Astrology For Dumbasses

It is estimated that every year, Americans spend hundreds of millions of dollars on horoscopes and astrological forecasts.  This proves that no matter which constellation the sun is in, or which planet is rising in whatever house, there is, in fact, "a sucker born every minute."

How Horoscopes Work
Many, if not most, people who read their horoscopes will tell you that they only do so for entertainment purposes and don't actually give any credence to the forecasts.  But many of those same people will also tell you that they "know lots of people who really fit their descriptions."  You may be familiar with those descriptions yourself--people born under the sign of Taurus are bull-headed, Capricorns are stubborn goats, etc. etc. etc.  And lots of people believe they fit their own signs especially well.

How do astrologers achieve such uncanny accuracy?  By making the descriptions generic, often contradictory (you enjoy people but also need to be alone sometimes, right?) and by filling them with things people want to believe about themselves.   Tell someone that people of their sign are independent thinkers yet they value the insight of others while remaining true to their ideals but very adaptable, and most everyone will go "Yeah!  That's me!  I'm terrific like that!

"My greatness is written in the stars, just like I always said!"


My Groundhog's Day

I've been watching too much TV.


Forgive Them, Lord, For They Know Not How To Spell

Okay, I suppose technically that's a punctuation error, not a spelling error (the apostrophe isn't needed, kids; that designates a possessive rather than the plural Sundays that I think you wanted). Maybe I'm just nitpicking, but next time hire a professional. Oh wait, you did?
Maybe they have a good excuse. Maybe it's just residual confusion left over from that whole Tower of Babel thing, but really, this is plain English! And since, as we all know, Jesus was a white guy who spoke impeccable English, I'm not sure there are any truly mitigating circumstances.
The grinning doof is Wayne Cordeiro, who stars in an early morning religious show called New Hope. Again, nitpicking, but hope is a morally neutral concept; one can hope for bad things to happen.  I'm not sure the vague concept of hope is something an upright citizen like Wayne should really be standing by.
Wayne, as he keeps telling me, believes that "inside the heart of every man and woman is a dream of what you can be for God." We'll leave aside the fact that the heart has little role in producing dreams and give the man some credit for standing steadfastly behind beliefs that are obviously not true. Such faith! Considering the number of atheists, Buddhists, and others in this country who don't believe in the reality of God, I think he's reaching a bit.  Every man and woman? Nah.
As for me, the last time I dreamed about God, the all-knowing Creator of the Universe was telling me I needed to take the beautiful baby boy I was cradling in my arms down to the churchyard and bury him. I tried to point out that the baby wasn't actually dead, but Almighty Father would have none of it, "for he is sickly and must be laid to rest." Uh, yeah. I'll get right on that.
I must confess, though, that I've never actually seen Wayne's show, just the promos that saturate at least one of my available airwaves. Hey, it's on at 6:30 in the morning. As a great man once said, "I'm not even done throwing up at that hour."


Ladies and Gentlemen, Your 2013 Kansas City Chiefs

I have written before about my life as a Kansas City Chiefs fan.  Things haven't gotten any better since that post.
Last year, the Chiefs went 2-14 (worst record in the NFL), went (if memory serves) nine games to open the season without ever holding a lead in regulation play, and saw one of their players commit suicide in the stadium parking lot.
In 2013, they opened 9-0. Still, I wasn't fooled for a moment; I knew all along they were setting me up for the big fall. And last Saturday it came.
I watched very little of it; I merely checked in on the score from time to time, and absolutely did not get excited when they led 38-10 in the third quarter. My attitude was "I'll believe it when it's over."
The Chiefs lost to the Indianapolis Colts 45-44 in what must rank as the worst choke job since David Carradine.
Fortunately, I still have my official Kansas City Chiefs crack pipe.

At least it's over now, for another year. Who knows what joyous miracle awaits my team next year?*
And I still have my memories! And nothing, other than possibly age, which seems likely to happen, can ever take them away.

We'll always have 65 Toss Power Trap.

*I do. I won't be watching.


Svoo--A Perfectly Cromulent Word

Well, wonder of wonders--it's an actual new blog post from feralboy12.

So what have I been up to, you may ask?

You can ask.

Well, OK, I'll tell you, but understand this is on a need to know basis.

I'm getting ready to start a temp job. In the meantime, I'm sleeping 10 hours a day while still recovering from that thing that happened.

Fortunately, there's no shortage of good entertainment on over-the-airwaves television these days. Of course, when I say "good entertainment," I really mean Law & Order SVU, which is on here roughly 136 times per day. I've been watching it a lot, when I'm not too busy, which I'm not. Also, I call it "Law and Order Svoo."

I wrote some words to go with the theme song:


Horseshit Plays That Changed NFL History, Part One

You're familiar with the Butterfly Effect, right? You know, when a butterfly flaps his wings off the coast of Brazil, and weeks later, that results in a gust of wind that comes up and miraculously blows a Tim Tebow pass straight into the hands of his receiver? Yeah, that.

The history of the National Football League is littered with dubious, horseshit-looking plays that changed its history and sometimes, the history of sports in America.  Here is indisputable proof that the Butterfly Effect works, leaving even 350-pound behemoths helpless in its wake.

Here is the first of  six utterly ridiculous plays that flukishly turned on the most insignificant of factors, changed games, and changed NFL history in ways that no one would have predicted.

1945: What The Hell Is That Doing There?
Take a close look at the field in this photo.

Notice how the goalpost has two uprights, which are attached to a crossbar, which is attached to a support pillar stuck in the ground? Notice further how that support is conveniently located outside the field of play, in back of the end zone, where players running around are less likely to smack face first into it? Pretty basic safety engineering concept, right? Don't put immovable structures on the field of play that people are likely to brain themselves on.

But those goalposts haven't always been located there. At least, not in the NFL.

From 1933 through 1973, the goalpost at either end of the field was actually placed at the goal line.  The supporting pillar was just inside the end zone, which means two very important things:

1. It was in the actual field of play, and not located out-of-bounds.
2. It was in the actual field of play, and not located out-of-fucking-bounds.

This was the brainchild of one George Preston Marshall, owner of the then Boston Redskins, who pushed for the rule change that moved the goalpost from the back of the end zone, where it belongs, to the goal line, where it clearly does not.  All to make things easier for field goal kickers, who admittedly have always been the most respected players in the game of football.

Respected and feared.

Twelve years later, Marshall's brainchild was to bite him in the butt and cost him a championship. And, not incidentally, change the NFL forever in multiple ways.

The Play
In 1937, Mr. Marshall made two decisions that would serve him very well in the coming years: he moved the team from Boston to Washington, creating the Washington Redskins franchise, known and loved to this day by millions of fans nationwide who still pretend that "Redskins" isn't any sort of racial slur (Marshall was also largely responsible for the fact that the NFL employed no black people from 1933-1945)..  Then, he paid a young man from Texas Christian University named Sammy Baugh  a sizable (for those days) lump of money to forego a possible baseball career and come play quarterback for those Redskins.

He also bought him a really bitchin' new hat.

Sammy rewarded Marshall's confidence in him by immediately leading the Redskins to an NFL championship in 1937, and followed with another five years later. And, in 1945, Baugh led the Redskins back to the championship game, this time facing a team that called itself the Cleveland Rams.

Presumably the Rams' owner also considered "Cleveland Bites" and
"Cleveland Sucks" as possible names for his team.

In a game that matched two of the best quarterbacks of the day, Baugh and Cleveland's Bob Waterfield (sort of the Tom Brady of his day, handsome and married to movie star Jane Russell) the championship was ultimately decided by one seriously horseshit-looking play in the first period. Taking over the ball on his own five-yard line, Slingin' Sammy went back to pass, retreating into his own end zone before spotting an open receiver and letting fly.

Any guesses on how that worked out for him?  Yep. The ball bounced off the goalpost and came to rest in the end zone. Under the rules of the day, that was a "safety"--two points for the Rams. And when the game ended a couple of hours later, the Rams had won, 15-14. One point difference.

What Happened Next
The Rams were the champions of the professional football world. But the football business in Cleveland was not lucrative enough to suit Rams owner Dan Reeves; when the season ended he petitioned the league to allow him to move the team to Los Angeles. where they would play in a stadium that seated a whopping 92,000--Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The other owners said "no." Or maybe "fuck, no," if people talked like that back then. After all, Los Angeles was roughly 2000 miles from any other team in the NFL. And travelling by jet airliner in 1946? Not happening.

But Reeves decided to play hardball, or the football version of "hardball," whatever that might be. He threatened to end his relationship with football and leave the league, possibly disbanding the team. In other words, to take his ball and go home. The other NFL owners, thinking it might not look good to have their current championship team ritually disembowel itself in front of the entire country, relented and allowed the move. Would they have done this had the Rams not won that championship only weeks before? If that damn ball hadn't bounced off that stupid goalpost?

It certainly would have reduced Reeves' leverage over the league, you can be sure of that. And why was the move so critical to the future of the NFL?

1. It gave the league an outpost in California, a part of the country growing in leaps and bounds in the years following World War II, a full 12 years before Major League Baseball got there. This was big--within a generation, California would have mutliple football teams and the game would supplant baseball as the nation's "pasttime."

2. The owners of LA coliseum had one odd little condition they imposed on the Rams before allowing them to play there--they had to integrate the team with at least one black player.  Yes, integration of the NFL was one of the more direct consequences of that brutally stupid play in 1945. And again, the NFL was ahead of baseball in this regard, although in this case it was by only one year.  And the player they then signed? None other than Kenny Washington, former UCLA teammate of Jackie Robinson.

Note the irony: a decision made to move the goalposts, spearheaded by one of the most unabashedly racist men to own a professional sports team in the last century, led (somewhat indirectly, admittedly) to the NFL being re-integrated.

There was one other change that resulted directly from that horseshit play. The team owners, spurred again by George Preston Marshall, implemented a new rule for the following season: if a pass bounces off the goalpost, rather than counting as a safety and scoring two points for the defense, it is simply incomplete. And beginning in 1974, the goalposts were moved back where they probably should have been all along: at the back of the end zone. Never again would a piece of stadium equipment be in such a position to interfere directly in an NFL game.

Well, if you don't count that gigantic video display board they hung a mere 90 feet above the field in the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium a few years ago. While that hasn't altered any counting games as yet, it is low enough for a good, strong punter (like, say, one good enough to play in the NFL) to hit the thing with a high, well-aimed kick.

Caution is recommended for anyone attempting to throw a "jump" pass.


Money For Nothing, Chicks For Free, And All The Tobacco You Need Is Just Lying In The Street

Poverty, as they say, is a great way to learn the difference between a habit and an addiction.

Okay, they don't say that, I did, but I'm pretty much one of them, so I'll occasionally speak for us (they).

And I think they (I) speak the truth. For instance, did you know that cigarettes are addictive? You find this out when you're poor and have a 30 year habit to support, all the while the state is trying to tax your habit out of existence. What to do? Well, it turns out that there are cheaper solutions, and at least one essentially free way to keep Mr. Jones at bay.

Smokers: did you know that all tobacco you need is lying in the streets, in gutters, in parking lots, in driveways? Just sitting there, waiting to be gathered in?  This world has only produced one smoker who ever learned how to dispose of his butts somewhere other than at his own feet, and that's me, and I don't live in your town, most likely.

But everywhere else you look, people have tossed their cigarette butts, with numerous puffs of the good stuff still remaining, in the street, the parking lot, and anywhere else relatively horizontal. And really, twenty minutes of work can easily net you a stash that would fetch a good three or four dollars at the tobacconists, were there still tobacconists. So what are you waiting for? That tobacco is rightfully yours.

There are, however, a few pitfalls to this method, and you'll want to be aware of them before you set out on your quest.

1.  I'm sure I hardly need mention the most obvious  danger in scrounging the streets for tobacco, so well known is it for the horrors it has inflicted upon generations of smokers: that dreaded scourge known as menthol.

This noxious substance is added to many cigarettes, and often with a butt found in the gutter, there may be no way to tell it apart from  those not so laced. One way is to examine the filter and the end of the butt for the presence of the color green, often used for the brand lettering on these abominations, and, for fancier cigarettes, a colored band where butt joins filter.  If this color, or the color of the lettering is green, beware--you may have a menthol dreg. And if anything in this world  is lower than a dreg, it's a menthol dreg.

So be on the lookout for anything green, and test any suspicious tobacco in a pipe or bong before rolling an entire cigarette out of it. So you don't forget, just repeat this simple rule to yourself a hundred times or so: GREEN:  BAD.

What to do if you find yourself smoking your second gen ciggy and it tastes like mouthwash? Well, my advice is this: power down and finish that sucker. It's still reasonably effective as a nicotine delivery system, you probably can't reuse the rolling paper, and let's face it: one menthol cigarette does not reflect on your manhood, your character, or anything else of importance. It's only a preference for menthol that makes you a douchebag.

2. Never, ever put anything in your mouth that you've picked up off the street; this goes double for cigarettes, as they are known for a fact to have been in someone else's mouth at some point, and you know that's a much more germ and vermin infested environment than any street could ever be. And while, as they say, "you don't know whose mouth that's been in," you actually know everything you need to know: it has been in the mouth of a smoker. And remember: in today's world, only people like you still smoke cigarettes.

You want to roll them into new cigarettes, or use a pipe. Or a bong. Or, I don't know, an orange. Anything.  Unwrap the leafy stuff, throw away the filters, and wash your hands. Get rid of nasty germs once and for all, leaving only the harmless tobacco.

3. Yes, people will see you doing this. And they will know. You can pretend to be picking at your foot all you want, but it is what it is. And no, they will not fall for any "I'm picking up litter" pretense you may try to pull off; to be believable at a glance, this would require at least a prison jumpsuit, and wearing this alone on the street creates its own issues.

So just do it. Who cares? Hell, they probably think you're scum for smoking already. They're the people who look at you like you're Hitler every time you light up! Probably. And fuck that shit. You need cigarettes!


4. There will be obvious places where cigarette butts are tossed on a daily basis. These are the dependable sources of clean, fresh butts, where regular smokers work and must do their smoking outside. You should avoid these places.  Why? Because others with the same idea as you will be there, waiting like hawks. Hawks that smoke cigarettes. Intimidating, right? Not only does this become a competitive smoking situation, something to be avoided, but you will have the uncomfortable experience of seeing others like yourself, doing what you are doing. In other words, you will see how you are. And, possibly even worse, you will see how you used to be. Those gainfully employed workers, smoking fresh, virgin cigarettes they paid for with their hard-earned money? That was you, maybe, once upon a time. As much as you might want to claim their dregs, it is not healthy for you to see exactly how far you've fallen, to have it so quantified and laid out in an easy to read bar graph.  Also, as I'm sure you'll remember, some of those workers are douchebags.

Addendum: Wow, turns out that caffeine is addictive, too. And there's none to be found lying in the streets. I mean, who knew, right? Who would have thought that ingesting a stimulant multiple times a day for 30 years would create some sort of dependence? Damn. This world is a freaking minefield. Well, you live and learn, I guess.


Still Raining, Still Dreaming

On the slim chance that I have any readers left here after six months of inactivity, I want to update those happy few on my current condition.

When last I posted here, I informed the world that I was having a physical issue known as sciatica, which is caused by a nerve in my lower back being impinged and which resulted in my right leg going haywire.

The (mostly) good news is that, all these months later, the pain has receded enough that painkillers are not required most days, I can walk a bit, and can ride my bike a dozen or so miles in a day without paying too steep a price.

The bad news is that I need to get back to work, and I need to do it soon. Unless my readership here jumps a few thousandfold in the next week or so.

But I must say, this whole experience hasn't been without its bits of entertainment. For some reason, ever since I went down with this condition back in September, I have been dreaming and remembering dreams at a furious rate unprecedented in my life. In those six months I have remembered (and jotted down notes on) roughly three dozen dreams. There was a plane crash, several encounters with zombies, and at least a couple of childhood friends who turned up.

So I thought I would share a few here. And yes, I know other people's dreams are boring, so I'll limit it to my five favorites, the ones that really made me sit up and wonder "where the hell did that come from?"

The Sciatica Dreams

5. Is My Safety Off?
Okay, I'll admit it--I've been watching way too much Walking Dead since I got laid up. Zombies have turned up to threaten me and friends/family members on several occasions. And, at least this once, a character from the TV show was included.

Zombies were coming at me. I had a handgun, which is a device I have never used in my life. My first concern was that I had not left the safety on, which many years of TV viewing has led me to understand prevents the gun from firing. I clicked a little switch on the thing, and noticed that a little red dot appeared.

I then asked Rick Grimes, character from The Walking Dead TV show, if that indeed meant that the safety was off. "The red dot means it will fire, right? That's what you told Andrea."

Apparently I was correct in this, because I then raised the gun, squeezed the trigger, and blew a zombie's head off.  Success!

At this point, a former co-worker (whom I haven't spoken with in five years) congratulated me for "shooting a zombie in the face."

4. Why Can't I Walk Underwater Like Everyone Else?

In this one, myself and as many as a few hundred other people were heading out to watch some sort of display being put on over Coos Bay, in Oregon (the bay, not the town). And to get there, we needed to across a stretch of water.

For some reason, everybody but me had the ability to walk underwater, quickly, easily, and without needing to breathe. I did not possess this ability, forcing me to try to swim. This is something I'm not good at. As I flailed around in the water, my right foot began to cramp up, making things really dicey.

Yes, that's the foot/leg that has had the problems in the real world. Sometimes, my dreams try to explain real things to me. Unfortunately, my dreams know nothing of Occam's Razor.

3. Wait, I Thought The War Was Over

This dream consisted entirely of running around my old neighborhood in Coos Bay, attempting to find a place to hide from the Japanese soldiers that had invaded the west coast and wanted to kill me, what with me being a dangerous subversive intellectual and all.

I started out hiding in a hedge, but another person was living in it, and went in and out of it so many times that my covering vegetation was getting thin. I also looked at a concrete shed, but someone was already hiding inside, and it had too many openings that required only a flashlight to see into.

It ended after I ran into the neighbor's back yard, failing to find a good hiding place.

I blame the remake of Red Dawn for putting this in my head. Yeah, maybe it wasn't really responsible, but I'm doing it anyway. Ideas like that movie deserve all the criticism they get.

2. Do Not Mess With Me In Dreams, Especially When I've Just Done Something Vaguely Heroic

This dream began inside a building, one I had no familiarity with. I heard someone outside yell "emergency!" and ran out a door. The first thing I saw was a helium balloon beginning to float away. I jumped and grabbed it, only to begin floating away with it.

Then, some quick-thinking person shot the balloon, and I fell back to the ground, landing on my feet. I thanked the shooter for landing me in the grass.

The next thing I know, I'm back inside the building, and I see at the other end of the table the curly-haired guy from the show Bones. Hodgins, I believe his name is. He is pulling something out of a backpack; my first thought is he's going for a weapon, but no, he pulls out a ping pong paddle and serves the ball to me. Of course I have nothing to return that serve with.

So I turn around and look for something to play with, and a find a little tiny guitar, about six inches long. I pick up the ball and serve to Hodgins, acing the little bastard.

Hodgins then goes to his backpack again, only this time he pulls out...a chainsaw.

I say "are you serious?" and I run over and knock the chainsaw away. I pin the little jerk to the wall and suggest we have this fight straight up.

Do not mess with me in my dreams.

Then, Hodgins and someone else I can't identify are talking to me, and their voices echo strangely, like they do in movies and TV when people are going crazy. Everything takes on a purplish, underwater hue and the voices are echoing around me.

I realize, though, that it's just the two guys trying to convince me that I'm crazy by somehow altering their voices. With this realization, I wake up.

Fucker's lucky I woke up before kicking his ass again.

1. I Can't Be Dreaming, The Ground Is Solid and Everything

This one happened early on in my convalescence. I was walking down a street in Coos Bay, looking for somewhere to buy cigarettes. I'm walking along, having to problem with my leg--but the knowledge that my leg was actually messed up was with me in the dream. So it occured to me that I might, in fact, be dreaming.
I sat down on the ground and felt the grass beneath me. "Well, it feels real," I say, and I get up to continue walking.

At that point I notice that I'm carrying a big bag of nails. For no reason.

Some time later, I'm still walking but no longer carrying the nails. Instead, I'm carrying my shoes. Since this makes no sense, walking barefoot here, I stop and put my shoes on.

And for some reason, my left foot still feels bare. Even though I can see it has a shoe on it.

I assume that was the foot sticking out from under the covers. As I said, my dreams try to explain things to me.

I never did get any cigarettes.

As for my least favorite dreams during this time, there is really only one candidate: I dreamed that my favorite football team, the Kansas City Chiefs, went 2-14 this last season, never even holding a lead during the first nine games (that hasn't been done since the 1920's), and, to top it off, one of their players shot his girlfriend in front of his mother, drove to the stadium parking lot, and committed suicide.

That was my worst dream. Wait, what? That really happened?

Ladies and gentlemen, YOUR 2012 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS.

Well, it felt like a dream. And I'm sure, with a little help, that I can find a way to cope with this knowledge.

The official 2012 Kansas City Chiefs crack pipe.

And I must sign out again, for now. I promise, really and for true, not to wait another six months before I post again.