Universityof Texas

Musings

Some of history’s biggest catastrophes have been created by devious people with a lot of time on their hands.    For example, Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’, 9/11, the use of Napalm as weaponry, Watergate,  The University of Texas Longhorns 2016 season.

I was fortunate enough to retire from a more than three decade career in Broadcasting.  Since shutting off the perpetual live mic, I’ve read a lot, watched a shit ton of documentaries on mindless topics such as a day in the life of a lemur, how and why honey never, ever spoils and of course the Maysles’ Grey Gardens, and a strange but colorful 67 minute journey into the life of style maven, Iris Apfel, a woman who never met a feathered boa or bracelet she didn’t like. 

Oh yeah, there’s the one about Hitler’s fascination with the occult,  one about Virgin Mary’s personal concert for three Portuguese shepherd children at Fatima (that one required Big Pharma) and an intriguing documentary about another  Prince William, a dashing sort and oddly handsome for a British royal.    He was killed in a plane crash almost 60 years ago.   Look him up.

I have eclectic interests, I suppose and what I can’t look up on this contraption, I think about in my head.

I muse about things.     I wonder if Caroline Kennedy has ever seen the Zapruder film.  I wonder what she does or thinks about every November 22nd, if she think or does anything at all.  I wonder if Fidel Castro’s death meant anything to her.

I wonder who the first person was to watch an egg emerge from a chicken’s…..whatever….and decided to crack it open and determine it was edible and eventually vital in many recipes.     How was flight conceived?    Who in the hell thought that smashing atoms could be weaponized and a used as a fuel source?   Yeah, I’ve seen documentary on Hans Bethe, but he basically conceived nuclear fission by looking at sunshine. Huh?  Must’ve had a welder’s mask.

I’ve thought about politics lately.   I’m glad Trump won but a lot of sore losers are going to make his political life a living hell.   I wonder what affect his presidency will have on his hair.

Then, there’s Benghazi.

I listened CSNY today singing a live version of “Ohio”.    For you youngins, that’s a song written  about four anti war protestors who were shot and killed by National Guardsmen during a riot on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

Hence, the title.

Then, I started musing lyrically.   It’s missing a few lyrics but you’ll get the gist of it.    And here it is, with apologies to Mr. Young.

No soldiers, no Clinton calling
They were definitely on thier own.
That September there were four bodies
Four dead in Benghazi

Gotta get down to it

Ansar al-Sharia cutting them down
Should have been protected long ago.
How much did Hillary know with
Chris Stevens dead on the ground

How can you run when you know?

I also think about how some people with absolutely no moral compass can live with themselves.

My, my…how you young know-it-all millennial saplings who think you’re so much more emotionally evolved than everyone else, would have loved the Sixties.   Tumult was so in vogue back then.   There was a real purpose to it back in The Day.

Today? Not so much. Bitch about whatever offends your concept of diversity and when you throw a brick through a window because of that, or because of university rape cultures, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, global warming, trans bathroom issues, entitlements of all kinds, or how being female in 2016 somehow means being a victim, remind yourself you could be in a Humvvee and drive over a powerful IED on a deserted road in Afghanistan.

You could be in a massive firefight in a hellish jungle in the Mekong Delta.

Or near the 38th parallel.

Or liberating what’s left of a fucking Nazi death camp.   Endure any of those things, then you can tell me you need a safe space and a therapy dog.

That’s all I have to say.

(Turns on mic on last time, then releases it from hand to drop on the ground to imply righteous indignation)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life’s Ups & Downs & Longhorn Football

I am, as I have stated many times before, a devoted Texas Longhorn fan.  I used to take their losses personally and fortunately for me, there weren’t that many losses to endure.  

And then came the 2010 season.  

So many are asking, “What the hell happened?  I don’t know.   Quarterback, Garrett Gilbert is inconsistent.  While he may have shown poise and skills when  stepped in for Colt McCoy who was injured in the opening drive of the National Championship game against Alabama last year, he was hardly ready to be the starting QB at Texas this year.  Expectations were too high for the lad.   Yes, yes, I know—he’s just a Sophomore.  I mean, McCoy graduated from UT as a  two-time Heisman finalist who cemented his legacy in his junior year; certainly as a senior.  But let’s not forget this celebrated collegiate career wasn’t always so rosy.  His sophomore year (2007) he lobbed 18 perfectly thrown passes—–into the arms of opposing players.   Colt improved.  Can’t I give Garrett Gilbert the same benefit of doubt?  Well, what Colt had..and even showed distinct glimmers of it, even as  a struggling under classman…is something I don’t see at all in Gilbert and that’s leadership.   I can’t shake the feeling that Gilbert will not finish his collegiate career in a burnt orange jersey.   Some of his greasy fingered receivers and backs might be joining him.

I even sense a strange disconnect from Mack Brown, who’s gotten quite gray in recent weeks.   Is it any wonder?  I know how hardcore Texas fans are.  They’re probably assembling in the village square with torches , pitchforks, scythes and battering rams,  ready to burst down the doors at Brown’s office in Bellmont Hall on the UT campus and in true Mary Shelley fashion, kidnap him then, tie him to a tree and then stone him to death for having the temerity to coach a team that’s bringing such shame to every burnt orange blooded Texas loyalist.

Why are some calling for Brown’s head?   Did he not coach the Horns well enough to play for all the collegiate football marbles in the National Championship just last year?  Yes, but that was last year.  Unlike Texas A&M,  the great season of ’27 isn’t enough to sustain us, we want…nay, we need present day greatness.   Simply put,  Texas just doesn’t lose consistently.  No, losing seasons are for  A&M or Wyoming…NOT Texas!!” 

Well, Texas….slip into a maroon jersey and shout, “Gig ’em” because THIS is your season;  your time on the edge.  Learn from it.  Other teams know this all too well.  Notre Dame is going through it; Michigan endured it for years and hell, the once storied program that is USC is just one step away from playing in the California penal system.   On opposite end of the spectrum, teams like TCU and Boise who are both up and coming football powerhouses weren’t even on the collegiate radar five years ago.   Okay fine, but once again this is Texas, perennially on “the radar”.  

Before the kick off of a very recent game,  I’d never witnessed a Texas loss.  I’d either leave the stadium or flip the TV off or to another station before the clock read 0:00.   But this year, all that changed.    Last weekend, I forced myself to watch Texas lose to Baylor.  What I learned was that  I didn’t die.  It was no big deal.   It was just a game.  Nothing shrivelled up and fell off;  I didn’t go mad. 

Instead, this whole season has become this strange parable for life.  Love the team, but Texas has been playing with hubris for years.  I;ve often wondered why, even in our glory years, we were always so disliked.   It’s because of arrogance, my friends–which I always justified as mere confidence, but I was wrong.  It was arrogance and to a degree, we earned the right to be so arrogant.  But be that as it may, it prevented us from earning anyone’s respect.   So, how and why should Texas, or any living, sentient human being for that matter, expect nothing but a winning season every season???    Simply put, life doesn’t work like that, on or off the field.  

Disappointments are unavoidable facts of life.  It is the bill we must pay for living, but really, isn’t it worth the price?

Bestselling author, Spencer Johnson penned a book on their subject.   Peaks and Valleys: Making Good and Bad Times Work For You  is about an unhappy man  who lives in a Valley, but wants to live on  “the Peak.”   He meets a wise old man who lives on a Peak and this chance encounter  changes everything.   The old man tells him what we all know–that life is rife with  peaks and valleys and then he compares it to the human heartbeat.  

 “Like a healthy heartbeat, your personal Peaks and Valleys are an essential part of a normal, healthy life. So are the Plateaus, if they are times of healthy rest when you take stock of what is happening and pause to think about what to do next. Peaks and Valleys are not just the good and bad times that happen to you. They are also how you feel inside and respond to outside events.”

So, he goes on to say that as bad as it is, there are valuable lessons to be learned while living in the Valley and essentially experiencing and learning from all that happens during your down time, allows you to reach the Peak.   In fact,  the old man lives on the Peak, but purposefully goes down into the Valley from time to time for “provisions” (not food per se, but emotional balance).  He says that both physical peaks and valleys, and personal Peaks and Valleys are connected. How you ask?  

The errors you make in today’s good times create tomorrow’s bad times. And the wise things you do in today’s bad times create tomorrow’s good times. People who use a Peaks and Valleys approach during bad times make things better when they return to basics, and concentrate on what matters most.” If you look back over the course of your life I’m sure you can see the Peaks and Valleys.  The path out of the valley appears when you choose to see things differently.”

Ah, bang the gong and let it resonate with enlightenment. 

Some might think this no big deal; simple common sense should allow one to understand the concept of good and bad.  Not easy to do, especially when you’re down in the Valley and it’s a fight just to stay on an even keel in your living hell.  Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.  If that’s the case, then  I, like so many others,  have lived my life staring at oaks and pines.

But all that’s changing.  See, I have a new man in my life.  I’ve not told you anything about him, nor will I,  OTHER than to say that he’s renewing my faith in my own life.  He’s teaching me so many things:  an appreciation of my own experiences and the rich tapestry and/or velvet Elvis painting it’s creating and I’m learning about good single malt Scotch (which for the time being I MUST adulterate with soda)  and the most important thing this man is helping to instil in me?   Patience.   I never had an ounce of it before.  I wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it.   I’ve lived a life feeling that I was entitled.  I don’t know –I rarely ever liked myself.  Even so, like the Longhorns, I went through a wonderful up period.  I won a lot of my “games”, too.  Oh sure there were a few stumbles and missteps along the way, but it was an up time.  I was riding high. 

Then came the late fall of 2000 and everything as I knew it changed.  I moved from the peak to the valley’s valley–I was that low.   Since then, I’ve made some progress which included reaching many peaks and falling down to the depths of the valleys,  but because my time as a bottom dweller was so new to me, I didn’t know how to act.   I would punish myself for my time spent in the doldrums.  But why?  What right did I have to think I ONLY deserved to live on the Peak?  I didn’t take the time to wrap my head around the cyclical nature of “valleydom”.  Nor did I take a minute to understand all that being that far down could teach me;  how much it would allow me to appreciate my time spent in the glorious Peaks.

I guess you can compare it to going on vacation, those wonderful deserved and earned breaks from the norm.   We work and work and work and then after a year of nose to the grindstone, we take a week off and pack the kids and six suitcases into the Family Truckster and head to some park Walt Disney and Capitalism created.  Along the way, we stop top marvel at roadside attractions like the motel made of teepees and the world’s largest ball of yarn.   Then after a week, we return to work and the cycle of life, like a big dish washer with its wash, rinse and repeat nature, starts all over again.  And once back at work, we experience the same ups and downs, the disappointments, the successes and frustrations, the joys and sorrows we experienced that made planning for, then actually taking that vacation; that OH SO needed break so very much worth it.

I often say, “This too shall pass.”  I love that axiom because it’s true.  But I’m learning that this is something that shouldn’t just be said when times are tough.  True, the bad times won’t last forever, but neither will the good times.   Sometimes, shit hits the fan, even when it’s in the off position.  That’s just the way of the world.  Life has a wonderful ebb and flow about it.   Mercifully, it’s never static.

 You have summer and winter, day and night, work and play.  

On the playground, you have seesaws or teeter-totters as some call them.   Take a good long look at the photo to your left and remember how these contraptions work.     

If you let it, this piece of equipment can serve a dual purpose from an educational standpoint.  Aside from being fun,  the seesaw is a primer about  gravity and life.  Yes, it’s s simple machine, but difficult to operate. Without the proper balance on each side, the damn thing is useless.  Life without proper weight distribution won’t work.    And that’s why it’s a jarring, jolting pain when it’s all askew for whatever reason (or because mean, Peter “Fatty” Monahans who’s three Baby Ruth bars at lunch helped keep him at the bottom of the seesaw, suddenly stood up)  and you slam down to the ground below. 

Remember that?  Remember how stark the pain was when the balance was shifted and it was your turn to hit the hard surface below? You did it with a thud.

Oh yes, it hurt; it was painful and made worse by the fact that it was unexpected.

Unequal weight distribution, plus the basic laws of gravity.

That’s textbook.

That’s life.

Someone far wiser than me once wrote, “Human life is beset with ups and downs, joys and sorrows.  These experiences are intended to serve as guideposts for men.”

Or hopefully, as goalposts for the Texas Longhorns 2011 team.

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The BCS? Utter BS

Admittedly, I am ignorant in terms of how the BCS works…or doesn’t work as this season might indicate.   I’ve heard it consists of voters from every conference and they are, I suppose,  coaches, writers and maybe a wife or girlfriend or two.

Voting????   What a ridiculous concept and one that’s wrong, wrong, wrong when it comes to determining the nation’s best college football team.  But this year, this system worked “fine” providing you’re chromosomaly challenged and love Oklahoma.  If that’s the case, the poll worked in your favor,  but not so much if you’re a Texas fan–or even someone who backs the Boise State  Broncos.

Am I bellyaching because my beloved Longhorns beat OU 45-35 in the neutrality that is the Cotton Bowl this past October and because of verbal gerrymandering, will not be allowed to play in the National Championship game???

In a word, yes.

Now, hold your water there, Skeeter.  I know all too well that Texas Head Coach,  Mack Brown politicked fiercely to get the Steers in Rose Bowl to play Michigan at the end of the 04′ season.  He probably angled far more egregiously than OU’s Bob Stoops did to get BCS voters to shove the Sooners passed the Longhorns  at the end of the regular season (did I mention that the Horns beat OU??)  enabling them to play in the National Championship game against a gridiron juggernaut also known as Florida.

Now, I ain’t no Miss Cleo, but it wouldn’t take her or a swami or the half- blind, perpetually snot-nosed psychopath who wears a parka in August and “lives” in a median near my house to predict that Florida will mop the stadium’s H, I, J, K adn “L”  sections with the Sooners.  I also know that will have a trickle down effect which will ultimately result in  forcing Ohio State to drink the nasty ass bucket water.  Couldn’t happen to two nicer teams (Oh and just a reminder, Texas beat Oklahoma this year and toppled the top rated Buckeyes in ’05 to eventually win the National Championship and will emerge victorious  again in the Fiesta Bowl next month).    I could only be happier if somehow A&M was involved…providing of course, the team actually had the talent to play college football.

But alas poor Yorick, that shit ain’t happening!

It goes without saying that it is high time that the BCS cease and desist with this archaic method of voting.  A PLAY OFF SYSTEM THAT IS FAIR AND EQUITABLE MUST BE IMPLEMENTED!!!    The process of elimination has to be in play.  Without it, the current system consists of  uneducated and biased voting AND unholy manipulations vis a vie temper trantrums as Stoops and Mack Brown have so proven.  Coercion simply isn’t fair.  And yes, I’d still feel this way even if the Longhorns WERE playing Florida (well, maybe there would be far less vitriol involved in my rant)., but that’s irrelevant.   I still think we need to institute a play off system.  It works (to a degree) in the NFL though it still amazes me that a team who’s lost seven games can still be declared a “world champion”.

But hence the reason for the saying,  “on any given Sunday”, I suppose.

What I am about to admit before God, man and blog will result in my risking significant taunting by my fellow burnt orange bloods, but I am nothing if not a realist.  While Texas is a great team lead by the moxie and natural instincts of God’s vicar on Earth (Colt McCoy–and you have to admit, that is one helluva great name for a jock!!), I do believe that Texas beat Oklahoma last October.   Emphatically.  Soundly.

But…

The damn Sooners reinvented themselves after the loss to the Longhorns and in doing so, they unleashed a series of placing big old “W’s” in the win column that can ONLY be described as “fierce grudge victories”.   That said, I think the final score would be different if the two teams played again.  Nothing against my beloved Longhorns, but OU plays with a fire in it’s belly.    However,  I don’t think a 30-ton blast furnace shoved in their colons would be enough to help them beat Florida, but perhaps Oklahoma is the team that should be the  one that loses the BCS Championship game.

There.  I said it.

But that still doesn’t negate the fact that the BCS system’s current ways and means are  severely flawed and a playoff system must be integrated.   Voting based on prejudice and favoritism doesn’t cut it.   Hell, that’s the difference between a team that’s the best in the nation and one that’s the most popular.

My God, what’s next?  A swimsuit competition?

steven_cole

Well, I gotta give him points for the nice powder keg legs though.

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