Showing posts with label Longhorns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Longhorns. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

end of football season 2012-13 (also, Brent Musberger)

I watched the BCS Championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame, and - as you may have heard - Alabama destroyed Notre Dame, 42-14 (you can argue that last ND touchdown was someone from Alabama being nice).

I don't have feelings one way or another about either team.  It's cool to see Nick Saban earn his 3rd National title in 4 years, and I was glad Notre Dame was back as a serious contender in NCAA football.  But I think this absolute rout of The Fighting Irish will be putting some questions around Notre Dame's unique position as a team without a country/ conference, and that their schedule may be a wee bit lopsided as they milk their TV contract.

It was a fun year for football, and I wish I'd had a less hectic schedule and could have enjoyed more of it.  Even when UT is doing poorly (and we ended up with 9 wins, so as bad as it felt, it's still a decent season), it's something to do.  I still like watching Big 12 teams and a few, random other teams when I can.

Between you and me, I can't stand commentator Brent Musberger.  He certainly knows the sport, but he's still wishing it were 1975.  I like a little fake impartiality in my hosts, and Musberger chucked all that years ago.  Sometimes he's right, sometimes he's wrong.  But having had listened to his nonsense as he's called (and constantly dogged on) UT games over the years, I just sigh when I realize he and Herb are on commenting duties.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The 2012 Not-a-List Rundown

author's note:  2012 is a year I have been looking to put behind me for quite a while for any number of reasons.  Obviously the events in my personal life marked a very sad end to the year for us at our house.  Perhaps we should declare 2012 Annus Horribilis and move on.

With recent events weighing so heavily on me right now (and with this post started a long, long time ago), I'm going to stick to pop culture and the original, intended tone of the post - and this blog - and take a look back instead at...  yeah, I guess comics and whatnot.

here we go.


The 2012 Not-a-List Rundown




My Totem for Everything About my Pop Culture Hobbies in 2012

My relationship fundamentally changed with my hobbies and past-times, and superhero comics have begun to dip below the horizon to the same place Star Wars went circa 2002.  Because of travelling and the fact I was sick a lot this year, I also didn't really make it out to the movies very often.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Saw Louis CK and other Bits into the Weekend

Somehow we wound up with 6th row tickets to see Louis CK at the Moody Theater this evening.  Right on the center aisle.  Kind of crazy.  I insisted to our friends who had seats a bit further away that you could feel the comedy spraying across us from that close.

Louis's brand of comedy isn't for everyone, and certainly his show on FX isn't something I'd likely watch with my folks.  I do find his work challenging (the last bit this evening on 'Of Course' vs. 'But Maybe' isn't necessarily going to be for every audience and runs the risk of being misunderstood by some audiences).

If you know Louie (the oddly misspelled showname of Louis CK's FX program), you might like this. NSFW.  Sorry.




Sports!

I didn't get to watch, but UT's Women's Volleyball team is once again headed for the National Championship!  We've got as good a chance at winning as not, and no matter what happens, it's been a great year for the squad.

But it'd still be amazing to see a National Championship.

Unfortunately, I never get to watch the games.  They broadcast on the controversial Longhorn Network that I don't have, and I travel so much, I never buy tickets, even though they play across the street.  I mostly keep up via articles online or asking one of our Sys Admins who goes all the time.

The Weekend

We're in San Antonio as of tomorrow as this is the weekend of the wedding I'm officiating.  No Hobbit for me this weekend, I guess.

Looking forward to the wedding.  Of course seeing Julia and Bill get hitched from the best seat in the house is a treat, but Matt & Nicole will be there, as well as other pals like Jonathan and Billie.  This is going to be all right.

After the wedding, I plan to come home, finish Christmas shopping, then lay very, very still before Dug and K arrive for the holidays.  I have a feeling that when my feet hit the ground at the start of January, work is going to be nuts.  I need to plan summer vacation now or its not going to happen.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Coach Darrell K. Royal Merges with The Infinite

Darrell K. Royal, icon of University of Texas football, has passed at 88.


I am sad to learn that former UT football coach, Darrell Royal, has gone on to his reward, but as I said to CoWorker Kristi - "It's kind of hard to imagine living a better life than that guy".

Longhorn Football fans know that Royal brought three championships to Texas and had a 167-47-5 record at UT.  Memorial Stadium is actually now Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, and has been for quite a while.

He remained active in UT Athletics and the University of Texas, and was on the field for a coin toss just a few weeks back.  He'll be missed, but in Austin, it is impossible to believe he'll be forgotten.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Longhorns get trounced: 63-21

The Red River Rivalry (or Shoot Out, depending on your generation) is a tradition more than a century old.  The UT Longhorns drive up to Dallas, the Oklahoma Sooners descend from Norman, and they face off at the Cotton Bowl in an elliptical stadium that, when full of fans, is colored half burnt orange and half red in team colors.

As important as the rivalry is (and, I hate to tell Ags, was probably the more important of the two), its also a marker that tells us how our team is really playing this year.  Every year this game seems to be a tipping point for the fortunes of the Longhorns - displaying exactly how well we might do against the conference play in the Big 12 and more or less setting bowl expectations.  OU is always a worthy opponent, and in neutral territory, they don't want to take the slow, painful bus ride home, either.  

more or less the story of the game

Flat out, OU outplayed UT in every conceivable way for about 58 of the 60 minutes of the game.  We couldn't even get the extra point after a fluke touchdown.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

UT craters at home v. West Virginia

As amazing as the Oklahoma win was over Texas Tech (I thought OU was doomed), and the unexpected win for Florida topping LSU....

UT lost to WV 48-45.  And I died a little inside.

Texas' loss to West Virginia, who managed to exploit UT's weaknesses by playing fairly solid football, was terribly frustrating.  I will say that this is the first time UT's defense has come to life this season, but it was in bits and spurts and it wasn't enough against the nigh-flawless Geno Smith.

David Ash, who has been on such an upward curve this year, fell back into old, bad habits when the pressure was on and failed to connect with his center during the turning point in the game, handed to him on a  silver platter.

Bergeron and others had a strong night (this Hills fellow was pretty terrific), and Jeffcoat really lit up, but it was a long, long night.

Sigh.

Can you tell I'm venting?

There's always next week.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

UT Football Begins

Normally I spend a lot of time after July reading up on UT football and watching and reading local sports news to get caught up in order to be ready for the season.  Not this year.  Work and other factors came into play, and I just didn't think about football too much until now, as we roll into the first week of NCAA football.

I am reminded of Keith Moon, drummer for The Who, who did not play the drums unless he was on tour or recording, and reportedly had to remember how to play every time The Who decided it was time to go back to work.  Also, he put explosives in his drums on The Smothers Brothers.  Hilarious.

Anyway, while I am not putting explosives anywhere (that you know about) I am also in need of my annual "oh, yeah.  Football." relearning of everything I usually know by week two or three of the previous year.  This year I didn't even get a chance to pick up my usual Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine and do some reading as we head toward hot dog roasting and a lot of excuse making for our running game.

Coach Brown sacrifices a freshman to appease the football gods in hopes of a winning season

I was talking to Jake, who is a huuuuuge Oregon Ducks fan, and realized...  man, I have no idea what's going on just at UT, but anywhere.  I really need to catch up.  BTW, I have high hopes for Jake's Ducks again this year, if USC isn't too much of a problem.

And, of course, everyone in the SEC (but TAMU) looks pretty spooky once again.

All that to say, I am thrilled it's once again time for College Football, and especially UT Football.

Tonight my mighty Longhorns go up against the Cowboys of Wyoming.  It's a bit rougher than a match-up against Rice or other teams we've played in the past, but it'll also tell us where we're at a whole lot earlier this year than in past seasons.

Looking at the UT depth chart puts a smile on my face as familiar names populate the starting line-up, and we have a chance to see what all three of our quarterbacks can do this year.  Jeffcoat and Okafor are back on defense, so that's always a good thing.

I can read.  I can try to catch up!  I CAN KNOW THINGS.

This year its pretty clear my team went to go see the Chris Nolan Batman flick, as our slogan this year is "Rise".

Also, I need a video this inspirational to watch about showing up for work at the library. It would certainly make it seems like pushing papers and making presentations was a lot more important.



Anyway, Longhorns...  get your horns up!  It's going to be a great year.

Now let's get out there and eat too many hotdogs.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

46th Anniversary of the UT Tower Shootings

On August 1, 1966 Charles Whitman killed both his mother and his wife while they slept.  He went and purchased firearms from local shops, then drove to UT Austin's central tower.

Then, as today, the tower was an administrative building and, at the time, was also the library for UT Austin. It still looms well above all other features not just on campus, but for much of the surrounding territory.   From the top of the tower, one has a panoramic view in all directions, far out to the hills of West Austin, into downtown to the South if you look beyond the South Mall and the older buildings on campus that surround the grassy strip, usually strewn with students studying and socializing.  To the East lies the stadium and a great swath of campus, and to the North, the science buildings, and past that, the Hyde Park neighborhood.

I went up the first time in 2000 shortly after the Tower's observation deck re-opened for the first time since a rash of suicides in the 1970's.  No, Whitman's atrocity didn't convince the University that it needed to be closed.

On that morning, Whitman took a footlocker full of weapons with him to the top of the tower, and knocked an administrative assistant unconscious with his rifle (she would die later at Seton Hospital).  He would show a final and baffling act of mercy as he let a couple who had not seen the secretary's unconscious form bypass him, and then he barricaded the door.  Moments later he would kill and wound several tourists who came to the door seeking to go out to the Tower's observation deck.


Whitman took advantage of the unimpeded vantage provided by the 27 story tower and began firing down upon students and faculty walking between buildings.  For about 100 minutes Whitman held Austin hostage between Guadalupe and the East Mall, from the North Mall to far past the South Mall, where visibility goes down to 21st Street and further down University Avenue.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

6 Years Ago the UT Longhorns won the Rose Bowl

it seems impossible, but I don't own a copy of this cover, and I don't think I've ever seen it before

Six years ago I was living in the wilds of Chandler, Arizona.  It is safe to say now that 2005 was the roughest year I've experienced, and its got to be up there for Jamie, too.

We had moved to Arizona in 2002.  I had lived in Texas since age 4, and had been in Austin most of my life.   And while we loved Austin, I also knew that I needed to try something different.  So, when Jamie's job evaporated in 2001, we began looking outside of Texas, eventually winding up in Arizona.

For a multitude of reasons, we never felt comfortable in Chandler (where we lived) or Tempe (where we worked), and found it exceedingly difficult to find anyone with whom we could socialize.  I will always entertain the notion that I'm a deeply unpleasant person to have to deal with unless your paycheck requires you talk to me, but I think out there, we were just fish out of water in many ways.  And, of course, Jamie's health was always an issue.

By the summer of 2005, Jamie's health deteriorated considerably.  From late spring until November, we were on an hour-by-hour watch for changes.  And, unfortunately, I had fallen into horrendous eating and sleeping patterns.  

But in the Fall of 2005, the UT Longhorn football team was on fire.  Our quarterback was Vince Young, and you could just tell...  we were going to win a hell of a lot of games.  The odd part of watching such a season is that I think you kind of know early on that this could be the year, that this could really happen.  But then you watch every game wondering "is this where we blow it?"

I hadn't watched much UT football when I was actually at UT.  The team hadn't been great for a while, and while I liked some sports (particularly NBA basketball), I was also doing other things in my life than watching football on a Saturday, even when I was watching the NFL on Sundays as a way to defer the inevitable homework.

But I graduated, UT got a new coach, and I wasn't just reading about the games in the paper.  I actually tuned in.  I knew more than the name of the quarterback.  So by 2005, after the frustration of the Chris Simms era, we had this guy Vince Young step into the QB position (eventually.  We won't discuss poor 'ol Chance Mock too much).

FYI:  slighting either of these men in my presence will insure you receive an immediate and justified thrashing
In many ways, I have a hard time getting my head around the fact that 2005 was both My Very Personal Bad Year and The Year UT won the BCS Championship.  It seems like two completely different timelines.  Somehow we managed to catch almost every game that season, even though that was the fall when Jamie had to go back on dialysis and I recall watching at least one game on Pay-Per-View so I'm sure we missed a game or two.  If it were not for a memory of watching the UT/ A&M game on a TV at the hospital the Thanksgiving when Jamie spent her Turkey Day in a hospital bed (and I ate luke-warm turkey out of a plastic container), I'd never be able to reconcile the two timelines.  

By December, Jamie had begun to stabilize.  Jason came in for Christmas, and I know we talked a lot about UT football.

Living in Arizona, we were in Pac-10 territory, and it seemed that my work colleagues were, at best, humoring me once UT was in the championship.  UT was facing down USC, and the pundits and sportscasters were insisting this game was already decided (I particularly remember Chris Berman seemingly frustrated that they were bothering to even have the game, so certain was he of USC's victory).   But what you could tell was that 1.  the pundits seemed to be working from a certain narrative rather than demonstrating first hand knowledge one would have had they actually watched UT or the Big 12 that year, and 2. sports journalists have no idea what they're talking about (and people believe them.  Its hilarious).

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Texas Showdown Closes Down (UT wins!)

I did not expect UT to win the annual Thanksgiving game against Texas A&M.  Yes, the UT Longhorns were ranked, and A&M had slipped from ranking, but this year, UT's ranking fortunes have just felt like a fluke of other's misfortunes and some oddly-had luck more than the hard-earned rankings of the COlt McCoy and VY years.  While I do believe our defense has been fairly effective this season, its clear the Longhorn offense is still a mess.

In the end, it came down to a last second field goal kicked by UT's Justin Tucker, who has been near-flawless all season.  But it also came down to UT's defense uncharacteristically more or less rolling over to A&M's fairly punishing drive in the final minutes, looking for all the world like a team that was going to have the last word.  And, of course, Case McCoy demonstrating some clear thinking in the last minute that he really hadn't shown too much this season.

I hope Texas Aggies feel like it was a good game.  We were certainly consoling ourselves with this thought at the 1:25 mark in the 4th quarter when we watched the UT lead melt away.

But then Tucker made the field goal.  So, it was a good night to be a Longhorns fan.

Tucker gets tackled by jubilant Longhorns
Of COURSE the game means something.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Signal Watch Sports: Longhorns - we aren't totally horrible this year!

This Saturday I attended the UT/ Texas Tech match-up at Darrell K Royal - Memorial Stadium.

Firstly, it was Veteran's Day (observed, I guess) which meant the 82nd Airborne dropped 4 paratroopers into the sky who, to a trooper, landed pretty much dead-center of the field (I literally had no idea that you could be that accurate with a parachute).  They brought the flags AND the game ball.

I feel like such a sucker for just walking into the stadium
And then a pair of F-18's buzzed the stadium at the end of the Star Spangled Banner.  It was AMAZING (I am about 11 years old at the sight of a fighter jet in the sky).  

The point is, UT hit the field, and on the first drive by Texas Tech, I got a bit nervous.  Tech manhandled Oklahoma this year, and we've had issues with Tech in recent years.  Yes, Texas Tech lost last week's game pretty badly, but every week is a fresh start, so I really didn't know what to expect.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

a Signal Watch Rant: Sports Journalists are the worst (almost as bad as comics "journalism")

Why was UT #11 going into this week's game?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I'm a UT fan, and I am terribly embarrassed about the crippling loss to Oklahoma yesterday, but in the lead-up to the game, my jaw dropped when I saw that sports journalists had apparently voted my team (ie: us) to #11 somehow in the past week.

As much as fans can hold their team and coaches responsible, how do journalists and those voting on polls (which actually DO have an effect on the fates of teams) get a pass when they're so clearly wrong?

Look, I am a fan of the Longhorns, and so there are absolutely some raw feelings there as the Horns return to Austin shamed and with quite a hole to climb out from, but I like to think I can also be pretty honest about how we're doing as my interest in the team is mostly just typical alumni school spirit, not that of someone who prides themselves on their sports acumen.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

round-up Monday post

You're on your own for a day or three.

In the meantime:

I recommend going to see the movie Drive at better cinemas everywhere.  It features Christina Hendricks.

Hendricks ponders the likelihood that bed bugs have invaded the Motel 6.
I didn't watch the Emmy's.

in a lot of ways, personally and professionally, I strive for Swanson-ness
I hear Mad Men won for best show without a laughtrack or whatever.  That's good, I guess.  Peter Dinklage was great in Game of Thrones, so good on him for winning.  Kyle Chandler won for Best Actor for Friday Night Lights, which is correct, but how he can win and Connie Britton did not demonstrates that this was a pity vote for a show everyone heard was great, but that nobody had actually seen (Chandler and Britton were Voltron, people.  Alone, you could take them, but together, they were awesomely powerful).

And Jim "Hey, I went to high school with that guy" Parsons won an Emmy, too.  So, there you go.

I guess that's all I care about there.

Saturday my Longhorns surprised the living heck out of me by not just beating UCLA, but beating them at home by 29 points, or about four touchdowns.  I had said in the week leading up to the game "if we come within 7, I guess I'll be happy."  But, man, The Horns actually looked shockingly solid out there.  Maybe not as solid as Baylor (or even TAMU), but they looked like a team for the first time since the National Championship about a year and a half back.

We have this crazy-good tail back, Brown, who is my favorite new Longhorn.  And, of course, we've got Marquis Goodwin, Fozzy and DJ Grant.  And, man, its a nice storybook angle that its Case McCoy and Jaxon Shipley out there (and I'll mention Ash, too, because he certainly contributed).

Just a total surprise.  What a fun game.

The Longhorns have a lot of luck in this stadium, it seems






Sunday, September 4, 2011

Our Odd 20th Century/ 21st Century Football Evening

As I've complained about, Time-Warner failed to pick up the Longhorn Network, and seems like it will continue to not carry the Longhorn Network, which means that, like likely thousands of other people in my area, I got up this morning and looked to see if I could change cable carriers.

The only carrier in town with the Longhorn Network is Grande Communications, who are also much cheaper than my carrier, but, of course, they haven't made it yet to my neighborhood.  Whatever that means.

So, last night we had PaulT (aka: @PlacesLost) over at the house, ate some Tostitos, and listened to the game on the radio while watching the LSU/ Orgeon game on mute.  We tried to keep up with both games via iPhones and laptops.  It was kind of a goofy night.

And while Paul's company was great, Paul and I also like to talk as much as grannies at the Gossipin' Fence, so you tend to lose a lot of the nuance of the game unless you decide you're going to just sit there silently.  And, if you're a casual football fan like me, you have a lot of questions you don't often think about when you're able to watch the game.

"A reverse pass?  What the hell is a reverse pass?  What does that even mean?"  Paul was kind enough to mime it out for me.

So that was our weird night.

Also, I was a bit bummed that Oregon lost to LSU.  But quite chuffed that UT won their game 34-9.

Yes, yes.  I know its Rice and not OU, but we didn't just win a game, we won it by more than a touchdown, which means UT might not be the Keystone Cops this year, even if UT, reportedly, didn't play a perfect game.  

The next game to be carried exclusively on the Longhorn Network is the Kansas game, a game I will most definitely want to see.  Hopefully we'll either have the LHN by then, or we can think about all sitting quietly around the radio, I suppose.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Signal Watch Sports: College Football Ready to Go (and being a Longhorn fan at the moment)

Its almost Game Day! 

I imagine our friends Jake Shore and Fantomenos are quite excited about Oregon's prospects this year.  I know I am, and I'll be watching. 

I'll also be watching Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and a lot of others as well. 

But, oh my, my Longhorns.  And the Big XII.  And the @#$%ing Longhorn Network.

No doubt many are currently thrilled to hear that Texas A&M has left the Big 12 Conference, delighted that somehow this diminishes UT.  To this, I say:  quit listening to sports radio.  Its making you crazy and ignores the bigger picture.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Chat Transcript with Pearl at Time Warner re: The Longhorn Network

Today I learned that Time Warner Cable has not yet reached a deal in which I will receive the Longhorn Network, ESPN's first regional-specific network dedicated to satisfying the sports needs of Longhorn fans.  I am not kidding.

Kickoff for the first game of the 2011 season for UT is the traditional UT/ Rice game is 6:00 PM on September 3rd. As of today, TWC, which has a stranglehold on cable subscribers in Austin, has not yet negotiated a contract with ESPN, the mother-ship network for the LN.  And, as you guess, only the Longhorn Network is carrying the game.  This, people, is utter bull-hockey.

Because the market solves all, I turned to my benefactors at Time Warner, knowing my pleas would not fall on deaf ears.

I suspect "Pearl" may not be the actual identity of my liaison.


Pearl Smith:    Thank you for contacting Time Warner Cable. At the end of our chat you will be given the option of taking a brief survey. My name is Pearl. Please give me a moment while I access your account.

Ryan_:    hello.
Pearl Smith:    I understand you need information on Longhorn Network, am I correct?
Ryan_:    yes!
Ryan_:    I am hoping that TW will find an agreement with the Longhorn Network prior to August 26th.

Pearl Smith:    Although we do not currently have an agreement to carry Longhorn Network, we do want to make the Longhorn Network available as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the Longhorn Network refused our offer to bring the Longhorn Network to TWC customers.
Ryan_:    why?
Pearl Smith:    There is some issue with the broadcasting rates.
Pearl Smith:    The deal does not get finalized.
Ryan_:    I am sure TWC cares more about me seeing UT football than something as silly as money.
Pearl Smith:    I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Ryan_:    Pearl, nobody is blaming you.
Pearl Smith:    Time Warner Cable regularly examines its programming line up with an eye towards providing the highest quality and widest choices available at reasonable and competitive prices. Although we do not currently provide the programming that you requested, we do keep track of the number of requests received and utilize this information to influence programming changes. Time Warner Cable is always concerned with the programming interests of our subscribers. This programming request will be shared with our Programming Department. It is this type of feedback that is vital as we strive to deliver the best variety of programming available to our customers.
Ryan_:    But this is a nuisance.  Please tell Mr. Warner and Mr. Time that I will take a network showing Longhorn football over 1000 channels showing me shows about baking cakes and/ or cupcakes.
Ryan_:    I expect for the outrageous sums outlayed to the Time Warner Corporation, they can scrape together a few shekels and see to it that I get my football programming.

Ryan_:    Even if it does mean that's one less private island for the super fortress they're obviously building for their secret private army.
Pearl Smith:    I can transfer you to our sales team for more information on this.
Pearl Smith:    They would be able to inform you the time of its launch.
Ryan_:    That won't be necessary.  I appreciate your patience and I look forward to having the Longhorn Network on my cable dial by August 25th.
Pearl Smith:    Thank you.

Pearl Smith:    Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
Ryan_:    You can explain to me what vertical integration means.
Pearl Smith:    I am sorry, I am unaware of this word.
Ryan_:    that's okay, Pearl.  I appreciate your time.  Have a great night!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

O Tannenbaum

So this afternoon I had a small realization. Last year I can't say I was ever really in what I think of as "The Christmas Spirit". I enjoyed the holiday. It came, it went, turkey was had and presents exchanged. But something was missing, and I couldn't figure it out.

As much as anything else, Christmas is about ritual. Its why when we start dating someone new, everything about their family's Christmas sounds completely crazy (Jamie's family has a quiet family event. When I was growing up, you could expect up to 12 people sleeping in the house on Christmas Eve. I didn't sleep in my own bed on Christmas until the end of college.).

The ritual we decided to forego in 2009 was a tree. I think Jamie and I have had a tree in every apartment and house we've shared. As a kid, everything about the tree was part of the holiday ritual. We did not go as a family to the lot and pick out a tree. We pulled the branches out of the boxes, laid them out according to size (marked by a dab of color at the aluminum stem of the branch) and then began putting the thing together. It took forever just to get the branches on, let alone getting lights strung (we had no fancy pre-lit trees in those days) and ornaments hung.

And then, we all had to stand back, look at the tree, and notice that, yeah, that thing really listed, and we'd maybe get a new fake tree next year. Which we finally did when I was a Junior or Senior in high school.

But, man, you should have been there for the great "The Clapper" experiment of 1996. Let's just say that having a device that uses sound to turn the power on and off in the same room where you're watching football and basketball for two weeks straight makes for a magical Christmas tree. (That said, my Grandma loved standing up at night and "clapping" the Christmas tree off.)

Anyhow, last year after we got Scout, who is a very sweet but very nervous dog, we decided not to put up our fairly sizable fake tree. She might eat branches or ornaments. She might knock the tree over. We didn't know. Also, we were kind of glad not to lose the square footage in the middle of the house.

This year we actually decorated the front and inside of the house Thanksgiving weekend (another ritual), but... its just been off again. Our stockings are up, the nutcrackers are in place, the garland is out... but once again, I just didn't really feel like it was Christmas time. Even after going shopping for a good chunk of the day.

And I realized: maybe I need to decorate a tree. Maybe that's just part of the deal. If I don't assemble a fake tree and place ornaments upon it, maybe my Christmas engines simply won't fire.

Anyhoo... this evening we went out and got a small tree that we can place on a side table. It had sort of plastic legs you slide into place, and it doesn't exactly require assembling, but something like it. We put on some carols and put some ornaments on (its much smaller than our usual tree). Jamie sang a song or three.

The tree is now decorated, complete with Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and GL. Its got a star and a menagerie of animals and these nice glass orbs Jamie bought a while back. And I'm already feeling much, much better about Christmas.

I also have two UT sports ornaments. And as I was hanging them, I made a little promise to myself that these were for better luck next year for our mighty Longhorns. I confess, I even rubbed them for good luck.

That's what this time of year is about. Saying good bye not just to this year, but looking back at all the years, all the memories you unpack, with hope for better next year.

A Christmas album was playing, the dogs were settled and snoring on sofas, my lovely wife was under a blanket and reading, and I sat back in the glow of the lights, quite content.

And then I read this bull@#$%.

%$#@!!! %$#@ity @#$% %$#@!!!!!!!

UT's defensive coordinator, Will Muschamp, is leaving to become head coach at the University of Florida. In my book, this is a total disaster. He was supposed to be staying at UT and make millions of dollars and then take over when Mack Brown retired. But, ohhhhh no. UT had to have a 5-7 season, and Mack Brown isn't leaving on that note, so you bet Muschamp started looking around.

The guy is a great coach, he may well poach some of UT's better coaching staff that remains in the wake of the coaching resignations and firings the past week or so following the Longhorn's 5-7 season. Muschamp won't be here to recruit for 2011, and our defense was barely holding on, as it was.

My magical UT ornaments did NOTHING.

Stupid 2010. Stupid 2011.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I am pretty sure you won't finish reading this meandering blog post

It would be bad form to not have a post ready for a Monday, but I'm kind of running dry at the moment.  Bear with me.

The weekend 

The holidays are here, and that meant Saturday we were able to attend a lovely get together at Matt and Nicole's place.  Sweaters were worn, cocktails embibed, and a cold front hit just before the party, so it didn't feel odd or unseasonal. 

I learned a lesson in trying to be a safe driver:  if you're planning to cab it around town - do not decide its time to call a cab at 2:00 AM on Saturday night/ Sunday morning during the middle of holiday revelry.  They will never, ever show up.  And you will spend an ugly hour regretting that last cocktail with SyFy Channel on mute showing some horrendous movie with Alan Cumming painted blue, and Jamie just staring at the window and repeating "where are they?", only to give up and force a sober Nicole to drive you all the way back to your house at 3:10 AM.

Today was fairly lazy.  Played with the dogs.  Read.  Cleaned up a bit.  Walked the dogs.  Fixed the fence.  Slept for a while in the afternoon, facedown on the sofa.  Denied the fact that I need to go to Lowe's and do a few last bits of Christmas shopping (I am way, way out ahead on Christmas shopping).  Met up with Matt and Nicole at a sort of Italian bistro near Nau's, ran into Keora and Laura (wife of SimonUK). 

And now I'm sitting in front of the fake fire with sleepy dogs. 

Big 12 and Longhorn Football

OU won the Big 12 Championship, which is secretly good news to me (as OU is my second favorite college team, but we do not say such things in Austin). 

And it looks like UT's long-bemoaned Offensive Coordinator, Greg Davis, will be leaving UT's coaching staff by hook or by crook early this week. 

I don't know much about Davis.  He doesn't get in front of the mics or cameras very often, but I know that in a city that screeches to a halt on game days, I have never heard one person who didn't second-guess or immediately leap to chip in to question Davis's coaching and play calling.  That's not an exaggeration for dramatic effect, that's a fact.  And it seems that UT's great recruiting of the past 10 years finally wasn't able to overcome the deficit in offensive coordination.  At some point, you can't have 100K people in the stadium all slapping their foreheads, and everybody but the Offensive Coordinator knowing that the play called was not going to work.

That's not to say people aren't warily eyeing Will Muschamp (UT's Defensive Coordinator), his millions per year and the fact that UT oddly already anointed him Mack Brown's successor despite the fact that Brown isn't scheduled to retire or leave Texas.  I don't think Muschamp is on the chopping block quite yet, but if UT is giving up as many touchdowns next year as they did this season?  That sweetheart deal is going to dry up pretty fast.

Anyway, strange days for Texas football.

On the positive side:  Looks like Oregon will challenge Auburn for the National title spot!  Very happy for our man in Oregon, Fantomenos.  The Ducks have been building to this point for a while, and I'm personally planning to dress in green and watch that one.

Jackie Chiles returns

Back in the 1990's Seinfeld was (and still remains) one of my favorite shows.  Many will remember the OJ-case inspired character, Jackie Chiles, loosely based on now-deceased showboating attorney Johnny Cochrane.

A colleague of The Signal Watch is a contributor to award-winning legal blog Abnormal Use, which recently swung an interview with the actor who portrayed Jackie Chiles, Phil Morris.  We encourage you to read the interview

I confess that, yes, I do still watch Smallville on the CW (I'm quite a fan of Ms. Durance who plays Lois.  Rowr.).  For the past few years, Morris has guest-spotted on the program as J'onn J'onzz/ John Jones (aka:  The Martian Manhunter), and he's been a real highlight in a show that I usually enjoy semi-ironically (because, man, Smallville...).  I figured it was too much to ask that they spin the character off into his own, better show, so I take what I can get.

You can also see Morris in new clips as Jackie Chiles on Funny or Die!

Congrats to Abnormal Use for a great 2010!

Spider-Man play suffers another injury

An actress playing a major role as a villain suffered a concussion when a rope smacked her in the head.  This same actress has to sit in her harness 6 hours per day. 

I really do think people will turn up to watch the show, but its for the same reason you go to NASCAR races: horrendous accidents.

Never Assume

You people can enjoy the malarkey that is The League in small, bite sized chunks and opt in or out of dealing with me as you please.  Even Jamie has the option to tell me to shut it, and/ or leave the room.  But there is a person who does not have any options.  8 hours per day, 5 days per week, my officemate (who also reports to me in the org chart) has to sit and listen to whatever I say.  And I kind of just talk.  And talk.  And talk and talk and talk and talk and talk all day every day.

And its kind of unfair.  Literally nobody else on the planet has to put up with my monologuing or fear for their livelihood.  And so it came to pass that I was completely under the impression that my officemate and I were on the same page that KANYE WEST IS THE GREATEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED, EVER.

Apparently, not so.  So, if anyone else has some ideas for what to get an officemate for Christmas that isn't the new Kanye West album, please let me know.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

In 1940, you could look hungover and still be Super
JimD sent me this picture from The Retroist.  Absolutely great picture of the first Superman float, debuting just a year and a half after Superman's first appearance in comics.  I absolutely love this picture, partially because I'd never seen this balloon before, and partially because, well...  20th Century America.  She had her moments.

I am unsure of the frequency of posting as we move into the US's Thanksgiving Week.  I hope that you find a table with friends and family.  Give thanks for what you've got.  Eat some appropriate meal (I am getting hungry just thinking about turkey and cranberries), and try not to get into a full-blown political debate with the in-laws.

For more on the TRUTH behind Thanksgiving, you can read Sunday's column.

And, of course, on Thanksgiving night I'll be watching the mighty UT Longhorns battle the lowly Aggies of Texas A&M on television while they duke it out a few miles up the road from us at League HQ at UT Austin's Memorial Stadium.

Who knows, we could win a game...

Because elsewhere in 1940:

Behind this lovely/aggressive co-ed, you can see my family's coat of arms.
As per the traditional Thanksgiving match-up in 1940 the UT Longhorns went up against the Texas A&M Aggies, the reigning National Champions.  Knowing the task before his team, the legendary Coach Bible distributed the following poem to his team:

"It Couldn't Be Done" by Edgar Guest

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That 'cannot be done,' and you'll do it.

And thus:
Noble Doss and the Impossible Catch
Thanks to a nigh-magical pass and catch, UT beat Texas A&M 7-0, upsetting their feared rivals.

From the Statesman:
Less than one minute into the game, Texas halfback Noble Doss made an over-the-shoulder, eyes-shut grab that put the ball on the Aggies 1-yard-line, setting up Pete Layden's touchdown plunge. Texas then grimly held on for a 7-0 win.
That's roughly 59 minutes of a defense deciding that they were going to hold the line.  And that is awesome.  And something, surely, UT's 2010 squad could learn from.

But, you know, no matter how tough it looks, I have to have faith that by miracle, mistake, hook or by crook, the Longhorns could take the day.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We're going to call this a rebuilding year

Wow.  So, I admit that as a University of Texas fan and alum, its been a while since I've seen my team play like a bunch of mediocre chowderheads.  But today, play like a bunch of mediocre chowderheads they did. 

I had guessed UT would win by 14 points, even though the line was 20, last I checked.  We were at home, we'd just beat Nebraska and we were playing an unranked Iowa State, a team we have ALWAYS been able to beat. 

But from the start of Iowa State's second possession, we looked like a team that was just not ready to play football.  I don't know if the morning's iffy weather had confused our players, if they had practiced against a local middle-school all week, or what...  I suspect that the team had the same lazy attitude that they had approaching UCLA. 

I confess I almost found myself dropping the "we" from my discussion about UT, distancing myself from the team in a way that I don't do when UT is winning.  But, you know, I'm a Texas fan.  I'm going to do my best to continue saying "we".  Good times and bad and all that stuff.

Anyhow, I was actually at the game in the rain today, so my patience with this whole debacle was not terrific.  I did get a little more perspective seeing how plays seemed to unfold and how the team looked in general in a way that TV sometimes can't show as they cut to commercials, replays, etc...  and they just looked oddly...  slow.  Like they just didn't have their act together.

As a fan, I want to see us use the talent and skill we've got that seems to be squandered.  I will disagree from some of the TV commentators after what I saw today: I am beginning to wonder about Gilbert.  Seeing him live, he just didn't seem to know where to throw the ball far too often if the play didn't fall out exactly as he expected, and when he did release, it was kind of near the receivers, but not quite to the receivers. 

Am I one of those guys who blames Greg Davis, our offensive coordinator? Oh, absolutely.



I have no idea what to expect out of the Longhorns anymore this season, but by gum I am not giving up. There's too much well recruited talent, and I think we can make adjustments. But this team is going to have to do better, and the coaches are flat out going to have to quit going to back to the same playbook everyone has already seen for the last 10 years at UT.

Here's a quick report on the game.