The Approach Of Year Seven


This is my 1,530th blog entry, and on Friday (December 1st), this blog celebrates it’s sixth anniversary.

I seem to say this every year, but when I began this blog on December 1, 2011, I did not foresee it lasting long. I thought I’d get bored with it, or something else would come along that I’d focus on with greater vigor. But it’s become a habit, and I think a good one. Currently, I have no desire to “retire” the blog as I’ve planned to retire the Big Brother blog after the 2018 seasons are over with. As long as God gives me breath and life, I’ll find a way to keep posting here.

Thanks to all of you who have supported, do support, and continue to support my efforts. Couldn’t do this without your continued feedback.

How Much Christmas Is Too Much Christmas?


Maybe it’s just me, but I could of sworn we were just celebrating the start of 2017 a week ago. It’s almost Christmas time again, and I can hardly believe it. Black Friday (and for that matter, Black Thursday/Thanksgiving) already came and went with mote fights on YouTube over the latest highfalutin electronic goodies than you can know what to do with.

I find it harder and harder to get into Christmas until its about Christmas Eve. Don’t know exactly why that is, but its how I’ve felt the past couple of years. Maybe it is because we’re “programmed” to think about THE holiday of holidays even before we hit Halloween, but that’s just my guess.

There are good things about Christmas just as there are bad things about it, but the older I get, the more I feel the holidays are way too commercialized. I think it’s easy to forget what Christmas is all about sometimes.

And with that, cue Linus Van Pelt:

Flashback: “I Think I Love You” by The Partridge Family

If there is such a thing as Rock And Roll Heaven, it gained another star on Tuesday past with the passing of David Cassidy.

Cassidy’s biggest hit was with his Partridge Family pop band/TV show, with this single topping the charts in 1970.

Hand Sanitizer: A Love Story


It’s the day before Thanksgiving of 2017 the day I post this. So, if you read this on or around that holiday, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

My love affair with hand sanitizer began innocently enough. Remember that trip I took last month to Port Canaveral on the east coast? The organizer of this trip, who yelled at our direction (despite being a foot or two away) as the trip began, “Hand san-i-tiz-ahs!  Use these after you use the slots!  Keeps the germs away!” Or something like that.

I didn’t ask if she was from the Northeast, but I did detect a strong New York accent, on top of being overly loud. Full disclosure: both my parents escaped the NYC wilderness and came here to the Tampa Bay area in March of 1971, so while I was born here in the Tampa Bay area, I was apparently conceived in New York.

Me and my seat partner, a good friend of my mother’s whom I’ve known over ten years, looked at each other like the organizer was off of whatever medications she takes, if any. I kept the small bottle, didn’t use any of it during the trip, and it sat a few days at my desk. One day, I had to clean my hands for some reason at the computer, and figured I might as well give the sanitizer a try.

I put the clear fluid in the palm of my left hand, then rubbed it on my right. Actually, it wasn’t too bad! Great, now I have a hand sanitizer addiction, I thought. Do they have a twelve step program for hand sanitizers? Will I flock to that section of Walmart when I go there next? What will the after effects be? Or side effects, even?

Seriously, it’s just stuff. Works great. Nothing to fear.

The Telephonic Jihad


So it’s the Saturday morning before Thanksgiving, and I get a call. It’s a local area code, and a local prefix – bur, surprise! It’s Rachel from Cardholder Services again. That Rachel owns a lot of phone numbers, doesn’t she? Well, no. They have some way of spoofing the caller ID and making you think the call is local when it’s not.

Rachel (if that’s her real name) is doing her spiel, and you get the option off pressing 1 to talk to an operator for some credit rigmarole you can’t see but can only hear, or 9 not to. I press 9 and get a live operator. The live operator I get is some sort of foreign comedian, who tells me I’m going to get these calls the rest of my life. In my Saturday morning haze, it triggers my temper that friends say I rarely show.

I tell Mr. Comedian, “Bring it on!”

Well, not entirely true. I use a word after that sentence that begins with “mother” and rhymes with “plucker” if you get my drift. Mr. Comedian goes on and on, so I put the phone down and walk around silently, knowing that will get him to hang up. It eventually does.

Why did I engage this bovine excrement artist? Well, if we all did that, these people would be slowed down. For any minute they spend with us and we turn around and waste their time, that’s probably one less call they can make. Engage them. Hell, put the phone down when they start talking if you want.

If they don’t play fair, why should we?

Flashback: “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell

There have been a few versions of this song through the years.

There was the Gloria Jones version in 1965, and the Marilyn Manson cover in 2001. But the Soft Cell cover from 1982 got my attention in the summer of that year, with the song reaching #8 on the Billboard charts, spending a then record 43 straight weeks on the chart itself.

A Paradigm At Play


I don’t know whether or not the allegations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore, running to be the next United States Senator representing Alabama, are true, though I think it’s likely the charges could be accurate. But in the highly charged accusative atmosphere in the wake of the sexual misconduct of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and many more, the veracity of the allegations is almost a secondary issue.

You have the “perfect storm” of issues that makes for what the media would consider a juicy topic for discussion. I don’t think it’s beyond the realm of possibility that this is a smear campaign, though the evidence as of this point in time points to the allegations against the former Alabama judge likely being true. Mr. Moore has openly blamed the liberal media for this campaign alleging misconduct against him almost four decades ago, and the timing of bringing all of this up now (as opposed to earlier in the campaign, or when he was a judge for that matter) would support that.

What I think the judge may be wrong about is this merely being the work of liberals. Note that there is a sect of establishment Republicans in D.C. who cannot stand President Trump. Also note that when the allegations against Mr. Moore first began last week, the first calls for him to step aside were from those very same Republican senators. Probably not a coincidence.

Thus, you have collusion between Democrats and Republicans on the issue. Hence, the left-right paradigm is exposed. Here’s former Tampa Bay radio host Lionel discussing the paradigm on WPIX-TV out of New York in early 2012:

Before you go grab some tin foil, make it into a shape of a hat, and put it on my head, let me point out there are bigger things at play here. In our president, you have a businessman trying to clean up what is perceived as a mess created by politicians by mismanagement over several decades, in other words, to “drain the swamp” as he often puts it. If he’s successful in these efforts and no one interfered with him, he’d basically make politics as a profession obsolete, allowing more “everyday people” to run and win. The last president outside of the political realm was Dwight D. Eisenhower, general and war hero from WW2 that was still fresh in everyone’s heads in 1952. Meddling with a war hero would not have been good business for any politician back then, and probably would have been a good way to lose one’s job.

Ditto with the jealousy president’s tweets. Did anyone complain during FDR’s presidency that he was doing too many fireside chats? Probably not.

The paradigm picks its battles carefully. They can’t pick every hill to die on, because that increases the odds of exposure if they did. Instead, they do it every now and then, like Senator John McCain voting against the repeal of Obamacare this summer at a critical moment. They will pick fights that can assure themselves victory, and with the Roy Moore fiasco, it looks like they will win again. Even if the people of Alabama rebel against the accusations and elect Moore after all of this, Mitch McConnell could still refuse to seat him, and that move would likely open up yet another Pandora’s Box of ugliness.


Geometry, Geography, And Prep Football


I was paying attention this past weekend to the Florida high school playoffs with a little bit more interest than I usually do. My alma mater of Largo High in Largo (where else?) has made the “lightning round” of the football season for the first time in a few years, winning its district and going 7-2 in a nine-game regular season. (A 10th game was scrapped due to Hurricane Irma in September.) On top of that, the FHSAA revamped its playoff format beginning this season, rewarding the non-district winning teams that play a tougher schedule first and foremost, regardless of what records the teams put up. Each region is made up of four districts, so it’s possible five teams could come out of a single district in its current format. Plus, you get bonus standings points for playing teams above your classification on top of that.

Schools from Pinellas County, whether they are private or public, have never won a state title in football, and Largo has never had a state championship team in a strictly team against team sport. They drew the #3 seed against Barron Collier High from Naples, the #6 seed, and Largo’s Packers came out on top, 27-24.

The outcome is somewhat significant, and I thought explaining why would make a good topic here. What happens to these local high school teams is that they are somewhat victims of their geography, and perhaps to a greater extent, geometry. Assuming the level of talent in the state is relative, what winds up happening is when a Pinellas school goes and plays a team from a smaller area, it usually winds up on the short end of the scoreboard.

Say you have two boxes of pizza, and you’re given the option of having one slice in twelve of a larger pizza or one slice in four of a slightly smaller pizza. Assuming you’re hungry, you’d eat that slice that’s 25% of the smaller pizza, right? These teams in slightly smaller markets like Sarasota and Fort Myers usually wind up with more talent and more depth if starters get hurt, and they usually wind up winning these games 80-90% of the time. Good coaching and luck play into this as well, mind you, plus these “gems” of players that wind up playing on Sundays a few years down the road.

Whats happened in the new century is that these smaller cities are beginning to get a rise in their population, so these school’s respective talent is dropping off. More high schools are needed because there are more children in these cities needing their education (much more important than football), so with time and with population booms in parts of the state, the playing field is being leveled. Twenty years ago, a Barron Collier type team would have an easy time with Largo, even though they went 5-5 and Largo went 7-2 and had home-field advantage. Now, the randomness works evenly for both areas.

I think it’s a safe bet a Pinellas team finally wins a state football title by 2030. Heck, it might even happen this season with a few teams still alive heading to the second round in a few days.

Flashback: “TSOP” (The Sound Of Philadelphia) by MFSB (Featuring The Three Degrees)

This song answers a few trivia questions, but one I can think of off hand: what was the first theme song of a TV show to top the Billboard charts?

By the way, the TV show in question was R&B’s answer to American Bandstand, Soul Train.

Sutherland Springs

It happened again. This time it was a church east of San Antonio. Once again, it was some demented coward taking out as many people as he could find. Once again, the toll of death was alarmingly high.

I guess you can tell I’m getting tired of all of this. But how do you stop someone highly motivated to kill from doing so if the killer is smart about his or her plans?

The left will say it’s the guns, the right will say the opposite. Neither side will compromise, so the stalemate will go on. Then someone else will die needlessly, and the cycle repeats itself, as it now has dozens and dozens of times.

This is our world. This is our time. This is what happens, I guess. All I know is that this isn’t right.

The Return Of Chucky?


At the start, it looked like it was going to be a good season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as they won two of their first three games. Then, as it often does in recent years, the roof of reality caved in, with the Bucs losing to the Saints 30-10 for their fifth straight loss.

(Foot note: Yes, I actually watched the NFL yesterday. I went six weeks without over the whole kneeling controversy, plus week one here in Tampa Bay got wiped out by Hurricane Irma. I think it’s impossible the league didn’t notice, so it’s time to declare victory and move on with baseball season now over and done with.)

When a team underachieves, the sports punditry begins to speculate. Will this lead to the current head coach, Dirk Koetter, being forced out? If so, who will the Bucs hire next?

Since Jon Gruden was fired after the 2008 season, the Bucs have hired four head coaches. They tried the “capable assistant coach” approach with both Koetter and Raheem Morris. They tried the “proven college head coach” approach with Greg Schiano. They tried the “former Super Bowl coach” approach with Lovie Smith, all of which failed. (Six head coaches have taken two teams to the Super Bowl, but none have won the big game with two different teams.)

With the coaching carousel never ending here in Tampa, some got to wondering if Jon Gruden, the only Bucs head coach to make and win the Super Bowl fifteen seasons ago, would take the job in 2018. Gruden’s been in the booth for ESPN calling Monday Night Football games, with the hot rumor being he’d take the job if offered.

As good as the idea sounds and looks on paper, I think it’s a terrible idea. I’ve always argued that the Bucs winning it all in 2002-2003 was with a team Tony Dungy and Rich McKay had built, not Gruden, as he was just there to close the deal. It was a stroke of luck that they played Oakland in the Super Bowl that season, the team Gruden formerly coached. For whatever reason, the Bucs couldn’t parlay that success into a dynasty, as the Patriots have the last couple of decades.

Finally, it was my observations in the 2000’s that Gruden doesn’t mesh with his quarterbacks sometimes, seeming to micromanage them. Putting him back in as head coach with Jameis Winston as his quarterback could wind up being an absolute disaster. Winston is a capable hand who puts up good stats, but it seems to me he gets lost out there in key moments and winds up making bonehead plays. A taskmaster type coach like Gruden sounds like a good fit, but I think it’s more likely there could be a clash of personalities.

Hopefully, the Bucs get off the Gruden bandwagon, but knowing how the Glazers think, it’s possible the wagon has already left the station.