Posts by Chris Stout
I feel like this is going to be a great game to watch. No one’s expecting a blow out. No one’s expecting one team to be in over their heads. Both coaches and QBs know the drill. They understand the importance of the moment. Belichick and Coughlin won’t be underprepared. Brady and Manning are both big game quarterbacks that won’t back away from the big stage.
But who’s going to win? The line started at Pats -3.5, and after a ton of early action on the Giants, it settled in at -3. If the Pats were favored by anything over a field goal, I think it’d be a no-brainer to roll with the G-men. But the line sits at an awkward-to-call -3, so there are arguments to be made for both teams. They go something like this:
Eli’s on fire. He dominates the fourth quarter, threw for over 5,000 yards this season and he’s only tossed one pick in the postseason. New York’s front four will pressure Brady into total confusion, causing QB jitters, happy feet and throwing mistakes. Just look what happens to Brady when he plays teams like the Ravens and the Steelers. Brady can be rattled. He’s human. He hates pressure and with a healthy set of top-flight D-linemen, New York’s pressure on Brady will be the difference in the game.
Plus, the Giants’ trio of speedy, sure-handed wideouts will be too much for New England’s suspect secondary to deal with (especially if Victor Cruz gets matched up with makeshift DB Julian Edelman). The Pats have the worst defense in football and everyone knows that defense wins championships. New York’s defense has steadily improved over the last few weeks. The Giants got hot at the right time. They beat the Pats in the regular season, and they aren’t afraid of knocking them out of Super Bowls either. Sure, Gronk is a matchup nightmare, but dude’s extra hurting and with the long halftime (31 minutes), his high ankle sprain will stiffen up and he’ll be unable to produce in the second half. Giants all the way.
Belichick and Brady are the best there ever was. With another Super Bowl win, Belichick will join Chuck Knoll as the only head coach to win four titles. A fourth Super Bowl victory would put Tom Brady into an elite class that includes just two Hall of Fame QBs: Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. Brady and Belichick are the only coach/QB combo to make five Super Bowl appearances. Aaron Rodgers had an MVP-type season and Drew Brees set the all-time mark for passing yards, but Brady’s year was pretty sick as well. The guy threw for 5,253 passing yards (a career-best and the second-best total in NFL history) with 39 TDs, 12 picks and a passer rating of 105.6. Brady’s coming off his worst passing performance of the season (239 yards, two INTs, no TDs and a passer rating of 57.5 against Baltimore). It’s not like he needs extra motivation for the Super Bowl, but you get the sense that Brady’s going to bounce back, put on a performance for the ages, and grab the chance to seal his already stellar legacy.
The Pats D is viewed as a weakness, but Vince Wilfork is playing amazing and New England’s defense has actually improved during the postseason. Sure, they haven’t faced an offense as potent as the Giants, but the Pats seem to get stops when they need to. They’ve allowed just three touchdowns through eight quarters in the playoffs.
And sure, the Giants have some solid weapons in the passing game. But look at what the Pats have to work with. Gronk and Hernandez combined for 2,237 receiving yards and 24 TDs in the regular season. Wes Welker posted 1,569 receiving yards, the second most in the league.
So how is this all going to shake out?
My money’s on Brady seizing the opportunity to cement his legacy. If he can get the time to throw, he’ll carve up the G-men. I’m sure it’s going to be a close, high scoring game. With so many things to balance, I say Brady tips the scale and delivers a huge game.
Pick: Pats -3
I like to drink and I like to eat ice cream. So naturally, when I heard about SnöBar alcohol infused ice cream and ice pops, I was a bit intrigued. Can two tastes that taste so great apart really taste that great together? I needed to investigate.
SnöBar basically takes premium alcohol and introduces a full cocktail in every ice cream and ice pop serving. Apparently this isn’t easy. There are all kinds of chemistry issues and complicated scientific know-how that goes into the ice cream/alcohol combo process. The main thing is getting the two things to coexist without separating during the freezing process. My understanding is that this has been tried before, just not that successfully.
At the moment, SnöBar ice cream and ice pops are only available in Arizona, but they’ll be showing up in Las Vegas very soon. These treats are ideal for pool parties, BBQs, sporting events, summer snacks, late night sweet-tooth nightcaps, you get the idea.
I got to sample a whole bunch of SnöBar goodies a couple weeks back. I came away impressed. Here are the current flavors of ice cream that are available:
- Grasshopper – Brandy with crème de menthe, crème de cacao and cream
- Pink Squirrel – Brandy, almond liqueur and crème de cocoa with cream
- Brandy Alexander – Brandy and crème de cocoa with cream
- Brandy Alexander with Chocolate Chips – Brandy, crème de cocoa with cream and chocolate chips
And here are the two ice pop flavors:
- Margarita ice-pop – premium tequila, lime and triple sec
- Cosmopolitan ice-pop – premium vodka, triple sec and cranberry.
I sampled a Cosmo ice pop and it was super tasty. Not too sweet, not too stiff of an alcohol taste – just the right combo of flavor, refreshment and slight head-change. For the ice cream flavors, the Brandy Alexander with Chocolate Chips was my favorite. It was a rich, homogenous blend of choco flavor with a bit of a kick. The Grasshopper has a more distinctive minty taste, with the alcohol being more of a subtle play.
The amount of alcohol included in each flavor varies a bit, from 3.59 to 6.41 percent (8.22 to 14.67 alc/vol). No one’s going to ask you for your keys after you enjoy some frozen SnöBar treats, but the alcohol content adds more than just flavor. You definitely get the satisfaction of a full cocktail with the added desert benefit of frozen refreshment.
SnöBar products can be found at Total Wine stores, but the company has plans for a more expansive nationwide rollout in 2012. Keep your eyes peeled for the displays and try one out if you have the chance. It’s a good idea that’s well executed and a delight to share with friends.
I recently spent a couple weeks in Australia and it was an amazing experience. It was my first time down under, and everything about Australia more than lived up to the hype. It’s just such an awesome place. Cool people, fantastic scenery and just, you know, different. Here are 10 major differences between the Australia and the US:
Aussies Have Faith in Their Own People’s Intelligence and Ability to Understand Air Travel
Sounds kind of weird, yea? But check this – when you’re traveling by plane down under, Aussies don’t assume that you’re a complete idiot, and that’s kind of refreshing. I showed up to the airport in Melbourne (on my way to Cairns), and I was responsible for checking myself in, printing my own boarding pass, printing out and attaching my big baggage claim sticker and dropping off my luggage on a scale/conveyor belt that led to my actual flight. There’s no way Americans would be allowed to do this. People who travel light in the States, yea, you can print out your own boarding pass, but even that’s not a given. Most Americans will wait in line, even if they’re not checking any luggage. Ask these same people to print out and attach a big-ass sticker to their suitcase? Forget about it. Now go weigh your own luggage and drop it off in the appropriate area? There’s no friggin’ way. Aussies assume a level of non-retardation with their travelers that America just can’t replicate. We have to cater to too many slow people. I liked going to an airport that assumed I understood the fundamentals of airline travel. It made me feel responsible and respected as a person and an airline passenger.
Wack-Ass Internet Infrastructure
Okay Australia, what’s with the shitty Internet everywhere? I get that I’m on vacation and I shouldn’t be checking work emails or Twitter or ProFootballTalk.com and so forth, but what the hell? How come you guys charge such ridiculous fees for Wi-Fi? I can go to a bar, order a pint and get a receipt for 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi access. I can get solid chunks of free web access at a cafe or a fast food joint just for purchasing a coffee or a sandwich. Why would the hotel that costs two bills a night charge $50 a day for in-room Internet? Per device? This makes no sense at all. None. You need to sort out your Internets, Australia. It’s easier to IM people from the provinces in the Philippines.
Overall Cleanliness and Helpfulness
This can’t be overstated enough. Australia is a clean place, man. They have trash cans everywhere, with little build-in metal spots to put your cigs out. Down every street there’s a person picking up after themselves. And if you ask an Aussie to give you directions, that person will go out their way to make sure you understand where you are going. Even if they’re crazy drunk, dirtbaggy and/or dodgy-looking. And if you’re getting served an in-flight meal on a plane in Australia, the flight attendant will make sure the person in front of you puts their seat back in the upright position so that you’ll have enough space to eat your meal. All that shit goes away when you fly back home. As soon as the meal comes out, some jackass will slam their seat back. As you exit an international flight arriving in the States, you’ll be shocked at how much trash and shit people leave behind. Us Yanks think it’s our right to be slobs. We expect people to leave us alone and pick up after us. Aussies have a whole different outlook on life. They’re clean, engaging people who are always willing to help.
Tax and Tip
Okay, so when you purchase something in Australia, you don’t need to add tax, and in most circumstances, you don’t need to leave extra gratuity. The price that’s listed is what you pay. You want to get a jug of Carlton? Well, if it’s listed at $8, then you hand the bartender $8. You don’t have to pull out a $10 and fish for change to cover sales tax and 20 percent gratuity for the guy who poured your pitcher. Just pay the man the price that’s listed and you’re good to go. If you’re at a bar, there’s no need to open a tab. Just pay as you go, even if you order food. Walk up to the bar, order what you want, pay what you owe and when you’re all done, just take off. There’s no need to close out a tab, or double-check the bill or calculate tip. When you’re done, you just bounce. It’s really quite nice.
Frosty Beer Taps Everywhere
There’s nothing more enjoyable than ordering a frosty beer at a pub in Australia. Any pub you go to, when you walk in, you’ll see that the tap sticking out of the bar is covered in frost. Not like some half ass ‘that-might-be-cold’ condensation either. We’re talking full-on, snowman-style frost. So pretty much wherever you are, you’re beer will come out cold and delicious every time. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it can get pretty toasty in Australia, so having the ability to walk into any bar and get an extra-frosty pint is really appreciated. It kinda makes you hate beers in bottles and cans. Why go for an inferior beer dispenser when you can enjoy an icey-cold pour every single time?
Strict Liquor Pours
So when you go to a bar, you enjoy the benefits of quality beer, frosty taps, and no expected gratuity, but don’t go in thinking you’re gonna get hooked up on liquor pours. Australia is super strict about how they pour spirits in bars and restaurants. If you order a Jack and Coke, be prepared to watch the bartender push a button that will digitally measure out exactly one miniature shot of Jack Daniels in your glass. Alcoholism is a big problem in Australia, as you’d expect from a laid-back, fun-loving country full of former convicts and the descendants of former convicts. There’s a government agency in Oz whose sole purpose is to make sure you don’t get a strong pour of Scotch (seriously). Aussies are big on knowing just how much they’ve had to drink, so they can assess whether they’re over the legal limit to drive. By measuring things out so precisely, drunk Aussies can more easily count the number of drinks they’ve consumed in a given night, and then determine whether or not they’re cool to drive home. If you know this going in, you won’t waste your time tipping your way into the hopes of a strong pour. Shit, you won’t even waste your time with liquor. If you’re going to booze it up, just stick to beer. You can always get a jug of quality brew on the cheap during any happy hour.
Nobody Says You’re Welcome
Say “thank you” in Australia and you’ll hear a ton of different responses. “No worries” is by far the most popular, but it doesn’t end there. You’ll hear shit like, “oh, it’s not a problem at all” and “that’s perfectly fine and alright” and all kinds of long-winded ways to reciprocate a thanks. You won’t hear the phrase “you’re welcome,” which seems odd, because it’s a super-easy reply option, especially for people who love shortening everything. Which reminds me…
Aussies Abbreviate Everything
Aussies really do abbreviate just about everything. Even when there’s no syllable savings to be gained. Filo for Filippino, sunnies for sunglasses, ute for utility vehicle – all these all make sense. Even brekkie for breakfast or footie for football. But Brisy for Brisbane? That’s just lazy. I mean you aren’t even saving a syllable there. I’m all for shortening things that take too long to say, but Aussies seem to relish the opportunity to abbreviate, even when it doesn’t seem called for.
Imagine if street food didn’t consist of hot dogs and cheap tacos and pretzels and shit. Imagine if you could go anywhere and enjoy a variety of meat pies with all kinds of sauce options. I mean, you can hit the club, go watch a cricket match, wander the city streets at odd hours, go to the train station – it really doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re up to. If you’re hungry, you can find a meat pie to eat (especially in Melbourne). And whether you like mince meat, turkey, beef, chicken, curry, eggs and bacon or some other awesome option, you’ll find a flaky crusted meat pie that’ll suit your needs. Add some sauce on that shit too – tomato sauce (aka ketchup), BBQ sauce, sweet chili sauce – It doesn’t matter. The combination of meat, flaky crust and sauce is like the perfect food.
The women in Australia are unbelievably gorgeous. I realize that people say that about a lot of places – Europe and South America come to mind. But man, I can’t believe how much sexiness all these Aussie birds are working with. I mean, if you like cute blondes with tight/fit bodies, you’ll find at least one in every four Aussie ladies fits this description. I don’t know what it is, but there’s very a distinct type of attractiveness that you’ll encounter with Aussie girls. It’s like they all have bright eyes, winning smiles, golden faces, savvy fashion sense and compact curves. Good on you, all of Australia. Good on you.
No joke, Drive was one of the best films I’ve seen in a really long time. It’s just so damn moody and atmospheric. It sucks you in with a sweet soundtrack, cool cinematic shots, quality acting, solid pacing, one really cool jacket and a whole lot of non-verbal communication. Drive balances contemplative scenes with sharp hits of ultra-violence. It’s equal parts badass action and subtle nuance, and that’s not an easy balance to maintain.
In the film, Ryan Gosling plays a Hollywood stuntman who has a side night gig as a getaway driver for hire. As Gosling gets friendly with his neighbor, Carey Mulligan, he gets caught up in a heist that goes terribly wrong. He stirs up trouble with two established gangster types (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman) and ends up having a contract put on his life. It’s a simple plot with interesting characters and one sweet 1973 Chevy Malibu that Ryan Gosling fully restored in preparation for the role. Here’s the trailer:
Drive comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray with UltraViolet on January 31. To promote the release, we’re giving away four copies of the film on DVD. To enter, just follow us on Twitter (@MANjrcom) and send us an email in the form provided below. We will pick four winners at random next Thursday. Good Luck!
I came across these vids yesterday and they’re fantastic. Created by @ReidGower, The Feynman Series is a companion project of The Sagan Series. Check out The Sagan Series Facebook page to learn more. Enjoy!
I’ll be the first to admit that my playoff picks have been terrible. I started getting cold in the final couple weeks of the season and that just carried over into the playoffs. Plus, I’m still trying to figure out how the Broncos beat the Steelers. It’ll happen sooner or later, but I’m just not there yet.
I was convinced that the winner of the Saints/Packers NFC Championship Game would go on to win the Super Bowl. The problem with that is that both teams got bounced last week. The Giants came out more fired up and less rusty than the Packers, who just didn’t seem like they were on the same page all day. The Niners used turnovers, physicality, amazing play calls and too many clutch plays late to kick the Saints out of the playoffs.
On the AFC side, the Texans couldn’t put away the Ravens. Houston’s defense was fantastic. They bottled up Ray Rice and never let the Ravens get into an offensive rhythm. But the Texans couldn’t survive three picks from their rookie QB. The Pats mopped up the Broncos in a hurry, and at this point, they have to be viewed as the favorite to win it all.
At New England -7 Baltimore
I don’t think the Ravens are very good. Granted, I have a very clear pro-Steelers bias that comes with a requisite level of Ravens-hate, but I mean I just don’t see this team taking out the Pats at home. While Flacco doesn’t deserve all the blame for Baltimore’s anemic offense, he certainly hasn’t been that impressive of late. The last time Flacco threw for 300 yards was in Week 9. I get that it’s not his job to air it out. Ray Rice is the featured part of this offense. But if you’re traveling to New England to play the Pats, having a QB that’s averaged 193 passing yards per game over the last nine games isn’t ideal. There’s only been two games this season where Flacco has thrown more than three touchdowns. So even if the Ravens D shows up big and Ray Rice goes off, I still think the Ravens need a big game from Flacco to pull off a Super Bowl berth. And I just don’t see that happening. Add in the fact that Ed Reed’s not 100 percent, Tom Brady looks like a man possessed and Gronk want touchdowns, and I just don’t see how the Ravens can pull off the upset.
Pick: Pats -7
At San Francisco -2.5 NY Giants
Alex Smith played the game of his life last week. He completed 24 of 42 passes for 299 yards and three TDs and no picks. And that QB keeper call where he used his wheels to score from 28 yards out was just incredible. Smith has the fewest INTs of any NFL starter this season. That’s crazy impressive. To put it in perspective, Alex Smith threw five picks this year. Last season, Eli Manning threw five times that amount. Eli has done a much better job this season, throwing only 16 INTs, but you get the point. The Niners have won ball games by being physical, leading the league in takeaways and performing solidly on special teams. But for that formula to work, Alex Smith can’t make mistakes. And last week, he didn’t. But this week, he’s facing a much more formidable pass rush and a defense that’s been steadily improving in both health and performance the last few weeks. I get that the Niners can stop the run. That’s great because New York’s ground game isn’t the foundation of their offense. Eli Manning is. His ability to make plays is what will be the difference in this game. Eli set a franchise record with 4,933 passing yards this season. He threw an NFL-record 15 TD passes in the fourth quarter. In short, Eli has been all kinds of clutch, and he’s the main reason the Giants are a win away from the Super Bowl. I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy. San Francisco’s defensive players look like they relish the chance to inflict pain. I see this game being a true, physical slug match. It’s going to be chippy, messy, rainy, all that. But I think the Giants will pull away at the end.
Pick: Giants +2.5
Last Week: 1-3
So last Saturday I watched that amazing NFC Divisional matchup between the 49ers and the Saints. It was just a fantastic game, full of action, big plays, last-minute heroics and such. That was followed by a super ho-hum, borderline-unwatchable AFC battle where the New England Patriots just crushed the Denver Broncos.
Needless to say, I was in the mood to be entertained after that lousy game. Surfing through the channels, I ended up on ABC in time to watch Wipeout. Now I’ve seen the show before, but I don’t really watch it religiously. But there was this big entertainment void that needed to be filled, and oh man, Wipeout delivered the entertainment goods in a big way.
There’s just something so pure and priceless about watching everyday people get bounced, tossed, punched, propelled, smashed, flipped and splashed. If you don’t laugh while watching Wipeout, there’s something terribly wrong with you. As a species, we all take pleasure in watching other people’s clumsy misfortunes. How else can you explain the 22-year run of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Is it high-brow humor? Of course not. But sometimes you need to suspend critical thinking for a bit and just enjoy watching other people’s mishaps. Sometimes physical comedy is the perfect way to fill an entertainment void.
So why I’m telling you this? Because Wipeout is so much more than a simple display of awkward human clumsiness. It’s controlled chaos. There’s a lot that goes into creating an obstacle course that can generate such a delightful level physical punishment. And the people responsible for testing the obstacle course are the Black and Blue Crew. This is their story:
The Black and Blue Crew, those highly trained, potentially sick-in-the-head individuals who test all this Wipeout stuff out, have six webisodes that you can view on the ABC.tv website. Each week will feature a new webisode, so if you can’t get enough Wipeout, there’s so much more to enjoy online.
To help get the word out on the Black and Blue Crew, we’re giving away four Wipeout tote bags:
To enter, follow us on Twitter and send us an email below describing your favorite Wipeout moment. It can be a punch in the phase, an awkward bounce from the balls, whatever floats your boat. We’ll pick four winners at random next Friday. Good luck!
The film Haywire hits theaters on Friday, and I must say, I think it looks pretty good. To be fair though, they had me at Carano. You probably know all about Gina Carano. She’s a super hot MMA fighter who played Crush on the American Gladiators reboot and can likely beat the snot out of you in a matter of minutes. She did all her own stunts in this film, too.
Carano plays Mallory Kane, a highly trained, black-ops hottie who works for a government security contractor. After freeing a Chinese journo who was held hostage, she gets double crossed by someone within her own operation. As she’s hunted by skilled assassins, she must struggle to survive and find out the truth. She sets up a double cross of her own, but then it all goes Haywire and she needs to kickass her way out of it all.
Again, I’d probably watch this movie if it was Gina Carano and a bunch of extras, but this is a Steven Soderbergh directed film with guys like Michael Fassbender, Ewan MacGregor, Bill Paxton and Michael Douglas in the mix. How bad it could it be?
Check out the trailer:
To promote the release of the film, we’re giving away a Soderbergh prize pack that includes a copy of Ocean’s Eleven and Traffic on DVD along with a Haywire T-shirt, rubber bracelet and mini poster. To enter, just follow us on Twitter and drop us an email below. We’ll pick a winner at random next Thursday.
The 2012 Sundance Festival kicks off in Park City, Utah today and we’re teaming up with AXE Hair to give away two AXE Hair Sundance Survival Packs. What does AXE Hair have to do with film festivals you ask? Well AXE Hair is sponsoring the AXE Hair Media Lounge & Groom Room at Sundance, a place where celebs can stop by and get some hair styling love before doing press interviews. Each celebrity will receive AXE Hair Sundance Survival Packs that include the following:
- “Touchscreen” Gloves (gloves that allow you to use your touchscreen phone while wearing them)
- Hand warmers
- Full set of AXE Hair styling products
- AXE Hair Branded Lip Balm
- AXE Hair Branded Mints
But you don’t have to star in a film that’s screening at Sundance to get your hands on an AXE Hair Sundance Survival Pack. We’re giving away two packs to two lucky readers. To enter, just follow us on Twitter and send us an email below. We’ll select two winners at random next Thursday. Good luck!
It blows my mind that Wi-Fi isn’t available everywhere. When I traveled to Australia a few weeks back, I stayed at places that offered free Wi-Fi, places that charged you an arm and a leg for Wi-Fi, and places that didn’t even offer Wi-Fi, just hardwire Ethernet web access. And don’t get me started on multiple devices. There’s nothing worse than paying for Internet while you’re traveling, only to find that the iPhone connection that you paid $50 for doesn’t cover an additional connections for your laptop or iPad. It’s the 21st Century, man. People don’t leave the house without packing multiple, web ready devices. If you have to pay per connection to get online with all your different gadgets, your Internet access bill will get to be unreasonable real quick.
The Belkin Wireless Dual-Band Travel Router can help. It’s a small, easy to carry device that uses a Ethernet cable to create a wireless network in spots like airports and hotels. Because it’s dual-band, you basically get to beef up your connectivity and enhance your ability to stream music, videos or just power-surf the web.
The best thing about the Belkin Travel Router is that it’ll save you tons of money on multiple device web access charges. If you pay for an Ethernet connection at hotel, all you need to do is hook up a cable to this little box and then browse on as many devices as you want. So if you want to look up a restaurant option on your phone, while streaming Netflix on your iPad as you answer emails on your laptop, that’s not a problem at all.
The Belkin Wireless Dual-Band Travel Router is priced at $79.99. It comes with a carrying case and everything you need to hookup to an available Ethernet port. It’s a tiny case that’s easy to throw into any carryon bag. If you travel frequently, hate paying web access fees for multiple devices and want the power and convenience of a dual band wireless router on the go, this thing is worth the investment.