Monday, October 1, 2012

Weeding the Olive Garden

This weekend, I visited an Olive Garden with some family for dinner.  After looking at the menu, I decided to get a dish with clams, mussels, and shrimp over thing pasta in a spicy marinara sauce.  It was a tough choice between that and my second choice, mussels, shrimp, and scallops in a garlic white wine sauce.  However, the waitress suggested that the former was the more popular menu item, so I decided to order it.

After the salad and bread came out and subsequently went down the hatch, my entree arrived.  However, when I looked at it, I noticed something lacking.  I saw the mussels and the shrimp, but no clams!  When the waitress came back, I inquired about my lacking seafood, and she told me that they were out of clams.  Instead of telling me that 1/3 of the reason I ordered what I did was out of stock, the cooks decided to roll the dice and hope I wouldn't notice.

If there's one thing I will never overlook though, it's food.  I understand they didn't know this about me, but still...This is not any way to treat customers.  For this little snafu, Olive Garden has officially become the first restaurant to earn a lifetime MSG ban.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Playoff Recap: Giants/49ers

A throwback game to the late 80s/early 90s.  This one features two excellent defenses and some underrated offenses.  The pass rushes should be the difference in this, and whoever can force the big turnover will be headed to Indy.  Add in the wet weather, and this one figures to be an old fashioned slug fest.

1.  That's a stunning reminder of why I wanted my team to draft Vernon Davis a few years ago.  The guy took a little time to come into his own, but he's an absolute athletic freak.  He's basically a walking mismatch.

2.  I just don't understand how Victor Cruz could explode onto the scene like he has this year.  You don't find this kind of talent overnight...Where was it last year?  My guess is that there are a handful of guys out there like him who may never get their shot because they're stashed behind entrenched veterans on their rosters.

3.  Do we have a tight end duel going here?  Pascoe vs. Davis?  In all seriousness though, have there ever been so many touchdowns by tight ends (specifically back-up tight ends) scored in a postseason?

4.  I like it when teams run play action (especially running teams).  However, for it to work, you need to have a running back near the fake hand-off.  That is a tip for you, Alex Smith.

5.  ...And now I'm seeing why it's not such a bad thing that my team didn't draft Vernon Davis.  He's now cost his team 30 yards in penalties.  I can see getting that penalty against the Broncos or the Colts if you're a Cowboy, but that's the only time that little maneuver is acceptable.

6.  Overall, I still think that Peyton's better than Eli.  However, if I had to choose one of them to lead my two minute offense, I think I'd take Eli.  The guy is clutchness personified.  Remember when Eli was asked at the beginning of the year whether he thought of himself as elite, in the Manning/Rogers ilk?  Do you remember all the flack he caught for saying yes?  I'm not hearing those same criticisms now.

7.  What a bad break that was for San Francisco on the punt return.  That said, if you're Kyle Williams, and you feel that ball hit your knee, you MUST go after it to try to recover it.  Not even trying to recover his own fumble is a horrific mental error.  Turnovers in playoffs are often difference makers because they lead to points and momentum.

8.  I haven't commented much in this half because I'm just busy enjoying watching these defenses.  This is one of the better games I've seen from a defensive standpoint.

9.  All of Aaron Ross's punt returns all seem to end the same way:  Like Buster Bluth being attacked by a bear.

10.  What is it about the 49er secondary that makes them defend the ball from themselves when going for an interception?

11.  Kyle Williams should probably retire.  Two bad punt return fumbles, and one very questionable diving attempt to field a punt in traffic.  Hopefully, he can learn from this and use the lesson to better himself in the future.  However, in this case, his two boneheaded plays appear to have done his team in.

12.  Super Bowl rematch!  Here's hoping for the same outcome as the first iteration!


Playoff Recap: Ravens/Patriots

I didn't post last week since I wasn't near a computer.  That changes this week though.  The AFC game should be an interesting one.  It's a classic battle of offense vs. defense, and we'll see which prevails!  Let's get right to the notes:

1.  I wasn't sure after watching Baltimore last week whether their offensive line was just as bad as it looked or whether it was more a function of the (now) vaunted Houston defense.  If the first three drives against the Pats serves as any indication, the offensive line is just that bad.  It's allowing pressure from everywhere.  If they're going to have a chance, they'll have to open up at least a sliver of daylight for Rice and Williams, and they should also shoot to give Flacco at least three seconds (and/or a place to step up).

2.  I wasn't too thrilled with Cam Cameron's playcalling last week, but that play action boot after the Webb pick was a thing of beauty.  After running on first down on the previous two drives, a play action was a good idea, and on top of that, the bootleg to negate the interior pass rush, was brilliant.  If Flacco had thrown it a tad earlier, this ballgame is 7-3 instead of 3-3.

3.  If I'm the Patriots, I would start my next offensive drive with a play action bomb after running like they did on the past drive.  The other thing I'd do is jump off a bridge because I would rather do that than be a New England Patriot.  Just sayin'.

4.  It looks like the Ravens have adjusted a little bit, as the protection has improved vastly.  Flacco's able to step up, and he's zinging it around.  There's also been some running room for Williams and Rice.  Sidenote: McKinnie is like two Rices.

5.  Well, I only want to see six more quarters of Brady this year:  The second half of this game and the Pro Bowl next week.

6.  The most bemoaned Ravens' draft pick (Torrey Smith - #58 overall) among all the Ravens fans I know seems to be having a pretty good game.  What effort on that touchdown to take the lead.  I'm not sure whether his foot was indeed in bounds, but it was just too close to reverse.  Had he been ruled out, that would have stood too.

7.  Pats fans are morons.  How many times do the Patriots players need to ask them to be quiet on third and inches from the goal line?

8.  And the Ravens' first round pick gets in on the action there too with the interception.  I guess he didn't want to be outdone by Torrey Smith?  Also, Pollard deserves a bit of credit for that pick...what an athletic play to bat it.

9.  This is far and away the best game of the post season so far.  To think the opening line was New England -9, the odds makers clearly didn't see this coming.

10.  How the Hell was there no defensive holding on that third down incompletion at the end?  Horrific no-call.  I'm astounded and disgusted.

11.  I feel badly for Cundiff there.  He's going to catch the blame for the loss when there were a lot of opportunities to win it by others (specifically having to settle for a field goal after the big kickoff return fumble).


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Casting a Shadow

I will always remember the day we first met.  You were hanging upside down in your crate, and when my sister and I put our hands up next to it, you came over and sniffed both of us.  It was a very easy choice to adopt you.  From that point forward, you've provided us with countless memories that I'll never forget.  There were the times you climbed my ladder to hang out with me in the top bunk bed and the times you ferociously hunted down and de-tailed "mousies."  Green Bean Goalie, Pride Rock Television, the Pork Chop Incident, the Stuffed Shell Surprise, the time you pooped in the water bed and tried to bury it, the time you got outside and somehow got three slugs stuck to your head...The list goes on.  You were a terrific friend, and I'll miss you.

RIP Shadow.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Playoff Recap: Steelers/Broncos

I think this will be a defensive battle, but I think Tebow and the Denver offense will be forced to make more mistakes than the Steelers' offense will make.  I'm calling this one for Pittsburgh, but I'm not willing to ignore the old addage, "That's why they play the game."

1.  Opening kickoff hits the uprights and bounces to where it eventually stops at the 20 yard line.  I'm not sure whether that's an omen of good spots in this game or just a coincidence, but either way, I'm amused.

2.  Both defenses have shown up, but so far, it looks like Pittsburgh's offense isn't AWOL like Denver's.  That said, I don't expect to see Denver move the ball till at least 45 minutes into the game (game clock time, not real-time).

3.  James Harrison's hit on Decker on the 20 yard completion (update: incompletion) is a step in the right direction for him because he didn't go helmet to helmet.  Unfortunately, helmet to the gonads and shoulder straight to the knee is still very dirty.

4.  That Eddie Royal touchdown past to take the lead is one of the more impressive catches I've seen in a while.  The defender was not beaten on the route, and somehow Royal pulled it in with one hand and an obscured view.  That, coupled with the pass to Thomas the play before, ought to open up a little running room on future drives...That is unless LeBeau thinks those plays were a fluke and sticks with his plan to make Tebow beat them by turning off Denver's proverbial "run faucet."

5.  Lebeau ought to alter his gameplan.  It's time to get some help on the outside against Demaryius Thomas.  Tebow's looked like Brees in the second quarter.  That probably shouldn't be happening.  (Update: He also looks a bit like Cam Newton.).

6.  While I still expect Pittsburgh to come out in the second half and play much better, Denver has come out playing with nothing to lose, and they look good.  That said, I'm not sure that Tomlin shouldn't put Batch in.  Ben seems to have a lot of trouble planting and throwing with zip and accuracy consistently.

7.  There's another bad call by the refs where a whistle blows on a clear fumble (Ben's lateral).  Why doesn't the head of officiating say, "If it's questionable, let it play out.  That way, if it is a fumble, nobody gets screwed, and if it's not, then it's like it never happened."  (Update: What should have turned into at least three Denver points just became a Pittsburgh touchdown.  I'm getting sick of the refs making such a difference with blown calls.).

8.  What a finish!  Tebow magic!

UPDATE:  It just occurred to me that all of the teams that scored first in their games on Wildcard weekend lost.  Maybe that's just an odd coincidence, but I'm certainly amused by it.


Playoff Recap: Falcons/Giants

It's time for day two of the playoffs!  I'm definitely ready.  Each game yesterday was close through the first half and crumbled in the second half.  I think we will see one good game today and one that's decidedly less close.  I'll let you figure out which game I'm placing in each category.  First up is Atlanta visiting the New York Football Giants.

1.  It was a pretty uneventful first quarter, with the defenses stealing the show.  However, the second quarter started with a bang.  I'm shocked the Falcons would leave points on the board in field goal territory.  After a huge surge by the Giants' defensive line, the Falcons squander a good drive on the road.  That may haunt Atlanta, as not only do they not have points from the drive, but the Giants now have momentum.  (Update: The Giants didn't do much with that alleged momentum.  2-0 Falcons).

2.  Aren't the best reffing crews supposed to be rewarded with the opportunity to call playoff games?  Why then have I seen so many bad calls regarding forward progress this weekend?

3.  The Giants' D is looking terrific out there.  That's now two huge fourth and inches stops because of the line push.  If I'm Mike Smith, I'm wishing I could take a mulligan on both of those calls.  It would be a two point game (in all likelihood) if he had opted to kick each time.  Instead, it's still and eight point affair.  The way the New York defense is playing, it's not going to be easy to get eight points.

4.  Check that.  They now need fifteen.  What an individual effor by Nicks on the slant, more specifically, the run after the catch.

5.  Amazing pass and catch on the Manningham touchdown to make it 24-2.  The shame of it is that with the exception of maybe four plays (at most), the Falcons defense has played rather well.  Their performance however is being completely overshadowed by their counterparts on the Giants.  One stat pretty much tells the whole story here:  The Atlanta defense has scored two points, and the Atlanta offense has scored none.

6.  The Giants look dangerous, and I expect them to give Green Bay all it can handle next week.  Recall 2007 when they were underdogs in the NFC Championship game in Green Bay.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Playoff Recap: Lions/Saints

This game figures to be an entirely different style than the Bengals/Texans game.  I'm anticipating much more offensive fireworks (as is everyone, I'd bet).  To me, the real question is whether the Lions' offense can match that of the Saints.  I am not convinced that they can't, but I'm also no sure that they will.  The one thing I am sure of is that Al Michaels dyes his hair.  He was born in 1944, and he doesn't have a little salt to go with his pepper.  C'mon Man!

1. FAITH HILL!!!  Good start to this one!

2.  Both offenses seem to be clicking so far, although one made an error that if repeated will be fatal.  I have to believe that the Saints defense will come up with a big play sometime in the game to settle the score for the fumble on their offense's first drive, but as of now, if you'r the Lions, you have to be happy.  If Detroit can move effortlessly down the field for another touchdown here on their second drive, they can take the crowd out of it.  If however, the Saints want to prevent that, they may want to cover Megatron.

3.  Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.  That's now two fumbles for the Saints.  I don't care how good a team is...If they can't hold onto the ball, they will not win playoff football.  That said, I'd love to know why the whistle blew, and Detroit wasn't allowed to run that ball back.  It sounds like it was a premature whistle as though the pass was incomplete before being ruled a fumble.  However, the whistle blowing is a terrible break for Detroit, as this could be a 21-7 lead right now.

4.  I must say, there has been quite a bit less scoring than I anticipated.  It will be interesting to see how the second half goes.  For reference though, the same number of points were scored in the first half of each wildcard game today (27).

5.  The Saints just got a gift first down.  Couple that with the TD that was stolen from them by a bad whistle, and there's some absurd home cookin' going on in the dome.  Detroit should have a four point lead and the ball now, but instead, they're down three, and the Saints are driving.  I hate it when refs determine the game rather than the players and coaches.

6.  Another bad ref call that the announcers missed:  The Drew Brees fourth down converstion on the sneak was mis-spotted pretty terribly.  I'm not denying that Drew reached across the line for the first down, but I am troubled by the fact that the refs gave him the spot he reached to when after extending, he himself brought the ball back to his body.  He is NOT entitled to forward progress if he himself brings the ball back.  That makes two gift first downs on this drive from the refs, and the result is a touchdown.  What's the point of the Lions' defense taking the field when the refs are going to give the Saints things they don't earn anyway?

7.  Calvin Johnson is the one Matt Millen got right.  For all the flack he gets (and he deserves all of it), he deserves a little credit for that pick.  Although, one has to wonder how Megatron would be doing if Millen had been there to pass on Stafford in deference to a WR.

8.  Detroit is shooting itself in the foot by being unable to take anybody down with the first tackle.  It seems like the runners only go down on third contact.  That's not any way to get off the field to give Stafford and the offense the ball.

9.  Sproles is a shifty little bugger.  He's definitely on the righ team because Sean Payton knows how to build schemes to fit his players' strengths.  He's created a little mismatch monster out of his diminuative running back.

10.  The Jabari Greer pick ought to ice this one.  (Update:  If the pick didn't, the wide open Meachem touchdown did.)


Playoff Recap: Bengals/Texans

Well, it's playoff time again!  That means one thing:  I'll be recapping each game by making notes of my thoughts as the game progresses and posting my streams of consicousness after each game!  First up is Cincinnati visiting Houston for the Texans' first ever franchise playoff game.  I think Cincinnati is up and coming, and Houston has a third string quarterback starting for them, but if I had to pick, I'd go with Houston (in large part because I want to see New England have to play Pittsburgh next week rather than Cincinnati).  Anyway, here we go:

Bonus: Analysis on the Pregame show... Charles Barkley just said that he really likes the Lions over the Saints.  I don't buy his logic, and I am just not sure I see it happening.  However, I learned my lesson last year for automatically advancing the Saints through round 1, so we'll just have to wait and see.

1.  I harped on it last year...turnovers lose playoff games.  First play, Arian Foster mishandles his balls.  They better hope that's just early jitters and not a sign of things to come, or they'll be home next week again.

2.  Marvin Lewis is challenging a bit much here, and he's going to have no more in the game after this Owen Daniels' catch.  The announcers don't seem to understand that with Daniels being on the ground with a Bengal on him that the tight end is down by contact.  Lewis should have held onto his red flag on this one and used it for an actual wrong call.  (Update: during the commercial break, the announcers got their sanity back and gave the correct explanation.)

3.  The Brewtender is fun....Every football fan needs one for football watching.

4. Neil Rackers definitely made it interesting on that field goal before half.  The refs took their sweet time thinking before making the call.

5.  And Dalton throws the first TD pass of the JJ Watt!  That was one of the finest defensive efforts I've seen.  I've seen guys do it on a batted ball (sometimes that the DL bats up himself), but this was caught without any bobbling.  Thank God he's not dancing like BJ Raji in the NFC Championship game last year.

6.  Houston's defense is looking hungry and fast.  It helps that they can pin back their ears with a 14 point lead after Johnson destroyed the Pacman Jones with his double move.

7.  Not to rag on the announcers more, but the camera is showing the Bengals in a punt formation on 4th and 3 early in the 4th quarter, and the announcers said, "And the Bengals are lined up to go for it."  ::Smacks forehead::

8.  That pick by Manning with seven minutes left ought to ice it.  The thing that's rough here is that I think his right heel may have landed out of bounds, but Cincinnati has no more challenges.  This game belongs to Arian Foster (he didn't have huge holes all game) and that Wade Phillips led Houston defense.