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As in previous years, I take a look at the Bowls through the lens of various computer models and the early Vegas point spreads. This year I am switching from the ESPN FPI to the College Football Reference SRS score, primarily because they make it easier to play around with their data. Maybe this year (unlike the last several), I'll actually go back and review how these picks turned out before closing out the DUSHEE season. We'll see how motivated I am by then.
In the tables below, DO is DUSHEE Original, DR is DUSHEE Revised (or Extra Crispy), DA is the average of the two DUSHEE rankings, Sag is Sagarin, and SRS is the College Football Reference "Simple Rating System". I pulled the Sagarin and SRS numbers before the Army-Navy game, so the numbers may not be an exact match for those checking my work.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Stanford 9-4 10.20 12.30 85.53 12.50 4.08 TCU 10-3 14.00 17.73 87.18 14.59 4.52
Here we are again, back in ol' Saint Tony, to face off against a Pac-12 runner up. That last game wasn't very exciting, but this one will be if the computers and Vegas are right.
TCU is a unanimous, if small, favorite across the computational models and Vegas. DUSHEE likes the Frogs a little more than Vegas, Sagarin a little less and the SRS pretty well nails the point spread:
DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS TCU 3.80 TCU 5.43 TCU 4.61 TCU 2 TCU 1.65 TCU 2.1
New Years Six
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Wisconsin 12-1 24.45 28.65 93.09 22.65 2.73 Miami (FL) 10-2 9.04 12.25 83.72 15.97 5.62
Wisconsin is a unanimous favorite here as well, with all the computer models liking the Badgers more than Vegas. DUSHEE likes Wiscy a LOT more than Vegas. Vegas could be giving the Canes a home field advantage here.
DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Wisconsin 15.40 Wisconsin 16.40 Wisconsin 15.90 Wisconsin 6.5 Wisconsin 9.37 Wisconsin 6.7
The Peach Bowl is the first of several games pairing teams with a disparate strength-of-schedule. As one would expect, the DUSHEE Revised punishes the lower SoS much more than the Original. Auburn had the 2nd most difficult schedule in college football this year (Maryland's ranked the toughest) while UCF's schedule ranked 85th.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Auburn 10-3 26.81 34.81 92.18 18.42 9.09 UCF 12-0 20.63 20.54 83.72 16.78 -1.61
Auburn is a unanimous favorite, but Vegas likes the Tigers/WarEagles more than any of the computer models other than DUSHEE Revised. DUSHEE Average is right at the point spread.
DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Auburn 6.18 Auburn 14.28 Auburn 10.23 Auburn 10 Auburn 8.46 Auburn 1.6
The Fiesta predictions follow the same pattern as the Orange, with all models liking the Nittany Lions more than Vegas.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Penn St. 10-2 25.00 27.67 96.58 21.57 1.85 Washington 10-2 17.99 19.55 92.24 17.56 -0.29 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Penn St. 7.01 Penn St. 8.12 Penn St. 7.57 Penn St. 3 Penn St. 4.34 Penn St. 4.0
Again, all the computer models like Ohio State more than Vegas. DUSHEE and Sagarin like the Buckeyes A LOT more.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Ohio St. 11-2 30.94 39.28 96.34 21.24 4.30 USC 11-2 11.97 15.10 83.98 14.19 2.91 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Ohio St. 18.96 Ohio St. 24.18 Ohio St. 21.57 Ohio St. 7 Ohio St. 12.36 Ohio St. 7.1
The models and Vegas are NOT unanimous for the two Semi-Final games. For the Rose Bowl, the computers all like Georgia but Vegas (at least at the time I pulled the number) liked the Sooners. None have the spread higher that 4-points.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Oklahoma 12-1 25.90 30.27 92.84 19.21 2.69 Georgia 12-1 27.31 33.93 95.34 22.70 5.72 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Georgia 1.41 Georgia 3.66 Georgia 2.54 Oklahoma 1 Georgia 2.50 Georgia 3.5
The SRS likes Clemson, everybody else has the Tide as a small favorite.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Clemson 12-1 24.96 31.80 96.18 22.34 5.68 Alabama 11-1 29.27 32.25 98.90 18.95 2.79 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Alabama 4.31 Alabama 0.45 Alabama 2.38 Alabama 2 Alabama 2.72 Clemson 3.4
Games of That Already Happened
So I wasn't thinking and assumed I had another week before games started. So here, I'll put the games that happened this weekend. DUSHEE went against Vegas and most of the computer models and took Marshall, Boise, and Georgia State. DUSHEE, along with everybody else, missed on the Middle Tennessee-Arkansas State matchup. DUSHEE really liked Arkansas State, so while DUSHEE nailed a bunch of upsets, it also lost out on a high confidence pick in the Pick'em contest.
DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Winner Margin Marshall 3.35 Marshall 3.95 Marshall 3.65 Colorado St. 5.5 Colorado St. 2.32 Colorado St. 1.3 Marshall 3 Boise St. 3.50 Boise St. 1.86 Boise St. 2.68 Oregon 5 Oregon 3.38 Boise St. 2.4 Boise St. 10 Arkansas St. 10.30 Arkansas St. 10.62 Arkansas St. 10.46 Arkansas St. 3.5 Arkansas St. 6.59 Arkansas St. 5.3 Middle Tenn. St. 5 Georgia State 0.50 Georgia State 2.73 Georgia State 1.61 West. Kentucky 4.5 West. Kentucky 4.34 West. Kentucky 2.0 Georgia State 10 Troy 8.38 Troy 5.98 Troy 7.18 Troy 6 Troy 7.22 Troy 4.7 Troy 20
Other Games of Texas or Big XII-II Interest
The Ponies are unanimous favorites and the all the computer models other than DUSHEE Original like the Ponies more than Vegas.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Louisiana Tech 6-6 -2.36 -6.06 60.75 -4.52 -5.09 SMU 7-5 1.73 1.45 68.57 3.46 1.41 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS SMU 4.08 SMU 7.51 SMU 5.79 SMU 5 SMU 7.82 SMU 8.0
DUSHEE and Vegas are in close agreement, with the Aztecs about a touchdown favorite over Army. Sagarin and SRS also like San Diego State, but not to cover.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Army 8-4 1.46 -0.27 68.78 2.26 -2.49 San Diego St. 10-2 8.97 7.03 74.05 6.49 -4.59 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS San Diego St. 7.51 San Diego St. 7.30 San Diego St. 7.40 San Diego St. 7 San Diego St. 5.27 San Diego St. 4.2
DUSHEE and SRS like the Bulldogs, Vegas and Sagarin like the Cougars. Everybody likes Fresno against the spread.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Houston 7-4 1.59 0.19 72.31 3.63 -2.91 Fresno St. 9-4 5.15 4.18 71.85 4.22 -1.47 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Fresno St. 3.56 Fresno St. 3.99 Fresno St. 3.78 Houston 1.5 Houston 0.46 Fresno St. 0.6
Heart of Dallas
SRS likes the Mountaineers; everybody else likes the Utes. Everybody likes WVU against the spread.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS West Virginia 7-5 3.86 6.49 75.71 6.11 3.63 Utah 6-6 6.17 7.80 77.70 5.13 1.55 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Utah 2.31 Utah 1.30 Utah 1.80 Utah 4.5 Utah 1.99 West Virginia 1.0
DUSHEE has been down on the Fightin' Snyders all year long compared to everybody else. DUSHEE likes the Bruins, everyone else likes the Wildcats.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Kansas St. 7-5 -2.01 -2.06 77.70 4.78 1.53 UCLA 6-6 0.52 3.29 74.55 2.86 4.06 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS UCLA 2.53 UCLA 5.35 UCLA 3.94 Kansas St. 3 Kansas St. 3.15 Kansas St. 1.9
DUSHEE and Vegas like the Cowboys by almost a touchdown; Sagarin and SRS only like the Fightin' Mullets by about a point.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Virginia Tech 9-3 13.91 15.20 86.46 11.85 0.27 Oklahoma St. 9-3 19.64 21.71 87.67 12.52 0.14 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Oklahoma St. 5.73 Oklahoma St. 6.51 Oklahoma St. 6.12 Oklahoma St. 6.5 Oklahoma St. 1.21 Oklahoma St. 0.7
Everybody likes the Horns except Vegas. Sagarin likes Texas by almost a TD, everybody else by a field goal or less.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Texas 6-6 6.10 7.67 81.11 7.27 0.96 Missouri 7-5 3.84 3.62 74.35 5.34 -0.52 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Texas 2.26 Texas 4.06 Texas 3.16 Missouri 1 Texas 6.76 Texas 1.9
This bowl pits the teams with the largest differential in strength-of-schedule which translates to a big difference in how the Original and Revised formulations of DUSHEE see this game. Original DUSHEE has USF as a 9-point favorite; Revised DUSHEE likes Tech by under a point. Sagarin agrees with Revised DUSHEE; Vegas, SRS, and Average DUSHEE are close.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Texas Tech 6-6 2.68 6.69 76.47 3.39 4.43 South Florida 9-2 11.70 6.04 75.52 7.30 -9.93 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS South Florida 9.03 Texas Tech 0.64 South Florida 4.19 South Florida 2.5 Texas Tech 0.95 South Florida 3.9
It's easy to forget, especially those of us out of state, that A&M is still in Texas. They face off against Wake Forest in Charlotte where the computer models all like Wake more than Vegas, and Vegas has the Demon Deacons as a 2.5-point favorite.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Wake Forest 7-5 7.59 11.82 80.21 11.66 7.14 Texas A&M 7-5 2.38 3.52 75.20 3.05 3.29 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Wake Forest 5.21 Wake Forest 8.31 Wake Forest 6.76 Wake Forest 2.5 Wake Forest 5.01 Wake Forest 8.6
The Cyclones face off against Memphis who is playing in their home stadium. If Vegas views this as a home game for the Tigers, then the bettors view the teams as pretty well dead even, as does the SRS. DUSHEE likes Memphis while Sagarin likes Iowa State.
Team Record DO DR Sag SRS SoS Memphis 10-2 12.97 13.36 78.04 9.63 -0.67 Iowa St. 7-5 8.48 11.29 82.27 9.38 3.54 DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Memphis 4.49 Memphis 2.07 Memphis 3.28 Memphis 3 Iowa St. 4.23 Memphis 0.3
All the Others
Here are the other games
DO Fav DDO DR Fav DDR DA Fav DUSHEE Avg Vegas Fav Vegas Sag Fav DSag SRS Fav DSRS Boca Raton Florida Atlantic 23.09 Florida Atlantic 23.35 Florida Atlantic 23.22 Florida Atlantic 17 Florida Atlantic 12.79 Florida Atlantic 10.5 Potato Cent. Michigan 4.16 Cent. Michigan 4.70 Cent. Michigan 4.43 even 0 Wyoming 2.98 Wyoming 1.3 Bahamas Ohio 10.35 Ohio 12.15 Ohio 11.25 Ohio 8 Ohio 13.73 Ohio 8.7 Dollar General Toledo 5.92 Toledo 7.62 Toledo 6.77 Toledo 7 Toledo 6.98 Toledo 9.3 Gasparilla Temple 2.43 Temple 6.44 Temple 4.44 Temple 8 Temple 8.11 Temple 3.0 Quick Lane Northern Illinois 2.30 Duke 0.12 Northern Illinois 1.09 Duke 2.5 Duke 6.66 Duke 2.8 Independence Florida St. 3.77 Florida St. 15.49 Florida St. 9.63 Florida St. 14 Florida St. 17.8 Florida St. 11.9 Military Navy 7.82 Navy 7.36 Navy 7.59 Navy 3.5 Navy 1.72 Navy 3.3 Holiday Washington St. 2.11 Washington St. 1.18 Washington St. 1.65 Washington St. 4.5 Washington St. 0.8 Michigan St. 3.6 Pinstripe Iowa 4.66 Iowa 4.05 Iowa 4.36 Iowa 3 Iowa 5.76 Iowa 4.0 Foster Farms Purdue 3.84 Purdue 5.97 Purdue 4.91 Arizona 4.5 Purdue 1.79 Purdue 5.6 Sun N.C. State 6.44 N.C. State 9.05 N.C. State 7.75 N.C. State 5 N.C. State 5.4 N.C. State 5.5 Music City Northwestern 14.26 Northwestern 16.61 Northwestern 15.43 Northwestern 8.5 Northwestern 14.65 Northwestern 10.5 Arizona Utah St. 0.65 Utah St. 2.30 Utah St. 1.47 Utah St. 3 Utah St. 9.41 Utah St. 9.3 Citrus Notre Dame 7.60 Notre Dame 10.32 Notre Dame 8.96 LSU 2.5 Notre Dame 6.23 Notre Dame 8.4 Outback Michigan 12.42 Michigan 16.33 Michigan 14.37 Michigan 8.5 Michigan 7.71 Michigan 7.8 TaxSlayer Mississippi St. 3.12 Mississippi St. 5.95 Mississippi St. 4.53 Louisville 6 Mississippi St. 1.36 Mississippi St. 0.4
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She stands tall and fair and impossible to overlook in the Managua airport’s duty free shop. Her ash-blond hair and heaven-blue eyes cause more than one head to glance a second, a third time in her direction. Her name is Evelina. She’s 18 and Nicaraguan, but bears only latent genes from her tropics-born mother. Instead her features carry the memory of her East German father, long-returned to his homeland. Perhaps her delicate cheek bones and milky complexion are the only memories her mother has of her lover, one of hundreds of military advisors whose tour of duty brought them to this hot and dusty outpost. Evelina is a woman-child born of a brief union between a soldier chilled by loneliness and a woman burning with a desire to escape a nation destroyed by war and political intrigue. Her hair is pulled back and fastened with a black bow, exposing her ears and throat, emphasizing her whiteness next to her light bronze coworkers. She is tall and slim, nearly a head taller than her Latin companions, an especially beautiful flower standing a bit more lovely than the others in their little garden. Evelina sells watches and perfumes and T-shirts and American liquors to departing international travelers. I sit observing her from the chairs in front of her shop. I see her watch the departing passengers standing in line to board their plane. I wonder how much of her heart leaves with them. Does it seek someone like herself? Does it seek a country where she does not stand out so emphatically as being different? She shares a joke with Marvina, their laughter mingling on its way to where I sit. Marvina’s laughter is like thick, sweet honey, Evelina’s like water bubbling from a cold spring. Even as her lips grace her admirers with a smile, there is a distant look in her eyes. How cold is the loneliness of her own heart every time she looks in the mirror and thinks of a father she never saw? What are the passions that burn within as she works in a menial job, earning barely enough to pay her tuition as she seeks to escape the same desperation that entrapped her mother? I feel drawn to her, to ask her these questions, to listen to her open her heart. But...no…for now I hear my flight called. I rise from my watching-place and cast a final glance her way. Good-bye, fair Evelina. May you someday follow your heart to find whatever it is you seek.
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This day, August 13, was my mother's birthday. She would be 106 today. Got to thinking, as us old codgers can do, about the lives preceding mine. Mama's lifetime (she lived to almost 87) saw her go from the horse-and-wagon era (she was born under a wagon near Kimball's Bend down in Bosque County in 1910) to the age of jets and computers. She went through the depression, 2 world wars plus Korea and Nam. She went to Germany for Oktoberfest.. She was a widow the last 38 years of her life. She was an excellent writer with a terrific imagination and sense of humor. l can recall years back when she heard ``I wonder who's kissing her now" on the radio and remarked, ``Where exactly is her `now'?" The Dallas News moved her from the state desk to what was then still ``women's news" because the sweet young things in that dept. were letting too many double-meaning things get by. Mama was a farm girl with a liberal education and could catch that stuff. She probably never castrated a calf, but surely had seen it done and knew how. She could have made the Olympics if crossword puzzle solving were an event. I still miss her.
Think back to her parents,born in the 1880s. As children, and even young adults, they had virtually nothing that we take for granted -- cars, telephones, indoor plumbing, you name it. I remember in the late 1940s at their farm house, the phone would ring and Gran would say, ``Don't answer, that is Kleins' ring." Unless you wanted to listen on Kleins' conversation. Party lines were something else. She was a champ at wringing a chicken's neck, plucking it, cutting it up and frying it. All the way from chicken yard to dining table. Let Col. Sanders try that. When my grandmother was in her late 60s she got the most wonderful gift: A cream separator so she wouldn't have to churn so much. I miss her, too, even if she did think enemas were the cure for almost anything a little boy might have.
Norman Lear almost killed TV in the 1970s. Oh, sure, he, Bud Yorkin and a few of their pals revolutionized the medium, and most of what they made was absolutely brilliant: All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, Good Times and One Day at a Time, to name a prominent few. In the dying days of the Vietnam conflict and during the collective shame of Watergate, America craved yelling, screaming and fighting on television. (And maybe we still do in troubled times; look at the reality-TV boom of the early 2000s and all the events that occurred in that era. Apparently escapism isn't all it's cracked up to be and never has been.)
The brilliance of Lear's creations was that, although the "liberal" side almost always won in his programs' episodes, viewers of all political and social stripes had somebody to embrace. Archie Bunker, most prominently by far, was supposed to be an easy-to-hate, ready-made bigot always comically set up for a fall by his own backward thinking or that of his goofy friends, or by his daughter and cultured son-in-law (and even sometimes by his sweet wife). Maude herself gave Archie fits in the early years of the series, as did George Jefferson and Irene Lorenzo. Pretty much all of Lear's subsequent creations (the successful ones, anyway) emerged like smoke from Archie's cigar. Archie Bunker was pater familias of the most dysfunctional extended TV family of all time. But a funny thing happened on the way to Archie becoming a villain. He became a hero. So many Americans loved him so much--warts, humiliations, bald-faced bigotry and all--that the show's producers eventually had to make the show all about him. The liberals faded, slowly, as did most of Archie's nemeses. Gloria disappeared. Meathead disappeared. Maude got her own show fairly early on. The Jeffersons got one even earlier. Even Edith, beloved wife, got killed off when Jean Stapleton quit the show. But Archie soldiered on, eventually half-spinning off into a show that really was all about him, Archie Bunker's Place. It ran into the Reagan administration, which surely would have pleased a real Archie Bunker.
Archie possessed the same charm that Howard Stern used to rule the airwaves for a decade or two and that Donald Trump is using now to try to ascend to the highest office in the land. He said what he felt when he felt like saying it, and he didn't care who heard or what other people thought. Americans love a loudmouth, almost no matter what he (or she) says, and let's face it: Archie was lovable! And hilarious! And not always wrong! Mostly, that was because Carroll O'Connor gave the character more wrinkles than Abe Vigoda has on his whole body (if, indeed, Mr. Vigoda is still alive, and I think he is). But it was also because Archie said what a lot of Americans were thinking at the time, and the funny part is that history has proven him right on at least a few occasions. At the end of the Jimmy Carter election episode in 1976, maybe 1977, Archie barked to Meathead, "You're getting Reagan in '80!" And on another famous episode, Archie's televised proposal to arm every passenger on an airplane with a pistol in order to prevent hijackings foreshadowed the era of air marshals post-September 11.
But back to Norman Lear almost killing television. In a nutshell, it all got to be too much. All in the Family's ratings started to slip, just a little bit, in 1976 and fell from there. Maude suffered a similar fate. George and Weezy lasted into the mid-'80s but with a vastly changed set of messages. They basically went from serious to silly. George ended up doing the unthinkable and palling around with Tom Wills! One Day at a Time also softened considerably, eliminating the contentious divorced-father character and turning Schneider, the famous building super, from a somewhat lecherous dude always wanting to boink Ms. Romano into a protector of the single mother and her girls (or girl, of course, after poor McKenzie Phillips went off the rails and took Julie Cooper with her). Good Times should have ended when John Amos left the cast. In any case, fighting got old. Yelling and screaming got old. Politics got old. No other entity can overdo a good thing and pound it mercilessly into the ground the way American television can. That's what was happening in the late '70s. The outlook was bleak. The Lear formula was boring, but networks kept trying it. And then somebody at ABC came to his (or her) senses.
What you're about to see is powerful. It's borderline mind-blowing. This is how ABC responded to CBS and Norman Lear's hegemony on television. Stripping away all pretension, ABC went old school. It brought back stand-up-style comedy, sort of (Welcome Back, Kotter). It brought in an alien for more, and more bizarre, stand-up stuff (Mork and Mindy, of course). It brought back hot chicks, sexual tension and broad physical comedy (Three's Company). It brought something of a yeller-screamer show to the fore, but it made the conflicts personal, not political, and it gave multiple characters enviable depth, not just one or two (Taxi). And it brought back the '50s (Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley)! When in doubt, bring back the '50s. Nothing bad ever happened in the '50s, right, Archie Bunker? Now, ABC's revolution didn't start in 1978. It had been going for a few years, and by the time the long-form trailer below hit advertising agencies, ABC had become the No. 1 network on television, mainly by killing off Archie Bunker with Mork, the Fonz and Suzanne Summers. Behold:
Now, let's take these gems one by one.
Welcome Back, Kotter: It didn't have long to run, as Vinny Barbarino would soon be on his way out and Beau de la Barre on his way in, but Welcome Back, Kotter managed to capture inner-city pathos without pounding us over the head with it. There were two white guys, a black guy and a Puerto Rican Jew serving as the main characters on this show, along with a Jew-fro'ed, mustachioed, wise-cracking teacher who himself had been a Sweathog a scant decade or so before taking over in the classroom. We didn't ask why guys from diverse racial backgrounds were friends. (Norman Lear would have hammered that angle.) All we knew was that they were scamps, mostly low-level troublemakers who wouldn't so much as be called down in the classroom in today's era of school violence. And they loved the one guy they could relate to, the one guy who got them, who had been one of them in a not-so-distant former life. This is probably one of the better shows about teaching and classrooms ever made (Head of the Class also comes to mind) in part because it mostly deals with the everyday, fairly mundane problems that seem so magnified and earth-shattering in high school. There's really not much in the way of hard drug use, alcoholism, teenage sex or domestic violence on Kotter. (Again, Norman Lear would have had a field day with that stuff.) The guys worry about girls, sports, their hair, whatever. Kotter just wants to keep them out of trouble--not life-changing trouble, necessarily, just school trouble. This show teaches without preaching. That's why it worked in the let-up era of the late '70s.
Operation Petticoat: This one doesn't jog the memory for me, but it looks sufficiently slapstick to fit into the lineup. Hey, not every hit is a home run.
Taxi: This must have been Taxi's first season. (I did no research for this entry.) This show is criminally underrated (yes, really) and merits a long blog entry of its own. What made it appealing was an amazing cast and characters that people cared about because they seemed like people, not like the political caricatures Norman Lear (skillfully) drew. Sure, there was conflict, but there was also resolution (most of the time, anyway) and the strong feeling that these people could, and maybe did, actually exist. And seriously, that cast: Judd Hirsch, Danny Devito, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza (yeah, OK, but he had a pretty good career after Taxi), Jeff Conaway, Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future!) and, for heaven's sake, the unbelievable, inimitable, completely mold-breaking Andy Kaufman. And Carol Kane as his wife! Other than the cars and the telephones, this show holds up well today. It has a timelessness that the Archie Bunker family tree mostly doesn't have. That's not to say that Norman Lear's creations weren't great. They were. They just weren't set up to be relevant 40 years after they aired.
Happy Days: The show that ended up originating the phrase "jump the shark" (which now dates to the late '90s, ouch!) hadn't quite done it yet in 1978. It was still goofy Richie and his pals, cool Fonz (how was he ever cool? ... that's another blog entry) and the straight-laced Cunninghams. Smooth and easy. Satisfying. Nostalgic for the middle-aged folks and yet entertaining enough for the kids. This show was emblematic of the ABC revolution and led the way. It didn't need to be brilliant. It just needed to be fun, and it was ... until Chachi came along.
Laverne & Shirley: Happy Days with girls! And more laughs! And more goofiness! And Carmine "the big Ragu" Ragusa, the world's first dancing tough guy! And one of the great theme songs of all time! After half a decade of strife, yeah, people were ready for this. And it was great ... until they moved to California.
Three's Company: Based on a British show (as so much of our television is, check out Til Death Us Do Part sometime) called Man about the House, this show became emblematic of mindless drivel on television and was probably the most prominent antidote of all to Norman Lear's seriousness. But you know what? Three's Company was funny. John Ritter was a brilliant physical comedian. The writing was vaudevillian in the best possible way. The setting, Southern California in the '70s, could not have been more enticing. And there were blondes, so many blondes, blondes with big hair and short shorts and halter tops. And there were the Ropers, and after the Ropers came Mr. Furley, who was actually funnier than the Ropers! As a kid, I wanted to live in Three's Company, just in the same neighborhood as Jack, Janet and Chrissy/can't remember the middle one's name/Terri. This show is still great today because innuendo, mild situational irony and a horny straight dude having to pretend to be gay will never get old. By the way, that gay thing ... Ridiculous as it might have been on this show, homosexuality was something Norman Lear never really, really breached in his a career, at least not prominently. Just saying.
Starsky & Hutch: Overrated. Sorry, but it was. Great cars, cool clothes, but it got repetitive. But crime dramas get that way. Sacrilege, I know, but I don't care. Definitely cool at the time, though, and yes, I still have the toy car.
Vegas: This, however, was great. Robert Urich is underrated historically. I never figured out, though, why he parked his car right in his house, or apartment, or whatever it was. Didn't the engine make the place hot? Didn't the car smell? Whatever, awesome show. Dan Tanna. Seriously.
Charlie's Angels: Its best days were past it (Farah Fawcett returns to guest star ... ugh), but three beautiful women fighting crime for some guy we never see? Again, after Maude, America needed this. America wanted this, no matter how much Maude would have hated it. (Or would she have? It was all about female empowerment, after all.)
Eight is Enough: TCU's own Betty Buckley! Eventually! This show was the serious Brady Bunch, but it worked because Dick Van Patten was strangely likable and Adam Rich was just cute enough. Again, ABC went with family here, but it was a family that fought over personal things, not over politics (mostly). These seemed like real people until one of the girls married a pitcher for the Dodgers.
Mork and Mindy: Oh, wow. What is there to say? Robin Williams. An adorable Pam Dawber. Later, Jonathan Winters! A settling in Boulder that was brilliant, in that Mork could hide pretty effectively in a midsize college town that was half full of stoners, anyway. This was one long Robin Williams stand-up show, complete with his constant message of peace and kindness, with the occasional friendly chiding or shocked reaction from Mindy. And for a while, it worked. Spectacularly well. But it's hard to carry such a goofy set-up on for very long. Eventually, Mork starts figuring out Earth. He starts figuring out Mindy. He settles in. Then what? Then it's over. But what a sensation this show was, and what a brilliant and funny departure it was from the Archie Bunker family of shows. Mork was an alien right in the heart of the Star Wars era, when science fiction was huge. But he wasn't scary. He was Robin Williams, RIP and thanks. It's hard to watch this one now, but the appeal is still fresh. And remember, this was actually a Happy Days spin-off. The Fonz had a family of his own.
What's Happening!!: Is it racist for me to say that this is very likely the best black sitcom in the history of television? Yes, really! Why was it so great? First of all, it was funny. Always funny. The characters were endearing. The scripts were memorable. (Dwayne bet on the football team that had the helmet he liked best. Tampa over Oakland? Oh, no!) There was plenty of charm to go around, from Shirley at the diner to Mama to Dee to Rerun and Dwayne to Roj, arguably television's first black nerd. But what really worked on this show was that it was about people--black people, but that didn't matter. After getting lecture after lecture from Norman Lear about race (some of them necessary, of course), here we had a program that featured black characters with no soapboxes. They were just funny characters. And the theme song was awesome. Another criminally underrated show.
Barney Miller: Just as teachers talk about Kotter as the best classroom show ever made, cops talk about Barney Miller as the best cop show ever. Well, at least those old enough to remember it do, or used to. TV has tried so hard over the decades to come up with something both entertaining and authentic to depict the lives of police officers, but until the actual show Cops debuted, nothing had come as close as Barney Miller to nailing the scene. Sure, the cops on Barney Miller were detectives, not street cops (except for poor Levitt, of course), but their daily routine of filling out paperwork, drinking terrible coffee and dealing with fringe-ish types in Greenwich Village was much more accurate a portrait of cop life than the car-chase and gun-battle action shows that both preceded and followed the sitcom classic. Or so I've read, or been told ... or maybe I just want that to be true. In any case, here was another show that mixed characters seamlessly and didn't bother to talk much about the fact that there were white, black, Puerto Rican and Asian characters sharing the same small space. (Again, this was extremely post-racial stuff compared to All in the Family or The Jeffersons.) Even Linda Lavin had a turn as a female detective in the show's early years. Barney Miller was elite television, despite, or maybe even because of, numerous cast changes. It's still one of the best and most entertaining shows on TV, a cut well above most of what the medium has cranked out over the years.
Soap: It wasn't Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman or Fernwood 2 Night, although the idea was similar, if not pretty much the same. Still, this show, which actually looked a bit like a Norman Lear comedy (remember, it spawned Benson), became a farcical '70s classic. Despite the always corrosive presence of Billy Crystal, Soap was a rollicking riot of a show that captured the Carter-era malaise by making every character on the show pretty much completely indifferent to every other character. This program took the feelings and anger of Lear's work and turned them into farce and complete stupidity--with hilarious results! Of course, it would never work today because the programs it parodied, soap operas, are basically dead, and realty TV has swallowed the last bit of potential irony on television.
Family: To my somewhat limited memory, this show was Eight is Enough with fewer kids and with a budding star named Kristy McNichol, who pretty much disappeared after the show's run, save maybe for a few after-school-special-type programs. She did some damage on Battle of the Network Stars, though, another brilliant ABC creation (starring Howard Cosell and Bruce Jenner!).
Donny & Marie: Mormon disco! This was the oldest of old-school crap. Whatever. People liked it ... for a while. It was definitely mindless, and that was appealing for the era.
Apple Pie: One bad Apple didn't spoil the whole bunch for ABC, but this show only lasted eight episodes. I'd never actually heard of it until I saw the promo video. Sitcoms with historical settings only last if they're set in the '50s (including M*A*S*H). This was was from the '30s. Why? Still ... Dabney Coleman!
Carter Country: Unquestionably the best mostly forgotten sitcom of all time, this show was about black and white cops in the South (Carter Country, as in Jimmy) but still managed to be mostly silly, with Roy, the gruff police chief; Kene Holliday's savvy cop character; and the Mayor, who coined the catchphrase, "Handle it, Roy! Handle it! Handle it!" goofing around in a small-town Georgia police station. This was a sillier version of Barney Miller that lacked Barney's gravitas but nevertheless turned out to be pretty entertaining. And again, we're mainly in post-Lear racial territory here, with everybody getting along for the most part and their relationships requiring no real explanation. Carter Country was an absolute delight and was as late-'70s as Sam Houston was Texan. It's a gem to see these days if it pops up on one of the nostalgia channels. Why this show didn't get a more legendary treatment remains a mystery.
The Love Boat: Oh, wow. Oh, wow oh wow. I'm not saying that I named my first born after Isaac the bartender, but I'm not saying I didn't. Because I kind of did, kind of. This is a cultural touchstone if there ever was one. Basically a reference point for cheesy television, The Love Boat nevertheless ran for a very long time and roped in every guest star imaginable from mid-'70s and early '80s television. What an absolute tour de force of sappy, goofball television this was. Needed a break from Norman Lear's preachy creations? Oh, America, you got it. I mean you really got it.
Fantasy Island: This show was awful, awful, awful. Diabolically acted, amateurishly cast, drippily dramatic and borderline scary, it's hard to believe that it's still pretty much the defining role of Ricardo Montalban's career. Still, again, it was a break from what the first half of the decade had brought to television. The unintentional comedy on this show was rampant, though, something I've mainly discovered watching the program in recent years on nostalgia TV. How did TV execs of the era green light this stuff? And how did it stay so popular for so long? Was Tatu really that cute? (By the way, Herve Villechaise, who was from Paris, had normal-sized organs in that tiny body and lived every day in excruciating pain. Which is sad. But apparently his not-dwarfy genitals were popular with the ladies. Really! Aren't you glad you read this far? I know. Nobody did.)
The Hardy Boys: I vaguely remember this show, but what I don't remember about it was it being the gayest show ever. NTTAWWT, of course. But still. Wow, so gay. I actually feel some sense of retro happiness for all the poor, closeted gentlemen who, at least, got to get excited about seeing this show on Saturday nights, even if they couldn't express their true selves in the open in 1978. Good for you, guys, really. Somehow, Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy (IMDB profile photo from 1978, no joke) are still working, Cassidy as a pretty big-time producer. There's no business like it. (OK, so I did a tiny bit of research. IMDB is a day killer.)
Movies: Taxi Driver on network TV? How? I'm pretty sure I saw The Bad News Bears on ABC in 1978, deleted bad words and all. And Battlestar Galactica, wow, what a great show and franchise that was. World class, and I'm not even a sci-fi guy, normally.
And then there's a musical number at the end of the video! (Remember the video? That's what all of this was supposed to be about.) Mr. Cunningham, Isaac, Shirley, Barney Miller ... they're all there, grooving to a mild disco beat. I've seen better promo dance numbers (much better), but it's charming nonetheless. And that voice of ABC was the best TV voice ever.
Norman Lear was a genius, a revolutionary and quite possibly the most important person in the history of scripted American television. But when enough was enough, ABC came through with a lineup so powerful that its awesomeness and grandeur still resonate today. And most of all, it was fun. It defined the greatest era in human history, the late '70s. And it kept the beautiful medium, television, from eating itself. We owe much to Mork, the Fonz, Wojo, Alex Reger, Roj and even the Mayor from Carter Country. Long may their legacy endure.
Baylor University, Please Stop Chanting “Kill” at Your Games
An Open Letter to Ken Starr
I recently flew from Kentucky to Texas in order to watch my beloved Horned Frogs take on the formidable Baylor Bear football team for the 110th time. I was eager to see the new stadium, and I was impressed with the hospitality I encountered before and after the game. The game itself was both exciting and intense from start to finish. However, there was one part of the whole experience that completely stopped me in my tracks – so much so that it is still on my mind more than ten days after returning home.
Mr. Starr, did you know that your fans chant the word “kill” over and over again at your games? Of course you do, as I saw your spirited run across the field to start the game so I know that you were there. When I realized what they were saying, I began looking around. Students, senior citizens, young children, mothers holding babies...all rhythmically calling for murder together. This mental image is forever seared into my brain.
Because here’s the thing. People really do die in collegiate sports. In America, high school and college football players die playing the sport at an average rate of more than twelve per year. These players have names – such as Chucky Mullins, Derek Sheeley, and Derringer Cade – and mothers and brothers and girlfriends that will never see them again. In fact, one sad facet of the shared TCU/Baylor history is that a TCU head coach died on the sidelines during one of our games in Waco in the early 1970s. I firmly believe that you don’t actually want young men to die on your football field, so I am uncertain as to why you would allow your collective voices to be raised in calling for this, over and over again.
The pregame prayer that was offered up in your stadium described our two storied institutions as “unapologetically Christian.” To be unapologetically Christian requires a posture that always presents a gospel-oriented countercultural witness to the world. It requires standing up to the mobs that would chant “Crucify him!” It means refusing to allow the pomp and pageantry of collegiate sports to reduce itself to gladiatorial spectacle.
But this goes beyond theological concerns, and I would be equally bothered by a secular institution chanting “kill” at sporting events. This is simply an appeal to our shared humanity. Let’s work together to let our competitive sports experiences bring out the best in human nature, not the worst.
TCU Class of '91
What can we do to make our Horned Frogs:
We have the opportunity to influence things in a great way! What do we want our Game Day (Disney) experience to be? Just something to do...pass the hot Saturday away instead of lawn work/house chores....or a great froging time?
Please share your thoughts! Any input is (almost always) better than none!!!
As Benefield enters the WSOP final table on Monday, he has the least amount of chips in front of him. This is known as the “short stack” in poker lingo, and it is obviously a vulnerable place to be. Chips always equal power, and in tournament poker chips represent life itself. When you run out of chips, your game is over.
Until then, though, you have “a chip and a chair.” This axiom, often said to players encouraging each other, points out that as long as you have a chip in front of you, you are alive and so can theoretically win it all. The saying traces back to the 1982 WSOP when the eventual winner Jack Straus pushed in all his chips and lost. As he got up to leave the table he discovered he had one chip under his napkin. Because he hadn’t said “all in,” the tournament directors allowed him to sit back down and he eventually won it all.
When you are playing a tournament and find yourself as the short stack, your strategy should intentionally shift. First, do some math. When you are down to around ten big blinds, you should start looking for a place to make your move. Your move then should always be “all in,” and it is imperative that you don’t wait too long. Why? Because you still want to have enough chips to scare people out of the pot. If your final all-in is a small amount of money, you will have lots of callers. Lots of callers who want you out of the game. The more hands you are up against, the more likely you are to lose. Even if you have a monster pocket hand like aces, they are much less likely to hold up against several callers. It’s possible that you will feel disappointed if everyone folds and you thought you were going to win a bigger pot, but it is always “better to win a little than lose a lot” (in this case, all). Just stealing blinds is better than going up against several callers for your tournament life.
Now you may be thinking, “but every person you survive makes your payout higher, so shouldn’t the short stack try to just hang on as long as possible, folding everything, so maybe a person or two goes out before them?” No. Poker players play to win, not to place one higher. Circling the drain for hours until you are forced in is wussy poker. Much better to take control of your own situation and force others to make decisions in response to your actions.
So Benefield’s hope as the final table begins is that he gets a very strong hand fairly quickly, gets all his money in the pot against one caller, and then beats that caller. If this happens then his stack doubles and he is no longer the short stack. This would buy him some time then to settle in and be patient once again.
One other note on tournament play…
The object of tournament play is to get other players out. For this reason, it is customary that if one person is all-in then the rest of the players in the hand check it down rather than betting into a side pot. Why? You may think your hand is so great that you simply have to keep betting and this makes everyone else fold except the all-in hand. If that person ends up with the better hand then you have just allowed them to live. You may very well regret this later when this person takes you out of the tournament! When someone is all-in, the more callers they have means the more likelihood they are walking away from the table. This trumps any possibility of short term gains in a side pot.
K State is over 500 miles from TCU. Just long enough to be a miserable drive.
Wichita, Kansas (ICT) is a cheaper alternative to Kansas City (MCI). Cars are cheap to rent and the drive is just about the same.
Airfares to MCI are about $218. ICT is about $174.
For people who really like to do things the hard way, flights to Tulsa are $138. That leaves 275 miles in the car.
Rental car prices are competitive in all those markets.
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I started my Yoga practice at TCU some many years ago. Over the years I gone to a lot of different classes, both good and bad. I even practice Yoga on my own each morning (or try some mornings are better than others). Yoga has helped me on good days and bad days. I definitely do not think I could have made it through law school and the bar without some of the things I have learned from Yoga. Most people know Yoga as the stretching exercise class that women do to stay in shape. This is an untrue stereotype about yoga. Men and even some of the best athletes in the world of both genders use Yoga to help improve their own sports.
Yoga can be much more than just stretching. I enjoy Yoga because it has helped with my breathing, stress, anxiety, back pain, and knee injuries. It has built total body strength based from my core muscles and helped clear my mind of unneeded stress. I have attached (hopefully, the upload worked) some poses that go from simple to advanced. I encourage anyone who practices yoga to try new poses. Some of the fun of yoga is the challenge of trying to hold a new pose. At first some poses can be extremely hard. However, Yoga is something that can constantly be improved and adjusted. Its part of the beauty of Yoga is that allows a person to move through different positions allowing for a new experience to occur.
Growing up I loved to play competitive sports. Yoga is non-traditional competitive sport. Some may ask what is a non-traditional competitive sport mean? It means that the competition is against oneself. In yoga someone will always be better than you. It does not matter because you are not competing against others. I have a hard time touching my toes. Yep, I said it! You may ask how can someone who has been doing Yoga for so many years have a hard time touching their toes? It is something that I have always had to work on with stretching. While this has always been a challenging pose for me in Yoga. I've seen a Yoga teacher who can bend forward over and lay her head down on her knees! While she could do a lot of the flexible poses, she struggled with some of the arm balancing poses that come easy for me. The point is that you can always learn something in Yoga even if you practice by yourself or with others! I encourage others to post about their Yoga practice.