Sunday, January 24, 2016

NFL Conference Championship Weekend...Stage 4

Welcome to Championship Weekend, ladies and gents. Yeah, no exclamation point because neither team that I picked for the Super Bowl is left in the dance. My Chiefs will once again not lift the Lamar Hunt trophy in victory. Sigh...I really cannot stand Tom Brady and the Patriots. I figure in my fandom stages of grief that I'm at Stage four-depression and reflection. Oh, how this could have been such a great story to look back upon if my Chiefs had been able to lift that Super Bowl trophy in San Francisco with Joe Montana handing the trophy to Andy Reid. Alas, it is not to be...

Instead, we are watching Brady vs. Manning XVII. The AFC Championship will once again involve Tom Brady and the Patriots and Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. During any other time in his storied career, this Chiefs fan, who lost a fair share of playoff games to Pey-Pey and the Colts, would root for Peyton Manning against the Emperor and Darth Vader. No, no...I like Darth Vader, and I'm not going to compare Brady to Vader. Vader, at least had some redeeming qualities. Belichick and Brady are more...Sauron and Saruman...yeah...just evil..., I apologize for the nerd digression. I could go into stats about who has won more, yards, blah, blah, blah, but truth be told, I wish both teams could fall into a large hole like the aforementioned villains, while all of their opponents cheered like the men of the West. As I said earlier, I would usually root for Peyton, but since he joined the Broncos, that so is not going to happen. In a game I absolutely care nothing about, I believe the Pats will win, again. Yeah, the hate is strong in this one...

I would like to say I care about the NFC championship game, but truth be told, I don't. I really don't. I have no feelings about either of these teams. I don't hate them, I don't root for them, I truly don't care about either of these teams. Yes, they have performed extraordinarily well this year. they have fought off the Packers and the Seahawks, and everybody else. They have been the best teams all year, and they both deserve to be here. I like Cam Newton somewhat, and I like Larry Fitzgerald somewhat. What do you want from me? They aren't Tony Gonzalez, so yeah, I'm not fawning over either. (Let's Face it, I'm strictly an AFC girl, and I only watched the NFC because the Chiefs saw fit to ship Tony G to the Falcons, and the Saints are pretty much the home team of my home town.) I have not dog in this fight, so I'm picking Carolina. They have been the best all year, and it would warm my cold heart to have Cam Newton flex a dab in Tom Brady's smug mug at the end of the Super Bowl.

That's all I've got. Until next week, we bid farewell with a tribute to the late Glenn Frey who passed away this past week, "Take it easy, take it easy
Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
Don't even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand, and take it easy...

We may lose and we may win, though we will never be here again
So open up I'm climbin' in, so take it easy"

Saturday, January 16, 2016

NFL Divisional Playoffs 2016

Welcome, welcome, welcome! Happy Divisional Playoffs, and may the odds be ever in your favor! And then there were eight...the divisional round of the NFL playoffs begins today, and for the first time in a long time my Chiefs are still standing! Now, I'm not going to get excited because the Chiefs drew the Patriots in Foxborough. Sigh...

Before we get to the games, the coaching carousal has begun. Chip Kelley leaves the East coast for the West coast taking the 49ers head coaching job. Hue Jackson has landed in Cleveland, Adam Gase is the newbie in Miami, Dirk Koetter is replacing Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay, and Ben McAdoo is headed to Jersey to coach the Giants. There is the all but the signing on the dotted line of Chiefs' offensive coordinator Doug Pederson headed to Philadelphia.

To the games. Last week, I went 3-1. I wanted to pick Green Bay, but honestly, they have had some sketchy play recently.

Saturday, January 16, 2016
Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots-Sigh, I really, really want to pick the Chiefs. Every body knows Tom Brady and Belichick have been formidable opponents for everyone for years. It frightens me when everyone picks my Chiefs. So, I'm going way out on a limb here picking my Chiefs to win. Please, please, please...*fingers crossed*

Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals-Remember when I picked the Pack to go to the Super Bowl, but not to win last week. That hasn't changed. Now, look I know that Seattle drop-kicked the Cards in the mouth in their last game, and Green Bay showed a spark last week against Washington. Flipping a coin...Green Bay. Of course, Arizona will prove me wrong. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016
Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers-I'm not going to even pretend to dwell here. I'm picking Carolina. I hated every moment of that Seattle/Minnesota game, and while Seattle has shown sparks of greatness this year, I believe Carolina is the better team.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos-My sister is one of those weirdo fans who has two favorite teams in the same conference. These are her two teams. Pittsburgh is playing with multiple injuries after that MMA game they played with Cincinnati last week.  Denver has rallied around the returning Peyton Manning. Sigh, makes me sick to say...Denver.

This past week, we lost two giants in the entertainment industry David Bowie and Alan Rickman. I was a fan of both-David Bowie, because of his music and his willingness to be the weirdest person imaginable thus making your feel comfortable in your own skin, and Alan Rickman, because he made you believe he was every character he ever played, and how I loved his bad guys, especially Severus Snape. Until next week-"Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened."~Theodor Seuss Geisel

Saturday, January 9, 2016

NFL Wild Card Weekend 2016

Welcome back, everybody! It is Wildcard Weekend! The 2015 season is over, and the season that began with 32 teams seeking to play Super Bowl 50 has been reduced to a field of 12. Of course with the end of the season comes Black Monday. Chip Kelley was fired the week before the end of the season, Tom Coughlin stepped down in New York, Lovie Smith's firing in Tampa Bay surprised everyone, while no one was surprised when Mike Pettine was let go in Cleveland. An even bigger surprise was the Colts hanging on to Chuck Pagano and the Saints retaining Sean Payton. Of course, most of us know there are others still waiting to learn their fate.

As Wild Card weekend begins, let's take a fond look back at my picks from the beginning of the season.

NFC East-Dallas Cowboys, NFC West-Seattle Seahawks, NFC South-Carolina Panthers, NFC North-Green Bay Packers
AFC East-New England Patriots, AFC West-Kansas City Chiefs, AFC South-Indianapolis Colts, AFC North-Baltimore Ravens
Wildcards: NFC-Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints/AFC-Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers
NFC Champion-Green Bay Packers/AFC Champion-Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl 50 Champion-Kansas City

Okay, I really tanked choosing the Cowboys, Washington won the East, Arizona the West, Minnesota the North, and I was on the money with Carolina, but only two of my NFC picks did not make the playoffs, as Seattle and Green Bay are both playing wildcard weekend. Sorry, Saints and Cowboys. Not really, Cowboys.

On the AFC side, I correctly called the East (which really wasn't a stretch), but Denver won the West, Cincinnati the North, and Houston won the South. Like with the NFC, only two of my picks didn't make the playoffs, as both Indianapolis and Baltimore both lost their starting quarterbacks and their seasons. Better luck next year, guys.

I picked Green Bay and Kansas City Chiefs to play the Super Bowl with the Chiefs winning. Honestly, I was mostly hoping. Hope is still there, but as a pessimistic Chiefs fan, I watch every game with only one eye open. My Chiefs have lost sooooooooooooooooooooo many first round playoff games. I mean, I know you have heard that the Chiefs haven't won a playoff game since Joe Montana was quarterback. They have won 10 straight games. I'm not bragging. Just stating facts. Please, please, please...Sigh...

Last week, I wrapped my season with a 10-6 finish with my final tally at 144-97. Wild Card Weekend finds the Patriots and the Broncos with byes in the AFC, while the Panthers and the Cardinals are relaxing in the NFC. Let's see how well I perform this Wild Card Weekend.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans-No one expected either one of these teams to be here neither at the beginning of the year, nor the middle of the year. Both found a fire that has landed both in the playoffs. As much as I like J.J. Watt, I'm going to have to pick the Chiefs. I'm just going to leave it at that.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals-These two teams just flat out hate each other, and I expect it to be chippy early. Each team has won a game in the series this year, and although Cincinnati has been consistent all season (and I have a bit of crush on Marvin Lewis. Yes, I know it's weird), I think Pittsburgh is the hotter team. So, I have to go with Pittsburgh.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings-So, I picked the Seahawks to win the West, and I didn't even include Minnesota. The Seahawks have had to struggle to get to the playoffs, and the Vikings won the North on the last game of the season. Both teams are hot, but I'm going to have to go with the Seahawks after that smackdown they laid upon the Cards last week.

Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins-While I am a huge fan of Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews, I have little to no faith in the Packers. Yes, I am aware that I picked them to go to the Super Bowl, but this team has been playing poorly the last few weeks, yet Washington has a hot hand with Kirk Cousins. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm going with Washington.

There they are ladies and gentlemen. Enjoy your games! Divisional Playoffs next week! Until then, "I put my life on the line to be right here with y'all. Y'all helped me get to this point. We're just going to keep going forward. To me it's nota  game. It's bigger than that."-Eric Berry #BerryStrong Go Chiefs!!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

NFL Week 17: Roll out the U-Hauls, Boys...

Welcome to Week 17, ladies and gentlemen! I swear that each year the season seems to end quicker and quicker. So, here we are at the last week of regular season football. Once again, I will avoid talking about my favorite team. You know, I've only watched my favorite team play two times this year. They lost both times. I'm almost relieved that the game against that team from the Oakland will not air. The NFL, however, is because they changed the time of the Raider/Chiefs game to coincide with the San Diego/Denver game. It is to keep either team from scoreboard watching and or resting players. Play to the end boys.

These teams have secured spots in the playoffs in the AFC-New England, Denver, Cincinnati, Kansas City and in the NFC-Carolina, Arizona, Green Bay, Washington, Minnesota, Seattle. Houston can win the AFC South, New York Jets are currently in the Wild Card hunt, and Pittsburgh and Indianapolis are hoping for the best. In the NFC, the North is still up for grab and will be determined by the winner of the Green Bay Minnesota game. The AFC West is still anybody's game depending on the outcomes of the Oakland/KC game and the San Diego/Denver game. Good luck, to everybody!! Accept Denver...

Well, folks my fantasy team Just Gonzo finished third in the league after two super lackluster games by both Tom Brady and my Patriot players. Better luck next year, I guess. My pick game was subpar last week as well as I went from my best record of the week to my worst finishing week 16 with 6-8 record bringing my season total to 134-91. Let's hope I perform a little better in this final week of the regular season.

Sunday, January 3, 2015
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons: New Orleans
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears: Detroit
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals: Cincinnati
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys: Washington
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants: New York

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills: New York
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns: Pittsburgh
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans: Houston
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts: Tennessee
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins: New England

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals: Arizona
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers: Carolina
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos: Denver
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers: San Francisco

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers: Green Bay

Next week, I'm going to take a look back at my picks from the beginning of the season as we go into Wildcard weekend. Until next week, "Luck is what you have left over after you give 100 percent."~Langston Coleman

Review of Stephen King's 11/22/63

11-22-63.jpgNot what you were expecting, eh? I know that it is the last week of the NFL Season, and that post will be coming shortly, but during the course of my Christmas vacation, I decided to re-read Stephen King's 2011 novel 11/22/63. If you haven't heard by now, Hulu will be presenting an eight-part miniseries based on the novel beginning on President's Day, February 15, 2016.  I wanted to re-read the novel before the premiere, and of course, what better time to read than a school break.

Anyone who has visited this blog knows that Stephen King is my favorite author bar none. I know, I know, I love The Great Gatsby, but I've been a Stephen King fan girl since sixth grade, and it is rare that he disappoints me. (I forgive you, Mr. King for From a Buick 8, maybe I need to re-read it, but I did not like.) I'm currently trying to read as many of his works as I can this year, which brings me to 11/22/63.

I will try to keep this review relatively free of spoilers, because this has become one of my favorite Stephen King novels. The novel begins during the summer of 2011 as the main character Jake Epping, like many teachers, is clearing out to begin his break. He receives a call from Al Templeton the owner of a local, but not so reputable, diner where a newly divorced Jake often takes his meals. Al, who the day before, seemed to be a thriving middle-aged man, now looks like a shadow of himself. Al announces to Jake that he is dying of lung cancer brought about by his years of serious chain smoking. Before Jake can question how cancer can destroy a person over night, Al explains that he has been in the past trying to complete a mission that the cancer will now prevent him from achieving.  He explains to Jake that in the store room of his diner is a portal to the past. A disbelieving Jake steps through the passage into the bright sun of 1958. After a short visit to the past, Jake returns shaken, but intrigued by his visit to the land of once upon a time.

Al then explains why he wants Jake to take his place on his quest to alter the past--he wants Jake to save President John F. Kennedy. Jake, of course, is reluctant to take on Al's outlandish plan to change history, until he remembers the tragic story of one of his adult pupils. The opportunity to change the course of his pupil's life proves too much for Jake to resist, so with Al's help Jake "jumps down the rabbit hole" on his first trip to change the past. After a colossal failure and an unexpected twist in 2011, Jake embarks on a journey to correct the mistake he made in the timeline of the past, to restore one of Al's changes, and to travel to Texas to complete Al's quest to save John F. Kennedy, but Jake will soon learn that the past is "obdurate" and does not want to change.

Although I've read 11/22/63 before, I had forgotten many of the details of the novel, which is why I love to reread novels. The novel appeals to all types of readers: spy fans, mystery fans, conspiracy theorists, sci-fi fans, and even to romance fans. This novel is more in the vein of The Green Mile and Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption than It, Carrie, or The Shining.  The novel comes loaded with suspense as Jake winds his way along Time's highway where he finds love is the least likely place and makes a decision that may not only affect his life but all of humanity.

The novel checks in at over 800 pages. The first time I read it, it took me about ten days to complete it, but hey, yo, I have a job. With all the Christmas stuff, it took about same amount of time to read. King's tale is told from the first person point of view with Jake narrating his own story. I know some people do not like first person, but I love first person POV. To me, it keeps you focused on Jake who, FYI, is not necessarily the most reliable narrator. It does get a little long-winded with the spy games that Jake has to play. I'm not a fan of spy novels, which is probably why I didn't like that part. There is a little gore for those horror fans, but not enough to turn off the squeamish. It also doesn't dwell too much on the sci-fi aspect of the novel, which I appreciated. Ultimately, the novel explores people being placed in surreal circumstances and having to accept for better or worse the consequences of their own actions.

By the way, I have mad respect for the sheer amount of research that King had to do for this novel that contains fictionalized versions of many of the actual people who were a part of the crazy world of Lee Harvey Oswald. I admit that I used Google quite a bit to see pictures of the historical players. Overall, the novel was an excellent read, and while it is not my favorite Stephen King novel, it is my the top ten. What would you do if you could go back and change one moment in time?

Until next time, "The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it."~Wendell Berry