I always target the football cookie.
Hello football fanatics, casual sports fans, drinking enthusiasts, and web crawling bots from porn sites! You look good. It's great to be home, and when I say home, I mean football season.

This is beautiful. I am really proud to get to speak with you today. Readers, we are at the dawning of the kickoff of the finest part of the twelvemonth. I understand how you feel. It is always darkest before the dawn, but the future is near, y'all. Today we stand up tall, knowing that, depending on when you are reading this message, football season is more or less a month away. I am proud to be writing this letter to you about our mutual standing.

I speak to you today as a football fan, as a guy that knows his way around a Google Docs spreadsheet, and as a Dad... a Dad who put TVs in all the other rooms in the house so the kids won't have an excuse to watch mine, among other things of course. I am just a casual, everyday fan with four TVs tuned to football programming in my living room every weekend. My parents, aunts, cousins, in-laws , sister, wife -- all dead to me when Northwestern kicks off against Purdue at 11:00 AM on a Saturday.

I recon I'm trying to let you know that I'm dedicated to the cause. At the end of the day, I will promise stuff, and nothing is more binding than a promise. Between you and me, I run the best, most funnest football season companion game you will find anywhere on this awesome, but slowly wilting Earth. I'm not just saying, but I'm literally just saying.

Some of you missed our plea last year, and this communication is to convince you to sign up and play with me. Truth be told, that is what I'm trying to do here. I assure you that joining the Pickem-Football 2011 family doesn't hurt in any way. Hey folks, it may even save your life! Unfortunately, not everyone understands the long term benefits of joining us at Pickem-Football. Some people don't even believe it will save their lives. No, some people choose to continue down their path of unenlightenment. Some of those people may even try to prove to me they are enlightened without Pickem-Football. Merriam-Webster.com defines enlightenment as "the act or means of enlightening." Need I say more?

I want to use another word. Solidarity. I looked it up and it means a unity based on common interests. Pickem-Football is like Solidarity+™. We are good people with varied interests that get together around a common game and make the World a better place. Pickem-Football is like a movement. A movement of genuine Solidarity+™.

I write this letter to you because I know in my heart that the Internet is where real integrity can be found. And courage. Football season is quite long, and it requires sacrifice and moral incorruptibility. Pledging yourself to Pickem-Football will protect you from other forces that may seek to leach away your free time, like YouTube related videos or the dishes. We will protect you from destruction, unless destruction is necessary for us to achieve our goals as a league, wherein you may be tasked with carrying out a significant portion of the destruction. This communication will be done discretely and not through your corporate email.

Make no mistake, readers. You are winning. You are a beautiful (I'm talking on the inside, nothing creepy), veracious, and courageous individual. Sure, we are chock full of yous here at Pickem-Football, but I firmly believe that you can't have too much of a good thing. (Except pancakes. Seriously, has anyone ever made it through a full stack?)
Now, I know exactly what you are asking yourself.

You: "I'm intimately familiar with myself, but I want to know more about this game."
Me: "First of all, that isn't a question. But second, I thought you would never ask."

Every week of the regular football season I will email and post on Pickem-Football.com a Google Docs form containing:
  • 15 NCAA football games and odds (you pick against the spread)
  • Every NFL football game (usu. 14-16 games, you pick straight up)
  • For NCAA and NFL games, there will be some optional bonus questions. While these won't increase your Pick'em score, they are collected and used in the post season games. I dole out bonus points for weekly winners, people you pay their entry fee early, and some other random stuff I make up along the way.

We also continue on after the season with an NCAA Bowl Challenge Contest and an NFL Playoff Contest. Folks, that is over five months of football picking. Do you know what our government will waste in those five months? Trillions. Maybe. I really don't know. I do know that Pickem-Football will cost you a measly $25 (payable anytime throughout the season). My friends, nothing is more fiscally responsible than signing up for five months of meaningful life for around $0.16/day. (Meaningful life is not available at any price during the baseball season.)

You: "Wait -- what?"
Me: "I'll recap."

The Games:
  1. NCAA Pick'em
    1. 15 games picked per week, my selections
    2. Players score one point per correct pick
    3. Games are picked against the spread (I provide the odds and they are fixed when the card is posted)
    4. Example card
    5. The player with the most points when the season is over wins
    6. Payout: 1st Place 25% pot, 2nd Place 10% of pot (Total = 35% pot)
  2. NFL Pick'em
    1. Every NFL game is on the card, usually 14-16 games per week
    2. Players score one point per correct pick
    3. Games are picked straight up (no spread)
    4. Example card
    5. The player with the most points when the season is over wins
    6. Payout: 1st Place 25% pot, 2nd Place 10% of pot (Total = 35% pot)
  3. NCAA Bowl Pick'em Challenge
    1. A confidence pool style game that includes every bowl game and incorporates your accumulated bonus points from the NCAA Pick'em contest
    2. The Bowl Pick'em Challenge card is emailed as a spreadsheet
    3. All picks are due before the bowl games begin
    4. The player with the most points wins
    5. Example (blog post)
    6. Payout: 1st Place 15% pot
  4. NFL Playoff Pick'em
    1. A Vegas style wagering format that includes all playoff games
    2. The NFL Playoff Pick'em cards are emailed in spreadsheet format weekly during the playoffs
    3. Points are "wagered"
    4. Picks are against the spread
    5. Example (blog post)
    6. Payout: 1st Place 15% pot
100% of what comes in goes out to the people. What do you think of that, Teabaggers?

To wrap up. Courage. Solidarity. Destruction. Pancakes. America.

Joining starts here! Joining starts now! I guarantee the only thing you will regret is that you didn't just skip all the way to the bottom of this letter and CLICK THIS REGISTRATION LINK.

God bless you all, and God bless Football!

When I discovered recently that The Ferm got a shout out on Eating Our Words, the Houston Press' food blog, I was like -- WHAT THA H!?!

Quote-unquote avid readers of The Ferm are probably familiar with SirRon's sobering attempts at getting published on Eating Our Words. But if you are not, after reading my post (of course), try to figure out which story is more affecting, the first or the second.

Vaughn S. Gregg has higher aspirations than just being the internationally recognized creative chef on an obscure drinking blog with absentee leadership. Yes ma'am I do. But instead of a clichéd harangue against the city's only major news and entertainment weekly as brash and freewheeling as Houston itself, I've decided to share with you guys the pieces that I actually wrote and sent to the Houston Press offices. I'm all about good food and not so much about copyrights and statutes of limitations. However, our big stick here at The Ferm is a lawyer, so Mr. Smokeypants can just apply the strike-through tag on this post if he feels I've broken any blogging laws.

The first piece I sent earlier this year was on the Top 3 chain restaurants in Houston, TX. Comments are appreciated. Ladies, please use my soft taco recipe post to leave your digits.

Houston's Ultimate Top 3 - Chain Restaurants

1. Sweet Tomatoes
2. Grimaldi’s
3. Chuy’s

What a treat to have the opportunity to opine above the comment section level, an opportunity that is no doubt the culmination of our hard work down there (and a possible sign of the apocalypse). We should celebrate with a margarita from Chuy’s. We can love this place and not feel like we are part of the cult. When we want to feel like family, we get a pie at Grimaldi’s. If we close our eyes, the franchised version tastes almost exactly like all those pies we ate under the Brooklyn Bridge, except we don’t have to pay in cash in the suburban replicas. Sometimes we eat healthy, but only sometimes. At Sweet Tomato, it is your choice. We can tell you your life story by reading the salad you built. Grab a monthly BOGO coupon and we’ll be your plus one. You can figure us out too, that is if you can see our salad behind our four soups, two pastas, and muffin pile.