2018 Recap: The end of the year rant

There comes a time when a man has to get on top of a box and shout into the empty night, “I’m mad as hell and won’t take it anymore!”

This is not one of those times. Just me talking about the past year. Pull up a chair, pour a cup of coffee, or wine for the sophisticated crowd, and let’s look back at the year that was my 36th on this earth.

The Super Bowl happened and nobody cared

Real quick, who won the Super Bowl this year?

The NFL isn’t as powerful as it once was. How often do you hear about this league outside of the fanatics? If it weren’t for fantasy leagues, the sport would be in a ditch. I mean, the Rams are actually good again, and no one goes to their games.

I can’t tell you who won the Super Bowl in February, and that is weird. The minute I stopped devoting time to a league led by a back-stabbing asshat like Roger Goodell, the better my life became. The NFL is losing fans, because they don’t give a shit about their players, fans, and still deny CTE exists in their ex-players.

It’s just another sport that gamblers can find new ways to make money off of. When Peyton Manning quit and the Rams left town, I had all the reason to flip this sport the bird. It doesn’t help that it’s essentially two-hand touch when it comes to sacking the quarterback. It’s even losing its physicality.

When you can’t pull in casuals anymore, the sport will lose relevance.

The NFL carries as much juice as the NBA. Speaking of which…did Lebron win in LA yet?

Becoming Verified on Twitter

Early this year, I got the elusive verified badge on Jack’s website. I applied a couple of times, got little response, and gave up hope. Then, I received a direct message from a colleague saying I was verified, and all hell broke loose in my head for about five minutes.

The truth is a I am a full-blown social media whore. It’s my morning newspaper. I roll over in bed, grab my phone, and check the trio of need. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I want the attention, will not deny it, and crave interaction. I need all of it.

Being verified does come with perks. It places you in the “who to follow” section on Twitter, and will earn you some cred in an argument. There’s also the expected disdain from certain jealous audiences. Mom’s abandoned son in the basement eating his last pop tart will not take lightly to this verified dude disagreeing with him. I love it.

After all, I think I’ve earned it. I’ve got about 25 trolls stored in my blocked file, go back and forth with everybody, interact, do my part, post, withhold useless insults, so I got the badge. None of that is a direct qualifier, per say, but definitely a spirit reason.

Here’s the thing. When the Academy Awards committee looks at me to host or Marvel greenlights my third film in a popular series, they won’t find racist tweets, sexual abuse jokes, or anything else. Unlike some idiots named Gunn and Hart, I have nothing to hide.

Advice from a verified handle: THINK before you tweet. That shit doesn’t go away, enduring like a fungus on your basement ceiling. Also, can we have an edit button? I’m not perfect and fired my editor last week.

The Cardinals miss the playoffs again while grossing 3 million fans

For the third straight year, the Birds missed October action. An actor with a head shot that could kill failing miserably at the audition, the Cardinals couldn’t climb over the anger wall that was the Cubs and Brewers.

They won 88 games, which earns you a set of steak knives in Major League Baseball.

Mike Matheny was fired, Dexter Fowler was broken, Matt Carpenter temporarily how to hit, Miles Mikolas became somebody, Harrison Bader took over center field, and Yadier Molina defied Father Time while Adam Wainwright got his ass kicked by it.

Marcell Ozuna forgot how to play left field, Carlos Martinez lost his rotation spot, Luke Weaver lost his jersey, Kolten Wong became somebody, and Jordan Hicks rupture Molina’s nut…true story.

They cleaned up their act in August, but one great month out of six wasn’t enough. The Cardinals wasted little time in pulling themselves out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, scooping up wholesome looking MVP caliber bat, Mr. Paul Goldschmidt. According to Cards Twitter, he’s just aight tho.

Andrew Miller, formerly a god in 2017 before being reduced to “fuck off already” southpaw in 2018, was signed to a two-year deal with a third year feeler included.

All of this adds up to a better season and division contention, but Fangraphs only has the Cardinals winning 87 games, which doesn’t make any sense. But if you talk shit about Fangraphs in this modern age of sabermetrical orgy comas, you should just punch a senior citizen at Denny’s next. Forget it, pal.

If they are done, the Cardinals can hang with the Cubs and Brewers. Bet on it.

Sidenote: Lance Lynn helped bring Carpenter back to life, and shaved his heard in one summer. Weird shit.

MARVEL WINS AGAIN

Let’s face it. There were actual people who wanted to see Avengers: Infinity War fail. You know it is true. Instead, it was critically acclaimed, was the fastest film to $1 billion, and grossed over $2 billion.

The Russo Brothers looked at audiences and said, “are you not entertained?!?” The movie was a masterpiece, achieving GOD status among Marvel nerds and comic book junkies. It blew Ultron out of the water and even overcame the 2012 first entry. A mix of larger-than-life personalities and action sequences, the key element was heart and soul. You cared for everyone and that included Josh Brolin’s Thanos. He was a monster, but you understood him. I watched that movie for a total of 10 hours.

Ant-Man and the Wasp was a huge hit in July, thanks to an expanded plot, gifted cast, and motherfucking PAUL RUDD. He doesn’t do anything different, and epitomizes domestic criminality turned heroic to a tee. Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly helped too.

Marvel was good, they even found a way to halfway lend their money-making goodness to Ruben Fleischer’s silly Venom. The comedy event of the year made over a billion dollars and still finds supporters. Tom Hardy is really that good I guess, because the movie wasn’t good.

They also found the sixteenth way to make Spider-Man interesting with Spider-Verse, an animated feature that introduced various incarnations of the web-slinging hero, including an African American teenager and overweight middle-aged slacker with a gut.  The movie broke new ground, dazzled audiences, and will earn an Oscar nod this month.

Next, Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame. The latter should gross around $3 billion, and then Spider Man: Far From Home flies into theaters in July. Before it gets really hot, Marvel will win again while DCEU trots out its latest Joker, Batman, Shazam, or whatever crapshoot.

Aquaman was alright, but nowhere near as good as either Infinity War, the Ant-Man sequel, or Spider-Verse. Let’s face it. The two minute Endgame teaser was better than Aquaman. And I am not putting these titles in italics or slapping quotes on them. Just read and weep.

Trump Madness Continues: It is NOT an hallucinogenic state

There are days where I wake up and pinch myself, wondering if the former host of a reality TV show isn’t our President. Unfortunately, I am left with the same realization: he is and we are screwed. We aren’t in some hallucinogenic state, yet a painful reality.

Please hold your redneck pitchforks away from me, because I don’t have a political affiliation. I couldn’t care less who is Republican and Democrat, only that the person in office may drown our country in severe agony. I don’t think Trump knows what he is doing, and save me the businessman speech. He’s never actually led a successful business in his life.

The man is the most butthurt individual on the planet. He tweets like a little girl, whines about the press taking shots, and generally acts like a kid at prom got rejected by the hot girl. He’s our President…until he’s impeached. Big fan of words, that Donald.

FUCK!! Just remember this, my blog-reading friend, he has nuclear launch codes. Yep.

The Blues: heartbreakers for life

The St. Louis rogues in blue don’t just fail to win the Stanley Cup or lose; they turn heartbreak into an artform. A love song that won’t leave your head. A tiny hammer slamming into the side of your knee, buckling the lower body. A human urinary tract infection.

After finishing a game out of playoff contention in the spring, they managed to have a good summer. Doug Armstrong acquired Ryan O’Reilly, gave Tyler Bozak a forty year option with an option for ten more, and brought back Perron on a deal that runs until the Frenchman qualifies for social security. Pat Maroon even moved back into Oakville.

All things pointed towards a 45 win season and second round playoff exit–but instead the Blues have managed to surprise us again. Before Thursday’s win, they were last in the NHL in points. 34 POINTS on New Year’s Day is not a rewrite of a U2 song, but truly painful fact.

I hope I’m offending everyone with my negative vibe here. I wouldn’t want to rile up Alex Steen fanatics and people who think St. Louis Game Timers are slinging shit at the side of Enterprise Center (the one with the GIANT IPHONE sticker) in order to collect acknowledgement. No, this is just honest talk.

If you find a way to call this hockey team good, please show me how. They beat the Washington Capitals, but will lose the next game (UPDATE: they did lose). They are the only team in the NHL without a winning streak. It’s Jan. 4 by the way. That’s the time when a team shows you its true colors and DNA. It’s like the big nude scene in the boring French movie that you smashed four red bulls to make it through. The clothes drop and that’s it. The 2018-19 Blues aren’t good, will probably miss the playoffs just enough to not get a top draft pick, and commence another summer of blue balls.

I know this won’t sound nice for the people who live and die by this team’s every win, but I’m as sober as a judge when I tell you that these Blues have a problem. I’ve tried to defend their play, wait for the spark, and believe in their plight. Sorry. Major change is coming soon. It won’t result in the return of Anton Anderrson like Outlaw Josey Whales walking into town with a pair of six shooters. It won’t result in Oskar Sundqvist taking them to the promise land. Nope.

All you can hope for are a few entertaining wins, a lousy finish, and a bunch of people losing their jobs.

Maybe we should look forward to next year’s All Star Game, which no doubt garnered my interest due to Red Berenson’s soulful voice. Too bad the Blues may only have one representative.

I’ll say this much. Thank goodness for Ryan O’Reilly.

The Buffas settle into their forever home

I’ll admit something. My house is fucking gorgeous. When we moved into the three bedroom Princeton Heights home in July of 2017, I knew we had a nice joint-but I wasn’t able to take it all in.

After hosting Thanksgiving that year and Christmas this past month, I can stand back and admire where I hang my hat every night. The American Dream is creating a great family and placing that group inside a gorgeous home. The Mardel Estate was sweet and cuddly, but it looks like a sewer prisoner camp compared to the Holly Hills mansion.

We earned it, damn it! Rachel and I bust our ass, lead a good life, are good parents, and try our best to not hurt other people in the middle of the street. We smile at neighbors, refuse to bang in areas where there are no windows, and I don’t take out the trash without pants on.

I believe I will die in this house. I don’t want another one. All we can do now is shape it more and more to look like our home. It’s a huge house, one that people drive by and place in their HGTV spank bank. You look at my balcony off the second floor bedroom and drool a bit. The back deck, large yard, and double air conditioner hub. Go ahead, take your pants off and go to Sea World. I don’t mind.

I love my house and so should you. If you bring me coffee, I’ll give you a tour. If it’s Folgers, I’ll throw you in the basement.

Three Jobs With Zero Time Wasted

2018 was the year I finally called off my radio show hosting adventures for good, and settled into a solid mix of gigs. The writing was on the wall when I was hosting my third radio show and made next to zero cash from it. The Daybreak Dose, Fresh Brew, and Dose of St. Louis yielded little cash back after expenses. In the end, it wasn’t worth it.

Here’s the crazy thing: I probably got more watches/listeners doing a Twitter periscope than I got on my WGNU radio show. Podcasts, scopes, Facebook Live, and other non-radio avenues are the new way of connecting. Unless you have an established name or presence, you’re fucked. Stay home, get a microphone, sound proof a room, and go to work. Forget the radio stations. It’s over.

I drove Uber for an entire year, made good money, and worked around Rachel’s schedule. I wrote a total of 538 articles in 2018, which is outrageous and tromps anyone else in paid or unpaid groups. I found a way to stay on the radio and make money doing so, joining Frank Opinion every Tuesday afternoon. All in all, I didn’t waste any time, and made more money than I had in recent years.

I’m still a hustler at heart, but it’s more focused now. I do what I love and like instead of scratching and clawing for dollar bills. I talk into a microphone without having to shell out useless advertising. I write what I want for KSDK News, and they dig all of it!

That doesn’t mean I don’t stress out or get frequent headaches. Both happen, and I deal with it. You can only strive to be happy in life. The people are say life is perfect are taking a lot of pain medication, max out credit cards, or straight up lie. Just settle on being happy. It’s not a defeat.

Sidenote: For fucks sake, please call your grandparents.

Entering the world of tattoos and becoming addicted

It’s true what they say: once you get inked, you just want more. I got my first tattoo in March, and became addicted. A dedication to my son’s battle with a deadly heart condition when he was merely weeks old, gifted artist Jonathan Fournier came up with a wicked design and put it on my right arm. In August, I got an angry redbird on the left. Future tats involving the St. Louis skyline, my late grandmother, writing, and the movies are in the works. While painful, tattoos carry a unique message and never lose relevance. Take your time, make sure the design is what you want. and never rush to get inked. Remember, it’s kind of fucking permanent. Don’t get your girlfriend or wife’s name on your ass. Bad luck and overall idea.

Bradley Cooper Makes Remakes Great Again

With A Star Is Born, Cooper made a remake that mattered. On the fourth attempt, he managed to inject heart, soul, and everlasting power into a timeless love story with some tragedy attached to it. Playing aging ungracefully rock star Jackson Maine, Cooper lowered his voice and learned how to be a full-fledged musician, but he also lured in a signature talent in Lady Gaga. Carried the most seductive set of eyes known around town and pipes that could make Mariah shrink, Gaga matched Cooper beat for beat.

Sam Elliott gave arguably the greatest performance of his career, as did Andrew Dice Clay. The music was addicting, but the characters were the true glue of this towering love affair. At the heart of it all laid Cooper and his plan.

Clint Eastwood asked him to do this years ago, and he said no. Thank god! Cooper knew it was time, settled into it, took his time, and created a masterpiece that should live on for years. Watch this movie and try telling me it’s not good.

Yes, I would go see Cooper in concert. He sounded pretty good for a guy who started singing two years ago.

The Grillo Effect Meaning

By now, you get it. I am a big fan of actor and fight enthusiast, Frank Grillo. The movies, way he carries himself, gracious interactions with fans, and the overall blunt weapon personality are hard to dislike. While he spent the majority of 2018 filming upcoming gems like Joe Carnahan’s Boss Level, The Night, Donnybrook, Point Blank (Adam Simon, bitches!) and others, Grillo delivered a truly unique gem to audiences with Netflix’s Fightworld.

Inspired by the late Anthony Bourdain, this documentary series followed Grillo around the world to exotic locales such as Thailand (art of the eight limbs), Israel (Krav Maga!), and Mexico (badass boxers). He witnessed death at a sporting event in Senegal, talked to kids who fought without knowing when their next meal would come, and generally looked like a kid in a candy store. The thing that makes me admire and love Grillo so much is his endless display of compassion. He loves what he loves, and doesn’t apologize for it. You follow him, because everything he does is AUTHENTIC. All of it.

Seriously, 2019 is going to be huge for Grillo, so watch the following before joining the cool crew. Pride and Glory, Warrior, The Grey, Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Purge: Anarchy, Disconnect, End of Watch, Wheelman, and KINGDOM. I mean, the first two seasons of Kingdom, because DirecTV is holding the final season like king’s ransom.

Here’s the thing. I follow Grillo so hard, because he’s a great dude doing great work. Don’t judge, just love.

Losing a cat: getting punched in the gut over and over again

If you are a good pet owner, they became children in your house. Early on in 2018, our family lost the wonderful cat, Jack. He was our oldest. Like our relationship. 15 going on 16. Jack was an old cat who burned through a few of his lives early on, almost succumbing to seizures before he was 6 years old. The dude became a grumpy old bastard, but he was my lovable Eastwood. Named after Buck, the cat was a companion unlike any other. Unlike humans and dogs, cats don’t need the world from you. Just some attention, food, and love. Losing him was tough. I cried like a baby over and over again. I looked like one of those cooks on Chopped or an overweight contestant on the Biggest Loser: losing my shit every time I spoke. It was hard. Grief hits you in waves, like a bully kicking your ass repeatedly. It never really ends. We have five pets in our house right now, but neither of them are as good as Jack. Fuck you, fate.

Staying in Shape and NOT Becoming a Shape

I started off the year weighing around 217, and I finished it weighing around 217. I worked on other parts of the body, kept up my running, and started doing more reps. In order to stay in shape over the years, you must evolve and try new things. Shock the body, mix it up, and refuse to give in. There’s always a new way to hurt your body, and I am finding those ways.

Get up and move. Lift a weight. Fuck the large dude in the skintight Under Armour shirt who looks like he ate the roofing off your house along with every ounce of gram of protein in your freezer. Let him be him, and you be you. Roll with the punches, listen to your body, and keep at it. Excuses are for losers. Fat people can blame themselves.

Going On A Real Vacation: Cuba, Bahamas, Miami

Before June, I had never left the country. Chicago, Kansas City, and a few other states included me in their grasp at some point, but I had never left the USA. All of that changed this past summer when the family and I boarded the Royal Caribbean, a large cruise ship that promised partying, drinking, eating, swimming, and more drinking. The destination was Cuba and the Bahamas, but the ride there and back were more eventful. Getting rocket man-zombie drunk on the first night was a delight. A comedy show and performance contest was also a great part. The food was okay, and the people were something else.

I snorkeled and got burnt to a crisp, sweated off five pounds in Havana, and rode in an old convertible. I watched Black Panther on a boat deck at midnight, drank a ton of bourbon, and enjoyed the escape. The small cafes in Havana were great, but the rest reminded me to get home. A trip to Chicago in July and Kansas in November wrapped up my traveling. There will be more this year, but at the end of the day, I just want to be at home. It’s where I belong. Some people say travel more. I say do what makes you happy. For me, being in South City is my preferred nest and habitat.

Being a Better Dad is hard…super-hard work

I think I became a better dad in 2018, and it’s not overly complex. The dignified approach to parenting is choosing your battles, remaining calm, and trying to give something positive to your kid in as many moments as possible. It’s not an easy task, and often causes headaches. Being a parent is the hardest job on the planet. You’ll never master it.

Here’s how I improved: I don’t lose my shit whenever my kid isn’t acting the way I want him to act. I found calmness more often than madness towards the second half of the year. Being calm isn’t forgetting words or cuddling your child. It can be saying something rough and just walking away to cool off. The key for me is not all-together losing my mind, shouting, or just crashing the world down on Vinny. When it all ends and he is crying legit tears, I feel like Hans Gruber in Die Hard. I am a bad, bad man.

Over the past few months, especially in the morning school rush, I found a way to steer clear of sending my kid to school in tears. I held back, tried to stay grounded, and just explained to him why I was acting a certain way. Like it or not, you are going to project the mood of which you currently sit in onto your kid. It will come off and settle on their shoulders. I try to limit those occurrences.

Vinny is smart, and he got that from his mom. I am just trying to be a better dad, and not fuck my kid up. As he gets older, the information accumulates, and he formulates who people are. When he gets to 10, 15, and 20, I want him to think of his dad as a good dude. I want to do a good job. Taking the title of parent for granted is your first mistake. It is the fight of your life…if you choose to give a shit.

My wife: a superhero that falls a lot

It doesn’t take you too many encounters to understand that I outkicked my coverage with Rachel. She busts her ass managing a business while being a kickass wife and momma to seven wild children. She also falls a lot. In fact, watching her go up the stairs with a glass of wine, cell phone, and bottle of wine is like watching Armie Hammer try to act in a movie: terrifying. She finds new ways to hurt herself, yet never wants to give in or stop doing what she loves. This past weekend, she was misdiagnosed with a kidney infection and eventually told she had a bad back spasm. She still wanted to go back to work. She’s like John Wick seeking revenge: wound her all you want, but she just won’t stop coming. The lady could walk like John Wayne and still work. That’s my wife. She’s tireless, beautiful, and clumsy.

Becoming a fan of Tyson Fury

Coming into his fight with Deontay Wilder early last month, I wanted the knockout artist to punish the loud-mouthed gypsy and send him into next week. By the closing bell, I was a big, firm believer in Fury.

Why? He showed ENORMOUS heart in lasting 12 rounds and surviving two knockdowns in facing Wilder. Using the same tactics to annoy and unsettle that helped him unseat Wladimir Klitschko, Fury won many rounds against Wilder by straight up outboxing him. Throwing punches, moving, and making Wilder miss. He was caught a couple of times, and nearly knocked out cold, but that fight epitomized Fury’s life.

He was once knocked out by a vicious bout with drug and alcohol abuse, but he got off the canvas then, and survived to get a pay-per-view match with the best heavyweight on the planet. Wilder had knocked out 99% of his opponents before the fight without a loss, and Fury found a way to earn a draw while winning on some ringside cards. That’s true heart.

Also, he’s a riot out of the ring. An unapologetic guy who isn’t cut up with muscles, but armed with a sense of humor and plenty of ability. If he can keep the demons at bay, the man could beat Wilder in the rematch. Bet on it.

If you believed in Robert Downey Jr. or any other addiction-afflicted celebrity or athlete, believe in Tyson Fury.

Confession: I’m not giving up hope in Maroon finishing the season well, but I find it unlikely that the Blues will give him that long-term extension. It may be another one year deal. Just a thought. It’s a feel-good story that needs a grand finish to become credible.

Uber Q&A

Question: Will I write a book about this one day?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Any crazies?

Answer: Nope.

Question: Any assholes?

Answer: Plenty.

Question: Do you ever fear for your well-being?

Answer: Yes, but it’s very rare.

Question: Where did I go to high school?

Answer: Your Anus.

Question: Do people touch you?

Answer: Yes, and I let it happen. How else do you think I get tips?!?

Interstate 44 and the neverending construction story

At this point, I think the Modot or whoever the fuck is overseeing the work on Interstate 44 near Shrewsbury is simply having a laugh. For parts of the last 18 months, the highway has seen lane shutdowns, exit ramps disabled, and overall rush hour chaos. An end date was supposed to be reached by December, and still, two lanes are lost going west past Jameson Avenue. It’s like wishing upon a star at this point. It’s like asking Sean Connery to act again It’s like asking 7-11 to have good coffee or asking the Starbucks crew to effectively make a macchiato. The Blues may win the Stanley Cup before I-44 is completed … well, hold that thought. Let’s put it this way. St. Louis will be a wonderful city when they are done building it.

Real and Quicker Confessions:

~Kyle Reis really has something special going with Prospects After Dark. He’ll make fun of himself, so allow me to love him a little.

~@cardinalsgifs is a legend. EVERYBODY should follow him, Cardinals fan or not.

~Having the respect of guys like Frank Cusumano, Rene Knott, and Steve Savard means the world to me.

~@ArtLippo is a bastard, but he knows it and leans into the role. Who else is going to write such glowing reviews of my videos/periscopes.

~Seeing 30 Seconds To Mars in concert made me a fan. Jared Leto doesn’t have the vocal pipes of other musicians, but he’s a helluva showman and performer.

~Julia Roberts made a helluva comeback this year. Suck it, Meryl Streep.

~I am always up for a good action flick, journalism movie, or baseball film. Always.

~The Rock is endlessly likable. Hobbs and Shaw can’t get here soon enough.

~I literally have a John Wick 3 boner as I type. Keanu Reeves is 50 and badass.

~If coffee goes extinct, so do I.

~Russell’s on Macklind, Edibles and Essentials, and Southwest Diner are the best restaurants in St. Louis. That’s it.

~The loop trolley is the largest waste of $51 million in the history of public financing. What is this, 1890? Give me a fucking break. It’s not nostalgic; the trolley is simply dumb.

~The NFL playoffs are underway. Do you even care?

-Tina Dybal and Kenny Kinds are the funniest people in St. Louis. Hilarious. I mean, for people who get on a stage and talk, that is. The weird dude on Locust who thinks he is a mime is the real comedian.

I’ve hit 5,000 words. The insane point. Let me wrap this up with some advice.

Don’t let anyone tell you what kind of person you should be. The world is full of people apologizing for being the person they are and it’s annoying. Fuck that. Be you. All the time. Don’t be nice to someone unless they deserve it. Don’t give your time unless you want to. It’s your life, it’s now or never, we ain’t gonna live forever. Bon Jovi said that. Remember it. Stop saying sorry. My parents got me arguably the greatest birthday card a couple years ago. It was about having a son who always did things his way and never stopped being himself. That struck a chord with me, and made me want to be unabashed with how I went about my life even more. Don’t worry about someone else’s opinion. Most likely, they have chronic bad breath and have bad sex. They are jealous and you are gorgeous.

Now go away. I need sleep.

This 2018 end of year rant is complete. If I missed anything or missed punctuation or dropped the ball on the proper placement of a semicolon or comma … well, I don’t give a shit. I’m done here. Stay tuned for next year’s recap.

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