Kenny Smith | blog

Sunday, January 31, 2010

January, be gone. We are done with you, sick of shivering. Bored with gray skies and miles of clouds. We are tired of a tiny sun and are waiting for the spring and glorious summer.

Also, it doesn't help that football is over and we're stuck with only baseball for a few long weeks before pitchers and catchers report. Even then I won't be pleased until I can see a few college baseball games.

A purist I am not, apparently, but I do like the occasional ping of ball on bat.

But on all of this, I digress. The first week of February draws close -- Meaning we've already wrung a month out of 2010, how'd that happen? -- and the temperatures will be four percent warmer on average. We will occasionally see white clouds and sunlight. And that groundhog, later this week, better find the seasonally appropriate response, no matter the union rules.

The days are getting longer, too. Oh happy, happy joy. Now bring back the crickets and the lightning bug and we'll be in business.

I finally started on the new Caprica series -- I will not ruin it for you. I have yet to watch The Plan -- please do not ruin it for me. But I worked my way through the two-hour series launch of Caprica and this past Friday's second episode.

There were not many preconceptions for me going into the series. I'd read that it was a departure, all planet-side, a bit more serial soap and telling the Cylon origin story. That's really all I knew, because I like to see the story unfold as they've crafted the thing. Surprise me and I'll call it a victory.

I had, however, a sudden qualm just as I started the pilot. Will I like this? Can I? If you wanted it to be the show you knew you might be in trouble. So I just figured I'd settle for compelling.

The one thing I read about the series, recently, during my studiously avoiding the topic, was that Caprica was intended to be a more light-hearted program. Only Ronald Moore could start with a teenage bomber blowing up a train and consider it light-hearted. But in his previous effort he destroyed 12 worlds before the first commercial break, so attitude is relative, even in a galaxy far, far away.

The show, then, is good. It makes me long for the days of fedoras. And, if they do return to fashion, the facial structure that would allow me to wear one well. Also I want a pleasant house manager/robot. We'd have conversations about all manner of inane things, not just the grocery list and who is at the door. I'd start us down a path of choosing a new thermostat design, let him pick one and then pick the opposite, just to hear his disinterested-yet-cheer agreement.

When he wasn't watching I'd sneak up behind him and make him ride me around on that monowheel. Other times I'd blindfold his optical array, just to see if he would panic.

Sometimes he would wear a sweatervest. Always he would smell of spiced pine cones.

But I digress.

We learn on Caprica that holographic distractions are a big hit. Blinking red, green and orange lights get you there. At Christmas time they get nothing done, but they are all very happy about it. Makes you appreciate of the old Dennis Miller observational humor.

Another day of trying to stay warm, trying to stay caught up with the duties of the school schedule and preparing for the week ahead. I listened to movies I've seen far too often while I read and pecked away at things. Sometimes working through it seems to take too long. I could go faster, but I'd understand it all less, I fear.

Last semester I padded out my Sundays by keeping track of all the things still remaining. Fortunately there aren't nearly as many assignments this semester as a whole. This week, though, I have two classes, one small written assignment and one interview to conduct. Nothing like the fall. (Thank God.)

I have a computer to shop for, a meeting to prepare for and two presentations to finish. There are other things to read and write and it is all very lovely, really, if you like the idea of that and enjoy what you're reading and writing.

So, yes, I'm lucky. Also, The Yankee is baking homemade cookies tonight. One can't ask for much more beyond that.

Except for a painless Monday, and sunshine, and a wonderful start to February and a million dollars.

Hey, as long as are listing things ...

Come back tomorrow for exclusive notes on social media, a great start to the week and much more!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In a last act of wintry defiance I refused to wear a jacket today. It never got above 37 with either a drizzle or dankly overcast skies all afternoon. I didn't go out much.

We did take The Yankee's car for a routine maintenance. This was a big one, there were two pages of inspections on the paperwork they gave her when she turned over the keys. She drives a Toyota, but there was no discussion of the gas pedal.

It doesn't seem to be a problem, always staying where she left it. May all of our pedals stay unsticky.

So instead of being cold outside I stayed chilly inside, pecking away at a pair of presentations I'm giving next week. Before long the car was ready -- those guys worked fast today -- and it was time to go pick up the car once again.

Late in the afternoon Wendy came over and we watched the end of the Alabama-Auburn basketball game:

Auburn won a nail-biting, consistently inconsistent struggle. That's the last time Alabama will play in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum, where Auburn has won five of the last six over the Tide. They'll beat them again next year in the new Auburn Arena.

So this particular weekend in the old building's final days has been a good one -- finally beating Georgia in gymnastics, keeping Alabama down one last time make for a great 24 hours. The old place is ready to be torn down, but it will be bittersweet. It has held sporting events and concerts and graduations and more for four decades. It was originally named in honor of Auburn's military veterans, and the honor was later extended to basketball coach Joel Eaves and athletic director Jeff Beard. (Shug Jordan is in that last picture as a bonus).

That's a half-century of local culture and influence in that one picture.

And here's to hoping the place stays with a simple name, preferably in honor of an Auburn notable, and not a sponsor.

We decided to have an impromptu Pie Day, because there's never a good time to turn down barbecue. Except maybe for this. Four pounds of sausage sounds like too much even for a big party.

At Pie Day we met one of Ward's best friends, a man who has the word Big preceding his first name. But Big undersells him. He's got to be over six-foot-six, built like a bouncer and has a handful of martial arts that he studies. He is a network administrator at Birmingham Southern College, and a nice guy. I ate way too much, and still managed to bring home leftovers.

I spent the evening working on this website, redesigning some of the subdirectories and moving a few things around. I added a few links to the front pages, rewrote the bio a bit, started building a presently very unfinished oral history section too.

I deleted -- actually removed a few old things -- to make some space. It is possible that this is the first thing I've deleted off the server in five years. Still have 30 percent of the space available, but I figured a lot of the old radio stuff could be archived off the site. I hadn't pointed anyone to it in years anyway.

And that's how it is going to be: If it hasn't been used it is getting offed. Oh it is being safely backed up in triplicate elsewhere, just in case, but as that is taking place I'm making a stern and determined face. This file knows I mean business. Now I just have to do something with the occasional 404 I find. But important things like that are second to the aesthetic for the personal site. I put in a new Twitter widget tonight at the top of the page, after all.

Tomorrow: more cold, more work, more studying. Not a bad way to spend the day, but I may wear a jacket.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dreary and cold day. Fridays shouldn't behave like this, even in January. But this is the month's last effort, and it is not going out without a fight. Overcast and barely 41 today, dreary and dipping into the 20s tomorrow night, clear and cold Sunday.

We'll hang our hats on the clear. February begins Monday and we'll start with highs in the 50s. It is to early to call it a season, but we're slowly plodding with cold and numb extremities toward spring.

Had a meeting today with the good folks at where I introduced the Crimson's web editor to the producers there. Hung out with Brian and Matt and Bob, who is the new director of content at, (he is the former internet editor at The Birmingham News).

We're going to do cool things together very soon. It was great to see the enthusiasm in the conversation, particularly on the part of our ambitious web editor. More on all that in a few weeks.

After the meeting Brian and I visited Okafes, the downstairs coffee shop. (That coffee roaster on the front page is the one they have in the place, very cool.) It was being built when I left in 2008 and has become a big hit for the local businesses.

We've decided to turn the place into a Friday evening meeting place. Brad joined us, as did Elizabeth and The Yankee. There were a lot of URLs represented sitting around that table. We'll be back next week.

Kirk, one of the co-owners asked us to bring all our friends. So come join us, won't you?

The Yankee and I had Brian and Elizabeth over to the house this evening. She made a delicious lasagna. They brought a delicious pie -- in keeping with the Pie Day theme -- and ice cream for the a la mode.

And just when I began washing dishes they received a phone call. A neighbor was on the other end to say their dog had broken free. It seems their golden retriever has learned how to pop the gate. Terror in the subdivision!

She's a pushover, that dog, but one that could now get free. So they left to tend the animal, The Yankee and I sat on the sofa and are reading -- and writing -- the night away. Lovely evening.

Hope yours was even better!

War Eagle: The gymnasts beat five-time defending national champion Georgia tonight. Wasn't even close.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Memos to the left of me, Emails to the right, here I am slicing through administrivia again. I daydreamed of a course I'd like to teach, writing the course description for an entrepreneurial journalism class. Later I'll have to write a syllabus for that class. These are assignments in my pedagogy course. One day, though, I'll pitch teaching them.

Samford has a great entrepreneurial program, it would only make sense to put the two things together.

Today was a day of journalistic navel-gazing. The professor of my future of journalism class asked for a list and brief description of the difficulties presently facing the business. I jotted down six pages of notes without thinking too hard about it. (And I fall in the optimism camp.)

Before that class this evening I vowed not to discuss the iPad. A classmate asked a direct and thoughtful question about it, so I didn't mention it by name.

But I see the thing as a potential flop.

I missed a lot of the realtime reaction, but a lot of the big Apple fans I know were underwhelmed. As someone wrote on Twitter, magnify the iPhone to 500%, turn off the phone and you have an iPad. At the end of the day there's no camera, no flash, no ports, no phone, a big price tag, too big for your pocket and a big service plan.

The iPad is a transition device. It might help a few newspapers for a while, but I doubt seriously that it is a savior of journalism or a slayer of books. It could be good in schools -- who needs textbooks anyway? -- but it would be a much better educational tool if one could multitask with it. Otherwise it looks like a toy Apple will market to people with disposable income, and I can't imagine that niche grows larger the higher you set the pricepoint.

So we sat in that class tonight discussing the problems of journalism, and had a nice conversation about news brands. Newspapers, and television for that matter, have been understandably intent on preserving their distribution model. I'm more and more convinced every time I have this conversation that the service of journalism is the thing and the method we deliver it is secondary. Jeff Jarvis says it
best, but the journalism we practice is the service, not the paper or the airwaves through which we deliver it. Newsrooms are simply news and community outlets, and the medium is secondary. Now we just have to monetize it, of course.

Here's a cool frontpage design where the Philadelphia Daily News, featuring the iPad dramatizing the State of the Union address.

Editorializing aside -- Steve Jobs didn't put Obama on the thing in his unveiling -- it is an interesting tale. The Daily News is looking for Obama to be transformative. They also are reporting what is being said on Twitter about the Apple toy. The mainstream media has become more responsive to Twitter than any other tool we've seen thus far. It is an interesting phenomenon.

Here's the eyebrow story of the day:
The Obama administration stunned New York's delegation Thursday, dropping the bombshell news that it does not support funding the 9/11 health bill.


(T)he legislators were floored to learn the Democratic administration does not want to deliver for the tens of thousands of people who sacrificed after 9/11, and the untold numbers now getting sick.

"I was stunned — and very disappointed," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who like most of the other legislators had expected more of a discussion on how to more forward.

"To say the least, I was flabbergasted," said Staten Island Rep. Mike McMahon.


"(Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius) made it clear that the administration does not support any kind of funding mechanism that goes into the bill," said Bronx Rep. Eliot Engel. "I think it's fiscal restraint… but you know what? They find money for everything else, they need to find money for this," Engel said.
Because of that doesn't make you raise an eyebrow I've got my work cut out for me. At this writing, the poll attached to the story has 74 percent in disagreement with the administration's position. It likely won't get any more popular with time.

I'm out of time for the day, but I promised to share a bit of road with you. I was talking, yesterday, of Interstate 20/59, but the fast one has been pulled. Instead this is a bit of a AL-157 in the northwest corner of the state. I shot this video earlier this month. I'll post the 20/59 video soon. It is a bit longer and I'm not happy with the "music" I'm "creating."

This, for instance, might play a bit ominous, but so is traveling under a bright orange sun on a cold January day. Welcome to Nowhere, Alabama.

Remember, it isn't art. It is an excuse to play with Garageband. I'm hardly a musician (of any sort), it might fun to tinker with from time to time.

Ready for Friday? Have a happy one!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

And now, a simple study in light.



It seems I've been inside, or in the car or a parking lot, all day. This happens. Wednesdays are taxing. But in a good wouldn't-trade-it-for-anything way. And also in the after-15-or-16-hours-I'm-spent way.

Pedagogy class met this morning. We asked questions, the professor gives answers. We tell war stories, she gives us advice. It is a nice place to be. For the class I'll have to write, among other things, a syllabus for a dream class and my teaching philosophy.

I did that part last semester. The previous professor didn't bother to explain the teaching philosophy, or share an example, she just made it an assignment and then graded it. I'm sure we all learned a lot from that experience.

The class this morning, however, as I've said before, is taught by perhaps the best professor in the program. We will, in fact, learn something from these experiences.

Had lunch with The Yankee. We seldom have the chance to do that during the week, but sometimes the stars line up on Wednesdays this semester. We visited Newks.

I ordered the barbecue chicken pizza and immediately had buyer's remorse when I saw the limited time only Thai chicken pizza. Why must something that sounds so crazy and randomly nonsensical be offered for only a limited time. Perhaps it could be for a moderate time, but then they couldn't use the word "only" and that's the power word in the expression. Limited time. Only. Get it now because it is only going to be here a while.

It is a fool's errand to look on the bottom of the promotional literature for an expiration date in fine print. Oh, sure, it'd be nice if they included it, but that might change the ordering process. "I was going to try the Thai pizza, but I see here that it will be available for a moderate amount of time, until St. Patrick's Day, so I'll go with the Turkey BLT and try the pizza when I come back another time."

Instead, I've no way of knowing the duration of the arbitrarily assigned period of time. I may or may not be back to try again.

Spent the afternoon reading and writing and putting together that handsome photo experiment above. Class tonight was on qualitative research. I'm in a room full of people who really know their stuff and I am following along. We spend a lot of time wrapped up in theoretical underpinnings, which is useful. We exchanged ideas on the various topics the classmates are pursuing and they are all very interesting ideas. Mine are the same old, same old, centered around one journalism thing or another. I'll have yet another one of those tomorrow.

We had dinner tonight with one of our professors in one of the slightly less questionable Mexican restaurants in Tuscaloosa. Nice people there. I walked in 10 minutes before they closed the kitchen and they still made my dinner. We closed the place down, but they were willing to sit there and let us talk. It was a nice time.

But it made for a long day and a late night. And I must be back down there tomorrow. After more than a year of classes (time flies when you're doing two things at once) I know that stretch of road well. I must share some of it with you.

Maybe I can do that tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Two lessons in instant karma today. One involved some silly little thing this morning that has already been forgotten. I played some harmless little joke on The Yankee (so inconsequential was the effort that the details are already forgotten) and three seconds later I fell I received my reward.

I'm very cold in the mornings anyway, no matter the season, and in the winter it means I'm slow to get out of bed because it is warm and everything else is intolerable. So karma told me to not pick on others, lest you fall face first into the tile.

A bit later in the morning I went out of my way to let the older gentleman in the next car over merge from his part of the parking lot into the general flow of things. I waited, waited for traffic to clear, motioned to him again and finally he pulled into his previously indicated direction of traffic he was in front of me.

It was then that I realized his car carried a Purple Heart tag on the back bumper.

I don't know who he is, but it doesn't matter too much. If it was you, or your grandfather, or someone you know, thank the appropriate person on general principle.

Those tags should also be on the front bumper, just the big Purple Heart. My guess is they'd get to merge into traffic easier.

My second class met today, it was another introduction day, more getting-to-know-yous, more explaining the syllabus, more mixed reactions to the workload and two bits of trivia:
Some place north of the city, in a town called Warrior there is another claim at the universe's best barbecue.

All of the world's Dippin' Dots are made in Paducah, KY.
We might disagree about which of these is most important, but Warrior is closer, and I'm a fan of barbecue. Dippin' Dots are a lower priority. They've been calling themselves the ice cream of the future for so long that I've begun to look at them as the flying car of the past: Never going to materialize and quick to melt on a hot afternoon.

I spent much of the evening working on a presentation I'm giving next week. So far I have about 20 minutes of material. Now if I can only find another handful of ideas I'll be on to something.

Reading that makes me laugh at the struggles of the first speech I ever gave. My mother helped write it -- consequently improving its quality at least 17 percent -- and it seemed such an improbable chore to find and memorize five-to-seven minutes of information.

"Look Ma! No hands and long-winded!"

Rather than entertain you with the joys of Powerpoint, I'll share a few links. I'm predicting this to be a big hit in economics classes next fall:

John Maynard Keynes makes it rain. And if that isn't enough, Bernard Bernanke & Tim Geithner make an appearance as well. Pretty catchy stuff.

Disturbing newspaper news of the day: Newsday has 35 subscriptions to their paywall:
The web site redesign and relaunch cost the Dolans $4 million, according to Mr. Jimenez. With those 35 people, they've grossed about $9,000.

In that time, without question, web traffic has begun to plummet, and, certainly, advertising will follow as well.
The reporter (and the commentors) quickly turned this into a cautionary tale for the New York Times, which is about to go behind a metered pay wall. They'll have more than 35 subscribers, but nothing like they hope for. More will come out on this in the near future, I'd bet, but there's little to no good news in this.

More distressingly, if you look into the comments of that story when you get to the "topical digression" (trademark, me, just now) becomes one of an ideological bent. Glenn Beck's name is cited at least twice. "Crazy leftist journalists" are cited. The election of Sen. Brown (R-Mass.) is brought up. Everywhere you look the CNN-MSNBC-Fox News rages these days.

Speaking of comments, someone recently asked why they aren't open here. I've toyed with the idea off and on. I'd like them, but don't want to spend the extra time policing them. I'd be disappointed when no one commented, or when only one person commented. And then, there's the primer in blog commentary. There are 1,100 comments on that 2006 piece now. Take 30 seconds to read the first 15 and you'll see plenty.

Closer to home, Auburn man, Marine and Montevallo professor Eugene Sledge's story is featured in the new HBO epic, The Pacific. He fought at Peleliu and Okinawa. Doesn't get any more horrid than that.

Here's the eyebrow story of the day:
"I've been doing that with this White House, and they just don't seem to give it any credibility at all," (Retiring Rep. Marion) Berry (D-Ark.) said. "They just kept telling us how good it was going to be. The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, 'Well, the big difference here and in '94 was you've got me.' We're going to see how much difference that makes now."
If there's any truth to that quote, and if anyone is still with the Clintons, this could get personal, quickly.

Look at the picture, but read the second block of text only if you have a supremely strong stomach.

That may make Charlie Davies the new $6 million dollar man, but such glory, as Bonaparte and Patton taught us, is fleeting. That noise Lee Majors hears is not the bionic sound effect, but feedback from his hearing aid commercial. That's painful to see.

Tomorrow: Taking classes, and some random fun thing that will make the day's blog post worthwhile. Come back to find out, and have a great time until then.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Classes started today at Samford. Most schools have been back for a week or two, but Samford runs a January accelerated term, pushing back the spring semester until today. Our department had no offerings during Janterm, so we had a few extra days to consider the spring.

I'm teaching in two sections of the same class this semester, a class called Mass Media Practices, where we take the freshmen and sophomores and start corrupting them encouraging them to take part at the paper, the yearbook, the radio station, the magazine or the television station as early as possible. We're building resumes, exposing them to various media approaches, taking field trips and making the students lead the way.

The class that met today could be a good one. Lots of bright eyes in the room, many of them actually leaned in the assignments of the semester were discussed. Everyone seemed on board. They could be excited by the prospect or it could be that they are just for school after taking a nice, long break. We'll see.

In other work news I learned today that I'll be taking a conference trip soon. That's today's something exciting on the horizon. That also makes three conferences for me this term. Good thing we bought new overnight bags during the Christmas break.

In even better news -- seriously, lean forward and pay attention -- The Yankee submitted her dissertation this morning. She's done!


Or almost done.

It works like this: Two weeks from now she has the big dissertation defense meeting with her committee. This is the one where we all become overstressed by what these five kindly people will say and how that dictates our lives or, at the minimum, the next few days.

What really happens is that they read her dissertation between now and then and try to identify the problems, flaws and omissions. After the meeting she will correct, smooth and add the things they discussed. This corrected version of the dissertation then goes to the grad school. When they sign off on it she is done!

Seems like just the other day she moved back to Birmingham from Atlanta to start in the program at Alabama. She started in the fall of 2007 and time has flown by since then. Since then I've moved to my wonderful job at Samford, I started doing doctoral work, we've gotten married, have traveled all over to various conferences and more. Time flies when you're too busy to notice.

Now we tell each other jokes like this.

I remember, in undergrad, thinking that all of my professors had the worst jokes. Now, in the second year of my own doctoral studies, I understand how that happens.

Trust me, Future Students, my jokes once were funny. But I was never as cool as you are.

I occasionally throw a bit of politics in here, and sometimes dabble in a bit of journalism or news. Here's one that combines the two, from the Columbia Journalism Review:
Whatever Tim Geithner's New York Fed was trying to hide in the AIG backdoor bailout was so volatile it was deemed worthy of national-security-like classification, and the Fed reacted to media FOIA requests for information by withholding more information.
Of course this, being from CJR, is viewing the story as a note for journalists. The CJR is incredibly niche, but we're all taxpayers and many of you have had our fill. I don't mind stirring the pot a little.

I try to not get too overbearing with the journalism and politics stuff here because, let's be honest, you come for the cats, the nostalgia and the Auburn stuff. (Or you're looking for the TNT analyst of the same name. And there's one guy that's been looking for a comedian with the same name for years. I'm not him, but thanks for all the hits!) If you're not here for those reasons then I'd like you to let me know what brings you back, I have no problem pandering.

Speaking of stirring the pot, here's the eyebrow story of the day:
School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the "sexually graphic" entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus. The dictionaries were initially purchased a few years ago for fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms districtwide, according to a memo to the superintendent.
Read on to see the inflammatory thing a student "stumbled across."

Apparently the school district, having heard they might have overreacted to the removal of an educational tool, is reconsidering.

This is only happening because Jack Bauer is on the east coast this season. I bring that up because he's on television tonight in this, 24's hour of driving. It seems that he has become soft and the former FBI agent has become a terrible scourge on suspiciously sketchy gentlemen with probationary wrist decorations.

(For the past week I've walked by people who looked like off-kilter FBI agents with my thumbs tucked tightly under my fingers.)

As usual, the story is scarcely believable. As usual there is a mole, external forces warping otherwise decent individuals, randomly inserted crime bosses used as plot twists and the horrible subplots with no traction.

Without spoiling anything, then, I can only say that Jack didn't off anyone -- SAG rules say he has to take a break every so often -- and no one is sure why Starbuck is taking all this grief from some old boyfriend. She's Starbuck! Swift delivery of instep to tukis is called for here. Seriously, when he did the thing that he did tonight I realized that what Brannon Braga and this show lack in comparison to Ron Moore and company -- the ability to write interesting, strong women. Because Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck breaks his digits right there in the living room.

Also, did you notice that the newly introduced bad guy is also from Battlestar? Here's to hoping that Callum Keith Rennie and Sackoff get a scene together, somehow. Probably when the bad guy reveals that he has a mole inside CTU, the land of endless plotholes and security flaws, and they meet face-to-face in a dimly lit, ominous sounding corridor. Maybe she can throw him out of another airlock.

And if we're taking requests for other crossovers I vote for Grace Park or Michael Hogan.

Five paragraphs on 24 and I didn't even really spoil anything. That could be a personal best.

Tomorrow, another class, studying, work, writing and I'll try and make it all sound entertaining (for a change) when you read about it here.

Have a lovely Tuesday!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Did I promise poetry yesterday? Did I really do that? I must have been in a rare state of happy, sappy, nostalgic bliss. And on a household chore, of all things? No wonder readership around here is soaring. Very well then.

Give me a moment to think.



The passage of time.



Aha! I have one!
Oh dishes, your spots have been slain.

Clothes, you are drying.

Why must you all get dirty again?

Why must you be so trying?
Brevity being the soul of wit, this poem is at least one verse too long. I'll work on punching it up.

On the other hand, it is a good sign, that these little duties must be repeated. I'm eating. I have clothes and the wherewithal to need them on a daily basis. I take it back:
More dishes are needed for the drain!

Clothes need to be cleaned (but please do not stain)!
I promise I will never write poetry again.

I clashed my cultures today, watching American playoff football I discovered the official theme song to the upcoming World Cup. I'm not sure about the song -- it just isn't sticking to me yet, but the people in the video have an infectious feel.

And this works for the highlight packages, the scored goals and the celebration. It does not work for the keeper yelling at his defenders. It does not work if someone pulls a Zinedine Zidan and headbutts someone. (He is tied for the career lead in most cards. Did not know that until just now.)

Speaking of cards, the theme won't work so well if there's a repeat of the Battle of Nuremberg. Valentin Ivanov is retired now, Wikipedia tells us, but his memory lives on.

As we watched that game in 2006 I turned to The Yankee, who by then had given in to watching most of the Cup with me, and said that this would be the answer to a trivia question one day. I did not have this post mind when I said that.

We were sitting at her place in Atlanta, she was teaching at one of the colleges over there at the time. That might have been the weekend that the starter in my car died, stranding me from work, but allowing me to watch more Cup action. It was a very expensive excuse to watch more soccer, but I digress.

Ivanov's card hand going up with the rhythm of that song would not keep us forever young as the song wished, but probably would age the people of the two great nations involved in the game.

Also old, how about that Brett Favre? Man is he old! And, also, able to do something you or I can't do. And I'm not talking about throwing the football on a semi-successful basis, but rather his ability to retire for a third time from the same career.

(One more Brett Favre thing: When he was at Southern Miss the Golden Eagles actually beat Auburn, by one point. Now, Auburn fans have their revenge. Note the third video on this page. Somehow Auburn lost to USM sans Favre the next year as well, again by one maddening point.)

I'll look at this as a passing of the torch, Brett Favre passed it and the Saints intercepted it, ran to Miami and gave it to Drew Brees. Meanwhile the Jets were hoping for similar magic, but Peyton Manning does things you or I can't do. And I'm not talking about throwing the football on a semi-successful basis, but rather his ability to make funny commercials. How's that feel, Donnie?

We're trying to catch up a bit on the TiVo tonight. There's loads of everything on there to watch. We'll try to make our way through a few episodes of Cheers this evening. Already we've seen this classic scene:

Good advice for all involved. Have a great start to the week!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Yankee is finishing up her dissertation. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and she can discuss, at great length, the wattage of the light because she can peer directly into the filament, so close is she.

So all of this morning and the early afternoon was devoted to this process.

To be the spouse or close family members of someone undergoing such a task is to take on the role of understanding. It is a lot. It can be stressful and all-consuming. The person needs space and time free from other petty concerns of the day to focus wholly on the matter at hand. There are, as in every thing in life, a great many ups and downs, ebbs and flows of productivity. This is being supportive: present when necessary, helpful when called upon and absent the rest of the time.

Today was one of those days that my role was to stay out of the way. The Yankee busily worked away upstairs, I stayed downstairs, quiet as a mouse, entertaining the cats (so they, too, would be quiet as that thing with which they'd have no idea what to do if the need arose) and worrying over studies of my own.

For, you see, I'll soon be walking down this same road of dissertative bliss. I'm going to bug The Yankee far more than she did me. I might whine about it a little too.

So she worked, I studied, petted and stared. I worked on a few things for work that my boss has asked me for, I considered the conversation a professor and I had last night over dinner at Newks. I edited pictures. There were a lot of little things.

Normally my To Do Lists are conquered by an overwhelming frontal assault. Right now I seem to be nibbling at the edges of everything. It is a bit unnerving as the progress is useful, but tangibly feels slow-going.

I also watched last nights, last ever Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. I didn't see a lot of his seven months in that spot, but I'm glad to see that it had the same feel as his old show. I love that, and it lends itself to a devotion of a certain kind of audience. That said, it was hard to see it as The Tonight Show. And by Tonight Show I mean "with Johnny Carson" because if you can ever be in a holding pattern for 17 years, that pattern is Jay Leno.

The jokes at NBC were great, and have been riddled with anger and good-nature throughout this ordeal. It has been interesting, I imagine, to keep track of who has sided with whom in this arrangement. It seems everyone likes O'Brien, blames Leno or NBC and finds the executives to be unimaginatively bad at their jobs. Perhaps not, but I can't see them as unimaginatively good, either. The one constant is Leno, he was also in the eye of the Letterman storm -- and his reaction has been interesting, despite not having watched him for almost a decade he seemed far more engaged and human than he had in ages -- so maybe that is where the ire originates, but it doesn't much matter. While he can't buy ratings in primetime, Leno was mysteriously golden in the Tonight Show slot.

Anyway, my favorite bit of the show was the "Characters that aren't so much funny as they are crazy expensive." The Bugatti Veyron dressed as a mouse with the original master recording of the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction, the Kentucky Derby winning horse dressed in a mink Snuggie watching prohibitively expensive NFL Network footage and last night's fossilized animal (purchased from the Smithsonian) that sprayed Beluga caviar on an original Picasso were all brilliant.

Snuggie shows up as a word that might be a misspelling in the text editor. Someone should write a patch for that considering how often those things have been mentioned in blogs.

But I digress. Don't feel bad for NBC, they have interest in their programming again. Leno will be back where he can succeed. Conan will be on a new network, promoted, no doubt, months in advance of the expiration of his non-compete. Also, he has millions.

This is the best, of all, though. I choose to think of that as the end of the Conan O'Brien era on NBC, not the train wreck that was the Will Ferrell "performance."

We had a party with The McAlisters today. Their daughter turned seven two weeks ago and this somehow became the unofficial celebration owing to various logistics. We arrived late because of the dissertation, but made it in time for cake and to help clean up.

I love their families. One set of grandparents comes down from Huntsville, the other comes over from south Georgia and the birthday girl's godmother comes from Atlanta. Walking into the back door of the church during the party to see them all is like that first through-the-door initial rush of getting home for Christmas. They are all so lively and wonderfully happy and happy to see us. I'm not sure how we became part of the family, but I'm grateful we made the list.

That gets us invited to the after party, which was a belated Pie Day -- where no one actually ate pie for once. But we had a great time with the barbecue. Our family status also extends to the after-afterparty, which sees us sitting around, telling stories. One side of the family are in recent-cruise mode and are happily sharing their tales.

We talk of childhood and parenthood and beyond. We talk of things close and distant, and laugh a lot. They so readily share their triumphs and tragedy that you really feel a part of the family, only the part that realizes that you can still overstay your welcome too late into the night.

So we leave, but it is a sad parting. They are lovely, lovely people and it will feel as if too much time has passed before we seem them again. Their adult children are our friends -- they are terrific friends -- and it isn't hard to see how they came to be such wonderful people themselves.

Also, Taylor cleaned up on birthday presents, but the Nintendo DS is still the big winner, by far.

Tomorrow, a little studying, a little football, I've been threatened by a grocery store run. I'll likely do something domestic. If the mood strikes I could write a poem about it. You'll rush back for that, I know.

One more time, listen to what Conan said.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Alabama handily defeated Arkansas 197.450-195.500 to stay perfect on the season. You get the impression they are getting better and better and that no one wants to face them just now.

Morgan Dennis, pictured above, had a career-high 9.975 to win the vault, won the floor with a 9.9 and claimed the all-around with 39.675, just .050 off her career-best score.

There are a few more pictures in the photo gallery. Go check 'em out.

The folks sitting on the sofa won the "Best Seat in the House" contest. They get that view all night and a 42-inch television. You take the sofa, I'll take the flat screen. Where do I sign up?

Busy, full day on both campuses. Meetings with lots of people, getting ready for the start of the semester next week. Had dinner with one of my professors, the gym meet and more.

Now it is late, a bit more detail tomorrow, then.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Someone found my site by Googling "plagiarism anecdotes." I'm disturbed to be on the first page of results, but one must remember that the return was telling about the favorite tale of plagiarism I've heard from a professor. I can't go into it here, lest I plagiarize myself (Yes, you can do that, though perhaps technically not on your own site since you are the publisher both times.) I'll just link to the original post from last summer.

I've now heard that story from a few different people now, which boggles the mind. If you're going to steal the original thoughts and efforts of other people at least be a little more original about it. (Better to just not do it.)

Today I've studied, worked, wrote Emails, washed dishes, helped The Yankee with some research, worked on an online project, worked on a project for this site ... it doesn't sound like a lot in a brief litany, but these are the little afternoon showers of life that keep the rainfall totals looking respectable in between the big storms.

From now on all of my metaphors will be of a meteorological nature. I've only just now been hit, as if by a thundergust, by this idea.

So I read for school, most of it stuff that must be trudged through, but not necessarily worth enjoying. As always, I find the literature on theory interesting, but written in an unnecessarily dense fashion. When these books -- I have a large molehill forming -- get to more practical applications then perhaps the reading will be better.

I wrote work Emails about work. I might have even written an Email about Email. I'm not sure. Sometimes these things get out of control. I did write an Email about not letting things get out of control, but that was in the early going, when I could still be held responsible for the Emails. After a while, when your eyes get twitchy, no one can look askance upon you for slightly out-of-control Emails.

This is my stance, and I'm sticking with it. In fact, I might add it to the sig file.

I washed dishes. I do this enough now to have a good system, but when I demonstrated it at my grandmothers recently she was hardly impressed. She's done this all her life. All of your little dish washing systems have come and gone. She's still there, with her cloth rag, her soap and dish strainer.

In my life she's had at least three dish strainers, meaning she's ruined or worn down two of them. How many dishes must you clean to wear out molded plastic? How many meals have you prepared for family and friends? Sometimes, I imagine, that's a warm nostalgic feeling. Other times it could be a little too much to contemplate. The woman always seems to be in the kitchen, and when I visit I try to not look as if I take it for granted, which is one reason to wash the dishes. Another reason is to show off a new dish washing system. One day I'll come up with something that will leave her in awe and wonder.

For The Yankee I helped track down a six-year-old New York Times column. At first I set out looking for the scholarly journals, but we realized the highly desired source came from the popular press. After a few minutes I realized that the author's name was wrong. An F should have really been an R. Suddenly, there it was. My Googlefu is strong.

I'm building a new section of this site. As usually happens when I try to do it all at once I make great progress, find many flaws and spend a great deal of time trying to fix them. Spend enough time and you start disliking the design. Now I must take a few days away from it to prevent burnout. And also I have to figure out a solution to the internal pages. That's another dilemma I always seem to stumble into.

These are the problems of my life. They are few and insignificant and I am grateful.

Tomorrow I'll be on campus, and then I'll be on the other campus and then who knows. Well, you'll know, tomorrow. Maybe you can Google it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesdays are long, trying, rewarding days. They are also long. There is a lot dropped into them, not necessarily crammed, but rather placed with a bit of room around each edge; there is room for this because Wednesdays are long.

And somewhere around 6 p.m. you begin to think "This day could be all the shorter if we just took the 'D' out of it. No one pronounces it anyway. Removing that would make this a 23 hour day, and perhaps only leave 52 minutes in an hour, thereby getting me home and asleep even earlier."

No other day has such extraneous letters. You could make a case for Tuesday, but Tuesdays are wonderful days in that they are Not Monday and feel like the notion of Friday afternoon isn't that impossible. Achievable, even, if all of that Wednesday wasn't in the way.

But it was a beautifully warm day. We've been due a long series of those. Rain was in the forecast and in the afternoon the skies turned dark and ominous, but gave up only a good earnest sprinkling and not a really determined storm.

Pedagogy this morning. The professor answered questions and asked questions and we'll soon be doing the heavy mental lifting of the class. We are to write a syllabus for the dream course -- I have that in mind -- and a teaching philosophy. We had to do that for a class last semester too. This professor, who is great, will devote some time to helping us develop the intricacies of such things.

I had a meeting with my methods professor from last semester. He is not on my committee, but was kind enough to spend a few minutes discussing ideas from my paper in his class. This is important because that paper will go on to become my dissertation proposal. If my committee chair approves of some of the things we talked about today then my dissertation will be much stronger.

Find smart people, really smart people, and ask them lots of questions over and over until you understand their answers, that's what I always say.

Lunch at Rama Jamas, where Andrew, The Yankee and I solved the leading domestic troubles of the day. I'm not sure they appreciated the tongue-in-cheek nature of my new tax structure, but we did fix health care and education, so at least there is that.

A few hours of studying, and then an hour speaking to The Yankee's broadcast students where I extolled the virtues of the broadcasting business and told them the reasons why you could love it and why you should love it if you go into the field. I told them those things first because I then told them about my first job (which was actually four jobs).

My schedule back then worked like this: Mondays through Thursdays I worked from 5:40 in the morning until 9 a.m. doing traffic. After that I worked at a music station (where I confirmed my suspicion that I was not a good music jock) from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. I took a break until 3, at which point I did newscasts on one of the local talk stations until 6 p.m.

On Fridays the schedule would grow, leaving the newscasts to announce a UAB soccer game or volleyball game. I'd leave there at nine to help do a three-hour statewide high school scoreboard show. By midnight I was punchy. The next morning I'd be back at the music station doing another four or six hour shift. There was music on Sunday and the occasional UAB game on Tuesday nights or on the weekends. I was averaging between 70 and 80 hours a week, loving it all.

At this point I ask the students how much money they thought I made -- this all taking place in 2000. They always overestimate. And when you tell them to guess again they guess higher. After three or four tries someone starts guessing lower. The closest that anyone got in this conversation was $17,000. I did not make that much money.

It brings down the house. You can see some people reconsidering their career options and some coming to deal with the notion of working in near poverty in their first job.

I forgot to tell them that, in just four years I'd almost doubled my salary!

Then I give them advice: be humble, hustle, be willing to learn, get involved with the programs on their campus, learn the business inside and out and never say "that's not my job."

They asked a lot of great questions, and hopefully I left them with a little optimism tempered with reality. I'm always afraid that can be overlooked. Broadcasting is an important, rewarding and tough, tough industry.

After that I walked in the rain to my qualitative class. Three hours there, steeped deep in epistemological and ontological philosophy, and I found myself wiped out.

I'd overcome a really weird foot problem -- for a day and a half I couldn't bend my foot for the pain in my heel -- and developed a nice post-workout stiffness in my abdominal oblique muscles. For about two hours I had both aches paining me at the same time. I qualified all of this as silly and then limped through the rest of my day, a very long day.

Tomorrow: springlike weather, a little cleaning, studying, working, the usual. Maybe I'll build something around here, too.

Have a great Thursday, where every letter is neatly put to use and we move efficiently toward the weekend.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

At the cafeteria (the students call it the Caf, but that's a difficult thing to write) we have stations for cereal, pizza, basic fare, pasta and hamburgers and hot dogs. There's also a big salad bar and what the Caf calls an action station.

At the action station they cook the item of the day for you as you wait. This makes for long lines, because it is generally a popular spot. The crowd keeps me away, but today the rest of the cafeteria's offerings were uninspiring and there was only two people watching the cooks work.

And today omelets were the featured item. You could pick all the ingredients you wanted and then the chef sized you up, decided you needed more onions or ham or whatnot and then made you a masterpiece.

"I own this omelet. My name is Ta-dahow!"

And then he sang Atomic Dog. I was hungry, but the omelet was delicious. Now I wish I'd gone back for seconds.

In Haiti they're standing at 200,000. Somehow that's not the headline on every front page.

We do have headlines for the senate race in Massachusetts and the runoff in the Birmingham mayoral race. We watched the returns online and on television. The headline on MSNBC said Martha Coakley was calling for Scott Brown to concede, which was funny considering Brown had a lead. Clicking the link the interior headline was different, the AP called the win for the Massachusetts Republican.

Many people figured that race would last for weeks and eventually wind up in the Minnesota Supreme Court (since they have experience with this sort of thing). No way did we expect the senate race would be over before the Birmingham mayoral count.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Birmingham had to find a new mayor because the old mayor found himself on the convicted end of 71 federal charges. If, as the former mayor claimed, the Bush Justice Department was out to get him they were certainly thorough. However, the former mayor's brand of wackiness found his conviction coming under the watchful eye of the Obama Justice Department.

So we had an interim, and then an interim-interim. And then a general election, filled with many of the usual suspects. In Birmingham you must have 50-plus-one, so that brought us to tonight's runoff. The particulars could be best described as a 30-year career local politician of the typical variety in William Bell who brings the usual gaffes, corruption investigations and occasionally ill-formed statements. He faced Patrick Cooper, a young lawyer who graduated from Yale and comes from a prominent and successful family. The most anyone can tell Cooper's shortcomings include not living in poverty, knowing successful people and (GASP!) a divorce. Even that was a step up. The last time Cooper ran a campaign issue was that he, a black man, was married to a white woman. This sort of thing gains traction, apparently.

Anyway, Cooper won the initial vote, but the campaign got especially dirty when they lined up for a runoff. Today there was a great sense of relief; the former mayor is on his way to jail and the mudslinging would end, for a time at least.

So we settled in to watch the returns. The city hosts them on a bloated, hardware dominating, pop up ad displaying page. Embedded there is a spastic, schizophrenic Windows Media Player that shows numbers and hides numbers, adding and subtracting votes and precincts on a whim.

Bell, the cagey veteran took out a big lead early and then Cooper's boxes started rolling in. Bell seemed to weather the storm and the reporters were almost ready to write off Cooper. And then a curious thing happened, more boxes came with Cooper votes and he ran out to a big lead. And then, in the last 25 percent of the precincts Bell took back the lead and went on to a comfortable victory.

So meet William Bell, the new mayor endorsed by the old mayor, the man currently awaiting sentencing on 71 counts. May he not be like the old mayor. The city could use a break.

And now a new irregular feature, the cover tune examination. From time to time I find my way sifting through covers on YouTube, which is a very interesting experience. And you can find some very nice talent.

This has been a guilty pleasure of mine for some time, but I'm sharing it with you for the first time. And I didn't pick an easy one -- not that I am the one performing or anything -- but I give you three randomly discovered musicians singing Al Green tunes.

Lara Kincanon is a budding young musician and ... you'll understand when you hear her cover of "Tired of Being Alone" a song that made #7 on the Hot Soul chart.

Slightly less well known, and that's a shame, is Simply Beautiful sung by Luke Thomas.

Perhaps Al Green's most famous hit is Let's Stay Together, which spent 16 weeks at number one and is still one of Rolling Stone's favorite songs of all time. There are dozens of great covers on YouTube and picking one was difficult, but I'm going with Willie Latham from Tunica, Miss.

I have a fondness for public performances.

So, what covers should I seek out next time? Email your suggestions, if you please.

Tomorrow: Back to class.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The follow up of the New York Times decision from the guru himself, Jeff Jarvis. "There is only one thing that can happen should The Times put a meter on us. It will shrink."

I've studied Jarvis enough to know what's coming next. I'm a bit surprised that my thoughts were so close to his -- the Jarvis version naturally being more eloquent and persuasive -- on the issue.

There's a terrific perspective in the comments from Subhub's Evan Rudowski, who offers:
Although my company enables many subscription websites and I am a believer in the model, I am not a believer in charging for commodity news. The question is whether The New York Times' superior quality will be enough to distinguish their coverage from the many alternatives. But if they can't maintain that quality edge, they're sunk.
That is the fear now, isn't it? Distribution, the largest portion of the budget, is becoming prohibitively expensive in an online, free classified world. Cuts, made to compensate, in newsrooms across the industry ultimately impact the quality coverage. The same is happening to the Times. You can hear that in the tone of many of the other comments on Jarvis' post.

Samford, meanwhile, has been honored as the business school's Entrepreneurship Program has been named the National Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Program by the U.S. Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

If we can't put one and two together here I'll be disappointed.

Which cinches it, I must be back in the scholarly mode. Today has been spent trying to figure out the plan of attack for the semester -- it is such a lovely plan of attack -- and making sure I can get everything in where it needs to be.

Beyond the navel gazing, which we'll bump into again at a later date, there isn't much to see here today. But soon. I promise.

I have a new section that is about to be installed on the site. I hope to be doing the black and white section again starting next week. I'm considering a general server cleaning and -- if things get crazy -- a partial redesign of the aesthetic of the site.

If the cat will stay off the keyboard long enough.

She says "No." And also, "Meow."

Anyway, these things and more are soon in the offing. I am very ambitious for a Monday evening.

Hope you are too!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The New York Times is considering making themselves irrelevant behind a paywall. Most people learn from their trial balloons, and after TimesSelect so quietly did not succeed two years ago, you'd think the paper would learn. But they view themselves as too important as a commodity.

What they'll do is prove themselves expendable as a distributor. The people that matter the most, the heavy consumers of Times content, will simply go elsewhere. The lighter consumers of content will prove that it isn't the content that matters, but the users.

The frustrating thing is that they saw it themselves in the above 2007 story.
What changed, The Times said, was that many more readers started coming to the site from search engines and links on other sites instead of coming directly to These indirect readers, unable to get access to articles behind the pay wall and less likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyal direct users, were seen as opportunities for more page views and increased advertising revenue.
Maybe they'll figure it out next time.

Ever see John Lennon at 16? Paul McCartney at 15? George Harrison at 14? That other guy also very young? The Beatles in 1957.

Did you catch Conan O'Brien's last monologue? Somehow that laughter at the end didn't seem too disingenuous.

Remember last Monday when I wrote about the 69-year-old confederate cavalryman? I thought he might have been some sort of age record for the war. The regiment formed in 1963 and if he rode with them through the end of the war -- the 7th Alabama Cavalry was in the last battle -- he would have surrendered days before his 71st birthday.

Turns out the record for the oldest soldier is thought to belong to an 80-year-old Iowan who enlisted with the 37th Iowa Graybeards. That was a special regiment of men over 35 (or 45, depending on whom you read) who served in non-combat roads. That's impressive enough, but riding into combat as a septuagenarian carries the day in my book.

There's an old veterans magazine with a mention of the horse rider in a special collections library at the University of Alabama. I'll try and investigate it further on Wednesday.

In the now: I'd always thought of myself as in-between generations.

I remember reading a piece in 1993 lamenting the notion that Generation X had no spokesperson -- at the time Beavis and Butt-head seemed the most logical contenders and Kurt Cobain was always a poor choice -- so I didn't want to self-identify with a group that couldn't muster up a better public face. Not that it mattered, the Baby Boomers weren't going anywhere and your own personal worth would shine through for more than whatever Chris Cornell had to say. I decided I'd be without a generation -- and maybe that put me into an adolescent subgroup of my own. Or, if I had to be in one group or another, at the very young margin of Generation X. (Though some would say Generation Y.)

According to this matrix, there's no disputing where I belong: X.

Ready for more 24? I know some people here are watching through the miracles of modern technology this season, so I can't spoil it. They will be surprised to learn that there's a Bad Guy on the inside. I know! (Also, Starbuck has long hair.)

And then there is this delicious bon mot from an appropriately angsty middle easterner of a fictional country, "What reason does any American have to do anything? Money." In Hollywood monetary greed is only an American vice.

If you read Gen. Tommy Franks biography (skip the childhood chapters) you'll find plenty of stunning argument to the contrary. Here's another example I found online in 0.18 seconds.

Let us talk again of avarice, poorly drawn and inherently sketchy bad guy with questionable motives as we examine the custom suit and $300 hair cut you're wearing as you try to depose your country's government (which is headed by your brother).

I didn't catch the title of the nation, but whatever you might think, it is not Iran, no sir, not them. Wikipedia says it is "the fictional Islamic Republic of Kamistan."

Good thing Jack Bauer, now a retired grandfather is on the case. I feel safer already. Or will, as soon as he starts punishing people.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This feels like a linky sort of day, wouldn't you agree?

Watching football today -- who needs defense in the playoffs? -- I saw the Mannings' Double Trump commercial. That's a great commercial the first time you see it. But then I noticed there were no YouTube comments. It seems that the user, OreoDSRL, has disabled the comments. So let's do it here.

One presumes that Donald Trump, given his age, power and money, doesn't have someone that ties his tie for him. But maybe he should. Darrell Hammond, the mini-trump, has a much better tie suggesting that someone is dressing him.

And why do Peyton and Eli dress alike?

Speaking of looking alike, notice the double stuffed Oreo packaging looks a bit like the Fig Newton scheme. Seems Nabisco is running out of ideas.

The making of (we live in an age where even commercials get their own "Making of," basically a larger commercial, has as many views as the television spot) shows Hammond is living the gimmick and Trump doesn't take himself too seriously. Considering his obvious and perpetual need to be concerned about brands and imaging you think he'd take that spray on tan a bit more seriously.

Unsure where you fall on the Conan versus Jay struggle? Here's a comic's eye view of the flap:
In this current late-night melodrama Conan O'Brien, a beloved figure among comedy geeks for his generosity towards comedians, eagerness to explore uncharted comic terrain and deep respect for the art, craft and history of comedy, has emerged as the wronged party and Leno as the villain.


After (Leno took) over "The Tonight Show" everything changed. In the words of comedy guru Patton Oswalt, it was as if a switch had been flipped. Leno stopped evolving and began devolving rapidly. Leno no longer seemed interested in the art of comedy. He pandered to the lowest common denominator with material that didn’t even attempt to hide his contempt for his audience.
The only thing that little piece didn't include found its way into the comments, a bit by the late Bill Hicks.

This drama has been the best, worst thing that has happened to NBC in a long time. When, after the Winter Olympics, Leno re-debuts in the Tonight Show slot with Michael Jackson as his special guest we might find that we've all been duped. Until then we just have to acknowledge that Leno's show is terrible.

I'm waiting for O'Brien to go online only, myself. He'll have better audiences than NBC anyway.

The motivational story of the day comes from Orlando:
A girls' soccer team retired the No. 12 jersey the other night. The person wearing it hadn't scored a goal or even played a game all season.

Just attending Freedom High School's final game was reason enough for the crowd to cheer. Bree McMahon wasn't satisfied with merely being there. Number 12 got out of her wheelchair, grasped her crutches and wobbled across the field on her loaner leg.

"It meant so much to be able to walk on Senior Night," she said.
Grab a Kleenex, read the rest.

And then go read the related story about when Minnesota Vikings kicker Ryan Longwell contacted her:
From their first interaction, he knew she would change the way he looked at life.

"The first time I contacted her, her reply back was, 'If you're praying for me, you need to pray for the driver of the car. She's my best friend,'" Longwell said.
And now, to lighten the mood, I present to you the evidence that the autotune is over.

Tomorrow we'll put to rest a few more dangerously outdated fads.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Alabama, the defending SEC gymnastics champions, hosted Georgia, the defending NCAA champions, in their home opener tonight. The Tide grabbed the lead after the first rotation and never really looked back, winning 196.275-195.500.

There's a brief video of Morgan Dennis' final tumble on the floor in the 12 seconds box above.

Ricki Lebegern, pictured above, won the all around.

I took that picture from about a half mile away. The Yankee and I sat down low during the first two rotations, but then moved to the very back of the place to visit with one of our professors at the very back of Coleman Coliseum -- which has beautiful new HD scoreboards, by the way -- for the last half of the meet. A few more pictures are in the photo gallery.

Auburn gymnastics, meanwhile, lost to Alabama last weekend by the narrowest of margins. The meet was so close that, despite the loss, Auburn moved up in the rankings. So the ninth-ranked Tigers, one week after facing the third-ranked team from Alabama, fell tonight to the second-ranked Oklahoma team. Tough schedule, that.

We spent the afternoon with my boss. He went to graduate school with our professor we visited with tonight. Small world, indeed. We had dinner at Dreamland. Now, finally back home, the hour is late and the list of interesting things I can tell you about is short. More tomorrow, then.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Details like this make you wish you could have traveled with the man:
it comes out that Vernon, Elvis' father, and Priscilla, his wife, were bugging him about how he spent his money. This aggravated the king, so all by himself he got on the first plane going out, which happened to be bound for Washington. Things did not go well.

For starters, a "smart aleck little steward" with a mustache discovers Elvis is carrying a gun -- it was his habit to carry at least three -- and informs him he cannot bring a firearm on the airplane. Elvis, unaccustomed to being told what to do, storms off and is chased down by the pilot: "I'm sorry, Mr. Presley, of course you can keep your gun." Elvis and his firearm re-board.

Upon arriving in the nation's capital, Elvis decides he wants a doughnut. While waiting for his order, he encounters some unsavory types who notice his five big gold rings and three necklaces.

"That's some nice jewelry," one thug says.

"Yeah, and I aim to keep it," says Elvis, raising one leg of his bell bottoms to reveal a snub-nosed revolver strapped to his right ankle.
And then he decided to go meet Nixon.

My friend Andre Natta linked to this locally produced commercial for Cantina, a Lakeview restaurant. It has gone viral, because the tune is catchy, "Whattaya do when your war buddy dies?" They're over 150,000 views on that spot by now.

The food isn't bad either. Cantina is one of the restaurants beneath, so we had more than a few meals there. Never had the garlic fries, though. That's part of the solution to your war buddy dying.

Tonight I drove to Tuscaloosa for another class, this one on the future of journalism. Oddly enough the class is being taught by one of the biggest journalism historians of our time.

He was not interested in staying very long tonight. I drove longer than we met. We'll only meet a handful of times over the semester. That's OK, I've got the entire term figured out. It shouldn't be too difficult, but will prove beneficial. We'll get into more of the details on that soon enough.

Which brings us to our other topic to think about. I'm due a web site change. The general format has held serve for quite some time. What should come of it?

I'm brainstorming ideas, will be for a while, and welcome yours too.

So this is criminally light for the day -- what else is new? -- but we'll get back on track with more useful stuff in the very near future. Next week, even.

Tomorrow, gymnastics and more.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Two classes today, stretched out over 12 hours or so. This was a long first day back. Wednesdays look to be the week's long days this semester. That shouldn't be too bad, last fall Monday-through-Wednesday were the long days.

Today was pedagogy, or the study of being a teacher. Our curriculum teaches this in the second semester, which means that most of the people in the room have already taught a small handful of classes. If that seems backwards to you then you're in the right line.

This is my final semester. I learned today that I enjoyed saying that in the obligatory getting-to-know-all-about-you portion of classes. Anyway, the pedagogy teacher is one of the really great ones, and we're lucky to have her. She's also on my committee, and I'm lucky to have her there. She's The Yankee's committee chair. We know how to stack the deck, it seems.

After that class I had a meeting with that professor, set up a meeting with another professor and then went out for Indian food for lunch.

After that was an afternoon of reading, because we're back into study modes now.

This evening was the first meeting of my qualitative class. The professor seems like a very nice guy -- he's from a different college, so I don't know anything about him. He's young and enthusiastic. The class seems like it will be a good one.

But, since we lost a week's worth of class time to the football game, we're a week behind which means he was intent to catch up tonight, which meant the class lasted until about 9 p.m.

Also tonight, on Newspaper Archive I found mentions of the draft notices for my great-grandfather. The local papers published the names of the young men who were called up, who passed their first physical and then were put into the training system.

My great-grandfather was one of those men that never talked about his experiences. His own kids didn't even know about his story. We learned, when he died, that he served as a medic in Europe, that he was highly decorated and that he'd been wounded in combat. You could see the scar in his wrist, but he'd only barely answer our childhood questions about it before changing the subject.

A few years ago I found the digitized version of his draft card online. Two Christmases ago now I helped my grandfather send off to request more information from the government, but they know nothing. The warehouse where his records were stored was destroyed by fire in the 1970s. But, if we could provide them with any more information it might help them help us. Only we have no more information.

I got the bright idea, finally, to look through the newspapers of the times. I figured I might at least find out to what part of the army he was attached so we could at least know where he'd been. And while I haven't found that yet I did find the newspaper's mentions of going into the army and another story that listed him among the soldiers wounded in battle. There were no details, but at least I can share the dates with his son, my grandfather.

So that's the day. Two class meetings down, 32 or so to go. The next one is tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My grandmother, around Thanksgiving, asked me to replace a few of the electrical outlets in her home. I did not have the time to do it at Christmas, so today was the day.

They built this house themselves, my grandparents. It is 46 years old this year. My grandfather put on the exterior rock facing himself. As a child I climber the side of the house, in my mind the rustic river rock facing were the highest mountains and the most dangerous cliffs.

As a younger child I helped paint the porch, covering myself in paint. (I can do that even now, as an adult.) Now my grandmother put me in charge of electricity.

So we figure out the fuse box, which is poorly labeled. When we find the plugs, two in the kitchen and one in the living room, have had their circuits broken I take one of the plugs apart.

They have to be replaced, my grandmother says, because they don't hold plugs too well anymore. Also they get warm when they are powering appliances. My grandmother does not leave things plugged in anyway. She pulls the microwave and the television plugs each day, so it is reasonable that she has a thorough knowledge of these particular outlets.

When I pull the outlet cover off we find four decades of dust. Amazing how stuff gets in there behind that plastic-sealed opening. My grandmother, who is as fastidious as she cautious, pulls out the vacuum to clean the electrical boxes which, hopefully, will not see the light of day for another 46 years.

I visit the local hardware store, where a very friendly elderly gentleman sells me three outlets for about $.97 each. He notes the house must be old; there's no post for a ground wire.

And then I tried to remember everything I learned about electricity in the eighth grade. There was not a lot of wiring with which to work. The electrician really knew what he was doing. That, my grandmother said, was because they built the house, installed the drywall and then put up the wood paneling. I never knew there was drywall behind it, but that would explain why you couldn't pull the copper wiring out to work around the new plug.

So, great, I've offered to do this simple task for my grandmother and now I'm struggling with it. It should take two minutes to replace one of these, but the first one took at least five, or maybe seven minutes.

The second one was even harder. The first plug is dedicated to her microwave, but the second one belongs to the refrigerator. The fridge goes into the cabinets, which were built by my grandmother's uncle. Some time back another one of her grandchildren said "We should re-do the kitchen." My grandmother said "You can re-do it, but you better leave this cabinets."

The fridge fits, perfectly snug, between the cereal cabinet and these little shelving thing on the other side. It is wedged in between the two pieces of sacrosanct carpentry, but the appliance must be moved so the plug can come out. After I wrestle it out, marveling at how I didn't destroy anything, I tried to replace the plug, but I must duck under the cabinets, bending this way and stretching that, using the light in my cell phone so I can see. My grandmother all the while fretting about the dust. She vacuumed out that electrical box and the back of the refrigerator, too.

Then, finally, praying I wasn't setting up her house for a fire, I replaced the third outlet.

I am her favorite grandson.

And also her only grandson, but we needn't quibble over details.

After that I could not make her DVD player work. The VCR side plays just fine, no such luck on the disc part of the machine. She wanted to see the DVD of family photographs someone made for her. I'll have to watch it with her again and take close notes on who everyone was. Fortunately no one looked like me.

Later I met with my former boss from He's now running things at Shorpy and Vintagraph. (Buy something from him today!)

I had to return a book to him, we spent a while chatting and catching up and, as he said, developing the future direction of the Internet. We'll let you know when we decide on what to do with the place.

Had dinner with Kelly, my oldest friend. So busy I have been that we hadn't visited since the summer. And shame on me for that.

Kelly is, as always, awesome. She'll just make your day, simply by smiling or deeming one of your jokes worthy of a laugh.

And, now, back home late and at last. Classes at Bama start tomorrow.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Do the math.

My uncle (who married The Yankee and me last summer) took my mother and I to Bunyan's for barbecue. On Yelp the place has only one review under five stars. And that was because the sandwich was too small. The reviewer wanted more. Who could blame him?

Of course, it is a delicious barbecue joint in the South. It is as out of the way and unassuming as you could imagine. I'd never been before, but I'll be going back.

Back to the above photo. I traded one side of my family for the other, heading to another grandmother's to spend a night. The route is a fairly basic one. You ride for a while on a thinly populated stretch of a U.S. highway, turn onto a county road, trade that county road for another one and then, finally, turn off onto a gravel road.

Today I skipped the first county road and, living dangerously, I turned on a side road that lead me between the small town public library and what used to be a Piggly Wiggly. (This town is so small that when the first 24-hour convenience store opened on the highway years ago the Piggly Wiggly and the locally owned supermarket were closed with a year.) The Piggly Wiggly is now a steak house. The library was closed, because in a town this small you needn't open on Sunday or Monday. And a half-day of book learning works just fine on Wednesdays, too.

The route also took me past a church, the drug store where a pharmacist diagnosed me with chicken pox. (It was at the end of my spring break week in the third grade. I was crushed because it ruined my shot at perfect attendance for the year.) I drove past the police department, which I'd never noticed before, inconspicuously clad as it is in aluminum siding.

I also passed the Andrews cemetery, which consists of four graves, three flags and no sign. (The Internet told me the name of the place.)

About the 7th Cavalry:
The Seventh cavalry was organized in July, 1863, as part of Clanton's brigade, and served for more than a year in Quarles', Clanton's, Page's, Patton's and Thomas' brigades, in the vicinity of Pensacola and the bay forts. In the fall of 1864, it reported to General Forrest at Corinth, and took part in the raid on Johnsonville and the fighting as Hood moved toward Nashville. It suffered severely at this time, especially in the night attack on Brentwood. The regiment, after recruiting, joined General Buford at Montevallo in March, 1865; confronted Wilson's corps from Benton to Girard, and took part in the last fighting of the war, surrendering at Gainesville, May 14, 1865. Col. Joseph Hodgson led the regiment throughout the war, though detachments were at various times commanded with brilliant success by Maj. Turner Clanton, Jr., Captain Ledyard, and others. Capt. Charles P. Storrs was wounded at Columbia; Adjt. William T. Charles was captured at one time, but escaped. Colonel Hodgson, after the close of the war, devoted himself to journalism, in which he became quite distinguished, and he was at one time State superintendent of education.
Confederate Veteran, an historical magazine I'll soon investigate in person, says Andrews volunteered at 69.

Andrews was a grocer and the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy is named in his honor. And that's where the online trail turns cold. Surely we could find out more from a local historian, but this much isn't bad for a rural 18th and 19th Century guy. It isn't going too far out on a limb to think a 69-year-old soldier has to be close to a record.

Tomorrow: I try not to burn down my grandmother's home.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Traveled to north Alabama today to spend a few of my last off days with the family. Classes start back next week, so now is the time.

Only my grandmother hasn't been feeling very well the last few days, so we largely spent the day inside, sitting still.

Just as well. It was cold. We spent quality time catching up on family gossip, eating barbecue and watching television.

My grandfather controls the remote, and we all good-naturedly watch what he chooses. Around the holidays they are sappy, sentimentally painful made-for-TV movies. During the spring and summer it is baseball. The rest of the time there are westerns, the occasional modern show or, lately, something on Fox News or Nancy Grace.

Tonight we watched Dateline NBC, which ran a long report on the Christmas Detroit bombing attempt. We learned that people had a bad feeling of the flight before the problems began. We learned that the suspect (Can't burned genital allow us to remove the word "alleged" in media usage?) was acting very calmly. Apparently he didn't even get very emotive while he was on fire. (How about we call the guy a deeply troubled sociopath?)

Toward the back of the plane, far away from the attempted undie incineration rested the real story. A happy young couple was flying back to the U.S. with their newly adopted children from Ethiopia. Beautiful kids, very happy looking bunch all the way around. The kids, we learned, were looking forward to seeing snow. But they, the Ethiopian adoptees, found Northwest Airlines' food offerings to be disappointing.

Think I'll not book with them any time soon.

Later the Dateline NBC reporter took a full body scan to demonstrate the new machines the government is now rushing to put into place. He hid several weapons on his person and then assures the audience that this machine does not have the humility filters like the ones coming to an airport near you. Since he has no fig leaf he holds a stack of paper for modesty. This reassures the audience that you can apparently hide a weapon behind a handful of paper.

The man who administers the full body scan works for the company that builds them. He finds the weapons and then further assures the audience that the trained TSA staffers will be able to more readily find weapons. Thus assured, we move on to the Obama administration's perspective. A mid-level official is asked if Obama is going to fire someone over the terrorist miss? No one person is at fault. Also, the unemployment numbers look bad enough.

Tomorrow. More family visiting, less travel, better tales. Promise.

Until then, give this essay a read. It is written by Pulitzer prize winning photographer Carol Guzy who spent a great deal of time at the end of a woman's life. It is beautifully written, and the slideshow alone is worth seeing. But she says this about the family's decision to stop taking photographs, a decision she respected, but still:
Pictures not taken are records gone forever. Indelible images of her are etched in my mind: blowing kisses with an impish grin; the butterfly that landed on her arm as she sat on the porch with a magenta rose in her hair and the sky reflected in her eyes; the gentle hospice chaplain calming her with prayer; Ann's tears as she viewed her in the lavender coffin. But no one will see them.
Makes you want to take a picture, doesn't it?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Something amazing happened last night. For the first time since late September my RSS reader is open with nothing new to offer me. I got so busy with work and school and family things that something had to give.

I kept up with the news, continued reading the industry blogs that I follow, but some of the fun stuff had to be put on hold. Over the last few days I've spent free time reading probably a few hundred posts -- because the RSS reader, with that bold number of unread items has made me a completist -- to catch up once again.

Now I'm back to even. I only have to read five back issues of the Smithsonian Magazine now. And the really awesome stack of books I received for Christmas. And the semester's worth of text. And everything new that appears in my RSS reader.

I'm seldom bored.

Taylor is turning seven. Since her parents invited us to her second birthday party at Chic-fil-A we've been a tiny little part of them all, which of course means presents. Some years they have been easier than others -- one big winner was a bubble making machine.

We bought her gift this year last night. Starting with no idea whatsoever The Yankee asked my opinion. Drawing on my own experience as a seven-year-old girl I was little help. (If we were shopping for a seven-year-old boy the answer is easy, whatever still amuses me. Girls I'm told, however, are different.)

So The Yankee had the idea that we should pick up a video game for Taylor's Nintendo DS, which was a Christmas gift the tech-geek in training was reportedly enthralled with. So we ambled into the video game section of the People's Republic of Walmart, sought out some help since the games are looked securely behind the emphatic glass of No Touch.

We had three choices, based entirely on price (sorry Taylor) and the guy opened the cabinet to let us make a final selection. One game had some mildly branded characters which came complete with it's own stylus. Apparently you need one of those for the DS. Another game was a collection of mini-games with very poorly branded characters. The other inexpensive option was the game version of Where the Wild Things Are/Live/Hide/Were Extinctified. We did not know if she had the game, knew the book or had caught the movie. We decided that, had she not, her parents should pick up the slack and bought the game.

And thus, the adult, childless couple sets the agenda for a couple of parenting experts. You're welcome, guys.

We gave Taylor her gift, it was a big hit.

In other, less exciting, news I spent about 15 minutes untangling a cat toy this evening. The string is now 14 percent longer with 93 percent fewer knots. The cats' patience was test while watching me untangle the thing. They were very attentive and, you might think, knew I was doing something useful for them since they sat so quietly nearby. Every now and then the motion would overcome them -- this must be what it is like for a vampire that's abstaining -- and they leaped in to attack.

I hope they appreciate the effort.

Also, I learned to play YYZ on Guitar Hero. There are long lists of people recording their Guitar Hero play and uploading it to YouTube. I won't do that (because I have something resembling a life) and because the actual YYZ is there.

Sadly the drum solo is not in the game. This disappointed The Yankee, until we showed her the meat of the performance, which starts about 3:15 into that video.

I discovered Rush in high school (late bloomer I guess), thanks to a guy I worked with at the time. La Villa Strangiato entranced me for a long time and I got stuck on The Trees and 2112 and Red Barchetta for a long while. When I heard YYZ I knew I had to play it for one of my classmates.

He was a drummer in every band at the high school. One night during a football game the transformer blew and took the stadium lights. While the game couldn't play the bands could. They ran through their list and then this guy just started making up a song on his quads -- which, if memory serves, were really quints, since he'd bolted on another head. He just invented it right there, this song, and the jam became a part of their regular routine. He was an incredibly talented musician and, I knew, he could appreciate the solo a lot more than I could.

After school one day we walked out to his car and put it in the tape deck (suddenly I feel old) and I watched him beat out the first little bit on his steering wheel. And I watched him play the next little bit in his mind and in his eyes. And then I watched him grow mystified.

His brother, who was a friend of mine and a trumpet player, never forgave me for that. The drummer kept the whole family awake trying to work through the solo for a long time thereafter.

They both received music scholarships to play together in college. The trumpet player is now a teacher.

PJ Spraggins, the drummer, has become, well, a jazz drummer. He's played with an incredible list of musicians like Eric Essix, the Vandellas, Randy Owen and more. You can hear some of the tracks off his album, titled The Light of Day. And you can watch a little jazz drum solo too.

And that's how one of the most influential progressive rock bands in the world has a jazz connection, however slim. You're welcome, entertainment industry.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday and I'm lazing it up. These are the final days of the break -- I can't complain, of course, look at how long and lovely a break this has been -- but I wouldn't mind a few more.

There's a weekend family trip, a lot more cold and, finally, returning to whatever I consider normal in this bizarrely unnormal, delightfully wonderful lifestyle that I am blessed to enjoy.

Classes at Alabama start next week. I have seven hours, meaning three classes. Two of them are on Wednesday and one on Thursday evening. No matter what the classes require -- and I'm fairly confident about two of them -- it can't be as demanding as last semester. Life continues at Samford as well. This is the small, accelerated January term and traffic and duties are light. This will pick up in earnest in a week or two. We're going to have a productive and busy spring semester. I'm looking forward to it.

All the more reason to be lazy today. But that's just for appearances. Already ideas are buzzing, lists are being formulated and I'm trying to figure out the schedules for everything. It is a delightful way to spend one's time.

Did I mention it is cold in Brrrmingham? I have no snuggie, but I'm going with the backwards bathrobe this weekend to see how well that works.

It is so cold, in fact, that it is colder here than it is at my in-laws' home in Connecticut. Let that sink into the tundra of your brain. It is colder in Alabama than Connecticut.

And that's why I'm spending the rest of the night under cover and reading.

While wearing wool socks.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I made fun of the snow -- and I'll continue to do so, should it ever arrive in any amount under six inches -- but I'll also admit that the first thing I did this morning was to peek outside. The white stuff isn't due until this afternoon, but the weather forecasts are sometimes as accurate as the global warming science when it comes to snow.

While heading to the gym flurries were witnessed. Honest, actual, snow was falling toward the earth and melting about three feet above the ground. From one window of the gym I could see snow sticking in one place in the parking lot. For this schools were closed, businesses shuttered and dairy cows pushed past peak performance.

To say nothing of the poor chickens, or bakery workers.

This was mid-day, but it never really did much more than that here. To be fair, a bit to the north and the east, one or two counties over they had some significant problems with the winter weather. Here we had flurries and cold. I have yet to even see a photo gallery of sickly snowmen from the day. I do not think such a thing was possible.

What is nice about it is in watching all of the media now reaching out to their audiences for snowfall content. This wouldn't have happened 10 years ago, and five years ago most outlets -- cutesy story like snow in Alabama notwithstanding -- would have resisted the push. But they're coming around to see how this can benefit their product and, hopefully realizing this sort of thing might actually benefit the community.

That was always one of the things I was most proud about while working in the media in this town. It is very community focused, and it would seem only a logical thing to seek out your biggest fans as your best correspondents. Hopefully it'll go beyond just weather coverage.

This afternoon I'm reading Lee Sandlin's essay Losing the War. It is a longer piece for the online format, but beautifully written, well researched and I'm eager to find his conclusion. I thought, for a while, this was his point:
That's the common fate of mementos. They're never quite specific enough. No matter what their occasion was, they sooner or later slip free and are lost in a generic blur: a Day at the Carnival, a Triumph at the State Finals, a Summer Vacation, My First Love. It's particularly true, I think, of the mementos of soldiers, because nobody other than a soldier remembers the details of any war once it's safely over. What really happened in Korea? I don't have the slightest idea; war just isn't an experience I'm up on. I was barely young enough to miss the Vietnam draft, and I'm old enough now that the only way I could figure in a future war is as a victim. The tiger can't preserve the memory of the bombing missions my father flew. Its odd rippling surface doesn't correspond to the landscape of North Korea, terrain my father knew by heart -- which had once saved his life: on one mission his plane malfunctioned, and he'd had to find his way back to his base with no instruments, no radio, and fuel fumes filling his cockpit. Nor does that frozen roar speak to the complex of murky policies that had sent my father into battle in the first place, thousands of miles from home. To me, the tiger is just a platitude -- if it means anything, it's a symbol for all the violence in life I've been spared.
But really, after navigating the popular memory, some of the joined experiences during and after the war and speculating on it's end, he concludes:
In America the war lingers mostly in intimate, private memories. Yet countless mementos surround us if we're willing to look for them. Tinted photographs, punctured helmets, unused books of ration stamps, old combat maps smeared with dried mud -- mantels and display cases across America are filled with relics as evocative as the splinters of the True Cross. Every one of them is, or ought to be, an expression of gratitude -- gratitude for survival achieved against the odds or for a tragedy somehow endured. Every one of them preserves, however inarticulately, a piece of the vast and mysterious story of a whole world at war. The canteen a hero carried, the ring whose magic failed in the last battle, the prayer book a soldier wept over as he waited for the shelling to end are reminders of the darkness that once enshrouded the earth, evidence of the gratitude still owed to those who brought back light. They persist as strange flotsam in the ocean of human forgetfulness, blown ashore the morning after a storm.
Really a nice read.

Football game tonight. Texas against some team from around here. We're having an Alabama colleague over to watch the game. The Yankee is going to great him at the door wearing her Texas shirt. Should be a fun evening.

Later, finally: Good game, and congratulations to Alabama. They performed, Texas struggled against the officials and without their quarterback and an apparent absence of this mystical player known as a running back. We in the viewing audience struggled with the announcing. This, however, is how I'll choose to remember the game: "Seriously, people go to Pasadena, think 'No one here knows me' and puts the most god awful thing on their head they can find."

Can't wait until Auburn plays them next fall.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just relaxing, why do you ask?

Lots of the above right now, but not for long. On Saturday night the wind chill in the Deep South is forecast at one degree below zero. I’m shivering already.

Of course this can’t end well for anyone. It is entirely possible that the forecast will be revised upward. It could be just zero.

Also there is snow coming on Thursday, which is laughable. We’re expecting an inch of accumulation, so we’re getting three yards of panic. The dangerous part will be when the light dusting of snow turns into ice the next day. Or when you ask anyone here to drive for the next 10 days, snow or not.

Schools here were closed for tomorrow this afternoon, at least eight hours before the first prophesied snowflake was to fall.

So there’s snow, there’s a big football game tomorrow night of which you might have heard. The entire state has gone bananas over one or the other or both. We’ll have an Alabama friend or two over, but we’ll be quietly cheering for Texas. Here’s one reason why. One of the local sports reporters, in a move that will get him disowned from the local boy’s club, sought out the man that brought the 12-championship myth to life. He says he wanted to make his school look as good as possible, and who wouldn’t fabricate truth for that?

What’s great about the story is when the guy says no reporter has ever asked about it. We’ve completely whiffed on that as a piece of investigative journalism.

Received a syllabus for one of my classes today. The professor wants five textbooks, but that isn’t in my budget. So I spend a little time prowling through the online catalogs of the local libraries.

I found two of the books at the UAB library. I don’t think I can check out books from there anymore. I thought, perhaps, that my status at Samford would present the possibility of the an interlibrary loan. I made a phone call, found a very nice lady who admitted to keeping a magic wand on her desk and she promised I’d receive those books within a few days. Two of the books, in earlier editions, I found at the Samford library. Now I must find just one more between now and this time next week.

News of the day: National security adviser: Airline bomber report to 'shock'. Not especially. Nothing here will be new after it has been hashed over by the television investigative reporters and the magazine writers.

Here's the big picture: Someone had a puzzle piece, someone else had another piece. Three other people in various offices in various parts of the world had two corners and a random piece from the middle. There was no one there to curate the information.

Oh, it all makes sense in retrospect, but then it all made sense eight years ago too: Passengers buying one way tickets with no luggage would get a long look. Didn't happen at Christmas, probably hasn't happened several times. Somehow those that would do the airlines harm haven't thought to bring a roller bag. Somehow government officials are willing to tell you, with a straight face, that the system worked.

What worked were the people on the plane. The report and fingerpointing in the bureaucratic machine won't shock you. Nor should it shock you that we are our best defense against disaffected individuals with an explosive party in their pants.

Read this regrettable contribution to the art of letters. I take it that John Kelso is supposed to be that rarest of newsroom breeds, a "humor columnist." Perhaps he was having an off day. That's the excuse I always fall back upon when I right 15 inches of cliché

Don't misunderstand, it isn't the target of his column, but the lack of interest he had in writing it. If you can find someone who found this particular commentary rich, insightful and entertaining you've done more work than the author did. Instead of that the column is rote, boring, remove-one-name-replace-with-another-name jokes that were far more funny to Kelso's elementary school-aged grandchild than his reading audience. That's a shame considering how long he's been working at his craft.

Someone already has the tired copy market cornered is all I'm suggesting.

Tonight: Troy took Central Michigan into overtime. Looked like a great game, the Trojans should have escaped with the victory in Mobile, but the Chippewas emerged after two overtimes as the GMAC Bowl champions. I love overtime.

That gives way now to Steven Seagal, Lawman, the best show on television.

At one point they have a car stopped and call in a canine unit. Seagal, a legitimate deputy chief for Jefferson Parrish, Louisiana, says "(The drug dog) is hitting on something."

The K-9 officer says "Nah, he didn't hit on anything (inside the car)."

Seagal cruises the streets as a passenger in a department SUV. He has a team of three deputies, for whatever reason, that ride the streets with him. The guy that drives Seagal's SUV does so with a lean. Because he's driving Steven Seagal.

Later Seagal, who tends to see everything through his martial arts prism, suggests of one suspect apprehended after a parking lot fight "He is not a very good zen practitioner."

The suspect proves him right. Handcuffed, he rolls onto his back inside of a police cruiser and kicks out the window. In response Seagal, who knows a thing or two about the practice of achieving zen, slams his own door as he exits the SUV. He is quickly shouting for them to taser the suspect. They do, because you do not mess with Steven Seagal, Lawman.

Love that show.

No snow tonight but it is due tomorrow. Chaos will reign. And then we'll all settle in for hot cocoa.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A personal breakthrough was had last night. Field of Dreams was airing somewhere on cable, I found it flipping through the channels late into the night, and I watched only four scenes instead of the entire movie.

Previously I would sit through the entire thing, because there was just something about the wonderment of the movie, the fantasy becomes reality of heroes writ large with their foibles before us. Our grandparents' peers, or our grandparents sporting idols even, were playing on the field. If a patch of corn could do that it could bring anyone back, that's what the movie is about, and that's why we all watch through the already dated hippie foundations, through the kid choking on a hot dog, the last few speeches and all the way to that long line of cars stretching back to Iowa City, for the possibility.

But I didn't watch it all, because the magical maize can't do that for our hopes and dreams anymore. It isn't the cornstalk's fault, I blame baseball.

So I watched the best parts of the movie, the easiest, most understated parts with James Earl Jones, at the ballgame, in the van, in Chisholm, Minn. No longer is the prospect of baseball history the most important part of the movie, but that scene walking into Fenway, the conversation at the bar where Terrence Mann is interviewing the locals about Doc Graham and the shot just before that where the local reporter reads the doctor's obituary. After hearing about Doc Graham I can now safely change the channel.

Not before investigating the route. How long would it take you to go from Iowa to Boston to Minnesota and back? Look what Google Maps shows us, he drove a baseball field.

Think that was deliberate?

I also watched, for the first time, Miracle at St. Anna last night, so you may see the famous 12-word review:
This isn't a war movie, but a movie about people in war.
The World War II characters, especially at the beginning, are all generously stereotypical watercolors, there's the streetwise man, the fiery Puerto Rican, the comically dumb rural dufus. Most of the characters aren't allowed to grow, despite the slow pace of the movie. The most interesting dynamics are found among the Italian resistant fighters and the villages caught in the conflict. The movie comes down to one soldier who we first meet as an elderly veteran in 1980s New York. The movie crawls slowly enough through one three day adventure in 1940s Italy that it is easy enough to forget the beginning of the movie, until the end at least, where you get a really warm payoff.

Spike Jones took the long way around, it didn't need 140 minutes to get there.

Not much here today other than that. It is too cold for much more than that.

There was the football game, where down to the last few bowls of the season and that's sad. It'd be a bit better if we were treated to something more exciting than the Georgia Tech - Iowa game we saw tonight. The Yellowjackets didn't seem interested and that made my interest wane.

Rather like the end of the movie. Now, when I can not sit through that entire film for similar reasons as above, that will be a real breakthrough.

Tomorrow: More cold. Colder cold. And we're bracing for snow.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I just escaped from a frigid New England, but it feels as cold or, somehow, colder here. Maybe I brought all of this along in my luggage. If so, then Al Gore told us so, and I apologize.

By the time I mustered up the nerve to check the temperature -- I kept thinking that as the day progressed it would get warmer; that was not the case -- it was 27 degrees.

Among the things I did in the cold were venturing out to the post office, walking around on campus, poking around in the various offices. For a change it was more pleasant in my office than outside. Of course standing water on one of the flat sections of the university center had to freeze before that became possible.

This is Jan term on the Samford campus. There are a few students around for an accelerated semester, but not many. I'm not teaching

I visited the Samford library, returning Dick Winters' book and the Joel Chandler Harris study. I checked out two that will be more textbook than fun. Later I stopped at the public library, where I grabbed a handful of movies.

And then I went to the People's Republic of Walmart, where everyone in town was fearing snow in the forecast. We're supposed to get a few inches later this week.

I picked up a few supplies -- general use stuff, I'm not in a winter panic. You have, by the way, not lived until you've been blocked in an aisle listening to two women debate the relative merits of various brands of mayonnaise. I learned a lot. About what, I'm not sure, but I was a part of it all the same.

When I finished my shopping I took my handful of items and headed to a register in the back. The lady laughed and checked me out. By the time I made it to the front of the place the crowds were gone.

There's no snow tonight, perhaps Wednesday or Thursday, but you'd never guess it was that far off just by watching people scurry.

I came home to watch the second X-Files movie:
Another stand alone installment. This could be an episode, with a beard.
I watched the first few minutes in black and white, thinking maybe they were giving me an artsy beginning before we saw the return of our two heroes.

And then the movie didn't return to color. So maybe I have managed to select a black and white version on the disc, but that made no sense. Clearly this is a government conspiracy intended to keep me from knowing the real truth of the movie. The television was in color. The DVD player's screen itself was in black and white, so maybe the machine was failing. Wiggle a few cords and ... wow, Scully's hair is a bit bright.

Maybe I should have watched the thing in black and white.

Those last few dramatic sequences might have been more palatable that way. Good movie, though I am always disappointed when Billy Connolly isn't telling jokes.

As the night grew around us it turned colder still. So cold that the rice for dinner wouldn't cook right. That's what I'm blaming: winter.

That's OK though. I saw a promotional ad during the Fiesta Bowl -- what a woofer that was for 50 minutes -- for the Daytona 500. That's just a month away. Normally I consider the Masters as the beginning of spring, but I'm willing to move the calendar up a bit this year.

How about you?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

It is cold. That's all. That's enough. Except it is going to get colder.

We tried to start a fire today, only the firewood wouldn't light. It seems we failed to read the fine print: May not cause fires.

The wood itself, a blend of hickory and oak, was dry enough. We added kindling, which burned in an appropriate fashion. The wood was unmoved, unimpressed and unburned. We did this for about an hour, trying every known style this side of the old spinning wood trick.

Finally we put a Duraflame log in there as a starter. That worked, sort of. Next time we'll try adding kerosene.

But it is nice to know that we can't fall back on arson as a career. Just as well, no money in it.

This has been a weekend of football. The bowls and, today, the final games of the NFL regular season. Since the year of football is winding down I'm making a conscientious effort to gorge on as much as possible.

I did manage to tear myself away long enough for dinner with The Yankee and Wendy. We manage to choose Outback, at 7 p.m. on a Saturday night. It looked like this. Well, that's Newark, where airport security has been compromised tonight because a man did not heed the Do Not Enter signs and went down into the terminal, a point of entry that was protected by SIGNS.

Do this, don't do that, can't he read the signs?

The delays were ridiculous and still ongoing. It is impacting other airports throughout the region, as you might expect. Just wait a few days until it becomes obvious how innocuous this was, and how well protected you are under the TSA's illusion of security.

To help the Blue Shirts, TSA will hire robot guards to protect the airport exits. Also you will not be allowed to wear underwear.

But you will feel so much safer.

OK, back to productivity tomorrow. And more cold. At least we're getting our week of winter out of the way early ...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I don't trade in memes here, but I'm borrowing this idea from The Yankee.

The point, she says, is to hit the high’s of each year from the past decade.

2000: Left Auburn. (Ten years? Really?) Moved back to Birmingham. Looked for work for two months. Started my exciting professional life as a traffic reporter. Mastered that skill set in three or four days. Soon got promoted to news anchor.

2001: Tried, in vain, to get on at WAPI. Almost had it happen, but some corporate overlord somewhere changed their mind. The local boss felt so bad he helped find me a job in Little Rock. So I moved to Arkansas and became a news anchor at KARN and the Arkansas Radio Network. September 11th happened my first week there.

I learned a lot from great teachers. I wasn't very happy, though. I spent a lot of time in the car driving back and forth from Little Rock to Birmingham (there was a girl at that time, you see). By Christmas my boss was gone, I'd soured on the place and was looking for a reasonable out. I was very young and impetuous.

2002: In August, after a year in Little Rock, I was hired to do the news at WERC back in Birmingham. I moved, immediately got sick, bombed on the air for three days and my bosses lost all faith on me. I blame my sinuses. So I spent my time doing sports and working on the Alabama Radio Network. I started my blog.

2003: I realized how impetuous I was while I was in Little Rock. Turns out I was frustrated a lot there, but I learned a valuable lesson: None of the things that aggravated me so much in 2001 mattered not one bit by 2003. I became a much more laid-back person after realizing this.

I made my first -- and thus far only -- visit to Washington D.C. There I met the Elizabeth, who would be my sister if I could handpick one. I miss her a lot. (You should move closer!)

Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry. This is important because that weekend I had a job interview at WHAS in Louisville, but with the breaking news the news director had to cancel. As it turns out this horrible tragedy was an important personal moment. I might have taken that job, which would have meant that none of the following happened.

2004: Lost my job at WERC and ARN in February. As often is the case this was a catastrophe at the moment. Seems as if someone needed a raise and the budget had to be adjusted. I won't name names because I very quickly came to realize that it wasn't a calamity, but rather a blessing in disguise. I took a few months off, sleeping, being picky in my job search and worrying about my future. But I kept telling myself the old broadcasting saw: "You haven't arrived until you've been fired." I wanted to stay in Birmingham because I was applying to the master's program at UAB. After three months on the sidelines I started at

In just a few months I realized how fortunate a development this had become for me. The people were great, the job, held for the next four years, added significant contributions to my resumé and built important, and hopefully lifelong, friendships.

I started at UAB that fall and overtime came to realize that my new job was a great aide to the cause. I could leave work at work -- something I never felt comfortable doing whenever I worked for call letters.

At the very end of the year I met The Yankee. We were in a class with a comically bad professor and we bonded over griping about it. We became fast friends.

Pie Day was born.

I believe this was also the year I bought my URL.

2005: Continued at I even managed to do a little studying at work.

I saw Mark Olson and Gary Louris in Atlanta. This was a terrific event since I'd become infatuated with The Jayhawks in 2004. Saw my first Team USA soccer match live, at Legion Field. Visited Savannah for the first time. This would become a routine event. I also attended my first Emmy awards show. (The Yankee was nominated. She's very talented.)

I took her to her first college football game. She's now an Auburn girl. We saw Bill Cosby in concert.

I visited New York City and Boston for the first time.

2006: Finished my master's thesis in April after a ridiculous Luther Strange episode that almost railroaded the entire effort in February. (Some things can not be so easily excused, it seems. We hang these indignations on principle and decency.) Being finished, when it finally came, was a great relief. I graduated from UAB in May, finishing the program in 19 months while working full time. This still amazes me.

I received my digital SLR camera as a graduation gift. This was, and remains, a great present. We dove Belize, which was very great.

I visited my friends at Penn State and made a new friend there in the process. I considered, but did not follow through, enrolling for an MBA. I went to Philadelphia, saw the sights and had an authentic cheesesteak. (Go if you can.) I made my second trip to New York City, saw the Statue of Liberty up close.

I turned 30. We took a family trip back to South Carolina, where I was born. I hadn't been there in 28 years. This was a great trip and a terrific experience. (And doubled as a reason to avoid a party.)

2007: There was a great deal of holding the status quo in 2007. Aside from regular visits to Georgia I didn't go anywhere else for much of the year. (I recall two trips to Indiana, one to Florida and Thanksgiving in Connecticut.) I was still at (blogging, editing and starting the site's podcasting).

I watched the original Godfather at the historic Alabama Theatre. They made a bit of history that night, it was their first ever screening of a film in a digital format.

I bought a new car. My old one had almost a quarter of a million miles on it. I drove it for a few more months still. Hated giving it up even as I enjoyed my new one. It had served me so well that I ultimately donated the Intrepid to a good cause.

2008: In August I left with mixed emotions. They'd always been good to me, but it was time for a change and a fabulous opportunity was offered to me at Samford University. I appreciated the people and my time and experience at All of that helped get me to Samford. I'm still there and haven't regretted the move the first time. I work with great students and think about journalism all of the time. I love my job. I have since pinched myself at least once a day, just to be sure.

Prior to all of that I attended my first academic conferences, hosted in gorgeous San Francisco, Savannah and Chicago respectively. (All great cities.) The Yankee was already an academic and I was trending that way. (At least in retrospect.)

The Yankee and I got engaged.

I traveled extensively -- north Alabama, Indiana, New England -- throughout the Christmas holiday season. I spent two nights at home, and those nights were built in only to do laundry before heading out on another trip the next day. This was exhausting. One of my subsequent resolutions was to be more realistic.

2009: I started work on my doctoral program in January. I'm racing through the coursework. I've completed 41 of the required 48 hours in one calendar year. This, too, amazes me. I've started pinching myself about this too, just to be sure. My arms are getting bruised.

The Yankee and I got married in June in Savannah. More pinches.

Work continues. I took on a second title -- a promotion of sorts, if you will -- at Samford.

There were academic conferences in Norfolk, Va., Chicago, Boston and Ottawa, Ontario. We summered in New England, made two trips to Pennsylvania (and New Jersey and New York City) for family visits. I lost a grandfather. I had the rare opportunity to spend part of an afternoon with three of my grandmothers at the same time. That was a great day.

The entire year seemed full of great days in one respect or another. It is amazing think all of that happened last year. Even more incredible that all of this, and more, has transpired in the last decade. What an adventure. What a lucky, blessed guy I am.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Last game of the 2009 Auburn football season takes place on New Year's Day, a bowl date that seemed inconceivable 365 days ago. The team finished the regular season 7-5, full of inconsistencies, effort and potential. They're young, thin and have struggled, excelled and shown the future is bright. Today they took on Northwestern in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

And since it is the last game of the year I'm going to lean on this Twitter feed crutch one last time. The Twitter posts are in the blockquotes, the post-game thoughts are in the normal style. On with it:
Walter McFadden, (say it with me) HERO, starts my 2010 off right. Interception!

Hey look kids, Big Ben Tate! My AUM grad, Bama post-grad friend has just proclaimed this will get ugly, quick.

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Kodi Burns scores and the Tigers lead 7-0.

Neiko Thorpe lives up to expectations on a nice open field stop. Happy New Year guy.

NU throws on fourth-and-1. They came to tie!

Granted Northwestern does all the things that Auburn's defense struggles with, but still. Come on guys.

Neiko Thorpe with another big play! Go Neiko!

That's 100 yards of awesome, there. McFadden has been a fan-favorite and a reporter-favorite and by all accounts is a young man who deserves his success. He's going to get a chance at the NFL and I'm eager to see him succeed.
That must surely be a team record .... we'll find out momentarily.

McFadden's return (Officially a 100-yarder) broke the previous Outback Bowl record (Bama's Dwayne Rudd, 1997).

Get Tim McGraw off the screen. In addition to being Tim McGraw, he let NU score.

When I think big time college football I think "Don't Take the Girl." Yeesh.

Evil Todd. (Don't say anything bad, self. Don't say anything bad.)
I love Todd. He's become the ultimate redemption story and tale of persistence. Hopefully he's taught the fans a lot, and his effort early in the Iron Bowl was the most inspired beautiful thing I've ever seen in a game. But still, when he gets inconsistent it can be frustrating.
Northwestern's offense is like the killer rabbit in Monty Python. You don't think it can hurt you, then it gouges your throat.

I'm told they are handing out Bloomin' Onions and steaks in the press box. Better than hot dogs. And the working media love it.

Wide left, our third best defense. (1. AC 2. Walter McF.)

Ziemba just committed murder. OMG! Totally worth his upcoming false start.
It never came, that obligatory and contractually obligated penalty of his, but there is something outstanding about watching a 308-pound man out in space killing a skinny defensive back.
Kodi Burns' offseason assignment: blocking fundamentals.

That's a catch!

Nuts and bolts, nuts and bolts we got screwed.

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Todd pump fakes and delivers to Quindarrius Carr!

Wes Byrum, form tackling your dreams. (But why must he?)

Wonder why NU doesn't want to kick to our returners. Hmm ...

Ben (Best running back in the s)Tate says you can not tackle him.

Super Mario!

Finally saw the receiver pass, and Kodi Burns throws his best pass of the year. And it is intercepted.

Walt McFadden. HERO.

Walter McFadden is cramping so that you don't have to.

Darren Receiver Eater Bates with a big stop. Three more, fellas!

INTERCEPTION! All your hopes are crushed, dehydrated and BELONG TO US!

Why is Mike Leach talking to ESPN? (I mean, considering they were basically complicit in his firing.)

Tim McGraw now has the fourth (or ninth?) ESPN bumper music for the year. So much for Kenny Chesney and DMB.

Evil Todd (the good Evil) to Darvin Adams, FIRST DOWN!

Darvin Adams mailbox in Canton, Miss. simply says "The Man." He's proving it today, too.
Heck of an interception. NU earned that one.

Auburn coaches know Kodi Burns will NEVER throw the ball again when Cam Newton gets to campus. Hence this hurrah.

(Mario Fannin) doesn't seem as comfortable with the seam routes for some reason.

Or anything especially vertical. But we don't seem to have good luck connecting with him there either.

Demond Washington should be celebrating a touchdown right now.

I've got a fever, and the only cure is more Tommy Trott.

Neiko Thorpe is coming of age today, friends.

AC! We're gonna miss you, sir.

Ugh. 21-14 after an ugly touchdown gift.

Todd sacked. At least he tucked it up for the coverage sack.

Once again the defense is exhausted. Once again the offense produces three and outs. I've seen this before.

Here's where we can legitimately complain about the Roof defense: This shouldn't happen 13 games in.
This in reference to that horrible display of tackling on the quarter-mile screen pass. If you take out every Arkansas game ever played I don't know where you'd find such a poor defensive play as that one in post-Barfield Auburn history. Fortunately things improved just enough as you will soon see, but first ...
Gus Malzahn is now having his regularly scheduled play calling inexplicability.

Every bugaboo of the season is beginning to rear its head.

Fifth interception! Northwestern you are LSU, circa 1994.

Next year we have a 6'6", 245-lb quarterback. #tomorrowisonlyadayaway

Darvin Adams is the most unsung player on this team. #justsaying

Kodi Burns with a big down-the-middle catch.

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Ben Tate gets the send off he deserves. (Now let's hook up Trott.)

Darvin Adams' 12 catches is an Auburn bowl record. His 60 catches on the season is Tigers' single-season record.

Check that guy for stick'um.

Terrell Zachery! T-Zach, the keeper of your heart, destroyer of defenders' angles.

TOUCHDOWN AUBURN! Ben Tate! And then he dunks the ball, gets flagged, gets a lecture and looks to the NFL.

Dear Announcer: Gene Chizik played at Florida, not at Auburn. Might want to study up on the media guide.

No, Announcer, I imagine NU is going for it because they are down by 14. Why, ESPN, why

Headline: "Meyer hid ER visit to protect family, Gators" Is he hanging out with Tiger?

Headline: "Bowden tribute at Gator Bowl includes new car" Because he needs to drive. Or: Like so many he's given to players. Hiyo.

Hey, where's Eltoro anyway? Lonely thoughts upon giving up fourth-and-6.

Walt McFadden, HERO. We're gonna miss that guy.

Northwestern scores. Question: How do you force five interceptions and still find yourself in a one-score game?

Special teams kick block squad once again saves the day. The unsung unit of the year, right there. Consider what they've done.

War Hands Team!
Auburn, for the third game in a row, blew a 14 point lead. Northwestern, down by eight, tried an onside kick, but that's the first thing that worked for the Tigers in some time in this game as the boys in blue fell on the ball. And then Ben Tate fumbled the ball, turning it over to the guys in purple. Many people see this as a karmic comeuppance for his showboating early. While that was unfortunate, I can't view it that way.
War Hands Team!

This drive feels like the last drive of the Iron Bowl.

Walt McFadden, *points microphone to crowd so you may belt out* Hero.

Dear @ESPN No Auburn fan, or none of the three Northwestern fans, cares about Purdue basketball. Sincerely, Your Audience.
I stand corrected. I found two Auburn fans that actually had a rooting interest in that basketball game.
I suppose you call that a hustle penalty?
Huge sack that probably cleans up the whole situation, but Nic Fairley grabbed a handful of grill on fourth down, setting up ...
Touchdown Northwestern. 35-33, with a two point conversion pending.

Tie ball game. Trickeration. Reverse pass; Malzahn approves.

New question: How do you force five interceptions and have a tie game? You are the 2009 Auburn Tigers. Come on guys!
Also, why doesn't a referee call a holding penalty against a Northwestern player, ever? Moving on.
Demond Washington, did I not just tell you to WRAP UP THE BALL!?!?!?
A fumbled kickoff later and NU has the ball, the clock and the opportunity to escape with a win. Argh.
Now's the time, Big Blue.


Walter McFadden, better than your neighbor's boy, seems to be OK.
He got hurt, again. He fought off cramps earlier in the game but stayed in the game just because he's tough. And also because there was no one else.

It was around this time that I got into a disagreement with a Florida sportswriter who rhetorically asked why Auburn traded Tommy Tuberville "for this." I questioned his long term memory. He said that last year's team was "infinitely more prepared than this."

I pointed out that last year's "infinitely better prepared team" lost to Vandy for the first time since Eisenhower. (That still hurts.)
Big Ben Tate, first down, chains and setting up the score.
Auburn kicks the overtime field goal, so Northwestern takes over and this game has gone ludicrous, given the yards and plays and there can't be anything left in the defense, alternatively bending and resilient as they've been. Even still.
My kingdom for Brother Oliver.

Did the world just stop on that fumble? Seriously. Everyone stopped moving.

This referee lives at 13 Mockingbird Lane, Chicago, IL.

Dear Announcer: The absence of defense does not constitute "What a game." It constitutes bad defense. (Five picks notwithstanding.)
Yes, I understand the limitations of this defense with respect to roster depth, injuries, new schemes and so forth. And they've hung tough more than anyone could reasonable expect. However, I just wonder what this type of offense could do if supported by the caliber of defense Auburn is accustomed to fielding.
Is that the slowest whistle you've ever heard? Seriously, who brought these officials?

SACK! FUMBLE! (pending review) Someone get the number of my future child's namesake.

RT @edsbs Kafka was down. His unfair, absurd, and pointless Trial continues.

When did this become the Holiday Bowl?

Demos is Latin for WIDE. And we roughed the kicker.

Gene Chizik should really be in the ref's grill during this lull.

Is this an ACC crew? #explainsalot

Fake field goal is FOILED. WAR DAMN EAGLE. Ugliest, happiest, win ever.

Said it earlier and it needs to be said one more time: Neiko Thorpe came of age today.

Congratulations and goodbye (we'll miss ya) to Tate, AC, McFadden, Trott, Todd and the rest of a hardluck, never-quit senior team.
It was an exhausting, four-hour, 38-35 victory. In a TWER column at the beginning of the season I wrote:
(T)he offense will someday stumble. Somewhere a blitz will be missed and Todd will have to run for his life. He will be chased down.

Meanwhile the defense will tenderize the field with the dreams of an opposing quarterback and later blow a horrible coverage. In some games they will hold and in some games the ball will take the wrong bounce.

But despite their successes and their setbacks, this team may grow to earn the fans’ approval all the same. When you recall the past few seasons, that is refreshing.

Some people closer to the team than casual fans have even suggested that this might be one of those squads that we will come to love based on their heart and effort, more so than the wins and losses.
I didn't expect that to be so accurate, but that's the season we saw, those are the guys we cheered and that we'll remember, because they gave us all of this:

The two plays that start at 1:30 mark feature a few of McFadden's amazing efforts.

Check out the block that Chris Todd throws just after the 3:55 mark. That's the play of the year, the microcosm of the season and it typifies what we've come to admire about these young men.

Not because of them, but because of what it has taught them and all of us, I believe in Auburn and love it.

Now hurry up and get here, next fall.

War Eagle!