Wednesday, June 18, 2014

2014's second fake mailbag ...

“We hold our lighters up,
If it’s a good song.
Little Lynyrd Skynard?
Got you singing along!

We pour some gasoline,
On the pile of wood;
Just a little too much?
Will make it burn real good!

We’ve got the moonshine!
I’m talkin’ both kinds!
Have you seeing double
Staring at them tan lines!

Yeah, we’re throwing down,
Until the cops come;
But when the blue lights flash?
Boys – it’s time to run!

You know the lights of my hometown?
Yeah, they come alive when, the sun goes down!
Talking ‘bout the lights of my hometown!
Yeah, they alive when, the sun goes down! …

Light a flashlight,
On a tombstone.
(To) let your best friend know,
That he ain’t alone.

Go on and pop a top,
Pour a little out,
Just to let him know,
We’re still thinking about him …

Man!  The lights of our hometown?
He almost comes alive when the sun goes down!
I’m talking ‘bout the lights of our hometown!
Man!  He almost comes alive when the sun goes down! …”

-- “Lights of My Hometown” by Brantley Gilbert, quite possibly the only redeemable track off his latest effort, "Just As I Am".  “If you’re where I’m from?  You damned sure know, about the lights of my hometown!  (Hell) yeah, they come alive, when the sun goes down!” …

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A few fake mailbag style offerings on this ridiculously pleasant Wednesday evening …

* “You know what I thought when I saw President Obama traded five terrorists for one (alleged) traitor?  Was that Barry is the Jeff Sebree of diplomacy!” – Gregg G, Bonner Springs.

Anyone who’s ever been in any of my main fantasy league seasons pre-2012, is rolling on the floor laughing their asses off right now.  “The Jeff Sebree of diplomacy”.  There’s hilarity, there’s high hilarity, and then there’s comparing an obnoxious fantasy football owner who not only stalks crappy quarterbacks on a cruise ship, but also offers up "four superstars for my one scrub" deals four times a week, sixteen weeks a year, to the President’s “trade” for Sgt. Bergdahl.

On the other hand, my fortunes in this league changed after I gave in to one of his trade temptations, and gave him Cadillac Williams and a couple decent backup WRs, for a player the Chiefs were just beginning to incorporate into the offense, a running back by the name of Larry Johnson, in week 4 2005.  My team has had one losing season since ... and since I haven't hammered this point home nearly enough, team tito is YOUR defending 2 Legit 2 Colquitt League Champions!

(I suppose this is where you cue "The Voice of Reason", "bts", Gordon, and every other legitimate champion this league has had, (jim mora sr. voice) vomiting in the stands ...)

* “So what do you really think of this (Bergdahl) situation?  There has to be a reason beyond bringing home a prisoner, right?” – Heath C, Harrisonville.

I guess I’m approaching this slightly differently than most, because of how I view Mr. Obama.

I approach this, believing three things about the President:

1. He is not a stupid man.
2. He is, however, an extremely arrogant man, that takes any attempt to undo any of his policy “achievements”, to be a personal insult.  And,
3. This man does nothing by accident.  “Every crisis is an opportunity (to further his agenda), and if the opportunity isn’t there?  Invent a crisis”.  (That, by the way, was Rahm Emanuel’s description, of Mr. Obama’s philosophy of governing, and I’d say he’s dead on accurate, in his assessment.)

The primary theory still being floated about right now by the low-information voter folks (and let's be honest: Barry's base is NOTHING but low-information, dumb f*ck voters who make the People's Temple folks at Jonestown look intelligent), is that this was a gamble (bring home a “hero”!) that caught Barry totally by surprise, that the American people would be outraged by saving an (alleged) traitor from his captors.

Please – if you’re dumb enough to buy that viewpoint?  See points (1) and (3) above … and especially (2).  Because (2) is the key, to understanding this man.

There are only three credible theories that I’ve heard, in my opinion, that explain this decision.  So let me address them one at a time … and then lay out my theory, for this jaw-dropping (on the surface) show of absolute stupidity and incompetence.

* Theory Uno: This is Mr. Obama’s backdoor way of closing down Club Gitmo.

I can see it.  And I’d even say that this is part of his thinking, because he is this shrewd*.  But I’m not sensing this, as the primary reason for this “exchange of prisoners”.

(*: again, Mr. Obama is not a stupid man.  Everything is by design with this President.  Even when he looks incompetent?  It’s to further the agenda.  Case in point, the HealthCare.gov rollout debacle.  If you make health care in the “private market” so unworkable, what are people naturally going to clamor for?  You guessed it – Frank Stallone!  No, seriously, you guessed it – single payer!  (Which I actually support, by the way.  So for those of you who claim I’m not at least a moderate, let that sink in – “Obamacare” only offends me, because it doesn’t go far enough, in reforming our shamefully broken health insurance system.))

* Theory Dos: Mr. Burgdahl was on a covert mission to infiltrate the taliban and gain intel for this country on our enemy, hence his desertion four and a half years ago.

I ask you in all seriousness: does this even sound credible on the surface?  An American soldier deserts his post, to join the enemy … and they embrace him with open arms, share sensitive information with him, spill closely guarded secrets with him, because he says a few praises of Allah and says jihad rules?  I mean … hang on, I need to do this properly.

(the late, great randall carlyle wakefield voice) I may be stupid … but I ain’t that stupid.

* Theory Tres: The five murderers we released, were somehow tagged (probably via embedded chip), and a few months from now, they’re gonna get what they deserve … along with a whole lot of other people, that they lead our intelligence community to.

THIS?  Is not only plausible, and not only highly likely, it plays straight into my theory on this ridiculous “prisoner swap”.

Because my theory is this:

* Stevo Theory: Mr. Obama knows, barring something earth-shaking important, his entire domestic agenda (which is what, at his core, all he truly cares about), is in deep, deep, deep trouble come the first Tuesday in November.  Operating under the given that Mr. Obama is not stupid, and operating under the given that he is so arrogant and conceited, that seeing even one piece of legislation, or one executive order, overturned by the American public via a Republican dominated Congress is so repulsive to him, he’d do anything to stop it … Mr. Obama has chosen to violate the law yet again, by releasing these murderers into the wild … to reap the gigantic reward, that taking not just these five (and any ensuing releases) out of this life will (correctly) give him … he’s willing to risk the last two years of his term, and his entire legacy, on these five (and any others) leading us to a gigantic military and PR victory, by eliminating the enemy where they lie.

Basically, he’s repeating President Reagan’s mistake with Iran-Contra.

He genuinely is so arrogant, that he believes he can defeat evil in our time … while at the same time, score major political points with it, and save his party the landslide defeat it deserves, in the Year Six mid-terms.

Just like Mr. Reagan did, twenty eight years ago.

I suppose that is to Mr. Obama’s credit, that he is so vain and conceited, he believes he can score points at home and abroad, by treating established law like a piece of toilet paper in a port-a-potty in Lot G at 11am on a Chiefs gameday morning.  I'd rather have arrogance and entitlement in my President, than cowardice and fear.  But seriously, is this what we're reduced to for the next THIRTY ONE MONTHS?

Is the worst of every prior Presidency of my lifetime?

Dios con mio.

* "Your bias is shining brightly through, dude!" -- Scott H, Liberty.

Look it, I’m not a fan of this man.  I wouldn’t vote for him if you put a gun to my head, and my life depended on hitting D on the rigged voting machines of Cuyahoga County.

But the far right is so utterly insane in claiming this man wants to destroy this country, wants to see America collapse, the insane Dinesh D’Sousa crap from his films – I mean really?

For those of you who genuinely believe Mr. Obama wants America to become a third world country?  I ask you this:

Do you really believe a person as arrogant, conceited, vain, full of himself, and utterly convinced he’s the smartest man in any room he enters, do you really think he wants the collapse of a nation, on his resume?

Especially when he's already putting out feelers to take over the UN in a couple years, and for all intents and purposes for his ego, "rule" the world?

Seriously, just stop it already.  You look even more stupid than you talk, to suggest that is his goal.

Let me branch off into another point:

* “So you’re saying Mr. Obama’s goal is not to transform this nation into a socialist paradise?” – Brett H, Harrisonville.

No, of course not.  That’s his end game, is a socialist republic along the lines of those failing daily in the Eurozone.  It’s who he is, it’s what he believes, and since enough people in this country now are ok with that?  He’s won the last two elections**, relatively easily. 

That’s the true beauty and incredibleness of this nation we call home – we don’t take to the streets, armed to the teeth, to demand an agenda for the nation.  We trust and respect the democratic process, even if it gives us the last five and a half years of economic hell on earth, we’ve endured … and the two and a half years of economic hell on earth, still to come.

Mr. Obama is so wrong in his views of the economy, it will literally take a generation – if not two – to dig out from this failure of policy, failure of leadership, and failure of common sense.

But if you believe this is intentional in any way, other than this is what the President believes will restore this country to its lofty status in the world?  That his goal is to relegate the United States to the third-world status of a Ghana, an Ivory Coast, a Kenya?

Give me a break.

I have serious philosophical disagreements with the President.  That doesn’t mean he’s an evil boogeyman; he’s not.  He’s who he is: an unabashed, unashamed far left liberal, and more power to him, for actually having the balls, to run on who he is. 

Republicans turn on their own for daring to be moderate; if anything, they should respect this man, for embracing his liberalism, not hiding it behind a moderate front, and making no apologies for it.

I don’t care for this President (just like I didn’t care for his predecessor), but like Mr. Bush, I admire Mr. Obama, because he is who he is, and doesn’t try to hide it. 

I can’t fault a guy, for simply owning his actions, owning his decisions, owning his choices, and defending and explaining them, as best he can.

It puts him a million steps ahead of at least two of his supporters, to say the least.

(**: the dirty little secret the far right doesn't want to discuss?  The Republicans have topped 50% in the popular election in a vote once in the last six elections ... and Mr. Bush barely won re-election in 2004, by barely topping 50% (and holding onto Ohio).  Why anyone is surprised by Mr. Obama's ascendancy, and re-election, I don't get.  This nation has been trending leftward for a generation.  I don't have to be thrilled with it ... but I have to acknowledge it.

And for the record, if anything, I am a libertarian.  I am extremely conservative economically.  With two exceptions, I am very far left socially.  (I personally believe all abortion is murder, although I would not overturn Roe v Wade ... and I think both extremes in the gun control debate are f*cking insane.)  And I believe in a middle-of-the-road foreign agenda that Mr. Kerry is trying (so far unsuccessfully) to pull off.)


The job is better.  Not even three weeks after my department boss told me to my face, and I quote, “I don’t think you care (about your job), I don’t think you’re dedicated (to seeing this start-up succeed), and I don’t think you give a shit (about what happens)” … well, he had to eat it the last few days, because people higher up than said department boss, praised me to the highest heavens, for the job I did in not just completing all three annual audits on time (for the first time since I started at “company I work for” nine years ago) … but for having all three done with at least a day to spare, for any mop-up work.

Month end went off with one minor glitch (which stunningly, wasn’t my fault), and was over by day two for the first time in ages.

It’s amazing – it’s truly amazing – how a two person job works effectively … with two people manning the position.

Couldn’t do it without my new co-worker Dusti (who is an old co-worker from the UUG days).

(***: for the record, I still have the supervisor's tie, from my time in management at Mickey D's.  (Side note: you gotta love a company that will give a 17 year old a "supervisory" position.  Either I'm that gifted ... or they're that talent deprived, of a franchise.  (Pause).  I lean the latter too.)  

But sadly, I no longer have the "Talk Soup Clip O' The Week" from back in the day, when my fellow manager Rodney "won" the top honors on Greg Kinnear's old E! talk show highlight of the week, for having his boyfriend throw down with him on the set of "Rolanda".  (Pause).  You're damned right we played that thing non-stop in the employee's breakroom for the better part of the summer of 1995.)

* “Eric Cantor!  Fired!  Any thoughts?” – Kyle K, Olathe.

Yeah, I have a few.

First, this is what happens when you govern against the will of the people.  I think I speak for most Americans, regardless of political affiliation, when I say that illegal immigrants who came here to seek a better life, and are busting their asses doing jobs we deem beneath us?  Deserve a path to citizenship, or at least credible legalization status.  (If only to tax the hell out of them.)

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(Our first true sidebar rant!  For those of you asking the obvious, my blind support for the legalization of marijuana, is for the same reason: tax the hell out of it.  I swear to God ... which probably is not a good thing, given what I'm about to suggest ... but if this nation would tax casino buy-ins at 35%, and tax marijuana sales at 30% (or flip the two percentages), wouldn't the national deficit disappear literally overnight?  Not the debt, but the deficit?  You mean to tell me taxing all casino buy-ins for one year at 35% (so you get $65 back for every $100 you buy in for), and taxing marijuana sales at 30% (say an ounce goes for $100, so you'd have to pay $130 or so, for said ounce, through your federal dispensary), you mean to tell me we couldn't raise $1.5 billion dollars in a year through that taxation?  Or am I too reasonable, in viewing things this way?

And yes, I am a fiscal conservative ... but I have no problems with any so-called "sin taxes".  None whatsoever.  Because nobody forces me to buy that case of Little Penguin shiraz every couple weeks, and that handle of Polar Ice vodka every week.  It's a choice.  Tax the hell out of it.  To put it another way: if taxing me an extra 2% means one kid with hard-working parents fighting to simply survive, can get enough benefits on the EBT card to give that kid a decent dinner tonight?  Then tax me 3%.  Back to the question ... assuming I remember it.  (Pause).  Oh, yeah, governing against the will of the people.)

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And I have no problems, none whatsoever, with the social safety net aiding those legitimately trying to make a life for themselves here in this country, no matter their legal standing.  And I question any person’s sanity, who argues denying children of illegal immigrants access to education, health care, and basic skill training, is the right thing to do.  It’s not.  Like it or not, these folks aren’t leaving, so we have to deal with the problem.  And the right thing to do, is to provide a pathway to almost fully credible citizenship.

Where I draw the line, is at voting rights.  I mean, if I crossed the border into Mexico, went to a polling station on Election Day, and demanded the right to vote, because I’d illegally entered the country, but hey, I am doing odd jobs and getting paid under the table, so I want a vote, what do you think the reaction to my demand would be?

Here’s a hint: I wouldn’t get a ballot.  I’d probably get a bullet, in the chest, from the jefe of the policia.

Why should the United States cheapen itself by allowing criminals to vote?  And like it or not gang, there’s a reason why the word “illegal” is attached to these people’s immigration status.  Because they’re criminals.  They broke established law deliberately, on purpose, intentionally, insert “no doubt about it” adjective here.  Why should they be rewarded for our border patrol’s inability to do their job?

But, since I realize my position is in the minority, I’m willing to compromise.  Rush Limbaugh has offered up what I think is the path the Republicans should take (and as much as I enjoy Mr. Limbaugh and his show, he’s wrong 79.21% of the time, about damned near everything.  But he is that entertaining of a listen.  Especially whenever our beloved Vice President steps in it yet again.)

Grant amnesty across the board … but anyone granted amnesty, cannot vote for twenty five years.

Year twenty six?  They can cast a ballot going forward.

It’s a genius idea.  It exposes what amnesty is really all about (which is a built in Democrat voting block for the next generation), and exposes what liars, frauds, and phonies the liberal establishment is.  They don’t care about these people for any reason, other than to create a permanent underclass.  Give them what they claim to want, with that one condition. 

I’ll be six feet under, before the Democrat Party, accepts that compromise.

(Yet another reason I’m seriously prepared to remove the D from the voter card, and change it to I.  Both parties disgust me at this point … but at least the Republicans tend to be open and honest, about their idiotic strategories.) 

* “Iraq?” – Spencer K, Orlando.

I cannot believe I am about to do this … but Mr. Obama is one hundred percent correct, to rule out sending in a single American troop on the ground***, and quite frankly, unless there is a serious nuclear threat from ISIS and the other al-Quada insurgents who stand at the gates of Baghdad, I wouldn’t waste one American bomb, missile, or drone strike on this fight either.

The Iraqis have had eleven years – eleven! – to get their sh*t together.  They’ve had eleven years to get a ruling coalition together that brings together the nation, or (and if you thought the previous paragraph was something I’d never say, just wait until this one) they’ve had eleven years to do what Vice President Biden suggested eight years ago, a plan I still support to this day: just partition the damned country into three independent nations: Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd, and be done with it.

At some point, there are consequences for your actions.  If the Iraqis don’t want to fight for freedom?  Then let them live in terrorist bondage.  The bravest of our people, like yourself, who gave years of their life to give the Iraqi people the chance at a free society, shouldn’t have to go back a second time, to finish a job the people clearly don’t want done.

(***: he's sending in 275 for the "emergency evacuation" preparation, a smart and prudent decision that I endorse.  I swear, no President in my lifetime has confounded me, as much as Mr. Obama.)

* “How’s the neighborhood cripple doing?” – Megan K, City Market.

Gusser finished his final round of radiation last Monday.  I pray it worked.  He’s struggling folks.  His lips are turned inside out, and a man who I never once saw without a beer in his hand the entire decade I’ve known him, now struggles to sip a beer through a straw … but he’s fighting.  He looked better Sunday than I’ve seen him in five months.  And he looked a thousand percent better, than he looked on St. Patrick’s Day at the Double.

I wouldn’t wish cancer on my worst enemy.  It sucks – it really, really sucks – when someone who quit smoking cold turkey seven f*cking years ago, and hasn’t had a cigarette since – gets the cancer he has, of the throat and esophagus. 

My folks, my brother, and my brother’s in-laws couldn’t figure out why I blew off a family weekend at the lake house to stay home and watch the Indy 500 and the Coke 600, when “we have Dish Network!  We can drag a TV outside for you!”

If this is the last time I get to see my favorite day of the year that isn’t July 4th with the biggest racing fan I know?

Screw the family requests. 

Friends matter.

Especially friends, who not only know who Ryan Hunter-Reay is … but understand why his winning Indy, mattered.

Oh, and have fun with the summer travels.

Let’s see, what’s up nex – oh sh*t, I almost forgot!  In doing the previous post on Friday afternoon, I hauled out my video camera thingy, to see what would snap 40 year old pictures better, the iPhone or the Snap.  Care to guess what I found on there?

Pics from the Colts / Chiefs game in 2012, that I hadn’t looked at before.

And care to guess, what one of those quality, quality pieces of photography is?

No, it isn’t “the proposal”.  It’s much more quality:


(I know, I know, the obvious question isn't "why would someone kiss a guy as freaking good looking as Stevo is"?  The obvious question is "what the hell -- the chick has the booze in her hands, and Stevo has none?!?!?!"  Image credit: someone other than me, via the Snag camera.)

Let’s get back to the emails.

* “Derek Fisher?  Really?  That’s the best Dolan’s billions could buy?” – Carmelo A, NYC.

If my name was “Carmelo A”, and I played for the Knicks, I’d have a countdown chart to June 23rd (when he can opt out of his contract), and I wouldn’t look back.

The only hire that flat out b*tch slapped me more, was Quin Snyder in Utah.  But at least Quin (a) has attained some success as a coach (remember, Mizzou fans – he’s taken your school the farthest its ever gone, in a NCAA tournament, and he did it in year three as a 12 seed, for crying out loud), (b) is well respected as an assistant coach, and (c) can at least blame his failure at Mizzou on some questionable recruits and some questionable blow.

I mean, it was a mere 24 some odd months ago, that Derek Fisher cost the players billions by stabbing Billy Hunter in the back in the labor dispute.  Now he’s running one of the League’s three marquee franchises?  Are you kidding me?  The world truly is mad.

* “Brandon Flowers, gone!  Thoughts?” – Anthony R, Independence.

I know it’s tough to hear, I know it’s tough to take.  And believe me, as someone who doesn’t mind waiting two to three years for a better payoff, than a quick pleasurable moment would give, even I am struggling to be ok with what the Chiefs are doing, which is essentially sacrificing 2014 for 2015, and more specifically, 2016.

But once you wrap your head around the fact that this is the strategory, and open your eyes to the fact that the Chiefs caught every break imaginable in the League last year, and STILL couldn’t beat denver or San Diego or Indy (all six of our losses; the Chiefs were 11-0 against all other opposition)?  Then you’ll be ok with it.

This is still a wildcard caliber team that can once again find a way to lose to the Colts, with the added bonus of it possibly occurring on my actual birthday, instead of the day before or after, for once.

Again, view things through the eyes of Captain Oats*. 

1. Are the Chiefs better than denver?  No.  Which means the division is out of the question.
2. The division being out of the question, means you can write off finishing ahead of the Patriots and Colts as well, and probably the Bengals (although I expect the Ravens and Steelers to both bounce back from disappointing .500 seasons).
3. If you figure one wild card is virtually certain to come from the Chargers, Ravens and Steelers, that leaves the Chiefs fighting with the other two, for the last spot.

The Flowers release allows us to get our cap in order (and even more in order when / if Alex Smith signs an extension), and sometimes, you have to play the kids you’ve got, to know if they’re worth having.

At some point, either Marcus Cooper is capable of being a solid number two cover corner, or he’s not.  There’s only one way to find out.  At some point, you have to put Husain Abdullah out there to sink or swim.  (Note: I am extremely high on Mr. Abdullah.  Extremely high.  Or maybe I’m just high.  Sometimes, that’s a coin flip proposition.)  I’m pretty optimistic about Philip Gaines (rookie corner from Rice).  I’m not sold on Sanders Commings.  Throw in the return of Sean Smith, along with a wickedly deep front seven, and this is still a middle of the pack defense, with an above average offense. 

For those of you who don’t believe that’s a formula for success, once again, all I can say is open your eyes.

(*: Captain Oats was Seth Cohen’s fake pony on “The OC”.  I’ve always like Captain Oats better than Captain Obvious … but not as much as Captain Kangaroo, or The Captain from “How I Met Your Mother”.)

* “How’s the padre?” – Jasson W, Shawnee.

Doing spectacularly well.  I had “lunch”, and I use that term loosely, I had “lunch” with my parents and “My Special Little Guy” at Chuck E. Cheese last Tuesday.  I swear to God, my dad had more fun in that place than the A-Man did.  The last time I stepped foot in a Chuck E. Cheese was when my Aunt Gail and Uncle Geno and Zach came in town for some reason about fifteen years ago. 

Which reminds me – let’s just say, this Mr. Cheese person?  Needs to bring back a classic.

Because there wasn’t a Ski-Ball machine in the joint.

I mean, how the hell do you have a Chuck E. Cheese without Ski-Ball?  That’s like a tailgate without washers / cornhole / beer pong (pick one … or ideally, all three)!  That’s like a night at the Casa de Stevo without shiraz!  That’s like Bob Seger without the Silver Bullet Band, that’s like Tom Petty without the Heartbreakers.

That’s like me noticing Gavin DeGraw AND Matt Nathanson are performing at the Crossroads on July 9th, and not having “The Ex” begging me to attend it with her.

(Pause).

(scott parks voice) Oh God.

So, as for to the “elephant in the room” …

* “Wow, that’s some interesting status updates (he’s) posted about her lately.” – Donnie M, North KC.

Yeah, Gregg woke me up with it at 4 in the morning, and Penny sent it to me not even two hours later, with the first round of the “I saw this coming from three years away” updates regarding “The Ex” a couple weeks ago.

(On yet another side rant -- seriously, what the hell are you people doing up at 4 and 6 on a Saturday morning, respectively?  Even God takes Saturday off, for crying out loud!  Considering one of you is a SDA, I think you’d know that!)

Look it, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years, it’s that you cannot make someone do, what they have no desire to do. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t keep asking, and that you can’t keep hoping.  But you can’t force someone to do, what they don’t want to do.  

“The Ex” used to be my best friend -- arguably the best one I’ve ever had, save for “The Voice of Reason”.  Even after we were donezo as a pairing, we still nearly 2 ½ years later, were inseparable

And then came Josh. 

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I stuck my balls on the guillotine, and did what none of the rest of her friends (save her sister) had the, uuh, balls, to do, and told her exactly what we all thought of him, and what her future with him would wind up being.  It destroyed our friendship as it existed.  So be it.  I'd rather a friendship end with a dose of brutal honesty, than two plus year of gutless chicken sh*t cowardice.  You can call me a lot of things -- probably most of them true, probably all of them negative -- but one thing you will never be able to say about me, is that I am a gutless chicken sh*t coward.  You will always know exactly what I think of you, and exactly where you stand with me.  It's up to you, to deal with my assessment of you.

Yeah, it pained me to be at that wedding.  I had no desire to go, but she asked me to be there.

When a friend asks me to do something that matters to them?

I do it, no matter how I feel about it.

And the reception … it’s probably best not to discuss it, other than to acknowledge, because reality requires me to do so, that it occurred.

Everything since that late October Saturday afternoon?  Totally predictable.  "The Ex" and I haven’t spoken since the reception.  I reached out to her around my birthday, to see if she wanted to keep our tradition of “buying ourselves” our own happy hour on our special day.  I was even polite enough to note that if Josh wanted to come, I’d pick up his tab too.  (And in the interest of fairness ... he's the only person I've ever met, who can match me shot for shot, that doesn't share my last name.  (Cue my brother with the "aw, thanks Steve!" shoutout.))

No response.

All I can do is watch from afar, as the downfall continues.  And it hurts, and it sucks, and yes, I wish I could stop it, I wish I could prevent it.

I wish to God I could take a tire iron and beat his brains in, for what he's done to "our girl".

But you cannot make someone do, what they don’t want to do.

Her birthday is a week from today.  A year ago, not meeting her at Quinton's was unthinkable.  Today, asking her to meet me at Quinton's, is unthinkable.

I hate real life sometimes.

* "Wow, brutally honest." -- Courtney C, South KC.

I want those two words highlighted on my tombstone: "brutally honest".  I'd argue it's the highest compliment, you can pay someone.

* “Chuck Noll, dead at 82.  Your thoughts?” – Frank L, El Paso.

My thought is that this is a very sad day for anyone who is a fan of the National Football League.

Chuck Noll is the greatest head coach the sport has ever seen.  Bar none.  He took over a hopeless Steelers team, and within four years, won the Super Bowl. With that first Super Bowl season, the Steelers wouldn’t see another losing season for thirteen years, a NFL record by one head coach / one franchise, that for at least another six months, will stand.

Because if Bill Belichick posts a winning season with the Patriots this fall (and barring something noone seems coming, he will), then he’ll merely tie Chuck Noll’s record.  (The 49ers hold the NFL record with 18 straight winning seasons (1981-1998), but across three different head coaches (Walsh, Seifert, Mariucci).

Mr. Noll also was the rare coach, who coached to his talent, rather than blame his talent, for failing to run his system.  Early on, when the talent level was highest on defense, and in the backfield, he ran a power running game / keep the score low and close type of gameplan.  When Franco Harris began to wind down, he opened up the playbook and turned Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Stallworth loose, to outscore the opposition by one more point, than the defense yielded.  (Case in point?  When “The Immaculate Reception” happened?  The score was 7-3.  Four years later, when the Cowboys and Steelers staged one of the greatest games, let alone Super Bowls, ever played?  35-31.)

Even at the end, nearly 25 years into his reign, the Steelers still were wreaking havoc, upsetting the Oilers in overtime in the 1989 Wild Card game (at Houston), then losing by one to the eventual AFC Champion broncos.  He went 25-23 his last three seasons, with Bubby Brister and Neil O’Donnell as his starting quarterbacks.  Folks?  Not even mike shanahan (Brister) and Bill Parcells (O’Donnell), could post more than four wins in a season, with those two under center.  Noll?  Made the playoffs, and won once he got there.

And as if that wasn’t great enough, Mr. Noll presided over the greatest draft in NFL history, when the Steelers drafted not one, not two, not three, but four Hall of Famers in the 1974 draft (to go with the two they drafted in 1973, and the one they drafted in 1972 and 1971, respectively.)  Eight Hall of Fame draft picks in four years.

And his work hours?  By his own admission, he entered the Fort Hood Tunnel about 8am, and left it about 5pm, every day.  Because Mr. Noll knew what truly mattered in life, and it wasn’t a damned football game.  You don’t need to spend sixteen hours a day, 365 days a year, developing a scheme to win, when you scout and draft the best players.  They’ll get the job done for you.  Mr. Noll understood that, and rode that to a Hall of Fame induction himself, the first year he was eligible in 1993.

Finally, since it should be noted, Mr. Noll was the NFL’s finest, and amongst its first, when it came to integrating the game.  He started the first black quarterback.  He stepped away in disgust from the Steelers, save for an emeritus PR role, when the Rooney’s opted to hire Bill Cowher over his preferred successor, Tony Dungy, in 1991.  (To be fair – could you honestly go wrong, with either option?)  In the early 1970s, off the wave of racial protests, riots, and issues barely two to three years old, who were the key Steelers (save for Terry Bradshaw)?  Mean Joe Greene.  Franco Harris.  Lynn Stallworth.  All African-American.  Today, we don’t bat an eye at that fact.  Forty years ago, Mr. Noll faced threats unimaginable in today’s world (and thank God that is so).  Mr. Noll stood firm in the face of bigotry and racism and absolute evil in his time, and told it to go f*ck itself.

Chuck Noll is the greatest man to ever coach a NFL team, and not just for his coaching acumen, which by itself makes him the greatest man to ever coach a NFL team.

Every year, when I do my NFL Coaches Power Poll (which is coming sometime in the next few weeks), I always note that whoever is ranked number one is “Chuck Noll Great”.  I’ve noted that since “The Voice of Reason” and I started this process fifteen some odd years ago, on the couch one night after a Chiefs game, when we debated the credibility of Gunther Cunningham as a head coach****.

You can lobby for Bill Walsh, for George Halas, for Vince Lombardi, for Wayne Fontes for all I care.  You will never convince me, that Chuck Noll, is not only the finest human being to ever be employed as a NFL head coach … but the most genius mind, to ever be employed, as a NFL head coach.

Rest in peace, sir.  You’ve earned it.

(****: ironically enough, that debate occurred AFTER the Chiefs closed down Real Mile High with an epic 23-22 comeback victory.)

* “I assume you saw the posting, if only because I know you well enough to know that you can’t see that, and not ask about fifty “Captain Oats” questions” – Ben C, Evictionville.

Yeah, I saw it.

Folks?  Hang on, let me do this right. 

(vice president biden voice) Folks!  The Stubbs house is up for sale!  A three letter word – sale!

Thank you sir … and in case anyone doubts my opinion stated above, that Mr. Obama is a very smart man?  There’s a damned good reason he picked Mr. Biden as his Vice President, and it isn’t Mr. Biden’s experience or expert advice.  You want to ensure nobody takes a shot at you, who doesn’t care for your agenda?  Put a certifiable mental retard in the veep slot.  Not even the wackiest of far right wing wackos, is gonna risk Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. knowing the launch codes.

But yeah, seeing the posting, and seeing the pictures contained in it, raised certain questions in my mind.  Such as:

* How the hell did the pool table get out of that basement?  That thing was unmovable.  We arranged the entire basement entertainment area around that thing, it was so unmovable.  Either an entire chunk of the wall had to be knocked out, or the entire pool table had to be destroyed. 

* How dare they mess with the Chiefs and Duke rooms?  Those colors were specifically selected, dammit!

* Is the free range weed farm still out there beyond the shed?  And is the controlled growth of a medicinally-legal product still doing well, in the middle third of the garden area?  Ditto the grow-light area of the basement? 

* How did they get vegetation to grow in the front third of the garden area?  The previous owner literally set himself on fire trying to clear that area of the back yard.  I didn’t think anything would grow there for a decade once he was done with it.

* How the hell did they get vegetation to grow next to the mailbox?  Nobody was set on fire for that one, but when the 311 folks decided “screw it, we don’t need to haul off the branches we trimmed, let’s dump ‘em in front of this house!”, it had to be dealt with.  Another part of this earth I thought wouldn’t see signs of life for a decade.  It looks fine from the pictures.

* How the hell did this place pass inspection?  I couldn’t be in that basement for more than five minutes, without struggling to breathe, the mold was so bad.

* Are Sharon and Shorty still the next door neighbors to the south?  From the pictures, it looks like it.  They were pretty decent neighbors, and always had a treat for Priest and Dukey.  But God forbid you ever throw a party, and park a couple cars on their driveway (barely) six inches over the property line.  And,

* Is that new couple and their ridiculous father-in-law’s vehicle still there to the north?  That dude had to literally start working on the engine at 6:30 in the morning, to get it started by 9am.  The first week, it annoyed the hell out of me, but after four or five days of it, even Priest learned to sleep through it.  (In P Diddy’s defense, he’d have slept through a nuclear holocaust, he was that lazy.)  But “The Ex”?  Oh sweet merciful Jesus, if there is one person you don’t wake up by spending two hours getting your 1970s Mitsubishi SUV engine to fire up, it’s her.  That was not “good times”.

* They kept my bedroom the same color?  Wow.  Just ... wow.

* Did they ever deal with the Swamps of South KC that the center of that backyard was, thanks to the septic tank?  Didn’t matter if you drained that thing or not, it leaked like a reactor at Chernobyl every opportunity it got.  And speaking of drainage,

* Did whoever owns the place now, or rehabbed the place before, ever figure out how to drain water from the front walkway?  The previous owner and I literally dug a bleeping trench to carry the water from the drain to the back yard, and it still didn’t stop a solid lake from pooling at the foot of the steps to the front deck, if two raindrops fell from the sky.  Oh, and

* Did the basement back door ever get properly fixed and/or aligned?  Let’s just say, it was a mad dash rush the night the previous owner and I changed the locks, to kick you to the curb, sir.

So yeah, seeing the posting, triggered a few questions in my mind.  Good call on that one.  Thanks for the happy trip down memory lane, dude!  Because believe it or not, I miss that place.

* “(stunned silence)” – every reader, everywhere.

What?  What did I do now?

* “No, really – those are the questions, seeing that posting raised?  Because I can think of at least one I’d love to know the answer to …” – Damien J, Midtown.

Sadly, all of those questions above did immediately come to mind ... but you're right, there's a lot of others that did as well, all but one of which I will spare you from having to read, because this isn't the appropriate forum for that.

But the one question I really have is this:

Is what "The Family" has become -- and to be fair, leave Katie out of this, since that's a lost cause at this point.  Is what The Champ and The Chica, wanted the three of us to become, when they made the decisions and choices, and committed the actions, guaranteed to see us collapse like this?  Is this what you two wanted?

Is the utter destruction and ruin ... excuse me, (stewie griffin voice) roo-een, of a friendship that as recently as two years ago, was the envy of every person we knew --

Is this what you two wanted?

Is forcing friends who care about us all, to have to pick a side, or straddle the proverbial center line so tight, it's a miracle it hasn't cut anyone in two --

Is THIS what you wanted?

Is all the legitimate anger, all the legitimate hurt, all the insults and offenses and indefensible decisions the three of us have committed and caused over the last two years?

Is THIS what you wanted?

If the answer is yes?  Then stop being two gutless chicken sh*t liars utterly bankrupt of character, integrity, courage, and a conscience, and own your decision.

If the answer is no?  Then stop being two gutless chicken sh*t cowards utterly bankrupt of character,
integrity, courage, and a conscience, and own your failure.

It would be nice, if only for the people who still somehow care about all of us, and haven't picked a side, if you two could figure out if you're liars or cowards, and own one or the other.  Because this is an either / or situation.  Either you have lied to everyone for two years about your intentions, or you have been gutless cowards for two years, in refusing to own your decisions.

It isn't fair to everyone else, to have to wonder, which one you two are.

To say nothing of how unfair, it is to me.

* "The last time the Royals sat in first place after having played 70 games?  1980." -- Rany J, Chicagoland.

That stat just blew my mind.  The last time the Royals were in first place in mid June, I looked like this.

They've been in first place later than game 70 -- we made it almost all the way to game 130 in 2003.  But here the Royals sit, now 71 games in ... and we'd be looking at hosting games uno y dos ... on NASCAR weekend.

Who would have believed, a sports fan in this fine metropolitan area, would ever have to choose, between the race at the Speedway ... and a Royals PLAYOFF game ... come the first Sunday in October?

Circle me rock hard with excitement, Bert!

* "So how'd it go with the bartender chick?" -- Ashley K, Shawnee.

Her boyfriend came to his senses, and she took him back.  (But has that stopped you from, uuh, stopping in at Quinton's three times a week the last couple weeks?)  Hell no it hasn't.

Plus, if you're a World Cup fan (and I am), Quinton's is loaded up for World Cup coverage.  I've already requested to leave an hour early next Thursday, to watch it with the, uuh, watching party, as USA takes on Germany in a (hopefully) meaningless game.

(Sunday's game will be live and in color on The Deck, a little before 5pm CT, for anyone seeking a decent spot to watch the game, enjoy the day (NASCAR at Sonoma should end shortly before kickoff ... or whatever "off" describes the start of a soccer match) watching some sports while getting some sun*, who wants a quality dinner on The West Wing, to close the weekend down.  If you want to show up?  You're welcome and wanted.  Because we're nice like that.  And in case you doubt me, two great tailgating friends, Will and Tyler?  We met one night when they wandered over from the annual Luau party, having heard "we throw a great tailgate".  Five years later?  Still there.)

* "No "Tale O' The Tape"?  For shame!" -- Geoff K, Oak Grove.

I honestly couldn't find one thing worth dissecting, Tale O' The Tape Style, from the last few weeks.  I'm open for suggestions.

* "How's The Deck looking?" -- Cindy B, Liberty.

Damned good, thank you very much.  Mona and I spent all day yesterday re-staining the entire deck -- upper level, hot tub level, walkway level.  My lower back is so sunburned, it hurts to sit, stand, or do anything, to be honest.  And I went through a whole 10oz bottle of sunscreen, painting that bad boy.  (The rest of my upper body?  Nice and tan.  A little triangle region where my ass intersects with shorts?  Fried to a crisp.  The lesson?  Hell if I know.)

It'll be ready for the big July 4th Weekend Shindig.  And that's what counts.

* "So how do you want to wrap this up?" -- Jason S, Phoenix.

I spent last Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday, dog-sitting for my folks.  (They took off to spend Father's Day weekend with the in-laws down at the family lake house on Table Rock.)

(And yes, apparently, Mr. Bush did not consider my family relevant, when touting "No Child Left Behind!", as a viable educational experience.)

I spent last Friday, pouring through my baby book my mom has kept all these years (and I hope you enjoyed it, because God knows I did ... especially the "me at six months old" picture.  (Pause).  Oh, and yes, I held enough back, a Part Dos might have to appear someday.  The Christmas 1977 -- and especially, Easter 1980 section -- didn't exactly get "fully posted".  My Grandpa Bud*/** "visibly furious" at my mom and my uncle "leaving the eggs where even a "mentally challenged kid" could find them, is beyond "laugh out loud until you cry" funny.  (Pause).  Especially since the next picture after his angry reaction?  Was him consoling me, after I didn't find any eggs.)

I spent last Saturday, doing what I did so many times growing up: yardword at The House.  I mowed.  I weed-eated.  I pulled weeds.  I laid mulch.  I scooped dog poop.  I even decided "what the hell!", and mowed Joe (the neighbor next door)'s front lawn for old time's sake.

I sat on the back deck, enjoyed a bottle of wine.  I slept in my old bedroom (which has now been turned into my dad's study).

It felt like old times.

--------------------

(*: my favorite story of Grandpa Bud.  My mom's folks came out for Sunday lunch every Sunday, for as long as I can remember, growing up.  There eventually came a Sunday (would have been late 1980s), when my dad's brother and his wife at the time, were getting a divorce.  (Note: cheating was involved.)  So my folks are breaking this news to my mom's folks, as delicately as they can with (approximately) a 10 and 7 year old at the table.  My grandpa's reaction to the impending divorce?  "There's always one f*cking asshole in the family.  Pass the potatoes!"  There's a reason why Grandpa Bud's pictures hang proudly all over the house.  That man, was awesome.  So awesome?  That when he suffered his final two medical setbacks, in late August / early September 1991?  He had a stroke in late August.  Was recovering quite well.  The day his favorite player (Randall Cunningham), went down in week one against the Packers, in the 1991 season opener?  He died less than ten minutes later.  That's a football fan, ladies and gentlemen.  That's a football fan.)

(**: my second favorite story?  Would have been sometime in 1986 or 1987.  Both my brother and I were beyond sick, right before Christmas.  Neither mom or dad could take the PTO day to watch us, so they dumped us at my mom's folks house.  This was when some woman just completed an around-the-world flight, and the news coverage was focused on the final landing.

As best my brother and I recover our grandparents conversation:

(grandpa) Hell!  The lady looks better than the man (getting off the plane)!
(grandma) If you'd shut the f*ck up, they just said that five minutes ago!

When my mom picked us up later that day, and asked how our day went?  My brother and I recited that exact conversation, to mom.

All she could do, was laugh.)

--------------------

"Life is what happens to you, when you're busy making other plans."

John Lennon wrote and sang that years ago, so many years ago, I wasn't even born yet.  (I think.)  Hell, I wasn't even a failed (pick one) condom / birth control pill / ridiculous lack of protection, in my folks imagination at that point.

There's things above that I've joked about, things above I've intentionally chosen, to blog about.

And there's things I've chosen to speak about, that matter only to me.

So be it; I apologize for none of it.  It's my site, and you voluntarily clicked to be here.  If you're offended?  Then why read it?  Nobody put a gun to your head, and forced you to.

I choose to close with this.

I had lunch today with my two former co-workers that I view as family, as well as the current co-worker I'd take a bullet for.  "The Gang" back together again, if only for one day, at the Winstead's on 80th and Metcalf.

And I had a flashback, to one year ago, about this time, when the four of us had lunch at the Winstead's at 105th and Metcalf ... knowing life was about to be rocked to its core, for us.

A year later?  I'm still standing at "company I work for", and I'd be lying if I knew how that was true, other than the grace of God.  The current co-worker I'd take a bullet for?  Still standing, even if our current management thinks IT and Finance "collaborating" to make month end manageable, is wrong.

And my two former co-workers?

One about to embark on a new job at a great company, one enjoying some freedom from the burdens of life for the first time in thirteen years.

So my close is this:

I try to keep this funny at times.  I try to joke my way through pain at times.  I try to not let my personal opinions about people bleed through at times.  (OK, that one is an abject bullsh*t lie).

But I do try, to be someone worth having in the "friend" column, of your debit and credit voucher, at all times.

If I fail, then so be it.

I didn't plan my life to wind up what it became for awhile.  There are reasons for why that happened; I choose to keep them private, if only to protect the guilty party that isn't called "Stevo" ... and (s)he knows, who they are.

Life is what happens to you, when you're busy making other plans.

I chose "Lights of My Hometown" as the theme (and I apologize for the sh*tty link ... but I scoured Youtube!, and nothing yet is posted, on the version that appears on Mr. Gilbert's latest effort, "Just As I Am".

I chose it not just for the title of the song, but for the title of the album.

"Just As I Am".

The album is a horrific effort out of one of my favorite artists.  Which probably corresponds perfectly, to my life at times the last few years.  A horrific effort.

Thank you to those of you, who ignore my flaws, and simply accept, I am a f*cked up human being, that only the grace of God, and the support of friends, can save.

Thank you for simply being you.

It matters to me.

Even if I don't matter to you.

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