Saturday, November 28, 2009

Anton Ego: "The food tastes better."

I wanted to revisit something that I read a couple weeks ago. The copious amounts of food I consumed on Thursday brought it back to mind. Following the Packers' domination of the Cowgirls, Mike McCarthy noted that there was a sign in the weight room that read: "The food tastes good again" during his November 18th press conference. On the surface this just looks like a metaphorical way of saying that winning makes everything better; the grass is greener, the sky is bluer, and the Schmidty's tastes more like Spotted Cow. However, McCarthy was actually being very literal.

Along with the purge of defensive coaches, special teams coach, and weight room staff last offseason, the team chef was also let go. There was no mention in any press conference, but Robert tipped me off to this, as the former chef applied for a job slinging pizzas at Robert's pizza joint. Quite a fall from grace, but when you're not winning, the axe falls with abandon.

The new chef, Pierre Luc Garcon, is a classically trained French chef who served as an instructor at the famous Le Cordon Bleu school in Paris. Robert and I ran into him at Titletown Brewing while he was in the corner scowling into his beer. We started talking and it turns out he had a B & B in Door County that eventually failed...miserably, as near as I could tell because Pierre can be a real jerk. "Vat deed you zay? No, eet deed not fail, eet was all zees stoopid Amereecans who have not zee taste and class for my cueesine who failed." Be that as it may, Pierre applied for Head Chef of the Packers and was quickly hired by McCarthy... who knows talent when he eats it.

This transition has not been without its bumps and bruises, Pierre has been frustrated with the sheer amount of food needed to feed a professional football team. "Food ees meant to zavored, not eenhaled like oxeegen!" He is used to intricate preparation and delicate presentation, this is not really how D-linemen view food. However, following the win against Dallas, 8 games into the season, the transition seems to have taken hold as indicated by the sign, and Pierre's willingness to adapt his style. Hmmm...isn't that how long the 3-4 took to take shape? 8 games? Coincidence?

Yesterday, I emailed Pierre to find out how he was finding he job later into the season. He responded by saying he is still a huge Thierry Henry fan, and that American football is barbaric, but Cullen Jenkins has shown a great interest in his cooking and they are becoming fast friends. Cheers to Big Sexy and Pierre!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wild Turkey

The last few times the Packers have played the Lions on Thanksgiving, the games have been a little more than expected. But for the Greenfield’s, these particular days have been one for the books.

Nov 22, 2001: GB 29, DET 27
A Lions’ fourth quarter mad rally fell just short but the real story was that my sister was bringing her boyfriend for Thanksgiving she was really high on, so Grandma wanted to do something “special.” She saw an ad for Cornish game hens for like $1/piece at Piggly Wiggly so she thought it would be cool to give everyone their individual hen. Grandma Greenfield baked about twenty of them at the same time and when they were ready, each was plated with a side of mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. As we started cutting open the hens, it became evident why they were so cheap. Each hen was about 80% bone, vein and tendon so bad that by the time you surgically maneuvered around to the meat, it was nothing but chewy and gross. Embarrassed, Grandma begged him to come back for Christmas dinner where she would make it up to him, but they broke up before that came.

Nov 27, 2003: GB 14, DET 22
My cousin Chet brought over his dog he just adopted from the shelter a week earlier – a brown mut named Digger. Digger was more than happy to receive table scraps from anyone willing. Unfortunately, Chet forgot to mention Digger was on a strict diet. The table scraps didn’t agree with his stomach and he yacked up a few disgusting piles around the house. The smell was too much to bear so most of the Greenfield men ended up in the garage listening to the game over a case of High Life and a jar of honey roasted peanuts. It would’ve been OK except for the fact we had to listen to Favre turn the ball over four times in the second half en route to a crappy Detroit loss.

Nov 22, 2007: GB 37, DET 26
Favre and the Pack straight-up torched the Lions this Thanksgiving, but it was my Uncle Frank’s shenanigans that we love talking about. Uncle Frank couldn’t wait for Christmas, so he purchased a turkey fryer and invited us all over for the inaugural frying. Like the stubborn man he is, Frank decided he could bypass the directions and wing it because after all, “how hard can it be?” The first of the especially bad ideas was setting the fryer next to the garage. The next was dropping the turkey in the vat waaaaay too fast. The firey oil spewed over, bubbling onto his garage’s vinyl siding and melting it instantly. Frank freaked out and pulled out a kick reminiscent of the great Daniel LaRusso, knocking the fryer over and onto his driveway. His boot also briefly caught fire and before he could kick it that off, he suffered second-degree burns.

Always good times with the Greenfields on Thanksgiving with the Packers. I volunteered to host this Thursday. Should be interesting. Feel free to share your stories as well – I’d love to hear them.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Meet Your Neighbor

Won’t you be my neighbor? Hi, neighbor!

In an effort to better understand what makes Packer fans tick in our Packer Neighborhood, I have come up with a list of questions that, in my humble opinion, will tell you everything you’ll ever need to know about the people behind the scenes of the numerous and exceptional Packers’ blogs. These are the guys Robert and I read on a daily basis and you should too if you call yourself a fan.

Next up, I present Brian Carriveau, from Railbird Central. Much like Alex from over at Packers Lounge, Brian knocked these questions out of the freakin' park. Railbird Central is chock full of analysis, links to great Packer news and blogs, and Brian tops it all off with a great musical number each day. Without further ado, I give you the Packer Ranter Neighborhood Interview:

1) If you woke up in the middle of the night, and Ted Thompson was standing over your bed watching you sleep, what would you offer him to drink? (that's the polite thing to do) Why?
First I'd mix myself a whiskey old fashioned sweet with mushrooms and an olive for garnish. But Ted seems like a brandy kind of guy with a maraschino cherry and orange slice instead. I'd make him one of those. Nothing says Wisconsin like an old fashioned.

2) What's your favorite '80s hair band, and how do you relate them to the Packers? (this is relative, you may hate 80's hair bands, but if you had to choose one, who would it be)
I'm not a fan of '80s hair bands, but I always admired that the drummer from Def Leppard only had one arm, and he was pretty good. Likewise, although Spencer Havner is a beast of a football player with two arms, he would still be above average with only one. Just imagine if he had three arms. The Packers would be unstoppable.

3) Which cheddar is beddar: mild, medium, or sharp? Subquestion: How the hell does California think they can make cheese?
Mild cheddar is, without a doubt, the best. California is just a wanna-be state. I bet there's some farmer in California that grows potatoes and he thinks he's "all that." Just like Wisconsin, Idaho just laughs at him. And there's probably another farmer that grows some corn that he claims is the best in the world. And I'm sure Nebraska scoffs at him. Similarly, the Oakland Raiders have been a wanna-be team for decades. They're a laughingstock compared to the Packers, or any other NFL team for that matter.

4) If John Rambo, in his prime of First Blood Part II, played for the Packers, which position would he play? Is he Pro Bowl material, or just a serviceable player?
I'm not familiar with that particular Broadway musical.

5) Ty Webb or Jeffrey Lebowski?
Well sure, look at it! Young trophy wife, I mean, in the parlance of our times, owes money all over town, including to known pornographers--and that's cool, that's cool-- but I'm saying, she needs money, and of course they're gonna say they didn't get it 'cause she wants more, man, she's gotta feed the monkey, I mean--hasn't that ever occurred to you...? Sir?

6) If you woke up tomorrow and the Packers ceased to exist and no one but you remembered them, how would you convince everyone they are the greatest organization in sports?
My attempts at persuasion would probably be some asinine attempt to gain media attention through a hunger strike whereby I'd get my 15 minutes of fame, yet in the end convert no one. But that's okay. I know the Packers are the greatest organization in all of sports, and that's good enough for me.

7) Don Hutson basically invented the receiver position, what's your favorite invention: the Cheesehead, the truck-bed tailgate, or the Green Bay Sweep?
I'd have to go with a tailgate. There's not a environment I'd rather be in than a Sunday in a Green Bay parking lot with a tailgate decked out with a cheese and venison sausage platter, bratwursts and ice cold Spotted Cow.

Thank you, Brian, It's good to know you're out there keeping your fellow railbirds informed on all things Packers, and I completely agree on Spencer Havner...now I'm just imagining three-armed shoulder pads.

RE: Stallone's Broadway musical, if you want to talk about infiltrating Vietnamese P.O.W. camps sometime, I'm game.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Hypothetical

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Answer: Sorry for the buzzkill, friends, but it’s a trick question. That’s because the woodchuck, or marmota marmox, would never chuck any wood. Unfortunately, few people realize that this member of the Squirrel Family is actually a vegetarian. They enjoy nibbling and gnawing on succulents like clover and alfalfa, not birch bark or sycamore.

But what if instead of wood we used Cowboys, instead of woodchucks we used Charles Woodson and instead of chucking, he was dominating. Then I ask you, how many Cowgirls could a Woodson dominate if a Woodson could dominate Cowgirls? Answer: eleven. Charles Woodson could dominate eleven offensive players on the Dallas Shemales. We witnessed it yesterday.

About a half dozen Brandy Old Fashioneds and a couple keg stands into fantasy draft night this summer, two-time guest Ranter John Johnson aka The Company Man, proposed another intriguing question: Is Charles Woodson the best player on the team? Franklin and I took a half second to collect our drunken thoughts before unanimously agreeing. And the more we talked about it, we concluded that #21 was not only the best player on the Packers, but perhaps in the entire NFL.

His all-around performance Sunday did all the talking. Charles Woodson is an absolute elite talent. You’re gonna be seeing his name high atop the list for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year and if he keeps it up, who knows? Lawrence Taylor was MVP in 1986… All I have to say is, "Keep on chucking, Wood!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Meet Everglade Gary and His (Elusive) Neighbor

I just back from Florida, and I would like to share a story about watching the debacle against Tampa Bay. Thankfully, I chose not to attend the game live. However, I did have the misfortune and enjoyment to watch the game with a gentleman named, Everglade Gary. Misfortune, as I was supposed to take “Everglade Gary’s Kick Ass AirBoat Tour” and then be back to civilization in time for the 1:00 pm kickoff, however his motor conked out, and we ended up at his mechanic/gator-wrestler/interior designer brother’s house in the middle of the Everglades. You ask 95% of people, and being stranded with a guy named Everglade Gary in the middle of Florida swampland is not how they would choose to spend their Sunday. However, this misfortune quickly turned to enjoyment, as I got to drink ice cold beer and watch football with a genuinely cool guy as his brother got to work fixing the boat.

By gametime, we were each eight beers deep, and he was explaining to me about the skunk ape. If you’ve never heard of the skunk ape, you are missing out on one of the greatest pieces of local lore this country has to offer. You see, the skunk ape is Florida’s version of Bigfoot or Sasquatch or Yeti or Abominable Snowman. It is similar in size to very large man, covered in hair, and, because “it sleeps in empty gator dens full of methane gas and sweats a lot without bathing,” it smells terrible. Gary was pretty sure he smelled one once, but then again, he said, it could have just been his dog who has a habit of rolling in alligator carcasses. Gary was quick to inform me that he was not an expert on the skunk ape, but that he liked to pass on the story for an acquaintance, Dave Shealy, Director of the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters.

Maybe not an expert on hairy, reeking humanoids, but what soon became apparent was that Everglade Gary was an expert on football. He would be deep into a story about how he got into a bar fight in Fort Meyers with six college guys on Spring Break because one of them said alligators couldn’t climb trees (Look it up. They can...if you don't believe me, Gary has something he'd like to talk to you about), and then he would quickly make an incredibly insightful observation about the game. I began to realize that Gary’s boat breaking down may have been the best thing that could have happened to me that day. 1) I got a taste of local Florida culture 2) I got to watch football with an incredibly knowledgeable football fan 3) it’s always good to be reminded that beers taste better when it’s hot, humid, and it smells vaguely of methane and sweat…

Monday, November 9, 2009

For Your Consideration...

Have you ever noticed that after pretty much any play – good or bad – McCarthy’s nose is buried in his sweet, laminated, color-coded spreadsheets? He’s worse than those fantasy guys, who spend more time in laptops and cell phones checking for updates rather than watching the game go down right in front of them.

It’s kind of sad that’s the game has turned into – a series of over-calculated risks instead of the exciting choose your own adventure. Well, if that’s the case, have I got some fantasy candidates I’ve encountered over the years that could probably do just as well, if not better, than MM these days.

Wiener Koins. This team has been a fantasy juggernaut for years. He doesn’t always draft the greatest (see Mason Crosby in the 6th …“kickers win games!”), but is unparallel in his amazing waiver pickups. He captured the crown by adding unsuspecting free agents that suddenly go off. This bodes extremely well for helping TT find those diamonds in the rough that he supposedly is known for but hasn’t actually found any. (That’s right Ted, I said it.)

Donkey Skids. Despite a penchant for peach schnapps and a tendency for crapping his pants in public, Donkey Skids is an otherwise very formidable opponent. He’s more than willing to mortgage the future by trading up to go after the first- and second-round studs. It pays off, too. He takes home the crown about every other year. How great would that be, Packer fans!

Multiple Scorgasms. This mechanical engineer turned inventor sets the gold standard for draft devices. You can have your Excel spreadsheets – Scorgasms stopped using those in the 90s. His boards are now a battery-operated combination hologram/Rubix cube, constantly morphing based on the dynamics of the draft. I’m 100% convinced his draft cube could someday coach the Packers by itself.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Reading: The Lost Art

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, that doesn’t include raking leaves or going to see Jim Carrey’s A Christmas Carol a full 50 days before Christmas, might I suggest reading a book? No, it’s not pronounced boe-ock, it’s bOOk; it sounds like crook. Books are the things on shelves in that small corner of the library? Yeah, the shelves behind the computers, magazines, and media center, there you go, you found them, those are books.

I know books are antiquated pieces of kitsch that you vowed never to touch again once you left high school or college, but I’ve found two pretty good ones if you can tear yourself away from your plasma, your laptop, or your Xbox. Plus, they can help you drift away from Sunday’s defeat, and get you excited for Sunday’s victory. The two great reads are “That First Season: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and Sent it on the Path to Glory” and “The Official Vince Lombardi Playbook: His Classic Plays & Strategies, Personal Photos & Mementos, Recollections from Friends & Formers Players”. They’re both quick reads and one even has pictures for those of you looking for something visual to keep you interested. The later even includes Saint Vince’s plays written on legal pads which are fantastic. The former gives excellent insight into what guys like Starr, Hornung, and Kramer thought of Lombardi upon his arrival, it’s safe to say these guys were impressed…and nervous.

No, I can’t promise you a personal pan pizza if you read these two books, but I can promise you a renewed respect for the Packers and what Lombardi meant to them. Even if you don’t get to read them this weekend, pick them up. I read them at work, granted, I work in a library, so it might have been a bit easier for me, but if you can pull yourself away from the interweb (Believe me, I know it’s cool. just watched this 23 times) or your TV, you will be happy.

PS: Christmas Carol is a book. By Dickens, not Jim Carrey or even Scrooge McDuck. I promise.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Some Positives of the Game

Lambeau Men’s Room. Nothing against the giant metal splashy room-length pee troughs of yesteryear, but I really prefer a standard urinal. One of the best moves in the renovation. Only things missing were the #4 urinal cakes.

Stadium View. The servers were fast, friendly and dressed like foxy Madonnas Saturday night at this legendary sportsbar. If you haven’t had the deep-fried white cheese curds with a side of ranch, you are seriously missing out.

Novelties. We saw a guy selling $20 pelts; we saw another offering free mustache rides. There were vendors with kitsch galore that were printed with enough obscenities for every divisional opponent and them some. Fun stuff. Still, none of them had a onsie – I knew that was a good idea!

Front Yard Tailgating. Kudos to those Green Bay residents to offer their yards for parking and partying. Saw a sign in front of one house that read “No waiting line for this rest room!” That’s worth the $15 alone if you ask me.

Crowd Noise. Considering the town felt taken over by purple at times, it was even more impressive how loud everyone was yawping. The lungs of the Packer fans were as full and fierce as I can ever recall – great work everyone; glad to be a part of it.
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