(Editor’s note: Mixed into a rambling narrative about the current state of affairs in the NFL loaded with historical and pop culture references, Mr. Brutal makes some football picks. Why…

(Editor’s note: Mixed into a rambling narrative about the current state of affairs in the NFL loaded with historical and pop culture references, Mr. Brutal makes some football picks. Why does he call it the “War of 1812 Football Prognostication”? He likes history, he’s Canadian, and it probably has something to do with those two facts. That’s all we’ve got. We used to spend a long time editing these things. This year, you’re getting them raw… so enjoy the Canadian “flavour.”)

unnamed (14)Everybody is sad with the news that the “Thin White Duke” David Bowie, passed away this past week at the age of 69. The man was much more an artist than a singer/musician. He actually started out performing in a mime company. Throughout his career, besides writing, playing and singing music he painted, sculpted and wrote literature. Music was his main conduit to the masses. He played multiple instruments, morphed through many personas throughout his career, collaborated with many others, mentored young talent, performing mostly original compositions but often giving unique takes on others’ work.

…. He also publicly criticized MTV when it started for its limited playlists and played a major role in getting them to play videos from black artists.

….. He was born David Jones, and started performing under that name. Unfortunately, the Monkees with lead singer Davey Jones hit it big right about then forcing a name change. He chose Tom Jones. Of course mere weeks after the type on his new promo 8 X 10’s was dry, Welsh singer “Tom Jones” had his first major hit with “It’s not Unusual.”

….. So David was forced to abandon his given last name and then chose to use the surname of a famous American frontiersman.
….. The David Bowie we liked the most was the early 70’s Bowie because he was just starting to find his niche. He was shaping his identity and despite his ominous front man preseance, he was still being a real singer within the context of an intact touring and studio band.

…. The wild androgynous Bowie of this period we always thought of as “The Glam Rock Dylan.”

……. Chemistry is a real, tangible thing in rock n’ roll that often gets nominal acknowledgement, but is truly underestimated.

…… Recording records for commercial return with dozens of different musicians, multiple producers & guests often leads to vainglorious monstrosities that lack any heart, continuity, feel, soul or vibe.

….. When David sang with his first real band, he blossomed and created some of his most interesting characters and was successfully able to transfer them to the “Live” stage. The “Spiders from Mars” had their own sound. Although non of the members of the band were virtuosos, they were perfect for the material he was writing at this time.

…. It was also the most “Rock n’ Roll” David Bowie would ever be.

…. The members included Trevor Bolder on bass, Mick Woodman on drums and Mick Ronson on guitar.

…. They started on 1971’s “Hunky Dory” and played on 1972’s “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” 1973’s “Aladdin Sane,” and “Pinups.”

….. These albums were all entities unto themselves and should be listened to in their entirety. They included some of his best music and lyrics. Better known songs from this era included songs such as “Changes,” “Starman,” “Suffragette City,” Jean Genie” and “Time.”

…. One of our favourite songs from this period was “Panic in Detroit” from “Aladdin Sane.” Conceived in 1972 while touring the United States for the first time, David was apparently influenced by Detroit native Iggy Pop ( a man who probably owes a lot of his career to David’s mentoring and promotion ), ….. who was explaining to David in a hotel room about the wild revolutionary figures he cavorted with in and out of the music scene during the turbulent 1960’s in the Motor City.

….. These included the first truly openly subversive, revolutionary rock band, the MC5 ( The Motor City Five). When they found out that certain corporations were not hip to their controversial message and rough language on their records, they actually pulled their own records from being distributed through those corporate record stores. This made them sort of infamous, but of course, hurt overall sales. Drugs ultimately destroyed that band.

….. People assumed that “Panic” related to the fallout from the tragic 1967 riots in Detroit and meshed seamlessly with Bowie’s fictional account of a conflict between citizens, the dispossessed, politicians, soldiers & certain revolutionaries and their followers. In Bowie’s vision, Detroit would become a permanently damaged Dystopian Metropolis of rubble, hatred and danger.

….. He was pretty bang on with that one.

….. Years later however, when going through personal lyric books, David amended the story behind the song. He said that he now recalled that the song originated from very real anxiety and panic.

…… This resulted from the shortage of heroin on the streets of Detroit as a result from the fallout from the historic French Connection busts. This temporarily prevented junkies from getting their fixes with the supply from Montreal and New York being shut down for weeks. As a result crime and violence rates shot through the roof.

….. David said he had forgotten about these origins to the song’s lyrics because, ….. well, …… there were a lot of drugs of all types being used by him and everyone else around at the time.

…. The song is a great example of less is more. Syncopated rhythms with stilted calypso leanings driven by a deliberate, slow, ominous and calculated guitar riff from the one and only Mick Ronson.

…… After 1973’s “Pinups” the band was sadly dropped. The next Bowie record was 1974’s “Diamond Dogs” with David himself playing all the distinctive guitar on the songs in the studio. Mick Ronson resented this, as he had worked out most of the arrangements for the new material during the last tour and was finally fed up with getting almost no writing credit up to this point in his career with David. The old “creative differences” sop was given as the reason given for David forming a new touring band and dropping the “Spiders.”

unnamed (13)…. I booked Mick Ronson solo band shows once and also saw him perform one of his last shows in 1993. Sadly, there were only a dozen people there to see him perform with Ian Hunter. He was very sick and died several months later from liver cancer, ……. just like David Bowie did last week.

….. The final “Spiders from Mars Band” record is what we will focus on here. One of Bowie’s most overlooked and underrated albums was “Pinups,” an album of covers of songs he grew up listening to and performing in mid 60’s London. The “Spiders from Mars” preseance is what gave this record its very distinctive sound along with David’s unique voice.

…… David recorded this album because he was dismayed that so much of the early music that he heard on the London scene was virtually unknown in America, despite the fact that bands like Pink Floyd, the Kinks, the Yardbirds and The Who became major stars in America.

… Ironically “Pinups” didn’t do very well in America and help publicize these bands’ earlier works, but the record was a massive hit in Great Britain and Europe.

…. All the songs are really good, but we’ll focus on the appropriate one for this solemn occasion. Backed by Mick Ronson’s resonating Les Paul and the “Spiders from Mars” band we give you the Bowie version of the Kinks very haunting

“Where have all the Good Times Gone?”


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Saturday, January 16, 2016

4:35 pm Kansas City @ NEW ENGLAND (-5) 42.5

…… The Chiefs have now established an 11 game winning streak thanks to last week’s destruction of the Texans that was won on the opening kickoff return for a major. That and thicker than Texas Toast Head Coach Bill O’Brien of Houston who insisted on keeping QB Brian Hoyer playing for the entire game. This despite the fact that his play was abominable.

…. Obviously his numerous concussions have resulted in him becoming the first player in NFL history to play an entire playoff game while legally comatose.
…. Yes, Edelman & Amendola look like they will be back for Brady to throw to, but they are not close to 100% More importantly, the key weapon is limping again and had to skip more practices this week. TE Rob Gronkowski, the rampaging Polish Sasquatch will also not be 100% for Sunday’s game which could be devastating as he is the big play safety valve for “PSI” Tom Brady to throw to on third down.

….. However, the biggest obstacle for the Patriots going to the Super Bowl again is their Offensive Line. They have had injuries sure, but they have been sub-standard all year. Brady has taken more hits this year than Ted Cruz’s knocking of “New York” values.

……. Kansas City has a really good chance to win this game but they should be on the lookout for typical Bill Belichik dirty tricks. For example, make sure that the dressing room plumbing has not been hooked up to a cistern filled with imported water from Flint, Michigan.

Pick: Chiefs (+5)
Bob: Chiefs +5

8:15 pm Green Bay @ ARIZONA (-7) 50

…… Three weeks ago, the Cardinals stomped the Packers 38-8 in the desert.

Why would this game be any different?

…….. because the Packers beat a very average Washington team last week who only got in because they were better than two teams in the NFC East who have since fired their coaches and a third [ Dallas ] who finished last and should have?

….. because Aaron Rodgers was rumoured to be engaged to his celebrity girlfriend Olivia Munn [ whose career is ‘blowing up”] and was therefore well on his way to following Tom Brady’s path to eternal success?

…… because the Cardinals were humiliated by the Seahawks in their last game of the season with QB Carson Palmer playing catch with the Seattle secondary like he was reminiscing about his final year in Cincinnati and his brief career with the Raiders?

…… because other than the stinking, Pope Goodell blessed & anointed Pittsburgh Steelers, ….. the Green Bay Packers & Aaron Rodgers are truly America’s Team, ….. and the favourites of the League Office & Publicity Department, the critics, tabloid writers & TV hosts, fans of corporate socialism and a certain long suffering recreational therapist & escort that we casually met once at a Pauly Shore Film Festival in Niagara Falls, Canada?

……. None of those reasons gives us pause to think the Packers can win here. Their Offensive Line is still as full of holes as Marco Rubio’s economic platform and Donald Trump’s rudimentary knowledge of Middle East geography.

…… Arizona is just a bad match-up for Green Bay. Their wide receivers will find it a lot harder to create space amongst the Cardinal secondary than they did last week in the Nation’s Capitol.

…… Carson Palmer needed the Bye week to recharge and he hasn’t put back-to-back bad games together for several years.

…. Unless the Packers keep it close, allowing the NFL on-field & replay Officials to decide to treat Green Bay like they did the Steelers last week, then the Cardinals should roll again against a team whose number they own.

Pick: CARDINALS (-7)
Bob: GB +7
Sunday, January 17, 2016

1:05 pm Seattle @ CAROLINA (-2.5) 44

…. A rematch from earlier in the year during week six, when the Panthers in the midst of their mid-season run to be undefeated beat the Seahawks 27-23 in Seattle.

…… Although the Seahawks have a tonne of injuries, their play is peaking at the right time. Yes, they were lucky last week in the Bud Grant Bowl in Minnesota { Former Vikings head coach Grant came out and did the coin toss last week in the minus 10 Fahrenheit weather wearing a short sleeved, purple golf shirt }.

…… and their lack of warm bodies at skill positions has resulted in Steve Largent being listed as fourth on the wide receiver depth chart & Curt Warner third on the list of active running backs.

…… The Panthers won their last game of the season against a disinterested Buccaneers squad, but lost their chance at 1972 Miami Dolphin immortality the week before in Atlanta. They looked exhausted in that game, as the season’s quest for perfection was obviously taking its toll. Yes, they have had the Bye, but they don’t look as good as mid-season & the Seahawks are playing much better on both sides of the ball since their last meeting.
…. Tough call, but Seattle has the experience, the revenge factor and are peaking at the right time to renew their journey to their third straight Super Bowl.

Pick: Seahawks (+2.5)
Bob: Carolina -2.5

4:40 pm Pittsburgh @ DENVER (-6.5)

……… What a mess last week’s game in Cincinnati was. Pittsburgh won, but by the most nefarious, bias and bizarre circumstances imagined. As a result our “Team of Destiny” Bengals lost incomprehensibly through stupidity, inconsistent & unscrupulous officiating, corruption, bad coaching, lots of injuries, cheap shots and several potent curses that will still not allow the good ship Bengal to win a playoff game.
…… With that being said, at least the NFL’s anointed AFC teacher’s pet Sleazebag Steelers are really banged up and should fall easily in Denver.

…. Big Ben got his shoulder whacked up, left the game, returned to the sideline but was not allowed to go on the field when it most mattered. When backup QB Landry Jones seemed to throw the game away with an interception to Steeler enemy number one; Bengal LB Vontaze Burfict.
…… Then when RB Jeremy “Fumbelina” Hill predictably/incredibly gave it back to Pittsburgh, HC Mike Tomlin decided to risk it all on Big Ben’s wonky shoulder that wouldn’t allow him to throw more than three yards down the field. Hill was only in the game because RB Giovanni Bernard had been knocked out of the game from an uncalled cheap shot by Steelers’ LB Ryan Shazier who coincidentally recovered the fumble and should have himself been ejected from the game.

….. The Bengals went conservative though, and incrementally let the Steelers matriculate down the field before the fireworks of the controversial final seconds put them in field goal range.
….. Big Ben will probably start in Denver, but who knows how effective he will be? WR Antonio Brown is in the concussion protocol and the starting Steeler running backs will still be refugees from milk carton photos. The defense is banged up after the Bengal blood bath and should be really sore.

….. The Broncos have the number one defense in football and should easily handle the battered and bruised Steeler attack. The Bronco offense is confident going in behind a rejuvenated Peyton Android who comes in off the Bye Week with low mileage on his war torn body this year after playing exactly half a game over the last few months.

…… However, this is winter, and we have seen in the past that cold weather & the Bionic Manning don’t always get along.

…… We all know that frigid temperatures can cause Peyton’s limbs to seize up like the Wehrmacht’s over-engineered panzers at the Gates of Stalingrad.

….. The German Army was betrayed on the shores of the Volga not only by their too sophisticated machinery, but also by:
1.) The ineptitude of their World War I Lance Corporal, Adolph Hitler. posing as Commander in Chief. He insisted on running the entire Russian campaign through the advice of the voices in his head that said he was a military genius and a better war strategist than Alexander the Great, Kublai Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte or Robert E. Lee.

2.) The inability of the Luftwaffe to supply/relieve or breakout the trapped Sixth Army and Air Force Chief Hermann Goering’s inability to deal with his ego and relay that truth to Hitler.

3.) The worst amalgam of screening units and strategic reserves ever assembled in modern times. Most of the Italians, Hungarians, Croatians & Spanish volunteers who were supposed to be guarding the German flanks wanted no part of this insane foray into deepest European Russia. They were also poorly equipped with the most obsolete German & captured weapons. They also to a man had no acclimatization to deal with the mortiferous cold.

…… Only the many Russians & other ethnicities from the Soviet Republics made up of many different backgrounds/political groups who had willingly joined the Germans to fight against Stalin had any experience in the cold or fought with great spirit. { they were also well aware that if captured by the Red Army they would be summarily executed as traitors.}

4.) The resolve of a massive Soviet Army & population that through fear/resolve/hatred fought to the last man to preserve their homeland.

5.) The coldest winter in a 100 years that would kill polar bears in parkas.

6.) Life long bureaucrat & pencil pusher Friedrich Paulus who was made Commander of the Sixth Army mainly because Hitler was sick of Generals who continually disagreed with him and had difficulty recognizing his Divine Gift of superior martial acumen. Paulus’ lack of field experience along with his devotion to the Fuhrer and his often bizarre and suicidal orders was disastrous. It resulted in resistance to fluid, flexible & creative thinking that was never more required than in the midst of this epic confrontation.

……. Among the many tactical & strategic errors that compounded the situation was his reluctance to attempt any sort of breakout from the Soviet encirclement. When Field Marshall Erich von Manstein undertook a massive operation to free the Sixth Army from the south with his Army Group Don, Paulus decided to stand pat. Manstein’s troops got to within 25 miles of Stalingrad but Paulaus dithered, reluctant to disobey Hitler’s direct orders to stand pat, rather than pressure the Soviets from the other side to form an escape corridor.

…. In disgust, Manstein retreated, leaving the trapped Germans to a horrific fate. When things neared their inevitable disastrous conclusion, Hitler promoted Paulus to Field Marshall. The thinking was that since no German or Prussian Field Marshall had ever surrendered in history, Friedrich Paulus would do the honourable thing and commit suicide as the Soviets closed in. Hitler also deluded himself ( according to diaries ) into believing that what was left of the Sixth Army would take inspiration from this and fight to the death or kill themselves also.

…. That didn’t happen. Paulus surrendered the next morning to the Red Army. Hitler flew into a rage. His paranoia and megalomania reached new heights as for the rest of the war he continued firing his best generals ( including von Manstein ) at an even faster rate than before. He also kept dreaming up even more bizarre delusional strategies with phantom German armies that didn’t exist to try and win the war.

…. Between 90,000 & 110,000 German & Axis Ally soldiers surrendered to the Russians. About 5,000 of that number survived the war and returned to their home countries. Well over 200,000 Germans & Axis Allies died in the carnage.

….. At least 10 times that many Soviet troops probably died in the Battle of Stalingrad but nobody is quite sure.
….. Field Marshall Paulus not only surrendered to the Soviets, he cooperated with them fully and told them everything he knew about the inner workings of the Wehrmacht. He spent the rest of the War as a propaganda tool of the Russians and publicly opposed the Nazis and Hitler. After the War he lived in Communist East Germany and continued to espouse propaganda till his death in Dresden in 1957.

…. Hitler really miscalculated this guy’s capacity to ultimately disobey orders.
…… Well Field Marshall Mike Tomlin is lucky to even have his Sixth Army Steelers in this showdown. If it was really, really cold on Sunday this game would approach the Stalingrad analogy more closely.

….. Well, the weather is only going to be flirting with freezing degrees in Denver on Sunday, but this is more bad news for Pittsburgh.

…… It means Peyton Android’s main appendages should be all right. If not, and the notoriously fickle Rocky Mountain weather causes the temperatures to drop, the winds to blow & the snow to fall, there is a contingency.

….. We have it on good authority that Peyton’s household has accepted several special couriered packages this week. So we can surmise/theorize/hope that Mr. Manning has had unfettered access to all the same Ponce de Leon magic elixirs that his wife seems to consume in such massive quantities.

Pick: BRONCOS (-6.5)
Bob: Denver -6.5


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