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Showing content with the highest reputation since 06/16/2013 in Blog Entries

  1. 6 points

    Don Juan

    Don Juan was in prison. His daughter Ana ran to tell me the news as my pickup rattled into the wide spot in the dirt road the people who lived there called Galeras. It isn't a town, not even a village, just a collection of houses that had to be built somewhere, and for unknown reasons they were built here. A tiny place, a hard place, a lonely place. Forty-five minutes of gravel, dirt and potholes to the nearest paved road. Water runs down from natural springs higher up in the hills, through plastic pipes and hoses put there by CARE in an attempt to give the people something they could call potable water. There isn't any electricity, except for the generator at Ruperto's house where I spent most weekends. Folks here are farmers, raising corn and pigs and children, all considered essential for a reasonably long and marginally prosperous life in rural Honduras. Juan had a small farm with dismal looking corn, five children, and a two-room adobe house with a clay tile roof. That's where I met Juan, where we became friends, under his roof. For some reason we hit it off from the beginning. I'd get to Ruperto's house about three in the afternoon, drop off my backpack, and begin my ritual walk around Galeras, talking with people and generally looking out of place, the only person within miles with more than just a hint of European genes. One afternoon I met Juan. He invited me in for coffee, and we talked about politics, crops, the weather, his family, his life...the things that men with more empty hours than hopes talk about. We passed whole afternoons together. If times were good he'd ask his wife to bring us tortillas and fresh cheese, or some tamales she'd made from corn masa and mysterious pieces of meat. We'd sit and talk until dark, then he'd light the homemade lamp, an old brake fluid can half-filled with kerosene and a strip of cloth for a wick. The flickering orange light it provided was only slightly brighter than the darkness around us, but in it I could see Juan, surrounded by all his worldly goods, his face lined from days in the sun, his eyes alive with friendship. Now he was in prison. He was my friend. I went to see him. The prison was at Yuscar√°n. Forty-five minutes back to the highway, another half-hour to the turnoff, then thirty minutes of dust and gravel and I was there. A gold mine birthed the town in colonial times but that played out, and now the main sources of employment were the distillery, a few unimportant government offices and the prison. I presented myself to the guard, and asked if I could visit a prisoner. A full body search later I entered Juan's new world. There was a large central patio of sandal-packed dirt. Surrounding the patio were cells built for ten and holding thirty. I looked for Juan and found him in his usual T-shirt, brown pants and sweat-stained straw hat. Vacant brown eyes came alive when he saw me. We didn't shake hands, Juan grabbed me and hugged me, a manly Latin abrazo. I hugged back. He was embarrassed to be in prison, but, life is that way, isn't it? A man struggles just to make a living for himself and his family, then celebrates the sale of a good corn crop with a bottle of aguardiente and...his shrug spoke eloquently. "Please, let's find some shade," he said, and we headed towards a wall. On the way we passed an inmate selling bananas. Juan reached into his pocket, pulled out ten centavos, and bought two bananas. He smiled and gave me one. It was almost too precious a gift to eat. We squatted in the shade, sitting on our heels, our backs leaning against the wall. We talked, not looking at each other because of his shame. Yes, he was doing fine, but missed his family. Yes, he had enough money to buy extra food to supplement the prison's meager rations, but...well...he needed money to pay a fine. Or a lawyer, I was never really sure which, but it didn't matter. He needed $100. A pair of shoes to me, but freedom to him. Would I please give the money to Ana, and she'd make certain the legal expenses were paid, and he'd pay me back a little at a time until the debt was cancelled? Certainly. Within ten days Juan was home with his family. Juan was a prisoner who could be set free because he was held behind walls of concrete and bars of iron. Galeras held other prisoners not so easily given their freedom. Prisoners of ignorance, of tradition, of poverty. Most are there still, only a very few have been set free.
  2. 5 points
    old scribe

    the most amazing...

    I've been around. I've met presidents and oil barons. I saw Earl Campbell play football. I watched Clyde Drexler when he was a UH freshman. I saw flaming crashes on race tracks. I used to pass Cullen Davis on the street regularly in downtown Fort Worth. But the most amazing thing I ever saw was Chuck Eisenmann and his dogs. It was about 1960, in the Reporter-Telegram office in Midland. Eisenmann evidently was touring to promote something or other and I was thrilled to meet him, not because he brought dogs with him, but because I had watched him pitch in the Texas League about 1946. He was a name from my childhood. But what he had taught those dogs was unbelievable. I remember he told a dog, ``Turn off the lights." He didn't touch the dog, or gesture or motion toward a light switch. Just said, ``turn off the lights." The dog looked around the newsroom until he spotted a light switch. Then he went to the light switch, reached up with a paw and turned off the lights. I think he had another one of the dogs turn the lights back on. We had people working there who couldn't turn on the lights or follow directions, but those dogs could. Eisenmann then handed a dog a wad of paper and said, ``Put it in the wastebasket." No gestures, no motions. The dog found a wastebasket and dropped the paper in it. And there were other tricks they did. It really was amazing. Years later I discovered that Eisenmann had made a living training dogs such as those. He even wrote a book about how to do it. His method was to talk to the dogs, much as you would to a person, until they actually began to understand all the words. It worked for Chuck. I don't know how it worked for others. But it was amazing to watch.
  3. 4 points
    old scribe

    Remember your grandpa?

    Some of this may have been mentioned in past years, but bear with me: Since I go back further in time than anyone here (I know we are in the ``common era," but I grew up in what was surely an uncommon era), I will relate some memories of my grandfather Milner (the grandfather who didn't know Wyatt Earp). He was a farmer and boss of a thresher crew mostly, though during the Great Depression he moved into town (Henrietta) and opened a garage. So that was my first memory of him. He'd let me pump gas up into the glass tank at the top of the gas pump, which was a thrill for a 3-4-5 year old kid. Then when WWII came along, and gas and tires were rationed, he went back to farming. Through it all he drove the same 1934 Chevy pickup. We lived in Tulsa 1944-48, but either by car or train I got to Henrietta each summer. Remember being at the station in Denison (always a big rail center) in 1945 and waiting for troop trains to go by so that our passenger train could procede. I guess the troops were moving moved west as the European war was ended and we still had the Japanese to fight. I also spent the first half of 1944 living in Henrietta with my grandparents and attending the second grade there while my parents hunted for a house in Tulsa (Tulsa had a big airplane plant and housing was hard to find). My most indelible memory of that was the fire escape slide from the second floor of the elementary school. We would play on it, and one day I was sliding down and sort of rolled up the side and got a big cut in my upper thigh. Had to be sewed up. Only realized later that a few inches more and I would have sung soprano all my life. I would accompany ``Daddy" as we called him on his jaunts down U.S. 82 to Ringgold, St. Jo, Muenster, etc. for cattle auctions. That road is straight, but it does go up and down some nice hills. It was his frugal habit to cut off the ignition at the top a hill and coast down the hill before starting the engine again. Now, yes, in 1944-45 we had gas rationing (since he was a farmer it didn't affect him that much), but this was false economy on his part, I now realize. Besides which, far as I know he never drove faster than 30 mph anyway. That pickup was the first vehicle I ever drove (this was a little later, when I was about 12 and helped with a corn harvest by driving the pickup while men tossed corn into the truck bed). It was that truck (made of solid pre-war steel) that Daddy drove across his farm each day. He took his 10-gauge shotgun with him in the cab and if he saw a jackrabbit, he poked the gun out the window and got the rabbit to take home to the two old dogs that he had. Once he hit a bump on one of these trips and the shotgun went off and blew a hole about 8 inches in diameter in the roof of the pickup cab. I think after that he stopped taking the gun with him. That's enough for today about G.E. Milner of Henrietta. The last time I saw him they had moved back into town in the late 1950s, and he passed away in early 1961, to the end more a man of the 19th century than of the 20th. I did get from him a couple of useful earthy sayings, as when he described some really good dessert as ``richer than 3 feet up a bull's ass."
  4. 3 points
    old scribe

    the print era, etc.

    One of my friends on the Frog Horn, being of questionable taste and sanity, asked me for some newspaper (or Star-Telegram) memories. I've mentioned here and there some of the old personalities from the S-T. Guys I knew best (and this is when there were more guys than women in the business) included columnist Jim Trinkle and our old sports group like Herb Owens, George Kellam, Dick Moore, Flem Hall (our boss and my neighbor), Bob Clanton, George Wallace, Bob Sonderegger, Bob Hood (recently departed), etc., and my editorial page comrades like Bill Youngblood, roger Summers, Cecil JOhnson, Tommy Denton and J.R. Labbe. Anecdotes? Well, Moore covered several Olympic games and came back from one of them (about 1960 or 1964, I guess, complaining that he had let U.S. shotputter Parry O'Brien borrow his (Dick's) room. O'Brien used it for a tryst with Aussie swimmer Dawn Fraser and left the room a mess. Herb Owens was funny. (I've told elsewhere the story of his ``Frank Lane" phone call to Lon Goldstein, wherein he told Goldstein he was looking for a first baseman for the White Sox and Lon said, ``Have you tried Leonard Brothers?"). Herb was our sports ``slot man" (the guy putting the section together, decided stories to be used, assigning headlines to be written, etc.) for the evening S-T. He sat at the desk idly eating paste (there were pots of flour-based paste essential to all newspaper operations) while reading copy. Herb also once went to the Panhandle to cover a HS playoff game (this was when the S-T was more or less the newspaper of record for all of West Texas) and wrecked his car. He came back with an expense account entry of a couple thousand dollars to fix his car. It was disallowed (this was at a time when an S-T worker had to turn in a pencil stub to get a new copy pencil with which to edit copy....the paper was not throwing nickels around freely). I've also told elsewhere the true story about a former S-T editor and the thermostat. We had gotten a new copying machine and it happened to be situated against a wall under a thermostat. This editor asked someone how to use the new machine and was told that the controls were on the wall and you set it for how many copies you wanted. He did set the thermostat for his copies and waited. Finally he realized he had been snookered. Perhaps the half-concealed laughter around the newsroom was a clue. I imagine some of you remember Jerry Flemmons. Flemmons was an excellent writer and also one of those people who is always in the right place. As when he took a leave of absence to be the press secretary for Waggoner Carr's gubernatorial campaign. Thus he happened to be in Austin, and on the UT campus, just when sniper Gary Whitman opened fire from the tower. When two cops finally ascended the stairway to the tower roof to get Whitman, Flemmons was with them. He got the story first-hand. I'll keep this short and save more stuff for another time, like the lowdown about J.R. Labbe or how Roger Summers almost had a surprise roommate.
  5. 3 points
    old scribe

    after the tech game...

    And all the finger-pointing (if ever a game deserved finger -pointing, this was it), I was reminded of an old Frog star, Blair Cherry. When Cherry was the coach, the very successful coach, at UT, a big cigar alum asked him, ``Coach, how many students we got now?" Cherry responded, ``Oh, about 18,000, I think." And the alum said, ``Well, why the hell can't you get one of them blocking out in front of the ball carrier?" Not long thereafter, such comments led Cherry to take his 32-10-1 record and go back to Amarillo. His last season (1950) was 9-1 before losing to Tennessee in the Cotton bowl. But the point is that I had been thinking about a blog pointing a finger at one of those occasional sea changes in football. I had about decided that this was to be the era of the basketball-on-grass game exemplified by Oregon and a few others on the college (well, semi-pro) level. I was thinking, the old days of defense are over. It'll take a few years for defenses to catch up with the latest offensive trend (just as D eventually dealt with the single wing, the straight T, the split T, the veer, the wishbone, etc.). I was premature. Turns out we are not quite yet seeing the era of the commonplace 50-45 game. There will be some, but not every week. I point my finger at the TCU defense. It actually did a very good job of restricting Tech's offense. Good D (with a couple notable exceptions) should have won the day. Tech even came up with a very good defensive plan (I guess) and certainly very good defensive effort. I guess about the plan because how can you tell when the Frog offense keep shooting itself in the foot? So the finger has to be pointed at the TCU offense. Some pointing goes to Boykin. We have seen few more athletic quarterbacks at Frogland (certainly not since Dutch's day). But there has to be some soul-searching in the coaching offices. They have to figure out how best to use this young man. Then there is an OS finger pointing at the receiving corps. I got to watching them when the TV allowed, and they were not exactly as open as butcher knives. Carter was a few times. But it is hard to throw to receivers who are not open. Also not wise to do it. They were better last year. So a finger has to wiggle in the direction of Coach Luper, who replaced last year's WR coach. His son is doing okay. Not sure yet about Dad. Of course all five fingers on the pointing hand go toward the OL . It is not very good. It needs to be better. Or else we are staring at a 3-9 record or thereabouts. There is not a lot of offensive scheming that can hide a bad OL. And the fingers pointing at the coordinators are busy. I don't know enough to criticize calling this play or that play. But I can criticize the overall confused look of the offense in the first half and say it goes to the coaching, either overall or maybe some over-coaching of the QB. I have hopes the Frogs will win another couple games, but I really don't know how they will do it. Maybe they cut down on the foot-shooting. Maybe they can recruit OL people from the student body. Maybe a light bulb will go on over the OC's heads. And if they overcome what we have seen, and find a key to success. I will point a finger at mine-ownself and say, ``I wuz wrong, fellas."
  6. 3 points
    old scribe

    Politicos, chapter dos...

    One of the most intriguing candidate interviews I can recall (our editorial board tended to interview most candidates for all offices, if we could get them in our building for an interview) was David Dewhurst, the first time he ran for statewide office. He was very impressive, except that everything he said (it was like he was programmed) was more applicable to running for governor or lite governor than for whatever down-ticket office he was supposedly trying for. It was really strange. We'd ask a question about land commissioner or whatever it was and he'd give the pre-recorded answer about stuff that had nothing to do with that office. Yet I guess he has been an acceptable lootenant guv, once he got there. Among local candidates the one that stands out was June Garrison. I knew June from when I covered tennis at Colonial CC. Then she was drafted by local GOP to run for tax collector. She said down with our board and when the first question was asked, she broke down in tears and left sobbing. Only candidate to do that, as I recall. Problem was that she was totally unprepared for someone to actually ask anything. She got elected and was swift enough (June is a very nice person, by the way) to retain the deputies who had been running the office very efficiently, so that it remaining running efficiently. Of course, my personal favorite was Jim Wright, a consummate good politician who never met anyone he couldn't stay in touch with whatever high office he held. My feeling about him may be colored by the fact that he had my column about Abe Martin (when Abe passed away) inserted into the Congressional Record. Interviewing candidates meant you did find some oddities. Like Gene Kelly. He was an obscure lawyer from someplace in South Texas and ran several times for various high offices, hoping his familiar name would boost his chances. Or Johnnie something-or-other. She ran for governor several times, getting about as votes as I did. She did high marks for perseverance.
  7. 3 points
    Any avid college football fan, particularly one who follows one team closely over the course of a season, knows that teams of 18-22 years old kids/men are fickle. The 2005 TCU team starts the season by going into Norman and handing the Sooners the second of just 5 losses they've had at home in the Bob Stoops era. Then the next week they lose to a 5-6 SMU team. Last year's TCU team was all over the map as well, losing badly to a mediocre Iowa State team but whipping a solid Baylor team. In many cases, such imprecision from our college football teams is rationalized away with excuses like "coach didn't get them motivated" or "trap game" or "getting caught at the Indian casino playing poker with a table of hookers shows that Johnny wasn't ready to play." Any one or combination of such excuses might be relevant, but the reality is that college football teams, even the best ones with the most disciplined and senior-laden rosters, are extremely inconsistent. So as we enter the first week of the 2013 college football season and we look over the Frog's schedule and tick off the wins and losses, let's review the 2012 season and look at just how confident we should be when we predict that W in the win column for the SMU game. DUSHEE, guide the way As we've discussed before, Point Differential compares how Team A does against Team B relative to how all of Team B's other opponents have done against them. The Point Differential (PD) tells us that if Team A beats Team B by 10 more points than the average team on Team B's schedule beat them by, then if Team A is consistent, they should be pretty close to 10 points better than the average opponent against every other team on their schedule. Let's take the 2012 TCU team as an example. TCU's average PD for the year was 3.6, meaning that TCU was, on average, 3.62 points better against their opponents than the average team their opponents played. In turn, here were the final PD's for all of TCU's opponents on the year: Kan Uva SMU | ISU Bay Ttech | OkSt WVU KSU | Tex OU MichSt -15.8 -9.6 1.3 | 1.5 9.3 3.8 | 14.3 0.9 18.6 | 8.3 13.9 7.1 Table 1. Season average PD's for TCU's opponents in 2012 So if TCU (and their opponents) had been perfectly consistent in their play, we would have expected the outcome, or margin of victory, for each of those games to have been roughly TCU's PD minus their opponent's PD. So Table 2, we compare the "expected" outcome to the actual outcome: Opp Exp. | Act. Diff Kan 18.4 | 14 -4.4 UVa 13.2 | 20 6.8 SMU 2.3 | 8 5.7 ISU 2.1 | -14 -16.1 Bay -5.7 | 28 33.7 TTech -0.2 | -3 -2.8 OkSt -10.7 | -22 -11.3 WVU 2.7 | 1 -1.7 KSU -15 | -13 -2 Tex -4.7 | 7 12.4 OU -10.3 | -7 3.3 MichSt -3.5 | -1 2.5 Table 2. Based on Point Differential the expected outcome for each of TCU's games last year compared to the actual outcome. Based on this, we would surmise that TCU's worst game of the season was the Iowa State game where an expected 2 point win was in reality a 14 point loss. TCU did 16.1 points worse in that game than the rest of the season indicated they should have done. They followed that game the next week with the game in which they most "out-kicked their coverage" against Baylor. Had both teams performed, on average, as they performed for the season, we should have expected Baylor to have beaten TCU by 6 points. Instead TCU beat Baylor by 4 TDs. From this perspective, the games in which TCU (and their opponents) performed most like their "average" selves were the West Virginia, Kansas State, Tech, and Michigan State games. The Baylor, ISU, Texas and Oklahoma State games were the games most unlike our average performance. Even the Best Are Inconsistent Despite TCU's youth, upheaval, and conference inexperience, TCU was the 44th (out of 124) most consistent team in college football based on standard deviation of PD (13.9 points). By that metric, the most consistent team in college football last season was Troy with a standard deviation of 7.7. Assuming that their performance looks like a normal distribution (i.e., a bell curve) then it is 32% likely (1/e) that in any one game they are at least 7.7 points better or worse than their average PD would predict. And that is the most consistent team in college football. There was a roughly 1-in-3 chance that TCU's play in a given week was TWO TOUCHDOWNS or more off of their "average" performance. Alabama, DUSHEE's (and everybody else's) best team, was the 13th most consistent team in the country, with a standard deviation of 10.1 points. If we repeat the exercise that we did for TCU in Table 2 for Alabama, we get the following: Opp OppPD | Exp Act | Diff Mich 11.5 | 19.6 27 | 7.4 WKU -2.8 | 33.9 35 | 1.1 Ark -4.4 | 35.5 52 | 16.5 FAU -8.4 | 39.5 33 | -6.5 Miss 6.7 | 24.4 19 | -5.4 Mizz 1.9 | 29.2 32 | 2.8 Tenn 0.5 | 30.6 31 | 0.4 MissSt 3.9 | 27.2 31 | 3.8 LSU 15.3 | 15.8 4 | -11.8 A&M 26.3 | 4.8 -5 | -9.8 Aub -8.7 | 39.8 49 | 9.2 Uga 18.7 | 12.4 4 | -8.4 ND 17.9 | 13.2 28 | 14.8 Table 3. Alabama's expected and actual performance Besides the week 3 annihilation of Arkansas, Alabama's most "uncharacteristic" performance was the MNC game against ND. On average, we should have expected Alabama to have beaten ND by two TDs rather than 4. But again, there was a 1-in-3 chance that Alabama's performance could swing at least 20 points on a given night last season. On that night, it swung up two TDs. Understanding this, you begin to see why going undefeated is such a difficult thing to do. Even the best teams in college football will have a game or two where they underperform by a touchdown or more. And if those games come against an opponent whose average performance is only a touchdown worse, or who happens to overperform that week, that team loses, even if it is, statistically, the better team. Alabama was, statistically, 5 points better than A&M. Play that game 100 times and Alabama probably wins 60**. But on that particular day they lost by 5. ** Monte Carlo simulations using an adjusted PD estimate that Alabama would win 55-60% against A&M -- perhaps we'll discuss such simulation techniques on a future post. Selling Oceanfront Property in Kentucky The most inconsistent team in college football in 2012? Kentucky with a standard deviation in PD of 27.1 points. Opp OppPD| Exp Act | Diff L'ville 4.8 | -19.2 -18 | 1.2 KentSt 4.5 | -18.9 33 | 51.9 WKU -2.8 | -11.6 -1 | 10.6 Fla 18.9 | -33.3 -38 | -4.7 SoCar 15.8 | -30.2 -21 | 9.2 MissSt 3.9 | -18.3 -13 | 5.3 Ark -4.4 | -10 -42 | -32 Uga 18.7 | -33.1 -5 | 28.1 Mizz 1.9 | -16.3 -23 | -6.7 Vandy 5.1 | -19.5 -40 | -20.5 Tenn 0.5 | -14.9 -20 | -5.1 Table 4. Kentucky's roller coaster season. Kentucky "should have" lost to Kent State by 19. They beat the Golden Flash by 33. Kentucky "should have" lost to Arkansas by 10. Instead they lost by 42. Vanderbilt treated them similarly. Georgia "should have" beaten Kentucky by 33 but only beat them by 5. If you bet on Kentucky during the 2012 season, you were a fool. In a strikingly odd statistical anomaly, of the 10 most inconsistent teams in college football last year, seven were on TCU's schedule including six from the exceedingly inconsistent Big 12: Kentucky 27.1 SMU 26.5 UCLA 24.3 Arizona 23.8 Oklahoma St. 23.7 Texas Tech 23.1 Baylor 22.4 Texas 21.8 West Virginia 21.5 Kansas 21.4 Table 5: The 10 most inconsistent college football teams of 2012. TCU's opponents are bold. So as maddening as TCU's inconsistency may have felt for fans last year, the Frogs were in reality one of the more consistent teams in their conference. Which is damning with faint praise. So some may accuse me of writing all of this as a hedge against my performance in college pick-em contests. But I assure you my motives are purely analytical. That said, if I do poorly, come to this post to see my excuse. The rest of you suckers just got lucky ...
  8. 3 points
    old scribe

    treasuring our dads

    Frogtwang posted this week about chatting with his dad in a hot tub or something and it started me thinking. Many of you, being younger, have living dads. Those like me, who do not, can advise you to spend time with those fathers, in or out of a hot tub, and, like Twang, talk. Talk about whatever (``Of shoes and ships and sealing wax....of cabbages and kings"). My father would be 108 years old next month. He passed away in 1959, having just turned 54. And, damn it, I do not have enough memories of him. For various reasons, we did not spend as much time together as some boys and fathers. For one thing, much of my life (all but four years spent in Tulsa during the war) he worked on morning newspapers, and when he was home, I was in school, and when I home, he was working. Oh, there are memories. We went to a lot of baseball games as a family in Tulsa and some in Dallas. We took vacations to Galveston and Padre Island (which was still undeveloped in 1950) and Carlsbad and such places. We visited some of his brothers and sisters (he was the youngest of 12 children and I had first cousins his age) in places like Ballinger and Fort Stockton and of course I knew his brother Henry, who was closest to my father in age and lived in or near Wichita Falls where I was born. He surprised me the first Christmas after the war with a new bicycle, which I think he had had to assemble. We played a game, in Tulsa, where I looked at a map of Texas in the family atlas and called out a county and he responded with the county seat. It was the kind of thing he had learned as state editor on a Texas newspaper. I saw his annual from the year he attended junior college (it was either Wichita Falls JC or Hardin JC at that time; now Midwestern University). I knew he had not actually graduated from high school, but he seemed to know almost everything. I saw the scar on his leg and knew he had been shot in a hunting accident when he was about 16 and had almost died. When John Ford's ``Darling Clementine" came out in 1946 and we saw it (it is a highly fanciful Earp-Clanton OK Corral yarn) I learned that I should not take it seriously, and that in our family Wyatt Earp was considered a bad man. I had read ``Tombstone", which was Earp-flavored, but a little later I read ``Helldorado", written by a man who was in Tombstone, and it mentioned my father's father (yes, my own grandfather) as having been on the other side of the squabble from the Earps, which clarified the situation a bit. And when I wanted to go into the newspaper business, he tried to dissuade me (he wanted me to be a veterinarian), but gave in and I later found out that he took some pride in my early journalism efforts. But he had been gone a few years and I was married and we had a daughter when I realized how little I really knew about my father. I knew vaguely that he had a tough early life, but I found out that after his father died in 1917, having already lost the Ballinger newspaper, things got really tough. My father's mother, whom I never knew because she died in 1930, held the family together (at least the younger ones who were still at home) by doing things like managing boarding houses (in Coleman, Ballinger and other towns)in the late teens and early 1920s. That's how my father's education was interrupted. His mother was living in Wichita Falls with Henry (who had become a pharmacist) in the 1920s, and Papa drove a Coca-Cola truck for a while, went to the junior college for a while, had no money and finally got a job on the Record-News almost by accident. They wanted someone to write about the oil business, which was a big deal there. He said he knew a lot about the oil business (mostly, I suspect, how to change oil on a Coke truck), got the job about 1928 and stayed on to become city editor before leaving in 1943. After my mother died in 1997, I found in her things letters they had written each other while he was courting her (a TSCW graduate, she lived in nearby Henrietta and may have been the Record-News stringer there) in 1932. That was eye-opening, as we don't often think of our parents as having had lives, or romance, or dreams before we came along. I also found letters he had written when he was on a tour with Studebaker and the Elks Club magazine in 1930. He seems to have a very interesting time doing that and made some neat friends, including Hollywood actresses and a former Lafayette Escadrille pilot. I also found letters he exchanged with acquaintances in the 1930s as he tried to get a job in New York, or Baltimore (both big newspaper towns then). I found through some of those letters that the Depression (capital D) was really a hard time. I recalled my mother mentioning once that Papa at one time worked for no pay in Wichita Falls, but got to keep his job so that he would have one when they could again pay him (Boston and others may understand this). I still don't know as much as I would love to know about his life. I realize he never really talked much about his early life, probably because it had been tough and not much fun. I would give anything to be able to ask him questions now. I'd like to be able to tell our daughter, and our granddaughter more about him. The point is don't dally. Take advantage of opportunities with your dad, and your mother. Ask questions. Take notes if you have to. One day it will be too late.
  9. 3 points
    old scribe

    My Idaho...

    This will teach you to applaud blogs..... In the summer of 1956, when I was 20 and before my junior year at UT, I went with three friends from HS (two of them also from college) to Pierce, Idaho, for a Forest Service job in the White Pine Blister Rust Control program. I knew two guys where I lived at UT who had been there the year before, and one of them was returning, too. We had received instructions on what to bring. On the way up from Boise to Orofino to Pierce we purchased ``corks" (as caulked boots were known up there) and Can'tbustem brand heavy, heavy denim pants. Both required. Also long-sleeved shirts. We went from Pierce to Headquarters, Id. (named for being the HQ town for the Potlatch Co., which was cutting down trees for lumber in that area). And thence by our camp boss's truck to our own camp, which was set up with tents each housing four of us (wooden floors, cots to sleep on) and with an eating tent and the cooks' facilities. We were greeted by our boss, ``Dirty Ed" Ogden (that really was how he was known up there), who told us how the camp would be run. He tossed in his favorite phrase for anyone who did not do what Ed said to do, which was ``Dirty Pigf***er." About Dirty Ed: He had lived up there (and this was still sort of the frontier, where the only civilizing factor was the Forest Service and the national forest system) all his life except for a brief paid vacation to Europe in WWII. He ran this camp each summer (for a group of very young men) and did something else the rest of the year. Had a wife and I think a child living in the area. Ed explained to us that if we didn't measure up, he would ``take your plate off the table and send you down the road." We took this as a warning, and indeed, the next day the friend in whose car we had driven from Dallas to Idaho voluntarily left to go back to Texas and see his girlfriend. We also saw a few guys sent down the road not so voluntarily. Our job, after a day's training, consisted of ridding the forest of various wild gooseberry plants of the genus ``ribes." These were alternate hosts to the white pine blister rust, which tended to kill white pine forests. I remember one of the plants, which smelled very much like a skunk, was the ribes petulari. Anyway, we had ``hodags" (sort of a combination hoe and pickax) with which to dig up these plants root and all. We each had an ``acre" to work each day. The acres were roped off and designated by the asst. camp boss (the first asst. was a cross country guy from U. of Tenn; he was shifted to another camp later and my friend who had been up there the year before became our asst. camp boss...he was 25 or 26 years old and a Korean War vet). We also had checkers, experienced at the job, who came along behind us and checked the area we had worked. If the checker found one unkilled ribes plant on your acre, you had to go back and work it again. This was hard work, involving a lot of walking up and down small mountains, through the swampy areas between mountains and fighting your way through dense undergrowth.It also was hot work. One big dumb kid disobeyed Dirty Ed's orders to keep your shirt on in the field, and was delivered to us as an example of why. He was one huge blister from neck to waist. Ugliest thing I ever saw. See, there was nothing but thin air between us and the sun at that altitude. The other dangers involved animals (we had porcupines and bears to avoid, but no snakes up there) and learning things like not to fill your canteen downstream from some grazing sheep. For respite, we got Saturdays and Sunday off (unless we worked Saturday at time and a half) Oh, the base pay was minimum wage, as I recall about $1.50 an hour, from which was deducted our food at the camp (and the food WAS good and plentiful). We rode into camp on Ed's truck, or with our asst. camp boss, who had his Chevy up there. One trip in the Chevy we came face to face with a moose standing in the middle of the dirt road. We stayed in the car, he remained huge, and finally he moved on. In town there was little to do. Headquarters consisted of a small hotel (rooms $2 a night), an ice cream parlor, two or three stores that mainly sold and repaired chain saws, and about 6 or 8 saloons. Being mostly underage, we naturally opted for the saloons. One memorable day in town, a kid at our camp (he was 16, from Oklahoma, and had lied about his age to get the job) got drunk and we saw him being dragged down the street by the collar by the town law. Another time we were in a saloon where Junior Kramer was pointed out to me. Junior was like a block of pigiron and had a local reputation. I saw why when the town law came to Junior's booth to talk to him about something. Without rising from his seat, Junior reach up with his big fist and cold-cocked the town law, leaving him unconscious on the floor and continuing his (Junior's) conversation with his friends. This impressed me. The saloons were really like old west saloons in the movies. A long bar, tables where grizzled guys sat playing poker, etc. We flatland college kids had adjusted to all this by late August. The job didn't seem so difficult. We had figured out that while alcohol was verboten in camp, we could smuggle in a six pack from town and keep it cold in a creek nearby, to be surreptiously enjoyed in the evenings. Everyone drank Olympia beer. Some guys had even located the easy girls in town. Then we got a day's training in fighting forest fires, Do's and don'ts. And sure `nuff, at Labor Day, we were called out as the cleanup for a forest fire 30-40 miles away in the national forest (paid double time for that). Trucked in, we slept that night in the open, in the rain, and in 33-degree weather. Then we spent a day locating fires that still burned under stumps and so forth. One of our number, a really nice guy from Coffeyville, Kan. (he ran track at the JC there) forgot to check above and behind him while using an axe. The axe was caught by a branch, and came down onto his leg, almost severing it. He was taken to hospital and we never saw him again. Thus I lost one of my two chess opponents. A couple of days later the job was over. One friend and I rode the train from Orofino to Spokane and on to Denver, where my folks met us. It was the closest I came to military service. It was overall a great experience. I managed to save a couple hundred dollars for the coming college year. I came back in the best shape of my life. And I have always wondered what became of Dirty Ed Ogden.
  10. 3 points
    old scribe

    looking at scout, etc.

    and reading about the start of practice and the outlook for coverage of the next few weeks of August camp, and then the season, and I am reminded of how much has changed. These guys may get to see 3 or 4 workouts this month and occasionally get to hear what CGP has to say after a workout. Considering that they are kept at arm's length, they do a darn good job. But in another era long ago for both football and reporting, the beat writer on TCU football (and I speak particularly of the Fred Taylor/Pittman-Tohill/Shofner years, with a little of the Dry era thrown in) would spend 2-3 hours each afternoon, Monday through Thursday, on the sidelines at practice, come hot weather or cold. He could also spend some time most days prowling around the coaches' offices, dropping in and learning what he could, swapping stories, etc. If he wanted to do a feature story on a player, he would catch the player in the locker room before practice and chat with him, and probably also talk to the player's position coach, or the head coach to flesh out the story. More than one assistant coach during those years would jokingly address me as ``Coach" because I was always there. Tohill assistant Jerry Boudreaux still called me ``Coach" years later. Sometimes it paid off in unusual ways. For instance, in 1970, the Frogs were about to start practice for the coming Baylor game. I sat in the tiny office occupied by offensive assistants Marvin Lasater and Ted Plumb. They had noticed something in the Baylor film and had drawn up a quarterback draw play, in which the QB (Steve Judy at the time) would take the snap under center, drop back a step and then simply run up the middle of the field, largely unaccompanied. I told them there was no way that could work. They said to watch and see. Sure enough, as drawn up, the Frog RBs (it was a split backfield) each flared out into a flat, the Baylor LBs took off after them, the Frogs blocked the nose guard (almost everyone played some kind of 5-man line at the time) and Judy, a decent runner but no speed demon, went something like 75 yards straight down the field for a touchdown. I doubt somehow that any writer these days, at any Div. 1 school, could have that degree of access, and that sort of experience watching a play go from paper to blackboard to the field ... and to the end zone.
  11. 2 points
    Noting that there is currently quite a bit said or shown about the 100th anniversary of World War I, it hit me that most of us probably haven't known a WWI veteran. Even the WWII people are now older than I am. But every time I go to our kitchen I am reminded of WWI because there is a small piece of furniture, originally a bedside stand, I presume, that we use as a telephone for the phone in our breakfast room, right by the kitchen. It is very well made, and was, I think, a wedding present or something similar for my parents, who wed in 1932. It was made by Potts Royer. And that's almost all I really know about him. In my young days I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' home when they lived in town in Henrietta. And Potts Royer lived, with his parents, I think, across the street. Remember than I was 3, 4, 5, maybe 6 and surely 7 (while I temporarily attended 2nd grade in Henrietta during a wartime move by my folks). I can't recall what Potts Royer looked like. I know I saw him. I remember he had a shop in their garage or a shed behind the house. But I also remember at some point being advised by my parents or maybe my grandmother not to bother Potts. I was given to understand, in a vague way, that Potts wasn't quite right because he had been in the war. If he was in WWI, he must have been lin his early 40s when I would have seen him in Henrietta. Whenever I see To Kill a Mockingbird, I think of Potts. Boo Radley came back from the same war and didn't quite fit in, if you will recall. Something like that was true of Potts Royer. The little nightstand was always referred to, in our home, as ``Potts Royer's table." I still think of it that way. And I have no idea what became of Potts Royer. Like I said, I was very young when I knew of him. And by 1946 my grandparents had moved back to a farm, and then about 1955 moved back into Henrietta, but to a different house. I never saw Potts again. Don't remember anyone every mentioning him when we visited Clay County. But I have the stand he made. He, and it, are my only connections to what my grandparents, in the years before Pearl Harbor, still considered the Great War. It's a very good, solid little stand. I like to think Potts would have been similarly solid....he and Boo Radley, too....had it not been for that war.
  12. 2 points
    old scribe

    Lawdy, Lawdy...

    I feel old today. Watched some TV stuff about Pearl Harbor yesterday, Dec. 7, and then realized that I am surely the only on this entire forum who was alive 72 years ago. Most of your parents weren't even around then. To 95 percent of Americans Dec. 7 is the day they show Tora, Tora, Tora on at least one channel. It is a part of a page (I assume) in a history textbook. It is a couple monuments you can visit with head bowed if you vacation in Hawaii. Hey, that war is over. We won. It is now more notable for having introduced the atom bomb than for what it actually meant. But, looking back, our war that started with Pearl Harbor was the sundering event for America in the 20th century, and for guys like me who were just old enough at the time to understand what happened. Look at it this way. America after World War I was a lot like America before World War I, but with radios and more cars. America after World War II was and is nothing like America before World War II. Pearl Harbor was actually the final stone in getting over the Great Depression of the 1930s. America went back to work, one way or another. America was no longer captive of its isolation protected by two oceans, and never will be again. America was forced to become (really for the first time) a world power, with the world's most powerful military. It emerged from the war with the greatest economy in the world, which we have not quite managed to fritter away yet. The war that caught us asleep with Pearl Harbor led to the greatest act of generosity (however self-serving in its own way) ever...the Marshall Plan which rebuilt Europe, or part of it. We all owe a debt to those who led (faltering at times, but led nevertheless) us to success in that war, and especially to the more than 16 million who served and the almost 300,000 who died. Gadzooks! I was actually in college with people who had served in World War II. I had first cousins who were in that war, including one who trudged through France and into Germany carrying a razor in his pack but never using it because at 18 he still had no beard and another cousin who wound up marrying a German girl (years later they ran a liquor store on Padre Island). Soon all the veterans of World War II will be gone. And even those of us who were kids during the war, collecting paper and tin cans and stuff for the war effort. To us, that war was, as Dobie Gillis' dad said so eloquently, ```the big one." So on future Dec. 7's, remember not just those who died beneath Japanese bombs in Pearl Harbor, but also the unbelievable changes it marked for our nation.
  13. 2 points
    With Fred Taylor's death today, I had to hark back to this..... I dealt with five active TCU head coaches, and they were a very diverse group of men. First was Abe Martin, the Jacksboro Philosopher, who drawled and acted country but was really quite a guy. I never was close to Abe, but enjoyed him. Oddly enough he was the straight man in a couple of the funnier things I recall from my years hanging around TCU football. First was on the sidelines during a workout and Abe mentioned to Allie White, his line coach, ``If old E.A. just had speed he'd be a great linebacker," and Allie responded, ``Coach, if he had speed he'd be at Texas." The other was when the Jim Pittman staff had just been at TCU a few weeks, and Abe, who had had some heart difficulties by then, was taking his daily several laps walking around the concourse at Daniel Meyer. Billy Tohill, Pitt's irrepressible defensive coordinator, passed him and said, ``Coach Martin, you gettin' any?" Abe was dumbfounded. I covered the Frogs during Fred Taylor's four-year stint. He was accessible, honest to deal with, but probably not equipped to be a head coach in a rapidly-changing college football atmosphere.Or paid to be head coach, for that matter. Or given much help by the administration (TCU surely had the lowest-paid football staff in the SWC, by a good margin). Being around Fred taught me just how physically and emotionally wearing coaching could be. He aged 10 years in those four years. He had students after his head, alums grumbling, you name it. And then when he was able to recruit some outstanding black players, and had something on which to build, it came tumbling and he was ``reassigned." He longed, in his last season, for one-platoon football, dreaming of putting guys like Ray Rhodes, Hodges Mitchell and Danny Colbert on the field both ways instead of having to find 22 good-enough-to-start players to go against Texas and a huge squad. Not surprisingly, the job got to Fred. When working out on the practice field he more than once sent a student manager across the street to make sure someone on an apartment balcony was not spying for the next opponent. Jim Pittman followed, and was one of the most impressive guys I ever met. He could dominate a practice field just by standing there. His glare, if annoyed or angered, could peel paint off a fencepost. But his face also could light up in the world's biggest smile. It turned out that his health was worse than anyone thought. He passed away on the sideline during a game in Waco. Miz Scribe and I had gotten to know Jim and Jane Pittman, and we mourned. I'll finish this with Billy Tohill and Jim Shofner (two more opposite people I cannot imagine), but not today....to be continued....
  14. 2 points

    Yoga Poses

    Hello Yogis, 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. Namaste.
  15. 2 points
    old scribe

    still on the road....

    More about antique travels, but first an anecdote or two. Like when we flew to Boston and rented a car to drive up to Maine. We were upgraded to a Cadillac (Seville, I think, this was in 1990). Miz Scribe's comment was, ``Well, this makes it hard. Try driving up in a Cadillac and asking somebody for their best price on something...." That same trip we hit a heat wave in Maine. We were staying at the Cape Arundel Inn at Kennebunkport and the temp was in the 90s. They had no A/C, but the clerk told us proudly, ``But we have a fan in each room!" True. The fan in our room was about 3" in diameter. That same trip we were trying to find West Lebanon, me., where the chef at our inn had an antiques shop. We never saw a sign for it. After we crossed a creek, I saw a store and stopped there to ask the way. Turned out we were in New Hampshire. We had managed to miss Maine. Later that day we pulled up at an antiques shop outside Rochester, N.H. That was the summer after here in Texas we heard folks say ``Let a Yankee freeze" because soaring oil prices (nice for us down here) were making heating oil too dear for many folks up north. They remembered up there. We pulled up in our rented Caddy and went inside and immediately I picked up on conversation among some locals, who were cussing Texas and Texans for the ills of the world. ``Hon," I whispered to Miz Scribe, ``pay cash here. Don't write one of our checks on our Texas bank or they might lynch us." Many years later when we were cruising eastern Pa. and drove over into Lambertville, N.J., we found a three-story antiques mall that had good stuff. We discovered that you were supposed to pay on each floor for what you found on that floor.....and having spent the day buying stuff, we had only one check left. But God looks out for those ready to buy, and the folks at the mall decided we could, after all, pay for everything with one check and they would work out any persnickety accounting details. Some more of our favorite places: Springfield, Ohio, was a regular big stop. There are three huge antique malls there, right off the interstate. Martinsville, W.Va., was a place we always spent the night on our way to Md. and Pa. Good place for a room and dinner. Our usual first shopping stop the next day was Beaver Creek, Md., where two big malls are almost next door to each other. From there we usually went north to Gettysburg and New Oxford, Pa. The route took us through the Catoctin Mountains (and probably within a mile or two of Camp David, though there is a lack of signs giving directions to that presidential hideaway). Speaking of Gettysburg, we bought little there, but did stay one time in a motel on the site of Lee's headquarters. Gettysburg we treated as a sort of shrine. If you have never been there, it is a visit to cherish. We dined once in an inn on the spot where Lincoln spoke. The cemeteries there are something else, lacking only Confederate dead. In fact, we have found all the Civil War cemeteries and battlefields to be emotional stops, and we have been to several (Vicksburg, Antietam, Harper's Ferry, Gettysburg, Shiloh, Chickamauga, etc.) We loved Maine. On later trips, including one where we drove from FW to Maine and back, we stayed in or around Boothbay Harbor, Very nice area. Love the rocky coast of Maine. And perhaps the best shopping we ever saw was up around Waterville. Another regular stop was Medina, Ohio, either on our way north or on our way south. A great mall there. But we spent more time in Nashville than anywhere else. For a long time there was a huge antiqueing experience there, in Feb. or March, with the Heart o'Country Show at the Opryland Hotel and 3-4 other shows across the street at Fiddler's Motel and other venues. Heart is no longer what it was (the couple that ran it have passed away and now there are about half as many exhibitors), but back in the 1990s it was heaven on earth for American country stuff. They had seminars on antiques in conjunction with the show, and Miz S. enjoyed that. But the shopping was tremendous. Fiddlers, and a 3-story motel nearby were total antiques. Every room was a dealer's shop, plus all the furniture and stuff in the parking lots. One feature each year with the seminars was a road trip with expert commentary. We went to Franklin, Columbia, the Hermitage and other places. Saw some unbelievable pre-Civil War plantation homes. One of our guides was an old professor, John Kiser, who had advised on the restoration of several antebellum homes and he became a good friend. Another guide was Robert Hicks, who had a thriving music business and had sold it to one of the big international music outfits. As our bus prowled through Williamson county, south of Nashville, he pointed out where all the country stars had built gadzillion-dollar mansions on many acres of land. Then we had supper at one of his own houses, an 1850-ish place somewhat added-to for comfort in the 1990s. At that time lots of entertainment stars were leaving the West Coast and relocating to the Franklin, Tn. area. I figure it was because they got so much better BBQ in Franklin than in Los Angeles. I can see there will have to be a third chapter to this mishmash, because we haven't even touched on Atlanta or Cincinnati or Michigan yet! Or the leaves in Mississippi! Or the Lexington-Paris, Ky., area! Or the mall on Goss in Louisville! Or Baton Rouge and New Orleans! So much territory, so little time!
  16. 2 points
    Monty Python might very well have never reached our shores had it not been for local television in Dallas-Fort Worth. Back in the mid-'70s, some executive at Channel 13 (the PBS channel, of course, so executive is likely a very strong word here) dug some tape out of an old bin of castaway shows. On it was some weird stuff from some oddball Brits. KERA had already established itself as the first TV station in the US to broadcast British comedy (true), but this was a little different, a little non-traditional. "Are You Being Served?" it was not. Could Channel 13 actually put this stuff on TV, this communist hippie PBS "executive" wondered? Eh, why not? Nobody's watching, anyway. What could it hurt? Well, it didn't hurt anything. In fact, it rapidly established the Pythons, who had been doing their bit in Britain for a while by that point, as cult stars in the US. So, on the way back from a premiere of Monty Python and the Holy Grail in Los Angeles (a movie for which there was not yet a US distributor at the time), the Pythons made one of there very first public appearances in Dallas, in the studio of KERA, or possibly in some rec room at a junior high school. It's hard to tell. A very nervous man with an impressive beard interviews the group (minus John Cleese). The Pythons took questions from the audience, some of which (Who is Monty Python?) we'll have to forgive for their naivete. It was 1975, after all, and there was nothing but public TV sharing Monty Python with the United States. Remember, there was no Wikipedia, no Twitter, not even cable in any serious way. These were the good old days. As some whiny little guy from modern public radio will explain in the introduction to the video, a random engineer at Channel 13 kept this footage, even though the end of it is cut off and lost forever. Unearthed about seven years ago, this tape was slapped on YouTube and viewed for the first time since 1975, and for the first time, presumably, outside of Dallas-Fort Worth. Since it only has about 160,000 views, though, chances are it might be new to you, as it was to me. Also, in case you miss the subtle allusion to it at the outset of the tape, this interview was part of Public Television's Festival '75. Pay close attention. The beauty of this 10 or so minutes of footage doesn't just revolve around the Pythons themselves, although they're obviously awesome. As if they were at an elementary school assembly, the crowd, presumably made up of regular local folks, is sitting on the floor. KERA seems to have sprung for some folding chairs or something for the Pythons--which explains why there's a pledge drive going on (of course) during the interview, phones ringing off their little '70s-yellow bases. Watch out for a few other things, too. The guy asking a question at about the 10:40 mark just has to be wicked stoned. The accents, for some reason, seem really strong, much stronger than today's Texas drawl. And there's also a stuffed armadillo. From 1975 (and Festival '75!), it's Monty Python in Dallas: And now to the comedy. Dear sweet Lord in heaven, where do we even start with this? It defies words. Evidently, this promo bit from Channel 8 from 1980 never aired. WFAA executives showed it to advertising agencies and other insider-types only. Thank God for that. The beginning of this clip likely signaled the death of the true '70s (although it was late 1980 by the time this, uh, happened) because if disco had ever been cool, what these people at the beginning of this video did to it rendered it uncool for eternity, or at lest until Generation X got a hold of it ironically in the '90s. But the dancing doesn't stop there. Go about 45 seconds in, and Channel 8 people are dancing, more or less. Yes, people who work there, apparently. Some of them are on-air people; Troy Dungan really does appear to be dancing with the little red and blue arrows he would have used to show warm and cold fronts back then. In fact, everybody seems to be interpretatively dancing something related to his or her job at the station. There's reel-to-reel tape, a huge channel 8 logo and other '70s TV stuff. Things slow down for a little bit after that, aside from the male host of PM Magazine scratching himself or adjusting his tube sock or something in the show's promo. Keep going, though. Get to about the 3:20 mark. That's when stuff gets real. It's time to pimp Channel 8 news, with the news team you can trust...to do weird stuff in this video. Seriously, behind a voice-over talking about all the awards the station has won, there are reporters tripping over themselves, anchors screwing around, what appears to be Tracy Rowlett sneaking up behind some woman reporter and kissing her...and then...and then... Out of nowhere, Verne Lundquist just gets up, plaid sport jacket and all, and gives Tracy a huge hug. I mean a manly bear grip that should have been way more awkward than it was. This goes on for several seconds. All of this comes after Channel 8 has run some smack about the other newscasts in town, actually showing clips from them while playing a song (maybe by Anne Murray?) that semi-subtly refers to how much they suck. Yeah, suck on it, 4 and 5! Where's your video of reporters blowing kisses to the camera, sexy dancing, committing what must have been sexual harassment and engaging in gentleman-on-gentleman contact? News 8 is number one, baby! Whoooo! Get on back over here, Tracy! From 1980, Channel 8's likely chemically influenced in-house promo: Better times. Better times.
  17. 2 points
    old scribe

    More Dutch

    Just a few footballish things about Dutch: Never heard him say, or take credit for saying ``Fight em on the ice." What he did say, any time we talked football, was ``fahr and desahr! Gotta have fahr and desahr!" He could roar that, and I am sure he demanded it of his players. While he considered Baugh the greatest player he had, and loved Davey O'Brien, he thought that Kyle Gillespie, who followed O'Brien, might have been just as good had he not been hurt. Dutch was very loyal. He never forgave the Aggies for firing Matty Bell in 1933. He and Matty were very good friends even while coaching against each other when Bell led SMU right before the war and again after the war. I've mentioned before that Dutch went to his spread not for passing but for better blocking angles to run the ball. And in giving Mrs. Scribe lessons on how to watch football, he stressed following the guards, not the ball. Enough for today...
  18. 2 points
    old scribe


    To my shame, my only voyage outside the U.S. (other than driving a few miles into Canada from Detroit) was a 1982 or 83 golfing trip to Guadalajara. Our group was four couples and we stayed at the El Tapatio Hotel or resort ....beautiful place that is still there. Two of us guys and all the wives went down one day, followed the next day by the other two fellows. Naturally, my buddy Pat Richardson and I went right out the first afternoon to play one of the two nearby courses. Here's what I recall: You could get a cart, which was handy for carrying a load of beer, but also had to employ caddies. The caddies were about 9 years old, but they could guide us to the next teebox and they didn't drink any of the beer. I remember on one of the holes we teed off from atop a cliff to a green about, oh, 300 feet below us....looked almost straight down but I guess it wasn't. Anyway, that was fun. The next morning we were joined by the other guys and tried the other course that had been recommended. It had been built by Bing Crosby and while the fairways were lush green, a few feet off the fairway was utter desolate desert, sandy and rocky. Funny thing there was watching our caddies walking along the fairways, plucking bananas or plantains or some such off the trees. Frankly, with all the beer and as bad as I was at golf at that time, I don't really remember much about our rounds. The girls were the ones that really had fun...shopping while we played golf. And one day they decided to take a bus to Tlachipacque for some really great shopping. Unfortunately, none of them spoke Spanish and they wound up on the third class bus....like the ones in the movies (remember the bus Kathleen Turner rode in Romancing the Stone? That was it....people carrying live chickens, etc.). The bus stopped and one of our ladies had to visit the little girls room, and the bus tried to leave again without her. Miz Scribe and another gal, unable to make the driver understand, forcibly held open the door so that the bus couldn't leave their friend behind. The trip was fun. Shopping was good. Food was good. Beer was great. Then, as we were preparing to leave, all hell broke loose. That was the week that the peso crashed and there were riots and really competitive elections were about to held for the first time in years. So we left for the airport amid trucks full of dangerous fellows with machine guns, roaming the streets. And then we discovered that we had to pay a departure tax of some kind at the airport, which we did happily if they would only let us on the plane. Miz Scribe flew back holding one of her treasures, an ancient Mexican saddle tree (the other gals had bought many skirts, blouses, etc., but you-know-who was looking for antiques!) in her lap. She also brought back a painting which is hanging on the wall above this computer. It is a cat, wearing an orange ribbon. Couple years ago I looked up the artist (Gustavo Martinez) and discovered that he is well known, some of his stuff is worth a good bit and is handled by some fancy galleries in this country. We will leave it to our granddaughter. We also acquired a taste for an excellent fried cheese dish. I got the recipe for it. Finally, I found the right cheese at an Hispanic grocery here in Fort Worth. I gave the recipe to one of the Pulidos and they may still be using it. In return they provided and delivered tamales to me and my coworkers in the S-T think tank at Christmas!
  19. 1 point
    In case you hadn't stewed on the outcome of the CFP enough, here comes DUSHEE to try and shed at least a little light on what happened to the Frogs and college football in general over the last few weeks. First, here are the critical DUSHEE numbers for each of the top 6 in the CFP final rankings for each FBS game played: Alabama Opp: WVU FAU USM| Fla Miss Ark | A&M Tenn LSU | MissSt Aub Mizz PD: 14.00 33.36 23.70 | 29.22 8.50 8.60 | 66.40 16.30 15.50 | 23.90 21.40 36.91 YD: 247.40 413.45 170.40 | 578.00 179.90 -93.90 | 435.10 84.30 112.00 | -3.20 2.10 239.09 Score: 21.33 42.29 24.06 | 47.51 14.39 1.18 | 65.37 14.95 15.76 | 15.78 14.37 36.20 Best games: A&M (65.37), Fla (47.51) Worst Games: Ark (1.18), Aub (14.37) Oregon Opp: MichSt Wyo WSU | Zona UCLA Wash | Cal Stan Utah | Col OreSt Zona PD: 44.90 22.80 -4.20 | 0.42 19.00 34.27 | 13.90 39.00 27.00 | 25.64 22.20 49.17 YD: 241.50 64.30 58.70 | -40.00 -19.73 242.55 | -17.30 188.00 13.40 | 381.36 180.60 438.83 Score:41.64 18.32 0.05 | -1.66 11.71 34.61 | 8.43 35.12 18.65 | 35.58 23.56 54.06 Best games: Zona 2 (54.06), MichSt (41.64) Worst games: Zona 1 (-1.66), WSU (0.05) Florida State Opp: OkSt Clem NCSU | Wake Syr ND | L'ville Uva MiaFl | BC Fla GaTech PD: -0.60 15.00 15.70 | 28.50 11.00 8.45 | 22.10 14.30 7.70 | 6.80 11.44 14.55 YD: 33.80 13.80 14.20 | 174.60 73.10 -107.55 | 185.60 165.50 9.70 | 129.50 68.00 95.91 Score: 1.24 10.67 11.16 | 27.47 10.88 0.42 | 23.73 17.56 5.60 | 10.81 10.93 14.35 Best games: Wake (27.47), L'ville (23.73) Worst games: ND (0.42), OkSt (1.24) Ohio State Opp: Navy VaTech KentSt | Cin Mary Rut | PSU Ill MichSt | Minn Ind Mich | Wisc PD: 19.40 -14.40 58.70 | 33.45 26.50 35.20 | 9.91 35.20 37.20 | 12.60 5.40 13.64 | 78.55 YD: 32.30 21.30 419.60 | 315.27 126.10 192.70 | 121.27 206.30 249.20 | 203.50 66.70 68.64 | 513.09 Score: 14.50 -8.57 59.48 | 37.59 23.78 32.81 | 12.49 33.47 36.88 | 18.27 6.83 12.42 | 77.24 Best games: Wisc (77.24), KentSt (59.48) Worst games: VaTech (-8.57), Ind (6.83) Baylor Opp: SMU Buf ISU | Tex TCU WVU | Kan OU OkSt |Ttech KSU PD: 16.09 43.38 6.30 | 22.18 31.70 -12.40 | 31.50 52.55 15.90 | -11.40 25.10 YD: 301.09 327.75 126.90 | 72.27 506.00 -63.90 | 241.30 353.00 110.80 | -215.50 258.80 Score: 25.33 44.81 10.35 | 18.29 45.67 -11.37 | 32.70 52.15 15.97 | -18.05 29.28 Best games: TCU (45.67), Buf (44.81) Worst games: TTech (-18.05), WVU (-11.37) TCU Opp: Minn SMU OU| Bay OkSt Ttech | WVU KSU Kan | Tex ISU: PD: 30.20 28.09 19.82 | 19.90 29.10 46.90 | 4.10 36.10 -14.70 | 40.73 40.40 YD: 174.90 150.55 115.18 | -121.90 370.40 338.90 | 123.10 217.00 -97.50 | 97.36 373.30 Score: 28.61 26.03 18.80 | 7.36 37.36 47.70 | 8.70 34.59 -14.53 | 31.87 45.04 Best games: TTech (47.70), ISU (45.04) Worst games: Kan (-14.53), Bay (7.36) To reiterate, a PD or YD of 0 in a particular game means that the team performed as well against that opponent as the average team did in terms of points and yards, respectively. A PD of 10 means the team was roughly 10 points better against that opponent than the average team was, a YD of 100 means the team outgained the opponent by 100 more yards than the average team did. Negative differentials mean the team performed worse than the average team. And the Score is the PD adjusted by the YD based on how much the YD deviates from a typical performance given the team's PD. Alabama played like an average team (Score between +/-7) once -- against Arkansas. Even in their loss to Ole Miss, they were still 2 touchdowns better against Mississippi than the average team was. Oregon played like an average team twice -- against Arizona the first time and against Washington State. Florida State was average three times (Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, and Miami). Ohio State was average once (Indiana) and significantly below average once (Virginia Tech). The same could be said for TCU (Kansas the significantly below average performance)., although technically their "average" performance against Bayloy fell just above the +/-7 range. Baylor, notably, was well below average twice, both in their loss to WVU and against Tech ... in fact DUSHEE rated the performance against Tech as almost a touchdown worse than their performance against WVU. The flip side of the worst loss coin is the best win. In this category, Florida State was a clear underperformer. While all of the other 5 schools in the top six had at least two games with DUSHEE scores over 40, FSU's best performance of the year was a 27.47 score against Wake Forest, a 43-3 win in week 6. Florida State only had two games all season with a score above 20; meanwhile TCU and Ohio State had 7 and Baylor, Alabama, and Oregon had 6, , Both Alabama an Ohio State had, as discussed in previous posts, historically high DUSHEE scores in individual games, Alabama a 65.37 score against Texas A&M and Ohio State a 77.24 against Wisconsin. Both games were certainly outliers for both teams. Conference Strength The strength of a conference is up for considerable interpretation. If you take the average of all the strengths of teams in your conference, DUSHEE rates out the conferences this way: SEC 9.75 B10 4.94 B12 4.80 P10 4.77 ACC 4.07 MWC -4.39 CUSA -4.71 AAC -6.00 MAC -8.97 SBC -9.54 By this metric, the SEC was the best conference by a considerable margin; perhaps the best way of interpreting this is by saying the average SEC team was roughly 5-6 points better than the average B1G, Big 12, Pac 10, or ACC team. And there wasn't a significant difference between the average teams in the rest of the "Power 5" conferences. I suspect such an assessment will be controversial on this board where the notion that the Big 12 was one of, if not THE, best conference and that the Big 10 was the worst. Based on team averaged performance, such a notion is disputable. Although the way in which each conference arrived at the same average was a little different. The Big 12 was all over the map. Half of the conference was ranked 30 or better, with 4 teams in the top 20 and 2 in the top 10. Three teams could be placed in the average category: Texas, Oklahoma State, and Tech (barely); and two teams were awful: Kansas and Iowa State. The Big 12 was the only "Power 5" conference to have two teams rated 100 or worse. 3 TCU 25.51 158.30 24.68 6 Baylor 20.08 183.50 22.29 13 Oklahoma 16.35 110.62 16.27 17 Kansas St. 14.92 82.68 13.95 28 West Virginia 6.62 103.69 9.44 51 Texas 1.64 31.93 2.64 88 Oklahoma St. -4.04 -65.02 -5.85 90 Texas Tech -9.36 -7.34 -6.60 110 Iowa St. -12.27 -113.89 -13.70 116 Kansas -13.70 -123.10 -15.10 The ACC had 5 teams ranked 32 or better, but none higher than 14. Then they had a large core of 8 average(using the same +/-7 metric) teams and really only one really bad team -- Wake. The ACC was largely competent but not spectacular. Nobody that really should have been in consideration for the CFP but really only one terrible team. 14 Georgia Tech 15.85 101.75 15.50 21 Miami (FL) 9.50 122.58 12.28 22 Florida St. 12.91 71.35 12.07 26 Louisville 9.32 92.09 10.68 27 Clemson 8.30 102.64 10.51 32 Boston Coll. 5.79 63.76 6.95 40 Virginia Tech 5.61 47.46 6.04 45 Virginia 2.59 56.24 4.46 47 Pittsburgh 1.71 63.17 4.20 62 N.C. State -0.33 13.53 0.43 65 Duke 4.18 -54.43 0.15 78 Syracuse -5.82 -4.75 -4.11 79 North Carolina -3.59 -36.53 -4.17 121 Wake Forest -13.18 -189.43 -17.97 DUSHEE was generally far more impressed with the Big 10 and far less impressed with the Pac 12 (particularly at the top) than most other college football pundits and rankers. The Pac 12 had one really good team (Oregon), three teams at the very bottom of the top 25, and everyone else in the conference fits in the average category. The Pac 12 was the sole conference without one truly awful team (ranked 100 or worse). 5 Oregon 24.51 144.35 23.34 23 UCLA 11.13 92.78 11.92 24 Stanford 9.48 95.02 10.93 25 USC 11.60 65.33 10.90 31 Arizona 10.09 14.58 7.43 35 Arizona St. 8.44 12.92 6.25 57 Washington 4.82 -23.99 2.05 64 Utah 2.68 -31.40 0.26 71 Washington St. -7.50 55.46 -2.31 72 California -2.71 -17.30 -2.65 85 Oregon St. -6.18 -25.72 -5.37 86 Colorado -7.31 -13.15 -5.51 Meanwhile the B1G, was pretty evenly distributed. DUSHEE had both Ohio State and Michigan State as elite, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Minnesota as solid, 8 average teams, and one really bad team (Indiana). 1 Ohio St. 27.03 195.07 27.48 4 Michigan St. 22.57 197.16 24.61 12 Wisconsin 14.24 168.93 17.68 19 Nebraska 14.07 86.68 13.58 30 Minnesota 8.48 43.36 7.76 44 Penn St. 3.10 59.92 4.98 48 Iowa 2.11 40.95 3.39 54 Michigan 0.79 35.23 2.24 70 Northwestern -2.46 -4.44 -1.85 75 Rutgers -4.31 -18.55 -3.77 80 Maryland -1.29 -68.27 -4.17 89 Illinois -4.06 -77.75 -6.48 91 Purdue -6.70 -46.48 -6.72 100 Indiana -9.47 -67.32 -9.58 In particular, let's look at Wisconsin's season since their assault at the hands of Ohio State probably prevented a Big 12 entrant into the CFP: Opp: LSU BGSU USF| Nwstern Ill Mary | Rut Pur Neb | Iowa Minn OhSt PD: 3.40 47.00 6.40 | -10.90 1.10 45.20 | 33.00 8.20 52.90 | 6.50 15.90 -37.83 YD:-1.30 438.91 107.10 | 14.80 104.00 263.60 | 199.30 193.60 575.00 | 68.20 193.60 -129.67 Score: 2.20 52.62 9.46| -6.55 5.78 42.92 | 31.66 14.85 63.15 | 7.64 19.99 -31.51 Wisconsin had two epically big games against Nebraska (59-24) and Bowling Green (68-17, keeping in mind that Bowling Green, while nonetheless a bad team, was still a bad team who played for the MAC championship) and two other very strong performances against Maryland (52-7) and Rutgers (37-0). Outside of the Ohio State debachle, Wisconsin's worst performance was the loss to Northwestern (14-20) and average performances against LSU, Illinois, and Iowa. Prior to the Ohio State game, DUSHEE had Wisconsin ranked 5th and dropped them to 12th after. At this point in the season, moving seven spots in the poll, particularly at the top or bottom, is a big jump. Each game is only 1/12 of each team's ranking. Largely on the strength of that loss to Ohio State, Wisconsin was the 2nd most inconsistent team in the country with a standard deviation of 26.4 points, behind Louisiana Tech. That means that Wisconsin was as likely to obtain a DUSHEE score of 45 as it was a score of -7. Based on the metrics used by DUSHEE, the B1G wasn't an inferior conference and Ohio State was a really good team. Doesn't make TCU's drop from 3rd to 6th any less sucky. But an argument can be made that they deserved to be in; moreso than can be made for Florida State, certainly. Strength of Schedule If we use the same technique we use to assess conference strength, average all the opponents' season-long scores for each team, the strengths of schedule for the 6 playoff teams plus 2, we get the following: 5 Alabama 7.72 33 Florida State 3.78 39 Oregon 3.26 47 Ohio State 2.35 65 TCU 0.04 73 Baylor -1.10 This is another factor that went against the Big 12, keeping in mind that FCS opponents are ignored in the DUSHEE rankings. Minnesota meant that TCU had the next-to-worst strength of schedule compared to Baylor's worst. When accounting for both teams playing the worst team in FBS, SMU, and both playing in the conference with two teams ranked over 100, neither Baylor nor TCU's schedule come out looking all that strong. The Peach Bowl Let's take a look at Mississippi's season. Opp: Boise Vandy ULaLa | Mem Bama A&M | Tenn LSU Aub | Ark MissSt PD: 38.25 22.40 44.40 | 37.90 27.64 18.00 | 35.00 4.50 4.90 | -25.50 33.80 YD: 204.33 288.40 224.90 | 396.10 96.36 -166.60 | 205.30 -51.90 109.90 | 40.30 192.60 Score: 35.41 28.92 40.51 | 44.47 23.10 3.92 | 33.29 0.48 8.60 | -15.05 31.87 Mississippi's year appears to be a tale of two seasons. Through the Alabama victory, Ole Miss was awesome, at least 3 TD's better than the average team against everybody they played. They whipped 2 of the 3 best non-Power 5 schools (Memphis 24-3 and Boise 35-13) and then gave Alabama their only loss (23-17). Then they beat A&M but got badly outgained, whipped Tennessee, then played like an average to below average team against LSU, Auburn, and Arkansas. In the Egg Bowl, they returned to their early season form. On the year, TCU ended up 3rd in the DUSHEE rankings with a score of 24.68, while Mississippi were ranked 8th with a score of 21.41. The difference between these two scores is almost exactly the Vegas line for the game of TCU (-3). TCU was a little more consistent than Ole Miss (standard deviation of 17.9 versus 20.6). In fact, Mississippi was the 12th most inconsistent team in the country. Using these numbers and using 5000 simulated games, TCU wins 55% of the time against Ole Miss on a neautral field. Ole Miss, BTW, also had the 3rd toughest schedule in the country (9.42) behind Auburn (12.34) and Arkansas (11.04). Vandy and ULaLa are the only two below average teams Mississippi played this year. So in conclusion, DUSHEE thinks Vegas has it about right on the Peach Bowl, thinks that Ohio State wasn't really that bad of a pick, and that the Big 10 was actually a little underrated. But it also thinks TCU should have been in the playoff too ...
  20. 1 point
    old scribe

    From the Floor...

    I shall begin this one, kiddies, with a question: For those of you with children....do kids still lie on the floor to listen to the radio? I guess not. I know I haven't seen a kid doing that in a long time. Of course, radios used to be a major piece of furniture in most living rooms, not something you carried in your pocket. I know ours was. And I spent many happy hours prone on the living room rug, a foot or two from our large Philco radio, the one that had a short wave band as well as the normal receiving band, which is to say AM. This was 1944-48, more or less. There was no television. But, boy, was there ever radio. It has been pointed out that radio in the 1935-55 era was a great thing. Programs made us exercise our imagination. I would lie there listening to Fibber McGee and Molly and imagine them in my mind's eye. I would imagine the other characters on their show, like the old timer, the little girl, the mayor and Gildersleeve, who even wound up with his own show. Radio then was a medium that spawned, and took advantage of, character actors to an extent TV or movies could never equal. For instance, the same guy, Bill Johnston, voiced two or three very disparate characters on the McGee show. He also, another night, was the voice of the Shadow (after Orson Welles left that character behind). And others. Lying there listening, I heard some great show openings. You knew it was time for the Aldrich Family when you heard a woman shout, ``Henry? Hen-reee Aldrich!" Or, in late afternoon, you might hear a gong and the announcer say, `Terrreeee and the Pirates!" The famous creaking door told you it was time for Inner Sanctum. ``Heeeey, Abottttt!" meant Abbott and Costello were on. And the ringing phone, followed by, ``Hello, Duffy's Tavern, Duffy ain't here. Archie the manager speaking." Duffy never was there, but Archie entertained us. One of the wonders of the age was the fact that a ventriloquist, Edgar Bergen, was a huge hit on radio. I mean, the big thing about a ventriloquist is that he throws his voice. Supposedly you don't see his lips move as he makes his dummy talk. Well, on radio, you didn't know if his lips moved or not, and didn't care. Edgar, Charlie McCarthy, Elmer Snerd, etc., plus guests, entertained you. Not all the shows were funny. There were soap operas during the day. And at night, you might hear, in a deep voice, ``The FBI, in Peace and War!" or ``Richard Diamond, Private Eye" (which starred movie star Dick Powell originally). There were people-doing-stupid-things shows, like People Are Funny and Truth or Consequences. And teenage girl shows like Meet Corliss Archer. But the best were the funniest. Our Miss Brooks. It Pays to Be Ignorant. And Fred Allen. Allen, a forgotten name now, may have been the funniest of all. He walked down Allen's Alley each week, encountering Titus Moody and other hilarious regulars. His running feud with Jack Benny (played for laughs on both shows) kept us entertained . Nowadays radio is either talk (anti-this-or that) or music. We had music back then. For one thing, we had Spike Jones. Loved it. Still have his records. Television can be great. Or not so good. Its major crime, I think, is that it killed radio. It took some of the best from radio (Benny, Burns and Allen, Bergen, Ozzie and Harriet, Red Skelton) and shows like The Fat Man and Richard Diamond. Even some of the great radio actors made the transition...Bill Johnston did. Barton Yarbrough did, Harold Peary (Gildersleeve) did. Amos and Andy did. Lum and Abner (their Jot Em Down Store was a must listen at our house late each afternoon) tried TV briefly, as did some others only to have the audience discover that seeing them was not the same as hearing them and using our imagination. We got a TV of course. But I never lay on the floor to watch it. Not like the radio that was.
  21. 1 point
    old scribe

    on the road again...

    I know I have mentioned, probably enough already, that Miz Scribe and I spent 25 years in the antiques business. Some of that span was part-time for me, since I was still up to my neck in alligators in the newspaper business. But beginning about 1989, when all my vacation time began to be spent hunting antiques, and especially in 1998 when I left the Star-Telegram, it was a more or less full-time occupation for me as well as for the Miz. This isn't about antiques. I have a youngish audience in front of me and my observation over the last 15 years or so is that antiques are mildly interesting to people over 60 and of almost no interest to people under 45, most of whom feel that if it happened or was made before 1990 it is of no consequence. I've encountered too many folks in their 20s and 30s who want something ``really old, like from the 1970s." So this is really about seeing the United States from an antiquer's viewpoint....it is about the travels we enjoyed in order to find, buy and eventually (we hoped) sell the ``stuff" in which we dealt. I won't go back and count what we bought, but we did sell more than $1 million worth. Yet the most rewarding part of that business was the travel. We shopped and/or bought stuff in 30 states, mostly east of the Mississippi. We were in more motels than the Gideon Bible folks. We found which states had the best gas prices. We ate in more roadside restaurants than Duncan Hines. We were on interstate highways and what William Least Heat Moon called ``blue highways", the secondary or tertiary roads that link America to itself. Miz Scribe rarely knew where we were. My job was to plan the trips, plan where to shop, where to stop, how far to drive and to drive. Her job, she tells me, only began when we stopped to shop, so it didn't matter if she knew precisely where we were or how we got there. She remembers what we bought there, and that's enough. Let me start with a route. We left Fort Worth and usually drove either to oh, say, Meridian, Ms (if we going to Atlanta or North Carolina) or to Dickson, Tn. (handy if our destination was Nashville or across Tennessee to Virginia, W.Va. and Pennsylvania) or north of Nashville on I-65 to White House, Tn. or Franklin, Ky. (if we were making a longer trip to Ohio or upstate New York). We managed to hit some out-of-the-way spots, like Hazel, Ky., which was a town of mostly antique shops and malls, aside from Annie's Cafe, which was a delight. Or Paris, Tn, where we met Cooter Brown, who drove heavy equipment and had some of the finest early 19th century American stuff we've ever seen, especially sugar chests. Or Burlington, Ky, which hosts a monthly antique flea market. Or Bouckville, NY, where twice a year much of the antiqueing fraternity gathered to sell or, like us, to buy at the Madison-Bouckville week, which included several large outdoor antique shows. A trip there enabled us to shop in and become charmed by, towns like Canandaigua, Cazenovia and Skaneateles (pronounced Skinny-atlas). Some of the world's great Italian restaurants are in that area, lemme tell you. Or Salamanca, NY, which I remember because I found there, in a big antique mall, a 1909 plate from the First National Bank of Fort Worth. How it got up there I have always wondered. Or Seville, Ohio, a tiny place with a fine antiques shop and a very good antiques auction. Or New Philadelphia, Ohio, which we later discovered was where some of Miz Scribe's ancestors stopped off on their slow step-by-step trip west, and where a great huge antiques mall was always good to us. Or New Oxford, Pa., one of our favorite spots because it was full of great American antiques and collectibles. I guess we spent half a day in New Oxford two or three times a year before moving on to the Lancaster-New Holland-Ephrata-Lititz-Adamstown area. Adamstown and its neighboring villages in the 1990s and early 2000s was an antiquing mecca. Several huge malls and markets. We often filled up the van there, and filled ourselves up at Zinn's Restaurant, a fabled place which I think is no longer there. Or New Hope, pa, or neighboring Lambertsville, NJ, two big names for antiquers and interesting old towns to boot, across the Delaware River from each other. Down here we think anything that has water in it year-round is a river. We learned about rivers trekking the eastern U.S. We'd hardly heard of the Susquehanna, but it's huge. We crossed it a dozen times or more at Columbia, Pa., and at Harrisburg and saw it at Lewisburg, pa., the year before it flooded a great antiques mall in that city. Or Alton, Ill., another river town, site of a big prison where many Confederates were kept during the Civil War. Also site of some neat antique shopping, until one of the Mississippi's midwest floods in the early 2000s inundated downtown and ruined some shops. U.S. 67 crosses the Mississippi at Alton, and we were privileged to make that crossing on the old bridge before they built a new four-lane state-of-the-art bridge. The old bridge was very narrow, especially if you were driving a Suburban or a van (and we always were) and met a big truck. Or Hancock, Md., a tiny town that is a major Interstate intersection. At Hancock, the western Maryland arm is about 3 miles wide, so that you are closer to Pa. and W. Va. than you are to anything else in Maryland. If I have not touched on your hometown, or a place you once visited, or a place where your car broke down, or a place where your grandmother lived, never fear. This is all for today, but there is much more to come. As Hank Snow sang, we've been everywhere, man....
  22. 1 point
    old scribe

    just a shortie...

    Since I may never see the inside of the refurbished Amon Carter Stadium, I thought I would give some thoughts about stadia I used to find myself inhabiting (in press boxes, mostly): Loved Tennessee's Neyland Stadium because from the press box you could see the Holston River and all the houseboats pulled up to the stadium....really neat. Univ. Washington's place was similar (on Puget Sound, I guess) and people came to games there by boat.....only game I saw there was in a horrendous rain and I remember TCU's Lyle Blackwood sliding about 40 yards on the turf and throwing up a wake like a motorboat. The only game I saw in the Rose Bowl was a Super bowl (Steelers and somebody....) and I was impressed by that stadium, if not by the press box. A real scene, as those of you at the TCU-Wisky game frequently attest. Speaking of Wisconsin, only thing I clearly remember about their stadium was the bomb threat the night before (this was during all kinds of protester hijinks like blowing up buildings on campuses) and Tarrant sheriff Lon Evans (an old Frog and along for the game) helping the Madison cops search the stadium early the morning of the game... Some of the worst experiences were with the Cowboys, like arriving at Candlestick Point (I guess that's what it was) for the Cowboys-49ers and even the press/hangerson bus was booed and hit by ripe fruit, etc. Even so, the worst experience was pulling up to RFK stadium amongst the gee-awful crowd of D.C.ites threatening us (again the press,etc. bus) with mayhem. Worst press box was in Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh (there for Steelers and Houston about 1980).....barely edging out RFK. Most college press boxes were pretty good. Always loved the food at Baylor. The emptiness at Rice (in the stands and in the box). The atmosphere at Texas. The crowd at A&M (at that time, before some expansions, people in the stands were sitting just in front of press row, maybe 20 feet away). That was where they played their songs, anthems, whatever, and yelled, ``Beat the hell out of SMU!" followed by one guy loudly yelling, ``Beat the hell out of the point spread!" Another interesting place to cover games was Lincoln, Neb., which always reminded me of nothing more than a larger Abilene. Back in the 60s-70s, there were no more fervent fans than cornhusker fans, and the atmosphere was electric. Saw TCU's Darrell Lowe return an interception for a TD there, the one bright spot against Neb. Also got snowed in there (OU-Neb., I think) and then had to drive to Omaha in dense cold fog after the game to catch a flight. (I think the Omaha airport is actually in Iowa due to some change in the river's course....interesting tidbit). Maybe more of this another time if anyone cares...
  23. 1 point

    Driving to Lubbock

    I think the fastest way is to take I-20 to 84, but you see a little "real" Texas going 180 all the way to Snyder. You won't be able to enjoy it going to the game, but Mineral Wells State Park and the Trailway is a great place to spend a fall weekend. They have some rock cliffs on the east side and the trail is great for biking. You can hit a trailhead in Weatherford. It is something that a family can do. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/park_maps/pwd_mp_p4503_103h.pdf Palo Pinto is one of the prettier areas of Texas. Even cutting up to Santo on I-20 is a nice country drive. Breckinridge is a typical Texas town and you can stop at a Sonic there, but Albany is something a little different. They have a high caliber art museum there called The Old Jail Art Center. They have an acclaimed steakhouse called The Beehive Saloon and Restaurant. They also have a Dollar General if you need some snacks for the road. There are only a couple of towns until you hit Snyder where you turn north on 84 to Lubbock. If you like wide open spaces, this route offers you a good look at them.
  24. 1 point
    Revenge of the Nerds Back in February, ESPN (The Magazine) ran a cover story about the controversial 2012 MLB AL MVP race between Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout, which somehow turned into a proxy battle between "old school" baseball men who used their eyes and guts to evaluate players and the new age sabermatrician nerds who could only see what was quantifiable. Qualitative evaluation versus quantitative evaluation. Clint Eastwood in Trouble With the Curve versus Brad Pitt in Moneyball. For those who didn't pay any attention to the controversy, the narrative went something like this. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown, leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs, the first player to do so in major league baseball since Carl Yastrzemski for the Red Sox in 1967. Cabrera also led his team to the pennant. The old school guys were decidedly in the Miguel Cabrera camp. On the other hand, Mike Trout, center fielder for the California Los Angeles Anaheim Orange County Angels of Anaheim, California, USA, had what many statisticians argued was one of the best seasons in baseball history. Compared to Miguel Cabrera who is an average fielder at a less-critical position (third base) and a slow baserunner, Mike Trout was the textbook definition of the "5-tool" player -- hitting for average, hitting for power, speed, strong arm, strong fielder. Trout, the statisticians claimed was just as strong, if not stronger due to his speed, than Cabrera offensively, and light years ahead of Cabrera defensively while playing what is considered a more critical position. WAR or Wins Above Replacement, an inscrutable statistic designed to try and evaluate players based on their performance in all aspects of their game, not just at the plate, had Trout earning his team 11 wins compared to some schmoe called up from Triple A while Cabrera was good for roughly 7 wins. Trout, the nu skool claimed, was the MVP. The Angels also greatly underperformed as a team, finishing 5 games back in a division led by a team with a small fraction of their payroll. I'll refer you to the linked ESPN article to read more about the details behind the arguments for each player, but one statement made by the author, Sam Miller, I think, sums up the absurdity of this whole argument plus touches on a greater systemic problem in our culture, the fear of the analytical: For Mike Trout supporters, WAR was simple and unimpeachable evidence of a perfect player performing at a nearly unprecedented level. For Miguel Cabrera supporters, WAR was the joyless and inscrutable tool of eggheads, trolls, all of us who never played the game. Cabrera vs. Trout was often reduced to a referendum on the value of data. "This WAR statistic is another way of declaring, 'Nerds win!'" best-selling author Mitch Albom wrote in defense of Cabrera. Albom has it wrong. At the risk of grandiloquence, this is about more than one MVP race, about more than even baseball. We live in a world of disagreement on epochal issues that we can't resolve even when the science is unambiguous: evolution, vaccines and climate change among them. These issues are daunting. Relying on science that's hard to understand can be scary. So the tendency is to cling to the comforts of ideology and tradition -- even when those ideologies are wrong, even when the traditions are outdated. ... Even though I'm a staff writer and editor at Baseball Prospectus, I'm not going to try to convince you that Mike Trout should have beaten Miguel Cabrera for the MVP award. WAR, despite what you might have read, does not take a position on that. But I will try to convince you that WAR represents a chance to respond to the complexity of baseball with something more than ideology or despair. Here, I'm going to resist the strong urge to digress down a more socio-political path in the interest of staying focused. But Miller makes the case that the proxy being fought here really goes beyond baseball or sports. It reflects a general ambivalence, if not animosity, of the misunderstood and analytical. Neither side is wrong. Both players had historically epic seasons. Miguel Cabrera did something that hadn't been done in almost half a century. Mike Trout emerged as potentially the best player of a new generation. The primary difference between the old school and the new school is which, how many, and in what way data is used to assess player excellence. Enter the Computer Poll The "Computer Poll" was introduced into the college football lexicon in 1998 with the advent of the Bowl Championship Series. And immediately, fans hated it. Computers don't watch games! They can't appreciate the one-handed grab of a pass over the middle in traffic or the way a good linebacker can scrape off of a blocking guard and take out the pitch man on an option. It distills football down into numbers and numbers are boring. Why are these nerds trying to ruin football with all this math?!?! And so, as the controversies of each season passed, the "formula" for the "Computer Polls" was tweaked. Margin of victory, despite being perfectly correlated to wins, and wins always a strong traditional method of determining which teams were the best, was continually diminished in importance and finally eliminated in 2004. Added to the BCS equation in an effort to eliminate human biases in evaluating football teams, the weight of the computer poll was continually diminished when the results of the "unbiased" computer polls didn't confirm the biases of the "human" polls. In other words, over the course of the BCS, the methodology by which one might use data to evaluate the relative strength of football teams became something that no statistician would ever devise or agree to. And whatever biases those models sought to reduce, were forced right back into them by people who clearly did not understand the advantages (and disadvantages) of such analytics. A few key points to understand about the Computer Polls: 1) "Computer Polls" are really models Models, if done well, seek to emulate some physical system. Models are built to emulate pumps in a submarine, electronics in a computer, unseen subatomic interactions during the Big Bang. And to paraphrase the notorious scientists/activist James Hansen, not a one of them is right. And that is because the whole point in building a model is to try to boil a intractably complex thing, be it the climate of the Earth's atmosphere or a interaction of 124 college football teams, into a small enough number of essential and understandable elements to be computationally feasible and still representative enough of the intractably complex system to glean meaning from it. No model is going to be able to predict the movement of every atom in the atmosphere nor will it be able to predict the proper alignment of the billions of butterfly effects that had to occur in the right way for TCU to beat Kansas in basketball last year. So the first thing to understand is that models are not the systems themselves. They deviate from reality every time a variable that affects the system isn't considered (and in complex systems there are countless variables), every time a simplifying assumption is made, every time the modeler picks one piece of data to put into it and leaves another out. But the their advantage lies, especially in the era of computers, in the ability to include many more variables than the human brain can process at one time. We've all heard the Transitive Theory of Football before -- in 2012, TCU beat Baylor by 28 and Baylor beat Kansas State by 28, then TCU should beat Kansas State by 56! The reality is that the performance of college football teams is noisy and how a team plays one week may is likely not to be at all representative of how they play in subsequent weeks. In reality, TCU not only didn't beat Kansas State by 56, they lost by 13. But the number of results analyzed in the Transitive Theory of Football (three) is about as much information as the normal human brain can hold at one time. A computer model, while far from capable of evaluating every single variable in a system, can at least evaluate more than a cursory glance over a schedule of results by a human brain. 2) Computer polls are subject to human bias too Computers just crunch the numbers. Aside from HAL, how they crunch the numbers is dependent on the humans who tell them what to do. And how the numbers are crunched is where the human bias of the programmers enters into the model. As discussed in a previous entry, DUSHEE makes a number of assumptions, simplifications, and subjective assessments, as all models do. All of those assumptions and simplifications can be justified to varying degrees of rigor but nonetheless I as the modeler have determined what information I think is important, how much more important some information is than other, and even how much information I'm willing to consider given time limitations. My personal bias goes into every one of those decisions. The same is true for Sagarin's model or Billingley's model or any other model used by the BCS system. Add to that the aforementioned biases that the BCS forces into those models themselves to make the models give them the answers they want to be given. However, a "computer" model, if allowed, does eliminate historical bias; e.g., Texas must be good this year because they've always been good and they always have highly ranked classes, thus I will rank them highly at the beginning of the season and punish them less severely for losses than I might a "non-traditional" power. Fan loyalty bias is reduced or preference for a style of play. Not eliminated, as the modeler could skew the analysis of the stats in favor of a stronger rushing game, but at a minimum, the actual numbers on the field are what is dictating the analysis. 3) Nothing prevents "human" poll voters from using a quantitative analysis or model to determine their own rankings Frank Windegger, who once was a voter in the Harris Poll, could have used DUSHEE, or his own model, to establish how he votes. So could anybody else. In that regard, the "computer poll" is nothing more than a really analytical "human poll." There is nothing inherently "un"human about using data to guide an assessment. Good assessments use data. The "old school" baseball fans were using data to support their assessment that Cabrera was the MVP, namely the "Triple Crown" stats. Nothing inherently wrong with them. They provide insight into important parts of a player's game. Old school pollsters are using data too. They're using the Transitive Theory, they're using strength of schedule, winning percentage, total offense and defense, all kinds of data, both quantitative and pseudo-quantitative. So in light of this, even with the continually diminishing clout of the computer poll during the BCS era, it still has an extremely disproportionate weighting in the BCS calculation, if viewed from a per voter basis. There are 115 Harris voters and 60 voters in the Coaches' Poll accounting for 2/3 of the BCS standings. There are 6 computer polls (ignoring that the biggest outlier gets thrown out) accounting for the other 1/3. So each Harris voter is contributing 0.29% to the BCS standings, each coach is contributing 0.56%, and each computer poll is contributing 5.6%. The computer polls are weighted 10 times more than each individual coach and almost 20 times more than the individual Harris voter. Did anybody put any thought into this? If we accept the argument that the computer polls are superior by eliminating more qualitative bias, why include the human polls at all? However if we then return some of the qualitative bias to the computer polls (by eliminating margin of victory and dictating how the modelers use the numbers to give results more in keeping with the human polls) then why have them weighted as much as they are? The computers were added because we can't trust Lane Kiffin not to vote USC number one when he knows other teams in the country are better but then when the computers tell us some team is Number 1 other than the one the humans voted in, we decide we can't trust the computers either. 4) Despite what you hear, college football's regular season tells you the LEAST of any major sport league about the relative dominance of its teams FBS college football has 124 teams (I think, unless more were added this offseason that I forgot) who play a 12-game season. One the other extreme, Major League Baseball has 30 teams who play a 162-game schedule. While one can and many have argued that the importance of any one individual game is almost nil in baseball and the opposite is true in college football, those making that argument often ignore the flip side of that coin. If we eliminate the inter-league games, at the end of a 144-game season, an MLB team has played every opponent in its league (15 teams, starting this year) at least 8 times. There should be no doubt who the best team in the league is. Playoffs, from the perspective of determining the best team in the league, have no purpose in baseball. They could go back to the pre-expansion era system of the best record in each league playing in the World Series, and no one would have an argument that their team deserved an opportunity. You had 162 games (now 144 in the inter-league era) to prove otherwise. In college football, not only do you only play each opponent only once, but you only play one-tenth of the teams in your "league," meaning, in this case, the FCS. Yes, each game is very important, but the season is statistically insufficient to definitively determine which team or teams are the best in the country. Undefeated, one-loss, even two-loss teams could and have had a case that their team was the best in the country. So in college football, more than any other American major sport, the need to coax out as much information from such a meager statistical sampling is critical if your goal is to determine which teams are the best. And so, I would argue, is the need for extending the season into a playoff. So analytical and statistical approaches should be emphasized. Because for all the bally-hoo nonsense about how "every game is a playoff game" (like Alabama getting knocked out of the "playoff" by A&M last year, right?), the reality is the regular season doesn't give us nearly enough information to determine who the best teams are based on wins and losses alone. If it did, there wouldn't be controversy every single year about who should be playing in the MNC. DUSHEE versus the BCS If computer polls were truly unbiased arbiters of college football excellence, they'd all arrive at the same dispassionate result. But they don't. In fact, their results can vary as wildly as the voters in any of the human polls. Last year, Billingsley had Northern Illinois at 12 while Sagarin had them unranked. The computers had Florida State anywhere from 14 to 24. Clemson, ranked 13 in both human polls was also unranked in Sagarin's. Part of the reason why the computer polls are so universally reviled is because all of them except Colley keep their methodology at least partially obscure. Massey, on his website, compiles the output of 124 different computer polls (not including DUSHEE!), which probably gives the best true estimate of college football team rankings. So how does DUSHEE compare to the computer polls used to determine the BCS MNC participants? I compared the 2012 DUSHEE results to 120 of the 124 computer ranking models (eliminating the ones that did not rank all 124 FCS teams) cataloged on Massey's website by using a simple R-squared correlation measure. An R-squared equal to 1 means that two data sets are perfectly correlated, i.e., the rankings of the two systems from 1 to 124 are identical. The closer the number to 1, the more closely correlated the two data sets. The systems to which DUSHEE correlates most closely are: Bias-Free (link broken) 0.982 Margin Aware Bradley Terry 0.970 Maurer 0.963 McDonald-Seer 0.963 PerformanZ 0.962 Not all of these systems detail their methodology (although the Margin-Aware and Maurer methods do describe a clear emphasis on MOV, much like DUSHEE), but it is probably safe to assume that these five methods most closely resemble DUSHEE. Perhaps not surprisingly, DUSHEE doesn't compare as well with the BCS systems since they expressly do not use margin-of-victory in their formulations: Sagarin 0.939 Massey 0.939 Wolfe 0.931 Colley 0.926 Anderson 0.925 Billingsley 0.916 If you take the compiled standings of all 124 polls on the Massey site, DUSHEE compared to that ranking at an R2 of 0.957. Not bad for a system that only looks at two statistics, if I do say so myself.
  25. 1 point

    OU single game pre-sale

    I received an email from OU sports that announced a presale starting July 25th at 12:01AM. Use code: OU2013 OU tickets