Saturday, April 23, 2016

NFL Draft 2016

I can root for a bad team, but not a stupid team.

The Cleveland Browns, ever since they returned, have been bad.  But over the past decade they've been stupid- so many failed draft picks, so many poor decisions, so many poor characters.  I still think that Mike Holmgren was trying to intentionally destroy the team- what else can you do to explain his decisions?

And they've got a new front office- Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta- but after being burned so often, I'm waiting for competency before I go back to being a fan.  For now, I'm casually rooting for other teams- last year it was the Carolina Panthers.  This year... not sure yet; might be Arizona.  

But, on paper, I really like the trade down from #2 to #8 with Philadelphia.  I didn't think Carson Wentz or Jared Goff was a franchise Quarterback, and they have so many holes that I think they should not worry about QB and just draft the best player available for now.  Wait until you have some decent players, then worry about the QB.

So, they have #8- what do I want the Browns to do?  Some thoughts...

Trade down?  Sure- if it's a good deal.  

Joey Bosa?  I've seen just enough red flags and enough comments about not fitting with the Browns' defense scheme that I'd rather not draft him.

Ezekiel Elliot?  Ugh- Running Backs have such a short lifespan that I hate getting one on such a rebuilding team.  

Jalen Ramsey/Vernon Hargreaves?   Both good players, both fill a need.  I'm happy here.

Laremy Runsil/Ronnie Stanley?  The one player the Browns have is LT Joe Thomas.  After losing a lot of their line through free agency, this is the basically rebuilding the line.  I don't hate the idea, but I'd rather see...

DeForest Buckner?  The Browns have een awful against the run- he would solve that hole.

Myles Jack?  This is going full Philadelphia 76ers- drafting an injured player who might not play this year.  Never go full 76ers.

Patrick Lynch?  If the Browns do this, I'll be pissed.  If you want a QB, take the QB at #2.  

We'll see what happens on Thursday.  And see if the Browns get one step closer to getting my support again.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Smokey

"Let's get a cat."

My brother Brian had moved in with me in early 2000, and his suggestion was to get a cat.

Which- our family had always been a dog family.  We had a German Shepherd (Snafu), a Black Lab (Midnight), two Siberian Huskies (Shadow and Zinny)... yes, we technically one cat- but she treated us with disdain.

But we lived in half of a duplex in Lakewood, and there was no room for a dog.  So we went to the Cleveland Animal Protective League, and picked up a Domestic Shorthair.  She wasn't my first choice- she wasn't Brian's first choice- but she was the only one we could agree on.

Then we couldn't agree on a name at all- I think he wanted to name her Rudy, and I wanted Mystery.  We finally settled on Smokey (or Smoky- never could figure out the proper spelling).  I hadn't wanted a cat, but Brian did... why not?

Two weeks later, Brian wasn't that interested in having a cat.  But I was hooked.  Smokey liked to hop up and let me pet her, even though she was shy around everyone else.

Fast forward ten months.  An online friend was visiting from Boston.  I tried to warn her that Smokey was shy, and "... you might not even see her while you're here."

An hour later, Smokey was sitting on her stomach, purring.  At that point, I pretty much had to marry Katie- my cat approved of her,

More than me, in fact.  I'd been replaced as the only tolerable human in Smokey's life.  But they needed each other.  When Katie was down, Smokey was there for here.

About five years ago, we brought another cat into the house- Pippin.  Twice Smokey's size, the single friendliest cat I've ever met.  And the most doglike cat I've ever met.  Smokey can't stand Pippin- which makes Pippin even try harder to be more friendly.  

But this past week, Smokey has been lethargic.  And not eating.  And today we went to the vet, and... she has fluid in his stomach, and a low count red blood cells.  The prognosis isn't good- we're giving her Prednisolone, but the medicine won't cure her- just give her energy, allow her to eat, and prolong her life for some time.

The medicine seems to be working- she's sat in both of our laps, and seems much more energetic.

They say All Dogs Go To Heaven.  It won't be Heaven unless Cats are there to.




Thursday, March 31, 2016

Wrestlemania 32 Predictions

Kickoff: 20-man Battle Royal for the André the Giant Memorial Trophy
– AndrĂ© the Giant Memorial Battle Royal


What Should Happen: The Social Outcasts work together, eliminate everyone, and spend the next four months holding the trophy collectively.
What Will Happen: Kane wins in what his probably his last Wrestlemania
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Kane wins to start a six month feud with the Big Show


Kickoff: Tag Team Match
– The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz


What Should Happen: The Dudley Boyz win. The next night, as they brag about their win, out comes American Alpha to make their debut by beating the Dudleyz.
What Will Happen: The Usos win in a regular match
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: The Authority come out to attack the Usos and remove them from backing up Roman Reigns



10-woman match
– WWE Divas vs. Blond and Beautiful


What Should Happen: Emma has been outstanding since her return; I’d have her win and really push her in the secondary woman’s program
What Will Happen: The Divas dominate, with Paige winning and getting prepared to challenge for the title.
What I’m Terrified The Divas dominate with Eva Marie winning and getting prepared to challenge for the title



7-man Ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
– Kevin Owens © vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Zack Ryder vs. Sin Cara vs. The Miz vs. Stardust


What Should Happen: The other five are moved to the US title match, leaving Owens vs. Zayn as a one-on-one match; barring that, I would have Stardust pull off the upset to win the belt and begin his push; or Zach Ryder to give him a Wrestlemania moment and an apology for previous booking…
What Will Happen: Ziggler is the go-to guy for these; Owens gets ready for a World Title program
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Sin Cara wins to set up a Kalisto-Sin Cara unification match


Singles match
– Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles


What Should Happen: Match of the Year, AJ Styles wins
What Will Happen: Match of the Night, AJ Styles wins
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: The Bullet Club make their debut- and turn on Styles to join with Jericho as their leader.



Singles match for the WWE United States Championship
– Kalisto © vs. Ryback


What Should Happen: Kalisto wins, sets up a Neville-Kalisto match when he returns
What Will Happen: Ryback wins to set up a Reigns/Ryback feud for the World Title
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Ryback wins to set up a Big Show/Ryback feud for the US title


4-on-3 Handicap match
– The New Day vs. Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Rusev & King Barrett


What Should Happen: The New Day is a great example of three guys being put together and creating something great. The United Nations is an example of putting four guys together and it not working- all four work better as individuals. I’d not only have New Day win, but have the United Nations explode, with Sheamus and Rusev feuding with Del Rio (who needs to be a smartass tweener) and Barrett
What Will Happen: 4>3, the titles aren’t on the line, and New Day has won most of the battles. I think the UN wins
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: New Day introduces a new member to even out the odds and risk their chemistry.


Triple Threat match for the WWE Divas Championship
– Charlotte © (w/Ric Flair) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks


What Should Happen: 25 more iterations of this feud over the next two years. I’d have Sasha win the belt here
What Will Happen: Sasha wins the title
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Ric Flair convinces all of them to join forces as “Ricky’s Angels” (with Arn Anderson in the Bosley Role)


No Holds Barred Street Fight
– Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) 


What Should Happen: With one match, you have a chance to cement Dean Ambrose as the top face of the WWE. Ambrose beating Lesnar would be David toppling Goliath, and the No Holds Barred still can keep Lesnar strong. This is probably the one booking decision that has the greatest impact for the future of the WWE, because Ambrose losing now would tell the fans that it’s no good to try and cheer him past the glass ceiling.
What Will Happen: Lesnar wins, but Ambrose shows heart.
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Lesnar obliterates Ambrose to start laying the groundwork for the WM33 main event of Reigns-Lesnar 


Hell in a Cell Match
If Shane wins, he will get control of Raw and Undertaker will be barred from competing at WrestleMania again.
– Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker


What Should Happen: I would have Vince and Shane join forces to turn on Undertaker and cost him the match to set up the double turn at the end of Wrestlemania. For this match, Undertaker kills Shane for 15 minutes as Vince watches before turning, leading the announcers to speculate that “Vince does have a heart after all!”
What Will Happen: John Cena returned to help Shane win, setting up UT-Cena for next Wrestlemania
What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Shane cleanly pins UT


Singles Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
– Triple H © vs. Roman Reigns


What Should Happen: They’ve been trying- but we’re at the point where the crowd enjoys booing Reigns. And once you’re at that point, it takes a long time and a lot of effort to change their minds. I’d embrace him as a heel- have Shane and Vince come down and help Reigns cheat to beat HHH for the belt, then ‘firing’ Stephanie and HHH to make them to underdogs. 

Heel Reigns has so many more interesting matchups- not just HHH, but Ambrose, a returning Rollins, Lesnar, Cena. Face Reigns has Lesnar and HHH in iterations we’ve seen before… then Owens… and then… Ryback? 

Listen to the crowd, WWE.  They want heel Reigns. Give it to them.

What Will Happen: The Authority take out the Usos and every other face that tries to help Reigns in a wild brawl. Towards the end, the last remaining ally is Dean Ambrose, who is fighting off the United Nations- and Seth Rollins returns to assist. Inside the ring, without his helper, HHH gets speared for the win. The crowd cheers the returning Shield but the early part of the match will hear 80,000 people chant ‘DIE ROMAN DIE’

What I’m Terrified Will Happen: Reigns wins, cleanly. The fans openly revolt, and the announcers try to cover it up, but fail miserably

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The 2016 Presidency

This is a bit of navel-gazing as to who I am supporting for the US Presdidency as of February 7th, 2016.  Feel free to ignore if you don't care.  

I determine who to vote for based on four criteria:

1)  Their policies and philosophy
2)  Are they trustworthy and respectful (the character factor)
3)  How well can they actually govern?
4)  Can they win?

The first factor is important- I'm a Conservative politically, and think the government would do better if it pared down what the size of scope of what it tries to control.  Someone like Bernie Sanders, who wants to vastly increase the amount of government influence in our lives, doesn't appeal to me.  It's the reason I'm most likely voting for a Republican this November.

But within the GOP, the differences are relatively minor.  I don't like Trump for a lot of reasons, but his love of Eminent Domain is a big factor.  But Marco Rubio vs. Ted Cruz vs. Jeb Bush vs. Chris Christie vs. Carly Fiorina... there are differences, but compared to what they agree upon, it's small potatoes.  Every time I take one of those "Who do you side with?" tests, I get a group of about 6 people all around 75-80%  So the policies are an important factor- but it still leaves a wide selection of candidates.

The character factor?  The only two candidates I don't trust are Trump and Clinton- Trump because he's a bully, Clinton because she's secretive and paranoid to the point of breaking the law.  I wasn't supporting either of them anyways.  Ted Cruz is arrogant, and I think his arrogance will hurt him running the country- but that arrogance by itself isn't something that is a bridge too far for me.

How well can they actually govern?  This is a big one, and the problem is, we can only make educated guesses.  I think Obama's biggest problem wasn't his philosophy (though I disagreed with that), but that he never had any executive authority.  He treated every problem like it was a PR problem, and wasn't able to do half of what he wanted to- because he didn't really understand the tasks involved in running the country.

The people who had the best track record in this- Governors Walker, Perry, and Jindal- all quit the race before I could vote for them in the primary.  By the time Ohio votes, there's a good chance Bush and Christie will also bow out.  I like Rubio and Cruz, but I admit being worried about electing a first-term Senator to the White House.  OTOH, Bush has been out of the Governor's office since 2007.  And Christie has been a good governor of New Jersey, but I haven't agreed with his all of his stances.  Then again, I wouldn't agree with all of the stances of any Governor. 

It would be nice to have a longer track record of accomplishments to see how Rubio and Cruz would do.  But the people who could best make that argument are already off the ballot.

That leads to the last factor- can they win?  I know people who won't vote for any candidate unless they agree with them completely, refusing to vote for the 'lesser evil'.  I understand that- not sure I agree.  I don't need 100%, but I'm not sure where that line is.

Right now, there's three candidates who appear to be in position to win the GOP nomination- Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio.  I don't like Trump- really, for every reason listed above.  I agree more with Cruz and Rubio, and I think Rubio has a better chance to win.  I don't know which one would do a better job governing the country- my gut is saying Rubio, but would like a better track record.  If one of the other GOP candidates get into position to crack the top tier, I will have to reassess this.

On the Democratic side, it's down to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  I don't agree with Sanders at all.  I also think Clinton would do a better job at the actual task of running the country; whatever her faults, she is very hardworking and wonkish.  But I also think she (like her husband) cuts too many corners, and while I agree with her more than Bernie Sanders, I tend to disagree with her on most positions.  

Ask me who I'd support today, and the answer is Rubio.  But the Ohio Primary isn't until March 15th- we'll see what happens by then.



Friday, January 22, 2016

Permit me a small sports rant:

I've been a sports fan since 7. I've been a Cleveland sports fan since I first moved to NorthEast Ohio at 14. I've seen the Drive, the Fumble, Jose Mesa. The Greatest Coach in the NFL couldn't win here.  Carlos Boozer- the second banana people were saying young LeBron needed- stabbed the team in the back.  
Worst of all, I saw the Browns move to Baltimore- and turn around to become the EXACT type of excellent team, complete with 2 Super Bowls, that Cleveland had been begging for.  Meanwhile, the current Browns' franchise is a joke until proven otherwise.
LeBron leaving and winning two titles for Miami? A distant second in terms of misery. But it still sucked.
Right before LeBron returned, I really was liking the Cavs team that was being assembled. Kyrie, Tristan, Dion, and now add Andrew Wiggins? Everything I heard about Blatt was promising. They were young, they were all on good contracts.... I was really looking forward to watch them. Hell, I still thought Andrew Bennett could bounce back (I still think so, dammit...)
Then LeBron returned. And Wiggins was traded for Kevin Love (nothing against Love; I just liked Wiggins' youth and athleticism). And we were in 'Win Now' mode, because LeBron was still in his prime.
And I said, several times, "If THIS Cavs team- with LeBron still in his prime- can't win a title, then Cleveland will never win one in my lifetime." After all, there had been so much bad luck regarding sports in Cleveland that there HAD to be a payoff, right?
Right?
I don't think that way today. Not after another reset.
I don't think it's going to happen. Not in my lifetime. And I need to accept it and move on.
Good luck to the Cavs. I hope they succeed. And I'd like to be wrong.
Rant over.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Closing out 2015

2015- It was a year.

On a personal level, it was a good year.  My parents moved back to Cleveland.  Katie joined the Angry Ladies of Improv .  I've started taking guitar lessons- after 25 years of teaching myself, there's some bad habits I need to unlearn.  We celebrated our tenth anniversary with a trip to Toronto and an appearance in a Rush Concert video.

It wasn't all great- I lost one of my oldest friends early in the year.  My weight crept up to the point that I'm now on a diet and starting up the YRG program.  

On a global level, 2015 just feels like a year where the people who were supposed to act like adults stopped doing so.  Both parties seem to embrace people that didn't belong to the parties- Bernie Sanders for the Democrats (because he considered himself a Socialist instead of a Democrat) and Donald Trump for the Republicans (because... I still don't get this one myself).

The first votes in the Primaries begin in February.  We'll see if the voters are just blowing off steam or are serious about the candidates.

And the people who were already elected didn't act like adults, either.  Terrorism is a growing threat, there is a growing divide between the police and the people they are supposed to elect, the economy looks great in the stock market yet most people think we're still in a recession... and the people in charge are busy rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  The only thing both parties agree on is that they like to spend money that someone else will have to pay back.

Here's hoping 2016 is a better year for everyone.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A brief cameo of immortality

This summer was Katie and my tenth wedding anniversary.  We went up to Toronto (where we went for our honeymoon), saw some friends, and went to a concert- Rush, on their R40 tour.  Since Toronto is Rush's home base, they recorded a DVD of the concert, and well...

We're on the video!



Katie's headbanging- I'm the grey-haired goofy one standing next to her.