Friday, February 22, 2013

Doomsday Preppers: When the Brats Run Dry

Lenny Vanden Heuvel is a lifelong Packers fan that just happens to live in Green Bay, Wisconsin. If there’s one thing Vanden Heuvel understands, it’s the concept of supply and demand. Every morning at 5am, Vanden Heuvel arrives at storied ACME Packing Company’s distribution center to load his truck full of meats to be delivered to grocery stores in the greater Brown County area.

“Guys like me keep things orderly and normal for everyone else. The general public are sheep, but these people will turn into wolves when they can’t get their Johnsonvilles. I’m here to make sure they do,” he says.

Vanden Heuvel is referring to what he believes will be a meat disaster of epic proportions.

“I’m preparing for a violent worldwide strain of super flu mad cow pig disease.”

Such an event, Vanden Heuvel claims, would lead to a complete stoppage of all beef and pork supplies to the U.S., causing what he believes will be “brat depression and tailgate chaos at Lambeau.”

“Sure you’d have still chicken, but for tailgating here, brats are – and always will be – king. You ever been to a Packer tailgate without brats? No, you haven’t because it doesn’t exist. Right now…”

In preparation of such an event, Vanden Heuvel has been methodically stockpiling meats in a secret location. He offered to take me to his meat bunker on one condition: he blindfolds me for the trip.

“The secrecy of this location is my most valuable commodity. Don’t worry, I ain’t weird,” he assures me via email. I accept the offer and we meet at a park and ride in De Pere, where Vanden Heuvel is waiting in a non-descript black SUV save for an “I Miss Vince” bumper sticker. For the next hour, we drive through highways and onto several rough roads while listening to classic rock. Vanden Heuvel is a big fan of Meatloaf, I learn, if you consider that classic rock.

When he takes my blindfold off, Vanden Heuvel tells me to be quiet and silence my electronic devices during the walk. As it turns out, the secret meat bunker is still another five hundred yards away through dense woods. Vanden Heuvel instructs me which areas to step on and which to avoid, as to not leave a trackable pattern.

Thirty minutes later, we reach the premises – a small trailer home covered in camouflage netting. He unlocks the door and there’s nothing inside that would suggest anything out of the ordinary. That is, until he pushes away the couch and rug to reveal a trap door.

“Down here’s where I keep everything. I’ve been working on this for twenty years,” he says.

We walk down an entire flight of stairs that lead to a 30,000 square-foot open room filled with hundreds boxes of meat. “Right before the economy took a dump – thanks Obama – I spent half my savings and hired a crew to finish the place. Best decision of my life.”

Vanden Heuvel states that the underground nature of the room lends itself to cooler temperatures but he has installed a climate control system as well. “Right now, in February, it doesn’t even need to run. But even in summer, it’ll only run if it pushes ninety. Did you know that frozen or semi-frozen brats have a shelf life of twenty years?”

“How much have you spent on brats alone?” I ask him. Without hesitating, Vanden Heuvel estimates one-hundred thousand dollars.

“You have to understand, Robert, that’s pre-middle man and with an employee discount. If you want a current street value of my supply, we’re talking a quarter million – easy. And when the brats run dry, these will be more valuable than gold,” he tells me, holding up a six-pack of Hot ‘N Spicy links. There are enough brats here to feed Lambeau for all the home games this year. Think about that for a second.”

I do in fact think about that for a second and concur: that’s a lot of brats. I then bring up an article I read that because of their much healthier properties and relative ease of production that veggie brats were trending in recent years, and even hypothesized that beef and pork ban outage might actually be a blessing in disguise. After all, studies have shown that red meat products such as brats are linked to both cancer and heart disease.

It was at this point in the interview Vanden Heuvel knocked me out with a blunt object. The next thing I knew I woke up in a dumpster behind the Piggly Wiggly on Northland Avenue in Appleton.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Talking to the Turtleneck

I've always been fascinated by the neck. My 4th favorite animal and my 6th favorite dinosaur are known for their necks and have earned my admiration, largely in part to their extensive head/torso connectors.

Not to mention, I'm a huge fan of football equipment and its evolution. One of the greatest pieces of football equipment ever invented is designed to protect the neck. Just ask Tim. (Hint: it's behind those beautiful flowing locks)

I think most people know the importance of the neck.

The neck is where two very important pieces of flair for both men and women are secured.

The neck is where awkward teens mark their territory with disgusting hickeys.

The Neck divides Westeros into North and South.

There are some that would argue that the brain or the heart are the most important parts of the human body, but you know what connects them? The neck.

Do you want to dispatch someone? You may yell, "Off with their head!" to indicate this, but what happens? Their neck is bisected. It has noting to do with the head. Just the neck.

Oxygen is transported to the lungs through a windpipe. Where is a windpipe? Usually you can find it in the neck.

Pretty impressive part of the body, no?

Well, I recently had the opportunity to speak with someone who also understands  the importance of the neck. It's probably someone you are familiar with. It is No. 89 for the Green Bay Packers, James Jones, he of a league-leading 14 receiving touchdowns in 2012, also he of a very recognizable neck protector: the t-shirt turtleneck.

I had a chance to sit down and pick James' brain about the neck. He was gracious enough to let me share some of it with you.

Me: "Thanks for your time, James, and congratulations on your remarkable season."

JJ: "You're welcome, and thank you, Franklin. It's always a pleasure to meet a fellow neckophile, also great shirt."

Me: "Thank you. I love a good turtleneck, as I know you do as well. How and why did you become interested in the neck and realize the value of properly protecting it? Also, why don't your teammates seem to grasp this concept?"

JJ: "I sure do. Check out the one I have on. Might be my favorite. [Pictured above]

"You know, it happened a couple years ago. I was traveling and met some women who were wearing neck rings, and I had an opportunity to discuss why they were doing it, and the benefits they got from it. They said that while it was decorative, it was also a source of strength and a form of protection. They explained the vulnerability humans had in the neck area, and why it was important to guard against injury. It got me thinking, 'You know, I play one of the most violent games in the world, maybe I need to think more about my neck.'

"I actually had the opportunity to work with a man named, Lucius Fox to create my t-shirt turtleneck. It could actually survive re-entry into the earth's atmosphere and withstand a direct blow from 2x4...or a 250 pound linebacker {laughs} At the same time, it is incredibly lightweight, breathable, and pretty dang cool-looking if I do say so myself.

"As far as my teammates, I've gotten a hard time from some of them about my gameday attire, specifically, the t-shirt turtleneck.  But, you know, I can't be bothered by that. I need my neck. My neck is more important than my hands, my feet, and my legs. I have found a way of protecting it that allows the rest of my body to function properly and excel, and did I mention it's pretty dang cool-looking? {laughs}

"Also, vampires. You know about vampires, right?"

Me: "Oh, I sure do, man. I sure do."

JJ: "Well, I had the stitching made from high tensile garlic fibers because you can never be too careful. Am I right?"


Me: "Absolutely."

"James, do you credit your breakout performance to your increased neck awareness and also your t-shirt turtleneck?"

JJ: "Oh, definitely. With my neck being sheathed in such a piece of powerful armor...I like to consider my turtleneck a form of armor like medieval knights used to wear...I am free to concentrate wholly on making plays and getting in the endzone. It's been remarkable, and I have started to hear from guys around the league who are interested in getting their hands one. I'm not sure I want to share, though. {laughs}"

Me: "I'm sure all Packer fans wouldn't mind if you shared it in the lockerroom but nowhere else."

JJ: "Alright, I'll take that under consideration. {laughs}"

For the next hour, James and I talked about the neck, standard-issue turtlenecks vs. mock turtlenecks, Cousin Eddie, Mike McCarthy catching on, and even James' love of alpacas. (He thinks their necks are great. Look them up, he's right.) It was really a great conversation.

Thank you to James for his time. It's always great to find someone who appreciates the neck as much as I do.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Unmissable Moment from Super Bowl XLVII

Do you have a one yard square spot in your home in need of floor covering? Maybe there's a stain in your carpet, or a scratch in your hardwood floor. Maybe you have a dog or cat who needs a new spot to sleep and they happen to be a huge football fan.

If that's the case, Verizon has got something for you. They are giving you a one yard square of Super Bowl turf for you if you can predict where the Unmissable Moment from Super Bowl XLVII will occur. Click here and select the lucky spot where the deciding unmissable moment will occur. You've still got time to enter, the spot will be selected shortly after the game is finished.

I actually know where the moment will occur, Dr. Emmet Brown is a close family friend, but I can't help you out.  Rule, rules, rules. Good luck.

  Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Fans program and have been provided with a wireless device and five months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.
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