Category Archives: Advice

The Man Channel

Cable and satellite TV packages often come with hundreds of channels – everything from the major networks to something called BYU Television.

No matter the package, whether it’s economy-sized or a deluxe model, each shares a characteristic –  a laundry list of crappy channels. Take a week, and tally the times there’s nothing worth watching.

There’s no getting around the truth: Cable sucks, so do satellites.

No wonder increasingly large numbers of people are getting their views in via Netflix or Hulu. Why pay hundreds for an inferior product?

Well, cable and satellite companies, I’m offering a solution to help your dwindling business. It’s a channel of awesomeness – a guy-centric lineup of excellence sure to bring men ages 18 to 49 back time and again. And, yeah, I get that Spike and Esquire Network are supposed to be for guys, but those channels are about as enjoyable as Sprout.

Here’s a partial lineup:

Cheers – Quite simply the finest sitcom in television history. Find me a white, 40-something guy who didn’t want to be Sam Malone.

Wings – The most underrated sitcom in history. Lowell Mather and Antonio Scarpacci for life.

The Goldbergs – The best show on TV today.

The First 48 – The best reality show in history, and a weekly hour that shows how phony all the CSIs and Law and Orders are.

Joe Kenda: Homicide Hunter – The baddest dude on the baddest channel.

Magnum, P.I. – Combine Sam Malone and Joe Kenda, you get Magnum.

The Last Man on Earth – The second-best show on TV today.

Intervention – Nothing more raw than watching a 24-year-old who’s been strung out on meth for 8 years. Even if the show ends happier than most Entourage episodes.

Gangland – For the inner gangsta in all of us.

ESPN “30 for 30” films – The only good thing ESPN has done (with the exception of not renewing Bill Simmons’ contract) the past decade.

The Office – Michael Scott. Dwight Shrute. Enough said.

Of course, there’s room for 1980s music videos, The Sopranos, Entourage (the first six seasons), Saved by the Bell, The Middle, the first three seasons of The Real World,The Monkees, The Bob Newhart Show and Newhart,  early episodes of Behind the Music, Rhonda Sheer “Up All Night” Clips and quality movies like Dazed and Confused, The Karate Kid, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Dodgeball.

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Growing old gracefully? Not exactly

That's me on the left. The hairline receded a little, and I'm pretty sure my nose actually got bigger over the years.

That’s me on the left. The hairline receded a little, and I’m pretty sure my nose actually got bigger over the years.

Guys, we can exercise, party, kid around and act young, but there’s no hiding an ugly truth.

We’re getting old.

Hairs are growing where they never did. Hangovers last so long, swearing off drinking entirely sounds reasonable. Joints creak. Muscles ache. Getting up at night to go to the bathroom isn’t an inconvenience; it’s simply part of the routine.

A couple doses of growing old truth serum were served to me recently. The first came last Tuesday evening when this 40-year-old challenged himself to hang with high school seniors trying out for the Washington-Greene High School Senior All-Star Basketball Game, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Washington, for an upcoming feature in the Observer-Reporter.

I consider myself to be in good shape. I run regularly for long distances and at faster-than-average speeds. I’ve placed in my age group at races. I lift weights five days a week. I play racquetball and walk our dog, Ringo, … ok, enough already, right?

The fact is, no matter how much I train, I can’t hang with the speed and energy of 17- and 18-year-old kids. That became evident during the layup line at tryouts. Granted, the line lasted for 12 minutes – 12 minutes! – but it wasn’t long before the breathing turned heavy. As for getting off the ground, a four-inch vertical leap was on full display – over and over. When it came time to get on the court, I was tired. The kids were just getting started.

The second dose hit the next morning in spin class. Normally, spin class is reserved for Friday morning but Erin wasn’t working and she wanted to do spin class. I originally balked. but relented. After all, spin class is an outstanding way to train for distance running. It strengthens legs, bolsters endurance and commands complete attention.

I’d like to blame her for what happened next, but, let’s face it, I’m getting old.

About 30 minutes into class, I rose from the seat for a climb when I felt something unusual in my right foot. On rare occasions, the pedal causes a slight discomfort – unlike many enthusiasts, I spin in sneakers. This, however, was different. It was actual pain.

So guess what?

Yep, I kept riding.

Who says people get smarter with age?

I finished class, but I knew something was off. As the day continued, I became convinced something was broken. Walking was excruciating. Shoes provided instant discomfort. Of course, I didn’t go to the doctor. Instead, I went to work.

After dropping Anna off at school Thursday morning, a visit to MedExpress was in order and, after a few x-rays, a diagnosis of a foot sprain was given.

It’s Monday afternoon and that right foot still hurts. A few people told me foot sprains are worse than breaks. I wouldn’t know, but I know foot sprains suck. I’m basically confined to the house with the exception of going to work. It’s making me a bit stir crazy, even if I downloaded Trivia Crack.

Getting old kinda sucks, too. I can’t do many of the things I used to accomplish, and I’m beginning to realize achieving certain goals I’ve set for myself may be better suited for less mature audiences.

Now, it’s time to try and get off the couch.

Avoid being these things at the gym

The gym often serves as a sanctuary. It’s a place to work off the stresses of a grinding, thankless job. There’s no honey-do list. No kids talking nonstop. Put on some headphones, and there’s nothing standing in the way of self-improvement.

A gym is where making funny faces in front of strangers is perfectly acceptable, even encouraged. Sweating isn’t nasty; it’s the sure-fire sign of a great workout. Rap to yourself between sets, and no one gives an odd look. Try doing that on the streets without a few awkward glances from passersby.

Yet, the gym, like any other public place, can be an incredibly annoying place, especially during the post-work, pre-dinner rush.

So what annoys you the most at your gym? Is it a lack of nearby parking in the winter? Creepers in the sauna? Old guys staring?

Fortunately for me, those aren’t problems, but the following things are.

5. Mean people. Time to go on the record. Gymtimidation only exists if a person is easily intimidated. Some of the nicest people at the gym, and the first to offer strong advice, are the biggest. Most enter the gym focused, intent to work out, not socialize. That said, the gym is rife with mean people. I’ve dubbed them “bitch faces” and “la douches.” Ladies, if you wear skin-tight, barely there shorts but look straight at the ground, scowl at people when you actually lift your eyes and refuse to speak to the ladies working day care when you pick up your kid(s), you might be a “bitch face.” Fellas, it you finish a set, throw down your weights, stomp around the gym, huffing and puffing, and walk chest out in crowded corridors, you’re probably “la douche.”

4. Messy locker rooms/bathrooms. A common weekend problem, especially if the cleanup crew works weekday hours. There’s urine on the toilets. Toilet paper and paper towels everywhere. And the powder. Oh my, the powder. Pre-workout powder. Post-workout powder, Talcum powder. It’s on the floors, the benches, the counters. Treat the gym like your home and clean it up.

3. Socialists. No, this isn’t a political movement. Socialists are the people using the gym for conversation, merriment and as a primary source of flirting. There are poser clubs, groups who do a set then stare at themselves in the mirror, clenching an arm and hoping no one just saw them flex. There are the cardio chit-chatters – friends walking side by side on treadmills, talking loudly then wondering why they garner the attention of others. Cliques of meatheads who hog the pectoral fly machine for 30 minutes while they talk in between sets.

2. Energy changers. Ever run a 5k or something longer? One of the great, great things about the running community is the positive energy exuded before and after a race. People – total strangers – offer encouragement and congratulations. It’s an incredible feeling, and one that can be replicated at a gym in a more self-contained way. But there are people who impact positive energy in a harmful way. There’s the gym mayor. He’s intent on talking to everyone, asking how the workout is going while putting in little work himself. There’s the meathead. He’s probably got his mesh ballcap on backward with the bill cocked to the right. He moves tons of weight but spends more time looking at himself. There’s the noisemaker. This person grunts through movements and weezes through cardio. There’s the crazy old lady. She wears clothes that don’t fit someone half her age, talks incredibly loud and randomly cackles. There’s the creeper. He takes spin class to look at the ladies in yoga pants and tank tops and makes no effort to work hard.

1. Space hogs. Ever want to get on a machine and can’t because some 100-pound, incredibly ripped lady is doing sets then dropping down on a mat for crunches. And this cycle lasts 20 minutes? Ever want to get changed in the locker room only to have some jabrone hog an entire bench with belongings? Ever want to get on the mats for some ab work only to have a group occupy the area with their free weights and extra equipment while they chat and check their smartphones? If you’ve been to the gym, it’s definitely happened. The gym is a great place to improve yourself, but it’s not all about you. Be respectful of others.

Fantasy stud, dud and pickup

Some years, every decision made is the wrong one.

About 11:30 a.m. last Sunday, I opened the home laptop and cued up the home page to the Roody Poo Fantasy Football League, founded in 1999 by yours truly and running strong in its 16th season. The league is an homage to quirky fantasy football. It favors scoring, and is the only league I know of to dock a quarterback six points for throwing a pick six.

It’s been a rough few weeks for Hadji’s Skeleton Achers, making strong lineup decisions essential. And I faced a dilemma at the quarterback position.

Matt Stafford or Joe Flacco.

Seems like a no-brainer most weeks. Stafford is one of the better quarterbacks in fantasy, a point-producing, throw-first quarterback capable of rushing for a touchdown every week. Flacco is in the midst of a bounce-back season. Still, we’re talking about a guy that couldn’t beat out Tyler Palko at Pitt (#PalkoFacts).

It wasn’t a no-brainer last Sunday. Stafford was missing Calvin Johnson and Flacco was facing the Buccaneers. Still, when I went to my team page, Stafford was in his usual starting spot. The temptation to insert Flacco was strong.

“Daddy, we have to go to church.”

Anna beckoned. I had to go. Stafford stayed in the lineup. Flacco threw five touchdowns. He outscored my entire starting lineup. Hadji’s lost.

Last week, Branden Oliver was the stud selection. The Chargers tailback delivered with 101 rushing yards, four receptions and a touchdown. Terrence Williams was the dud, and, despite a a highlight-reel catch on a third-and-20 to help Dallas beat Seattle, he had just two catches for 70 yards. Brian Quick was the pickup and, well, let’s hope the young man has better games than what he had Monday against San Francisco.

On to this week’s selections.

Stud – Ben Tate, Cleveland. Love the Browns offense. Really love the Browns running game, and Tate is a big reason why. He had two touchdowns last week against Pittsburgh. The guess here is he finds the endzone at least once and tops 100 yards against Jacksonville.

Dud – Zac Stacy, St. Louis. Seattle’s defense is going to be angry, and they’re going to take it out on a bad team in the Rams. Stacy didn’t look good against San Francisco. Avoid.

Pickup – Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville. Sure, the Jaguars stink. But chances are they’ll be throwing a lot against Cleveland, and the Browns are primed for a letdown after beating the Steelers. Shorts is finally healthy and worth owning.

Fantasy stud, dud and pickup

The No. 1 factor to fantasy success? It’s probably luck. If not, it’s being alert.

My defense of a championship in one highly competitive league I’m part of got off to a miserable start. Aaron Rodgers struggled. Eddie Lacy did nothing. Ben Tate was injured. So was Jordan Cameron. Zach Ertz fizzled. It goes on and on from there.

How bad was the first month? Try an 0-4 record and the low point total in the league. But, following the third week, fortunes began to change even if it didn’t show up in the win column in Week 4.

That’s when some poor sap of an owner cut T.Y. Hilton. Yep, the same Hilton who went for 1,000-plus yards in his second season and caught seven touchdowns as a rookie. Sure, Hilton hadn’t scored a touchdown, but had this owner watched the Colts? Andrew Luck throws it 40 times per game, if not more. Hilton’s too good to cut.

Yet, there he was. The Florida International product sitting on the waiver wire.

Surely, with the eighth waiver pick in a 12-team league, there was no way my sorry, winless bunch would get Hilton. No matter. I made the waiver claim. To my surprise, he landed on my roster and was quickly inserted into my starting lineup.

My team nearly won Week 4 with Hilton in. Finally, Revis Christ broke through the win column in Week 5 and, this Thursday, Hilton put together a game to remember – 9 catches, 223 yards (one shy of a team record) and his first touchdown of the season. His 39.3 points certainly gives me a chance to get to 2-4.

One game at a time.

Why tell the story? Well, for one, it’s not wise to give up on Pro Bowl-caliber talent. Two, fantasy leagues aren’t won in September.

Stud – Branden Oliver, San Diego. Chances are most owners in your league didn’t know who Oliver was before he gashed the Jets’ tough run defense for 119 yards and was a key figure in the passing game. Chances are he’s no longer available in your league. San Diego is physically imposing and the best team I’ve seen to date this season. Oakland stinks and the Chargers are riddled with injures in the backfield.

Dud – Terrance Williams, Dallas. Williams is a touchdown machine and a big reason why the Cowboys are the surprise of the NFC. The problem? Well he’s produced an awfully high percentage of touchdowns on a low number of targets. Against Seattle this week, expect Williams’ touchdown streak to stop and his low number of targets to continue.

Pickup – Brian Quick, St. Louis. Quick has quietly and consistently produced top 15 numbers at the position. He’s had nine targets in three of four games, and already has career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Sure, the Rams have an unproven quarterback in Austin Davis and a tough opponent in San Francisco, but Quick is a must own.

Last week, Eli Manning was the choice for stud and he finished with 200 yards and two touchdowns. Hardly, studly numbers but enough to get a win if you started the right people. Larry Fitzgerald finished with three catches for 57 yards and no touchdowns, a worthy dud selection. No touchdowns for Fitz through four games. Travis Kelce was the suggested pickup and the big tight end found the end zone last week.

Fantasy stud, dud and pickup

Anyone think Steve Smith had something to prove against Carolina? Smith delivered in a big way for the pass-happy Ravens and the receiver is a big reason why Joe Flacco has been one of the best fantasy quarterbacks. Smith finished with seven receptions, 139 yards and, most importantly, two touchdowns.

Jason Witten had five receptions for 61 yards, sadly both are season-highs for the Cowboys tight end. Dallas is running the football with greater regularity, and Witten is losing targets to emerging players like Terrence Williams.

LeGarrette Blount had four carries for 25 yards. He’s the established backup in Pittsburgh, but this was certainly disappointing production in an embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay. Even with Le’Veon Bell emerging as a top five running back, Blount will get touches, assuming the Steelers keep producing on offense.

Last week, Smith was our stud, Witten our dud and Blount the pickup. Blount was a bust, but we’ll stick with the previous picks.

On to choices for Sunday.

Stud – Eli Manning, New York Giants. Manning is so up-and-down that he’s not owned in about 1 in every leagues and usually relegated to bye-week starting. If you have Manning, get him in your lineup this week. Atlanta’s defense is not good. OK, it flat out sucks. Anyone watch the Vikings gash them last week? The Giants are home and Manning has an elite red-zone target in tight end Larry Donnell.

Dud – Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona. This one hurts. I covered Pitt football during Fitzgerald’s time there, and he still ranks as the most amazing athlete I watched regularly during my former life as a sports writer. (Full disclosure, the Observer-Reporter’s Heisman Trophy vote went to Fitzgerald during his sophomore season.) But that was then. This is now, and while Fitzgerald remains a big name in the game, his production isn’t anything to brag about. He’s no longer Arizona’s primary target.

Pickup – Travis Kelce, Kansas City. If you’re in a league that starts tight ends, and this guy is available, go grab him. At 6-5, Kelce offers a big target for Alex Smith, who prefers the short to intermediate passes. Kelce has touchdowns in each of the past two games, and don’t be surprised if he grabs one at San Francisco.

Fantasy stud, dud and pickup

Let’s revisit last week’s stud (Knile Davis), dud (Jay Cutler) and pickup (Khiry Robinson) before jumping into this week’s choices.

Full disclosure: one hit, one miss and one draw.

Davis was a definitive hit. The Chiefs backup rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown at Miami. The lone drawback – no receptions in a passing game that is anything but vertical. Cutler was a miss, though he did have his worst outing of the year by a decent margin. He still managed 225 yards and two scores at the Jets and avoid costly interceptions. Robinson was a draw. He rushed for 69 yards but was held out of the end zone and failed to catch a pass, though Pierre Thomas is the primary pass catcher out of the New Orleans backfield.

On to this week’s picks:

Stud – Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore. Motivation. Motivation. Motivation. No longer wanted in Carolina, Smith landed in Baltimore to add a veteran presence in the passing game. To date, he’s delivered. Smith has 32 targets, nearly 300 yards receiving and two double-digit games. Plus, he’s emerged as Joe Flacco’s favorite target in a passing attack Steelers fans in Western Pennsylvania don’t want to admit is as potent as it is. Smith scores one touchdown, maybe more.

Dud – Jason Witten, Dallas. Wasn’t that long ago when Witten was seemingly targeted 15 times per game as Tony Romo’s favorite safety valve. Through three games, Witten is averaging six targets per game with only 10 catches. The matchup against the Saints is attractive, but Dallas is going to need to run the football effectively (very effectively) to keep Drew Brees on the sidelines as much as possible.

Pickup – LeGarrette Blount, Pittsburgh. Tampa Bay stinks. The Steelers’ offense is good. And Blount rushed for 118 yards and a TD in garbage time Sunday night at Carolina. He’s nowhere near as good as Le’Veon Bell, but he’s as good a backup as there is the NFL. There’s an outstanding chance he adds to his two rushing touchdowns on the season.