I didn’t want to leave Minnesota. We had moved three times already, and Minnesota was where we had lived the longest and where I had unlocked a significant number of Young American firsts: first football game, first kiss (doesn’t count because it was part of a play but still), first beer, first love (unrequited), first Metallica concert, first cigarette, first pube, etc. All I had left to mark off was first lay—the toughest of the lot—and I was convinced I was getting close. Despite all available evidence, I was convinced I was on the verge of a breakthrough. I begged my parents to let me finish high school in Minnesota. I even convinced a friend to let me live with him for the last three years, although I don’t think his folks were privy to the arrangement.
But my parents didn’t want to hear it. They had no family ties to Minnesota and were eager to leave a state that is infamous in its polite distaste for outsiders. The old joke my new Minnesota friend Jess Myers told me was that Minnesotans will give you directions anywhere except their house. That sounds about right. Start school in fourth grade there—as I did—and you will find yourself eternally tagged as the new kid. My parents were ready to move back East, and they brought me along with them, whether I liked it or not.
I never went back. I desperately wanted to stay in Minnesota, and yet once I left it was as if I had left nothing behind… nothing at all to return to.
So even though I tell people I’m “from” Minnesota, it’s mostly a lie. The truth is that I am from nowhere. I was born in Australia but we moved after four months, leaving me a stranger to my own birthplace. I have, within me, a rootlessness that manifests itself in the need to wander around a lot, searching for a place that I perhaps never realized was home. Now that I’m back here in Minnesota for the first time in 27 years, I have come to accept that I’m almost certainly never gonna find that place. I went to my childhood house and the woman who bought it from my folks still lives there. She invited me in (Minnesota nice!) and let me look at my old room. She and her husband raised four kids in that house. The day I visited was her first day as an empty nester. A whole cycle of life took place here while I was elsewhere. Full lives. Happy lives. That house is more home for her than it ever was for me. I am the world’s lamest nomad.
But that realization comes with a silver lining. Apart from that postnatal cup of coffee in Sydney, every place I have lived—Connecticut, Chicago, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, even Maryland on a crummy day—all have something in common. They all have the cold.
Being cold is unpleasant. Here in Minnesota, the cold is downright violent. I know they’re using this Super Bowl to pimp their new Bold North slogan, but nothing can whitewash the unpleasantness of it being colder than shit up here. This is a cold that’ll seize upon any opening to get inside you and ruin you. You ain’t vacationing in Minnesota anytime soon. They’re NEVER playing a Super Bowl here again.
But people from here love Minnesota—and are fiercely protective of it, often to a fault—because the people here know HOW to be cold. When it’s eternally three degrees outside, you can’t simply stay indoors for months on end, or else you’ll end up committing an axe murder. Like the people of Alaska, and Canada, and Buffalo, and the Dakotas, and Russia, and anywhere else where the weather blows, people in Minnesota are resourceful when it comes to the cold. They’re creative: blazing trails on the ice and setting up drunken ice shanties and skiing and revving up snowmobiles and providing themselves with enough of a diversion to ward off the psychic trauma of feeling the numbness make its way from your extremities to your torso.
Also, they drink. I have to tell you that I love drinking in the cold more than just about anything. I went to college in Maine—which somehow has more depressing weather than Minnesota—and the thing I remember best was stepping out from a crowded house party to go hang out on a freezing ass porch or in some windswept yard and drinking in the dark. You could smell the cigarettes and hear the din coming from everyone inside and everything about it felt correct. Shit, it felt WARM, which makes no sense. In the cold all you have is booze and each other, I guess. It forces you to get close. The gallows humor writes itself. There was no bigger thrill than asking a girl if she wanted to go hang outside, in that god awful fucking cold, and having her say yes. I remember all that fondly. I drank in an ice tent with four other dudes this week and The Hold Steady played on a loop in my fucking brain the whole time.
And drinking AFTER the cold? Also fantastic. The whole reason people ski is so they can drink afterward. All you did was let gravity take your white ass down a mountain, but you still feel like you DID something. That’s because of the cold. The cold is work. I take off my ski boots like I’ve just gotten back from Dunkirk.
It’s not an insignificant life skill, to know how to be cold. I’ve gotten soft as hell as I’ve aged—even softer than when I was a kid—and so my tolerance for the cold has dipped down to granny levels. Every time I go to California, I’m like “Well I’m a fucking moron for not living here.” And I am, to a certain degree. But I also know there’s something different and something special about living in the cold and not only surviving, but mastering it. There’s no party like a party in the cold. Those times when I slipped out of keggers to drink in the dark? Sometimes I wouldn’t wear a jacket. Why would I do something that stupid? Because I wanted to be cold, man. And I wanted to feel like I was Grizzly Adams for having the sack to drink a Busch Light in 20 degree weather. FOOTBAW WEATHER.
Come Monday morning the security lines at MSP airport will stretch for miles, populated by visitors all eager to get the fuck out of this state and get back to somewhere at least touch warmer, and I can’t blame them. But a lot of those people? A lot of them never learned how to be cold. It takes some effort to gear up and then go drink a six-pack with your nipples about to fall off. But sometimes it’s worth it. Walk around this town and you will notice that everyone here looks really happy. And they’re not faking it. It’s four fucking degrees out and the Vikings suck, and these fuckers are happy! They’ve got hygge up the ass, and the cold is part of the reason for that.
Sometimes it’s morbid fun to say FUCK IT and go out there and brave the cold. And sometimes it goes a bit deeper than that. Sometimes there’s a need. Sometimes there’s a need to step outside into the white death and make it work somehow. Because once the cold takes root within you, it becomes a home of its own. I never want to live anywhere that doesn’t have a winter.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And during the playoffs, I pick the games because Vegas clearly has NO IDEA about any of these spreads. They’re giving out free money to you people and only sharps like ME know it!
Patriots (-5.5) 38, Eagles 7. I know the Patriots always play close Super Bowls and that this Eagles outfit has the one thing—a beastly pass rush—that has historically given Tom Brady problems in this game. But two weeks ago was a fun reminder that the NFL was never designed to give you a happy result. A big fat Super Bowl blowout is the last remaining bit of padding for Brady to add to his resume, and the man usually gets what he wants. Shoot me dead. I hope some rogue stadium worker opens the end zone doors on these fucking teams.
Now, how about some random
• We rented a house for the Deadspin staff in Minneapolis this week. This house has a full, working kitchen and so the first thing I did was put together a grocery list. I know I’m old because I get VERY excited to put together a vacation grocery list. I get on that task like I’m stocking up on provisions for an expedition to the fucking Antarctic. “My men will need 3,000 pounds of potatoes, 50 barrels of coffee, 90 jiggers of chocolate, and ALL OF THE BRANDY YOU CAN MUSTER, QUARTERMASTER.”
• The Baseball Hall of Fame rejected Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens again, and the longer they go without inducting those two shitbags, the more thoroughly they play themselves. Honestly, who the fuck is gonna make a pilgrimage to Cooperstown to see the Trevor Hoffman plaque? It’s basically a Hall of Remembering Some Guys now. By 2020 they’re gonna have to offer you a free Netflix subscription just to get you in the door.
As always, steroids are really just a cheap way for writers to leave out players they personally don’t like. On a human level, I understand. Roger Clemens is total dick and I too would find morbid pleasure in denying him entrance to the Hall. The fact that he has 27 children and gave them all K names is a good excuse to permanently exile him from everywhere. But it’s stupid to build a museum of baseball history and selectively excise the portions of that history you find morally objectionable. Not only were Clemens and Bonds significant figures in baseball, they’re also interesting. Make a fucking steroid exhibit! Put all the vials and syringes on display and play ominous music like you’re visiting the Tower of London’s torture chamber. I would go to that exhibit. The baseball Hall of Fame is the only museum on earth that fails to understand that tourists are more interested in the dark parts of history than the heroic parts.
• Dan Steinberg voluntarily stepped back from blogging this week to do more editing at the Washington Post and I just wanna get into the Congrats Media Canoe for a moment and tell you that Steinberg lived the BLOG LYFE for over a decade, and nobody was better at it. Steinz helped pioneer the kind of breezy, wildly entertaining human interest stories about athletes and teams that are now a regular part of coverage. In the process, he mapped out a way for local newspaper columnists to remain relevant. In fact, Steinberg got so good at these stories that I now think athletes DELIBERATELY take up whimsical hobbies just so they can get an article written about it. If you ever see some 4,000-word piece about how the Memphis Grizzlies are obsessed with playing Stratego, you can thank Steinberg for that. He was the blog master. Also, fuck Mike Wilbon.
• Apparently the keepers of the Doomsday Clock have moved the clock to Two Minutes To Midnight (GREAT Iron Maiden song), which means we are closer to Armageddon than we ever have been. Except… I mean, that clock is TOTAL bullshit. I find it weird that a bunch of otherwise data-stringent scientists would concoct some arbitrary Death Clock and move the minute hand around based on how stupid Trump’s tweets are. Fuck that clock. I don’t need a clock to know that having a talking boner in charge of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is a bad omen.
• During the AFC title game, Tony Romo said that Blake Bortles told him, “I’m not a natural thrower,” and I’m still not over it. That guy went No. 3 in the fucking draft! The NFL has four million scouts asking four million questions and pushing Deshaun Watson down the draft board because one time he took off running instead of going to his 12th read. But here’s Blake Bortles being like I CANNOT THROW A FOOTBALL and he still goes No. 3. This sport is a goddamn train wreck. “I’m not a strong swimmer.”
• You’re gonna see four billion Dilly Dilly ads during this game because once a brand realizes it has penetrated THE MONOCULTURE, they will grind that shit into oblivion. They will leave no part of the Dilly Dilly animal unused. Take it from someone who enjoyed Bud Light ads when he was in college. I spent half my time as a teen alternating between crying out “I love you man!” and “YES I AM.” The folks at Bud Light have sociologically proven ways of invading your cerebral cortex with the dumbest possible jokes about grown men being unrealistically horny for Bud Light. Remember this one?
They have this down to a science, people. It’s unnerving.
• Before the NFC title game there were a lot of reports about the shitty turf at the Linc and players potentially losing their footing. And it made me wonder why they don’t show sideline footage of the cleat drill anymore. You know, like, when the equipment dude uses a power drill to replace a player’s spikes? That is SO cool. I’d watch an isolation cam of nothing but cleat drilling. John Madden was always very good at doing commentary over cleat drilling and/or a player picking grass out of his facemask. DEN HE’S GOT THAT CHUNK OF SOD IN THERE AND BOOM! HE PULLS IT OUT!
• Here is a dad move. Every time I sit down into my chair for the evening to watch football or whatever, I take off my socks. Feels real good to take off your socks after you sink into a recliner. Anyway, once the socks are off, I need a place to put them. So, in a feat of majestic laziness, I drop them between the chair and the window. Do I remember to pick them up once I’m ready to retire to bed? I do not. Sometimes there’s a PILE of old socks next to my chair, redolent with the fumes of my barking dogs. My wife loves this. Finds it incredibly charming. It’s the reason she married me, really. Big sexy hubby with a sweaty sock mound.
• The two best restaurants I’ve eaten at in the past year were located in Cleveland (Parker’s) and Minneapolis (Bachelor Farmer). Meanwhile, New York has the fucking Salt Bae serving morons bad steak for $275. I love New York but it’s gotten stupid. I would genuinely rather to go out eat in Middle America than New York right now. Restaurants here have, like, space. It’s a nice amenity. I’ve spent the past two days talking about a really tasty beef tartare I ate. “You guys remember that tartare?! THAT WAS FUCKING GOOOOOOOOD!”
Last week’s picks: 1-1 (1-1 straight up)
Playoffs: 8-2 (4-6 straight up)
Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“The Final Game,” from the Rudy score. I have a great many failings, and my enjoyment of Rudy is near the top of the list. I should hate that fucking movie with every fiber of my being, and yet… God man, listen to that music. IT’S POSITIVELY SOARING! I have been known to get tipsy, put on my headphones, crank up this part of the Rudy theme music, and feel feelings. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Okay, I’m a little ashamed to admit. Okay I am VERY ashamed to admit. God damn you, Jerry Goldsmith. You made me like a movie about Notre Dame. I’m gonna be sick.
Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week
I haven’t checked in on GREGGGGGGGGGG’S column all year because I love myself. Let’s see what the king of all fartsniffers has been up to lately:
The opioid marketing departments at Big Pharma show more social responsibility than the NCAA.
Yeah no, I didn’t miss this. Also, reader Mark noticed this insane Fox News column about Tom Brady that absolutely SHATTERS Bill Plaschke’s record for single-sentence paragraphs.
If Tom Brady were not the only five-time Super Bowl champion in the history of the NFL, what would he be?
Someone who buys cancer-curing resistance bands instead of selling them?
Tom in Marketing, down the hall from your cubicle?
A Little League dad in your community?
The tall guy you see once in a while at Costco?
A soap opera actor?
A secretly randy neighbor who’s having an affair with your wife?
A man who cannot afford baldness treatments?
Instead, he’s the greatest quarterback of all time.
So true. Rarely do people talk about this.
(Deal with it, Montana fans.)
Finally, those MONTANA SNOWFLAKES are forced to hear the TRUTH.
So everybody hates him.
If you’re asking yourself if there’s ANY point to this column, I regret to inform you there is not. In fact, here’s how it ends.
America, when it comes to admiring true greatness, I just ask one thing.
Don’t take a knee on the sidelines.
Stand up and cheer.
Let’s find out more about the used bologna sandwich that wrote this.
New York Times best-selling author and Shark Tank entrepreneur Michael Levin runs BusinessGhost.com, a national book ghostwriting firm.
LOL HOLY FUCK. Imagine asking THIS man for help writing a book. “Well, he certainly knows how to fill pages with carriage returns!”
Super Bowl Chili Recipe
I post this every year and, as always, you are free to modify it. All I ask is that you pay me $100 in royalties every time you serve it. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
FOR THE CHILI:
2 pounds ground beef or chicken, at least 20% fat
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped (ANNUAL NOTE: Shallots are the things that make restaurant food taste like restaurant food.)
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 can tall red kidney beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can beer
1 can chicken broth
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fennel seed
2 tbsp cumin (add more at end if necessary)
2 tbsp chili powder (add more at end if necessary)
1/4 cup white vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Ashes from a joint (optional)
Lotta Frank’s Hot Sauce
2 glugs olive oil
FOR THE SIDES:
Frank’s hot sauce
1 bunch scallions, chopped
Put a big pot on the stove on medium. Pour in the oil. When it’s hot, toss in the onions, garlic, jalapeno, and shallots and stir them around until soft. Toss in the ground meat. Salt and pepper the ground meat in the pot. Sautee the meat until it’s good and brown. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, beer, broth, liquid smoke, sugar, cumin, chili powder, fennel seed, joint ashes, vinegar, and Frank’s. Bring it to a simmer. Half cover the pot and leave it on low medium heat for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally and always tasting. The liquid in the pot should reduce into a nice, thick stew. Dip in a chip to see if the chili sticks to it. If it does, it’s ready to serve.
Rex Ryan’s Lock Of The Week: Eagles +5.5
“Men… MEN. Men I’ve been coaching in this game for a long long time, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there is nothing that motivates a group of young men like yourselves more than a speech that makes absolutely NO sense. I want you boys to know that I am so goddamn fired up that I can’t even put a coherent sentence together. SO ARE YOU READY TO GET FIRED THE FUCK UP?! FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! BREAKDOWN!!!! MEN THIS IS OUR LAND AND LAND IS NO PLACE FOR SHEEP! SHOW ME YOUR SEX FACE!
[slaps you on the ass, hard]
“THAT IS FUCKING GREAT HUSTLE! WE’RE GONNA GO OUT THERE AND MAKE THEM FEEL THE FEAR OF THE CLOUDS! ATTICA! I CRAVE BLOOD AND TURKEY! WINNERS FUCK AND FUCKERS WIN!”
Ryan 2017 record: 11-8-1
Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
Whoever got the Vikings defense drunk for a full week after the Diggs touchdown, show yourselves. Answer for your sins.
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2017 chopping block:
Hue Jackson-NOT FIRED!
Jack del Rio-FIRED!
All of these vacancies have now been filled—either officially or unofficially—so let’s scientifically evaluate these new hires one by one:
Pat Shurmur (NYG): I know Shurmur did a nice job with Case Keenum this year but I’m baffled that a dude who went 9-23 in Cleveland and had a tenure so invisible that even Browns fans don’t remember it would suddenly become a hot commodity again. The Giants really do make a point of hiring the boringest possible candidate. If you walk into an interview with John Mara and he sees a bedazzled iPhone case on you, he probably finds you too dangerous.
Steve Wilks (ARI): He seems fine, but I hope he carries on Ron Rivera’s charming tradition of clock management boners and fining people for wearing hats. I also hope Arizona signs Tyrod Taylor and that Wilks inexplicably benches him for Logan Thomas’s cousin for one week in the middle of the season.
Matt Patricia (DET), Josh McDaniels (IND): I just assume every Belichick disciple fails because they get a new head coaching job and immediately start yelling at everyone for not doing things the way they do them in New England. “You see, when I was working for ONE WILLIAM BELICHICK, we did things jusssst a bit differently.” I can’t even imagine how many times Charlie Weis’s players pantomimed blowjobs during tape sessions.
By the way, I still think there’s a distinct possibility that Andrew Luck never plays football again. McDaniels should sign Tebow to fill the void. “I still think he’s got something special, you guys!”
Jon Gruden (OAK): $100 million for THIS GUY. Christ.
Mike Vrabel (TEN): The two actual Pats coordinators were already spoken for, so Tennessee went out and hired a Pats bro who wasn’t even with the Pats last year. Vrabel is gonna be fucking awful and it’s gonna be hilarious. He’s like Defense Munchak.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Brian sends in this story I call NAKED AND ASS-FRAID:
It was the last day of my freshman year of college, and I had spent one last night boozing it up and trying to get laid before I had to go home for the summer. I stumbled into my dorm room sometime early in the morning. It was mid-May and unseasonably warm. Back in the day, before college dorms became luxury hotel suites, it was uncommon for them to have air conditioning. Mine didn’t.
My dickhead roommate had left already, and I had the room to myself. As I lay there sweltering, unable to sleep, it occurred to me that, hey, who cares if I sleep naked? After all, I didn’t have a roommate to worry about. So I stripped off my T-shirt, boxers and shorts and sprawled back down in bed. Much better.
A few minutes later, the mass quantities of Pizza World and Natural Light that I consumed a few hours earlier began to percolate in my gut, and I realized that I had to take a shit. Damn it. Now I had to get dressed again. The communal bathroom wasn’t far—it was right across the hall. But never underestimate the capacity for laziness possessed by an idiot 19 year old college student.
I decided that as many residents of the dorm had left campus, and it was now about 3 in the morning, chances were good that no one would see me if I dashed across the hall. I got up, opened the door, looked both ways, then made my move—forgetting to unlock the door behind me. I took care of things, washed up, dashed back across the hall, and was rather pleased with myself until I tried my door.
I think it was around 5:00 a.m. when a guy I barely knew from down the hall came in to the bathroom to take his shower. He came around the corner and found me standing there, buck ass naked, my hands cupped around my groin, asking him to please find an RA (the one on our floor had left). Thankfully, he located one on another floor.
My mom picked me up later that day. The same RA who helped me get into my room checked me out of the dorm. He didn’t say anything but grinned throughout the entire process.
And, as a bonus, here’s our own Lindsey Adler with a story I call POOPY AND ME:
I adopted the world’s cutest dog about a month ago from a rescue organization that takes dogs from kill shelters and, despite being in a shelter for a year, he’s a pretty well-adjusted and secure doggie. His adjustment has been pretty chill, as it’s mostly just involved him learning what we want and expect from him. He’s like a fluffy houseguest.
However, we made a huge rookie mistake and changed his food abruptly about two weeks in. We feed him this expensive-ass dehydrated food that looks like pesto/vomit/oatmeal/??? and unfortunately two of the pet stores near us didn’t have the same exact variety of food we’d been feeding him already. It was the same brand and the same basic concept, but the original food was chicken and quinoa, and the substitute food was turkey and oatmeal.
Not a good decision. We were in the middle of crate training for overnight; he’s been pretty free of separation anxiety, but there were a few nights where he was barking or whining for like 20 minutes before passing out. Like sleep training, but for a fluff ball. One night after we changed his food, though, he didn’t stop barking. For nearly two hours. We tried to ride it out because we didn’t want to reward his barking, but he was going fucking bananas in his cage.
Finally around 2:30 a.m. we went to let him out of the cage (for our own sanity and to respect our neighbors), and found he’d pooped in his bed and was understandably distressed. I rinsed him off in the shower and he was fine until about 15 minutes later when he began frantically pacing in circles and walked to the edge of the rug and just vomited a big batch of brown sludge while I watched in horror.
I tried to tell myself it was vomit, but it was definitely, definitely, definitely, definitely regurgitated poop. My dog threw up a big cascade of poop at like, 3 a.m. while I was doped up on melatonin. The whole reason I waited this long to get a dog was because I didn’t want to pick up poop!!! However, something probably female-related inside of me rose up and just cleaned up the poop and the pup no problem. Just got some gloves and a takeout container and scooped up the poop-puke and dumped it down the toilet. Miraculously, I still managed to find the dog cute and perfect after watching him spew out a fountain of sludgy poop all over the floor.
The next day I went and bought two boxes of the original dog food. Lesson fucking learned.
FACT: We often have to pull our dog away from eating deer shit anytime he’s out in the yard. Dogs are truly repulsive animals.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
WINGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I’ll eat wings in any form, even the shitty wings from Dominos. I don’t care. Give me your trash wings.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
RUGENBRÄU! From Joel:
While my wife and I were traveling in Switzerland last week I came across this delightfully named beer...it’s Rugenbräu Lager Hell! I don’t know why they call it “Lager Hell,” but I have to imagine it has something to do with the taste (which is awful). We schlepped a 16 ounce can of this on our last hike of the trip to enjoy once we had achieved optimum scenic views. This turned out to be a colossal waste of effort because the beer, which cost about $1.25, was one of the worst beers I’ve had. Thank you for the hell lager, Switzerland!
I once drank a Stella in Switzerland that cost $15 and Stella isn’t even that decent of a beer. I can’t believe $1.25 in Switzerland would get you anything other than a can of straight lye poured directly into your eyes.
Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!
“People have these Airbubs and rentals joints now and act like it’s a new thing. Sharing your joint ain’t new, okay? Boxcar Jim lets ANYONE use his dumpster for a night so long as they come with fresh corn or a sixer. He’ll even kick in an extra night if you’re into some of the ol’ hanky-panky. I didn’t go for that offer though. Jim don’t wash down there.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans
National Treasure, which is a perfectly good airplane movie AND perhaps the greatest cinematic showcase for Nicolas Cage’s hair plugs. They are fabulous. They erupt from his head like the Tivoli fountain. I could stare at them for hours on end. I bet Cage is like the guys in the old Hair Club for Men ads who were like I CAN RUN MY FINGERS THROUGH MY HAIR! and then you see them barely grazing it, terrified they’ll get caught on a weave knot.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“I cannot get ze lid off my jar of rainbows! Who will help me?”
Enjoy the Super Bowl, everyone. And come back next week for the final Jamboroo of the season.