Husker Hot Takes – 7/28/2014

28 Jul source: pic2fly.com

Before we turn our attention to the flood of coach speak and clichés from Big Ten media days in Chicago, let’s review some of the things in the news recently:

1. College Football country is in a Watch List warning.

July is the time when every college football award puts out their preseason watch list.  The Huskers were well represented with Ameer Abdullah, Randy Gregory, and Kenny Bell (among others) making a list.  Personally, I’ve always thought watch lists were rather silly.  The lists aren’t exactly exclusive:  do we really need to watch 53 running backs for the Doak Walker Award?  That is over 40% of the starting running backs in FBS.  Nor is the award limited to the preseason candidates – Jameis Winston won the 2013 Walter Camp Award, but he wasn’t on the watch list.  And there are the curious or obligatory choices:  no disrespect to Mark Pelini, but I’m pretty sure it is a Rimington Award bylaw that Nebraska’s starting center be placed on their watch list.

About the only good thing watch lists do is help pass the time until the season starts.

2.  Attention recruits:  Nebraska is not one big cornfield (and the people are nice too!)

Nebraska recently put out a new video aimed at recruits:

I don’t follow recruiting very closely, but I know a lot of recruits and current players start out under the impression that Memorial Stadium is in the middle of a cornfield.  Before kickoff, they have to shoo the cattle off the field and everybody drives a tractor to class.  You and I may think that perception is silly (and an indictment on our nation’s social studies education) but it exists.  Even if a recruit doesn’t believe that himself, he’s probably hearing it from his buddies – or from coaches at other schools.

The other major theme is that we have nice people in Nebraska.  I’m not sure if that is relevant because people are jerks everywhere else, or if saying “you will be recognized and treated like a celebrity here” is an NCAA violation.  Regardless, I like hearing nice things from Nebraska’s student-athletes, and hopefully the peer-to-peer message hits home.

I really like this video.  It addressed a major issue  head on.  Break down the cornfield myth and show that Lincoln is a vibrant city with more to do than many other college towns.  Best of all, it shows that somebody in North Stadium is listening to the concerns of recruits/parents and is doing something about it.  This video probably won’t be what sways Johnny Fivestar to put on the Nebraska cap at his hat ceremony, but it won’t hurt NU’s chances.

3.  Pat Fitzgerald thinks Nebraska is “boring”.

First off, let’s keep in mind that Fitzgerald’s remarks were a) said at a booster event, and b) meant to inspire Wildcat fans to not allow another Nebraska takeover in October.  As booster function smack talk goes, Fitz’s “boring” comment is pretty mild.  Tim Miles says worse things about Creighton in most of his press conferences.

And let’s address the elephant in the room:  Nebraska, as a whole, is kind of boring.  That’s not a slap at The Good Life, it’s just acknowledging that many parts of our great state do not have round the clock excitement – especially once you get west of Lincoln.   It is what it is, and I believe that most Nebraskans wouldn’t have it any other way.

But back to Fitzgerald…Now, I’m assuming that for his comparison, he is considering Northwestern as a part of Chicago, and not as a part of the suburb of Evanston (population 75,430) or the rest of Illinois.  Because having traveled in and through Illinois many times over the years, I can attest that Illinois west of Chicago looks identical to Nebraska west of Lincoln – a lot of farmland, open spaces, and other things that some consider “boring”.  Heck, I’m not even sure Fitzgerald would Evanston itself up against Lincoln.  I haven’t made it to very many Big Ten campuses yet, but from what I know, I’d put Lincoln up against many of them in terms of things to do.

Here is a completely off the top of my head (and probably wildly inaccurate) list of B1G campus towns.  I’m talking about the actual town itself, not the metro area or any cities within a 50 mile radius (i.e. Minnesota gets St. Paul, but not Minneapolis).  From sizzlin’ to snoozin’.

  1. Columbus, OH
  2. Madison, WI
  3. St. Paul, MN
  4. Lincoln, NE
  5. Ann Arbor, MI
  6. Bloomington, IN
  7. Evanston, IL
  8. Iowa City, IA
  9. East Lansing, MI
  10. Champaign, IL
  11. College Park, MD
  12. Piscataway, NJ
  13. West Lafayette, IN
  14. State College, PA

Obviously, we’re looking at the 30 mile radius from campus, Northwestern is probably at the top of the list.  But Nebraska would still be closer to the top than to the bottom.

Bottom line:  If you were truly offended by what Pat Fitzgerald said, the best way to get revenge is to be wearing red in Evanston (or better yet, inside Ryan Stadium) on October 18.

4.  When will Nebraska play dress up?

There is all sorts of speculation on if Nebraska will wear alternative uniforms in 2014 (of course they will), when they will be revealed (likely in the next 10 days), and what game they’ll be worn (my guess is at Wisconsin).  For me, biggest drama is if this is the year they put something besides the sans-serif “N” on the side of the helmet, and if adidas will give Nebraska something truly unique and beautiful, or if they’ll give them a cookie cutter alternative like they have done in the past.

While we’re on the subject of messing with the traditional uniform, I wonder if Nebraska would ever replace the red elements on the helmet with pink for breast cancer awareness month?  We’ve seen a lot of players sporting pink accessories the last few Octobers, a pink “N” and pink stripe would certainly be bold and attention-getting for a program that seems to embrace viral buzz.

5.  A skeleton from NU’s mascot closet is unearthed for the Internet’s amusement.

A picture of one of Nebraska’s old mascots has been making the rounds on Twitter.  The picture is usually accompanied by some joke about the nightmares that will follow viewing this image.

Still better than some of the old Herbies.

Admittedly, that’s not exactly the pinnacle of mascots, even if it was 60 years ago.  (Haters of Lil’ Red or polo shirt Herbie Husker can insert their own jokes here).  But I don’t mind him.  If you check out this page, you’ll notice that cob headed friend is better than some of the other mascots in school history.  Besides, this guy (what was he known as?  Kernel Husker?) is still better than either of the paper mache Petes (Purdue Pete or Pistol Pete at Okie State).

Greatest Huskers, By the Numbers: 9 – 1 (Z)

25 Jul Huskers 1-99

This is my countdown of the greatest Nebraska Cornhuskers to wear each jersey number, 1-99.  For background on the project, click here.  We’re going to start at #99 and work our way down to #1.  For each number, I’ll list the best player to wear that number, some of the other memorable Huskers to don that jersey, as well as a personal favorite of mine.

This is it.  The final ten*.  The single digit club is made up of quarterbacks (including a Heisman Trophy winner), cornerbacks, I-Backs, and a miscellaneous blend of wingbacks, receivers, and kickers.

*Actually, there are only nine.  My research could not uncover any Nebraska football player who ever wore the number 0 or 00.  

And more than probably any other group in the countdown, 9 – 1 contains guys who despite solid (if not outstanding) careers, were never fully embraced by Husker fans, cautionary tales, and talk of a curse.

9

Best Player:  Steve Taylor, Quarterback, 1985 – 1988
Other notables:  Gary Russell
Personal Favorite:  Taylor

Comments:  Throughout the countdown, we’ve talked about players who were ahead of their time.  Guys who could be lifted out of their era and land successfully in today’s game.  Steve Taylor is one of those guys.

Taylor had good speed and elusive moves as a runner (over 2,000 career rush yards and a then single game record 157 yards against Utah State in 1987).  But Taylor does not always receive enough credit as a passer.  Certainly, many remember his impressive line against #3 UCLA (10-15, 217 yards, five touchdowns).  But having been away from an option offense for more than ten years, can we really appreciate what a five passing touchdown day would have looked like in Osborne’s ground offense?

In case you thought the UCLA game was a fluke, Taylor added a four TD performance against Mizzou in the same season, which helped him earn All America honors.  I’d love to see what somebody with Taylor’s skill set would look like in one of today’s spread offenses.

8

Best Player:  Tyrone Williams, Cornerback, 1993 – 1995
Other notables:  Ameer Abdullah, Tyrone Byrd
Personal Favorite:  Ameer Abdullah, I-Back, 2011 – 2014

Comments: Tyrone Williams was an excellent cover corner. Strong and fast, he matched up against some excellent receivers during his NU career and usually came out on top. He received honors after each of his three seasons at NU: Big 8 Defensive Newcomer in 1993 and All Big 8 in 1994 and 1995.  He may not be in the first tier of great Husker cornerbacks, but he’s definitely in the next group.

Ameer Abdullah is everything you could want in a college running back. Breakaway speed, raw power, good vision and agility, and a warrior-like toughness to play through injuries. When Abdullah arrived on campus he was not as highly regarded as fellow recruits Aaron Green and Braylon Heard. Yet, Abdullah is poised to finish his Husker career near the top of the all-time rushing chart. Off the field, Abdullah is a bright kid who understands the importance of education. His statement announcing his decision to come back for his senior season should be required reading for all student athletes.

7

Best Player:  Eric Crouch, Quarterback, 1998 – 2001
Other notables:  Scott Frost, Demorrio Williams
Personal Favorite:  Crouch

Comments:  Nebraska’s most recent Heisman Trophy winner is one of the most electrifying athletes to ever play at Nebraska. Sprinter fast, Crouch was a threat to score from anywhere on the field. He carried the 2001 team to the National Championship game (Seriously. Crouch almost has as many rushing yards at team leader Dahrran Diedrick and his two best receivers were Wilson Thomas and Tracey Wistrom. Not exactly Rozier and Fryar – or even Phillips and Muhammad).

One of the themes within this set of numbers is talented players who were never fully embraced by Husker fans. The number 7 has two primary examples in Crouch and Scott Frost. The primary reason, in my opinion, was a perceived lack of loyalty to the program. Frost famously chose Stanford and Bill Walsh over Nebraska out of high school, before coming home. Crouch had to be convinced to return to campus during a heated QB controversy with Bobby Newcombe. Personally, I think these reasons are stupid.  I’d wager at least a third of the guys in this countdown have been homesick, changed their mind, or reacted poorly to disappointing news. I care more about their on-field production (a National Championship for Frost and a Heisman for Crouch) than a harmless decisions made by a teenager.

6

Best Player:  Keith Jones, I-Back, 1984 – 1987
Other notables:  Sammy Sims
Personal Favorite:  
Darin Erstad, Punter, 1994

Comments:  The original “End Zone” Jones, Keith was a very successful back at Nebraska.  An injury to Doug DuBose made him a starter his junior season, and he never looked back, leading the Big 8 with 830 yards and 14 touchdowns en route to All Big 8 honors.  The speedy I-Back, another product of the Omaha Central pipeline, had a big encore as a senior.  He put up 1,232 yards and another 13 TDs, picking up all conference honors again.  Jones left NU third on the all-time rushing list.

I remember hearing that Darin Erstad was going to join the football team as a punter.  At the time, I thought it was odd that the best baseball player at Nebraska was going to be a punter and not a “skill” player, but Erstad proved quite skilled.  He averaged over 42 yards a kick, made some PATs, and a couple of field goals.  I wholeheartedly believe he does not receive nearly enough recognition for his role in the 1995 Orange Bowl.  But let’s be honest, he’s on this list for one reason:  Double Extra Point!

5

Best Player:  DeJuan Groce, Cornerback, 1999 – 2002
Other notables:  None
Personal Favorite:  
Jammal Lord, Quarterback, 2000 – 2003

Comments:  DeJuan Groce was a good cornerback.  Not great – or at least not as great as some of the others on this list – but good enough to be a multi-year starter and second team All Big XII selection as a senior.  But make no mistake, DeJuan Groce is not on this list for his work in the secondary.  Groce is here because he is one of the best return men in school history, trailing only Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers in punt return yards and touchdowns.  In his senior year, Groce racked up a school record 732 yards on punt returns and scored four touchdowns, including two against Troy State.  For his efforts as a return man, Groce was named All Big XII and All America as a return specialist.

I liked Jammal Lord.  I thought he was a talented athlete who made a pretty decent quarterback.  Unfortunately, he is another player whose career is not fully appreciated by Husker fans.  Why?  Lord had two big strikes against him:  1) he followed a Heisman Trophy winner, and 2) he was the quarterback of the 2002 team that broke the 9-win streak.  Like many Husker QBs in the Osborne/Solich era, Lord was definitely more of a runner (1,412 yards rushing in 2002) than a passer (48% career passer, more interceptions than touchdowns).  Lord racked up big numbers (234 rushing yards against Texas), but did not always make the play in crunch time (he threw an interception that ended that Texas game).  Regardless, I believe that had he been surrounded with better talent, Lord would be remembered more fondly.

4

Best Player:  Lavonte David, Linebacker, 2010 – 2011
Other notables:  Larry Asante, Troy Dumas, Tim Jackson
Personal Favorite:  
David

Comments:  One of the best linebackers in school history, Lavonte David is on the short list with Mike Rozier for the best Junior College transfer in school history.  David appeared to be as fast going sideline to sideline as he was going straight ahead.  Combine that with his ability to detect plays before anybody else, and it is no wonder he racked up so many tackles in his two year career.  As a junior, he set a single season record with 152 tackles.  He followed that with 133 more as a senior.  To put that in perspective, Lavonte David played in 27 games as a Blackshirt.  In 14 of those games, he recorded ten or more tackles.

David racked up the honors in his two years.  Big XII Defensive Player of the Year, Big XII Defensive Newcomer of the Year, All Big XII, All Big 10, Big 10 Linebacker of the Year, All-American, and finalist for the Butkus, Lott, and Bednarik  Trophies.

In my years of watching Nebraska football, I’ve seen some outstanding linebackers.  Barrett Ruud.  Ed Stewart.  Demorrio Williams.  Trev Alberts.  Terrell Farley.  But I’m not sure if any of them were better than David.  He always seemed to either make the tackle, or be within 5 yards of the ball carrier.  And he had a knack for making a big play when Nebraska needed it the most – especially his stop, strip, and recovery of Braxton Miller in the 2011 Ohio State game.

3

Best Player:  Keyuo Craver, Cornerback, 1998 – 2001
Other notables:  Matt Davison, Tyrone Legette, Taylor Martinez, Daimion Stafford, Dean Sukup
Personal Favorite:  
Taylor Martinez, Quarterback, 2009 – 2013

Comments:  Keyuo Craver was another terrific cornerback from an era of great secondary players.  Craver wasn’t especially big (he was listed at 5’11”, 190 pounds), but he was fast, athletic, and always around the ball.  He ended his career second all time in pass breakups and first in career tackles among cornerbacks.  Craver was also a special teams standout, blocking four kicks and scoring two touchdowns.

As a senior, Craver was All Big XII, All-America, and was a semi-finalist for several national awards.

Ah Taylor Martinez. Has there been a more polarizing player in Nebraska history? The freshman phenom who burst onto the scene with long touchdown runs was a sight to behold. Then injuries hit, and he was arguably never the same. His image probably took a bigger beating than his body, as he took heat for calling his dad from the locker room during a game, being careless with the football, body language that made him appear aloof, and his interesting relationship with the local media. And yet, he holds darn near every record that a NU quarterback can hold – including some involving turnovers.  He was a player who could make you say “Oh my God!” for both good and bad reasons.

There will probably never be another T-Magic.  While I’m guessing that’s okay for many fans, I think it is a little sad too.

2

Best Player:  Jeff Krejci, Safety, 1978 – 1981
Other notables:  None
Personal Favorite:  
T.J. Hollowell, Linebacker, 2001 – 2003

Comments:  Jeff Krejci is poster child for the Nebraska walk-on program.  A Nebraska kid from a small town (Schuyler), he walked on to Nebraska in 1978, and was buried on the depth chart.  Through hard work and perseverance, he worked his way up and saw enough playing time to earn a couple of varsity letters.  As a senior, he became a full time starter at safety and was good enough to be named All Big 8, and earn a shot at the NFL.  A Nebraska football history site named Krejci to its All Time Walk-On Team.

I’ll admit that Hollowell is a bit of stretch as a personal favorite.  That is no disrespect to T.J., who was a part of one of Nebraska’s greatest linebacking trios (Hollowell, Barrett Ruud, and Demorrio Williams).  But when I think of Hollowell, I remember him more as a #17 (his number for his first two years in Lincoln) than a #2, but my other options for the duece were limited.  Regardless, T.J. was a good player whose career I enjoyed watching.

Number 2 is littered with guys who came in with hype but never made a significant impact:  Major Culbert, Mike Demps, Aaron Green, Lazarri Middleton, Patrick Witt, just to name a few.

1

Best Player:  Lawrence Phillips, I-Back, 1993 – 1995
Other notables:  Dale Klein
Personal Favorite:  
Phillips

Comments:  Lawrence Phillips stands alone in Husker history.  Many have said he is the best I-Back to ever play at Nebraska – even ahead of Heisman winner Mike Rozier.  But he also stands alone as the person who did the most damage to Nebraska’s reputation.  Let’s start by focusing on his on-field accomplishments.

Phillips had a strong freshman year, contributing in a number of games.  But 1994, his sophomore season, was something special.  With Tommie Frazier and Brook Berringer out with injuries, everybody knew L.P. was Nebraska’s biggest threat.  Playing at #16 Kansas State, with walk-on Matt Turman at QB, Phillips had 31 carries for 126 yards and a touchdown – all while nursing a thumb injury.  In 1994, he racked up 11 straight 100 yard games, was All Big 8, and finished 8th in the Heisman voting.  His 1995 season got off to an even better start:  359 yards on 34 carries (10.5 yard average) with seven touchdowns in two games.

But when you talk about Lawrence Phillips, you have to talk about his off the field issues. The arrest. The suspension. The impact his reinstatement had on Osborne and the rest of the program. His additional legal issues in the NFL and beyond.  Bernie Goldberg digging for dirt and painting Nebraska as a “win at all costs” school.  We can debate if Nebraska has ever gotten past the damage Phillips did to the program’s reputation.  I think they have, only because the losing in the Solich and Callahan years became a bigger story.  But you know that should a Husker ever be arrested for violence against a woman, the name Lawrence Phillips will be brought up.

I have watched every Nebraska I-Back since the early 80s, and there have been some greats: Rozier, Ahman, Helu, Abdullah, Keith and Calvin Jones, and so many more. And yet, I truly believe the greatest back I have ever watched – regardless of team – is Lawrence Phillips. I also have no doubt that had the night of September 9, 1995 gone differently, L.P. would have won the Heisman Trophy over Tommie Frazier and Eddie George.

Also, no discussion of the #1 jersey at Nebraska would be complete without mentioning this brilliant (and extremely well-researched) piece where Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald explores the curse of the #1 jersey.

Previous:  19 – 10

Start Over:  99 – 90

 

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(Author’s note:  Wondering why there is a random letter in parentheses in the title of this post?  Not sure how this post corresponds to the daily letter in the April A to Z Challenge?  Like clicking on links?  These questions are all answered here.)

Why I Write (Y)

24 Jul

There is a question I’ve heard a handful of times over the last three years:

Why do you write your blog?

Obviously, it’s not for the money.  To date, I’ve made around zero dollars from feitcanwrite.com and my writing for nocoastbias.com.  I do get a little bit from HuskerMax.com, but it’s best if I think about how I’ve spent my earnings (a nice meal for my wife and a new DSLR camera for me) as opposed to what I make per hour.

So no, I don’t write for the money.  It’s not that I’m opposed to being paid (and if you need any freelance writing done, drop me a line), but with three kids, a mortgage, and car payments, it will probably be a while before I quit my day job.

It’s not about the fame/notoriety/attention either.  Don’t get me wrong:  I am an avid checker of my site statistics to see the number of pages views and followers I have.  I like it when you guys “Like” a post (either here or on Facebook).  I love it when you comment or share something I’ve written.  Those interactions mean a lot to me.  Although they are not a primary motivation, I love knowing that people connect with, enjoy, or even disagree/hate what I’ve written.

But I’m realistic enough to know that there is a ceiling.  I’m not going to be stopped in the middle of Target by somebody saying “are you the guy who writes that blog?”.  While I’m currently adding about five new followers a week, I suspect that many of them are spam accounts*.

*Unless, like David Hasselhoff, I am wildly popular in countries that do not speak English.  That is certainly possible as the song “Feit” is obviously a huge hit overseas.

I think it would be really cool to have something go viral and be shared thousands of times across the country, generating tens of thousands of hits.  But that is something that just happens – not something you set out to do.

So why do I write?

I write because:

I enjoy it.  This is the closest thing to a hobby I have.  Besides, other pursuits (golf, hunting, woodworking, building ships in glass bottles, etc.) don’t interest me.

I sometimes need it to clear out my head.  I’ve talked before about the little guy in my head who feeds me all of my good lines.  There are days when that dude has a lot to say.  Left unchecked, he fills up my brain with thoughts and ideas and snarky bullet point lists.  Eventually, these things take up so much of my internal processing that I struggle to focus on other tasks.  If I don’t get them jotted down in a post or in my virtual notebook, they go spilling out of my ears and are lost forever.

I like to share my opinion, and possibly shape how something/someone is viewed.  I don’t go political very often, because I believe political opinions are too ingrained.  (I could do 5,000 words telling you Party X is wrong and Party Y is right, but it won’t have any impact on how you view the situation).  But on other topics – specifically, Nebraska Football – I love having a platform to help shape how something is viewed.  I enjoy the opportunity to call out fans for overreacting, praise players for small things that might go unnoticed, or provide a voice of reason among the talk radio and message board extremists.  I like that a lot.  I’ve also been an advocate for adoption on this site, and I cherish being able to share our experiences and my opinions.

It is a good outlet for my creativity.  I don’t paint, sketch, or doing anything related to arts and crafts.  Writing allows me to stretch my brain, look at the world from (hopefully) a unique perspective, and have some fun.  I enjoy the creative challenge of writing a post with exactly 1,000 words or starting each sentence with a different letter of the alphabet, or coming up with silly things like rejected tributes to Tom Osborne.  Those things are great for my brain and they get the creative juices flowing.

I’m good at it.  There, I said it.  I try to be pretty humble about my writing, but let’s be honest here:  there are some horrible blogs cluttering up the internet.  I like to think that I am one worth following and reading.  I wrote my first Husker piece because I was unsatisfied by the other offerings on the web (a polite way of saying that I thought they all sucked).  I knew I could do something better, so I did.  I realize that I’m not going to win very many awards (aside from the virtual blogging awards that remind me of chain letters), but I’m okay with having an ego about the things I write.  I make a conscientious effort to only publish things that I’m happy with – and willing to put my name/reputation on.  The rest lives in my Drafts folder awaiting revisions or a trip to the trash can.

And there you have it.  I doubt there are too many surprises in there.  There may other reasons why I write tucked way down in my subconscious thoughts, but unless my loyal readers are going to chip in for a psychiatrist, that is where they will stay.

As always, I thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing.

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(Author’s note:  Wondering why there is a random letter in parentheses in the title of this post?  Not sure how this post corresponds to the daily letter in the April A to Z Challenge?  Like clicking on links?  These questions are all answered here.)

How a Dime Made Me Rich (X)

24 Jul

Authors note:  I’m realizing that I never wrapped up the A-Z Challenge I started in April.  Since I want to finish what I start – even if it takes longer than anticipated – we’ll get it knocked out.

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If I’m faced with a coin flip option, I am always going to pick heads.

Always.

With very little exaggeration, I can say that almost every good thing in my adult life can be traced back to a single flip of a coin.  God only knows where I would be today, what I would be doing, and who I would be doing it with if I had said “tails”.

And it all started with a very lucky dime.

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For much of this story to make sense, we need to set the stage.  The year is 2002.  My buddy Tony is marrying the love of his life, and I’m serving as his best man.  The wedding is in a small town, about three hours away.

I’m technically single, but I spend more time hanging out with my ex than the people on How I Met Your Mother.  I know there is zero future there, so I’m hoping to meet somebody new.  Unfortunately, I’m quickly realizing that I probably won’t meet anybody at this wedding – for whatever reason, there are not a lot of single ladies at this event.

One of the other groomsmen (Chad) in the wedding party is also single, and we’ve joked that we’re going to have to fight over any eligible bachelorettes.

Early on in the reception, the battle commences.  Chad and I are introduced to Michelle by a mutual acquaintance.  Jokingly, it is pointed out that Chad and I represent all of the eligible males at the wedding, and Michelle is one of a few single females.  Somehow, it is decided that in order to settle it like gentlemen, there should be a coin toss to see who has the “right” to pursue Michelle that evening.*

*Trust me, this conversation was much more innocent, and not nearly as sexist as I’m making it sound.

One problem:  nobody has a quarter that we can flip.  Finally, we track down somebody* who has a dime and commandeer it for the official flip for Michelle’s hand.

English: A Silver Roosevelt Dime from 1953.

Heads or Tails? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the coin was flicked in the air, I called – you guessed it – heads.  The reveal showed Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s handsome face.  I had won.

*The identity of the dime’s original owner has been long forgotten, but whomever it is, I owe you ten cents.  After I won, I held onto your dime.

If this were Hollywood, this would be the part where the time lapse montage begins, possibly accompanied by “Meant to Be” by The Nadas, showing how we bonded and fell deeply in love that first night.

But O’Neill, Nebraska is a long way from Hollywood.

Over the course of the evening, I did my best to talk to Michelle, get to know her, and be as cute and charming as I could possibly muster.  This was made difficult by my best man duties (toasts, dances, doing the YMCA with the other groomsmen, and leaving to pull a prank in the honeymoon suite) as well as the fact that I really suck at flirting.

Towards the end of the night, she’s getting ready to make the drive back to Lincoln.  I ask for her phone number, and she tells me “I’m in the book”.*

A fairy tale ending, no?  I told you O’Neill, Nebraska is a long way from Hollywood.

*If you think that is a lukewarm reaction, you should know that when her roommate asked if she met anybody at the wedding, my future wife replied with “nobody I’m going to marry”.  

She likes to remind me of this when I’m being difficult.

*   *   *

The following week, I was going out of town on a business trip.  As I was packing Sunday night, I looked up her phone number in the phone book, and tossed it into my suitcase.  After an appropriate number of days, I called her.  We talked for a long time and I was able to secure an actual date.

I have often said that I have zero idea how somebody like her fell for somebody like me, but against all odds, I pulled it off.  Don’t believe me?  Here are some “highlights” from our dating life:

  • Our first date was to a “Cajun Festival” that was woefully short on food, but long on loud music that made it tough to talk.  I struggled to hear half of what she was saying.  I did a lot of smiling and nodding.
  • When I tried to kiss her goodnight, I ended up kissing the area between her upper lip and her nostrils (I thought she was taller).
  • One of our first dates involved eating Long John Silvers.  In my car.  In the parking lot of Super K.*
  • The first time I professed my love for her, I was on a business trip in DeKalb, Illinois.  I called her from a payphone, drunk, somewhere around midnight.  I left a message on her work voice mail.  In my defense, I had tried to call her house, but her sister – also in a lack of sobriety – kept answering and telling me to “never to call again”.  I may or may not have thrown up at some point in the next hour.
  • And so many more….

*How I remained single into my late twenties is really anybody’s guess.  I was such a remarkable catch.

*   *   *

Michelle and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in April.  Our first ten years were a whirlwind of laughter, tears, fun adventures and quiet nights at home.  We have endured the loss of family members, jobs, and our fertility, and have been blessed with three amazing children and a commitment  that is stronger than ever*.

*Mainly because neither one of us wants to be a single parent of three.  (Just joking, kids)

Obviously, it hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows.  We’ve had to learn a lot to get to this point, and I know that I still have lots to learn, and much to improve upon as a husband.

But I’m pretty damn proud that our first ten years went by in the blink of an eye.  It bodes well for the next ten, and the ten after that, and so on.

Which is a damn good return on a ten cent investment.

*   *   *

(Author’s note II:  Wondering why there is a random letter in parentheses in the title of this post?  Not sure how this post corresponds to the daily letter in the April A to Z Challenge?  Like clicking on links?  These questions are all answered here.)

 

The Quick Brown Sample Text Jumped Over the Lazy Blog Post

22 Jul

Authors’s note:  In the course of doing my 8-5 job, I had a need for about 2,500 characters of text so I could test the size limitations of an electronic form*.

*Reason #638 why I don’t write much about my job:  my daily tasks are lacking in the excitement category.  The task above isn’t very exciting or glamorous, even if the end result will impact any Nebraska motorist involved in an accident.

I didn’t feel like trying to Google some random text, nor did I want to plug in random letters or good old lorem ipsum dolor, so I made my own.  The end result amused me enough that I’m going to share it here – in case any other solution engineers out there are in need of a 400 word stream of consciousness for testing a document composition template.  It’s a public service, really.

*   *   *

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.  But why did this happen?  Wouldn’t you think a fox, regardless of how quick he might be, would choose to run away from the dog?  Foxes don’t strike me as the type of animals to taunt other animals – especially predatory creatures capable of killing them.  I understand that foxes don’t have the mental capacity or reasoning ability of humans, but certainly they possess enough sense to flee from a potentially dangerous situation before disaster strikes.

Now, let’s focus on that dog.  In my day, I have known and loved many a lazy dog.  And I’m talking L A Z Y , lazy.  The kind of lazy where you only get up from a nap to take another nap.  A brand of lazy where you are likely to fall asleep while eating.  But even the laziest of dogs will likely be annoyed by a fox jumping over them.  Annoyed enough to likely take action – especially if the dog’s owner is nearby.  Because let’s face it, even a lazy dog still needs to maintain his reputation with his owner.

English: A cartoon image showing an action des...

What the fox?

Dogs are subservient pack creatures who ultimately seek the approval of their Alpha.  This alpha tends to be the human they know as Master, or (more appropriately) the person who provides the food and water they need to survive, as well as the comfy dog house that keeps them protected from weather.  Even the laziest, dumbest, and most worthless  of all dogs knows that he would be foolish to jeopardize an arrangement like that by allowing some fool fox to jump over him devil may care.

This, my friends, is where the quick brown fox makes his mistake:  he underestimates the dog.  His pride, his desire to maintain his standard of living, and most importantly, his ability to catch a quick brown fox in mid-jump and turn him into a stationary dead fox.

Now you may ask yourself why all of this matters, why we’ve covered all of this time and space on quick foxes and lazy dogs.  Believe me, that is a fair and valid question.  It all boils down to a simple and indisputable truth:  It’s damn near impossible to get 2,300 characters of sample text by riffing on Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.  And since we’re about out of space, let’s keeping typing this sentence out until we either run out of space, getting partially chopped off, completely blow up the formatting, or overflow into page two.

Rejected LeBron James “Decision” Ideas

9 Jul

The speculation on where NBA All Star LeBron James will go has been heating up ever since he opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat.  Rumors have him going to Los Angeles to become a Laker, back home to Cleveland, or even staying in Miami with a retooled lineup.

But with LeBron, the destination is only half of the equation.  Once he decides where he is going to go, how will LeBron announce it to the world?

Not how I would pick a team, but what do I know?

Arguably, he will not do another installment of “The Decision” – the one hour, live on ESPN special, where LeBron managed to piss off and alienate almost every person in America when he famously chose to “take (his) talents to South Beach”.

In announcing his next team, there are several different approaches that James can take. Continue reading

Nice Try, Nebraska

7 Jul

The nice folks at the Nebraska Tourism Board have come out with a slogan for Nebraska, to be used in marketing to encourage people to visit this fine state:

Nebraska Nice

Seriously.  That’s what they came up with.  Apparently, this is an improvement over Nebraska’s current slogan “The Good Life”.

How can I put this nicely? FAIL

Understandably, many folks are not happy with the change.  This is especially true in my hometown of Gretna, where they have been using the town slogan of “The Great Life”.  When Nebraska was “The Good Life”, Gretna’s slogan was perfect in its simplicity and connection to the statewide slogan.

But now that it is “Nebraska Nice”, Gretna needs to rebrand to keep pace (I humbly suggest “Gretna Great!”).  Other cities and towns across Nebraska would be smart to do the same:  incorporate vaguely positive broad generalizations driven by alliteration.

Here are some suggestions put together by the same folks who brought you Nebraska Nice:

  • Omaha Obnoxious
  • Dorchester Docile
  • Cozad Copacetic
  • Super Superior
  • Can’t Beat Beatrice
  • Appropriately Pleasant Pleasant Dale
  • Bee Nice
  • Big Springs, Big Smiles
  • Chipper Chappell
  • Clean Colon
  • Crushing on Cushing
  • David FeitCanWrite City
  • Eager Edgar
  • Fairly Nice Fairbury
  • Go Forth in Firth
  • Friend Request
  • Put the Fun in Funk
  • Gandy Fine and Dandy
  • Generic Geneva
  • Gretna Great
  • Hazard Healthy
  • Juniata Bonita
  • Loup City Love
  • Merry Murray
  • Nebraska City Nice City
  • O’Neill O’Nice
  • Ordinary Ord
  • A Pal in Palmyra
  • Plainview Plain
  • Sprague Vague
  • Sidney Simpatico
  • Wymore?  Wynot!
  • Who tan?  Yutan!
  • Winnebago Winnning
  • Winside Winsome
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