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Image result for belden's food market

A local retail landmark for the Houston Jewish community and others is set to close in January.  Belden’s Food Market will cease operations after more than half a century in business.  Belden’s was one of the last big box independent grocers in Houston offering a wide variety of Kosher foods as well as being a full service grocery store.

The  Meyerland store has been struggling for some time as HEB, Kroger and Whole Foods have upgraded their stores and locations.  HEB tore down its old store and replaced it with an ultra-modern new outlet in Bellaire and is set to open a Meyerland location later this year about a mile away from Belden’s location.

Belden’s survival as an independent was not helped by the unending onslaught of floods in the Meyerland area (Tax Day Flood, Memorial Day Flood and Hurricane Harvey) which have pushed many of the older Jewish residents out of Meyerland and cutting into Belden’s customer base.

Quote for the Day

“If he plays into his forties, he may throw for a 100,000 yards.”

Archie Manning on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes of Tyler, Texas.

Red just hopes he doesn’t throw for 500 of them on Sunday.  However, he is still picking the Chiefs to beat the Texans, if not handily, by more than one score.

Red’s 2019 NFL Playoff Picks – Round 2

Red has never like the “Divisional Round” name for this spate of games.  Yes, there are at least two division champions guaranteed to be playing in each conference.  But this year, you have 3 wild card teams playing as well.  Only the Texans managed to move on as a division champ while the other three flamed out last weekend.

Speaking of last weekend, Red was 3 for 4 missing out only on the Vikings surprising take down of the Saints.  Red was not a believer in the Vikings to say the least, but here they are.

Texans were the walking dead for 43 minutes before coming alive to win in OT despite best efforts of Bill O’ the Clown to snatch defeat from jaws of victory.  There were two situations where the Bills had third and long in Texans territory needing only a field goal to tie or win the game.  Both times, the Texans lined up 3 defensive lineman and had 8 players hanging back 20 yards from line of scrimmage.  A quick toss over the middle for some decent yards gets them within range for Hauschka.   Not to mention the pathetic QB sneak that failed.  The situation – about a minute on clock.  It’s 4th and a long one.  The box is stacked.  The clock is going to stop anyway if you don’t get a first down.  Why not try something different to actually win the game?  Nope.  And we get OT because of pathetic Texans defense and previously mentioned pathetic game management.

Red missed the Eagles getting Josh McCown some playoff action.  He performed well enough for the Eagles to have won if not otherwise decimated by injuries.  Seahawks were unimpressive.

And then there are the Titans.  The Titans look capable of beating any team right now with good defense and a ball control offense.  Putting a possible end to the Brady/Bellicheat era is enough for Red to have a soft spot in his heart for the Titans for the remainder of his football watching days.

On to Round Two:

Vikings over 49ers –  At least one wild card team seems to make it to the Conference Championship game ever season.  Red had the Vikings down as pretenders have beaten only one team with winning record all season.   But taking down the Saints in New Orleans has changed the dynamic here.  Plus, Red finally appreciates how good the Vikings’ receiving corps actually is.   Meanwhile, Red still can’t figure out how the Niners managed to win so many games this season.   Perhaps playing a plethora of pathetic or near-pathetic teams (Bucs, Bengals, Stealers, Browns, Rams, Redskins, Panthers, Cardinals) to start the season helped.  After that the Niners did beat Packers, Saints and Seahawks, but still managed to lose to some weak sisters coming down the stretch.    Niners feature running back by committee and two effective receivers in Kittle and Samuel.  None of the RBs are much of a threat in the passing game.  FB Juszczyk  who had all of 3 rushing attempts is the good hands dump off guy.  So this rests on the shoulders of Jimmy G.  Will he rise up in his first real playoff game?  Red thinks the Vikings experience overcomes the Niners.  Minnesota 24 Santa Clara, CA 17.

Ravens over Titans –  If any team can beat the Ravens it just might be the Titans if they D. Henry is on his game allowing the Titans to eat clock and keep L. Jackson and talented crew off the field for 38 minutes.  But Red doesn’t see that happening.  LJ just presents too many problems for most teams to deal with effectively.  Plus, six players have caught more than 25 passes for the Ravens.  Everyone on the field is a threat.  But none more so than a QB who shattered rushing records this season while throwing 36 TDs against only 6 INTs.  Double trouble, in the cauldron boil and bubble. Red thinks Titans are a coming force and will present problems for the Ravens, but he can’t bet against the best regular season team.  Baltimore 28 Tennessee 17.

Chiefs over Texans –  Texans’ defense was horrific on Saturday – until Josh Allen decided to try to do too much.  A fumble and critical sack allowed the Texans new life and D. Watson did take advantage. Before that Allen was either throwing to wide open guys or pulling it down and running freely into the secondary.  P. Mahomes and the vastly superior talent he has at his disposal will destroy the current Texans scheme which seems oddly designed to allow receivers to run freely into space.  Moreover, Bill O’ the Clown is without a doubt the worst head coach left standing right now.  Red wouldn’t trust him to coach in the lingerie league.  The return of W. Fuller V certainly helps, but not enough.  A. Reid wins the day here.  He has balls and will pull all the tricks out of the bag if needed.  Texans defense looks befuddled, but offense keeps them in the game for a while.  Kansas City 45 Houston 35

Packers over Seahawks – The Pack is Back.  Red didn’t believe.  Seahawks could barely get past a horribly crippled Eagles team.  Meanwhile in northern Wisconsin A. Rodgers gets to throw to 5 players who have more than 400 receiving yards for the season.  Combine that with a quality RB and you have recipe for 5 game winning streak to close out season.  Seahawks are good and having Beast back is terrifying.  This one is the game of the week and down to the wire.  Green Bay 27 Seattle 24. 

Adios to 2019 – Red’s Top Ten List

Red’s Top Ten reasons he is happy to close the books on 2019.

10.  We will finally get to a decade that people will feel comfortable naming.  The teens never really caught on and people spent the entire decade from 2000-2009 without mentioning it if at all possible.

9. Red will soon qualify for every senior discount available to man.

8. Any decade where the Cowboys win two NFL playoff games needs to go away.  As previously noted, Red is perfectly okay with the Cowboys winning one playoff game every decade.

7. The untimely demise of Harry Hamid f/k/a Katy Anders f/k/a something else put a real damper on Red’s enthusiasm for blogging.

6. The Mueller Report did not spark the outrage and calls for resignation that would certainly have been directed at any normal President.

5. The destruction that Hurricane Barry wreaked on Alabama – with the stroke of a Presidential Sharpie!

4. Setting a record for mass-shootings in the U.S.  Just in Texas and listing only those with multiple deaths not including the shooter (place and body count) we have:   Houston – 2 (twice),  Edinburg – 4,  Greenville – 2, Beaumont – 4, Midland – 8, El Paso – 22, Rosenburg – 3, Dallas -2, Henderson – 2,  Livingston -5, San Antonio -2, Houston – 3, Texas City – 3.   We’re number one!

3. Boris Johnson and Tories win in a landslide setting the stage for the un-uniting of the United Kingdom.

2.  Impeachment without conviction is like a chocolate milkshake without chocolate – or milk!

  1. Last time Red checked, Abbott was still Governor, Patrick was still Lt. Governor, Cornyn and Cruz were still U.S. Senators, Moscow Mitch was still in charge of about everything and Trump was still President.

Red’s NFL Picks Wild Card Weekend

But first – a recap of Red’s playoff picks from the beginning of the season.

In the AFC – Red had Titans, Chiefs, Ravens and Patriots as division champs with the Chargers and Browns getting wild card spots.  So 4 out of 6 actually made the playoffs and the Titans had a shot at division crown until week 16.   Not bad, but the picks of the Chargers and Browns look comical now.  Red should have known better with the Chargers as they always disappoint him and play 16 road games.  The Browns – fool Red twice, shame on Red.

In the NFC – Red had the Cardinals, Bears, Eagles and Saints as division winners with the Packers and Seahawks as wild cards.  Again 4 out of 6 make the playoffs, but Red’s division winner picks were more than a little lame.  Red really believed in Kliff Kingsbury and the Kardinals (sounds like a 60’s British invasion group) but should have known better and Da Bears’ season went down the tubes in week one with an awful loss to Green Bay in an awful start to NFL’s 100th season.

Wild Card Weekend Picks

Texans over Bills –  Having a defensive end  playing at quarterback presents challenges for any defense.   Josh Allen will prevail on almost any [insert down here] and short situation.  His running ability allows the Bills to set up in multiple, interesting formations (like the Wing-T and somewhere Billy Kilmer is smiling). And he can be an effective passer at times. The Texans need to worry less about pass rush and concentrate on tight coverage to force Allen to make tough throws into coverage.  This will be a challenge since Romeo Cremel’s defensive scheme seems oddly designed to allow a variety of receivers to run openly and freely through the Texans’ secondary.  Which means this game probably comes down to the Texans’ offense putting enough points on the board to make up for what has become a Shit Bowl quality defense.  If Fulller V is healthy it probably all works out.  If not, . . .   Houston 31  Orchard Park 27.

Titans over Patriots –  A guy can dream can’t he.  The Pats looked disorganized and sad in the final game loss to the Dolphins (led by the redoubtable R. Fitzpatpick).  The Titans have looked very respectable since ditching Red’s one time favorite M. Mariota for one of the most amazing quarterbacks in NFL history – Ryan Tannehill.   Here is a guy who couldn’t solidify a spot as quarterback at Texas A&M until his senior season.  He had a decent season – but not good enough to keep the respected Mike Sherman from getting axed.  Then he more or less stumbled around in Miami for 6 seasons having a winning record in games started one time (8-5 in 2016) before catching something in a bottle this season to lead the Titans to a 7-3 record over the last 10 games of the season.  Is this a guy who has finally found the formula (i.e. play with the NFL’s leading rusher in Derrick Henry) or is this a one season wonder?  Who knows, Red sure doesn’t.  The aforementioned Mr. Henry presents a huge problem for any defense and then combined with possibly emerging superstar A.J. Brown making huge play after huge play at WR, the Titans offense can play with anybody – except maybe the Pats truly outstanding defense.  Meanwhile in the huddle, the Pats offense continues to unimpress.  TB 12 has looked tired and old much of the season and has been bailed out by Pats defense repeatedly this season. When facing the weak sisters, the Pats offense has looked completely respectable in dispatching the lame and infirm.  Against playoff teams, the Pats offense has put up 16, 20, 17, 22, 16 and 24.  Of course, that has been enough to go 3-3 beating the Bills twice and the then floundering Eagles.  By Red’s reckoning that means the Titans are at least a 50/50 shot to win.  The naysayers will remind Red that the Titans (then Oilers) have not won in Foxboro since 2003.  Red says BFD.  Tennessee 20  New England 19 

Seahawks over Eagles  –  This is the toughest call of the week.  At reasonably full strength, Red could see this game going either way and might lean towards the Eagles at home.  But the Eagles are so beat up right now, that it tips slightly towards Pete the Cheat’s crew.  Red would like to see Carson Wentz actually win a playoff game for his team, but when down to the wire, he would bet on R. Wilson.  Seattle 24 Philadelphia 20 

Saints over Vikings  –  Saints are out for revenge and it doesn’t matter who is in their way.  This week it is the unfortunate Vikings – the team that Red believes is most undeserving of the playoffs.  The Vikings beat one playoff team all season (the then floundering Eagles – is there a pattern here?).  Other than that, they did not beat a team with a winning record all season.  Yes, they were close in games against the Packers,  Chiefs and Seahawks (losing all by one score or less), but those are the proving ground games and the Vikings are unproven to date.  The Saints meanwhile have had trouble in games that they are supposed to win (remember the loss to the 7-9 division winning Seahawks in 2010).  Curiously, the Vikings have been the Saints most frequent playoff opponent with 4 matchups beginning with the Saints first ever playoff appearance in 1987.   And the Saints are 1-3 versus the Vikings having beaten them only in the 2009 Superb Owl winning season in the NFC championship game.  The Saints are loaded on offense but depend entirely too much on M. Thomas (an amazing 149 receptions for 1725 yards!!!!).  They need Cook and Ginn to take some of the load and Kamara to have a decent game.  The Vikings have Diggs and Cooks and some other guys including the overrated Kirk Cousins.  Red will take Drew Brees in his closing window of opportunity for at least one more week.  New Orleans 35 Minnesota 20. 

The Clown Era of World Leadership

Red has determined that we are well into what he is calling the “Clown Era” of modern political leadership.  At this stage in history, the ability to entertain enough of the voters is perhaps the best path to political power.  The platforms for such antics are expanding.  While Twitter is the current rage, who knows what digital spaces will erupt for aspiring comedians, entertainers and professional buffoons to emerge and stake claims to office.

One need only look at the current Reality TV Show Joke of a Presidency that the U.S. is experiencing.  Trump makes no real pretense to doing anything other than entertaining his base via Twitter, Fox News and ego-fests of rallies that might make members of the Third Reich blush.  Trump’s path to power was primed by Ronald Reagan – the great communicator – who in today’s world would undoubtedly be considered a complete dud on the political comedy/entertainment circuit.  “Tear down this wall” cannot compete with the Ricklesian insults hurled by Trump at everyone who might cross him – including the physically impaired, dispossessed and teenage girls.  Serious political considerations will not win voters who find such joy in watching an utterly narcissitic asshole preen and pose for the bright lights.   Reagan was right in saying, “How can the President not be an actor?” Only an actor, can provide the circuses part of the equation to keep the masses entertained.  Trump proved his mettle in so-called reality TV – a particularly noxious form of entertainment that thrives on manufactured conflict to titillate the reptile brain.

Ah, but Trump is far from the only dangerous clown on the scene.

The UK has just handed an extraordinary mandate to a pompous entertainer in Boris Johnson.  Like the orange makeup-stained Trump, he has a signature look with his wild tousled hair and pouty expression.  BJ is at his best when feeding his warmed over Brexit treacle to the masses who are now so tired of the stalemate that they turn to a boorish clown to entertain and divert them  while trying to best extract the country from the awful mistake they have made.

Less dangerous perhaps is Volodymyr Zelensky, now the notorious President of Ukraine.  And as life imitates art, Zelensky’s rise to power was unimpeded by his complete lack of  political experience —  because he played the role of the president of Ukraine on a popular television sitcom.  Martin Sheen is jealous.

Jimmy Morales, President of Guatemala, was also a sitcom actor before being elected in 2016.   Among the characters he played during his TV career was a cowboy who accidentally becomes President.  Oops!  Accidents happen.