Friday, September 28, 2007

This day in history

Things of note for September 28:

Star Trek The Next Generation premiered 20 years ago today (from the Trek Movie Report). Here's a nice tribute from The Park Bench.

It's Larry Munson's birthday, y'all. I think I'll celebrate by being in the same stadium with him and raising a cup (adorned with his face) to his legendary career, toasting all the special moments he's given Dawgs fans over the years. Think there might be a "Happy Birthday" song at some point Saturday 'tween the hedges?

Naomi Watts was born. Janeane Garofalo (starring in season 7 of 24) was born. Jeffrey Jones (Ed Rooney!) was born.

William the Conquerer invaded England.

Heads rolled for the Battle of Chickamauga. (The lone red light wouldn't be added to the town square for at least another century).

Miles Davis died in 1991.

The longest song ever to reach #1 -- "Hey Jude" -- tops the charts.

Flogging was abolished as a form of punishment in the Navy in 1850.

Ed Sullivan was born in 1901.

The first world series game ever broadcast in color aired in 1955.

San Diego, CA (which we all know means "whale's vagina" in German) was discovered Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542.

Marion Barry, former mayor of DC, was sentenced to six months in prison for possession of crack cocaine in 1991.

Clarence Carter performed "Slip Away" and "Funky Fever" on American Bandstand in 1968. Sadly, he had not yet written "Strokin'." (Clarence Carter! Clarence Carter! Oooooooh, shit! Clarence Carter!)

Child rearing, integrity, truth, dignity and morality were all dealt a debilitating blow. Champagne rooms, drug dealers and horny random strangers rejoice. Bill collectors and sugar daddies roll their eyes. Wallets in Georgia were all lighter for years.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Season Premieres and Entertainment Nuggets

Fall TV season has started, and here are a few initial thoughts:

I watched the premiere of Chuck (one of my "others to watch" recommendations) and was entertained. They didn't exaggerate the "nerd" angle to the annoying degree that the CBS comedy Big Bang Theory did. (I only caught about half of that, and while it elicited a few chuckles, it was far too broad and didn't seem interested in servicing the characters. "Klingon Boggle" made me laugh, though). The central character, Chuck, was likable and it sets up a decent enough premise. Chuck's sister was sweet, and her boyfriend, Captain Awesome, was well, awesome. And it's always good to see Jayne on the TV. I'll watch again.

I finally caught up on the first three episodes of Torchwood. I guess the fact that I watched them all back to back would signal that I'm on board with this English X-Files. Captain Jack isn't quite as devil may care and insouciant as he is on his Doctor Who appearances, but the plots move along nicely and I'm oddly attracted to the main detective despite the Letterman like gap in her teeth.

The returning shows were solid, if not spectacular. Heroes opened up a whole new can of issues for our genetically altered protagonists, but maybe I've fallen prey to overhype. I enjoyed the hour, but wasn't quite as smitten as I was last year. Maybe it was the lackluster season finale. Maybe I'm looking forward to Kristen Bell's appearance or Sylar's return. But the only standout moments in my book were HRG's approach to "manager management" at the copy store and David Anders' drunken turn as Hiro's hero, Kensai.

Shark is still an entertaining procedural, and Kevin Pollak (as the new DA) does sleazy and condescending well. Several Whodats from Sunday's premiere (in addition to Lt. Weinberg): character actor Dakin Matthews was the judge, and I recognized him as the headmaster of Rory's prep school on Gilmore Girls. Arnold Vosloo was the Russian mobster, and is best known as The Mummy. Kevin Alejandro is the new DA, and he was the bad seed brother on Fox's dear, departed Drive.

Bones also had a nice return to the air. It was good to see Patricia Belcher as the fiesty US Attorney, and Zack and Hodgins both had much needed haircuts. Angela's vacations sound fun, too, if a little complicated.

Mandy Moore was fun as a tatooed tart on How I Met Your Mother, where the show was once again stolen by Barney.

The best return I've seen this season was on House. Oh how I've missed your snark, Dr. House. The case was intriguing and I didn't figure it out until the end, which is always nice. But the good doctor had too many great lines to write down. Perhaps the best laugh out loud moment was "Dr. Buffer" suggesting "lupus." I didn't really miss the rest of House's team.

Great News: Mad Men has been renewed for another season!

Sad News: the rumors about Jan and Marcia having a lesbian fling don't appear to be true.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Quasi Live Overtime Blog UGA - Bama


Nothing on Bama first play.

Wilson bad throw on 2nd.

Asher Allen good play on 3rd down.

FG on 4th down.

Fucking TD for UGA on the first play! MIKEY! Awesome throw from 7 on 1st down. Richt – 23 and 3 in opposing stadiums.

26-23. I may collapse.

Quasi Live Fourth Quarter Blog UGA - Bama

Fourth Quarter

You know what makes this game worthwhile? Obviously, the lead. But texting with Miz Freebird during the game. It’s almost like being there. Except my pours come out of a bottle instead of a flask. I don’t have to wait in line to piss (unless you count stepping over the litterbox). I can smoke when I want (or need) to. And nobody charges me for ice.

Fuck. Big pass from Wilson. Nice catch, Keith Brown.

How did they not get a touchdown on that pass? Nice play by 9 from UGA.

Stuffed behind the line on 2nd and 1. Flowers rocked the corner blitz.

3rd and 3. Wilson falls down (he got stepped on).

Going for it on 4th and 7.

Fucking interference. I hate it, but it was the right call.

Replay call on a big pass. Dammit, he was in. 1st and goal at the 7. Tick, clock, tick!

Bama isn’t playing with offensive urgency. I like this.

3rd down. Parker throws it to my friends who are in the stands somewhere.

Field goal. Close to within a TD.

Okay, we need a healthy dose of Knowshon here. Though I’m thinking a play action would leave someone wide ass open. Assuming they could catch it.

Thomas Brown has a strongman run on 1st down for 11 yards. Stud.

3rd and 11. this is big.

Play action. How is this not called fucking interference? The DB tripped Goodwin?

Bama. On the 11.

Wilson long pass. Out of bounds.

Bomb. Complete. What the fuck.

Draw. 1st down.

We’re calling a timeout. Our 2nd. Time to drink more heavily

Ellerbe loses his helmet. 3rd and 1. Fuck. They get it.

2:20. Completion. Flag on Bama. 1st and 15.

To the 16. 1:50 and Bama has 3 timeouts.

Draw. Missed tackles down inside the 10.

Shit. Tie game. Wilson on a QB scramble. 1:09 left. We have 1 timeout left.

It is about Mikey? Bailey? And then Coutu?

At the 33. Return by TB.

Chandler had it in his hand again. Guess what happened? Drop.

3rd and 10. 18 second left.

At the 42. 59 yard FG? Career long for Coutu.

Fucking awesome pass to Chandler. Yes, I said Chandler. He didn’t drop it. Great pass by 7. :03 left.

ESPN showing him hitting from 50 in pregame, with no wind. But the wind is gusting toward him now.

Plenty of distance. But wide.

Overtime. My liver may not survive this.

Quasi Live Third Quarter Blog UGA - Bama

Third Quarter

Bama has only one 3rd down conversion.

Reader note: prepare for worse typing and increasingly less lucid thoughts. Just sayin’.

Kentucky is whipping the Hogs in Fayetteville, with less than 1 minute left. Wonder if anyone will use a Freedom of Information Act request to see if Houston Nutt sends any text messages like: bad loss. Mustain was a pussy. RU wearing panties? They wanna fire me. I need a hummer. Blow me? Parking lot @ Waffle House in 1 hour?

Arkansas has the most awesome college video screen I’ve seen in person. I spent 75% of the game watching it instead of the Dawgs beat the Hogs on the field.

Kick off. Wheeeee! Fumble!!!!! UGA recovers! So much for halftime Mo.

Good route by MoMass, 7 was a little behind him. Incomplete.

Hmmm. Bama was looking for the screen, but 7 got rid of it.

Coutu was short from 50. Shit.

Deborah Norville in an SEC commercial. She’s still hot.

We made it 2 minutes without calling a timeout. That’s progress.

Willie Martinez is wearing a defensive wristband. Wouldn’t it be easier to carry a sheet?

Mikey Henderson is the shit.

Moreno reversed field for a gain. He’s the real deal only though he’s only averaging 3.3 tonight.

Fuck. 7 throws a pick on an overthrow.

Too early for a “Hunker Down!” I don’t think so.

Fuck. Long run. About to be tied.

Another fucking time out, with first and goal. What the hell?

So we burned a timeout to give up a TD on the first play?

This will be a crucial drive. Bama has the Mo. And we don’t have 27 timeouts.

Perfect pass to Chandler. He dropped it again. AGAIN.

7 and Bailey bail us out on 3rd and 6. 7 wings one off the back foot. What an arm.

Fucking LASER to Bailey, the only one who can catch tonight (other than MoMass). Great play. Hopefully, the accuracy will come, but no one in college football has an arm like this. I’d say his arm now is better than at least 50% of NFL QBs in terms of strength.

Bada Bing! Moreno for the TD. Senior center Velasco pulled (a center pulling?) to give 24 some room.

Great drive. The drops scare me, obviously, but the play calls were there.

Bama 1 for 9 on 3rd downs now.

Great throw downfield by 7 to Mikey. No catch. Why does Eason have a job? If our receivers could fucking catch, I can only imagine our record the last few years.

Bada bing! 24 makes up 2nd and 20. Nothing on 3rd and 1. Will we go for 4th and 1? Dropped snap. Mimbs kept his head on that.

Bama 1 for 10 on 3rd downs.

Pressure on 7, but he made a throw to Chandler. Guess what? He dropped it. Is this Chandler Bing?

Moreno catches an awesome 1st conversion.

Drive continues. 4th quarter.

Quasi Live Blog from the first half of UGA - Bama

First Quarter

Nice seeing fellow Grady J-School grad Deborah Roberts give the player line ups.

Perfect opening drive. For all the bitching many of the UGA faithful (including me) have done about Bobo’s playcalling, that was a thing of beauty. A couple of things stood out:

Great catch by MoMass.

Great pass to Bailey.

Good calls of screens, and it appears that Moreno can have his way with the second line of defense.

The TD call and pass was beautiful – and atypical. Thrown shoulder high through a tiny window.

Not sure I’m a fan of Moreno’s long white socks. What’s up with that?

Stafford pick: how is it possible for 7 to underthrow anyone?

I love the tradition of Bama fans wearing houndstooth hats. If I was a Bama grad, I probably would have worn such a classic chapeau to the games a few times. The closest UGA would come to being identified with a particular type of hat was during the Goff years, where we might have adorned our heads with a white, conical and pointy hat reading “dunce.”

7 guns it right to Chandler on 1st and 10 and he can’t handle it. Gotta catch those, son.

As the stats for Louisville and Brohm flash across the screen, I keep thinking how nice he’ll look in a Falcons uniform next year. (and if the Louisville D played against the Notre Dame O, could Charlie’s boys score then?)

Second Quarter

How fucking cool is it that they called Munson on the phone? He’s still crotchety and irritable, bless him. Nice recognition from the national press for a local treasure.

They keep showing these shirtless Bama fans with full body paint except under their arms. Don’t they realize this ruins the (admittedly idiotic) effect? Wouldn’t that be one of the first places you would paint?

We just used up our 3rd timeout midway through the 2nd quarter. Stafford handled the sound quite well on the first drive, gesticulating like Peyton Manning on a crank and cappuccino bender. Where did all that go?

Great little 3rd down pass to TB. 6 of 8 on 3rd downs. That portends well. More conversions already than against the poultry.

Jesus Christ on a stick. What a frozen rope to Durham. Great play action from 7.

Hard, hard run by Moreno.

Aflac Trivia: all time SEC receiver in yards? Brice Hunter? They indicated it would be obscure. It’s typically someone from one of the teams. Ozzie Newsome? He’s not obscure.

Stafford made an off balance, back foot throw into triple coverage. Horrible decision, but it hit Kenneth Harris between the numbers. He dropped it.

Stafford didn’t pull a Chris Webber, calling a TO with none left, but just let the play clock run out. 2nd and 20. I appreciate the fact that he’s reading the D and trying to make adjustments on Satan’s D calls, but this is getting silly.

Coutu nails a 45 yarder. 10-0 good guys.

Hey, it’s a Hampton Inn commercial. I just stayed in one of those for the first time in a couple of years. They’ve really improved. Free internet (which is nice – I just paid $10/day in a fucking Sofitel in Chi-town where the room rate was over $300 per night. Fucking French), and the fluffy improved beds. Also underrated? Providing a piece of paper with the channel line ups on it. Free coffee is nice, too. Regular and dark blends. And again, at the cheese-eating surrender monkey hotel this week? $5 a cup for some java in the AM. Bitches.

All time SEC leading receiver in yards? Terrence Edwards with over 3,000. You go, T. I like Aflac trivia better than David Huff trivia, because you get an answer.

Painted Bama fans again. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was like it was in Goldfinger, where you died from body painting? And there were just chalk outlines in the bleachers in the 4th quarter. CSI: Tuscaloosa.

3rd down pass to Brown, tipped at the line. We’re certainly getting the backs out of the backfield open on those.

I tell you what, Willie Martinez is coaching the boys up tonight. Bama is getting next to nothing done on O when it counts.

We’re gonna get it back with 2 minutes or so left. Boy, would some timeouts be nice.

They just showed a Bama commercial with the Croyle family. They didn’t shout out “our son lost out on the job (to Damon Huard!) of handing off to Larry Johnson 40 times a game until he’s pulverized into something resembling FrankenBerry ground up in a mortar and pestle.”

UGA commercial looked sub-cable access level. How can the school that gives out the goddamned Peabodys not get some talent involved in this? Maybe that should be part of the award. I’m sure Ron Moore could have done something interesting with it. Or Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

They just sacked Wilson and almost pulled an OJ on him, damn near taking his head off. It was Jeff Owens from UGA with the face mask. Will we see him bursting into a hotel in Vegas demanding his memorabilia back?

11 seconds – deep shot to the end zone and overthrow. He was open against the cover two.

8 seconds. 3rd and 4. They hate their kicker. We’ve been lucky with kickers for a long, long time.

ESPN is doing this “greatest 25 players in college football history” countdown. If Herschel isn’t in the top 3 (and could make quite an argument for #1) I’ll throw a brick at my TV. Or Marriott’s TV, depending on where I am in January when they reveal the top of the list.

Okay, 10-3 at the half. I’ll take that on the road. Time to fill up the Munson cup with whiskey.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I gave up. You did too.

That, my friends, is the little known coda to the radio broadcast every Dawg knows by heart - Larry Munson's legendary call of the 1980 Georgia-Florida game. Belue to Scott. "I didn't mean to beg him to run, but I had to."

If you haven't used the phrase "man, is there gonna be some property destroyed tonight" I don't think you actually have a diploma issued in Athens.

Tomorrow's game in Tuscaloosa is significant for a variety of reasons. College Gameday is showing up to broadcast live. Two SEC powerhouses go toe to toe in a prime time ESPN clash. Nick "the great Satan" could get his first loss at Bear's school, or could feed his ravenous ego another week of press clippings. Mark Richt, Mike Bobo and Willie Martinez could send a message that the loss to the visor-coached poultry was an aberration, or let fans know that this is going to be a much longer season than even the most pessimistic of us anticipated.

But even more monumental? Tomorrow's UGA radio broadcast begins the passing of the torch from Munson to the "next generation" of the radio crew, Scott Howard and Eric Zeier. This will be the first game Larry has missed voluntarily in 42 years. Larry has been calling the Dawgs as long as there have been Super Bowls. As long as I've been alive.

ESPN's Mark Schlabach has a beautifully written and thorough piece on Munson here.

For the uninitiated, or just for old time's sake, you owe it to yourself to click on the audio links to some of Larry's classic calls about halfway down the page. I've heard them a million times myself, and still got chills listening to them even today. In fact, I'm having a whiskey and water in a Munson commemorative stadium cup as I type this. (#3: Herschel flattens UT All-American Bill Bates like a pancake. Check out the video, complete with Larry's call. It never gets old -- Herschel obviously had the speed to go left or right around Bates. But no. Chooses to go through and over him. Beautiful. "My God, a freshman!")

Many sports fans outside the south can't understand the passion that we pour into college football. Part of it is the prominence and success of the programs in the south. Part of it is the historical context -- many of the schools in the SEC didn't have a professional team in their state for fans to follow through season after heartbreaking season like the Red Sox or Cubbies, and threw all their sporting interest into one of the universities. (some states still don't have a pro team). In fact, one of my best friends and I were having a conversation the other day about the sporting "wish list." We're both die hard Georgia sports team fans who know names like Tim Mazetti, Biff Pocoraba and Scott Hastings. And the desire for a UGA national championship in football DWARFS the longing for a Falcons Super Bowl win, a Braves World Series victory or a Hawks NBA Finals title. College is also often the happiest times of our lives (I can vouch for that: 20+ years all downhill since) and the relationships made there last for a lifetime. My very best and most trusted friends now were all there Between the Hedges with me. So the school and the football program become part of the fabric of your life, part of your story. And that biography needs a narrator, and that narrator is Larry Munson.

Munson, and many others of his generation are called "homers." They don't hew to the journalistic guidelines (which yes, I learned at one of the nation's finest J-schools. In Athens) to avoid "we" and "us." And I wouldn't have it any other way. If I'm watching the NFL on any of the networks, yes, I want an unbiased and neutral crew calling the action. If I'm watching the Notre Dame - Michigan game on TV, I'll appreciate the fact the announcers are calling it right down the middle (shortly before gouging out my eyes at the football ineptitude). But if I'm watching my alma mater -- my extended family -- playing in a game I want that voice in my ear living and dying with every snap of the ball just like I am. I'm worrying about "old Lady Luck" and watching each tick of the clock take an eternity.

Scott Howard has done solid work for many years in the booth and deserves his shot. Zeier was, and remains, one of my favorite Dawgs ever. And in time, I may grow to accept them as the "new" voice of Georgia football. But this year, no matter the outcome on the scoreboard, each of the home games will be just an extra bit special. I'll be pulling for Larry, just as he's exhorted "his" Dawgs so many times, to "hunker down one more time."

So enjoy your night off, Larry. You've earned it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

LaDanian Tomlinson made me watch the Emmys

I know that I usually make Emmy and Oscar predictions. But the truth is, I can barely sit through the insipid, self-congratulatory, overly long and often shockingly unfunny awards shows just to see if my prognostications come true. I really hadn't planned on watching the Emmys last night. After all -- Seacrest! I would just look at an online list of winners this morning, update my spreadsheet, and revel in the fact that I had correctly predicted the winners in all the major categories. (Or not. 20%. Argh. I think I did better picking the 0-2 Saints to get to the Super Bowl. Or a Norv Turner coached team to win it. Norv Fucking Turner! How's that looking for me now?)

But as the night crept on, I was checking my fantasy football scores and noticed that I had a slight lead in my head to head matchup. I was ahead by a couple of points, and had LT going for me. My erstwhile competitor had New England's kicker, TE (UGAer Ben Watson) and Defense. Surely the fantasy football god that is LT would outscore two typically obscure points scoring positions and the NE D, right? I could watch the game and enjoy my victory and not worry about the Emmys. After all, Bill Belichick wasn't watching the Emmys -- he was taping them! (rim shot - try the veal and tip your servers. I'll be here all week).

Well, in just a few minutes of game time, LT was repeatedly stopped, Watson caught a touchdown pass, NE treated Phillip Rivers like a side-arm throwing pinata and the D picked off a pass and ran it back for a frakkin' touchdown. Fuck. Helllooooo, Seacrest.

I need Shaun Suisham (who? right) to kick four 50 yard field goals tonight.

There are reviews all over the interwebs about how awful the Emmys were, and I won't blather on with the same sentiment. There were only a few chuckle worthy moments: Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert (with Steve Carrell), Rainn Wilson in an overlong skit with Kanye West, John Locke speaking wistfully about Wisteria Lane, Tina Fey, and Elaine Stritch being old, ornery and funny. Mostly, I was just aghast at the choices and the winners. HERE is what should have happened with the nominations. HERE is where I picked the "should wins, will wins." Obviously, I don't have a vote. Apparently, neither does anyone else except James Spader's family.

What I got right and was happy with: The Sopranos.

What I got right and didn't much care either way: America Ferrera.

What I got wrong and didn't care much either way: Ricky Gervais.

What I got wrong, and was happy about: Terry O'Quinn. Locke didn't have as much to do as Ben this year on Lost, but O'Quinn has been solid as a rock in everything he's done for years, and John Locke is one of my absolute favorites on the island. Plus, he was classy and funny and deserving. I wanted and thought Jenna Fischer would win for The Office. But even though I wasn't enamored with the whole pregnancy storyline (which I hate on any and every show) on Earl this year, Jaime Pressley is hysterical as Joy. I still have "Joy's Wedding" stored on a Tivo somewhere in a box someplace around here. I also thought Ugly Betty would win best comedy, though I hoped The Office would take the trophy. But it was great that 30 Rock won, and Tina Fey's thank you to the "dozens and dozens" of viewers was classic. Hopefully, the Emmy will do this underviewed show more good than it did Arrested Development.

What I got wrong, and what the fuck? Spader. Look, I like James Spader, and he's been charismatic and funny and talented whenever I've caught Boston Legal. But even the award winner himself felt like he was "stealing the mob's money" with a triumph over Gandolfini, who did some of his best work this season. Did Alan Shore crunch a guy's face on a bar, American History-X style? Do peyote in Vegas? Pull his piece of shit son out of the pool where he tried to drown himself? Hold Captain Kirk's nose shut until he died? I don't think so. Sally Field? Over Kyra Sedgwick? Over Edie Falco? Huh? And Piven again? Isn't it time to show some love elsewhere? Hell, I would have even been happy giving the award to Johnny Drama instead of the more deserving Neil Patrick Harris or Rainn Wilson.

And whenever I turned off the tired awards show drivel to go back to the Sunday night game, there was Rivers getting sacked again and LT getting stuffed again. What a wasted Sunday night.

Even though I actually like a few of the Patriots, including Tom Brady, I found this post at Kissing Suzy Kolber funny. And disturbing, since it shows pictures of some of the worst leg injuries in recent sports history. Yikes! I need some brain bleach. (one prediction I won't miss: you'll grab your leg and say "shiiiiiiiit.")

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fall TV Preview: New Shows to Watch

Every fall, I pick a few new shows to add to the "season pass" list. My choices are based on buzz, advanced reviews from critics who have actually seen the pilots, how appealing the set up of the show sounds to me, involvement of writers/producers/actors that I've liked in other offerings and how well the concept of the show meshes with my sensibilities.

Last year, I picked Shark, Heroes, Dexter, Smith, Studio 60 and The Nine. That was kind of a mixed bag. Dexter went on to be come a critical darling and one of my favorite shows of the '06 season. Shark was an entertaining procedural anchored by a scenery-chewing lead performance by James Woods. Heroes was a bit hit and miss, but was a geeky thrill ride that kept me coming back for more. Smith had a fantastic cast, but meandered along and quickly got canceled. I've posted quite a bit about Studio 60, and it will go down as one of the biggest trainwrecks and wastes of talent to hit the screen in some time. The Nine got some solid advance reviews, but by the time I could get around to watching it, it had been canceled.

This year, the pickings for new shows appear to be slimmer. There are only a few that I'm genuinely excited about, and some that I'll casually watch if nothing else is on. Here are the one that make my short list.

Tuesdays @ 9, CW. This is about a 20 year old slacker who realizes his parents sold his soul to the devil when he was younger. Now the debt has come due, and the devil wants him to be a bounty hunter to collect evil souls. Ray Wise stars as the devil, and the pilot was directed by geek icon Kevin Smith.

Bionic Woman
Wednesdays @ 9, NBC. A "re-imagining" of the 70s show, this features Brit Michelle Ryan as Jamie Sommers. Other than the potential for nerdy action adventure, this has some other significant plusses: it was created by David Eick, the co-creator and producer of Television's Best Show, Battlestar Galactica. It stars BSG's electric Katee Sackhoff as the first, and slightly unstable, bionic woman. It also stars the always solid Miguel Ferrer, though on the downside, it does feature Grey's Anatomy castoff and pompous asshat Isaiah Washington.

Pushing Daisies
Wednesdays @ 8, ABC. Probably the most critically adored pilot of the fall, it's also the show that stands the greatest chance to die a quick death because it falls into the "quirky" genre. Created by some of the minds behind Heroes and the brilliant (but also canceled) Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies is about a pie-maker whose touch can bring dead things back to life. However, if he touches them again, they die again for good. And if the resurrected stay alive for more than 60 seconds, something else has to die to even the cosmic scale. Sounds like a big mainstream smash, right? However, with the writing and producing pedigree, and a solid cast (Lee Pace, from Wonderfalls, Chi McBride, Harriet Hayes -- er, Kristen Chenowith and others) I'll be tuned in right away.

Those are the three that I'll definitely recommend and be watching in as close to real time as I can.

Others to watch:

Tuesdays @ 9, NBC. A computer geek who works for one of those big box "tech squads" downloads an entire database of government secrets directly into his brain, and becomes a reluctant secret agent with the help of a hot, badass partner. From the producer of The OC (which I never got into). It also stars the man called Jayne himself, Adam Baldwin. Could be cute and fun, or could try too hard. Also: Opposite must watches House and Reaper.

Fridays @ 9, CBS. About a centuries old vampire who is also a detective. Wow. Sounds a lot like Angel. They swear it's different, though, which may or may not help it in my book, since I loved Angel it was canceled way too soon. After the initial pilot, which was met with yawns by most critics, they completely retooled it and brought on board a completely new cast (except for the main character), including Veronica Mars vet Jason Dohring. Angel co-creator David Greenwalt was also added as showrunner for a month or so, before departing for "personal reasons." All signs point to derivative, but given the dearth of vamp drama on my screen (at least until Alan Ball's new show hits HBO), I'll check it out.

Women's Murder Club
Fridays @ 9, ABC. Based on the series of James Patterson novels, of which I've read a few, it stars Angie Harmon (my favorite Law and Order ADA) as one of four chick friends who moonlight as crime solvers. Could be a pleasant enough procedural, and I could listen to Harmon's smoky Texas drawl read Tampa Bay Devil Rays box scores.

Dirty Sexy Money
Wednesdays @ 10, ABC. A Dallas or Dynasty like prime time soap anchored by Peter Krause (SportsNight, Six Feet Under) as a lawyer for an insanely rich and perhaps insane family. Barbed, campy fun? Or slogging melodrama?

Sarah Conner Chronicles
Fox, mid-season. Lena Heady takes over from Linda Hamilton as the titular character, with Thomas Dekker (previously Claire's "not gay" pal on Heroes) as savior of the human race John Conner. Takes place between T2 and T3. Might be worth checking out for Firefly and 4400 ingenue Summer Glau as a friendly terminator.

So there you have it. Three definite recommendations, and a few softer suggestions. Maybe it's the lack of multiple Tivos all across my home. Maybe it's because the two things I'm looking most forward to, Lost and Battlestar Galactica, won't be returning until January. But I'm just not as jazzed as I usually am about the fall television season. Perhaps the idiot box will surprise me.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Call me.....Tron.

Watching the ESPN Gamecast while listening to internet radio is a little like playing Atari 2600 football with Larry Munson. Except Sam isn't mixing a pitcher of martinis, Bettye isn't baking brownies and I'm not sitting in a red pleather bean bag.

However, I can't get the full effect of 8-bit receivers dropping the ball.

A neighbor across the breezeway probably wonders what "fuck the catamounts" means.

When senility meets stupidity

I just listened to Loran interview Ray Goff. I felt my IQ dropping in real time.

It is unfathomable that this dude was the head coach for a major D-I program for a number of years, and squandered the talent that ran wild between the hedges. You could have placed a department store mannequin on the sidelines in a red shirt, sansabelt pants and a headset and achieved a comparable win-loss record.

All Systems Go!

I just heard Loran Smith say something long-winded and incomprehensible. I have audio!

Tailgating without a tail. Or a gate.

Question: Can you tailgate for a college football game in a tiny apartment with no actual video of the game itself?

Answer: I'm about to find out.

Today is the UGA - Western Carolina home game. Thus far in the season, I've flown "home" for the games 'tween the hedges. These flights obviously use up frequent flyer miles (or cost money) and in this point at the transitional move, I just wasn't ready to make that commitment for the fighting Catamounts. (And by the way, what the fuck is a "catamount?" It sounds like a sex swing for a Pussycat Doll. But with the interwebs at my fingertips, here's your explanation. Note that we could have been playing the "fierce, difficult to catch ground squirrels" today. Good choice, all things considered). So, yesterday I made a few calls to some local sports bars. Uh, no one gives a shit about a 1-1 SEC team playing a horrid, 0-2 Southern Conference team. Okay, so it's PPV on cable systems. I think I've gone on long enough about my problems with my local cable system, and besides, there's the complicated billing process with my situation anyway that my blood pressure wouldn't stand if I tried to figure it out. So what's left?

After checking with UGA, there are no local radio affiliates here. Other options? Well, I could purchase and subscribe to an XM radio set up. Don't think so, at least not yet, with everything in such flux. So I found the GExtra service through the UGA Sports website. Apparently, I can pay $6.95 for a month of audio only access to the site. This would cover the game today (and the game at Vandy, assuming that blockbuster isn't on TV anywhere). So basically, $3.50 per game to listen to Larry? It's worth a shot. I won't know for another few minutes, when the feed goes live, if this will actually work or not. But it's minimum risk for a chance to keep up with the game when my options are severely limited.

So, how does this pseudo tailgate thing work? Of course, I'll put on some red and black garb. I'll blast the pre-game show the PC speakers. I'll open up the windows to get an "outdoorsy" feel to the apartment. I'll pour myself a big bloody mary to start the morning, and then actually put some tallboys (yes, they had the same bizarre pricing structure here in Maryland that they did in Dahlonega last week) in a cooler. Of course, I realize that I have a fridge a mere 10 feet away. But you don't have a fridge at a tailgate, do you? So I'll put them in the cooler and pretend I'm standing behind a bumper. (Believe me, I've used my considerable mental powers to create a remarkable self delusion before).

During the game, I'll mix up some potent whiskey and waters in a Munson stadium cup and it will *almost* be like I'm there. Of course, there will be some notable differences:
  • I won't have any amusing anecdotes and stories to blog about the game day experience. Unless I get drunk and fall off my balcony. In which case, I might be hard pressed to type.
  • I won't have to pee in the shrubbery beside a parked car.
  • I won't have to pack up 12 folding chairs I never sat in.
  • Nobody will criticize the color of the shots I make up.
  • Can you do a "fist bump" if you don't have an opposable thumb? Sadly, I'll only have two cats to celebrate with when #7 throws the first of many TDs. Or, I may scare the shit out of the cats when a wide receiver drops yet another pass.
  • Filling my cup with ice and water won't require $4 nor standing in a line with a bunch of yahoos loading up on pretzels and nachos.
  • I seriously doubt the Maryland police will bust into my apartment and give me a ticket for an open container in my living room.
  • I'll only try to replicate the "real life" experience in so many ways. For example, I won't stuff a flask down my shorts and walk from the kitchen to the living room. And after the game, I won't go wandering the streets to simulate the stumble back to the car. I could, however, order a pizza I won't remember eating.

If I had thought of the "virtual tailgate" thing earlier, perhaps I could have called the Freebirds and had them bring the laptop so we could use the interwebs (and the webcam in my laptop) to videoconference me in. (I would have to figure out if the wireless one of my neighbors has set up is still available for poaching).

Okay, time to mix a bloody and head to the tailgate! Go Dawgs!

Emmy Predictions

Not that I'll actually watch the Emmys. I have a backlog of recorded shows and it's football season, dammit. However, they do give these little trophies out, purportedly for excellence in television, so let's see who should and will win what.

We'll just have to deal with the nominations as they are (with a noted lack of BSG). If you recall, I already ranted and posted who should have been nominated HERE.

For each of the major categories, I'll have a "will win" (which will go into the predictions scorecard) and a "should win" (of the actual nominations).


Will Win: The Sopranos. A farewell to a landmark drama and one of TV's best. Just for fun, right before the announcement, the screen should go black to strains of Journey.
Should Win: The Sopranos. With no Lost, Deadwood or BSG, The Sopranos is clearly the class of the bunch.

Lead Actor Drama

Will Win: James Gandolfini, as I think a Sopranos farewell tour will be in effect.
Should Win: Hugh Laurie. Nobody carries their show more than Laurie, with Sutherland a close second. But 24 had an awful season that not even Jack Bauer could save.

Lead Actress Drama

Will Win: Kyra Sedgwick
Should Win: Kyra Sedgwick. Edie Falco just didn't have enough to do as The Sopranos wound down, and despite the fact that Kyra's accent annoys true southerners, she commits to it and does stellar work week in and week out in the best season yet of The Closer.

Supporting Actor Drama

Will Win: I'm tempted to go with Michael Imperioli, given The Sopranos' clout at Emmy time. Plus, he died, always award bait. However, I think Masi Oka will get the token award for Heroes, whose buzz outstripped its consistent quality (but was good popcorn fun, nonetheless).
Should Win: Michael Emerson. Who wasn't creeped out and fascinated by Ben?

Supporting Actress Drama

Will Win: Lorraine Bracco. Another Sopranos win. Although Melfi was mostly on the sidelines this year, I'm sure they submitted the one episode she had something meaty to do, which was when she "fired" Tony. And hopefully, all the Grey's Anatomy nominees will cancel each other out.
Should Win: I hate Grey's Anatomy. So Bracco. Besides, Elizabeth Mitchell should be nominated and win (along with actresses from BSG, Deadwood and/or Big Love).


Will Win: Ugly Betty.
Should Win: I'm torn between 30 Rock and The Office, but I'll go with The Office.

Lead Actress Comedy

Will Win: America Ferrera.
Should Win: Tina Fey.

Lead Actor Comedy

Will Win: Hopefully, the "little pig" voice mail won't work against the best comedy performance of the year. Alec Baldwin.
Should Win: Baldwin.

Supporting Actor Comedy

Will Win: Rainn Wilson. I'm not unhappy with that. Dwight Schrute is a love 'em or hate 'em proposition, and I fall in the former camp.
Should Win: Neil Patrick Harris. Show stealing turn in TV's most underrated sitcom.

Supporting Actress Comedy

Will Win: I have a feeling it may be an Ugly Betty night, and this will go to Vanessa Williams. However, I'm still going to pick Jenna Fischer.
Should Win: Fischer.

Reality Program:
Oh, who the fuck cares. I, like most people, have gotten caught up in the Idol tsunami (at least for the final 12), but I really feel dirty for watching it. At least they have less of the "manufactured reality" and "unscripted dialogue" than the other drivel. If I want my entertainment without carefully though out and crafted words, then I'll watch sports.

There you have it. Call Vegas accordingly.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Crown the Best Emmy winning sitcom

Speaking of Emmys, this weekend (and before they air on Sunday), I'll try to add some more predictions to my ledger with a "will win, should win" preview.

However, here's a fun game courtesy of EW, that lets you vote on the best sitcom of all time.

There are some BRUTAL Sophie's choices.

First round: Barney Miller vs. Taxi. I was really torn on that one, but have such fond memories of watching Barney Miller with Sam& Bettye I went that way. And as good as Reverend Jim and Louie Depalma were, I hated Latka (I never got the Andy Kaufman thing, though it did inspire a good REM song) and didn't much appreciate the talents of master thespian Tony Danza.

Cheers vs. Frasier. Another really, really hard choice. Both were master classes in comic writing and acting, with nary a weak link. I went with Cheers, if only for being first and slightly more accessible, though I truly appreciated Frasier's urbane scripts.

Holy shit! Arrested Development vs. The Office? How do you make these choices? One of the best -- if not THE best -- of all time vs. the current best on TV? But of course, regular TNRLM readers will know how I voted here.

Semifinals (for me): Cheers vs. Arrested Development. Tough, tough, tough.

Finals (for me): Arrested Development vs. Seinfeld. I'm glad it came down to these two, because I would definitely put them 1-2 in my pantheon of all time favorite (and best, though I do recognize early greats like Mary Tyler Moore, MASH and All in the Family) sitcoms, with Cheers a close 3. In the end, I had to go with AD simply because of the spectacular and circuitous scripts, the pitch perfect casting and acting, and the endless rewatchability that always makes me laugh out loud.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Shocking, shocking news

Thanks to a fun test I found over on The Park Bench, I have discovered that yes, I'm a nerd. Not just a nerd, mind you, but a Nerd King!

When I realized my royal status, the first thing that came to mind was "Kneel before Zod." That would pretty much out me as nerd anyway, right?

Not that I've been undercover that much lately. Hell, when you're chatting about the Klingon second right of ascension, the Buffy musical episode, Joseph Campbell, the Dune saga and the "Wheel of Time" series (which I haven't even read!) at a tailgate, I think it's apparent where you stand on the nerd continuum. says I'm a Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tailgating and the chicken game. Only more succinctly.

Great pics from the game and the tailgate, courtesy of Miz Freebird. Her "action" shots are really quite good, as are her pithy comments. However, photographic resemblance to any real participants at the tailgate is purely coincidental.

Also, you if you see her, make sure to hold up "four fingers," because she loves that. It means you "own" the fourth quarter, ya know. It's a brilliant craze that's sweeping the nation!

Her archives also feature shots (and shots) from last week's game.


Dawgs vs. Chickens: The Gameday Experience, Vol II

Well now, that was a kick in the nuts, wasn’t it? It’s not like I was predicting a 12-0 run to the National Championship game or something, but I was fairly confident that we’d handle the poultry, even if they typically play us close. As sharp as Stafford looked in the first game, he looked equally off kilter Saturday. As varied and effective as Bobo’s calls were in the first game, they were equally ineffective and downright perplexing Saturday. As good as the defense looked against the Pokes, they looked equally a step behind against the chickens. As good as the decisions were that Richt made last week, they were equally questionable Saturday. The game wasn’t a complete galactic clusterfuck, but it was inept, passionless and heartbreaking. Now I have absolutely no faith in our ability to handle the rest of the SEC, and will probably need a bottle of whiskey and case of Prozac to convince me that we’ll win more than just against Western Carolina and Troy.

Random Musings and Observations from the weekend:

The flight in was delayed a bit. The MARTA trip wasn’t that bad, and I got and kept a seat the whole time, looking like some moronic housefrau reading my US Weekly (that’s what they’re sending subscribers of Premiere – which went belly up a couple of months ago. Not exactly apples for apples).

The trip down to the tailgate was rather uneventful, except for the “mole incident.” Freebird swerved to avoid hitting a mole crossing the street, which prompted a long conversation (which I basically refrained from participating in) about the safest speeds for backwoods country roads, what the speed limits are on backwoods country roads, the tipping point for an SUV fully loaded with tailgating supplies and effective animal dodging. Hey, I’m not a hunter or Mike Vick or anything, but would the world have missed one mole? And what kind of damage would a mole do to a car? Blow a tire? Get caught in the wheel well and bring a pleasant odor wafting across the tailgate on a 95 degree day? Just squish and go away? Maybe Mythbusters (a suggested must watch from the E's) will test this for me.

The tailgate set up was quick and easy. I think the slingbox utilization is down to a science now. The big change from last week is the use of a new monitor (vs. a television). Now, there was no need to break out the confusing TVNator nor do any heavy lifting. All the connections were quick and easy, and the only problem came when some punkass douchebag unplugged our long extension cord from the 2nd story stairwell above. It’s not like we were tapping into any of the individual apartment renters' outlets that would affect their bills. They unplugged us just to be a punkass douchebag.

For all those who found this blog last week by searching for “slingbox tailgate,” welcome. I probably won’t make too many more comments about the subject unless there are new remarkable developments or some catastrophic equipment failure. But if any of you want some details, e-mail me and I'll explain it.

I took down this note, and I think it was pretty funny at the time, but I can’t remember the context right now: “yours is the shorter of whatever is coming.”

One of the usual walking street vendors came by peddling $5 “Spurrier is a cock” tee shirts out of a laundry basket. When we didn’t buy anything, he got borderline belligerent with us. One of the objections was that the shirts weren’t exactly everyday UGA wear – they were specific to one opponent and one coach. Evidently, those Zig Ziglar “sales technique” cassette tapes I’m sure he listens to in his AMC Pacer when he’s driving to the tee shirt printing shop are paying for themselves. He loudly reminded his prospective customers that “you play ‘em every year!” Thanks, Zippy the Chucklehead Tee Shirt Vendor. I wasn’t quite aware of our SEC division affiliations and the quirks of that scheduling. As he walked off toward Locos, by the dumpster, simmering in his own failure, I yelled “coffee is for closers!” Because I’m an ass. And I didn’t buy a tee shirt. And I’d already had about 6 Miller Lite tallboys by that point.

Speaking of the tallboys, when Freebird and I were at the liquor store Friday night, they had (these exact prices may be off, but the ratios and relationships are right) 12 packs of Lite tallboys for $8.99. and 12 packs of regular 12 oz Lites for $10.99. You're going with the tallboys, right? Who's with me?

I was actually asked at the tailgate when I would be posting my annual "New Fall TV Shows to Watch" recommendation. My inner TV critic sported wood, and rest assured, that will be appearing in this space in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.

During a discussion of the Falcons, Freebird told the tale of the Glanville era when Travis Tritt and MC Hammer were caught on film high fiving each other on the sidelines during the Bill Joe Overthrow hail mary, back in the day. Free actually wants a picture of this cultural landmark framed for his bar, and I don't blame him. That's classic. However, when the words "Too Legit 2 Quit" (see? I use the "2" instead of the "to," so does that mean I'm old school hip hop? Or a Falcons fan? Or just an idiot?) came out, Gordo immediately went into the "Too Legit 2 Quit" hand signals. Am I lamer for recognizing them, or is he lamer for performing them? Talk amongst yourself and decide.

The Doc got a ticket for an open container violation. First, this is complete and utter bullshit. Doc went to park his car down the hill in his usual tailgate spot, and walk back up the hill to spend a few more minutes with us at our tailgate. Being a UGA fan, of course he had a beer with him. I can't recall anyone being stopped for an open container violation, unless you were walking down Baxter with half gallon of bourbon wearing a "Spurrier is a cock" thong ($5, from the guy with the laundry basket). But the fuzz was out in force this weekend, busting ALUMNI CONTRIBUTORS CAUSING NO PROBLEMS for walking around the town with a beverage. Granted, the Doc didn't utilize the typically obscure method of pouring his beer into a red solo cup, but 2 hours before kickoff? The pigs' explanation was that he was on "City/County" property instead of "Campus" property, but their nitpicky interpretation of the laws would require you to have a jetpack and leapfrog in 10 yard increments from campus lilly pad to campus lilly pad to avoid setting foot on a street corner or square foot of county property. How much bullshit is this? Don't TPTB realize that the entire economy of the city depends on people like us, who bring our dollars and contributions into the city, and cause no mischief other than occasionally peeing in some shrubbery? Not only busting the Doc, but the "man" was out in force, harassing tailgaters on their way to the stadium with customary "ball game drinks." We tried to go a back way, and saw some of the boys in blue with their goddamned clipboards and basically sat in the Locos parking lot downing potent concoctions in about 3 minutes. I felt like Ann Frank running around the Achterhuis with a menorah. Too bad for the Doc getting harassed by the man, but on the upside, everyone at the tailgate appreciated his delectable concoction of chicken wings.

Then there was the Bulldog Bite issue. Regular readers recall last week some controversy over the shots being "orange" instead of their regular red. Much debate ensued over whether the positive outcome of last week's game should necessitate the shot mix being hued to the color of the opponent, following the Klingon second right of ascension ("The battle is mine. I crave only the blood of the enemy."). We decided to make the shots up in a garnet color, adding a dash of grape Nehi to perfect the tint. It was a bad omen when the grape soda bottle exploded all over me (fortunately, I was wearing red, not white, and didn't require a Thai Stick). So while the shots were tasty (as always), their juju did not work. Next tailgate: back to the traditional red to ride out the season. Perhaps it was like the old Klingon proverb: "Today is a good day to die."

Speaking of the shots, the "toasts" and "cheers" are getting seriously lame. No enthusiasm. No passion. The low point was a rambling toast from noted tailgate raconteur David Huff. To quote Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles: "And by the way, you know, when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea - have a POINT. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!" It appears Bobo, Richt and Stafford weren't the only ones off their usual games.

Hank was eager to meet the octogenarian UGA fan that sits behind us, who goes by the appellation "Corn Dog." Yes, that's how he introduced himself last week. Other than going by such a colorful nickname, he also tried to flirt with Hank's SO, the delightful Ricky Bobby (Not, not in a Larry Craig way. Ricky Bobby is a chick) last week. On the green monster scale, Hank is right there with me, so fortunately, given the game circumstances and the tailgate booze flowing, Hank was not introduced to Corn Dog. However, as we were sorting out the seating arrangements – we have seats 3 – 8 on the row – Hank kept yelling at poor soul toward the end of the row "I got 3!!! You got a problem??!!" (Also, and probably completely unrelated, every time I heard "Corn Dog," I thought of the Bluth "Cornballer.")

Legendary Larry was keen on telling us about the temperature of the stadium, every time it dropped a degree. Of course, for the first quarter, it felt like being wrapped in tin foil, covered in Duke's peanut oil and staked prostrate on the Mojave.

There's not much to say about the game itself. In the words of the inimitable Private Hudson from Aliens, "Hey maybe you haven't been keeping up on current events, but we just got our ASSES kicked pal!" And after suffering through 4 quarters of some of the worst playcalling I've ever seen, I would also echo Private Hudson: "Why don't you just put her in charge?" Egads. I can't even describe how awful the playcalling was. Yes, #7 was off. Yes, both lines were porous. But the O scheme, plans and adjustments were horrific. Let's just chalk it up to a bad game from Richt (kicking the field goal? Yes, it was 4th and 15, but seriously? What the fuck?), Bobo (my head hurts thinking about 70% of those calls) and Stafford. The only one to come out unscathed was Moreno. And yes, I tried to continue the "bada bing!" proclamation. I don't think it's going to sweep the nation. I also heard the student body was singing "Rock The Boat" ("you've got the 'Kno-Shown.'"). Props to them.

At the very least, I didn't graduate from an academic institution in Ann Arbor Michigan, St. Joseph County, Indiana or Blacksburg, VA. And my school mascot doesn't involve the word "cock."

As I was taking notes in the CrackBerry during the game, I noticed a couple of things. You know how the device has the "predictive typing?" Where it anticipates what you're typing and suggests a word? Well, "open" (as in "open container") pops up as "porn." And bag (as in "douche bag" or "check a bag") comes up as "bsg" (television aficionado shorthand for Battlestar Galactica) It knows that I'm a geek.

Speaking of Geeks, Miz Huff is also apparently comfortable letting her geek flag fly. Kudos.

Nothing like bitterness, loss and liquor to make the closet smokers come out.

Sometime this week, in a meeting that didn't involve me, we decided to do the "fist bump" instead of the "high five" for good UGA plays. Which I approve of. Fist bumps are easy. High Fives have the potential for missing, and test the limited equilibrium and impaired balance often associated with a Dawg in the stands.

I'm happy to report there were no wonky eared trollops drunkenly falling down the stadium stairs, and wandering the concourses of Sanford looking to give $10 hand jobs to strangers to raise enough money to buy a dime bag from her mom.

Apparently, sometime on the ride home my OCD kicked in and I decided that I MUST know the plans for Sunday lunch with the Es. There is a cell phone voice mail that I refused to listen to that recounts my state of mind (and quality of Crown Bathing) where the only intelligible words seem to be "Chilis" and "11:30" and I rambled on to the limits of the digital recording about the loss the Cocks, how my friends were having a spectacular time at the "Buffy Musical" and other things that didn't require a proper working knowledge of the mechanics of the English language.

I'm glad I had a salad Friday night, because there was another disturbing appearance of the post game pizza gorging. Huff even made a "two slice sandwich." Of course, I recall none of this.

Before I could indulge in the pizza, however, I had to make my way through the shit, man. I walked back to the car, separated from the gang, and got within 10 yards of the tailgate spot and the car. I walked down the wrong alley though, and found myself looking at the Cherokee through 4 feet of solid shrubbery. Yes, I could have walked an extra 20 feet and avoided the shrubbery. But after a day of being hassled by the man, spurting bottles of grape soda, an embarrassing loss to the Evil Genius and baking in the hot sun, I went through the shrubs. I stumbled and fell into the foliage. It's not like there was a little path carved out for me to traipse through. No, I just tried to bore my way through. And my walkman got caught on a branch, and I nearly impaled myself on a random limb. I wallowed around in the greenery, cursing a nonexistent god, and finally crawled out the other end. And I wonder why there are grass stains all over the ass of my khaki shorts.

On the flight home, I had another interesting "row mate" in First Class. We only talked as the plane was landing, but she noticed the huge "G" on my shirt and asked if I went to UGA. I said proudly that I did. Class of 88. She said she was there from '83 to '88 – same as me – and I almost upchucked the 26 Crowns I had on the flight. You see, she looked like Keith Richards. Only she didn't drink on the flight, and presumably didn't engage in any of the shenanigans that I did as an undergrad (and post grad). But through my (admittedly bleary) eyes, she looked like 100 miles of bad road. And closer to 60 than to my age. Goddamn. Do I really look that old? Am I the person someone else is blogging about today? Holy shit. That almost scared me into quitting all my vices and eating salad for 3 years. However, when we chatted about going to games "back in the day," she said she didn't make it too many. She was working her way through college, and putting in several shifts at the DuPont factory. A tinge of bitterness came through her voice, and then she pegged me as a "frat boy." Suddenly, I didn't feel quite as old, imagining her toiling away under Dickensian conditions handling dangerous chemicals, while I was living a life of carefree fun, flitting around Athens, handling dangerous chemicals.

Getting your bags at BWI is not exactly a speedy process. I suppose I could eschew checking a bag and just do the carry on thing. But I hate the anxiety of wondering if there's going to be space in the overhead bins. And I have my shaving kit all set up with specific compartments and straps for every item, and absolutely refuse to put things all willy nilly into a sandwich bag for examination.

Well, despite the embarrassing and soul crushing loss to the poultry that casts a pall over the rest of the season, I did have a good time this weekend. Mucho thanks to everyone who acted as hotelier and shuttle service, and I look forward to seeing the gang again for Ole Miss.

Go Dawgs!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Just got home, and I love Jay Cutler

Just rolled into the homestead, and began my usual "returning from trip" ritual: say howdy to the cats, unpack and put everything back in its place, start a load of laundry, file the mail, turn on all the TVs, check all the appropriate email and websites, and of course, pour a big stiff motherfucking drink.

The first site I went to was the scoreboard for my fantasy league (oddly, I haven't yet added this to the CrackBerry). In the midst of the afternoon games, I'm up 27 - 21 on my fantasy opponent. He's got the Raiders D still playing, along with Boldin on Monday night. I have LT still playing (getting stuffed by the Bears D, but he tossed a TD which I get no credit for) and Burress going tonight. Jay Cutler, the best 'Dore since Jim Morrison, went for 304 and 1 touchdown, and last year's quiet performer, Andre Johnson, went fucking bananas. After getting a Saturday night full of Cock (no, not in a Larry Craig way) and seeing that the Falcons got whipped by the lowly Vikings, I need some good sporting news. I think by the time the weekend ends, I may win my 1 on 1 game, and be middle of the pack in total points.

More later on the UGA weekend, with my usual notes on the game, travel and tailgate.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Time's 100 Best TV Shows of All Time. And we can't be in love if you don't watch some of them.

Time recently published a list of the 100 Best TV Shows of All Time. Naturally, this will spark some debate. And ordinarily, I would write about 204,500 words on the subject. But I'm looking at a glorious sunrise over the mountains and my mind is already drifting toward Athens, so I'll try to be brief.

One of my favorite TV critics, Maureen Ryan, has her take here.

As I usually agree with her opinions, I think she's right in her opening "huh?" reaction to the list: No Angel. No Farscape. No Frasier. No Northern Exposure. All those would definitely be in my Top 100.

Other glaring omissions off the top of my head:

Magnum PI
Star Trek The Next Generation
Sports Night
News Radio
Veronica Mars

Shows that I was pleasantly surprised to see on the list, though in my mind they should OBVIOUSLY be there:

Arrested Development
Battlestar Galactica

Buffalo Bill
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Rocky and his Friends
Star Trek
The X-Files

Oddly, a couple of weeks ago I was having a similar conversation with a brilliant friend about "must see" TV shows, and I put together a short list of shows that my "significant other" would have to have watched and loved, or at least be open to trying, or there could be no basis and foundation for a lasting relationship. (Oh, yeah, love and sex and trust and respect and wit and charm and all that are still important. But c'mon, television is a critical ingredient of any successful coupledeom. You know you agree with that). All the shows on my short list are on the Time Top 100, or in my list of omissions. In no particular order, that list consisted of Battlestar Galactica, Arrested Development, Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Farscape, Deadwood, The Sopranos, Lost, any of the Treks, Moonlighting, Northern Exposure, Veronica Mars, Seinfeld, The X-Files, Lost.

What else was missing from the Top 100? And do you have a "relationship" short list?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

NFL Predictions

The season is mere moments away, and it's time for some TNRLM predictions. On the old "Accountability Scorecard," (yes, I keep a spreadsheet that tracks all my bloggy predictions on the Oscars, MLB, The Sopranos and other things) I'm hitting at a 60% clip. So, do with that knowledge what you will and gamble your kids' college funds accordingly.

NFC East: Reggie Brown plays here (Philly).
NFC South: I got drunk and saw my first stripper here at 15 (Nawlins).
NFC North: Rex Grossman is Teh Suck (Bears).
NFC West: I've never been to the pacific northwest, but think I might soon (Seattle).
Wild Cards: Like Georgia, but with bigger hats (Dallas), and they won a Super Bowl in my hometown, while I was wiggin' in Vegas (Rams).

AFC East: Their old helmet looked like Patrick Henry taking a shit (Pats).
AFC South: I really, really want to hate Peyton Manning. But I can't. He's too smart, too nice, and too good. But white on white unis still blow (Colts).
AFC North: I fucking live here, so I better pick 'em. Plus, you can't go wrong with or more uplifting than Poe (Ravens).
AFC West: My Fantasy Life depends on this (Chargers).
Wild Cards: I really should hate Cris Collinsworth, too, but I can't. He's my favorite analyst (Bengals). Jay Cutler, the best 'Dore since Jim Morrison (Denver).

Super Bowl: Chargers vs. Nawlins.

Super Bowl Champ: Chargers. Despite my better judgment on Norv Turner, I really think he'll pull a Switzer or a Gruden, and hoist the Lombardi with someone else's players.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Marshawn Lynch
Defensive Rookie of the Year: LaRon Landry
Offensive Player of the Year: LT
Defensive Player of the Year: Shawne Merriman
Coach of the Year: Sean Payton

Everywhere I look, I see reminders of the retirement I pissed away

And no, not on booze, smokes and dumb whores. (that was later). No, as many faithful blog readers know, I was an only child. And a bit of a spoiled only child. Not the "silver spoon," yacht club type, but more the "upper middle class I was a good, smart kid with good grades who stayed (relatively) out of trouble and generally got what I wanted as long as I didn't set my aim too high" type.

I was also a bit of a geek, which led to a vast accumulation of new "classic toys." Slot cars. Hot wheels. Models. Wargames. RPGs (and that used to mean something other than terrorist weapons). The Atari 2600. Comic books (literally thousands and thousands of them, all poly bagged). And action figures. Good lord, how I loved the action figures. From GI Joe (classic "war era" types to kung fu grips) to Big Jim to Major Matt to Steve Austin to Stretch Armstrong to Johnny West to Micronauts to Marvel superheroes to Star Wars -- I had every single frakkin' one of them. And not just them. I had their jeeps. And cars. And planes. And boats. And stations. And spaceships. And horses. And friends. And accessories. You name it, I had it. I ran across this item today on the Trek Movie Report, about the Trek action figures. Yep, I had those too. (And the Enterprise bridge diorama). And I remember wondering at 8 or 9 years old, why the phasers were some goofy aqua color, instead of the Starfleet black, too.

Since "retro" is so in vogue and the geek counterculture has gained a firm place in society, I keep seeing how collectors just love all the stuff I played with as a kid, and how much it's worth. Granted, to make a mint off this shit you would have had to keep it hermetically sealed in its original package. Which I didn't, because I actually played with it. Still, I kept it all in good condition (except for the occasionally deranged GI Joe who wanted to see if he could fly utilizing duct tape and bottle rockets) and organized in labeled (I loved the Dymo! they still make these things!) tupperware containers. Sectioned off by type and era/millieu (war, space, superhero, western, etc) and always put up with their various accessories when not actively in use.

Damn, if only I had kept these things and put them on the ebays right now, I'd be sitting in a mansion bathing in Cristal and having someone in my posse put in another Trek DVD. Instead, I'm blogging about James T. Kirk toys, drinking whiskey and wondering why the ciggies a few hundred miles north cost twice as much. Keep your toys, kids! Gamecock football.

Since we're playing the Gamecocks this weekend, it's time to whip out the storied history of South Carolina football. I first saw this summary passed around the tailgate a few years ago in printed form. Last year, I googled and googled and finally found a version here on the interwebs, and saved it into a .txt file. I'm not sure who the original author was, or I'd give them proper credit for a legend well told. (Sadly, this is not the summary on the chickens' wikipedia page nor their official webpage).

As UGA fans, it's easy to hate the poultry. Consecutively, they've hired the two most loathsome coaches available. George Rogers won a Heisman that could have gone to a freshman (yeah, you know who) for the first time ever (who incidentally, played for the National Champions). They fielded a QB who ranks in the pantheon with the most hated SEC QBs ever (alongside Kerwin Bell and Danny Wuerffel) in Steve Taneyhill. And their fans have a swagger and arrogance about them that's based on, well......nothing.

Yet that's one of the things I respect about the Gallus gallus. Despite a soul-crushing history of empty non-accomplishment, their fans still fill that rickety stadium in force, and scream their damned fool heads off for their team. You gotta respect that passion and devotion. It would be like meeting a die hard fan of According to Jim, who went to According to Jim conventions and had a Jim Belushi tattoo on his back. I wouldn't understand it all, and I would be slightly bemused and bewildered at the object of his fascination, but I couldn't help but be vaguely impressed by his loyalty to something. Plus, no matter the records or the situation, the poultry always seem to play us tough. And being a sci-fi geek (and Nietzsche fan), I'm duly appreciative of their use of "Also sprach Zarathustra." (Hey, it certainly beats CSI: Athens).

But without further ado: Gamecock Football.

On December 24 1892, The University of South Carolina began a storied football tradition by losing to in-state rival Furman 44-0 in Charleston. The Gamecocks compiled a 0-3 record in their first two seasons and did not score an offensive point those two seasons. South Carolina football was born, as was a losing tradition that would continue over the next 111 seasons.

South Carolina has an all-time winning percentage under .500, which ranks 90th all-time in D-1A football history...only 27 of the 117 programs who are currently competing at the D-1A level have been worse. A few of the notable football programs who have been better than the Gamecocks include such powerhouses as: Rutgers, UNLV, Central Florida, Western Michigan, North Texas, San Diego State, Tulsa, Toledo, Navy, Ball State, Northern Illinois, Duke, East Carolina, Akron, Baylor, Utah State, Troy, San Jose State, Vanderbilt, Kansas, and Kentucky, just to name a few. Of the 62 teams in the history of D-1A football who have played 980 or more games, only 7 programs have won fewer games than South Carolina. That’s right, more than 87% of those 62 schools have been better. Forty-Six teams have played 1,050 games in their schools history and only two of them have yet to win 500 games…Northwestern and South Carolina. On November 6th 2004, South Carolina won their 495th football game by defeating Arkansas 35-32 in Columbia. It was the Gamecocks 1049th contest in schools history. Of the 62 programs that have won 495 or more games, only one took more games to achieve this milestone than South Carolina…that’s correct, only 1 out of 61…Cincinnati accomplished this feat in their 1064th game. This is South Carolina football.

Since the Associated Press began ranking football teams in 1936, the Cocks have finished in the Top 20 of the rankings only five times in the 69 years. Of the schools who have played D-1A football for more than half of those 69 seasons, only 17 of them have finished in the Top 20 fewer times than the Gamecocks. South Carolina has never finished in the Top 10 of a major recognized poll...NEVER. Only 27 other current D-1A teams who have played at least thirty seasons at the D-1A level have never had a Top 10 finish. This is South Carolina football.

The first year of Gamecock football was in 1892, Carolina won its first bowl game 103 years later. In 111 seasons of football, Carolina has yet to participate in one of the “Big 5” Bowls (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Cotton). Of the 100 D-1A teams who have participated in a bowl game, Carolina’s 11 appearances are tied with four other teams for 58th all-time, Carolina’s 3 wins are 87th all-time. Seventy-two schools have been to 9 or more bowl games, and of those 72 schools, South Carolina’s .273 bowl winning percentage ranks 72nd…that’s correct, LAST.

As Carolina is set to begin its 112th season of collegiate football, they have won 10 or more games in a single season once. South Carolina has won more games than it lost only 51 times. South Carolina has won 6 or more games in a season 34 times, and lost 6 or more 35 times. This is South Carolina football.

In conference play, Carolina has been even more unsuccessful. In the 61 seasons South Carolina has been affiliated with a conference, they have won that conference only once...the ACC in 1969, with a 7-4 record. South Carolina’s overall all-time winning percentage of .492 ranks 11th out of the 12 current SEC schools, only Mississippi State has been worse. Since joining the SEC in 1992, Carolina has had a winning record in the conference twice. In the thirteen seasons as a member of the SEC, Carolina boasts an overall conference record of 37-66-1…only two teams have been worse: Kentucky has 27 wins, Vanderbilt 13. Although Carolina has yet to finish in the top two of the Eastern division, they have finished last twice. Carolina has yet to win six conference games in a season, something only Kentucky and Vanderbilt have done over the past 12 seasons. Since 1992, only once has a conference member failed to win a game overall in a single season…you guessed it, South Carolina. In fact, the Gamecocks went two consecutive seasons without winning one conference game, not one. Since 1992, only three times has any non-probation member of the conference failed to win two or more games overall in a season…South Carolina has accomplished this feat twice, Kentucky once. South Carolina’s all-time record versus other current conference members is even more unimpressive: 3-9 vs Alabama, 5-8 vs Arkansas, 1-4-1 vs Auburn, 3-19-3 vs Florida, 13-42-2 vs Georgia, 9-6-1 vs Kentucky, 2-14-1 vs LSU, 5-8 vs Ole Miss, 5-6 vs Mississippi St., 2-19-2 vs Tennessee, and 12-2 vs Vanderbilt. That’s correct, Carolina leads the all-time series against 2 SEC teams...Kentucky and Vanderbilt. South Carolina boasts an all time record of 60-137-8 against current SEC teams, a .2926 winning percentage…good enough for 12th out of the current 12 SEC members…that’s correct, LAST. This is South Carolina football.

But, the comparison of only 13 seasons in one conference does no justice to the tradition of South Carolina football. So lets compare the Cocks record versus D-1A schools they have played 20 or more times: 36-62-4 vs Clemson, 17-24-3 vs Duke, 3-19-3 vs Florida, 13-42-2 vs Georgia, 9-12 vs Georgia Tech,11-17 vs Maryland, 16-34-4 vs North Carolina, 25-26-4 vs North Carolina State, 2-19-2 vs Tennessee, 21-12-1 vs Virginia, and 33-21-2 vs Wake Forest. That’s correct, Carolina leads the all-time series against 2 of these 11 teams...Virginia and Wake Forest. This is South Carolina football.

South Carolina’s futility is not limited to their pitiable record of wins and losses, several other factors contribute to South Carolina’s storied custom of failures. They include…
**Unsuccessful coaches: South Carolina has had 32 different head coaches in its storied tradition...only six of them stayed longer than 5 seasons, 22 of them have losing records.
**Players drafted by the NFL: Since the NFL Draft began in 1967, SEC institutions have an illustrious history of players selected in the first round…well not all SEC schools. Only four teams have failed to have at least nine players selected in the first round…Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and of course South Carolina.
**Home field advantage: Since joining the SEC, the Cocks are 62-80-1 overall at home and 21-34-1 in conference play.
**Offensive Production: It’s another Carolina Touchdown!?…not quite. Although the inaugural shutout loss to Furman in 1894 was the Gamecocks first scoreless game, it wasn’t their last. The Gamecocks have failed to score a single point in 160 games, over 15% of their contests. They have scored in single digits in 395 of their 1051 games, a staggering mark of 37.5%. Of the 46 programs, which have played more than 1050 games all-time, only one (Northwestern) has scored fewer points than South Carolina in their schools history. Of the 62 programs that have played in 980 or more games, only five have scored fewer points than South Carolina. South Carolina’s 7.8 points per game in 1999 is the fewest in SEC play since the conference expanded to 12 members in 1992. That season, South Carolina scored more than 10 points in three of their eleven games, and scored more than 14 points only once.
**Fan traditions: South Carolina fans began a practice of tearing down goalposts following “big” victories. In 2000, after beating New Mexico State at home to snap a 21 game losing streak the goalposts were torn down in Williams-Brice Stadium. It was a monumental win for the Gamecocks, beating a team who had enjoyed as much success as New Mexico State. The Aggies entered the game with 3 winning seasons over the previous 33 years, and an overall record of 40-136 during the previous 16 seasons.
**Rivalries: Another important component of football tradition are rivalries. According to South Carolina fans, their biggest two rivalries are Clemson and Georgia. The Gamecocks have compiled a 48-105-6 record against these two schools. Over the past 47 seasons, South Carolina has played both Georgia and Clemson in the same season 42 times. The Gamecocks have beaten both teams in the same season five times since 1958, and have lost to both teams in the same season 21 times over that span. Gamecock fans believe the next most important games are against Eastern Division opponents Florida and Tennessee. Carolina has a combined record of 5-38-5 against these two teams. Of the 5 wins against the two schools, only one has come since 1936, a one-point victory 13 seasons ago. The Citadel and Davidson College have each defeated Carolina more times (The Citadel – 8; Davidson - 14) than the Gamecocks have beaten these two Eastern Division teams combined (5). To put South Carolina’s lack of success against these four “rivalries” into perspective, the Gamecocks combined .2514 winning percentage against these four programs is lower than the combined winning percentage of The Citadel, East Carolina, Davidson and Presbyterian have against South Carolina (.3030).
This is South Carolina football.

But all this tradition and past records are meaningless. What is more important is the recent history. Only losers live in the past. We are in the best years of Carolina Gamecock football, and the future has never been brighter...or has it? After leading South Carolina to their most successful two-year run in the programs history, many Cocks believed Lou Holtz had brought his winning ways to Columbia…he failed like twenty-one coaches who preceded him. Lou Holtz retired after the 2004 season, with a 33-37 record. South Carolina failed to make the postseason for the 8th time in the past 10 seasons. Holtz’ tenure was just another in a long line of recent Gamecock failures. South Carolina’s record since 1995: 49-64-1, which is 82nd among 117 D-1A teams over the same period. Since Joining the SEC: 66-81-1, which is 74th among D-1A teams over the same period. Since 1990: 75-92-3, which is 71st among D-1A teams over the same span. Carolina has finished in the Top 15 once in the past 16 seasons, and been to three bowl games in that span. This is South Carolina football.

After consecutive bowl appearances in 2000 and 2001, South Carolina was coming off of their most successful two year run in the programs history. The Gamecocks 17 wins during that period was the most by any South Carolina team over a two-year span. Only 17 other current D-1A schools that have fielded a team 15 or more seasons have failed to win 18 or more games in consecutive seasons. Carolina was going to keep the momentum and 2002 was the season that the Cocks would breakthrough and finally surpass Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. They would finally get over ‘the hump’ to capture the Eastern Division Championship. You had two Heisman candidates in the same backfield, Pinnock and Jenkins. You mixed up all the ingredients to produce another sub .500 record, and another 0-for against the Big 3 from the East, and another loss to in-state rival Clemson. The Carolina Heisman candidate at RB finished with less than 50 yards per game rushing, and the Heisman candidate at QB finished the season at DB. But, wait there is always next year.

2003 would be the year that Holtz previous recruiting seasons would begin to pay dividends. The team no longer had any ‘cancers’ and was again united. Team unity, young stars, and maturity at QB would get South Carolina back to a New Years Day Bowl game. Your most hated rival would be down and a Carolina victory at home on the seasons last game would likely lead to the departure of the rival coaching staff. The best High School Running Back to ever step on a field made a pledge in February to attend South Carolina, and bring glory to Columbia. That Running Back ended the season by leading the team with 58 yards per game rushing in his first season in Columbia…3 Freshmen Running Backs in the conference were better. Your QB who had matured, and finally had a grasp of the offense? He finished with the lowest completion percentage in the conference, as well as the fewest yards. Again, it was a sub .500 record overall, 2-6 in the conference, another 0-for against the Big 3 from the East. And the season finale that would send your in-state rival back to the drawing board and end the coaching career of Tommy Bowden instead ended in a 46-point home loss.

Seventeen of Twenty-two starters returned for 2004, and with it came high expectations. Returning was your entire offensive backfield. You brought in a new defensive coordinator who was going to implement a new scheme that would be a better fit for your young defensive talent. On offense, Lou took over play calling duties and was supposed take Carolina to the top by grinding it out on the ground. And when your Senior QB would be presented with the situation when he must throw, Coach Holtz said he was going to “shock the conference”. The season began with a blowout win over Vanderbilt, and a 16-point lead midway through the second quarter over highly touted Georgia. But, then the reality of what the true description of South Carolina football is occurred, South Carolina wouldn’t score again until the South Florida game. When the season ended, this group of Gamecocks etched their name next to failures of the past. Once again South Carolina failed to reach the postseason. Once again, they ended conference play without a winning record. For the third season in a row they went 0-4 against the big three from the East and in state rival Clemson. The lopsided defeats in the 2004 contests against these four teams brought the total point differential margin to 191 points that Carolina has been outscored by in those four “rivalry” games over the last three seasons. South Carolina has allowed 23 or more points in nine of those games, and scored 23 or more only once. The Quarterback who was going to “shock the conference” didn’t make it to the third game of the season. Gamecock players gave Coach Holtz an early retirement gift during the final contest of the season in a 22-point loss to Clemson by delaying the game nearly ten minutes midway through the fourth quarter. The reason for the delay was frustrated South Carolina players started an ugly on-field altercation. The actions led to a postseason ban by the University. A team that had positioned itself to accomplish what only 11 teams before them had accomplished, instead took their place in Gamecock history as the 100th team that failed to reach postseason. Coach Holtz called the scene, his “biggest disappointment.” For many it was just another chapter of “This is South Carolina football.”

On November 23, 2004, South Carolina named Steve Spurrier as the schools Head Football Coach. Spurrier brings to South Carolina a .777 college winning percentage. His resume includes six SEC titles, one ACC title, and one national championship. Coach Spurrier holds the mark with the all-time highest winning percentage in SEC play. Spurrier will also bring to Columbia the highest expectations in the schools history. Spurrier finished in the Final AP Top 15 twelve consecutive seasons at Florida, so that is what we should expect at South Carolina. Spurrier had a career record of 11-1 against Georgia while at the Gator helm, so that is what we should expect at South Carolina. Gamecock players have greeted Coach Spurrier’s arrival in emblematic Carolina fashion with an abundance of team rules violations and felony arrests. In January, six players were charged after a total of $18,000 worth of computer and video equipment and framed photographs were taken from South Carolina's stadium in late November. The incident resulted in Offensive Lineman Woody Telfort being charged with a felony count of grand larceny, and numerous other charges against players. On March 1st leading rusher Demetris Summers was dismissed from the team. A day later, Tackle Kevin Mainord was arrested for stealing televisions from dorm rooms. Defensive End Moe Thompson was also arrested on similar charges six days later. On April 16th, two more Gamecock players, Josh Johnson and Ty Erving, were arrested and charged with simple marijuana possession. Less than two weeks later, WR David Smith pled guilty to third degree burglary. In late May, Linebacker Dustin Lindsey was charged with DUI. On June 23rd, Cory Boyd was dismissed from the team. In all, twelve players have been arrested in the 2005 calendar year. It’s been a typical Gamecock offseason. But, all will be suppressed in less than two months, when 111 years of South Carolina’s losing tradition will be changed. The man who will single handedly change the program has arrived in Columbia…sounds similar to what we were told before Holtz’ arrival. When Spurrier accepted the job to lead the Gamecocks, he commented, “they really haven’t ever done much here.” No kidding Steve, welcome to South Carolina football.