Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm Sending Out Some Memos

I'm busy sending out some memos:

Memo to: Some, Not All Conservatives and Liberals
RE: The truth
Please stop forwarding emails containing lies about the candidate you oppose, to me, and everyone else. Please use the following references concerning emails about John McCain and Barak Obama.

Memo to: Tennessee Vols Football Fans
RE: Phil Fulmer
The Tennessee Football program under Phil Fulmer has "jumped the shark." Understand that the past 17 years have been wonderful, but it's to the point that "term limits" should be brought to bear. It's the same reason Houston Nutt's evangelical coaching style, as effective as it is, begins falling on deaf ears after a few years. Just make sure the coach you really want is going to be available before you hand the parachute to Fulmer. Please reject the inevitable application from Bobby Petrino, which no dout, you've already received.

Memo to: New England Patriots Fans
RE: Matt Cassell
The Pats will NOT be all right with Cassell at QB. There is a reason he was a backup. That's how one of the worst teams in the AFC beat you today at your own stadium using single wing plays, and high school option plays. Now's your chance to prove you are not a fair weather fan, and cheer a team that's not as good as the one you bargained for at the beginning of the season.

Memo To: The New York Jets
RE: Brett Farve
Let him do what he does and don't handcuff him. You know what he does. Let him do it. If you place restraints on him, it won't work. Take the interceptions with the TDs and pray there are more TDs. Just get on the roller coaster and ride.

Memo To: Jessica Simpson
RE: Your Future
Bridget, my lovely wife, respectfully asks that you break up with QB Tony Romo, as she is convinced your continued relationship will stop her beloved Dallas Cowboys from advancing in the NFL playoffs. On the other hand, I respectfully ask you to discontinue recording music, as your singing is advancing my hearing loss and confidence in mankind as a species.

Memo to: The Hickman-Fulton RECC
RE: Thanks
Thanks for the hard work you did getting the electricity back on following the remnants of Hurricane Ike moving though the area. You did a wonderful job! You saved a year's worth of meat in our freezer and reminded us how much we take for granted the convenience of power. Well done!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Legend Leaves Us

Even if you're a football fan, you probably never heard of Walter Kilzer outside of West Tennessee. When you think of great coaches, you might think of Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Don Shula, Bear Byrant, Joe Paterno, etc. His 44-year coaching record was just above .500, but I would have given anything to have played for him. Countless parents savored the chance for their sons to play for Coach Kilzer at Trenton, TN's Peabody High School and later at Old Hickory Academy (now University School of Jackson) in Jackson, TN. Back in the 1970s, at Peabody High, he was my coach....although he never coached me. I was too small and slow to make the team, but I still cheered them on, every Friday night, where he directed The Golden Tide, along with his many "assistant coaches" in the stands. No doubt, if he'd had less players like me, he'd have had a better won-loss record, but whatever he had, he got the best out of them, and on those years he was blessed with some athletic talent, they really shined. By that time, I was in the band, where I was still small and slow! In his later years at Peabody, he was probably not as appreciated as much as he had been earlier, and then was again later when he laid the foundation for a highly sucessful program at Jackson. I'll always remember Milan High School's legendary coach, John Tucker (a distant cousin of mine...believe it or not) going on and on about Kilzer, who he felt was one of the greatest coaches in the history of Tennessee High School Football, even though it was Tucker who got the better of Kilzer, more often than not. No doubt Kilzer's best teams at Trenton were in the 40s, 50s and even 60s in the heyday of the old Big 10 Conference in West Tennessee, but one constant remained throughout his 30 year tenure there: the way he taught his kids to carry themselves when they took the pads off and moved on from high school, and into the real world.

He certainly had the early pedigree, starting at Vanderbilt, before transferring to Georgia Tech, where he played with and under a couple of legends: Frank Broyles, and head coach Bobby Dodd. For a while, he and Broyles held the record for the longest pass play from scrimmage in the Southeastern Conference, back when GT was in the SEC. He was on Bobby Dodd's first team at Georgia Tech. He thought so much of Coach Dodd, he named his first son "Bobby Dodd." No one ever called him Bobby. It was always Bobby Dodd. He held a reverence for Coach Dodd and I discovered many years later, just how deep that reverence ran.

I never heard him cuss. I think the strongest expletive out of his mouth I ever heard was "Dad June It." I never heard anyone say a bad word about him, only glowing words of admiration. Even when he got onto his kids, it was in such a loving, encouraging way.

Years later, in 1993, I was sent by WPSD to cover the Peach Bowl in Atlanta where Kentucky was taking on Clemson. I spent the week around Kentucky Coach Bill Curry and his team, including on the sideline during the game. They were undoubtedly the most intelligent, well-behaved, mature college football team I have ever been around. I knew Curry had been on one of Coach Dodd's last teams at Georgia Tech, so I watched him closely and how he handled himself, and his team. I never heard him cuss, and even when he got onto his players, it was in such a loving, encouraging way.

The following year, I drove home to see my old alma mater, Peabody play a football game one Friday night, when I spied Coach Kilzer up in the stands. I had to talk to him. Even though it had been almost 20 years, he called me by my name and flashed that wide smile which always lit up the room. I said "Hey coach! I want to tell you something! I went to the Peach Bowl last year and watched Coach Curry coach his team, and the most amazing thing was, I could really tell that you and Coach Curry were coached by the same man!"

He stopped for a moment. Then I began to see tears welling up in his eyes. At that point, it dawned on me just how much he had loved Coach Dodd.

I realized just how important a football coach can be in shaping a young man's life, teaching him values which he would carry throughout his entire life. I realized that a won-loss record on the field wasn't nearly as important as a coach's record in turning out quality people. In that aspect, Kilzer's record might be unequaled, as is Coach Curry's, or Coach Dodd's. Even so, when he had the athletes, he would beat you, and sometimes if his athletes were not quite as good as your's. He had a good chance of beating you anyway! They had their priorities right......and they still would, long after the game was over. There are a lot of coaches with better won-loss records, who will never be half the coach that Coach Kilzer was.

Monday, September 15, 2008

We Don't Like Ike!

Hurricane Ike wasn't too kind to the Texas Gulf Coast and the remnants weren't too nice to us! I don't have an accurate measure of the wind gusts at my house, but there were high enough to bring down a number of big limbs and kill our power for most of the day and night. Was it a Tropical Storm when moved through the area? Not officially, but the gusts were something else!

Here's what the National Weather Service reported:

The following are some of the highest measured wind gusts (unofficial) reported to the NWS office:

  • 81 mph at Kentucky Dam (Army Corps of Engineers, unconfirmed)
  • 78 mph at Grand Rivers, KY (barge loading facility on KY Lake)
  • 75 mph at Calvert City, KY (off-duty NWS employee)
  • 73 mph at Owensboro (emergency management)
  • 67 mph at Cairo, IL (emergency management)
  • 67 mph at Madisonville, KY (emergency management office)
  • 66 mph at Poplar Bluff, MO (airport ASOS)
  • 66 mph about 6 mi. southwest of Greenville, KY (handheld anemometer)
  • 64 mph at Evansville, IN (airport ASOS)
  • 64 mph in northwest corner of Christian Co., KY (handheld anemometer)
At my house

I'm thankful that our home suffered no damage, although I banged my already broken toe while trying to clean up limbs. OUCH! I also lost a Sunday's worth of NFL Sunday Ticket on TV and a chance to grab Darrin Sproles of the San Diego Chargers for my NFL Fantasy team. I would have too! But that pales in comparison to what others lost and for that I am thankful, while offering my prayers to them and their families.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

NFL: Early thoughts...

I love college football and love and am intrigued by the NFL, since in the NFL the difference between winning and losing is truly a razor's edge. What about Week One of the NFL:

1. Tom Brady's Knee: Forget about New England. They'll be respectable, but they're finished as far as the Super Bowl is concerned. Brady is the straw that stirs the drink. They invested a lot in him. Unfortunately, they never invested a lot in a back up. Because of their easy schedule, they'll rack up some wins, but not a deep playoff run. Open the door a little wider for the rest of the AFC East, including the Jets.

2. Colts-Bears: Colts QB Peyton Manning showed some rust. Colts WR Marvin Harrison showed some age. They'll get better, but how much? The Bears showed their great defense, and an offense, under Kyle Orton, which takes better care of the football. They'll be better this year, but will they be better than the Dallas Cowboys?

3. Dallas-Cleveland: The Cowboys showed they had more talent than anyone in the NFC, but can they keep the peace intact and the law at bay long enough to take advantage of their stacked lineup? The Browns have some talent, but can they meld as a team soon enough and avoid injuries long enough? Dallas has the talent to win the Super Bowl, but with Romo at the helm they've yet to win a playoff game. I saw Romo at Eastern IL against Murray State. He looked great. Unfortunately, he's not playing the Racers anymore. Unless he breaks up with Jessica Simpson, I have to downgrade their chances of winning it all. No boyfriend of Jessica Simpson has ever won a Super Bowl.

4. Titans-Jaquars: Titans coach Jeff Fisher knows how to win in the NFL: stop the run, use the run on offense and don't turn the ball over. The Titans can stop the run. They have a good running game with White and the explosive Johnson. Vince Young has had trouble with turning the ball over. He needs to play more with his heart and instincts and less with his ears and ego. Were all the reports about the cops being called Monday night because he was "down" being overblown? No. He must close his ears and grow up quickly, or move out of the way. He has so much natural talent. He needs to trust it, or move aside. The Titans defense is good enough they can make do with a "game manager" as opposed to a "game-breaker." It takes a tough personality to play QB in the NFL. We'll see soon enough whether Young has it, or not. Young should talk to Tavarous Jackson, who has responded so well to the pressure. When Young returns, don't be surprised if he has a hard time unseating Collins or Simms for the starting job. It's a shame because he has more natural talent than either. So much of the job, though, flows through what's in the mind.

5. Green Bay-Minnesota: Aaron Rogers got off to the best start possible for him, Will he sustain it? He'll have to, or the Farve comparisons will come quickly and rightly so. Can Minnesota still make the Super Bowl? Yes, as along as Jackson can manage the game, not turn the ball over and the defense keep them in it.
6. San Diego-Carolina: The Chargers' big stars, outside of Thomlinson, all have health issues. The Panthers appear to be healthy (especially DeLohome) and perhaps are the team we expected a year ago. Either team could have won. The one that made the last play did.

*The answers to these questions and more coming as the season unfolds.....ain't it great!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Me & The Waffle House

Of all the songs I've written and performed over the years, if there's one for which I'm most known, it's "Waffle House Woman." It's a light-hearted song for sure, but in reality, I really DO love the Waffle House and always have. Perhaps it's some sort of reconciliation of my Southern, slightly redneck roots. It's part campy, part funny, and part my love for those dang waffles smothered in butter and syrup at the "Breakfast House of the South." Last week, while working in St. Louis, MO, I ate breakfast at the Waffle House 3 times.

Today, a co-worker of mine gave me a Waffle House Coffee mug because he liked "Waffle House Woman." This was not just ANY Waffle House mug. This one had a history. My friend was one of the National Guardsman sent to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Part of that time, he spent standing guard over a slab of concrete where the Waffle House in Gulfport, MS used to be. In the sand near the beach, he found a Waffle House coffee mug or two. The owner said he could keep it. He did, until he decided to give one of them to me. He had no way of knowing how much I've always had a love for both Waffle House, and the Gulf Coast, as Bridget and I traveled to Biloxi, Gulfport and New Orleans many times over the years. That mug means a lot more to me than he thought when he gave it to me.

On the campy side, you can find Waffle House songs on the jukebox at Waffle Houses. You can't find MY Waffle House Woman....YET.....but that would be the ultimate for me.

On Youtube, you can find plenty of Waffle House videos, like the Waffle House Wedding.

Or Bill Hicks' Waffle House bit.

Waffle House is part of Americana. As far as roadside restaurants go, much more so than Cracker Barrel in my opinion. Cracker Barrel was born as a fairly recent imitation of Jackson, TN's Old Country Store (still the best), but Waffle House is an American original. That's why I love my mug, and what it represents.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Football time

Sometimes people ask me why I don't play as much on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall and they're surprised when I say it's because I love to watch football! It's another passion of mine besides music. I love to watch football games. I love to watch tape of football games and break it down. I love to project players progressions. I'm reminded of an old saying by one of my favorite coaches, Bum Phillips as he and fellow Oilers coaches prepared to break down tape. One of the coaches said he loved breaking down tape because it was better than sex, to which Bum replied, without batting an eye," Either you don't know how to have sex, or I don't know how to watch tape!"

I remember watching tape of Arkansas Pine-Bluff with Lane College football coach Neal McCall because I wanted to learn more about the offense they ran under Archie "Gunslinger" Cooley (which he also ran at Mississippi Valley State with Willie Totten and Jerry Rice). I was surprised to find out that his defense was just as daring and "all or nothing" as his offense. Over the years, I've been blessed to experience NFL and major college games from the sideline, which is QUITE an experience. In the NFL, they're ALL big, they're ALL super fast, they hit as hard as Mack trucks and they facemask on just about every play. The difference between winning and losing truly is a razor's edge. That's why I loved/love being on the sidelines: you can feel the percussion of the hits, and soak in the emotional swings.

I, along with my wife Bridget, enjoy playing fantasy football and following the NFL and watching college football too. Labor Day, we watched as Tennessee got off to a rough start against UCLA, but I wasn't that surprised. I knew what a great offensive mind UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow has, and how he never got the chance to really show his stuff with the Tennessee Titans. No fault of his or their's. It's just a different game in many ways. I also knew what a great football coach Rick Neuheisel has, even though his reputation, at times, has been a bit below board. I think he'll do fine at UCLA.

This season, we have season tickets to the UT Martin Skyhawk games, and plan on going to a few more games, while watching a lot more on TV, especially my beloved MTSU Blue Raiders, the Vols, the Titans, Peabody High School (although my heart goes out to them in their tragedy this season), Jerry's Giants, Bridget's Dallas Cowboys, Lake County Falcons, Memphis Tigers, Syracuse Orangemen and more. I also have a lot of work to do to continue perfecting my homemade hot wing sauce. I love watching my teams, but I don't get too down if they lose. I refuse to let my happiness hinge on a 19-year-old boy doing what he is supposed to do. So for those who wonder why I don't play as much music in the fall, that's the reason. It's football time in Tennessee, and for me.