Sunday, October 20, 2013

Week 7 Picks

These are posted late but I promise I wrote them down on time.

Seahawks (-6.5) over CARDINALS - W
FALCONS (- 4.5) over Bucs - W
LIONS - 1.5 over Bengals - L
Bills (+8) over DOLPHINS - W
PATRIOTS (-3.5) over Jets - L
WASH (+4) over Bears - W
Cowboys (-3.5) over EAGLES - W
Rams (+8) over PANTHERS - L
JAGS (+9) over Chargers - L
49ers (-7) over TITANS - W
Browns (+11) over PACKERS - L
CHIEFS (+7) over Texans - L
Ravens (+1) over STEELERS - L
Broncos (-6.5) over COLTS
GIANTS (-3.5) over Vikings

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

NFL Picks: Week 6

Last week was a rocky start, with the added embarrassment that I flat out forgot to pick the MNF game. Part of me thinks it was kind of a weird, fluky week where games could have turned on a play or two, but most of me knows that I'm probably just ignorant this season. Here's go number one at trying to turn things around.

BEARS (-7.5) over Giants - L
Bengals (-7) BILLS - L
Lions (-2.5) over BROWNS - W
CHIEFS (-7.5) over Raiders - W
VIKINGS (-2.5) over Panthers - L
Steelers (+2.5) over JETS - W
Eagles (-1) over BUCS - W
Packers (-3) over RAVENS - L
Rams (+7) over TEXANS - W
Jags (+26.5) over BRONCOS - W
SEAHAWKS (+13.5) over Titans - L
PATRIOTS (-1) over Saints - W
Cardinals (+11) over 49ERS - L
COWBOYS (-5.5) over Washington - W
CHARGERS (+1.5) over Colts - W

This Week: 9-6
Season: 13-14

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

NFL Lines: Week 5

Now that I've had a few weeks to let the season settle in and get an idea of who deserves to be rated above whom, let's get down to bizness and make some gambling picks. Between Sunday morning work and Sunday afternoon homework I haven't been able to follow as closely (or drink as much beer) as I'd like to, but it's a gift I have, and one that I won't let excuses get in the way of giving.


Bills (+4) over BROWNS - L
Saints (Pick 'Em) over BEARS - W
Patriots (Pick 'Em) over BENGALS - L
Lions (+7) over PACKERS - L
Chiefs (-2.5) over TITANS - W
Seahawks (-1) over COLTS - L
RAMS (-11) over Jaguars - W
DOLPHINS (-3) over Ravens - L
GIANTS (-1) over Eagles - L
Broncos (-7.5) over COWBOYS - L
49ERS (-6.5) over Texans - W
Chargers (-4.5) over RAIDERS - L

Week: 4-8

Quick thoughts:
*The Seahawks line is a slap in the face, O-Line or not.
*I'm betting on the Broncos until they show me I shouldn't (especially against the Cowboys, although I do like the 'Boys to have a lead at some point.)
*That's a big line for the Packers
*Either the Pats still aren't getting respect (deservedly) or Vegas puts a lot of stock in Wilfork.

Friday, September 6, 2013

2013 NFL Predictions

Low light creeps in and lengthens shadows, nighttime open windows begin to close, the chirp of the first migrating warblers fall on discerning ears.  It is that time again, football season. Sundays won't be the same until February.

Indeed we are all grateful for this turn of the season. Our hearts well rested from a summer without much professional competition, and ready to feel every level of happiness from 0 to 10, even 11 once or twice before we start over again next spring with all but 1 team at the bottom. Let's take a look at who those will be.

2013 Season Predictions

NFC East
NY Giants        9-7
Philadelphia       9-7
Dallas               7-9
Washington       7-9

NFC North
Green Bay       11-5
Detroit              9-7
Chicago            7-9
Minnesota         5-11

NFC South
New Orleans    11-5
Atlanta            10-6
Tampa Bay        8-8
Carolina            5-11

NFC West
Seattle             13-3
San Francisco  13-3
St. Louis          6-10
Arizona            4-12

AFC East
New England   12-4
Miami              7-9
Buffalo            5-11
NY Jets           2-14

AFC North
Bengals          10-6
Steelers           8-8
Ravens            8-8
Browns           5-11

AFC South
Houston         10-6
Indianapolis    9-7
Tennessee      5-11
Jacksonville    3-13

AFC West
Denver           13-3
Kansas City     9-7
San Diego       3-13
Oakland          2-14

NFC Wild Card
GIANTS over 49ers
Falcons over PACKERS

AFC Wild Card
TEXANS over Colts
BENGALS over Chiefs

NFC Divisional
SEAHAWKS over Falcons
SAINTS over Giants

AFC Divisional
BRONCOS over Bengals
PATRIOTS over Texans

NFC Championship
SEAHAWKS over Saints

AFC Championship
BRONCOS over Patriots

Seahawks over Broncos

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Cookin' Some Stuff: Lentil Vegetable Stew

Not sure why, probably some mixture of poverty and the distant resonance of a voice reminding me to temper my excessive drug use with some nutritious food, but since I've been in Chicago much of the cooking I've done has been in the south Asian style, one that is easily compatible with vegetables, garlic and ginger. After a long hiatus from cooking due to funky work hours and general life disarray, I return today with a new recipe that, seven bites in, I'm pretty proud of: lentil vegetable stew.


2 cups red lentils
1-2 bunches kale
1 head broccoli
1 yellow onion
1 head of garlic
1-2 fingers ginger
2 cans pinto beans
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
long squirt of mustard
squirt of sriracha
(seasonings always approximate)

Begin by cooking the lentils (30 minutes) along with half of the available cumin and curry powder and all of the salt.

With lentils cooking, chop the onion, kale, broccoli (diced), garlic and ginger (minced).

Add olive oil to bottom of large stew pot, add the onion and the remaining spices, let cook a few minutes on medium-high then add the veggies, garlic and ginger, cook a few more minutes.

The lentils should be about done by now. Add them to the stew pot along with the pinto beans, and enough water to make it sort of stew-y (maybe a cup) and, if you feel like it, some more curry powder. Also add mustard and sriracha. Cover and turn down to simmer, let simmer 5-15 minutes until it looks good.

Eat, enjoy.

Monday, February 25, 2013


That's right, folks, your favorite trivia host returns to action tonight at The Inner Town Pub in Chicago's Ukrainian Village. 

9PM. Perhaps I'll see you there.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2012 NFL Gambling: A Season in Review, Part Deux

BTB's 2012 Gambling Standings*

NFC SOUTH        20-17

Bucs                     9-1
Falcons                 4-4
Panthers                4-6
Saints                    3-6

NFC NORTH        25-10-2

Bears                    8-0-1
Vikings                 8-1
Lions                    5-3-1
Packers                 4-6

NFC EAST           19-19

Cowboys              7-2
Eagles                   5-4
Washington           4-6
Giants                   3-7

NFC WEST          20-16-2

49ers                    7-2-1
Seahawks              5-4-1
Rams                    4-5
Cardinals               4-5

NFC TOTAL         84-61-4  

AFC SOUTH         17-23

Jaguars                 5-5
Colts                     5-5
Titans                   4-6
Texans                  3-7

AFC NORTH        13-22

Bengals                 5-4
Browns                 4-5
Steelers                 3-6
Ravens                  1-7

AFC EAST           21-19

Patriots                 9-1
Jets                      6-4
Bills                      5-5
Dolphins               1-9

AFC WEST           22-16

Chiefs                   7-2
Raiders                 6-4
Chargers               5-4
Broncos                4-6

AFC TOTAL         73-80 

Notes and commentary:

Teams I owned (7+ wins)
Bucs, Bears, Vikings, Cowboys, Patriots, 49ers, Chiefs

This group can basically be summed up by 1) the "bad good teams" (Bucs, Bears, Vikes, Cowboys) who I could count on to barely win or choke against decent competition, and handle business against the crappy competition. 2) The awful team (Chiefs) and 3) "the really good teams" (Pats, 49ers).

Teams that owned me (7+ losses)
Dolphins, Ravens, Texans, Giants

Basically, the overrated teams (Giants, Texans), and the Dolphins who I thought were decent but never put it together and the Ravens, with whom my only win came on the fluke Chargers pick'em game when Ray Rice picked up the improbably third and long. I thought they were a good bad team, but then they won the super bowl

A couple of other notes:
Washington: it took me too long to believe in them during late season winning streak, otherwise might have nailed them.
Seahawks: Once I stopped playing the home team jinx game, I had them down. Lesson learned.
NFC, I know you.
AFC, fuck off.

*The numbers don't match up, I'm missing 2 games from the team-by-team standings and the overall standings, but I don't really feel like going back to figure out the minor mistakes. In a sample that large, 3 games is no big deal, anyway.

Life in Africa

Browsing through the photography of Daniel Naude is something that I encourage you to do. I was certainly struck by the beauty of the work, but it was the juxtapostion--so unusual to me in my urban American life--of strange animals with humans, and in particular of animals with landscapes. One image summed it up the best:

In my America, cattle are never seen on the beach. I wish that they were.

P.S. Those are some sweet looking headlands.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rally Cry of the February Rider

My first time riding since September
And it's the freest I've felt since I can remember.
I'm out of shape, cold, and saddle sore
I may have lost the battle, but I'll win the war.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cookin' Some Stuff: Mac and Chee

One package macaroni
One 8 oz. package Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar, shredded
One stick butter
One half Pound Bacon
2-3 tbsp yellow mustard
Coarse black pepper to taste (I use A LOT)
One broccoli crown (optional)
3-4 cloves of garlic (optional)
1/4 cup milk (optional)

Cook bacon, let cool, chop into bits

Cook Macaroni

Sautee Broccoli with garlic while macaroni cooks (optional)

Once macaroni is cooked and drained, add butter and mustard and, little by little, cheese and black pepper. Stir continually until cheese and butter have melted. Add milk if you prefer a juicier consistency.

Eat and enjoy.

Add sriracha for kick.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2012 NFL Gambling: A Season in Review, Part 1

Cones fall, trees grow, buds blossom, leaves sprout, leaves fall, then winter brings out the drunks in all of us, save for the fans of one lucky franchise, whose Super Bowl victory carries them through the dark doldrums of February, March and--depending on which region of America you happen to live in--April.

Now that my NFL divisional playoff wounds are completely healed, I feel like I'm able to at least speak about this past season, no matter what meekness pierces through the words and letters.

This year of MMXII marks the first semi-complete journey of fake football gambling for me, and I have mostly positive memories, especially considering I spent the bulk of the season in the mountains and on the beaches of Nicaragua, where I was lucky to catch a Spanish language broadcast pirated out of the Buffalo-Cleveland CBS network in Matagalpa, or unlucky enough to watch the Seahawks-Lions game at an ex-pat rapist haven in Granada.

Ah, well, I'll always have Monday Night Football in Week 3, the Golden Mary Game. I have reason to believe the Nicaraguan locals will never forget the visage of the crazy, blue-green-eyed gringo, twelve Tonas deep, crumbling to the ground for a painful moment--then suddenly leaping up into the air and running around in circles like a crazed fool. 14-12.

For people in Seattle, 14-12 will stand as long as 9-11. Never forget.

Yes, that brings us to numbers. For the games I actually got around to picking when I wasn't eyeball drunk on Flor de Cana, marooned on some distant God-fearing coffee farm, or wallowing in general despair, the count ended up slightly in the favor of the good guys: 79 wins, 71 losses, 2 ties.

79-71-2 works out to a .526 winning percentage, hardly worthy of Nostradamus, or even Swami Sez, but it beat the break even point of .524, just barely. Either way, I'll call it one hell of a good building block on my future gambling empire. If I had put $110 on each game my reward would have been a pretty sweet $90 Tuesday-Wednesday bender at my local dive bars.

I can also say with confidence that, although I didn't publish my playoff picks, I would have finished with a tidy 8-2 record, with a 3-1 divisional week (all but the Seahawks) and a perfect championship week (9ers to win as the favorites and Ravens to lose but cover). There was too much bitterness clouding my brain to come up with a pick for the Harbaugh Bowl aka the Garbage Bowl aka the Har-i-bowl. But let's look at the bright side, I was banking some cash money, baby.

Coming Soon: Team by Team, Conference by Conference Results

Silent Cal

This piece reminds me that if more rich conservatives lived in two-family houses, I might have some respect for them. Oh, and shout out Northampton.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cookin' Some Stuff - Chicken Soup

In which I write down my recipes so that I don't forget them, whether or not they are good.

1.3 lbs chicken breast
3 small russet potatoes, diced
2 small red potatoes, diced
6 carrots, pieced
1 bunch kale, sliced
1 ginger root, minced
1.5 cup red lentils
1.5 heads of garlic, minced
1-2 tsp. black pepper
1-2 tsp. cumin
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of crushed red pepper
squirt of sriracha
pot covering of olive oil
1 box chicken broth
some water

Cut chicken into small pieces, place into pot with olive oil, nutmeg, red pepper, some black pepper, cook for a minute or two.
Add chicken broth, potatoes, cumin, ginger, lentils, cover with water
Bring to boil, then drop to simmer, squirt sriracha,
Add carrots and garlic, simmer another 10-15 minutes.
Add kale, simmer another 20-25 minutes
Eat and enjoy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cookin' Some Stuff - Semi Indian Veggie Stew Paste

In which I write down my recipes so that I don't forget them, whether or not they are good.

3 potatoes, chopped into small cubes
1/2 head cauliflower, broken into manageable pieces
3 carrots, quartered and chopped
1 can pinto beans
6 cloves garlic, cut in thirds
two fingers of ginger, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp curry powder
ground pepper to taste
squirt mustard
squirt sriracha
1/4 cup butter

Cover bottom of pan with water and some olive oil, add potatoes, cook a few minutes, add cauliflower, add pepper and some cumin and curry, cook a few minutes, add carrots, cook a few minutes, add ginger, cook a few minutes, add garclic, cook a few minutes, add beans and the rest of the seasonings, simmer for another 30-40 minutes until potatoes are soft.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Know Your Major North American River Drainage Basins

Chapter 1: The Things They Resembled

This is part 1 of a series on getting to know your major North American river drainage basins. Here are some examples of major North American river basins and things that they look like. This will help you learn them, and get you in my good graces. (Click on images for better view.)

Exhibit A.
Yukon River Basin
The head and swinging arms of Bigfoot from the Patterson Film.

Exhibit B.
Mississippi River Basin
A Giant Bat

Exhibit C.
Missouri River Basin
The Stink Cloud of a St. Louis Fart.

Exhibit D.
Columbia River Basin
The Profile of a Wizard's Head

Exhibit E.
St. Lawrence River Basin

Exhibit F.
Rio Grande River Basin
R. Crumb Drawing with Hands in Pockets
(saved the worst one for last)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Playoff Picks: Round 1

TEXANS (-4.5) over Bengals
Vikings (+9.5) over PACKERS
RAVENS (-6.5) over Colts
Seahawks (-1) over REDSKINS

Playoff Record: 3-1

ed. note: I went 3-1 in week 2 of the playoffs, but never got around to posting my picks. I was too annoyed to pick the conference championships.