Friday, April 24, 2009

weekend links: webb and more

Because I'm attempting to sell a co-worker of mine — not to mention the rest of you — on the music of Derek Webb, I'm going to start posting various Webb-related things here in a shameless effort to make you people see things more like I do. To start, here's one of Webb's best: "Somewhere North."

While I was in college, Webb and Bebo Norman were basically the poet laureates of our lives as single Christian folk. Of course, as soon as we graduated they both got married. But the music's still awesome.

Here's my column for this week, while we're still on the subject of shameless self-promotion. Fun as always.

And with that, on to other things catching my eye on a Friday ...
— Like me, the guys at RBR are geeks for history. Today's post about the '66 Michigan St.-Notre Dame game — stupidly labeled "The Greatest Game of All-Time" by myopic analysts like Beano Cook — was outstanding.
— Thoughts on the NFL Draft: coach Saban "gave a positive report" regarding Andre Smith; Glen Coffee's stock may be rising; and Rashad Johnson answers 5 Burning Questions. And since I'm an Opelika guy, I enjoyed this feature about the injury-plauged Tez Doolittle.
— Mr. SEC wonders if another down year is looming for the conference, mainly because of uncertainty at QB.
— Regardless of whether the BCS is good for college football, it's certainly losing the PR battle, as Ivan Maisel says. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the chief difficulty with the BCS vs. the old bowl system/a full-fledged playoff is that it's a lukewarm solution. In the old bowl system, maybe the best teams weren't always playing one another, but there was intrigue on Jan. 1 about what would happen (e.g., the '65 season, when #1 UCLA, #2 Arkansas and #3 Nebraska all lost, allowing #4 Alabama to steal the #1 spot by winning its bowl game). And in a playoff, maybe those old traditions would be lost, but at least you'd wind up with the best teams playing each other for the crown.
Not in the BCS. It effectively rendered every game meaningless except the MNC game, and it can't even get that one right. That's just the way it is.
— In more somber news, coach Gene Stallings is back in Tuscaloosa this weekend with a heavy heart. It's the first time he's been back since John Mark shuffled loose this mortal coil. There is a ceremony scheduled for this weekend to rename a street in his honor, which is fantastic.
— Finally, it's a big weekend in SEC baseball. Here's the rundown, courtesy of TCBB.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Lost" thoughts on Thursday: of fate, choice and whether miracles can happen

(Editor's note: There was no new episode of ABC's "Lost" last night, but that doesn't preclude those of us here at The Party from advancing an over-thought, rambling post about the direction of the show and some other literature and theology. You have been warned.)
(Another note: I'm currently watching "Paparazzi" on FX -- is it bad that every time I see Cole Hauser I'm expecting him to shout, "Mitch Kramer! Mitchy, Mitchy, Mitchy! We're lookin' for you, pal!"? I can't be alone here.)

Like many of the geeks who follow this show obsessively -- as well as the geeks who once took copious hours of English classes, and yeah, I'm in both groups -- my primary concern while watching has been hunting for themes. With the 100th episode looming for next Thursday, I see three themes intertwining themselves throughout thus far.

Theme No. 1: "If we can't live together, we're going to die alone."
Theme No. 2: Is our destiny pre-ordained? Do we really have a choice?
Theme No. 3: "If we don't wrap this up soon, all our actors are going to start leaving and we're gonna be in deep (expletive)."

We've tackled theme No. 1 before, although more has developed since then and we probably need to delve deeper into it at a later date. And theme No. 3 is relatively obvious.

So let's deal with fate vs. choice. Essentially, this entire season of "Lost" has been an attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery that plagued Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump.
Jenny, I don't know if Momma was right or if, if it's Lieutenant Dan. I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it's both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.
It's something that deep thinkers have always pondered. For example, I'm currently reading through "No Country for Old Men," which I picked up only because I saw the film and was so confused about what was taking place I felt entitled to further explanation.
Without getting too much into the plot of that story, what's taking place in that story is a not-so-subtle game of fate vs. choice. Anton Chigurh -- essentially the Angel of Death -- is obsessed with fate. Discovering his motivation for killing is kind of a waste of time -- he doesn't appear to be doing it for money and he doesn't seem to take a great deal of pleasure or pride in his work. So why does he do it? Because it's what he's good at. You might say he was chosen for that role in life. That's just the way it is.
As for the story, obviously, it's completely by chance that the idiotic Llewelyn Moss stumbles upon the drug-deal. But he makes the choice to steal the money, even though -- even as he's doing it -- he realizes he'll never be safe again. Is that destiny? I have no idea.

What does this have to do with this season of "Lost?" Maybe nothing. But the basic premise of this season has been the intertwined connudrum of fate vs. choice. Are the characters in this current plot -- going back to 1977, joining the DHARMA Initiative and happily living their lives in the past -- changing history as they do it? Or did history always happen this way?
It's been the primary focus of the conversations between Miles and Hurley. If we're living in the past, can we control the future? Could we stop climate change from happening (if it's actually happening)? Could we re-write "The Empire Strikes Back?" Could we stop DHARMA from ever building that damned hatch and causing the plane crash in the first place? Or did everything always happen the way it's happening right now?

Remember: John Locke's character has always been one that's obsessed by fate and destiny. He believed his destiny was to go on that WalkAbout in Australia, and after having his spirit crushed by not being allowed to go, he was renewed by crashing on the Island. The conversation that occurs between Locke and Jack in the Season 1 finale sets them up as opposing players in this drama.
Jack: Brought here? And who brought us here, John?
Locke: The island. The island brought us here. This is no ordinary place, you've seen that, I know you have. But the island chose you, too, Jack. It's destiny.
Jack: I don't believe in destiny.
Locke: Yes, you do. You just don't know it yet.
The two of them had another cryptic conversation in the finale to Season 4, as Jack was on the precipice of accomplishing the one goal he'd set for himself since the crash: get off the Island.
Jack: And what am I supposed to do?! Oh, I think I remember- what was it that you said on the way out to the hatch? That crashing here was our destiny.
Locke: You know, Jack, you know that you’re here for a reason! You know it. And if you leave this place, that knowledge is gonna eat you alive from the inside out… until you decide to come back.
Jack: Goodbye John.
Locke: You’re gonna have to lie.
Jack: Excuse me?
Locke: If you have to go, then you have to lie about everything, everything that happened since we got to the island. It’s the only way to protect it.
Jack: It’s an island, John. No one needs to protect it.
Locke: It’s not an island. It’s a place where miracles happen. And- and if you don’t believe that Jack, if you can’t believe that, just wait 'til you see what I’m about to do.
Jack: There’s no such thing as miracles.
Locke: Well... we’ll just have to see which one of us is right.
What's been curious about this season has been to watch Jack, who basically turned into Ron Burgundy after getting fired from his job as a news anchor during the three years he and his crew were off the Island. Originally attempting to control all the circumstances around him -- telling all his fellow survivors exactly what to tell the press and everyone who asked, angrily demanding to know where Kate was going and who she was going to see, going to see Hurley in the mental hospital and harshly telling him, "Take your meds" -- he eventually surrendered to the necessity of going back. Since he's returned, he's basically surrendered control -- quietly accepting his job as a janitor, even surrendering the leadership role to Sawyer. He doesn't even seem all that freaked out that he's currently living in 1977.
Everything crested during the episode "Whatever Happened, Happened," when Jack was called on save Young Ben Linus and merely shrugged his shoulders. On its face, Jack was leaving the fate of the child he knew would grow up to be Benjamin Linus to destiny -- in the words of Ivan Drago, "If he dies, he dies." On a deeper level, Jack is making a passive-aggressive attempt to exert control over history -- by making a choice not to get involved, he's leaving the boy's fate up to nature (and in nature, when someone gets shot, they generally die).
So what happens? Kate and Sawyer take the boy to the Others, they heal him through their miraculous voodoo magic, and he winds up where he was supposed to be, all along.

So you can't change history, right? Or can you? Or can the Island?
Talk amongst yourselves. Please. I could use some guidance.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday 'tube: please don't bother trying to find me ...

I'm not there.

Realized on my way into work yesterday that this weekend is race weekend at Talladega, then spent the next few minutes gleefully cackling (since I don't work for The Daily Home any longer and don't have to work this weekend).

So, in requiem, here's what a caution-free lap at the speedway looks like.

If you're going, more power to you. Just don't ask me to come along.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

a-day links

A-Day is always a difficult proposition for football fans like myself -- real football fans, the ones who follow it to the point that other people question our sanity, the ones who remember what play was called in the 2002 Alabama-Arkansas game and who carried the ball.

(OK ... fine.)

Anyway, like most everyone else, we real football fans love spring -- if for no other reason -- than it's simply a taste of football during a dead period. It also lets us know football isn't too far away -- Media Days will be here in late July, with fall practice starting the following week. And once that happens, we've basically hit the ground running. Plus, A-Day gives us an excuse to do all the things we enjoy during football season outside of the actual game -- tailgating, seeing old friends, walking around campus, hearing the band play, etc., etc., etc.
But A-Day always feels like kind of a silly exercise as well. Anyone who's remotely injured won't participate, and that list often includes a number of players who will play supporting roles in the fall. The schemes for both the offense and the defense are scaled back to their most basic levels -- you won't see ANY of Nick Saban's complicated blitz schemes on A-Day. Further, you're probably not seeing any of the recruits who might make an immediate impact in the fall because they haven't yet arrived -- Julio Jones and Terrence Cody, two of Alabama's best in '08, were nowhere to be found at A-Day '08.
So you take the competition for what it is: a scaled-down scrimmage mostly just for those of us who crave an excuse to drive to Tuscaloosa and watch some football, even if it's fake.

And with that in mind, here are some thoughts from around the Web from Saturday's scrimmage.
-- First, the basics: the standout of the day was Greg McElroy, who looked so much better than the two guys behind him -- Star Jackson and Thomas Darrah -- that I started having Brodie Croyle/Spencer Pennington flashbacks (remember: that '04 team had a fantastic OL and the best D in the country, but once Brodie got hurt it couldn't overcome the giant hole at QB).
BSR has a more detailed analysis of the QBs' performances. Apparently, the 2d OL is just as bad as the 2d QBs (I say "apparently" because I didn't actually watch the game).
-- Per Dennis Pillion: videos from postgame interviews. Ian also has the day in pictures, via Twitter.
-- Not surprisingly, coach Saban -- like every other coach on A-Day -- was pleased with the team and the crowd. Making him very happy? Surprise standout was safety Robby Green, who had a great day in Rashad Johnson's old spot.
-- Ian also grabbed an interview with Tyrone Prothro, who played in the pre-scrimmage flag football skirmish in the stadium. Well done, sir.
-- The final positive from A-Day: the university unveiled a new, very cool ad campaign. The commercial with Anthony Grant is so good, it almost makes up for that ridiculous "Crimson is" campaign, which is eventually going to put me in a mental institution.

Positive waves, man. Positive waves.

Between now and July, our best hope is to hear absolutely nothing from our program and our players. The less offseason news we hear, the better.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lost-blogging: some like it hoth

Welcome back to "Lost" blogging, our weekly attempt to comprehend the events of ABC's "Lost" as they happen. This week's edition: "Some Like it Hoth," centered around Miles Straum. As always, avoid this blog if you haven't yet seen the episode ... SPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERS.

(All times are CDT).
8:01: Did young Miles live in the same apartment complex as Daniel LaRusso?
8:02: Is there anything significant about the name Mr. Vonner? Or Kimberly?
8:03: No one else will find this humorous, but hearing Sawyer say, "I'm head of security" reminds me of "Brian Keener, head lifeguard."
8:04: The Circle of Trust? Isn't that a Point of Grace song?
8:05: I've always wanted to be able to whistle between my fingers like that. Never could, though.

8:10: Random thought from Stacey: does Miles look exactly like Jon from "Jon & Kate Plus 8?" Except not as miserable? I say yes.
8:11: Is it possible Miles' dad is the Asian dude from DHARMA?
8:12: Recall a conversation between Miles and Faraday during an earlier episode:
"I've never been here before."
"Are you sure about that?"
8:13: Like the symmetry of the doors closing and then Juliet opening.
8:14: Yeah ... explaining this to Ben's dad may be a bit of a problem. Explaining to him that his son is going to kill him may be a bit of a problem, too.

8:19: The never-ending comedy of Hurley & Miles has replaced the never-ending comedy of Charlie & Hurley. And Hurley & everybody, really.
8:20: The filling came through his head because of the electromagnetism in the hatch, yeah?
8:21: Wait ... Hurley talks to dead folk?
8:22: Uh-oh ... Miles can't talk to ashes, I bet.
8:23: This is a fake. Our friend doesn't perform seances.
8:24: Hey, it's Naomi! She wasn't busy? I'm shocked, frankly.
8:25: Kate just tipped her hand. She's usually a much better liar.
The song on the radio, by the way, is "Love Will Keep us Together."
8:26: Hurley makes a reference to chess with Mr. Eko.
8:28: Did Hurley just call Miles' dad a douche? Yes. Yes he did.

8:32: Does that dead man have any significance? Aside from the obvious?
8:33: So it WAS, in fact, Widmore who staged the wreckage of the plane crash. Or at least he had the materials to do so.
8:34: Now we also know Miles is money-hungry.
Miles makes another reference to fate. He's the best.
8:35: Did that board just erase itself?
8:36: Jack's a lousy liar, also. Which, of course, makes it humorous to think they perpetuated that lie for three years.
8:38: The look Miles gave his dad when he said "I like country" was priceless.
8:39: It's the Numbers, man! The Numbers are bad!
(Note on the numbers: if you have a moment, check out this vid of a transmission from an episode earlier this season. Tell me if the voice on the transmission sounds familiar at all.)


8:46: What lies in the shadow of the statue? The question from last week, right?
8:47: Another bizarre reference to the war Widmore talked about a few episodes ago.
8:48: Hurley's trying to write "Star Wars?" That's fantastic.
8:50: Another heart/head discussion. Also, the tension between Sawyer and Jack is painful.
8:51: That was quite a punch.

8:56: Apparently, only money persuades Miles. Also, he's got some serious Daddy issues, which gives him something in common with every other person on this show, basically. Though it still doesn't explain why he can communicate with the dead.
8:58: Hurley makes another "Star Wars" reference. "Let's face it: the ewoks sucked, dude."
9:00: "Miles, I need you." What a loaded statement.
9:01: Faraday! Woo hoo!
(end of episode)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter links

Greetings to one and all from our living room in Leeds, where the pleasant sunshine that accompanied this morning's Easter festivities has given way to more thunderstorms. Also, smoke.

And with that, here's a late-Sunday version of the links from around my sports world.

-- Obviously, the big story of this week was CBS' decision to move Alabama-Auburn (don't call it The Iron Bowl, please -- The Iron Bowl died when the game move out of Birmingham just like Lynyrd Skynyrd was never really the same after the plane crash) to Friday at 1:30 p.m. Like Todd, the more I think about the less I like it.
To be blunt, this sucks. This sucks for the fans that will have to adjust their Thanksgiving travel plans, this sucks for the people who aren't fortunate enough to be able to take that day off to watch the game, this sucks for the state of Alabama's economy, and this especially sucks for the players who will now likely be forced to miss out on Thanksgiving with their families. Yet of all those involved, those that are least affected are unsurprisingly the ones with the most to gain.

Maybe the most nightmarish idea came from my mother today, who pointed out that her normal gameday routine -- drive to Tiger Town, park and ride the trolley to campus -- will likely be an out-and-out disaster, with the normal Black Friday crowds merging with the gameday masses to create something resembling a hellish, angry mob. Also there's the problem of what will happen to those who have high-school games that Friday -- the state semifinals are traditionally that week, and there's simply no way any fan of a particular high school in the semis will be able to attend the state's biggest game and make the playoff matchup. The AHSAA will likely work with the schools, to allow them to play Saturday afternoon or something (they wouldn't play Thanksgiving, would they?), which will be profoundly weird.
It's going to be a problem, let there be no doubt. But, LSU and Arkansas have played the game in this spot the last several years, and their fans make it work. So maybe it won't be a huge deal.

-- Speaking of the AHSAA, the other big story of the week was the state's decision to move the Super 6 out of Birmingham and to Auburn and Tuscaloosa's campus (to save perpetually "disrespected" AU fans the effort, the decision to actually start the process in T-town likely had less to do with its overall awesomeness and more to do with the fact that Auburn has to host the state's biggest event weekend the week before and they probably felt like sparing the city planners the headache). As bad as I feel for Legion Field -- which is like an old, decaying haunted house at this point -- it's genuinely exciting for high school kids. Had I the chance to play at Bryant-Denny Stadium at age 18, I might have actually murdered someone to make it happen.

-- On things related to actual football, Greg McElroy continues to lead the charge for the Tide QBs, not a huge surprise given his (apparent) acumen and experience in the offense. Also, Gentry Estes has the most terrifying thought of the day: Terrence Cody is hungry. If you see him, walk away slowly. Just trust me. Estes also has the skinny on the most recent scrimmage, which wasn't pretty.
If you're interested in a look at spring scrimmages around the country, The Wiz has you covered. And Luke Brietzke can tell you more about Auburn's scrimmage, also.

-- BSR tells us Kenny Stabler is now permanently done in the broadcast booth. As a tribute, here's one of his greatest calls.

(HAHAHA ... yeah!)

-- From the professional ranks, Rashad Johnson is privately improving his draft stock. Everything's already been said about Rashad, but his is a fantastic story, and I hope he has the chance to continue playing football.

-- To baseball, where Alabama dropped another SEC series today, this time at home to LSU. Since SEC play began, 'Bama has won two series -- Georgia and Tennessee -- and lost three -- at Florida, at Ole Miss and LSU. And this weekend they're at Vanderbilt. Something needs to change and change quickly.
On the plus side, the Braves have already won their first two series of the season, even though the bullpen is a giant, terrifying question mark less than a week in (and calling it a question mark is generous, frankly). But the offense is a huge plus so far, particularly Brian McCann, who is on a tear thus far.
The last two seasons have been lost in June. We'll see how things turn out this time around.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

will heath, newspaper columnist: take 3

Once again this week, my column for the Lifestyles section never made it to our paper's Web site — thus, here's the complete version, in blog form. Feel free to tell me how terrible I am; compliments are appreciated, also.

“Always at least one more cold snap left before Easter.”

It’s something I heard a co-worker say the other day, as we were all hunkering down for the cold blast that hit early this week (by the time this column is printed, it’ll be Maundy Thursday and the cold snap will have largely passed on).

I thought about it and it’s absolutely perfect. Every year winter — what little of it actually comes to this part of the world — makes one more last stand after the official start of spring.

Indian winter, or something like it, I suppose.

It’s almost always an ambush for people like my wife, who’d already packed away her winter clothes in favor of lighter wear. Suddenly, the lake’s not so enticing any more, and the slushee machine at the local high school football game has to be unplugged to allow the coffee-maker one more turn in the concession stand.

“Always one more cold snap before Easter.”

One of the most important services to attend every year during the Easter season is Tenebrae, the service of darkness (typically it takes place in most churches on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday).

I often stop short of saying it’s “my favorite” service, and only because poring over the death of Jesus leaves one feeling empty and tremendously guilty. The Scriptures are read, the music turns dissonant, the lights go out and then there’s that cold air … chilling to the bone.

“Always one more cold snap before Easter.”

Ever watch a movie with a happy ending, and still there’s that one gut-wrenching scene right there in the middle?

That’s what Tenebrae is like for me. It’s sad and it’s painful and it makes me wish I could turn my head in anguish … and yet, somehow I always find myself right back there on Good Friday, listening to powerful Scripture about sweat drops like blood and a painful death. It’s frankly the lowest moment I experience in most years.

“Always one more cold snap before Easter.”

When Easter finally gets here, there’s truly nothing like it (and I don’t just mean the crowds inevitably filling every seat and possibly overflowing the aisles). At the church where I grew up, Easter always features a cross made from flowers, a rousing rendition of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and, in closing, the finale of Handel’s “Messiah” (better known as the “Hallelujah Chorus”).

(Note: I do recall being at an Easter service one year when the pastor — one Jim Sanders — experienced technical difficulties with his microphone. Attempting to soldier through them, he finally turned toward the balcony where the sound guys were stationed and pleaded, “C’mon, guys. I’ve been working on this sermon for two months.” You can’t beat Easter, frankly.)

And it’s the promise of Easter that keeps the hopelessness of Tenebrae from being unbearable. Particularly when the weather finally warms up for good.

Maybe that one last cold snap is good for us, after all.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

lost blogging: dead is dead

Welcome back to the "Lost" blog, our unending -- and thus far unsuccessful attempt -- to understand one of television's most bizarre shows. Keep in mind that everything written here is my opinion, and also, SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS.
(All times are, as always, CDT)
UPDATE: For other thoughts on the show, check out TBL and Dr. Jensen. Dr. Jensen, as always, is way, way deeper than am I.

8:01: Richard Alpert, of course, took Ben in to see Jacob. "The Island chooses who the Island chooses." Another reference to fate. Is this tall gent supposed to be Charles Widmore?
8:02: Bear in mind: last week when Richard took him, it meant his memory would be wiped, and he would "never be the same."
Bingo on the Widmore, by the way.
8:03: Recall that when Keamey killed Ben's daughter, Ben said, "He broke the rules."
8:04: "I believe you call it the Monster."
(Break, with the weird music to open the episode)
(Random break note: do I stick around to watch "The Unusuals?" Maybe.)

8:08: Wait ... they're letting Ben just walk around?
8:09: Ben plants the first seeds to turn the new plane-crash survivors against Locke. Clearly, Ben's afraid of Locke for whatever reason.
8:10: Fantastic symmetry -- recall that Ethan was the "survivor" who wasn't actually on the original plane from Season 1.
8:11: I don't speak French, so I'm not sure what's happening in this scene. But I'll take a guess: Ben kidnapped Rousseau's daughter, and gave her the advice she'd heed for the rest of her life.
8:12: Note the similarities here between Ben's office and Charles' office.
8:13: Speaking of "The Elephant In the Room," has anyone ever addressed where the other survivors of the Island are? Where are Desmond, Aeron and Michael? Is the Island really so easily duped?
8:15: Apparently, for the new survivors, the role of Jack is being played by an Hispanic homosexual.
8:16: Another person gets unexpectedly shot for no particular reason. I did NOT see that coming!

8:20: A frightening thought: did someone know these guys were coming back? There was a runway for the plane and the boats were available.
8:21: Theory passed along by the Monster only kills people who don't "belong" on the Island, and lets everyone else go. The pilot who died in Season 1 was supposed to be Frank Lapidus; Mr. Eko was supposed to be his brother; and so forth.
8:22: Flash back to young Ben arguing with younger Charles. Aha! That's the daughter Charles eventually had killed! "Is killing this baby what Jacob wants?"
8:24: Locke and Ben arguing over what the Island wants. Also, Ben is clearly terrified of whatever that shadow is. Or does he already know?
8:26: So in one world, a group of people alive in 2004 are now in 1977, and in another, dead people are coming back to life. This show makes perfect sense.

8:32: As expected, Lapidus is the one who points out the insanity of the situation, and then flees quickly.
Worth asking: what HAPPENED to the rest of the Others? Did they leave? Die off? The Oceanic 6 have only been gone three years. So what happened to them?
8:34: Apparently, at some point, Ben looked an awful lot like the Beaver. Charles Widmore leaving in handcuffs? Really? Another mention of "the rules," this time from Ben. Also note that this is taking place after the DHARMA Purge.
8:35: Charles makes mention of "the inevitable," another nod towards the conflict between fate and choice.
8:37: One never really knows whether Ben is being honest, does he?
Ben makes mention of "something I can't control," about to come out of the jungle, and Locke walks out on cue. Nice.

8:43: If Locke is "the same man I've always been," is that good or bad? Remember, he's the same guy who threw a knife into the back of someone he didn't know back in Season 3.
8:44: So we're right about Ben getting his scratches and scars from attempting to kill Penny.
Flashing forward, it's obvious Ben is terrified of John. And I don't blame him.
8:45: It's the temple, dude!
8:46: A lie. Ben had no part in building the wall. It was there a long time before he ever was.
8:48: Now it all comes full circle. Ben couldn't kill Rousseau because of her baby. And he couldn't hurt Penny for the same reason. Well, that and the fact that he shot Desmond in the groceries, instead of his heart.

8:54: Mmmmmmm ... not sure what's going on here.
8:55: Ben is now lamenting his choice. But was it a choice, or did the Island want her dead? These things are painful.
8:56: What's the relationship between Ben's fall through the concrete and Locke falling to the bottom of the well? At least Ben doesn't have a bone sticking out of his arm.
8:57: Egyptian-looking symbols make a little bit of sense here, given what we know about Richard Alpert and his possibly being some kind of a god.
8:58: Is it possible there's some kind of peyote in the smoke Monster?
8:59: Another ghost, this time the ghost of Alex, Ben's adopted daughter.
9:00: Can you lie to a ghost? Particularly when it's the ghost of your dead daughter, whose death you may or may not have caused?
9:01: In a way, it makes perfect sense for Ben to stay alive. Somehow, that's worse for him than dying.
(End of episode)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tuesday tubing: one shining moment

With the tournament ending much the way it began, here's this year's version of "One Shining Moment," featuring the North Carolina Tarheels ... and, of course, Jim Nantz.

Congrats to the Heels. Great job by you.

Monday, April 6, 2009

live, love, link

Taking a brief break from what is bound to be a busy couple days — here are some links to get you through a Monday.

— Football stuff: first, Nick Saban wants you at A-Day (so you'd better show up); and you SHOULD be there, because you don't want to spoil his good mood; also, 'Bama has another commit for '10. For Auburn stuff, JCCW is your one-stop location; but if you're interested in former AU guys, DC Sports examines the psyche of Jason Campbell.

— On the diamond, 'Bama swept lowly Tennessee with ease this weekend, a big confidence boost for a team that's been in the dumps the past two weeks and is welcoming LSU (and its throngs of leather-lunged fans) this weekend. Also, the Braves picked up great performances from Derek Lowe, Jordan Schafer and Chipper Jones in a win over the defending World Series champs.
Chipper, obviously, is the face of the Braves franchise and has been for some time. He's a franchise success story, a draftee who came up with tons of promise and actually lived up to it, going from "up-and-coming young star" to "sage locker-room veteran." He was brought up a Brave and he'll retire that way. How many guys are left who can say that these days?

— A few other things: 'Bama captured another regional in gymnastics; there's some talk that Anthony Grant will keep Antoine Pettway on staff; and Ronald Steele is starting his march toward the NBA.

— Finally, in state-related news, here's the skinny on the video bingo deal in St. Clair.

— Since it's Championship Monday, here's the highlight of the weekend:

And that's that. Hopefully I'll still be alive to blog again tomorrow.

Friday, April 3, 2009

drying out on Friday, with links

It's a busy weekend in sports -- already, the Jay Cutler Trade has happened, and we've still got the Final 4 and the opening of baseball season coming up. So let's get to it with some links.

-- I kind of feel for Erik at I really (kind of) do. Erik's an Ole Miss grad stuck living in Birmingham; I was stuck in south Georgia for two years (June '03-June '05) and had to put up with constant barking and giant G flags all over the place.
Unfortunately, this week's imagined offseason "controversy" which he helped fuel with this blog post is almost entirely made-up, as confirmed by a real reporter who took the time to call the recruit in question (in a hilarious foot-note, a follow-up post by Erik poking fun at us Bammers for refuting his story was taken down before I could link to it this morning).
Oh well. Get 'em next time champ.

-- Just how busy is this weekend in Tuscaloosa? Try 10 different athletic events on campus, and that's before we even get to the Blue Angels coming to town. In baseball, Tennessee comes to visit this weekend, and tidesports discusses all the ways both teams are struggling at the moment.

-- As Eight in the Box points out, it's all about football now. Students go to work ordering tickets on Monday, and even Senor CFB is fired up, with this post about SEC coaching salaries not going anywhere.
Other football-related things: Luke Brietzke has notes from Auburn practice, and Andre Smith may just be creeping back into the draft's top 10.

-- In hoops, BH discusses Anthony Grant's decision not to retain Phillip Pearson. Also, Mr. SEC talks about UGA's latest hire.

-- Finally, The Wiz re-visits the Logan Young fiasco. Maybe he wasn't the Devil, after all.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

shameless self-promotion

Today's version of is up, and once again my column isn't there because I moved it to Page 2C (for space reasons). Anyway, I'm posting here in its entirety — it's one of those that started with a good idea that never really made it all the way to conception. But that's part of one's evolution as a columnist, I suppose.
Without further ado, the column.

A long-held axiom of life holds that one should never discuss religion or politics in any situation, ever.

It’s a good rule, of course — people tend to lose their collective sense of humor when those two subjects were involved. And they certainly have no sense of humor regarding our nation’s most prominent politicians themselves.

Our current president is learning this the hard way. Recently, President Obama took a night off from the White House, traveling down the street to take in a basketball game between the Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls.

“A basketball game?” you’ve no doubt already sneered. “Doesn’t he have MORE IMPORTANT THINGS to do?”

Our chief executive further angered everyone by going to a taping of Jay Leno’s talk show on NBC (“A talk show? Doesn’t he have MORE IMPORTANT THINGS to do?”) and suggesting he should bowl in the Special Olympics. It was an obvious joke, a reference to his own poor bowling acumen.

Did it stop our collective national outrage? Of course it didn’t — the masses in this country have about as much of a sense of humor as Britney Spears has good taste.

Very few presidents (or politicians of any stripe) understand our country’s (and the world’s) collective sense of outrage than former President George W. Bush, a man who repeatedly attempted to joke with the American public, only to see those jokes fall flat on their faces.

Most famously, Bush delivered an impromptu statement on a golf course (“Golf?! Doesn’t he have MORE IMPORTANT THINGS to do?!”) in which he damned terrorists and enemies of the United States.

Turning back to his golf game, he said, “Now … watch this drive.”

Once again, an attempt to be light-hearted in troubled times fell flat. The moment has since been immortalized in Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” created as a hatchet job against the Bush administration (made by a guy who makes a living by creating hatchet jobs against Republicans in general).

Not sure what happened, but at some point our society completely lost its ability to take a joke (personified by the terror of a few years ago when TV networks were so afraid of Muslim violence they cowed at the thought of showing the prophet Mohammed in a cartoon).

The ink-stained wretches and TV stations are partially to blame for this, obviously – in a world where we increasingly demand our news up to the minute, analysis of each word proceeding out the mouth of a politician (or sports figure) provides fodder for fervent discussion. Even in the last few months, so many Hollywood reporters have pursued Joaquin Phoenix with such passion, they haven’t even realized that he’s basically been pranking them the entire time.

Not that I’m much better — I once walked out of a church service in a huff because the pastor chose to talk politics from behind the pulpit.

I guess I figured we had more important things to do.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Lost" blog: whatever happened, happened

Welcome back to "Lost"-blogging, this blog's ongoing attempt to understand the most confusing show on television. As always, stay away if you fear SPOILERS.

Tonight's episode is titled "Whatever Happened, Happened," and may be focused on the relationship between Kate and Sawyer.
(All times CDT)
-- 8:01: Was there any doubt young Ben would still be alive? And here's a head-scratcher: what if the reason Ben tortured Sayid so thoroughly and went so far out of his way to ruin his life, was that Sayid shot him in the chest when he was little?
(I'm stumped. Time travel makes my head hurt. And possibly my nose bleed, also.)
-- 8:03: There's little doubt the natives are going to get restless and eventually turn on the returnees. Kate's currently talking to Ben's dad. Run! Run! Run!
-- 8:04: Another great theory: what if young Ben's life is saved by Jack and Juliet?
-- 8:05: Flash to Kate driving up to a house in the past/future. What's that song on the radio? And what song is Kate singing?
-- 8:06: Incidentally, what Sawyer (apparently) whispered to Kate in the Season 4 finale was, "I have a daughter in Alberquerque. You've got to find her. Tell her I'm sorry."
-- 8:09: Of course, it took me 'till now to make the connection between Cassidy, Kate and Sawyer. And, of course, Cassidy gets to use Sawyer's catch line.

-- 8:10: Cassidy calls Sawyer "a coward" for failing to come back. Interesting accusation.
-- 8:12: "Because I have to."
-- 8:13: The comedy of Horace Goodspeed's hair is frankly fantastic.
-- 8:14: Apparently, disaster just follows the Oceanic 6 wherever they go. Chaos on the Island, chaos off the Island and now ... yikes.
-- 8:15: Fantastic HD shot of Kate's back tat. Marvelous. Also, Hurley checks in with a "Back to the Future" reference. Hurley's the best. He's like the voice of the fans.
-- 8:16: The conversation about time travel is one we've been waiting to have.
-- 8:17: Jack pulls out a sinister Ivan Drago line as we go to the 2d break.
-- 8:21: Don't forget that Jack isn't the one who believes in destiny. Now either he believes in destiny or he's attempting to circumvent it by inaction. Like the time-travel discussion, this makes my head hurt.
-- 8:22: If you were Juliet, would you think at all of attempting to kill Kate in this scene?
-- 8:23: Random thought: is it just me, or has Evangeline Lily gotten desperately thin? I'm almost positive she used to be prettier than she is now.
-- 8:24: Another lie as Kate says she has no kids. Kate never really tells the whole truth.
-- 8:25: "I guess a boy just needs his mother."
-- 8:26: The current dialogue between Hurley and Miles is like "Who's on First." Frankly, it's a classic. And they just figured out something we've already discerned on our own.
-- 8:27: Another thought: remember how Ben treated Juliet with the whole "you're mine!" routine when she first came to the Island? Now she's considering the idea of turning Ben over to The Others with that robotic flair only she has.
-- 8:33: Perhaps we're about to learn where Ben's alliance to The Others and The Island came from. There's also still a running debate over whether the Isle actually heals anybody.
-- 8:34: Little Aaron wants a juice box. Of course he does. And now he's apparently wandered off.
-- 8:36: The woman who finds him, of course, looks exactly like Claire from behind.
-- 8:37: Sawyer shows up to help. Hey, how old does it make you when you're afraid to sneeze because of how much it hurts your back?
-- 8:42: Back at Cassidy's house. Apparently they're well enough acquainted with one another that Clementine calls her "Auntie Kate."
-- 8:43: Now we're apparently delving into some rather bizarre psychology where Kate used Aaron to fill the void left by not having Sawyer in her life. I'd bet even odds they're going to kiss before the episode ends.
-- 8:45: Sawyer says he's "doing it for her," a very profound statement. Also, Juliet's about to barge in on Jack in the shower: "I needed you."
-- 8:46: So I guess Jack DOES believe in fate now. A shocking turnabout, really.
(break to hug my wife and welcome her home)
-- 8:53: James Spann has removed his coat, ladies and gentlemen. Something bad is afoot.
-- 8:54: Kate apparently confessed everything to Claire's mother. And she responded with her typically terrible Australian accent. One thing though: is Claire really dead? I didn't think she was.
-- 8:55: This makes at least three people off the island who know the whole truth: Cassidy, Claire's mother and Hurley's mom. Who else knows about it, I have no idea. Also, recall Claire's ghost specifically told Kate never to bring him back. Ever.
-- 8:56: Another lie. Kate didn't go back to find Claire. She went back to find Sawyer.
-- 8:57: Still no idea what's the relationship between Kate caring for Aaron and Kate & Sawyer caring for Benjamin.
-- 8:58: Richard Alpert, frankly, is the most mysterious of the Island's characters. He wears eye-liner, never ages and appears to materialize out of thin air.
-- 8:59: So it's Jack's decision NOT to take the boy, which leads Sawyer & Kate to take him to The Others, which leads to Ben becoming an Other. Unless it was Juliet who planned the whole thing all along.
-- 9:00: Jacob's in that cabin! It's Jacob!
Flash-forward to Ben in sick bay after Sun hit him in the head. John Locke: "Welcome back to the land of the living."
(End of episode)