Thursday, October 8, 2015

I Wish I Could Talk About Pop Culture At Work

Something that I have realized about corporate America is that they do not share my same personal interests. Yes, many people like sports, but they like them on such a casual level that it is mentally taxing for me to dumb down my opinions enough to carry on a conversation. When it comes to pop culture, I have very little in common with the people I work with, so the only thing I ever bring up is my Hot Takes on The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise.

There are many small examples of things I wish I could discuss, but one that stood out was when I mentioned watching Review on Comedy Central, and the mere mention of Comedy Central brought scoffs from my coworkers, as they don't watch that channel. This blew my damn mind. Comedy Central is the station that I watch the most shows on. I mean, Review, South Park, Big Time in Hollywood, FL, Nathan For You, and Workaholics are all must watch television shows. But not in my coworkers' minds. They laugh at the mere idea of turning Comedy Central on.

Music is even more difficult. With TV, I can at least bring up my favorite shows before getting blank stares. In music, I can't even do that. I realized this as I was doing some work while jamming out to Steel Panther. I decided I should probably sing quietly, as most people aren't comfortable when someone belts out the lyrics to, "Fuckin' My Heart in the Ass." I mean, there's no way I can sing that song. I can't even say that song's title without an immediate trip to HR. Honestly, I'm not sure if I can mention the name Steel Panther without it possibly leading to some sort of lawsuit.

So, yeah, I don't exactly fit in corporate America, or really any place with well-adjusted human beings.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My Review of Atlanta

My wife, dog, and I took a trip to Atlanta this past weekend. All it took me was one weekend to understand the city of Atlanta completely.

Before arriving, I needed to find a hotel. We wanted something close to the stadium, but since the dog was coming, needed something pet friendly. Hotwire had a deal on a 4-Star hotel less than two miles from the ballpark that was pet friendly. That sounded perfect, so I booked it and found out it was the downtown Sheraton. I went to their website, and found that although they are pet friendly, it is only for dogs up to 40 pounds, which is about 20-25 pounds too light for my pup. Also, they make you pay $100 deposit, and you only get $65 back. That is not pet friendly; that is pet exploitation. They are basically just trying to wring $35 out of you with no extra work on their end of things.

I was not having any of that, so after our 6.5 hour drive to get there, I snuck in my dog through the backdoor after I checked in and continued to sneak her in and out through the back doors of the place, so I didn't have to answer any questions from that nosey front desk.

But this hotel drama was far from over, as this supposed 4-Star hotel does not have free WiFi. They were trying to charge like $9 a day to use internet. What kind of hotel charges for internet in this day and age? I have stayed in some absolute shitholes, but even those would at least give you free WiFi. Don't stay at the downtown Sheraton. It sucks.

Saturday was a day of exploration in order to obtain food and wear out the dog. The morning was uneventful, but business picked up in the afternoon. We went to Cook Out for lunch on Saturday, because it delivers a lot of food for very little money. I got walking directions from Google, and luckily Google knew of a shortcut that would save us three walking minutes. I live my life with the motto of, IGWT, In Google We Trust, so I had no issues following Google's directions. Did the neighborhoods that we walked through get sketchier and sketchier? Did we most likely walk by a drug dealing operation? Yes, that seems quite likely. Was my wife happy about Google's directions? Honestly, she wasn't. She wasn't too pleased with me at all. We took the long way back home, and honestly, when you're not walking around in fear of being murdered, the walk does seem quicker.

But maybe the most disappointing part of that story is that Cook Out was not nearly as good as I remembered it. The caramel cheesecake shake delivered, but the burger, nuggets, and fries left a lot to be desired.

That night, we went to the Braves/Cardinals game, as it was the main reason for our trip. The old lady used to work for a Cardinals affiliate, so she knows a lot of the players. I am a lifelong Cubs fan, so I could give a shit about the Cardinals, but whatever, I figured I could root, root, root for the home team.

This plan would have worked, but Atlanta got rain that just would not quit the entire night, and the game got postponed, so we would not be seeing a baseball game on our 13-hour round trip drive to go see a baseball game. But hey, that's the way it goes sometimes.

And had the game not been cancelled, I would not have seen what I assume is the most Atlanta thing possible. While driving back to the hotel around 10:00 PM, I saw two pitbulls trotting down a busy street. I thought there owner would be following closely behind, but nope. There were just two pitbulls trotting down the street in the middle of downtown Atlanta. They just took up the far left lane on a one way and looked like they knew where they were headed. I would have adopted those pups, but they were so badass that it would have made more sense for them to adopt me.

Our trip ended with a dinner with friends, and then breakfast with another friend the following morning. They were both very pleasant experiences but unless I want to reveal secrets about the persons at these meals, they were rather uneventful.

So what is my overall review of Atlanta? If you like Waffle Houses, drug deals, and pitbulls running the streets, then Atlanta is the place for you. Personally, I'll take the tamer streets of Clearwater, where the only real concern is Hulk Hogan's racism getting totally out of control.

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Fully Blame Jonathan Papelbon for My Fantasy Baseball Loss

Jonathan Papelbon is such a piece of shit. When he went after Bryce Harper, he didn't just go after his Washington Nationals teammate, he went after his Team Pedigree teammate, and that is a bond that should never be forgotten. These guys have been playing well all year long, but Papelbon just didn't know his place. Even though Papelbon has been a good closer, Harper has been a transcendent star, joining with Mike Trout and Manny Machado to form the best trifecta in the entire league.

And yet, despite all that talent, Papelbon decided to throw it all away and fight with his teammate. My team lost 5-4-1, and had I just gotten one more home run that week, I would have advanced. Instead, Papelbon killed the morale of the team, and nobody did shit on Sunday. Jonathan Papelbon was released from my team and has earned a lifetime ban from my fantasy rosters.

And you know what happened once Papelbon was released? Despite the wind being taken out of our sails, and only playing for third place, the team came together and decided to go out there and kick some ass. The offense hit, and the pitching pitched out of their minds with a 1.46 ERA and sub 1.00 WHIP, while striking out 91 guys on the week. Hell, Scherzer was so happy to be rid of Papelbon on the team, he had one of the greatest pitching performances ever.

As great as all of that was, nothing embodies my team's spirit that they carried throughout the year better than these two teammates palling around.

Jose Fernandez may have thrown a meatball to Longoria, but he can laugh about it, and both can go on to team up to play for the greater good of Team Pedigree. May they serve as an inspiration for my fantasy football and basketball teams.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Should I Post Topless Photos of Myself?

Sometimes, I wish I was more of a douchebag. Now, I know what a lot of you are thinking, "How could you be a bigger douchebag? Your in your 30s and still refer to yourself as 'Hott Joe.'" Well, first off, damn, that was hurtful, hypothetical person that I created. But second, there are many, many ways that I could be a bigger douchebag.

The way that has most prominently entered my head is showing off my body. I am now 31 years old, but I have a body that would make 21 year-old me very jealous (partly because I'm in very good shape now, partly because I was in very poor shape then). But it's not like anybody (outside of my wife) ever really gets to enjoy it. So I work my ass off, and then cover up all of my hard work. I'm basically the guy who spends all of his money on a beautiful sports car, but then never takes it out of the garage.

But I can't be the guy who takes a shirtless picture of himself, can I? That guy is such a tool. But am I a tool by just considering this action? Probably. And then the question becomes, am I a bigger tool by not doing what I want to do, or doing something that I know is sad and super needy of outside people's approval? But shit, I work hard, and I deserve adulation for all of that hard work.

Aw shit, just realized something. I would have to manscape if I was going to take this picture, because if I'm going to do this, I have to do it right. But I don't even manscape for my wife, and it seems that putting in that sort of effort into my own narcissism is troubling, even for someone like me.

So it's settled. I will stay at my current level of douchebaggery and not post topless photos of my bodacious bod.

Thanks for helping me make the right decision, imaginary friend.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

NXT and the Land of Forgotten Toys

NXT is the hottest thing in pro wrestling. It's great, as it gives you a glimpse into the WWE's future, and the future is clearly bright. That's what everybody talks about, but there is another, admittedly smaller, aspect of NXT, and that is the wrestlers who have had success before who are trying to build back up to main roster relevancy. These are the forgotten toys of the WWE. They're not bad; it's just that fans haven't really thought about why they loved them so much before, and NXT is giving them that chance to bust out of the toy chest and back into the main rotation.

Zack Ryder
Let's start with the most insane example. Zack Ryder was a huge deal. Z! True Long Island Story changed how WWE treated the internet. Honestly, I'm not sure if the WWE Network exists without Zack Ryder getting the ball rolling. That show sparked WWE getting a YouTube channel, so yeah, he was way ahead of the curve when it came to pro wrestling and technology.

He used that to create a huge following and even a US Title run. Unfortunately, the WWE never really knew what to do with him; they just knew that fans really liked him. They didn't understand that fans related to him, and although he was big on the internet, it never really translated to WWE TV.

Even saying that, this is now a guy who isn't just doing NXT Tapings, he's doing the house shows as well. In fact, he even walked around and took pictures with fans before the show. He's now in a tag team with Mojo Rawley, and that is the best thing that could have happened to Mojo, as they have done a good job of hiding his weaknesses in the ring, while exploiting his main attribute, which is energy (also known as staying hyped). It was really cool to get to see Zack Ryder, but he's a guy who can still make an impact on Raw.

One more thing: Zack Ryder is a true professional where there is no job he won't do. He proved that by taking the pin to Dash and Dawson at an NXT House show.

I feel like the entire world has forgotten that Emma was the shit. Before the "Divas Revolution" took form with the Four Horsewomen, Emma was on Paige's level, and they were tearing it up on NXT. They were the two dominant women wrestlers, making it to the finals of the inaugural Women's Title Tournament when Sasha Banks and Bayley were too green to make an impact.

Emma came in as this Australian lady that people were kind of indifferent towards, and she became beloved due to some awkward dancing and some damn fine wrestling. Unfortunately, the WWE could only focus on the former when they brought her up to the main roster and made her a comedy act with Santino. It did not go well, as they just aimlessly had her wander around until Santino retired. There was also a day where she was fired from stealing from Wal-Mart, but seriously, people should steal from Wal-Mart. She was hired back the next day, but they never really put her into anything meaningful on Raw.

Now, she has paired with Dana Brooke, and she's back to putting on good matches on NXT. She seems to be more of the sidekick in that team, which is insane, but it's at least leading to something positive. But it was a little shocking to see her at an NXT house show surrounded by up-and-comers as opposed to someone who has already shown she belongs. It's great for a fan who lives in Florida, but I'm still hoping she gets the chance to rejoin the Raw roster soon.

Tyler Breeze
The last person I want to talk about is Tyler Breeze. He doesn't fit into the same mold as the previous two people, as he has only had one match on Raw. But Tyler Breeze seems like he is, at best, getting passed by, and at worst, he's being forgotten. Sure, he's always around, but he's more there to make others feel important than actually being important. Back to that Raw match; the reason he was there was to promote the main event for NXT Takeover. This is a guy that was in the main event of the second Takeover, where he wrestled in a Fatal 4-Way with Adrian Neville, Sami Zayn, and Tyson Kidd. And it would not have been all that surprising if Breeze won that match.

And now, he's just there. Don't get me wrong; he's still putting on great matches, and his entrances at Takeover events are always a highlight, but there doesn't seem to be any direction to where he's going. I know wins and losses don't matter in the long run, but the guys who have gotten pushes onto the main roster have been NXT Champions, cultist hillbillies, and Xavier Woods. Tyler Breeze doesn't fit into any of those categories (although when you think about it, he's not too far from the Xavier Woods category). Next up, he's got Apollo Crews, and it should be another great match from Breeze, because it was pretty great when I saw it at a house show in Largo. But let's be real: Breeze ain't winning that match, and I don't know where he goes from there.

The goal is that WWE is just giving Tyler Breeze the beginning of his own "Chris Jericho: Conspiracy Theorist" angle, and Breeze turns into the most fun wrestling character on the planet. That would be ideal, but I would settle for John Cena restarting the US Title Open Challenge and immediately be defeated by Tyler Breeze. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, September 28, 2015

2015 Iowa Hawkeyes: What Do We Really Know?

After four weeks, Iowa is undefeated at 4-0. This is the most excited the fan base has been since Ricky Stanzi was professing his love for America. It feels like a really great time to be a Hawkeye. Still, even though 4-0 is ideal, I'm not totally sure what we really know about this Iowa team. Let's break it down and find out.

How good is CJ Beathard?
Everybody knows that without a quarterback, your team can only go so far. Beathard is definitely off to a better start than the former starter who's slinging the ball up in Ann Arbor (although Rudock has made this the first year that I can actually cheer for Michigan). But despite Beathard having big arm strength, he hasn't really been throwing too many deep balls. Where his arm strength has proven most valuable is on the quick passes out to the sideline as the ball gets there quicker and he gives his receivers time to make plays. Beathard has also been impressive with his legs, most notably against Iowa State, as he will take advantage of open space to make a play with his feet. I'm still left with the feeling that this offense hasn't changed as much as Hawkeye fans would like. I miss the deep post that was a simple concept brought on by a successful run game and play action that led to big plays half a dozen times a year. I think Beathard is good, but I would like to see him attack the middle of the field and air it out a little more before I can throw my full support behind Iowa being a legit contender to win the B1G West.

Answer: Better than Jake Rudock, not as good as Andrew Luck.

Does Iowa know how to utilize its skill players?
For running backs, the answer seems to be yes. Jordan Canzeri has become Iowa's version of Danny Woodhead. It's always ideal to use him as a change of pace guy, but if you need him to pound it between the tackles, he'll probably shock you with his success there too. He had four touchdowns this weekend, so that's pretty neat. LeShun Daniels has struggled with injuries early on, but having a back that you can pound between the tackles is going to be a necessity when playing against the B1G schedule.

As for the receiving options, Matt VandeBerg has seemed to find himself a nice niche in the system, but I don't think he is the biggest threat out of Iowa's receving corps. Tevaun Smith is averaging only three receptions a game, yet is still nearly the leader in yards for the team. Getting him more involved would be ideal, as he is the type of receiver where if you get the ball close, he has the ability to go up and make a play. Iowa is still waiting for Jake Duzey to come back from injury, but the tight ends still seem slightly underutilized since Iowa is still rarely using the middle of the field.

Answer: They are doing a great job of utilizing the running backs, but get the ball to Tevaun Smith more.

How good are Iowa's offensive tackles?
These guys may not be great, but they are the biggest surprise of the year for me. They have greatly exceeded my modest expectations. I really thought it would be a bloodbath, but so far, they have shown they will not hold the team back. This is the first time they've really gotten a chance to play, so by the end of the season, their could be massive improvement. I don't think either one is going to be Bob Gallery within a season, but with how well the interior line has played, they don't have to.

Answer: Serviceable, and that's a really great surprise.

How dope is the defensive line?
They're stopping the run, collapsing the pocket, and making plays.

Answer: Pretty dope.

Does Desmond King get crunk on the field?
I miss the early days of social media, as Iowa players could do and say whatever they wanted, because Kirk had no idea what social media was. I don't really remember anything awful, but I do remember something awfully hilarious, and that came from the criminally underrated, Jovon Johnson. He started a fan group on Facebook called, "Jovon Johnson 'lockdown 26' Fan Club." The description gave you a glimpse into how awesome Jovon was off the field, as he stated, "If you love to see me gettin crunk on the field..returning punts...returning and picking off interceptions...making big hits..doing what I do best then join the club cause I love it too!!"

A buddy of mine and I bring this up every year, hoping that we have a new player that will get crunk on the field. Finally, after a decade of waiting, we have that man in Desmond King. He makes big hits, he picks off and returns interceptions, he returns punts, and when you combine all of those aspects together, you can only come to one conclusion: Desmond King gets crunk ON THE FIELD.

Answer: An emphatic YES!

How do you feel about the linebackers, the other three defensive backs, and special teams?
Marshall Koehn hit a 57-yard field goal to win a game, and they have punted well too, so good to go there. The other defensive backs aren't as good as Desmond King, but even though guys can find open spaces, they aren't getting beat by big plays like they have the last few years. The linebackers have made some alterations to help them in coverage, and the quicker, smaller linebackers are a better fit to go up against spread offenses. They're not Greenway and Hodge, but they ain't too shabby either.

Answer: Pretty good.

Has Kirk Ferentz actually changed?
The answer to this one is shocking, because the answer is yes. I'll admit that it sounded terrible when Kirk said that they probably needed to watch more tape in the offseason, but football coaches aren't always the smoothest talkers, and he meant it more in the way of altering the way of doing things than not properly preparing for opponents. The shield punt is the most noticeable change, but there have been some subtle changes to the run game, which is something that I never thought Kirk would change. Kirk is a very logical thinker, and when you're logical, you understand that staying the course is almost always the best option. It took a lot of bad outings before Kirk realized that staying the course would not deliver the results it has in the past. They went to the drawing board and have given new things a try. Good for them.

Answer: It may be shocking, but yes, Kirk Ferentz has changed.

Is this Iowa team actually good?
Aw, shoot; I was hoping you weren't going to ask this one. They're not great; I can tell you that much, but the B1G West is not great, so they don't really have to be. The only team that is probably better than them throughout the rest of their schedule is next week at Wisconsin, but even Wisconsin isn't great. The Hawkeyes have a small margin for error, so they likely won't go undefeated, but there is no team that should blow them out. I'll pick them to lose to Wisconsin, but just one other time outside of that to end up 10-2.

Answer: Good enough for the B1G West, which, luckily, is the division they are in.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Five Biggest Jobbers of Goldberg's Undefeated Streak

When working with Lukewarm Jonah on our instant classic piece of writing on Glacier, Jonah mentioned that Glacier lost to Goldberg. I looked into it and found out that Glacier didn't lose once to Goldberg. He lost three times to Goldberg. The streak was simply too high for him to go through 173 different opponents. So I decided to go through the list and break down the five biggest jobbers involved in Goldberg's streak. Instead of subjectively finding out whether Wayne Bloom is a bigger jobber than Chase Tatum (those names may be made up, but they made the list).

5. Brad Armstrong - 6
This is the type of jobber I would expect to see on this list. He's good enough to be in the ring with Goldberg on television, but he's bad enough where you don't really need the match going longer than three minutes. Four of his losses were at random house shows, but he did manage to get one loss on Nitro and even a match on SuperBrawl VIII. They both went something like this...

The only reason he gets in any offense is to anger Goldberg so he has a reason to finish him off. This makes a lot of sense. Also, if you have an Armstrong Curse sweatshirt, you are either the world's greatest wrestling fan or Brad Armstrong.

4. Curt Hennig - 7
It is ironic that the former Mr. Perfect was the victim of someone else's perfection seven times during this streak. Also, Curt Hennig is way too good to be jobbing out to Goldberg that many times. There was a loss on Nitro and at Bash at the Beach, but, by far, the most important loss that Hennig had was at the Goodwill Games. I'm just going to assume that in 1998, the Goodwill Games recognized pro wrestling as a legitimate sport and Goldberg won it all. Either that, or as an honor to Goldberg, they replaced the traditional first prize medals with Goldberg Medals, which had Bill's face on the gold medal so the athletes could aspire to something greater.

3. Jerry Flynn - 8
Jerry Flynn may be the most perfect jobber for a guy like Goldberg. I mean, the guy posed zero threat, but he was large enough to make all (two) of Goldberg's moves look impressive. This is probably my favorite Bill Goldberg match of all time.

The beginning of the match involves one of my favorite things, and that is pro wrestling not understanding how MMA submissions work. They trade submissions, and I think two out of seven were actually applied correctly. But it's nonstop, and then Goldberg slams him, hits his two moves and calls it a day. These two were pure magic together. It's kind of amazing that Jerry Flynn only lost eight times to Goldberg.

2. Saturn - 11
Most of Saturn's losses came on house shows, which makes sense. But still, he managed to get two PPV matches against Goldberg in Spring Stampede and Slamboree. Two weeks before his match against Goldberg, Saturn lost to Hammer and was kicked out of the flock. But after that, Saturn was able to beat Jerry Flynn in the week leading up to his US Title shot. Somehow, none of these epic matches are on YouTube. Honestly, that's probably for the best.

1. The Giant - 18
Yep, the biggest jobber is also the world's biggest athlete. When I saw that The Giant was number one, I was surprised, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. He is bigger than everyone, so he should be this dominant force that can only lose by fluke, but instead his entire career has him going on massive losing streaks where he is asked to look like shit in order to build up other guys. He is the shit guy far more than the dominant force guy, so it doesn't even build up his opponent. The Giant should lose maybe three times in a year, but instead he managed to lose three matches to Goldberg on Nitros, all within a month. He just kept going out there and losing. It was near the end of The Giant's contract with WCW, so his most notable win in those last few months was either Disco Inferno or Raven in a no disqualification match. He also had a three week string of getting dominated by Goldberg at house shows, and those losses added up fast. In fact, they made him Goldberg's biggest jobber, both figuratively and literally.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Got My Ass Handed To Me By A Girl

As I mentioned a while ago, I have started grappling again. Call it jiu-jitsu, call it submission wrestling, call it whatever you want, but it's fighting without strikes (because I need to protect my pretty face). Not to brag or anything, but after a few weeks, I'm pretty well-respected for my skills in class. I'm not great, but I can beat a good portion of people and can push anybody.

So as practice starts, our coach will always pair people together. Since I'm getting pretty good, they will either pair me with somebody else who is pretty good, or they will pair me with somebody new to help teach them the moves that we are working on. My coach called out my name, and then he called out a girl's name. Since there was only one girl in the class, and she was very new, I'm like, "Cool, this should be an easy class where I can relax a little bit." What happened next was something out of a movie, as behind this girl stepped another girl who was about 5'5" and built like a brick shithouse. I'm not a big guy by any means, but I've got some decent-sized pipes for a skinny guy, and this girl's arms dwarfed mine. She was not fat at all, but she was just solidly built. Good for her, bad for me.

As we warmed up and went through some new techniques, she felt solid, but I'm pretty confident in my wiry strength, and I assume that anybody bigger than me just has popcorn muscles, you know, all fluff, no stuff. But I knew the moment was coming where we would have live sparring, and I'd have to prove myself.

Finally, it came time. And right before we were about to go at it, somebody tells me, "You know she's a wrestler, right?" and my only thought was, "Oh shit." Because I know that somebody with a ton of strength isn't all that difficult to beat if they don't know how to use it. I can usually out leverage bigger and stronger people due to my junior high wrestling abilities (this sounds like a joke, but somehow it is actually the case). Luckily for me, she had a foot issue so we locked up from our knees as opposed to starting on the feet. All it took was that first lockup for me to realize that she definitely did NOT have popcorn muscles. Her muscles were not fluff; they were all stuff. I have never been manhandled like that from that position. She threw me around like I was nothing, and then flew around like a damn ninja to take my back. I managed to get out of that bad spot, only for her to throw me against the cage and start passing my guard while grinding my head into the steel. It was not a pleasant experience.

But don't worry faithful readers, I was not going to give up. Because even though she had more strength and wrestling ability, she wasn't great with submissions, and she hadn't grappled in a while, so she didn't have a ton in the gas tank (which she admitted would be her issue before we started). As she grinded away at me from the top, I waited for my opening, and eventually, she went for a pass and I got her off balance and managed to end up on top of her. Since she was gassed at this point, I passed to side control and locked up my favorite submission, a key lock. I had beaten a girl, fuck yeah.

Although I did get the submission, don't get this story twisted; I got my ass handed to me. Had we been in a street fight (and yes, this would require me to live in some weird alternate universe where I fought random girls on the street), I not only would have lost, I probably would have had a hospital visit afterwards. And for me, that's not embarrassing; it's just a fact of life. I got my ass handed to me by a girl.

Through this experience, I feel as if I have learned some valuable lessons:

1. I take pride in my wiry strength, but there are still girls who can outmuscle me (fun fact: I later learned that she can squat 440 pounds, which is basically three of me).

2. Although Junior High wrestling in Iowa gives me a strong wrestling base, there are girls out there who have slightly better technique than that and can use it to manipulate my body in ways I never thought possible.

3. Although I had never really considered it, this just cements the fact that I should not challenge random girls to street fights, as I might just get my ass whipped.

You probably should have already known these three things, but if you didn't, I'm glad I could help you avoid the humbling experience.