Friday, December 30, 2011

The Tempest is One year old....Thanks!

One year ago today I began The Tempest. I have offered up 112 opinionated rants on everything from parenthood to politics, from college football to religion, which in some parts of the country are the same thing. Amazingly, this space has generated over 8,500 page views. In the great blogosphere, I’m sure that amounts to a pimple on the backside of Jabba the Hutt, but to me it’s amazing. What’s even more amazing is the number of those page views that have originated in places like Russia, Bulgaria, and Macedonia. Really? I would think that my brand of humor would get lost in the cultural mileau of the Balkans, but what do I know. There is no accounting for taste.

Anyway, Just thought I would make note of this literary anniversary, and thank those of you who have bothered to read what I have written. It has been therapeutic for me to publish abroad a small fraction of the chaotic thoughts ricocheting back and forth inside my head. Perhaps some of them should have been left up there, but this format comes without the one thing it surely needs the most…an editor. I will continue writing in 2012, hopefully about the many happy surprises to come. If 2012 proves that the Incans were right and it IS the end of the world, you can read about it here first since I won’t be participating in any end time scenarios that don’t involve Jesus.

Thanks again for reading and have a nice day.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Ten Movies of All Time

Today I’m taking the family, along with a bunch of other great people to see the War Horse. I am so pumped. Expectations are high because it’s Spielberg, and because I’ve read so many great reviews..etc. Anyway, it’s gotten me to thinking about the answer to this question…”What’s the greatest movie of all time?”

It is an entirely unfair question, on par with…”which of your children do you like best?” Movies come in all shapes and sizes, comedies, action films, historical dramas, so it’s an almost impossible question to get to the bottom of. However, it’s also a question that involves opinion, and I’m loaded with opinion. So, for your reading pleasure, I have compiled my list of the top ten movies of all times. I’m cheating in one respect since they will appear in random order. The best I can do is the ten best, picking one of these as the best of all time would cause me severe intestinal distress. Feel free to rip my picks and think that I am a total idiot for leaving out one of your favorites. And yes, a list of one’s favorite movies does reflect well on one’s intellectual and personality bearings, so feel free to judge me.

Again, in no particular order…

Casablanca 1942 Humphrey Bogart

12 Angry Men 1957 Henry Fonda

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969 Paul Newman, Robert Redford

The Godfather 1972 Marlon Brando

Rear Window 1954 James Stewart, Grace Kelly

Saving Private Ryan 1998 Tom Hanks

The Searchers 1956 John Wayne

Vertigo 1958 James Stewart

Patton 1970 George C. Scott

The Godfather Part II 1974 Al Pacino

Honorable mention: Sleepless in Seattle, The Sound of Music, 3:10 to Yuma, Schindlers List, The Shawshank Redemption, and A Beautiful Mind

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cynicism is no fun

I just finished reading a 5000 word article about the inbreeding going on between Washington and Wall Street. It details the ugly relationships that first led to the financial crisis of 2008, and now continues in the Presidential race of 2012. Why, you might ask, would I read such a long and depressing story of political corruption? Primarily, as an investment advisor, it’s my job to gather as much information as possible in order to make sense of it for my clients. But on a deeper level, I suppose I just can’t help myself. I feel inexorably drawn to this sort of story. It validates what I intuitively know to be true, that is that the “system” is broken, and that a small group of people at the top who pay $25,000 for a bottle of wine have rigged the game.

So, you might also ask, does that make you an Occupy Wall Street believer? Hardly. The kids in New York want the politicians to fix things, to level the playing field with some redistributive scheme. What they don’t get is, the people at the top sipping $25,000 cabernet sauvignon ARE politicians. It’s like flipping the keys to your brand new Bentley to your drunk teenage son and saying, “be careful.” The election of 2012 will present America with a choice between probably Mitt Romney, he of Bain Capital and a Wall Street contact list a mile long, against the incumbent President Obama, whose 2008 campaign was financed heavily by Goldman Sachs, and whose entire administration is populated by Wall street veterans from William Daley, Rahm Emanuel, and Michael Froman, to Tim Geithner. We have to decide between the guy who is already bought and paid for, and the guy who is about to be.

So, what does this belief make me? At the moment it has succeeded only in making me a cynic. I realize that cynicism has no logical future as a belief system. I also know that nobody likes a cynic. But right now it’s all I’ve got. I survey the political landscape of our country and see little cause for optimism. The Tea Party’s heart was in the right place, but it got taken over by too many weirdos, the sort of people who think that the John Birch society was on to something, the sort of people who confuse the gift of gab with eloquence, the sort of people who think Glen Beck should run for office. The Occupy people are just plain creepy, with their public defecation, silly sloganeering about being the 99%, and personal hygiene issues, it’s hard to take them seriously. And any political movement which has as it’s preferred solution a further and more radical empowerment of government, has badly judged the historical moment.

I believe that everyone in Washington has been corrupted, everyone in Congress, everyone in the White House and everyone on K Street. At this point we couldn’t possibly do any worse if we sent all of them home , stripped them of their pensions, and replaced them randomly from the phone books of each congressional district. I now quote from William F. Buckley..” I would rather be governed by the first 500 names from the Boston phone book, than by the entire faculty of Harvard University.” How’s this for a campaign slogan…” I have no government experience and I promise to leave Washington forever once my term expires. But I’ll work as hard as I can to figure out what’s wrong with our Country and fix it if I can. If I can’t at least I’ll do no harm.”

He’s got my vote.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Walmart Experience

My Dad just turned 87. He has gotten to the point where tying a tie is problematic. Recently, he has resorted to wearing mock turtlenecks with a sports coat to church on Sunday, and that’s fine. But for a man born in 1924, going to church in a turtleneck doesn’t feel quite right. It’s kind of like going to a funeral in a Hawaiian shirt. So yesterday I set out to find my father a couple of clip-on bowties. First stop, Men’s Warehouse.

My go-to place for clothes had a very limited selection of clip-on bowties, that is, they had one color…black.. and shiny tuxedo black at that. The sales guy pointed out their tremendous selection of regular bowties, all the latest designs and colors. But each of them came with a 5 page instruction manual in three languages explaining how to actually tie the thing. If I couldn’t figure it out, an 87 year old man with arthritic fingers had no chance. From there I drove to Khols and then Dillard's with no luck. A perky sales girl in Dillard's pointed out that she was sure that Walmart would have plenty of clip-on bowties. “They’re a clip-on sort of place,” she explained. I thanked her and headed out to the parking lot vowing that there wasn’t enough money in the world to make me go to Walmart on December the 22nd. My Dad was just going to have to get over his Turtleneck issues. But, as is always the case with everything concerning my parents, guilt soon attacked me with rude menace. For the first time since the great Christmas light emergency of 1996, I would shop at….Walmart.

At the front door I was greeted by a kindly old man who called me “Champ” and asked if I needed any help. I nodded nervously and asked where the men’s clothing section might be. “ Easy..walk ‘bout two football fields down this aisle and when you get to the Snuggie display turn right. You can’t miss it.” Walking down the aisle was like being transported to the mail room at the United Nations. There was an adorable Thai family, an angry looking Mexican woman with two screaming children in tow, a stunningly beautiful Russian girl with fingernails longer than my fingers. Mixed in were an eclectic collection of white people, the kind that you see in the funnel cake line at the state fair. It was as if Bob Geldof decided to reshoot the “We Are The World” video using all living members of the Blue Grass hall of fame.

The men’s clothing section featured a staggering display of camouflage jackets, and blaze orange baseball caps. After I plowed my way through the blue jean racks I finally found a small display of ties. The clip-on bowties were all in a grab bag box marked with the everyday low price of $9.99. Unfortunately there were only three colors, velvet pink, uranium yellow, and toxic waste green. About the time I had decided that the bowtie thing just wasn’t meant to be, I felt the presence of a large man who smelled of bacon and had no regard for the American concept of personal space. “ $9.99!! Can you believe that?? One of the many reasons I hate this store. No wonder Bob’s Bowtie Emporium had to shut down. This place is sucking the very life blood out of America!!”

There’s a reason that the kids up in New York decided to Occupy Wall Street instead of Walmart. In New York all they had to worry about were a few over anxious cops. At Walmart, you get between a shopper and the $5.99 clearance box, you better be wearing shoulder pads and a protective cup. You can get cussed out in three languages before you make it out of the parking lot. Walmart in America is that crazy place where commerce meets the melting pot. They have dinner, go dancing, then commerce picks up the tab. But then, just before they head back to his place they have a raging knock down drag out right there in the 15 items or less line. I made my way slowly and cautiously back to the front door, and out through the parking lot, glancing right and left for stray felons. No bowtie, but I did survive to shop another day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Two Christmas Memories

Every Christmas, I always recall the memories of Christmas past. I can’t help myself. For me, Christmas is nothing if not for the retelling . Maybe it’s because my memories are so hazy and so few. I remember nothing specific about Christmas, other than special presents I received, like my first bike and the genuine Colt45 cap-guns with leather holsters. But other than the occasional transcendent boyhood dream-gift, Christmas is all a blur. Except for two memories that remain bright and alive in my mind.

The first one happened around the time that I was 10. There was a family that had recently moved in down the road from us. I believe they were from St. Louis. They had three kids who I had never met. Actually I had never seen any of them. My Dad was the pastor of the local Baptist church and he talked about them at dinner one night. He told us that the father had lost his job back in St. Louis and had moved to Virginia to go to work someplace in Ashland but had soon lost that job as well. Now he was broke and looking for work, and didn’t have enough money to head back to St. Louis. Someone observed that they wouldn’t be having much of a Christmas.  I can’t remember who came up with the idea, probably my Mom, but we all decided that we would do Christmas for them.

  These people didn’t go to our church. Dad had just visited them and found out about their story. Before long my Mom somehow had gotten all of the kids’ clothes sizes and other important information like what kind of toys they would like. There has never lived a woman who was better at finding out important and secret stuff than my Mom. The CIA could learn a thing or two from Betty Dunnevant. Next thing you know we drove into Ashland on a shopping spree with our own money and some from a couple of other families who had gotten in on it. While we were in town we stopped by Western Auto and picked up a big cardboard box that had once held a washing machine. When we all gathered to wrap the presents,  I remember being so incredibly happy with it all, the joy of it, the feeling that I was in on something grand and holy.

  Once we wrapped everything, we then wrapped the huge box, stuffed all the other presents inside and then sealed up this miracle Christmas with a big tacky red ribbon. Then it gets hazy. I remember talking about how we should give this to them. Someone said that we shouldn’t present it to them in person, that we wouldn’t want to hurt the man’s pride, something about not letting the left hand know what the right hand was doing. I didn’t really understand it very well at the time. All I knew was, the plan that we came up with was the stuff of which dreams are made. At 10 years old on a bitterly cold Christmas Eve, I found myself in Fred Schwartz’ pickup truck backing down a dirt driveway with the lights off right around midnight. We quietly carried the box to their front porch and left it there with a note that said..”Jesus Loves You….Merry Christmas”. We never heard from them as far as I know. But that Christmas day was unlike any other for me. We spent all day with smiles on our faces, wondering what it must have been like when that poor, homesick family opened their front door.

The second memory was from a couple of years later. My Mom had stumbled upon a family that lived in a shockingly poor community called “sawdust lane”. I knew that the people unlucky enough to live there were the poorest of the poor in our county, but I had never actually met anyone from sawdust lane, let alone visited anyone there. But one December day my Mother took me with her to visit this family. I remember nothing about the visit other than the most disturbing thing I had ever seen up to that point in my life. The house had a dirt floor and the two little boys who lived there were barefoot outside in the middle of winter with feet that looked as dirty as rusted iron. My Mom and some other lady from church gathered the boys up, put them in the back seat with me and drove into Ashland. There we bought each of them a winter coat and two pairs of shoes. When the boys tried the shoes on they stumbled around awkwardly, falling and giggling until we realized that they had never worn shoes before. I remember the looks on their faces and the strange lump in my throat as I watched them delight in a package of three pairs of socks. In my world, I knew no one who was rich. We didn’t have much at home, but I had never seen poverty before in all of its ugliness until that moment. Mom never told me what she was thinking by taking me with her that day and she never asked me about it. But it made an impression that changed how I viewed the world and especially Christmas. I don’t ever think I’ve been as grateful as I was that year.

I enjoy Christmas every year. My first Christmas as a husband, the first Christmas with my children, they were all magical and glorious. But nothing has stayed with me like the two years over 40 years ago when I learned the joy and wonder of giving.

“ O, lay aside each earthly thing,
And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King.
‘Tis love that’s born tonight.”

Alfred Burt

Sunday, December 18, 2011

NEWS FLASH!! This just in.....

Browsing through the Wall Street Journal the other day I ran across a headline that caught my eye. "Study finds risky sexual behavior tied to heavy alcohol use." An institution of higher learning somewhere in the United States had just completed an exhaustive study of the sexual practices of males and females who drink alot. Shockingly, they found that increasing levels of inebriation led to increasingly bad decisons like "leaving the bar with someone who they normally wouldn't" and even "a greater likelihood of unprotected sex"................(crickets chirping).

What would we do without institutions of higher learning? The less enlightened among us might think that there was already a consensus going back, oh I don't know,...4 thousand years, that heavy drinking leads to bad decision making. Even those not well versed in human history have probably noticed that the theme of alcohol-fueled nitwittery has been a major plot device in movies and televisions shows since each of these mediums have been around. But sometimes it takes scientific studies to reveal these truths to the modern mind.

So, if I remember enough about the scientific method, I suppose there was a "control group" in this study. These were the 50 or so couples who were put in a bar and served water or ginger ale. I can also assume that the physical makeup of this control group was equal to the study group, ie..there were equal numbers of hot chicks and dogs, equal numbers of GQ guys and nerds. Then I suppose their behavior was closely monitored. When the study group got good and hammered I suppose that the scientists began to notice surprising couplings. Reasonably attractive men choosing decidedly ugly women for instance, providing confirmation of that country song lyric.."all the girls get prettier at closing time". Imagine the lyrics that could have been penned by Hank Williams had he had access to the findings of this study!

I did a google search of other ground breaking studies to come out of academia and found an impressive list:

"Study finds alarming connection between bike riding and skinned knees among elementary school students"

" New study finds connection between eye-rolling and heavy ironic sighing and teenagers."

"Study discovers that politicians do not actually deliver on many campaign promises"

" Study finds that men who tell their wives, when asked, that the dress does actually make them look fat, reported a marked decline in sexual activity."

......Oh, and this just in..."Women get really pissed when their husbands cheat, a new study suggests."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Heading to Nashville in the morning to see Patrick graduate. After this weekend I will no longer have kids in college. Kaitlin is in grad school and Patrick will be in 8 months or so, but their undergraduate days are over. For the past 6 years I have been writing large checks made payable to either Cedarville or Belmont and counting the days until the financial hardship would be over. Well, now its over and I'm relieved, but a little sad. One more stage of life comes to a close. Time to move on to the next thing. The pace of change has grown steadily faster recently, it seems. Just yesterday, we drove Kaitlin to Ohio and dropped her off in a cornfield to attend school 475 miles from home. Then a few days later we drove 600 miles away in a different direction to leave Patrick in Nashville and returned to an empty house. Now they're both all grown up and smart as whips. I blinked and it was over.

Pam and I will drive down with Vi and Jessica. Then we will meet Kaitlin and Jon down there, who are driving straight from Winston-Salem. Looks like its going to be rainy and cold. But it will be fun. Pam will cry. I will feel like crying but hold it together because, thats what I do. Then we'll head home and get ready for Christmas and more changes that I'm sure await us in 2012. Molly will be waiting for us when we come home. She will jump up and lick us and bring us a ball and act like she hasn't seen us in 10 years, just like she always does. Then I'll blink and there will be weddings and then grandkids someday. It's all good and right. Except the blinking.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Tim Tebow Take

Like everyone else in America, I have watched the story of Tim Tebow unfold over these past 8 weeks. Each week it’s the same thing. The kid looks woefully overmatched for three quarters. Then in the fourth quarter he becomes something else. It’s as if his body gets taken over by the ghost of Johnny Unitas. Then he gets an infusion of Joe Namath from 1969 and Joe Montana from 1989, and the next thing you know, the Broncos have won another game.
The camera pans to a shot of John Elway looking awkwardly flabbergasted. Afterwards, all the football talking heads are left blubbering on and on about his terrible mechanics, horrendous stats, and the annoying kneeling and praying on the sidelines. Internet chat rooms then ignite into flames with apoplectic rage at his sermonizing, at his goody-two-shoes corn-pone personality, and especially at his virginity. Then across the virtual street another universe of chat rooms are positively gushing over his wholesomeness, impeccable manners and humility. The battle lines have been drawn. If you’re a Christian, you’ve gotta love him and if you’re a heathen, you’ve gotta hate him. It’s tremendously fun and must see TV.

What I find most compelling however, are his press conferences after the games. I’ve watched four of them now and they are amazingly consistent. So, in keeping with the latest trend in journalism, I will now run a Fact-Check on his remarks to determine whether Mr. Tebow is, in fact, honest. Each week he makes essentially the same comments as follows:

“Our defense played great the entire game and if not for them we never could have staged a comeback at all.”


“ On those last two drives, my offensive linemen were amazing. Their blocking made me look much better than I am.”


“ I was so proud of ( insert running back, wide receiver, or kicker) on that last drive. He really stepped up and made great plays all over the field and I couldn’t be any happier for him because he’s such a great guy.”

FACT CHECK: First part true. Hard to corroborate claim of “great guy” but at this point I will take Tebow’s word for it.

“I’m just working as hard as I can in practice every week and trying my best to get better”


“We got a few breaks there in the last few minutes that sure helped us”

FACT CHECK: Like opposing defenses going to the prevent and guys fumbling the ball and running out of bounds for some inexplicable reason?? VERY TRUE

What’s my view of Tebow? Well, he looks more like a tight end to me. I don’t think he’s a great quarterback, not even sure he’s a good quarterback, but I do think he’s a great football player. He has the leadership ability and charisma required to inspire his teammates and that counts for a lot. There is something comforting about seeing a guy succeed at something that all the smart people told us he couldn’t possible do. The reason it’s a comfort to me is because it reminds me that the “smart people” aren’t always right. When I watch him fail for 3 quarters and keep pushing and pushing and working and striving and then finally breaking through to victory it helps me not to give up when I’m struggling. I also like seeing an athlete demonstrate humility in front of a nest of microphones for once.

Why do so many people loathe Tebow? Some may resent his constant public affirmations of faith. For many people faith is a private matter. Some may resent his success, his good looks, because most of us are neither. Some may just suspect that he’s a hypocrite who hasn’t been caught yet. In the era of Joe Paterno, Anthony Weiner, and Tiger Woods, this is an understandable reaction. A better explanation may be that in 2011 America, we don’t know what to make of 1950’s character when we see it. It strikes a discordant note in our public psyche to observe a rich, good-looking, athletic ,young man who isn’t a womanizing, self-absorbed, egomaniacal brute. We don’t know how to deal with our past come back to life, for if Tim Tebow lived in the 1950’s he would not be the subject of such cultural fascination, he would simply blend in. Now, we parse his every utterance looking for evidence of phoniness. Soon, teams of TMZ employees will be combing through his trash looking for used condoms. It just can’t be true. He cannot really be that nice, can he? Is it possible for a young man to take Christianity seriously enough to bet everything on his faith, to live out the teachings of Jesus not just at church but in every corner of his life, even the NFL?

Watching him these past 8 weeks, I wouldn’t bet against him.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The "On Your Own" Economy

The other day our President went to give a speech in Kansas in which he once again railed against the 1%. In the midst of the speech he constructed an impressive straw man, referring to those of us who disagree with his understanding of finance as “simplistic” and then blamed our current woes on this “ you’re on your own” brand of economics. Question: who out there throughout the fruited plain feels left alone by our government? Seriously? 9% unemployment, 15 trillion dollars of debt and 1.5 yearly budget deficits as far as the eye can see is the result of negligent government? Our government isn’t involved enough in our lives…THAT’S the problem? We should be so lucky.

Let’s see. The government enjoys a monopoly on public education, spending more money per student than any country on the planet with the exception of Switzerland. This largesse has resulted not in ever improving test scores. It hasn’t produced legions of first class scholars and it hasn’t resulted in lower and lower delinquency rates. What it HAS produced is a gigantic bloated education bureaucracy and a public sector teachers union that fights any attempt to reverse these catastrophic trends. If a graduate of this system desires to attend college he is forced to borrow huge amounts of money from the government monopoly that took over the student loan business, thereby subsidizing and artificially boosting the cost of higher education.

  Once the lucky scholar gets his degree and by some miracle gets a job, he will soon want to purchase a home. The chances are better than 50% that his loan will be obtained through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, the two government sponsored institutions that helped bring us the mortgage crisis of 2008.

 If our aspiring American Dreamer ever gets sick and needs to go to the doctor, he will be served by a government who determines how much treatment he can receive and at what price.

  If this bright guy ever gets it in his head to start a business he will be forced to run the gauntlet of federal and state agencies , boards and commissions with each of their licensing fees and mountains of paperwork.

 If somehow he makes it through the many hurdles put in his way and actually starts his business, he better hope and pray that no one slips on a banana peel in the lunch room , because the lawyers at OSHA will be on him like white on rice.

If, against all odds he produces an evil profit at the end of the year he better hire himself three accountants to prepare his tax returns, because if he makes a mistake, the boys at the IRS ( the most negligent of ALL government agencies ) will show up with swat teams from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to raid his business looking for illegal profit making stuff.

 When our hero leaves the office after the raid and walks the streets of downtown, his every step will be monitored by video surveillance cameras. If he stops at the ATM to withdraw money to get drunk the transaction will be monitored by his friends at Homeland Security.

 If he does get drunk and makes the mistake of revealing to his bar mates ( one of whom is a government social services worker)that he has three young children waiting for him at home, his kids will soon be plucked from his home and transferred to the custody of the state.

 After his wife leaves him and he is forced to sell his home at a loss, he will sit down and write a soul-bearing letter to the editor of his local paper telling his cautionary tale only to have the letter lost by the government run monopoly that controls mail delivery.

This is an “on your own economy” ?? One wonders what Obama envisions as an energetic, and involved government?

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Customer Service Experience

9 days ago the hard drive on my 18 month old laptop computer died, emitting  a metallic scream seconds before spitting out the dreaded blue screen of death. With smug confidence that it was covered under warranty, I drove over to BestBuy and dropped it off with the Geek Squad where I was informed that it would be ready in 3-5 days and if something unforeseen came up, I would get a phone call. 7 days later, having gotten no such call, I dropped in on the Geeks to check the status of my repair. A sad faced young man, with emo glasses and unwashed hair hanging across his ironic face, informed me that they had tried repeatedly to reach me to tell me that a restore disk needed to be provided to them so that they could re-install Windows. If I didn’t have said disk, I could order one for $28.30 from my computer maker by calling a 1-800 number.

“That’s strange," I said. “I haven’t gotten any calls from you guys.”

“says here that we called twice…”

“What number did you call? When I dropped it off you guys asked for the best number to reach me and I gave you my cell number.”

“Yeah…but we lost it and so we used the number on file which I think was your home number”

“You lost my cell phone number?”

“ sucks, I know man..”

So this morning, day nine without my computer, I called the 1-800 number to order the disk. The phone was finally answered by a human after 3 exchanges. This particular human sounded like an innebriated Pakistani with a mouth full of marbles. After taking 10 minutes to confirm that my first name was in fact..DOUG, we proceeded to the problem at hand. At minute 26 of this call I was transferred to another department. Ordinarily this would have caused me raging gastro-intestinal distress, but I was actually encouraged when my new customer service technician came on the line. Robert’s melodious Scottish accent informed me that I had three choices:

“If you want the disk by December 13 it will be $28.30. If you want it by December 15 it will be $21.50, but if you can wait until December 20 it’s only $14.00”

“Robert, is it?” I replied, “I have been on this phone for 31 minutes trying to order a restore disk for a computer that you guys manufactured a short 18 months ago, and whose hard drive couldn’t even last 2 years. Now you’re telling me that the soonest I can get this disk is 4 days from now? How about you guys overnight the thing to me for free and we can call it even.”

Apparently the customer service technicians at HP don’t understand sarcasm when they hear it. A long silence followed. Eventually I was forced to add…"Just kidding…” After finally taking all of my credit card info at minute 39 Robert asked me if I wanted to participate in a “brief 10 question
survey concerning my service experience." This time, the awkward silence was all on me.

If anyone wants to know why the United States is losing its status as the most powerful economic country in the world, they would have to look no further than my 40 minute call. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Virginia Tech Football.....Sigh...

Living in the State of Virginia, there is only one school that matters nationally when it comes to division 1 football and that’s Virginia Tech. Their fan base is rabid. They sell out every game, and every home game is a great college football environment and experience. They are justifiably proud of the program that Frank Beamer has built. Each year they send multiple players to the NFL. But many of us here in Virginia look at Tech fans as an anthropologist might look at a newly discovered tribe of three-eyed giants in New Guinea, with perplexed fascination.

Each year it’s the same story. Virginia Tech is ranked absurdly high in pre-season polls for some unknown reason. Might Frank Beamer have incriminating photos of key sports journalists? Anyway, then they plow through their cupcake schedule of Appalachian State, Arkansas State, East Carolina and Marshall, steadily climbing in the polls even while beating absolutely no one. Then they get to feast on the pathetic ACC competition of Duke, N.C. State, Boston College etc.. But eventually, even Tech has to play a quality opponent. This year it was Clemson. And every year it’s the same thing. Whenever Tech is faced with a big important game against quality competition, whether it’s a bowl game or just in the regular season, they get rolled. This year the two games against Clemson were lost by a combined score of 61-13. And yet….

Just three days ago, facebook was aglow with Tech fans advising the world of how it was going to go down, the many scenarios that would no doubt produce a national championship matchup between the Hokies and LSU. I kid you not. Hokie nation never doubts the justice and inevitability of Tech playing for a national title. Put aside the fact that the team they would have to beat to get their mauled them on their home field seven weeks earlier. Put aside the fact that nothing that Tech has accomplished in the last 20 years would make any sane person believe that they could stay on the same field as a LSU. It simply doesn’t matter to Tech loyalists. The delusions of grandeur that infect Hokie minds is something to behold. Yes, the Hokies are the best football team in the State of Virginia, they could beat the Cavaliers with both hands tied behind their backs, and yes, moving their program to the ACC was a stroke of genius all those years ago, as it has allowed them a ticket to national prominence by being the best of a terrible conference….but PLEASE….enough with the national championship contender crap!! Until your record against top 10 ranked teams improves from 2 wins against 19,000 losses or whatever it’s up to now, just leave it alone guys. Enjoy your place as big dog in the Old Dominion.

Friday, December 2, 2011

My 2011 Christmas List

As I have mentioned before , the Dunnevant family takes a very 21st century, high-tech approach to the business of Christmas. the “Christmasistas “of the family, ( and you know who you are), generally start asking everyone for their Christmas lists the day after Halloween. Slowly but surely the lists start trickling in to my wife who then downloads them to the Dunnevant Christmas Central website. Once posted, everyone can check to see who has bought what for whom, the idea being that this will prevent the dreaded “double gifting” plague of Christmas’ long ago. One particular year Nanny received 4 glass tea pitchers, all of which she was “thrilled” with and each indispensably unique that they couldn’t possibly be parted with. “You never know when 20 people might show up for dinner,” she said. “ You can never have too many glass pitchers!” However, the problem with the website, I mean the problem BESIDES the over the top Target-Ladyesque nature of it all, is the fact that everyone is on the honor system. We are all trusted NOT to click on our own names to see what people may have bought for us. Now, I’m not making any accusations here, but let’s just say that over the last few years we are either getting awfully predictable in our gift buying or this family needs to take some acting lessons…

Matt: Wow!! Look everybody…it’s a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens ! Doug, how did you know that this was what I’ve always wanted??
Doug: Just a lucky guess! Even though the 1.4 USM lens was 3 times as expensive as the 1.8 version, something told me that you would LOVE it!

So once again this year, I am the last Dunnevant to turn in his list. For this I should get a lump of coal, no doubt. But in my defense, it IS only December the 2nd. There are still 22 shopping days left until the big day, so hopefully I haven’t inconvenienced anyone too badly. Without further delay, here is my 2011 Christmas List:

• A special edition Santa PEZ dispenser. I happen to know that they are readily available at the checkout counter at Ben Franklin and are very reasonably priced
• Gift certificates in any denomination ( even Methodist) to Barnes and Noble
• a cut in the capital gains tax
• world peace
• money…that I can donate to Nanny’s give-away fund
• Titlelist Pro-V1 golf balls
• Gear from the UR bookstore mugs, long sleeve shirt (red) large or anything cool that you think I might like…surprise me!
• tax free bailout money from my fellow citizens via the federal government since I am clearly too big to fail
• Season one and/or two of Parenthood
• switches…..I used to worry every Christmas Eve that I would get them but I never did so a part of me has always wondered what it would be like
• A book of great April Fool’s ideas ( for the office)
• Sunglasses, not the real expensive and pretentious ones …but not the Walmart specials either, something in the middle. Black and sinister if available.
• a big honkin’ bag of Dunkin Doughnuts regular ground coffee
• an online subscription to the Wall Street Journal

Feliz Navidad

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Handicapping The Presidential Candidates...Part Two

Rick Perry was at one time an attractive candidate, that time being before he was an actual candidate. Here was a tall, handsome, and successful governor of the large and important state of Texas. And let’s face it, there’s something about Texas that Americans grudgingly admire and envy. Texas is what the entire country once was, aggressive, proud, and going places. The rest of the country might be falling apart but those Texans are still kicking ass somehow. So when Perry finally entered the race there was great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, in his debate performances, an old Texas saying comes to mind…”all hat and no cattle”. There was one particular clip I watched that wasn’t even about him but rather showed Ron Paul in full throat-ed passion about the dubious constitutional origins of the Federal Reserve with Perry looking on with an expression that was part astonishment and part bewilderment. It was as if Perry was thinking to himself…”Wish I woulda paid more attention in Econ..” Perry is the sort of guy who looks much better from a distance. He probably needs to spend eight years attending state funerals as the VP or something while he reads up on the problems facing the rest of the country before we hand him the keys to the White House gym. Plus, there’s that whole “Rick” thing. I rate his chances at 50 to 1.

Mitt Romney knows one thing and that one thing is that it’s his turn. Mitt knows the Republican party like the back of his hand and he knows that the Republican party always nominates guys like him who have paid their dues. This is the party that nominated old Gerald Ford over Ronald Reagan in 1976, the party who trotted out old Bob Dole in 1996, and John McCain in 2008 because it was their turns. Mitt is the establishment guy with the great suits, impressive resume and central casting smile, and he ran and lost in 2008 so now it’s his turn. No one doubts that he would at least be a competent President since by all accounts he’s smart and has both business and governmental executive experience, skills that would have served the current occupant well. With Romney, the question that lingers in the mind for me isn’t his Mormonism. In fact I would probably prefer it to the Protestant potpourri of Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Baptist doctrine that would be unleashed in the Ron Paul White House. Can you imagine the theological confusion that the Paul kids had saying their prayers at night growing up? No, the problem with Romney is that nobody really knows what he truly believes about stuff. Movement conservatives are convinced that no successful politician from Massachusetts could possibly be one of them. Liberals are equally suspicious of his business background and his personal fortune, for them, evidence of membership in the evil 1%. But Romney is a man of actual accomplishments in life and seems by all accounts to be free of vices both major and minor. If the Republican party holds true to form, this guy will be the nominee. I place his chances at 3 to 1.

Newt Freaking Gingrich. In a previous blog entry I laid out the case against Newt. But this guy has overcome a total lack of money and being abandoned by his staff. He has overcome everything for one reason…the debates. The first time I ever saw Newt on TV was back in the late 80’s on C-Span. That’s back when he was a back-bench bomb thrower. He was smart, witty, and an intellectual heavyweight who would give long speeches to an empty chamber extolling the virtues of free enterprise. Once he became Speaker of the House, by crafting the Contract With America it was all downhill from there. The very skills that got him that job made it impossible to govern effectively. Since leaving government he has made a fortune first as a lobbyist and adviser to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored enterprises at the heart of the mortgage collapse, and then as a historian and author. He has probably written more books than Rick Perry has read. In the debates he toys with the other candidates, knowing that he has the intellectual chops to wipe the floor with any of them at will. He goes out of his way to humiliate the press, having long ago given up any hope that any of them will ever give him a fair shake. Newt is always the smartest guy in the room and can be annoying as hell because of it. But maybe the times we find ourselves in require us to consider a guy like Gingrich. This dude knows where all the bodies are buried. He’s forgotten more about underhanded political tactics than the rest of the field has ever known. Someone who is tactically ruthless, a brilliant practitioner of situational ethics, and unhindered by a desire to be liked by the press may actually make a serviceable President after all. If we will all drop our insistence on electing Presidents that we personally admire, Gingrich might work out. Don’t we all want someone who can go into a room of politicians and blackmail and browbeat them into submission? Aren’t we tired of getting rolled by two-bit dictators and United Nation types? Aren’t you tired of hearing your President apologize for our many national sins? Wouldn’t it be great to hear a President call a reporter from the New York Times an idiot for asking such moronic questions? Yes, yes and yes! But there’s still something about Newt that bothers me. He’s one of those guys who believes in American Empire more than the American Republic and this is not a distinction without a difference. Newt loves his country a little too much for my blood. I’m done with the empire stuff. I’m ready to drop the global cop routine, reinstate the Monroe Doctrine and be done with it. Newt will give Mitt a run for his money but his chances are only 10 to 1.

So, there you have it. I would take any of these guys over Obama….wait, except Bachmann…or Santorum….Huntsman…or…whatever.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Handicapping The Presidential Candidates...Part One

Now that we’re finally within a year of the 2012 Presidential election, I suppose it’s time for me to access the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and give my opinion of their chances of success. Up until now I have silently( for the most part ) watched them give their stump speeches and I have read postmortems of the many debates that they’ve had, although I must confess to not having seen one single debate. It’s not that I don’t care, or that I’m a disengaged citizen, but 11 debates? Really?? Anyway, here we go:

Michelle Bachmann is the only female candidate. She is a Congresswoman from Minnesota and apparently is not related to the guy who started Bachmann, Turner Overdrive, the Canadian rock band in the 1970’s. Although early on in the campaign she was “takin’ care of business” and even spent a few weeks as the front runner with speeches that thrilled her enthusiastic crowds with the phrase, “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet”. But recently her campaign has run short of money and sufficient intelligence. I rate her chances of winning the nomination as roughly the same chance that Adam Sandler will win an Oscar for best actor.

John Huntsman was once the governor of Utah and after that was our Ambassador to China. He was given that job by the man he now wants to replace as President. He has perfect hair, a great tan, and very attractive daughters. He’s the only Republican candidate about whom liberal reporters and commentators ever have anything good to say. He’s a Mormon, I think, but nobody seems to mind because nobody thinks he’ll ever become President. From the debates he seems like one of those guys who thinks he’s hilarious but really isn’t. His chances of winning the nomination are about the same as Mel Gibson winning a lifetime achievement award from B’nai B’rith.

Herman Cain has never held elective office, has never held a position in government of any kind. But if his distractors are to be believed, he has held many of his female employees. Herman was chugging right along there for awhile on the strength of his business success, his sincere and forthright performance in the early debates and frankly because he had no political experience, and here was a black man who seemed to actually adore his country. But then the ladies began to speak out about his roving eye ways back in the day, and finally a woman came out who claimed a 13 year affair with this devout and loving husband and father. While this sort of thing is perfectly fine if you’re Jack Kennedy or Bill Clinton, America isn’t ready for a black president who can’t keep it in his pants. Cain’s chances of winning the nomination are somewhere between slim and none, and I believe none just left town.

Ron Paul has been running for President for what seems like the last 50 years, but dang it, this time he means it! He is a Congressman from Texas and has been since 1978 which I suppose qualifies him as a Career Politician, the very thing he rails against most convincingly on the stump. I must confess here that I love this guy. He is the only Libertarian in the race and of all the candidates, his positions on the issues are closest to my own. However, he’s also a tad cranky. His father was of German extraction and his mother was Irish, a strange and dangerous witch’s brew of DNA. ( Think, power-hungry drunk.) He and his wife have 5 children who were all baptized as Episcopalians, while oddly he was raised Lutheran, but later became a Baptist. ( Think, upper class redneck. ) If by some miracle he were to be elected President, he would take the oath at the ripe old age of 77, making Ronald Reagan look positively prepubescent by comparison. However, like Reagan, everyone will know what he believes and that he will have the fortitude to act on those beliefs if given the chance. I rate that chance at 100 to 1.

Rick Santorum is a former Senator from Pennsylvania. He is a devout Catholic and to prove it has seven kids. He is most commonly identified as being for Intelligent Design and against homosexuality. In the debates he comes across as the guy you would least want to have dinner with, what with his scolding tone and high degree of rightness. I’m thinking that with all hell breaking out in the world and western civilization struggling to survive, a candidate better have something else besides, “aren’t gay people terrible?” Besides, the American people aren’t going to elect a President named “Rick”.

To Be Continued….

Friday, November 25, 2011

Week 13.....great games and tough calls

Lots of great games this Thanksgiving weekend. After a disastrous week 12 of going 2-4, I need a good week. However, each of the games I am picking could easily go the other way. They are all good teams who are all capable of winning. So, here we go:

Arkansas vs LSU

If ever there were a game that showcases great defense against great offense it’s this one. LSU will face the best offense it has seen all year in the Razorbacks. But this LSU team is 11-0 despite a schedule that has featured 6 ranked opponents. This game is in Baton Rouge. It will be a great game but the Tigers will win 35-28.

Va. Tech vs UVA

OK, I have picked UVA games 7 times this year and have been wrong 6 times. I pick them to win..they lose. I pick them to lose…they win. Disgusting. I must guard against being a prisoner of the moment. Yes, I know that Mike London is a terrific coach and he has the Cavaliers playing better than they have for years, and yes, I know that the Hokies are once again the most overrated team in America, having mysteriously risen to number 4 in the country on the strength of having beaten absolutely NOBODY. But, UVA is still UVA and Beamer is still Beamer and he could beat UVA in his sleep. Tech 24-9.

Alabama vs Auburn

The Iron Bowl. My first experience with this game was when I was an 8 year old boy living in Nicholsville, Alabama. I asked my father why every store in the entire state seemed abandoned, and why we couldn’t even find a gas station opened. He replied that Bama was playing Auburn, as if that should have explained everything. Alabama 27-10.

Clemson vs South Carolina

Another bitter rivalry game featuring the best team in the ACC ( sorry Hokies ) against the 5th best team in the SEC. Hmmmm….Gamecocks 32-27.

Penn State vs Wisconsin

Why am I picking this game? It’s Big Ten football, I’m tired of the whole Penn State thing, and Wisconsin is about as exciting as watching women’s golf. I guess I would like to see Penn State be put in it’s place, and I would enjoy seeing Russell Wilson have a good game, what with his local ties and all. Zzzzzzz…. Badgers 21-17.

Georgia vs Georgia Tech

Bitter in state rivals. Fourth best SEC team vs. third best ACC team. Tech’s tricked up offense is hard to prepare for, but Georgia has better athletes. When in doubt, pick the SEC…BullDogs roll 35-14.

Thanksgiving good as it gets

For Thanksgiving 2011, 31 of us gathered in a brick rancher in beautiful downtown Glen Allen designed for a maximum occupancy of perhaps 15. Upon arrival, I noticed a wave of intense heat coming not from the kitchen, but from the front porch. My instincts told me that this was trouble. After preliminary greetings I made my way towards the thermostat and discovered the problem. As if the combined body heat of 31 human beings wouldn’t be enough to heat the house, my parents had thoughtfully enlisted the aid of their 10,000 BTU heating system, setting it at a toasty 74 degrees. I took the liberty of intervening by dusting off the “cool” setting, and quietly opening windows throughout. By the time we all left 4 hours later the place felt great.

My sisters had come out the day before to devise a scheme whereby 31 people could eat sitting down and the food could be displayed and accessed properly. They are the unsung heroes of the day. The resulting space and flow miracle allowed all of us to enjoy a delectable meal with minimal droppage or spillage. The food itself was a culinary feast. The turkey was juicy, the ham smokey and delicious. The homemade rolls were exquisite and amazingly still warm from the oven. There was cranberry casserole, sweet potato deliciousness, creamy mashed potatoes, green beans, some sort of fancy cooked carrot dish with onions that sounds disgusting but was quite tasty. Then came the dessert bar which had to be set up out on the back porch. The too small table was crammed full of pies and brownies and more pies and pumpkin spiced whoopee pies and pecan pie nirvana made by Paula that was so good it came with a diabetes warning label. Of course Ron provided three different types of coffee with at least 16 varieties of sweeteners and creamers. Think of it as the Black Friday of dessert indulgence.

Once the Packers-Lions game reached halftime, it was time for our own Dunnevant men’s football game. This year’s edition featured a team of Ron, Ryan, and Jon vs. a team with Ruaridh, Patrick, and yours truly. Paul played a couple of series, but then staged a contract holdout on the terrible advice of his agent. It was a spirited contest that featured fine quarterbacking by Ryan, although his completion percentage left something to be desired. Jon made a fine touchdown catch, but later in the game was on the receiving end of a tipped pass with, shall we say…an unfortunate trajectory. He bravely soldiered on and later failed to offer the injury as an excuse for dropping a perfectly thrown touchdown pass from Ryan. My team was blessed with the fastest player on the field. Ruaridh has made the transition from whatever the heck game he played back in Scotland, to American football beautifully. Saving his best for last, Patrick scored when he got behind a clearly gassed Ron, to make an over the shoulder catch of the winning touchdown!

Most families would then lay around and fall asleep until they were hungry again and then break out the turkey sandwiches. Not the Dunnevants. It was now time for the Thanksgiving Play, a revival of the 2007 classic, The Dunnevants at Jamestown. Acting talent was on display as Patrick, Kaitlin, Jenny, Becky, Ryan, and Ruaridh gave spirited performances. After the play, Nanny, in a style and manner that came precariously close to preaching, led us in a devotional from a bible that looked so old and beaten up, one wondered whether it came over on the Mayflower. The best line of the day was delivered by Rick when he was flipping through her Bible later and said, “Nanny, this is an amazing bible..its autographed by Moses!” Then later he added…””Oh, and look what I found tucked in the pages of Exodus…a recipe card for manna” Hilarious! Then it was on…”Look Nanny..a seating chart from the Lord’s supper!”

When Rick first arrived, he was wearing a black fleece jacket and a gangster stocking cap yanked down tight over his eyes loaded down with grocery bags of food. Nanny whispered to me..” Douglas, who is that man?” To which I replied, “ Oh, he’s a bum we picked up at the corner of Pump and Broad. He says he’s homeless or something.” Nanny then says..”Well, bless his heart, there’s plenty!”

And so ended another awesome Thanksgiving. Except it wasn’t really finished. My family then headed the mile and a half over to Russ and Vi’s house to have more dessert with them. We are so lucky that everyone lives so close! After a couple of hours of overindulgence there, we finally started on the drive home and the last tradition of the day. For the last three weeks or so we have been forced to listen to second string Christmas music. You know what I mean…the Ray Coniff singers, Jim Nabors sings Greensleeves, that sort of thing. Our rule is that the top-tier stuff can only be brought out once the last piece of pie is consumed and we start the drive home. There are 4 choices. Nat King Cole, The Carpenters Christmas, James Taylor, and Harry Connick. A vote was taken and soon Christmas officially began with the velvet tones of Nat singing..”Chestnuts roasting on an open fiyah…” Once we got home, we decorated out tree, drank hot chocolate and wolfed down more turkey sandwiches, then watched Jim Carrey play the role of his life as..the Grinch. Just about the most perfect day ever.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Super-Committee Fail....who could have seen that coming?

The Super-Committee has failed. You remember the Super Committee don’t you? Actually it’s called the Joint Select Committee On Deficit Reduction, and it was created by something called the Budget Control Act of 2011. It’s purpose was to prevent a default on out sovereign debt brought about by the failure of the entire Congress to keep our budget under it’s mandated debt ceiling back during the summer. The idea was that because we are so hopelessly divided by politics and ideology, we needed to select six people from each party, from each house of Congress, give their committee a cool modifier like “Super”, and remove them from the glare of cameras and lobbyists so they could hammer out a compromise. Well, they worked hard for over three months and announced yesterday that…”After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”

Apparently, words no longer have meaning. Anyone who has watched the spectacle of our elected representatives butchering the finances of this nation for the past 12 months must wonder how any of them could have the nerve to name the piece of legislation responsible for the creation of this committee the “Budget Control Act of 2011” ? What budget? We have no budget. We have operated on continuing resolutions for over three years now. What control? Our national debt along with our annual accounts deficit has sky-rocketed over those three years. We have absolutely zero control over a non-existent budget. Maybe it was so named out of the optimistic hope that by giving it such a name, it would make it so. Perhaps this is what our President meant by “hope and change”. I’ve been thinking about this name business quite a bit lately and have come up with some legislative names that just might produce the desired outcomes we are all looking for.

Let’s Make it Illegal For Elected Officials To Appear On Television Act of 2011

Raise Somebody Else’s Taxes Act of 2011

Balance the Budget In 90 Days Or Face Death By Firing Squad Act of 2011

I Would Be A Better Politician If I Had Better Constituents Act of 2011

Suggestion Box Empowerment Act of 2011…This brilliant legislation would automatically place into law with unanimous consent one suggestion from this anonymous box each month. Perhaps a lucky winner would not be required to ever sit next to Barney Frank for an entire year, or maybe Nancy Pelosi would be stripped of all power during “that time of the month”.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Week 12.......5 games and a bonus Nascar pick!!

Now that my level of revulsion at the Penn State child abuse story has cooled somewhat, I am ready to resume my uncanny knack of picking winners in college football. Unfortunately,I waited until today to write this , so I couldn’t pick Iowa State’s stunning upset of Oklahoma State. I would have picked that though because any fool could have seen that coming right? So, here we go:

Nebraska vs. Michigan

This is an easy pick. In a classic match up between a flashy, big play offense and a tough, hard-nosed defense, the defense wins 75% of the time. This game is in the Big House, but, the Cornhuskers went into Happy Valley in front of the pathetically overwrought Penn State fans last week and took care of business, so, no worries. Actually, Nebraska may have found an opponent with a bad enough defense to make even their error prone QB look good…Nebraska 35-28.

UVA vs. Florida State

I can’t figure out UVA. They have a barely serviceable QB, no elite athletes, woeful special teams, and the worst fans in Christendom, and yet, here they are with 7 wins and talking about beating Florida State to set up a rivalry game next week with Virginia Tech for the Coastal division title in the ACC. As the great Keith Jackson would have said…”Whoa Nellie!!” Whenever I have picked UVA to win they seem to lose and vice versa, so I’m kinda in a bind here. Let’s see…rock paper scissors…coin flip…sorry, all you Hoos in Hooville, but I just can’t imagine the Cavaliers with an 8 win football team, Florida State 23-17.

USC vs. Oregon

I loved hearing all of the Ducks quacking after they beat Stanford last week, claiming that they, not Alabama, deserved a rematch with LSU by the flawed logic that they actually scored 27 points against the Crimson Tide. Yes, you did score 27 points. But LSU scored 40 and manhandled you the entire game until two garbage TD’s in the fourth quarter made the score less embarrassing. Don’t get me wrong, Oregon is a perfectly fine Pac-10 team who is exciting to watch…when playing other pac-10 teams like USC. The Ducks will struggle against the Trojans but manage to pull this one out and then we all will have to listen to their hollow boasts for another couple of weeks. Have fun playing Oklahoma in the runner Up Bowl. Oregon 42-35.
Penn State vs. Ohio State

This game may well set back offensive football 50 years. I hear that the over and under on total first downs in this game is 20. Unless these teams figure out a way to score on defense or special teams, we may just have our first 0-0 regulation division 1-A game since the epic 1983 “Toilet Bowl” game between Oregon and Oregon State. If so, it couldn’t happen to two finer programs. Ohio State will be forever in Penn State’s debt for making the Buckeye NCAA infractions seem innocent by contrast. I declare this game the “Moral Decay Bowl”…Penn State 3-0.

William & Mary vs. UR

My Spiders have lost 7 straight games, three of the losses by a total of 5 points, but 7 straight nonetheless. In this game records have never mattered. Both teams will play like it’s for the championship of the civilized world, and it will be entertaining. Richmond has beaten W&M 5 out of the last six games, but the one loss was a 41-3 ass-whipping last year in Williamsburg. With that humiliation in mind, I say that my boys break out of their funk and find a way to eek this one out 21-20.

Tony Stewart vs. Carl Edwards

Since there are no other compelling games on the slate I figured I would weigh in on a sport that I have been gradually losing interest in over the past 5 years. Nascar’s “chase” has come down to the last race of the interminable year and the two contenders are in a virtual dead heat. So, let’s compare and contrast the two contestants, shall we? Who has a more appropriate Nascar name?” Carl” sounds like a driver, “Tony” sounds like a character in West Side Story. Who looks the part? Carl Edwards is the new face of Nascar, with his washboard abbs and famous back-flip celebrations. Tony Stewart couldn’t do a back flip if his flabby life depended on it, he with the pudgy, sinister Pillsbury dough-boy looks. Carl drives a Ford and Tony drives a Chevy…so there’s that whole thing. Both are ruthless win at all costs types. Carl flashes a million dollar smile, Tony, a 25 dollar smirk. Neither is a southerner, so that stinks. Carl will be clean shaven, Tony will have a three day growth of beard. Man, this is such a tough call. Tony Stewart strikes a blow for making sure Nascar doesn’t go Hollywood on us by wrecking Carl Edwards on the last lap and winning by a bumper.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Thanksgiving Play

On this Thanksgiving Day 2007, it is natural to think back to Thanksgiving Days past and reminisce over fond memories. In the Dunnevant Family, we have seen our table grow over the years. When we think of the sheer volume of food consumed around this table since 1950, it is staggering. The scores of turkeys, pigs and chickens who have given the ultimate sacrifice to feed this family gives one pause. Nevertheless, it is a special day in the history of our family. However, it can also be somewhat . . . chaotic. I wonder . . .

I wonder what it would have been like if the Dunnevant Family had been in charge back on that first Thanksgiving Day in Jamestown . . . hmmm . . .

Mom: Emmett!! I beseech thee . . . come hither with that turkey! It is nigh the seventh hour and that bird hath not yet been cleaned? HALF THE DAY hath perished!!

Dad: Calmeth thy spirit, Betty. The sun hath been up a mere two hours. Wherefore doth thou reason that half the day hath perished?

Mom: There thou goest making mirth at my expense! Thou shalt singeth a different tune when this house shall be filled with savages demanding to be fed!

Dad: Be still, my wife. This meal shall come together in the course of time like all others before it.

Mom: I know of no divine incantation that can speaketh this meal onto the table! Bring hither our children to help. I cannot doeth it all!

Dad: I shall fetch them from their idleness.

Linda: Mother?

Mom: Make haste and get thee to preparing the maize pudding and berry casserole.

Linda: Why doth thou always employ me as thy slave while Douglas is allowed to scurry about this house with his exceedingly ill temper, vowing to SMITE US ALL IN THE MOUTH?

Mom: Leaveth Douglas alone! He is but an innocent child. Cease with thy vexing, and get thee busy with the maize pudding.

Linda: Why must we have maize pudding? Is it not enough that we have maize cereal for breakfast, maize cakes for lunch . . .?

Mom: Complaineth thou about the abundant maize crop these past many years? I should think that a thankful heart is in order.

Linda: You are right, Mother. Still, I grow weary of so repetitive a diet. Might’nt we barter a sack of maize for one of Sir Ukrop’s sheet cakes?

Donnie: What is that heavenly aroma wafting through the air?

Linda: Predictable! Only the smell of food can implore you to drop your fife and fiddle and desist with your annoying music-making!

Mom: Linda! Retire thy caustic tongue and apologize to your brother! His music-making bringeth joy to this house and, with increasing frequency, causeth my heart to flutter within me!

Dad: I have received disturbing news, dear family. I must leave at once to visit the home of William McClandish. He is sorely vexed with his wife and contemplates putting her away privately. As God’s servant in this colony, I must provide counsel.

Paula: William McClandish is vexed with his wife??? That is indeed rich! That brute beast of a man is lucky to even have a wife. I find him offensive in every way and entirely lacking in any social grace. And now this vile creature hath caused, once again, our Father to be torn from hearth and home in the most untimely manner.

Dad: Let not this trouble your heart, Paula. I shall return in time for the meal.

Donnie: Father, Paula speaketh the truth. How long hath thou been the parson of this contemptible village? Verily, I say that it is 1621 and past time for thou to be given an assistant parson.

Mom: Well, I’ll be-eth John Brown! An assistant parson? Our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills . . . Perhaps such a thing is possible?

[knock on the door]

Mom: Getteth the door, Donnie. Who could be troubling us at this hour? Might it be someone in need of a few coins from my Giveth-Away Fund?

Donnie: Mother, it is Squanto!

Mom: Squanto! Blesseth your heart, noble savage. I am so grateful for all of your help this past year with the maize crop.

Linda: Indeed! The bountiful maize crop warmeth my heart!

Squanto: Mrs. D is fine woman, and Squanto lucky to be invited to big dinner when sun is tall in sky.

Mom: Mentioneth it not! What bringest thou here 5 hours early, pray tell?

Squanto: Hereth is the thing . . . I knoweth that Mrs. D invite Squanto to big meal, but Squanto hath many guests and relatives from many tribes beyond the great River James who hath descended on Squanto’s teepee unannounced. Squanto wonders if Mrs. D hath room for a few more?

Mom: Mrs. D is forever in your debt. All of Squanto’s guests are always welcomed at our table. The Lord shall provide out of his bounty. Me-thinks this should be a tradition that we honor every year.

Linda: Shall I now be cursed with an annual Maize Day? Perish the contemptible thought!

Mom: No! It shall be a day to give thanks for the manifold blessings of life. A day to bow before God in humility around the table of plenty.

Donnie: It has come to me! It shall be called “Thanksgiving Day.” I shall compose a song post-haste . . . [singing] “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing . . . “ A fine start! Linda, fetch me my fiddle and quill and some parchment!

Paula: THIS shall NEVER catch on. It needs . . . GIFTS!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thinking The Unthinkable....No NBA Season?

I suppose I’ll always remember where I was when I got the news that the NBA collective bargaining negotiations had broken down and that the 2011-12 season was in jeopardy. It’s one of those iconic memories, like when JFK was shot, or 9/11. I was channel surfing between the History channel and Monday Night Football, I think it was, or maybe I saw it on Drudge, whatever. All I know is, how much more can one nation take? I mean, first we survive 8 years of W, then we elect Bambi as our President, and now we have to face the very real possibility that there may be no NBA season. I know that bad things come in threes but this is ridiculous.

No NBA? You might as well say, No more asparagus for dessert, or, No more Chevy Volt!! Just what do they expect us to do between 11 and 11:15 every night if there are no monster dunk high lights on ESPN? Just where do they expect Bill Walton to find gainful employment, for God’s sake? I’m not here to take sides. The Owners and the Players both make valid points. But there are lots of things that neither side has considered in their long deliberations. Here are just a few:

1. Unemployment is already over 9%. Has anyone thought about the impact that no NBA games will have on the Tattoo industry in this country?

2. Is the Toupee business healthy enough to survive an unemployed Marv Albert?

3. Have Strip Club owners been consulted on what the impact would be of having no NBA players making it rain up in here?

But it’s not just about money. What about the nightly traditions of NBA games that we have all grown to love. Think of all we will be missing, think of all we will NOT get to see every night on TNT:

*entire teams of elite athletes that play no defense
*point guards who routinely palm the ball
*amazing cross-over dribble drives to the basket that feature 3-4 steps between dribbles
*the playoff intensity feel to routine regular season games between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trail Blazers
*players who earn 20 million dollars a year but can only manage to make 55% of their free throws
*the Dream Team
*Lebron James’ pregame ritual of throwing chalk in the air in a desperate cry for help, “Look at ME!!!”
*Spike Lee on the front row at Madison Square Garden in a desperate cry for help, “Look at ME too!! I used to make movies, now I just hang out here and try to get on Sports Center!”
*All-Star weekend and the resulting perp-walk highlights.
*Magic Johnson TV commercials for Rent-A-Center

It’s sure to be a long and boring winter. At some point the beleaguered and forgotten fan might well rise up in anger at the selfishness of both sides. In the spirit of the times perhaps they should start an “Occupy” movement. Fans could Occupy the Boston Garden and the Staples Center with signs that say, “WE ARE THE 1%...who care about the NBA”.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Week 11..... a protest and one fantasy pick

Its week eleven of my college football prediction blogs and, under the circumstances, I’m not feeling it. Somehow, I have a disgusting taste in my mouth concerning the sport that will prevent me from summoning the proper levels of wit and frivolity required to proceed. I will, however, make one fantasy pick as follows:

Nebraska vs. Penn State

It’s senior day in Happy Valley. That’s a real shame for the seniors. It’s not their fault that the morally indifferent athletic department tolerated a known pedophile in their midst for 17 years. It’s not their fault that every coach that will be on the sidelines or in the booth for this game was complicit in the cover-up. So, it’s a real shame that they will have to go out this way. But in a perfect world, the Nebraska Cornhuskers would annihilate Penn State today. They would win the toss, elect to receive, and run the kickoff back for a touchdown. Then they would try and succeed at an on-side kick, and on the first play from scrimmage, Rex Burkhead would run off tackle, and plow through 6 defenders for a touchdown. Then Nebraska would go for two, and after only 35 seconds had run off the clock, the score would be 15-0. Then Nebraska’s famed black shirts would physically man-handle the Penn State offense into multiple turnovers. By halftime it would be 72-0 and the blue shirted fans would be shamed to the parking lot. Like I said, this is a fantasy pick, but can’t a fella dream?

It’s practically impossible to find humor in a story this evil, but I actually have. My crack research staff,(, discovered that in the Penn State book store on campus as recently as yesterday, one could still purchase a copy of Jerry Sandusky’s Autobiography. Now, before I share the name of this book, it might help to set this up by imagining what other despicable men in history might have named THEIR autobiographies, had they had a chance to write them….

Richard Nixon……” Actually, I AM a Crook”
Josef Stalin……….”To Make an Omelet You have to Break 30 Million eggs”
Gen. William T. Sherman……..”A Walk In the Country”
Adolph Hitler…..” A Funny Thing Happened on the way to my Bar Mitzvah”
Alexander The Great……….”Community Organizing Before It Was Cool”
Josef Mengele…….”Preventative Medicine”

So, I didn’t even know that Jerry Sandusky had led an eventful enough life to even write an autobiography, but up in State College, Pa. apparently all it takes is lifetime employment in the football program. Anyway, the title to this holiday season must-read? Wait for it…..”TOUCHED”. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. The most infamous molester of young boys on the planet titled his autobiography, “Touched”.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Moral Cowards at Penn State

Joe Paterno cashed his first check from Penn State University eight years before I was born. In all my time on this earth that I have been aware enough to know what the game of football was, he has been the head coach of the Nittany Lions. And now he’s out. His career over, his reputation in tatters. The story broke earlier this week and has gathered sickening momentum with each new revelation. I have listened to the news reports, listened to the talk shows and today actually read the Grand Jury report. I would caution everyone to not voice an opinion on this subject until you have read that report. It will disabuse you of any notion that Paterno is in any way a victim in this story. Joe Paterno IS Penn State. He could have acted on information in his possession at any time since 1998 and saved what will eventually be over a hundred boys a lifetime of shame. On his word alone Jerry Sandusky could have been banished from the campus for life. But instead, a known pedophile was allowed access to the weight room as recently as last week.

It must be strange to be employed at a place where you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a statue of yourself, or seeing a plaque on the wall testifying to your selfless generosity. For Paterno, it wasn’t possible to do so and maintain sufficient humility to realize his moral obligation to the victims of this tragedy. I feel nothing but pity for the man. I used to tell my Sunday School class of high school boys that it takes years of hard work and diligence to build a good reputation, but only 30 minutes to destroy it. Last week there was talk of a Congressional Medal of Freedom for JOPA, now, he’s lucky he’s not in handcuffs.

For me, however, the most troubling aspect to the whole sordid mess is the matter of Mike McQueary. It was he who walked into the shower in 2002 and witnessed Sandusky raping a ten year old boy. At the time, Mr. McQueary was a 28 year old assistant coach and former team captain of the football team. He was and is a large and powerfully built man. According to the Grand Jury, upon seeing this defenseless child being abused by a 58 year old man, McQueary turned and ran out of the building and called his Dad for advice as to how he should proceed. After this telephone call, the decision was made to go to Paterno…in the morning of the NEXT day. Mike McQueary not only still has his job, he will be coaching on the sidelines this Saturday as Penn State takes on Nebraska.

To any man reading this blog, I put this question to you. What in God’s name has happened to us? When did this country start producing such moral and physical cowards? Can anyone imagine a similar reaction from a robust 28 year old man stumbling upon such a scene in say, 1950? Would any of you need advice from your fathers if the ten year old in question were your son? Would any of you run from such horror if it were your nephew? There are many things that I don’t know for sure about myself, but one thing I’m positively sure of, if I had walked in on that scene, one of two things would have happened. Either Jerry Sandusky would have ended up in the hospital or I would have ended up in the hospital. No matter what, that child would have been freed from the clutches of that bastard, not because I’m some brave hero, but because I just walked in on a barbaric assault and as a human being, especially a man, I have an obligation to protect that boy!! If I had called my Father to ask his advice, my father would have disowned me and rightfully accused me of being a coward. The fact that McQueary will be on the sidelines this Saturday proves that Penn State is still utterly clueless.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Reviews!!!!

28-29. Orthodoxy, The Everlasting Man……………G.K.Chesterton

I mentioned in an earlier post my embarrassingly late discovery of Mr. Chesterton. After reading both of these books, I have come to the conclusion that I’m not smart enough for him. I get his jokes, at least most of them, and I can follow his general arguments, but when I wade into the details, I get lost. Orthodoxy is a brilliant defense of bedrock Christian theology and an account of the author’s gradual conversion. It is brilliantly argued and told with a generous helping of scorching wit. Of the two, Orthodoxy has the lighter touch. The Everlasting Man, on the other hand, is nothing less than Chesterton’s whole view of world history as informed by the Incarnation, and I do mean all of history since he starts with the cave man! Maybe its something that has to be read several times, or maybe since it was written specifically as a rebuttal of H.G. Wells’ Outline of History, which I have not read, I don’t fully understand the context. But despite all of this, it was not a waste of time. I enjoyed both books immensely, if for no other reason than the fact that it is good for the soul to be intellectually humbled.

30. Henderson the Rain King………………………Saul Bellow

I picked this up at Barnes & Noble for $4.95 from the modern classics table. I’ve heard of Saul Bellow and his Pulitzer prize, Nobel winning self, not to mention his three National Book Awards, so I figured I should give it a try. This is more of a fable than a novel. The story is about a troubled American millionaire, who becomes bored with his life and somehow ends up in deepest darkest Africa on some sort of quest for..something. He ends up adopted by a remote tribe and through happenstance makes it rain and so becomes beloved. But honestly, with each turned page I found myself thinking…”THIS guy won all of those awards???” Again, I probably am displaying my literary cluelessness here, but I just don’t get it. The writing is terrible! It’s disjointed, the plot is unbelievable and worst of all, not very compelling. My daughter is studying English Literature in grad school at Wake Forest. I sincerely hope none of her professors read this blog. Wouldn’t want them to know that her Dad is such a Philistine.

31. Holidays in Heck……………………………………P.J. O’Rourke

P.J. is one of my all time favorite writers. My bookcases are adorned with 10 of his books. He is best described as a “political humorists”, but is much more than that. He has been a war correspondent, and has written hilarious accounts of his epic travels to every hell-hole on the planet. One of his best books was from 23 years ago called Holidays in Hell. This updated version, instead of describing the most God-forsaken places on the planet, describes instead, the family vacation adventures of P.J. now that he has been domesticated by a wife and three young children, and humbled by a cancerous hemorrhoid or “ass-cancer” as he calls it. The result is an intelligent, uproarious romp from Venice to Vermont, from Kabul to Kyrgyzstan, from Disneyland to the flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Saul Bellow could learn a thing or two about writing readable books from my man O’Rourke!

32 thru 37 Six more books by Dean Koontz

Earlier this year I discovered Dean Koontz. My last book review featured four of his books and my fascination with his style of writing. Well, now it’s an official addiction. These six offerings run the gamut from science fiction to murderous love story, but all have one thing in common, the author’s clear vision of good vs. evil. The Good Guy presents us with an ordinary man who is mistaken for a hit man and must make a snap decision whether to just walk away, or try to save the intended target, a woman he doesn’t know. The Husband is about a landscape architect who one minute is happily toiling in the soil of some project when he gets a phone call from a stranger who informs him that he has his wife and wants 2 million dollars for her release. When he explains to the man that he owns a landscape company with only $13,000 in the bank, the kidnapper says, “ Yes, I know. But if you love her, you’ll find a way”. In the first 6 pages of this book, I am totally hooked. Your Heart Belongs To Me is about a man who receives a heart transplant by short cutting the system because of his wealth and influence but then to his horror finds that the donor’s wacked twin sister is tracking him down to get it back…AWESOME!! Forever Odd is about a very cool character named Odd Thomas, a short-order cook in a small town with no special talent except the fact that he sees dead people and that the ghost of Elvis lives in his two room apartment. Its one of four books with this character and not the first so I read it out of order, but it stands on its own and was very good. The Darkest Evening of the year can only be described as a suspense thriller where one of the main characters is a Golden Retriever. A reviewer from People magazine summed it up perfectly, “Think Silence of the Lambs meets Marley & Me!!” It was terrifying and heartwarming at the same time, no small writing feet. Finally, the fifth book in Koontz’ Frankenstein series, The Dead Town was the craziest of the six. It is a modern re-telling of the famous Frankenstein story and even though I read the last the final book in the series it was easy to follow and enjoyable to the extreme. Koontz continues to amaze. I may have found a new hero.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christmas vs. Thanksgiving...You Be The Judge

November is here. That means that the days are getting shorter and colder, and that the Holiday season will soon be upon us with all of its frenzied list making and doomed expectations. Thanksgiving and Christmas, separated by 31 calendar days and roughly $5,000 in out of pocket expenses. Let me now compare and contrast these two memory filled days.

Thanksgiving is uniquely American. We all know its Pilgrim roots. We all know the menu. We all know of the football games, and the Macy parade. As a man, I readily admit that it’s the perfect holiday, and I totally understand why Grandmothers, Mothers, Sisters and Daughters might not be equally enthusiastic. That’s why I capitalized each of them, as a measure of my undying respect for all that they do to maintain the culinary tradition, and with the sincere hope that they never rise up and throw off the chains that have bound them to the stove on this blessed day for now some 300 years. When I was a teenager, the day would start with squirrel hunting with my best friend Al. He was a slightly better shot but mostly the squirrels were safe from our inept. 22 rifles. Now the day usually starts with leaf raking or other outdoor chores with my kids, who aren’t actually kids anymore, but who are actually both home for a change, so I get to pretend that they are kids. Around noon, we load up in the car and head over to Nanny and Papa’s place. On the way, we all sing, “Over the river and through the woods”, and since it’s MY family, we do so in 4 part harmony. Then Pam officially rings in the season with the first playing of the Carpenters Christmas album or the velvet tones of Nat King Cole. Our kids not only know every word, but in Patrick’s case, each orchestral flourish. I listen to virtually the exact same family banter each and every year on this 20 minute drive and each and every year I discover the closest thing to perfect peace that I have ever known.

There are usually 20 people or so at Thanksgiving, although that number has been on the rise gradually over the years with the addition of newborns and boyfriends. At some point it will become a logistical nightmare. Who am I kidding? It’s a logistical nightmare already, but that’s a problem for the women to figure out. Meanwhile, its time for a football game. The players are ready, the team captains are my brother Donnie and me. Ryan keeps all the stats and can tell you how many catches he had in 2009’s classic come-from-behind victory for Donnie’s Dominators. I counter with the observation that statistics are for LOSERS, and besides, if we had real referees in that game Doug’s Destroyers would have won easily. After my team wins when Patrick jukes Ryan out of his gigantic shoes for the winning touchdown, it’s time to gather around the table. In our family, the table is a thing of beauty with no small amount of artistic flair. There are brightly colored leaves sprinkled randomly on the white table cloth. There are a couple of cornucopia horns of plenty. There are usually a few tacky turkey statues round about, as if THEY had anything to be thankful for. And then there are the place cards. Yes, no Dunnevant/Schwartz/Roop event can be complete without a seating chart. Luckily, this feature is a matter of organization, not politics, since we have no continual grudges to message in our family. We all sorta get along. It’s truly remarkable . I try to manipulate the chart to get a seat near the middle of the table so as to insure access to hot rolls. There is turkey and ham, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, corn(or what the Indians called “maze”). There’s also the dreaded and misconceived corn pudding, the title alone being clear warning of the dangers lurking in such an ill-named dish. There’s sweet tea, water, and coffee. After this heavenly dining experience, we linger at the table in groups of 5 or 6 talking and laughing. We eventually make our way to the large flip-chart easel labeled, “What I’m Thankful For In 2011”. I look at what others have written and see words like “job”, “family”, “healing”, “husband”, “wife”. I pick up the marker and write something. What I should write is, “I’m thankful for the beauty and simplicity of gratitude and how easy it is to express on this wonderful day.”

Christmas is uniquely pagan. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate everything about Christmas. Parts of it are quite endearing. Putting up the tree and the grand illumination. Our Christmas eve traditions, Christmas Pajamas, reading the Night Before Christmas, putting out the cookies for Santa and the carrots for his reindeer. Going to the candlelight Christmas Eve service at Grove and then to Outback for dinner... all wonderful memories. But, before we can get to that part there’s the list making, the name drawing, the family Christmas website ( don’t ask!!). Then there’s the frustration with the crappy lists, or those family members who wait until the last minute to even make a list and when they do the only thing they put on it is “socks”. I mean, can we at least get a color? Would it kill you to give us some hint of whether you prefer brown, black or blue?? Seriously, “socks” isn’t very specific. Do you want the wool kind that start to sag down around the ankles after two trips through the washing machine, or the kind made out of that stretchy nylon which bite into your shins until they actually leave marks by the end of the day? It’s not just the socks or the lists for that matter, it’s the relentless pursuit required to get it all done in time. Christmas has morphed into a vital monetary injection required to sustain our economic way of life. If suddenly, Americans all decided to divorce the Saviors birth from the buying and exchange of gifts, our economy would be plunged into a depression that would make the 1930’s look like child’s play. Whenever I have cautiously broached even the vague concept of such a thing to our family, I am called unflattering names comparing me to everyone from Ebenezer Scrooge to King Herod. So each year the fruit of our collective labors is all hauled from our loaded cars into the largest room we can find. Each family takes 30 minutes to distribute their pile into the appropriate chair in the ever expanding circle of death that surrounds the largess. Then for the next 6 hours we all enjoy the joy and childlike wonder of watching each family member open each of their presents one by one. Yes, nothing says, “Lets Keep Christ In Christmas”, quite like 6 hours of materialistic glee. Only , the glee part is over usually around the 2 hour and 15 minute mark, when several of the men have nodded off, others are in deep whispered conversations about how they are “never going to do this again”, and everyone else is trying earnestly to look thrilled that the lovely scarf that Jenny just opened goes perfectly with the dress that she almost bought last week while shopping for the Christmas present for Sylvia that she couldn’t find this morning to save her life. Feliz Navidad.

It has been said, by me I think, that Thanksgiving is everything Christmas is supposed to be because there are no presents to gum up the works. I stand by the simple wisdom of that statement.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Week 10....Is there a big game this week?

OK..after 9 weeks of meaningless preliminaries, college football fans have finally arrived at the super bowl. We all saw this game on the schedule a year ago and have been anxiously awaiting the game of the decade ever since. I am referring, of course, to the epic battle being waged today between Mississippi and Kentucky at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Michael Slagle has been so amped up, he hasn’t been able to sleep or keep solid food down for days. So I’ll start this weeks’ picks off with this headline match up.

Mississippi vs. Kentucky

The only thing I am sure of this week is the fact that after this game, one of these teams will have their first victory over an SEC team. Yes, these two programs are a combined 0-9 against conference competition, making this game possibly the worst SEC game to ever be played. But, no doubt, our buddy Slagle will be there up in the nose-bleed section , all painted up in Kentucky blue screaming his lungs out for each rare Wildcat first down. The over and under on Ky. First downs, I believe , is 10. Anyway, to the relief of many this game will eventually end and Slagle’s Wildcats will have their first SEC victory, 10-9.

UVA vs. Maryland

Every time I’m sure that Virginia is done they go and pull something like beating Miami. So I should be encouraged, I suppose. But they are, at the end of the day, the Cavaliers. How can a football team mascot be so cavalierly named? Anyway, should they beat Maryland? Yes. WILL they beat Maryland, get that illusive sixth victory, become bowl-eligible , and cement Mike London’s future? ( cue up Jeopardy theme music). The answer is What is “ no way”. Maryland 17-16.

UR vs. Old Dominion

How bad has the 2011 edition of my Spiders been? Well, in addition to all of the turnovers, inept coaching, blown leads and penalties, now comes the humiliation of getting beaten by an in- state rival who has only fielded a football team for 3 years. But this will be the bottom from which my boys will rise, like a phoenix out of the ashes, to once again compete for a national title…ODU 28-17.

Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State

Two teams with good records, one undefeated, the other with only one loss. The problem for K State is that the loss was last week to the OTHER team from Oklahoma, and it wasn’t just any loss but an ass-whippin on national television. I don’t think this game will be any different. Oklahoma State 58-17.

South Carolina vs. Arkansas

If it weren’t for the “other” big game, this match-up would get top billing. Arkansas has the great passing game but the third worst defense in the conference. South Carolina has the third best defense behind “you know who” but an indifferent offense that has gotten worse rather than better over the course of the season. Arkansas wins 35-30.

Alabama vs. LSU

Two best teams in the nation. Both of them would probably win more games in the NFL than the Redskins will this year. No matter who wins, I believe they should play a rematch for the national title in January. If this game were being played in Baton Rouge I would give the edge to the Tigers. Since its being played in Tuscaloosa, and since every other pick I’ve made this week has favored the home team, I’m picking Alabama 24-20. Roll Tide.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Week 9...Here's 6 home teams who are going down!!

Whenever the World Series is being played, my interest in football falls off the edge of the earth. This years’ series was especially classic, so I have been even more isolated from college football news than usual. Add to that the fact that my “bad feeling” from last week proved prophetic. The resulting 3-3 record was my worst so far. It all adds up to a very low enthusiasm level for this weeks’ endeavor. But, much of success in life is the result of merely showing up, regardless of how you feel. So, I soldier on and offer these games for your consideration:

Michigan State vs. Nebraska

The Spartans come off a thrilling hail-Mary pass that beat Wisconsin. Nebraska has the advantage of being at home. I don’t think that Nebraska’s offense is good enough to move the ball against State’s defense. However, Nebraska defense may have finally found an offense anemic enough for them to stop. This might be the ugliest, most boring, grind it out struggle of the year. In other words, Big Ten football at its best. Michigan State 16-9.

Oklahoma vs. Kansas State

Is there anyone in America outside of the state of Kansas who believes that Kansas State deserves to be ranked #11 in the country? Further, is there anyone outside of Manhattan, Kansas who believes that the Wildcats will actually beat the Sooners? Psshhttt! Oklahoma 48-21.

Georgia vs. Florida

No matter how many veins Will Muschamp explodes during his lunatic sideline rants, the fact of the matter is, the Gators just aren’t that good. Perhaps if he channeled the energy from those spittle-flinging rages into teaching his defense to tackle and his offensive line to block, the results would be better. Georgia, on the other hand, has managed to right the ship after a slow start. With far less juvenile histrionics, Mark Richt has his squad playing better each week. Here, I go with my heart and predict what should happen rather than what probably will happen…Georgia 24-20.

Clemson vs. Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech has managed to lose to Virginia and Miami in consecutive weeks, proving beyond doubt that they suck and their early season record was overblown. Their defense gave up 24 points to Virginia…that’s right, the cavaliers. Clemson is good. The Tiger offense is terrific, and although their defense isn’t good enough to stop an elite SEC team, they are good enough to beat a team as one dimensional as the Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech. 35-17

Stanford vs. USC

What the heck? Two weeks in a row I’m talking about west coast football?? OK, I’ll make this brief. Stanford is the much better team on both sides of the ball. USC, being banned from bowl appearances this year, will be amped up for this game like it was the Rose Bowl, and they are playing at home. Doesn’t matter. Luck is that good. Stanford 39-30.

Wisconsin vs. Ohio State

Reading back over my first 5 picks it dawns on me that I have picked against the home team 5 times. Wisconsin must be on the ultimate downer after the shocking way they lost last week. Ohio State has a lot of pride and are playing at the horse-shoe. But there is very little offense to go along with all that pride, so make that 6 home team losers. Wisconsin 28-10.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Game Six. A Beautiful and Ugly Thing

I was there, in front of the TV, for every pitch of game six in 1975 when Carlton Fisk delivered. I watched every gut-wrenching inning of the epic game seven dual between Jack Morris and John Smoltz in 1991. I nearly cried when poor Bill Buckner let Mookie Wilson’s slow roller through his legs in game six in 1986. But nothing in my wild and varied baseball history prepared me for what I witnessed last night in St. Louis. It was simply the most thrilling, exciting, baseball game I have ever seen. Ever.

First of all, I should point out the fact I have no dog in this fight. I hold no strong feelings for either club. I have watched nearly every inning of all six games of this series because, well, because I am an unrepentant baseball guy and that means that no matter who is playing in the post season, you watch. As the series has played out I have found myself leaning towards the Rangers, primarily because their manager is a whirling dervish of little league, wild-eyed joy in the dugout. Also, they appear to be the better team, with more depth, and at least on paper, a better bull-pen. But, my loyalty to the game has rewarded me handsomely in this series. Each game has been an edge-of-the-seat thriller, culminating last night in what can only be described as a collision of Shakespearean drama and Greek tragedy.

I am not a sports writer so if you want to know the pitch by pitch details you’ll have to consult Sports Center or Yahoo Sports. Suffice it to say that if a script writer turned in this whooper in Hollywood, the suits would laugh him out of the room. The two remaining teams in the big leagues , on the games’ biggest stage committed 5 errors in the first 7 innings, some, the comic variety, including David Freese who dropped a routine pop up at third base. A pitcher threw a pick off attempt wildly into center field. An all-star outfielder dropped a fly ball. There were botched double plays, wild pitches, and balls being bobbled around all over the place. But it wasn’t just the players doing weird things, the two managers put on a clinic of how NOT to manage a baseball team. Tony Larussa ran out of position players in the 8th inning of what turned out to be an 11 inning game, leaving him no choice but to send pitchers up to pinch hit. And Ron Washington, while a fresh and entertaining personality isn’t exactly a tactical genius. His decision making process with regards to the use of relief pitchers is, lets just say, a thing of profound mystery. No, this game wasn’t awesome because it was a showcase of virtuosity. It was awesome because each player on both teams over the last 3 innings just refused to give up, refused to lose.

After going ahead 7-4 on back to back home runs in the seventh inning, the Rangers lead looked safe even after St. Louis got a run back in the eighth, because the Texas closer, Neftali Feliz would pitch the 9th. With two outs, two on and two strikes on the Cardinal batter, the Rangers were one strike away from glory when David Freese,( yeah, THAT David Freese, the one who dropped the pop-up ) , tripled off the right field wall to tie the game and send it to extra innings. In the top of the 11th, the Rangers best player, Josh Hamilton who has been battling a painful groin injury the entire post season, came up with a man on base. It has been painful to watch this kid try to swing a bat. Every time he swings and misses, its everything he can do to keep from grabbing his crotch and doubling over on national TV. He has been reduced to weak arms only swings that have produced ground ball singles and not much else. Until now. In Kirk Gibson fashion, he pounds a ball deep into the right-center field stands and everyone in the stadium and everyone watching on television had the feeling that they had witnessed one of the greatest home runs in world series history. It was perfect, the struggling star guts it out the whole series and finally hits a miraculous bomb that leads his team to victory. Unfortunately for Hamilton, his home run is only a footnote because the bottom of the 10th had to be played. This time the Rangers would once again come within one strike of a world championship, and once again a Cardinal hitter would somehow come through with a clutch hit to tie the game and send it deeper into the night.

I looked at the clock. It was 12:45. I had been watching this game for 4 hours and 30 minutes. The lead off hitter for St. Louis in the 11th was our friend Mr. Freese. Did I mention that the kid is actually from St. Louis? Yeah, he’s a home town boy. The eighth pitcher of the night for Texas threw a 95 mph fastball and the kid hit it 400 feet into the grass field right behind the center field wall. 10-9. The Cardinals win and there will be a game seven tonight for the first time since 2002. I have no idea who will win. Can the Rangers recover from being within one pitch of victory not once but twice? Will the Cardinals have used up their ration of clutch hitting and suffer a mental and physical let down after so dramatic a win? I have no idea, but I will be watching. Won’t miss a pitch. These are the boys of summer, and at a time when much of life in America disappoints, these guys never do in October.