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Tales from Tibby

    I know it works. It said so in Reader’s Digest. (Gimme a break. I was at the home of some older relatives, and it was the only thing available for bathroom reading.) The premise is pretty straight-forward: the body metabolizes food differently during daylight hours. To that end, if you eat all of your meals while there’s light in the sky, your tummy will evaporate and your love handles will fall off. That’s not really the end conclusion, but it’s what I was going for. There is some research that supports this notion. One of the subjects of the RD article was a woman that had gained a lot of weight during pregnancy. Following the birth of her child, she had either a new job or new working hours. Regardless, because of that schedule change, she needed to eat supper by 5 each day. Then, it was off to work, arriving back home around 11 p.m. The big change for her was that the 5 o’clock meal was not just her last meal of the day, it was her last food of the day. Upon returning home in the evening, she showered and went to bed. The way I remember the story, she lost over seventy pounds of baby fat with just that one change. No change in her diet, only in the times she ate. A lightbulb went off over my head, however dimly. Could this program help me lose some baby fat? In my case, baby back ribs fat. February was about to begin. That seemed like a good starting point. New month, new plan. My wife was onboard; she thinks we eat too late, anyway. Initially, the hardest part was that it was, in fact, the beginning of February. It gets dark early! In order to have supper consumed by dark, it needed to be completely ready to eat by 5 o’clock. As the month wore on and the days grew longer, having the meal prepared by 6 or even 6:15 still had us finishing before dark. There were a couple of exceptions, as there are bound to be, but I was faithful to the plan. Thinking back to when I announced the new diet on social media, the very first question that came up was, “Does that go for liquid consumption after dark, as well???” It came from this girl I used to work with who is now a fitness queen and is trying to eat all healthy and probably assumes that I enjoy a toddy or two in the evening. Knowing her, she wanted me to fail. I did. It didn’t work. Oh, I lost two pounds, but I was hoping for twenty. Now for my analysis of what might have gone wrong: liquid consumption after dark, probably. I admit, I am a man of many empty calories. Supper may be over, and I may have finished eating before dark, but that wine bottle is still half-full. Or half-empty, depending on your point of view. From my angle, there is still some work to be done, and that article didn’t say anything about wine. To be fair to me, I do try to limit my wine intake to two glasses. But then there’s the splash or two of a good bourbon over ice that soothes the soul and helps one sleep at night. You don’t want me to not sleep well, do you? I do want to point out one HUGE positive to this particular eating arrangement. If you have decreed that all meals must be taken during daylight hours, you have effectively made late-night snacking against the law. That’s a really big deal for those of us that are prone to getting the munchies because that steak and potato and beans and salad and rolls and wine you had two hours ago suddenly is not enough, and you must go thrust your spoon into that jar of peanut butter… twice, maybe three times, or you will die - quite literally, die - of starvation! (A very small half-pound sliver of cheddar cheese will also do the trick.) This plan sets the rule: when dinner’s over, eating is done for the day. I liked that, and I stuck to it. So, I’m going to hang with it for a while. If nothing else, I quit gaining weight. Best case, I’ll hit my target weight in 8 -10 years. My wife has had more success than I have, but then, she has taken a month-long sabbatical from all alcohol. She suggests I do the same. I have found that staring at her blankly, like she’s a martian (which of your 7 eyes should I be looking at?), is an effective response.  
  • I am friends with the anti-Christ of Valentine’s Day. Every year, he plasters his office door with cute little signs proclaiming, “St. Valentine Was Beheaded” and “Valentine’s Day is a creation of the floral industry.” When he was a single guy, I thought it was a brilliant move. Hey, ladies, you can have this guy, but you’d best know, upfront, he ain’t spending a dime come February 14th. You’ve been warned. There’s a politically correct version of Valentine’s Day now. Some use the date to celebrate S*A*D. Single Awareness Day. That’s right, celebrate your singleness. Who needs a soulmate when you have six feline friends and a house that smells like cat pee? If you don’t live alone, though, Valentine’s Day might come with some guilt. “What? You say you love your wife, yet you won’t spring for a few flowers or a handful of chocolates?” On the other hand, couldn’t you – shouldn’t you - use that day as the one day out of the year you actually brought her some flowers? There’s some conflict there. I don’t feel an obligation, but this year I bought flowers. In fairness, it was only because we were out of ketchup. (We need ketchup, and the grocery store also sells flowers, so while I’m here…) I also bought beer, but the beer/wine aisle is right beside the floral department. That may not be just coincidence. I used to think buying Valentine’s Day flowers from the grocery store instead of the local florist was a complete cop-out, a version of running down to the drug store at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve to do your Christmas shopping because it was the only place left open. And what woman wouldn’t appreciate a bag of red and green candy corn and some toenail clippers? Anymore, though, the grocery store is the local florist. In my neighborhood, it’s the only place left to buy flowers. Some yellow roses caught my eye, and my wife, herself a yellow rose of Texas, prefers them to red roses, so I was in business. In my defense, I could point out that Valentine’s Day is not the only day of the year I buy flowers, and that would be true. But it’s also true that I was buying them on that day because it was in fact Valentine’s Day, and the flowers would be the extent of any sort of recognition of the occasion. What’s happened? What brought us to this? Used to be that Valentine’s Day was a day a guy might ‘get lucky,’ so any effort was worth it. Nowadays, getting lucky is finding a quarter in the parking lot. It’s not that time just wears us down, nor that we don’t love our mates. Those are not problems in our house, anyway. Sure, we both suffer from a lack of creative ideas, but mostly, it’s that we don’t need anything. The whole digital shopping thing hasn’t helped. It’s hard to compete with a computer and a credit card. Anything that pops into my brain as necessary or amusing, I buy it. A couple of months ago, I got the bright idea that we needed a new knife sharpener. Hello, Amazon! You needn’t think I’ve used it. I don’t even know where it is. It’s good that my wife thinks the same way. I’d have never thought to buy her a lovely jar of deep tissue moisturizing cream designed especially for the neck no more than she would have thought to buy me some cacao nibs for making a steak rub. So, there I was, waiting in the checkout line with this odd assortment of items that probably would have attracted some attention, anyway. But being Valentine’s Day, I could just feel other people gawking at my basket and thinking, ‘At least I’m not that guy.’ Or perhaps, ‘At least I’m not married to that guy.’ I have considered that Valentine’s Day occurs too close to Christmas. In our house, we really don’t do much for Christmas anymore, either. Other than eat like starving baby pigs. Maybe I was buying the flowers out of guilt. Guilt that manifests itself as a loud booming voice screaming at me to DO SOMETHING! JUST TRY, FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD! So, I formulated a Valentine’s Day poem. Roses are red,So are your lips.Didn’t get you no chocolate,It’d go straight to your hips. Fortunately, I didn’t have to use it. Hard to beat roses, ketchup and beer.  
  • Dear panhandlers: I’m done. It’s over. Don’t ask. Yeah, yeah, I know. No big loss for you. I don’t usually give you money, anyway. I want you to know that it’s not that I don’t want to help. If I could know for certain you genuinely needed help, I’d buy you a burger, take you shopping, even make your house payment. But I don’t know for certain, and frankly, I don’t believe your stories. The carboard sign that you ‘dream of a cheeseburger, or that you’re ‘homeless with 3 children,’ just doesn’t resonate as sincere. Adding “GOD BLESS” to the bottom of your sign doesn’t make your plea more plausible, either. I have my reasons for doubting you. I’ve seen you guys and gals take each other’s place and pass off the same cardboard sign. I’ve seen you bum a couple of bucks and walk straight into a package store. Hey, I’m all for you enjoying a cold one, just don’t ask me to pay for it. It’s how you’ve decided to make a living. Got it. Just doesn’t seem like you’ll ever get promoted to something better at that job. I’ve had quite a run with some of you recently. Back in September, passing through Memphis, I encountered a middle-aged, rather small black man as my group walked down the street.  Yes, that he was black and I am white comes into play in this particular episode. As we walked toward the street he was ‘working,’ we could see his game. He would direct cars looking for a parking place to an open spot. That of course is something they could find on their own, but if he could run ahead of them and point it out, might there be a ‘tip’ for his help? That appeared to be his pitch. As we walked past him, he joined us. He was energetic and friendly, asking how we were, how we were enjoying Memphis and where we were from. The jovial banter continued for several minutes until we were clearly getting out of his territory. “Can you give me money for a sandwich?” he asked My standard answer: “Sorry, man, I don’t carry money.” That’s usually the truth. I almost never have dollar bills on me. I’m a plastic man. Credit cards. Whether it was true or not on this day made no difference. I wasn’t giving him money. I had seen him a block away and knew that if he came up to us, there would be a motive other than serving as the city’s official welcoming committee. He responded to being turned down by immediately veering away from our group and saying, “That’s because white is always right and black is always wrong.” I’m used to some sort of comeback when a beggar is turned down, but that one caught me off-guard. All of that friendly chit-chat suddenly became a racial divide when I didn’t give him money. As we continued to walk away, he continued to yell, eventually hollering that if I came back to where he was, he would put me in the hospital. He said that twice. I wondered what he was expecting by threatening me. Seriously. Did he think I’d stop, turn around, apologize for every historical wrong that had happened to the black man and give him a twenty? Did he think I’d suddenly sympathize with him and say, “Hey, dude, I’m not like you think. Please take my money.” Next stop, West Coast. Passing an older, worn out-looking gentleman on a pier in wharf district of San Francisco, I could feel it coming. “Can you people help me get some food?” I probably would have been better off just handing him a couple of bucks, but I gave him my standard line and kept walking. That set him off. “Go on back to your rich-people hotel, ya f****t!” I’m not going to lie to you. Having a homophobic slur hurled at me in the middle of San Francisco has some entertainment value. Even my gay friends have found that story amusing. Finally, Nashville, Tennessee. It’s a city we love visiting. In fact, we have two more visits on the agenda this year. My wife and I had taken my mother to a Christmas show at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Vince Gill and Amy Grant. It was fabulous! As we sat in the hotel lobby the next morning eating breakfast, a young woman approached, wanting to know if she could ask us a question. My radar lit up. More often than not, when someone is trying to put the touch on you, it starts with, ‘can I ask you something?’ or ‘hey, mind if I ask you a question?’ She started her pitch. She and her kids didn’t have enough money to pay their hotel bill. She said she needed $26. That’s pretty specific. People doing what she was doing will usually take anything you offer. My wife, the softest touch on earth responded, “I’d love to help.” She grabbed her pocketbook and offered to accompany the young woman to the front desk to pay her bill. Wait for it…wait for it… “Well, we’re not staying at this hotel,” the woman said. “We’re at a hotel down the street.” That’s when I jumped in and, as politely as I can speak, told her, “I’m sorry, we’re not going to be able to help you.” She stared at us for a few seconds as though we might change our minds, then moved on. My wife excused herself from the table and went back to the room. She was aggravated, mostly with me. It’s not that she didn’t know the woman was begging, nor that she didn’t understand why I sent the woman away. She just wanted to help. She wants to help them all. I had interfered. Mom got weepy. Now, Mom lives in Atlanta. She’s very familiar with the hustlers. As we talked about the incident, she even allowed how most panhandlers involve their children in their stories. She was 100% on board that the woman was out bumming, but the story made Mom really sad. She was also sad that my wife had been so willing to help only to find out it was an obvious ruse. So, to everyone out on the street with your hands out, I hope you have a nice day. Mostly, I hope you find the motivation to make your life better. But you made my mama cry. We’re done.
  • It’s January down south. Even down here January is cold. Supposed to be, anyway. January is in fact our coldest month, historically. This morning, I can’t even find the cool side of my pillow. In a one week period, we’ve gone from freezing temperatures to planning our gardens. That's planning, not planting. It is warm, but we're not there yet. Even if it doesn't last, welcome to our January summer. While I’ve enjoyed playing golf in shorts for the last 3 days, I want the other January. The cold one. At least, the cold mornings. I want the January where you wake up in the morning, slip into somebody’s hip pocket and go back to sleep. (That’s not dirty, y’all. It’s my own terminology for ‘spooning.’) This time of year, if there’s another person in my bed, let’s get personal. If there’s a dog beside me, come a little closer. If there’s a cat on my feet, I’m surely blessed. It’s January, it’s cold. Let’s be friends. But it’s not cold. And a boy in his undies has just kicked off the covers. Hey… maybe he has a motive. Maybe if he can create a cool enough climate, maybe he can slip into someone’s hip pocket. It is January, after all. Let’s test the waters. Let’s have him throw an arm over that lumpy thing beside him and see if there’s any reaction. There’s a reaction, all right. In a king-sized bed, someone who is already three feet away can make it four with a simple roll-over. Lumpy thing has just indicated she will be driving in her own lane – alone. So, thanks, January. Men of a certain age have enough trouble generating interest in snuggling to begin with. The least you could do is let it be cold enough that her very survival depends on her dancing cheek-to-cheek with me. Not happening. She just got up to turn on the ceiling fan. Good. I’m hot, too.
  • Fidel Castro is dead. One down, one to go.  That is, one Castro down, one more to go.  That is the clear message I got from visiting Cuba four years ago.  I consider myself a lucky man. I went to Cuba before the United States offered an olive branch to that little island. So, I got to see ‘old’ Cuba. The Cuba in ruins. The Cuba in need.  But it was a Cuba with hope. Hope that one day America would show them some love, and hope that one day, they could participate in their governance. That would mean life without the Castros.  For clarity on my visit, it was part of a larger tour that was visiting for the purpose of seeing agriculture in that county.  It was weird from the get-go. First of all, flying to Cuba from Miami, we didn’t do normal customs. Best I recall, we went to a terminal where things were handled differently. Bags weren’t inspected, and aside from previously filled-out paperwork, questions weren’t asked.  What I didn’t know is that Cubans with relatives in the States can fly back and forth pretty easily, if they can afford to. And leaving the U.S., Cubans could take things, like TVs or toasters, back to Cuba on those flights.  In fact, knowing Cuba was the land of rum – and I am not a rum man – I packed two ‘handles’ of bourbon in my bag. That’s two 1.5 liter bottles.  Arriving in Cuba, there are occasional random inspections. Had I been picked out, it would be interesting to see if they cared that I carried basically a gallon of bourbon.  In the Havana airport, I immediately encountered what would become a bit of a Cuban signature: begging. At the entrance to the restroom in the airport were two lovely, young ladies, clearly waiting for a ‘tip.’  Not knowing how to handle the situation, I gave one of them a dollar. The other smiled, and said, “Nothing for me?”  I obliged.  And on that note, I want to introduce you to the people of Cuba that I encountered.  There is so much to say about how, 50 years ago, Cuba’s leadership ‘sided’ with Russia and adopted communism, and how Russia later left them hanging when Russia itself was undergoing massive changes.  But that’s a whole lot of history lessons I didn’t learn.  So, this is about the Cuban people I saw and met, filtered, of course, through my own lenses.  Cubans so badly want to be friends with you. You, Americans. They want a relationship with us. They want the life we have. They want to be happy. They’ve smuggled their families to our shores for the last 50 years to get away from the nothingness they’ve had under the Castros.  Most of them only know communism as a failed ideology. They hate it.  They want the dream.  Under communism, they are paid wages set by ‘the state,’ and they know there’s something better. They know that in America, there’s the possibility of being paid for what you know and how you perform.  They know that in America, food is not rationed. It is in Cuba. I didn’t know that.  Begging is rampant in Cuba. But I quickly learned that begging pays better. If an average Cuban can get one dollar from a visitor, that’s a better day’s wages than they would be paid by the state.  So why would you not beg?  Our guide was an attorney that hadn’t practiced law in six years, because tips from being a tour guide paid better. Doctors act as taxi drivers on their days off because of the money they could make on tips.  Why would you not beg?  Some Cubans try to be creative in their panhandling. They dress up in old plantation-style costumes and hope you’ll want a picture with them. A tip is expected.  In need of a restroom on day, I approached a group of young men and asked where I might find one. They eagerly showed me the way, then asked for money for helping me. One even when down on his knees, begging.  I recall a gentleman following our group for a few moments, singing songs and playing a guitar. He cursed us when we didn’t tip him. It’s not that we didn’t like him or his singing, but when there are so many palms out, you learn that you can’t grease them all.  Beggars were like flies around tour buses. Some looked very pitiful and were hard to ignore, but once you saw them there every day, you understood the routine.  Havana was romantic. You’re in Havana, Cuba, for heaven’s sake! The land of mobsters and Frank Sinatra. Redundant, I know.  Much of the city was in tatters. Scaffolding everywhere and not a lot of work was being done.  “They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work.” It’s an old, familiar joke Cubans like to tell. Except it’s not really a joke. They get paid the same wage for working on a job or standing around doing nothing. Best I could tell, they generally chose to do the latter.  What struck me was how easily they spoke of communism, of their government, of their distaste for the Castros, Fidel and Raul. But mostly, of how they looked forward to a Cuba without them.  The Cuba I saw was the old Cuba. The one that got stuck in time when Fidel Castro thumbed his nose at the U.S. He had climbed into bed the Russians, and it turns out they didn’t pay for sex.  The Cuba I saw was pretty much the same as it was 50 years ago. In our ‘nice’ hotel, bare wires dangled from sockets, and the bed linens were straight out of your great-grandmothers closet.  You see pictures of the old ‘50s and ‘60s cars in Cuba. That because there’s not much else. And they keep those cars in such pristine condition because you will pay cash to have them shuttle you around in them.  There’s a whole lot of bondo and rubber bands holding those things together. They have precious little access to parts.  Arriving back in the States, we actually did go through security.  “Do you have any tobacco?”  “No,” I answered.  “Any alcohol?”  “No.”  Of course, I had both. Almost everyone had Cuban cigars and rum.  Turns out, this particular ‘American’ border agent was a native Cuban. Rather than concern himself about cigars and rum, he used our time together to lecture me on how relations between our countries “must” normalize. “Cubans,” he said, “want to be included.”  I knew what he meant.  When President Obama opened the freezer door and started thawing out relations with Cuba, I watched with interest the reactions here at home. Many old-timers, including Cuban ex-patriots and others with direct ties to Cuba wanted us to have nothing to do with Cuba until the Castros are gone.  They are other voices, of course, that want normalized relations. I am among them.  I am among them, because I met a lot of Cuban people that had nothing to do with the politics of their country. They are our neighbors. They want to be our friends. I hope that happens one day.  Maybe with Fidel Castro’s passing, we got a little closer to that.
  • Over breakfast, my wife accused me of being unable to eat scrambled eggs without cheese. Rather than starting a nasty spat, I played the bigger man and conceded this one. For starters, cheese is the perfect food. That aside, however, I don’t do simply scrambled eggs and cheese, I do ‘cheggs.’ Cheese with some egg in it. On the morning in question, however, there were more than just eggs with cheese. I was also serving grits with cheese and toast with cream cheese. Cheese on everything? Hardly. The bacon was naked. There’s an art to cooking with cheese. If you simply throw cheddar on every dish, you are going to be considered an unsophisticated rube. Ignore the haters. While this is elementary ‘cooking with cheese,’ you’re on the right track and should be proud of yourself. You can never go wrong with cheddar on about anything. In fact, my rule of thumb is, if that dish is going into the oven, it can handle some cheddar. Including, but not limited to, apple pie! I want you to get to know your cheeses and experiment some, so let’s cover the basic categories: -String Cheese. What you serve your kids to make them shut up. And to start them on their way to coronary disease later in life. -Easy Cheesy. These are easy-eating, everyday cheeses: mozzarella, Monterey Jack, etc. (Fresh moz should have its own category: cheese with no flavor, but there’s not enough time here to cover everything.)  Easy cheesy is cheese that don’t stink. -Stanky Cheese. Cheese that do stink. This includes your blue – or bleu – cheese, gorgonzola, and others, like limburger, which you may never be exposed to. Stanky cheese is my favorite category. Hard Cheese: Parmesan Melty Cheese. Think fondue cheeses, like Gruyere, queso, Velveeta and chocolate. Some will say because Velveeta is ‘cheese food,’ it’s not real cheese. Cheese isfood, so hush up, and let’s move on. I do recognize that chocolate is not technically cheese, but given that milk is the number one ingredient in both cheese and chocolate, and both make outstanding fondue, I thought it deserved inclusion. Notice how cheddar is not in any category. That’s because, depending on the age of it, cheddar can fit into almost all categories. And that’s why everything’s bettah with cheddah. Unless you use mild cheddar, in which case you’re just being a sissy. Now, go cut some cheese.

Local News

  • Rabun County authorities are seeking a missing 28-year-old woman who has her three sons with her, officials said. According to a post on the sheriff’s Facebook page, Brittany Rebecca Stewart has been missing since Thursday. Her children are 7 months to 7 years old. She’s believed to be driving a maroon 1999 Ford Explorer with Georgia tag RCP0743, the sheriff’s office said in the post. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Stewart and her children is asked to call 911 or Rabun dispatch at 706-782-6226.
  • A dinner meeting is set for tonight for Clarke County School Board members and the first of three finalists to be the next Clarke County School Superintendent: the Board is looking for a replacement for the departed Dr. Phil Lanoue. The United Way of Northeast Georgia holds its annual meeting and awards banquet, 5:30 this afternoon at the downtown Holiday Inn.  Another meeting of the Envision Athens steering committee is on tap for today, underway at 4 o’clock at the Classic Center.  There is an afternoon meeting of the Classic Center Authority: 4 o’clock at the Classic Center in downtown Athens. There is a jobs fair today in Athens: the Benson Hospitality Group is setting up shop at the downtown Holiday Inn at 5 o’clock this afternoon.  Tonight’s Oconee County Commission meeting gets underway at 7 o’clock at the Oconee County Courthouse in Watkinsville. It’s an agenda setting session.  Barrow County Commissioners meet tonight, 7 o’clock at the Historic Courthouse in Winder. 
  • Police in Winder have released the name of the man whose body was found in a car in a shopping center parking lot. Todd Davis was 52 years old, from Winder. His body was discovered Sunday in a vehicle parked in the Holly Hill shopping center on West Athens Street in Winder. Police say there are no immediate indications of foul play; also still no word on the exact cause of death. Hall County authorities have released the name of the husband and wife killed in what is believed to have been a murder-suicide: the bodies of 75 year-old Larry McGinness and 69 year-old Shelly McGinness were found last week at a home in Gainesville. The GBI is in on the ongoing investigation. 
  • State Rep. Tommy Benton believes the history of the Confederate army is part of Southern cultural heritage and should be recognized formally in the state. Benton, a Republican from Jefferson, sponsored House Resolution 644 along with state Reps. Alan Powell, Steve Tarvin and Jesse Petrea to commemorate the “brave” men who fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War by recognizing April as Confederate History Month and April 26 as Confederate Memorial Day. His resolution, however, makes no mention of the “Civil War,” instead referring to it as the “four-year struggle for states’ rights, individual freedom, and local governmental control, which they believed to be right and just.” But when asked whether the resolution, which is written to “encourage our citizens to learn about Georgia’s heritage and history and to observe the occasion with appropriate ceremonies,” includes the need to understand the role that slavery and systemic exploitation and oppression of African and African-American people played and an acknowledgement of what the war was fought about, Benton declined to answer. “Next question,” Benton said Monday during a press conference about the resolution. A former schoolteacher and unapologetic supporter of preserving Georgia’s Confederate heritage, Benton has previously backed a measure that would protect state monuments from being moved or removed. He has also said the Ku Klux Klan, though he didn’t agree with all its methods, “made a lot of people straighten up.” Benton said the intentions of his proposal, which isn’t expected to gain any traction in the final days of the legislative session, have been misunderstood and misinterpreted. “It should never have been a controversy,” Benton said. “We’re not honoring slavery.” After a gunman and avowed white supremacist shot and killed nine people praying in an African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, S.C., many Southern states came under fire for their embrace of Confederate memorabilia and traditions. The fourth Monday in April had for decades been known in Georgia as Confederate Memorial Day. But in 2015, Gov. Nathan Deal quietly struck that reference, as well as Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s birthday, from the official state calendar and renamed each date as a “State Holiday.”
  • The Georgia DOT is holding an afternoon meeting on plans to widen Highway 441 in Oconee and Morgan counties. The first session with the Oconee County Citizens Advisory Committee is set for 5 o’clock in the Community Center at the Oconee County Veterans Park. It is expected that plans for a Bishop bypass will be up for discussion at today’s meeting.  Your drive through Madison could be disrupted again this week: more movie work is taking place in Morgan County, with production of a film that stars Reba McIntire. Southbound lane closures on I-85 in Franklin County are scheduled for tonight, as the DOT continues work on the Interstate weigh station near Lavonia. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS – For years, Georgia’s head football and basketball coaches used to go on an extensive spring speaking tour, answering questions and shaking hands with fans who paid a small fee at the door. Those days of extensive touring around Georgia appear to be over. At least for now. The university has planned five events this spring featuring Kirby Smart, but they will be private donor events – and for now only one will be in the state of Georgia. The school will host events in Nashville, Charlotte, Jacksonville and Houston, with the lone in-state event being in Atlanta in July. These events will be closed to the public and the media, open only to donors. But there will also be two additional in-state events featuring Smart, athletics director Greg McGarity said Monday afternoon. Those events will just be branded differently. “We’re still working through two in-state events that would be branded under the Georgia Bulldog Club, or under UGA athletics,” McGarity said. In the past, Georgia football and basketball coach did as many as 12 spring tour stops, almost all in the state, from Columbus to Macon to Augusta and even smaller stops. But those tours have gradually dissipated: In Mark Richt’s final year, he only went to seven stops. Last year Smart went to five stops, though four of the were in-state, the exception being a donor event in Dallas. This year it’s going all-private, which someone with knowledge said evolved from Smart coming in with a new approach, and UGA wanting to do fundraising. There’s a feeling they don’t need the old model, where fans get a chance to hear from coaches and ask them questions, because of social media and other factors. Crowds at these events had also been going down. “The university is trying to be strategic to generate the money that everybody needs to generate right now,” McGarity said. “The purpose of these events have changed, they’ve morphed over the years.” The athletics department did seem to anticipate some fan blowback. “As for our donors, I realize there may be some sensitivity to the majority of the events being out of state this year,” associate athletics director for development Matt Borman wrote in an internal e-mail earlier this month. “If donors bring this up to you please just say that we are excited to be in Atlanta with an event in July and we wanted to take an opportunity this year to visit some of our supporters who don’t have the opportunity to make it to Athens on a regular basis. “After this year of events we will reevaluate and definitely consider bringing some of these events back into Georgia.” There are other speaking events for Smart that aren’t directly affiliated with the school. For instance, he is speaking Monday night at the Athens Touchdown Club, and spoke last month at the Macon Touchdown Club.
  • ATHENS, Ga. --- The University of Georgia women’s tennis team extended its win streak to six matches with a commanding 4-0 victory over Mississippi State Sunday afternoon at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.   The Bulldogs (13-3, 7-1 SEC) continued to roll in doubles as they grabbed the point for the seventh-consecutive match. The 28th-ranked duo of Elena Christofi and Kennedy Shaffer clinched it on court two for the sixth time in the streak. In singles, Mariana Gould blew by her opponent 6-0, 6-1 followed by a Shaffer win at No. 3 and a clincher at the net by Christofi on court two.   “We are in the middle of this conference race and it's been tough every time we play all these schools,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “I keep saying in the SEC we have 11 in the top 25 rankings and everybody comes ready to play. Mississippi State was another one of those teams. I thought the doubles point was great. Getting that 1-0 lead is critical for us. It was a good match and a great day and now we hit the road for the next three before we conclude our season here at home.” The shutout was Georgia’s fifth of the season. The Bulldogs have now rallied off six straight conference wins with four of those against teams in the top-25.   In doubles, the No. 2 court sat at 4-3 before Christofi/Shaffer finished the last two games strong to win 6-3 over Khrystyna Vozniak and Jennifer Brown. The Georgia twosome showcases a 6-1 record playing No. 2 and an 11-2 slate on the year.   Mississippi State (11-5, 4-4) started doubles with the lead after 11th-ranked tandem of Jasmine Lee and Lisa Marie Rioux edged No. 18 Ellen Perez and Caroline Brinson on court one. However, Gould and Marta Gonzalez evened up the score on court three winning 6-3 before Christofi and Shaffer secured the point.   In singles, junior Mariana Gould, ranked at No. 102, overpowered her opponent 6-0, 6-1 on the last court to put Georgia up 2-0. Gould, of Boise, Idaho, ups her win streak to five on court six where she has a 10-2 dual record.   The remaining singles matches featured two first-set tiebreakers and four that spilled into the third set. On court No. 3, Kennedy Shaffer edged Madison Harrison in the first-set tiebreaker 7-2, then carried that momentum into the second set winning 6-2.   In the battle of freshmen on court two eighth-ranked Christofi defeated Rioux in the deciding third set 6-1 to seal the win for the Bulldogs. The clincher was Christofi’s fourth on the season en route to a team-best 26-4 record.   Georgia was leading in two of the three remaining third-set matches that went unfinished. At No. 4, Brinson was on the verge of victory leading Anastasia Rentouli 5-0. After Perez dropped the first-set tiebreaker, she took the second set over 32nd-ranked Jasmine Lee and was up 2-1 when play was called.   “This year is going fast we got to keep working and stay excited and continue to compete like we're competing,” Wallace added.   The Bulldogs are back in action Saturday, April 1st at No. 23 Tennessee. First serve is slotted for 1 p.m. ET.    ## Tennis Match Results Mississippi State vs. Georgia Mar 26, 2017 at Athens, Ga. (Dan Magill Tennis Complex)   #3 Georgia 4, #25 Mississippi State 0   Singles competition  1. #26 Ellen Perez (UGA) vs. #32 Jasmine Lee (MSU) 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 2-1, unfinished 2. #8 Elena Christofi (UGA) def. Lisa Marie Rioux (MSU) 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 3. #57 Kennedy Shaffer (UGA) def. Madison Harrison (MSU) 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 4. #59 Caroline Brinson (UGA) vs. Anastasia Rentouli (MSU) 6-4, 1-6, 5-0, unfinished 5. Marta Gonzalez (UGA) vs. Khrystyna Vozniak (MSU) 4-6, 6-3, 0-1, unfinished 6. #102 Mariana Gould (UGA) def. Sara Lizariturry (MSU) 6-0, 6-1   Doubles competition  1. #11 Jasmine Lee/Lisa Marie Rioux (MSU) def. #18 Ellen Perez/Caroline Brinson (UGA) 6-2 2. #28 Elena Christofi/Kennedy Shaffer (UGA) def. Khrystyna Vozniak/Jennifer Brown (MSU) 6-3 3. #68 Marta Gonzalez/Mariana Gould (UGA) def. Sara Lizariturry/Madison Harrison (MSU) 6-3   Match Notes: Mississippi State 11-5, 4-4; National ranking #25 Georgia 13-3, 7-1; National ranking #3 Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (6,3,2) UGA Rankings: ITA #3, USTA #T6 Official: Karen Badger-Mabry T-2:15 A-460 
  • FROM UGA SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS  Athens, Ga. — For the second straight year, Georgia’s J.J. Frazier has been named the state of Georgia’s Men’s College Basketball Player of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. The club announced its annual award winners on Thursday. Frazier, 5-10, 155-pound senior from Glennville, Ga., led the Bulldogs and ranked among the SEC’s top-10 performers in scoring (third at 18.8 ppg), assists (fifth at 4.1 apg), steals (third at 1.9 spg) and playing time (first at 34.6 mpg). He finished the 2016-17 season with 640 points, the fourth-best mark in school history. Frazier set the Georgia career record for free throw percentage (.841). He had a school-record streak of 45 consecutive made free throws during his senior season, which is also the second-longest streak in SEC history. Frazier has collected a long list of accolades this season. He was named SEC and National Player of the Week on Week on Feb. 27 after averaging 28.5 points in wins over Alabama and LSU in a 49-hour span. Frazier was also voted first-team All-SEC by both league coaches and the Associated Press. He was named to All-District teams by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). UGA players have won Tipoff Club’s statewide honor 10 times since its inception in 1984. Frazier is just the second Bulldog to earn Georgia Player of the Year honors twice. Jarvis Hayes was honored following both the 2002 and 2003 seasons.  Vern Fleming was the award’s initial recipient in 1984, followed by Litterial Green in 1992, Jumaine Jones in 1999, Hayes in 2002 and 2003, Rashad Wright in 2004, Trey Thompkins in 2011, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2013 and Frazier in 2016 and 2017. 
  • There will be a new policy in place for football fans who go to games at Sanford Stadium later this year. The University of Georgia says it will be following Southeastern Conference guidelines and requiring fans to bring items into the Stadium and other athletic venues in clear plastic bags. UGA says the policy will be in place for the April 22 G-Day spring football game.  From the University of Georgia…   In the interest of public safety and to expedite entry into its venues, the UGA Athletic Association will begin to implement the Southeastern Conference Clear Bag Policy in 2017. This policy will be in effect at the annual G-Day intrasquad football game on April 22. It will go into effect permanently for the 2017-18 competition season and will include all UGA venues that host ticketed events: Sanford Stadium (football), Stegeman Coliseum (men’s & women’s basketball, gymnastics) and Foley Field (baseball). Following are the basics concerning the Clear Bag Policy: > These bags will be permitted inside UGA athletic events: Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC and do not exceed 12”x6”x12”. One-gallon clear plastic freezer bags. Small clutch bags, with or without a handle or strap, that do not exceed 4.5” x 6.5”. Bags that contain necessary medical items, which must be inspected and approved at a designated gate. > Each ticket holder is allowed one large clear bag such as a one-gallon Ziploc style bag or clear plastic, vinyl or PVC bag that does not exceed 12” x 6” x 12”, plus a small clutch purse > Prohibited bags include, but are not limited to: purses larger than a clutch bag, briefcases, backpacks, cinch bags, fanny packs that are not clear and/or exceed the size restriction, luggage, computer bags/cases, camera bags/cases, binocular bags/cases, or any bag larger than the permissible size. > Several SEC schools began implementing this policy in the 2016 school year. All SEC schools will have this policy in place by the 2017-18 school year. > Fans can still carry items such as binoculars, smart phones, tablets and cameras (with lenses shorter than four inches), so long as they are not in a bag or carrying case. > Seat cushions -- without arms or pockets -- will still be permitted into the venues. Fans may also bring in blankets during cold weather events, provided they carry them in over an arm or shoulder to allow for easy screening upon entry. > More information on this new policy can be found at the following website: http://georgiadogs.com/clear-bag-policy/
  • The Clear Bag Policy will be in effect in Sanford Stadium, Stegeman Coliseum and Foley Field.