Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Rodgers’

Just A Beer

December 18, 2013

Sunday December 15th, 2013 – Kenosha, WI

I have a friend I have known for probably thirty years who is unfortunately an alcoholic. He’s a nice person and we get along well, but after all these years he’s still drinking. He’s tried to give it up countless times, but he always goes back. It will probably end up killing him, and he knows it.

On one of his attempts to dry out years ago, he made a point to let everyone know how he was bound and determined to quit once and for all, and it was the most gung ho the rest of his friends and I had ever seen him. We all hoped he would be able to turn his life around and quit boozing.

About a month later I saw him at a restaurant with a beer. I couldn’t help seeing it in his hand, and he saw the puzzled look on my face and tried to explain himself. “Oh THIS? It’s just a beer. Those don’t count.” I didn’t say another word, and he has since slid back into his old lifestyle.

It’s not up to me to judge him or anyone else, but from where I sit I don’t see him ever making a permanent change. He might stop and start and pretend as if he is going to give it up once and for all, but he always goes back. He may be able to fool a few people, but never really himself.

That’s how I feel about my addiction to the Green Bay Packers. I go weeks without watching a game, but then I get an invitation to a friend’s house and I’m right back where I don’t want to be. It kills me when they lose, and despite all my attempts to not care I can’t help it. They’ve got me.

Everyone has left them for dead this year, and I see why. They have had devastating injuries to several key players including star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and they have been humiliated by several teams they likely would have ground into soup meat had they been playing at full roster.

My friend Mark Gumbinger lives in Kenosha, WI and has one of the best man caves anywhere. He’s got a basement that has a huge screen TV with Surround Sound, and there’s a fridge packed with food and drinks behind the bar. There’s a bathroom within 20 feet, and he’s a fabulous host.

That’s about as good as it gets for football watching, and he always sends out invitations for all his friends to show up whenever there’s any kind of sporting event going on. It really is a blast to hang out there, and I often go just for the company. I’ve grown to know and like the main core of guys that tend to show up, and it’s laid back and relaxed. Any guy would feel like he fits right in.

I spent the night in Milwaukee after two performances of “Schlitz Happened!”, and had to pass right by Mark’s house on my way home so I decided to stop and say hello. It was a late game and I ended up getting there right on time. They were playing Dallas in Dallas, and that’s a team they have traditionally had trouble beating. I didn’t hold out much hope, nor did the rest of the guys.

The first half was beyond our worst nightmare as the Packers got smoked like a picnic ham. It killed us to watch, but we’re all hooked so we sat there like idiots and stewed. I intended to leave at halftime, but we started talking and before we knew it the second half was starting so I stayed.

It was like two different games as the Pack came out like gangbusters and took it to the Cowboys from the start. They ended up winning by one point, and it was one of the most exciting halves of football any of us could recall. Just when I thought I was out…I’m IN. It’s “just a beer”. Right.

Any time the Dallas Cowboys and Darth Owner lose in humiliating fashion it's a good day - but it's especially sweet when it's the Green Bay Packers. This is a game for the ages.

Any time the Dallas Cowboys and “Darth Owner” lose in humiliating fashion it’s a good day – but it’s especially sweet when it’s courtesy of the Green Bay Packers. This was a comeback for the ages.

Dez Bryant is another smug punk I couldn't enjoy seeing it get stuck in his face any more. He walked off the field early - good riddance.

Dez Bryant is another smug punk I couldn’t enjoy seeing get it stuck in his face any more. He slithered off the field early like a crybaby. Good riddance!

First it was "The Ice Bowl" in Green Bay. This was "The Ass Bowl" with Jerry Jones and Dez Bryant. What a comeback! It was one for the ages.

First it was “The Ice Bowl” in Green Bay. This was “The Ass Bowl” with Jerry Jones and Dez Bryant. The villains get foiled, what a happy ending.

Packer Pathos

November 30, 2013

Friday November 29th, 2013 – Milwaukee, WI

The Green Bay Packers are having one of their worst seasons in recent memory, and I find it to be a fascinating case study in human behavior whether someone is a football fan or not. They are completely unraveling as the season goes on, and have slid from heroes to bums in a few weeks.

It all started when their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a fractured clavicle on November 4th in a game against the archrival Chicago Bears. It didn’t appear to be that violent of a hit, and fans weren’t in a panic assuming the usually durable Rodgers would bounce right back.

Then in the next game against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 10th, backup quarterback Seneca Wallace went down in the first quarter with a groin injury. Again, it didn’t look to be that bad but he too was out of commission. That brought in Scott Tolzien, a third stringer that played in college at Wisconsin so a lot of Packer fans were familiar with him. He performed admirably.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to win either of the two games he started, and the spoiled fans of the Packers who have been one of the elite teams in the NFL since the early ‘90s were starting to grumble from within. An entire generation of fans has grown up assuming the Pack would win.

Last week they blew a golden opportunity to beat their most bitter rival of the last twenty years the Minnesota Vikings. They are having a horrific year themselves, but no Packer fan alive feels the slightest bit of sympathy for them. They’ve also had a great run, and when I was a kid they’d traditionally thump the Pack twice a year. Any day the Packers beat the Viqueens is a great day.

Too bad it wasn’t this particular day, as the best they could muster was a tie. They had a shot to win it in overtime, but they weren’t able to pound it into the end zone from a few yards out to get the win. Fans had grown accustomed to them being automatic in those situations in recent years.

Well, this isn’t recent years, and hope is fading like the paint job on a Yugo. Yesterday was the biggest all out ass kicking they’ve gotten in decades, and it looked like they’ve completely given up in every aspect of their game. The offense, defense and special teams played like Girl Scouts.

I have been a loyal (read: stupid) Packer fan my entire life and I have to say I am not pleased to see how this year has unfolded, but on a personal level I can totally relate. I wish I couldn’t, but I absolutely do. It’s very similar to my life, and I find it fascinating to watch how it’s playing out.

Unforeseen circumstances have been the cause of the downfall, mostly devastating injuries that have wiped out their best players. It has been uncanny how many important players were lost this year, but that’s the luck of the draw. It wasn’t planned on, but now they have to suck it up and try to salvage the season with what they have left. It’s not pleasant, but nobody has a choice. It’s life in the NFL, and life in general. The fans are growing restless, and the coaches are on the hot seat.

Three years ago the same coaches won the Super Bowl and were considered geniuses. That’s a long time ago in football, and now they’re bums. I find this interesting, and it’s a character test to make due every week with depleted resources. This is exactly how my life has been since I was a kid, so I’m finding an even deeper kinship with the team this year. They’re living my existence.

It's been a rough year for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers - but at least they're getting paid. We fans are getting screwed for free.

It’s been a rough year for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers – but at least they’re getting paid. We fans are getting screwed for free.

Scott Tolzien Syndrome

November 12, 2013

Sunday November 10th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

The Green Bay Packers are living my life. They are being bombarded by one unexpected crisis after the next, and it’s all coming at once and totally out of the blue. That’s been pretty much the blueprint of my entire life, and I’ve gotten used to it by now. It’s fun to see someone else squirm.

What’s even more fun is to watch the fan base panic. Aaron Rodgers has been very durable as a star quarterback, but he suffered an injury last week and now he’s out for at least a few weeks. They were shaky at best in the backup position with Seneca Wallace, but Coach Mike McCarthy gave him his full vote of confidence last week. The team spent all week trying to band together.

Then wouldn’t you know it, Seneca Wallace goes down in the first quarter with a groin injury, and a hush fell over Lambeau Field as former Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Scott Tolzien took the field. He’d only been activated from the practice squad the week before, and was a last resort.

Lo and behold, he came in and did a spectacular job under the circumstances. He looked like a seasoned pro, and totally belonged out there. He made a couple of mistakes, but nothing to incite mass panic either with the coaching staff or the beer swilling masses who think they’re coaches.

That was no easy feat, but Scott Tolzien went in there and got it done when everything was out of control. He exceeded everyone’s expectations, and when he got his chance he was prepared to deliver. That’s very impressive, and even though the Packers lost the game it doesn’t bother me.

Life has a way of throwing curveballs, and sometimes things get hairy very quickly. I know it’s not just me, but I’ve felt like I’m the third string quarterback for most of my own life. I’ve done my best to hang in there the best I could, but there is never any sympathy from one’s opponents.

No team is going to take it easy on the Packers because Aaron Rodgers is out. In fact, they will go out of their way to make life as miserable as possible for Scott Tolzien just like they did when Seneca Wallace was in that spot. The rules of the jungle are unforgiving, and I am living proof.

I was born into a crisis situation, and had to resort to Plan B from the start. My mother took off when I was five months old, and I was sent to live with my paternal grandparents. Their plan was to find an orphanage to send me to, but they decided to raise me themselves because they were at each other’s throats and they thought it would keep their marriage together. I was their project.

Their marriage eventually ended anyway when I was twelve, and Gramps died when I was 18. Grandma had kicked me out of the house when I was 17, and I have been on my own ever since trying as hard as I can to piece together whatever a ‘normal’ life might be. I’m still wondering.

I’m not looking for sympathy, and never did. All I’ve ever wanted is a chance to pave my own way in the world and get ahead on my own merits. I’ve sincerely tried with all my might to be a quality person despite what poker hand I may have been dealt, and I haven’t always succeeded.

Warts and all, my life has been what it has. Much like the Packers, it wasn’t what was planned on but there was no choice on my part. Scott Tolzien is a man after my own heart. I can relate.

Scott Tolzien stepped onto a mine field, and left with both of his legs. Kudos to his achievement.

Scott Tolzien stepped onto a mine field, and left with both of his legs. Kudos to his achievement.

Afraid To Pee

November 5, 2013

Sunday November 3rd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Still no passing of my kidney stone, and it feels like I’m waiting for the royal baby to be born. I totally thought this would be over with by now. At this point I have heard so many horror stories I’m afraid to pee. Everyone I know who has ever had one has told me in detail how it played out.

I’m hearing horrific accounts of unbearable pain, free flowing blood and passing out, and quite frankly it’s scaring me half to death. I know that little bastard is in there somewhere as I can feel it, but for some reason it’s just refusing to leave. The doctor said it could be up to a week of this.

But what if it doesn’t pass in a week? I can’t afford another surgery, but I also can’t keep living in the pain I’m in. My drugs are running out, and none of the prescriptions have refills. I need the whole thing to be history, but that’s never how life works. I have no say in the matter. It’s nature.

I hadn’t taken any painkillers in a long time, and I’d forgotten how they clamp down on the old bowel plumbing. When I woke up today, I felt a pain on my other side and for a second I thought I had another kidney stone. It turns out I was having a sewage backup, and I needed some relief.

I must have sat on the crapper a good 45 minutes, and it felt like I was trying to pass a football – but not like Aaron Rodgers. Stuff like this is really funny when it’s happening to someone else, but try as I might I wasn’t able to muster one chuckle. I’m sure it will be hilarious when it’s over, but for now it’s a nightmare. I don’t know what hurt more, my kidney or my colon. Who cares?

I tried to read, listen to music, watch TV or anything else that might get my mind off the severe pain I’m having, but nothing worked for very long. I tried to make it through the day without any more drugs, just because I don’t want my bowels to go on strike anymore. One crisis is enough.

I’ll be the first one to admit I’m not very tough in situations like this. Some people are troopers and nothing bothers them. They don’t feel pain, or if they do they’re able to absorb it without any whining. I’m not going to lie, this is rocking my world and I’d do anything if it would go away.

Whoever said “When you have your health, you have everything” really knew what they were talking about. It’s so easy to take it for granted, when in fact all it takes is the tiniest little glitch – like a kidney stone – to throw the entire system off balance and out of whack. I see how it works.

What I don’t see is why everyone seems to want to offer their two cents as to what I need to do to get through this. “Just hang in there” doesn’t really do anything other than give some words to say when there’s nothing useful to say. What am I supposed to do, surrender? Who do I do it to?

The other thing I’m hearing constantly is “I bet you’ll have some new material from this!” I’ve got more than enough material, thank you. If health issues constituted comedy material, all of the new comedians would show up from burn units and trauma centers. There’s more to it than that.

If pain alone was what made up a successful comedy career, I’d be bigger than Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld and David Letterman combined. I’ve taken my lumps with the best of them, but nobody cares about that. Audiences are in their own pain. That’s the reason comedians exist. We heal it.

I've been hearing so many horror stories about passing kidney stones I'm afraid to pee.

I’ve been hearing so many horror stories about passing kidney stones I’m afraid to pee.

Tuesday Tradition

November 1, 2013

Tuesday October 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

It’s Tuesday, and that means I make my weekly appearance with “Stone and Double T” on the “Low Budget Morning Show” on 104.9 “The X” in Rockford, IL. I’ve been a regular with them for a few years now, going back to when they used to be on in the afternoon. They’re great guys, and totally get it on many levels. The only negative about being on with them is where they are.

No offense to Rockford or anyone who lives there, but it’s never going to be an entertainment Mecca, or a Mecca for anything else. It’s a depressed town that most people 500 miles or farther from it have probably never even heard of. It’s just one town, and that’s not how to get famous.

On the upside, it’s cheap to live there and if someone wanted to be in Chicago or Milwaukee to experience city life it’s a little over an hour away and easy to get to both places. It wouldn’t be a horrible place to live I suppose. They have some nice suburbs, but the city itself is rather seedy.

A lot of places are like that these days. The city of Milwaukee is getting pretty funky, whereas when I grew up there it was always very clean and well kept. Maybe it was the German influence of freakish neatness that made it that way then, but it’s not there now. Most cities are in disarray, but there are always at least a few nicer areas for those who are fortunate enough to have a job.

My first radio job was in Lansing, MI which is an absolute toilet. I lived right on the border of Lansing and East Lansing, and it wasn’t bad at all. I had about a ten minute drive to work if that, and I got used to living there. I was making money, so the stench of the town wasn’t as pungent.

I’m sure the same is true with Stone and Double T. They are both employed, but neither one is originally from there. They’re paid mercenaries, but they have grown to be a part of local fabric over time and now I’m sure they both call Rockford home. That’s the tradeoff of being in radio.

Very few ever get to become media stars in their home town, just as most pro athletes don’t get to play for their hometown teams very often. Michael Jordan was not born in Chicago and Aaron Rodgers surely wasn’t born in Green Bay. Fate, destiny or whatever one wants to call it is where people end up settling and becoming local fixtures. That’s what Stone and Double T have done.

Radio is full of those stories. Steve Dahl is not from Chicago but that’s where his success was. Bob and Tom are not from Indianapolis, but they’ve worked there for more than 30 years. I have always wanted to find a town where I could do that, but try as I might it just hasn’t happened yet.

I’ve got a little bit of a name in Chicago, and my hometown of Milwaukee too. I would hope I also have at least some recognition in Rockford with all the times I’ve been on the air both with Stone and Double T and also filling in at the news/talk station WNTA. I hope someone listens.

Even if they don’t, I am still flattered Stone and Double T have me on the air every week. They are both as real and friendly as it gets in radio or anywhere else, and their personalities could not fit that town any better. It’s a perfect match, and hopefully they can make a solid living for years. The only problem for me is that they’re not on in more markets. I’ve said it before, but it’s a fact – if Stone and Double T were Bob and Tom, we’d all be millionaires by now. http://www.wxrx.com.

You can catch me every Tuesday morning on the 'Stone and Double T' show on WXRX 'The X' in Rockford, IL www.wxrx.com

You can catch me every Tuesday morning on the ‘Stone and Double T’ show on WXRX ‘The X’ in Rockford, IL http://www.wxrx.com

Braun’s Song

July 23, 2013

Monday July 22nd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL 

   Jimmy cracked corn and nobody cared, so why the big cluster fuss about Ryan Braun getting cracked for using performance enhancing drugs? That’s all everyone was talking about today on radio, television and online, and they made it sound like it was some sort of catastrophic event.

   Friends from all over were contacting me all day asking questions and offering condolences as if I’d lost a loved one or something. It’s funny to me that they’d do that, as we have nothing at all in common other than Braun happens to be employed – or at least he was – in the city I was born.

   Other than that, we couldn’t be any more different. He’s a twenty something Californian pretty boy who has a smoking hot lingerie model girlfriend and millions in the bank. He has a fantastic dream home in Malibu, and a condo in Milwaukee where I couldn’t even afford a parking space.

   He’s in the restaurant business with Aaron Rodgers, and he’s got a multimillion dollar contract that paid him $6 million this year and is guaranteed for several more. He’s a former MVP and an All Star, and if none of that is enough he’s played long enough to be vested with a hefty pension.

   I’m a journeyman standup comic trying to piece together a living from month to month, hoping to catch a decent break at an age where most people are preparing for geezerhood, grandchildren or both. I’m ass deep in credit card debt, I owe the IRS and I have a huge medical bill from a stay in the hospital in 2011 I doubt if I’ll ever be able to pay. Braun and I are in two different worlds.

   And I’m supposed to feel sorry for this guy? That’s just not going to happen. I don’t have time to feel sorry for anyone, including myself. I have to get out there and squeak out a living for one more week. That keeps me busy enough. Some millionaire who felt a need to fib isn’t my fault.

   I must admit, I admired the guy as a baseball player. Yes I am from Milwaukee, and I’ve been a Brewers fan since I can remember – and that’s a pretty long time. I hearken back to before the Robin Yount era, and I’ve watched countless crybabies come and go. This is not a crisis. It’s life.

   The entire world has changed since I was a kid in the ‘70s. The guys I watched then weren’t in the same zip code as the rich kids today. A big star then didn’t have the financial clout of a scrub today, as it just wasn’t how things worked. They made decent bucks, but not like they do today.

   Nobody was on steroids then, but they took amphetamines in the ‘70s and cocaine was an issue with not only most teams but most sports in the ‘80s. Athletes are people, and people have flaws. I don’t think they have an obligation to be role models to our children – but it sure would be nice.

   I’m disappointed in Ryan Braun, but why should he care? He’s set for life financially before he turns thirty, and there aren’t too many who can ever say that. Did he ‘cheat’? Maybe so, but what other business doesn’t do that? Strippers have fake boobs, but nobody stops ogling them do they?

   Granted, fake boobs aren’t illegal but why should steroids be? If an athlete wants to juice up to gain a distinct advantage, so what? It’s not my testicles that are going to shrivel up. I’m a paying customer, and I want to see action. I don’t make millions and I can’t hit home runs, so what else can I do but pay someone else to do it for me? We all pay to watch athletes do what we can’t, all so we can hold up an index finger and claim that “WE are number ONE!” No stupid, the TEAM is number one – you’re a janitor. Deal with it. Life is cruel.  Feel sorry for Ryan Braun? Hardly.