Thursday, July 31, 2008

my new favorite 'Bama player ...

Courtesy I-Rap at al.com ...



I love big guys, anyway. And given what I wrote about Wednesday, he could wind up being one of the more important players on Tide's defense this fall.
(Please, Lord, don't jinx him just because of this ...)

wlh

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

wednesday youtube flew the coop

Sigh ..,



I actually was inspired enough to write a column about this one. It's kind of fun.

wlh

she's playin all night


Crimson & White Roundtable further down in this morning's post. For a moment, however, allow me to chime in my $.02 about The Dark Knight, a movie that's been celebrated enough to cause my wife and I to make the drive up to Argo to catch a late showing on Sunday (we almost never go see movies in theaters because, well, why would you?).
The movie has received so much buzz because of Heath Ledger's performance as The Joker, even getting positive reviews from some of the toughest critics in the entertainment media. That was enough to sell me, so I figured I'd give it a shot, even though my last comic book movie experience -- Spiderman III -- turned out to be a serious disappointment.

Well, "TDK" is definitely better than the aforementioned third "Spider Man." And it's probably the best movie of the year so far, though I'm not certain whether that's more of a statement about the quality of this movies or the poor state of movies in general (for more, read here about how to write your own Will Ferrell movie).

Is it a truly great movie, though? I'm a little hesitant to go that far.

Ledger's Joker character, of course, makes the film -- he's dark, funny, crazy, and by the end of the movie you absolutely believe he'd blow up barges full of innocent citizens for absolutely no reason. There's been some debate about whether Ledger's Joker was better than Jack Nicholson's in the original "Batman," but that's a dead-end discussion -- the two are barely related.
(Important note: Ledger's Joker character continually licks his own lips, something our resident neurological nurse confirms is a characteristic of people taking anti-psychotic drugs. Interesting wrinkle.)

As for the other performances, I feel let down. Christian Bale -- one of my favorite guys dating back to his days as Cowboy Jack in Newsies -- continues to be a wash as Batman. As Bruce Wayne? Definitely. As Batman? Meh.
('Nother note: For whatever reason, Bale's Batman talks like an 82-year-old chain-smoker with a voice box. Does the mask pinch his nose? I don't get it.)
Aaron Eckhart does a decent job as the emotionally troubled Harvey Dent, even though the filmmakers -- much like the ones in "Batman Forever" -- continue in Hollywood's steadfast refusal to do proper justice to one of my favorite Batman characters. In their defense, the movie is already 150 minutes as it is.

Which, of course, is the real problem here. A pounding, non-stop action movie in which the audience is given very little time to digest what's taking place probably shouldn't be more than two hours long. You could make a case it shouldn't even last much more than 90 minutes. When the "movie should be over" clock goes off in your head, and you realize the movie still has 45 minutes left in it ... it makes the end of the movie feel like a welcome end.

In any case, I still advocate seeing it. But you may be better off seeing it somewhere like a drive-in, where you can stand up and stretch your legs without causing much of a ruckus.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now that the "arts-and-entertainment" portion of the program is over, let's move on to this week's Crimson & White Roundtable. As always, we at the DP provide the disclaimer that we're participating in this, not as a 'Bama blog, but as someone who needs something to amuse himself. Maybe we'll amuse you, also.
This week's host is The Druid.

1) Complete this sentence: Alabama’s biggest improvement from the 2007 season will be __________.

I'm going to stick with chalk here and go with line play. Even though a few positions on the line are still suspect, having two preseason all-everything selections at center (Caldwell) and left tackle (Smith) makes the odds pretty good of the line being the best it's been since 2004.
To carry the analysis one step further, let's say the running game will be the biggest improvement. With an offensive line that's finally SEC caliber, and some genuine depth in the backfield -- Grant, Upchurch, Lowe, et al -- Alabama should be able to run the ball with better consistency against the better teams in the league. Alabama should be able to score points. Stopping other people from doing it may be slightly more difficult.

2) Who will be the unsung hero of the 2008 Crimson Tide? This is a player that hasn’t received any pre-season attention, nor will he receive any post-season attention from the media. Yet without his presence, the Tide would be lost.

Whoever's playing nose tackle. You never see him, he makes very few tackles ... and yet, without him, the 3-4 simply doesn't work. Not sure exactly who that's going to be at this point -- for more, read Creg at CC -- but whoever it is simply must be a beast. And then some.

3) This is a rather vague question considering we haven’t even started fall practice, but what bowl game some we expect for this Alabama team?

Something other than Shreveport. Taking Auburn's place in one of those Florida bowls against either Penn St. or Wisconsin sounds cool, also.

4) This next one has to do with the recent hub-bub over the sabbatical Kenny Stabler is taking from the radio broadcast. I would like you to pick your ultimate Alabama football radio broadcast team. Pick an announcer, color analyst, a sideline reporter or two, and anything else you’d like to add.

In an ideal world, Alabama would hire the best play-by-play guy in the game -- Atlanta's Wes Durham -- flank him with a color analyst who doesn't say much and that would be that. But since Durham probably won't leave his gig with Ga. Tech and the Falcons, that's a pipe dream.
Thus, in their place, I'm adding myself. And I'm bringing my dad along with me, with the condition that he understand that we're not allowed to swear on live radio.
And if we must have a sideline reporter, which I despise, I say bring Jerry Duncan out of hiding and let him go.

Of course, that's just me.

wlh

Monday, July 28, 2008

you need coolin ... I ain't foolin

Activity is picking up all around the college football blogosphere this week, and with good reason -- football's nearly back, as evidenced by the searing heat and humidity that was already setting in at 9 a.m., on the tail end of our walk.
(For the record -- you haven't lived until you've walked three dogs at once. Seriously.)

Thus, it's necessary to provide you, the home reader, with a spate of links to tide you through a tedious Monday. Consider yourself warned.

-- ESPN's Pat Forde provides his readers with a healthy dose of "SEC Fans are crazy!!!!!" in this week's column. For the record, the whole "Fulmer subpeona" thing, while funny, is an exercise in silliness, one law firm trying to make a name for itself by drumming up a controversy that stopped being one sometime in 2003. Of course, because the firm's in Birmingham, the natural assumption will be that it's residual bitterness from Alabama fans. But I'll cede the point to Druid:
This lawsuit is not being brought by the University of Alabama, nor is it being brought by the fan base. In fact, Fulmer isn’t even a party to the case. This is Wendell whats-his-face from Chattanooga, TN suing the NCAA over his actions involved with former Tennessee player. Sure, it stems from the Alabama probation saga, but that is really the only tie to The University of Alabama.
Naturally, that didn't stop Senor CFB from saying Media Days should be moved to Atlanta. Gas prices hurting you there, Tony?
-- More Media Days stuff: Scarbo tells us a little about Nick Saban and the media. Psychology is a big issue. Also, The Wiz has the skinny on Bobby Petrino. Sort of.
-- With practice starting, Phil Marshall talks about the hell of two-a-days. It's not what it was, but it's still no fun. Also, Creg talks to Antoine Caldwell.
"There's no excuses to be made. That's how I feel. I've actually talked to the line about that, and realizing how much talent this offensive line has. There really is no weakness on this offensive line. If a hole's not there, you've got to make one. If there is a block to be made, you've got to make it. That's the concept we've been trying to put in this whole summer, that we've got to get it done one way or the other."
-- The JCCW has this fall's paperless SEC preview project.
-- I don't normally advertise myself too much here, but I'm posting a link to Sunday's column about visiting Yankee Stadium. It's an emotional topic, as you can tell.
-- Finally, Monday morning essentials: Peter King's MMQB (about guess who); Norman Chad's Couch Slouch; and EDSBS' weekend corrections.
Yesterday’s Curious Index reported that the Tennessee defensive staff have implemented a “back to basics” strategy with its younger secondary players to prepare them for high-profile SEC matchups, administering a quiz to all underclassmen asking them to differentiate between their asses and a hole in the ground. The actual test question is pictured below, asking them to differentiate between a hole in the ground and former Alabama receiver/backfield bane D.J. Hall. We regret the error.

wlh

Saturday, July 26, 2008

weekend youtube wants to dance

Yes, we're back from the big city and prepared to go at it ... soon as we get to next week.

In the meantime, here's a home-movie version of the brawl that became famous (infamous?) last week.
(One word of warning: turn down the volume on this thing before you watch if you're near sensitive ears. It got a little ugly there for a second.)




wlh

Sunday, July 20, 2008

busy, dude ...


Blogging is touch-and-go for the next few days, as the wife and I celebrate two years of marital ... marriage, I suppose, with a week in New York City.

As penance, I'm attaching the Prothro highlight video again. Why? Well ... cause it's my blog, and I want to. Also, Pro is the one Alabama player my wife and I love unabashedly and with no shame whatsoever -- to paraphrase Coach Bryant, if we had 11 like him, we'd be truly great.










I may check in later this week, but I'm making no promises. Perhaps Whit can keep you entertained through Media Days.

wlh

Saturday, July 19, 2008

weekend reality is virtual

A glimpse at NCAA 09:



I think my favorite part of this is Greg McElroy being listed as an impact player. Outstanding.

wlh

Friday, July 18, 2008

weekend links

Something to do over your morning coffee, perhaps.

— EDSBS' corrections page is always a must-read.

— OTS breaks down the pass-happy SEC. Wait ... what? Yeah ... you heard the man.

— Ways you can tell college football is near: ESPN's bringing back "College Football Live." Lou Holtz saying ridiculous things? Sign me up, baby.

— A UT fan (God help him) examines the state of Vol rivalries. 'Bama he respects, Florida he hates ... Vandy ... meh.

— Colin Mickle from the O-A previews Georgia. Another "meh" article from a pretty "meh" writer.

— Raps has the skinny on a potential matchup between 'Bama and Va. Tech. Hokie, hokie, hokie, hi!

— Finally, Creg examines Alabama's numbers, hopefully for the last time. Until next year, I mean.

wlh

a "Lost" Friday: what what?

A fabulous fan vid. All that's missing is Sheila Broflovski.



Pretty much the way all of us feel at this point.

wlh

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thursday and we've got links

No witty intros today — I'm being harassed by car dealers and people who want to formally adopt a beagle I named "Smallz." Anyway, on with it ...

— In case you didn't know, Antoine Caldwell became a member of the media this week. Ray Melick has more. I'm sure it won't be long before Capstone Report is complaining about his Auburn bias or something.

— Creg blogs about Zeke Knight.

— RBR has more on the recruiting class of 2009.

— NCAA 2009 is out now. EDSBS reviews it as only they can.

— A reporter in Arkansas calls Auburn a sleeper for the BCS title.

— Finally, Wilbon's excellent column from the MLB All-Star Game.

See everybody back here tomorrow.

wlh

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

wednesday youtube is shocked ...

Just like the '87 Vols.



Incidentally, where does Gene Jelks rank in the Pantheon of "decent athletes who later turned on their alma mater and ratted them out to the NCAA?" Is he ahead of or behind Eric Ramsey? I'm just curious.

(Also, watch for the classic "1987 Alabama mullet" at around the 2:10 mark, right as Paul Kennedy says, "Roll Tide, Roll." Indeed, Paul. Indeed.)

wlh

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Little Brother's First Roundtable

What record would you consider "sufficient progress" in the coming season?

Sufficient progress could easily be reached with a record of 8-4 or 9-3, but since it is my senior year at the Capstone..........I think sufficient progress could also be a record of 1-11. Many fans unrealistically expect a national title every season, but I think that the majority of Tide fans would appreciate an 8-4 season as one with loads of progress. Whoever the Tide loses to, which I think will be in AK, GA, and at home against that dadgum school across the state, will truly determine how far the program has come in a year. If UA loses to Mississippi State again, I think I’m going to be driven to fight with everyone on the strip that night.

Does college football need a playoff? Why?

I’d like to see one put in place, but if the teams have to sacrifice part of their regular season in order to make room for the playoff, then there should not be one put in place.

If you're an Alabama fan and a native Alabamian, then more than likely you became a fan sometime between conception and the cutting of the cord, but what moment do you remember best as being "the moment" that you became an active participant in your fandom?

My older brother, the guy who actually writes this blog and the person who asked me to participate in the roundtable, went to Alabama for college. I grew up an Auburn fan in Opelika, AL and was surrounded by everything orange for the first 12 years of my life. I went to the Oklahoma vs. Alabama game in Tuscaloosa in 2003 with my father and sat on the 50 yard line about 12 rows up. Sitting there as a na├»ve 16 year old kid, I heard 86,818 people stand up and scream when Coach Bryant’s voice echoed throughout Bryant-Denny…………as the chill bumps ran up and down my spine, I knew that this was the place for me.

What rule change would you most like see implemented?

I don’t know about the rule changes that I’d like to see implemented, but I would like to see the referees stop babying quarterbacks. I’m so tired of seeing QBs get hit and then have a penalty called because the defender led with his head! They’re wearing pads for a reason. There is absolutely no reason for QBs to be treated any differently than other players.


---I made it through my first roundtable! I hope that it doesn't suck.

HR Derby is a white man's world

Via Awful Announcing.



Regardless of whatever Rick Reilly says -- and Reillo and I go back and forth, some days I want to be his child, some days I want to see him dead -- the Derby was one for the ages anyway. Jayson Stark has the skinny on it in today's column.
(Random unrelated note: Remember when Baseball Tonight was the best show on ESPN? Gammons, Stark, Harold Reynolds, etc. ... the best analysts on the network, the most fun show to watch. Now? They replaced their talented analysts with know-nothing hacks, many of them -- Steve Phillips, Eric Young, some dude named Destrades -- because they were ... I'm not sure. Former players or executives, I guess. And in the process, Baseball Tonight became like every other show on the network -- a bunch of big names who have no idea what they're talking about. Great.)

Anyway, some more links for the morning.
-- Cecil Hurt opines about the Stabler situation.
(A)s long as Stabler maintains his innocence on the current DUI charges (he does have two prior convictions in alcohol-and-driving cases in 1995 and 2001), he’s being given as much benefit of the doubt as Alabama can give him. He’s not being permanently replaced, for one thing. Tom Roberts, a truly good person and a team player, is clearly an interim choice in the booth, unlikely to serve more than one year in the color analyst role regardless of the outcome of Stabler’s case.
-- As noted before: PMR has a great running series about some of the crushing defeats in Alabama's recent past -- I think it's important to know where we've been before we can go forward (it's why I wrote the 13 Levels of Alabama on my old LJ). Here's his latest: the '06 Arkansas game, or Leigh Tiffin's Personal Nightmare.

-- SMQ reviews what could be for the Auburn-West Virginia tilt in late October, which has the potential -- obviously, a number of things must happen first -- to be one of the most anticipated Thursday-night matchups ever. It should be fun, regardless.

-- EDSBS is threatening to show up for the Duke-Vanderbilt game dressed like the guy from Monopoly.

-- Finally, The Wiz blogs about two important things: a) he's apparently a respectable journalist during the day (or rather, the night) and b) he apparently lost his job due to downsizing. Yikes. I feel your pain, man. I feel it.

wlh

Monday, July 14, 2008

for the curious ...

Per the SEC's official Web site, a list of who and when everybody's showing next week for Media Days.
(Note: I'm leaving out coaches' names. I assume y'all already know the coaches will be there.)

Wednesday
Florida: Tim Tebow (who else?), Phil Trautwein
Mississippi St.: Wesley Carroll, Jamar Chaney
LSU: Brett Helms, Tyson Jackson
(Note: If you happen to be there, and see Tyson Jackson, back away, slowly. I'm not kidding. Don't make any threatening gestures toward him, don't look at him closely ... just back away slowly, then run like hell as soon as you're out of sight. You'll thank me for this advice later.)
Vanderbilt: Reshard Langford, George Smith
Thursday
Alabama: Antoine Caldwell, Rashad Johnson
(Note: First question to Rashad, "So ... wanna go to Legacy tonight?")
Georgia: Mohammed Massaquoi, Jeff Owens
Ole Miss: Peria Jerry, Michael Oher
Tennessee: Arian Foster, Adam Myers-White
Friday
Auburn: Jason Bosley, Sen'Derrick Marks
Kentucky: Jeremy Jarmon, Dicky Lyons, Jr.
Arkansas: Elston Forte, Jonathan Luigs
South Carolina: Jasper Brinkley, Kenny McKinley

wlh

Monday links

I had big plans for the weekend, of course -- housework, maybe a comprehensive post about why my alma mater failed to win a state championship during my old head coach's tenure. Of course, none of them worked out.

This is a monumental week, as you know -- and as Creg points out at CC -- because it's basically the last week with no football-related anything going on. And since I'll be out of town during next week's Media Days -- going to NYC for my second wedding anniversary -- we at the Party will attempt to be extra vigilant in providing as much preview material as possible.

Starting with this Monday's links.
-- First, a story that's a couple days old: Stabler takes a "leave of absence" from the radio booth. Probably the best thing for all parties -- if Stabler had tried to come back to the booth this fall, it would've been like that NBA Finals that Marv Albert called right after the "biting" incident, just awkward and embarrassing for everybody. And Alabama doesn't need any more of that at this point.
-- More in the ongoing war between Michigan and Alabama bloggers: RBR defames Brian Cook. We've said this before, and will continue saying it, but the issue of over-signing is an offseason issue that almost always resolves itself, and one that will almost certainly be forgotten once practice starts.
But yeah, B. Cook is bad at life.
-- The best Auburn blog in the business, for those who don't know, is the Joe Cribbs Car Wash. Today he proves it again, with his impassioned defense of SEC scheduling.
-- Why will Georgia win the title? Mark Bradley has more. Personally, I don't see it happening -- the schedule's too tough, Mark Richt's teams have a history of folding when the expectations are too high (see 2004) and I think Peter von Herrmann will be praying with all his soul that they trip and fall multiple times. That's too many strikes against them, says I.
-- Your requisite MMQB: Peter King talks about the Favre issue. Can we page Bart Styes to give us more here? We need the input of a Green Bay fan (but we'll settle for the spouse of one).
-- Finally, some baseball: Norman Chad whines about Nats Park, and Jayson Stark hands out midseason awards.

wlh

Friday, July 11, 2008

a "Lost" Friday: where's the dog?


"Lost" Fridays poses the question: does anybody know what happened to Walt's dog?


I have no answers, of course. Perhaps Jacob has taken him into his service, as well.

(Speaking of dogs, if you're interested at all in a stray one that looks an awful lot like Uno, please let me know. I'm not kidding.)

wlh

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

wednesday youtube still feels the pain, even after 25 years

No words for this one.



(Note: I didn't post this simply to torture my dad. I really didn't. Seriously, stop looking at me like that. It's a great game -- everybody should know about this one.)

For more on this and other great bowl games, click this old list on Page 2.

wlh

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

it was a roundabout

Here's this week's C&W Roundtable, hosted by RBR. As always, I'm participating even though I don't consider myself a 'Bama blogger. Here's hoping I don't embarrass myself.


1. And the Valley Shook recently posted their thoughts on "Saban the Disciplinarian." As LSU partisans, they have a lot more experience with Coach Saban than we do, and I'm interested in your thoughts on why we feel like Saban is the man to restore discipline in Tuscaloosa.

I went round and round on this one, and I kept coming back to this -- because he's the head coach, which makes him the anointed savior of the program. Like most fans in the Southeast, Alabama fans, largely white, like to think of themselves as the underdogs, the little bitty boys who aren't particularly talented, get no respect from "the media" and are laughed at by the rest of the country ... but they work harder than everybody else, have a sage grandpa as their head coach and have "discipline," and that's why they win. It's why Alabama fans remember with fondness the teams from the 1960s -- Bryant's "little bitty quick boys" -- as their favorites (particularly the famed '66 team, which was so disrespected it couldn't even garner one national championship vote).
Very few people know this, but Bryant himself had very few off-the-field rules for much of his coaching tenure in Tuscaloosa. In the book "Turnaround," Tom Stoddard states that one of the first things Bryant did upon arriving at Alabama was to get rid of the curfew for football players. Pretty much, his attitude was, "If you can stay out all night and still give me what I want on the field, go ahead." And only the great ones -- like Namath and Stabler -- could actually cut it.
Which leads us back to why we as Tide fans believe in Saban as disciplinarian: we know he's going to recruit great players and then work the hell out of them. So how can they do that without "doing it the right way?"

2. And on that note, what's your gut instinct on any further arrests before the start of the season?

My gut instinct is that I'm terrified of answering that question. Like most SEC fans, I pretty much hold my breath from January until August, hoping that none of my guys show up in the news.

3. On a forward looking note, name the game you are most excited about this coming season and why.

At the risk of sounding cliched, I'll go with the trip to Athens in late September. I have a feeling this team is going to come on in the second half of the season, and a trip to face U(sic)GA may be the start of that. I don't anticipate a win, but I do anticipate our boys to give 'em hell.

4. What's the game you are dreading the most?

Like every even year, I dread the trip to Fayetteville. For whatever reason, strange things happen when your team goes to Arkansas. Just off the top of my head ...
  • 2000: Alabama, in one of many agonizing contests that resulted in the worst season of my life, plays a painful contest in which it dominates most of the night in a driving rainstorm, then eventually loses anyway on a late drive in which Arkansas converts two fourth-down attempts, one on a bizarre holding call against Marcus Spencer, another on an even more bizarre play in which Arkansas actually had 12 players on the field and nobody -- including Alabama's coaching staff -- noticed until Sunday.
  • 2001: Auburn, riding a wave of momentum after a midseason win over Florida, goes to Arkansas and fumbles about 60 times in a strange loss that includes Tommy Tuberville getting a 15-yard flag because the officials thought he was flipping them off.
  • 2002: Nick Saban's LSU team blows a chance at another SEC title when Matt Jones -- a great athlete but someone who wouldn't be considered a great thrower at any level -- somehow completes a 50-yard Hail Mary between three Bengal Tiger DBs.
  • 2006: In the game that started Mike Shula's slide towards his ultimate termination, Alabama dominates -- repeat: dominates -- Arkansas in Fayetteville, only to lose when freshman kicker Leigh Tiffin suffers a meltdown of epic proportions, missing three field goals and an extra point. Arkansas ultimately prevailed in overtime.
Suffice to say, I'm not excited about going back there, now or ever.

5. Finally, give me the dream play you want to see posted in YouTube form on every football blog this season involving the Crimson Tide.

John Parker Wilson kneeling at the end of the Auburn game, cradling the ball like a precious newborn, followed by Andre Smith flopping on top of him and making us all feel uncomfortable.
That clip would make my season.

wlh

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday & links — a natural combination

You need to get back to work, aight?








(Video is courtesy Crimson Confidential, via ESPN, of course.)

We're off and running with another big batch of links for a hangover-ridden Monday.
— Tragedy strikes as Andre Smith goes bananas.
(Note: Take a deep breath. It's a joke.)
Whenever you travel in Crimson Tide country, you have to accept the basic reality that you may encounter a 330-pound lineman. If you are in open country, use binoculars to scan the horizon. In more forested environments, be sure to make lots of noise and keep a mental inventory of climbable trees (just in case). Remember, Andre Smith is surprisingly agile, and has also been known to climb short distances up trees.
— Wasn't able to participate in this week's C&W Roundtable — being so far away and all — but it's worthy of a read, for sure.
— Also always worth reading: OTS' chats with readers on RBR. This week is no different.
— The bizarre saga of Jeffrey Francoeur: first the demotion, now the call-up.
If the point of his demotion was for the team to "straighten him out" or "get him back to his old form," then how can three days in the minors solve those problems? To me this further underlines the real reasons for his demotion. If it really was for him to get his swing back, then the right thing to do would have been to keep him down there until that occurred (as per the original plan). In this instance, the team should have recalled Brandon Jones or Brent Lillibridge or Josh Anderson.
wlh

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday morning 'tube: a retrospective

Just in case you guys were curious as to where I've been the past week -- this video was put together by some of the kids who were there.



For more on how you can get involved here, check out the Web site.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

how shall we subject this?

Today's "everyone's wrong but us" column comes courtesy of a small paper in Mississippi — I found it posted on the wall of a cubicle in my office. I'd post a photo of me rolling my eyes, but I couldn't find one. Still, you may feel differently, and may find yourself pumping your first after this column.
For the record, my brothers and I were forced to attend public school, and we somehow managed to avoid turning into the stereotype presented here. So perhaps my parents deserve a gold star.

SONNY SCOTT:Home-schoolers threaten our cultural comfort

6/8/2008 9:39:01 AM
Daily Journal




You see them at the grocery, or in a discount store.

It's a big family by today’s standards - "just like stair steps," as the old folks say. Freshly scrubbed boys with neatly trimmed hair and girls with braids, in clean but unfashionable clothes follow mom through the store as she fills her no-frills shopping list.

There's no begging for gimcracks, no fretting, and no threats from mom. The older watch the younger, freeing mom to go peacefully about her task.

You are looking at some of the estimated 2 million children being home schooled in the U.S., and the number is growing. Their reputation for academic achievement has caused colleges to begin aggressively recruiting them. Savings to the taxpayers in instructional costs are conservatively estimated at $4 billion, and some place the figure as high as $9 billion. When you consider that these families pay taxes to support public schools, but demand nothing from them, it seems quite a deal for the public.

Home schooling parents are usually better educated than the norm, and are more likely to attend worship services. Their motives are many and varied. Some fear contagion from the anti-clericalism, coarse speech, suggestive behavior and hedonistic values that characterize secular schools. Others are concerned for their children’s safety. Some want their children to be challenged beyond the minimal competencies of the public schools. Concern for a theistic world view largely permeates the movement.

Indications are that home schooling is working well for the kids, and the parents are pleased with their choice, but the practice is coming under increasing suspicion, and even official attack, as in California.

Why do we hate (or at least distrust) these people so much?

Methinks American middle-class people are uncomfortable around the home schooled for the same reason the alcoholic is uneasy around the teetotaler.

Their very existence represents a rejection of our values, and an indictment of our lifestyles. Those families are willing to render unto Caesar the things that Caesar’s be, but they draw the line at their children. Those of us who have put our trust in the secular state (and effectively surrendered our children to it) recognize this act of defiance as a rejection of our values, and we reject them in return.

Just as the jealous Chaldeans schemed to bring the wrath of the king upon the Hebrew eunuchs, we are happy to sic the state’s bureaucrats on these “trouble makers.” Their implicit rejection of America’s most venerated idol, Materialism, (a.k.a. “Individualism”) spurs us to heat the furnace and feed the lions.

Young families must make the decision: Will junior go to day care and day school, or will mom stay home and raise him? The rationalizations begin. "A family just can't make it on one income." (Our parents did.) "It just costs so much to raise a child nowadays." (Yeah, if you buy brand-name clothing, pre-prepared food, join every club and activity, and spend half the cost of a house on the daughter’s wedding, it does.) And so, the decision is made. We give up the bulk of our waking hours with our children, as well as the formation of their minds, philosophies, and attitudes, to strangers. We compensate by getting a boat to take them to the river, a van to carry them to Little League, a 2,800-square-foot house, an ATV, a zero-turn Cub Cadet, and a fund to finance a brand-name college education. And most significantly, we claim “our right” to pursue a career for our own
"self-fulfillment."

Deep down, however, we know that our generation has eaten its seed corn. We lack the discipline and the vision to deny ourselves in the hope of something enduring and worthy for our posterity. We are tired from working extra jobs, and the looming depression threatens our 401k’s. Credit cards are nearly maxed, and it costs a $100 to fuel the Suburban. Now the kid is raising hell again, demanding the latest Play Station as his price for doing his school work … and there goes that modest young woman in the home-made dress with her four bright-eyed, well-behaved home-schooled children in tow. Wouldn’t you just love to wipe that serene look right off her smug face?

Is it any wonder we hate her so?

Sonny Scott a community columnist, lives on Sparta Road in Chickasaw County and his e-mail address is sonnyscott@yahoo.com.


weekend youtube has changed its name ...



Back again with more later this weekend.

wlh