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I’m back!

I am now back in Syracuse after finally departing the UK after a little over ninety 90 days.  I have actually been back for almost two weeks to be honest, but I’ve just now managed to stop crying long enough to actually recount the experience.

I suppose I will start by outlining my arrival in the UK.  The trip started out terribly as my flight was delayed for 749 hours.  Things would soon look up though20150620_151042 when I realized that on my flight from Newark to Heathrow I would be sitting between an elderly married couple who refused to switch seats with me.

Now, this was quite bizarre, but ultimately turned out to be fine as the people were lovely.  They somehow managed to not annoy me at all even when they felt the need to talk to each other.  The wife spent a lot of time watching Disney films, while her husband read a bit, and then watched a Monty Python film and occasionally burst out in laughter.  It was fairly adorable.

I slept off and on throughout the trip, but far less than I expected and did manage to watch the movie ‘Gone Girl,’ which I thought would be phenomenal, but turned out to be quite awful.  Okay, seriously awful.

Delta’s in-flight service was superb though with a tiny little touch-screen television featuring 8,497 different viewing options.  And if those viewing options aren’t enough you could entertain yourself by watching people unfamiliar with touch-screen technology freak the eff out on the tiny screen when it was non-responsive at times.

After my arrival I then headed out to meet up with my mortal enemy (although this was unbeknownst to me at the time) – EUROPCAR!

Europcar is National Car Rental – but not really.  They are to National what Bizarro Superman is to Superman.  They’re just evil.  Pure evil.  Oddly, National SFchallenge07fwas my favorite rental car agency previously because of their policy of letting you pick out your own car, but going forward I will be avoiding them at all costs as well.  Guilty by association I guess….

As an introduction, let me outline Europcar’s customer service policy.  It pretty much seems to be………fuck you.

I would guess they have two main instructions for new employees.  First, make sure you’re extremely difficult, and tell a tiny lie or two if possible.  Second, finish off every interaction with a big metaphorical fuck you to the customer.  That sums up my experience.

So, I arrive at Europcar and they immediately tell me that the price I had reserved the car for was for a manual transmission. I try to explain to them that this is nonsense because I cannot drive a manual (and therefore have no need for one), but after growing tired of arguing and wanting to get the heck out of Heathrow, I give in.  Having been awake for about 44 out of the last 48 hours and now needing to drive three hours to Huntingdon, on the wrong side of the road mind you, I figure it seems best to live to fight another day.

Europcar then asserts that there are almost ZERO automatic cars in the lot as everyone desires this new magical form of transmission.  I’m not sure why they keep emphasizing this 20150618_174951other than to make it known that they will not be honoring the price I actually rented the car for.  Okay, fine, but I still need a car – so let’s goooooooo.

Note:  Oddly, after walking through the lot for a bit I think I discovered approximately 847 automatic transmission cars so I have no idea what the hell they were talking about.  I saw maybe 10 manuals.  Maybe they segregate them….I don’t know.  Segregation is wrong though.

After initially putting me in for an Alfa Romeo (is that a real brand any more?) they ultimately give me a VW Passat.  After getting to the car and sitting in it and noticing that it is absolutely gigantic I go back in and ask for a smaller car.  We then search through the 847 other automatics in the parking lot and each time I settle on one they cannot find the keys to the car.  It’s simply bizarre.  You rent cars – how are you losing the keys to every car in the lot?  I’m almost dying at this point as most of the time they seem focused on renting me a giant SUV, and since I’ve never driven in the UK, I’m trying to sway them toward something smaller.  Like an enclosed moped or something akin to that.

Finally, after about an hour, and with it now raining, they finally force me to take some strange looking Mercedes that resembles a hyped-up super-awesome version of a Nissan Versa.  I agree to take the too-big-for-me car because it has GPS that comes standard and most of the others do not.  I figure this will come in handy as I have no idea where I’m going20150620_125941.

Well, as I drive out the parking lot I ask the attendant what’s up because the GPS isn’t turning on.  Like all Europcar employees he refers back to his training and says that the SD Card (or chip, or whatever chip allows the GPS to function) was probably stolen because they’re always being stolen and waves me on with what I would call the patented Europcar fuck you.

Note:  Whilst I’m talking about cars I would like to point out that Honda Accord in the UK looks exactly like an Acura!  Or, sometimes if I’m not mistaken, they look like an Accord in the front, but an Acura in the back.  Weird.

Coming up next:  My drive to Huntingdon!

Birthday Weekend

This may have been the best birthday weekend of sports of all-time.  At least for me – and hopefully anyone else born on December 28th.

Friday:  Syracuse faced off against Minnesota in the Texas Bowl – and after racing out to an early lead and seemingly having the game under control, they suddenly fell apart and just like that Minnesota took the lead.  Well, as soon as hope seemed to be fading they get a huge kickoff return and pulled out the win.

Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17

Keep Clam Bday

Saturday: After the Orange basketball team came out looking fairly lackadaisical Saturday afternoon they quickly fell behind 25-7 in the opening minutes of the game against Villanova. I quickly began preparing myself for the inevitable loss (this usually entails me warning anyone else in the room that they better exit before they get hit by a flying object).   However, twenty unanswered points later by Syracuse and the tide had turned.  The game ended up in a blowout Orange victory.

Syracuse 78 Villanova 62

Sunday:  The Chargers entered the previous week with a 1% chance at making the playoffs.  Going into today they needed a loss by both the Dolphins and Ravens, along with a victory of their own to advance.  After the 1:00pm games played out with both teams losing, the Chargers only needed to pull out a win against the Chiefs back-ups.   Well, shockingly the Chiefs back-ups were beating up on my Chargers until late in the fourth quarter.  Then, miraculously enough, the Chiefs missed an easy field goal at the end of regulation that would have won it, and the Chargers pulled this one out in overtime.

Chargers 27 Chiefs 24

Perfect sports birthday weekend complete.  Well done, me!!

NCAA Tournament: Saturday’s Picks!

Saturday Games:

VCU vs. Michigan State:160fulldfasdfasd

The trendy pick is going to be VCU here, and I think they pull this one out.

One of my rules in picking games is knock out all Big 10 teams not named Michigan State or Ohio State early most years.  Unless they’re playing PAC 10 teams.  Pac 10 teams will almost always lose to Big 10 teams.  If Michigan gets hot from three, it could go the other way, but I’m going with VCU.

Memphis vs. Michigan State:

Michigan State wins.  Memphis isn’t very good.

Colorado State vs. Louisville:

Louisville should roll by around twenty points.

Harvard vs. Arizona:

Ummmm, kind of shocked that Harvard won in the first round, but I think they go down fairly easily to Arizona.  I’m not in love with this Arizona squad, so I suppose I wouldn’t be SHOCKED if they lost, but I just don’t see it happening.

Oregon vs. St. Louis:

St. Louis along with VCU are the trendy mid-major picks this year.  I still like Oregon, they have decent guards and can really score the ball.  If you can avoid succumbing to VCU’s pressure defense in the backcourt you should be fine – I think Oregon will handle it well enough.  Oregon in a tight one.

Butler vs. Marquette:

Ugh, this game is too painful to watch.  Hopefully this is the game that ends up on TruTV so the fans of both teams have to suffer the indignity of listening to Lizard Lick Trucking commercials for two hours.

Both teams like to hold the ball for 25 seconds and then try to score, now most teams “try” to score, but other teams have a plan that doesn’t revolve around lulling the opposing defense to sleep by boring them to death – for these two wasting time is the name of the game.  They also like to foul a lot and rely on the officials to let them get away with it because they’re scrappy!  Who cares who wins.  I don’t.  I’m not even going to pick this one because we all lose when they play.

I will take a guess and say that the halftime score will be 26-21 in favor of Marquette, after that it’s anybody’s guess.

Wichita State vs. Gonzaga:

Gonzaga tried very hard to be the first #1 seed to lose to a #16, and I really, truly wish it happened.  In spite of their poor outing they should win this game thanks to some badass moving screens by Kelly Olynyk……..

Okay, Kelly Olynyk reminds you most of:

A)  Luke Wilson’s character from the ‘Royal Tenenbaums’

B)  Kelly Leak (‘That dude is a bad mutha.” – Ahmad Abdul Rahim)  They even share a first name if that helps.

C)  80’s tennis star Bjorn Borg

D)  Women’s Basketball player Katy Johnson

California vs. Syracuse

Syracuse wins because it’s Syracuse and HSHD LOVES SYRACUSE!  Syracuse seems to be doing a better job of moving the ball around and as the shot selection has improved not surprisingly so have the results.  Let’s Go Orange!

And the nominees are…..

Something went amiss with the weather in upstate New York this weekend – it was somewhere in the vicinity of 90 degrees today.  It may have been a tad less, but nevertheless it was warm enough for people to break out the shorts and t-shirts.  Well, to be honest, it wasn’t warm enough for that, but a decent part of the population around here will start wearing shorts in the winter whenever the temperature breaks 50 degrees.

My beloved Orange got some bad news this weekend with James Southerland being suspended by the University.  This seems to have turned into a yearly occurrence, not sure if he’ll be back, but I think this team may be in a bit of trouble either way.

After putting together one of the worst offensive performances I had ever seen from a Syracuse squad in the first half on Saturday they did manage to rebound and play quite well in the second while cruising to victory.  The big upside there is that Trevor Cooney managed to finally knock down a couple threes, and Dajuan Coleman actually logged some second half minutes and played reasonably well.

570059_175_jpg570059_175_thumb_900x0I think the team is too limited offensively to do much damage going forward, but this next weekend’s game against Louisville should go a long way toward showing whether or not the team can be a legitimate contender.

BBC still hasn’t re-posted ‘Copper’ on onDemand – I may have to give in and rent it.

Now, on to the Oscar nominations and my special edition commentary on the nominees for Best Picture:

Amour – By far the most boring trailer I have ever seen.  Is this movie really about people sitting quietly?

Beasts of the Southern Wild – I like the name.  The trailer for this one makes me thing it’s ‘Life of Pi’ combined with ‘Where the Wild Thing Are.”  Keep in mind I have never seen those two movies either.

Silver Linings Playbook – I have seen the trailer for this one many times – it looks like it might be a decent enough movie (maybe a little confusing), but I didn’t see it as a Best Picture nominee.

Zero Dark Thirty – I watched the ‘Hurt Locker’ trailer right after this one.  I liked the ‘Hurt Locker,’ not much interest in this.

Lincoln – Daniel Day Lewis?  Steven Spielberg?  All they needed is mid-90’s Tom Hanks to make an appearance and it would have been a lock.  Still, Lincoln probably wins.   Eh, definitely wins.

Les Miserables – Why can’t they remake ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ there have been 800 versions of Les Mis!  Anyway, I started the trailer, but they had a shot of Ralph Macchio from the Karate Kid showing directly below the trailer so I ended up watching the trailer for that instead.  ‘You’re the best around………” Still a great song.

Life of Pi – I had seen the trailer before and remembered not liking it very much.  This time around I was a bit more interested.  Still probably not enough to watch it……..we’ll see.

Django Unchained – Was this really nominated?   Really?

Argo – Based on the trailer and beards this one would get my vote.

That’s it folks!  My 2012 Oscar preview edition!!!!!  I typically have seen most of the nominees – not this time.  I’m a bit disappointed in myself.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!!  To be honest in case you do not know, tomorrow is actually Christmas, but since I will not be doing a post tomorrow I figured now is a good time to wish everyone happy holidays!

And, in other news, I found my future wife:Merry Xmas11

Apparently all I have to do is convince Cecil Chao’s daughter, Gigi, to stop being a lesbian, get divorced from her wife, marry me, and I will collect somewhere in the vicinity of sixty-five million dollars!

In other, other news Syracuse lost:

Saturday marked the first loss of the year for Syracuse as they came up short against Temple.  Temple is a school best known for having it’s school appear on sweatshirts Bill Cosby is wearing, and for being repeatedly overrated in the 1990’s and screwing up my bracket during March Madness.  The officiating was questionable at the end, but missed free throws ultimately did in Syracuse as they repeatedly missed on their trips to the charity stripe.

In other, other, other news I still have lots of merchandise available for all your post-Christmas apology gift needs:

So, if you get in a fight with your family at Christmas, or steal some presents that were meant for your brother, or forget to buy a gift for one of your parents nothing says SORRY better than a mug from Human See, Human Do!!!!

Syracuse/Canisius

Recap time!

Saturday night Syracuse matched up against the Canisius Golden Griffins.  As we do in each recap I will begin by giving everyone some background information about our opponent.

Canisus:  Located in Buffalo, they have at least 12 students, I know this because they have at least twelve players on their basketball team.  Their team name is the Golden Griffins, a Golden Griffin is actually a flower arrangement that came to being during the renaissance when it was handed out to single mothers at renasissance gasl_claire_forlani_01fairs.  If you would like more information please refer to their Wikipedia page.

This was yet another blowout for the Orange, 85-61, and yet another game where the opponent managed to stick around a bit longer than expected.  After finishing the first half down three, the Orange turned up the pressure a bit and took the game over in the second half.

Player of the Game:  Brandon Triche!  He may not be my favorite Orange of all-time, but he put together a solid outing and was one of the few players who seemed to play well in both halves.

MCW in his first game since the shoplifting debacle (Lord & Taylor has banned young Mr. Williams from their stores for three years – considering he’s going to making millions next year this may not have been the best idea on their part) struggled a bit and finished up the first half with only one assist.  The NCAA leader in assists somehow still managed to hit double figures by piling them on late, and ended up with solid numbrers in spite of an unspectacular performance.

The other option for player of the game was James Southerland who seems to have regained his shooting stroke.  He finished 3-6 from downtown, and continued to show a penchant for hitting mid-range jumpshots.

Note:  The walk-ons scored!!!!!!!

Jerami Grant didn’t get a ton of minutes in this one, but really seems to play well and contribute when given a chance.  I didn’t think he would get much court time this year, but with the way he’s playing it’s going to be hard to relegate him to full-time bench status.

Rakeem Christmas played well too, hitting a few nice jumpers and finishing well around the rim.

Other than that, not much to add.  The team did not rebound well early, but there were a lot of long rebounds which made it a bit more difficult to throw the blame onto the bigs.

JB going for 900 on Monday……

Syracuse/Monmouth (Recap)

First, a bit of information about Saturday’s opponent, Monmouth.

Monmouth is in New Jersey.  I think.  If you want more you can probably Google them, I’m guessing they have a Wikipedia page.

claire_forlaniOkay, on to the game.

In spite of the final score, 108-56, this game was surprisingly close for the first ten minues.  The guards were pretty sloppy off the bat with Triche forcing the action a bit, and MCW (don’t shoplift!) throwing a few ill-advised passes (mostly alley-oops that ended up about 5 rows deep).  Oddly MCW finished with only one first half turnover, even though I witnessed him throw at least two passes directly to the crowd.

At right around the ten minute mark the team exploded and went on a forty or fifty point run.  It wasn’t quite that much, but it felt like it at times.  Triche hit a couple threes, MCW hit a couple, and after starting the year cold as ice Cooney continued his hot streak from the past few games by burying five threes.  I was getting concerned that he was going to have a year like Southerland did as a Frosh, Sophomore, and Junior where you could tell he had the ability to shoot, but never was quite able to translate that form into succes from deep.  That concern is pretty much gone.

Speaking of Southerland, he’s gone cold from outside unexpectedly.  His form is so perfect I’m still rather surprised that he’s such a streaky shooter.  He finished with a pretty solid sixteen points, and hit some nice mid-range jumpers, but once again failed to drain a three.

The bigs played well, and Coleman continues to do well underneath.  I’m still a bit skeptical once he starts playing against people that can match Syracuse Ottohis size better, but you can see improvement from him and that’s the big thing right now.   Fair had a nice game, highlighted by a thunderous finish on an alley-oop from Triche, and Rak continues to play solid.

Now on to the biggest issue, the walk-ons.   They are horrendous.  The worst group of walk-ons offensively I have ever seen at Syracuse.  They just can’t score – at all.  They seem able to get the ball beyond half-court, but after that they might as just hand the ball over to the other team because nothing good is going to happen.  They can’t even make free-throws.

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