Saturday, September 13, 2008

A one-sided Coliseum collision

A few thoughts about the day of college football games post-Coliseum beatdown:

Having watched USC absolutely flatten Ohio State tonight, I can't help but think Jim Tressel might want to bring in Mike Barwis to close the intensity gap between the two teams. The Buckeyes looked like they were going to a funeral; the Trojans were ready to party.

As good as USC looked tonight, there's going to be a chilly afternoon in October when a conference rival plays them closer than they should. Unlike last year, I don't think the Trojans will lose that game. It wasn't exactly a profile in courage, but I stick by my preseason pick of USC as the nation's top team.

Sheesh. Beanie Wells is real nice. But he's not worth 32 points.

I think tonight's loss officially ends the Buckeyes' run of BCS championship game appearances at two. No one could want to see them in the title game again.

I think Ohio State fans might want to hold off on calling for the start of the Terrelle Pryor era after tonight's game. The Buckeyes should still be favorites in the rest of their games this season. No need to roll the dice on a true freshman who's not quite ready for the responsibility. Todd Boeckman is still the man for the job.

Outside of USC, the PAC-10 had a horrific weekend. UCLA, Washington, Arizona, Washington State, Cal. And, uh, Stanford got rolled right out of Fort Worth just ahead of Ike. Thanks for stopping by.

The SEC doesn't just have great defenses. It has horrendous offenses. That Auburn-Mississippi State game set back offensive football four decades. And Georgia-South Carolina wasn't much better.

I may have said this already but it bears repeating: Oklahoma will be a force next year and in the years to come. Once Mike Stoops loses his job at Arizona, his brother will almost certainly welcome him back to Norman with open arms. And the Sooners will be whole on defense again. Continue Reading »

A matter of distrust

I would probably need to update this site about eight hours a day - essentially full-time work - to keep track of all the lies and half-truths and garbage coming out the McCain-Palin campaign.

But, unfortunately, I have to earn a regular paycheck, among other daily obligations. Not to mention, there's plenty of other bloggers and sites out there doing a much better job than I at putting this farce into perspective.

So, at some point in the near future, I may place a brief moratorium on posts about Palin. I'm still thinking this over.

However, until that time, here's a few links of interest:

Size (of crowds) doesn't matter, except when it does.

About a year ago, McCain didn't seem to think much of the experience of mayors and governors. But like any true man of honor and conviction, he changed his mind as soon as it became politically expedient.

More about book banning. Palin is lying about this, too.

Palin supports another Bridge to Nowhere. This one only has a price tag of about $73 million.

The Boston Globe is all over Palin today. But what do they know? Damn liberal media. How dare they do the vetting that McCain didn't have the time or gumption for.

In addition to the Bush Doctrine, Palin also appears to be woefully ignorant about the federal budget in general and entitlement programs specifically. But, hey, she's just a hockey mom. Sort of like the female version of Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer (pictured above).

And from a good friend, here's a link to James Fallows' take on Palin's interview with Charles Gibson. "Sober, dispassionate and dead on," in the words of TNC.
Continue Reading »

Unsound advice

Willam Rhoden, who possesses an impressive wealth of knowledge about the history of the black athlete, may have the right diagnosis for Vince Young. But his prescription is reckless:

A younger generation of African-American athletes, used to being coddled and pampered, may not be prepared for the rude awakening of a double standard when performance doesn’t measure up quickly enough.

We are wisely taught to never forget. You can’t remember what you never knew.

Young doesn’t need a psychologist. He needs a history lesson.

It's that sort of condescending and dismissive attitude that has made depression and mental illness taboo in the black community. There's a serious danger in implying Young would be better off talking to Warren Moon or Vince Evans than a medical professional, especially when there's been talk of depression and suicide.

I expected better than that from Rhoden. Perhaps he'd do well to familiarize himself with some of the research. He could use a history lesson of his own. Continue Reading »

Two-minute drill

Here's a few quick-hit thoughts before the whistles blow this afternoon. What a great weekend of football ahead, capped off by the "Collision at the Coliseum."

1st Down: Don't be fooled by all the hype. Ohio State is going to give USC all it can handle tonight in the Coliseum. Beanie Wells or not. The Buckeyes are nobody's punks.

2nd Down: Building off of that thought, tell me two other blue-chip programs more willing to take on these sorts of nonconference challenges with so much at stake. Every year, for no other reason than they're hard as hell, Ohio State and USC have a marquee game like this on their schedule. Much respect to them for adding some spice to the September slate of games.

3rd Down: I guess, in Vince Young's case, there's no such thing as doctor-patient privilege. Does it not seem the least bit unsavory that we know so much about his apparent mental-health crisis?

4th Down: The AFC South will be worse than we think this season, especially if Vince needs a lot of time to get over his troubles. Jacksonville will be hard-pressed to overcome the loss of its three interior offensive linemen, Tennessee's offense could be running on fumes and the Texans stink. Not to mention, Peyton and Co. will need some time to jell before the Colts are contenders again.

Turnover on downs: Stanford is going to learn something about respect this afternoon. Especially against a team that spanked them at their homecoming last fall. I see the Cardinal having a long day at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

UPDATE: How good is UTEP football? This good.

UPDATE 2: For the first time in a long time, Baylor football has some hope. And hope's name is Robert Griffin. Continue Reading »

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Pitbull" Palin in a nutshell

Marc Fisher of the Washington Post was spot on here, outlining some of the ridiculous reasons for the rapid ascent of America's favorite Hockey Mom:

We don't live in an age of looking up to authority anymore. We don't cotton to the idea that there are people who are our betters. In this time of "American Idol," bedroom bloggers and the belief that experience, knowledge and education don't necessarily mean a whole lot, Palin is a symbol, a statement that anyone can make it if he or she really tries.

Is this not a problem? Call me crazy but I have an expectation of excellence from our national leaders. I'm neither looking for a drinking buddy nor do I care if my preferred candidate likes to hunt, can bowl better than 200 or has kids going off to Iraq.

What matters to me is that person be exceptional and ethical in every possible way. So, in a sense, that person needs to be better than me or the rest of us. Average is not OK when the stakes are that high.

For example, my Uncle Stan is a great guy, someone I can relate to, someone who's lived a very "real" life and someone I enjoy sharing turkey with at Thanksgiving. But if he were the quarterback for my favorite NFL team, the Titans would have a very serious problem. I wouldn't stand for it. And I suspect no one in Nashville would either - nice guy but he's not qualified. That's the way the world is supposed to work.

Strength and confidence are nice but they're no substitute for knowledge and qualifications, no matter what GOP wingnut Bay Buchanan said on CNN last night. Not all of us can be president, no matter what your mama might have told you. I just hope we all figure that out before Nov. 4. Continue Reading »

The audacity of hope

Via TNC, a good word for the doubters. We'll see.
Continue Reading »

Sarah Palin and rape exams

I'll get around to my critique of Sarah Palin's interview with Charlie Gibson a little later. If you're familiar with me and this spot, you probably have a solid idea of where I fall on her performance last night.

But first, I thought I should steer you - my faithful readers - to this post by hilzoy about Palin's record as mayor of Wasilla as it regards to the town's policy of charging rape victims for exams. Here's a snippet:

This has already been reported around the blogosphere. It's abhorrent, especially when you note that as mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin had no problem raising money to build a sports center, but drew the line at paying for rape victims' forensic exams.

But there are two points that are worth underscoring. First, this would have been bad enough if it was just a matter of being decent to women who have been raped. But it's not. Unless the police catch the guy in the act, forensic exams provide some of the best evidence against a rapist. Not collecting this evidence means significantly lowering your chances of convicting the man who did it. That means that the people who pay for this idiotic policy are not just the rape victims whose tests are not done, but any women their rapists might go on to rape in the future. Not collecting the evidence that would put rapists behind bars means more rape victims in the future.

You'd think that $5,000 to $14,000 a year would be a small price to pay for putting violent sex offenders behind bars. Apparently, Sarah Palin disagrees.

I'm not going to call Palin's credentials as a feminist into question, mostly because I'm similarly wary of folks who aren't black trying to tell others who's black enough and who's not. (That means you, Toby Keith.)

But, honestly, for someone who describes herself as a feminist, this is a remarkable bit of political history. It's tough to accept that claim in light of this sort of evidence to the contrary. Continue Reading »

What's playing in my deck...

... Stevie Wonder edition.

I'm taking control of iTunes this morning because today feels like a Stevie day. And with a massive hurricane bearing down on my hometown and my folks insistent on setting their feet in the ground, I need something to ease my nerves. Stevie Wonder is almost always the answer in these sorts of situations:

1. Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)
2. Ribbon in the Sky
3. I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)
4. Pastime Paradise
5. Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thang

About No. 5, I hope I can trust you, Stevie. Continue Reading »

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Hit

For no real reason at all, here's a link to the hardest football hit that I've ever seen in my life.

Around Texas, we refer to it simply as "The Hit." And though as a TCU alum and former Horned Frog football scrub this video hurts me a bit, it doesn't hurt me anywhere near as much as it did Kyle McPherson. Continue Reading »

Mommy in Chief

The title of any upcoming biopic about GOP veep nominee Sarah Palin, according to one of the very, very witty commenters on postbourgie.

Here's a link to Matt Damon breaking down the relative merits of McCain's running mate.

Damon brings up a good point, something Charlie Gibson might want to ask during his sit down with Palin this evening: does she believe in dinosaurs? We need to know these things.

UPDATE: Building off that last point, here's a link to one of my favorite essays ever written - Idiot America by Charles Pierce. Needless to say, I have little patience for folks who believe in creationism or intelligent design. Continue Reading »

Seven years later

Matt Y just completed an all-star caliber morning of blogging over at his site but this post, in particular, really caught my attention:

If you’d told me on the morning of September 12 that seven years later the country would have gone without an additional al-Qaeda attack on US soil, I’m not sure I would have believed you. If you’d told me that more Americans wound wind up dying in Iraq than died in the World Trade Center, I’m almost positive I wouldn’t have believed you. And if you’d told me that seven years later Osama bin Laden would still be at large, I’m sure I wouldn’t have believed you.

Thinking back on the morning on 9-11-01, I'd have to whole-heartedly agree. Watching TV that morning in my small one-bedroom apartment in Dallas, I just assumed that we were on the cusp of a Third World War and nothing would ever be the same.

And, that morning, I accepted the prospect of more terrorist attacks as a consequence of living in America. It was going to happen, it was only a matter of when. Deadly surprise attacks were inevitable.

Obviously, we've been more fortunate than that. But to watch events unfold over the past seven years (seven, it's been that long) has been remarkable: Osama is still alive, we've come to accept airport intrusions as a fact of travel, and, yes, more Americans have died in Iraq than the World Trade Center.

Like Matt, 23-year-old Blackink wouldn't have believed it either. Continue Reading »

Black star power

I caught some of the "Late Show with David Letterman" last night, for the first time in a long time. A friend had to remind me that it was going to be a very special episode.

Barack Obama was the guest, followed near the very end, by LeBron James. It was amazing. Has there ever been a more star-studded lineup of guests than that?

I don't even think Arsenio could have put together a better guest list than that in his heyday. Continue Reading »

More on Football Jesus

That's my nickname for Vince Young, of course.

Anyhow, Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle offers his thoughts over the latest hubbub surrounding Vince.

I was ready to disagree with Jerome's assertion that Young is the most polarizing player in the NFL. But after thinking it over for a few minutes, I'm inclined to agree:

I know an NFL head coach who would quit if he had to put Young behind center every Sunday afternoon. And I know another NFL head coach who imagines all the spectacular things he could do with a dynamic athlete like Young running the show.

No, it's not that. The coach who doesn't like Young has had many black quarterbacks lead his team, while the one who loves what he sees in Young has cut every black QB he has ever had.

No, it's not that. One of the head coaches has never won anything. The other has been on multiple Super Bowl staffs.

I know a top NFL receiver who thinks his team would have made the playoffs in the past couple of years if Young were playing in his city, and another top NFL receiver who would holdout for a trade if Young became his quarterback.

Three years after the Titans bucked convention and chose Young with the third pick in the draft, there's still serious debate over whether he can become a premier NFL starting quarterback (this is an argument I had with friends the other day).

I say so, given that Vince has gifts that most other quarterbacks simply don't have. No, he'll never be a traditional quarterback in the efficient mold of Jeff Garcia or Drew Brees. But I'm willing to take that chance, realizing that I'll cause of hell of a lot more problems for your defense if my quarterback is the best running threat on the field.

I attribute some of Vince's early struggles to a few things: playing with a college offensive coordinator (Norm Chow) for the first couple years; changing OCs in the offseason; and playing with a corps of receivers that are, to be generous, not of NFL caliber. And despite that, he won 18 of his first 29 starts and led the Titans to a playoff berth despite playing in one of the NFL's toughest divisions.

So, I'm thinking he'll be fine, in time, and with some consistency and an improving supporting cast. Reports of his demise, to me, have been greatly exaggerated. Give him some time.
Continue Reading »

My cone of uncertainty

Having spent all of my formative years along the Gulf Coast, I've come to regard hurricane warnings as much a part of the summer as Kool cups and 90-degree nights.

But, at the moment, I'm very worried about Ike and its potential impact on Houston and the Texas coast. The storm is HUGE, smothering much of the Gulf and getting bigger by the minute.

I'm taking Ike seriously and I'm thinking of you this morning, Houston. Be safe.
Continue Reading »

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What's Beef?

This is beef.

While I don't agree with invoking the phrase "sellout" in any context, I've got to admit that Fat Joe probably hasn't said anything this worthwhile since "Jealous One's Envy." Glad to see he's up on game.

On another note, when John McCain accepted the endorsement of Daddy Yankee (pictured at right), do you think he had any clue that his most popular song is all about skeet?

UPDATE: How about a link to a classic Fat Joe-Big Pun joint? The hip-hop game really misses Pun, for real. Continue Reading »

Uppity all over again

If I told you another congressional candidate used the slur "uppity" again, what kind of person comes to mind?

Certainly, no one of high intelligence. Or nobility. Or someone remotely interested in righteousness. In fact, it's not tough to imagine this sort of person at all.

First and foremost, it's a Republican. But isn't it always?

8th District congressional candidate Rick Goddard, a challenger to U.S. Rep Jim Marshall, used the term on a Macon, Ga.,-based radio show only hours before U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland applied the slur to Barack and Michelle Obama. Goddard was referring to Ron Allen, a MSNBC reporter who had the temerity to ask Newt Gringich about the relative qualifications of Sarah Palin. Allen, somewhat obviously, is black - as are nearly all the people who are the target of this term.

But since Westmoreland feels it unnecessary to apologize, I can't imagine Goddard will feel much differently. In fact, they - and others of their ilk - might actually feel emboldened because they haven't been held accountable for their actions. Which is a problem, and not just for me.

Westmoreland and Goddard are running to represent districts that are heavily comprised of black residents - 40 percent and 33 percent, respectively. Can you imagine either of them feeling particularly responsive or responsible to those constituencies? Indeed, I fret for the future of the good folks of 3rd and 8th Districts. (What is it with Georgia, btw?)

And here is where I point the finger at the GOP. Shouldn't someone - anyone other than Bill O'Reilly - on the right side of the aisle be urging this Doofus Duo to show some contrition? Who's going to step up? Anyone?

Of course, there's one way to ensure Westmoreland and Goddard and their Republican cronies are mere footnotes - ugly ones - of this campaign season: vote.

UPDATE: On the "uppity" front, I anticipate that I'll have something interesting to post in the next day or so. Please stay tuned. Continue Reading »

Protecting the quarterback

Admittedly, I can never be partial when it comes to Vince Young. That's just my dude: he's from the southside of Houston, I covered him - briefly - during his senior year at Madison High School and he can ball in a way that I appreciate.

(As a brief aside, I saw the final game of Vince's prep career in the Class 5A state semifinals. He was absolutely bananas that night - threw for 400, ran for nearly 100, scored 6 touchdowns. If only his team could have mounted any defense; he had to come in at safety in the fourth quarter. That was the only time Madison stopped the opposition's offense. It still wasn't enough - Madison lost 48-42.)

Don't come to me with talk about his side-arm throwing motion, his Wunderlic score or his completion percentage in the NFL. I really don't want to hear it, ok?

But, for the moment, I'm really worried about Vince. This latest bit of turmoil in Nashville seems to be an ominous sign. There seems to be a lot more to the story than, simply, Young left his cell phone behind and was out of pocket for a couple of hours.

Like Richard Justice, I think Vince is struggling to deal with his first bit of on-field failure. But I disagree that, already, he's a flop. That's quite a leap, especially considering in his first two years he's been the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, a Pro Bowl alternate and has won 18 of his 29 starts.

Vince may indeed be depressed, something that his mother has suggested in recent interviews. If that's the case, I sincerely hope that he gets the professional help he needs. And I'm not talking about a new package of play-action passes.

* There may be something, too, to the thought that the University of Texas' football stars during the Mack Brown era have been encased in such a cocoon in Austin that it's tough for them to deal with the pressure and scrutiny of the NFL. Ricky Williams and Cedric Benson are a couple others who come to mind. Continue Reading »

More evidence of Republican bias against science

Via PostBourgie, a strong bit of scientific research - in the form of a pie chart - from Gerry Canavan about the fundamental partisan differences between Democrats and Republicans.
Continue Reading »

Adventures in campaign ads

New ad: McCain against teaching children how to protect themselves from sexual predators.

See how easy it is to muddy the waters? Continue Reading »

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Two-minute drill

No need to bore you all with an exhaustive rundown on my thoughts from the weekend of football. I'll just do this as quickly and as painlessly as possible:

1st Down: Like a finalist at the Player Hater's Ball, I wish nothing but ill on the New England Patriots. Except in this one notable instance. It's always better to beat the best, in this case the Pats, when they're at their best. And without Tom Brady, New England is suddenly just another team fighting for its spot in the postseason. That's not good for the Patroits, the league or anyone who truly cares about competition.

2nd Down: But on the bright side, it couldn't have happened to a better guy than Bill Belichick. Want to know his career record without Brady? 42-58. That's worse than guys like Wayne Fontes, Jerry Glanville, Norv Turner and Jim Haslett.

To put Belichick's career in perspective, remember this, from the Boston Herald:
In his first year as the Pats coach, he inherited a .500 team from Pete Carroll and promptly went 5-11. He began his second season 0-2 before Mo Lewis removed Drew Bledsoe from the picture, and Brady stepped onto the scene. The Pats won 100 of their next 127, including playoffs. All he did was transform them into arguably the greatest team in NFL history.

3rd Down: Did the Raiders practice at all during August? I mean, seriously: what's the point of training camp if you're going to poop your pants like that in the first game of the season? The same goes for the Lions, Rams and Texans.

4th Down: Let's not read so much in Aaron Rodgers' first game as starter, OK? The season is long and it's ultimately the truth. In fact, let's take that approach and apply it across the board - except in the aforementioned cases.

Turnover on downs: I really, really miss having the NFL Network. I'm such an idiot for not going with DirecTV.

UPDATE: Speaking of football, the "brothas" at Nation of Islam Sportsblog are back from their "European sabbatical."

In their first post in two months, they dust off the Negro Coach and QB Poll. Just browsing through the rankings, I might disagree with the absence of Miami, which has both a Negro Coach (Randy Shannon) and a Negro QB (freshman Jacory Harris) who plays regularly.

Either way, welcome back to the blogosphere. Or as-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. Continue Reading »

About grief and journalism

Because I'm still letting off some steam, I think this would be a great time to note that, as a professional journalist, it never, ever gets any easier to talk to the grieving relatives and friends of a dead child.

Trust me, I understand that it's extremely invasive and, in many respects, unspeakably rude. I wonder why or how anyone would ever entertain the idea of an interview with a reporter in the hours after a loved one has passed. I hope I would have the grace and patience to do it but I'm not completely sure.

I write this because I think sometimes people think that reporters are heartless androids, that we're pseudo-humans sent to their front doors to cause them anguish or exploit their pain. At least in my case, nothing could be further from the truth. If I never have to do that again, it'll be too soon. Continue Reading »

Terrible Tuesday

For a number of reasons, Tuesday was actually a pretty shitty day for The Kid. Thus, posting on this spot was unusually light - actually, nonexistent.

But after I have a serious - and short - session with some iron, I'll have a few thoughts about some things I wasn't able to comment on earlier in the day. I mean, it's almost egregious that a football fan like myself hasn't said anything - absolutely nothing - about our first full week of games.

So bear with me, please. Just gimme a few minutes while I punish this treadmill and the weight bench. Continue Reading »

Monday, September 8, 2008

The fall of a legend

Lost in the kickoff to the NFL season, Palin-mania and the VMAs was the death Sunday of legendary Texas-El Paso (known once as Texas Western College) hoops coach Don Haskins.

Haskins wasn't a legend merely because he won an NCAA title in 1966. No, Haskins was a legend and a pioneer and, to finally use the term correctly, a maverick, because of his decision to roll out a starting five of black players in the championship game that year against Kentucky.

Doesn't seem like such a big deal now. I mean, even the Boston Celtics look like the Harlem Globetrotters these days. But, 42 years ago, this was positively a slap in the face to those many, many proponents of Jim Crow. Keep in mind that some coaches, including Kentucky's Adolph Rupp, wouldn't even bother recruiting black players. And keep in mind that, even though El Paso is more southwestern than south, it was still in Texas.

That Haskins had the courage to challenge that sort of conventional thinking - even if it was ultimately to the benefit of his Hall of Fame career - speaks to a man well ahead of his time.

Even if Haskins never coached another game in his life, that would have been enough to make him a legend in these eyes. He will definitely be missed. Continue Reading »

Britney's big apology and other thoughts on the VMAs

Between the breaks in the highly entertaining Bears-Colts game last night, I flipped over to MTV to watch a few snippets of the Video Music Awards.

I probably would have been better off watching beer commercials.

Not to be a fuddy duddy and all but I think I'm no longer a member of MTV's target audience. I couldn't help but think about how out of touch and how conservative I've become in recent years.

But though the VMAs don't require much thinking, with apologies to Peter King, here's 10 Things I Think I Think about the show (links to come later):

1. I've got to believe the entire show was MTV's nationally televised apology to Britney Spears for allowing her to embarrass herself during last year's opening act. No way Spears deserved three "Moon Men" for any work she's done in the past year.

2. But she looked good. Good for her.

3. I just don't get Russell Brand. Is he supposed to be funny or something?

4. Not to mention, is it still cool to make fun of virgins? I thought we pretty much deaded all that in high school.

5. Maybe my age is starting to show but, man, Lil' Wayne, would it kill you to pull up your pants?

6. I think T-Pain looks like the pixie that sent Dave Chappelle to Africa. Seriously. Even Sambo would be ashamed.

7. I'm thinking Lindsay Lohan finally got her chance to meet Michael Phelps last night. I wonder how that all went down?

8. I'm becoming my father, in a way. Meaning that I'm almost completely unaware of the popular artists of today. Like, honestly, I could hit the Jonas Brothers with my car and not know who they were.

9. Maybe it was the suit, but Kanye looked a little like Medgar Evers last night.

10. And it's going to take some time but maybe, just maybe, I might like Kanye's new song "Love Lockdown." Sort of reminds me of the turn Andre 3000 made for "The Love Below."

Bonus: They should make Chris Brown perform, always, at the VMAs. Especially if he does things like this. That boy is good.

Continue Reading »

Time for hockey

Maybe I’m just piling on at this point. But I couldn’t resist sharing this line from Andrew Sullivan about Sarah Palin’s bob-and-weave in recent days with the national political press:
This is a pitbull with lipstick? More like a cowering chihuahua.

Sullivan also points out that Palin has gone longer than any veep nominee in recent memory without submitting to an interview of any sort. So, I guess I should apologize for earlier comparing the nomination of Palin to Dan Quayle; Quayle gave an interview one day after he was chosen by the elder Bush.

In the end, I just hope Charlie Gibson doesn’t back down. Now is not the time for softball. Let's see how much Palin really likes hockey. Continue Reading »

What's playing in my deck...

It's been a long while since I've dipped into the iTunes playlist. Today seems like as good a day as any to see what it could come up with:

1. On and On by Erykah Badu
2. Paper Planes by MIA
3. Black Disciples by Ernest Ranglin
4. Break My Heart by Common
5. Pon de River by Elephant Man

Monday, for whatever reason, feels good. Maybe because it's hard to be down during football season. Maybe it's because my political jones is being seriously satiated. Or maybe it's because fall is a time for lovers. I don't really know. But I ain't gonna fight the feeling.

More later. Peace. Continue Reading »

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Taking off those training wheels

It's good to see the Republican leaders have agreed to take off the training wheels for Gov. Palin. About time.

But when she finally sits down with ABC's Charlie Gibson, I hope Palin refrains from repeating the flat-out lies that she opposed earmarks and was against the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere." She should stop this. Pronto.

Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings breaks down the stakes of Palin, and others of her ilk, thwarting the political process with outright falsehoods:

When politicians lie -- and here I mean not just putting the best spin on things, but out and out lying -- they might as well walk up to each and every one of us and say: Hello! I have no respect for the value of your time! You might have other things to do -- work, playing with your kids, taking a long hike in the mountains, whatever -- but I don't care. I'm going to put you in a position where you're going to have to research everything I say, or else just give up on your civic duty. You don't get to assume that my words are, if not exactly true, at least somewhere in the general vicinity of the truth, and decide whether or not to vote for me. If you want to be an informed citizen, you'll have to become obsessive, like hilzoy.

They might as well add: I have no respect for democracy. In a democracy, citizens listen to what each side has to say and decide who to vote for. To work, it requires that what each side says bears some resemblance to the truth. If I cared about democracy, I'd respect those limits -- maybe stretching the truth every now and then, but generally maintaining some sort of relationship between what I say and reality. But guess what? I don't care about democracy! If winning requires that I make things up out of whole cloth and hope that I'm successful enough to frustrate the popular will, then that's what I'll do. Don't like it? Think democracy is a good system, one that we should cherish? That's just too bad.

Continue Reading »

Along "The River" and beyond

Well, to answer a question that I asked a few weeks ago, I think I've found at least one new artist committed to the art of R&B: Noel Gourdin.

Gourdin, to me, sounds a bit like a more-refined Eddie King, Jr. His first single, "The River," is something like the epilogue to the "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay," thus it was no surprise to learn Otis Redding was one of Gourdin's inspirations as a singer.

I'm a big fan music that comes from the chest, and hearing Gourdin reminds me of the best singer in your church choir. Or maybe the subject matter of "The River" captured my fancy, being that it's all about those things - the mighty Mississippi, the complex relationship with race, family gatherings after church - that make the South special to me.

(I'll note here that while listening to snippets of his album on iTunes the other night, the First Lady of False Hustle noted it seemed as if Gourdin used up all his best material for the "The River." And, yeah, his album was definitely a little uneven. It was also weird to learn that he was from Massachusetts.)

To expand on that thought, I have to say "The River" made me think about our societal shift away from rural communities to large metropolitan areas. That's sad, if only because I think there's some value in maintaining a connection with our country cousins. Most of my family comes from places like Pine Bluff, Ark., and Kerrville, Texas, which are mostly stopover towns on the highway to larger cities. But many of my enduring memories and lessons came from visits to my relatives in these out-of-the-way locales.

This isn't some silly conservative spiel about "real people" in "real places" but more a rumination about the things that keep us all grounded: the love of family; the friendliness of neighbors; the utter lack of pretension; the sense of connection with a community.

Trust me, I'm not giving it all up to move back to the country - I like to think of myself as "cosmopolitan" trending toward "uppity." But it'd be nice if my unborn sons (Denmark and Hannibal, are the preference if you were wondering) could have the same sort of experience as the generations of Blackinks that preceded them.

So, to close, big fan of "The River." See where good music can take you?
Continue Reading »

The NFL, in brief (sort of)

If you've learned anything about me over the past couple months, you'll know that I'm not into the precise or minor details. I'm into theories and large ideas. And this applies to my love of football as well.

So, I won't even venture to guess the records of any of the NFL teams this season. Who wants to be tied down to such specifics (this is partly why I've never done fantasy football? But I've got some general thoughts about each of the team, including a rough idea of where they might finish in their respective divisions. In a way, this is my NFL preview - short and sweet, not that I can't deny in a few months.

AFC East
1. New England - Seems obvious to write but it's hard to do better than 18-1. The Pats will be among the league's top five teams but they're losing their grip at the top. Also, I think their offense will be easier to figure out this season and their defense is a tad overrated - their back seven are pretty mediocre.
2. New York Jets - Adding Brett Favre to the mix can't hurt, and the Jets seem to be a well-coached unit. But the Jets don't really have anyone who jumps out at me on offense or defense. A pretty boring team.
3. Buffalo - Everyone keeps waiting for the Bills to get over the hump but, maybe, just maybe, it ain't gonna happen. The defense should certainly be improved - couldn't get much worse - but Trent Edwards ain't that dude at QB.
4. Miami - The Dolphins will be much improved, and to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if they get into the playoff mix. It's tough to bet against a Bill Parcells-led franchise. Chad Pennington and Ricky Williams certainly make them a better team.

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh - The Steelers could be a contender. But if their O-line issues aren't worked out, then I'm worried about Ben Roethlisberger making it through the season and that pretty much means no ball in January. The defense is beastly, though.
2. Cincinnati - All the hype about Ocho Cinco notwithstanding, the Bengals aren't as bad as people think they are. Cincy can still put some points on the board. Would be nice if they had a top-flight running back though. Chris Perry ain't gonna cut it.
3. Cleveland - I'm really not sold on the Browns, Derek Anderson, Jamal Lewis or their revamped defense. Cleveland is overhyped and in for a fall.
4. Baltimore - For the life of me, I don't have any idea how the Ravens are going to score any points. And the D is showing signs of leakage. Having a former special teams coach as your head coach sounds cute until the season actually starts.

AFC South
1. Indianapolis - I definitely think the Colts are playing possum. And I think Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning wouldn't have it any other way. Having Dwight Freeney back is a huge boost.
2. Jacksonville - Still don't think they have what it takes to dethrone the Colts. But the Jaguars are probably the team I'd pick if the NFL had sanctioned street fights. Jacksonville just beats the hell out of its opponents - that's why it was disappointing to watch the Jaguars play so soft in their playoff loss to the Pats last year.
3. Tennessee - I'm worried that Vince Young is going to have another career setback, having to learn another offense. And it'd be nice if the Titans got him someone to throw to. But the Titans are almost as physical as the Jags and one of the league's best coached teams. They'll always be a threat as long as Jeff Fisher is on the sideline.
4. Houston - The Texans are fooling people, ya'll. Houston is going to be terrible. What, exactly, is it that the Texans do well?

AFC West
1. San Diego - Much like my beloved Houston Oilers of the early 1990s, I wonder if the Chargers are snake-bitten. At some point, San Diego will come off the rails. It could be this year, especially since Norv Turner is involved. But the Chargers have enough overall talent to win this weak division.
2. Denver - This might be one of the worst Broncos offenses in years. Mark my words. On defense, as usual, Denver will struggle. Seems like the Broncs have reached a plateau.
3. Kansas City - Nah, not with Brodie Croyle they ain't. And I wonder if Larry Johnson, like Christian Okoye before him, has simply run into too many brick walls. Giving away Jared Allen can't help either.
4. Oakland - I still don't know what they hell they're doing out here but the Raiders, like they always are under Al Davis, should be fast. I've never thought JaMarcus Russell was going to be all that good. And the in-fighting between Davis and Lane Kiffin can't help: the Raiders are the Clippers of the NFL.

NFC East
1. Dallas - Lots to like about the Cowboys except their tendency to come up short in big moments. That locker room has got to be all sorts of crazy, too. But they've got the sort of outlaw talent up and down the roster Dallas had - and nourished - during its Triplets heyday of the '90s. 2. Philadelphia - If Donovan McNabb is truly healthy, the Eagles should be contenders once again. He'll need No. 1 pick DeSean Jackson to make a difference. And the Eagles are almost always solid on D under Jim Johnson.
3. New York Giants - Classic case of a Super Bowl hangover. And the loss of Osi Umenyiora is a huge blow. But I've got to think Eli Manning will ascend into one of the league's elite QBs. NY will be in the mix but not quite good enough to overtake Dallas or the Eagles.
4. Washington - I think Daniel Snyder will be looking for a new coach at the end of the year. Or, at the least, thinking about it. The Redskins look terrible. And I feel bad for Jason Campbell - the consistent inconsistency has to be stunting his growth.

NFC North
1. Minnesota - Eveyrone's chic pick to make a Super Bowl run. I'm not so sure, especially since Tarvaris Jackson is a huge part of the equation and Adrian Peterson runs so hard that he's bound to break down. But the Vikings have enough to be the class of this division.
2. Chicago - I think last year's dip was a fluke. Which doesn't mean I think the Bears are a good team. They can't be and have Kyle Orton at QB and Matt Forte at RB. But the D should be studly again, and that's enough for second place in the North.
3. Green Bay - The offseason debacle with Favre has made it unimaginably uncomfortable for Aaron Rodgers up there, I believe. I also think the Packers caught a lot of breaks last season. They're overrated in a way that the Browns were.
4. Detroit - The Lions could make the playoffs or stink all over again. Given their history under Matt Millen, I'll go with the latter.

NFC South
1. Carolina - At some point, the Panthers have to live up to everyone's expectations? Right? I think Carolina will be able to run the ball, throw somewhat efficiently and play some occasionally nasty D.
2. New Orleans - The Saints definitely have some talent on offense but they're still weak on the other side of the ball. And I don't care about what anyone says about Reggie Bush, the boy can't run the ball between the tackles.
3. Tampa Bay - Ugh. Not much to say about the Bucs. They're weak at all the skill positions and the O-line is pretty average. It's amazing Jon Gruden has skated by on this rep as an offensive guru for so long. I'm just not seeing it.
4. Atlanta - Lots of growing pains in store for the Falcons this season. But things can't get much worse for this franchise after last year's chaos. Also, Atlanta has to have some of the worst skill-position talent in the NFL this season.

NFC West
1. Seattle - Same old story: Seahawks win this division going away. But not good enough to make any real noise in the playoffs.
2. Arizona - On paper, the Cards seem to have all the tools necessary to finally shake their losing ways. But, of course, games ain't played on paper. And I see the Kurt Warner-Matt Leinart musical chairs game going on all season long. * Btw, I understand that Anquan Boldin wants to get paid. He's right. But, seriously, what has his individual success really meant for Arizona?
3. St. Louis - Things can't go as badly as they did last season, can they? The Rams ain't gonna scare anyone but they shouldn't be that terrible again. Hard to imagine that, with Marc Bulger, Torry Holt and Steven Jackson prominently involved.
4. San Francisco - J.T. O'Sullivan is the starting quarterback. And, really, nuff said.

And I'm only giving my Super Bowl pick: Indianapolis over Dallas. Don't hold me to this. Continue Reading »

Rooting for Stephen Camp and more about "uppity"

It seems that U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, born and raised in Georgia, wants us to believe he was totally oblivious that "uppity" might have any racial connotations. And I guess it's possible.

Maybe Westmoreland thinks we're as stupid as he seems to be, as evidenced by his infamous appearance on "The Colbert Report." Then again, I don't think I've ever heard the word "uppity" used as anything other than a slur.

More importantly, how does a guy like this make it into public office? I'm curious to know a little more about Georgia's third Congressional district. Westmoreland would be easy to write off as some fringe racist if not for the fact that about 40 percent of the people in his district are black.

Thus, I've become a huge fan of Stephen Camp, whoever he is. And if the residents of the Third have any sense, they'll make sure Westmoreland doesn't make it back to D.C.

Also, this has been linked at a couple of other places today, so why not here? Below is a comment to a blog item in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the "uppity" flap:

"This morning I called Westmoreland’s office:
Them: Good morning, Congressman Westmoreland’s office.
Me: Good morning, I would like to make a public comment.
Them: Yes, sir, what is your comment?
Me: I would like to compliment Congressman Westmoreland on his comments yesterday about Barack Obama. We need more people like him to call a spade a spade. You crackers in Georgia must be very proud.
Them: [long pause] Sir, there’s no need to be insulting.
Me: I’m sorry, but how did I insult you?
Them: There is no need to call me a cracker.
Me: I’ve never heard that term used in a derogatory sense. It is important to note that the dictionary definition of "cracker" is "a thin, crisp biscuit." That’s what we meant by cracker when we used it in the city where I grew up.
Them: Well, that’s not how you meant it.
Me: Oh, so what you’re saying is that you don’t like being called names. Now you know how it feels.
Them: [another long pause] Sir, I have to take another call."

Nice. Continue Reading »