Grave Before Shave Beard Products (Beard Oil) Review

I’ve had a beard for the majority of the last 12-13 years. I usually keep it trimmed but lately I’ve been rockin’ it out. The problem with this is that the skin can become dry. Daily showering + shampoo’ing (with traditional shampoo) will sap the natural oils on the skin underneath your beard and cause dryness, resulting in itchiness.

Prior to my experience with Grave Before Shave, my only experience with beard oil (I’d used Clubman Pinaud’s beard conditioner for a couple of years) was Dollar Shave Club’s (which is a good product, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted something new and different).

Jim Brakewood, Jr. from Chaos and Pain posted about how awesome the beard products from GBS are. I checked out the website, thought the graphics were cool and enjoyed the prospect of free shipping, but… hesitated on buying any. You see, I’m the type of person that feels guilty/remorseful if I buy anything for myself. I don’t know why; I’ve been this way for quite some time. I feel like I’m wasting money if I buy something that I might enjoy. I would rather spend money on somebody I love, y’know?

I told Dana about Grave Before Shave. She surprised me with this:


She bought me four beard oils from GBS: the cigar blend (my personal favorite), the caramel mocha, the ‘head hunter’ (tropical) and the gentlemen’s blend! She ordered them on a Friday night; they shipped on a Monday (from California) and got here (the other side of the country) on Wednesday!

The day after I received them, Wayne Bailey and Grave Before Shave released a brand new product: tequila limon! I couldn’t help myself; I went ahead and ordered it and the pine scent from the site in a duo pack. The new beard oils shipped out on a Friday and I got them today: Monday.

Needless to say, I love them. They all smell fantastic and they get the job done in regards to replenishing the oils you lose from a hot shower. I’ll eventually try out the beard wash they offer. The oils aren’t greasy nor will your beard feel like it’s weighed down upon using it.

I’ll rank my favorites from most favorite. They are all great.

1.) Grave Before Shave Cigar Blend ~~ I knew this scent would be my favorite before I even tried it. I love the smell of vanilla/pipe tobacco. My all-time favorite fragrance is Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille! This smells just about like it, or at least in the same vein! I get random whiffs of it throughout the day when I wear it (just like the other ones) and I absolutely love it. Doubt this will ever be topped as my favorite.

2.) Grave Before Shave Tequila Limon ~~ I found out this was released, because Dana shouted, “Damn it!” When I asked her what the hell was wrong, she told me, “Grave Before fuckin’ Shave released a new scent today. Why couldn’t they have released it last week?!” When I saw the new scent, I was floored. I had to have it. I’m an occasional tequila enthusiast with a knack for, ahem, occasional imbibing. I couldn’t pass this one up. Well, it arrived, and holy shit. The new tequila limon smells so friggin’ good! I should just post this as 1B to Cigar Blend’s 1A, because it stands up to it as my favorite! It’s a strong, but not an overpowering smell, of tequila. The lemon lime apparent in the scent blends so well with it. It’s super refreshing and I know I’ll be getting some more pretty soon.

3.) Grave Before Shave Gentlemen’s Blend ~~ This is by far Dana’s favorite of the bunch (albeit she says that the tequila limon is a very close second). It smells terrific. It reminds me of getting a fresh haircut in a barbershop. It has an extremely clean bourbon smell to it. But again, it reminds me of getting a fresh haircut in the barbershop. So clean, fresh and inviting. It makes Dana sniff my beard often, for better or worse!

4.) Grave Before Shave Caramel Mocha ~~ This is an interesting one. I love it, but it smells just as it’s described! Like a sweet coffee! I enjoy it, but damn if I don’t smell like dessert. I think the chocolate ends up being stronger than the caramel or coffee notes. Little lady says I smell like a chocolate chip cookie. The caramel is very apparent at first when you apply it, but fades into the background.

5.) Grave Before Shave Head Hunter ~~ Love this stuff just like I do the others. It’s going to be a fantastic summer time scent. Makes me want to go to the beach, kick back on the balcony with some beers and chill out. This is little lady’s second or, er, third favorite after Gentlemen’s Blend and Tequila Limon.

6.) Grave Before Shave Pine ~~ I couldn’t decide what to get with the Tequila Limon beard oil, so I opted to go with the pine. It smells good, but it also smells similar to the Dollar Beard Club beard oil, which is a slight negative. I should have gone with GBS’s Bay Rum.

I can’t recommend their beard oil enough. Like I said, I’ll eventually try out the beard shampoo and the balms. Top notch products — so far — backed by an American company with the consumer’s interest in mind. Wayne Bailey is a cool dude. Support his hard work!

Sugar, Spice and… Everything Nice?

(“Remedy” has been stuck in my head all morning. The Black Crowes are one of my most underrated bands ever. “Remedy” is such a damn good song. Love that  southern honky tonk/bluesy twang in their music.)

The nutritional science community needs to make up its mind. At this juncture, I can’t help but laugh at anyone who speaks in absolutes. It doesn’t matter which community that does this — Paleo, vegans, keto/carbers, low fat’ters, Ray Peat worshipers — there’s not a single agreed upon consensus. This became even more clear than ever to me when I read somebody post on a forum I occasionally visit that “avocados are hepatotoxic and negative to your health! They have too many PUFAs! Avocados will destroy thyroid activity!”

That was the first time I’d ever heard a negative thing said about avocados asides from picky eaters claiming they dislike them.

There’s nothing wrong about giving credence to that claim. You don’t have to eat avocados. Luckily there’s so many different types of food out there to get the same vitamins and minerals from. It also doesn’t hurt to do your own research to figure out your very own conclusion about avocados instead of bashing the researcher/the studious one making the claim.

My take? For us men, avocados are one of best pro-testosterone foods out there. They are full of monounsaturated fats and loaded with over 20 different vitamins/minerals. Let’s not forget they contain a compound called oleuropein, which halts aromatase (enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen) activity. Avocado detractors say that the PUFA (polyunsaturated fats) content is the reason to avoid it, and they’d be right about PUFAs having adverse effects, buuuut avocados contain a big chunk of vitamin E, which negates PUFAs’ effects on the body. There’s more studies out there that backs that up, but I’m too lazy to go out and look for them.

That’s not the purpose of this post, however. There’s something else that’s been demonized to hell and back.

Sugar.

Low-carb this, low-carb that. That’s all you hear about when it comes to someone cutting weight and hoping that it’s body fat.

I used to be in the anti-sugar camp. Back in January and February 2011, I went full blown keto (almost) for just about two months. I wasn’t a fan. I missed carbs. My energy levels were rather stable but I felt no creativity or drive (then again, it could have been the time period also — winter). I eventually realized that my feelings about sugar being unhealthy were backed by popular opinion and the nutritional science hivemind.

Anyway, people like to claim that sugar is why America is a nation full of fatasses, but that’s actually wrong. I saw a study, called the “Australian Paradox” that states otherwise. From 1980-2003, sugar rates dropped 23% but obesity increased. Hhhhmmm….

Just about every bit of your body uses glucose as a source of energy and production. Lacking it will cause said organs to derive glucose from protein by way of gluconeogenesis. Eventually the body will use fatty acids and break them down the same way, forming ketones (which has some benefits but can cause metabolic stress).

Fructose is bad-mouthed, too. Probably thanks to sodas that wield high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients. But fructose isn’t unhealthy — it’s the amount of fructose that is unhealthy. The dose makes the poison. Don’t go above 40-50grams of fructose a day, I say. 60g max. Fructose is pro-thyroid and anti-SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin). Less SHBG in the bloodstream = more free testosterone.

I’ve been eating a lot of raw honey the last couple months, and let me tell you, honey is one of the greatest foods you can put in your body. All you need to know is that not only is it pro-thyroid, but it contains chrysin and boron (good for your bones and blocks aromatase).

Another reason I didn’t care for staying on the keto wagon is because I love potatoes. Maybe it’s the Irish in me, or maybe it’s because I’ve ate ’em my whole life so I’m well conditioned, but I love ’em in so many different ways, they are delicious and… guess what? Pro-testosterone. Maybe that’s why I’m such a hairy son of a bitch with a deep voice; I grew up eating potatoes and eggs cooked in (real) butter and bacon grease.

99% of the time, I drink my coffee black, but my girlfriend bought us two International Delight (they were 2 for $5) creamers the other night, the Almond Joy and the southern butter pecan, and they are damn good. 35kcals per tablespoon; 6g sugar (from cane sugar). Sugar ramps up your thyroid. Another way to ramp up thyroid production is to cook with coconut oil.

Kurt Warner says... 'sup?!
Kurt Warner says… ‘sup?!

I’m not saying to go overboard with sugar or to go crazy with it. All I’m saying is that it’s not the hellspawn everybody says it is. Hell, maybe you think it is! You are well within your right to believe so. But I just don’t believe it’s the devil everyone wants to make it out to be. There’s a yin to the yang.

By the way, sugar can help mitigate the effects of coffee’s cortisol raising properties.

Spicy foods have their benefits, too. They kill inflammation, help control/regulate blood sugar and lower blood pressure. Some people can’t handle them (stomach cramps, spice intolerance, etc.), but yogurt/bananas before and/or after can help one deal with the side effects.

I, for one, love spicy foods and always have. The burn and the flavor! The burn is part of the experience! It’s addictive.

assscorcher
I call the above impromptu concoction of mine, the “Sparky’s Ass Scorcher” burger. Seasoned with Weber’s garlic habanero, this burger sits on top of a Sriracha mayo and @davesgourmetinc’s ghost pepper blend. On top lies a slice of cheddar cheese and a second helping of Dave’s ghost pepper sauce, followed by a bed of onion slices, part of a large jalapeño pepper (I may have snacked before putting this beauty together), a whole habanero pepper and a piece of lettuce. I feel the onions complement the sauce and gives the burger a delicious mix of varied heat.

I appreciate damn good flavors in my food. Even though I love jalapenos, I love the fruity flavor of habaneros even more. So delicious. Give my little recipe above a shot, why don’tcha! Add some bacon in the process.

I ordered some hot sauces from Heat Hot Sauce. Lucky Dog’s Extra Hot Fire-Roasted Pepper Sauce (with Trinidad scorpion peppers) and Pex Peppers’ “Killer Swarm” (an insanely hot all natural sauce made with fresh Moruga Scorpion peppers, wild flower honey and lime juice.)

luckydogkillerswarm
I decided to try out Pex Peppers’ Killer Swarm first.

killer-swarm-and-beef
I browned up some ground beef with a whole onion, four itty bitty habanero peppers, two gloves of garlic and some salt and pepper. I gave it a couple dashes of Killer Swarm. Damn good stuff! I ate it with some Sriracha mayo on a few hoagie buns. I couldn’t feel my lips for 40 minutes, but the flavor was so spectacular. If you are a chilihead or otherwise love spicy food, give Killer Swarm a shot… AND that simple recipe of mine. I used 73%/27% ground beef because it’s always on sale (5 lbs. of beef for $10 at a local grocery store) and drained the excess fat/grease after browning it. Not only is the ‘recipe’ in the above picture quick, simple and easy, it’s also damn good for you and your immune system.

But health be damned! I’m going to end this post talking about some whiskey!

I’ve always had a connection to the state of Tennessee; I grew up right next to it and I was born in Johnson City, Tennessee. East Tennessee rocks, and so does Gatlinburg. Aaaand so does mango habanero whiskey…

mango-habanero-whiskey

This is the smoothest alcohol I’ve ever consumed. The burn you get from this whiskey is not a typical alcohol burn — it’s a pepper burn, and it’s incredible. At first, you taste the sweetness from the mango, but when you swallow you feel and taste the burn of the habanero. Ole Smoky has a plethora of awesome bottled beverages, but the mango habanero is by far my favorite. If you ever find yourself in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, holler at the only LA Rams fan around.

Tom Brady is the Greatest Quarterback I’ve Ever Seen (In My Life)

I’ve had almost 36 hours to digest what the fook (*Conor McGregor voice*) happened on Sunday evening.

Sunday was quite the tiring day. The wind was blowing heavily outside as I had the damnedest time getting my fire started on my smoker. I was going to get everything ready to go, though! I smoked a 10 lb. pork shoulder on Friday, in which leftovers existed for Sunday evening, and on that Sunday I smoked 11 bacon-wrapped, cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers, a family pack of chicken thighs and about 5 lbs. of country pork ribs. Dana and I also made pepperoni rolls.

Our guests for the evening were my de-facto Falcons fan-brother (that I wrote about at the end of this post; I will refer to him as “Falcons Broski” for the rest of this post), his girlfriend, his girlfriend’s son and a mutual great friend of ours that is a Cowboys fan. They brought chips, cupcakes and 8 lbs. of chicken wings (all 8 lbs. of which I deep fried).

Everything was set! Delicious food had been prepared by yours truly, and it was ready at about the time the big game came on.

Falcons Broski was pumped (of course) from the get go, when Devonte Freeman busted out a big run to open the game for the Falcons. Falcons Broski’s palms were sweaty as he kept wiping them on his jeans. And then LeGarrette Blount fumbled the ball away. Not long after, Matt Ryan led the Falcons down the field and Devonte Freeman ran for a touchdown to put the Falcons ahead 7-0 in the second quarter. A little while later, Ryan connected with Austin Hooper in the endzone for another Falcons’ touchdown. 14-0. Falcons Broski was singing Atlanta’s praise at this point. It got even better for him when Robert Alford picked off Tom Brady and ran it back for an 82-yard touchdown. 21-0 Falcons.

And so all was good during the first half as the Falcons took a 28-3 lead into halftime. I was mindblown at how Atlanta was dominating New England. Tom Brady was missing throws and Julian Edelman couldn’t catch a cold. Everybody in the living room was laughing and talking up a storm. I didn’t watch much of the halftime show as I excused myself to the kitchen to fill up on some grub.

Into the second half, the Falcons continued their dominance when Ryan hooked up with Tevin Coleman for another score. 28-3 Falcons. We debated who would win the Super Bowl MVP, Ryan or Julio Jones? Jones had been on fire.

The Patriots scored a little while later, but missed the extra point. 28-9 going into the fourth quarter. Falcons Broski was still all laughs, all a good time… the Patriots hit a field goal to make the game 28-12. A little while later, Matt Ryan fumbled and Brady led the Patriots down the field for another touchdown, this time to Danny Amendola (he’ll always be RAMendola), and they converted on a 2-point conversion to make the game 28-20!

I still figured the Falcons had the game in the bag, y’know? They had been tearing up the Patriots all night with their running game, so all was good. Falcons Broski started getting quiet. Everybody in the whole damn living room was quiet as we locked in on the game.

Y’know that part about the Falcons destroying the Pats with their running game? Yeah, about that… they only ran the ball a few times after securing that 28-3 lead! In the drive following the one where the Pats made it 28-20, the Falcons kept passing the ball! When they were setting up a great drive after what would have been a historically awesome Julio Jones reception, they… passed, and Ryan got sacked. They passed once more… another Ryan sack. Third and long, they passed, and I believe this one went to Mohamed Sanu for little gain. In hindsight (I know it’s always 20/20), the Falcons could have ran the ball, used some clock and hit a field goal to make it a two score game. Instead, they nonsensically passed and it ruined ’em.

Brady cut through the Falcons’ defense on the next drive, when Julian Edelman made one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen… the Patriots scored and a quick pass to Danny Amendola secured the 2-point conversion.

The Super Bowl saw its first overtime in 51 games. The Patriots won the coin toss, got the ball and the rest is history. Falcons Broski sat in complete silence for about 15 minutes. I reckon we all did. I still can’t believe what transpired. The Falcons completed the biggest choke in the history of the NFL.

My feelings were bipolar on Sunday evening. I say that, because when the Falcons went up 28-3, I thought, “Welp, there goes my thoughts about Tom Brady. I mean, hell, I used Peyton Manning’s 43-8 loss to the Seahawks in 2014 as a way of saying, ‘Brady would never lose like that!’ And here Brady is, losing 28-3 to the Falcons!”

I was also thinking, “Damn, the NFL has evolved and passed Bill Belichick up! The Falcons have all these playmakers that are eating the Pats away, while the Pats have next to no playmakers! Belichick needs to up the ante and draft some playmakers!”

By the end of the game… holy hell!

Yes, the Falcons choked the game away. Kyle Shanahan made piss poor calls (by not running the football more). However, the Patriots’ D played out of this world, and Tom Brady was invincible, as if you were playing All-Madden on a Madden video game and trying to stop the CPU.

Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback I’ve ever seen in my life. Albeit a short life, I’ve watched Brady from the get go.

Let me tell anybody who cares to read this story: on February 3, 2002 I watched my St. Louis Rams, a team that was heavily favored in Super Bowl XXXVI, shockingly fall to the New England Patriots 20-17. The Rams were down 17-3 but battled back with a HALL OF FAMER Kurt Warner quarterback sneak and a Warner-to-Ricky Proehl touchdown pass. In the Patriots’ final drive, a young man by the name of Tom Brady, who took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe earlier in the season, stepped up to the plate and led the Pats down the field as John Madden recommended that the Pats play for overtime. Adam Vinatieri hit a 48-yard field goal and gave the Patriots their first Super Bowl win in NFL history after they were embarrassed by the Bears in ’86 and clowned by the Packers in ’97.

I was pissed off. I watched the game next to my dad, and he grinned from ear to ear. You see, I think deep down my dad liked the Rams and thought Kurt Warner was a hell of a quarterback, but he liked to get under my skin in order to aggravate me. I digress. As we watched the post-game celebration and Tom Brady was anointed the game’s MVP, I rolled my eyes. “He’s the MVP with just 107 passing yards and a touchdown? That’s crap!” My dad looked over at me and said, “Tom Brady is going to win a bunch of Super Bowls. He plays with poise and he’s a winner. He doesn’t let the pressure of the big stage get to him”.

My dad had no reason to say something like that. No bias. He was a fan of the Miami Dolphins, a divisional rival of the Pats. He passed away a week before Christmas in 2003, so he didn’t see the Patriots’ subsequent Super Bowl appearances and victories (at least in this realm), but he was absolutely right in his prediction that Brady would win a ‘bunch’ of Super Bowls.

I often wonder what my dad would say about Brady now. Dad was born in 1954, so he grew up watching Joe Namath (he always said that he and his brothers idolized Namath when they were young boys), then he became a Dolphins fan in the early ’70s and remained one the rest of his life. He got to witness Joe Montana’s greatness in the ’80s, and I mention that because he always told me that Montana was the greatest ever. Since he was a Dolphins fan, I asked, “What about Dan Marino?” And my dad would say, “He’s great, he has the stats but he didn’t get it done in the playoffs. He couldn’t rally the troops.” I went and looked at Marino’s playoff performances and noticed how many times the Dolphins were ousted by double digits. Dad had a point.

Since my dad’s death, I’ve had a billion dreams about him where we talk about sports, from football to basketball to boxing to MMA. After Sunday evening’s game, I’d love to be able to talk to him about what transpired.

My dad also made a bold prediction about another quarterback, and although he ended up being wrong, he was almost right about this next prediction. I’ll never forget one day when my dad and I were passing a Nerf football around in the driveway in the summer of 2001. I remember that Peyton Manning was on the box. Manning was coming off his third year in the NFL. Dad thought that Manning was robotic on the field, when I asked him his thoughts about ol’ #18. “He’s robotic and a control freak. You don’t want that in a quarterback. Makes the rest of the offense nervous. He’ll never win a Super Bowl.”

Years later, with Peyton and the Colts’ meeting failure after failure, being dominated by the Pats in ’04 and ’05, stifled by the Steelers in ’06… I thought my dad was going to be correct in this prediction, too. As luck would have it, in January 2007 the Colts’ defense came into full fruition, with safety Bob Sanders (remember how dominant he was?) leading the charge. The Colts had the luxury of playing an overrated Chicago Bears team in the Super Bowl, a Bears’ team that featured Rex Grossman, the worst quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl (at least since Vince Ferragamo with the ’79 Rams). For a while the game was close, but Grossman’s incompetence as a quarterback failed the Bears and Peyton won a Super Bowl with a score of 29-17.

I always thought Peyton lucked out by playing the Bears in that Super Bowl. When the Colts made it back to another Super Bowl when they played the Saints in 2010, the Saints won by two touchdowns, including a pick-6 from Peyton Manning that sealed the victory for ‘Nawlins. A few years later, Peyton went to Denver and we saw him and the Broncos go to another Super Bowl, this time in 2014, against a Seahawks team. The Seahawks blew out the Broncos 43-8; Peyton couldn’t do anything to stifle the Seahawks’ defense that game, and the majority of the game Peyton spent his time on the sidelines, looking down and sulking. A year later, the Seahawks played Tom Brady and the Pats, and well, even though the Seahawks screwed their chances in the closing seconds, Brady and the Pats came out with a close victory.

A hobbled Peyton Manning that could no longer effectively play the quarterback position won a Super Bowl with a stacked, all-time top 15 defense on the Broncos last year in 2016, but that was effectively the Denver defense’s doings.

I digress. I’ve tried so hard to hate Tom Brady over the years, but I just can’t. I watched my Rams lose to them in upsetting fashion 15 years ago in Super Bowl XXXVI, and ever since — as I’ve watched my Rams’ toil in losing season after losing season since 2004 (I still love ’em, whether they are in St. Louis or Los Angeles) — I’ve watched Brady go to seven Super Bowls. Brady would have seven rings if his defense would have stymied the Giants in ’08 and ’12. (I always thought that the Super Bowl on February 3, 2008 — five years after the Rams’ loss — was poetic justice as the 18-0 Pats fell to the underdog Giants…. y’know, once upon a time I always thought it was my dad looking down from heaven and preserving the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins’ perfect record from being broken by the Pats….)

Last week, when the little kid at media day asked Tom Brady who his hero was and he kinda choked up and said his dad, I’m not gonna lie… when I watched that, I shed a couple of tears and thought about my hero — my dad. My dad was the smartest, most hardworking man I’ve ever known. He believed in true hard work and embracing the grind. He believed through hard work and perseverance that you could accomplish anything and everything, all criticizers’ and detractors’ words be damned! He passed that mindset on down to me, I’d like to hope/think. He always believed that hard work beats talent all seven days of the week. My dad was only about 5’6″ or 5’7″, his nickname among his brothers, his two sisters and his childhood friends was always, “Stubby” because of his hands (although he always had an inappropriate — albeit hilarious — joke about that), but he was genuinely the strongest, smartest and relentlessly hard working person I’ve ever known. And when I say, “smartest”, I don’t mean naturally. I mean he craved learning! When he wanted to learn something, he’d go and do it. We got a computer in the early ’90s and he learned how to use it himself. He was incredible at math. He wasn’t all that great at spelling (he’d be happy with spell check these days), but he was a pretty damn good writer, too! He was a businessman that treated people the way he wanted to be treated, and he loved joking/teasing the hell out of everyone. I’m so damn proud to carry his name. If I can even become 1/4th the man he was, I will be happy.

I digress. Before I finish this up, I just want to point something out. I will never understand the popularity contest and the polarizing love/hate-fest between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. The country hates Brady but loves Manning. They see Brady as “smug and arrogant” (how?) and Manning as the everyday guy. This is 110% due to advertising and marketing. You don’t see Brady in very many ads at all. Yet you see Peyton advertising for Domino’s, Nationwide, DirecTV, Buick and Oreo. You see Manning on Saturday Night Live. Every time, he’s portrayed as the average everyday guy, when that couldn’t be more opposite. Brady is actually originally more of an ‘everyday’ guy than Manning will ever be. Manning was born with a silver spoon in his mouth; his dad was an NFL quarterback and is in the college football hall of fame for his time at Ole Miss. The Manning family is probably one of the richest in all of sports combined. Manning had the option to go to school anywhere, went to Tennessee and was the first pick in the ’98 NFL Draft.

On the flipside, Tom Brady embodies the All-American Dream. Brady grew up in northern California in a middle class family. His whole life as an unathletic quarterback was an uphill battle. No college coaches even looked at him. He was sending high school highlights tapes to every college he possibly could. As luck would have it, he attended the University of Michigan, but he had to sit for his first couple years. He had to battle with Drew Henson for a starting position in his last two years as a Wolverine. He was overlooked in the 2000 NFL Draft and was lucky to be picked in the 6th round, pick #199, by the New England Patriots. If Drew Bledsoe didn’t go down in the 2000 season, we might’ve lucked out and never seen him on the playing field. Brady has gone on to win 5 Super Bowls and appeared in 7.

Don’t get me wrong. I actively root against the Pats. I will always feel that Super Bowl XXXVI was emblazoned with controversy (Marshall Faulk being held, roughing the passer not being called when Kurt Warner was receiving late hits, Brady not being flagged for intentional grounding, etc.), but Brady truly embodies the All-American success story. I think that’s why my dad was an instant believer/fan of Brady, even as early as 2002, because he saw the struggle Brady went through, and he appreciated that.

I would love to be able to sit down with my dad and his best friend Sonny (who was like a second dad to me) one more time and listen to them trash talk each other’s NFL teams. Every time a wild or big moment happens in sports, I always wonder what my dad would’ve thought about it.

I know this post went all over the place. No rhythm, nothing. But I don’t care. I needed to write/document this.

Charles Barkley is Right About LeBron James

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time defending LeBron James over the years. Lately he’s been bitching about wanting more playmakers on the Cleveland Cavaliers. I think it’s just a ploy to stir up dust, something he seems to do just about every January (the last couple of Januarys) to light a fire under his team. No harm, no foul.

Charles Barkley said that LeBron is whiny; I agree.

“Daddy” (The Cleveland Cavaliers) told the child (LeBron James) he can’t have his toy. LeBron, who has a house full of toys, runs crying to “mommy” (the media) saying that “daddy” doesn’t love him. “Mommy” and “daddy” fight when the toy store worker (Charles Barkley) pipes in and implores the “daddy” and “mommy” to act like adults. “You spoiled that child and now he’s a whiny brat”, Barkley the toy store worker emits. “How many toys do you need kid?” And now the child is running to “mommy” saying that the mean man hurt his feelings. Just imagine what all the other parents (teams) and children (players) are thinking.

In all seriousness, why do we now have a society where the criticizer dishing out soft criticism is dubbed a ‘hater’? I’ve wrote about this in the past. I despise that word and I can’t help but view people saying it as childish or downright mentally ill-by-choice.

LeBron went on to Google some lurid facts about Barkley’s indiscretions and brought it to light. You can tell just how offended ‘Bron was/is, just by how emotional he is about it. He might just be the most thin skinned star in NBA history.

The Falcons and Patriots Have a Date Set on February 5th (Super Bowl LI)

Let’s face it: we all overrated the Green Bay Packers, especially after they narrowly defeated the Dallas Cowboys after blowing an 18-point lead. We saw Aaron Rodgers do Aaron Rodgers things, and we all ooh’ed and ahh’ed.

Well, I had the Falcons beating the Packers, but not the way they did it. Atlanta slapped Green Bay around so badly that they are forcing ’em to relocate to another city before the Raiders do. In all seriousness, Atlanta jumped out of the gates, Mason Crosby missed a field goal (which prompted one of my friends that’s a Cowboys fan to text me with an expected and very appropriate, “Oh now you fucking miss one, Mason Crosby”) and the Packers made mistakes. That Ripkowski (kickass last name) fullback the Packers had fumbled, and Atlanta hardly let their foot off the gas.

We should have saw this coming. Atlanta is so fast; the Packers were hobbled and hurt coming into the game. Let’s also face the fact that the Packers aren’t very good. Aaron Rodgers is the makeup to the Packers’ acne. I still believe that Matt Ryan is the unequivocal MVP of the NFL this year, given the fact that the Falcons’ 2016 campaign is the 8th ranked offense of all-time, but take Rodgers away from the Packers and they are the Cleveland Browns of the NFC North.

The Patriots dominated the Steelers from start to finish. I’ve said it for years about Mike Tomlin being the most overrated head coach in the league. I’m sure he’s a great person, and well, he’s also a good “rah-rah” coach, but he inherited the Steelers after they were built up by Bill Cowher, and he was lucky to win Super Bowl XLIII against the Cardinals (he better thank Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes for a lifetime). He rode the coattails of the players Cowher brought in. Also, the fact that he has Roethlisberger — who’s probably the best quarterback in the AFC North outside of a temperamental Joe Flacco — and they’ve lost the division to the Cincinnati Bengals two of the last three years, underperforming with a high powered offense. From the Steel Curtain to the aluminum trash bag.

“So, Troy, you are saying that Tomlin is overrated just because he lost the AFC title game to the best organization in football?”

No, I’m saying he’s overrated because the Steelers have underperformed over the last five years with Tomlin. Besides, Tomlin is on the upper echelons of “coaches that Belichick consistently owns” list. Tomlin is a rah-rah guy, so the media loves him, but hey, just like Terry Bradshaw said, I reckon he’s more of a glorified cheerleader in a coach’s outfit rather than a head coach.

My early predictions for the Super Bowl? The Patriots will stifle the Falcons’ offense. The Falcons will score and get things going, but the Patriots will control the tempo of the game and not make mistakes like the Packers did. A lot of people refuse to believe in momentum in football, but think if the Packers would have hit that field goal to make the game 7-3 in the Falcons game, or if Ripkowski didn’t fumble. Momentum is absolutely real; these pro football players are still human. They have emotions and confidence issues at times. The script can be flipped and the tide can change.

I do hope the Falcons win, however. I heavily followed the Falcons when they drafted Michael Vick out of Virginia Tech in 2001. When they weren’t facing the Rams (or Dolphins), I rooted for them. One of my great friends/de facto brothers is a Falcons fan. Matt Ryan is the real deal; I watched him pick apart a menacing Virginia Tech defense when VT led Ryan’s Boston College Eagles 10-0 with a few minutes left in the game. Ryan tossed two touchdowns in 2 minutes and 11 seconds to stun the Hokies in Blacksburg. He’s the real deal. I can’t repeat that enough.

I’m hoping for a great game. The conference title games were stinkers!

Meryl Streep, the Chargers and the Hall of Fame Finalists

Instant outrage is synonymous with the social media age, isn’t it? Impulsive reaction is the name of the game whenever something happens. We gotta hop on Facebook or Twitter or whatever to spout off. A lot of celebrities like to throw their name in the political opinion hat by telling everyone how they feel. Now, I think Hollywood’ers live a different reality compared to everyday people like me and whoever else that is reading this, but of course, that doesn’t deny their personal right to an opinion.

Meryl Streep won some kind of award at some kind of thing at the Golden Globe Awards (admittedly, I’m too lazy to Google this) last Sunday, and she said that if we kicked ‘immigrants’ out of America, we’d only have football and mixed martial arts, when she went on to say “is not the arts”.

When I first heard about that, I thought, “The hell?” and then I got to thinking, she’s referring to film, theater, etc. but nonetheless, it’s still an ignorant comment. MMA is the art of fighting, combining all the martial arts together. People who think MMA is ultra violent are… some of the most ignorant people out there. Boxing and American football is infinitely more dangerous (like the quote goes, in MMA you might get hit in the head, but in boxing you will get hit in the head, albeit I love boxing…. and American football).

Anyhow, Streep’s opinion about MMA not being ‘the arts’ (idiot alert) is the least bit of idiocy from her comments. Her saying that if ‘we kicked immigrants out’ we’d only have football and MMA is even more of an ignorant comment.

The most popular fighter in MMA right now is a man from Ireland by the name of Conor McGregor. The middleweight champion, Michael Bisping, is from England. The women’s bantamweight champion, Amanda Nunes, is a Brazilian. The women’s strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, is Polish. The sport is probably comprised of more non-Americans than Americans.

Anywho, I like Dana White’s comments about Streep being an uppity 80-year-old woman. That’s more accurate than the silliness she’s spouted.

The Chargers are moving to Los Angeles. I just want to say this: it’s BS, and I’m sorry about everything, San Diego locals. I feel worse for you guys than I ever did for my fellow Rams fans in St. Louis. St. Louis never gave a shit about the Rams until it became a possibility for the Rams to move. You see, fans in St. Louis are like the shitty girlfriend who, after 7 years, says “What can I do to change?” when you are already ready to let her go, so while I think Stan Kroenke is a piss poor owner, St. Louis was a piss poor fit for the Rams in the end, a city that was too lazy to bother changing the seats at the Edward Jones Dome from red to blue.

Chargers fans supported the living hell out of them in San Diego. Los Angeles doesn’t give a damn about the Chargers; they don’t even give a damn about the Rams. LA is the biggest fairweather city in America. They care about the Raiders right now. It’s a lousy situation all in all.

I just want to say this about the hall of fame finalists… or question this: where is Torry Holt? He absolutely — just like Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce — belongs in the hall of fame. He’s the only receiver in the history of the NFL to accrue six consecutive 1,300-yard receiving seasons. He had eight consecutive 1,100+ yard seasons! People like to say, “Well, he didn’t do it long enough”. I say, quality > quantity. People also like to say, “He was a part of an offense-heavy team! That’s why he put up those numbers!” and that’s simply a shitty argument. Being a part of such an offensive heavy team, he had to share catches with the likes of Bruce, Ricky Proehl, Az-Zahir Hakim, Shaun McDonald and Kevin Curtis over the years, not to mention perennial hall of famer Marshall Faulk accruing not only rushing yards but catches and receiving yards himself.

Holt was an impeccable route runner. He would have been Super Bowl XXXIV MVP if he hadn’t dropped what would’ve been a second touchdown catch in the game. The arguments against him not being in the hall of fame are ludicrous. Consider, also, that he had to deal with an incompetent Rams organization that couldn’t get their shit together following the firing of Mike Martz. The Scott Linehan project was a disaster. The Rams haven’t even been decent since 2004, and yet Holt still put up big numbers through 2007. Much like Bruce, he was a class act. No controversies, no team disruptions, no horse shit drug/PED use…. just a class act catching footballs, scoring touchdowns and being one of the best receivers to ever do it. Yet he’s not a hall of fame finalist. That, my friends, is bullshit. There’s no need for sugarcoating or avoiding expletive usage by throwing nice words in there.

I feel that, if the Rams beat the Patsies in Super Bowl XXXVI, this wouldn’t even be an argument right now and that everyone would be singing Warner, Bruce and Holt’s collective praises, but c’est la vie. Such is life.

The Greatest Show on Turf is the unequivocal greatest offense in NFL history. The members who comprised is deserve to be in the hall of fame. Point, blank, bottom line. Nobody can convince this Rams fan writing this otherwise.

MMA (UFC 207), Cooking and Smokin’ Meats

I reckon I’m not finished yet. Consider these posts to be the championship rounds! I was just thinking, WordPress — to me — hit its peak in 2011/2012 when the tags (when you searched within the parameters of the site) were set up in a way where you could see the top/trending posts and the recent posts in a specified tag. The stats page was perfect. Ever since, WordPress ruined (again, just my thoughts) the tag searches by making it clunky and adding too much information to the page (and removing the top/trending posts), then they butchered the stats page. I’m mentioning this because they have changed the stats page yet again!

I was out of state last week with my girlfriend, visiting her family, and we watched UFC 207. Her dad is a semi-big fan of MMA, albeit more casual than a die-hard, but the rest of the group we watched the event with was/is extremely casual viewers, all tuned into Ronda Rousey’s big return to the octagon.

I thought Ray Borg/Louis Smolka was a decent fight; Borg dominated the bigger guy. However, the “Stun Gun” AKA Dong Hyun Kim/Tarec Saffiedine fight put her dad to sleep and the rest of the group was too busy playing the classic board game “Clue” to give much of a damn. TJ Dillashaw/John Lineker featured some haymakers (primarily from Dillashaw… breaking Lineker’s jaw in the first round, but Lineker had a couple of shots land flush on TJ in the fight), ending up an (overall) dominant unanimous decision win for Dillashaw.

Dominick Cruz/Cody Garbrandt, the Bantamweight title fight, got everybody’s attention though, and that pleases the hell out of me. This is why I love MMA: you never know what’s going to happen. While TJ Dillashaw defeating Renan Barao is the biggest upset I believe I’ve seen, I didn’t think Garbrandt had a shot in hell against Cruz. I even warned her family and the group we watched the event with that this might be (for them) a boring five round fight because Cruz is a technical fighter, the kind of guy that will yield false charges toward his opponents to bait them into hitting air. Instead, this fight went five rounds with Garbrandt becoming the new UFC Bantamweight champion. I believe Cruz underestimated Garbrandt and figured he’d fight emotionally, but I hope they’ll match Dillashaw against Garbrandt in the near future.

Ronda Rousey was dominated like she’s never been dominated before. She produced absolutely nothing in her return to the octagon after 13+ months of inactivity. She showed zero blocking, head movement or footwork when Amanda Nunes TKOed her in 48 seconds. I’ll tell you why: Ronda never evolved and she never stuck to what she’s best at: judo. Her dipshit boxing coach, who hardly represents a ‘boxing‘ coach, Edmund Tarverdyan, led her to believe she could box… when she can’t. He didn’t even teach her basic head movement or footwork! If she’s ever going to fight again (doubtful, but who knows), she needs to switch to a fight gym that will help her excel or at least improve in other aspects. If she’d switched camps eight months ago, she would have at least put up a better showing.

Thankfully the Cruz/Garbrandt fight saved the card.

On another note, after almost two decades in the UFC, Mike Goldberg commentated his last event, and there was not a single on air mention of the event being his last, despite all that he’s done for the company. What a shame. 99% of my UFC memories involves Mike Goldberg commentating a fight. I know he butchered some names, stats and calls, but he had amazing chemistry with Joe Rogan and, more than anything, he made fights feel ‘epic‘ and exciting. I’m going to miss Goldie, especially if they replace him with the robotic, monotonous Jon Anik who is as generic and run-of-the-mill as one can imagine.

Enough MMA. Let’s talk about food.

My girlfriend’s family gave me their old vertical smoker last month. They usually cook for a decent sized group and they moved off to a horizontal smoker where more can fit (like a big beef brisket). I appreciate that they were/are so generous, because I can’t get enough of the flavor of smoked food. Here’s what I’ve smoked so far: a 5 and a half pound Boston Butt (pork shoulder), an itty bitty brisket (just to try) that was about a pound, smoked bacon wrapped cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers and chicken drumsticks. Also, not pictured, but I smoked a chuck roast for my family a couple days after Christmas along with some potatoes. Here’s some pictures from the first batch:

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The pork shoulder.
The pork shoulder.
The itty bitty brisket.
The itty bitty brisket.
Love the smoke ring!
Love the smoke ring!
The finished product (pork shoulder). Love the bark on the meat. My favorite part.
The finished product (pork shoulder). Love the bark on the meat. My favorite part.
Shredded up pork shoulder for pulled pork! It was a hit!
Shredded up pork shoulder for pulled pork! It was a hit!
Smoked bacon-wrapped cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers!
Smoked bacon-wrapped cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers!
Chicken drumsticks came out great!
Chicken drumsticks came out great!