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Post Turkey Trash Talk

Welp, I am still wearing sweat pants because I am not sure any other pants fit again yet. Hope you all had a lot of good food, fun and family over the last few days too. So, how about some abbreviated Trash to round out the weekend?

First on the agenda, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the stunningly beautiful Yas Marina Circuit. The race has been in the can for about three hours now, but holy crap, what a race! Hamilton won, with Nico Rosberg finishing second, thus assuring Rosberg the Driver’s Championship for 2016. But what a race! Verstappen made another wild and incredible charge from the back of the pack all the way up to P3, before Sebastian Vettel made his own incredible and electrifying charge to overtake Verstappen and nearly catch up Rosberg. Hamilton was a jerk and intentionally drove slow in front hoping to screw his teammate Robsberg into getting passed by Vettel and Verstappen, which then would have given the championship to Hamilton. The racing and intrigue were edge of your seat thrilling the whole race. What a finish to the F1 season.

The Buckeyes beat Michigan in overtime yesterday in a hell of a game. Harbaugh may be right that his team got jobbed by the refs. USC easily beat Notre Dame, and may truly be one of the four best teams in the country right now, though they will never make the playoff series. Colorado beat Utah, and will play Washington for the Pac-12 championship. That should be a fun game. The SEC championship will pit Jim White’s improbable Gators against the goliath that is Alabama. Good luck Gators!

In the NFL, we have already been through the Thanksgiving Day slate so we will move on to the games left on the schedule. Cardinals are at the Falcons in an early game that merits watching. I think the Cards are dead, we shall see. Bolts at Texans could be interesting. Bolts are a little flaky, but so are the Texans, could be a great game. Patriots are at the Jets. Hard to see anything but a Pats win, but Brady and Gronk are both banged up, so you never know. The two night games are the really decent ones. SNF has the Chefs at the Broncos, both sporting 7-3 records. Now THAT is a game to look forward to. MNF has the Packers at the Eagles. Neither team tearing it up right now, but the game seems like an even matchup where anything could happen, and the two QB’s are worth watching.

So, that is it for today’s games. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Time for some leftover pie!

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
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Giving Thanks and Other Thanksgiving Trash

Happy Thanksgiving denizens of the Wheelhouse. This is, by my groggy count, our tenth together as the Emptywheel Blog. The first five were at Firedoglake, and the last five here as a standalone. All of the contributors here – Marcy, bmaz, Rayne, Jim White, Ed “Masaccio” Walker, and our special assignment Roving Reporter Rosalind – have been around each other for even longer than that, in one status or another, going back to The Next Hurrah. It has been a long and wonderful, if not sometimes strange, trip. And it continues to be so daily. For that, we give thanks to you. Some of you have been around with us since The Next Hurrah, many are newer. You are all valued, and thank you for reading, joining us and sharing your thoughts.

Usually there is a big food post on Thanksgiving, but for extraneous travel reasons, I am not sure there will be this year. In that vein here is some food talk to make sure there is space here in this post to discuss at length what we are all gorging on. Mrs. bmaz HATES cooking traditional Thanksgiving dinners with all the fixins etc. She is Italian by descent, and insists on making giant pots of homemade spaghetti with meatballs and sausage. It is very good, but I very much miss the traditional meal. Daughter of bmaz is cooking a blueberry pie though, so we still have that going for us. What are you all up to as to food and cooking today?

Then there is football. Thanksgiving NFL is a tradition dating back to the mid 1930’s, although the TV tradition of it all really grew in the 1960’s. And grow it has done. There are three full games on the tube today, and, for once, all teams participating have winning records and are in playoff contention. Now THAT is a change for the better!

First up on the docket is Minnesota versus Detroit. Detroit always plays on Thanksgiving, and for so many years that is why Thanksgiving Day games sucked. But Detroit is good this year. Both the Lions and the Vikes are 6-4 and, given how bad the Packers have been this year, this game is for sole possession of first place in the NFC Norske. The Vikings have a clearly better defense, but the Lions are far more prolific on offense, and have been playing as a team much better than Minnesota of late (horrible offensive line play is killing Sam Bradford). I’ll take the Kittehs at home.

Next up is Washington at Dallas. Kirk Cousins is on a roll again, and the Skins are really playing decent football. But the Cowboys at 9-1 have the best record in the NFL and are clicking on all cylinders. Dak Prescott is even opening up downfield a little, which was not the case early in the year. Ezekial Elliott is playing like the second coming of Emmitt Smith and all the receivers, not just Dez Bryant, are getting in on the action. But as decent as they have been, the Dallas defense is neither great nor particularly deep. The question is whether Cousins and the Skins O can outscore the Boys. I don’t think so in Dallas.

Last game is Pittsburgh at Indianapolis. The QB matchup you’ve been waiting for: Big Ben Roethlisberger versus Scott Tolzein. Yeah, Andrew Luck is out with a concussion. That spells disaster to a Colts team that would already be a home underdog even with Luck. Both teams are 5-5, but one of them won’t be after today!

So, there you have it folks. Good times and good eats today. Dessert today is some Savoy Truffle from the Lads from Liverpool.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
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NFL Week 11

Week 11 of the National Goodell League is upon us. Once again there was little of interest in the student athlete part of football, but I will summarize briefly.

In the NCAA, Houston unceremoniously dumped the once darling of big conference outsiders, Louisville, and did so before Saturday. So, that is over. The always mighty regular season chumps, Ohio State, eked out a win over the unusually lowly Michigan State Spartys. No,Michigan did not look that good in holding serve against Indiana, but hold they did. Next week’s meeting with OSU will now be portrayed as the most epic thing in the now Trumpian world. It is not. Colorado has quietly had a very good season, especially if you know Buffalo football (I do). Penn State and Oklahoma (I miss Freepatriot) are also showing some mettle. And, still, I wonder if USC may not, by playoff time be the team that, but for their early record, ought be there. Sam Darnold’s emergence has put the Trojans on a different plane. After next week, heading into conference championships, I will really start to care.

In the NFL: Panthers topped the Saints on TNF; didn’t think that would happen. Bills and Bengals may be a game to watch, Wagon Circlers have early lead. Brownies aint gonna beat the Stillers, even in wounded state Pittsburgh is. Ravens at Cowboys will be interesting in that Dak Prescott is newly and duly anointed as THE QB for Dallas. But Flacco has a SB ring and has been called out. Could be trouble for the Boys. No, the Eagles and their rook QB are not going to beat the Squawks in Seattle. Squaws are getting dangerous about now. Fish at Rams? Please.

Packers at Skins will be a truly telling game. For all the love of Rodgers, the Pack are in disarray and nobody EVER questioned Favre’s desire, heart and team camaraderie. Never. Mr. Olivia Munn Discount Doublecheck has a thing on his hands, and I am not so sure the Skins are not a better team right now. That will be fun. Texans at Raiders on MNF might be really fun. Gotta pick the Raiders here, but the Texans are better than you think, and if Osweiller ever starts clicking, they could be really scary. I really do look forward to this MNF game, for once.

Music this week by Pink Floyd wondering who the Trumpalos will be gunning for, and hoping it is not with nukes.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
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Post Election Trash Talk

Well here we are in the fifth day past the stunning election. That maybe was not that stunning at all. I don’t necessarily have anything to add at this point. Success has many fathers, and failure is an orphan. Right now there are a lot of fathers jockeying for power around Trump, and a hell of a lot of orphans pointing fingers about around the Clinton campaign and Democratic party. Well, that should go on for a while I guess.

But enough of that rot, let’s take a look at the sporting world:

As I write this, the Brazilian Grand Prix has just started on NBCSN. It is quite wet at Autodromo Interlagos, and the field started behind the safety car. Which is pitiful. F1 should either race in the wet (what they always used to do) or stop. Circling the track behind a safety car is asinine. Key race though for Lewis Hamilton, who is trying to close the championship gap to Nico Rosberg. One of these two men will be champion, Nico if he wins today, and, likely the winner of Abu Dhabi, the last race of the season. next week, if not.

A bunch of top ten teams lost in college football, including Michigan to Iowa and Clemson to Pitt. Didn’t see those coming, though Clemson has been flaky occasionally this year.

In the pros this week, the obvious marquee game is the Squawks at the Pats in Foxborough. Pats are healthy and even get fleet running back Dion Lewis back, though probably in a limited role. Russell Wilson still seems hobbled for running purposes, but is leading the offense well. Dallas at Pittsburgh should be interesting. Dak Prescott still pulling the trigger for the Boys, but is a question as to the Steelers. I expect Big Ben, but we shall see.

Denver at the Saints seems like it may be good. Saints are actually playing well lately, and they can score points. Can the Broncos and Trevor Siemian score enough to hang? After last week, it is suddenly a good question. Vikings at Skins is interesting to see only as to whether Minnesota can stop its slide. The knee jerk is to say the Vikings and their defense are the better team, but I’ll take Washington. Packers at Titans has the same morbid curiosity – Green Bay has looked horrid, can they get a grip again? Tennessee is still not very good, but they are improving. We shall see.

Music today is Sunday Mornin Comin Down. The song was really penned by Kris Kristofferson, but the Man in Black version by John Cash seemed more appropriate.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
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Waveland and The North Side, Sweet Home Chicago

pj-bh129_sp_wri_g_20120514203124I was raised in a pretty educated house. We travelled too, from Phoenix to El Paso to Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Miami and Detroit. But those were hit and run trips, most by air, some by car, when visiting grandparents and other relatives during the summer. Nevertheless, I thought I knew the country well. I had also already spent portions of summers working in Santa Monica restoring glorious cars and sometimes meeting stars.

I was just turned 18, a man or the world, and god I knew it. But I was really none of that at all. I didn’t know shit.

Then I started college and moved into a dorm. By happenstance, at Arizona State University, I was assigned to an asylum, er floor, chock full of similar kids, on that floor almost all from Chicago and New Jersey. The first few days were an amazing, though not rude in the least, awakening. One group dragged me, literally almost kicking and screaming, to see Bruce Springsteen rock the venerable, and historic, Grady Gammage theater at ASU almost to the ground. That was life changing in a way.

The others were the Chicagoans. They taught me the love and misery of the Cubs and the perpetual Windy City. And Chicago blues and rock. Many of the Chicagoans I met that way in college are still friends to this day. Their parents all came out, then and now as they can, for Spring Training to see their Cubbies. Being from here, I always took spring training for granted growing up as a kid. It was kind of a yawner. But the Cubs fans had a love, purpose and passion that was incredible. Anybody that went to the old Hohokam Park knows how greatly insane, drunken and wonderful it was.

Fast forward to the present day. One of those Chicagoans had parents who, when they retired, moved here permanently. To be close to their son and the winter home of their beloved Cubs. I knew them well. The father wanted to see the Cubs in the World Series before he died. He did, but not by much. He slipped into peaceful sleep right after they won the National League Championship, and never woke up. But, ain’t that a Cubs fan? This is for you Richard, RIP.

That is my own personal story of how and why the Cubs touched me, not just this year, but long ago. The stories are legion. Tell us yours.

The inestimable Wright Thompson has penned a simply beautiful piece that captures so much of the everything goodness that is the Cubs World Series win:

CUBS FANS awoke Wednesday to one last wait, with little to do before Game 7 but think, about themselves and their families, about the people who’ve come and gone during these 108 years of failure. Hundreds found themselves drawn to Wrigley Field, where workers were already breaking down the concessions and cleaning out the freezers. Some people said they didn’t even mean to come. They started off on a trip to the store and ended up standing in front of the stadium’s long brick wall facing Waveland Avenue. Many wrote chalk notes to the dead. Some dedicated messages. This one’s for you, Dad. Others wrote names. Dan Bird. Ben Bird. Eugene Hendershott. A man with a bright smile but melancholy eyes wrote the name of his late wife, Andrea Monhollen. They met four blocks from here, on Racine. She’s been gone six years.

“Cancer,” John Motiejunas said.

He looked around at the names, each one as special to some stranger as his wife’s name is to him. All these chalk ghosts longed to see a day like this one. Each name represented an unfulfilled dream. The big bright murals made the wall seem fun and festive from afar, but a closer look revealed life stripped of romanticism. “A lot of people waited their whole lives,” Motiejunas said. He took a picture of the wall and then left, walking through the light rain that had begun to fall.

There is no way for me to recommend you reading Thompson’s entire piece enough, it is fantastic and a tear jerker. And if you think that quote from the top is good, you REALLY need to see the rest.

Sports are a lazy diversion from reality in America I guess. Or they are a metaphor for everything that is awesome about America. Or it is just a game. Or, just maybe, all of the above.

It has been a long and painful slog through the swamp of an ugly political season. One that started far too early, and promises to never stop even after the election. I could insert links and cites, and yadda, yadda, yadda but what difference does it make anymore? One candidate was born a Cubs fan, and the other literally thinks he was the second coming of Babe Ruth and the world simply was deprived of recognizing his narcissistic awesomeness because he went into the business (of bankruptcy and fraud) world instead.

TWENTY MILES NORTHWEST, cars parked in groups along the winding paths of the All-Saints Cemetery. An hour remained until the 5 p.m. closing time. It’s a Catholic burial ground, out in the middle-class suburbs, and there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of Cubs flags and hats and license plates and signs. It’s one of many places around Chicago this past week where the conflicting ideas of joy and pain leave the realm of the psychological and become attached to action. People come here for many reasons, to say a little prayer, or talk to someone, to themselves, or to believe that their loved one knows what is happening tonight. Last Friday, an old man in a Cubs jacket stood over a grave and left a pennant and a Cubs pumpkin. Yesterday, a middle-aged woman named Maureen stood for the longest time at a grave not far away. A sign said “Believe.” Maureen touched her hand to the Cubs logo on her chest and smiled, looking back at the ground.

“My son,” she said.

Then she pointed across the rolling hill to the most famous grave in the cemetery, which is where she was headed next, to pay respects to Harry Caray before going to watch the game. His stone has green apples on top, an inside joke referencing a quote about the Cubs one day making it to a World Series just as surely as God made green apples.

Wright Thompson has painted the perfect picture of the Cubs fan. It touched me. And made me remember so many things, and so many people. I know them. You know them. They are us, and we they. Wright also made me forget for a bit the intellectually demeaning tornadic hell that is the 2016 election. I hope you will find the same moment of peace.

Right now, football is boring, Formula One sucks and the NBA doesn’t yet matter. So, this is yer Emptywheel Trash Talk for this week. Share your stories and thoughts. Music is Sweet Home Chicago. There were a lot of versions to choose from, but this seemed to be the right one. The original Robert Johnson version. Keep in mind, when Robert Johnson first recorded that song, the Cubs had already not had a World Series victory for 28 years. That string only ended this week. As a bonus, I also include a newer version by Eric, BB, Buddy, Mick and some dude named Obama. Have a great weekend folks.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
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The Kids Are Alright Trash Talk

Been in a rather heated matter all week, and Marcy has been traveling. Bottom line is, blogging has been thin here. Sorry about that. And this post will be only a band-aid, and I apologize about that as well. Problem is, while I was off heatedly litigating things, a friend eventually, who started out as judge who always treated me well while he was the Presiding Criminal Judge in Maricopa County…..has died. This was one hell of a man.

As to college, Texas A+M versus Alabama.

Pros, Pack killed the Bears, and only amplified in the process the problems with Aaron Rodgers and the entire Cheese team. Sad!

In other NFL news, There are a lot of good games, but few great ones. And Roger Goodell and the NFL are losing ratings because the are craven pieces of unattractive shit dominating the news. Irrespective of the superlative play of the NFLPA players. Goodell needs to look in the mirror for “what’s wrong” with the league he incompetently leads.

Frankly, screw the @NFL, baseball has some real and compelling excitement. The long suffering Cleveland Indians already have punched their ticket to the World Series. The battle between the Cubbies and Dodgers looks to be a League Championship Series for the ages. I grew up a Dodgers fan, but am firmly in the Cubs side now. Hey, if you have ever been to Spring Training in Phoenix, you KNOW the Cubbies rule. Let it so be this year in the NLCS.

Then there is the US Grand Prix. You’d think I would be all over this. And, yet, I never really have been. Austin is a great city, but COTA is a shitbag track, and as has been case for many decades, the US attempt at Formula One is total shit. Hey, they even tried it during the hottest part of the Phoenix heat once. Because THAT was a brilliant idea for “resurrecting” F1 in the United States. The Circus teeters between its old greatness and a Donald Trumpian like death spiral shitshow.

That is Trash. Love it or leave it.

UPDATE: A few quick words: A lot has been made of the Josh Brown mess with Goodell and the NFL this week. Oh, my, even the NFL owners are upset!!

Yeah, Jesus Fucking H. Christ, it is oh so predictable that the “Billionaire” asshole “owners” would get “upset” when their precious profits are on the line. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, new on the line between the NFL and reality on the Josh Brown case that was not there geometrically as to the Ray Rice case Roger Goodell and the NFL fucked up worse than a scumbag slimy Donald Trump Gropalo pick up artist in a classy bar.

When I say “mess”, I am being kind. How the NFL and NY Giants Security Offices operated in the Josh Brown case bears no, that is NO, relation to what I have seen out of professional professional pros sports security offices, including those of the NFL, over decades of years. Hey, it has been a few years, “maybe” they all became completely incompetent and ineffectual in that time. Draw your own conclusions, but I will not bet on that one.

Goodell and the NFL perpetuated as completed, falsely litigated, and unmitigated fraud on the world public with the idiotic “Deflategate” case, that did not even track basic physics, as can be imagined.

But, now, you should totally believe the NFL and the Giants’ John Mara that “Golly we never could have known that there was domestic violence here in the home of domestic violence and, yes, there is absolutely no difference between a white pasty ass kicker and a black running back.”

This is a pile of shit schticht that makes Captain Renault in Casablanca look credible. But, then again, that is Roger Goodell’s NFL, isn’t it?

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
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Scary Trumpalo Clown Trash Talk

clown-badAs you may have heard, there are scary things afoot this election season. But, no, it is not just the terrifying Trumpalos plotting to execute Hillary Clinton if their cherished Trump is not elected Sexual Molester in Chief, it is also the scourge of the more traditional clowns:

You’ve probably heard of the “killer clown” sightings and threats that are stoking fear around the U.S.

The “killer clown” hysteria began in late August, when unsubstantiated rumors surfaced in Greenville, South Carolina, that creepy clowns were trying to lure children into the woods. Those rumors were followed by reports of scary clown sightings in North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin, Colorado and several other states.

Sure, there are hoaxers,…..BUT:

Though most of the scary clown sightings haven’t been confirmed, or have turned out to be hoaxes, a few have been real. In Kentucky, a 20-year-old man was arrested for lurking near an apartment complex while wearing a bloody clown mask. And earlier this month in Roseville, Michigan, two 18-year-old women were arrested for dressing as clowns and chasing and frightening two 14-year-old girls.”>Though most of the scary clown sightings haven’t been confirmed, or have turned out to be hoaxes, a few have been real. In Kentucky, a 20-year-old man was arrested for lurking near an apartment complex while wearing a bloody clown mask.And earlier this month in Roseville, Michigan, two 18-year-old women were arrested for dressing as clowns and chasing and frightening two 14-year-old girls.

clowntrumpThen there is the ass clown that is Trump.

The Trumpalos following The Donald give new meaning to the thought of a truly insane posse.

Again, from the link above:

Amid the panic surrounding scary clowns, some schools are banning clown costumes this Halloween. The superintendent of Montclair Public Schools in New Jersey asked parents not to allow “children to dress up as clowns at any school event due to the possible disruption and fear it may cause.”

Some schools in Connecticut, Colorado, California, and other states have also banned clown costumes this year to avoid creating a panic.

Wonder if the school is similarly banning Trump costumes, because that it the real scary clown in our lives currently.

Anyway, on to the games for this weekend:

For the “student athletes” the two marquee games are clearly Alabama at Tennessee and Ohio State at Wisconsin. Hard to see how the home cooking in Knoxville and Madison, respectively, will be enough to carry the home dogs. Both going to still end up under. Of the two, the Badgers have the better shot. I am rooting for them because it is our friend Phred’s team, but still hard to see. Other games on the schedule that may be good: Ole Miss at Arkansas, UCLA at Washington State and Arizona State at Colorado. In any normal year, the Devils would be favored by about 20 over the sad sack Buffs. This is a weird year in the PAC though, and Colorado is tough, especially in Folsom Field in Boulder. I’ll take the Buffs, sadly.

In the pros, The Bolts already upset the Donkos on Thursday Night. The Jets are here in Phoenix to take on the Cards in the Big Toaster for Monday Night Football. Cards have just been off all year, and I don’t see that such is improving yet. Carson Palmer is back from a concussion, so I guess you have to favor the BirdGang, but hard to have much confidence. Lot of interest in the Cowboys taking to the Frozen Tundra in Lambeau. If Dak Prescott can pull of that kind of win, he may never give up the starting QB job, even when Romo eventually returns. Hey, it happens, just ask Drew Bledsoe about that Brady kid.

The Eagles visit the capital to see the Skins. The skins are a surprising 3-2, with the two losses coming to good teams, the Steelers and Cowboys. Philly is 3-1, and got a LOT of early press, but then got exposed somewhat by the Lions last week. This is a pick em and should be a good game. Hard to see the Bungles beating a still pissed off Tom Brady and the Pats in Foxborough. The Rams at Lions may also be a strangely good game. Betting on the Kittehs is never smart, but I am going to.

Music this week by Smokey and the Miracles in keeping with the clown theme.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
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Week Five NFL Trash Talk: The Return of Brady

It may not be the biggest game of week five, but all eyes will be on Tom Brady and his return from the idiotic, dishonest and petulant suspension manufactured by Roger Goodell and the NFL. That is going to be the story.

What can we expect? I think I’ll bet on Brady being Brady, especially with the Pats also getting Gronk and Rob Nincovich back. In fairness, Gronk suited up and played a few snaps last week as a test drive, but this will be his first real game back from hamstring recovery time out. Is there some analogue? Yes, there is! Ben Roethlisberger came back from a suspension against the same Cleveland Browns in 2010:

The only real parallel for Brady is two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger and his four-game suspension in 2010 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

The Steelers went 3-1 in his absence. They won their first three games without Roethlisberger, but lost the fourth at home. His first game back came against the Browns. (How’s that for a parallel?)

Roethlisberger said during his suspension he worked with his private coach, George Whitfield, four days a week. In the week leading up to the game, the Steelers extended individual drills in practice by 30 minutes to give Roethlisberger more work with his receivers.

Then came his season debut, a Week 6 game against the Browns (because of a bye the previous week). On his opening drive, Roethlisberger threw an interception to Joe Haden inside the red zone.

“I just got a little antsy,” Roethlisberger admitted after the game. “The ball was coming out what we call ‘hot,’ coming out high and strong.”

But he settled down after the first drive, and completed 16 of 27 passes for 257 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception as the Steelers rolled to a 28-10 win.

The Steelers went on to finish the 2010 season with a 12-4 record, and Roethlisberger led them to an appearance in the Super Bowl.

I think Pats fans would be fine tracking that parallel.

In other games, on Thursday night the Cardinals rebounded with a solid win over the hapless 49ers, and look to have Carson Palmer back next week against the Jets on the Monday Night Football game. Hopefully the Cards have righted their leaky ship. We’ll see.

The Falcons at Broncos could be a really good game. The Dirty Birds are flying high so far this year with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Last week, Ryan threw for over 500 yards, and Jones hauled in 300 yards worth of that. But this is the Broncos defense, not the suddenly porous Panthers, and the game is in Mile High. The really interesting thing here is that Denver is starting rookie Paxton Lynch even though Trevor Siemian is on the active roster. Be interesting to see if Siemian ever gets his job back.

The 3-1 Texans visiting the 4-0 Vikings is also a great matchup. The Texans are not flashy, but have been surprisingly solid on both sides of the ball so far. The Vikes all world on defense and surprisingly effective with Sam Bradford at QB. Houston is a decent team, and Brock Osweiller will only get better as he settles into his job, but hard to see the Vikes not moving to 5-0. Have to admit, the Bills at Rams doesn’t sound like a great game, but it may really be! Jets don’t look like their bleak road is going to get any easier as they are visiting Big Ben and the Steelers, who are suddenly clicking on all cylinders. Then there is the Giants at Lambeau to see the Packers for the SNF game. Should be an easy call, but the Cheese have had some Swiss like holes in them, and are only 2-1 coming off an early bye. Pack are favored by 7, but this game worries me for Pack. Going to be hard to watch the debate with the Packers on the TV.

Okay, with all the Trumpian excitement, it is a short Trash Talk week, but off we go! Today’s music is an awesome slow burn up to crescendo with I Ain’t Got Nothing But The Blues by the great Joe Williams. It starts off slow, but watch out.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
pine-tree-trimming-more-trunk

The Trees Have Fallen and The State of NFL Labor

As you may recall, this blog has covered the critical labor aspect of #Deflategate from the beginning, from Marcy to me substantively as the 2015 season began:

If you have an iota of concern for fundamental fairness and due process, you ought be offended – even if this is only a civil labor law mess involving millionaires against billionaires. It all matters, and the labor law principles in play here are beyond critical to all union workers and collective bargaining agreements, not just those of rich athletes. So, yeah, don’t kid yourself, this matters. A lot. If Tom Freaking Brady cannot get fundamental fairness and due process on a collectively bargained agreement, how the hell do you think a UAW, Teamster, teacher, or any other union member will? If you haven’t noticed, labor in this country is under direct attack. Don’t be the guy (or girl!) that aids that attack just because this iteration of the conflict involves Tom Brady and/or rich athletes. This matters, both in general as to all workers under labor agreements, and to your hometown sports teams and players too.

The labor law significance of #Deflategate was true then, and it is now. So many people were oh so quick and easy to let their personal pro football prejudices, or their prejudices against pro football, control their framing and thought on #Deflategate, and their opinion as to the usefulness of the protracted litigation. It’s good! It’s bad! Brady is a hero! Brady is a criminal! But that was false framing and thought. Simply as an avatar of fundamental, and critical, labor law, #Deflategate was important and necessary. While it may be over, the ramifications will affect many, if not all, labor unions in the future, and almost certainly for the worse.

Although it will sooner or later seep into all unions and collective bargaining agreements and interpretation, the first one is likely the NFL, where an all powerful and belligerent corporate league treats its employees like meat on a rack to be bought, sold, owned and treated as a perishable commodity. The NFL is a business, and a particularly ruthless one. And there IS a deplorable imbalance between management and players (the labor).

The final takeaway from the #Deflategate litigation is that, in a CBA, management has nearly unfettered discretion to interpret and implement the provisions of a CBA (Collectively Bargained Agreement) and ALL deference and presumption will be given their decisions, whether fair, proper or not. That is very much not a good thing. So, how will that affect labor going forward? The avatar may well, once again, be the NFL, and former executive and agent Andrew Brandt has some very salient thoughts in a two part series at Sports Illustrated. Part One is here. Please give it a read, it is instructive to both NFL fans and others too.

But Part Two of Brandt’s excellent series is where I want to pick up today:

After discussing many important issues in Part I of this midterm look at the 10-year collective bargaining agreement that governs NFL owners and players, this section deals with the all-important issue: where is the money going? With billions of dollars coming into the game, there is always dispute about how much each side should claim as “their share.” The owners, to be sure, achieved their primary goal in this negotiation: to take more of it.

From the beginning of these CBA negotiations, the NFLPA was playing defense against an aggressive push by NFL owners who were intent on reversing the (literal) fortunes from the 2006 CBA extension, a deal that owners voted unanimously to opt out of before the ink was even dry. Having no success in bargaining and facing a lockout imposed by the league, the NFLPA strategy shifted from negotiation to litigation, as the union was dissolved to bring an antitrust lawsuit, Brady v. NFL (the lockout one, not the Deflategate one). Ultimately, after a negative result in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the NFLPA made a deal to get players into training camp on time.

The league’s top priority was simple: become more profitable by lowering their largest expense, player costs.

And follow the money Brandt does. One thing that really hit home with me is the truth Brandt tells about guaranteed player contracts. Major League Baseball has them. The NBA has them. The only major professional sporting league that does not is the most deadly sport, the National Football League. The league with the most necessity to protect its labor (players) does absolutely the least to do so. More from Brandt:

Although there was much reaction this summer to eye-popping NBA free-agent contracts, many forget that we have similar gawking at NFL free-agent contracts every March (this year’s batch of golden ticket winners included Olivier Vernon, Malik Jackson, Janoris Jenkins and a few others). The difference, of course, is that while NBA contracts are fully guaranteed, NFL guarantees disappear after the early part of the contract (when teams have the lowest risk). NFL management smiles when agents deceive media and fans with reports of illusory guarantees and inclusion of no-risk first-year earnings into total guarantee.

We hear a lot of reasons why the NFL does not guarantee contracts—even from union leadership—that make perfect sense…for management. The primary reason is the high injury risk for NFL players, which, from a player point of view, is exactly the reason for guaranteed contracts. NFL contracts and the allocation of risk they provide have provided incredible value for teams, especially compared to other leagues. It is unfortunate that player contracts are so tenuous in the sport with the 1) most revenue, 2) highest franchise values, 3) greatest injury risk and 4) shortest career lengths.

So, where does that leave the labor in the NFL versus their profit whoring management? It is a complicated answer, and I truly hope you read both parts of Andrew’s series on this subject. The simple answer is with five more years under the current CBA. The better question is really what will happen leading up to, and at, the point of negotiating the next CBA? That is yet to be seen, but, if nothing else, #Deflategate proved, yet again, the incredible inequality that exists in a nation where owners are lionizes and workers are trivialized. Labor, and unions, matter. Their demise over the last few decades is significant in the demise and eradication of the middle class. Don’t let the fact that #Deflategate involved relatively rich players compared to your and my existence, but realize it is a cutout for a much larger problem.

Okay, on to the games! I was out much of yesterday and last night. Which left insufficient time to trash Rosalind and her Stanford Trees. Who proved twigs in a Husky hurricane last night. Ouch. It wasn’t just the leaves that were falling last night, as Van Morrison once described, it was the whole Tree! Today, Wisconsin at the Big House in Ann Arbor looks to be fantastic. But, honestly, I am more excited to see Louisville at Clemson in a battle between the hot ticket QB’s in the country, the Cardinals’ Lamar Jackson and the Tigers’ Deshaun Watson. Now THAT will be a fun game.

Also the deceptively 4-0 (no, they are NOT that good) ASU Sun Devils hope to bring some burning inferno to the Coliseum in LA against the USC Trojans. From my perspective (hey, I’m a lifer AND an alumni) ASU coach Todd Graham sucks. His defense is based on reckless blitzing and is ultra porous. He runs sloppy and undisciplined special teams. And his offense is spread cookie cutter crap. But USC alumni are on the warpath against Clay Helton too. I wonder which fan base prays harder for another tarmac firing?

On the Pro front, can the Patriots go 4-0 without Tom Brady? The bet here is, at Foxborough, yes. Seahawks at Jets may be interesting. Squawks have looked off this year, Wilson is at least slightly hurt, and the Jets not as truly terrible as they looked last week. Could be interesting! The two best games, pretty easily, are Chefs at Steelers Sunday night and Giants at Vikings Monday night. Steelers displayed some serious crake last week against the Eagles. The Chefs are well coached and solid on both sides of the ball. Could be a heck of a game. Giants are better, and more consistent this year. Still some major holes though. I’ll take the Vikes at their new, shiny and VERY loud home.

That is it for this week. Music by the inestimable Van Morrison.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
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America, Friday Night Lights and Ditka Is An Ass Trash

_91332625_091716-woodrowwilsonhighschoolfootballteam-ss14Colin Kaepernick started something when he sat, and then kneeled, for the Star Spangled Banner. Not sure he knew or fully intended the scope of reaction he generated, but generate it he did. It has led to much consternation and discussion across sports, media and the nation’s conscience. Not yet to the significance of the #BlackLivesMatter effort, but remarkably substantial.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said of his decision to kneel during a pregame performance of the national anthem.

The action, which Kaepernick said was intended to draw attention to the way law enforcement, and American society in general, treats minorities, has since been adopted by other athletes, professional and otherwise, around the country.

Critics, like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have upbraided Kaepernick and others for an action that they say is disrespectful and unpatriotic. Kaepernick recently shot back, saying “there’s a lot of racism in this country disguised as patriotism.”

I always had some doubts about Kaepernick as an upper tier QB in the NFL, but nobody who has listened to him talk about his basis for doing what he has, and read about his backstory, can doubt his sincerity and motivation in what he is doing as to seeking social commentary, action and remediation.

Oh, and before you get too wrapped up in your flag, patriotism and the holier than thou national anthem, take a gander at the third verse Francis Scott Key wrote, and that is now oh so conveniently omitted from the hallowed singing of it:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Yeah. Our precious national anthem, from the conveniently omitted third verse, to other descriptions of only “free men”, was really a racist ode to slavery and oppression. Go figure. How dare Colin Kaepernick, or any other citizen possibly object??

Now there is a distinction, often poorly understood, between free speech, and free speech that is protected by the Constitution. The former is what we pretend to ascribe to, the latter is that which the Constitution, mostly, protects from from impingement from government law and/or censorship. There is a difference. And, no, please, do not even think about netsplaining to me that there are limits because “fire in the theater”, lest I have to reach through the inner tubes and strangle the last ounce of life out of you.

Even the craven cop unions which have predictably displayed their belligerence and ignorance over national anthem protests are likely not government actors per se impinging on Kaepernick and others free speech. Unamerican jerks who have no clue what the founding principles (including life other than those in blue) stand for, sure, but that is it.

Before this morning, I might have ended there with a few more words about the dubious antics of jacked up militarized police unions. But then Hall of Fame coach and player Mike Ditka went off in full ignorant racist bigot mode:

Anybody who disrespects this country and the flag, if they don’t like our flag then get the hell out,” he said on Dallas’ 105.3 The Fan. “That’s what I think. So if you’re asking me, I have no respect for Colin Kaepernick.

Yikes. That is not the lovable, if cantankerous, “Da Bears” guy Ditka has made a living existing on. Not to be impolitic or anything, but Mike Ditka can go fuck himself. And, since we are all entitled to our opinion without having to leave the country of our birth and residence, there will be no call here for him to go elsewhere. But I’d sure rather have a thoughtful human like Colin Kaepernick, concerned about racism and fundamental rights, than a blowhard fat jackass like Mike Ditka if it came down to a choice for a neighbor.

And then I saw the story of Coach Preston Brown and the Woodrow Wilson Tigers of Camden, New Jersey. The Tigers don’t play on Sunday like the oh so important NFL, nor even on Saturday with the NCAA elite. They play on Friday nights (okay, sometimes Saturdays), and make it through the week to get there through grit, determination, character and the love of their coaches, led by Preston Brown.

As the head coach of the Woodrow Wilson High School Tigers, he took on the 24-hour-a-day job of being a mentor and a father figure to 68 young men and boys who are growing up in one of the poorest cities in the US. The 31-year-old spends his own money to feed them when they’re hungry. He gives them a place to stay when they have nowhere to go.

So why do so many strangers want him out of a job?

“You are a disgrace to your high school and a coward.”

“I will help them fire you … I hate you with all my heart.”

“Get the f*ck out of this country if you don’t like it you anti-American asshole.”

Brown – a married father of three – wakes up every morning to emails, Facebook messages and voicemails questioning his intellect, his humanity, his patriotism.
For the past two weeks, the Camden City School District has received dozens of calls from across the country, calling for Brown’s dismissal. A local radio personality denounced his “ignorance, shame and stupidity” on the air.

The sin that Brown committed: on 10 September, at the Woodrow Wilson Tigers’ first game of the season, Brown refused to stand for the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner. Instead, he took a knee in a silent protest.

With the exception of two players, the entire Tiger football team joined him. A local sports reporter captured the incident on video – a row of players kneeling in their black and orange uniforms – and posted it online. By evening, the story had gone viral.

Ain’t that America? It is not all little pink houses and white picket fences. The American ethos will not succeed from the top down. Decades of income inequality, land barons, corporate depravity and arrogant Trumpism have proven that. It will come, if at all, from the streets and ground up.

Read the full story. I implore you, read the thing. It is long, but oh so worth it. Preston Brown is a man, a teacher, a leader, and everything that is America. At least that we are supposed to cherish and that we deign to claim with the drumbeat of “American exceptionalism”.

Colin Kaepernick and Preston Brown clearly don’t know each other in the least. but while Kaepernick started a valuable conversation, let the story of the Preston Browns, and the students he is shaping, be the bigger story. And that is the thing, a single man like Brown or Kaepernick can start a fire, even tend it somewhat, but it is up to those it touches to absorb the heat and take it further. So, for all the focus on Preston Brown, let the admiration also be for the students and players at Woodrow Wilson High who are buying into the message and taking it to heart. This is how a difference is made, both small and large.

Okay, moving along to the games, there are a few good choices in the NCAA. The best of the lot is probably Wisconsin at Michigan State. Sparty, despite their 2-0 record looks off this year, and the Badgers look on. But the game is in East Lansing, so I rate it a pick em. Georgia is at Ole Miss, and I will take the home team in an upset. Jim White’s Gators are at Neyland stadium to take on the Vols. Shaky on this, but will take another home team for the upset. And then there is the Stanford Trees at UCLA. There is an old joke that goes “what happens when the smog lifts in Southern California”? The answer is “UCLA”. Okay, lame joke, can’t pick against a McCaffrey, but this has trouble for the Trees written on it.

In the pros, Jacoby Brissett and the unstoppable Patriots have already dispatched Houstonians. But Brissett injured his thumb, and I am calling for the signing of Tebow to play and win the next game. That would truly cement the Belichick legacy. Broncos at Bengals and Lions at Green Bay will be critical games. The Cheese has looked Swiss with holes early on this season. The Kittehs look dangerous. We shall see. The really exciting matchup is the Steelers versus the Eagles in Philly. Carson Wentz and the revamped Iggles under Doug Peterson have been great so far. But Big Ben, Antonio Brown and D’Angelo Williams are rolling. This should be a great game, but have to take the Stillers. Lastly, Honey Badger and Pat Peterson are coming for these two clowns.

Music this week by John Mellancamp. That is it. Go, set forth, and make America great again (by voting against Trump).

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.