Author: Michael

Mr. Patrick, Kindly Shut the Hell Up

While stationed in California, my Granny and Grandpa made the journey west to come and visit us.  During that trip, Grandpa sat on our patio, smoking cigars, and relating stories of his life to me.   It’s one of the fondest memories I have of Grandpa and I find myself all these years later wishing I’d written those stories down while they were fresh in memory.

I didn’t know those hours on the patio, listening to his stories and asking questions would be some of the final times I’d spent with Grandpa.  I wouldn’t trade that time we had together for any amount of money in the world.  Nor would I trade the time I got to spend with all my grandparents for any amount of money.    Things like:

  • Sports coaching from Granddaddy
  • Grandmother’s homemade apple pies
  • Granny taking us fishing as the sun came up.

This, apparently, sets me apart from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of Texas.

In case you missed it, earlier this week, Patrick said that the elderly should risk their lives to help get the economy back on track in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

At first, I hoped that Patrick’s comments were being taken out of context.   Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the case and it appears that Patrick is serious.

This makes my blood boil on several levels

One is that Patrick wants to deny Shortcake the opportunity to have memories with her grandparents like I have of my grandparents.

The second ad, possibly more chilling thing, is that Patrick seems to be forgetting the lesson of history that my grandparents lived through.   You may recall that once upon a time there a leader that decided to single out a group of people and blame its woes on them.  They were rounded up and systematically eliminated for what people in power saw as the greater good.

Whatever happens, I hope that when it comes time for Patrick to be reelected that the people of Texas remember this moment and soundly vote his rump out of office.

The Wrong Lesson Learned

A year and a half ago, Vols fans united in voicing our displeasure at then athletic director John Curie’s decision to hire Greg Shiano as the University of Tennessee’s new head football coach.

In just a matter of days, the offer was rescinded from Shiano, Currie was terminated, and former football coach Phil Fulmer was put in place as athletic director.  Vols fans were happy and satisfied with the direction of our athletic department.

That is until the last couple of week when a former basketball coach took his team to the Final Four while our current coach couldn’t get the Vols past the Sweet Sixteen.  And now, a certain set of Vols fans have begun calling for Rick Barnes to be shown the door and to back up the Brinks truck to Bruce Pearl’s house to bring him back to Knoxville.

This indicates a couple of things to me.

One is that Vols fans learned the wrong lesson from the whole Shiano situation.  What happened there was unprecedented (and Yahoo sports is still mad about it), but vocal Vols fans seem to believe that somehow we should or do have more input into how the athletic department is run.

Don’t get me wrong — I want Vols athletics to win and do well. But I also know that now AD Fulmer can’t be beholden to or listen to opinion of Vols fans when it comes to making personnel decisions.  (To see why this is bad, go read Clay Travis’ On Rocky Top about a former AD deciding online forums meant that Vol nation didn’t want Fulmer as our coach anymore).  And yet, a wide variety of people online seem to be of the opinion that Barnes should go, despite taking the basketball team to heights of success we haven’t seen in a while — even under Pearl.

These same fans seem to have their noses out of joint that Barnes took a call from UCLA about their coaching vacancy.  And while the scars of Lane Kiffin are still fresh a decade or more later, there are some huge differences here.  For one thing, Kiffin didn’t tell UT administration about the offer to go to USC or give them a chance to counter.  He just left like a thief in the night, trying to take players with him.  Barnes has had the decency to not only listen to UCLA, but give UT a chance to counter the offer. He’s also reportedly trying to use this as an opportunity to help his assistant coaches get a better deal with UT.

I can’t blame Barnes for taking the call and looking at his options. Nor is it disloyal to use this as an opportunity to get a better deal for himself and his coaches wherever he lands.  UT fans may recall a lot of football coaches did the same thing to the Vols during our football head coaching search.

Which brings me to my second point, the selective memory of some Vols fans.  Too many seem to forget that Bruce Pearl brought his termination from UT on himself by violating NCAA rules, lying about it to UT and the NCAA, and getting a show-cause penalty.  UT had no choice but to terminate him.  And Pearl landed on his feet, getting a job as a studio analyst for ESPN until his show cause dropped off and he could work again.

And in his return to coaching, there are still swirling winds around some of Pearl’s assistant coaches of violating rules.  So, it could be that at some point Auburn will have no choice but to fire him or he’ll get another penalty.  This pattern shows that Pearl has not learned from the errors that led to his termination from UT in the first place.  And that’s a huge reason that, while I appreciate all he did for UT during his tenure, I’m not ready to welcome him back with open arms.

I hope that Barnes, who is said to be praying about this decision, determines that he wants to stay at UT.   Not only is he a great coach, but he’s the right kind of guy you want leading our basketball team.  He gave Vol nation what it needed this spring — hope and pride again.

I work event marketing on the weekends, so I see a lot of people around middle Tennessee.  Over the course of football season, I noticed fewer and fewer people with power T’s on. But as this basketball team played and won, I noticed more hats, shirts, gear, and smiles from Vols’ fans.  For that alone, I consider the season a success and am grateful to Barnes and this team for giving us the pride in the orange and white again.  I hope that the other leaders in the athletic department have noticed this, see the bar is raised, and will try to continue this growth of pride in our beloved Tennessee.

I hope Barnes stays.  But if he does, we don’t need Pearl back.  No matter what certain segments of Vol twitter may believe.

This Has All Happened Before….

Every time I glance up, it seems another name-brand pop culture item from the past is making a come back.

This week alone brings news that The Greatest American Hero is getting its long in development reboot and that Bryan Fuller would like to revive the original British version of The Avengers.  )Oh yeah and Star Trek is coming back in 2017, but I ranted about that the other day.)

With a revival of Heroes (which I still haven’t watched yet but have DVRed each episode.  It’s hard to forget how disappointing those last three and a half seasons were)  currently airing and The X-Files about to get a new season in January, it seems like reboots are all the rage these days.   Hollywood is content to offer us familiar things and hope that our memory is cheating a bit and that we only remember what we liked about them and not why they went away in the first place.   (more…)

What I’d Like To See From the New Star Trek

TOSopeninglogoWhen news broke yesterday that Star Trek was returning to our television screens, I was positively giddy. It’s been over a decade since we had new Star Trek on our television screens and I was delighted to see it would be back.

That euphoria lasted about an hour as details broke on the new series.

Putting aside that Alex Kurtzman is in charge of this and that he helped script the last big-screen installment Star Trek Into Darkness, I felt like someone let the air out of the balloon when news broke that this new series wouldn’t air on a broadcast or cable outlet but instead of CBS’s Digital streaming app.   Suddenly much of my enthusiasm for the show was gone — most of it related to the way in which CBS is choosing to allow fans to access the show. (more…)

College Football Landscape Changes

Every season there’s one Saturday where the landscape of college football changes dramatically.

Yesterday, the landscape of college football undertook a dramatic change without a single snap or down played.  In the course of an afternoon we found out that an undefeated team has lost its starting QB, and both USC’s are in search of new head coaches.

Of course, I have a few thoughts on all of this (and how it all impacts Tennessee!).

The story that probably has the least amount of impact in the short term for Tennessee is the firing of USC coach Steve Sarkisian.  My first thought on this one is — oh, look the Curse of Kiffin is alive and well.  That guy just leaves a wake of havoc and chaos in his wake, doesn’t he?  I’m not sure why Sarkisian went from being suspended to fired, but I imagine we’ll find out in the next few days.  The ultimate irony of this story is ESPN is airing a 30 For 30 tonight focusing on the Pete Caroll era at USC.

The story that caught my interest early was the suspension of Florida QB Will Grier.  At first, I was hopeful that this meant the Gators would have to vacate all wins he started, but it looks like that won’t happen.  However, I’ve heard that part of the punishment may be a post-season ban which could mean the Vols now have the inside track to go to Atlanta to represent the East in the SEC Championship Game.   I am not sure if this is true, but the door is suddenly open for Florida to stumble and Tennessee to benefit.   Winning the game over UGA becomes that much bigger now and you can bet I’ll be pulling for Georgia and LSU against the Gators in the coming weeks.

Finally, we have the retirement of the Head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier.  As a Tennessee fan, I’ve come to enjoy hating Steve a good deal and those few years he coached my beloved Washington Redskins were rough (wins and losses as well as having to pretend like I could like the guy!).  Now he’s stepping down, mid-season.  I think many of us weren’t shocked by the news, but the timing of it all.  I figured with how SC’s last few seasons had gone and with how poorly they were doing this year, that Steve would retire to play golf at season’s end.   But I didn’t figure it would be now and right before the Gamecocks played Vanderbilt.   (In a side note, I had to laugh when a Vandy fan on Twitter immediately said that Spurrier was retiring because he was afraid of Vandy….my response was that he was afraid he’d blow them out so badly he couldn’t retire next week!).

Spurrier leaving is bittersweet because I imagine this is the last time we’ll hear much from him on the coaching circuit.  Despite my ill feelings toward him, he changed the face of college football in the SEC.  He was always capable of a quick retort and he was always quotable.  Bulletin boards across college football will be emptier without his quotes and SEC media days will be less entertaining (though we always have Les Miles, I suppose).

If the SEC Network is wise, they will dump Finebaum and put Spurrier on his place.

Until then, see you around Steve.  I will admit part of me hoped to see Butch Jones get one victory over you this year.

Tennessee Fans vs Georgia Fans

In the midst of Tennessee’s five year losing streak to Georgia, I’d forgotten how miserable fans of the Bulldogs can be.  They’re disgruntled and rude if they win, they’re even more disgruntled and rude if they lose.   Part of me would love to chalk this up to that minority of every fan base that doesn’t reflect well on the overall fan-base.   But in the case of Georgia fans, I’m afraid that polite fans are in the minority (I’ve actually met two who are quite nice and good natured).

This feeling has only been enhanced in the past twenty-four hours following Tennessee’s come-from-behind victory over Georgia yesterday.  Observing the things being thrown the way of Volunteer fans on Twitter and other social media outlets has led me to make the following list of the differences between UGA fans and just about every other fan base in college football.  For the sake of this post and because I’m a Volunteer fan, I’ll put this out there as the differences between UT fans and Georgia fans.  (You can laugh, because I’m trying to be funny here!)

  • Tennessee fans wear their orange and white at home and on the road.   Georgia fans are offended that orange and white is allowed in Neyland Stadium.
  • Tennessee fans try to make Georgia fans feel welcome at Neyland. Georgia fans threaten to physically assault Tennessee fans before, during and after a game at Neyland Stadium.
  • Tennessee fans applaud players from both teams if they’re forced to be helped off the field due to injury. When a UGA player is injured, Tennesee fans show concern and offer prayers and good wishes via social media.   Georgia fans believe there are elaborate conspiracies to injure their star players.
  • Tennessee fans don’t like seeing highlights of negative plays our team commits, but understands they have to be shown on ESPN. Georgia fans think ESPN should stop showing highlights that show Georgia surrendering a lead or losing a game.
  • Tennessee fans support their team and coaching staff in thick and thin.  Georgia fans want to fire Mark Richt because they didn’t win by a large enough margin.
  • Tennessee fans love our legends and history.  Georgia fans think that stats should have stopped counting when Herschel Walker won the Heisman.
  • Tennessee fans got to listen to games called by one a broadcast legend, John Ward.  Georgia fans got to listen to Larry Munsen, arguably the worst play by play broadcaster in any medium ever.

Just remember this is supposed to be in the spirit of fun and good natured rivalry.

Yeah, we’ll see how that goes.

“The Flash:” The Man in the Yellow Suit

yellowsuitI don’t know what Arrow or Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD have up their sleeve, but it’s going to be VERY hard for them to top The Flash‘s mid-season finale.

“The Man in the Yellow Suit” hit just about every button of what has made The Flash my favorite new show of the season.  And I couldn’t help but thinking as I watched the hour unfold that whoever is in charge of the DC movie empire might want to call up the writers from The Flash for some pointers on how to do a DC superhero movie right.    Quite frankly, this single hour of The Flash was far more entertaining and compelling that the last couple of DC related superhero movies I’ve seen (really much of anything outside the Nolan-verse Batman films) — especially Green Lantern and Man of Steel.   I’ll also have to admit it makes me less enthusiastic to see the big-screen version of The Flash simply because I’m loving what this show is doing with the character and universe here.

Call me a fan-boy if you want, but I love this show.

And “The Man in the Yellow Suit” delivered on just about every level, answering just enough questions while raising a few more.    (more…)

TV Round-Up: The Flash — Going Rogue

goingrogueThere were moments of “Going Rogue” that reminded me of the first season of Lois and Clark.   This puts The Flash in good company since I’ve got a lot of affection for the first season of Lois and Clark.

Opening with Barry testing his abilities by dashing between three games felt like a montage from those early episodes of Lois and Clark, when Clark would do accomplish ordinary tasks in extraordinary times and ways using his powers.   The scene of the three games and pushing Barry’s limits both physically and mentally worked very well in the episode and it also underscored the theme of the episode — that being the Flash is more than just about zipping around from place to place quickly.  It’s about being part of a team.

Barry will need to remember that later in the episode when it turns out the latest super villain he’s facing isn’t one of the storm’s creation but instead one created by a member of his own team.  In the early days before Cisco knew if Barry would be a force for good or evil, Cisco created a freeze ray to thwart Barry.   Now said weapon has been stolen from Star Labs and put into the hands of a criminal who, at first, wants nothing more than to steal a very large diamond.   It was interesting to see Leonard Snart start as an average, run of the mill criminal who soon gets greater aspirations when he realizes the true power he wields.

Of course, it was hard to separate out previous “freeze ray” comic book tv show plots from what was unfolding here.  I kept expecting the diamond to somehow be a component of the freeze gun or a larger freeze gun that Captain Cold decides to experiment with.   Not that it couldn’t still happen, of course.  It’s also hard not to be reminded of the superlative Batman: The Animated Series episode, “Heart of Ice” featuring Mr. Freeze — especially since it feels like the cold ray looks and feels like something from that animated project brought into the live action world of The Flash. (more…)

Doctor Who: Mummy on the Orient Express, Flatline

Since I’m behind on my Doctor Who reviewing, I’m offering commentary on “Mummy on the Orient Express” and “Flatline” in one post.  It’s two posts for the price of one!

Mummy on the Orient Express

mummy_orientIn the 80’s, the production team wanted to introduce audiences to a more alien, less likeable Doctor who would slowly mellow over time and become more and more liked by the audience.  The result was the sixth Doctor and the plan didn’t exactly go, well, as planned.  Colin Baker’s era was one of the most polarizing in the classic series run and led to the show becoming the target of a great deal in internal criticism at the BBC and the show going on hiatus for eighteen months.

With the Peter Capaldi era, I feel like that in addition to destructing the character of the Doctor, Steven Moffat has taken on that task of giving us a more alien, less likeable Doctor and is showing us how it could have and should have been done.   With “Mummy” we look into the question of just how the Doctor goes about solving the problem or defeating the alien threat facing him in each story.   Do the ends justify the means?

In this case, it’s a high body count (nothing new, just watch any story by Robert Holmes) that piles up before the Doctor can come up with a way to stop the Mummy from killing everyone on the train.    Does the Doctor have the right to ask each of these various people to sacrifice themselves in the interest of obtaining data on how to defeat the Mummy and Gus, who has lured the Doctor into this particular trap (interestingly, the Doctor has turned down multiple invitations to come on board and solve this until Clara threatens to leave him.  More on this later).   The Doctor realizes there is a way to stop the Mummy, but it takes data (in this case the death of innocent people) to give him the pieces he needs to solve the puzzle.

Of the stories we’ve seen this year, this one feels like it comes closest to the classic Who model of the “base under siege” story.  In fact, I’d say it felt a great deal like the Tom Baker era story “The Robots of Death” with people trapped in an isolated, locked-room location and a force coming to kill everyone on board.    Having the Doctor chose to take Clara into what can be summed up as “the most typical of classic Who models” for what she wants to be her last hurrah in the TARDIS is interesting.   The Doctor doesn’t give her a tour of the marvels of the universe and all the beauty within it, but instead a classic battle against the forces of evil that he faces.   And in doing so, he gives her a bit of insight into who he is now and just how alien he truly he is.  He also feeds her addiction to traveling with him — the excitement of the discovery and just how these various monsters are defeated. (more…)

The Jake Locker Era Is Over

6858710A couple of years ago, I entered an on-line contest to predict the Titans’ first pick in the NFL draft.  After listening to some debate on local sports radio, I decided that Jake Locker was the guy and entered the contest.

Days later, the Titans picked Locker and my name was randomly selected from the correct predictions for the grand prize — tickets to a Titans game and the chance to go out to camp and meet Locker.   Due to the NFL lockout, the opportunity to head out to camp instead turned into pre-season tickets and the chance for Locker to autograph a jersey for me during a pre-game ceremony.

I’ve kept that autographed jersey hanging up in my closet since that time, waiting to see if Locker would become the next big thing and it might be worth framing the jersey and putting it on display.

Three years later, I feel like I should have just worn or it sold it on E-Bay immediately to cash in while Jake Locker’s stock was high.

Today we got news that the Titans have decided that Zach Mettenberger is their starter for not only Sunday’s contest against the Texans (who we can only hope they give us two minutes like they did to the Steelers on Monday night) but for the rest of the season.    It’s a clear signal that barring an injury the Jake Locker era in Tennessee is over.   And it’s also a clear indication that the Titans are throwing in the towel in the season and evaluating what needs they will have to address in free agency and the draft (in short: a lot!).

So, for the rest of the season, we’ll be treated to the offensive equivalent of pre-season games as the Titans try to figure out where they go from here.   I’m sure there will be some great moments in there and I’m sure there will be some so full of futility that I’ll thank the geniuses who created NFL Redzone for coming up with such a brilliant idea and then bringing it into my home each week.

The Locker era is done.  I wanted it to work out and there were some flashes of what could have been.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go wash my jersey and get it ready to wear….