We football fans have got to toss a little credit toward a big target that we can’t miss: KU Jayhawks football coach Mark Mangino.
In just a few seasons, Mangino has built a solid and complete football team down in Lawrence, Kan.
The Jayhawks are dominating on the line, both defensive and offensive, the core competency of any great football team. Who says, you ask? I don’t know, uh—Knute Rockne. (Hey, and he died in Kansas. That’s ironic). But anyone who has seriously played, coached and/or loved the magisterial sport of football knows that a team must dominate on both sides of the line in order to be consistently successful.
This football season, the KU Jayhawks actually look dominant. I think they could actually win the national championship. They went down to College Station, Texas, last weekend and beat a superb Texas A&M team. Former president King George I (George Herbert Walker Bush) was there watching.
Before the game, Bush introduced himself to Coach Mangino. Former and current heads of state should patronize to football coaches.
I listened to most of the game on the radio of a 26-foot U-Haul truck on my way from Missouri to Enid, Okla. The game was broadcast by a Wichita, Kan. radio station, and it came in lovely.
The Jayhawks’ winning score against the Aggies was a low-cal 19-11, but the final score belied the Jayhawks’ domination of Texas A&M. The Jayhawks dominated every aspect of the game on Saturday, well, there was one aspect they didn’t: place-kicking. Mr. Webb, the KU place-kicker, played like a wimpy soccer kid who recently decided to try out as kicker for the football team so he could try to meet chicks. Kicker Webb was the sole nicotine stain on the underpants of that particular Jayhawks football game.
The Jayhawks, who are now 8-0 and ranked eighth this week in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, look like a dominant team. The Jayhawk defense is high-powered and merciless, one of the very best defenses in all the National Collegiate Athletic Association. A football team must have a great defense in order to be a dominant team. Who said that one, you ask? Errr, uh, Vince Lombardi, maybe.
Though the Jayhawks final score was very low-fat, low-flavor, the final score could have been 32-11 because wimpy Webb's two or three should-have-made field goals and one blocked attempt while Brandon McAnderson had a touchdown called back toward the end of the game, which set up Webb’s final floppy field goal fiasco.
When a Jayhawks sports fan, like myself, can look toward their game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers and feel instinctively like the Cornhuskers are going to be playing catch-up against KU and will have to rely on miracles and special big plays to have a chance of winning, then we know the worm has definitely turned for the KU football team.
And Coach Mark Mangino deserves all the credit.
(Dave talks Jayhawks sports with Sooners and Cowboys fans. Send him your football predictions at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ode to the un-neutered cat
The oddest thing happened to my internal body chemistry Friday. Here I must choose my words wisely while setting up the circumstances for the readers, otherwise the whole story will come off sounding like a lame attempt at a lame Halloween ditty.
Halloween ditty this is not. I will recall the details now.
I woke up with a start this past Friday morning at about 6:30 a.m. I was extraordinarily tense, my hands clenched tightly, as I popped awake in a sitting position with the sensation that I was gasping for air. I got out of bed, went to the bathroom, and I looked in the mirror, as I washed and got ready for work. I looked like absolute hell. I was pale; my eyes appeared to be bugged out. The purplish sacks underneath my eyes were so ripe, they looked like plums.
“What the hell is wrong with me,” my mental dialogue with myself went.
The next part is what really freaked me out. Our little vanilla-colored cat, “Miss Kitty,” or “White,” as my four-year-old son calls her, ambled into the bathroom.
“Daddy, give me some whole milk and fresh food right away,” Miss Kitty ordered me.
“What the! Did I just hear Miss Kitty speak to me instead of meowing?,” I asked myself.
Before completely panicking, I quietly sat down and thought about what could be physically happening to me. Then I mentally re-traced several events of the previous day (Thursday):
My 13- and 9-year-old stepsons love playing pranks on their step-dad. On Thursday, the two boys spread Kitty Gourmet processed cat food on bread and then packed the “sandwiches” in my lunch bag, which I took to work and devoured that day at lunch. They were excellent sandwiches, in fact. I remember thinking to myself as I ate them on Thursday that Paula had selected a particularly delightful deviled ham meat spread for my lunch sandwiches.
The owner of one of the local China Buffets really hates me because I once wrote a slightly-negative food review of one of his lunch “specials.” Ever since, the owner gives me the Evil Eye whenever I pass him at Super Wal-Mart or wherever. I ate at his China Buffet on Thursday night. The miffed restaurant owner saw me come in and get seated. The owner had a dung-eating grin on his face when I looked at him through the little rectangular portal to the kitchen behind which generally stands a cook (the window through which the cook will pass servers cooked food).
As I ate a humongous bowl of General Chen’s Ancient Chinese Secret Noodles (w/ meat), I had the odd but very palpable perception that some of the very deeply-fried chunks of “meat” in my noodles were not chicken, pork or beef—or fish. I reminded myself that this particular China Buffet sits literally right next door to one of the local veterinarian’s offices. No joke. This particular veterinarian is a Republican and is very financially conservative. He’s incredibly frugal. No, that understates the case, the dude is tight as bark on a tree. He hates spending money on animal anesthetics and paying for disposal costs.
I worried all day on Friday that there was something seriously wrong with my health. How in the world could I actually hear a cat talk—in English?
Well, Friday evening after dark, I was taking an evening stroll, hoping the fresh air and brisk exercise would center me. I was walking down the alley behind The Landmark, and I heard the most high-pitched, terrifying screech. My eyes, which strangely could see in the dark, zoomed in on the source of the screech: a very large, very menacing-looking black cat. The cat was 100 percent black, and black as ink. The black cat’s eyes and my eyes met in the dark. The cat’s eyes were green.
The cat told me his name was Scar. That he was the king of all feral, un-neutered cats inside the city limits of Platte City. Scar told me that yes he was the same un-neutered cat that Landmark publisher Ivan Foley espied riding on a motorcycle on Platte City’s Main St. the other day.
Scar was not only un-neutered, I observed as he regally pranced around the alley while speaking to me, his feline reproductive goods swung and spun in the wind like the late Jerry Litton’s champion bull, Sam.
“Scar, why are you not yet neutered? As a leader of cats, is it not irresponsible to continue impregnating single female cats who have not the means to care for their kittens? Aren’t you aggravating the social problems of homeless, un-neutered cats?” I asked Scar.
“It’s my body, my choice,” replied Scar. “I have the right, as a male, to ensure the viability of my seed—to extend my line. I owe it to my ancient ancestors, who were house pets of the Pharaohs of Egypt, by the way.”
“Shouldn’t you think of the potential negative consequences before you have your fun with the scores of unspoken-for young female cats in Platte City?” said I.
“It’s all basic instinct with this kind of thing,” said Scar. “These lady cats actually instinctively want to become pregnant with my kitty because I am strong and powerful and can forage for food, by dumpster diving, and these lady cats instinctively understand that having my kitty will better ensure the survival of their cat clan,” Scar elaborated.
“What about the financial burden that your bastard, homeless, un-neutered kittens and cats place on the taxpayers of Platte City?” I asked.
“This mighty nation called the United States can waste a trillion dollars on an unjustified, disastrous war in Iraq, a war which is just a big lie, and it cannot afford universal health insurance for homeless cats?” Scar asked in reply.
The cat had truly got my tongue.
Scar had the gift of gab.
(Dave Kinnamon samples exotic meats at his Oklahoma home. Email him your stir-fry recipe at email@example.com)
The Tony G. Universal Health Care Plan
Tony Gonzalez is a champion in every respect. Every resident of the Kansas City metropolitan area, every Kansas City Chiefs fan, every rabid football enthusiast should, this week, toast Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez.
We should feel tremendous civic pride that Tony G. is ours—that he is a career member of the Kansas City Chiefs football club. Tony G. has been a member of the Chiefs since he was drafted by them in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft. Tony is currently in his 10th season as a Chief. His five-year contract extension with the Chiefs, signed in January of this year, virtually guarantees that he will retire as a Chief and will someday enter the National Football League Hall of Fame as a Chief.
Tony G.’s raw athleticism is a wonderment to excite all fans of all sports. He possesses the raw physical gifts to be the 21st Century’s answer to Jim Thorpe, who, of course, was the great Decathalete and professional football player who broke Dwight Eisenhower’s leg in a college football game. Tony G. is 6 feet, 5 inches tall, about 252 pounds, and he’s very fit, very strong and very lean. His vertical leap is incredibly high, as his trademark end zone slam dunks of the football over the horizontal bar of the uprights demonstrate. He’s also very speedy, with quick feet.
Tony was an All-American football tight end and linebacker at his high school in Orange County. His statistics were better in football—at both the high school and university level—but a watcher easily derives the impression that Tony greatly prefers basketball over football. He even admitted to the media that as a kid he “hated” football. Yet, Tony G. has devoted his adult life to football, and he has done so in an exemplary, give-it-all-ya got manner.
He once said that his only goal in the National Football League was not to set records but simply to do the very best he was capable.
Three days ago, at Arrowhead Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals, Gonzalez set the new NFL record for career touchdown receptions, at 62 touchdown receptions, by catching a 3-yard strike from Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard that put the Chiefs up 10-7. That same day, Gonzalez later raised his own record to 63 touchdown catches by scoring on a 26-yard strike in the second half. Gonzalez, as has been his history, was humble and low key about his magnificent athletic accomplishment.
“I’m glad. But honestly and most importantly, the thing that makes it sweet is that we went out and won. That’s the most important thing,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez’s 759 catches and 9,150 receiving yards by a tight end are the nearing best ever in league history, plus he set an NFL record for 102 receptions in a season in 2004 – league leader for all receiver positions and also amassed 1,258 receiving yards.
This man is a true competitor, a champion and an all-around “winner.”
You can tell that Tony cares about other people. He founded the Tony Gonzalez Foundation and through it he gives of his time, care and money. He started a program to encourage reading among adolescents—youth reading is always a fantastic idea. Gonzalez loves to visit very sick children in the hospital and give them “Shadow Buddy” dolls to lift their spirits and to encourage them.
A few years ago, when Tony G. accidentally plowed into a photojournalist on the sideline, knocking down the man, whose head slammed backward against the ground—which caused the man to break into spontaneous epileptic-type convulsions—Tony G. was so worried about the man that he sent flowers to his hospital room and, if I remember correctly, actually visited the photojournalist in the hospital. It turned out that the hit from Tony G. was a great medical blessing for the photojournalist because the man had a brain tumor that he wasn’t aware of until the sideline impact. The impact of Tony G. apparently caused the tumor to move around in such a way that it triggered convulsions in the man, which is the only reason why doctors decided to do a brain scan, which allowed them to discover the brain tumor.
Tony G. can spear me in my big round noggin any day of the week because I don’t have health insurance. If I have a brain disorder, what better diagnostic procedure than getting slammed in the head by the best tight end in the NFL? Lord knows, Tony’s target would be big enough, and Hillary Clinton could adopt a Tony G. Universal Health Insurance Plan during her self-promotional talks, speeches and love-ins.
(Ivan Foley’s neutered cat-like reflexes allow him to nimbly miss being speared by Tony Gonzalez while Ivan does his summer ritual as a photojournalist covering Chiefs training camp up in River Falls, Wisconsin. On the other hand, send Dave Kinnamon an emailed reminder to start hitting the gym at UMKC again at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Tony G. Universal Health Care Plan
On this day, in 1973, Spiro T. Agnew resigned the office of the vice president of the United States.
Agnew was only the second vice president to resign the office. The first was John C. Calhoun, a states’ rights Southerner from South Carolina, who resigned as Vice President in 1832 in order to serve in the U.S. Senate, a more powerful and influential office then and today.
Agnew was the only vice president in American history to be charged with and plead no contest to a felony criminal offense while sitting in office. Agnew pleaded no contest to income tax evasion just prior to his resignation on Oct. 10, 1973. Agnew received three years’ unsupervised probation and was required to pay the federal government $160,000 in back income taxes.
His name is Greek, by the way. Spiro is a Greek first name while “Agnew” is a truncation of Anagnostopoulos. Agnew’s father was a Greek immigrant; his mother a native American.
Agnew’s rise in politics was meteoric. Between 1962 and 1968, Agnew went from county executive of Baltimore County to Vice President of the United States, with one term as governor of Maryland in between.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating Agnew during President Richard M. Nixon’s and Agnew’s first term in office (1969-1973). Agnew was investigated for having received bribes from state contractors while he served as the governor of Maryland.
By 1973, the U.S. Attorney General was ready to charge Agnew with around 18 counts of felony bribery.
In Los Angeles, in the summer of 1973, pumped up by a friendly meeting of the National Federation of Republican Women, Spiro Agnew defiantly yelled, “I will not resign if indicted!”
Agnew became a national household word as Veep by pioneering such anti-Liberalist phrases as “nattering nabobs of negativism” and “effete corps of impudent snobs.” Agnew especially hated the press, and the press was all too happy to frequently and thoroughly report about Agnew’s pending felony criminal charges and his frequent verbal gaffes and disagreements with Nixon and high-level members of the Nixon Administration.
Agnew’s fast rise in national politics deserves serious treatment by historians. Agnew was the son of a Greek immigrant, and he served in Europe during World War 2. Under the G.I. Bill, Agnew earned a law degree from the University of Baltimore night school while working at a grocery store and as an insurance salesman. Before the War, Agnew studied chemistry for three years at Johns Hopkins University.
Agnew practiced law in a law firm for about 13 years prior to winning election as county executive and then served the one term as governor before being elected on the Republican ticket to vice president.
Interestingly, federal investigators believed that Agnew continued to receive bribes while sitting as Vice President of the United States. Perhaps Congress needs to raise the Vice President’s annual salary up from $198,600 per year? Agnew and Dick Cheney have shown us that the vice president just doesn’t get rich enough while sitting in office. We don’t want our VP to be destitute when they leave office.
(Dave never fails to report all his income sources to the IRS. Send him the forgotten W-2s at email@example.com)
Good thing for the country that Gen. Pace was put out to pasture
Respectful toasts this week to Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, who had the wise management skills and principled leadership to persuade Pres. George W. Bush not to re-nominate Marine Gen. Peter Pace to a second consecutive two-year term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Robert Gates had the wisdom and backbone to force Pace into an earlier-than-Pace-desired retirement.
Roberts Gates is a straight-talking man from Wichita, Kansas, and we tend to love straight-talkers—a la Harry Truman—here in the Midwest.
Gates has only been on the job since January, and he appears to be doing well so far.
By the time the U.S. Senate re-convened in January of this year, following its winter holiday recess, our distinguished U.S. senators were so eager to sack Dr. Strangelove (a/k/a Donald Rumsfeld) as Secretary of Defense, our distinguished senators probably would have readily confirmed PFC Gomer Pyle, USMC, as the next Secretary of Defense, if only just to provide some quick antidotes to the pestiferous influences of arguably the worst “SecDef” in our nation’s history.
Our senators were that desperate to get rid of Rumsfeld: For the country’s sake. For the sake of every U.S. serviceman and woman and their families’ and loved ones’ sakes.
Donald Rumsfeld is, of course, the military version of a Keystone Kop, who steered our nation into an unbelievable catastrophe in Iraq—a catastrophe that I believe will go down as one of the greatest military blunders in human history. Donald Rumsfeld is the quality of man who retired Army General and former Anti-Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey frequently and very recently (on National Public Radio) described as “unbelievably arrogant” and “incompetent.”
Pace’s dismissal as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is good riddance.
Pace was yet another in a long line of head-nodding yes-men who blindly supported Pres. Bush and Rumsfeld in whatever bad policies they desired to pursue. Like a corrupt accountant for Enron, Pace and his ilk made the numbers fit the desired outcome.
Also, Pace has some seriously outdated views for a military leader of the 21st century. He told the press, in March, “I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral, and that we should not condone immoral acts.”
Pace went on to discuss his allegiance to the Catholic Church and his deeply-held Catholic religious views as justification for his anti-gay remarks. His preachy-sounding comments sounded more like a right wing televangelist than one of the nation’s top military leaders, a position in which he is charged with executing the laws, orders and policies handed down to him by the nation’s lawmakers. Pace, just like his mentor and good buddy Rumsfeld, is unbelievably arrogant.
During questioning last week by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Pace defended his comments back in March, to Sen. Tom Harkins (D-Iowa) by comparing his personal views against homosexuality to the military policy against fornication. Sounding like a sniveling schoolboy who can’t stand being told he was wrong, Pace told the Senate committee that military servicemen and women who have sex outside of marriage are also doing so against the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and that he, as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is against sex outside of marriage by U.S. servicemembers.
Sec. of Defense Robert Gates did a very good thing in firing Peter Pace, the Rumsfeld/Bush crony. Based on his comments last week, Pace would do well to take a vow of celibacy, move to Rome and live with a bunch of holy cattle in a barn on the Vatican grounds.
(Dave waxes militaristic at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Everyone is really their own shopkeeper
Some really smart economist should conduct an economic/sociologic study of the phenomenon of garage sales in America.
If done right and written well, the economist could probably win a Nobel Prize in Economics.
I began reflecting on garage sales in America, as a unique phenomenon, about six years ago shortly after I married my wife. Not long after tying the knot, I began to observe for the first time how much my wife and other local women adore going to garage sales. Usually on Saturday mornings, but any day of the week will do for these garage-sale-loving women.
In preparation for a move into a different house, my wife held a garage sale about three weeks ago. She advertised in the newspaper (great idea!), told friends and family, and put “Garage Sale” signs out in the yard. Then, at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning, she shook my shoulder and asked me, nay, ordered me to help her place the many card tables, stacked with neatly folded and sorted clothes and such, in neat rows out on the driveway.
Paula did a wonderful, wonderful job on our pre-move garage sale, collecting several hundred dollars. The garage sale was such a success that she decided to have another one the following weekend, and then again, the weekend after that.
This past weekend, Paula was so wise and savvy about the whole garage sale business she did not even advertise in the newspaper. Paula noticed that the lady neighbor directly across the street had been bitten by the garage sale bug and had advertised for her own garage sale to be held this past Saturday. Why go to the expense of a classified ad, if you can let someone else’s ad draw ‘em into the neighborhood?
Well, it worked marvelously. Beginning about 6 a.m. on Saturday, people began driving up to the neighbor’s garage sale, saw our garage sale signs and items for sale, and then came came over to our garage sale. Paula raked in a couple of hundred dollars for about three hours of work on Saturday morning.
American women take their garage sales very seriously.
I walked outside again about 6 a.m. on Saturday, and a mini-van was doing a very slow drive-by. It kind of startled me, making me wonder if I had failed to pay off a mafia loan shark in a previous life. As soon as the lady driver of the mini-van saw me walking out to my driveway, she gunned her engine severely and sped off down our street, around the corner, and out of sight.
“Garage sale ladies like to be the first to arrive so they get their pick of the merchandise,” was my wife’s answer to my wonderment over the mini-van reconnaissance.
I sat outside with my wife for about 30 minutes on Saturday morning, but I really just didn’t feel comfortable. Middle-aged grandmas were walking up with their daughters and holding up some of my son’s old clothes and wind-jackets and things and saying things like, “This would fit Bubba real good,” and “I think Jojo would like these here pants.”
I really did not know the correct garage sale-ese to speak to these garage sale ladies. So, I left them to my wife’s charm and salesmanship and went back inside for some quality sleep.
(Email Dave your garage sale memories at email@example.com)
Kay Barnes train chug-chugging away
It was virtually impossible to ignore the metaphor in Kansas City on Monday.
Our heavy-handed, seeming-know-it-all vice president, Dick Cheney, came swooping down onto Downtown Airport with his huge taxpayer-financed entourage. They crossed the Missouri River and ascended the Kansas City river bluffs and entered the majestic Downtown Marriott (Allis Plaza) Hotel, which commands a complete view of all of downtown Kansas City, the West Bottoms and the Riverside flats and levee district.
Cheney’s purpose was to—for the second time in the past few years—raise campaign money for Missouri 6th District Congressman Sam Graves. It’s very fitting that Graves would go begging to Cheney for bucks because Graves has been the textbook perfect Yes!-Man for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for the past 6 ½ years. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, the saying goes.
Meanwhile, Kay Waldo Barnes, the popular former mayor of Kansas City, was holding her own pre-election rally at Chappell’s Restaurant, a casual sports restaurant on Armour Rd. in North Kansas City.
The metaphor was then complete. Graves links up with his boy Cheney, former CEO of Halliburton and board member of Enron, as Cheney is whisked into the grand and glorious Downtown Marriott to speak mostly to a small and exclusive group of very wealthy Republicans.
Barnes, a daughter of the middle class, casually links up with her supporters and contributors at a laid back, come-as-you-are sports pub in a working class section of the metro.
Both sides say they raised over $200,000 from Monday’s rallies.
Monday’s metaphor truly illustrated the huge chasm in American society today: The humongous masses of middle and working classes—who pay most of the taxes—on the other side of the river, down the hill and without the grand view, versus the very small, very wealthy Republican elite, who dodge taxes, and who wear the crown of being George W. Bush’s self-described “base,” which roughly translates to “the class of people that Bush mostly cares about” because they are rich, and he is rich, and he, like they, wants to get richer.
It will be interesting and a bit exciting the next year and two months to observe how much cross-over Republican support and Independent support that Barnes receives in her bid to unseat Graves, a Congressman who has shown no new thinking, ideas nor initiatives and has blindly gone along with the George W. Bush administration.
I wonder aloud how many Republican women in the 6th District will vote for Barnes in November 2008 because Barnes represents the type of woman political leader that they sincerely respect and admire.
(Send Dave your own take at firstname.lastname@example.org)