Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX: New England vs. That Team From Somewhere Out West.

Wait, what? 

Let me get this straight: You’re saying that, down two touchdowns with three minutes to go, the Seattle Seahawks still managed to defeat the storied Packers of Titletown by six points? 

You mean to tell me, after 57 minutes of offensive ineptitude, our boys in blue managed to dig their talons into their ruffled tail feathers and extract a big, jagged “W” from the depths of their musky undercarriages? 


Seriously, I haven’t seen a comeback like that since Bill Cosby erased a 27-accusation deficit to exonerate himself, using nothing but Fat Albert and a complex Illuminati flowchart.

So, yeah, for the second consecutive year, our Hawks are swooping into the sporting world’s brightest spotlight, facing the New England Patriots in Superbowl XLIX. 

Last year, I got a little emotional about the whole thing. A lifelong Seattlite, I wallowed in Seattle’s dismal record as a major league city, whining about the dearth of championships during my half century here at the continental USA’s eleven o’clock. And this time, if I really wanted to, I could double down on the pity. After all, when compared with Boston’s storied past, this image comes to mind:

Well, screw that, because you know what? Who gives a baggy Bill Belichcik boob about the past? So what if the city of Boston has hoisted the chalice 34 times compared to Seattle’s five (including a Stanley Cup won five years after the Titanic went down). 

What matters is this game, and like any other game, it’s all about matchups. So let’s use our heads this time people, because our hearts will inevitably hitch a ride anyway. 

Here’s my take on the most intriguing micro-clashes when the two teams take the field a week from Sunday:

Tom Brady vs. Russell Wilson:

This isn’t Brady’s first rodeo. Married to a supermodel, changing his haircut more frequently than Belichick changes his underwear, the Foxborro Fox is comfortable in the limelight. Russ has his share of endorsements, but he’ll have to spend a little less time at Children’s Hospital and a little more at the Playboy Mansion to catch up with Brady.

Advantage: New England.

Vince Wilfork vs. Michael Bennett:

While both of these interior defenders display freakish athletic prowess, I’m not sure Wilfork could ride a bike in full pads without the aid of ski poles and his new friend, Jenny Craig.

Advantage: Seattle.

LaGarrette Blount vs. Marshawn Lynch:

Interestingly, Blount began the season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unhappy over his playing time last November against Tennessee, he left the game early and was promptly released and signed a week later by the Patriots. Marshawn Lynch would rather invite ESPN to brunch than quit on his team.

Advantage: Seattle.

Bill Belichick vs. Pete Carroll:

I guess it depends on what you’re comparing. If we’re talking about who looks more like a smudgy hobbit and smells like a gamy casserole made of burned toast and chickpeas, well then—

Advantage: New England

Overall Team Branding:

Seattle’s isn’t complicated. They’re the Seahawks, a pissed off bird of prey who looks like he hasn’t eaten since this morning. The Patriot looks more like a guy who showed up at the Halloween party with the other white dude who lives on the Raider helmet. 

Plus, a patriot is more of a compliment than a mascot. They may as well be the New England Really Good Landscapers.

Advantage: Seattle.

Finally, here’s the thing. Most New Englanders don’t even know where Seattle is. If you ask, they’d say something like, “I have an aant in Paaatland. Isn’t that neeyah theyah?” 

At least we in the Northwest were able to point to Massachusetts on a map, even prior to the the ascension of its finest patriot—Mitt Romney.

Overall advantage: Seattle. Go Hawks.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

One Last Look in the Rearview.

I gazed down at the Christmas tree’s lifeless body, its gangly husk jutting into the street. What had for three weeks been the aromatic, bedazzled showpiece of a season, now lay askew on the parking strip, shivering and naked. 

Whatever. Let’s face it—it felt pretty freaking good banishing that needle-spewing fire hazard for another eleven months. Baby new year is here, still too young to screech her colicky wails. So, like Mama Duggar waiting for a fresh batch of stitches to heal, let’s let the little chump snooze in our lap while we look back on the year Two Thousand Fourteen, Anno Domini.

A lot of heavy stuff happened—the Ebola outbreak, drowning polar bears, ISIS, the divorce of The Captain from Tennille—so let’s not tackle the issues we can’t poke a little fun at. Because, while a lot of the year’s events appear negative on the surface, I’m confident we can sew a shiny new silver lining into 2014’s sweat-stained seersucker before tossing it into the old foot locker.

In entertainment news, we witnessed the passing of some true giants: Mickey Rooney, Joan Rivers, Robin Williams, to name a few. Such full careers these folks had. At least we can embrace the few wizened icons who continue to walk the earth—the Clint Eastwoods, the Morgan Freemans, the Betty Whites—but yeah, we’re gonna go ahead and just fist bump the ones with colorful sweaters who offer acting lessons by the Keurig. 

In 2014 technology developments, Facebook offered “lookback videos” to its subscribers. I’ll admit, I felt sort of guilty forgetting so many milestones my friends had marked throughout the year. Thank God for another opportunity to remember that gorgeous paleo froyo my friend Dave photographed at Menchie’s back in March. These captivating slide shows also reminded me that for every charming meme with an unfortunate typo, there’s another with two.

In sports, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling faced banishment from the National Basketball Association for his recorded racist remarks. Ever the humanitarian, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer scooped up the franchise for two billion dollars, ensuring that generations of rabid fans can arrive in the second quarter, buy a twelve dollar Bud Light, and be on the freeway by the end of the third.

Also making sporting news in 2014, Jim Harbaugh abandoned the NFL’s best rivalry by resigning from the San Francisco 49ers to assume the reins at his alma mater, the University of Michigan. I’m not going to lie; I’ll miss Coach Harbaugh, with his Sharpie necklaces and eight-dollar khakis. A true scholar of the game, he utilized every tool at his disposal to thwart his adversaries throughout four years of masterful manipulation. See how the drool smears down his chin? That means fullback dive. 

And finally on the local scene, legal recreational marijuana became available in Washington during 2014, marking an historical blow to the ill-advised, Reagan-spawned war on drugs. Finally, our legal system has freed itself from the shackles of inequitable drug sentencing, racism and prison overcrowding.

Wait, what? Hungry. Mmm, pizza. And cake maybe. 

Happy New Year.