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

  1. 7 points
    The best summer of my life was 1963 when I rode for the Ehrlecher spread in Jeff Davis County, Texas. They had about 30,000 acres and a couple of thousand head of mixed beef cattle that had to be counted, vaccinated and treated for screw-worms. I was trying to make a hand and they let me ride, paying me $50 a week and all I could eat. They set me up with 4 horses; I had to bring my own hotroll. We had an old Airstream trailer where we slept, out in the middle of nowhere, too far from town to make it worth riding or driving in. The cook had a tent and a wagon where meals were prepared. After a long day in the saddle we'd wash off in the stock tank, have supper, and then entertain one another with stories--some of them were even true. There was one story told by another hand, Sixto (his last name I don't recall) that he swore was true. I must’ve heard him tell it at least a half-dozen times that summer and it was always the same. Some of the other cowhands scoffed, but he swore it was true. I've taken the liberty of putting it in first person, the way I heard it from Sixto, and I think I've got most of it right as to dialogue. I know the facts are just as he told them back then. Once in a while I've added a comment in [ ] to explain something a little better that he didn't originally tell, since we all knew back then what he was talking about. ****** It was in '53 when I was working for the sheriff's department down in Presidio. I was a new deputy in the department, and Sheriff Race was my boss. [Race Harland, known as "Sheriff Race" to most of the people in the county] I had night duty, and that meant I just drove around to see if there was trouble out on the roads. Kids would buy cheap wine or tequila over in “the O’ [Ojinaga, a Mexican town just across the border from Presidio] and raise hell in their daddy's car. Sometimes there'd be some bad wrecks, but usually just a car with drunk kids that run through a fence. One particular Friday night in late October I was over on 67 [state highway 67, between Presidio and Marfa] when I saw this old yellow school bus chugging down the grade from Marfa. I pulled up alongside and saw a bunch of kids in the bus and they looked like football players because I could see some standing and talking with football jerseys on. The bus had "Shafter ISD" painted on the side. Like I said, it was an old-looking bus. I followed it for a while, mostly because I had nothing else to do but then I wondered if it was going to make it up the next hill. After a while I passed and waved at the driver and went on towards town. A few days later I was in Shafter and stopped at a gas station for coffee and to stretch my legs. Just making conversation I asked the kid at the station about the high school football team, if they were having a good season. He shrugged and said "They used to have a six-man team here but not in a few years, I don't think." That puzzled me but not much since that old school bus could have been sold to another district and never painted so it could have been some other team I saw. But after I finished my coffee I went over to the school just to see, since I was curious and being curious is part of a deputy's job. I walked around but didn't see any school bus even though classes were going on. The whole school didn't have more than about 80 students, brought in from the ranches and a few who lived right there in Shafter. After a while I saw an old guy painting and stopped to kill some time with him and just be known around town. When I asked him about the football team he said "Who told you there was any football team here?" I told him I'd seen the team on the bus just a couple of weekends before. He stopped painting and gave me a real funny look. "Deputy, we ain't had no team here in years, ever since the accident." About that time I felt this kind of chill run up my back. He told me back in 1948 there was a six-man high school team that played some of the other little schools around, like Marathon and Fort Davis and Valentine, but that was the last year. He told me about the accident. The Shafter team was returning home from a game in the school bus, getting close to home out on 67. The best anyone figures they topped a hill and began the downgrade, but something must have happened to the brakes or the steering because at the big curve right where 67 crossed Cibola Creek at the edge of town the bus went off the road and down a drop off into the dry creek bed. Every one of them was killed. ****** Sixto went on about checking the accident records in the Sheriff's office and he found the accident report, but he never told anyone who worked there what he'd seen because he feared losing his job or at least being laughed at. Only after he quit the department and started cowboying again did he feel he could talk about his experience, and then only to men he trusted not to call him a liar or a lunatic. After hearing his story and seeing the look in his eyes as he told it, I couldn’t call him either one.
  2. 7 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 Yuscarán. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 4 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."
  5. 4 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.
  6. 4 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.
  7. 3 points
    Norman Lear almost killed TV in the 1970s. Oh, sure, he, Bud Yorkin and a few of their pals revolutionized the medium, and most of what they made was absolutely brilliant: All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude, Good Times and One Day at a Time, to name a prominent few. In the dying days of the Vietnam conflict and during the collective shame of Watergate, America craved yelling, screaming and fighting on television. (And maybe we still do in troubled times; look at the reality-TV boom of the early 2000s and all the events that occurred in that era. Apparently escapism isn't all it's cracked up to be and never has been.) The brilliance of Lear's creations was that, although the "liberal" side almost always won in his programs' episodes, viewers of all political and social stripes had somebody to embrace. Archie Bunker, most prominently by far, was supposed to be an easy-to-hate, ready-made bigot always comically set up for a fall by his own backward thinking or that of his goofy friends, or by his daughter and cultured son-in-law (and even sometimes by his sweet wife). Maude herself gave Archie fits in the early years of the series, as did George Jefferson and Irene Lorenzo. Pretty much all of Lear's subsequent creations (the successful ones, anyway) emerged like smoke from Archie's cigar. Archie Bunker was pater familias of the most dysfunctional extended TV family of all time. But a funny thing happened on the way to Archie becoming a villain. He became a hero. So many Americans loved him so much--warts, humiliations, bald-faced bigotry and all--that the show's producers eventually had to make the show all about him. The liberals faded, slowly, as did most of Archie's nemeses. Gloria disappeared. Meathead disappeared. Maude got her own show fairly early on. The Jeffersons got one even earlier. Even Edith, beloved wife, got killed off when Jean Stapleton quit the show. But Archie soldiered on, eventually half-spinning off into a show that really was all about him, Archie Bunker's Place. It ran into the Reagan administration, which surely would have pleased a real Archie Bunker. Archie possessed the same charm that Howard Stern used to rule the airwaves for a decade or two and that Donald Trump is using now to try to ascend to the highest office in the land. He said what he felt when he felt like saying it, and he didn't care who heard or what other people thought. Americans love a loudmouth, almost no matter what he (or she) says, and let's face it: Archie was lovable! And hilarious! And not always wrong! Mostly, that was because Carroll O'Connor gave the character more wrinkles than Abe Vigoda has on his whole body (if, indeed, Mr. Vigoda is still alive, and I think he is). But it was also because Archie said what a lot of Americans were thinking at the time, and the funny part is that history has proven him right on at least a few occasions. At the end of the Jimmy Carter election episode in 1976, maybe 1977, Archie barked to Meathead, "You're getting Reagan in '80!" And on another famous episode, Archie's televised proposal to arm every passenger on an airplane with a pistol in order to prevent hijackings foreshadowed the era of air marshals post-September 11. But back to Norman Lear almost killing television. In a nutshell, it all got to be too much. All in the Family's ratings started to slip, just a little bit, in 1976 and fell from there. Maude suffered a similar fate. George and Weezy lasted into the mid-'80s but with a vastly changed set of messages. They basically went from serious to silly. George ended up doing the unthinkable and palling around with Tom Wills! One Day at a Time also softened considerably, eliminating the contentious divorced-father character and turning Schneider, the famous building super, from a somewhat lecherous dude always wanting to boink Ms. Romano into a protector of the single mother and her girls (or girl, of course, after poor McKenzie Phillips went off the rails and took Julie Cooper with her). Good Times should have ended when John Amos left the cast. In any case, fighting got old. Yelling and screaming got old. Politics got old. No other entity can overdo a good thing and pound it mercilessly into the ground the way American television can. That's what was happening in the late '70s. The outlook was bleak. The Lear formula was boring, but networks kept trying it. And then somebody at ABC came to his (or her) senses. What you're about to see is powerful. It's borderline mind-blowing. This is how ABC responded to CBS and Norman Lear's hegemony on television. Stripping away all pretension, ABC went old school. It brought back stand-up-style comedy, sort of (Welcome Back, Kotter). It brought in an alien for more, and more bizarre, stand-up stuff (Mork and Mindy, of course). It brought back hot chicks, sexual tension and broad physical comedy (Three's Company). It brought something of a yeller-screamer show to the fore, but it made the conflicts personal, not political, and it gave multiple characters enviable depth, not just one or two (Taxi). And it brought back the '50s (Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley)! When in doubt, bring back the '50s. Nothing bad ever happened in the '50s, right, Archie Bunker? Now, ABC's revolution didn't start in 1978. It had been going for a few years, and by the time the long-form trailer below hit advertising agencies, ABC had become the No. 1 network on television, mainly by killing off Archie Bunker with Mork, the Fonz and Suzanne Summers. Behold: Now, let's take these gems one by one. Welcome Back, Kotter: It didn't have long to run, as Vinny Barbarino would soon be on his way out and Beau de la Barre on his way in, but Welcome Back, Kotter managed to capture inner-city pathos without pounding us over the head with it. There were two white guys, a black guy and a Puerto Rican Jew serving as the main characters on this show, along with a Jew-fro'ed, mustachioed, wise-cracking teacher who himself had been a Sweathog a scant decade or so before taking over in the classroom. We didn't ask why guys from diverse racial backgrounds were friends. (Norman Lear would have hammered that angle.) All we knew was that they were scamps, mostly low-level troublemakers who wouldn't so much as be called down in the classroom in today's era of school violence. And they loved the one guy they could relate to, the one guy who got them, who had been one of them in a not-so-distant former life. This is probably one of the better shows about teaching and classrooms ever made (Head of the Class also comes to mind) in part because it mostly deals with the everyday, fairly mundane problems that seem so magnified and earth-shattering in high school. There's really not much in the way of hard drug use, alcoholism, teenage sex or domestic violence on Kotter. (Again, Norman Lear would have had a field day with that stuff.) The guys worry about girls, sports, their hair, whatever. Kotter just wants to keep them out of trouble--not life-changing trouble, necessarily, just school trouble. This show teaches without preaching. That's why it worked in the let-up era of the late '70s. Operation Petticoat: This one doesn't jog the memory for me, but it looks sufficiently slapstick to fit into the lineup. Hey, not every hit is a home run. Taxi: This must have been Taxi's first season. (I did no research for this entry.) This show is criminally underrated (yes, really) and merits a long blog entry of its own. What made it appealing was an amazing cast and characters that people cared about because they seemed like people, not like the political caricatures Norman Lear (skillfully) drew. Sure, there was conflict, but there was also resolution (most of the time, anyway) and the strong feeling that these people could, and maybe did, actually exist. And seriously, that cast: Judd Hirsch, Danny Devito, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza (yeah, OK, but he had a pretty good career after Taxi), Jeff Conaway, Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future!) and, for heaven's sake, the unbelievable, inimitable, completely mold-breaking Andy Kaufman. And Carol Kane as his wife! Other than the cars and the telephones, this show holds up well today. It has a timelessness that the Archie Bunker family tree mostly doesn't have. That's not to say that Norman Lear's creations weren't great. They were. They just weren't set up to be relevant 40 years after they aired. Happy Days: The show that ended up originating the phrase "jump the shark" (which now dates to the late '90s, ouch!) hadn't quite done it yet in 1978. It was still goofy Richie and his pals, cool Fonz (how was he ever cool? ... that's another blog entry) and the straight-laced Cunninghams. Smooth and easy. Satisfying. Nostalgic for the middle-aged folks and yet entertaining enough for the kids. This show was emblematic of the ABC revolution and led the way. It didn't need to be brilliant. It just needed to be fun, and it was ... until Chachi came along. Laverne & Shirley: Happy Days with girls! And more laughs! And more goofiness! And Carmine "the big Ragu" Ragusa, the world's first dancing tough guy! And one of the great theme songs of all time! After half a decade of strife, yeah, people were ready for this. And it was great ... until they moved to California. Three's Company: Based on a British show (as so much of our television is, check out Til Death Us Do Part sometime) called Man about the House, this show became emblematic of mindless drivel on television and was probably the most prominent antidote of all to Norman Lear's seriousness. But you know what? Three's Company was funny. John Ritter was a brilliant physical comedian. The writing was vaudevillian in the best possible way. The setting, Southern California in the '70s, could not have been more enticing. And there were blondes, so many blondes, blondes with big hair and short shorts and halter tops. And there were the Ropers, and after the Ropers came Mr. Furley, who was actually funnier than the Ropers! As a kid, I wanted to live in Three's Company, just in the same neighborhood as Jack, Janet and Chrissy/can't remember the middle one's name/Terri. This show is still great today because innuendo, mild situational irony and a horny straight dude having to pretend to be gay will never get old. By the way, that gay thing ... Ridiculous as it might have been on this show, homosexuality was something Norman Lear never really, really breached in his a career, at least not prominently. Just saying. Starsky & Hutch: Overrated. Sorry, but it was. Great cars, cool clothes, but it got repetitive. But crime dramas get that way. Sacrilege, I know, but I don't care. Definitely cool at the time, though, and yes, I still have the toy car. Vegas: This, however, was great. Robert Urich is underrated historically. I never figured out, though, why he parked his car right in his house, or apartment, or whatever it was. Didn't the engine make the place hot? Didn't the car smell? Whatever, awesome show. Dan Tanna. Seriously. Charlie's Angels: Its best days were past it (Farah Fawcett returns to guest star ... ugh), but three beautiful women fighting crime for some guy we never see? Again, after Maude, America needed this. America wanted this, no matter how much Maude would have hated it. (Or would she have? It was all about female empowerment, after all.) Eight is Enough: TCU's own Betty Buckley! Eventually! This show was the serious Brady Bunch, but it worked because Dick Van Patten was strangely likable and Adam Rich was just cute enough. Again, ABC went with family here, but it was a family that fought over personal things, not over politics (mostly). These seemed like real people until one of the girls married a pitcher for the Dodgers. Mork and Mindy: Oh, wow. What is there to say? Robin Williams. An adorable Pam Dawber. Later, Jonathan Winters! A settling in Boulder that was brilliant, in that Mork could hide pretty effectively in a midsize college town that was half full of stoners, anyway. This was one long Robin Williams stand-up show, complete with his constant message of peace and kindness, with the occasional friendly chiding or shocked reaction from Mindy. And for a while, it worked. Spectacularly well. But it's hard to carry such a goofy set-up on for very long. Eventually, Mork starts figuring out Earth. He starts figuring out Mindy. He settles in. Then what? Then it's over. But what a sensation this show was, and what a brilliant and funny departure it was from the Archie Bunker family of shows. Mork was an alien right in the heart of the Star Wars era, when science fiction was huge. But he wasn't scary. He was Robin Williams, RIP and thanks. It's hard to watch this one now, but the appeal is still fresh. And remember, this was actually a Happy Days spin-off. The Fonz had a family of his own. What's Happening!!: Is it racist for me to say that this is very likely the best black sitcom in the history of television? Yes, really! Why was it so great? First of all, it was funny. Always funny. The characters were endearing. The scripts were memorable. (Dwayne bet on the football team that had the helmet he liked best. Tampa over Oakland? Oh, no!) There was plenty of charm to go around, from Shirley at the diner to Mama to Dee to Rerun and Dwayne to Roj, arguably television's first black nerd. But what really worked on this show was that it was about people--black people, but that didn't matter. After getting lecture after lecture from Norman Lear about race (some of them necessary, of course), here we had a program that featured black characters with no soapboxes. They were just funny characters. And the theme song was awesome. Another criminally underrated show. Barney Miller: Just as teachers talk about Kotter as the best classroom show ever made, cops talk about Barney Miller as the best cop show ever. Well, at least those old enough to remember it do, or used to. TV has tried so hard over the decades to come up with something both entertaining and authentic to depict the lives of police officers, but until the actual show Cops debuted, nothing had come as close as Barney Miller to nailing the scene. Sure, the cops on Barney Miller were detectives, not street cops (except for poor Levitt, of course), but their daily routine of filling out paperwork, drinking terrible coffee and dealing with fringe-ish types in Greenwich Village was much more accurate a portrait of cop life than the car-chase and gun-battle action shows that both preceded and followed the sitcom classic. Or so I've read, or been told ... or maybe I just want that to be true. In any case, here was another show that mixed characters seamlessly and didn't bother to talk much about the fact that there were white, black, Puerto Rican and Asian characters sharing the same small space. (Again, this was extremely post-racial stuff compared to All in the Family or The Jeffersons.) Even Linda Lavin had a turn as a female detective in the show's early years. Barney Miller was elite television, despite, or maybe even because of, numerous cast changes. It's still one of the best and most entertaining shows on TV, a cut well above most of what the medium has cranked out over the years. Soap: It wasn't Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman or Fernwood 2 Night, although the idea was similar, if not pretty much the same. Still, this show, which actually looked a bit like a Norman Lear comedy (remember, it spawned Benson), became a farcical '70s classic. Despite the always corrosive presence of Billy Crystal, Soap was a rollicking riot of a show that captured the Carter-era malaise by making every character on the show pretty much completely indifferent to every other character. This program took the feelings and anger of Lear's work and turned them into farce and complete stupidity--with hilarious results! Of course, it would never work today because the programs it parodied, soap operas, are basically dead, and realty TV has swallowed the last bit of potential irony on television. Family: To my somewhat limited memory, this show was Eight is Enough with fewer kids and with a budding star named Kristy McNichol, who pretty much disappeared after the show's run, save maybe for a few after-school-special-type programs. She did some damage on Battle of the Network Stars, though, another brilliant ABC creation (starring Howard Cosell and Bruce Jenner!). Donny & Marie: Mormon disco! This was the oldest of old-school crap. Whatever. People liked it ... for a while. It was definitely mindless, and that was appealing for the era. Apple Pie: One bad Apple didn't spoil the whole bunch for ABC, but this show only lasted eight episodes. I'd never actually heard of it until I saw the promo video. Sitcoms with historical settings only last if they're set in the '50s (including M*A*S*H). This was was from the '30s. Why? Still ... Dabney Coleman! Carter Country: Unquestionably the best mostly forgotten sitcom of all time, this show was about black and white cops in the South (Carter Country, as in Jimmy) but still managed to be mostly silly, with Roy, the gruff police chief; Kene Holliday's savvy cop character; and the Mayor, who coined the catchphrase, "Handle it, Roy! Handle it! Handle it!" goofing around in a small-town Georgia police station. This was a sillier version of Barney Miller that lacked Barney's gravitas but nevertheless turned out to be pretty entertaining. And again, we're mainly in post-Lear racial territory here, with everybody getting along for the most part and their relationships requiring no real explanation. Carter Country was an absolute delight and was as late-'70s as Sam Houston was Texan. It's a gem to see these days if it pops up on one of the nostalgia channels. Why this show didn't get a more legendary treatment remains a mystery. The Love Boat: Oh, wow. Oh, wow oh wow. I'm not saying that I named my first born after Isaac the bartender, but I'm not saying I didn't. Because I kind of did, kind of. This is a cultural touchstone if there ever was one. Basically a reference point for cheesy television, The Love Boat nevertheless ran for a very long time and roped in every guest star imaginable from mid-'70s and early '80s television. What an absolute tour de force of sappy, goofball television this was. Needed a break from Norman Lear's preachy creations? Oh, America, you got it. I mean you really got it. Fantasy Island: This show was awful, awful, awful. Diabolically acted, amateurishly cast, drippily dramatic and borderline scary, it's hard to believe that it's still pretty much the defining role of Ricardo Montalban's career. Still, again, it was a break from what the first half of the decade had brought to television. The unintentional comedy on this show was rampant, though, something I've mainly discovered watching the program in recent years on nostalgia TV. How did TV execs of the era green light this stuff? And how did it stay so popular for so long? Was Tatu really that cute? (By the way, Herve Villechaise, who was from Paris, had normal-sized organs in that tiny body and lived every day in excruciating pain. Which is sad. But apparently his not-dwarfy genitals were popular with the ladies. Really! Aren't you glad you read this far? I know. Nobody did.) The Hardy Boys: I vaguely remember this show, but what I don't remember about it was it being the gayest show ever. NTTAWWT, of course. But still. Wow, so gay. I actually feel some sense of retro happiness for all the poor, closeted gentlemen who, at least, got to get excited about seeing this show on Saturday nights, even if they couldn't express their true selves in the open in 1978. Good for you, guys, really. Somehow, Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy (IMDB profile photo from 1978, no joke) are still working, Cassidy as a pretty big-time producer. There's no business like it. (OK, so I did a tiny bit of research. IMDB is a day killer.) Movies: Taxi Driver on network TV? How? I'm pretty sure I saw The Bad News Bears on ABC in 1978, deleted bad words and all. And Battlestar Galactica, wow, what a great show and franchise that was. World class, and I'm not even a sci-fi guy, normally. And then there's a musical number at the end of the video! (Remember the video? That's what all of this was supposed to be about.) Mr. Cunningham, Isaac, Shirley, Barney Miller ... they're all there, grooving to a mild disco beat. I've seen better promo dance numbers (much better), but it's charming nonetheless. And that voice of ABC was the best TV voice ever. Norman Lear was a genius, a revolutionary and quite possibly the most important person in the history of scripted American television. But when enough was enough, ABC came through with a lineup so powerful that its awesomeness and grandeur still resonate today. And most of all, it was fun. It defined the greatest era in human history, the late '70s. And it kept the beautiful medium, television, from eating itself. We owe much to Mork, the Fonz, Wojo, Alex Reger, Roj and even the Mayor from Carter Country. Long may their legacy endure.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 ...
  11. 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.
  12. 2 points
    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 ...
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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....
  16. 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.
  17. 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!
  18. 2 points
    I should have been born in 1955, not in 1973. This much I know. I could have been in puberty during the sexual revolution of the '60s (but missed Vietnam...barely), and then I would have been around to understand every joke during the awesome television era of the '70s. And let's not even get into the music...or the fashions! Instead, I got stuck growing up in the '80s and early '90s, blah puke boring. That's why I spend so much time screwing around on YouTube looking for gems from pop culture past. Today, in the first (and still possibly only--we'll see) entry in this blog, I'm focusing on game shows, the high temple of double entendres and terrible one-liners during the Best Decade. (That's the '70s. The Best Decade. I'm doing that now, like the Greatest Generation or something.) No game show produced as many stunning moments of comedy as the legendary Match Game. Marked with a vintage in most years (Match Game '73, '74, '75, etc.), and also by the time of day when it ran (Match Game PM!), the Match Game is a living archive (full of dead people...) of the era when '50s showmanship and bluster met '60s bawdiness and '70s don't-give-a-crap to create a magical elixir of semi-rude entertainment. Most of the time, the comedy on the Match Game was implied and tongue-in-cheek rather than brute force. That was what made it so great. The fill-in-the-blank questions almost always had a hilariously dirty obvious answer, but what made the game exciting was the ability of the panel, legendary host Gene Rayburn, and sometimes even the contestants to dance around the obvious and go with the clever instead. In other words, these people knew what they wanted to say, but they didn't say it because they couldn't. They had to come up with something else. It took some thought. Behold: (If these embedded videos don't work, and they might not, please have the temerity to click through to YouTube. Thanks.) Not only could the panel not give the answers they really wanted to give, but at least one regular, the infamous Charles Nelson Reilly, couldn't be who he really was. He was gay--well, of course he was!--but he couldn't be openly gay in the mid-'70s, so he had to settle for being obviously, fabulously, flagrantly gay...but all under the guise of being straight-ish. Sort of. I guess. Here, he goes off the rails a bit, but the innuendo remains subtle-ish yet ever-present. And by the way, yes, Richard Dawson was the perfect man of the '70s: Of course, the Match Game didn't always deal in subtlety. Sometimes it just couldn't. But the beauty of the '70s was that pretty much nothing was off-limits unless somebody dropped one of George Carlin's seven deadly words or made a direct reference to a below-the-belt body part. So, if a girl on the show had big boobs, was it OK to talk about them? OK? It was encouraged! By the host! If this lady is still with us, she must have to carry a wheelbarrow in front of her at all times. I can't imagine: http://youtu.be/8aTsSvncE4Q Then there were those episodes of the Match Game when the contestant and the panel said exactly what everybody was thinking...and got away with stuff that would lead to riots in the streets today. I'm not biased against anybody, but try to tell me this isn't funny. (Besides, Charles Nelson Reilly approves of it, so that makes it OK for the rest of us.) By the way, not to be a spoiler, but I love how the word "fairies" is considered a match for the contestant's answer in this question about Batman and Robin. Yes, this is gay stuff. Also, look at Dawson thinking 40 years ahead of his time: http://youtu.be/6K9OKF8HX5Q The beauty of celebrities in the '70s was that enough of them dated back to an era heavy in brutal stand-up and pressure-packed live TV that they could actually think on their feet, or at least while sitting in the studio. Many of today's fully automated TV "stars" (especially the idiots of reality TV) would have bombed 40 years ago because they can't think for themselves and wouldn't have been able to come up with witty lines on the spot. Or, they would have just said something overtly dirty for cheap laughs. That's why the '70s, that bridge between the confusion of the '60s and the sterility of the '80s, was so fantastic. That and the ability to openly discuss some random woman's boobs are what made spontaneous TV back then so effective in a way it couldn't be today. Remember, this was all network TV--no cable, no satellite, no HBO. Everybody saw it, kids and all, especially the daytime game shows. There was nothing else on TV. There were three channels, maybe four, in most cities. And when supply was low and demand was high, the quality of TV was often excellent. I'm going to end this entry with a bit of a twist, moving away from the Match Game and to that other, far better known, celebrity-quip game show, Hollywood Squares. Hollywood Squares had its own Charles Nelson Reilly in the person of Paul Lynde, who, in all honestly, was probably more popular and famous than CNR. Again, gay in every way except overtly, Lynde rocked the center square for years. The whole show, though--deserving of at least one other entry at some point--featured '70s wit at its very best. Even Florence Henderson, Mrs. Brady, got into the mildly bawdy review (as promised in the title of this entry). By the way, pay attention at 2:57 for a quintessential '70s experience: (I haven't been able to embed this video, but it's worth a click.) http://youtu.be/J947DhD7kHc That's it for now. If I'm ever to type while messing around on YouTube again, I'll be back. In the meantime, love, peace and soul (there's an entry there, too).
  19. 2 points
    In response to the high demand, I have decided to pen a poker blog. I’m sorry, did I say “high demand”? I meant “absolutely no demand whatsoever.” Like seriously, no one ever talks about poker on this website. In the spirit of all the people who write stupid stuff on the internet that nobody reads, I have decided to not let that deter me from my quest. What will this blog talk about? Well, poker. Specifically, Texas Hold ‘Em poker, as I couldn’t begin to advise on Omaha Hi-Lo or Five Card Draw or that game where you hold one card up to your forehead that some people call “Mexican Sweat” and other people call “Bull$heet”. You will get the most from these discussions if you are already familiar with the basics of Texas Hold ‘Em, but want to learn more about strategy. I hope to (among other things) look more deeply at some poker maxims that can be filed in your brain until that moment when you are making a key decision and then you will hear my voice whispering it in your ear. Because that is what poker boils down to – decisions. The entire game is a series of decisions based on limited information. The more you can understand and control the factors involved, the more you will win. Now, not all poker maxims are true, and sometimes they contradict each other. With all due deference to Kenny Rogers, you should, in fact, “count your money while you’re sittin’ at the table” because knowing how much money you have and your opponents have is an important piece of information for decision-making. The lesson here is that you shouldn’t take poker advice from a country-western singer, but you should definitely take advice from a random blogger on the internet. Ok, today’s phrase is “bet when you think you have the best hand.” Now you would think this is obvious, but you would be surprised at how players want to get cute when they have a couple of good cards and “build the pot” or “slow play.” Here’s the problem with that: you are letting someone else catch up for free or on the cheap. This leads directly to another great maxim: “It is better to win a little than lose a lot.” If you bet in a way to keep people around, don’t be upset when they draw out that flush or inside straight on you. I was once playing at a No Limit table and I found myself with A6 of spades on the button (we will talk more about the importance of position at another time). Someone in middle position looks down and sees that he has aces. Woo hoo! American Airlines! Pocket Rockets! So he bets, but only a little, because in his mind he wants to see action (this is somewhat understandable – it’s depressing to have everyone fold pre-flop to your aces). But then everybody between him and me calls the small bet. Well, now I have what are called “pot odds.” We will talk more about betting another time, but basically this means that all of those small bets compel me to also call because even though my hand is not that good, the risk is now low and the potential reward is very high in comparison. The flop comes and there are two sixes and two spades. Woo Hoo! Things could not be better. I have trip sixes, and I also have four spades with two more cards to come. Mr. Aces bets out and when it gets to me I raise him (And why am I betting? Because I think I have the best hand). He looks confused, but he quickly calls the raise. Now the turn comes – and it’s a spade! *HAPPY DANCE INSIDE WHILE TRYING TO LOOK COMPLETELY NONCHALANT* He bets out again, and this time I go all-in. Now he is beside himself. He thinks he deserves this pot because he had pocket aces! It was his destiny! At this point he should have laid it down. Every person at that table knew that I either had a six or two spades (both actually, but just one was needed to beat him). It was not hard to look at the board and realize that he was beat. In his heart of hearts, he had to know it, too, but he was blinded by the original pretty cards and at this point he had a whole lot already invested. He eventually throws in the rest of his chips, and when I turn my cards over he storms off while I haul in what is now several hundred dollars. What did he do wrong? He didn’t bet enough initially to get people with mediocre hands out of the pot, and then he was so emotionally tied to the hand that he couldn’t let it go. Truthfully, he was pretty unlucky that I hit a hero flop, but aces lose their value as the hand goes on unless another ace comes. In the end all he had was a single pair, and it usually takes more than that to win a hand on the river. So what was the maxim for this blog entry? Bet when you think you have the best hand. There will be many times that you will be tempted to just call and see what comes next. This might be just fine if you are drawing to improve, but it’s not so great if you have already hit your hand. If you really think that you currently have the best hand, no matter what round of the action it is, BET, don’t check or call. When you bet, you have two ways to win: the others can fold or you can turn over the best hand. If you just check or call, you are letting people catch up, and you only have one way to win in the end. Tune in next week when I will talk about, I don’t know, some other poker thing.
  20. 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.
  21. 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...
  22. 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!
  23. 2 points
    Duquesne Frog

    SEC Fatigue

    Let's get it out of the way. The SEC is the best. I'm not even going to try to dispute it as much as I'd like to. I am as sick of them as anybody else who doesn't live within 30 miles of a Civil War battlefield. The bona fides are not in question. Every Mythical National Championship since 2006. Only conference in history to win more than 3 in a row. By far the most NFL draft picks. And you can't avoid the superlatives. Steve Spurrier, albeit for transparently self-serving reasons, absurdly declared Alabama better than the Jacksonville Jaguars. ESPN, also for transparently self-serving reasons, touting the SEC even when it's ostensibly attacking the conference. As with any media darling, the SEC has legions of backlash haytas loaded for bare with reasons to diminish their success. They rarely play out-of-conference games outside the South. Outside the MNC and BCS games over the last 14 years, the SEC is a slightly more pedestrian 56-42. They haven't produced a decent NFL quarterback since Eli Manning. There are few quantitative measures by which one can conclude that the SEC has not been, on average, the best conference in college football. But the flip side of that coin is that the bias toward the SEC has become so strong that it seems as though the 110 college FBS teams who play in conferences not named the SEC have access to only one slot in the MNC, and even then, they still might not get the nod over the second place SEC team. That the SEC has won seven straight MNC games is a truly epic feat, but it is a feat whose accomplishment is owed as much to opportunity as it is superior play or talent. Getting to the game is the important part. Two of the best teams in the country winning a single game against the other is generally a statistical coin flip. Has the SEC won all these national championships because they clearly had the best team in the game or have they managed the statistically improbable feat of flipping heads 7 times in a row? Does the SEC Champion deserve a de facto berth into the MNC game? The question is probably moot until somebody beats them in the MNC. But the numbers, nonetheless, tell an interesting story. What Is the Best Conference? Before we dive into the details, how do we go about determining the best conference? The conference with the best singular team? The conference best at the top -- e.g., most teams in the top 25? The best conference top-to-bottom? The answer, usually, is whatever metric that supports whatever argument you want to support. Here at NMMH, we strive to avoid such tautologies. The first metric -- best singular team -- seems a poor metric for judging the strength of a conference. By that metric, the WAC was in the argument for best conference in the country during the Kellen Moore era at Boise State. But it's not a metric to be dismissed because it is, after all, the two "best" teams in the country who are supposed to be chosen for the MNC. And winning the MNC is the primary (but not the only) basis for extolling SEC dominance. As we discussed in the last blog post, the example of SMU and Georgia in the 1982 season showed that being undefeated in a "major" conference may not be sufficient justification for declaring a team the "best." A good, but not great, team can go undefeated based on the good fortune, or the uncanny capability if you choose to look at it that way, to put their best efforts out against the best opponents on the schedule. The turds that SMU laid against TCU and Texas Tech in 1982 are no less indicative of the kind of team they were than the impressive wins against Texas and Pitt. Had they executed against Texas and Pitt the way they executed against TCU and Tech, they not only would not have been undefeated, but they would have been blown out. Did they get lucky, or did they "play up" to their competition? So for the sake of argument, let's say that the top 5 teams in the DUSHEE poll are all teams that should have, at minimum, been in the conversation for best team in the country. Here are the DUSHEE top 5 for each year of the SEC's run, the teams in bold were selected to play in the MNC: 2006 LSU SEC 22.29 177.67 72.78 Ohio St. B10 24.69 133.22 71.60 Louisville BE 22.12 137.15 66.66 Florida SEC 20.10 160.33 65.64 BYU MWC 20.76 145.39 64.92 2007 West Virginia BE 25.04 167.29 77.17 LSU SEC 22.95 170.42 73.15 Oklahoma B12 24.60 135.54 71.72 Ohio St. B10 20.87 185.48 70.83 Missouri B12 22.46 148.11 68.94 2008 Florida SEC 35.59 184.94 102.21 USC P10 31.19 247.26 101.64 Oklahoma B12 32.67 207.85 99.21 Texas B12 28.67 157.01 83.46 Penn St. B10 25.52 178.00 79.72 2009 TCU MWC 27.12 222.03 89.36 Texas B12 26.45 205.00 85.52 Florida SEC 24.91 212.98 83.36 Alabama SEC 25.85 192.02 82.40 Boise St. WAC 24.97 157.39 75.63 2010 Boise St. WAC 32.41 251.22 104.80 TCU MWC 26.84 238.90 91.16 Ohio St. B10 25.02 209.34 83.09 Oregon P10 25.04 154.95 75.43 Auburn SEC 23.33 174.17 74.50 2011 Alabama SEC 31.50 269.74 105.48 LSU SEC 30.53 129.87 83.60 Boise St. MWC 25.52 163.45 77.65 Houston CUSA 22.46 182.74 73.86 Oregon P10 24.06 154.10 73.22 2012 Alabama SEC 31.13 217.62 97.30 Texas A&M SEC 26.30 201.68 84.73 Oregon P10 29.20 155.42 84.38 Florida St. ACC 19.33 178.66 66.59 Notre Dame Ind 17.89 144.12 58.62 Table 1. Top 5 DUSHEE teams from 2006-2012. From left to right: Team, Conference, PD, YD, and DUSHEE Score. DUSHEE Score is normalized against the average best team from 2000 through 2012. Bold teams played in MNC game. Ignore for a moment the DUSHEE WTF team of 2011 (I'd like to think Kevin Sumlin had Houston's DUSHEE ranking in hand when he interviewed for the A&M gig) and look at the conference affiliations of these 35 teams: SEC: 11 B12: 5 B10: 4 P12: 4 MWC: 4 BE: 2 WAC: 2 ACC: 1 CUSA: 1 Ind: 1 Table 2. The number of DUSHEE Top 5 teams per conference affiliation over the last 7 years The SEC has had 11 of the 35 Top 5 DUSHEE teams of the last 7 years, or 31%. Yet they have been given 8 of the 14 MNC game slots, or 57%. If we focus the analysis down to the top 2, the SEC has accounted for 7 of the 14 Top 2 DUSHEE teams, but 4 of those 7 came in the last two years. In the 5 years prior, the SEC accounted for 3 of 10 Top 2 teams. So, while the SEC has clearly had the most consistent presence in the Elite in college football over the last 7 years, it is also arguable that they have nonetheless gotten disproportionate opportunity to play in and win the MNC at the expense of other conferences. Notably, the MWC, which has had 4 teams in the top 5 (BYU, TCU (twice), and Boise) over the last 7 years, hasn't had a single opportunity in the MNC. The SEC has clearly deserved more opportunities, but one might argue that the growing bias toward them as somehow a "super" conference has given them even more opportunities than they've deserved. The Middle of the Road Perhaps the more relevant way to judge conference strength is to look at the conference from top-to-bottom. There are a few ways to assess this. The typical way a computer rating system does it is by averaging the scores of all the teams in the conference together and using a single number to determine conference strength. Let's begin with this customary conference rating approach. Again, over the last decade plus, here are the conferences ranked by average DUSHEE score of all teams in their conference: Figure 1. Three-Year moving average DUSHEE score per conference from 2001-2012. The moving average is plotted for the middle year. Figure 1 shows the 3-year moving average for each conference since 2001. A three-year moving average means that each point on the plot represents the average of the three years surrounding the point; for example, the 2011 SEC point represents the average DUSHEE score for 2010, 2011, and 2012 combined. The 2010 point combines 2009, 2010, and 2011. And so on. The reason for doing this is as busy as Figure 1 is, it's even busier if you plot each individual year by itself. Moving averages smooth out the data and make it a little easier to discern multi-year trends. Notice that the SEC curve remains on top all the way back to 2001. However, the AQ (automatic qualifier, in BCS parlance) conferences were much more tightly packed together in the early aughts. Based on the DUSHEE metric, the average team in the Big Six conferences were much more on par with each other in the early 2000's than they have been more recently. In fact, the average performance of all of the AQ conferences, after steadily rising for the most part in the early 2000's, have moved down over the last 4-5 years, EXCEPT for the SEC. This seems to indicate that the SEC dominance of the last few years hasn't been as much about their improvement as other conferences' decline. You'll also note our old stomping grounds, the MWC. Through 2008-2009, it was pretty close to on par with the ACC and in some years the highly volatile Big East. Not surprisingly, the MWC's performance has taken a significant dive after the loss of their big 3. The addition of Boise just hasn't been enough to replace three perennial top 25 teams. The MWC's decline has resulted in a convergence in the non-AQ conference performance, making the distinction between the haves and have-nots more obvious than ever. We're all happy to have been Indiana Jones rolling under the closing crypt door just in time but the downside may have truly been the death of the non-AQ conference as a serious BCS threat to the Elite. Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link Averaging conference performance is a perfectly fine way of assessing strength, but by boiling the data down to a single number, some information inevitably gets thrown away. For instance, say Conference A has 10 teams. Three teams have DUSHEE scores of 70, three are around 0, and the other four are all around -50. On average, Conference A has a DUSHEE score around 0 ... the definition of mediocre. Yet, they have three teams who are BCS, if not MNC worthy. Is that a mediocre conference? Meanwhile Conference B also has 10 teams, evenly distributed between 40 and 0. Nobody is terrible, and on average Conference B has a DUSHEE score around 20. Significantly higher than Conference A. Yet Conference A has three teams that could comfortably win Conference B. Which is the better conference? Conference B has the tougher "week in -- week out" grind. Yet none of those teams in Conference B play two games nearly as tough as the two games the top 3 of Conference A play against each other. This generalization, as I alluded to a few paragraphs above, somewhat describes the situation between the "Big 3" era MWC and the ACC and Big East. Figures 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 show the 3-year moving average DUSHEE scores for the SEC, Big 12, Big East, ACC, and MWC, respectively. Figure 2. SEC 3-year moving average DUSHEE score. Note Missouri and A&M haven't been in the conference long enough to make a 3-year average. Figure 3. Big XII 3-year moving average DUSHEE score. Note WVU and TCU haven't been in the conference long enough to make a 3-year average. Figure 4. Big East 3-year moving average DUSHEE score. Note Temple hasn't been in the conference long enough the second go around to make a 3-year average. Figure 5. ACC 3-year moving average DUSHEE score. Figure 6. MWC 3-year moving average DUSHEE score. Note Boise, Fresno, Hawaii, and Nevada haven't been in the conference long enough to make a 3-year average. The tops of the SEC (Fig. 2) and Big XII (Fig. 3) don't look qualitatively different. For the most part, both conferences have been dominated by 2-3 teams (SEC -- Alabama, LSU and Florida; Big XII -- Oklahoma and Texas, with brief challenges to supremacy by Kansas State and Oklahoma State). Moving down to that next tier, a little separation begins to emerge. The SEC has continually had a dense grouping of teams in the 20-40 range, keeping in mind that a DUSHEE score of around 30 means a team is at least on the cusp of being a Top 25 team. The Big XII's densest grouping of teams typically appears in the 0-20 range. And then at the very bottom, the distinction is even more clear. While both conferences have typically had 4-or-so below average teams (usually Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the SEC; Baylor, Kansas, Colorado and Iowa State in the Big XII), the SEC have not had what might be technically called God-awful teams as Baylor and Kansas were for parts of the last decade. The worst SEC team has been typically at about a DUSHEE score of -40. Baylor and Kansas have both spent time in the -60 to -70 range. The comparison between the ACC, Big East, and MWC also sheds some light on the ambiguity in assessing conference strength. Going back to my Conference A vs. Conference B scenario, the MWC (Fig. 6) for most of the last decade was a pretty good analog for Conference A. TCU, Utah, and BYU never dipped below a DUSHEE score of 20 and all three were typically at least flirting with 40. TCU's moving average during that time places it squarely in the Alabama/Oklahoma stratosphere. At the beginning of the last decade, before TCU joined, the MWC had a healthy grouping in that same 0-20 category that a lot of Big XII teams have held. However, both Utah and BYU were bunched there too; the MWC didn't start producing consistent Top 25 level teams until 2004, when Utah began to emerge ahead of the peloton. At about that same time, the steady decline of the bottom of the MWC begins. Colorado State, New Mexico, UNLV, and San Diego State all get bad, really bad, coincidental to the emergence of Utah, the re-emergence of BYU, and the entry of TCU into the league. By 2009-2010, the MWC has the rare distinction of containing three consistent Top 25 teams along with three consistent Bottom 25 teams, all within a 9 team conference. Compare that to the Big East and ACC during this time. Prior to leaving the Big East (Fig. 4), Miami and Virginia Tech were miles above the rest of the conference in terms of performance. Miami was winning MNC's and Virginia Tech was playing in BCS games; nobody else in the conference was in the Top 25. However, the decline that they had begun to show in the early part of the decade continued after they joined the ACC (Fig. 5), where they joined a declining Florida State in a conference whose champion generally found itself well outside the Top 10 and sometimes toward the bottom of the Top 25. Outside of the emergence of West Virginia and the initial success of Louisville in the few years immediately after they moved from CUSA (somehow managing to thrive in the week-in-week-out grind of an AQ conference), the Big East champion also tended to sit in that 15-25 spot in the AP (and DUSHEE) poll. Utah and BYU could have regularly challenged for championships in either of those two conferences and the Dalton-era TCU teams would have most likely won either of those conferences going away (much as they did in the MWC). The difference is that the bottom of both the Big East and ACC were not nearly as bad as the bottom of the MWC. The ACC has had only one perpetual resident in the less than -40 realm of the God-awful, Duke. The Big East had two roaming that wasteland, albeit at different times; Rutgers at the beginning of the decade and Syracuse at the end. The end of the Big East found the entire conference tightly bunched between -10 and 20, making it by far the most evenly balanced conference during the DUSHEE-analyzed era. None of the teams are terrible. And none of the teams are really good. The ACC in recent years has told a similar story. Most of their teams have been bunched between -20 and 40. One or two decent teams, one or two pretty bad teams, and everyone else varying shades of mediocre. So which was the "better" conference of the three? Based on average performance, the ACC and Big East were a little better, largely because their bottom halves weren't nearly as low. Conversely, their top 2-3 teams weren't nearly as good. Is it better to be consistently mediocre or have a few great teams along with several legitimately terrible teams? The Numbers, Unfortunately, Tell You What You Already Know The SEC has been the best conference in college football over the last decade-plus, based on almost any quantitative measure you wish to throw at it. But the growing notion that the SEC is somehow in a league of their own, a league that should receive an automatic berth into the MNC game by virtue of winning the conference is not supported by the numbers. The SEC isn't THAT much better, and particularly not at the beginning of this run. The Cam Newton Auburn team of 2010 was a really good team, but there were 4-5 other teams who had a claim to be worthy of an opportunity to play in a MNC. As many on this board feel, I'd have loved to have seen the Frogs get an opportunity to play them. Thank the Football Gods we're finally going to get to see some more teams with an opportunity to play. For as long as the SEC champion gets an automatic bid into the MNC, they're going to continue to win lots of championships. At least now, they're going to have to get that coin to flip heads at least twice as many times.
  24. 1 point
    Baylor University, Please Stop Chanting “Kill” at Your Games An Open Letter to Ken Starr I recently flew from Kentucky to Texas in order to watch my beloved Horned Frogs take on the formidable Baylor Bear football team for the 110th time. I was eager to see the new stadium, and I was impressed with the hospitality I encountered before and after the game. The game itself was both exciting and intense from start to finish. However, there was one part of the whole experience that completely stopped me in my tracks – so much so that it is still on my mind more than ten days after returning home. Mr. Starr, did you know that your fans chant the word “kill” over and over again at your games? Of course you do, as I saw your spirited run across the field to start the game so I know that you were there. When I realized what they were saying, I began looking around. Students, senior citizens, young children, mothers holding babies...all rhythmically calling for murder together. This mental image is forever seared into my brain. Because here’s the thing. People really do die in collegiate sports. In America, high school and college football players die playing the sport at an average rate of more than twelve per year. These players have names – such as Chucky Mullins, Derek Sheeley, and Derringer Cade – and mothers and brothers and girlfriends that will never see them again. In fact, one sad facet of the shared TCU/Baylor history is that a TCU head coach died on the sidelines during one of our games in Waco in the early 1970s. I firmly believe that you don’t actually want young men to die on your football field, so I am uncertain as to why you would allow your collective voices to be raised in calling for this, over and over again. The pregame prayer that was offered up in your stadium described our two storied institutions as “unapologetically Christian.” To be unapologetically Christian requires a posture that always presents a gospel-oriented countercultural witness to the world. It requires standing up to the mobs that would chant “Crucify him!” It means refusing to allow the pomp and pageantry of collegiate sports to reduce itself to gladiatorial spectacle. But this goes beyond theological concerns, and I would be equally bothered by a secular institution chanting “kill” at sporting events. This is simply an appeal to our shared humanity. Let’s work together to let our competitive sports experiences bring out the best in human nature, not the worst. Linda Lotspeich TCU Class of '91
  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