Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nighttime in Norman

Ah, the perfect nightcap for a great day of college football: No. 2 at No. 5 in Oklahoma Memorial Stadium with an almost endless number of BCS implications at stake.

I don't know what to expect tonight other than a four-hour game, probably more than 100 pass attempts and maybe a total of 100 points. Is that a testament to a pair of great offenses or bad defenses? How about a little of both?

I'm sure Barry Switzer and Spike Dykes would never have approved of anything like this.

That said ... kickoff in a few. I'll be back after I order some Chinese and get settled on the couch.

1st Quarter: OU moved down the field like a hot knife through butter. So far, The Raiders haven't been able to mount anywhere near the pass rush they did against UT. And DeMarco Murray looks better than I last remember him. Good sign for the Sooners. OU 7-0 ... Where's Michael Crabtree? ... As a note, in the smaller screen on my TV, the First Lady is watching an Animal Planet show about different breeds of dogs. Compromise, folks. ... The Sooners are getting a great push up front, even without their best d-lineman, Auston English. Tech looks really, really flat. Sort of like UT did in Lubbock. ... I'd like to think I'm smarter than this but, my football gut is telling me that Tech could get rolled. They're going to have to start doing something right, otherwise the Raiders will be down by three touchdowns. End of 1st.

2nd Quarter: Another rushing TD for the Sooners. Tech is getting whipped along both lines, plain and simple. OU 14-0 ... Apropos of nothing really, the First Lady and I just looked at a YouTube video of the Georgia's bulldog mascot, Uga, biting an Auburn player and a dog humping a pig. Anything to keep her interested in football, I suppose. ... It goes without saying that failing on 4th and 3 in the red zone will come back to haunt the Red Raiders. Not having a reliable scholarship kicker was bound to hurt Tech at some point this season. ... Murray seems to finally be rounding into form. The Sooners could have used this Murray at the Cotton Bowl. ... OU 21-0. This has the feel of a blowout. At the least, Tech can always pass its way back into games. ... Another failed fourth-down conversion. This is about more than Tech being flat. It's about OU having the better athletes. ... Speaking of, what a move by Iglesias. OU 28-0. At this point, it's important to note that the two best-looking teams in the nation over the past few weeks have probably been Florida and OU. ... Against UT, the weak spot in OU's defense was the middle of the field. The spot where Ryan Reynolds normally would have been. Glad to see Tech figured that out. OU 28-7. ... Herbstreit is right: the Sooners are making it look easy. They're teeing off on Tech's front seven and running it down their throat. OU is just a bad matchup for Tech. UT was more to the Red Raiders' liking. OU 35-7. ... Gotta say, looks like Graham Harrell won't have to worry about an acceptance speech in New York. ... Another OU TD. Geez. My football gut was right. OU 42-7. Tech is being sacrificed tonight, folks. ... End of the half, thank goodness for Tech. That was a 30-minute, prison-style beatdown. But I do think it's cool that they have a defensive back named L.A. Reed. Wonder if his mama was a fan of The Deele?

Halftime: Out of curiosity, I went searching for info about OU safety Nic Harris after he bucked up to extremely overrated Tech lineman Brandon "Mankind" Carter. What did I find? Harris has his own wikipedia page. There, I learned he's 6-3, 232-pounds, a native of Alexandria, La., and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi. What did we ever do before the Internet? And who, exactly, created his page?

3rd Quarter: If the game gets much more out of hand, I'm going to stop blogging. I think I want to watch "Mo' Better Blues" tonight. Listening to so much jazz over the past couple days - it's great music to study to - has got me in a sentimental mood. ... Another blooper moment from Tech. This one is about over. ... Chris Brown, with a textbook example of why running backs are taught to never stop moving their feet. Yep. Tech is done. OU 52-7. ... I just can't believe the No. 2 team in the nation is losing by 45 points with 24 minutes of game time to go. But, I guess, if you're from Texas, it's not really much of a surprise. ... I wonder if Harris learned that horse-collar tackle from Roy Williams in the offseason?

4th Quarter: OU, 58-14. Brent Musberger apparently doesn't know how to pronounce Beyonce. Sheesh. Be-yuance? ... The Sooners are treating the Red Raiders like North Texas. OU, 65-14. Reminds of the old days when they used to do Mack Brown's boys like this. ... Just gonna say it here: no one can think Tech is a national-title contender after tonight. Championship teams don't lose like this. How does San Diego in late December sound? ... And get Harrell out of there.

I'm finishing up here for the night. Looks like I lasted a couple more quarters than the Raiders. If I had a ballot, I'd probably go with a top 5 of Alabama, Florida, OU, USC and Texas. We all know I've got a jones for the Trojans. But that's just me. Holla. Continue Reading »

What I'm Thankful for, the prelude

I'm trying not to be too smug but, my goodness, what an afternoon I'm having here at the Blackink House.

Saturday has been a veritable orgy of football. And I've still got Texas Tech at Oklahoma to look forward to this evening (think I might get a little live-blogging going to mark the occasion).

On TV, at this moment, I'm able to choose from: my alma mater, TCU hosting Air Force; Ole Miss at LSU; Syracuse at Notre Dame; Michigan State at Penn State; Boston College at Wake Forest; Washington at Washington State; Florida Atlantic at Arkansas State; and Jackson State at Alcorn State.

Believe it or not, I'm a little interested in all these contests. For once, the screen-in-screen feature on my flat-screen isn't quite enough to satisfy my appetite for football.

Not to mention, we've got the screen door to the lanai open - it's a cloudless, 70-degree picturesque day here in Tampa. And I'm going to convince the First Lady that enchiladas and a Corona are all that are missing.

My goodness, I wish everyday was Saturday.

UPDATE: TCU up 10-0 at the end of the first and LSU is already down a touchdown. Good times. However, I'm still struggling to get over that loss at Utah that killed our BCS dreams.

UPDATE 2: I dunno. I might have to agree with Spottie: RichRod is looking like a terrible hire. And Spottie wrote that before the Wolverines went out and embarrassed themselves today.

UPDATE 3: I'm wondering if Tracy Wolfson has got a little Negro blood in her veins? She sorta resembles Suzanne Malveaux to me.

UPDATE 4: Shit. Boise State is playing at Nevada on ESPN2, too! Awesome.

UPDATE 5: Ok. I'm gonna admit it. I might have a little TV crush on Tracy Wolfson.

UPDATE 6: I'm not live-blogging yet (I should be studying and folding clothes) but I've got to agree: Jevan Sneed just made three perfect throws. Wow. I don't think even Colt McCoy has an arm like that. Oh, and TCU is up 24-3 at the half.

UPDATE 7: Is it me, or does Houston Nutt own Les Miles? In Baton Rouge, no less. Is there a way that the Tigers can go to the Independence Bowl?

UPDATE 8: Great, great finishes today. Kudos to Syracuse, Washington State, Jackson State and Boston College for pulling out some close ones and making things entertaining (I watched a bit of all these games, btw). TCU rolled to an easy victory. Also, it was nice to see Joe Paterno win a Big 10 title. I can't wait to see the Nittany Lions in the Rose Bowl.

But at the moment, I really can't wait to see the de-facto Big 12 South championship game. More later. Continue Reading »

Friday, November 21, 2008

Luxuriating in the Deliciousness

After one of my homeboys put me on to the provocative documentary "Street Fight" a couple years ago, I became a huge fan of Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

Maybe not enough to actually move to Brick City. But I believe that if we - the people - ever elect a second black president, Booker could be the guy (getting ahead of myself, eh?). There's actually been some talk that Booker could be in the running for a spot in President Obama's administration.

Anyway, Mayor Booker made an appearance last night on "The Colbert Report" and acquitted himself very well. He swatted away that ridiculous notion of a mythical "post-racial America" and even brought a little funny to the show. Which is no small feat, given Colbert's, uh, quirky interview style.

Continue Reading »

More fun with graphs

Via Andrew Sullivan. Continue Reading »

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A time to make noise

Floyd Keith, where were you this week? We could have used you and the BCA. Or at least your platform. But as it is, you're too late. As usual.

A week after the BCA released a report citing the dearth of black head coaches in college football, the University of Texas announced star defensive coordinator Will Muschamp had already been tabbed to succeed Mack Brown as head coach.

Brown is 57, has eight years left on his contract and no immediate plans to retire. Muschamp is 37, in his first year at UT and one of the hottest names in college football - he likely would have been in the running for the top job at a number of other schools.

But Brown has had a virtual revolving door at defensive coordinator for the past few years, and the thought of losing another was likely frustrating to him. You can make a case that locking up Muschamp was a smart, proactive move for a program seeking stability at an important spot and a way to ensure there's a succession place in place. And for all we know, Muschamp is the next Darrell Royal. Or Mack Brown.

However, it's not your job to care about that Mr. Keith. Your job is to continually pressure and poke at a system that has left only four black head coaches in the NCAA's top division of college football; there's 119 schools in the so-called Football Bowl Subdivision.

Even worse, the numbers simply don't add up: 46 percent of the players in Division I football are black. As usual, brothas are all over the field and rarely on the sideline - unless they're waiting to get back on the field.

We, specifically you, have to force schools out of the habit of settling on the most obvious choice. Make them think outside of the box. Keep them from creating succession plans. Complacency and continuity breeds familiarity, you know?

From Signal to Noise makes the point:

Muschamp is merely the latest in a trend: the most prominent name in this ilk is Florida State O-coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who’s been promised the head gig when Bobby Bowden either retires or keels over, followed by Kentucky OC Joker Phillips in the same position with Rich Brooks (it also exists at Purdue, but I can’t recall the guy replacing Joe Tiller next season.) Hell, it isn’t even reserved for the NCAA — Jim Mora the Younger is set to replace Mike Holmgren with the Seahawks next year.

Brown said he thinks it’s part of a new trend. “Looking across the country, I think we will see more of this, especially in programs that are working well,” Brown said.

Sounds like a challenge to me. Didn't we used to call this the Good Ol' Boys Network?

At this point, it's obvious that releasing an annual report isn't enough to make substantive change. In many ways, this has become something of a fruitless ritual for the BCA. One day to make some noise, 364 more to stay silent on the issue. Tuesday would have been a good day to put UT on blast, don't you think?

It reminds me of the time, five years ago, when I covered an execution in Texas: the protesters were ready to go that night, carrying their signs, challenging the cops and creating general unrest. The guy still got the lethal dose and everyone went home.

The problem is, convicted criminals are sentenced to death with regularity in Texas. By the time the guy is on a gurney, it's too late. If you're really committed to the cause, protesting the death penalty should be a 365-day a year job.

It's something that Mr. Keith and the BCA might want to remember next time. Continue Reading »

Ranking the Wu

To build on an aside in the previous post, I thought I'd rank my favorite members of the Wu-Tang Clan from worst to first.

It was unbelievably tough to come up with a meaningful way to measure each member's contribution to the group. Por ejemplo, I think the RZA is one of the Wu's worst lyricists but he's also the de-facto head of the clan and the lead producer for "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)." So, do you rank him before or after Method Man?

Shame on a nigga. But I tried to do it anyway:

9. U-God - He "wasn't into all that Kung-Fu shit" and it sorta showed. No lyrical skills to speak of. His Wu impact was also limited by the fact that he was locked up for much of the making of the group's debut album.

8. Masta Killa - It was tough to think of a time when he stood out from the rest of the Clan. He really doesn't have a signature moment. Steady but certainly not spectacular.

7. Raekwon - "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx" is one of my 20 favorite hip-hop albums. But often, I found myself wanting more substance from The Chef. In fact, sometimes his lyrics just bored me.

6. Inspectah Deck - Good lyricist, good producer and I also loved "Uncontrolled Substance." His verse on "Cream" - "handcuffed in back of a bus, forty of us, life as a shorty shouldn't be so rough" - was a classic hip-hop moment in its own right. But no one was going to Wu shows to see the Inspectah, dig?

5. GZA - You know the Genius had pull in the clan, given that he and Meth were the only two Wu members to have solo tracks on "Enter." You might argue that he was the best lyricist in the group. And I probably wouldn't mount much of a counterargument. But even John Stockon had to ride the bench on the Western Conference All-Star team, dig?

4. RZA - The leader, the producer and one of the group's weakest lyricists. But how can the RZA not be in the top half of the group's most influential members? No one reps the Clan more than Bobby Digital. Also, he was decent in "American Gangster."

3. Ghostface Killah - This is pure-dee bias here. Ghostface is probably my favorite member of the group. I think he's probably the second-best lyricist behind the GZA. He probably had the best, most thorough solo career. And what a character. C'mon. What about homeboy's Wonder Woman arm?

2. Ol' Dirty Bastard - RIP. Probably the most colorful character in hip hop outside of Busta Rhymes. Dirt McGirt was truly one of a kind. Really. His whole catalogue was a freestyle. And, man, I loved me some "Brooklyn Zoo." I just couldn't get enough of that - literally, since it never came on the radio in Texas.

1. Method Man - Overall, Meth has to go No. 1. He's a solid lyricist, quite the character himself, probably the best live performer of the group, a moderately successful actor and, bottom line, had the best solo career of the crew. However, Meth has lost steam in recent years. It'd be nice to see him make a comeback.

Feel free to disagree. And enjoy the song that brought the crew into my living room.

UPDATE: I swear, sometimes me and my man Avery are on the same wavelength. He come up with his own list today, too. I swear I didn't know until I'd already posted mine. Check it out.
Continue Reading »

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Black people don't listen to De La anymore?

It's been a long time since I visited "Stuff White People Like." But I needed some funny this afternoon and they had a moderately provocative post today.

Here's a taste:

If you are good at concealing laughter and contempt, you should ask a white person about “Real Hip Hop.” They will quickly tell you about how they don’t listen to “Commercial Hip Hop” (aka music that black people actually enjoy), and that they much prefer “Classic Hip Hop.”

“I don’t listen to that commercial stuff. I’m more into the Real Hip Hop, you know? KRS One, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, De La Soul, Wu Tang, you know, The Old School.”

What they talking about? Man, I was listening to "Buhloone Mindstate" this weekend. And, believe me, every day is a good day for some Ghostface.

UPDATE: I've been meaning to mention it here for the longest but, upon further review, U-God was definitely the worst member of the Wu. I could hardly make it through his verses. They could have switched him out with Cappadonna and I'd have been cool with it. RZA was probably the second-worst; "Bobby Digital" is a bunch of nonsense. Continue Reading »

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Let's move forward, amicably

On the issue of marriage, TNC and I don't necessarily see eye-to-eye. For one, I wholeheartedly believe in public declarations of love. But I also believe strongly in the very private work of nourishing my relationship with the First Lady.

Maybe calling it "work" is something of an overstatement. To me, it's never felt like work. It's feels like whatever it does when you're doing something you love. But maybe that's because we don't have any kids.

Anyway, maybe when I'm feeling the effects of rum and Coke and our date with the church and broom is nearer, I'll go into all the little things that made me want to start a family with the only woman who could make me love a dog. But today ain't that day.

Please read TNC's moving post about why he and the mother of his son have never married. In the end, it's about more than rings and honeymoons and ancient vows. It's about choice. And I can respect that.

On another note, TNC's smartly-worded post made me dig a bit for one of my five favorite movie scenes of all-time. Gotta love Kevin Hart, even if he did star in "Soul Plane." Dig it. Continue Reading »

Monday, November 17, 2008

What we've done

For whatever reason, I'm fascinated by cities and countries that have suffered great calamity. Maybe it's morbid curiosity, maybe I'm just transfixed by human resolve in the face of tragedy. But I can't stop myself from looking.

Por ejemplo, last night I watched an hour-long Weather Channel documentary about the hurricane that flattened Galveston in 1900 after the Cowboys-Redskins game. More than anything, I found it amazing that one of Thomas Edison's assistants was able to sneak one of the first video cameras onto the island to record some of the damage. If you can, check it out.

Anyway, I came across this link about photos from post-war Hiroshima via Andrew Sullivan's spot. I think, especially here in America, that we too often dismiss the horror we've inflicted on others and obsess over our own miseries.

These pictures, like the one above, make it hard to forget. Look. We did that.

UPDATE: While putting together this post, I found this link about the 10 U.S. cities most safe from natural disaster. Predictably, living along the Gulf Coast insulates you from nothing.
Continue Reading »

Post-racial America?

While some of us thought November 4 was some long-awaited day of national racial reconciliation, I sorta went in the opposite direction. W.E.B. Du Bois was right in the 20th Century and, to my thinking, will be right in the 21st.

Now I've got some evidence to go with my gut feeling: we're in for a long four (or eight) years.

From California to Maine, police have documented a range of alleged crimes, from vandalism and vague threats to at least one physical attack. Insults and taunts have been delivered by adults, college students and second-graders.

There have been "hundreds" of incidents since the election, many more than usual, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes.

Make sure to watch your back. Continue Reading »

Random football thought

The Auburn University running back depth chart, circa 2003:

1st team - Carnell "Cadillac" Williams
2nd team - Ronnie Brown
3rd team - Brandon Jacobs

Williams went on to be the fifth overall pick in the 2005 draft, Brown was No. 2 and Jacobs transferred to Southern Illinois for his senior year and was drafted in the fourth round of the same draft. Not to mention, the starting quarterback of that team - Jason Campbell - was the 25th overall pick that year.

You could reasonably argue that, according to their production in the NFL, that Auburn depth chart should have been inverted.

Either way, how in the hell did Tommy Tuberville go 8-5 with that bunch? Continue Reading »

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Again, we should know better

I've grown weary of arguing with those who can't or won't recognize the issue of gay marriage as a matter of civil rights. Mostly because, as I've stated before, we all should know better.

But I'm going to get off my soap box and let Andrew Sullivan take over for the moment in the wake of protests by thousands of gays and lesbians around the country Saturday. I think, more than anything, change will come when people start listening to their better angels:

I remember a story told me during the AIDS epidemic. A man was visiting a friend dying in hospital. It was a grim scene, as it often was in those days. The next bed in the ward had a curtain drawn around it. And from behind that curtain, you could hear someone quietly singing. The man told his friend, "Well, at least that dude is keeping his spirits up, however sick he is." And the friend replied:

"Oh, that's not the patient singing. He died this morning. And his family came to collect the body. That voice you hear is the man's partner. The family didn't approve of his relationship and they have barred him from coming to the funeral and kicked him out of their shared home. That song he's singing is the song they called their own. It was playing when they met. He used to sing it to him all the time when he was dying."

"He's still singing it even though they've taken the body away. He's singing it to an empty bed. I guess it's the last time he feels he'll ever be close to the man he loved. They were together twenty years. The hospital staff don't have the heart to ask him to leave yet."

Until you have been treated as sub-human, it's hard to appreciate how it feels.

Continue Reading »

Don't let the smooth taste fool you

About every other hour, I change my opinion about whether Hillary Clinton would serve President Obama well as Secretary of State.

I can see the merits of her inclusion in his cabinet. I can also see where she could prove to be a divisive force in such a high-profile role, especially since she seemed much more hawkish than Obama about the Middle East during the primaries.

Either way, I have no concerns that Obama will be a wilting flower should Clinton or her husband step out of line. He got this. And if you don't believe me, let Time's Joe Klein explain:

General David Petraeus deployed overwhelming force when he briefed Barack Obama and two other Senators in Baghdad last July. He knew Obama favored a
16-month timetable for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq, and he wanted to make the strongest possible case against it. And so, after he had presented an array of maps and charts and PowerPoint slides describing the current situation on the ground in great detail, Petraeus closed with a vigorous plea for "maximum flexibility" going forward.

Obama had a choice at that moment. He could thank Petraeus for the briefing and promise to take his views "under advisement." Or he could tell Petraeus what he really thought, a potentially contentious course of action — especially with a general not used to being confronted. Obama chose to speak his mind.

... the Senator from Illinois had laid down his marker: if elected President, he would be in charge. Unlike George W. Bush, who had given Petraeus complete authority over the war — an unprecedented abdication of presidential responsibility (and unlike John McCain, whose hero worship of Petraeus bordered on the unseemly) — Obama would insist on a rigorous chain of command.

If we've learned anything about Obama over these past 20 months or so, it should be that he is nobody's punk. He seems confident enough in himself and his deep intellect to risk bringing in a formerly bitter political opponent like Clinton. At the risk of referring to an already exhausted cliche, Obama has eagerly embraced the idea of surrounding himself with a Team of Rivals. He's indicated that for quite sometime now, in fact.

And that's a significant departure from the previous administration. Or change I'm willing to believe in, if only for the moment. Continue Reading »


I'm conflicted in my beliefs about how we should deal with illegal immigration.

Or maybe, my belief system is so simple that it seems in conflict with itself: we should enforce the laws already on the books; do our dutiful best to ensure that the Border Patrol and ICE are fully funded and staffed; eliminate the massive backlog of those waiting to get green cards so as to discourage illegal immigration. No amnesty. But I'm certainly no proponent of some massive deportation of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in this country.

At any rate, something must done about people like this:

Miguel Mejia Rodriguez, 36, is locked up on the fifth floor of the San Jacinto Jail downtown, accused of raping and sodomizing a second-grader.

It is the fourth time in 12 years that Rodriguez, an unemployed drifter from Zacatecas, Mexico, has landed in Harris County Jail. Over the years, Rodriguez has served time for drug possession, theft, trespassing and indecent exposure. He told jailers he was in the country illegally in December 2006, after a security guard caught him touching himself in an apartment complex parking lot, records show.

But ICE officials did not file paperwork to detain Rodriguez. He was released after serving his 25-day sentence.

"I never lied about who I am, or where I'm from. I'm 100 percent Mexican," Rodriguez said in a jail interview with the Chronicle in September, after he was accused of the rape and sodomy of a 7-year-old.

According to court records, the girl told a friend Rodriguez started abusing her after her mother died in 2005, while he was living with her family.

The girl was hospitalized and treated for syphilis, court records show. In an interview with Houston police detectives, Rodriguez admitted to contracting syphilis from a woman he met in a Houston cantina, but he denied raping the girl. He said she was a "troublemaker" who lied because he punished her when she misbehaved.

Continue Reading »