Back when we wrote a bunch, we had a habit of doing weekly Bills previews and recaps using bits of pop culture as thematic fulcrums. Mostly out of laziness. Also because it allowed us to crib Drew Magary without directly cribbing Drew Magary.
With six weeks of football left (barring COVID-related season-stoppage, which is not outside the realm of likely outcomes) and the Bills sitting pretty atop the AFC East at 8-3, it seemed time to slip back into old routines in the hopes of sharing a laugh or two. And with American culture awash in very real and very absurd outgrowths of ignorant bigotry and violence, with a side of pathetic, zealous buffoonery, there's no better piece of pop culture to use as my fulcrum than HBO's Watchmen. HOLY SHIT what incredible television. Bonus points for teaching a generation of Americans about the Black Wall Street Massacre because I know for fucking SURE that they aren't teaching that shit in most high schools. If you haven't watched it yet, let me know and I'll slip you my buddy's HBO Max login just kidding Joseph I would never.
As for the football, well, the Bills are a good football team! A friend of mine who also writes for this site and has a worse habit of pissing people off than I do insists that this is a mediocre football team but I disagree. I am happily eating crow this year as Joshua Withrop Allen and Sean Reginald McDermott remind us that nobody is perfect, especially not football fans.
More on that below, as well as Power Ranking Trump's election lawyers, cannabis reviews from the Bay State, and some other stuff, too, probably!
THREE REASONS THE BILLS WILL SMASH TONIGHT:
I don't know that I've truly expressed the mea culpa that I feel is due from my corner of the internet, what with me being so very wrong about Josh Allen. The Bills are 8-3, Allen is playing not-quite-mistake-free-ball-but-honestly-pretty-close, and more than anything - a point that can't be overstated, truly - the Bills are uproariously fun under the leadership of this big goofy kid with a rocket arm. When the Allen stans started demanding apologies from those who dared question Josh's greatness in years past, it was obviously ripe for me to start shitposting because that kind of discourse is juvenile nonsense, but honestly that kind of black-and-white approach to what we're seeing from Allen sells him short. When I watched #17 play over the course of his first two seasons, it was impossible to see a reliably likely path from his abilities under center to anything approaching success.
Seeing Allen find that path despite how improbable it seemed in those first 20 or so starts of his career, and seeing now not just a winning football team but one that pulls hilarious, creative and - crucially - productive offensive production out of his reckless cannon of an arm is art.
The job that Allen and the coaching staff have done to refine his accuracy is nothing short of unbelievable, and I could not be happier to have been wrong about this one. Does he have super annoying tendencies that may be his undoing in the playoffs like some sort of hubris-ridden Greek drama? Maybe! And that's the fun of it because we get to find out while he's running an amazing version of the option and lateraling to receivers who are dropping dimes for six.
2. The coaching?
Another mea culpa coming, though it's slightly more muted.
I like Sean McDermott as a football coach. I also think football coaches are patently ridiculous people.
It's a profession steeped in cliché and that makes it an easy mark for criticism on the internet, and as this season plays out with Allen's numbers and the defense re-finding itself just in time for a playoff push, and the club playing truly enjoyable football under truly shit circumstances, the strength of McDermott's leadership is self-evident. He's a walking cliché and thus the easiest mark of them all, but he's also a master of those stereotypical coach tendencies. The end result is a group of football players who, by all accounts and the evidence on the field, are thriving during this pandemic season.
The thing about clichés is that they exist for a reason and sometimes - not all the time, dear god no - but sometimes they're spot on, and in a season with few or no butts in seats, all things being equal, a team that is having a fun ass time playing together has a competitive advantage.
Clap it up.
3. The early-season chumps figuring it out.
Two chumps in particular - AJ Klein and Tyler Bass - have been on my mind a lot in recent games as a couple key guys whose play has improved pretty dramatically and have produced some big moments in those wins. I won't get too deep in the weeds on either of these guys, but their play in recent weeks has been a boon to their respective units on the field. I don't read enough Bills news to really have a sense of what was wrong with Klein in his first 8 games of the season, but his numbers the last two games have been ridiculous. That kind of productivity down the stretch will be massive - especially the tackle numbers - as teams try to run on us in December weather.
As for Bass, he's a rookie so calling him a chump is unkind but the dude was trash on the only metric that matters for a PK in the NFL: getting it through those big yellow things. That he has settled into a solidly reliable option for McDermott is a relief, if an expected one. He was never going to remain as bad as he was the first few weeks of his rookie season; whether he's good remains to be seen. But holy shit does he have a vicious right foot.
THREE REASONS THE BILLS WILL LOSE:
1. I'm having a few friends over to watch on a projector around a firepit and it'll require no small amount of effort that is only really justified by a Bills win and the last time I did it was for the Chiefs loss and also the universe hates me.
After that heading, well, this is pretty self-explanatory, I should think.
For a third year starter of any pedigree, while the dumb mistakes of your early career may rear their ugly head more infrequently, they haven't been put to bed altogether. One of the things I love about Allen is how his mistakes are simply something to overcome, and a challenge he's seemed to accept as part of the job description. His bounce back is very real after mistakes, but all the same some of the bizarre decisions he makes have the very real opportunity to cost us games.
3. San Francisco's Defense
I watch very little football that isn't the Bills, but the internet tells me that the 49ers are recently healthy at important spots on the defensive side of the ball - Richard Sherman, primarily - and that they're a solid unit against both the run and pass. SF is very much in the hunt in the NFC West, and they have the experience of having to relocate home games to Arizona to either bond the squad together or split it at the seams. If they can consistently jam up the Bills' plans on offense, it could be a tough and ugly game.
This next feature has been ruminating for a couple weeks now, both in my brain and in reality. The kind of truly hilarious set of American circumstances that insists on one-upping itself on a near-daily basis.
I write, of course, of the slow burn coup d'état that the Trump White House/Campaign/Organization is attempting, and I use each of those terms generously. To suggest that they're going through the motions of their various legal challenges would, again, credit the Trump team with knowing what motions are appropriate for this chosen strategy. They do not. For over a month, it's been clear that our Big Boy President got beat by Joe Biden and the only reason anyone pretends otherwise is because there's a sociopathic narcissist who still has the nuclear codes and he never learned how to admit failure despite a career absolutely steeped in it. Last I checked, and I stopped checking a while ago, Biden beat that ass to the tune of 6 million votes and something like 6000 electoral votes (don't look it up), and the death rattle of this administration has long-since transitioned to pathetic, frivolous litigant mode.
Reverting to the mean, in other words.
One of the themes that I have taken to heart the most over the tenure of Trump's Presidency is how unremarkable it is to see a deeply stupid fascist at work. The most prevalent lie we're told about successful fash dictators is that they're all geniuses. It's the kind of lie that excuses the rest of us for our inaction, since the destructive force of an evil genius madman requires equally genius, strong forces to stop it. So instead of asking questions about the passive ambivalence of well-intentioned Europeans - and Americans - in responding to Hitler's actions despite the fact that he was clearly a vicious idiot, we unconditionally praise the forces that eventually brought the great and powerful Hitler to heel.
The Trump Operation, from top to bottom, both the private and public sectors of the enterprise, is one most-prevalently marked by operational failures. It's only gotten worse as the administration's lifecycle has marched towards its inevitable conclusion, with any and all staffers holding a modicum of competence have been pushed out by a President who not only demands fealty to himself, but also to his various flawed beliefs about the world. Stating aloud plain-as-day facts about the world is the type of thing that can bring you in the crosshairs of this baby-brained fucking loser, which is why White House staffers who are looking for work are being fired for daring to suggest that Trump won't be sworn in as President in January, why Chris Krebs was surreptitiously fired for not publicly denouncing voting security lapses that didn't occur, and why John Bolton is suddenly the stupidest person Trump has ever worked with as soon as he suggests Trump lost an election in which he was dragged and whipped in a burlap sack by a guy who just six months ago was barely able to form complete sentences in public.
Surprised, I am not, therefore, that the parting legacy of the Trump administration is this post-election loss insistence on digging deeper into a field of Ls and ensuring that our lasting memory of this humongous shithead is going to be how funny it was to watch him and his ragtag legal team go into court after court and get absolutely worked. And because I've had the idea to apply some longstanding Fire Joe Morgan principles to the various legal updates that have come into the news since election day, I wanted to take some time to riff. For you. Out of love.
Today will be the first installment, so if you have suggestions for further rankings and/or have tidbits you want to share about Trump's hilarious legal fuckbois, @ me on Parler.
MAGA LAWYER POWER RANKINGS
#5: Marc Scaringi
Marc Scaringi was just added to Trump's legal team in PA this week, having replaced Linda Kerns, a Philly lawyer who revised Trump's federal lawsuit in PA to remove the request that 682k ballots be thrown out because they were processed without campaign monitors present because that request was entirely based on a lie. Kerns and others have moved to withdraw as counsel due to the apparent conflict. Can't have that! So, Scaringi was pulled into the fray and the early reports were that he would be adding that claim back to the lawsuit, because, sure it's unethical to plead claims that are entirely unsupported by the factual record as it exists in the actual world, but it's also unethical to do so as part of a large scale political grift aimed at extracting the most value out of MAGA donations as possible. With Marc Scaringi, you get what you pay for.
Marc's first big moment on Team Trump's Litigious Fuck Squad was a five hour oral argument on the PA case yesterday, and let me tell you, he thinks it went GREAT and he thinks Rudy Giuliani is an amazing litigator. He licked Giuliani's boots hard and he licked them good after Rudy did what Rudy does best and made the President's legal position more precarious. Marc is fitting in just fine.
Did I mention Marc Scaringi is a conservative talk radio guy in Harrisburg, ran for Senate in 2012, was a staffer for Santorum? I feel like that's relevant here.
Anyway, unlike the lawyers he is replacing on the Trump legal team, Mr. Scaringi runs an election law practice that makes him well-suited for the task of representing Trump's interests in these election challenges, and certainly makes him a great judge of whether Giuliani nailed it during Tuesday's hearing. What's that? [mumbles into earpiece] Sorry, strike that and reverse it. Scaringi doesn't know shit about election law and runs a two person firm with his wife, specializing in commercial law, and the lawyers pushed out of the PA team were actual election lawyers. Read: Scaringi has no fucking idea what's going on here. You can add "practicing in an area of law in which he has absolutely no experience" to the list of ethical breaches.
Maybe he should just start a band and call it "Mark" and avoid the judicial oversight.
Then again, if he did that, we wouldn't get this kind of compare and contrast AP English problem.
I don't have to justify this. Ever.
With more states legalizing the good shit lollipop, our matron saint Mary Jane, and with my current residence in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts about three years into its post-prohibition journey to the land of milk and honey, let's talk buds. I'm not sure what this space is going to be used for beyond just telling funny stories or dropping recs for strains or delivery mechanisms, but I guess that's enough?
Anyway, one of the strains I've been gravitating back to - both in flower and vape forms - is my now-beloved Alaskan Thunder Fuck, aka ATF. Leafly's write-up, which tracks strongly with my experience, describes ATF as "usually present[ing] large, beautifully frosted buds with incredibly strong odors of pine, lemon, menthol, and skunk. Known for possessing a relaxing yet intensely euphoric high, it is also described as having a “creeper” effect as well as pronounced appetite enhancement." Also, it's a fucking GREAT name.
Sativas are where I spend most of my time under the influence (distinct from the 1:1 medicated edibles that I take for anxiety management) and ATF is one of the best I have ever had. (I also dig that the vape oil manufacturer I have been finding for sale at my local shop makes oil that is very true to the flower's flavor palette, which is a testament to it not being fucking wretched black market knockoff garbage that was literally killing people last year.) If you like your high to be one that gets you energized and creative (if a little unfocused), rather than sinking into your couch like a useless slob, sativas are always going to be the go-to. Not that there's not a place for indicas and also being a useless slob every now and again, especially when dealing with chronic pain, insomnia or loss of appetite, but it's more of a special occasion kind of thing for me these days.
Bills 34, SF 17.
I don't see the Niners scoring a lot tonight, and honestly you are out of your goddamned mind if you thought I was going to come back for a game preview for Monday Night Fucking Football and not pick our Bills to run roughshod over just about anyone in the league. LETSFUCKINGGOOOOOOOOOOOOOO