Friday, January 30, 2009

Rat-Face and the Evil Elf

As the NFL season winds down to a close, I would be remiss to not wish a fond and hopefully final farewell to two coaches whom I truly despise. Rat-face and the Evil Elf. Who are they, you might ask? Coach Mike Shanahan of the Denver Broncos and Coach Jon Gruden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively. Why do I hate them? I am glad you asked.

Shanahan was always a coach of questionable morality, and I was witness to this during Super Bowl 33 in 1998, when the Broncos matched up against the Atlanta Falcons. After he had the game firmly in hand with a sizable lead, Coach Shanahan continued calling in long passing plays to his quarterback, John Elway, as they poured salt into the wound. Oh, how they laughed, cheered and mocked on the sidelines. I still remember it to this day. Yes, they had the Falcons out-coached. But to make it into a mockery is beyond the pale, and transcends the boundaries of good sportsmanship. This year, the Broncos had a three game lead in the division with 3 games left. They lost all three and Shanahan was shown the door. Hey, pal, DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT!

Ya swine!

Gruden on the other hand, always matched up well with Atlanta, with his defensive schemes coordinated by his defensive head coach, Monte Kiffin. However, Gruden actively supported players such as Warren Sapp, who regularly took cheap shots at players after the play as well as away from the play. As an example, after a long pass completion, the defensive backs and the reciever were running down the sideline. Sapp took the opportunity to hit a tight end who was not even looking in his direction (they were both near the line of scrimmage, with the completion way down the sidelines.) He injured the guy, putting his playing days in the NFL to an end, permanently, due to the injury.

Additionally, the fact that Gruden always wore a TENNIS CAP to football games really irked me. HIs use of profanity on the sidelines knew no bounds. Hey, Gruden- SEE YA! Hope you enjoyed that Super Bowl victory on the team that Tony Dungy built. I look forward to reading of your future failures.


Now all that I desire for the trifecta to be complete is for the cheating, practice and sideline videotaping, rule-exploiting Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots to be brought low. Here is a quote from the *one* incident he was caught at:

Armed with counter-intelligence from Eric Mangini, the Jets apparently have succeeded in busting the Patriots' spy ring. A former assistant under Bill Belichick, Mangini arrived in New York last year with an insider's knowledge of the Patriots' sign-stealing surveillance tactics and he shared the dirty little secret with members of the Jets' organization, a person with knowledge of the matter informed the Daily News yesterday. It wasn't until the fifth Mangini-Belichick showdown - last Sunday - that the Jets were able to catch the Patriots. Tipped off by Jets security, an NFL security official confiscated a video camera and tape from a Patriots employee at the Meadowlands, and the evidence is believed to be damning.

-Rich Cimini, Daily News Sports Writer, December 10th, 2007

I will smile a great big smile when Belicheat is gone- good riddance!

armchair coach
amateur historian

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

An Open Letter To President Obama

Dear President Obama,

I am like many Americans, who wish you well in guiding our country. This is a formidable task- in foreign and domestic policy, in keeping us safe from terrorists, in managing our economy, and in being a leader that can guide us through times of turbulence and uncertainty, job loss and financial strains. I pray God would grant you wisdom and to keep you and your family safe.

Recently, you opened up an online suggestion box to citizens so that you could better identify issues that concern us. I find it somewhat reassuring that you would consider doing so, although I would caution against a presidency like the Clintons had, making judgments and decisions based on poll numbers. Sometimes one needs to do the right thing rather than the popular thing. That online suggestion box is now closed, so I find myself writing this letter to you instead.

In facing the troubles that our country has fiscally, I would urge you to reconsider the long term, looking forward to the future. It seems like spending money to solve problems is the way to help them in the near term. This includes military problems, foreign relations problems, and economic problems at home. I would contend though, that the best way to help ourselves is to first address our national debt. All other considerations would be incrementally helped along the way.

Instead of spending money, save it. Use it to lower our national debt. The dollar would once again be the world standard, and our business would benefit, as would, in turn, our citizens. Any family is used to making a budget meet demands- do the same for our country. And may I be so bold as to suggest not only paying off our national debt, but also saving enough to place our currency back on the gold standard. "Pay to the bearer on demand" our currency used to say. No longer would we be beholden to trade deficits with China, which is using our work as a means to massively increase their military.

Similarly, open up the shale reserves in the mid-west, as well as our offshore oil reserves, so that we are no longer under the thumb of OPEC. Our country should not have to consider the dictates of other nations in determining our future.

Finally, a word of personal thought. I dislike the use of my tax dollars to pay for the union wages of the automakers in Detroit. They are a private companies- I should not have to pay for their salaries through force of government. I dislike for my tax dollars to be used as a method of horrific "birth control." The determination of the humanity of our fellow citizens should begin and end with DNA testing, not with a nebulous definition of what a human is based on their appearance.

Last but not least, please consider the implications of "Atlas Shrugged." There is a breaking point- I pray we do not discover what that point is, lest the fabric of our nation be torn apart.

Thank you for meeting with people, for asking their opinions, and for seeking wisdom. I pray that your inquiries and your presidency will be successful.


armchair coach
amateur historian

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Revenge On Madden

Yes, Madden 2009 was indeed maddening, until I decided to wise up and do things the NFL way (by cheating, er using my head.) There was a patch that came out and after finally getting connected to XBox live, I was able to download it and start my season over again, leading the Falcons to their first ever Super Bowl win.

But there were problems along the way. For example, early in the season I had managed to make a blockbuster trade with the Arizona Cardinals, shipping them first and third round draft choices for stellar wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. He then became my number one receiver, followed by Roddy White, and then Devin Hester, acquired from a trade with the Chicago Bears when I shipped them the slow motion Michael Jenkins. Not a bad starting corps, if I do say so myself. But there was a problem.

When training my defensive backs in drills before each weeks game, they had to keep the stellar Larry Fitzgerald from catching passes, making moves, and scoring, which is nearly impossible. It was an excersize in futility, until my brain finally popped into gear.

I searched the database for the fattest, slowest, lamest excuse for an NFL player in the entire league, and signed him off the free agent roster for dirt cheap. He was an offensive lineman, but was about to become my little trick weapon. I then edited his profile, and using my genius coaching options, made him into a wide receiver, with a whopping speed of 38, no hands, less agility than a fully loaded mack truck, and no brains whatsoever. I then placed him at number one on my depth chart- and guess what?

My defensive backs had no trouble at all completing the drills covering this quivering mound of flesh, and have been steadily advancing in their skills. Before game day I would readjust the depth chart, placing Larry back at number one for a competitive passing game.

After my first season, there was another problem to contend with. Egos. Yes, all those pesky NFL players wanting salaries that would break my back capwise. Brooking wanted to keep his 8-9 million dollar a year contract, so I shipped him to San Fransisco in return for stellar middle linebacker Patrick Willis, and bumped Curtis Lofton to outside linebacker, seeing his ability rise a few notches at his new position. What about all these guys on their last year of their contracts? There was no way I could keep them all- or was there?

What is the least paid, most under-appreciated position in football, aside from the kickers and punters? Fullback. So again, I went into my trusty editor.

"Hey, Roddy. Come on into my office for a moment. Yes, I know you are in the last year of your contract, and deserve a hefty pay raise. You *do* realize, though, that we are changing your position to fullback? Yes, you get to knock heads with the likes of John Henderson and Ray Lewis. I am sure they, er, you will enjoy it. What? You are no good at fullback? Oh well, tough- them's the breaks. Now, what does a fullback get in salary for one with your comparative skills? OK- we have just finished talking with your agent and have signed you to a 7 year contract for 8 million dollars. Try not to spend it all in one place. Oh, and by the way, we are moving you back to wide receiver. K-thnks-bye."

Wash, rinse repeat.

I should have been a GM.

armchair coach
amateur historian

PS Hey Travis- have your teams defensive backs train against linemen and have your receivers practice at fullback. You can thank me later =).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Things I Find Amusing, Part II

Check this out- a racoon raiding a family's house through the doggie door. The music, the eyes glowing in the dark- it's all quite classic. Also, notice the behavior- when the racoon starts stuffing its face, it is not even looking at the food, rather, looking off camera to where the family dog is standing (sleeping) on sentry duty- just like guilty humans do! Stepping on the cat's tail as it enters the second time is just frosting on the cake. This one is worth watching over and over again.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Monday, January 12, 2009

Things I Find Amusing, Part I

Emperor Palpatine looking for work as a temp employee. It is absurd, it is delightfully disrespectful, and painfully politically incorrect. Just what the doctor ordered.

"Now witness the fire power of this fully armed and operational invisible doggy fence!"

armchair coach
amateur historian

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Blessing Does Not Leave

Many years ago, when I was just out of college in 1986 or so, I lived in St. Petersburg, Florida for approximately a year before returning to Georgia to become an educational therapist and then, a public school teacher. It was during this time that I was working out my disillusionment with the Reverend Jerry Falwell. I was learning the dangers of placing a person on a pedestal.

I went to Amy Grant and Steve Camp concerts. I listened to groups like 2nd Chapter of Acts, Randy Stonehill, Michael W. Smith and Russ Taff. There was a second hand Christian music store called Weird Al's that I loved shopping in.

Along the way, I happened to pick up a tape of a Christian comedian named Mike Warnke. He was an effective speaker, and had an excellent sense of humor. So, I started buying his cassette tapes as well, whenever a new one would come out. I would listen and laugh, and play his tapes over and over again. I still have several of his cassette tapes to this day, the pack rat that I am.

Mike Warnke had a testimony of being a former satanic high priest, and his account of being rescued by God from this life was quite gripping. He was in high demand as a speaker around the country, visiting churches and auditoriums. Mike was saved in Navy boot camp, so we both had that mutual experience- I had just finished Coast Guard boot camp a year or two earlier.

Unknown by me, however, was the fact that while being a traveling evangelist, Mike himself was an incredibly flawed and very human individual. He was unable to stay faithful to his wife, and the wife he married thereafter, and the wife he married thereafter. His emotional appeals for donations at the end of his services contained stories which were not altogether true. He evidently had obtained some kind of independent ordination so that he might claim the title of "bishop." He had written a best selling book called "The Satan Seller" which contained a detailed account of his testimony, and was quoted by news agencies as an authority on the subject. Some parts of his testimony were evidently, embellished though, and I say this conservatively.

Years went by and I eventually started my career as a teacher. While searching through the internet one day, I happened upon an article that revealed the truth of Mike's hypocrisy. It was filled with footnotes, and the evidence was not pretty. A link to the article can be found [here.]

Was I disappointed and saddened by what I had learned? Sure! But there is more to this story than the fallibility of one man. That is, that all of us, in one way or another are Mike Warnke. We are no more better than he, for if our thought lives were to be exposed in the way that Mike's personal life was exposed in such a public way, there is not one of us who could claim to be "better." Indeed, we are *all* in the same boat, regarding sin. All of us. There is none righteous. No, not one. It was in self introspection that I thought of this man who had started his ministry wanting to serve God. I had considered going into the ministry myself as a senior in high school, in fact, debating between going to Florida Bible College and Maryville College. What had happened along the way? If I had gone into the ministry, could I say that I would have done any better?

So, what can we get from this story?

First, be wary of placing people on pedestals, for as surely as night follows day, people will eventually disappoint you. Whether that will be a pastor, your parents, a teacher, a friend, Billy Graham, George Bush, Barack Obama- we are all tragically flawed, in one way or another. There is only one who will never disappoint, only one who is perfect: Jesus of Nazareth.

Secondly, our sin points to the need for redemption. My sin. Your sin. That redemption is found in the blood that Jesus shed on the cross, God's perfect sacrifice on our behalf. All that is needed to credit this to our accounting is faith.

Third, about two to three years ago I was driving around town in my truck. Along with the other junk I usually carry along with myself is a bunch of old cassette tapes. One of the tapes happened to be one of Mike Warnke's old appearances. As I listened, knowing what I did of Mike's life, I began to cry. Not in sorrow, but in joy, laughing as I did. Why, you ask? Because the blessing of listening to his stories had not left. The blessing had come from God, not Mike. In fact, knowing what I did then made the blessing even more special, as it showed the incredible forgiveness, and love, of God.

Consequently, do not lose heart in seeking to do good, and to help and bless others. For one never knows from the seeds that are sown what may become of them, in spite of our incredible inadequacies. God can use us- all we have to do is yield and say, "Yes."

armchair coach
amateur historian

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Bubble Popped

I was a kid back in the early 70's. It was the age of Rock Em Sock Em Robots, GI Joe, Action Jackson, and Major Matt Mason. President Nixon was in office at the time, but he really did not seem to care about the boring tedium of my work at school. His enlarged head would pop onto the TV in the evenings and all the adults would pay attention when he promised a freeze on prices for inflation, whatever the heck that was. Who cares, that stuff is for adults.

Saturday mornings in those days were programmed for kids time on TV. This was way before cable or internet stations, and one was limited to the stations that were in receiving distance of a local antennae, usually perched on the top of the family's house. As with other kids across America, I would sit there in my PJ's eating sugary cereal watching such shows as Captain Scarlett (one of my favorites, featuring marionettes as the characters, cars and buildings that blew up, and of course, the alien Mysterons,) Scooby Doo, HR Pufinstuff, and a really cool animated version of Fantastic Voyage. The Filmation cartoons were particularly appealing to me as they required a little brainwork and the artistry did not seem as "kiddie-time" as some of the other lame offerings of the day.

Anyhow, into this Saturday morning lineup was inserted bunches and bunches of advertising commercials, aimed straight for kids. This one commercial was pretty cool, it was for these animated robots called the Ding-a-Lings! They would go on this plastic railroad track and had this music jingle that I would bop my head up and down to. The announcer would state loudly, "They're the DING-A-LINGS! They are here! They are there! They are EVERYWHERE!!!" And the music would come on, and I would eat my sugary cereal and think these things were pretty cool. So I asked mom and dad to get me one for Christmas.

Being an inquisitive, curious and intelligent lad, (and also a bit daring) I quickly found one of the storage places my parents were hiding the stash, above the closet in my father's den. And yes, among the boxes was, The Ding-a-Lings! Woot! I was going to get the Ding-a-Lings for Christmas!

Christmas rolled around and the day was filled with much glee, as it is for any kid on Christmas day. Wrapped packages filled with toys, and the occasional piece of clothing that was ceremoniously dumped behind my back. I recognised the package by its shape and tore into it with gutso. Yes! Joy of joys, day of days, it was here! After the unwrapping ceremony was completed, I opened my new box to try it out. Thankfully, my parents had the foresight to buy batteries.

I assembled the railroad track and put the robot into motion. Bzzzzzzzzz it went as it crept slowly along its plastic course. I watched it in anticipation.


Hey! Where is the music? Where is the fun?


Where is the head bopping? When is it going to be here, there, and everywhere?


Ya know, this thing is kind of STUPID!


Realization slowly dawned on me. I had been HAD! I had become the victim of a cleverly appealing advertising campaign. So had my parents for that matter, although my concept of money at the time was limited to what their resources could purchase for me, in front of my young eyes. My view of commercialism changed on that day, from being an annoying interruption of my shows to that of outright lies. A small part of my childhood died that day, but it was a good lesson learned. The bubble had popped.

I had gone from wanting to enjoy the toy to wanting to blow it up. Fortunately, I did not entertain the idea of buying 10 boxes of toy gun caps to acquire the gunpowder necessary to perform such a hand-wringing, chemically-inspired, parent-abhorring action.

So, what other lies were being told to me? What are to be considered trusted sources of information? My young mind tried to grapple with the implications of what I had learned. The world it seemed, was not all snips and snails and puppy dog tails. Oh well, Fantastic Voyage is coming on.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Note: The below movie is *not* the commercial I saw in the above narrative, but a different one for the same product.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas 2008

What a wonderful Christmas we had this year! Mom, even with her limited resources, splurged well over and above and bought two, count them, two slabs of prime rib, and it was done to perfection. She also prepared the potatos and gravy, and I was in hog heaven. It was quite tender and juicy. In addition to this, mom made me four frozen servings of my favorite, Chicken L'orange and I need not tell you that *that* did not last long. I had Chicken L'orange for breakfast the next morning. Time could not have run more slowly as I waited for the thing to defrost in the microwave.

As it turns out, mom's car stopped working, and that's not something one should be worried about during the Christmas holiday. Thankfully, Amy came to the rescue the next day and pulled her battery and got a new one put in and presto-chango and it worked! ( I was busy eating Chicken L'orange at the time.)

Mom also got for me the original Batman TV series with Adam West, which became something of a cultural icon in the late 60's. When one of thinks of the word "camp," this series comes to mind. "Riddler... you.... dia-bol-ical... ne-far-ious... scheming... villain!" "Holy cackling conundrum, Batman!"

Amy got me some books which I gobbled down. The mortgage business, it seems, is going bananas. Everyone wants a loan with the rate so low, but ones credit has to be above stellar in order to qualify. It's basically a mess.

I am looking forward to Christmas with Dad and Carol as they were out of town over the holidays.

The image I found for the Bush "Mission Accomplished" Defense Base seems a bit funny in a twisted sort of way. It reminds me of Christmases as a child, when plastic toys were all one needed to spark the imagination and to have fun. I have a story about Christmas and advertising that I will have to share with you later.

What an awesome Christmas. Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thank you for sending your only son into the world, Lord, to show your love towards us.

armchair coach
amateur historian

PS Here is a little vintage Batman for those too young to remember. Holy Wayback machine, Batman! "Their minimum objective... must... be... the... entire... world!"

I Have Been A Slacker

For not posting as I should have. Yes, I have lots of things on my mind, as always, but regrettably writing about them has taken a back burner. Hopefully I can get back in the groove here and get some writing done. Good thing I don't write for a living, hm?