Monday, August 31, 2009

Did someone actually think this looked good?

I work with a company that sells off foreclosed properties for banks. Somehow I am not surprised that someone who signed off on this tile color scheme was unable to make enough good decisions to avoid foreclosure. Seriously, who takes a look at that collection of tile and decides to put all of it on the wall? It looks like they got a bunch of tile samples for a severe discount and then just put them all on the wall in an effort to save money and murder style. I'm no interior designer, but I know horrendous when I see it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Broncos Gameday Recap: Preseason Game #3 - vs. Bears

At least we still have this man, in only his second year, he is one of my favorite Broncos already.

The Cutler bowl ended just a few hours ago with the Bears whooping the Broncos 27-17 at Invesco Field. I can't go as in depth on this game as I have in the two previous preseason games, because I was only half watching it with a group of friends with the volume turned down. What I did notice is this: the Broncos offense is erratic and not able to get consistent pressure on their opponents, and the Broncos defense is not able to get the opponents off the field, or stop them in pressure situations such as the end of a half. Same crap I've been seeing the first two preseason games with little improvement.

Hopefully tis but a scratch, if it's more than just a flesh wound the Broncos only remaining healthy quarterback is the immortal rookie Tom Brandstater.

A few quick hits: 1. It was good to see Brian Dawkins out on the field, and hopefully he will add something that was sorely needed to the Broncos D. 2. Kyle Orton's finger looked gross, hopefully he's okay because... 3. Tom Brandstater is a terrible NFL quarterback, he throws a bad ball with a lot of flutter, he hangs on to the ball way too long, and he gets hit harder than any player I can ever remember. You're not bringing a whole lot to the table here, Tom. If Orton is hurt more seriously than just a flesh wound, Brandstater is the only other healthy quarterback on the roster, which is not a positive sign. How surprised would I be to hear that the Broncos picked up Kevin O'Connell of waivers from the Patriots? Zero surprised, I'm almost expecting it at this point.

Tom Brandstater isn't going to make anyone forget John Elway, or Gary Kubiak for that matter.

It's still only the preseason, but not much to be encouraged about for the Bronco faithful. I'm expecting a long year. The best two things to come from tonight's game: 1. The fans brought their A game when it came to booing Cutler and having creative signs. My favorite being the two guys, one in a Bears jersey holding a sign that said, "Chicago loves Cutler" and then his buddy in a Broncos uni holding a sign that read, "I'm with stupid." It's an old joke, but it cracked me up nonetheless. 2. Those orange uniforms looked good. They need to break out that look much more often, as it is awesome to see the Broncos wearing the appropriate colored uniform.

As for Jay Cutler, the dude is good. It pained me to see him making the touch throws and the rocket armed throws wearing the wrong blue and orange uniform. If you believe the stories coming out this past week, perhaps he is still a Denver Bronco if Pat Bowlen still had a short term memory. Cutler is a stud, and although he was a bit of a baby, he still has the goods on the football field. He will be missed. Also, he is going to miss the Broncos offensive line, as the Bears line is not so good, and he was scrambling all over the place out there tonight.

Cutler played well but...

...Broncos fans were not impressed

Apparently Broncos fans think Cutler is either a baby...

...or a woman.

Safe to say, Cutler is not as popular in Colorado as he once was.

That's about it for the recap, nothing much to take from it other than we are only two weeks away from doing this for real, and few optimistic signs have appeared in the exhibition season. We'll see how it goes down on opening day in Cincy in just a few weeks.

Vertically Striped Radio - Episode 15: Underrated Movies and Hockey Team Adoption

This show was dominated by our Magnificent 7 list of underrated movies. In addition to that, we also helped to decide that MJ's NHL team is the New York Rangers, and we also spoke a little bit about the Dumpster fire that is the Denver Broncos. Brandon Marshall is a human train wreck at this point, you can't look away no matter how badly you want to. The BlogTalk switchboard gave out on us before we were able to do our music recommendation, so we ended the show somewhat abruptly at the end, but it was a fun show to do, and I'm proud of the new Muppet Show intro, even if MJ is too young to know what the Muppet Show is.

As always, you can download the podcast at or you can listen to the show with the widget below. Hey, if you weren't aware, you can also subscribe to Vertically Striped Radio on iTunes, we're truly blowing up! Thanks for checking out the show!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pac-Man needs food, badly.

I'm sure you've been going through withdrawal for the past week, just anxiously waiting for the next release from the Vertically Striped Animation Studios. It has been a whole week since our last film, and in that time we have grown as a studio. It was time for a darker picture, and this new release fits the time we live in.

Vertically Striped Animation is proud to present, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being Pac-Man."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Purple rising in Denver: Why the Rockies are relevant

A jubilant Ryan Spilborghs heads home after hammering home a walk off Grand Slam August 24th.

There is a purple force rising in the National League. If you live anywhere other than the Mountain time zone, you may be unaware of it, but the Colorado Rockies are winning ballgames. Yup, those standings that they print in the newspaper each day are not lying to you. As of the end of play yesterday, the Rox were leading the NL Wild Card race by 4 games. Chances are great that you are unaware of this team, as the national sports media (I’m looking at you, Bristol) would rather talk about what Derek Jeter had for breakfast or the tint of A-Rod’s skin than discuss the humble little team playing out at Coors Field.

There are plenty of reasons to dismiss the Colorado Rockies. They play in a goofy time zone which they are the only other team other than the Diamondbacks, and even then they only share it during the half the year when baseball isn’t being played. (Arizona doesn’t believe in saving daylight, you see.) When a team is on an island like the Rockies in Denver, it’s easy to overlook them.

The Rox also play their home games in a stadium that for years has been disparaged for being a ridiculous affront to baseball, an offensive beast which chewed up and spit out pitchers like old bags of moldy tangerines. It got so bad in the late nineties that people were referring to baseball played at altitude as “Arena Baseball” with scores routinely creeping into the teens. People acted like Coors Field wasn’t real baseball, and the Rockies couldn’t be taken seriously. I contend that it had little to do with the altitude and more to do with the atrocious pitching and solid hitting of the Rockies at the time, but whatever the reason, Colorado baseball was reduced to being considered a gimmick at best. The fact that they never sniffed the playoffs didn’t help this attitude, and the Rockies were banished to the joke bin of the major leagues.

A funny thing has happened in the past few years, the Rockies have started to get pitching. It may shock you to learn this, but right now Colorado has the 11th best ERA in all the land and two pitchers in the top 20 of the NL in ERA (Ubaldo Jimenez at 3.36 and Jason Marquis at 3.47). All of these statistical achievements have occurred despite the handicap of playing half their games at Coors Canaveral. The Rockies pitching is legit, and is the reason they are winning right now. Well, that plus their defense, as they are 8th overall in fielding percentage, and their infield defense is amazing with the spectacular Troy Tulowitzki at short, Ian Stewart manning third, the old but spry Todd Helton at first, and Clint Barmes at second. Don’t believe me that they are winning with solid defense and good pitching? Okay, they have the Wild Card lead and are only three back of the Dodgers despite the fact that they are currently 20th overall in hitting in the majors. Defense wins championships, right? Okay, let’s not go nuts. The Rockies are good, but they aren’t taking down the Yankees, Cardinals, or Phillies unless they get stupid lucky, I’m not completely delusional.

The reasons the Rocks are quickly dismissed are simple, they play in the middle of nowhere, their entire history has pretty much been written in the last fifteen minutes, and there aren’t many Rockies fans beyond the immediate Denver metro area. Not only that, but on June 3rd of this season the Rockies were 20-32 and 15.5 games back of the Dodgers. If they are somehow able to come all the way back and overtake the Dodgers to win the division, they would set a new record for the biggest deficit overcome to win a division in baseball history. They started the season like a flaming bag of crap and fell completely off the radar, playing so badly they managed to get Clint Hurdle fired less than two years after he led them to the National League Pennant. They deserved to be forgotten at the time, but new manager Jim Tracy has them playing with a quality where it is about time that they start to register nationally again. Certainly they aren’t the best team in the Bigs, but they are at least worth mentioning as a solid playoff contender. Whenever the topic of good baseball teams is raised, the usual suspects are all discussed…Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Cardinals, etc. These teams are mentioned and with good reason, they are good. What drives me nuts is that the Rockies are rarely if ever broached, although that may be beginning to change.

That may be changing, because of games like last night’s 14 inning classic. While most sports fans on the East coast were snug in their beds, the Rockies and Giants staged one of the best games of the major league season. If it had featured either the Yankees or the Red Sox the national media would have been having kittens. It was insanity, it was fantastic, and because it the featured teams were the Rockies and Giants, it will most likely just be a footnote of this week in baseball. When it truth, it may have been the best game in the Bigs this season. (To be fair to ESPN, they did have the game on their front of for several hours this morning, so they didn’t ignore it.)

The Giants are trying to track down the Rockies so this four game set that was just completed last night was very important for them. They won the first game of the series to cut the Wild Card lead to just one game, but they then proceeded to drop Saturday and Sunday’s games. Monday night’s game was very important to their playoff chances, as they would either be either two games back if they won, or would drop a full four games back with a loss.

The game started out well for the Giants, as they manufactured a run in the top of the first off of Jason Marquis. Little did anyone realize that run would be their last of their offense for a very long time. Barry Zito had a solid six innings of work allowing only three hits. The only run he gave up came in the fifth inning, scoring without the benefit of a single hit in the inning by the Rockies. Zito was pinch hit for in the seventh, but we had quite a pitchers duel going. Neither team could get much offense going, and it was 1-1 as we headed to the bottom on the ninth.

This game should have ended many times before the 14th. Colorado was able to get a runner to third in the ninth with two outs, again had a runner at third with only one out in the tenth and eleventh, the Giants were able to load the bases in the thirteenth, but each time the pitchers were able to wriggle off the hook.

Finally, in the 14th inning, with Adam Eaton pitching his second inning of relief, the Giants were able to break though and they broke through in a big way. With one out in the inning Edgar Renteria tripled to deep right on a play that Ryan Spilborghs played poorly thinking he could cut it to a single, the Rockies intentionally walked Travis Ishikawa to set up the double play, but then Eugenio Velez crushed a triple into left field and the Giants went up 3-1. To make matters worse for Colorado, Juan Uribe sacrificed to drive home Velez, and the Giants looked to have the game wrapped up with a 4-1 lead.

I was bummed because I’m a Rockies fan, and I had stayed up late watching this thrilling extra inning game. Now my team was going to lose and I was going to have literally lost sleep over it. I decided to stay up to watch the bottom of the 14th, fully expecting a one, two, three inning and a Rockies loss, but I figured since I had already invested so much time, I’d hang around just in case, a very good decision on my part.

Brandon Medders had already pitched two solid innings for the Giants, and as he took the mound in the bottom of the14th for his third, I was only halfway interested in the proceedings. I was sure the Rockies were not going to be able to score three runs with their final three outs, not when they had only mustered a single run with their first 39 outs. I was consoling myself with the fact that at least Colorado got the split with San Francisco in the series and maintained their two game lead. I was fully unprepared for how this thing ended up finishing.

Dexter Fowler fouled a ball off his leg before drawing a walk, so he was hobbling as he went to first base, and could barely run. Normally you would pinch run for him, but the bench was nearly empty at this point, so Dexter would have to hobble around the basepaths. Hobbling is not a great feature in your lead runner, but at least he was on base. Barmes popped out to second, and then the Giants decided to pull Medders and put in Justin Miller. Justin Miller did not do well…Chris Iannetta singled to center and there were now runners at first and second. Tulo drew a walk to load the bases, and then Adam Eaton the relief pitcher was up to bat. With the bases loaded and your team down by three runs you’d probably prefer that the batter for your team would have had at least one at bat sometime during the season, but this was Eaton’s first trip to the plate this year. Not a good sign normally, but thankfully Justin Miller was pitching. Eaton walked on five pitches with the bases loaded, and the Rockies were gifted a run to cut the deficit to 4-2. Giants skipper Bruce Bochy was none too pleased with Miller’s free pass to the reliever and the corresponding free run given to the Rockies, so he decided to bring in Merkin Valdez to try and stop the bleeding.

Up came Ryan Spilborghs, he already had blown a chance in the tenth inning when he was at bat with a runner at third and earlier in the inning he had badly played a ball in deep right field leading to a triple, so he was motivated to take advantage of his chance at redemption. Spilborghs redeemed himself and then some. He crushed a Valdez fastball into the Colorado night, and ended the game with a dramatic walk-off Salami. I could barely believe my eyes, and just sat there in my chair with the rest of my family sleeping, my fist raised victoriously in the air as I fought off every impulse to jubilantly shout for joy. I didn’t want to wake up my whole family, but I was so happy.

It was the most exciting baseball game I had watched involving my team since they went on their improbable World Series run in 2007. These are the kind of moments that can make a season, this type of game can derail a hopeful season when it goes against you, but when you rally like the Rockies did in the bottom of the 14th, it can take your team to a special place, these types of moments can raise the potential of your season. The moment rocked (no pun intended), and I hope that there are even more like it as the summer winds down. The world may not realize it, but the Rockies are for real. They may not have another crazy run to the NL title in them, in fact they still might not even make the playoffs. All I’m asking is that you just realize that this plucky little band of overachievers exists out here in the Rocky Mountains, they are playing some pretty good baseball, and they might be worth just a moment of your time and consideration. Go Rockies!

Gazing into the Crystal Ball: My preseason NFL predictions for the entire league.

Predictions from my Crystal Ball are cloudy at best, but here's what I see...

Here are my preseason predictions for everyone's records in the NFL. If you look closely, I'm sure you'll that many of these numbers contradict my over-under predictions for the season. These numbers were derived by a very scientific process of me looking at every game for the whole season and guessing which team will win and then tallying the results, whereas my Over-Under predictions were just random guesses about a specific team without looking at everything else.

Yup, my Super Bowl matches up the Colts with the Packers, with the Pack taking home the Lombardi Trophy. Which means that the Colts will probably be the 6th seed in the playoffs, and the Packers will finish at 7-9. My predictions are not usually super strong, but that doesn't mean I can't still pretend to gaze into the crystal ball.

AFC Predictions:
AFC West:
Chargers 10-6
Chiefs 9-7
Raiders 5-11
Broncos 4-12

AFC North:
Ravens 12-4
Steelers 11-5
Bengals 6-10
Browns 2-14

AFC South:
Colts 12-4
Texans 10-6
Titans 8-8
Jaguars 6-10

AFC East:
Patriots 11-5
Bills 8-8
Dolphins 7-9
Jets 5-11

NFC Predictions:

NFC West:
Seahawks 9-7
Cardinals 6-10
49ers 5-11
Rams 4-12

NFC North:
Packers 11-5
Bears 11-5
Vikings 10-6
Lions 3-13

NFC South:
Panthers 11-5
Falcons 10-6
Saints 6-10
Buccaneers 5-11

NFC East:
Giants 12-4
Eagles 11-5
Cowboys 10-6
Redskins 6-10

Playoff Predictions:

Wild Card Round:

Patriots over Texans
Steelers over Chargers

Panthers over Bears
Eagles over Seahawks

Divisional Round:

Ravens over Patriots
Colts over Steelers

Giants over Eagles
Packers over Panthers

Championship Games:

Colts over Ravens

Packers over Giants

Super Bowl XLIII:
Packers over Colts

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Broncos Gameday Recap: Preseason Game #2 - at Seahawks

Kyle Orton isn't a great quarterback, but he isn't as bad as he looked last week. He had an okay bordering on good game, save for a few plays where was truly abysmal.

Only in the NFL preseason can you lose a game by 1 point and feel like your team is doomed, and then lose a game by 14 the next week and feel slightly hopeful. The Broncos showed glimpses of the possibility that they will be sharp and well coached. They looked especially solid in the first half when traditionally the players that matter are in the game during the preseason.

Kyle Orton looked like a competent NFL quarterback for much of the evening. Although for the second straight game he did throw a terrible pass on 2nd and Goal at the three on the opening drive, this time it didn't cost him. The ball could have been intercepted, but it fell harmlessly to the turf and Kyle proceeded to toss the ball to Brandon Stokley for a TD on the next play. He also is beginning to display a tendency to really let the play clock wind down, which may be coaching or it may just be that he is a bit of a poky puppy.

One of the better moments of the game for the Broncos, as Brandon Stokley hauls in a 3 yard touchdown pass from Kyle Orton.

Other than that opening drive, Orton was steady if not spectacular with a few plays that were notable exceptions. He dinked and dunked his way down the field and generated a drive which resulted in a 53 yard Prater field goal and another nice long 86 yard drive which got them inside the 5 before Orton embraced his inner Jake Plummer and tossed an interception into the end zone with his left hand. (Yeah, he's not left handed.) This play was at least somewhat forgivable, because the Broncos tried to punch it into the end zone on 4th down, and if he didn't at least try to do something, the Seahawks would have had the ball anyway.

Peyton Hillis continues to be a preseason bright spot.

Peyton Hillis continued to look solid, with a long screen play that got called back due to a totally unnecessary Ryan Clady chop block. He also had an impressive first down conversion on a 3rd and 1 with an effort where he should have lost yards but he refused to go down without converting. Lamont Jordan didn't prove much other than even at only 5'10, he is still one large dude. Seriously, that guy is wide. Running back by large committee appears to mean that in actuality they don't really have any good running backs. Knowshon better be the real deal.

Matt Prater proved that he can do a good squib kick kickoff and also that he is still money from long distance with a 53 yard field goal. Although he didn't get a chance to dispel thoughts that he is still shaky on those pesky 28 yarders, although to be fair it doesn't appear like the Broncos will get into close enough position for short field goal on a regular basis anyway, so he may just be the perfect kicker for Denver.

Although, I do have to say that for awhile you could feel like McDaniels was running a solid ship. The first quarter left Broncos fans feeling a bit hopeful, although that feeling dissipated quickly as the Seahawks rattled off 20 straight points. There was that brief shining moment when the Donkeys held the lead, but that early confidence vanished into a fog of fluke fumbles and bad play, the the time the third quarter ended, the Broncos looked like a team looking for a soft place to land.

Positives from the game: Not a whole lot, but more than we had last week. Orton showed flashes of effectiveness, and the Broncos looked like a confident team for the second half of the first quarter. When the most important players were in the game, the Broncos were at their best, which has to be at least slightly encouraging.

Also what can be spun as a positive is that the Broncos were far from full strength, as they were without the services of key contributors such as Knowshon Moreno, Brian Dawkins, and the mercurial Brandon Marshall. One would think that these talented players will help once they are back on the field, although the jury is still out on Marshall.

Hasselbeck did get hurried and even sacked several times, which is nice.

The final positive is that the defense was getting pressure on the quarterback for the second straight preseason game. Matt Hasselbeck went down three times in the first half. Hopefully they can keep getting into the backfield like this, as that can only help the defensive scheme.

Negatives from the game: Lots and lots of turnovers, for the second straight week Denver coughed it up thrice and failed to take it away even once. After two preseason games, they are a rather unsightly minus 6 in the turnover department which makes it rather tough to win games.

The Defense was solid at times, but they also looked pretty weak more often than not. Sloppy tackling and defensive positioning, no turnovers created, and the fact that they gave up a go ahead TD to Seattle with only nine seconds remaining in the first half were all discouraging. The Defense looked very similar to the paper thin unit they fielded last season.

Andre' Goodman gets burned for a 34 yard touchdown as Matt Hasselbeck connected with Deon Butler.

Another negative is that Chris Simms tweaked his leg, and Tom Brandenstater looked very much like a 3rd (or 4th or 5th) stringer. No news has been released as of yet that I have seen on Simms injury, and it's probably not major, but it's not like Denver is stacked at the quarterback position, so hopefully Chris is okay.

In the end, the game doesn't matter, but you'd like to see your team putting it together a little better after two exhibition games. The 27-13 loss is barely even a footnote to this season, and there were definitely a few signs of life, but they still aren't showing much to dissuade me from my predictions of gloom and doom.

Vertically Striped Radio - Episode 14: The NFL and accidental tooth loss

Craig and MJ finally finished up the AFC Over-Under predictions, we talked a bit (a very small bit)with our friend Aaron of the No Name Show about preseason game #2 for the Broncos in Seattle, and we had our debut report from our Raiders correspondent Andy Petersen. If you like the NFL, this show is the show for you. We finished up with the Vertically Striped Music recommendation from Craig of "Easy" by Cowboy Mouth and the Vertically Striped Book Club with MJ recommended "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell. Good times!

As always, you can listen with the widget posted below, or you can download the mp3 from or if you can even subscribe to our show on iTunes. We're very good.

Here are the remainder of our AFC Over-Under picks that we made today. Bookmark this post, and you can come back and laugh at MJ and I about how bad we predicted the NFL season.

Jets: Number is 7
MJ - Under
Craig - Under

Patriots: Number is 11.5
MJ - Over
Craig - Over

Dolphins: Number is 7
MJ - Over
Craig - Under

Bills: Number is 7.5
MJ - Under
Craig - Over

Jaguars: Number is 8
MJ - Under
Craig - Under

Colts: Number is 10
MJ - Push
Craig - Over

Titans: Number is 9
MJ - Push
Craig - Under

Texans: Number is 8.5
MJ - Over
Craig - Over

MJ's AFC Best Bets: Texans over 8.5, Jaguars under 8, and Browns under 6.5
Craig's AFC Best Bets: Broncos under 7, Steelers over 10.5, Jaguars under 8

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Attack of El Pollo Loco (The Crazy Chicken)

Okay, I may be going overboard with this here Flipnote program, but darn if it isn't fun.

Just to make sure this post isn't only mindless Chicken cartoons, be sure to check out the big radio show on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 PM Mountain time. (5:30 Eastern, 4:30 Central, 2:30 Pacific)
MJ and I will be breaking down the Favre situation, we have slightly differing opinions on that whole mess. Plus we will probably be talking with The Ed, our Raiders correspondent Andy Peterson, and possibly even Mickey Mouse to discuss his role in the decisions made over at ESPN.

You can listen to the show live by visiting or you can also just podcast the show if you miss the live broadcast. If you're particularly bold and want to join in the radio fun, you can call the show at (646)716-6831.

Now without any further delay, Vertically Striped Socks is proud to present: The Crazy Chicken...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Here is my Elephant, I'm sure Pixar will be calling soon...

I am a child of the video game generation, and although I have cut down my gaming quite a bit as an adult, I still like to get my game on. I don't have any of the new consoles or anything, but I have kept my gaming alive with my system of choice...the Nintendo DS.

I have owned every generation of the DS, and the latest version is a doozy! It's called the DSi, and it has the ability to take photos and download games called DSiWare from the Nintendo DSi store. Occasionally Nintendo makes items available for free, and they have just made a program called Flipnote Studio available on their store for free...and it's AWESOME! It allows you to make your own animations in much the same way I did as a third grader with my Grammar book, by flipping pages. One thing I can do that I couldn't do in third grade was add sound, but I can in 2009 as a 32 year old with my Nintendo portable video game system. Yes, I am very cool.

So anyway, here is my very amazing first cartoon, I hope you all enjoy it. I'm sitting by the phone just waiting for the call from know, in case they are wanting to do something in the choppily animated elephant genre. And yes, I did all my own drawing, sound effects, and stunt work for this film...I'm very good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Chicken Socks

These are Luke's "Chicken Socks"

One of the best things about kids is how they see the world in a way that is completely different from us. You never realize how you don't see things through fresh eyes, until one of your kiddos gives you a glimpse into their non-jaded view of the world. I had just such an experience last night from my little boy.

We were getting ready to go to the grocery store, a chore that my kids absolutely love. They get to ride in the shopping cart that looks like a race car, they get a free pink cookie, they get to ride on the horsie ride that costs a penny. It's pretty much the best place in the world when you're a really little kid, I guess.

My daughter already had her shoes on, and my little guy was very excitedly grabbing his socks and shoes. My wife watches a little boy a few times a week, and he was over yesterday and his parents had dressed him in Denver Nuggets socks, as they are big Nuggets fans. As I am also a huge Nuggets fan, both of my kids also have a pair of Nuggets socks, and when they saw their little friend with Nuggets socks, they wanted to have their Nuggets socks on too. So the socks that my little guy had been wearing all day were Nuggets socks, and these were the socks which he brought over to me.

As he brought me the socks, I excitedly said to him, "Do you want to wear your Nuggets socks?" Luke is not quite yet two, but he has quite an expanded vocabulary for someone so young. As I asked him if he wanted to wear his Nuggets socks, he excitedly said in his ridiculously cute two year old voice, "Chicken Socks!"

I kept asking him if he wanted his Nuggets socks, and he kept saying, "Chicken Socks!! Chicken Socks!!" I'm not thinking like a two year old, and so I keep correcting him saying, "No, Nuggets socks!" We go through this for about a minute until it finally dawns on me...the only thing to which he relates the word "Nuggets" is Chicken Nuggets. One of his favorite types of food.

I began to immediately laugh at the cuteness of the situation, and also laugh at myself because I was so slow to pick up on the rather obvious (and creative) reason that Luke is declaring his Denver Nuggets socks to be "Chicken Socks." Kids are awesome, and I'll never look at his NBA licensed merchandise the same way again.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The King of Commercials, but I'm iffy on the Beer.

Yes, Budweiser is trying to convince Brits that they would rather drink a Bud than, you know, enjoy a good beer. Generally in Britain they have a little more sense than Americans, as they tend to drink actual good beers such as Newcastle, Boddingtons, and Guiness rather than the mass produced swill that so many here in the States seem to prefer.

While I doubt Budweiser will be successful in duping our friends across the pond, they at least have a pretty slick advertising scheme in place. This commercial is pretty cool and creative as it co-ops a rather popular group that originated in a little town called Liverpool over in England. So enjoy the commercial, but don't believe the hype about Budweiser, it really isn't all that good.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Broncos Gameday Recap: Preseason Game #1 - at 49ers

Hey, at least we still have Eddie! Either Royal or Hillis are my favorite Broncos going right now, I can't decide which. (Also a nod to Champ, who is a stud.)

Who knew that the best news the Broncos would get all day on the day of their first preseason game would be that star Wide Reciever Brandon Marshall would be found not guilty on all charges of battery against his ex-girlfriend? Sad, but true. If you're a fan of the Broncos, or a fan of well played football in general, it would probably have been for the best had you averted your eyes from the scene that played out Friday night at half empty Candlestick Park (or whatever the latest corporate giant the stadium has whored it's name out to most recently, it's either 3Com or Monster, who can keep up? For our purposes, we'll call it Candlestick.)

"It's only preseason." is the mantra I keep reciting to myself in the hopes that by the time the regular season rolls around the defense will have remembered how to tackle opponents and Kyle Orton will be a little Ortonish. Chances are that neither of those things are going to happen between now and September 13th, but a guy can dream.

The 49ers defeated the Broncos in a meaningless game that came down to a meaningless 2 point conversion attempt late in the meaningless 4th quarter. If you think I'm overusing the word meaningless, you are not familiar with NFL preseason games. Ugh.

A scene I fear I will see far too much this season...Kyle Orton looking dejected with his hands on his hips.

Oh, and speaking of Ugh, Kyle Orton could not have opened up his preseason in a much worse fashion. After the porous Broncos defense was able to hold the Niners to a field goal on their very long opening drive, Orton looked pretty solid leading the offense to the three yard line, but that's where the good vibes ended. Orton threw an interception in the end zone on a 2nd and goal from the 3 where he would have been better served to either throw the ball away or at least not throw it directly at the San Francisco safety. Kyle did neither, and tossed the ball into the waiting arms of the defender, a move he would repeat two more times in the next two drives. Yup, three drives, three interceptions. Orton played almost the entire first half, and I just was struck by the fact that rather than having an actual NFL starting quarterback, the Broncos have two backup quarterbacks competing for the starter job for lack of any better option. (Thanks Josh!) When he was done for the night, he went to the sideline with a less than inspiring QB rating of 32.6. Let's just say I don't feel any better about the McDaniels/Orton era.

The first half of the game ended with the score at 9-0 San Francisco, and it was just as brutal as the score indicated. This display of football was so poor that it even included a missed extra point. The Broncos defense looked okay, but I'm not sure how much of that was them, and how much of it was the fact that the 49ers looked almost as inept offensively as the Broncos. It is good to see Mike Nolan is willing to bring the heat, which led to several QB sacks, but which also led to some fullback named Brit Miller scoring on a screen play that turned into a 40 yard touchdown because all gentlemen eligible to tackle him had already rushed the passer and no one stayed back to handle the large lumbering gentleman. Oh well, win some lose some, I guess.

No one hands off like Kyle Orton!

The defense played okay, I'm more worried about the offense right now. The first battle in the backup quarterback competition went to Chris Simms, who looked much better than Orton, although you have to take it with a grain of salt, as Simms was playing against a ton of guys who will fail to make an NFL roster when the real games begin. Still, the lefty (Yes, Simms throws left handed which is more disorienting that I realized) played a mostly solid game and is the early leader in the clubhouse to lead the Bronco offense. Although he isn't going to make anyone forget Jay Cutler, at least he threw more touchdowns than interceptions, which is a good trait in your quarterback. If Orton continues to struggle, get ready to hear the call for Simms to play early and often at Invesco Field.

Josh looked okay as a coach, but far from inspiring just yet.

As for Josh McDaniels' first time out as an NFL head coach, he looked a little bit like a lost kid out there on the sideline. Granted, he didn't do anything stupid, and he seemed okay on the sidelines, I guess, but when the cameras cut to him standing there, he didn't seem to have control of the situation. He doesn't seem to inspire much confidence in his coaching abilities just yet to the average fan. Granted, Andy Reid has the same thing going for him, and he's led his team to a Super Bowl and countless championship games, so it's not a prerequisite, and his sideline demeanor may improve, but I'm not sold on this guy as the coach for my team.

Bright spots for the Broncos include the return of Peyton Hillis, who runs like a beast and is fun for the novelty of watching a Caucasian tailback. Also Alphonso Smith showed some glimpses of why the Broncos traded away a 1st round pick next year for the rights to draft him, playing solidly in the secondary and also showing a few moves in the return game. The final positive was that Knowshon Moreno looked like a solid running back, rushing for 18 yards on three carries before being taken off the field with what turns out to be a slight MCL sprain that the doctors say will have him out one to two weeks.

I don't mind losing this one, because it was a preseason game, and honestly...who cares? The thing that worries me is that this team looks every bit up to the challenge of finishing 4-12, and signs of hope I was desperately hoping to see that might make them seem better than that were nowhere to be seen. Well, Josh has three more preseason games to try and give me some hope...While I'm not's to hoping!

Vertically Striped Radio - Episode 13: The Potpourri Edition

After being out the past two weeks on vacation in Europe, MJ made his triumphant return to VSR. Taking a page from Dave Dameshek, MJ and Craig did the first ever Vertically Striped Potpourri show. Basically, we were both getting back from vacations, so we discussed all the crazy stuff we did and saw in Europe and the Rocky Mountains respectively. We finally got around to starting our AFC over/unders only blogtalk had a bit of a hiccup, so we only got through half of them. We'll eventually finish them next week, but this week we got through the AFC West and North.

Here are our predictions for the Over/Unders for the AFC North and West:

Broncos: Number is 7
MJ - Under
Craig - Under

Chiefs: Number is 6
MJ - Under
Craig - Push

Chargers: Number is 9.5
MJ - Under
Craig - Over

Raiders: Number is 5.5
MJ - Over
Craig - Over

Steelers: Number is 10.5
MJ - Over
Craig - Over

Ravens: Number is 8.5
MJ - Over
Craig - Over

Bengals: Number is 6.5
MJ - Under
Craig - Over

Browns: Number is 6.5
MJ - Under
Craig - Under

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Vertically Striped Radio - Episode 12: Get your fantasy football team name here!

This episode was the Vertically Striped Radio fantasy football spectacular! If you need a good name for your fantasy football team, you need to listen to this show. I give a slew of great names to choose from, plus I call my shot by breaking down my fantasy football draft strategy in shocking detail and dare the Shek Republic League to beat me. We have the usual music recommendation and goofy news.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How to win at Fantasy Football: Strategic Tips for the 2009 Fantasy Football Draft

Introducing Jacob Tamme, the man you should take in the second round this year!

They may play that song "It's the most wonderful time of the year" around Christmas, but to me, we are about three weeks away from the REAL "most wonderful time of the year!" Football season! Okay, so it's more like six weeks away until real games get cranking, but part of the joy of football is the joy of FANTASY football. I am taking part in two leagues this year, which is a departure from my usual time tested theory of only playing in one league at a time to avoid fantasy confusion, but I'm really ready to roll with fantasy this year even more than usual since my expectations of my beloved Broncos could not possibly be lower. The second league that I'm joining is one with some guys who I really wanted to compete against over at the message board, so I made the exception.

This season, I'll have two fantasy teams take the field, the Floppy Llamas, entering their fourth season in the Denver World League of Fantasy Football, and making their maiden run to glory in the Shek Republic league, the Vertically Striped Llamas! Generally, people like to keep their draft strategies mum before the draft gets started, but I'm so confident in my fantasy abilities that I'll be unveiling my draft strategy right here on my blog with this post. Basically I'm giving my competitors my game plan and DARING them to beat me. Yeah, I'm that good.

The DWLFF operates with an auction draft, and the Shek Republic league will employ a more traditional snake draft model, but this plan shows the players that I think should be drafted high/have large auction bids, so I am giving away my game plan either way, and no, I am not afraid!

The key to any good fantasy football draft is your first few picks. Many so called experts will tell you that you need to draft running backs right away in the first few rounds, putting a ton of focus on that aspect of your team. My secret to success this year is to go in another direction...I say draft your kicker first! It's out of the box thinking to be sure, but if you don't grab a Steven Gostkowski, Adam Vinitieri or Neil Rackers right away, you may be stuck with a Lawrence Tynes or Robbie Gould, and that could sink your season. I say hit a home run with your first pick, and zig when they expect you to zag. The Cardinals are going to score a ton of points this season, and be it a field goal or an extra point, Neil Rackers is going to get a ton of points...he could be the difference maker that you're looking for, and first round is only slightly a reach. If you really want to compete with me, I think going kicker early is the way to get your draft off to a grand start.

Now you are just about to begin the second round of your fantasy draft. At this point, you're probably thinking now is as good a time as any to get a good defense before they start flying off the board. While that is probably a more traditional way to go in round 2, I say that it's time to continue to think outside the box and fill that critical Tight End position. A good Tight End can make or break a team, and I have got a fantastic sleeper that will win you your league! Round Two may be a bit of a reach, but I think you'll thank me later. Two words for you: Jacob Tamme! You may never have heard of Jacob, but he's poised to increase his production three or four fold! He is working in the highly productive Indianapolis Colts system, and as a Rookie last year he went for a whopping 3 receptions for 12 yards. It is not inconceivable that he could increase his production as much as 500%. When you have a chance to pick up a player with that kind of upside in his growth potential, I think you have to jump at it. I only hope I haven't sold him so high that he is gone before I have a chance to strike.

As the third round comes up, I say you still play the waiting game on the defense. Although you may miss out on the Giants or Bears D, There should still be plenty of good defensive squads in round four. At round three, I have a guy that I hope falls to me in round three...Plaxico Burress. When you have a chance at a super productive guy who shot himself in the leg last season and may miss up to three years due to prison, you're a fool to pass that opportunity by if it falls into your lap in round three. Harris Smith can take you to the promised land in fantasy...I am all over him in round three.

Okay, you've definitely waited long enough. Round 4 you take what you can get at the defensive position. Hopefully the Saints or Broncos D's are still around, but if you have to make do with the Raiders, jump on that in round 4.

Round 5 is probably when you want to start getting a running back or two. There is a great chance that Tatum Bell or Kenneth Darby are still on the board, and I think those are the kind of players you can build a fantasy team around. Round 5 is probably about the right place to find a value pick like that.

As you enter Round 6 you may want to start picking up more wide receivers now. I would consider Devin Hester or possibly even Champ Bailey. Anytime you can get a guy who started as a defensive player like Hester and then moved to the other side of the ball, you want that guy. He understands how the defenders think, and that makes him a better wide out for your team. Sure, Champ Bailey is mostly a Defensive Back, but a few years ago he was getting a few plays on the offensive side of the ball. Now that he has a new offensive genius coach and a few more years under his belt, I think the odds that he becomes a fantasy force at Wide Receiver has never been better. Act now, and pick him up before it's too late and someone else is reaping the fantasy benefits of this great athlete!

Round 7 is a great time to pick up a Hall of Fame guy that is inexplicably flying under the radar even though he is probably headed to the hall of fame. Who couldn't use a potential Hall of Fame guy at running back in round 7. The trick is he's a fullback, but odds are good that Lorenzo Neal will still be available even this late in the game. He is one of the greatest fullbacks in the history of the game. The Oakland Raiders signed Lorenzo back in May, and are hoping his veteran presence is the one missing piece that can put the Raiders over the top in the AFC. Frankly, you'd be a fool to pass up this fantastic player when you can get him as such a value this late in the game. If Lorenzo is gone, now is a good time to make a play for Marshall Faulk. He attends a ton of games with NFL Network, and surely it can't be too long before he gets back out on the field where he was a menace to society and also to opposing fantasy football players. I'd definitely recommend giving him a whirl if need be.

Round 8 has come, and now is the time to pick up your franchise quarterback. The time is right to grab a guy who is very likely to still be on the board for you this late, and who possesses the ability to get it done for you. Brett Favre. I mean, sure, he "says" he is retired, but we've all heard that before. This is Brett Favre we're talking about. This man has been talked out of retirement more times than Michael Jordan and Brittany Spears combined. If you have the opportunity in round eight, I say grab the king of indecision before it's too late. That way, when his inevitable return to football pops up, BAM, you've got yourself an All-Pro and you got him in Round 8.

From this point on in your draft, you're on your own, but with the tips I've dispersed so far you should have a core in place for your team that can win you lots of games and possibly even a championship. The key is to get past the traditional thinking, and be innovative. Creativity wins fantasy football championships. I highly recommend that you follow these instructions to the letter...especially if you happen to be an opposing owner in one of my leagues. Surely you will be near the top if not the overall winner if you follow my system. And that's how you win at fantasy!

Knowshon: Get thy butt in camp!

Memo to Knowshon Moreno: Get your butt into camp ASAP. Today was the fifth day of training camp that he has missed as a result of his holdout as he and the Broncos attempt to figure out where the final figures will fall on his rookie contract. Knowshon, I know that tons of first rounders are not signed yet, but get this stuff worked out right quick as there is tons of competition at your spot, and just because you're a high draft pick it doesn't mean you automatically are the starter.

If there is good news Broncos fans can take from this, it's that there is still a ton of time, and Knowshon plays a position that isn't as difficult to pick up quickly as say inside linebacker or quarterback would be. However, the fact remains that this will likely be a difficult enough season for Josh McDaniels and the sisters of the poor we like to call our Denver Broncos without increasing the difficulty level by having the drama of a holdout. Let's get this going in the right direction and get signature on contract so we can focus on the plan for attempting to reach the impossible dream of an 8-8 season in Denver. (Nothing like high expectations, eh?)

In a bit of good Broncos news, in addition to wearing the AFL throwback Vertically Striped Socks uniforms twice this season, the Broncs will also be donning their beautiful alternate orange uniforms two times this year. The Broncos will dress in what (in a perfect world) should be their permanent uniforms against the Cowboys in October and the Steelers in November. Denver should wear Orange, so for at least two games this fall, they'll look right. Good news indeed. They may not play well this year, but at least they'll look good playing badly.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Vertically Striped Radio - Episode 11: Banned in Alabama

I (Craig) flew solo most of the show. I broke down some talk about ushers, the Dameshek Code of Fan Conduct, and discussed my desire to get banned in Alabama. I think I may declare war on that state, if that's possible. Major Minority called in to start the show, and left me overly confused regarding a simple issue, as he didn't raise his hand to talk until about 12 minutes remaining in the show. We critiqued the names of everyone's fantasy football teams on the message board league. I finished by recommending "Neon Bible" by Arcade Fire. It was an okay show, as long as you don't mind listening to me monologue for an hour. I enjoyed it, but then I like the sound of my own voice.

You can of course listen below, or download it from

Top 30 Video Games of the 1980's: Part 3

And now...Part 3:

10. RBI Baseball - While increases in technology have improved many different genres of sports games, baseball games seem to get less and less fun the higher the computing power gets. I would much rather play the awesome RBI Baseball than anything available in the baseball category on XBox 360. This game was easy to pick up and play, and it led to this incredible video which recreates the famous (if you're a Mets fan) or infamous (if you're a Red Sox fan) 1986 World Series Game 6 with Vin Scully announcing.

9. Super Mario Bros 2 - SMB2 is actually a pretty good game, but it's not really a Super Mario game. The REAL Super Mario Brothers 2 was released in Japan, and it's a game that is almost identical to the first SMB, only MUCH MUCH more difficult. Nintendo decided that the game was waaaaay too tough for their American audience, so they made a decision to take a random game called "Doki Doki Panic" in Japan and to modify it slightly to include Super Mario Bros characters and release THAT as SMB2. While Super Mario Bros 2 definitely has it's detractors, I found it to be a deep and fun game with a lot of fun and varied levels.

8. Legend of Zelda - Zelda was one of the first games with a save feature, it had so much to explore that unless you were very good at it or had a long time to play, you weren't getting through it in one sitting, so Nintendo figured out a way to let you save and come back to it. Wow did I keep coming back to it. Finding hidden caves with bombs, earning new weapons, defeating difficult enemies inside treacherous dungeons...Zelda was a game you truly had to explore. That is commonplace now, but it was new and exciting in the 80's. Plus it came in a nifty gold cartridge, which was pretty sweet.

7. Ms Pac Man - Here is one scenario in which I would rather watch the women's game than the men's game. Ms Pac Man was faster and had more interesting cut scenes than her beau, and the game was just a little bit better. This game was a classic, and I still am not averse to dropping a quarter into a Ms. Pac Man machine if I come across one. It's still a very good game, and I love making her eat pretzels.

6. Metroid - This was a very deep and interesting game for it's time. There is a ton to discover, and Mother Brain is one of the cooler bosses in video game history. Plus, the first time you beat the game and discover that Samus Aran (the cool character you have been playing with the entire game) is actually a girl? Well, that was quite a shock!

5. Star Wars (Arcade) - This game was in arcades everywhere in the 1980's, and it was AWESOME. It was a game you sat down in, and it had vector graphics, and you basically were piloting an X-Wing on your way to destroy the Death Star. You felt like you were Luke Skywalker, which is pretty darn cool when you're 12. To make it even better, it had authentic voice overs from the movie such as Obi-Wan telling you to "Use the Force." For nerdy kids everywhere, it didn't get much better than blowing up the death star after a harried space battle. Good Times!

4. Super Mario Bros 3 - This game was technically released in 1990 in the US, however, Japan got it in the 80's, so I'm counting it. This was probably the best game ever released on the Nintendo, and I remember that I traded in probably seven or eight of my other games in order to get it...and I considered that a great trade. There was more to do in this game than you could believe was possible for a Nintendo game. It was a fantastic time! It probably should have rated higher on the list, but the three games above it have tremendous sentimental value to me.

3. Mike Tyson's Punchout - The cartoony art style and tight controls made Punchout a must have for every Nintendo owner in the 80's. Plus, Mike Tyson was at his fearsome best when this game was released, and the idea that you could fight him was awe inspiring. True, once you figured out the trick to beating a guy, it was basically just a matter of getting your timing down, but it was easier said than done. The just right level of challenge, plus the specter of Iron Mike, plus the fantastic characters that you fought against made Mike Tyson's punchout a classic great. Oh, and beating Iron Mike was tough, but not impossible. It just took a LOT of practice, he was an animal.

2. Tetris - If I were deserted on a desert island, and could only have one game to play for the rest of my life, my choice would easily be Tetris. This game made it's debut in the late 80's, and has since showed up on every video game system, cell phone and calculator out there. It's a gloriously simple premise which has yet to get old in the last 20 years. Easily one of the greatest games ever made. Just about everyone has played Tetris at one point or another. The falling block game can be so addictive that if you play it too much, you can keep playing it in your mind as you are trying to go to sleep. A condition my college roommates and I labeled, "The Tetris Demon." I love Tetris with a deep and abiding love, as deep a love as a man can have for a video game. Tetris is swell.

1. Super Mario Bros - The most influential video game of all time. I won't even argue this. Super Mario literally changed the way video games were played and percieved. It is a true work of genius, and although it seems quaint by today's standards, if Super Mario Bros hadn't come around, I have a feeling that the whole notion of video games would be different today. Not only is it important, but it's fun. This is truly a great game, and is worthy of the respect I bestow upon it as the #1 game of the 80's. (And probably of all time.)