Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Memorial Day


My great uncle Albert used to look at me, scrunch up his face like he was thinking really hard about something, and practically spit the words, "I've forgotten more about the Packers than you'll ever know, you little punk."

Albert's long dead now, died of anger...and chronic sauerkraut ulcers, or maybe it was the piece of Kraut shrapnel he took during WWII finally worked it’s way from his left calf to his brain, I can’t really remember which, and I didn’t pay attention because he was such a di....Anyway, I only bring up great uncle Albert because it’s Memorial Day weekend, and I used to see him and the rest of the Hillsides this weekend every year while growing up.

As everyone knows, Memorial Day weekend officially kicks off summer...well, except for the Schwetty...er, sweaty weather this past week that got everything jump started. No place is this more true than northern Wisconsin. People drive hours and hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic to be outside and welcome the new season. Well, the Hillside clan was no exception to this tradition, we used to travel from all points of the compass and congregate at Grandma and Grandpa Hillside’s cabin for this most-glorious of holiday weekends. Boats would be gassed repeatedly, docks would be cannon-balled from, lighter fluid would flow, and campfires would burn late into the night. It was around these campfires that the Hillside men would smoke stogies, pound Old Milwaukee, complain about politics, pick on my Uncle Chet, and invariably talk Packers. I remember hearing my grandpa and great uncle Albert recall the Lombardi years, my uncles talk about the 70’s-80’s wretchedness, and I would try and mention Don Majikowski…Ol’ Uncle Albert would put a stop my contributions right away.

Sadly, this family tradition came to an end after my stoner cousin and his girlfriend burned the cabin down while trying to make pot brownies...apparently they forgot they were in the oven while they were swimming. My grandparents thought about rebuilding, but, as is always the case, family members were moving on, getting married (even Brownie Bobby), and passing away, RIP, Albert, you crabby bastard. So they sold the land complete with charred remains, and bought a condo in Florida (not quite the same experience).

So for all of those Packer fans out there making a journey somewhere, anywhere, this Memorial Day weekend, I wish you safe travels. Take the time to think about the veterans you may know. Even though he’s a jerk, I still think about Albert and his service to our country. Also, drive safe, remember to flip your meat, keep your Old Milwaukee on ice, and don’t forget that you’ve got brownies in the oven if you’re into that sort of thing.

And when the talk around the grill or campfire turns to the Packers, just remember that there’s always someone out there who has forgotten more than you’ll ever know.

Oh yeah, don’t pee in the lake from your boat either, that’s gross and no one wants to see it.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thanks for the Ride, Van Smack

Saturday afternoon I had a surprise celebrity chauffer waiting for me at the Austin Straubel airport. I was a little groggy so couldn’t quite remember where I had come from or where I was going, but since this was a dream, it really didn’t matter.

First thing I remember is the long Crown Victoria. It pulls up curbside and the passenger door opens. I look in at the mystery driver and who looks back at me? None other than the Jungle’s own manliest of mans, the one and only Jim Rome. Without thinking twice, I jump in – almost like Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters 2 when he boards the city bus that Slimer is surprisingly driving.

Louis: Oh, it’s you?
Slimer smiles, welcoming him in.
Louis: OK, but I didn’t know you had your license.

Soon, Rome and I were on our way along the dreamscape highway, while his radio show played in the background. Jim was explaining that he was using one of his vacation days to pick me up. He takes a lot of vacation, you see, because he gets a lot of vacation. Just as I was about to thank him, something struck me to the core on the radio. Someone calling himself the “Packer Ranter” had phoned in and was giving a take on the air!

“WHOTHA!? WHATTHA!?” I blasted incoherently.

“Hadn’t I heard?” Rome asked. The “Packer Ranter” supposedly had been calling in every day for about a week now and was “killing it.” I kind of went ballistic, telling him that no, I didn’t know this because A) I don’t listen to his show all the time and B) I was one-half the real Packer Ranter and C) the other was a close friend of mine, and there’s NO WAY that was Franklin on the air and that CONCLUSION) Someone was posing!

Jim, however, was more interested in something else I said. “So, you don’t listen to my show?” he asked deadpan. “Um, I mean, I do listen to the show, just not every day. I work during your show times usually. It’s good. I listen whenever possible, etc.” I said. But it wasn’t working. Rome had enough of my BS. He shot me a demeaning smile that said, “yeah sure, sport-o”.

And with that, the conversation (and potential friendship?) was over. We just drove the rest of the way (to Dark City I think. I had just watched that movie the week before, so it would make sense.) As we listed to the “Packer Ranter” on the radio, I couldn’t decide if I should be mad about this or not. After all, it was great publicity and could lead to more hits on the site… I then woke up in a puddle of sweat and anxiety.

No more tequila for this guy!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I'm On the Case

In an effort to help the Brown County Sherriff’s Department find whoever shot two holes in the Lambeau Field Atrium glass, I’ve narrowed the list of suspects down to the Packers 2010 opponents. Now I'm no John McClane, but I think my police work is sound. Jealousy is a common motivation among all, but each have their specific motives. All but two have the means, and I think when all is said and done, someone from the list below will be be rotting away in Brown County Correctional Facility very soon.

49ers: You’d be mad too if you had Alex Smith instead of Aaron Rodgers.

Cowboys: Jerry Jones has his dumbeningly (good word, no?) large stadium, but he still realizes that it doesn’t hold a candle to Lambeau.

Vikings: Their stadium dreams are kaput. Plus, Favre, well-know gun lover, hates Rodgers, Thompson, Murphy, McCarthy, etc, etc, etc….

Bears: Well….the Bears still suck. If that’s not a reason to hate Lambeau, I don’t know what is.

Lions: Honestly, I’ve ruled out the Lions. They haven’t been successful at anything in Wisconsin, or in Detroit for that matter, in over a decade.

Eagles: Andy Reid needed to back up the organization’s misplaced bravado for the Kevin Kolb era.

Jets: Rex Ryan is still mad that Charles Woodson is better than Darrelle “$20 mil” Revis.

Giants: Eli, guns don’t make you tough, neither do the Oreo commercials. Put down the Red Rider and let’s talk.

Washington Redskins: All offseason moves by the Redskins fail, so it couldn’t have been them. NEXT!

Falcons: You can’t cut me!! Do you know who I am?!?! I’m Matt Giordano!

Patriots: Bill Beelicheck thinks he can get away with anything.

Bills: Brian Brohm? Really? That’s what we’re looking at for QB? His hands are too sweaty? Who the @#$% drafted this clown?

Dolphins: When you’re as drunk as Ronnie Brown, who knows what you’ll shoot at? I learned this from my Uncle Liam O’Leary and his flask (jug) of Jameson when I was sixteen. It was the opening day of deer season, and that poor mail box never had a chance.

Yippe-Ki-Yay!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Let's Bake!

Sure, football is all about the action, camaraderie and numerous libations, but it’s also about really good food. It’s with that in mind I thought I’d pass along this bombdigitty recipe I’ve been perfecting over the last few months for one of my favorite gameday dishes. Here’s what I like about it: 1) it’s not hard to make (sweet!), B) turns out nice every time (hiyo!) and 3) brushes with greatness on occasion (bonus!). In fact, the hardest part of the whole recipe is simple patience – if you can overcome that, you’ll be thanking yourself as you dig into the tender, flavorful, hearty dish known as:

Robert Greenfield’s Slow-Cooked BBQ Pulled Pork Sammies
You’ll Need: Pork Shoulder, Can o’ Beef Stock, Dry Rub, BBQ sauce, Buns, Sauerkraut (optional), Crock Pot
Prep + Cook Time: approx. 10 hours
Effort Level: Low to Moderate
Satisfaction Level: Elevated to Awesome
Feeds: Several Hungry Humanoids


First, get yourself a nice Boston Butt/Pork Shoulder from your friendly grocer. You should easily be able to find a good size for under $10 (that’s what she said). Tell ‘em the Ranter sent you (this may not get you discount, but it may start up a nice conversation with the hottie behind you in line.) When you get home, trim off as much visible fat as possible. Then, take some dry rub (sweet ‘n smoky = my current fave) and make like paddy cake by smacking it around some with it (that’s what she said. OK, I’ll stop). Now dump that can o’ beef stock into the crock pot and then plop that beautiful pork shoulder in there after it. Nice work.

At this point, feel free to have some beers, browse the interwebs, take a few naps or rewatch last year’s Packer wins because you’re going to let that bad boy cook for eight full hours on high heat in the crock pot. Yes, that’s like, a long time, but it’s called slow cooking for a reason. Lambeau Field wasn’t built in a day as far as I know. It’s totally worth it, trust me. At the end of the eight hours, your entire home should be full with a thick meat scent. That is, unless you remembered to shut the bedroom doors and open the windows beforehand… suckers! Just kidding, but not really.

Now the fun really begins. Poke that pork and pull off a piece. Did you notice how it fell apart faster than the Lions playcalling? Now taste it. Pretty good, eh? Well, it gets even better really soon. Transfer the entire shoulder somewhere where you can really work it. Take a couple forks and pull it apart into sweet shreds of meat. At this point, you should remove any remaining fat as well any bones. Now, drop a fat BBQ sauce bomb all over it and mix ‘er up real good. Hmmm-Mmmm. Serve hearty spoonfuls on a bun (preferably with a small load of Frank’s Kraut) and ENJOY.

Let me know how it turns out!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blue or Red?

When I was designing my own championship tracks on Excitebike and dominating the Breakers, Eagles, and Ox with the Boston Frogs on Double Dribble, I was pretty sure that video games had reached the pinnacle of their advancement. You couldn’t have convinced me otherwise. Years later, I played the single greatest video game ever: Wayne Gretzky 3D Hockey 98 for the Nintendo 64, and I was again convinced that video games couldn’t get any better. For the most part, I’ve been correct.

However, I have started watching Netflix movies on my Wii. Now, I know the Wii isn’t as cool as the PS3 or Xbox360, but I prefer this to this. Anyway, it’s not a video game advancement, so much as a console advancement, but I was supremely happy about it. I could browse through tons of movies and TV shows without moving from my couch. I may be late to the party, but that’s my M.O. for most things, and I am now, once again, convinced that video games are complete.

Technology advancement is indeed a blessing…but also a curse as I soon realized while watching a documentary through my Wii about how most humans are actually just serving as power sources for a race of machines. A small group of freedom fighters living under the earth’s surface are fighting the machines both in the real world, and in a computer program created to simulate the earth as it existed in the later portion of the 20th Century. Heavy stuff, but apparently, I can’t tell you about this, as you have to see it for yourself.

What? You’re kidding me. The Matrix isn’t a documentary? So, I have to go work on Monday, and can’t just play vids? Sigh…okay.

Watching The Matrix again, a small part stood out, and it related to the Packers, specifically BJ Raji. You know the part where Neo receives his initial training and says, “I know kung fu”? Morpheus then enters The Construct, and Neo proves he can beat him, and then the The Jump Training is loaded which is designed to “free your mind”. Whoa.

Then little exchange occurs:

Mouse: “So, what if he makes it?”
Apoc: “No one ever makes their first jump.”
Mouse: “I know, I know. But what if he does?”
Apoc: “He won't.”

Neo faceplants.

Mouse: “Wha...what does that mean?”
Switch: “It doesn't mean anything.”
Cypher: “Everybody falls the first time. Right, Trin?”

So back to Raji...I’ve heard some complaints about BJ Raji after last season. How he didn’t contribute like a 9th overall pick should. How he didn’t have 20 sacks, 12 batted balls, and 70 tackles while demanding triple teams like everyone was promised. Will Raji bust? Will he not be the beast everyone expected? What does this mean?

It doesn’t mean anything. Everybody falls. The fact that he saw the field in his first year after injuries, holdouts, etc. and showed flashes of dominance late in the season is an encouraging sign. The only thing that can happen is he gets better, so keep the faith.

After all, even The One fell his first time.

Tracy White Fact of the Day: Tracy White knows there is no spoon…but he eats with it anyway.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Amazing Journey!

Lock the doors. Close the windows. Turn on the black light and your favorite Pink Floyd album. Then turn off your phone and fire up the old porn downloader. You are about to embark on an adventure beyond the realm of reason and logic, where mankind’s most beloved treasures are secretly kept and coveted. Load up your PayPal accounts and join me, your trusted guide, as we enter the world… of ebay!

Ok, once you’ve successfully accessed the internets and navigated to the ebays, you’re going to want to start by searching for “Packers.” That basic search will return numerous results ranging from toddler clothing to tickets as well as about 30,000 items in between. Yes, this is getting exciting already, I agree with you there, kind reader.

Now take my hand as we dive into “Fan Apparel & Souvenirs.” This gets us to the part of the journey where Bob Frost once indirectly showed me the way and I feel I should pass on my knowledge. Some people – most actually – get stuck here on all the immediate gloriousness that is jackets and shirts and keychains and such. But me, I choose the category “Not Specified,” and that has truly made all the difference. Here, you’ll enter a Willy Wonka world of Packer wonder only reserved for the clinically insane or your most elite, diehard fans. Nowhere else in the world, not even in the sacred Packer Pro Shop, will you find such rare Packer gems in one place.

Example! Zebra-Striped Toilet Seat. As the listing says, this piece gives your bathroom personality while showing off your team spirit. Couldn’t. Agree. More. What I love about it is that it’s unique, possesses exceptional style and also has practical applications. The fact it is machine washable and fits standard and elongated seats = additional wins! Starting at $15, it’s sure to be the bidding war of the year!

Example! From the bathroom to the workplace we go as we come across this Packers team logo office chair. Before you click away because of the $119 price tag, keep in mind this item ships for FREE = excellent value. And then consider for a second that you know no one at work with a Packer chair like this (you don’t, do you?). You want that promotion, Mr./Mrs. Corporate Worker? I thought so. Then show some passion – it will go miles (subconsciously, good or otherwise) toward getting you to stand out among your peers.

Example! Paul Horning old NFL Pizza Hut collectible glass. Yes, that’s right – Paul “all purpose” Hornung. This goes well beyond the description of “Neat!” in the listing; this closer to “Amazing!” or “Wow!”. At $65, this is not a glass for the common cupboard. Rather, something for the hutch, mantle or display case. Maybe you pull it out during game days, or save it just for the playoffs. If that’s not good mojo for the team, I will never know what is…

Happy bidding.
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