Top 10: Top 10 Plays, Number Eight

September 30, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Ginger Russ

This morning I was watching SportsCenter (yes, people do still watch this show) and caught the regular and popular feature, the Top 10 Plays of the Day. It's not an original idea, every sports columnist, show and blogger has their lists of greatness and power rankings. But not the Saloon. This got me thinking, the Top 10 Plays are always the same "types" of plays. Sure, once in a great while you may have a new record in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest that gets on, or possibly a Nascar highlight, but for the most part you really aren't seeing anything that hasn't been done before. And so I bring to the Saloon a Top 10 list of my own.

8. Goal from outside the penalty box (soccer).

As with hockey, soccer (or football as some foreigners call it) is rarely seen in America, so it's amazing plays lack the known difficulty factor that would push it higher up the list. But every once in a great while a soccer highlight will creep into the Top 10 Plays of the Day.

While most of the bartenders at the Saloon have a decent knowledge of the happenings in the soccer world (and by decent I mean they watch a couple games a year of the English Premier League and call themselves "fans"), I don't follow the sport at all. And it's not that I don't want to, but unfortunately most of soccer is about as exciting as watching the grass grow in my lawn, which is to say that I live in the desert and don't have a lawn, just dirt and rocks.

The odd thing is that I used to play soccer as a yute, my dad coached YMCA, and I would go see the local college team play every weekend. While NIU was not the elite of the NCAA soccer world, they did play higher level schools and for the most part they could hold their own. But as I grew older and stayed the same height while my peers were sprouting up around me, my dream of becoming the goalie for the Chicago Sting slowly faded, as with my interest in soccer. Like most Americans, my greatest memories of soccer take me back to kindergarten, running around in a crazed pack with 21 other rug rats while we all tried to just randomly kick a round ball. The highlight of the day of course was getting oranges and Capri Sun during half time and going to McDonald's afterwards for chicken nuggets and chocolate shakes.

But this post isn't just about me, it's about the Top 10. As I've explained, for the most part Americans think soccer is pretty boring. Unlike hockey, which also includes a lot passing and back and forth of possession, soccer lacks the possibility of fighting, and so the only excitement comes in the form of the scoring. But when you think about it, some of the things that these guys can do with a soccer ball are pretty amazing. The most creative are the long goals taken from outside the penalty box. As the ball twists and dips like a Marmol slider, these shots are impossible for the goalie to stop, and thus their magical trajectory makes these plays great inclusions for the Top 10 Plays. Adding to the mystique of the goal is the announcer's call, "GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!", which makes the play seem as if it was the greatest thing to ever happen since the invention of the Goreo. Then the player will usually run around for a while, rip off his jersey and his teammates will all jump on him and fellate congratulate him.

So by taking more skill to achieve than a hole-in-one and having more of a "wow" factor than the hat trick, the long goal ranks numero ocho in my Top 10: Top 10 Plays of Sports.

Ginger's greatest #8: Like I said, I know very little about soccer, but I would have to say this one is pretty impressive:

On the bright side of things...

September 30, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Zachary Kenitzer

This years dismal f&ck-up of a season is almost over with. Gone is the Monopoly Man and his tirades, farewell to postseason hopes and goodbye to one more year of mediocrity that has plagued the Cubs for far too long...

"I know I'm an asshole,
kick me out please."

But looking on the bright side of things (because I am the eternal optimist despite that first paragraph) at least we aren't Pittsburgh Pirates Fans.

Last nights whipping put the Bucs in their place, not to mention the fact that it was also the Cubs that secured their 17th consecutive losing season several weeks ago... Today brings a double header where *hopefully* the Cubbies will win both games under the lead of Lilly and Big Z. While I'm not banking on a sweep, it would certainly be nice especially because baseball outside of September will be sad for all of Cubdom yet again.

Looks like those "fancy" new jerseys with
them newfangled sleeves didn't work
so well after all.

If the MLB were High School, the Cubs would be the Star Football player from the previous year that everyone thought would lead the school to a State Championship (World Series) except instead we broke our leg halfway through the season, had an embarrassing episode in the locker room and literally shit ourselves playing the Freshman team (Washington Nationals).

Another "On the Bright Side..." item is that the Gatorade dispensers in the dugout also get a nice break from being Z's bitch. Throw a bad pitch that is a go-ahead run to the Pirates? Take it out on the Gatorade Machine.

"Can you feel the love tonight?"

I am just looking forward to an off-season where constant replays from the Cardinals, which take up way too much time on Sportscenter, are off the air. Yay! - For all other sports that aren't baseball: NHL (Hawks play in two days), NFL, College Football and Basketball... Oh how entertaining the off season will be.

So until the next baseball season starts, don't kill yourselves by drinking that 30-Pack of warm Pabst Blue Ribbon, don't swear and curse at Milton Bradley... watch something else... Hell, even Kate plus 8 will be back on (shocking news: "Jon" was dropped by TLC... ) if you're looking to fill you night full of crying and drinking. You might even find time to go to church and pray that next year will bring a NL Central title, playoff berth and World Series...
The only thing that I love,
that loves me back.

Essential Halloween Movies

September 30, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Adam Blank

Due to the overwhelming unpopularity of Horror Movies You Should Watch But Probably Won't, I've decided to switch tactics and focus on what I consider to be Halloween viewing essentials that you might actually watch.

Generally, I love horror movies. However, not all horror movies are right for viewing during the Halloween season. This can be due to a variety of factors. Sometimes there aren't enough supernatural overtones in a movie. Sometimes they're set at a time of the year which precludes them from being essential Halloween films. Sometimes they're too involved and don't lend themselves to the macabre instant gratification that we expect from horror movies.

What the hell am I talking about? Take Rosemary's Baby. It's a great film, and a classic horror movie. But I don't think of it as a Halloween movie. It's slow, subtle, and essentially too involved to be a movie I can associate with Halloween. So what are some essential horror movies with that certain Halloween feel? Well, here are five...

Night of the Demons. I can't let a Halloween pass without watching this movie. It's got all the essentials of a great Halloween horror movie. It's set on Halloween night, it's fast, it has the perfect mixture of gore and nudity and it creates its own internal logic. A group of diverse yet unbelievably stereotypical teens decide to ditch the school dance and attend a secret party at Hull House, the abandoned funeral home on the edge of town. The party is hosted by the goth chick and her pretty but stupid friend. The kids are just trying to have a good time until they literally raise hell and one of them gets possessed by a demon.

This movie has it all: A simple but effective plot, decent effects, quite a few breasts, an awesome soundtrack, and scream queen Linnea Quigley doing an amazing trick with a tube of lipstick.

Why it's a good Halloween movie: It's set on Halloween, It's basic enough that you can identify with the characters but not so complicated that you'll feel bad when most of them die. The execution lives up to the tone set early on. Another reason to watch it: Night of the Demons is followed by the superior Night of the Demons 2.

Frankenstein. The 1931 classic has aged well, but even the best surviving Universal prints have pops & hisses that add a certain surreal atmosphere to the movie. Dr. Frankenstein has brought life to a reassembled collection of body parts. Too bad Fritz accidentally stole the criminal's brain...

The sets are amazing and almost surreal in their expressionist simplicity. The casting is marvelous. Boris Karloff is the definitive monster and Colin Clive is perfect as the manic doctor. At 71 minutes, it's short, but it doesn't feel like any key plot-point has been glossed over. Children can watch it and adults will pick up on subtleties that they've missed in previous viewings. While the story has little to do with the original novel, it's created a legacy of it's own that has to be understood before watching any other Frankenstein movie.

Why it's a good Halloween movie: While the story is simplistic, the sets, acting & tone are so overtly horrific that it feels like a nightmare has come to life. The story of a man-made monster is so seeded in our imaginations that it has become almost instinctual. So much of the action happens off-screen that your mind will fill in the gaps and make it scarier than it actually is. The monster is terrifying in appearance but easy to relate to through it's actions and demeanor.

Fright Night: Charlie is a normal suburban teenager with a simple life until he becomes convinced that a vampire just moved in next-door. His best friend and girlfriend think he's nuts, so they enlist the help of the local television "Creature Features" host to placate him. It turns out that he's right, and the fiend soon learns that the teens are on to him. A vampire movie that has a lot to do with teenage confusion about growing up both sexually and socially (conveniently, Evil Ed has since become a gay porn star), Fright Night has a straightforward plot but much can be read into the complexities of the characters' attitudes towards their own present & future.

Why it's a good Halloween Movie: has a certain air of high school innocence to it. (Let's be honest, the last time Halloween didn't completely suck was when you were in high school.) Charlie and his friends are easy to relate to, as they have to mix the fate of their own existences with the petty minutia of daily high school bullshit. The antagonist is alluring but uncompromisingly evil.

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul. José Mojica Marins stars in and directs this Brazilian horror masterpiece about a sadistic undertaker, known as Coffin Joe, who will stop at nothing to find the perfect mate to bear his son. It's very Catholic (spanning the time between Good Friday and All Soul's Day), and very cheap. Coffin Joe is one of the most malicious villains of all time, but since the movie focuses mostly on him rather than the supporting characters, he becomes the character you're rooting for the along the way. While not exactly sympathetic, his motives are clear and he becomes a rather likable boogeyman throughout the course of the movie. He's sort of like Freddy Krueger meets Charles Bukowski without the taint of pedophilia or desperation of unadulterated alcoholism. Though it was made in 1964, the oppression from Brazil's strict Catholic military regime gives the movie a feel like it crawled out of the 40's. Luckily, this works to the movie's advantage. It ends up feeling like a lost Universal horror classic.

Why it's a good Halloween movie: Has enough gypsies, owls, tombstones and thunderstorms to add to the Halloween/Autmn ambiance. The black-clad character of Coffin Joe will have you cheering for the bad guy to win. Although the characters' motivations are strictly human, there are lots of supernatural happenings to keep things creepy & in-check.

Mad Monster Party. Dr. Frankenstein is all set to retire from the monster-making business, but he needs to name his successor. He decides to do this at the biggest monster convention ever held. All the major monsters are there; Frankenstein & his Bride (voiced by the amazing Phyllis Diller), Dr. Jekyll, The Invisible Man, Dracula, The Woflman, a skeleton pop-rock band and one crazed party-crasher. Aside from all the "borrowing" it does from monster classics, it's also a dead-on Cold War-era James Bond spoof too.

Why it's a good Halloween movie: Clay-animation is always vaguely creepy. This movie steals all the major Universal classic monsters (Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein, etc) long before The Monster Squad. It's appropriate for children yet surreal enough for jaded adults. Directed by Jules Bass of Rankin/Bass fame, this movie has a similar "holiday" feel as the Christmas classics "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" & "The Little Drummer Boy."

Bears Recap: Week 3

September 29, 2009 | Comments (0) | by White Chili

The Bears added another win this week with a 25-19 victory over the embattled Seahawks. Seattle was without the help of seven starters including Matt Hasselbeck, but Seneca Wallace looked fairly impressive in his absence. The Bears added to their own injuries woes when Hunter Hillenmeyer had to leave with an injury to his ribs. No updates on him yet but I wouldn't be surprised if the team gave Derrick Brooks a call in the next week or two.

Cutler looked in control again and posted some decent numbers. With columnists singing his praises, you can barely smell the torches that they were using to run him out of town a scant two weeks ago. Unfortunately the Bears have yet to establish the run. Hopefully they can get things going against the recently victorious Lions this week.

Once again the Bears proved that they are kryptonite for kickers when Seattle's Olindo Mare missed two field goals in a game they lost by only six points. After missing only three kicks all of last year, no less. Jim Mora shared his thoughts with us after the game: "No excuses ... You've got to make those kicks ... Not acceptable. Not acceptable. Absolutely not acceptable. We'll look at making a change everywhere." The good people at Coors are already working on the commercial. Hahahaha, no seriously Coors is terrible.

Let's get down to the real story of the game: the new jerseys for the Seahawks. Are you kidding me with this garbage? This is a professional football team and they look like a cross between a professional soccer team and one of the bullshit teams from Any Given Sunday. Don't believe me? It's on tonight on AMC at 7. Yes, there are some college teams with ludicrous uniforms but that's almost expected in college. Want a diamond cut pattern on your yellow and green shoulder pads? Sure thing Oregon! I wasn't sure what was making me more nauseous, the lime green or the Bears' secondary.

Next week, Bears vs. Lions. White Chili predicts a 27-14 victory for the Bears. I just hope I can still enjoy the game after I stab my eyes and ears to avoid the media bukkake leading up to Monday night when Favre plays the Packers. I'll be rooting for the terrorists.

Mathematical Elimination Fever - CATCH IT!

September 29, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Wolter

What could have been, Z-stache? What could have been?Well, that was fun, huh?

You didn't have fun this season? Yeah, me neither.

To be honest, I haven't watched a lot of Cubs baseball lately. For the same reason I don't hang around the oncology ward of my local hospital. Tending to the slow wasting away of a reasonably promising team is not my ideal plan to spend the fleeting Chicago summer.

Which is not to say I didn't have nagging fears about this season. After compiling what was probably the best Cubs team of my lifetime in 2008, Hendry did so very little in the offseason. How was I to know that even the little he did was awful?

I'm not going to go into detail about all the wretched ways the 2008 Cubs were dismantled (other than to say that I had no beef with getting rid of DeRosa, provided the Cubs received more than a bucket of goddamn baseballs - which they did not). I'm just going to make a quiet list of the things that annoyed me about this season, with the hope that a few of them could be rectified:

The addition of Aarons to the roster.

The addition of roughly 78 pounds of pot tits to Geovany Soto's frame.

The annual jerk-around deal that doesn't happen. At least this year it was Jake Peavy Watch, and not year three of Brian Roberts Watch.

The fact that I was under the assumption that the DeRosa trade was part of a master plan to trade for someone like Peavy.

The fact that I assumed ANYTHING was actually part of a master plan on anyone's part in the front office.

Aaron Miles.

The loss of franchise face Kerry Wood combined with the meatheads who failed to notice how awful he did in Cleveland. Both a kick to my emotions and my brain.

The way the same meatheads turned on Zambrano, as if this team has another #1 starter.

The ongoing love affair that this fanbase has with mediocre gritlings like Ryan Theriot and Sam Fuld.

Aaron Fucking Miles. Have I mentioned him yet? Or Heilman? What about him?

Kevin Gregg's Extra Chromosome: Closer

The fact that Derrek Lee's production seems to be inversely proportional to the production of his teammates. God, if he played for the Nats this year he'd be hitting .460 with 98 home runs.

Everything about the Milton Bradley debacle. EVERYTHING. Everyone one every side and every statement ever made on it should be scoured out of our collective brains.

The loss of the Z-stache. I'm pretty sure that was the beginning of the end.

Aaron Miles. 'Nuff Said.

I've never looked forward to football and hockey so much in my life.

Top 10: Top 10 Plays, Number Nine

September 28, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Ginger Russ

This morning I was watching SportsCenter (yes, people do still watch this show) and caught the regular and popular feature, the Top 10 Plays of the Day. It's not an original idea, every sports columnist, show and blogger has their lists of greatness and power rankings. But not the Saloon. This got me thinking, the Top 10 Plays are always the same "types" of plays. Sure, once in a great while you may have a new record in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest that gets on, or possibly a Nascar highlight, but for the most part you really aren't seeing anything that hasn't been done before. And so I bring to the Saloon a Top 10 list of my own.

9. Hat trick (hockey).

The hat trick is a rare event when a hockey player will score 3 goals in one game, which is a pretty amazing feat when you think about it. The only thing that keeps the hat trick from being higher on the list is that most of America doesn't actually watch hockey, so most people don't realize that the hat trick is so cool that fans will actually throw their $30 hats onto the rink in a show of appreciation, fully knowing that they will never see it again (of course smart fans close enough to the ice will actually bring a backup hat, similar to fans in the bleachers at Wrigley bringing backup balls to throw back in case an opponent hits a home run).

According to Wikipedia, the hat trick's origins vary, and there are there are many variations of the hat trick, including my favorite, a Gordie Howe hat trick, which a player achieves by scoring a goal, getting an assist, and getting in a fight, all in the same game.

Ginger's greatest #9: Mario Lemieux recorded a "5-goal hat trick" (or "ultimate hat trick", "quintella", "Texas Hat Trick", or "Lemieux Cycle") in which he scored in all five possible game situations in one game, on 31 December 1988, against the New Jersey Devils. He scored on a powerplay, short handed, even strength, penalty shot, and an empty net goal.

Top 10: Top 10 Plays, Number Ten

September 24, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Ginger Russ

This morning I was watching SportsCenter (yes, people do still watch this show) and caught the regular and popular feature, the Top 10 Plays of the Day. It's not an original idea, every sports columnist, show and blogger has their lists of greatness and power rankings. But not the Saloon. This got me thinking, the Top 10 Plays are always the same "types" of plays. Sure, once in a great while you may have a new record in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest that gets on, or possibly a Nascar highlight, but for the most part you really aren't seeing anything that hasn't been done before. And so I bring to the Saloon a Top 10 list of my own.

10. Hole-in-one (golf).

Get in the hole! Why won't you go to your home?

The hole-in-one always makes it into the Top 10. And why not? This seemingly impossible task is about as rare as spotting a black man at a Church of Scientology convention. (Yes, I know Will Smith is a Scientologist, I did say "black man".) According to the United States Golf Register, the estimated odds of acing a hole with any given swing are one in 33,000. This combined with the fact that most of us do not have the Daly-esque power to get an ace on anything but a par 3, and most courses only have about 3-6 per 18 holes, unless you are a golf pro and play every day the chance of you or I ever achieving it is even rarer.

The one thing that does appeal to us as fans about the hole-in-one is while none of us will ever win the Super Bowl or the World Series and then go out with hot supermodels that we will then impregnate only after learning that they have given us a gift in return in the form of syphilis, but that's not the least of our problems because we just shot ourselves in the leg while tending to our Cock Fighting Ring...wait, I'm rambling. What I meant to say is that while it is highly improbable, you or I could actually hit an ace in our lifetime.

The stakes are even raised during amateur golf tournaments, many of which will offer cash or cars for someone who does hit a hole-in-one on a particular hole. So how can we improve our chances of achieving this feat and possibly ending up on SportCenter? Well, according to there are many averages to those who achieve the elusive ace.

Average age of a Hole In One golfer: 44.6663 yrs., or about the average age that you are fed up with your wife and start golfing every weekend, even though you HATE GOLF!

Day of week most Holes In One occur: Friday.

Day of week least Holes In One occur: Sunday, because God HATES GOLF TOO!

Club most used in making an ace: 7 Iron, because just like Paris Hilton, everyone can hit a 7 iron.

But does it really take talent to hit a hole-in-one? Let me tell you a little story about a man name Jed, poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed. No seriously. One day a buddy and I were paired up with a couple of douchebags that were about as horrible at golf as they were annoying. One guy must have just picked up golf, because he was particularly bad. As we approached the 17th hole he must have been already shooting around 100. Dude hits a line drive shot on the par 3 over the water and onto the green past the hole, which was lucky enough for this guy. Only the back of the green is a hill, so the ball rolls up the hill, back down the hill and into the hole. Mother-fucker! So it just goes to show you that it isn't all skill.

To date, 22,717 have registered their hole-in-one's at The greatest person to ever get an ace, of course, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who according to official government news agencies, routinely hits between three and four hole-in-ones per round. So while your hole-in-one to win a million dollars might make it your 15 minutes of fame, the fact that basically anyone can do it and it's more of a novelty puts the hole-in-one at Numero Diez on our Countdown.

Ginger's greatest #10: Michael J. Crean of Denver, CO- 517 yard par 5 9th hole at the Green Valley Ranch Golf Club on July 4, 2002.

TMS Cy Young Predictions

September 24, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

As the season winds down, talk turns to awards for the year. MVP, Cy Young, Comeback Player of The Year, and Rookie of the Year. So let's talk about this year's Cy Young candidates. Since the Cubs are in the National League, let's start there.

Your 2009 NL Cy Young Winner is . . . Tim Lincecum. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Lincecum currently sports a 14-6 record in 30 games started with an ERA of 2.47 and a WHIP of 1.06. The emo kid has struck out 247 in 211.1 innings pitched and walked only 63. He's only surrendered 10 long balls while hurling 4 complete games and 2 shutouts.

Runners up are the dynamic duo from St. Louis, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. Cub killer Carpenter has posted a 16-4 record in 26 games with an ERA of 2.34 and a WHIP of 1.01. Carp struck out 136 batters while walking only 34 in 180.2 innings. He has 3 complete games and 1 shutout in 2009, while coughing up only 7 home runs.

Wainwright has put up an 18-8 record in 32 games with an ERA of 2.59 and a WHIP of 1.21. The Cardinal youngster notched 193 Ks and gave up 63 walks in 219 innings pitched. He has only 1 complete game and no shutouts this season.

So why Lincecum? I think if Carpenter hadn't missed the first month, he really would be the no doubt pick here. Wainwright has just been ridiculous as well. All three of these guys have pretty similar numbers, but what really does it for me is that Lincecum has 247 strikeouts to Wainwright's 193, and his ERA at the moment is slightly lower. Plus, while Lincecum has fewer wins than the other two guys, he's also pitching for a team with less offensive ability than the Cardinals. All three guys are great pitchers and with a few starts left to go, there's still a chance for things to swing toward one of the Redbird hurlers.

And the AL. Let me just say this: if Zack Greinke manages to win the AL Cy Young pitching for the Kansas City Royals, not only does he deserve praise and admiration, but a lifetime supply of blow jobs from Erin Andrews. Greinke has been unbelievably good this year on a team that's sometimes unbelievably bad. The Zacker should be sporting around 22 wins, but lack of offense and some poor middle relief have cut into his win totals. He currently has a 15 and 8 record in 31 starts with a nifty ERA of 2.08 and a WHIP of 1.06. He's K'd 229 batters and walked 47 in 216.1 inning pitched. He has 6, count them, 6 complete games with 3 shutouts. 15 wins may be low for a Cy Young winner, but holy crap this kid has just been beyond good.

Runner up: Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners is 16 and 5 in 31 starts with an ERA of 2.45 and a WHIP of 1.14. He's struck out 196 and walked 64 in 216.1 innings pitched. He has 2 complete games and 1 shutout on the year.

Why Zack?King Felix may have more wins, but 6/3 CG/SHOs for Greinke and 2/1 for Hernandez, plus the K/BB numbers bring it all on home for the Zack Attack. Both of these guys would have more wins if they were on better teams.

These are my Cy Young predictions. Feel free to debate and make your own in the comments.

Overrated: Fireworks

September 23, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

Before you all get your patriotic panties in a bunch, let me clarify that I have no issue with the fireworks displays presented on the 4th of July. Those are a grand example of love for country, and when coupled with a good Sousa march, gives me a red, white, and blue boner that lasts until Labor Day. Hell, I don't even mind if my neighbors launch a few bottle rockets on the 4th and who could hate sparklers? Only a communist, that's who.

But that's where my love affair with things that go boom ends. During the last weeks of June leading up to the 4th and the two weeks in July following , all the white trash asshats in my neighborhood continue firing stuff off as soon as it gets dark. If you're shooting fireworks off on any other day then the 4th of July, you're not a patriot; you're just a dick who likes to blow shit up. Enough already. Besides, amateur fireworks suck ass. It's the real thing or nothing.

And being a Cub fan, I guess I've never understood the appeal of setting off fireworks for a team victory or worse, every fucking time one of your players hits a home run. I can read the scoreboard and I can see when a ball leaves the ballpark. If you're so retarded that you need a pyrotechnic display in order to know whether your team won or lost, then I think you're watching the wrong game. And people have a problem when a guy poses too long at home plate to admire a home run, but it's considered okay to shoot a bunch of rockets in the air? Seems like pretty poor sportsmanship to me.

So save your fireworks for the 4th of July, when they actually mean something. God Bless America, bitches.

Childhood Favorites: Legos

September 23, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Zachary Kenitzer

First: I hate walking through stores. I am not naive enough to know why they place bread and milk on the opposite sides of grocery stores or why they always have batteries at the cash registers. Its all part of their plan to have you buy more useless junk because in America we have the attention span of a 5 year old. With that said, I was walking through a store last week (lets just call it Mal-Wart) and there was a mom holding back a screaming because they went past the toy aisle and the kid just kept screaming "LEGO! LEGO!" because the mother had mistakenly walked down the aisle with lots of Lego sets in it.

I'm sure there was once a point in time where we were all screaming "LEGO!" at the top of our lungs. I know I probably did.

The first set of LEGO's I got as a kid was when I was about 3 years old (my parents were rule breakers, because I wasn't 4 like the box suggested) and it came in the common "Blue Box" that the basic LEGO sets come in today. It was simple: two people, an assortment of 5 differently colored bricks, in various sizes and then one of their small build panels. Like most kids of the time I started to play and then I was hooked. I would spend countless hours building, destroying, rebuilding, destroying... Then as time when on I was able to accrue more pieces: Like the Technix kits and other simple LEGO kits. Eventually my play pail was full of various LEGO pieces and parts.

We were also fed commercials through Nickelodeon where we were told to tell our parents that the only things we wanted for Christmas were MORE LEGOS! Sure enough their marketing ploys worked and kids were begging their parents for the newest LEGO sets come every December. Soon the collections expanded:

LEGOland - The Mecca of LEGO

But you can't mention LEGOS without talking about LEGOland. The first park opened in 1968 and since LEGOland's have opened up across the world. The big one here in the US is the one out in Los Angeles. While I have never been, it is on a list of future stops (thats for damn sure...) I have been to other smaller LEGO outlets though like the ones in Chicago and Orlando.

If you're like me then you also remember the excitement when your younger cousins (or even children) open up that box of LEGOS at Christmas or on a Birthday and you think to yourself: "I could get that together in about an hour..." then you sit there in awkward silence because you're afraid that your girlfriend or wife just heard you meant to think internally, but instead announced it to everyone in the room. Its as if playing with LEGOS is a shameful kid activity.

But there are many people that have made it cool to play with LEGOS as adults and even have jobs where they do nothing but play with LEGOS all day. They have LEGO jobs at their corporate offices (where some of the people even get to design new sets all day!) and there is even something called "LEGO Serious Play" which is a corporate team building event that strives for executives and employees to collaborate using LEGOS. There are also the LEGO model builders who have built replicas of buildings through out the world.

If only I had the skill to build this

Since this is also a Cubs Blog you can't help but wonder: is there a guy out there that is building a LEGO version of Wrigley Field? Well, yes there is. It is still under construction, but mind you these masterpieces of plastic brick take a while to build.

The Friendly Confines (in LEGOS)

TMS Booze Project Guide to Mixed Drinks: Classics Edition

September 23, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Adam Blank

We at Thunder Matt's Saloon know that sometimes it's not always acceptable to throw back shots. Whether you're at a company party, on a date, or with a large group of friends who don't have a clue about your substance abuse issues, sometimes you have to take one for the team and order mixed drinks or beer. And while TMS has the whole beer-thing covered, our coverage is sorely lacking when it comes to mixed-drinks. So here is the TMS Booze Project Guide to Mixed Drinks: Classics Edition...

1 1/2 ounces Vodka
5 ounces Orange Juice

Order it if: you're a teenage girl in a bar with a fake ID, a pirate on shore leave who is trying to ward off scurvy.

Pros: Good source of vitamin C. Can barely taste the alcohol. Hard to overdo it with a Screwdriver.

Cons: Nobody will take your drunken rant seriously while you clutch one of these in your paws. Makes you look like a novice. If you happen to drink too much, throwing up orange juice is one of the worst experiences you could possibly ever have.

Mixed Drink Rating: 4/10.

A better alternative might be: Vodka Cranberry

Rum & Coke
1 1/2 ounces Rum
5 ounces Cola

Order it if: You're on an airplane, you're at a casino and plan on sticking with your favorite machine for awhile, your planning on engaging on a long discussion about how Marx said religion was the opium of the people but he himself used opium.

Pros: A sensible drink for the budget-minded drunk, the drink goes down easy and is nearly impossible to screw up. Also, it takes a while to get drunk off these, which makes it great for long conversations. The major draw is that they're usually cheap.

It's boring.

Mixed Drink Rating:

A better alternative might be: Scotch & Water

Whiskey Sour
1/2 ounce Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Powdered Sugar
2 ounces Blended Scotch Whisky
Shake and strain into a sour glass. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a cherry.

Order it if: you're a non-tenured professor trying to win favor with your colleges, you're not eating food, you're at a bar that isn't blaring music so loud that you can't have a conversation. (Places that play loud music make the worst Whiskey Sours.)

Pros: Slightly elegant, in an old-fashioned sort of way. Great if you're only going to have one drink. Can be a really good drink if made correctly.

Cons: Shitty whiskey makes shitty whiskey sours. Besides that, sour drinks aren't all that fun to consume over long periods of time. A terrible drink to have with meals.

Mixed Drink Rating: 7 out of 10

A better alternative might be: Manhattan

2 1/2 ounces Gin
1 1/2 teaspoons Dry Vermouth
In a mixing glass half-filled with ice cubes, combine the gin and vermouth. Stir well. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or an olive.

Order it if: You can tell the difference between Art Deco and Art Nouveau, you're at a bar where somebody is playing a piano, you're wearing a tie.

Pros: The martini is so entwined in alcohol lore that no one can dare say you're a novice if you order one. It seems classier than it is. Two or three will get you drunk.

Cons: Gin martinis taste like household cleaning products. Vodka martinis hint that you're not completely committed to the lifestyle that the martini represents. Both of them are fairly harsh drinks that presuppose a certain level of pretension & experience on the part of the drinker.

Mixed Drink Rating: 6/10

A better alternative might be: Vodka Gimlet

Long Island Iced Tea
3/4 ounce Vodka
3/4 ounce Gin
3/4ounce Rum (Light)
3/4 ounce Tequila (Gold)
2 ounces Sweet & Sour Mix
1 dash Cola
1 ounce Triple Sec

Combine the ingredients over ice in a highball glass. Add the cola for color. Garnish with a slice of lemon.

Order it if: Your goal is to get smashed, the atmosphere is festive.

Pros: Tastes great. The drink transcends race, gender and class; anyone who wants to have a good time can order it. Even bad ones are packed full of copious amounts of alcohol and are palatable after a few sips. Easy to make large batches for parties.

Cons: Can ruin your life if you aren't used to the high alcohol content. Has about 500 calories per 12 oz. Not the right drink for long, in-depth conversations since you will get very drunk very quickly.

Mixed Drink Rating: 9/10

A better alternative might be: Mai-Tai

I'm Not Sayin', I'm Just Sayin'

September 22, 2009 | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

Big ups to loyal TMS reader, David St. Hubbins for this one. After the Bradley Debacle, I received a text message that simply stated: Murton > Bradley

And you know what? There's some real truth to that.
Forget that Murton made about $9.5 million less than Bradley, forget that you never heard Murton crying shitwolf to reporters, forget that Murton never mistakenly threw a ball into the stands after two outs, forget that Lou Piniella never told Murton, "you're not a ballplayer, you're a piece of shit."

Enough with the slander, let's look at the stats. Bradley played 124 games this year, so that's what the basis for a "season" was set at. I'm the first to admit that I'm not sabermetrician, but all of the stats with the exception of Murton's OPS should be accurate, and even that should be accurate within a few points.
Ventaja: Señor Murton


Bears Recap: Week 2

September 22, 2009 | Comments (0) | by White Chili

The Bears welcomed the Pittsburgh Steelers for their home opener this weekend. The Steelers won the last three contests, all in Pittsburgh, but hadn't won in Chicago since 1995. That was the only time they have ever won in Chicago. That statement still holds true today after the Bears, despite suffering a number of injuries in week one, won with a last minute kick by Robbie Gould.

The brain-trust at the Chicago Park District decided to host a U2 concert less than a week before the home opener so the condition of the field was marginal at best, as they had to re-sod large portions after 60,000 people showed up to help contribute to the starving blah blah blah Africa.

One of the big stories was Jay Cutler rebounding from a game where he threw more interceptions in a single game than ever before, at any level. The media, both local and national, pulled no punches and seemed to think that this ONE GAME was a sign that Jerry Angelo and the Bears had made a colossal mistake. After last week I even had friends clamoring to bring back Orton.


Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times by DE Antwan Odom this week in a loss to the Bengals. Do you think that all the experts who picked the Packers to go to the Super Bowl are suddenly concerned they might not make the playoffs and that the town of Green Bay might sink into the water or simply burst into flames with another similar performance? As excited as typing that out has made me (please teacher, don't make me do the next problem on the board!), I don't think so. Every knee-jerk reactionary needs to settle the fuck down and realize that one game, a season does not make. Cutler finished this week throwing 27-38 with 238 yards and nary a pick to mention.

Matt Forte has yet to put up the same numbers we were spoiled with last season but it was hard to expect a stellar performance against a stingy Steelers defense. What did impress me was the performance of Adrian Peterson. He had a few tough runs and did a lot for solidifying himself as the number two back.

Another nice surprise was WR Johnny Knox. Part of the reason for Cutler's woes last week was due to the inexperience of his receivers. Everyone looked like they improved this week and Knox is quickly becoming a favorite target. Cutler's other go-to guy, Greg Olsen got more touches than last week, including being run over by Tyrone Carter. Olsen is a big guy but after that hit he looked like me fighting with the toilet after I discovered a place that makes pizzas with Indian food as toppings.

The defense looked better than I thought with all the replacements. Hunter did alright at MLB but our secondary was so concerned with stopping the run that the 15 yard posts were open every time. That needs to stop. On the bright side, Tommie Harris showed up this week and Alex Brown continued to dominate.

Possibly the best story of the evening was Steelers placekicker Jeff Reed missing two FGs (38,43). Those were his first two attempts at Soldier Field. Maybe they should bring in Ochocinco to kick from now on.

Next week the Bears play the Seahawks and Matt Hasselbeck is still questionable after leaving last week with sore ribs. The Bears should finally be able to get their running game going against Seattle.

White Chili's pick: Bears 24, Seahawks 17

The Fantasy Hangover: Week 2

September 22, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Welcome to the week 2 of the Fantasy Hangover. We'll go over all the ups and downs this past weekend in fantasy football.

The Golden Chalice Full of Hennessy
Player of the Week

Chris Johnson (RB - TEN): 197 yards rushing, 87 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns is more than enough to give Johnson his first Golden Chalice of the season. All 3 touchdowns were over 50 yards. Johnson owners likely won their week 2 game on his points alone.

Give these guys a Bloody Mary and a firm slap on the ass.
Top fantasy performers of the week.

Matt Schaub (QB - HOU): After a dismal week 1 against the Jets, Schaub bounces back nicely with 357 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. Rex Grossman becomes despondent.

Frank Gore (RB - SF): It takes a mountain of patience and a gallon of Maalox to be a Frank Gore owner. After averaging a meager 1.4 yards per carry last week at Arizona, Gore busts out for 207 yards on 16 carries this week with 2 touchdowns.

Ronnie Brown (RB - MIA): Just as frustrating to own is Ronnie Brown who 30% of Yahoo managers opted to bench this week. Mistake. Brown ran for 136 yards with 2 TDs. We'll see how many folks choose to bench him this week against San Diego.

Andre Johnson (WR - HOU): Someone had to catch those passes from Schaub and that someone was Andre Johnson. Johnson coming off a career best 1575 receiving yards in 2008 showed that we can expect more of the same in 2009. 149 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns made him the top fantasy receiver of the week.

Dallas Clark (TE - IND): With Anthony Gonzalez out for while, Clark has become Peyton's #2 target behind Reggie Wayne. The former Hawkeye racked up an impressive 183 yards receiving plus a touchdown. Marv Cook would be proud.

Denver Broncos (DEF - DEN): Much like spot starting a pitcher facing the Pirates, picking up the Denver defense for their game against the Browns was an easy source for points. The Broncos D held Cleveland to just 6 points and Elvis Dumervil terrorized Brady Quinn, sacking him 4 times.

Give these guys a couple of Tylenol and a puke bucket.
The fantasy duds of the week.

Brady Quinn (QB - CLE): God and baby Jesus help you if Brady Quinn was your starter this past week. If you actually scored positive points with him they weren't very many. Quinn passed for 161 yards with no touchdowns, 1 interception and 1 lost fumble.

Beanie Wells (RB - ARI): Wells touched the ball only 7 times and ran for a respectable 44 yards, but a lost fumble all but wiped out what little gain he gave owners.

Donnie Avery (WR - STL): The Rams "#1" receiver caught 1 pass for 4 yards and lost a fumble. I can't see any reason to have a St. Louis player not named Steven Jackson on your roster at this point.

Santana Moss (WR - WAS): Almost as depressing as the Rams is the Redskins offense. Moss caught just 3 passes for 35 yards and lost a fumble. Despite their best efforts, Washington still beat the Rams.

Michael Crabtree (WR - SF): Idiot. I hope the Niners win the divison without you.

Tennessee Titans (DEF - TEN): The Titans D had a 94% start rate in Yahoo for week 2. I'd say they cost more than a few owners a win. 34 points allowed, no sacks, no interceptions, nothing.

The Skeet Sheet
Hot players you may find on the free agent wire.

Byron Leftwich (TB): With the Buccaneer ground game floundering, Leftwich is airing it out, throwing 3 TDs against Buffalo. He's not going to be a stud by any means, but Leftwich is a serviceable option as a QB2 on your roster. At the very least he's a better choice than Brady Quinn.

Kevin Kolb (PHI): While he did throw 3 picks versus New Orleans, his 391 yards through the air is nothing to laugh at. With Philadelphia facing the Chiefs this week, Kolb is worth the start if you're truly desperate for a QB.

Tim Hightower (ARI): He more than likely is already taken, but with Beanie Wells not exactly lighting the world on fire, it looks like Hightower is playing himself into more time on the field.

Mario Manningham & Steve Smith (NYG): The Giants receiving depth chart is starting to become more clear. Manningham and Smith were Eli's favorite targets on Sunday night against the Cowboys. Both receivers caught 10 passes each. Snatch these guys up if you still can as they'll more than likely be spoken for before the Week 3 games even begin.

Mike Sims-Walker (JAC): With Troy Williamson out for the season, Sims-Walker has emerged as the #2 receiver in Jacksonville. With 6 catches for 106 yards against Arizona, he looks to be worth a roster spot if you're looking weak at WR.

Johnny Knox (CHI): Knox seemed buried on the Chicago depth chart amongst other no-name receivers trying to make a name for themselves. After two weeks he appears to be a favorite target of Cutler's and leads the team in receiving yards. Take a flyer on Knox and see if Cutler continues to look his way.

Laurent Robinson (STL): I know what I said earlier about the Rams. Look, if you're absolutely desperate for help at WR, Robinson right now appears to be St. Louis' top guy. Just don't expect a whole lot out of him. Greatest Show on Turf this ain't.

Brent Celek (PHI): 8 catches for 104 yards last week and with Kolb given another start in Week 3 you can expect he'll have plenty of ball thrown his way again.

Feel free to leave any fantasy comments or questions.

The 1979 Files, Volume 2

September 22, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Wolter

It's a random Tuesday morning, so that can only mean one thing: the return of my quasi-popular series (well, now that there are two, it's a series) profiling that of forgotten year of majesty, 1979.

Today I will be joined by special guest co-blogger, me at age 13, who will be providing a non-post-punk-fans perspective of this album. Part of the purpose of this will be for me to convince people of the importance of this relatively obscure work. Because at 13, I needed to listen to much better music than I did. So without further ado, we bring you:

The Slits - Cut

Wolter: Thank you for joining us, 13-year old version of me. I know you've had a tough year, what with the hurricane destroying your house, and the Cubs getting knocked out of the playoffs by goddamn Will Cla--but I digress...

RIGHT THERE!13-Year Old Wolter: Excuse me...are those tits on that cover?

W: Yes, but--

13yoW: Wow...right on the cover?

W: Yes, but really that's no big deal. They were making a comment on the commodification of sexuality--

13yoW: Can I look at that again?

W: No. Honestly, the Slits weren't even that attractive. And their lead singer is kinda insane. That's not my point. Cut is a seminal album of the post-punk era. At first dismissed as teenage groupies and hangers-on of the punk scene (with an admittedly amazingly perfect name), the Slits managed to put together one of the more iconic female-led albums of the scene.

Cut is louded with naive (in a good way) guitar play, heavy dub bass, solid drumming (from future Siouxsie & the Banshees drummer Budgie, the only man in the group), and weird-but-engaging vocals. Vocalist Ari Up was singing like Bjork before Bjork knew how to sing like Bjor--

TITS ON THE COVER!13yoW: Whose tits are hers? The middle one?

W: It's not important. What's important here is the sense of genuine female empowerment in these songs. Such classics as "So Tough" and "Instant Hit" provide a strong mockery of some of the more foolish and bravado-laden men in the burgeoning punk scene. They makes the commodified rebellion of Alannis Morrissette seem as contrived as the so-called "Girl Power" of the Spice Girls. And the back-to-back punch of "Spend Spend Spend" and "Shoplifting" present the problem of commodification and a not-quite-tongue-in-cheek solution.

13yoW: So, back to this cover...

W: I'm beginning to think I made a huge mistake. I should have asked 19-Year Old Punk Rock Wolter for his persp--

19-Year Old Punk Rock Wolter: Up yours, sellout. I'm not writing your shitty blog post for you, fatass.

W: Nevermind. Anyway, there are several other standout tracks, like "FM" (which stands for Frequent Mutilations) and "Love and Romance." And, of course, the standout track, "Typical Girls." A wild sleighride of a song, which speeds up, slows down, and rocks hard at every turn, "Typical Girls" is a slam on all of the cultural notions of what women are supposed to be, that asks the question:

Who invented the typical girl?
Who's bringing out the new improved model?
Then gives the chilling conclusion:

And there's another marketing ploy:
Typical girl gets the typical boy!

Which points out we are all forced to play the roles that society assigns us, and the typical boy is no better off, as he will also be caught in the same web with the typical gi--

13yoW: I'd settle for getting caught in a web with any girl at this point.

W: Oh for Christ's sake! Will you--Okay...I probably shouldn't have tried talking about sexuality with a 13-year old. This is bringing back some embarrassing memories.

Okay...moving on...the only flaw I have with this record is the flaw I have with all heavy, dubby music: though I don't think any of the songs are weak, it's hard to listen to in one solid sitting unless one is high enough to drink the beef juice out of a crock pot full of loose meat for sandwiches--

13yoW: What the hell are you talking about?

W: You'll understand when you're older.
At any rate, Cut is a first-rate postpunk album, that has inspired, either directly or indirectly, a large portion of women's independent music in the last quarter century. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is probably up to you to decide.

Oh, and if you decide to get this album, I recommend the version with bonus tracks, so you can hear the pretty cool heavy reggae version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."

OH SHIT! THEY'RE COVERED IN MUD? TITS!13yoW: Does it have the same cover?

W: ...Yes.

13yoW: Awesome.

W: Tune in next time, when I focus on the best slab of vinyl The Clash ever made. And it's NOT what you think.

13yoW: How old am I when I finally get this album?

W: Old enough to buy actual porn.

13yoW: Oh. Cool. I guess...

1979 Files Archive:

Wrigleyville Bar Project: Wrigleyville North

September 22, 2009 | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

With the name Saloon included in our moniker, one could surmise that we here at TMS like to drinky drinky. One that would make such an assumption would be correct, thereby throwing out the whole, 'when you you assume you make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me' bullshit. We're here to profile some of the local watering holes around Wrigley, so that you aren't the poor sap who gets dragged into going to the Cubby Bear before the game, wherein you are soon left wondering how your life spiraled out of control so quickly. Tommy Buzanis has pledged to help out with this column, as he is no stranger to the bottle, but you can rest assured that those promises are as empty as his shot glass. So here it is, another sporadically timed, mildly entertaining column that you can only find here at the TMS. Actually you can probably find lots of info on Wrigley bars in a much more concise and helpful format, but that's neither here nor there.

Today's Bar: Wrigleyville North (3900 N. Sheridan Rd.)

Douchebag Factor (1-10, with 10 being this guy): 3

Who You'll See Here: "regulars", creepy old guys, young people, sensible Cub fans, country music fans, people who don't act like Jersey Shore trash/meatheads.

What to order: They had $8 pitchers when I was there, and it was the big, old glass pitchers. That's tough to beat given the neighborhood. Look for $1.50 bottles of Old Style on game days. Ordering a mixed drink here is no joke. If you get a whiskey and coke, you can expect the drink to be at least half full of whiskey.

If you're looking for food then you're barking up the wrong tree. You can get a small bag of Combos to tide you over, but don't expect any pub food. If you want that, there's plenty of places to grub within a stones throw.

If you were to see a celebrity here, it would be: Sam Elliott, Roy Oswalt, Chip Wesley

Website: now do you really think the place I just described would have a website? Look it up in the White Pages.

Summary: If you're looking for a spot to pick up some gash, do tons of Jagerbombs, listen to American Pie on the jukebox, and try to "be seen", this is not the place for you. The sign on the front of the bar outside says it all. Well, actually, it doesn't say anything at all. It's just an old-timey Old Style beer sign. If you look closely, you can see where the sign used to say "Wrigleyville North", but has been removed.

Don't let this description scare you, this is no pretentious bar. It's not some place trying to be chic by being hard to find or full of trucker hat wearing hipsters dripping in irony. It's an old style neighborhood bar that just happens to be damn close to Wrigley Field (corner of Sheridan and Byron). The time to really enjoy yourself here is a Friday or Saturday night, when the house band "Just Us" play this small, corner bar. I'm not even a fan of country music, but these old boys are an absolute blast to listen to. Much like the bar itself, these guys aren't playing to impress anyone, they're just up for a good time, a few tips, and a few beers.

Since the smoking ban, Wrigleyville North is a much greater place to hang out. Back in the day the place looked like a Cheech and Chong video when you walked in. The bathrooms were decent - nice and big and fairly clean - what more can you ask for? If the band isn't playing, the bar has a quality juke box and you'll surely hear a diverse selection of music selected by the other bar patrons.

I know I've kind of described this place as an old man's American Legion style bar (actually, that's not far off), but it is a pretty diverse crowd. Sure, you've got some suspect looking regulars there, but there's also a good mix of all ages and genders. If you're looking for a no-frills place and you want to get away from the John Barleycorn Wrigleyville experience, give this place a shot.

Thunder Matt Rating: 8 Old Style fan bottles out of a twelve pack.

F%*k 2009 Anyway

September 21, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

Is this bullshit year over with yet? For the love of all that's holy, this year has sucked some major dick, mostly because of the Chicago Cubs. The baseball season was pretty much over in August as the Cubs pissed away whatever chance they had of winning this sorry division. But the Cubs are only one of the reasons 2009 sucked. Allow me to elaborate . . .

1. The St. Louis Cardinals

Ordinarily, I'm not a bitter Cubs fan. I didn't even move to Central Illinois until I was 15, so the Cubs/Cards rivalry thing didn't really matter all that much to me. But combined with the tank job the 2009 Cubs have managed, the Cardinals have managed to polish a turd into a big shiny gold nugget and I'll be damned if I can figure out how. Sure they have Albert Pujols, whom every baseball writer, announcer et al, has proclaimed as the Greatest Player of Our Time, but that's not my main issue here. I'll give you Carpenter and Wainwright, but how in holy fuck have they gotten good performances out of Joel Pinero, Kyle Losche, and Todd hatesockfucking Wellemeyer? And the trades?! Sweet Jesus, the trades. Every trade these bozos have made has paid off. Matt Holiday was just kinda cruising along in Oakland, but he puts on a jersey with those stupid fucking birds on it and all of a sudden he's Babe Ruth. DeRosa's stats with St. Louis might suck, but you know he's being all clubhouse leader guy in the dugout, the anti-Milton Bradley. And John Smoltz looked like a dead duck in Boston, but going into his start against the Cubs this weekend, he'd walked one guy as a Cardinal. One! And then there's Julio Lugo. Even Julio Lugo is hitting for these dbags. Unbelievable. I wouldn't be surprised if these assholes win another damn World Series. And they-unh-er-probably-arr-grr-deserve to. Gah!

2. Politics

I'm not gonna go on too long about this. You guys come here for the sports and the funny, not my leftwing ravings. So I'll try to be be brief. This Country Has Lost It's Damn Mind. The right wing loses one goddamn election and suddenly there's talk of secession and armed revolution. Just because their guy didn't win, all these jerkwads want to tear the system down and start over. That's not the way America works. If you don't like what's going on, you have until 2012 to try and find a candidate that supports your agenda and try to get enough votes to get him/her in. That's how democracy fucking works. Until then, suck it up Sparky. If I have to see any more footage of Birthers, Deathers, Tenthers, Tea-Baggers, etc., I'm gonna throw up.

3. Toby Keith

Toby Keith was just named Songwriter/Artist of the Decade by Nashville Songwriters Association International. Granted, this is country music we're talking about, but still. Toby fucking Keith? This is how low country music has sunk? The genre that gave us Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Patsy Cline, and the original Hank Williams? Toby couldn't lift one of Johnny Cash's stones, let alone write a song as good as Fulsom Prison Blues. "How Do You Like Me Now"? "Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue"? Come on Nashville. I mean, holy shit, Toby Keith?

4. Michael Jackson Died

And I had to hear about Michael Jackson for the next several months. I'm still hearing about Michael Jackson. The media is sending subliminal Michael Jackson signals into my brain while I'm sleeping. Michael Jackson is still alive and he's cooking burgers with Elvis in a run down truck stop diner in Pussyhump, North Dakota. Michael Jackson's ghost was spotted hanging around a children's graveyard. The Liberian National Anthem has been changed to "Beat It" in honor of Michael Jackson. The doctor who murdered Michael Jackson is seeking custody of his children. Hee-hee, shamon, Ho!

5. The Chicago Cubs

Last but not least, the Cubs have been the most infuriating thing about 2009 for me. Picked by many to threepeat as Central Division Champs, the Cubs quickly dashed expectation. The frustration begins in the offseason, when Jim Hendry trades away Mark DeRosa (bad) and Jason Marquis (good). He also chooses not to resign Kerry Wood (bad-Wood is face of franchise, good-we thought Carlos Marmol would be closer). He then trades Jose Ceda (?) for Kevin Gregg (oh so obviously bad). He also signs Aaron Miles (Sweet Jesus, why?) and Milton Bradley (Known headcase, clubhouse cancer & all around humanitarian. He eats kittens, too).

The DeRosa trade will go down as one of the dumbest in recent memory. Not so much because of who DeRosa is, but what he does. What he does is play almost every position on the field, most notably third base. The trade sucks because I know, and you know, and every goddamn Cub fan knows, but apparently Jim Hendry does NOT know that Aramis Ramirez has never played a full season since joining the Chicago Cubs. I love Aramis. He's my favorite guy on this failure crater of a team, but he's had quad problems, groin problems, and this year, in a fluky bad play, he separated his shoulder. Now if Hendry had immediately brought hot hitting Jake Fox up to take over at third base, I'd be fine with the DeRosa trade, even if Fox was terrible. But no, Hendry called up Bobby Scales and Andres Blanco and Lou played them at second, while trotting Mike Fontenot out to third. No one should have had to see the Cajun Hobbit playing third base. And Aaron Miles was a complete joke. Guess what, we still have one year to go on his contract. Yay!

Ridding the Cubs of DeRosa and Marquis (who proceeded to have his best season . . . ever, maybe?) gave Donut Jim the funds he needed to sign Milton Bradley. Milton, who also can't seem to stay healthy for a complete season. Milton apparently really wanted to come to Chicago, but didn't bother to learn that we actually have a media in this city, unlike say, Texas, Oakland, or San Diego, where you basically show up to play and consider yourself lucky if they remember to spell your name right. Now at the end of the season, Milton hates Chicago, hates the media, hates the fans, feels alienated from his teammates, and since being suspended, probably hates his cracker GM and manager. Only the Cubs would have signed this guy to a multiyear deal. Shit, if his schtick didn't work in San Diego, where nobody gives a fuck what you do, then why did Hendry think it would ever play here? Did he think Lou was going to turn this guy around? I think Lou would have kicked his ass, but didn't want to get accused of committing a hate crime.

And now there's talk of trading Carlos Zambrano, one of the most consistent guys on the team. Get rid of Milton Bradley, but don't you dare trade El Toro Loco, Jim. He may be a nut, but he's our nut, dammit. And he's not a clubhouse cancer, but a team guy. 2009 is already ruined. Don't ruin 2010 for me.

Lord, at least hockey is starting up. That was one of the bright spots of the year, watching the 'Hawks in the playoffs. And even they goofed up, by letting Marty Havlat walk and signing a guy with a balky shoulder to an absolutely retarded contract. Is it January yet?