Saturday, October 31, 2009

Franklin's Halloween Excursion to Green Bay

7:34 Walk to coffee shop and grab a large light roast and bagel. "Go, Pack!" Comes from the teenage girl getting my coffee. It takes me two seconds to realize I have on a well-worn Packers cap. I smile and nod, and she gives me a fist bump. Nothing could have made my day start better.

9:50 Run through checklist: Long-johns (hoping I won't need them), winter hat and gloves (ditto), "We'll Never Forget You Brent" and "Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood" t-shirts ('cause you gotta have options), cash (for obvious reasons). Done and done.

11:37 At gas station filling up. Two morons in matching Brent Vikings jerseys and a loaded car. Looks like they may be heading to the game. I hope they get lost, like lost in the U.P. lost. Hmm...1 bag of road trip jerky for the ride or two? Two. Always two. You'll never regret having more than you need.

12:09 At Town Hall Brewery in Minneapolis, last stop before I hit the road. Gotta grab a growler of Masala Mama India Pale Ale for Robert. He may hate Minnesota, but he loves the IPA. (I tell him I order it online from Banglapur, India, he pretends to believe me) Regardless, he won't be drinking it this weekend.

12:14 3...2...1...we have lift-off! Hit play on the iPod, a little Ram Jam, is a great way to start a road trip.

12:31 Good to know Wisconsin still welcomes me, wayward son that I am. Good to be back.

12:57 "Private Pleasures Next Exit" That's the one, the intersection of Highway 29 and Interstate 94, consisting of an adult book store, Shooter's Showgirls gentlemens club, Country Nights Saloon, and a gas station. I stopped at one of those...for cheese curds.

1:06 Saw the following bumper stickers on a truck: "Keep honking, I'm reloading." and "I still miss my ex-wife, but my aim is getting better." I've got nothing.

1:11 Bumper sticker #3: "Bad-Ass Ladies Don't Drive Mercedes" on a giant purple truck driven by a 300 lb man with a handlebar mustache. Again, I've got nothing.
1:16 Eating a banana and smiling realizing that this is the last food I will be eating that isn't fried, grilled... or cheese for the next 72 hours. NIIIIICE.

1:20 "Boyd: The Friendly Town. "Y" go by?" Okay, I won't. Coffee and beef sticks from Boyd. Not bad, Boyd, you're definitely a friendly town. Thanks.

2:22 Rib Mountain, slowly but surely I'm making my way to Green Bay. Side note: Rib Mountain is the only distinguishing landmark on the entirety of Highway 29. It really is a mind-numbingly boring ride.

2:31 Rothschild still smells the same...gotta love a paper mill right in the middle of town. Or maybe the smell is DC Everest High School. I could never truly tell and still can't today.

2:34 86 miles and counting...just got the nod and wave from a car full of Packer fans. That will power me through the next hour, that and the thought of ice gold New Glarus Spotted Cow.

3:57 Touchdown...please remain in your seats until we come to a complete stop. Finally....GB.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mad Case of the Runs

In 1st grade, my hyperactivity was fully unleashed for the first time ever. It was the highly anticipated Halloween at Valley View Elementary where we trick or treated throughout the school. My best friend Tanker (biggest kid in the class/3rd overall in school) dressed up as Ray Nitschke and I dressed as a little Lombardi, coaching him through classes that day as I imagined the real Lombardi would. Tanker played the part well, snarling at math problems and doing pushups upon command until I was satisfied.

At the end of the day, Mrs. Pfefferle granted us a five-minute candy free-for-all before we went home. While most kids were happily jamming Zagnuts and Tootsie Rolls down their gullets, Tanker and I were bonging giant Pixie Sticks in the back of the room. We finished right as the bell rang and that’s when the wild sugar energy took over.

I started mad flexing like my favorite wrestler, the Ultimate Warrior and projecting numerous barbaric YAWPS at the world. For the entire bus ride home, I was a motormouth of overactive smack talk, which I would later dub “The Runs”. I somehow latched on to the Packers (go figure) and pretended the rest of the bus was the other team. When Tanker was dropped off, I decided to join him although my stop was 16 blocks away. We wrestled for a half hour and then I sprinted home and passed out in the hallway.

As I got older, I realized that the perfect storm of sugar and highly anticipated events triggered The Runs. More often than not, it was a Packer game, which earned the special title of “The Sunday Runs”. Well, there is undoubtedly and lot of excitement in the air because I got the Sunday Runs on Wednesday. I was slugging my morning Monster and listening to sports talk radio and they were playing a clip of the Jared Allen spouting off. I sort of went borderline ballistic inside of my Tercel, screaming and taunting him with reckless abandon. I got so worked up that when I got home I passed out in the hallway (again). When I woke up, I realized that when the Sunday Runs start on Wednesday, it’s either gotta be Armageddon or Favre returning to Lambeau on the horizon to get me this worked up.

Franklin, I hope you’re ready to be Nitschke because little Lombardi is making a mad comeback Sunday.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Corn Syrup? Check. Red food coloring? Check

Robert has posted a gracious invitation to the lovely Bikini Girls (which I heartily endorse), and I have an invitation of my own. I invite all Packer fans who are going to the game, tailgating, or simply walking by Brent Favre’s Steakhouse this weekend to deal with some misguided individuals that have wandered into Packer Nation. These individuals can be identified by the dumb look on their face, their close proximity to Vikings fans, and their combination of Brent Favre Viking clothing mixed with Packers garb. Maybe it's this, it could even include a Cheesehead. This individual seems to believe that he or she can still cheer for Favre AND cheer for the Packers. This nonsense needs to be dealt with swiftly.

I have come up with a non-violent, yet effective method of retribution for these ass-clowns that is also in line with celebrating All Hallow’s Eve. This method will identify these traitors for the weekend and provide a level of satisfaction to the true Packer fans in Green Bay for the game. I ask that you hose these people with fake blood, and not just a speck, I’m talking Carrie-style, a head-to-toe staining of their traitorous clothing.

Here’s a great recipe that I plan on using (but it needs to be multiplied by 30 if you want to have enough):

2/3 c. Corn Syrup
1/3 c. Warm Water
5 Tbsp Corn Starch
4 tsp red food coloring
1 Tbsp Powdered Cocoa
2 drops of green or yellow food coloring

Mix the corn starch with the water in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the corn syrup. Add the food coloring slowly, checking for color.

I recommend filling a few water balloons if you need to spray a bunch of these individuals and then just having a large squirt gun on hand to douse solitary individuals. A bucket is also a fine choice, simple, yet incredibly effective.

Monday, October 26, 2009

We’ll Never Betray You

Dear Bikini Girls,

Judging from your sign, I gather that you took #4’s departure as hard as anyone. You look so happy right now – if only there was a way to bottle that joy and sell it at Walmart for $9.99 a six pack, we’d all be rich. In the meantime, I think it’s time for you to have some new and enjoyable experiences at Lambeau… with the Packer Ranters!

Why? Cheese. Franklin and I go miles beyond your standard curd-consuming, cheddar-block tailgating chumps. We are totally into the art of cheesemaking/tasting. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried Franklin’s jalapeno and pork-flavored Havarti or my classic semi-soft sheep’s milk cracker smear. Both will be on hand during our Sunday tailgate. We have even discussed testing out to be Grand Master judges for the 2010 World Championship Cheese Contest in Madison. Come tailgate with us and we’ll tell you all about it.

Why? Loyalty. Unlike #4, who was only loyal to the Packers from 1992 to 2008, we have been diehard fans of the Green and Gold since birth. We are not subject to drafting, trades or free agency, and besides a nickel for every ad clicked on, we are not paid either. Our dedication has been and will always be with the Green Bay Packers. If you don’t believe me, I will bring a picture of my headstone, which I purchased around Y2K. It reads, “Here Lies Robert Greenfield, Lifelong Packer Fan and Winner of Anduzzi’s 1997 Packerena Danceoff.”

As you can see, the case for you to party with us Sunday is pretty strong. We’ve already got a sweet tailgating spot picked out, possibly the best in Green Bay. As soon as we get confirmation of your arrival, we’ll give you directions to meet us as well as the combination to the cheese safe.

Looking forward to your response! ~R.G.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Penalty Flag or Good Sportsmanship?

The outrage about penalties needs to be put to rest. It has not been addressed by McCarthy during his tenure, and he evades questions with, “We’ll look into it.” He’s not fooling anyone into thinking he cares. There is simple explanation for the rash of yellow hankies tossed every which way at the Packers. The explanation can be found in any bowling alley or on any golf course. It’s called handicapping, and McCarthy is a huge fan. Handicapping is all about giving your opponents an even playing field and allowing for competition between two teams or individuals with differing skill sets. It’s quite honorable, actually.

In my opinion, it should be taken as a point of pride that the Packers can dominate a team while being flagged 13 times for 130 yards. This is an impressive feat, even more so because of the fact the Lions were shut out. Seriously, they couldn’t score a point, and they were spotted 1.3 football fields. NIIIIICE.

One Packer who has taken this fair-play idea to heart: Chad Clifton. He ensured that the Lions were given an equal playing field as long as he was on the field, and I’m willing to bet he pointed out to the men in stripes that he was going to line up off the line a few times. “Just watch for it fellas, it’s in the interest of fairness.” Otherwise, how can you explain being flagged twice for it when ALL tackles do it?

Going into Sunday’s game against Cleveland, I’m assuming that the penalty handicap McCarthy is discussing with his personnel is sitting right at 15 penalties or 145 yards. Either is an acceptable number and will set forth a legitimate challenge for the Packers to overcome, as well as provide the swine-flu, riddled Browns with decent chance to play a meaningful football game, otherwise, what do they really have to look forward to?

My recommendation to the fans? See the penalties for what they are, an equalizer. You will be much happier on gameday, and victories will be that much sweeter when you realize all that the Packers had to overcome.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quickie Makes the Team... and my Heart

In only my 2nd Rant ever, I declared Donald Driver my favorite player on the Packers. This has not changed one bit – in fact, with his recent achievement as the Packers all-time receptions leader, I like him even more than ever right now. I can’t decide whether he is the Ron Popeil or Carrot Top of the NFL. Just when you think his career might be done, he blows your mind with another amazing performance.

Another reason I’m such a big fan is that The Dip Nipper also dabbles in doodling. Driver wrote two books. I fingered through the first, “Quickie Makes the Team” last time I was at Barnes & Nobles picking up my reserved copy of Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith. (Both books are sweet – don’t make me choose a favorite.)

The story was drawn from the Don’s real-life childhood experiences as a small but speedy youngster who wants to try out for the football squadron despite his parents’ concerns he’ll get hurt. The cool thing is that all the proceeds benefit the Donald Driver Foundation. The really cool thing is that we learn Driver was actually called “Quickie” growing up. I will have to add this to this list of nicknames I have given him over the last decade. These include, but are not limited to: Double Dipper, The Dip Nipper, The Don, Bald Bull, The Mad Dasher, Awesome McCool, Sticky Fingers, Moonshine and of course, Mister Shimmy Pants.

Here’s to another ten years of #80 in Green Bay.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Zombies, woo-hooo!

In honor of Halloween approaching, I would like to talk about zombie movies and how they relate to the Packers offense. Currently, there are two versions of the Packers’ offense, the Night of the Living Dead offense and the 28 Days Later offense. These two versions should coexist and work together, but unfortunately the only one that has been present is the 28 Days Later version. This analogy seems clear to me, but it might need explaining to the casual football fan or casual zombie movie viewer as to how the offense can be labeled through a reference to zombie movies.

Night of the Living Dead is the greatest horror movie I have ever seen. The reason for its greatness is the simplicity with which it scares the living daylights out of you. There are zero special effects, the zombie makeup just looks like someone is working through a bad hangover (basically, it looks like me today), it’s in black and white, and the goriest part is a girl eating her dead father. What makes this movie so great is the plodding nature of the zombies, they are not in any hurry, they are confident in their quest for brains and flesh, and they simply refuse to be denied. There is nothing flashy about them, and the living can never seem to outwit them even thought the zombies have zero capacity for decision-making. Their single-minded goal makes them unstoppable through the course of the movie. I liken this movie and its zombies to a 95 yard scoring drive, something that has been severely lacking for the Packers. The plodding nature of a clock-eating drive can scare the hell out of an opposing defense. When all the defense can do is slowly back up and retreat, they starts to lose hope and eventually succumb to the flesh-eaters, err offense.

28 Days Later is also a great zombie horror movie, 4th best all-time to be specific. It’s an in-your-face, all-or-nothing, make you jump out of your seat zombie fest. However, somewhere over the 34 years between Night of the Living Dead, and 28 Days Later, zombies gained superhuman strength and the ability to run 4.4 40’s and leap over 10 foot walls. This is how zombies attack you in the modern day and granted it’s fun to watch, but it has its limitations. In 28 Days Later, the zombies can’t sustain themselves and they eventually die (Redie? Unundead?) from starvation. This is the version of Zombie-offense that the Packers are running; it is an all-or-nothing scoring offense. They rely on long pass plays to move the ball and score, but when they don’t, they are forced to punt 28 seconds later. Man, that was bad even for me. Sure, this is fun to watch when it succeeds, but to sustain itself, the Packers’ offense needs to become a much more methodical unit, much like the zombies of George Romero. Those things would last forever outside the Pennsylvania farmhouse if it wasn’t for that damn posse…I guarantee they are still milling around the mall.

Either way, I’m hoping the Packers O starts off Sunday with a singular goal: flesh and brains.

Yeah…I just saw Zombieland and, yeah, I want a Twinkie.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Meet the Thompsons!

So my cousin is doing a photography apprenticeship for the Sears portrait studio in Ashwaubenon. You know -- change the backdrops, adjust the lights, wave a stuffed monkey in front of the kids, etc. And oh yeah, he also develops the photos and picked up this one-of-a-kind.

The other day the head photographer, Jo-Jo, told my cousin to go home over lunch and clean himself up because there was a VIP coming that afternoon for a PPS (private photo shoot). My cousin obliged, swapping the jean shorts and cutoff shirt for some Wranglers and a polo. Just as Jo-Jo foretold, right at three o’clock a badass Kia Sportage pulls up and out pops Packers GM Ted Thompson and his family.

They locked down the studio for three hours that day, shooting the Thompsons in every conceivable backdrop: the prairie, the library, the stone temple, the discotheque, and of course, gray clothtown. Apparently, the shoot went great and the Thompsons were just a real delight. This particular picture was taken toward the end and Big Ted’s hair was kind of swooping up on the left side all afternoon so he was constantly brushing it back. My cousin offered his back-pocket comb, but Ted simply licked his fingers, opting instead for the old-fashioned hand-comb. Who knew Ted Thompson’s spit doubled as hair gel? The legend grows...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Trash Talkin' with Vikings Gab

Once is a while before a big game, I’ll hit up some rival blogs and smack on their comments section. It’s usually pretty fun even if I only get a personal giggle or two out of it. After cracking his team, the editor of (and nice guy), Adam Warwas, offered me the opportunity to go toe-to-toe in a smackoff for his last post. It got a little heated there somewhere in between but it was a lot of fun.

As Franklin and I say, the first time a man faces a Packer Ranter is usually their last. You be the judge. Below is an abbreviated version. For the whole smackoff, here’s the story.

RG: I’ve been asked to tell you why the Packers will win MNF. The answer is seventy-fold. No ones knows #4 better than GB – his history, his tendencies, even his tendinitis (both knees, elbows and right thumb, btw). After his best game last year, Favre began a streak of nasty INTs that left Jets fans feeling as though they’ve been roofied. What great timing that the Packers come into the Dome as the top ballhawks in the NFL.

AW: For the most part I agree on your Favre take. But let’s face it, this is an important game to Brett, and he has a way of winning those “special” games. Unfortunately for the Packers, however, Brett Favre does not make or break these Vikings. With players like Adrian Peterson, Visanthe Shiancoe, Percy Harvin, E.J. Henderson, Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen, and the WilliamsWall, our quarterback truly is only part of what makes this team win football games.

RG: If Favre doesn’t make or break the Vikings, why didn’t you stick with T-Jack? Are you now suggesting it was a giant PR stunt to sell jerseys and season tickets? Yes, you’ve got some playmakers and I can’t take anything away from Peterson. Much like Alf, he is other-worldly (except that time we hurt him during a 34-0 thrashing in ’07… hehe). But you followed your list of Vikings playmakers after AP with Shiancoe though? Really? Mr. Six Catches for 49 yards Shiancoe? Pretty sure #81 wouldn’t even make our squad.

AW: You pretty much summed up exactly why I think the Vikings got Brett Favre. Don’t under estimate Shiancoe, either. He’s itching for a big game. And don’t let Adrian’s few (very few) struggles in his rookie year make you think you have some sort of way to stop him. There is no way to stop him, and if you try he’ll just run you over. Just ask Al Harris. Better send McCarthy some Tylenol, because he’s going to have quite the headache trying to figure out a game plan for this one. Or does he even do game plans anymore?

RG: I thought the entire state was already planning for #4’s Viking HOF induction. Mark it down as just another chapter in the never-ending “How Not to Run an Organization” saga, aka the Zygmunt Wilf story. As far as Shiancoe goes, I think he’s been itching for a big game his entire career. I know it’s something foreign to you, but our QB can do more than just throw (Favre) or just run (Jackson). So even if the Turbo Lax Williams boys squeak though, Rodgers can make a play on his feet. I even took your advice and Al Harris still feels bad about tearing the AP’s LCL in ‘07.

AW: Tell Al not to worry, #28 is an incredibly forgiving guy. Even cheap shots from has-beens don’t keep Adrian from churning out the yards. Any day I’d take Wilf over your “share holders” and incompetent putz Ted Thompson. Luck or no luck, we didn’t lose to a team as crappy as the Bungles and the Packers have. We are winning more games, scoring more points, and giving up fewer points than the Pack. That’s all I need to know to think the Vikes have the edge.

RG: Sure, bring Wario on over! They’re opening a new wing of the Pro Shop and we need a good PR guy. And while he’s here, he can stop by Lambeau and take notes on the greatest stadium (and fans) in the NFL and list them under “Things The Vikings Will Never Have.” Instead of inflating victories against three of the worst teams from last year, let me remind you that GB has owned MN as of late, winning 5 out of the last 6.

Robert’s Prediction: Packers 24, Vikings 20
Adam’s Prediction: Vikings 34, Packers 27
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