Listening to “sports” with Fred and A.J. in Houston. Happy Labor Day.

It is Labor Day and it has been a slow day for me. But that is good. I decided to mute the TV and the madness that, in all reality, surrounds what is the real presidential race. There is plenty time for me to comment, or vent, about that contest.

Instead, I am listening to “The Blitz,” with Fred Faour and A.J. Hoffman on Houston’s ESPN 97.5. I think it is hands down the best sports show in Southeast Texas. Of course, these radio rangers have plenty to talk about with all the football kicking off in this football heavy state. Right now, Fred and A.J. are talking to producer Jong Lee are talking about his upchucking after four beers after the University of Houston win over No. 3 Oklahoma in NRG Stadium. Hey, these guys keep it real.

Oh well. That’s all I want to talk about today. If you like sports and degenerates, and live in the Houston/Beaumont area, tune in to Fred and A.J. Oh, if you call and they ask you what’s up, answer “Sports.”

Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism: Chaos from Korea (North)

Say “Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism” three times, speaking fast. Can’t do it? I doubt many care.

But this seems to be the cult of personality pushed nowadays by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The ever-entertaining Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or KNCA, expounds upon a June 24 “National Seminar on Kim Jung Un’s Ideas and Lines.” The seminar at the Pyongyang People’s Palace of Culture sought “to deeply grasp and thoroughly implement the ideas and lines set forth by supreme leader Kim Jong Un in his report to the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea,” the KNCA says.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is escorted by NK Army leaders, from left, Larry, Moe and Curly. (North) Korea Central News Agency photo.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is escorted by NK Army leaders, from left, Larry, Moe and Curly. (North) Korea Central News Agency photo.


 “Choe Thae Bok, vice-chairman of the C.C., the WPK, and other speakers said that the revolutionary lines set forth in the report including the clarification that the general line of building socialism and the self-development-first principle serve as the strategic line to be consistently maintained in building a socialist power and realizing the cause of modeling the whole society on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism are an encyclopedic and political great programme which gives perfect answers to the theoretical and practical issues in the revolution and construction,” the KNCA reports in an amazing one sentence description.

What does it mean? Well, the crack(ed) writers at the KNCA further explained by reporting:

“They (the speakers) noted that the programme for modeling the whole society on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism clarifies the correct orientation and ways of firmly preparing those in charge of accomplishing the cause of the popular masses for independence, the socialist cause, and the driving force, enhancing their role, transforming all fabrics of social life as required by Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism and triumphantly advancing the revolution and construction.”

Clear as mud? Here is more:

 “They (the same they) pointed out that the WPK and the Korean people will straightly advance along the immutable orbit of independence, Songun (military first) and socialism and discharge their pioneer role in the struggle to realize global independence as the defenders of independence and justice under the leadership of Marshal Kim Jong Un no matter how the situation may change and relations with neighboring countries may alter.”

Ah yes, that great struggle to realize global independence as the defenders of independence and justice under the leadership of Marshal Kim Jong Un. Sounds a little like Superman. I wouldn’t want to imagine Kim in the blue, skin-tight costume. And by the way, how many titles do Kim Jong Un have? A totalitarian for all occasions.

I truly wonder who this mouthpiece for the Pyongyang leadership — again Kim Jong Un — believes that it is addressing? If this is the crap being fed to the masses, then this nation is in worse shape than it seems.

I’m sure a President Trump would understand though. Perhaps The Donald and his Secretary of State Dennis Rodman will make the historic first visit to this closed society.


History keeps repeating itself in Jerusalem on the Brazos

You can put lipstick on a bear but it better be knocked out with animal tranquilizers. That is my piss poor attempt at using some old saying a different way. If you get my drift, you might know I am talking about a pig. But I used a bear as a better symbol since the bear is the mascot  for the largest Baptist school in the Universe. Yes, I speak of the Baylor Bears.

Two major stories came out of Waco — home of Baylor University — this week. One story was a good attempt by CNN’s Ed Lavendera to show that jack hasn’t happened with the Twin Peaks bikers shooting that happened a year ago this week. I say good attempt because when you have such a case involving so many people and so many lawyers, to say things can become complicated is way overstated. Some nine bikers were killed and  nearly two dozen were wounded. The case resulted in nearly 180 arrests, most for engaging in organized criminal conduct. The abnormally slow justice system was shown in the CNN piece to move slower than Interstate 35 on a Baylor game day.

The second major story from Waco is ongoing. It involves a criminal culture among the Baylor football team with several arrests and even more allegations of sexual assault, and perhaps a cover-up either within Baylor, (including the university’s president Good ol’ Ken Starr, who was the special prosecutor in the Clinton-Lewinski affair) or even maybe a cover-up by the Waco Police Department and Baylor, according to some media stories.

I suppose that if these two stories mean anything it is that bad juju is quite frequent down there in the place the 19th century columnist — and no Baylor fan — William Cowper Brann called “Jerusalem on the Brazos.”

Brann was such a disagreeable cuss that he wound up in a shootout with a local Baylor supporter over alleged sexual indiscretions involving housemaids from South America and the Baylor elite. Brann, who preferred to be called by the name of his paper, The Iconoclast, was shot in the chest. He turned around and fired multiple rounds at his assailant, who then fell dead in the door of a local cigar shop. Brann died the next day. As ancient history that it was, the shooting of Brann The Iconoclast, was quite a story way back when as the The Iconoclast, the paper had around 100,000 subscribers.

What happened just outside of Waco in 1993 in which David Koresh and his followers engaged in a gunfight with Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents at Mt. Carmel is more recent history, as was the fiery ending to that saga less than two months later. I know some of the individuals, both Davidians and other parties who were there both at the beginning and the end of the siege.

So now we get to more recent history. It was history that happened this century, but it is still history and likewise carries a lesson that should have been learned, although from the news coming out of Waco today shows that apparentl the lesson was forgotten.

I speak of the scandal involving the men’s basketball team in 2003 in which team member Patrick Dennehy had gone missing only to be later discovered dead. His fellow teammate Carlton Dotson was found guilty in his murder and sentenced to 35 years in prison. The missing player set off the scandal in which then-head Baylor basketball coach Dave Bliss portrayed Dennehy as a drug dealer to hide the fact that Bliss had paid Dennehy and another player under the table after limits had been reached on team scholarships.

I think this commentary I came across today by CBS Senior Sports Writer Jon Solomon puts the whole sordid basketball scandal in better perspective that I can. I happened to be working then in Waco, fortunately I had limited exposure to the story. If one looks back to these stories of the past — both ancient and the more recent one — one might find a common thread throughout was religion, in some form or the other. That’s not to say religion is bad but I would say religion and pride is poor  two-some. One might even say it is as terrible an ordeal as is putting lipstick on a fully-conscious bear.

You ask why I write about the Super Bowl? I tell you.

It seems as if I have written quite a bit here over the past 15 years about the Super Bowl and Peyton Manning. My justification(s) is that the Super Bowl is an event — something akin to an American holiday — worldwide. The number of television viewers alone for tomorrow’s game is a lock for an all-time high. The over/under for viewers, who knew that they had one, is 117 million-to-114.4.

The match-up of the teams in Super Bowl 50 seems destined to be one of the great championships since Super Bowl I. The No. 1 offense and No.1 defense in the NFL will tangle. Two great quarterbacks will also meet on the field, Carolina’s Cam Newton and Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. When I talk about destiny, I am not saying that this 2011 post I wrote was something of foreordination. Coincidence was the theme. You read this past post and you can decide whether this game was happenstance or was if it was in the stars. That is, if the piece doesn’t first drive you insane before you reach a conclusion.

Peyton's last game? We will wait and see. Photo by Capt. Darin Overstreet, Colorado National Guard via Wikimedia Commons.
Peyton’s last game? We will wait and see. Photo by Capt. Darin Overstreet, Colorado National Guard via Wikimedia Commons.

The linked blog post shows my admiration for Manning partly out of empathy because he has had a history cervical spine problems, as does his oldest brother, Cooper. I don’t know about brother Eli Manning’s neck. I think he might have had neck problems. Eli Manning, of course, is the New York Giants QB who twice led the Giants to Super Bowl wins. That is one more than is one more than Peyton can claim. Cooper Manning, the eldest of the Manning boys, was recruited as a high school wide receiver by Ole Miss but had to sit out of football the for the rest of his life due to spinal stenosis. I underwent surgery for a stenosis and currently have one though my doctors at the VA hospital say surgery on this one (which would be my third) could hurt more than help. Peyton has had four neck surgeries. I didn’t think he should have returned after his last operation, but he did and now he’s playing with a chance for his second Super Bowl championship.

Another reason I write this about Sunday’s big game is that this first one for some time in which the game interests me as well as the “Super Bowl” for TV advertising.

As well I wish well for the head coach and defensive coordinator for Denver. Gary Kubiak was fired after seven seasons with my team, the Houston Texans. His firing came after his earlier leaving the field on a stretcher for what was later determined as a blood clot. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips took over as head coach the rest of the season. Both of these coaches eventually reprised their roles as head coach and defensive coach when hired by Denver. Both of these coaches had histories with the Broncos. Kubiak played as a backup quarterback for the Broncos, playing second-fiddle to QB John Elway. The Hall of Famed member Elway is now general manager and executive vice president of the Broncos. As for Phillips, one should ask where this native Southeast Texan hasn’t coach. He was defensive coordinator some 25 years ago in Denver and head coach for about a year. You would have to check Wikipedia to see whether all three, Kubiak, Phillips and Elway, were together at what was known as Mile High Stadium. This this link contains an entertaining article about Phillips. He is not as outspoken as his storied Dad, coach Bum Phillips who coached the then-Houston Oilers. The late coach is a beloved folk figure in Texas. Both father and son graduated and coached in the area where I live. So they are beloved figures here in Southeast Texas.

Finally, I am writing about the big game on Sunday because I can. Plain and simple, I don’t have to check with an editor who wants me to work on a weather story. I’m not being paid to write this, so I think that allows me to write whatever the hell I want. ¿Comprende?

I would like Manning, Kubiak and Phillips to win this Super Bowl. There is speculation that Manning, 39, might retire after this game. One wonders how much longer Phillips, at 69, will go on as a defensive wizard. He did express interest a couple of years ago in head coaching, but not in an interim role as he did at more than a couple of NFL teams.

I have yet to speak of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who led his team to almost a perfect season last year. He’s exciting say some. Excitable say others. He likes to dance, in the end zone and even after running for a first down. A lot has been made of his race, as he is an elite group of black quarterbacks. Many wish he wouldn’t dance. I don’t know if that will happen. The question is, how many times will he dance?

If Denver can pull off the upset win one might just see Peyton and Wade cutting a rug.

An interesting discussion: Are O.J.’s problems all in his head?

Last evening I had an interesting conversation over dinner with a pathologist whom I had never met before. One topic on which we discussed was a news item that we discovered we both had recently seen on television concerning. O.J. Simpson. “The Juice” as he was known is, of course, the ex-professional football running back, who was acquitted of murdering his wife and her friend in what was called “The Trial of the Century.” Simpson, also an actor and car rental pitchman, is serving a prison sentence in Nevada for armed robbery.

I ate dinner at a place called BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, a chain that started out as a pizza place in the Bay Area of California and has spread nationwide. This one is in Pearland, a suburb of Houston. Dinner was several blocks from my hotel in a nice little, walkable, shopping center. I was by myself and so I sat at a table for two,  which was joined by about three other tables for two. It was a subdued place despite the three large TV screens in the bar. It had equal, extensive menus for both food and drink, which as expected, offers many different labeled and crafted beers.

This fellow walked in and asked if anyone was sitting at the next table and we struck up a talk that lasted for more than half an hour. It turned out this guy is a pathologist. I think the profession has become widely known for the forensic pathologists you see on the CSI and NCIS television franchises. Actual pathologists are either specialized medical or osteopathic doctors. This gentleman said that while he had done autopsies in the past his time is spent nowadays at the Texas Medical Center, as he called it, taking “whatever body parts a doctor removes.” His specialization are the ones who examine the cell tissues and other items taken in biopsies and surgeries to determine if they are benign or malignant. Since I learned a little about medicine from the time I spent as an EMT and now that I feel as if I spend so much of my time going to doctors, it seemed he enjoyed talking to someone who appreciated the man’s job. He had no airs like people sometimes think doctors may have when, many times, the physician is trying to compartmentalize to determine what’s wrong with you.

I don’t know what we were talking about when the doctor mentioned the story about O.J. Simpson. I told him yes, I had heard it too and thought how the subject of O.J. Simpson seemed like a bad penny that wouldn’t go away. The most recent O.J. installment is that a renown neuropatholgist has perhaps staked his career on the possibility Simpson might be suffering from a disease known as “CTE,” which stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Dr. Bennet Omalu first published research about CTE while he worked as a forensic pathologist in Allegheny County, Pa. The Nigerian-American physician found this disease in football players who had sustained multiple concussions. The disease can only be diagnosed for now on dead people, thus Omalu has made a pretty bold pronouncement.

The research on CTE touched off numerous lawsuits filed by families of NFL players and has led to a nationwide discussion on the dangers of concussions, from Pop Warner leagues to the pros.

Omalu said in an interview with ESPN that he would “bet my medical license” that Simpson has the disease. Different personality changes such as violence and poor impulse control are signs that one might have CTE as are other factors, according to Omalu. The former medical examiner has said he had not spoken with Simpson.

My “dinner companion” said that he was just as shocked as anyone else that the disease has led to as many lawsuits as it has. And he raised an eyebrow on Omalu’s contention concerning Simpson. I think we both concluded that most people realize, or should, that having a blow to the head isn’t a good thing. I suppose that for so long people thought that helmets and other protective gears worn by football players would keep players from more serious injuries. That may have led to a false sense of security. In reality, a number of factors are cited why that is so, Among the reasons is the fact that players are bigger and stronger than before. Weight training for football players isn’t just for college and pros anymore. It’s like the reverse of the saw, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” In reality, the bigger the are, the harder they hit.

I enjoyed my conversation with the doctor. It was an interesting way to spend a little time out of town, not to mention the pale lager and bison burger I consumed, “served with a side of tangy slaw tossed with Baja vinaigrette and topped with green onions,” according to the menu.