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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Very Random Thoughts - October 2017



  • Were the original Houston Colt 45's (now Astros) named after the gun or the malt liquor? 
  • Sometimes in sports, especially in baseball, we talk about a player air-mailing a throw, pass, shot. Is air-mail still even a thing?
  • Somebody needs to write an app that shocks people when they say "like" or "whatever" or "you know" or "I mean". Other obnoxious phrases to be added as needed. 
  • Most popular does not mean BEST.
  • I wonder which baseball player discovered you could make a double play? Was the first one a traditional 6-4-3 or was it a line drive that caught the runner off the base?
  • I hate it when a website won't display the price of an item or event until you get most of the way through the checkout process. Show me the price upfront.
  • Where and how do you think those Taco Bell fried egg "taco shells" are made? A perfect but off-center yolk.
  • I think the baseball "championship" celebrations have become too staged and predictable. It used to be spontaneous and mostly beer. Now it is champagne, goggles, plastic draped locker rooms, cameras, and preprinted t-shirts and hats. Plus, we now have division, wildcard, wildcard game win, divisional series, championship series and finally the World Series celebrations. That's a lot of champagne.
  • I get crazy about the righteous indignation of politicians, both Republicans and Democrats. 
  • When I was a kid, my Mom would tell me not to pick at scabs. Didn't work then and I still do it today.
  • Wouldn't it be nice if TV broadcasts turned down the background noise so that we could hear the people speaking? Sports are the worse, but not the only offenders. Old ears have trouble separating background from foreground. 
  • OK Apple. We now have the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X (10). Where is the iPhone 9?
  • I just opened a bottle of cheap wine to be used in a recipe. It is OK for cooking, but you wouldn't really want to drink a bottle. Largely displayed on the label is 600+ Medals Won. Doesn't say what color or who awarded them. Marketing BS.
  • There are two baseball stadiums named for orange juice companies. The Astros Minute Maid Park in Houston and the Rays Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay). Has anyone ever actually drank orange juice at a ballpark? Now Coors Field and Miller Park make perfect sense. 
  • Remember that old commercial for the United Negro College Fund? The tagline was "A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste"I often think I have been wasteful. 
  • Oxymoron - The Korean demilitarized zone is heavily militarized.
  • Does every damn 30 second video on a webpage full of advertisements have to have a 15 second video advertisement?
  • Why is it that sometimes I can point the remote directly at the TV/cable box and it doesn't work? Other times I can barely touch it while it is pointing in the wrong direction and the channel changes.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Opposition


Anybody who has followed this blog knows I am a fan of late night comedy TV. One of the latest entries is The Opposition with Jordan Klepper. It airs on Comedy Central right after The Daily Show.

I guess you could consider this as a spinoff. Klepper was one of the fake correspondents on the Daily Show, usually playing a counterpoint to the opinions expressed on the show. He was the establishment white guy although always with tongue firmly in cheek. Some of his pieces during the 2016 campaign were very good. 

His new show is supposed to be a satire on today's right-wing conspiracy theory media. Much like the old Colbert Report was a take-off on Fox News shows with their pompous, bombastic hosts. Colbert primarily used The O'Reilly Factor as a model. The Opposition seems to be a toned down satire of Infowars with Alex Jones. Lots of conspiracy theory, fake news, and lies. 

The show is not as over the top or as loud as Alex Jones. In fact, I'm not exactly sure what it is. I suspect the show's producers, writers, and stars don't know exactly what it is yet. Sometimes it is an outright satire of the wacko right and sometimes it seems like another version of The Daily Show.

Jordan Klepper is a funny guy. He did good work on The Daily Show and does some good bits on The OppositionUnfortunately, the supporting cast is very weak. As mentioned, the writing and focus are disjointed. 

I've watched eight or ten episodes and they are not getting any better or more consistent. If it remains on the air, I'll check it out again in a couple of months. I realize that some new shows need to find their voice. Right now, I don't think it is worth the ½ hour investment four nights a week. 

After the first couple of weeks, I have to rate this show a C-. If we are lucky it will find it's footing and get better.


wjh

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

When Is The Right Time?


It seems to me that whenever something controversial shows up in the news, at least one side says "now is not the time to discuss or debate" whatever the issue is.

The most recent was the horrible terrorist attack by a wacko in Las Vegas with a large cache of automatic weapons and ammunition. But this is not the appropriate time to talk about our gun laws. It wasn't the right time after Orlando, Sandy Hook, Charleston, Columbine, and dozens of other tragic shootings. 

When NFL players knelt or sat during our national anthem, that was not the proper time or venue to protest.

When unarmed people, usually Black males, are killed by police, we shouldn't rush to judgment and protest.

When you protest the glorification of Confederate leader's statues all over the South, you are trying to obliterate (white) history.  

We can go back decades on this issue. When Rosa Parks wouldn't give up her seat on the bus, that was the wrong approach. Blacks should never have disrupted the white lunch patrons at the Woolworth's lunch counter by doing a sit-in. Martin Luther King should never have marched in southern, segregated, cities. The students at Kent State University deserved to be killed for protesting the Vietnam War and refusing to follow National Guard directions. The protesters at the Democratic convention in Chicago were just asking to be clubbed by out of control police.

It seems to always be the protester's fault. They just don't seem to know when, where, or how to protest. Of course, the real issue is that they are protesting something that is not actually a real problem.

Here's the deal, if the majority of the country agreed with the protesters, there would probably be no need to protest. If most of the country thought racial discrimination was a problem and wrong in 1960, MLK wouldn't have needed to march. Rosa Parks wouldn't have had to defy the bus driver. If many Black athletes didn't feel the system was still prejudiced they wouldn't be kneeling during the national anthem.

The LGBT community shouldn't show up at Columbus Day or St. Patrick's parades because they are traditional events and family-friendly celebrations. Apparently, LGBT people don't have families or as some think, shouldn't be allowed to have families. 

The only way protesters get any attention is when they make a large segment of the population uncomfortable or inconvenience them. Sitting at the Woolworth's counter wouldn't have much impact at midnight. Rosa Parks would never have caused a stir except that it was evening rush hour and white folks wanted a seat. You have to get people's attention. The NFL players got traction because millions watch the games on Sundays and then Trump personally challenged them. 

Some protests get out of hand and cause damage or injuries. That is just like what is being protested, the protested actions sometimes cause damage and injuries, often times deaths.

If you are on the protesting side of the issue, it is almost always the right time and place to protest. If you don't agree, there is no appropriate time, place, or venue for the protests. In fact, there is no reason to be protesting.

This country was founded on protest. The second amendment supporters say they need their weapons in case the government gets out of hand. The Confederate states protested against the Union and many still honor their effort. 

As long as we are a free speech country, there will always be protests. There is no right or appropriate time, just as there is no wrong or inappropriate time. The protesters get to decide. That is the free speech part of the equation.

If you see injustices, now is the right time to protest in whatever way you feel appropriate. My way today is to publish a blog.

wjh

Monday, October 2, 2017

Very Random Thoughts - September 2017



  • I'm pretty sure that almost every TV action series of the 1950's and 60's had at least one "quick sand" episode. A mostly fake peril created by TV & movie writers.
  • Same deal, every old western had a cholera/typhoid fever episode.  
  • Just saw an episode of 77 Sunset Strip. The bellhops and cabbies were tipped with coins. Don't try that now.
  • I've noticed on the late night product advertisements that the latest marketing slogan is "atomic". We have atomic lanterns, atomic flashlights, atomic security lights, atomic gloves, even atomic wallets. A couple of months ago, everything was bamboo. Next up, atomic bamboo.
  • If I'm a person in the DACA program, I would not have any confidence that Congress will have a resolution in six months or six years. 
  • I find it funny that some businesses brag about being established in 2005 or some other relatively recent year. As the saying goes, "I have ties older than that".
  • Is it just my old ears or are there way more annoying voices on TV these days?
  • Does anybody really want that flap of rib meat attached to chicken breasts bought at the grocery store? 
  • There apparently are designated bad driving days. The other day, I had to avoid a couple of bad drivers on the road, then in the parking lot, and finally shopping cart drivers in the grocery store. 
  • The old TV show Highway Patrol is back in rotation on MeTV. What a terrible show with even worse scripts and acting. Still fun to watch. Mid 1950's cars, old phones, etc. They drive Oldsmobiles and Buicks. 1955-6 Buicks to be exact, the model we had when I learned to drive. They were tanks.
  • If the North Korean mess results in a hot war, we, or at least history and our descendants, will look back and say, "this could have been avoided". Just like every other major conflict in the past 100+ years. Let's avoid it now and be on the right side of history.
  • A sign of the times. On 9/12, the new iPhone X, 8, & 8+ received more news coverage than Irma, Harvey, North Korea, and other important news stories.
  • How come a familiar word is suddenly impossible to spell?
  • Or, when spelled correctly it looks wrong?
  • Why in the hell does Twitter recommend that I follow Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift?
  • When something is advertised as under $100, best case scenario is it is $99.97 instead of $99.99.
  • Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the first amendment. Even if you don't agree with the speech. Actually, especially if the majority disagrees.
  • Weather folks on TV always introduce themselves as meteorologist so and so. Should the rest of the TV news people follow that practice? Hi, I'm news anchor Bob Smith or I'm news reporter Suzie Jones or I'm sports reporter Biff Ballgame. 
  • It is very hard to be tolerant of those who are intolerant of those who are different or have different views.
  • Why is it not OK to kneel during our National Anthem but it is OK to honor the Confederate flag? A flag that represents those who wanted to dissolve our country. I'm confused.
  • Leave it to Americans to find a new issue to disagree on when the hot topic begins to cool. Statues give way to the National Anthem.
  • What exactly is the proper and appropriate way to protest?
wjh

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Cinépolis


We went to the new Cinépolis movie theater in Euless the other night. This is the first Cinépolis in Texas. The chain has theaters in California, Florida, and the northeast. It is located in the Glade Parks shopping center close to Dave and Buster's. The complex has twelve screens, a concession stand with a varied menu, and a full bar. I'll get to the food/bar in a little bit.

Being brand new, the whole place is very clean and has that new car smell. The auditorium we were in had what has become a fairly standard configuration. There are a few rows close to the screen, a large aisle where you enter the auditorium then several rows on a steeper angle to the back. We usually choose seats in the second or third row above the large dividing aisle. It is all reserved seating. The seats are comfortable recliners with electronic controls to adjust the recline and footrest. I'm not sure if the seats are leather or faux leather. They are very comfortable and have a swinging tray and cup holders in the arms.  

The lobby is spacious but rather stark and cold with several ticket kiosks on one end. I did not see a traditional manned box office or counter. There may be one, maybe at the concession stand but I wasn't looking for it since I bought our tickets online at their website. They have their own ticket website and do not use another site like Fandango. One problem I see is that you get one barcode sent to your phone (or to print) for the whole order. In our case, that was not a problem since it was only for two tickets and we arrived together. I'm not sure how that would work for a party of four or more who maybe show up at slightly different times but are on one ticket purchase order. I guess the whole group would have to congregate in the lobby before proceeding to the screening auditoriums. Keep that in mind when going with a group.

On the other end of the lobby are the concession stand and bar. There are also several tables in this area. We didn't go to the concession stand, but it looked like there were several ordering/cashier stations. The bar is rather small, maybe 10 stools. There were about 1½ bartenders. That wasn't a problem when we first arrived, but when I went for refills, there was a significant wait to be served. 


Here's the problem, although they have a decent food selection and a full bar, there is no wait service in the auditoriums. You have to go out to the lobby to get your food or drink. That's damn inconvenient if you want something after your movie starts. Especially if it takes some time to get through the line. I'm also not sure how they will control access to the screening area. Do you have to remember to take your ticket or phone with you when you go for a popcorn refill?

This is a new establishment, so maybe they'll work out some of my concerns. It is a nice place to watch a movie. It will be interesting to see what first run movies Cinépolis shows. One of my gripes now is that the two closest theaters usually show the same movies while other hits are at more distant or crappier theaters.

Here is our conclusion for at least the time being. If the movie we want to see is playing at the Bedford Movie Tavern or the Colleyville Studio Movie Grill, we'll go there first. They both have in theater servers that bring the order right to your seat. No missing parts of the movie while you get a refill or completely new order. Prices are comparable, the facilities are at least as nice if not nicer, the food and drink selections are about the same and the seats are just as plush. All three cinemas have multiple dining choices close by if you want to eat before or after the movie.  

Cinépolis is a nice addition to the area and if they show different movies than our favorite places, I'm sure we'll go again. 

wjh

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Home Again

We went to see Home Again. For those who know me, you realize this was not my choice. It is officially a chick flick. All I knew going in is that Reese Witherspoon was the star and that it was about a single mom and kids moving from New York City to Los Angeles. 

It was probably best that is all I knew. I had no clue that the three twenty-something housemate guys were an integral part of the story. It was a nice twist on the usual recently separated couple saga.

Reese is the single mom, Candace Bergan is Reeses mom and grandmother to the kids,   

The three young guys were a writer, actor, and director/promoter trying to sell their short film as the basis for a full-length feature. After a wild 40th birthday night out for Reese, everybody crashes at her house. They wind up enchanting Candace who suggests that they stay in Reese's guest house while trying to get established in Hollywood. After initial objections, the three guys become part of the family. One becomes Reese's lover despite, or maybe because of, a 13 year age difference. They all bond with the kids. 

Eventually, the separated husband, Michael Sheen, shows up and the mayhem ensues. There are also a few other side stories. One includes a weird, self-absorbed Lake Bell which I'm sure was easy for her to play. 

Here is the trailer. Many of the best lines are contained in these 2½ minutes. 


This is not a bad film, but it certainly isn't a great film. I think the operative word would be cute. My companion liked it more than I did but she didn't think it was great either. In fact, she thought it was cute. I would give it a C+ grade. 
wjh

Monday, September 4, 2017

Bedford Blues & BBQ -2017


I spent the last two evenings at the Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival. I’ve been going to this festival for several years. Thankfully, I usually get to share it with great friends. The music is always great, top line acts and always good openers. This year turned out like most others. Sunday night is the climax of the three day Labor Day weekend festival and is supposed to be the biggest name. On Saturdays and Sundays, there are acts starting around 2:00 and continuing onto about 11:00. That will cost you whopping $10 at the gate, a couple of bucks less in advance online. No better music bargain around. The mild weather was a bonus this year.

This year, Buddy Guy was the Sunday headliner. Buddy is an icon of blues and guitarists. He has influenced many of the Rock/Blues era greats, including Clapton, Hendrix, Page, etc. As has been the case for several years, the Sunday headliner is not the best performance. Buddy is good, but he is old and has tricks to extend his performance. I think he may have had a few beverages or other substances prior to going on stage. He was pretty profane and spent much time rambling and talking about the who, what, where, and when of his career. When he decided to play, it was fine, although others in his band often led. At best a good, not great performance. I've seen Buddy several times and this was probably his worst. 


Now let's get to the really good stuff. Prior to Buddy Guy on the main stage, was Marcia Ball. She is a born in Texas, raised in Louisiana musician, a solid Blues singer, and pianist. Her set was very good and probably my companion's favorite performance of the weekend. She had a solid backing band. I have seen Marcia before, as has my festival mate. She put on a great performance.

My favorite performance was the night before. Ronnie Earl was the co-headliner. His set was good. I'm not sure who she was, but the featured vocalist was great. She had a Janis Joplin quality on some songs, a little gospel on others. Good stuff.


My favorite of the weekend was Delbert McClintock. He wrapped up the Saturday lineup. As I wrote in a brief post, Delbert's voice was a little rough for the first couple of songs. Then he found his stride. His band was outstanding. A piano, two guitars, bass, drums, sax, and trumpet. Delbert added harmonica on some songs. The set was tight, very little if any talk between songs. This good ole Texas boy can still bring it. Glad I got to see this performance.

This year's BluesFest pretty much matched the other years I've been going. The Sunday night "headliner" has always been good, but never the best performance. Sometimes the highlight comes from the Saturday headliner, sometimes it comes from the Saturday of Sunday 7:00 act. 

There was one new wrinkle this year, around 8:30 on Sunday, the food vendors began to run out of food. Worse yet, a couple of the beer stands ran out of beer. That is serious. For our last round, I had to walk across the festival grounds for the only beer stand with product. It was a very good crowd on both Saturday and Sunday, but it didn't seem that much larger than other years when food and beer were not in short supply. Did I underestimate the crowd or did everybody just drink and eat more? Glad to see the vendors did well.

The Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival is always a great weekend. The music, food, and beer are always good. The crowd is friendly. Just don't only go see the Sunday headliner. Besides missing the best performances, you may have a limited choice of food and beverages.

Hope to see you there in 2018. 

wjh

Friday, September 1, 2017

Very Random Thoughts - August 2017


  • When a female gets a manicure, shouldn't it be called a womanicure?
  • Shouldn't local government office holders who pass and then defend unconstitutional laws be recalled or voted out of office? They cost their taxpaying constituents millions in legal fees and fines.
  • Are drummers mostly musicians or athletes?
  • "While supplies last", a BS marketing phrase. Believe me, they will make more if the item is selling.
  • Is it somewhat ironic that the president of Dick's is a woman?
  • Does everyone who has a terminal illness "fight a courageous battle"?
  • Appropriate for a Texas summer. In the words of the great Steven Wright - "If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?"
  • Two underused yet empowering phrases are "I don't know" and "I was wrong (or mistaken)".
  • Texas had their tax-free weekend in the middle of August. It's primarily for back to school stuff. Unfortunately, it doesn't apply to the liquor store. Don't the teachers need to stock up on booze for the school year?
  • I wonder how early in human evolution that we learned to lie? 
  • Remember when a long distance phone call was a big deal and expensive? All those family secret person-to-person codes too. Especially the one for "we made it home safely". 
  • I'm amazed at how many people apparently get most of their historical education and information from statues.
  • Many people are only for free speech when they agree with the speech.
  • Why is the call quality of an $800 2017 smartphone inferior to a 1957 rotary dial black bakelite phone? 
  • "Not available in stores", why is that? 
  • Everywhere Jim Cantore goes there is terrible weather. Keep him out of your community.
wjh

Monday, August 28, 2017

Drugs & Our (In)Justice System



I had a very enjoyable, informative, and uplifting afternoon today. Although in some ways it was frustrating because of what I heard. My podcast partner, Dennis Sherrard, and I recorded an episode today with an inspiring young woman. Her name is Sydney Friedrichs and she works for Pathfinders of Tarrant County. One of their programs is pre and post release counseling and assistance to those incarcerated for drug offenses. Sydney works with the female offenders, she has a co-worker who deals with the male offenders. 

The program is very successful. Compared to recidivism statistics for those not aided by Pathfinders, those in other states, jurisdictions or nationally, these folks rank at or near the top. Unfortunately, they can only reach a small number of those incarcerated primarily for drugs. You can hear more about the specifics of the program in Sydney's own words on the podcast. 

This post is about the stuff you didn't necessarily hear on the podcast. Dennis and I had a chance to talk with Sydney before the recording session and afterward over lunch. She has a diverse background and history, not always ideal. She is smart, articulate and most importantly, dedicated to helping others. 

For an old guy like me, this is very encouraging. We too often have only negative impressions of the younger generations. While I personally don't share those generalized views, it is nice to meet someone from those generations who truly is giving back.

I'm a Baby Boomer, one of the older ones, and overall I'm not happy with what my generation has done. We started out OK in the 1960's. We did change some social structures and norms. Unfortunately, many of us abandoned those ideals for financial security and conformity. But that's the subject for another post. 

Let's face it, drugs are a huge problem for our country. I think it is made much worse by the way we treat those who have addictions, especially how the criminal (in)justice system treats them. But again I stray from my main point.

As an old fart, I was truly inspired today. I know Sydney and her cohorts are making a valiant effort in spite of the overwhelming odds against them. We need more of these efforts which of course means more funding and acceptance by the penal and judicial systems. And of course by the public and our politicians.

Most of the young people I come in contact with are just fine. Sydney happens to be one of the outstanding ones. Give them a chance, they can't do much worse than the Boomers did.

Please, listen to the podcast. You will hear firsthand from someone on the front lines. As a society, we must do better. Please also check out the Pathfinders website to donate or help in other ways.

As always, the Two Old Guys Drinking Beer podcast is on iTunes and Google Play as well as our podcast archive website. This episode's direct link is http://2ogdb.libsyn.com/episode-13-the-interview-sydney-friedrichs?tdest_id=515247

wjh

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Too Many Choices


I was doing a little research today to see if I can save some money by cutting my cable. It's fairly complicated to get just the right channels. Some are must haves and some are wants. But that's not specifically what this post is about. While sifting through the many TV options, I realized that we seem to have a million choices for just about everything. Let's look at some examples.


For TV viewing, we used to have three or four channels. You bought a TV, connected an antenna and turned it on. When the UHF channels came along, you may have had to get a tuner if the TV was old and maybe a different antenna but it was still basically the same deal. All the channels were free. When cable TV came along, you just disconnected the antenna and connected the cable but you had to pay the cable company. When the number of cable channels exploded plus premium channels like HBO, we needed some kind of set top box but it was still one cable connection for all the channels. The bad part was that most locations had only one cable provider, no competition and no incentive to do a good job. The original satellite dishes usually required an antenna too for local channels, that meant two connections to the TV but still only one paid provider. Now we have content providers that are only available through the internet, some free and some paid. Many people have to have a cable/satellite and an internet connection. To get the content from the internet to the TV, you need some kind of device(s) and/or a newer smart TV. That device may be a Roku, ChromeCast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, X-box, Android TV, etc. Some content is not available on all these devices so you may need more than one. You will also have to pay multiple content providers directly unless you are extremely lucky and can find one provider that bundles all the channels you want. Highly unlikely. You may also need to attach an antenna again for all the local channels. After all that, you may save a few dollars a month. It's more complicated than that in practice. We now have dozens of choices but it is not as simple as connecting one antenna or one cable provider. 

TVs and other technologies are not the only products that now have a multitude of choices. Look around the grocery store. There used to be one kind of Oreo cookie and one size package, now that website lists 178 products. There are dozens of different flavors, variations, and packaging options. The same with milk. I remember when milk came in quarts either white or chocolate. It was almost all whole milk. Now we have whole, skim, 2%, 1% and non-fat. There are almond, soy, rice, and other milks. There are various flavors and sizes for each of these. Almost any type of food now has some kind of diet or low-cal variety. There may also be an organic option and of course gluten-free and non-GMO. 

All laundry detergent used to come in a box and was loose powder. Now we have liquids, tablets, dissolvable packets, with or without bleach, numerous scents or unscented, for delicate fabrics, hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and many other choices.

Everyone used to pay for things with cash, checks, or store/company specific credit cards. Then general purpose credit cards like VISA, MasterCard, and others came along. Now we have multiple e-pay and money transfer methods, and automatic deposits in conjunction with those credit cards or bank accounts. Some don't require any line of credit or even a checking account.

Pick almost any category of product or service and there will be myriad choices and numerous ways to pay for them. Choice is usually good, but having to spend an inordinate amount of time or effort to pick the right choice is not. Having to have expert knowledge to make what should be a simple choice is troubling too. Some wrong choices can be extremely expensive, some could even be deadly. 

When choices become too complicated in an area, someone will come up with easier solutions. Take the entertainment content delivery. Up until a short time ago, the choices were limited but relatively easy. You hooked up an antenna or called the cable or satellite company. Now that streaming over the internet is available it is fragmented. If you decide to cancel your expensive cable or satellite service, you will almost certainly have to deal individually with numerous providers. New bundle options are emerging both from established delivery companies like Direct-TV and Comcast and new entries into the market like YouTube, Apple, Sling, and others. There will be more. It will remain confusing for awhile, but some providers will fall by the wayside or consolidate. I expect in the not too distant future there will be a service and/or website that you plug in your location and the channels you want and it will figure out the best options. Then we'll have to choose which of those services to pick.

On balance, more choice is usually good but do we really need nine flavors of Triscuits?

Now I'm not sure how to decide which kind of Oreos to get or what milk to dunk them in.

What products or services do you think have gone overboard?

Choices, ain't they great.

wjh

Monday, August 21, 2017

Football 2017 - Preseason


It's almost time for real football to start. The high schools and colleges are in full blown practice. The NFL is already playing pre-season games. Real games in all the categories are just a couple of weeks away. So what can we expect this season? Will your teams do well, disappoint or just be bad?

My teams are Florida, South Florida, and TCU in the college ranks. Jacksonville, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay in the NFL. I also keep track of the local high school, L.D. Bell and my alma mater, Bishop Kenny High School. I've been a Florida Gators fan since my youth, South Florida is my alma mater. TCU is the local college and I like that a little private school plays with the big boys. I grew up in Jacksonville and I still feel connected to the hometown. I moved to Atlanta a couple of years after the Falcons began playing. They were the first NFL games I saw in person. I also used to see the players around town, even talked with several. The attachment to the Buccaneers is because of my days living in Tampa while in college. I prefer college football over the pros. The Dallas Cowboys are the local NFL team. I feel no attachment to them although I'd just as soon see them win unless they are playing one of my favorites. A Dallas win makes many of my friends in particular and the whole area in general happy. 

So how does the upcoming season look? The Florida Gators are ranked #17 and the South Florida Bulls are # 19 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll. It's unfortunate that they don't play each other this year. TCU falls just out of the Top 25 at #26. The Jaguars still look offensively challenged. The good news is that the AFC South is a weak division. The Falcons are coming off their heartbreaking Super Bowl loss and should repeat as NFC South winners. Can they shake off the disappointment and get back to the championship game? Tampa Bay should be a middle of the pack team again and on the playoff bubble. 

Overall, it looks like the same old teams at the top. Alabama, Ohio State, and FSU look to be the cream of the crop in the NCAA. New England is the favorite to repeat as Super Bowl champs. 

The Gators will know what kind of team they have right off the bat. Their first game is against #11 Michigan at a neutral site, AT&T Stadium in Arlington,TX, on September 2nd. That game will be nationally televised on ABC. Their schedule also includes #13 LSU, #15 Georgia, and #3 FSU. It looks like Florida and Georgia will battle it out for the SEC East title. Maybe the annual Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville will be the deciding game. Go Gators!
The Bulls look to have an easier time. They are the only ranked team in The American Athletic Conference (AAC). They also don't play any ranked teams in their non-conference games.
The Horned Frogs play in the Big 12 Conference, a conference with only 10 teams. They have to play #7 Oklahoma, #10 Oklahoma State, #20 Kansas State, #22 West Virginia, and #23 Texas. That's a tough schedule. 
Good luck to all my teams. Let the games begin.

wjh

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Confederacy


The removal of Confederate statues and other symbols from public places, most recently in Charlottesville and New Orleans, has revived the controversy once again. It was a prominent topic a couple of years ago when South Carolina removed the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds. 

The Charlottesville, Virginia, demonstrations turned violent and deadly. Many white supremacists, neo-Nazis, KKK members, and other troublemakers flooded the area. Most from out of town. 

I grew up in the South and have lived in the South for all but a few years of my life. I consider myself a Southerner. Still, I can not agree with those who defend having Confederate memorials on public property. At the same time, I am in full support of your right to have a Confederate flag bumper sticker, fly a confederate flag at your house or erect a statue of Robert E. Lee on private property. Even Confederate museums are worthwhile and someplace I would visit.

Let's get the obvious out of the way first. The Confederate States of America (CSA) lost the war. Those who fought for and supported the CSA were traitors to the USA. They were guilty of treason. They split from the USA to preserve slavery. South Carolina and the CSA started the war by attacking Fort Sumter. The states rights argument was only a minor factor that has been overblown to justify support of slavery. So, the CSA was on the wrong side of human rights, were traitors, and got beat. Why should we memorialize or celebrate that? 

I have read many books about the Confederacy and the Civil War. No, it was not the War Between the States or the War of Northern Aggression. The South started the war. It was a war by some states against the United States of America. I must admit, I was enthralled by the romance of the Civil War as a youth. It seemed like the underdog Southerners fought a brave and gallant fight against the stronger enemy. I wrote a high school term paper about Col. John S. Mosby, the Gray Ghost, the leader of the quasi-guerilla Mosby's Rangers. They were a small unit of cavalry who operated in Northern Virginia, often behind Union lines. Exciting and romantic. I was also surrounded by an atmosphere that constantly supported and propagated a view of the good Old South. Parks, streets, and schools were named after Confederate generals and statesmen. Rebels was a common school nickname and the Confederate battle flag was prominently displayed. It often felt more like the CSA won the war in many places. 

As I studied the Civil War more, my perceptions began to change. I realized that the states rights and northern aggression arguments were BS. The war was started to preserve slavery, pure and simple. Slavery is wrong. There is no way to argue your way out of that. 

The South miscalculated their strength and ability to defeat the more populous and industrialized North. Had they not started the war, slavery would have remained in effect for several more years. Except for the abolitionists, most people of the 1860's were willing to allow slavery to continue in those states it was already legal in. Their tempestuous actions actually accelerated the end of the exact thing they were trying to protect. Despite losing the war, the South tried to pretend that they won. After Reconstruction, laws were passed that came as close as possible to reinstating slavery. Segregation, poll taxes, and other laws relegated the Blacks to third class citizenship, just a couple of notches above slavery. That lasted about 100 years after the end of the Civil War. 



All those Confederate statues, parks, schools, flags, and other symbols continued to rub salt in the wounds of the Black descendants of those slaves. It's about time that the losing side in the Civil War admits that they lost. 

Do we have memorials to the British generals who lost the Revolutionary War? Would any of you Confederate flag wavers support a monument of a Nazi SS officer who killed several thousand Jews and hundreds US troops in WWII? Well, Lee and Beauregard are responsible for the death of thousands of US Troops, all under the direction of Davis. 

Put these statues, memorials and symbols on private property, document the deeds of these men in history books, historic sites, and museums. Let's not memorialize them in public places and continue to dismiss the feelings of those they sought to oppress.

What I find confusing and contradictory is that many who are ardent supporters of the Confederacy and its symbols also identify themselves as super American patriots. How does that square? The CSA was anti-American. It tried to break-up and defeat the USA. The CSA states decided that politics and discussion were not the way to make their point. Violence and war were. 

Let's never expunge the Civil War from our history. Let's also not continue to glamorize and misrepresent what the war and its aftermath were really about. What part of the Confederacy would people want to support today?

The Civil War ended on May 9, 1865. That's 152 years ago. The old, slave owning, South will not rise again. Thankfully.

wjh  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Glen Campbell - RIP


On August 8, 2017, we lost Glen Campbell. RIP Glen, you were a consummate musician and performer. You entertained and brought joy to millions of fans. Most of us have a favorite song of his, there are a lot of choices. 

I will admit that I never bought a Glen Campbell album or record. He was never the coolest or hottest (funny they mean the same thing) singer or recording artist. His songs were most definitely popular but never cutting edge. That is unless you actually listened to the lyrics. Glen didn't write his most famous songs, but he certainly put his mark on them. 

I was always more impressed by Glen's ability as a virtuoso guitarist. That talent became somewhat obscured when he became a popular vocalist. Just to remind those who pay attention to real musical talent, I have one fact to remind you of how good Glen was. He was a member of The Wrecking Crew. They were the premier studio session musicians of the 1960's and 70's. They were the musicians on the recordings of everyone from Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra to Phil Spector and the Beach Boys. If you ever have listened to a hit song from the 60's or 70's, the odds are very good that The Wrecking Crew were the musicians on the record. They recorded hundreds of songs each year. When Brian Wilson decided to stop touring with the Beach Boys, Glen was recruited to take his spot on the road. Glen played bass and sang some of Brian's vocal parts for about four months. My guess is that having Glen play bass was a waste of his talents since he most surely was the best guitarist of that touring group. He did play guitar on the iconic Beach Boys album Pet Sounds

In 1967, Glen had the breakout hit Gentle On My Mind. From then on, he was a successful solo artist. Campbell had great success on the Country charts although he never considered himself a Country singer. As evidenced by his time with The Wrecking Crew and the Beach Boys, he just loved music and good songs. He certainly recorded several good songs. 

I won't try to document his career and discography in detail. Those interested can look up all that. In summation, Glen was a consummate musician, a popular singer, a TV star, and a movie actor. He was around for several decades. 

He had a roller coaster personal life. He battled drugs, alcohol and had some less than harmonious relationships. He seemed to have found some solace since the 80's until the devastating diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease in 2011. 

I hope he didn't suffer and that he didn't remember the last few years. 

RIP Glen Campbell. You left your mark on the world and it is a joyful and musical mark.

wjh

Monday, August 7, 2017

Steve Perry & Journey


Another one of the recent PBS pledge drive shows was Journey In Concert: Houston 1981
The title says it all. I had two main takeaways from the program. First, Journey was a terrific live band. Second, I am pissed at Steve Perry for disappearing from the public stage.

Steve Perry

In 1981, Journey was at the top of their popularity. They had just released Don't Stop Believing which has become a Rock anthem and a required song for every Rock cover band. It's often sung by female singers because few males can sing like Steve. They had the #1 album, Escape. It was a riveting performance. One version of their Best of albums contains several cuts from the Houston live concert. I have that album.

The band was formed in 1973 but didn't become popular until they hired lead singer Steve Perry in late 1977. By 1987, the band had pretty much gone their separate ways. There was a brief reunion in 1995 but that didn't last long. 

Perry did a few solo ventures while still with Journey and after '87. Unfortunately, there has been no substantial output since the mid 1990's. He occasionally shows up at a Giants baseball game or at a performance by a band he likes. Still, no new music although he has promised a new album for several years. 

The Perry/Schon version of the band is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Journey has sold almost 50 million albums and 90 million records. Most of those during the Perry era. They have been through several personnel changes, mostly at lead singer. 

So why am I pissed at Steve Perry? Well, because he has or at least had one of the greatest voices ever in the Rock genre. He has power, range, a unique tone, soaring high notes that are not a falsetto. He is also an accomplished songwriter, having co-written such hits as "Oh Sherrie" for his solo career that reached #3.  "Who's Crying Now" (#4), "Open Arms" (#2), "Separate Ways" (#8), "Don't Stop Believing" (#9), and others while with Journey. 

Founding member Neil Schon, lead guitarist, and songwriter, recently said publically that he thinks he will reconnect with Perry. There is some tension within the current Journey lineup, so maybe a Perry/Schon reunion is in the cards. They were the two drivers during Journey's most productive and popular years. Schon recently said “It’s mutual we will reconnect. I know without talking to him.” 

With or without Schon, I want Steve Perry back on the music scene. Until then, I still have my recordings of all the Journey hits.

wjh 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Very Random Thoughts - July 2017


  • When old, old friends meet at 4:30, does that qualify as happy hour or the early bird special?
  • Why do flammable and inflammable mean the same thing?
  • Remember Miss Cleo, the TV psychic, with the 900 call-in hotline? She's dead, but there is now a California Psychics Hotline commercial on late night TV. I'm sure it is totally legit and accurate.
  • Speaking of 900 telephone numbers, do they still exist?
  • I sometimes watch a very old TV show on one of the nostalgia channels. While I remember the TV series, I don't remember many of the individual episodes. Is that because I didn't watch a lot of the original episodes or because my memory is shot?
  • How many "senior moments" can be crammed into a single day? Apparently a very high number.
  • How long exactly is a moment?
  • Many (most?) local business owners really should not do their own TV commercials. Do not include family members either.
  • OK, those Facebook "quizzes" were tolerable for awhile. They seem to have exploded and now overrun some people's posts, and my newsfeed. I've never taken one, and never will. Complete BS and clickbait.
  • Isn't it time to just recall every air bag made by Takata? A new recall every few weeks. 
  • Did you ever notice how powerful lanterns and candles were on old TV shows? One candle could light up a whole room. 

  • I was at the grocery store when a person with extremely strong and bad body odor walked by. Always the fear that the stink will linger and the next person you pass will think it is you who stinks. Same problem can happen on an elevator, BO or farts by a previous occupant who exits leaving you alone in the elevator. 
  • Do you get the impression that the people who design packaging never actually try to open it? Some require a power tool or explosives to open.
  • How come those special credit card bonus reward categories never include liquor stores? 
  • Every baseball player from Little League to the Majors looks at his glove after an error. Is it ever the glove's fault?
  • Same idea, if you play the infield, after looking at your glove you smooth out the dirt with your foot or pretend to pick up the pebble that caused the bad hop.
  • I keep hearing the expression so and so or something "broke the internet" but it always seems to be working when I check.
  • Is there such a thing as a non-practicing atheist or agnostic?  
wjh