time). But the winner will be a conference champ and be playing somewhere…presumably the Fiesta Bowl. Stanford is 9-3 and riding a three game win streak, while the Trojans are 10-2, have won four games in a row, and beat Stanford by nearly three TDs in the second game of the season. This is a Friday night game at the 49ers stadium just outside of San Francisco, so there is no home field advantage. I really don’t know what to expect, but The Vibes are leaning toward USC. Zach likes what Stanford has accomplished thus far and believes they’ll hang tough throughout this game, pulling out a victory in the fourth quarter.

My Pick:     Southern Cal

Z’s Pick:     Stanford




TCU                     vs     Oklahoma (-7)                     

Big 12 Championship (Arlington, TX)

The Big 12 only has ten teams and has never had a title game, but y’all know money talks so here we are with a rematch of the top two teams in the conference. Not only are the Sooners guaranteed a playoff spot with a victory, they also beat the Horned Frogs by 18 points just a few weeks ago. I see no reason to think this game will go any differently unless Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield kills or rapes someone, in which case he’d probably be suspended for the first quarter and have to lead his team to a slightly less dominant mauling of TCU. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Oklahoma

Z’s Pick:     Oklahoma




Georgia               vs     Auburn (-3)                                    

SEC Championship (Atlanta, GA)

It’s pretty simple for these two teams…win and you’re in the playoff. The committee has Auburn ranked #2, which is a couple of spots higher than I’d have thought, but at this point it doesn’t really matter. The only thing that’s important is being one of those final four teams. The Bulldogs were the top team in the country not that long ago, but stubbed their toe against…you guessed it…Auburn. So this is a rematch of a game that took place about three weeks ago in which the Tigers dominated by more than three TDs. There is some discussion that Auburn could still get into the playoff even if they lose this game, but I don’t think that would happen, and more importantly I don’t believe it will be an issue. Zach points out the difficulty of beating the same team twice in one season and thinks Georgia will score the upset.

My Pick:     Auburn

Z’s Pick:     Georgia




Miami                  vs     Clemson (-8.5)                    

ACC Championship (Charlotte, NC)

Both the playoff committee and yours truly rank the Tigers #1. The Hurricanes were in the playoff until screwing the pooch against Pitt last weekend, so now they find themselves in an uphill battle to get back in even with a victory in this game, although one would have to assume defeating the #1 team in the country would be too impressive to overlook. Still, their early season schedule is weak and the Pitt defeat isn’t a “good loss” (I really hate that terminology), so if you want playoff debate & chaos Miami upsetting Clemson would be a great place to start. One might consider the possibility that Clemson could still make the playoff even with a loss, which would further stir the pot. I had the defending national champs as my #1 team in the pre-season and I see no reason to jump off that particular steamroller now. Zach wasn’t surprised by Miami’s loss to Pitt but believes they’ll bounce back to play a competitive game. However he likes Clemson to score the victory.

My Pick:     Clemson

Z’s Pick:     Clemson




Ohio State (-5.5)                   vs     Wisconsin                                     

Big Ten Championship (Indianapolis, IN)

I kind of feel sorry for Wisconsin. Though they are undefeated they’re receiving very little respect. I grew up in an era when a win guaranteed moving up or atleast the team holding onto their ranking, a loss meant they’d now be ranked lower or maybe not at all, and being undefeated was something significant. Sadly that isn’t the case anymore. Sports suffers from paralysis by analysis because we have the technology to dissect every second of every game and way too many talking heads on ESPN, FSI, & plethora of other outlets who make big money scrutinizing things from every angle to the point that undefeated isn’t necessarily indicative of anything special. Basically what that boils down to is that the Badgers have to win this game to even slink into the back door of the playoff. Conversely, the 10-2 Buckeyes are actually favored in this game and still have playoff aspirations. Currently ranked #8, they’d need a whole lot of dominoes to fall their way, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. Maybe they’ll end up playing USC in a “What the hell happened to our traditional Rose Bowl invitation??” game where the announcers can dwell regretfully on Ohio St.’s inexplicable meltdown against Iowa and the Trojans’ losses to what turned out to be vastly overrated Notre Dame & Washington State. At any rate, I think Ohio St. wins the Big Ten title and Alabama ends up in the playoff and probably the national title game. Zach likes the size of Wisconsin’s lines. He believes that advantage might be enough to wear down the Buckeyes and snag a close win for Wisconsin.

My Pick:     Ohio State

Z’s Pick:      Wisconsin

Merry Movie Mayhem: An Introduction

A big chunk of 2016 here at The Manofesto was dedicated to 80’s Movie Mania, a competition honoring the best in 1980’s cinema that was ultimately won by The Blues Brothers. In the process of completing that project an idea came to me that it might be fun to do the same kind of tournament with Christmas films, and so we shall.


Merry Movie Mayhem will differ from its predecessor in that it will move much faster. The goal is to complete the project by Christmas Eve. That gives us less than a month to discuss & appreciate 64 films & TV specials. Yes, that’s right…I am making this an all-inclusive battle royale comprised of Christmas movies, animated television specials, & even a few nods to Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. It just feels like the right thing to do.


Each film or show has been placed into one of four divisions: Candy Cane, Eggnog, Mistletoe, & North Pole. Choosing the entrants for this tournament was a tougher task than I’d imagined. Probably ¾ of the choices were obvious, but others…not so much. However I don’t think the final pool leaves considerable room for debate. That being said, if I have left out one of your favorites please let me know. I always enjoy feedback from The Manoverse.


In the first round I have included, when possible, the film’s ranking on Rotten Tomatoes. Unless otherwise noted this is a cumulative score received from critics, with 60-100% being “fresh”, and 59% or below being “rotten”. In some cases, particularly with animated television specials, no Rotten Tomatoes score is available, and in a few instances there are no critical reviews but an audience score is given. I don’t pay too much attention to these scores because oftentimes critics can be somewhat highbrow and not at all in touch with what most folks enjoy, but they are a useful tool in some situations. Also, I have included the name of the director, but what I find interesting is that not a lot of bigtime film raconteurs have helmed holiday themed films. These movies that so many of us love don’t seem to be all that respected by the Hollywood literati. Perhaps it is indicative of a general Godlessness, or maybe, because of preconceived notions of what a Christmas movie should be, creative “geniuses” find the parameters stifling. Whatever the case may be, with few exceptions the general achievements…or lack thereof…of the director outside of the film being discussed has very little bearing on the outcome.


Before we dive in I will give you a sneak peek at the contenders. Merry Movie Mayhem includes:

*16 takes on the Santa Claus mythos

*11 different adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

*13 entrants that were made in the 80’s, 13 produced in the 90’s, 15 made before I was even a gleam in my Daddy’s eye, & a surprising 20 that have come out in the 21st century (which, to be fair, now encompasses nearly two decades)

*19 films or specials that utilize animation


I adore Christmas movies, and since you’re here reading this I assume you do as well. So, let us spend this holiday season on a journey together…a quest to pay respect to and express admiration for films & specials that have stood the test of time, with the ultimate goal of narrowing the field and crowning one winner as the merriest movie of them all. Adeste Fideles. Feliz Navidad. Buon Natale. And God bless us…everyone.


2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 13

Happy Thanksgiving Manoverse!! I hope all of you will be spending tomorrow enjoying the four F’s…food, family, friends, & football. I believe there are games every day for five days straight, which is pretty cool. Last week was a rather decent week for both of us, although Zach edged me by going 4-1 to my 3-2. I really thought the Seattle Seahawks were going to pull out that Monday night game. Ah well…c’est la vie, and we move on. We’re probably going to be sticking strictly to college football the next couple of weeks. This is commonly known as Rivalry Week, although realignment has negatively impacted the concept. As a West Virginia Mountaineers fan I really miss The Backyard Brawl against the Pitt Panthers. However, a few big games remain, and as a bonus a few of them even have playoff implications. Next week will be the conference title games, and a couple games this week will determine some of those matchups. It’s a great time to be a football fan. Enjoy.

My Season:        38-36

Z’s Season:        39-35






South Florida              at      Central Florida (-11)

In my pre-season poll I predicted that it’d be the Bulls who would reign supreme among the “non-power” teams, but it’s the undefeated Knights who have emerged at the top of that particular heap. USF isn’t far behind though, and with a victory could catapult themselves into a New Year’s bowl game against a “power” opponent. The winner of this game will face Memphis in the AAC title game. I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to sticking with my pre-season picks, and it’s not as if 9-1 USF is a bad team. The two campuses are less than a hundred miles apart, so I don’t think the home field advantage is much of a factor. Kickoff is on Black Friday afternoon, and I’ll be glad to be home cheering for the Bulls rather than fighting crowds at a shopping mall. Zach likes UCF head coach Scott Frost (who’s probably leaving soon for Nebraska), so he’s going with the favorites.

My Pick:     South Florida

Z’s Pick:     Central Florida




Louisville (-10)            at      Kentucky

No, it’s not a basketball game. Actually these are two rather decent football teams. The 7-4 Cardinals haven’t gotten as much attention as a year ago when quarterback Lamar Jackson took the NCAA by storm en route to winning the Heisman Trophy, but they’ve still had a nice season. The Wildcats are also 7-4 with impressive wins over Tennessee and South Carolina. Kentucky has the home field and the double digit points are a bit much in my opinion, so I’m leaning toward the underdogs. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Kentucky

Z’s Pick:     Kentucky




Florida State (-5)                  at      Florida

What a disappointing season it has been for both of these teams. The Seminoles stumbled right out of the gate and lost their starting QB for the season. At 4-6 this is a must win to even become bowl eligible, a circumstance they’re certainly not accustomed to in Tallahassee. The Gators are also 4-6 and have already fired their coach. They have no chance at qualifying for a bowl unless the NCAA makes some kind of exception since an early season game was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. What it all boils down to is that this is as close to post-season action as one or both of these teams might get, which makes it atleast somewhat interesting. Because the Seminoles still have a reasonable shot at being invited to a bowl game I have to give them the nod. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Florida State

Z’s Pick:     Florida State




Notre Dame (-2.5)       at      Stanford

The Irish blew their opportunity to get into the playoff when they lost to Miami a couple of weeks ago, but at 9-2 will still probably find themselves playing in a January bowl game. Stanford may or not be heading to next week’s Pac 12 championship, but at 8-3 will be playing somewhere in the post-season. This game doesn’t affect their conference situation either way, but pride, momentum, & bowl position are on the line. It feels like a toss-up to me, but I’m going to pick the home team to score the mild upset. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Stanford

Z’s Pick:     Stanford




Washington State      at      Washington (-9)

Stanford’s hopes of playing in the Pac 12 title game depend on the result of this game. If the Cougars win they’re in. If the Huskies win then Stanford earns the right to meet USC next week based on their victory over Washington a couple of weeks ago. They call this game the Apple Cup, and when you peel away the hype and look at the core of the matchup the more fruitful offense belongs to Washington St., while Washington’s defense has a bit more juice. Ok…yeah…that was fun!! Anyway, The Vibes are telling me that Cougars’ QB Luke Falk…a potential first round NFL draft choice…will have a big day and lead his team to a huge win. Zach really likes State head coach Mike Leach and believes he will lead his team to victory.

My Pick:     Washington State

Z’s Pick:     Washington State




Ohio State          (-11.5)        at      Michigan

Everyone was a lot more excited about this matchup a few months ago. Since then the Wolverines have gone 8-3 and are nowhere near the playoff conversation or conference title contention, while the 9-2 Buckeyes will be playing in the Big Ten title game but are 9th in the playoff poll and would need a lot of dominoes to fall the right way. Still…it’s Ohio St.-Michigan. This IS college football. I’m not sure what exactly has gone wrong with the Wolverines this season, but I believe they are better than their record. The game is in The Big House in Ann Arbor, which is another factor to consider. Ohio St. is clearly the superior team and motivated by a lingering yet admittedly miniscule chance at a playoff spot so I think they’ll win, but what about the points?? The smart assumption is probably that it’ll be a closer game than the oddsmakers indicate, but sometimes one has to go big or go home. Zach’s opinion…in the interest of full accuracy…is “screw Ohio St”.

My Pick:     Ohio State

Z’s Pick:     Michigan




Alabama (-4.5)            at      Auburn

They call this the Iron Bowl because the city of Birmingham was a big producer of iron & steel back in the 70’s. More tangibly, this has become one of the most anticipated annual games on the calendar because one or both teams are consistently near the top of the rankings and there is usually a lot riding on the outcome…this year is no exception. ‘Bama is the undefeated #1 team in the country and will secure a spot in the SEC title game with a victory. In my opinion if they make it that far they’ll be in the playoff win or lose. However, Auburn would take that SEC championship game spot and vault themselves into the playoff conversation with a victory. Tide head coach Nick Saban grew up in Monongah, WV which is about a half hour up the road from me, so most folks around here like to see him be successful, but as a football fan not only do I usually cheer for the underdog but I am also thoroughly bored with Alabama. Dynasties are only entertaining to fans of that particular team…everybody else is rooting for them to get knocked off. I also love chaos when it comes to the playoff because the methodology just doesn’t frost my cupcake. So that’s why I’ll be cheering for Auburn. Zach is fully invested in the Saban lovefest and thinks the Tide will roll by three TDs.

My Pick:     Auburn

Z’s Pick:     Alabama


Fartleks & Giblets: A Melancholy Farewell to ESPN’s Mike & Mike

The spring of 2006 saw the beginning of one of the most difficult stretches of time in my life, a period that I refer to as My Unfortunate Incarceration. At the relatively young age of 33 an ulcer on my tailbone led to six months in a “skilled” nursing facility, a year completely homebound, surgery, another stay in a nursing facility, then some additional recovery time at home. All told, two years in the prime of my life passed by while I was unable to drive, work, or have any semblance of normalcy. During that time I watched ALOT of television. I watched TV shows that I may never have noticed otherwise. I recall watching just about every second of the 2006 NBA Playoffs. I developed an affinity for reruns of Ted Danson’s underrated sitcom Becker, which I had completely ignored during its run on CBS from 1998-2004. And at some point in this lonely, depressing, frustrating two year span I discovered a morning sports talk show called Mike & Mike in the Morning, which had premiered on the radio in January 2000 and began being simulcast on ESPN2 in 2004. I was a little late to the party but was almost instantly hooked.


Mike Golic had been a journeyman defensive lineman in the NFL during the late 1980’s & early 90’s. Mike Greenberg was amongst a plethora of virtually indistinguishable ESPN anchors. At best I was vaguely aware of the two. Like so many retired athletes Golic segued into sports media after his playing career was over and eventually landed at ESPN doing a morning radio show with a guy named Tony Bruno. Greenberg got his degree in journalism from Northwestern and spent a few years covering sports in Chicago during the latter half of Michael Jordan’s epic career before landing in Bristol. When Bruno abruptly left The Mothership Greeny was asked to fill in on the radio show, and the rest is history. The show grew into a powerhouse, with Greeny & Golic becoming household names (atleast to sports fans). They did commercials, wrote a book, appeared multiple times on Letterman, and dined with Presidents.


On a personal level Mike & Mike became a semi-regular part of my daily routine. Work schedules & sleep habits have changed a few times in the past decade, and I can’t honestly say that I have consistently been glued to my television every weekday for all four hours, but I made an effort to catch chunks of the show as often as life allowed. It has not been unusual for me to wake up or arrive home from work and immediately turn the television to ESPN2 to check out what Mike & Mike had to say about last night’s ballgame, the latest blockbuster trade or unfortunate injury, and whatever else might be happening in the world of sports. On top of that we were regularly treated to discussions/debates/arguments about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie (it is), the relative merits of Batman as a superhero (he is the BEST superhero), hilarious conversations about turkey giblets at Thanksgiving, & other pieces of The Mikes personalities that they willingly cast forth for public consumption. They integrated pop culture into their show without losing focus on sports and didn’t ignore big news stories yet never got bogged down with them. They made the annual NCAA March Madness basketball tournament even more enjoyable with their Sheets of Integrity Bracket Wager, which led to memorable moments like Greeny milking a cow and Golic getting his body waxed. From 2010 to 2013 they won the Sammy Award for Favorite TV Show during my annual fake awards year in review, something that may not mean anything to anybody else but which I assure you I take as seriously as almost anything I post here at The Manofesto.


Like so many great duos they were opposites. Greeny is the neurotic, germophobic fussbudget that one is as likely to find at a wine tasting or poetry reading as you would a sporting event, while Golic is the laid back, straight talking, pudgy tough guy that you’d hang out with in a mancave drinking beer & watching the ballgame. That kind of “opposites attract” formula has worked forever, from Laurel & Hardy and Abbott & Costello to Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson or Felix & Oscar in The Odd Couple.


A few years ago I read somewhere that the show was going to be relocating from Bristol, CT to New York City, which seemed odd. One important aspect of Mike & Mike had always been its plethora of guests, from various ESPN insiders to former players & coaches to guys like comedian Frank Caliendo. They had also made various members of their staff semi-famous by utilizing them in on-air segments, an idea popularized by David Letterman. Also, if I have had one criticism of Greeny & Golic over the years it is that they seemed to take copious amounts of time off, with one or the other or sometimes both missing days here & there. However that was never a huge issue because there was always a deep pool of talent on the ESPN campus to use as substitute hosts. How was all of that going to work if they transplanted the entire production to The Big Apple?? The story was never addressed by The Mikes on the program or anywhere else that I am aware of, and so the idea just kind of faded into the ether. I didn’t know if it had been a false rumor all along or if someone…possibly Greeny, Golic, or both…killed the plan. I’m a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” kind of guy, so not moving the show was just fine by me. But then…..


About a year ago the rumors began swirling again, only this time it was being said that ESPN was ending the show altogether!! And it wasn’t one of those things that I had to question whether I had actually read it or not or if maybe I was losing my mind…the story was everywhere. At one point it was being said that the two had turned against each other and were no longer speaking, that their continued on-air interaction was just an excellent performance. That made me profoundly sad. Eventually The Mikes did address the situation on-air, announcing that Greeny was getting his own show in 2018 (emanating from NY City), and that Golic would continue on with a revamped version of the current show co-hosted by ESPN mainstay Trey Wingo. The situation was clearly uncomfortable for the two men, especially Golic. However, I came away with the impression that the two are legitimately on good terms and that these decisions were not made by them or motivated by any dislike, anger, or negativity.


I am still not clear on why the powers-that-be decided to make these moves. Perhaps it is kind of like splitting pairs in blackjack. Someone decided that these two guys are at the top of the ESPN food chain so why not have two shows instead of one. That makes sense to a degree, although as a fan I still hate it. Maybe I am wrong and Greeny did desire to move on. While Golic seems perfectly content to be doing just what he is doing and probably understands that as an ex-athlete co-hosting ESPN’s flagship show is a better outcome than he ever could have dreamed of, Greeny is a “journalist” who has a track record of side projects like writing a couple of novels and hosting game shows on ABC. Did he feel like his career had stagnated?? Did he feel the need to flex his professional muscles and do something different?? Or was this just another head-scratching decision by corporate types who seem hell bent on ruining the remarkable legacy of ESPN?? I don’t know the answers and no one is offering any further explanation. There will probably be a tell-all book in the future, but for now we’ll just have to wonder.


Mike & Mike has been business as usual the past few months, even with the end looming in the distance. They have informed & entertained as they always had. They continued to make us laugh and make us think. They dressed up for Halloween as in previous years (Mike & Mike always did Halloween right). The show has been early morning comfort food just as it always has been. I made more of an effort to tune in than I had been making for the past year or two because sometimes you don’t fully appreciate something until it’s gone, but fortunately in this case we all got to say a long goodbye.


And now it’s over. I’m an 80’s kid, and because of my physical limitations I have always leaned toward more sedentary pursuits like reading books & watching television. I believe there are two types of people in the world…TV People and Non-TV People. My friend & brother from another mother The Owl doesn’t even own a television and hasn’t cared about any show for decades. Conversely, I watch way too much television and have always had a special place in my heart for series finales, probably because I’m sentimental & hate change, so endings always kind of make me verklempt. I have seen a lot of fantastic TV shows come & go. The Cosby Show. Cheers. Dallas. Friends. Seinfeld. Mike & Mike joins an impressive lineup in the television graveyard.


Golic & Wingo will fill the old show’s 6-10am time slot on ESPN2 starting the week after Thanksgiving and then move to ESPNNews next year. I like Trey Wingo well enough, and I’m sure that program will be entertaining…but it won’t be the same. Citizens of The Manoverse know of my fondness for The Andy Griffith Show and may recall that it ran for eight seasons in the 1960s. However, after Season 5 Don Knotts (aka Deputy Barney Fife) departed, and his exit happened to coincide with the show transitioning from black & white to color. It’s not that the final three seasons of TAGS aren’t good…but sans Knotts and produced in color they just aren’t as…enchanting…as the black & white episodes. It’s all about chemistry & balance, and I’m just not feeling the Golic & Wingo vibe quite yet. It’ll be an uphill climb to equal the impact of Mike & Mike. We’ll see.


Greeny’s new 7-10am show called Get Up will premiere on ESPN in April and apparently be co-hosted by Michelle Beadle & Jalen Rose. I don’t find that combination appealing at all. I suppose I’ll check it out, but my initial reaction is that it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. I could be wrong.


So here we are looking into the void once more. Life moves forward. The sun will rise, birds will chirp, & the teeming masses will get on with our lives. In the grand scheme of life the fate of a silly little television show doesn’t amount to all that much. We certainly face more significant concerns. But for those of us who invested so many morning hours in Mike & Mike and looked forward to being entertained, informed, & briefly distracted from life’s bigger problems there is some degree of mourning. We don’t know why these changes have been made and would have preferred things remained the same. That’s not how it went down though. There is a maxim that says “don’t be sad because it’s over…be happy that it happened in the first place”, and I suppose that’ll have to suffice. Kudos to Greeny & Golic for almost two decades of excellence and best wishes for the new shows. Thank you, and goodbye.

2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 12

Despite what NFL players might feel, as a fan I sort of like having football on Thursday nights, and I am especially excited about tonight since my Steelers are playing the Tennessee Titans. It’s a personal highlight during an otherwise prosaic football weekend. The college schedule is unappealing at best, with makeup games like Alabama vs. Mercer and Clemson vs. The Citadel littering the landscape due to hurricane issues a couple of months ago. I understand the various reasons (mostly financial) that those games are being played, but as a fan I’d almost rather they’d been cancelled altogether. At any rate, we forge ahead as best we can, and I can’t resist being slightly braggadocious coming off of a 5-0 week, something I’ve accomplished all too rarely over the years. Zach was 2-3 last week, which means that we are back to being even for the season and both of us have winning records. We’re leaning a little more on pro instead of college games this week, so we’ll see how that goes.

My Season:        35-34

Z’s Season:        35-34







TCU (-7)              at      Texas Tech

In the latest playoff rankings the committee has the 8-2 Horned Frogs 12th, so they’re not really in that conversation any longer. However, they remain in the driver’s seat for a spot in the Big 12 title game if they win out, and I’m sure an opportunity to avenge last weekend’s loss to Oklahoma is great motivation. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders have lost 4 out of their last 5 games and are just looking to become bowl eligible. I never thought TCU was a legit playoff contender, but I don’t believe they’ll have much trouble winning this game on the road. Tech will likely need to beat Texas next week to get invited to a post-season game. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     TCU

Z’s Pick:     TCU




UCLA                  at      USC (-16)

I had high hopes for the Trojans this season, but a couple of stumbles along the way have cost them in the playoff rankings. This is their last regular season game but they’ll be playing in the Pac 12 title game. Conversely, the 5-5 Bruins haven’t rebounded from a tough 2016 like I thought they would and are simply playing for bowl eligibility at this point. NFL scouts will be watching this game closely, as UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen and USC quarterback Sam Darnold could very well enter next spring’s draft and would likely both be first round picks. Having said that, football is a team game and USC is clearly the better team. The points make me a bit skittish, but I think they’ll cover. Since this is a rivalry game Zach believes it will be much closer than the oddsmakers think.

My Pick:     USC

Z’s Pick:     UCLA




L.A. Rams                    at      Minnesota          (-2.5)

While no one was paying attention somehow the Rams have actually become a decent NFL team. 31 year old head coach Sean McVay has the 7-2 Rams in first place in the NFC West and young QB Jared Goff suddenly looks worthy of having been a #1 overall draft pick. Not to be outdone, the Vikings are also 7-2 and leading the NFC North. Their quarterback situation is a little strange. Sam Bradford is injured (shocker), journeyman backup Case Keenum is starting, & former starter Teddy Bridgewater was recently activated after being on the shelf for nearly two years. Whatever they’re doing is working though. I haven’t followed these two teams enough this year to have any insightful commentary or expectations, but I do get the sense it might actually be a really fun game to watch. When in doubt I tend to favor the home team, and since I’m stubborn the Rams are going to have to show me a little more before I buy in. Zach calls this a coin flip game, although I’m not sure if he literally flipped a coin before deciding to pick the Rams.

My Pick:     Minnesota

Z’s Pick:     L.A. Rams




Philadelphia (-3.5)      at      Dallas

This is always a good rivalry game and oftentimes a battle for NFC East supremacy, but a few months ago who would’ve guessed that it’d be Philly leading the division while Dallas lagged three games behind?? At this moment (and things could change in an hour and change a half dozen times again before the weekend) word on the street is that Cowboys’ RB Zeke Elliott has decided to drop his legal battle and serve a six game suspension. I’m sure the fact that that’d get him back just in time for the playoffs with fresh legs had absolutely nothing to do with the decision. Of course the question is can they earn a wildcard berth?? It’s going to be really tough. Anyway, the Eagles are much better this season that I expected, and I see no reason to doubt them now. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Philadelphia

Z’s Pick:     Philadelphia




Atlanta                          at      Seattle (-3)

The Super Bowl Curse is real y’all!! After going 11-5 in 2016 and then pulling the most epic choke job in Super Bowl history the Falcons are really behind the eight ball as far as making the playoffs. They aren’t winning the NFC South and the wild card competition is fierce. Conversely, it’s business as usual for the 6-3 Seahawks, except for the fact that the Rams are much improved and lead the division by a game. If this game were being played in Atlanta I might have to ponder things a bit, but Seattle’s home field advantage is amongst the best in the NFL. Zach believes the loss of DB Richard Sherman will have a negative impact on the Seahawks and the Falcons will show flashes of their former glory.

My Pick:     Seattle

Z’s Pick:     Atlanta

2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 11

It’s been a busy week so I am behind. That’s cool…I like being busy. At any rate, once again bonus picks weren’t a good idea, as I was 3-5 and Zach was only slightly better at 4-4. The college football playoff rankings remain the same at the top, although a few teams (most notably Penn St. & Ohio St.) have played themselves out of contention so the field is narrow. The NFL is a war of attrition on a scale I don’t recall seeing, with so many big stars out for the year with injuries. We’re going to do our best to stay / get back above .500, but it’s probably best if we take things slow with almost two months remaining in our season.

My Season:        30-34

Z’s Season:        33-31        






Washington (-6.5)      at      Stanford

The Pac 12 North is a three team race between Washington, Washington St., & Stanford. Whoever comes out on top is probably going to get left out of the college football playoff, but I suppose a conference title would be a nice consolation prize. On paper the Huskies are a better team, but Stanford does have the home field advantage and Heisman worthy running back Bryce Love. This is a late night game on Friday so I’ll be able to keep my eye on it at work. I’m going against the grain and with the home team underdogs. Zach is completely confused and believes Washington State coach Mike Leach is coaching in this game, which he is not. But anyway, he’s picking Washington…I think.

My Pick:     Stanford

Z’s Pick:     Washington




Iowa                                        at      Wisconsin (-12.5)

Undefeated Wisconsin is the Big Ten’s last remaining hope to have representation in the playoff, but unfortunately their weak early season schedule (Utah St., Florida Atlantic, BYU) isn’t doing them any favors. The Hawkeyes are coming off of a surprising beatdown of Ohio St., and I think if this game were being played in Iowa I might have to ponder whether they could pull off a shocker two weeks in a row. However, with everything that’s at stake and the fact that the game is in Madison I don’t think the Badgers are going to mess things up. Zach is unimpressed by Wisconsin and thinks Iowa is good enough to get a second straight huge upset win.

My Pick:     Wisconsin

Z’s Pick:     Iowa



Georgia (-2.5)              at      Auburn

I feel confident in assuming that the Bulldogs aren’t going to lose their final two games against Kentucky & Georgia Tech, and things are set up so that even if they’d lose the SEC title game to Alabama they’d probably still get a spot in the playoff. So, the only roadblock left for Georgia is traveling to Auburn. Meanwhile, the Tigers still have an outside chance to play in the conference championship (they have ‘Bama at home in a few weeks) and perhaps even make the playoff, but this is a must-win. I hope that this game is as good as it should be, and since I have a few issues with how the playoff is decided and therefore root for chaos, I am pulling for Auburn. Conversely, Zach thinks Georgia is unstoppable.

My Pick:     Auburn

Z’s Pick:     Georgia



Notre Dame (-3)           at      Miami (FL)

Back in the day some folks called this matchup Catholics vs. Convicts. ESPN even made a documentary about the rivalry using that title a couple of years ago. However, this is the first time in a long time that the game has really mattered in the bigger picture. The Irish are a solid playoff entrant at the moment, but that could easily change with a loss. Conversely, the Hurricanes are on the outside looking in and have to get a victory. They’re going to be playing in the ACC title game regardless, but obviously a playoff berth is a bigger goal. A lot of folks say Miami hadn’t really played anyone until they beat Virginia Tech last week, and that may be a valid point. Notre Dame has had the tougher schedule…but not that much tougher unless you’re counting #1 Georgia, a game Notre Dame lost. I’m a sucker for home field advantage. I really do think it can make a difference, especially in college. That’s why I am leaning toward Miami. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Miami (FL)

Z’s Pick:     Miami (FL)



New England (-7.5)    at      Denver

The Patriots have reeled off four straight victories after a shaky start to the season, but still hold only a one game lead over Buffalo in the AFC East. Conversely, quarterback woes have doomed the 3-5 Broncos. I don’t know who’s starting behind center for Denver this week, but I don’t think it matters all that much. This is the Sunday night game on NBC, and since its being played in Mile High territory I guess there is always a chance it might be more fun & competitive than one might assume…but probably not. Zach believes the Pats will win big…possibly four TDs big.

My Pick:     New England

Z’s Pick:     New England

Winning & Musing…Volume 6.17

Sorry non-sports fans…there are a few things going on about which I feel compelled to comment. Take heart though…the holidays are coming up soon so there is some fun stuff in the pipeline, and of course there a couple of long term projects that I need to complete plus one or two that I need to actually get started on, so if you’re not into football or basketball stay with me…I won’t forget about y’all.





Congratulations to the Houston Astros for winning their first World Series championship. I didn’t think I’d be all that interested in the Series this year, but a disaster was averted when Houston beat the New York Yankees in the ALCS because a Yankees-Dodgers World Series would’ve had zero appeal for me. I know that sounds strange, but as a sports fan I need an underdog, a little engine that could, to root for. I enjoy a good David vs. Goliath story. I realize that’s not how the real world works. In reality the bigger, better entity with more power, money, & influence wins the vast majority of the time in virtually all walks of life. However, part of the romance in sports is that sometimes the little guy actually wins, and that’s not just a fantasy birthed in 1976 with Rocky. In my opinion it’s kind of weak & uninspiring to jump on the Goliath bandwagon. Before this season the Astros hadn’t won a division title since 2001 and had only made the playoffs once since 2005. They’d played in just one World Series since the franchise’s inception in 1962, losing to the Chicago White Sox in 2005. In the past decade they’d had seven losing seasons, including a three year stretch from 2011-13 in which they were a combined 162-324. So even though Houston itself is the 4th largest city in America the Astros have never been among baseball’s elite…until now. It doesn’t hurt that the games themselves were really fun to watch, and anytime we get to a Game 7 in anything it’s pretty cool. I’m sure the L.A. Dodgers will be back in the thick of things next year. They’ll go out and buy a couple of bigtime free agents or make a blockbuster trade. Same with the Yankees. Second place isn’t good enough for such teams. They think that, because of their huge TV market and bottomless coffers, they’re entitled to a trophy. But all of that just makes me yawn.



Speaking of yawning…

I guess the NASCAR season is almost over?? Honestly I haven’t watched a race since…the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend…I think. And unlike the past couple of years when I was consciously objecting to NASCAR for various reasons, in 2017 I haven’t even given NASCAR a second thought. I just don’t care. They totally lost me as a fan. Their “playoffs” are stupid, their stage racing is stupid, and their drivers are boring. I’m probably supposed to get all misty & nostalgic about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement, but I don’t care about that either. He’s just a sellout who has never been worthy of carrying his father’s name. Good riddance.



Dear ESPN: Declining ratings for football has EVERYTHING to do with anthem protests and politics interfering with our enjoyment of sports. Y’all can try to spin things all you want, blaming injuries and weak teams to deflect from the controversy, but just as your ratings have deteriorated due to not-so-subtle sociopolitical propagandizing with which a sizeable portion of the audience disagrees, football is suffering for also promoting a provocative agenda unrelated to the sport that fans tune in to watch. These people are so insufferably full of themselves and impressed with their own intellect that they’ve become totally out of touch with the viewing public.



It’s still really early in the NBA season, but I can’t help but chuckle at the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers & San Antonio Spurs are off to subpar starts, and the Golden State Warriors have lost more games in the first few weeks of the season than they did before the end of November last year. Perhaps if players & coaches for those teams had spent the offseason appreciating their success and preparing for more of the same instead of flapping their gums and displaying their ignorance about real world issues they’d be winning more games right now. Sadly it is probable that all three teams will be just fine, make deep playoff runs, & battle for the NBA Championship, but I’d like nothing better than for them to struggle all season and make early playoff exits. Just as the NFL is learning, the NBA needs to eventually realize that we just want them to shut their pieholes and play ball.



As recently noted, I have no issue with the initial College Football Playoff rankings that put Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, & Clemson at the top for the moment. But you can bet that if the final four team field includes two teams from the same conference & an independent and excludes three of the Power 5 conference champions that playoff expansion debates will heat up really quick. We’ve known all along that it would happen eventually. Expansion of the playoff has been inevitable from the beginning. I’d like to see a six team field, with the top two teams receiving a bye, but I assume that what we’ll get at some point is an eight team playoff. I don’t care what the talking heads say…if conferences are going to continue to exist then conference championships need to mean something, otherwise what’s the point??

2017 Pigskin Picks of Profundity…..Week 10

Webster defines masochism, in part, as “gratification from self-infliction of humiliation”, and doing another round of bonus picks after last week’s brutal results feels more than a little perverse, but that’s how we roll. I’m far too lazy to check the archives and engage in mathematics, however I feel confident in guessing that my 2-7 record is among the worst I’ve had since the start of these picks several years ago. Zach fared a little better at 5-4 and has now taken over the season lead. So it is with some trepidation that I prognosticate anything beyond the bare minimum this week because I am clearly not very good at this, but I’ll be darned if the schedule isn’t chockful of interesting matchups at both the college & pro level. The College Football Playoff committee announced their initial rankings a few days ago, with Georgia, Alabama, Notre Dame, & Clemson at the top…for now. I have no problem with any of that, and it’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out. Oklahoma, Ohio St., Penn St., TCU, & Wisconsin are right there ready to pounce, and I believe atleast one of those teams will be amongst the final four. Half of the NFL’s divisions look like they’ve already been decided, but that means plenty of intrigue & jockeying for wildcard spots remains. Buckle up kids…it’s gonna be a fun ride.

My Season:        27-29

Z’s Season:        29-27






Texas                  at      TCU (-6.5)

It seems unlikely that the Big 12 Champion will get a spot in the playoff, but it is possible. So who will that champion be?? The 7-1 Horned Frogs are one of four teams battling for a spot in the conference title game, and they have a challenging stretch run, beginning with in-state rival Texas. The 4-4 Longhorns have shown signs of life this season, upsetting Iowa St. & Kansas St. and losing heartbreakers to USC, Oklahoma, & Oklahoma St. Texas could easily be 7-1. TCU has the home field advantage and is considered the better team by most, but Texas is…well, they’re Texas, even though it hasn’t seemed like it for awhile. The road back to supremacy in college football has to begin not only in the conference but within the state of Texas itself. They won’t win back respectability until they can defeat the teams they used to beat consistently. Does that process begin this week?? I think it might. Zach thinks TCU will bounce back after last week’s tough loss to Iowa St. He predicts that the Longhorns will stay close for awhile but the Horned Frogs will pull away in the second half.

My Pick:     Texas

Z’s Pick:     TCU



Virginia Tech (-2.5)    at      Miami (FL)

I still despise these two teams. Their departure from the Big East eventually killed the conference and was a huge domino in all the upheaval we’ve seen in college football in the past decade. Having said that, it seems that both programs have rebounded from rough patches and are back amongst the better teams in the country. The 7-0 Hurricanes are 10th in the CFP rankings but have their two biggest games this week & next. A couple of huge wins and a loss by a team or two ahead of them could vault Miami into serious contention. The Hokies aren’t in the playoff discussion, but they could still get to the conference title game. That’d require a victory over the ‘Canes. It makes no logical sense that Tech is favored here, so I’m not really sure what the oddsmakers are thinking. Perhaps they know something that we don’t?? All I know is what I know, and it seems to me that the home team and the higher ranked team should also be the better team. Zach doesn’t believe that Miami has played a very challenging schedule (he’s not wrong) and will fall to their first legit opponent.

My Pick:     Miami (FL)

Z’s Pick:     Virginia Tech



Arizona               at      USC (-7)

USC was my pre-season #1, but that hasn’t quite worked out. It’s not that they’re a bad team…they just aren’t as elite as I believed they would be. Meanwhile, no one is talking about the 6-2 Wildcats, who could play themselves into the Pac 12 title game, especially with a victory in this game. My burning hatred for former WVU coach Rich Fraudriguez has cooled a bit over the years, and I have to admit that his Arizona team is fun to watch. This one will be on ESPN Saturday night, which will make my night at work a little less tedious. I still think the Trojans are a better team, but are they seven points better?? Maybe not. Zach takes it a step further, predicting Arizona’s high-powered offense to score the winning TD late in the 4th quarter.

My Pick:     Arizona

Z’s Pick:     Arizona



LSU                     at      Alabama (-21.5)

At first I thought it was hilarious that the CFP committee (properly) ranked Georgia #1 ahead of Alabama, but then it dawned on me that Nick Saban will use it (correctly) as motivation, which is bad for all of the Tide’s opponents. The Bayou Bengals have had a low-key season after last year’s chaos, with a shocking loss to Troy the only thing that has caused a bit of concern. At 6-2 they still have an outside shot at making the SEC title game, but would need to defeat Alabama. If this game was being played in Baton Rouge I might be tempted to predict the outright upset, but it’s not. Still though…a three TD point spread?? The last six games in this rivalry have been won by the Tide, but only two of those victories have been by 21 points, so I’m going out on a limb by guessing that ‘Bama will win but won’t cover. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     LSU

Z’s Pick:     LSU



Oklahoma                    at      Oklahoma State (-3.5)

They call this rivalry Bedlam. I have no idea why. What I do know is that the winner of this game will pretty much lock up a spot in the Big 12 title game and have a chance to sneak into the playoff. The 7-1 Sooners have an early season victory over Ohio St. in their back pocket, and it’s pretty solid playoff collateral. The 7-1 Cowboys have a loss to TCU as a mark against them, but there’s no shame in that. In my pre-season rankings I had Oklahoma 11th and Oklahoma St. 3rd, and while the Sooners have been better than I expected I’m going to stick with my original thought process and pick the home team. Zach agrees.

My Pick:     Oklahoma St.

Z’s Pick:     Oklahoma St.



Baltimore           at      Tennessee (-5.5)

After a solid start the 4-4 Ravens have proven to be just as mediocre as we all thought they’d be. Of course in the NFL even average teams are pretty decent, just inconsistent. Conversely, the Titans haven’t been as good as I predicted, but at 4-3 are still leading an unexpectedly competitive division. So which Ravens team will show up in Nashville?? Either way I think Tennessee is better. It’ll probably be a low scoring, smashmouth type of game, but the home team will probably get a couple of big plays from QB Marcus Mariota to secure the victory. Zach disagrees. He believes the “good” Ravens will make an appearance and get a close win.

My Pick:     Tennessee

Z’s Pick:     Baltimore


LA Rams (-3.5)  at      NY Giants

In case you haven’t been paying attention the 5-2 Rams are actually…not bad. Heck, they’re tied with Seattle for the AFC West lead. Conversely, the Giants are terrible. At 1-6 they aren’t getting anywhere near the playoffs unless they buy a ticket, which is quite a fall for team that won 11 games last season. Of course they’d had three straight losing seasons before that, so maybe 2016 was the mirage and this is the real New York Giants. It would be just like the NFL…parity and all that jazz…for the home team to score the upset. However, as tempting as it may be to overthink it to that extent I’m just going to make the obvious choice, and so is Zach.

My Pick:     LA Rams

Z’s Pick:     LA Rams



Kansas City       at      Dallas (-1)

The Kansas City Chiefs were originally the Dallas Texans before relocating after three seasons in the old AFL. That has nothing to do with anything other than being interesting trivia. The modern day Chiefs are 6-2 and running away with the AFC West. Conversely the Cowboys are 4-3 and going to have a tough time securing a wildcard. Is RB Zeke Elliott playing this week?? Is he suspended or is the whole deal still be decided in court?? I don’t even know anymore. Dallas gets a small home field advantage, but this game is essentially a pick ‘em, which in my opinion is disrespectful to a clearly superior Kansas City team. I don’t think it’ll be much of a game. Zach concurs.

My Pick:     Kansas City

Z’s Pick:     Kansas City


Points of Ponderation…..Episode 14.17

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..






I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. My father has always taught me that if a person is fortunate enough to have one true friend in their life they are blessed. I’ve agreed with him in a courteous son sort of way, yet as a child of the 80’s who watched too many sitcoms and a person with a neurotic desire for everyone to like me I always aimed higher. But as I’ve segued into middle age it has become clear that Dad always has been, as usual, right on the money. The truth is that most people are merely cordial acquaintances, work colleagues, fellow church parishioners, or pleasant neighbors. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things…they all serve a lovely purpose. The vast majority drift in & out of our lives as the wind blows. Even some who we might have considered friends fade away into the ether. Life takes folks in different directions…physically, emotionally, intellectually, ethically, spiritually. The ties that once bound us together sometimes break…or perhaps gently dissolve…and eventually we come to the realization that we’ve changed, they’ve changed, and there’s not much common ground anymore. My need for everyone to like me has diminished, tempered by a general apathy toward scurrying after people, jumping thru pointless hoops, or compromising my principles to satisfy others. I am who I am…blemishes included. The same can be said for most everyone else. If two people can look past such deficiencies and still maintain a bond that’s awesome, but the reality is that such relationships are rare.












Call me old-fashioned, but Uber and Air BnB seem like horrible ideas…not for the customers, but for the providers. I don’t want strangers staying in my home or riding in my vehicle no matter how much secondary income it may generate. Call a taxi or rent a hotel room…that’s what those things are for.





Have you heard about this “church” in Ames, IA?? The Ames United Church of Christ recently threw a Drag-O-Ween Party specifically targeted toward LGBTQ youth. The event drew the ire of Elizabeth Johnston, an Ohio based conservative Christian vlogger better known online as The Activist Mommy who takes scripture seriously, especially the command to “be fruitful and multiply” found in Genesis (she & her husband have ten children). Johnston isn’t shy about challenging head-on the sin so abundant in our modern world, like sexuality, gender confusion, abortion, & child abuse, and she has been an outspoken critic of this “celebration” in Iowa. Her readers responded by peppering the “church” website & Facebook page with comments, to the point that the “minister” of the “church” felt compelled to respond. However, the statement by Pastor Eileen Gebbie did nether the “church” nor herself any favors, claiming that “it was much harder to come out as Christian than as gay” (a lesbian minister…an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one) and that “this moment is a reminder that there has never been one kind of Christianity”, a direct contradiction of multiple scriptures that teach that there is only one true God, Jesus Christ is who He says he is and doesn’t change with the times (Hebrews 13:8), loving God means that we keep His commandments (1 John 5:3), and that Christians are to be peculiar & different from the sinful world. God hasn’t changed. Heck, not even Satan has changed. It is humanity that has changed. At any rate, kudos to Ms. Johnston for never backing down and putting herself in the line of fire to stand up for God & His Word. I’m not much of an activist myself…it’s just not in my nature. However, I applaud those with the fortitude to jump into the fray.




I am beginning to wrap my head around the reality that part of my purpose in life is to build people up in small ways, to be there for them at low moments. I’m not a rah rah motivational cheerleader kind of guy, but sometimes folks just need a sympathetic ear, nice compliment, keen insight, or moment of levity, and I excel at those things. The seedy underbelly of this…skill…is that in good times…when everything is going alright in their lives…people don’t need me and I am easily tossed aside, like the junk mail that the postman stuffs into your box every day. It is certainly an unpleasant pill to swallow, but what choice do I have??




So do we need common sense truck control now?? Just curious. #NYCStrong




A few additional thoughts about the Weinstein sexual abuse scandal that has shook up Hollywood and grown unexpected tentacles…..

*I’m not going to defend former President George HW Bush, but to compare a senile 90 year old man in a wheelchair playing grabass with the legit harassment that others have inflicted is asinine and reeks of desperation. It’s a false equivalency.

*There are a few issues with nearly 60 year old Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey “coming out”. First, I thought sexual preference was biological and not a choice?? Atleast that’s what promoters of the agenda have always proclaimed. So we are supposed to believe that Spacey has always known “his truth”, but chose to hide it, even in a modern society that not only accepts but celebrates such lifestyles?? This isn’t Rock Hudson in the 1950’s. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K. Either Spacey is ashamed of who he is and has no gay pride, or all of this is a convenient cover for his unearthed pedophilia. Both possibilities are disrespectful to many groups of people.

*I don’t believe in blaming the victim…BUT, allow me to reiterate something I’ve mentioned previously. I find it fascinating that so many who have been vociferously outspoken against President Trump for being kind of a creepy old lech have simultaneously been so quiet for DECADES about even creepier pervs because of power & influence that could help their career. Hey Hollywood…your hypocrisy is shining brightly in that big ol’ spotlight.

*No one seems to be talking much about this Ben Affleck video that has gone viral. Affleck appeared on a Canadian infotainment program several years ago and acted like a total assclown with the hostess, becoming all touchy feely with her and generally being the worst drunken frat boy stereotype one could imagine. But the most interesting part of the video to me is when Affleck very plainly pokes fun at handicapped people, specifically those with cerebral palsy. Wasn’t making fun of handicapped people a horrible atrocity less than a year ago?? Again though, apparently if a person leans to the correct side of the political spectrum anything they say or do is completely acceptable. Funny how that works.