Friday, December 30, 2016

LIVE Round-By-Round Coverage of UFC 207: Nunes vs. Rousey

Can't afford to watch the last UFC PPV of the year, or your local sports bar too cheap to order it (or your computer too slow to stream it?) No worries - our LIVE stream-of-consciousness feed will keep you filled in all night long.

By: Jimbo X

It's the final UFC show of the year, and for once, Saturday night isn't alright for fighting. You know, because UFC 207 is airing on a Friday night instead, for some reason.

Well, never mind those trifling little details, what's important is by golly, we've got some stellar-looking MMA bouts to close out 2016 on a high note. For one thing, we've got T.J. Dillashaw looking to secure his spot as the numbero uno contender-o for the Bantamweight strap against a dude who's won half a dozen fights in secession. And after that, we've got Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt - fresh off one of the greatest "yo momma" exchanges in the world of MMA since that time Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans got into it - going toe-to-toe for the 135 pound championship in what should be one hell of a tussle. And of course, we conclude the night - and the MMA calendar year - with the biggest star in MMA history making her triumphant return to the Octagon, as Ronda "WME really needs me to win this one" Rousey locks horns with Bantamweight strap holder Amanda Nunes.

So yeah, it probably won't be the best show of the year, but there's still enough interesting stuff on the main card to make it worth going out of our ways to witness. Anyhoo, our LIVE round-by-round coverage begins at 10 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, Dec. 30. Do yourself a favor and bookmark this sucker, and be sure to hit the refresh button early and often - we plan on dropping updates after every round. And why don't you do us and yourselves a favor and let your buddies on the social media know about our free service?

Well, looks like this is the last time we'll ever see Mike Goldberg calling a UFC show, so enjoy the Jewiness while it lasts.

Flyweight Bout
Louis Smolka (11-2-0-0)  vs. Ray Borg (9-2-0-0)

Smolka is a 125-pounder who has fought under the Zuffa banner since 2014, going 5-2 over the last three years. Borg joined the UFC around the same time Smolka did - since '14, he's gone 3-2, with his last bout being a decision loss to Justin Scoggins. Frankly, both of these guys are way out of the title fray at this point, and my expectations for the bout are carpet low (the metaphorical opposite of sky high, in case you weren't aware of it.) Yeah - I think it's safe to say we all would've much preferred seeing Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum tango here...

Borg out to "Shout at the Devil" by Crue. Smolka comes out draped in the Hawaiian flag.

Borg with a knee to solar plexus. Smolka whiffs on a high kick but manages to take down Borg anyway. Borg has Smolka's back. He's looking for an armbar. Now he's elbowing the shit out of him. He still has Smolka's back. BORG WITH A SHOOT ROCK BOTTOM! Borg in the full mount and now he's trying to dry hump Smolka to death. Borg looking for an omoplata, of all things. Borg spins out and punches the shit out of Smolka on the ground. Borg with his hooks in Smolka again. Borg with another big slam as the round concludes. Easy 10-9 for Borg, and it ain't even close.

Round two. Borg with a takedown and he has Smolka's back again. He's in the full mount. Borg standing and looking for a leglock. Borg with two HEAVY shots on the ground. Borg in side control. Borg seeking a guillotine. More Borg pound and ground. Ton of punches to Smolka's side. Now Smolka is looking for a guillotine. Borg is out, and he's in side control once more. Another hard elbow shot from Borg. Smolka trying for a triangle, but it ain't happening. 20-18 for Borg, without question.

Round three. Borg shoots for a takedown and Smolka peppers him with elbow shots. Borg in the full mount again. Borg's got Smolka's back. He has a hook in, but he changes his mind. Back to the full mount. Borg has a DEEP arm triangle locked in. Smolka escapes. Borg immediately gets back in the full mount. Borg bullying Smolka up against the cage. Borg LITERALLY jumps on Smolka's back and takes him down. Now the two are standing and Smolka is trying to throw some miracle high kicks. Borg misses on a spinning elbow and Smolka gets a few hammer fists in as the bell sounds. Gotta' be 30-27 for Borg.

One 30-26 and two 30-27s to give Borg the unanimous decision win. Crazier, Borg says he broke his ankle sometime in between the first and second round. Joe Rogan says he's had trouble making weight in the past, but Borg says all he needs to do is work on it a little. This dude reminds me of a young B.J. Penn so much, it's scary.

Max Holloway and Travis Barker are both in the house. 

Here's some B-roll of Amanda Nunes and Ronda Rousey entering the arena, if you need it.

Welterweight Bout
Dong Hyun Kim (21-3-1-1)  vs. Tarec Saffiedine (16-5-0-0)

Believe it or not, there are two fighters on the UFC roster named "Dong Hyun Kim." Well, this is the older of the two, the guy who used to fight in DEEP and has been a welterweight stalwart in the company since 2008. His opponent tonight is the Belgian import Tarec Saffiedine, who hasn't done a whole lot in the UFC but had a pretty good run back in the day with StrikeForce. So yeah, the title implications in this one are slim to non-existent, but hey, it's always fun to watch two veteran sluggers pound on each other for money they desperately, direly need, ain't it?

T.S. out to some hippity-hoppity nonsense. Stun Gun comes out waving the South Korean flag. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think his entrance theme is Gangnam Style. 

Pretty big pop for Stun Gun. Good grappling to begin, with both men trying to land the first takedown. T.S. has Stun Gun's back. T.S. with a big knee to the face. Stun Gun trying to land a Judo throw. He's grinding T.S. against the cage. Both fighters standing, and looking to bang it out in the center of the cage. Stun Gun pins T.S. up against the fence again. T.S. whiffs on a huge haymaker. Stun Gun swinging wildly. T.S. ragdolls Stun Gun to the canvas. Both men up and trading light blows as the bell sounds. A tough one to call, but I've got it 10-9 for Stun Gun.

Round two. Stun Gun misses a high kick and T.S. misses another haymaker. T.S. looking for a takedown but he can't get it. Stun Gun ties him up against the fence. Out of the clinch and both men swinging wildly again. Neither managing to land anything. Good front kick from T.S. Both fighters looked gassed as fuck right now. Stun Gun smothers T.S. up against the cage again. Stun Gun with some small knees as the round concludes. 20-18 Stun Gun.

Round three. Crazy exchange to begin. T.S. "is swinging for the bleachers," Rogan says. Stun Gun clinches T.S. up against the cage, because if it keeps working, why abandon the game plan? Stun Gun FINALLY gets the takedown, but T.S. is right back up. Stun Gun gets a takedown, but he ends up implant DDTing himself in the process. Both men standing. T.S. with a good kick to the midsection. Both these men are so dead on their feet it isn't even funny. Stun Gun with a facile takedown. He sits on T.S. as the round concludes. Should be 30-27 across the board for the Korean.

Stun Gun wins it by split decision. How the fuck that one judge scored it a 29-28 for T.S. is simply beyond me, folks.

Urijah Faber is in the house, and so is ... uh, that one African-American comedian. No, not that one. Or that one. Nope, not that one, either ... yeah, that one.

Bantamweight Bout
T.J. Dillashaw (14-3-0-0) vs. John Lineker (29-7-0-0)

Ex-Bantamweight Champ T.J. Dillashaw, to put it mildly, is one bad motherfucker. Having been finished just once in his professional MMA career (a TKO loss to, of all people, John Dodson), he's gone on to beat up the likes of Joe Soto, Mike Easton and Renan Barao (twice.) After dropping the belt to Dominick Cruz in January, he quickly rebounded by making Raphael Assuncao look like a silly bitch in the Octagon at UFC 200. If Dillashaw can get past Lineker tonight, he's pretty much a lock for the next crack at the belt. But I wouldn't sleep on this Linker motherfucker, though - after all, the guy is riding a six-fight win streak, complete with commanding victories over guys like John Dodson and Ian McCall. This one, as they sometimes say, "ought to be a good 'un."

John Lineker is the last person alive rocking the "emo" Peter Parker haircut from Spider-Man 3 unironically. Dillashaw out to that one Red Hot Chili Peppers song, as always.

Herb Dean is the ref, so that means somebody will have to be brain dead for at least half an hour before he waves it off. T.J. whiffs on a high kick and John gets a brief takedown. Dillashaw with another high kick, but John catches it and tosses his for to the mat again. Both men back up. T.J. with a takedown. T.J. in side control. Now he's in the full mount. John trying to push him off but T.J. keeps whacking him with hammer fists. We're standing in the middle of the cage with 90 seconds to go in the round. T.J. with a low kick and John whiffs on roundhouse. Both men swinging like retarded apes in a knife fight as the bell sounds. 10-9 for T.J. in my books.

Round two. T.J. with a takedown and a ton of punches on the ground. Both men back up. John throwing everything he has at T.J. but nothing sticks. T.J. with a good body kick followed up by a facile takedown. T.J. almost in the full mount. T.J. hammering him with elbows on the ground. Now he has John's back. Back in the full mount. T.J. just pounding the shit out of him right now. More hammer fists and elbows. Absolute dominance from T.J. 10-9 for sure, maybe even a 10-8.

Round three. T.J. throwing high kicks, but nothing's landing. T.J. with a takedown and he's beating the fuck out of John again. Both men back up. John swinging his arms like nunchucks. T.J. with another takedown. Time for more elbows and hammerfists. John trying to get back up and T.J. is just kneeing the shit out of him. T.J. looking for a leglock. John escapes and we're standing again. John throwing punches recklessly. Nothing lands, and T.J. should coast to a 30-27 - maybe even 30-26 - unanimous decision across the board.

It's 30-26 on all three judges' scorecards for Dillashaw. He thanks Duane Ludwig in the post-fight interview and calls Dominick Cruz "a bitch" for dodging him. "If I don't get the next title shot, we all know this shit is rigged," he says.

UFC Men's Bantamweight Championship Bout
Dominick Cruz (22-1-0-0) vs. Cody Garbrandt (10-0-0-0)

Dominick Cruz might just be the pound for pound best fighter on the planet (sorry, Demetrious Johnson - and Jon Jones, if you lay off the crack pipe, we might put you back in the running.) The dude has had just one loss on his record, and that was against Urijah Faber all the way back in 2007. Since then, he's won 13 consecutive fights, including two bouts against Joseph Benavidez, two "revenge" fights against Faber and two tilts against fellow UFC champs Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw. Garbrandt has only been a pro fighter since 2012, but he's definitely chalked up some impressive wins over the last four years, including dominant victories over Takeya Mizugaki and Thomas Almeida (in fact, his last three bouts have been first round stoppages.) So what we've got here, it appears, is that old MMA philosophical question: what happens when a versatile veteran starts throwing haymakers with a young up-and-comer with a fuck-ton of napalm hiding behind his punches? If you said "the product is a UFC co-main event I actually want to watch," you sir or madam, would be correctamundo.

Garbrandt out to ... I have no clue. But he does get a pretty big ovation. Cruz out to some techno-y gobbledygook and light boos.

Cody with a high kick to begin. Now he's dancing like Anderson Silva used to. Another high kick attempt from Cody. Cruz whiffs on an overhand. Then Cody whiffs on an overhand. Cody chases Cruz against the fence, but none of his swings connect. Cruz with some low kicks. Cruz with a takedown, but Cody is right back up. Cruz swinging wildly and he whiffs on a spinning back fist. Cody with a takedown. Cruz is up. Brief punch exchange to close the round. Super close, but I'd give it to Garbrandt, 10-9. But just barely.

Round two. Cruz trying to chase Cody down. Both men stagger each other with punches, but they recover. Cruz swinging like a wild man. Cruz trying to close the gap and Cody clips him a few times. Cody taps him on the chin. Cruz just cannot hit this nigga. Both men in the center of the cage. Cody tries for a takedown, but it don't work. Cruz hits him with a flurry of punches as the round expires. 20-18 Cody.

Round three. Cody slips but he is right back up. Both men trading blows. Cody with leg kicks. Cody shucking and jiving. Cody tags him. High kick from Cruz. CODY DROPS HIM. Cruz is back up. Cruz misses a million billion punches. Cody dodging everything Cruz throws at him. 30-27 for Garbrandt.

Round four. At this point, Cruz is going to have to finish Cody to hold onto his belt. Missed high kick from Cruz. CODY DROPS CRUZ AGAIN. The champ is back up. Cody taunting Cruz by placing his hands on his hips. Cruz is throwing everything he has at Cody and he's dodging it like he's in The Matrix or something. CODY DROPS HIM THREE TIMES OVER THE COURSE OF ONE MINUTE AND I AM NOT EVEN JOKING. Cruz survives the round, but just barely. 40-36 for Garbrandt, maybe even 40-35.

Round five. Do-or-die time for Cruz. Cody playing it very conservatively. Cody mocks Cruz by dropping on the mat and popping right back up. Cody chucks Cruz to the ground. Cruz misses a spinning back fist. Cody presses him up against the cage. Garbrandt does a capoeira roll and this one is all over with. 50-45, maybe even 50-45 for Cody in my book.

Two 48-46 and one 48-47 for Cody Garbrandt to make him the new Bantamweight Champ.

In the post-fight, he puts the belt on this kid who looks like Bobby Hill. "T.J. Dillashaw, come try me motherfucker," he declares. Urijah Faber joins him for a group photo afterwards.

Michael Bisping pimps the next xXx movie. And now? It is time to pimp the hell out of th main event.

UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship Bout
Amanda Nunes (13-4-0-0) vs. Ronda Rousey (12-1-0-0)

Well, this one hardly needs any hype, does it? Ronda Rousey, up until that fight against Holly Holm, was the UFC's golden idol - not just the company's numbero uno PPV draw, but a bona fide A-list celebrity with the kind of crossover media appeal the sport of MMA has been dreaming about since the heyday of Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie (no, not Feb. 2016, you wiseacres you). Alas, with Rousey getting Mortal Kombat combo'ed into submission that fateful evening in Australia, the UFC has struggled to repair Rousey's once unblemished public image, which isn't helped none too much by Rousey acting like a legitimate nutcase in her year-long layover (methinks that has something to do with shacking up with Travis Browne ... let's just call it a hunch.) So tonight, she - and the UFC, by default - have a grand opportunity to go in there and restore Rousey to her former prestige and glory (and if the bout is competitive enough, even fan the flames for a rematch that, potentially, would make even more moolah.) But if Rousey loses - and let's not forget the hellacious mauling this Nunes girl put on Miesha Tate earlier this summer - well, let's just say that ought to really shake WME's faith in this whole MMA business and is likely to drastically change their organizational plans for 2017. Make no mistakes, folks - from a pure business standpoint, this is the most important fight of 2016, and don't nothing else even come close.

Rousey out to "Bad Reputation" and she gets a MONSTER ovation. She looks pissed as fuck. If Nunes doesn't come out wearing that lion mask, I'm going to be sorely disappointed. And she comes out just wearing a baseball cap instead. Bummer.

A considerable height advantage for Nunes. Nunes swinging for the fences. Nunes clipping the shit out of Ronda AND IT IS ALL OVER. "She lit Ronda up like a Christmas tree," Rogan comments. Nunes absolutely carved Rousey alive standing - we're talking a Mortal Kombat "flawless victory" win right here.

The official time is just 48 seconds into the very first round. Rousey leaves the Octagon. Amanda says her girlfriend is going to be a UFC champion, too. She said she loved how the media totally overlooked her in the lead up to the fight. Nunes says Rousey is probably going to retire because she's already got all that Hollywood money.

Well, there goes WME's stock estimates for Monday morning. Rogan and Goldberg shoot the shit about why Rousey got her ass kick and talk about potential challengers for Nunes' title. There's a great moment where Joe has to correct himself after he calls half the roster "guys." Per Rogan, "Amanda was just better tonight."

Ronda Rousey got paid $3 million for tonight's fight. And needless to say, Nunes beat every last penny out of her this evening.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 NFL Power Rankings - Week 16

ESPN and Sports Illustrated can eat it - these are the only pro football rankings anybody needs.

By: Jimbo X

This Week's Episode:
"This is the End, Friend"


New England Patriots (13-2)
Season Point Differential: +170

In the wake of a 41-3 beatdown of the Jets, the only thing standing in the way of the Pats and home field advantage throughout the playoffs is surging Miami, who, as fate would have it, are hosting the Patriots this Sunday afternoon. A win there - or a Raiders loss - guarantees the road to Super Bowl 51 will go through Foxboro ... well, for one game, at least. 

Dallas Cowboys (13-2)
Season Point Differential: +129

Dak Prescott and pals made the Lions look anything but playoff worthy on Monday night, beating the current NFC North frontrunners 42-21. Ezekiel Elliot had two rushing touchdowns (80 yards on 12 carries) while Prescott lobbed the rock for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Hell, Detroit's defense sucked so much, even Dez Bryant got an opportunity to chuck the pigskin for six on the board.

Atlanta Falcons (10-5)
Season Point Differential: +128

With their 33-16 win over the Panthers and the Bucs losing the same day, Atlanta officially locks up the NFC South title. They're going to need some help, but if they can win out against New Orleans this Sunday (no small task, mind you), hey, what do you know, guess who just secured themselves a first round playoffs bye?

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4)
Season Point Differential: +69

It was a brutal, down and dirty, back and forth struggle, but the Steeler nonetheless managed to top their divisional foes Baltimore Sunday, 31-27. Not only did the win give Pittsburgh the AFC North title (and thusly, the third overall seed in the playoffs), but it also officially eliminated the Ravens from playoff contention ... something I am sure the Baltimore faithful won't remember at the beginning of next season.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)
Season Point Differential: +68

The Chiefs pulverized the defending Super Bowl champions last Sunday night, clobbering the Broncos 33-10. Alex Smith wrapped up the game 25 for 35 for 244 yards and a one-to-one TD-INT ratio while the K.C. run game outpaced the Broncos' rushing attack 238 yards to 63. Oh, and they also let Dontari Poe throw the fattest touchdown pass in NFL history, just because.

Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1)
Season Point Differential: +60

The Seahawks, who have had the NFC West locked up for several weeks now, ended up losing Saturday's shindig against the Cardinals 34-31. Now, is this is an example of a team on "sleep mode" until the postseason begins, or is their inability to bounce back against lesser competition an indication this team ain't quite ready for do-or-die, January-time football?

Oakland Raiders (12-3)
Season Point Differential: +49

Saying that the Raiders suffered a major postseason setback when Derek Carr sustained a broken fibula late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 33-25 win over the Colts is kinda' like saying JFK's assassination really hurt his chances for reelection. With Matt McGloin now under center, the Raiders have an opportunity to secure a crucial first round bye if the Scranton Strangler can lead his team to victory over the Broncos this Sunday, but if they are unsuccessful at vanquishing Denver and K.C. manages to beat S.D., all of a sudden Oakland drops from the No. 2 seed all the way down to the fifth seed overall. 

Buffalo Bills (7-8)
Season Point Differential: +41

The Bills playoffs drought continues, with their heartbreaking 34-31 O.T. loss to Miami cancelling any postseason plans they may have had that didn't entail watching the shit at home on TV. And whatever happens in '17, rest assured it will be without the aide of one Rex Ryan - indeed, the notorious foot fetishist was given his walking papers with one game to go on the schedule.


Baltimore Ravens (8-7)
Season Point Differential: +39

Bad snaps and some boneheaded throws ended up sinking the Ravens Sunday, as they fell to the Steelers 31-27 in a back-and-forth barroom brawl of a football game. Even worse for Baltimore, the defeat officially keeps them from participating in the 2016-17 postseason - surely, they won't have any hard feelings against the Steelers next fall, will they?

Green Bay Packers (9-5)
Season Point Differential: +37

Aaron Rodgers' four touchdown passes paved the way for the Packers to bump off arch rivals Minnesota 38-25 on Sunday. Up next for Green Bay? The de facto NFC North Championship hootenanny against Detroit - win, and G.B. is in and if they lose? Well, they're going to be praying Washington and Tampa Bay hunch the pooch in their respective games this weekend, for sure. 

Washington Redskins (8-6-1)
Season Point Differential: +22

The Skins' 41-21 win over the Bears last weekend keeps their playoff dreams a' goin. Indeed, if Washington can beat the Giants at home this Sunday, they are pretty much guaranteed a slot in the playoffs - well, just as long as the Lions/Packers game later that evening doesn't result in a tie, anyway.

Philadelphia Eagles (6-9)
Season Point Differential: +22

It really don't mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but the Eagles - at the beginning of the season, touted as a potential Super Bowl candidate - certainly gained some measure of satisfaction from their 24-19 win over the Giants last Thursday. Granted, the team is still going to wrap up the year with a losing record, but hey - a late season divisional win is still a late season divisional win, ain't it?

New Orleans Saints (7-8)
Season Point Differential: +21

The Saints' 31-24 win over the Bucs didn't do diddly to change the fact they aren't going to be in the playoffs this year, but it did give Drew Brees ample room to inflate his seasonal yardage. And hey, these guys very well could defeat the Falcons this Sunday ... you know, not that it does anything about the pesky postseason problem or nothing. 

Denver Broncos (8-7)
Season Point Differential: +18

Following their 33-10 loss to the Chiefs, the Denver Broncos - yes, the defending Super Bowl champs - are officially eliminated from playoff contention. There's a lot of blame to go around for the latest loss, but Trevor Siemian's god-awful play can't be overlooked - the dude went 17 for 43 for just 183 yards, no TDs and one INT.

Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1)
Season Point Differential: +18

David Johnson had three touchdown runs in the Cardinals' upset win over the Seahawks Sunday. Long out of the playoffs discussion, maybe Arizona can use this 34-31 victory as kindling for a comeback next season?

New York Giants (10-5)
Season Point Differential: +17

The G-Men are guaranteed a slot in the playoffs no matter what, so maybe we shouldn't freak out about their 24-19 loss to the Eagles last Thursday night. Now, if they lose to the Redskins on the road THIS Sunday, however...


Indianapolis Colts (7-8)
Season Point Differential: +15

The Colts' 33-25 loss to the Raiders Saturday eliminated Andrew Luck and pals from any postseason considerations. And don't let that final score fool you into thinking this was anything even remotely resembling a close contest, neither - indeed, the score was 33-14 Oakland up until Derek Carr went down early in the fourth, with everything Indy posted on the board afterwards being the definition of garbage time points

Miami Dolphins (10-5)
Season Point Differential: +4

The Dolphins needed some extra time, but they nonetheless managed to best Buffalo 34-31 in an O.T. thriller. Officially playoffs bound, one has to wonder: is the golden trifecta of Matt Moore, Jay Ayaji and Jarvis Landry really capable of going toe-to-toe with the likes of Big Ben and Tom Brady, or are they just a flash-in-the-pan act that got hot down the stretch against lesser competition? 

San Diego Chargers (5-10)
Season Point Differential: -3

I reckon the Bolts were feeling mighty generous with it being the holidays and all, so they went out there and gifted the Cleveland Brown their first win of the year last Sunday. And if that don't prove to you these Chargers are some decent chaps, they even let the Browns outrun 'em by a 124 to 34 yard margin in the 20-17 loss!

Tennessee Titans (8-7)
Season Point Differential: -4

Adding injury to insult, not only did the Titans lose 38-17 to the Jags Sunday, they also lost starting QB Marcus Mariota for a long time due to a broken fibula. And yes, if all that shit wasn't bad enough, it also happened to officially eliminate Tennessee from the playoffs, too.

Detroit Lions (9-6)
Season Point Differential: -5

Following a very bad 42-21 Monday night loss to the Cowboys, the Lions now find themselves in a do-or-die regular season finale against the Packers. A win and the Lions take home the NFC North crown and - depending on how the rest of the NFC playoffs teams perform on Sunday - quite possibly even a first round bye in the postseason. But if they lose? Green Bay clinches the division and the Lions will be roadbound through the entirety of January.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-9-1)
Season Point Differential: -7

If you want to watch the kind of NFL games they show in hell in ultra low-definition, Cincinnati's 12-10 loss to the Texans gives you a ghastly glimpse into the pro football afterlife. Still, Andy Dalton managed to put up some impressive figures in the showing - 268 yards and a one-to-one TD-to-INT ratio on 28 completions.

Minnesota Vikings (7-8)
Season Point Differential: -8

The Vikings' 38-25 loss to Green Bay ensures Minnesota will finish the year no better than .500. Hey, remember earlier this season, when the Vikes started off 5-0 and we all thought they were going to run roughshod over the rest of the NFC North? Well, Pepperidge Farms remembers...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7)
Season Point Differential: -16

The Bucs dropping last Sunday's game against the Saints 31-24 did a LOT to jeopardize Tampa Bay's playoffs aspirations. That said, T.B. can still earn a playoff berth this weekend if they beat the Panthers. And the Colts beat the Jags. And the Cowboys beat the Eagles. And the Lions beat the Eagles. And the Titans beat the Texans. And the 49ers beat the Seahawks. And the Redskins and Giants tie


Carolina Panthers (6-9)
Season Point Differential: -32

Dropping Sunday's game against the Falcons 33-16 more than put an end to whatever unrealistic playoffs hopes the Panthers may have had - indeed, Matt Ryan and pals pretty much pissed all over their proverbial postseason graves. Still, it's a talent-rich team that has potential to get back on track next year ... or become an even bigger mess than they were in 2016. I'd say it's about a 50-50 shot at this point.

Houston Texans (9-6)
Season Point Differential: -42

Sunday's 12-10 win over the Bengals - in tandem with the Titans and Colts both losing - officially gives Houston the AFC South title. Still, it's pretty much the group consensus that this is the worst team in this year's playoffs dozen - as evident by QB Tom Savage's statistics: 18 for 29 for 176 yards and no scores (and that's just 155 yards if you count the 21 yards lost to the four times he got sacked.) 

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12)
Season Point Differential: -78

The Jags pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the week Sunday when they pummeled the Titans 38-17. Blake Bortles, in particular, had a hell of a game, going 26 for 38 and lobbing the rock for 325 yards and a solo TD strike.

Chicago Bears (3-12)
Season Point Differential: -92

Chicago's 41-21 loss to the Redskins was - well, I guess the word would be "lowlighted" - by Matt Barkley's five interceptions. With Chicago on track for a first five pick in the draft, methinks their first course of action will probably be getting themselves a new QB.

Los Angeles Rams (4-11)
Season Point Differential: -132

The Rams somehow managed to let the Niners rack up 15 points late in the fourth quarter, thus producing a 22-21 come from behind loss for L.A. Jared Goff's numbers are just miserable: 11 for 24 for 90 yards, one TD and two interceptions (and that yardage count can be dialed on down to 78, if you count the real estate he lost from being sacked four times.)

New York Jets (4-11)
Season Point Differential: -154

The Jets symbolically crashed and burned with a 41-3 ass-raping at the hands of the Patriots last weekend. And if that score sounds bad, just remember - New York didn't even get a field goal on the board until six minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

San Francisco 49ers (2-13)
Season Point Differential: -169

The Niners only have two wins all season, and what do you know, they're both at the expense of the Los Angeles Rams. In Sunday's 22-21 comeback win, Colin K. quit hating America long enough to go 28 for 38 for 266 yards and two touchdowns - y'know, despite getting sacked four times in the same contest.

Cleveland Browns (1-14)
Season Point Differential: -185

Alright, '08 Lions, time to pop the corks - the Browns finally won a game in 2016. So, does the 20-17 victory over San Diego herald the first step of the long suffering franchise's return to glory, or did they just get lucky in a game against a team that didn't have nothing to play for with two weeks to go in the regular season? As they oft say, only time will tell.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Propaganda Review: The Y2K Family Survival Guide! (1999)

In the late 1990s, we all thought the global computer infrastructure would crash and kill us all. Here's a VHS tape hosted by Leonard Nimoy telling us what to do when the techno-apocalypse struck.

By: Jimbo X

One of the things I hate about nostalgia pieces is how they distort history. Take VH1's I Love the 2000s series, which posited Donnie fuckin' Darko is the most significant cultural event of 2001. Uh, I hate to break it to you revisionist twats, but nobody gave a fuck about that movie when it first came out, and even if they did, there was this little thing called 9/11 that your stupid ass "retrospective" didn't even touch upon that I'm pretty sure impacted a whole lot more people. 

Of course, us retro-enthusiasts tend to overstate the cultural importance of most of the stuff we talk about. Hell, I love NHL'94 as much as anybody can love anything, but even I have to admit that its nostalgic value is relegated to a very, very small sliver of fringe video gamers. Trust me - the O.J. Simpson trial was a wayyyy bigger deal than Crystal Pepsi, and it's not even debatable.

That said, I think certain cultural holdovers remain curiously downplayed, and the great, big Y2K scare has to be one of the most significantly overlooked events of the 1990s. You kids remember that whole 2012 Mayan apocalypse bullshit? Well, Y2K was kinda' like that, except far, FAR more intense. Millions of Americans were downright convinced that when the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, the world was going to end. The computers in D.C. were going to go on the fritz, the Russians would dump their nuclear arsenal on Cleveland and our toasters were going to come alive like in Maximum Overdrive and try to eat us - in short, it was going to be every techno-holocaust scenario from every single shitty Mad Max ripoff ever, all rolled into one gigantic Katamari ball of pure digital destruction.

And this widespread paranoia went on forever. As early as 1992, I recall a bunch of doomsayers making the media rounds, warning the masses about the impending collapse of humanity at decade's end. The closer 2-0-0-0 approached, the more fervent and inescapable the hysteria became. In fact, I'm pretty sure at least one of those old school preachin' channels just halted their regular programming in Dec. 1999 and just ran around-the-clock infomercials about all the things they wanted viewers to do to prepare for computer Armageddon.

Which brings us to this little curiosity from 1999 - The Y2K Family Survival Guide VHS cassette. 

Produced by a firm called International Cinema Partners (some Google sleuthing verifies they've LONG gone out of business, or changed their name, or something), the hour-long video tape is about 50 percent "computer experts" talking about what could happen when the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, while the other half is tips and tricks from "survival experts" on how to best prepare for life without electricity (and more importantly ... nonfunctional toilets.)

"Hello, I'm Leonard Nimoy. And right now, I really wish I would've used my ...In Search Of royalties more wisely."
Oh, and I almost left out the best part - the whole damn thing is narrated by Leonard "the official voice of Seaman on the Sega Dreamcast himself" Nimoy, and in virtually every shot he's positioned in front of some really shitty green screens clips of hard drives being assembled and lighting crackling. And because there's not enough stuff going on, the audio track is also glutted with a litany of buzzing modem chirps throughout the duration of the tape, because that shit don't get annoying or distracting at any point ever

The tape begins with Nimoy talking about earth and all of our human inventions and raises the question of how can two little digits potentially bring mankind to a screeching halt? The contents of this tape, he promises, will show us all how to prepare individually for pending disaster, as well as highlight the ways we can work together as "global neighbors" to make the best of whatever happens after Jan. 1, 2000. And not to be sensationalist or anything, but the very next thing on the video is a comment from some computer specialist dude who says the only thing that can quantify the possible ramifications of the Y2K bug is motherfuckin' chaos theory.

After a menacing quote from Alan Greenspan, Nimoy talks about the myth of Atlantis for a bit, then says no, we can't spend anymore time musing on what happened a long, long time ago. After all, with Y2K breathing down our necks, the power supply, satellite communications, health care, transportation and the food distribution cycle could all become antiquities. With the Y2K problem looming large, Nimoy asks if technology has finally outpaced our human ability to control them - i.e., the very same philosophical question posed by those great Australian thinkers AC/DC on the soundtrack for Maximum Overdrive.

We cut to clips of Robert Bennett on C-SPAN, saying all sorts of crazy shit about Y2K preparedness. From there, we throw it to computer specialist Greg Hallmark, who says the roots of the bug go all the way back to Grace Murray Hopper and COBOL. You see, the government was lazy as shit, so they decided just leaving out the 19 before whatever year it was in the 20th century was a great way to save money on hole-punch cards. But wait a minute, that means when the clock rolls over to 2000, how will our nuclear launch systems know it's supposed to be 2000 and not 1900? Hence, the Y2K dilemma, in a nutshell.

Per Hallmark, that little snafu would require TRILLIONS of dollars to remedy (and remember, there's only about $80 trillion in hard currency in the total global economy today.) And he adds the casualties of these terminal computer glitches could be, but are not necessarily limited to, nuclear power plants, airlines and the entire logistics industry. But it gets even worse, because the Y2K bug also impacts things with computer chips embedded in them, too, and that means CT scanners and IV pumps could all go on the fritz after Dec. 31, 1999. And according to Bennett, two to five percent of all chips WILL fail when midnight rolls around on Jan. 01

Per some guy named Marshall Murdock, bureaucrats don't know nothing about fixing nothing, no how. Another talking head then throws out a competing figure for how much moolah had been spent on Y2K compliance up until late 1998 - $600 billion worldwide. Bennett talks about the federal Year 2000 progress report card, which gaged how well-prepared agencies were for the Y2K carryover. In case you were wondering, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Education both got Ds.

Oh, and if that wasn't enough, this one guy says the FAA might have some radar problems, too. And we all know what the government did the LAST time there were major problems with the FAA...

We get a scare quote from former CIA official Sherry Burns about how bad Y2K could be, with Nimoy - in front of a blinking binary video screen with the camera zoomed in ridiculously close to his face - stating the general public has met the 2000 scare with "denial, complacency and apathy." 

Elevators will stop. ATM machines won't work. Telephones will go on the fritz. Water delivery systems will fail. And then? The global stock market will plunge and nuclear power plants ... cue a LONG pause for dramatic effect ... may not be able to produce as much power as they used to. Yeah, that last one kinda' disappointed me, too. 

Hallmark give us a concise and totally not at all vague definition of what "chaos theory" is - "one small thing happening over here can cause really big things happening on the other side of the world" - and says blackouts and brownouts are practically unavoidable.

Bennett continues: credit unions and banks will go belly up. ICU equipment will become useless and "some people will die."

Developing countries, though, will have the worst problems. Just 24 countries overall, one talking head says, have made any attempts to prepare for the Y2K bug. But just you wait! That's not the only problematic date ahead - according to one interviewee, there is a strong chance our computers will automatically shut off on Sept. 9, 1999 - thus, completely fucking up the launch of the Sega Dreamcast in the process. July 1, 1999 could also be a bad one, the dude continues, because that's the date many companies enter their '00 fiscal years.

A shocker, I know, but apparently, Y2KCyberCenter.Com didn't survive the dotcom bubble bust.
We get a dandy quote from Charles Rossetti, a former IRS commissioner, about the possibility of the ENTIRE U.S. banking system collapsing. On the plus side, though, Nimoy DOES acknowledge that Social Security has been working on Y2K since at least 1994 and that all Macintosh systems have been Y2K-ready since the mid-1980s. (Yeah kids, this was at a point in time in which Apple, believe it or not, was economically at death's door and Billy Gates' MicroEmpire was the tech industry's undisputed 800 pound gorilla.) And Bill Clinton did appoint a Y2K czar, and Chase Bank has been working on the bug for about 10 years, Nimoy continues. "Human ingenuity," he says, "is now at work on both large and small scales."

Oh, and for those of you that like impromptu drinking games - go on ahead and down a shot every time somebody on the video uses the term "mission critical."

Up next, this one guy says he doesn't anticipate any "catastrophic failures," and large-scale riots are unlikely. Then these two other guys talk about how getting a whole bunch of guns and heading up to the mountains with a year's supply of food probably isn't the best idea, because there's already going to be a ton of other people with a whole bunch of guns bunkering down before you get there. "We will have to be patient while it is being fixed," one interviewee says, but that could also lead to "a rediscovery of community." Per yet another talking head: Y2K could present an opportunity to show us how "electricity doesn't solve all of our problems" and could make us more more cautious about how much we let technology control our lives. Another subject notes that American hospitals had good patient care 25 years ago when there was no high-tech medical equipment, so what's the big hubbub about Y2K anyhow? 

Following a strangely non-contextual Lao Tsu quote, Nimoy notes that Y2K represents a dilemma for government, CEOs and ... spiritual leaders? "There are no Y2K experts," he reminds us, "because no one knows what's going to happen and nothing like this has ever happened in history before."

Enter the REAL star of the video, one Ted motherfucking Wright. This is a British dude who claims to be a survivalist expert, and you know the guy has to be totally legit because his caption reads "family safety preparedness consultant." From the get-go, we realize this Ted fellow is a philosophical sort, as it begins addressing the need to find a good middle ground between "no action" versus "hardcore survivalist" plans. Take heed, those of you already preparing for the Year 2038 problem ... these tips might just save your life and the lives of everyone you love someday:

  • OK, so you're going to need at least a four weeks' supply of water for everybody in the house. So hoarding 30 gallons of water per person is a pretty good starting point. 
  • Wondering the best way to store that precious H20 in computer-armageddon? Well, all you have to do is take a couple of old Mountain Dew two-liters and ziploc bags and fill them sumbitches with water and then hide it someplace cold and dark. You can use a Brita water filter if you want, and as an absolute last resort, you can always boil it. 
  • Be sure to stock water to help flush your commodes, too. Fill up as many trash cans and plastic drums as you can - we're definitely talking quantity as opposed to quality at this point. Hell, use rain water, if you absolutely have to. Say, wouldn't that attract mosquitoes, and aren't large, festering bins of water a known source for infectious diseases? Strangely, Uncle Ted remains mum on that particular matter.
  • So, sanitation, you might be wondering? Wright strongly suggests you DON'T just put plastic Walmart bags in your toilet and shit in 'em. That generates germs and bacteria. You can buy a chemical toilet for less than $60, though. And don't forget: "a good sized bucket and adaptive toilet seat will work if you are careful."
  • DO NOT DUMP PISS AND SHIT IN YOUR OWN YARD. That's why God invented the concept of "neighbor's property," after all.
  • Also, apartments and other multifamily dwellings need to make plans for installing communal toilets ... that's a fancy way of saying port-a-johns, I take it. Heck, it might even be worth raising rent by a dollar a month!
  • Remember: you can always use baby wipes to clean your underarms and genitals. 
  • It's probably a good idea to stockpile anywhere from a month to six weeks' worth of canned foods. Potted meat, tuna fish, beans ... and don't you goddamn forget the pet food, neither!
  • You need 50 to 60 grams of protein a day. Just take my word for it, OK?
  • Per Wright, "a dehydrator is worth its weight in gold," because you can always place your jerky in a container of rice for a delicious, umami-centric treat. Also, there is this one cookbook written by this one bitch you should read, while you are at it. (Yes, he really does plug a cookbook, and the ordering information even pops up on screen.)
  • For some reason, you should also have alfalfa seeds, too. And you can peruse your local military surplus store for some M.R.E.s, because the downfall of man is way more fun when you're pretending to be Solid Snake.
And if you're wondering what that number connects to now, I'm pretty sure it's some Nigerian dude trying to scam you out of your Social Security Number for fake Caribbean cruise tickets.

  • Not only can you use rolled-up newspapers as kindling ... well, that's pretty much the only thing newspapers ARE good for nowadays, actually.
  • Kerosene heaters are a good investment. And did you know there are state of the art flashlights you can buy that last a year on just TWO AA batteries? Also, you may want to horde batteries whether or not a techno-holocaust is on the horizon, because that means while everybody else is bored shitless without electricity, BAM! You've got a Game Boy Color that's going to keep you company for a long time to come
  • Direct quote from Wright: "candles are controversial." 
  • Oil lamps are a sound investment. So are Starterloggs, and if you don't know what those are, congratulations on being a limp-wristed pussy. 
  • Oh fuck, you'll probably need a fire extinguisher, too. Because we all know their proper use in the case of emergencies. 
  • Ask your doctor if you can get an emergency month's supply of your prescription pills. In post Oxycontin-America, I fucking double dog dare you to attempt this.
  • You'll definitely need a four week supply of toilet paper and a lot of trash bags. Also: feminine hygiene products (note - if you're not a woman, you probably don't need them.)
  • It's not a bad idea to have the following items at your disposal: a hammer, a crowbar, pliers and rope. Yeah, I know out of context, that sounds ominous as fuck, but hey - this is survival we're talking 'bout here. 
  • Have your most important documents available in hard copy - passports, mortgage deeds, stocks, WCW Dudes with Attitude memberships, etc.
  • Hey, senor Wright, just how much cash should we set aside for the computer-apocalypse? Short answer: even he doesn't know an appropriate amount, and he's a fucking survival expert with a British accent. (Bonus: this is followed by a short segment involving another talking head who uses the opportunity to rail against fractional reserve banking instead of answering the motherfucking question.) 
  • Should we be worried about the deleterious effects of the collapse of all human society on our children? According to some random man with a mustache holding giant cans of taco meat, "eh, children are resilient."
  • Have you taken proper precautions to take care of a newborn child, if such is in your cards? Do you have access to a "ham" radio? Have you called your utility providers and asked for accurate billing statements ahead of time? Have you conferred with local management about emergency provisions for heat and waste management? If not, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU WAITING FOR, DO IT, DO IT, DO IT NOW, YOU POOR BASTARD.

And the absolute best part? After all of that, we get hit with a stealth advertisement for Wright's own survival expert hotline. For shame, for shame, for dadgum shame, you old scoundrel, you.

We get a contextually confounding quote from Olaf Stapleton as an awkward transition and Nimoy is flapping his gums about Atlantis again. Another expert says maybe Y2K won't be that bad. Like, it'll go from being a catastrophe to a mere brownout over the course of one week. Another interviewee says that on a scale of 1 to 10, the danger Y2K poses to American infrastructure is ... a two. Then what the hell was the point of all of that paranoid fearmongering earlier, you little turds?

Nimoy expounds upon the hidden silver lining of the Y2K crash: "We've taken byproducts of our collective innovations for granted," he says, "use this moment in the development of our civilization to look at the long range effects of all of our human endeavors." And that's our cue to roll some footage highlighting the dangers of cloning, bacterial warfare, pollution and my personal favorite - and again, this is a direct quote taken straight from the VHS recording - "death ray technologies," which if you ask me, is one of the things about technological progress I am MOST looking forward to.

And to wrap a nice linguistic bow around this whole kit and kaboodle? "What can we do to protect our home, our island in space?" Nimoy asks the viewer. The credits - which include a million billion hotline numbers and scrolling URLS - unfurl, with the dulcimer tones of "United Blue" by Rebecca Stout courting us towards our most uncertain future.

I don't know - is the total collapse of humanity really all that bad when it means we get to subsist on a diet of nothing but tacos and blueberry pancakes?

So yeah, I guess you really don't need me to tell you this, but none of the shit the video prophesied actually happened. When the clock rolled over to 12 a.m., planes didn't fall out of the sky, nobody's blenders spontaneously exploded and Lincoln, Nebraska wasn't incinerated by atomic Soviet hellfire. Shit, the PPV feed for Prince's live New Year's Eve concert - noteworthy because it was the last time he ever performed 1999 in front of a paying audience - didn't even experience a momentary technical hiccup. And like that, this video immediately became discount bin fodder, yet another casualty of overzealous, commercialized scaremongering a'la The Jupiter Menace(which, coincidentally, predicted doomsday just a couple of months after Y2K was supposed to bring humanity to its knees.)

Being a piece of ephemera from the late, late 1990s, The Y2K Family Survival Guide really hasn't plateaued as a truly nostalgic piece quite yet. Yes, it feels outdated, but it doesn't really feel like it comes from a bygone era in human history, either. It's too modern to inspire any syrupy sentimentalism but at the same time, it's too old to be considered a commentary on our current culture. So it's stuck in this weird chronological vacuum where its historical merits are really, really hard to deduce - surely, it has some sociocultural worth as a document of the times, but as to what that intrinsic worthiness is, well ... looks like we'll have to wait a few more years to find out. 

While the tape is definitely prone to some good old fashioned doomsaying, it's not really as hysterical as I thought it would be. Hell, it even sounds downright pragmatic at times, with Mr. Wright's "survivalist tips," regardless of their associations with the Y2K disaster scenario, seeming fairly useful in case of general weather calamities. It's a fairly optimistic tape, overall, and there's nothing in the cassette - save for all of that brass-balled hotline pandering - that comes off as truly groan-inducing. Sure, the editing is a little amateurish and Nimoy's pseudo-philosophizing about the frailty of the planet comes off as a bit forced, but for the most part? There's not really that much in here to scoff at, and yes, I am as disappointed about that as you are.

As a general rule of thumb, humanity seems to be inclined to want to accept the worst possible scenario as an inevitable outcome, and entire books have been written about why this is - in and of itself - a tremendous statistical fallacy. As evident by all of the baseless fearmongering that went on during the 2012 hullaballoo - and even more so in the downright absurd leftist reactionary paranoia concerning president-elect Trump - we're always going to have people running around, doing their best Chicken Little impersonations and letting us know for real, ya'll, we actually are all going to die this time and we're being super-duper serious. With that in mind, you can at least give this tape a little bit of credit for going the less sensationalist route and pretty much admitting that jack shit probably isn't going to happen, but it's still reason enough to take safety preparedness seriously and carefully reconsider our cultural dependence on technology (which, obviously, has increased a million, billion fold since the video came out.) 

In that, The Y2K Family Survival Guide is that rare, only semi-exploitational breed of propaganda that - while clearly a half-assed attempt at a topical cash grab - still leaves you with more to thoughtfully consider than shake your head about. And assuredly, its finer points will remain equally relevant and poignant in the wake of the next great civilization-imperiling mass delusion - whatever form that may take.