Since when did Easter get as exhausting as Christmas?
When I was a kid, my parents threw a bunch of candy in a basket and hid it in a predictable spot in the house (clothes dryer, linen closet—anything more difficult than that and I’d start to go into Gobstopper withdrawal and get pissy).
Now we’ve got dozens of eggs to fill with candy and hide, baskets to hide, presents to hide, family portraits to prepare for and have taken, lavish dinners to engorge on and clean up from. And that doesn’t even include the midnight run I sent my 71-year-old mother on for Corn Flakes. (Really, Walgreen’s, $5 for a little box of cereal? Don’t you make enough of a profit margin selling Pillow Pets and diet cookies?) I mean, there was barely time to watch the annual TV Land Awards, which proved at least five things:
1. For all of the talk about “family,” it’s obvious that Lisa Bonet is no longer welcome at the Huxtable table.
2. Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter have aged better than Tina Yothers and Justine Bateman.
3. Liza Minnelli is the worst opening act since “Puppet Show” opened for Spinal Tap.
4. Charlotte Rae is indeed still alive.
5. Unlike James Franco, Hall and Oates should be invited to every awards show.
Anyway, since I’ve been out for a while, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Here’s some more lists of five thoughts.
1. If the Packers are going to need to finish strong in order to make the playoffs, they’ve got a great schedule to accommodate that: Three of the last four games at home should make a late-season push easier.
2. Week 8 for a bye? More perfect than last week’s The Office closing song. Single tear.
3. The Packers play on Christmas Day, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. If you are in a family that doesn’t approve of gathering around the TV on holidays, you’re in trouble.
4. For a Super Bowl-defending team, the NFL went pretty light on Green Bay, with only two potential tough stretches: The October 9-October 23 stretch at Falcons, home to a resurgent Rams team, and at Minnesota. You have to figure that Atlanta will be just a smidge motivated after that embarrassing beatdown the Packers put on them in the playoffs last season, and you’d have to assume that the Vikings will put up more of a fight than they did last year at the Collapso-Dome.
Then the two away games on Thanksgiving (at Lions) and December 4 (at Giants) could be a challenge, specifically if the Lions continue to improve—but even here, the Packers will have a full 10 days to prepare for that Giants game, which should be the tougher of the two. Having said all that, the Packers will likely be favored in all five games.
5. Toughest game? Week 9 at Chargers. But the Packers get another advantage here as the trip out west comes after a bye week. Easiest game? Toss-up between two home games: Week 2 versus the horrible Panthers or Week 4 versus the diabolically bad Broncos.
The Packers’ 2011 NFL Draft:
1. Ted Thompson will continue to use the best player available philosophy. With the team’s recent success, arguing any differently would be like telling Target they don’t know how to sell me crap. And I mean that literally: Target could put crap on an endcap, throw a “temporary price cut” sign on it, and chances are I would ponder a purchase.
2. Team needs in order of necessity: Linebacker, offensive line, defensive end, running back, wide receiver.
3. With the 32nd pick in the first round (barring any trades), it’s tough to speculate who will still be around when the Packers finally go on the clock Thursday night. If they decide to go linebacker, they’ll be lucky if Georgia’s Justin Houston will still be around. They’ll be really lucky if UCLA’s Akeem Ayers is still around. They’ll be really, really lucky if the NFL provides team personnel with some of that new Amazing Race Snapple tea. That stuff is better than watching Kent try to do anything remotely manly.
4. Guard Daryn Colledge and WR James Jones are the names most often mentioned for free-agent departure. While the lockout has made it impossible for the Packers and other teams to sign their free agents to new deals, how the Packers draft should provide some insight into how sure they are that they’ll be able to retain certain players.
The O-line is a more glaring need, but if Jones leaves and Driver continues his ever-more obvious slowdown, the Packers’ seemingly strong depth at WR could suddenly be much shallower. However, given Aaron Rodgers’s precision with the football, he could probably make Kirstie Alley into a solid WR. I doubt that the Packers will reach for a WR earlier than round five.
5. Remember when the Packers surprised everybody and picked Justin Harrell in the first round in 2007? I’m not anticipating that sort of head-scratcher again, but if you’re looking for a wild-card first-round pick, why not Alabama running back and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram? Though he will likely go higher, the teams immediately ahead of Green Bay in the draft (Pittsburgh, New York Jets, Chicago) don’t have the need at running back that the Packers do. (Although those teams certainly like to run the ball more than Green Bay.) And unlike the pick of Harrell, fans would likely be thrilled with the prospect of Ingram lining up behind Rodgers.
Survivor: Redemption Island (hey, I said everything):
1. While Phillip has contributed to many of the show’s best moments this season, his calling Steve a racist simply because Steve called Phllip “crazy” put an end to any affection I had for the former special agent. Hey, Phillip, you are quite possibly the oddest person ever on Survivor. And that’s saying something.
2. If Phillip is playing a part (keep unlikable goofball around because he’s not a threat), then he’s the finest actor Survivor's ever had. Heck, he would be one of the finest actors CBS has ever had.
3. Watching Rob waltz to the finale is proving to be as boring as watching him waltz to the finale in Survivor: All-Stars.
4. “Redemption Island” was a good idea, but Matt’s invincibility at Survivor‘s second arena is making the twist extremely dull.
5. Possibly the worst Survivor since “Thailand.” And that was awful.
2. Who would have thought the pitching, especially from Chris Narveson and Randy Wolf, would be this good? Zack Greinke is missed around Milwaukee about as much as sausage beater Randall Simon.
3. It’s sort of like pointing out that The Rolling Stones have some good songs, but Ryan Braun has been a crazy stud lately.
4. It’s still April. Don’t get excited. Plus how much can you trust any team that gets swept by Washington?
5. Biggest reason not to get excited: The bullpen. Anytime you’re happy to have LeTroy Hawkins back on the roster, your relief situation is as questionable as vote totals in Waukesha County.
Best post-Blood on the Tracks Bob Dylan albums (just because):
1. Oh Mercy
2. Time Out Of Mind
3. “Love and Theft”
Enjoy the NFL draft. I’ve got to get started on our Mother’s Day preparations.