Friday, May 18, 2018

Here We Go...Again?

It is no secret that fan is short for "fanatic." We sports fanatics sometimes tend to get a little crazy, often care a little too much.  Within fandom exists varying degrees of fanaticism.  The casual viewer, the follower who cares (but not too much), the fan that cheers, yet can keep his head about him when his team faces defeat. Then there's the alarmists. Cubs and Red Sox followers wore their doom and gloom like a badge of honor until each team broke its curse.  Browns fans wallow in Cleveland's futility.  Looking for the finest breed of alarmists? I give you fans of the Washington Capitals.  Over the course of the last thirty years, Capitals fans have buckled in for a roller coaster hell ride as our team has pummeled our hockey souls. I've documented the heartbreaking moments far too often in these very pages.

This season we Caps fans were treated to finally seeing our boys in red vanquish the hated Penguins. Faced with the prospect of actually seeing Washington claw closer to a first Cup, we have allowed this foreign substance called optimism to creep into our collective psyche.  Now that Tampa Bay has erased a 2-0 series deficit by winning two games in D.C., Caps fans can't hose off the good vibes fast enough. We are allowed to slip back into our comfortable feeling of worry. Nevermind that the series is TIED. Checking in with friends, internet comment sections, and radio callers, I have taken the temperature of Caps fans. Let's just say other hockey fans, the rational, normal kind, must be laughing at us. Here's a handing chart so you can check in on your fan status:

Rational, Normal Fan: The series tied at two games apiece after four games is a good place to be against a team as formidable as the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Caps Fan: Oh my god, it's happening again!  They are going to blow ANOTHER 2-0 series lead!

Rational, Normal Fan: The tactical chess match between these two coaches that has developed over the course of this series has been interesting and informative.
Caps Fan: Barry Trotz can't coach his way out of a paper bag. Why is he still Here?

Rational, Normal Fan: Washington has to be more stubborn on the penalty kill, getting back to the shutdown PK they possessed earlier in the playoffs.
Caps Fan: Steven Stamkos is a hockey god whose power play prowess makes him the next in a long line of hockey gods that routinely crush us!

Rational, Normal Fan: The Capitals have badly outshot the Lightning in these last two games.  If they keep up the barrage they will break through.
Caps Fan: We shoot high and wide more than Imperial Stormtroopers.  We are doing that thing again where we consistently fire shots into the goalie's chest.  Andrei Vasilevskiy has grown into an invincible wall that will never be penetrated again!

Rational, Normal Fan: Andrei Vasilevskiy is his team's best penalty killer.
Caps Fan: Our power play has abandoned us and will never score again!

Rational, Normal Fan: The Capitals need to stay out of the penalty box.
Caps Fan: Lars Eller is a piece of human garbage that should not leave the press box for Game Five.

Rational, Normal Fan: Best two out of three from here. What an exciting series.
Caps Fan: I know how this movie ends. Caps are gonna Cap.  Stupid choking dogs!

In other words, take a deep breath.  If this team truly is different after slaying Pittsburgh, the next three games could be fun.  If not, we'll toss this season on the scrap heap of other broken postseason dreams.  Either way, I'm sure we'll derive some manner of satisfaction.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Capitals Assemble!

It was 1992. I know because I looked it up to double check my memory.  1992 was the first time the Caps blew a 3-1 series lead to the Penguins.  Then they did it again in 1995. Sure, they first lost to the Pens in the postseason in 1991, but it was those blown leads in '92 and '95 that really built my hatred for the men in black. The subsequent Shakespearean tragedies (Nedved, Gonchar falling in OT, Bonino, seemingly a hundred other moments) have cemented that hatred.  Watching Lemeiux and Crosby hoist the Cup (the Pens have eliminated the Caps in each of the seasons Pittsburgh has won the Cup) makes it that much worse.  Nearly thirty years of soul-draining, head-scratching, heart-wrenching beatdowns.

So they meet again.  Pittsburgh gunning for their third straight elimination of Washington and their third straight Stanley Cup.  Washington looking to somehow rip the black and gold monkey from their back.  About the same time the puck drops for Game One tomorrow night, Marvel's Avengers Infinity War hits theaters.  The film's villain, Thanos, is a big, purple, Grimace-on-steroids dude.  I can't think of a more apt avatar for Sidney Crosby than a purple-headed, penis-looking villian.  And the Capitals will have to "assemble" their greatest effort yet in order to "avenge" three decades of misery.  To save the galaxy beat Pittsburgh, Washington will have to defeat Crosby/Thanos and his sycophantic minions LeTang, Murray, Referees, and Pierre Maguire.  In a fun exercise, I decided to cast our hockey heroes as their Marvel counterparts.  More knowledgeable comic fans, please feel free to correct me or weigh in.

Alex Ovechkin as Iron Man: The Russian Machine is the wealthiest, flashiest, arguably most important leader of the Capitals, outfitted with the heaviest weapons. As Ovie goes, so do the Caps.

T.J. Oshie as Captain America: Duh

Nick Backstrom as Vision: Nicky has the quiet, cool demeanor of artificial intelligence transplanted in a sentient being. And, of course, the name just fits as he has terrific on-ice "vision."

Tom Wilson as The Hulk
: The Caps need a lot of smash from #43, but they also need Wilson to channel Bruce Banner's smarts when deciding when to dance.

Dimitri Orlov as Black Widow:  A slick Russian operative capable of acrobatic moves and putting an opponent flat on his back.  No word on how good he looks in a black leather jumpsuit.

Devante Smith-Pelly as Hawkeye: Not the most popular Avenger, nor possessing superpowers, Smith-Pelly has had a knack for being a sniper blasting his top shelf target at just the right moment.  What, you thought he had to be Black Panther because he is the only black player on the Caps?

Braden Holtby as Black Panther: To defeat the Pens, Holtby will need to be as impenetrable as T'Challa's Wakandan armor.

Matt Niskanen as Bucky Barnes: A former enemy becomes an ally.  In his third series against his old mates, can Nisky be a difference maker?  Plus Winter Soldier is a cool nickname for a hockey player.

Evgeny Kuznetsov as Dr Strange:  Kuzy's magic hands make him a wizard with the puck.

Jakub Vrana as Spider-Man: The speedy youngster has the opportunity to play a small, but pivotal role in the action.

Jay Beagle as Ant Man:  A fourth-liner in a small role becomes a giant on the PK and at the face off dot.

Lars Eller as Thor: Okay, he might not be the God of Thunder, but he brought the hammer in OT helping slay the giant Bobrovsky and he IS Scandinavian.

John Carlson as Star Lord: The All-American kid that can bring the big laser blasts.

Barry Trotz as Nick Fury: For no other reasons than Trotz is the leader and looks like he should wear an eye patch.

What's that? Oh, what is my prediction for the series? I have no clue. I mean, the law of averages says the Caps are due, but we all know the hockey gods don't care about the law of averages.  I'm content to sit on the edge of my seat and enjoy (as much as I can) watching this roller coaster ride of a spring blockbuster play out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Never Tell Me the Odds

I'm ready, but not yet willing to give up on my Caps.  We've been here before, hoping against all good sense that our hometown hockey team can defy the odds. While we anxiously wait for Game Three, pondering the possibilities, here's another playoff edition of Fact/Opinion:

Fact: No team has won a series after losing the first two games at home, in overtime.  Only 19 of 103 teams have won a series after losing the first two games at home. One of those teams was the Capitals in 2009 versus the Torts-coached Rangers.
Opinion: We gotta get Torts a water bottle.

Fact: Tom Wilson's growth as an offensive player was an integral part of Washington's regular season success.
Opinion: Tom Wilson is also a bonehead who should be made to wear a shock collar with which an assistant coach could taze Wilson if he is about to take a stupid penalty.

Fact: I understand a coach's job is to babble coachspeak and attempt to maintain an even keel in post game press conferences following losses.
Opinion: After Game 2, Barry Trotz should have dispensed with the happy horseshit about the many positives to be taken from the game. (John Carlson hitting the post with thirty seconds left wasn't a good thing. Somebody in red always hits the post.   It was more a sarcastic chuckle from the universe.) You can grasp at positivity straws, but I'd rather you get angry, rip your guys for the terrible second period, show ANY kind of emotion. If you are going to look like a Russian premier you might as well bang your shoe on the podium.

Fact: A young co-worker was lamenting the anguish she has felt during her six years as a Caps fan.
Opinion: That's nice. Come talk to me in another 24 years, kid.

Fact: The viral video of Brett Connolly's attempts to get a warm up puck to a young fan was heart-warming. (Except for the other two brats who kept stealing them, of course.)
Opinion: It would have been better for the other 18,504 fans in attendance if he could have placed a few pucks in the net instead of the front row.

Fact:Braden Holtby is talented enough to steal this series.
Opinion: Haha, good one, Bryan.

Fact: The first and third periods of Game 2 showed who the Caps CAN BE.
Opinion: The second period of Game 2 showed who they ARE.

Fact: Washington's power play is operating at an outstanding 38.5%.
Opinion: This is much less impressive when you realize Washington PK is allowing Columbus' PP to score at a whopping 50% clip.

Fact: I will Rock the Red until it's over.
Opinion: It gets harder every year.

Fact: I previously picked Columbus to win in seven games.
Opinion: Columbus in six.

Monday, April 09, 2018

I've Got Mail!

Ah, yes, can you smell the frozen vulcanized rubber in the air? With the NHL regular season in the rearview mirror, sixteen teams are about embark on a battle for the toughest trophy to win in all of sport, that cherished chalice, the Stanley Cup.  Pardon the hyperbole; I'm a bit excited to see if my Caps can make a serious postseason run.  To kill some time until Thursday's Game One with Columbus, I thought I would dip into the That's No Moon Mailbag and answer some real questions from actual Washington Capitals fans.

Hi Bryan, 
I'm having a hard time deciding what to do about a playoff beard this year.  The Caps have never won in any postseason when I have grown one, yet have also never won when I have forsaken the beard. It's almost as if my beard has no bearing on the outcome of a series. Advice?-Facial Dilemma in Fairfax

Thanks for the letter, Facial Dilemma. You've fallen into that old trap: thinking you matter.  We all twist ourselves into that logic pretzel of wondering had we done one little thing differently could we have prevented a devastating playoff loss. Aside from a trip to the Finals in 1998 fueled solely by my steadfast vow to eat a Royal Farms chicken salad sub prior to every playoff game, adhering to my superstitions has never helped. As for your beard, can you grow a robust chin jungle that would make Brent Burns proud? Or are you like me and look like a testosterone-deficient, scabies-suffering, low-level pot dealer being busted on COPS when you try to grow a beard? I trust you'll do the right thing.

Good morning B,
This team always drives me to drink by mid-May, so I decided to start early this year.  I'm drunk right now. Too soon?  - Hammered in Howard County.

Good morning Hammered,
To paraphrase the poetic duet performed by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett, it's Game 7 somewhere.  So, no, it is never too early with this team.

Yo That's No Moon,
Grubie or Holtbeast, who ya got?- Crease Crisis in Crownsville

Crease, you raise the biggest question of the postseason. Barry Trotz's answer will likely define the remainder of his tenure in D.C.  Grubauer has been one of the best goaltenders in the league since January 1st, yet lacks extensive playoff experience.  Braden Holtby, while shaky, has played better of late, but has not been his dominant self.  Also, remember, Holtby is vastly more experienced, however, that experience totals up to a 19-20 career playoff record complete with the inability to make THE save to turn a game or series in the Caps' favor.  Given they are both somewhat beholden to the defense, or lack thereof, in front of them, I think I ride with Grubauer.  Having a Vezina Trophy winner on hand for emergencies sounds like an okay problem to have.  Then again, as esteemed American philosopher and playwright, John Madden,was fond of saying "If you have two quarterbacks, you don't any."

Bryan, I'm thinking of taking a vow of celibacy until Washington wins the Cup. Thoughts? - Blueballed in Bladensburg

Well, Blue, I hope you like Washington's radio announcers because you are likely to be blind by the time the Caps break their drought.

Hello Bryan,
- Wound Up in Wheaton

*Duly noted*

Hi B, 
Penguins versus Flyers? Who the heck do I root for in that one? - Perplexed in Potomac

Perplexed, at first I thought this would be the toughest question to answer in the whole mailbag.  These two Patrick Division holdovers make my skin itch like no other teams.  I hate them with every fiber of my hockey fandom.  Each are reviled rivals whose fans, with the exception of an awesome few that I know, are just as loathsome.  Faced with this awful choice, I choose to root for D.  No, not defense.  In that series I root for Disease,  Diarrhea, and Dismemberment.  Never forget, Perplexed, those teams are animals and should be treated as such.

Hey Bryan,
As a long suffering Caps fan do you ever allow yourself to be a little optimistic? After two seasons of underachieving as favorites maybe Washington can fly under the radar without the burden of expectation.  They have played better and won more games in the regular season than any of us could have imagined.  The defense is improving. T.J. Oshie has bounced back from a slow start. Ovechkin is scoring. Kuzy is on fire.  Columbus is beatable.  The Pens and Flyers will beat the crap out of each other.  Dare I dream? - Amped in Adams Morgan

Wuher, do you wanna take this one?

"We don't serve your kind here."

Hey Beezer, 
When this inevitably goes South I'll need to place an internet order. Is there one "M" or two in Hemlock? -Kevin in Indiana

And that closes up the mailbag, folks. Enjoy Round One!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Uncle Don Wants You!

I am not often shy about sharing personal details here, (my post about urine collection for example), and today is no different.  I was overjoyed to learn earlier this week that President Trump is finally openly weaponizing space by forming an official United States Space Force.  As such, I have posted here a copy of the application letter I will soon be sending off to the Space Force Academy. Fingers crossed I get in.

Dear President Trump,
Thank you for finally announcing what I suspected long ago. I am pleased to know I  was correct in surmising that with last year's mysterious "Covfefe" Tweet, which obviously (at least to a genius like me) stands for Covert Outer-space Voyages For Exterminating Foreign Extra-terrestrials, you were signaling the formation of a U.S. Space Force.  My astute power of deductive reasoning is but one quality that makes me an excellent candidate for entry into Space Force Academy.  I assume to keep your standards high, you will require enlistment applicants to be straight white males.  Now, I don't want to rock the spaceboat before even being accepted, but may I make a suggestion? I would recruit at least a few women.  After all, us Space Rangers will need something to look at and someone to keep us company on our long cross-galaxy flights. 

As one of your loyal Space Rangers, I look forward to MSGA. Great like when we blasted chimps and brave dudes into orbit atop giant gas cans. We'll show North Korea who the real Rocket Man is. Great like before we shared the International Space Station with other countries.  We don't need to collaborate, we're America, dammit! 

For so many reasons, I am ready to head into space. I am eager to gain visual confirmation of the majestic turtle upon whose shell our flat Earth travels through time and space.  Armed with proof, I can stick it in the eye of my ninny friends that think the Earth is round. I can't wait to smash Sanctuary Space ports, though I understand not all of us can be warriors. Some of us Space Rangers will work in support roles. If asked, I will serve in any capacity.  Perhaps I can help build the Wall around the moon to prevent those dirty Martians, AKA Space Mexicans, from invading.  I believe we have done enough "sciencing" here on Earth, therefore it is my sincere hope that Space Force's missions will consist of only protectionism, galactic war, conquering planets, and plundering said planets and any other meteors, comets, moons and such, of their precious natural resources in the name of the good ol' U.S.of A.  I would absolutely volunteer to run Exxon's drilling operations in the asteroid belt or the "clean" helium mining on Neptune.  However, as an upstanding,  "family values" applicant of profound moral standing and big Mike Pence fan, I am afraid I must refuse any missions to explore Uranus.  Of course, if you keep hemorrhaging staff at your current unprecedented pace, I may be in line to be Chief of Staff by the time I graduate from the Academy.

Anyhoo, as I know you make all your decisions only after careful consideration and thoughtful rumination, I humbly submit this application. I'm sure, like all things provided for your perusal, you will thoroughly read this missive.  If not, let me put it easier terms: I want to help @failingspace. #SAD #MSGA #SPACEFORCE

Friday, March 02, 2018

That Ain't Lemonade.

There are worse things you can hear your doctor say than, "Get him the jug." Things like "Scalpel" and "Grab the defibrillator!" come to mind.  But jug talk isn't super when the doctor is your kidney doc and the container in question is a big, honkin' 3-liter bottle in which she expects you to collect your urine.  Yep, for a 24 hour period starting yesterday morning, I had to forsake toilets in favor of a bucket with a screw-on lid.  I'm all for saving on my water bill, but if I was truly concerned I would simply pee  in the sink on a tree outside.  Since I'm neither Howard Hughes nor a passenger on some sort of non-stop cross country road trip, I  haven't often thought about urinating in a jug. That is, until I was diagnosed with kidney stones.

A couple weeks ago, I woke in the middle of the night to some pain in my left upper back and side.  Thinking I had tweaked something by turning awkwardly in my sleep, I stood up to stretch.  Instead of resolving, the pain worsened.  I tried to remember when I had been kicked in the side by a horse. Or when I had gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson.  It was certainly more than a sore back.  I suddenly felt like Mola Ram, the evil high priest from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, was reaching through my ribs, not to rip my heart out, but to give my innards a nasty squeeze.  Uncertain of the cause of the pain, my anxiety slipped into overdrive. I didn't know what it was, but I knew it wasn't good.  I shook Amanda awake to tell her I was driving to the emergency room. My sweet wife, not being keen on indulging my paranoia at 4am, tried to calm me down. Too late. I was already a sneaker-clad Igor shuffling towards the car.

Arrival at the hospital began to ease my worry.  Not because the pain relented, but because the first four staffers I encountered all said, "Yep, sounds like a kidney stone."  Had there been a coat check girl, I'm sure even she would have concurred. Now convinced it only felt like I was dying, I tried to settle into my ER bed to wait for the doc to examine me. Of course, because they were convinced it was only a kidney stone, I slipped down the priority ladder.  Don't get me wrong, I was happy to be healthy enough to not warrant immediate action.  Yet the pain made it impossible to wait patiently.  I could not get comfortable.  Standing, sitting, lying down, nothing brought the slightest bit of relief.  Meditation failed to ease the pain. As did any breathing exercises.  Can we page the Lamaze coach?

Let me interrupt my story to commend every mom ever.  The pain of a kidney stone is said to rival that of labor and contractions.  If that is what labor feels like, I salute you. You are all even more badass than I thought.  I was in pain for five hours. I can't imagine feeling like that for as long as some labors last.

Too distracted by the discomfort in my side to realize there was a tv remote control attached to my bed, I was stuck trying to lose myself in whatever was on the television. Unfortunately, the last 45 minutes of The Notebook just added to my misery.

The nurses were great. Sympathetic to both my pain level and my wait time, they changed the channel, hooked up an IV to ward off any dehydration, and got some pain meds on board.  I learned from them "Hurts like hell" appears nowhere on their Scale of 1-10 Emoji Pain Rating system.  With meds knocking the pain down from a 9 to a frowny-faced 6, I was whisked off to CT scan. 

But not before the most frightening moment off the night. I had to remove my pants for the CT scan.  The doctor or nurse casually set them on top of the  biohazard can. The Biohazard can! Sure, the lid was closed, but as Seinfeld taught an entire generation, adjacent to refuse is refuse.  It's bad enough I am in the  ER immersed in a viral cloud in the middle of flu season. I have already dropped my phone on the Petri dish of a  floor a couple times. (I'm sure watching me painfully maneuver to pick it up, straining against the confines of the IV and an ill fitting hospital gown, would have been good for some laughs.) Now my pants are separated by only a few millimeters of plastic  from whatever demon particles are inside the biohazard bucket?  Germophobe alarm activated!  I wasn't sure if my nausea was now from the kidney stone or the fact that my pants were, as Ruxin would say, forever unclean.  When Amanda walked in to the room after getting Grace to school, she laughed and asked if I was going to burn those pants.  Believe me, I considered it.

The CT scan confirmed a stone had passed and that welcome news combined with a dose of morphine (the pain had bounced back to an angry-emoji 9 or 10) took the discomfort level to a chill zero. Fortunately, even though I do have some more stones, I have been pain free since. However, bloodwork revealed some of my kidney numbers were wonky, leading to my date with the nephrologist (spooky) and the 3-liter urine jug.

Peeing into a jug may seem like a simple proposition, but there are more than a few logistical gymnastics involved.  First, is the When and the Where. Carrying a jug o' warm pee around for an entire Earth rotation isn't simple. It would be a little awkward carrying a jug, or a large bag hiding the jug, in and out of the pubic restroom at work.  (Actually, as awkward as it might be, it would be about the seventeenth weirdest thing to occur in our store's bathrooms, but still.)  Then I learned the collected specimen has to be kept cold, either in the fridge or on ice.  Well, I suppose workplace etiquette dictates  I can't very well toss my jug of dragon drainings next to Susie's brown bag lunch in the community fridge in the break room. That means I have to collect on my day off. That means on my day off I can't stray too far from home and my own fridge.  The key phrase of that sentence, of course, is MY OWN FRIDGE. Have I mentioned I'm a germophobe? Talk about cross-contamination. I don't like placing the plastic-wrapped raw meat next to the veggies.  Now, I have this jug stashed next to the juice.  Grace, ever clever at age nine, feigned disgust, but I know her Captain Underpants-reading self got a kick out of it. Especially when I reminded her jug was NOT filled with lemonade.

Having established the When and the Where, figuring out the How wasn't the easiest of tasks.  The opening of the jug is a wee (see what I did there?) bit narrower than a toilet.  Then there is the order of tasks. Flip the toilet lid. Unscrew the jug lid. Set the jug down. Unzip. Pick the jug back up.  Actually pee. Then reverse the steps. I'm by no means claiming to be wrestling an anaconda down there, but juggling all this with only two hands is challenging.  Especially twelve hours in, when the jug is starting to gain some weight. The last thing I want to do is pee all over my hands. (Who am I, Moises Alou?) Actually, the last thing I want to do is drop/spill the jug so I have to repeat this entire process again.

Fortunately, the 24 hours passed without incident.  No one in my household mistook my jug for the bottle of Minute Maid.  There were no runs, drips, or errors. I even remembered to use the jug in the middle of the night.  The only hiccup was at the lab where I had to give one more  sample (the cup was a breeze after hoisting a full jug for a day) and for a few tense minutes when the lab tech thought I had been given the wrong container making my nearly 3-liter sample invalid.  Luckily, all was well, and I didn't leave the lab PISSED off.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

In-vest-ment Strategy

Ah, the holiday season. A time to pause for reflection and self-examination. To ask myself important questions. How's life? Am I doing good work? Am I vest guy? (Seriously, never underestimate my knack for focusing on the frivolous or mundane.)
Yeah, a vest guy.  No, not a sweater vest guy.  Or A cowboy.   More of a gentleman who wears a sleeveless winter garment.  As I roamed the halls of retail prior to Christmas (me and the, like, three other people who don't do the bulk of their shopping online), I started looking for a new winter coat.  This is a bit of a departure for me.  As a rule, I hate wearing coats. They are too bulky in the car, I have to keep track of them once indoors, and they admit surrender at the hands of Weather.  In the past I'd rather take my chances freezing while crossing a parking lot than carrying a heavy coat through the grocery store.  However, one of the concessions I've made to age is that I can't fight the cold as easily. The harsh wind cuts through to the bone. Gone are the days of wearing shorts in December. So, I was looking for something warm, yet comfortable.  Cozy, but light. Utilitarian, yet stylish. Not that I would know stylish if it fell on my head like a cartoon anvil.

The more I browsed coats, the more I bumped into vests.  I tried on a few.  Hmm, snug as a cocoon and I can move my arms freely? Nice. Lightweight and waterproof?  Hey hey, we might onto something here. As I stood in the middle of Boscov's test-flailing my arms around like a twin turbine windmill, I realized a vest might just be the outerwear that possesses both the warmth and the unencumbered free range of motion I desire.

But I needed to proceed with caution; being a vest guy comes with some inherent dangers.  One, I run the risk of being a hypocrite.  For years I have made fun of my wife for wearing winter vests.  Each fall I break out my oh so clever little quips: Forget your sleeves? Still paying full price for half a coat?  Marty McFly called, he wants to take his life preserver back to the future.  Buying myself a vest would admit that all those insults were hollow or that my wife was right.  Not sure we can have that.
Secondly, a vest guy carries a certain air about him, doesn't he?  Maybe a vest guy is a little too "bro", a little too douchy.  Like Chaz the Obnoxious  Ski Instructor or a model for an outdoor menswear catalog.  Let's face it, the only menswear catalog I could ever model for might be L.L. Beef.  Finally, what if a winter vest serves as a gateway garment? "Sun's out, Guns out" is like the crystal meth of fashion advice. It's possible I'll stop wearing sleeves altogether.  Leather biker vests, cutoff denim shirts, Larry the Cable Guy shirts, muscle shirts, tank tops - nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to see that looming train wreck. 

As the holiday season dragged on, I stalked men's department mirrors wondering if each vest was too Chaz, too McFly, or just right.  I ultimately decided to hold off on a coat purchase in case Santa's elves had already made me one.  It was a good call because Amanda and Grace had indeed bought me a warm, puffy sleeveless jacket. Thanks to my wife's sense of humor or irony, I'm now a vest guy!  Hope I can pull it off. Now I'm off to the gym to get these biceps ready for Summer.