Nov 11, 2010
Larry, Veterans Day, Tatyana Janikowski, 2 Diff'rent Strokes References, a Hillbilly Double Wedding, a Puke-Stained Broncos tshirt & Looking for Karma
So we’re watching and listening to a young woman named Mindy semi-nervously yet gently feed her soul by performing a couple acoustic covers. My buddy Mike and I are each armed with a glass of Makers 46 and a can of beer, backs to the old fireplace in the front room of the Southgate House. The room is less than half-full, unless you count the eight or ten former presidents whose pictures are framed and hanging on the wall across from us. Mindy finishes with what I think is a Sarah McLachlan song, thanks a politely applauding room and takes her seat back at the bar next to her friend who is either less talented or less courageous but certainly not less attractive.
Taking Mindy’s place at the open mic is some guy who’s introduced as “Bob”. Bob adjusts the microphone and then calls out for someone to bring Larry in from the adjoining room. A few seconds later, a slightly built man who looks to be in his early sixties or who’s lived a hard fifty shuffles to the front of the room next to Bob. He’s wearing a dingy red beret, a dark suit of clothes , a wry smile, and is looking at us through a thick set of square framed glasses. Bob, seated on a stool, introduces Larry as someone he just met within the last hour and the two take a few moments to ready their instruments. Larry’s is a harmonica which he retrieves from his left front pocket, slaps it on his thigh a couple of times and presses it to his mouth for a quick sound check. Bob’s is an acoustic guitar that he’s holding strongly in front of him, not letting it rest on his lap as he rears back his head, eyes closed, tuning the strings. Bob is a bit of an odd fellow. He’s portly with a miniature Billy Gibbons beard, knit winter hat covering most of his curly reddish-brown hair, eyeglasses which seem a little too small for his face, and a voice that at first sounds a bit like he’s channeling Kermit the Frog if Kermit had more of a bluegrass influence. This isn’t to say his voice was bad, it wasn’t, just unique and the type that grows on you with each passing line. Bob tells Larry that this first song is in the key of D. Larry nods and the two are off on their journey. A couple minutes later after a spirited & soul-baring performance of an original and a more than polite applause fills the room, Bob and Larry give each other a look that’s one part surprise, one part respect and two parts excitement. At that moment it’s clear to everyone in the room that these two men will collaborate again. Not just for three more songs as they proceeded to do but also on future evenings in this room or others like it in front of similar audiences.
After witnessing Larry’s skill not only on the harmonica but also on the piano, the next two performers also ask him to sit in with them. There’s a heavily inked stockily-built young man in a sleeveless shirt who sings eyes closed and heart wide open on a surprisingly fantastic original and covers of Eleanor Rigby and Champagne Supernova. Following him was an older, feisty, blues singer named Paul Jolly who offered up three blues covers including Tobacco Road and an original which he called The Beer Bottle Song that turned the laid back room into a sing along for a couple of minutes. At the end of both sets, these men shared strong handshakes and pats on the back with Larry. They knew, like Bob before them, that they were better that night by having Larry beside them and the rest of us in the room knew that our night was better for it as well. What we witnessed was teamwork and collaboration in its purist and most creative form. It was one man who didn’t need to be the center of attention, willing to follow the lead of others , his only goal being to compliment their abilities and take the effort to a higher level. I left my house on Monday night thinking that being in the stands for the Bengals-Steelers game would be the highlight of my evening. I went home with a different highlight and wishing that some of the Bengals could witness what I had just witnessed and take a cue from Larry.
And just in case you’re curious, here’s The Beer Bottle Song (unfortunately without Larry and his harmonica)
Bring on the matchups!
Ravens at Falcons-
Hey, a Thursday nighter to celebrate Veterans Day. That’s a classy move by the NFL. I’m sure it will include a “world famous recording artist” performing the national anthem and some commemorative stickers on the helmets or patches on the jerseys. And the broadcast is sure to give us at least a half dozen live shots of active servicemen and women stationed across the globe who are taking a well-deserved respite from their duties to gather together and watch the game. That’s always a nice touch. But what about all of the US veterans, those who have already served and are gathered together to take a break from daily life, share stories of their service time and watch the game? I’m guessing that the NFL Network won’t have live feeds from any AMVETS or VFW halls across our great nation. But that would also be a nice touch.
Thanks for protecting our freedom.
I’m looking at you, veterans.
Pick: Falcons, 23-17
Lions at Bills-
Amazingly, nobody is talking about how the Bills have advanced flawlessly to 0-8 and are thus halfway to just the second 0-16 season in the history of the NFL. Ironically, the reason it’s probably going relatively unnoticed is because this week’s opponent managed to achieve the feat just two years ago. And if the Lions want to make sure they keep that record all to themselves, they may want to take it easy this Sunday. Maybe rest a couple of starters? Heck, maybe even sit Stafford out for this one. What’s that? Again? Really? Another dislocated shoulder? Really? Well okay then.
Pick: Bills, 24-14
Bengals at Colts-
Just minutes after his team finished the on-the-field equivalent of soiling itself, cleaning itself off and then choking on a chicken bone, head coach Marvin Lewis declared that his Bengals were going to go to Indianapolis and beat Payton Manning. Really? I would admire the optimism if I thought it were actually sincere and not just a mask to hide an unhealthy amount of embarrassment, anger and frustration. It was like watching some unruly kids at a restaurant spilling drinks, throwing their food, throwing tantrums, screaming, fighting causing a huge scene and then on the way out their Dad says, "Now if you'll excuse us, we have to get to church." Really? You're taking those kids somewhere they have to behave and be quiet for an hour? Really? And you think that's going to turn out well? I'm guessing that within five minutes the one with the Twitter account, the gold teeth and the spanish alias will be sitting bare-assed in the holy water.
Pick: Colts, 31-20
Jets at Browns-
While it would be more appropriate for the giant-killing Browns to be facing the other New York football team this week, the Jets will also do quite nicely. And how about this Peyton Hillis kid. If I’m operating a souvenir stand outside of Browns Stadium, I’m printing a crapload of “What’chu Talkin’ ‘Bout Hillis?” t-shirts right now.
Pick: Browns, 20-17
Texans at Jaguars-
These two teams combined have less air defense capability than an injured worm lying on a sidewalk.
Pick: Jaguars, 35-24
Vikings at Bears-
You know, I think all this feuding between Brad Childress and Brett Favre is kinda silly. It’s certainly nothing that couldn’t be cured by a couple of emails back & forth containing pics of Brett’s junk. And maybe a couple more wins.
Pick: Vikings, 21-16
Titans at Dolphins-
It’s Cheerleader Posedown Time!
Pick: Dolphins, 16-13
Panthers at Buccaneers-
Carolina’s offense is averaging just eleven points per game more than you are. Unless your name is Sebastian Janikowski. In that case, Carolina’s offense is averaging just five points per game more than you are. And if your name is Sebastian Janikowski, wow, thanks for reading my blog and please tell your cousin Tatyana that I said hello.
Pick: Buccaneers. 20-13
Chiefs at Broncos-
The Chiefs lead the NFL in rushing. The Broncos are last in the NFL in rushing and second to last in run defense, but they do pass the ball pretty well. Also of relevance, the homeless guy who likes to quote Shakespeare and walk past our office building each afternoon was wearing a Denver Broncos t-shirt yesterday with what looked to be some fairly fresh puke stains on it. That’s a good enough omen for me.
Pick: Chiefs, 26-20
WARNING: I am now about to discuss four teams who are all horrible, all reside in the same division and are playing one another this Sunday. Honestly, these two matchups will be more tragically incestuous than a hillbilly double wedding. I promise I will keep them brief.
Rams at Niners-
Ram the Niners, ram them straight to hell!
Did you see what I did there? I. Am. Clever.
Pick: Niners, 20-17
Seahawks at Cardinals-
This is the battle of the 30th-ranked offense versus the 31st-ranked offense. It’s also the battle of the 27th-ranked defense versus the 30th-ranked defense. Who’s #30 & #27 and who’s #31 & #30? Does it really matter? The real question is how have these two teams have managed to get to this point with records of 4-4 and 3-5. What’s that? Who’s 4-4 and who’s 3-5? Again, does it really matter? And you, by chance, haven’t ever been the groom in a double hillbilly wedding, have you?
Pick: Cardinals, 14-13
Cowboys at Giants-
I don’t care if your new head coach is Jason Garrett or Edna Garrett, when your defense gives off a stench that one would compare to a rotting fried egg sandwich sitting atop a pile of steamy dog poo nestled within a clump of fresh mulch and jammed into the decaying carcass of a large skunk and your quarterback is Jon Kitna, well, sadly, you have no chance. Oh, and if you think I’m exaggerating about the Cowboys defense, take a whiff of this…. They’ve allowed 145 points over the last four games, including the Giants dropping a 41-burger on them three weeks ago. I’m thinking this one should go a little like this….
Pick: Giants, 30-14
Patriots at Steelers-
Would someone please tell me where in the hell Karma is? Given what ROFLsberger did in the offseason, I figured she would’ve kicked both him and the Steelers right square in the balls by now. Seriously, where is she? You don’t think Ben has her locked in a mens room somewhere, do you? Maybe somebody should drive over to her place and make sure she’s okay.
Pick: Steelers, 24-20
Eagles at Redskins-
McNabb won round one against his former team a few weeks ago in Philly. Now the Iggles are looking for revenge. It could be a good sequel but Donnie Mac might not even play due to a sore hamstring and he also might not play due to a sore head coach.
Pick: Eagles, 23-16
Posted by Smitty