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Tales from Tibby

    It starts with a visitA chance to beWith loved onesWho you rarely see They show you their houseThey show you their townThey take the whole dayJust to show you around. Then the cat shows up. “Don’t try petting him. That’s a feral cat we took in. Not really a people-cat.”    In a previous tale, I made an attempt to transfer the crazy of cat people to the people who raise yard chickens. Read it here.    I am taking the crown away from the chicken people and not just giving it back, but gluing it to the heads of the cat people.    For the life of me, I do not understand why people try to rescue feral cats. Feral cats are good for one thing: making more feral cats.    I’m sure they eat a few mice, but so do snakes. And most people only want to see snakes dead.    Nowhere, Minnesota    I love these people; they are kinfolk. But they are kinfolk from my wife’s side, so I am absolved of any shared DNA.    The problem isn’t just that they’ve taken in a feral cat, it’s that they have other cats. And one of the other cats and Feral Boy just don’t get along.    So what we have here is what us Southerners would call a good, old-fashioned p*ssing contest. Except in this case, it’s literal.    When one cat ‘marks’ their spot, the other cat must come along and override that marking with a mark of its own. And this is happening all over the house.    WWNPD    What Would Normal People Do?    Why ask? These are not normal people. So let me just tell you how this issue is being handled.    First, it’s a visit to the vet.    Initially, the veterinarian doesn’t mind. He’s got mouths to feed and bills to pay.    “Doctor, my cats don’t get along and are peeing all over the house. What can I do?”    “Nothing. It’s what cats that hate each other do. That’ll be $50.”    But these people keep coming back, over and over.    At some point, the vet decides he’d rather sift through the cat box for food than have to keep dealing with these people, so…    He thought and he thought  And he thought some more  How to keep these people  Away from his door.    Then the good doctor  He hatched a good plan  And it was so good  You could even call it grand!    “You know, there are therapists that deal with these situations. Perhaps you should find one.”    And just like that - *bam!* - he made these people someone else’s problem.    You have questions, I know. Like, where does one find a cat therapist? That one is too easy. The internet, of course.    A tougher question would be, why do two people from the boonies of Minnesota choose a therapist from Los Angeles?    I didn’t ask. I find asking fewer questions shortens the amount of time I have to spend hearing the answers.    What I learned anyway:  -the cats are involved in the video chat with the therapist  -she talks to the cats  -they don’t talk back (I made that up. It’s just a guess.)  -she recommended drugs. For the cats  -the cats are now on drugs  -cat therapy is expensive. Consider making it your profession. Fast forward to that night. We’re having dinner with these people and this is asked:    “Have you seen the YouTube videos of the lady that teaches you how to massage a possum? That is so weird.”    Let’s see… you got one cat on Paxil to treat aggression, another cat on Xanax to help it chill out; your cats actually have their own profile at the local pharmacy because, you know… cats on drugs. You’ve paid someone calling themselves a cat therapist $500 to video chat with your cats. And… you spend your free time watching YouTube videos of a lady massaging possums.    And she’s the crazy one?    There are things  Across this land  Things we cannot  Understand    It’s not the dogs  It’s not the cats  People are  The real dingbats.    And I need a drink. Click here for more Tales From Tibby!
  • Notes from China:  I wondered if there might be some backlash for an American tourist because of the tariff battles going on now.   Nope, not at all. The people are lovely. Warm, welcoming.   Actually, I’ve found this to be true just about everywhere I’ve traveled. People like each other, even as our governments bicker. Everything the Great Wall is in your head, it is in real life. I hope you see it one day.   I hope you also get to see the terracotta warriors. Well over 2,000 years ago, the first Chinese emperor ordered thousands of life-sized terracotta soldiers to be made and placed in his tomb to guard him in his reincarnation.   If pottery can’t protect you in the afterlife, what can?   It was only in the mid-1970s this discovery was made, so excavation is a work in progress that will continue for many more years. So far, about 6,000 terracotta soldiers and horses have been unearthed. Amazing. And what a rich history.   China has a bunch of people. Chongqing is China’s largest city by population. I’d never even heard of Chongqing. 33 million people, if you include the metro area around it.   Beijing, China’s capital, only has 25 million people. Only. That’s more people than the population of Florida, all living in one city.   Where do all those people live? Glad you asked.   High-rise apartments. Thousands of high-rise apartments are under construction in every major city. Construction cranes are indeed the national bird because there are no other birds.   Seriously. We saw almost no birds of any variety. But then birds don’t like pollution. Those big cities have air quality so poor the sky is perpetually gray and long-range visibility is non-existent.   Lots of people wear surgical masks in public. They look silly, frankly, but it’s hard to blame them.   I was anxious to leave Beijing because nothing there reflects Chinese culture. At least, not as I imagined it. It’s all been torn down and replaced by modern skyscrapers and pavement.   Downtown Beijing looks and feels just like downtown Atlanta. Atlanta with signage in Chinese.   Even the Chinese regret not holding on to some of Beijing’s historical relics. We encountered a lot of Chinese tourists. That is, natives out seeing their own country. That’s a fairly recent thing.   Ordinary citizens who before had no means to travel now do have the means. Incomes have been going up and Chinese people are starting to travel a lot.   We had been told that as Americans, Chinese people would want pictures taken with us, mostly due to a fascination with our white hair. That was correct.   One member of our group was rushed by some Chinese tourists, first by a single woman, then by what looked like her whole family, all wanting to be in a photo with him once he demonstrated his willingness to pose with them. His hair isn’t white, but his eyes are blue.   You don’t see blue-eyed Asians.   My wife Beverly, who has a head full of curly white hair, was a pretty popular photo op. In one case, a woman came up and just grabbed her by the arm, smiling as her husband snapped photos.   Beverly was happy to accommodate. The Chinese people are really lovely.   A teenager asked Beverly to join her for a selfie. After that was done, I offered to take another picture of the two of them. Seeing me take the camera, two of her friends quickly gathered. From a few feet away, I happened to notice a man taking his wife’s picture near Beverly while her back was turned. He repeatedly motioned for his wife to get closer to her.   Seemed obvious that he wanted her snow-white hair in the photo with his dark-haired wife.   I walked over, held up a finger to pause him for a moment, then went and turned Bev around to face the camera. The two ladies wrapped their arms around each other and smiled.   All of this happened with only smiles and happy faces, no words. But most Chinese have as much trouble with English as we do with their Mandarin language.   I spent our full two weeks in China knowing only the Mandarin words for hello, thank you and beer. It worked out well.   The English word ‘toilet’ was everywhere you might need it, and the rest was figured out by pointing and gesturing.   Even if they don’t speak English, but they know our words. In two weeks, I saw exactly one t-shirt that had Chinese characters (letters) on it. Everything else, English.   Not only were all those t-shirts in English, most reflected Western culture in some way. Cute sayings, pop stars, TV shows and movies.   They also know the f-bomb, as it showed up occasionally.   How is that not censored? The Chinese government censors.  Any time we were watching the BBC or CNN, when a story came on talking about the ongoing troubles in Hong Kong, the TV went black. The picture returned as soon as the Hong Kong piece was done.   The internet is censored. Pornography is not allowed. Neither is Google. I learned to use Bing. But not for porn.   Our guide told us Facebook was usually not allowed, but at times it was available to use. Never could figure that out.   The Chinese government spends a lot of time and money playing Sister Mary Sunshine, telling people how good life is, how prosperous they are, how wonderful China is becoming.   Newspapers tout only happy news. Even articles on the tariff issues are always upbeat, talking about progress being made in negotiations. Details are never a part of the story. Everything is good, and everything for the people.   The Peoples Republic of China is the formal name. There’s Peoples Square. Peoples Park. Everything belongs to and is for the people.   As long as the people belong to the Communist Party, the ruling party of China.   I expected to see a lot of Buddhist influence in China. I saw virtually none. Chinese people are generally not religious. Whether the figure is correct, we heard that 95% of the population doesn’t practice any religion.   It is fair to say, however, that the ruling Communist party doesn’t want competition for people’s devotion. The Chinese people will tell you that with a wink in their voices.   Indeed, it seems things are going well. Wages are going up. People willing to work more can earn more, so Chinese people work hard, often at multiple jobs.   Chinese citizens now have to pay for health insurance and pay income taxes. And the free-market seems to be taking over the business culture.   Most of this strikes me as exactly what communism isn’t, but what do I know. And all of this is of course purely observational on my part.   While China appears to be prospering, prosperity is for the cities. Country living, revered by us Westerners, is a ticket to poverty in the land of the dragon.   If you want a better life, you move to one of the already-overcrowded cities and hope you can afford a high-rise.   China doesn’t seem to hold the farmer in much regard.   My impression was that farmers are regarded as peasants, which is interesting because several of their cities individually have more mouths to feed than exist in the entire state of Texas.   If you’re a farmer and move to the city because you can’t find labor to help on the farm, the government will provide you a low-level job, like pruning shrubs or planting flowers in the parks.   Or sweeping streets. Streets are kept extraordinarily clean. Not only is trash routinely picked up, falling leaves from the trees are routinely swept up and discarded.   In some cities, you cannot buy a car even if you can afford it. Too many cars already and too much pollution.   Those cities have lottery drawings for car tags, which entitles you to own a car.   China is aware it has a big pollution problem. It appears one way they are trying to address it by planting trees. If there is an exposed area of land the size of your living room, it’s gonna have 25 trees planted on it.   The larger cities of China are very modern. Western toilets (like we use) are replacing squatty potties, though squatties are still very common, even in public places, like museums. Chinese dress very much like Europeans and Americans. Casual, and pretty much anything goes. Jeans, ripped jeans, t-shirts. Americans do not stand out for what we wear.   Chinese beer is weak and uninteresting. Regardless of brand, all of it seems to be of a similar light-beer style. But did I ever turn one down?   That’s a big no-o-o-o.   The most prevalent liquor I encountered is referred to as Chinese vodka, mostly because of the appearance (clear) and mouth feel. It’s sorghum-based. I like sorghum syrup, so I figured I’d like their baijiu.   Yep.   Big cities in China like to show off their technology, particularly using it to light things up! Lighted buildings with synchronized displays that are spectacular. You can watch images of birds flying or a camel walking seamlessly over buildings for several city blocks.   For all the country’s modernity, however, tap water is not drinkable. Another head-scratcher. All that technology, yet drinking water has to come from a plastic bottle.   If you get a chance to visit this beautiful country, remember that. Or be prepared to spend a lot of time figuring out the squatty potty. COMING NEXT: SQUID ON A STICK. EATING MY WAY THROUGH CHINA Click here for more Tales from Tibby!
  • Kip Moore grew up in my back yard. I do not know him. If you’re unfamiliar with Kip Moore, he’s a country singer. Not the biggest name in country music, but he is known – actually, admired - for having a large, loyal fan base.   In Tifton, GA, the house I grew up in and the house Kip grew up in have adjoining back yards. Walk out my back door, cross the yard and walk into his back door.   You can still do that, but you won’t find him or me in those houses anymore except to visit our parents.   In years past, I made that trek a couple of times because his late father was a teaching golf pro and tried his best to make me a better golfer. Didn’t work, but I knew his dad well and met all the kids, including Kip, I’m sure.   Since Kip is a full generation younger than me, he would have been a wee lad at the time.   WHERE IS THIS GOING?   We were in McMinnville, TN, recently to attend a concert in a cave. McMinnville is home to Cumberland Caverns and a concert hall that is 333 feet below the surface called the Volcano Room.   A favorite singer/songwriter was playing the Volcano Room.   As part of our visit, we did a pre-concert tour of the caverns. Our guide for the tour was a young lady that I’m guessing was in her early 20s. According to her, one of the perks of being a guide was getting to ‘work’ the concerts, meeting and hearing all the cool artists that pass through.   “Who’s your favorite you’ve seen so far?” I asked.   Kip Moore.   “He was so good and so nice!”   Y’all ready for this?   “Fun fact,” I tell her, “Kip grew up in my back yard.”   I then go on to be specific with the facts: I was friends with his dad but because of the age difference, I didn’t know Kip. But yeah, his mom still lives there and my family still lives there, and I figure one day, he’ll be home and I’ll be home, and we’ll probably have a beer together.   She seemed to think that was pretty cool.   I’m not sure what happened in the next two hours that included the concert we were there to see, but after the show, one of the cavern workers literally chased me down.   “I hear you know Kip Moore!”   Somehow, the game of Rumors had gone full circle. Telling someone Kip grew up near me had fermented into the fine wine of us being pals.   At this point, I simply capitulated on explanations. She was star-struck, and I neither wanted to bust her bubble nor take the time to go into details – again.   “Yeah, he grew up in my back yard.”   She gushed. About how good he was, how he played an extra hour more than scheduled, how he treated the fans as if they were his best friends.   She spoke to me though her words would probably reach Kip.   I grinned and nodded a lot, playing the hand I was dealt: friend of Kip Moore.   So, Kip, my apologies. I totally used you to play the fame card. I owe you a beer.   Since it seems unlikely you’ll be home at the same time I am, I’ll leave beer money with your mom next time through the home place.   Enjoy.
  • I accidentally pulled off a masterpiece of a scam.  With another friend joining us, my wife Beverly and I headed to horse country in Kentucky.   Somewhere just across the Kentucky state line I realized I had left my billfold at home. Some people would be upset about that. Not me.   No billfold meant no driving and no paying for anything. Four days of someone else taking care of everything. It’s was a thing of beauty!   Sorta.   Part of our journey was to catch the last day of the spring horse racing season at Keeneland race track just outside of Lexington. Bev and I had visited that beautiful facility before and had vowed to return one day to bet on the horses.   So there we were. But with no money of my own, I was what’s referred to in tax lingo as ‘a dependent.’ And somebody wasn’t going to give me a lot of money to lose on the ponies.   Didn’t really matter. We’re not much for gambling and being only the second time at a race track, neither of us know much about how to bet on the horses.   That doesn’t mean I’ve never made money at the track, though.   Gather ‘round, children for a sadly true story that will leave you shaking your head and probably liking me a little less.   Dateline: Ruidoso Downs/Ruidoso, New Mexico   I had never been to a betting track for horses but was intrigued and somehow convinced our group to spend an afternoon there.   It was a blistering hot day, to the point of being miserable. Probably because of that, the crowd was light and payouts were pretty small.   Compounding the misery, roughly halfway through the day’s races none of us were winning any of the $2 bets we were making.   But I remember this well:   Race #6 had just concluded, and I had concluded it was time to lose a beer, so I went to the boy’s room.   Standing at the urinal, I noticed all the disappointment laying on the floor. Apparently, people holding losing tickets as they hit the restroom simply dropped them on the floor when it was time to hold something else.   The ticket right at my feet caught my eye. It was for the #6 race just run, and it appeared someone had picked a winning trifecta.   In case it needs explaining, a trifecta is a bet on three horses to finish in the top three. A straight trifecta means you pick specific horses to finish 1st, 2nd, & 3rd. That can be a pretty handsome payoff..   This ticket was a trifecta box, meaning the bettor had picked the top three finishers but in no particular order. It’s a popular bet because it allows leeway for the order in which your top three picks finish.   The downside of the box is that it doesn’t pay out as well as a straight. But it’s still a win.   Finishing my own business, I bent down to take a closer look at the ticket.   Horses #2, 3 and 8. That’s what I remembered as the top three in the just-completed race. I’m guessing it had fallen out of somebody’s pocket.   Now, you can only imagine what the men’s room floor is like underneath a row of urinals. It ain’t pretty and it ain’t dry.   I didn’t touch it, instead stepping outside to double-check the numbers on the board and confirm the winning horses.   Yup, that was them.   I thought about it a few moments, taking into consideration that it was a ‘box’ so the payoff was not going to be all that rich, especially on a day when there’s weren’t many patrons attending the races.   What I really hoped was that the original owner would come back to the bathroom to see if he could find his lost ticket. I would show him where it was and see how he handled it. But as a couple of minutes passed, the ticket just laid there.   Taunting me.   Free money… Money just laying there… Waiting on some fool to rescue it from its sea of nastiness.   Yeah, I did.   I grabbed a couple of paper towels, picked it up and took it to the sink, rinsing it off before patting it as dry as possible with more paper towels.   Then I washed my hands. I washed my hands 40 times, then I washed them again. There simply was not enough soap to wash off the shame of my deed.   But whatcha gonna do? Leave a winning ticket laying there?   I finally determined my hands and the ticket were clean as they were going to get, and I headed to the window to collect my payoff.   To the window clerk I explained the wet ticket as the result of my excitement of having won, spilling my drink during the celebration.   She smiled politely and handed me my winnings. $36.   I didn’t tell anyone in our group about it until we were in the car and on the way back to our house. Everyone was pretty grossed out. Especially, my poor wife.   But poor because she didn’t win no money! Loser!!   Although, it can be argued that I was the loser. To this day, she still doesn’t like holding hands with me. For more Tales from Tibby, click here. 
  • In an early scene of the 1990 Julia Roberts/Richard Gere movie Pretty Woman, there’s a dude walking the streets asking people, “What’s your dream?”   Or as he says, “wha’s yo’ dream? Everybody gotta have a dream!”    I admire people who have a dream, a plan. It’s likely going to change but to have a goal is a good thing.    Graduating from high school, my goal was ___.    That’s a blank space.    College? I’ll go because isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?    Whatcha gonna study, boy?    No clue. #manwithoutaplan    That, by the way, makes for a poorly-motivated student.    By the time I started college I was working full-time at a radio station, but it didn’t seem like career stuff. It felt like something I could do until my real job sent me an invitation with a bottle of champagne and a signing bonus.    Since one shall not find what one does not seek, a real job never materialized, forcing me to continue my pretend job.    I did enjoy radio and worked hard at it, but it took a long time for me to believe this was going to be my career work. I remember thinking, man, if I can just do this thing until I’m about 35, I’ll have it all figured out by then.    No, I wouldn’t have. By the time I hit my mid-30s I started figuring some things out, but by then I had decided to ride that radio pony until it threw me off.    Further, I had dropped out of college because radio was way more fun. So if radio had fallen through, I would have ___.    That’s another blank space.    These kids today…    #1) An 18-year old I randomly met, headed off to college soon.    “Whatcha gonna study?”    She wants to be an actress. If that doesn’t pan out, she thinks being a doctor in a trauma ward has appeal.    Why a trauma ward?    “You know, when a chandelier falls and pierces your body, I’d be there to help you.”    Yeah, right. Unless you’re performing the exact same surgery on Grey’s Anatomy, which I suspect is the only place such a surgery would ever be necessary.    #2) My 11-year old niece wants to know if she can live with us when she attends the University of Georgia.    “Whatcha gonna study?”    She wants to be either a veterinarian or study culinary arts.    Being the guy I am, I suggested she do both. Her failures as a vet could yield some tasty offerings at suppertime.    She wasn’t amused, but I dismissed that as her not understanding the high level of sophistication in my humor. Click here for more Tales from Tibby.
  • There was a day last week designated as National Moonshine Day. You’d think after all these years I’d know there was such a thing.  That same day was also National Gingerbread Day, National Running Day, and National Veggie Burger Day.   Nobody seems to know how National Moonshine day was assigned, but I’m guessing someone came across the day honoring running, gingerbread and veggie burgers and decided it was a date that needed something good going for it. I’ve only experienced true made-in-the woods kinda ‘shine a couple of times in my life.   Probably the best-tasting stuff was provided by my neighbor, Frank. Frank had been a mayor and a state representative and was a good ol’ boy with lots of good ol’ boy friends.   One of his friends was a judge in a tiny North Georgia town who had a still.   A judge. The same guy who sentenced bootleggers was one.   Frank claimed the judge wasn’t a bootlegger because he didn’t sell it, only gave it out to trusted friends.   That’s a finer point of the law I don’t know, so I didn’t judge. As the Good Book says, judge not lest ye be judged by a judge with the keys to a jail cell and the authority to put your a** in it.   My favorite moonshine memory is Ernest.   Ernest was a care-taker on a friend’s family farm in rural South Georgia. He was an affable, older gentleman who was friends with everyone.   Ernest’s job was tending the farm. He mowed, did light repairs and fed dogs.   And there were dogs.   The remote location of the farm made it an easy spot to drop off an unwanted dog, so strays were always showing up. Ernest and the family he worked for were quite happy to welcome those orphan hounds.   Ernest was easy to like. Whether or not he ever knew my name, he knew I was on the radio. Whenever I accompanied my friend to the farm, he’d flash that big jovial grin and say, “There comes the radio man!”   I don’t recall ever going to the farm when Ernest didn’t have his big cast-iron kettle of corn mash is some stage of preparation out in the yard behind his trailer.   One cool fall night, three of us high school buddies decided we’d grab a couple of six packs (drinking age was 18), head to the farm and build a fire.   Since the old farmhouse and Ernest’s trailer shared a yard, Ernest came to join us. He didn’t want our company as much as he wanted our beer.   His offer: a gallon of his corn mash in exchange for a 6-pack of what was very likely Schlitz Malt Liquor back then.   Judge not. We were young with undeveloped taste buds.   We accepted the offer and a gallon jug of Ernest’s fire water soon began circling the fire pit.   If you want to know how this saga ended, you’ll need to ask one of my other buddies.   I’m pretty sure that night I determined one of those stray dogs was a camel and rode him to Egypt. Click here for more Tales From Tibby. 
  • This needs a quick preface so it won’t come off as snooty.  We have no children. Therefore, no grandchildren. And no pets. Like everybody else, we occasionally spend a little money on things we probably shouldn’t but unlike y’all with kids and pets, we spend on things that don’t pout or poop.   For me, there’s something magical about the $100 price tag. Once an item crosses the $100 threshold, it’s officially expensive and that must be pointed out.   I was serving apple pie to neighbors recently and drizzled an aged balsamic vinegar on it, vinegar that had been brought back from Italy and cost…?   Yep, about $100. And I told them so. In defense of my spending so much for a tiny bottle of balsamic, it happened at a wine tasting that might have lasted just a wee bit too long. That same tasting also lead to the purchase of a $100 bottle of olive oil before my wife asked to ‘borrow’ my credit card then hid it.   But why did I need to point out the cost to my guests? Why not try to impress them with the fact that it was 30-year old balsamic - from Italy! - and leave it at that?   ‘Cause it cost a hun’erd dollars, that’s why. If I’m serving you a hun’erd dollar balsamic, you’re going to hear about it.   I’d probably do the same thing if I was serving you a $100 bottle of wine, but don’t hold your breath on that one. In our house, it’s likely the wine I’m serving you is only $2.99. For the whole bottle.   It would be a fair question to ask why I’m willing to spend $100 on olive oil but cheap-out on wine.   I think it has to do with longevity. I’ll have that oil and balsamic for some time to come, enjoying it along the way. Wine won’t make it past bedtime.   Once wine is opened, it evaporates or something. Maybe it grows legs and walks off, but it gets gone. If it’s expensive wine, at the end of the evening you’ve just plowed through a hun’erd dollar bill with nothing to show for it but a dopey grin on your face.   That’s not to say I would never pay up for good spirits. I have spent a few coins for good bourbon, though I have stopped chasing the ones that have gotten stupid expensive. There are some tasty whiskies and bourbons that are quite affordable once you get your nose out of the air and into a glass.   A cousin posted this for me to see. That is good stuff, but in my town if a store has any of this available at all, the store paid $30 for it. Thirty. That’s a ‘3’ with one ‘0’ attached. If they can get $200 for it, fine, but it ain’t coming from me.   With that proclamation though, I must confess to a recent bout of liquor lunacy.   A friend who knows I often find decent prices online for these things asked if I could find a particular tequila that was $100 in the store.   I did find a better price, though by the time you added in shipping it was $96/bottle.   Hey, $4 saved.   I was somewhat familiar with this tequila, having brought a bottle of it back from Mexico many years ago. I didn’t remember a thing about how it tasted, but at $100 it had to be good, right? So I figured I should also get a bottle for myself.   “Wait a minute,” he says. “I have a friend who might want a bottle, too. Before you order, let me check.”   I knew exactly what was happening. He was asking his friend (wife) if he could just go ahead and buy a second bottle while we were ordering.   Sure enough, he tells me his friend wanted a bottle, so I decided if he could get one for his friend, I could order one for my friend. So, the order was doubled to four bottles.   Turns out, he actually had a friend who wanted a bottle. I didn’t. But I now have two big bottles of expensive tequila, and one small problem.   I don’t care for it. Neither does my imaginary friend.   I cracked open a bottle for me and a buddy - after bragging that it cost $100, of course. We took a couple of sips and just sorta stared at each other with that look. The look that says, “um…. paid how much?“   And yay! There’s a whole ‘nother bottle!   Anybody need tequila? It’s a real purdy bottle. It even comes with instructions on how to turn it into a vase once it’s empty. (Spoiler alert: take the cap off and put flowers in it.)   I’m willing to let it go for a hun’erd dollar bill. I’ll even throw in $4 in change. 
  • If you haven’t been paying attention to the news, there’s a collard crisis underway. Not making this up. The cultivar Southerners crave this time of year is in serious short supply.  Blame the elements. In the Southeast, too much rain has flooded fields. California collards are the victims of wildfires, either too much scarring from blowing ash or too much smoke to harvest ‘em.   For me, none of this is particularly bad news. I hate collards.   Every year I seem to find myself in the company of friends and/or family who want that traditional New Year’s Day meal of collards, cornbread, black-eyed peas and ham.   Each of those foods supposedly represents something, though I have no idea what it is. Except for collards. Because they’re green, I think they represent money. Eat collards on the first day and you’ll enjoy prosperity throughout the entire new year.   I’d rather be poor. Collards taste nasty and give me gas.   I hate black-eyed peas, too, though I can tolerate them if I’ve got enough chow chow slopped on ‘em. (Chow chow is pickled something. In the South, usually cabbage or squash. Whatever it is, it’s mission is to mask the taste of the peas. Ketchup also works in a pinch.)   This is my own problem, I know. I’m a Southern boy with a Southern pedigree a mile long.  Having grown up with considerable exposure to three sets of great-grandparents, I learned things kids today aren’t allowed to learn or are simply not exposed to.   One grandfather was a sawmiller who taught me how to make a corncob pipe and smoke rabbit tobacco in it. His wife - grandmama - was a sturdy woman who dipped snuff and tried to teach me how to milk a cow. (I never learned. I was afraid I’d hurt the cow if I squeezed that thing too hard.)   Another grandpa raised chickens and cows and plowed his garden behind a mule while grandma was making stew from the snapping turtle her brother had killed and brought into the house, swingin’ it by the tail.   On my mom’s side, one great-grandfather was a preacher. A Baptist preacher. That’s an important Southern distinction. Wouldn’t be as meaningful if I had to identify him as Episcopalian. People might think we were drinkers. You know, whiskeypalians. And my elders did not drink. Had to learn to do that on my own.   I’ve skinned and consumed a hundred rabbits and squirrels and gnawed clean their bones. I can pick out a ripe melon by thumping it. And I can fry you up a mess of okra that will absolutely make you weep.   I shouldn’t have to prove my credentials as a Southerner, yet I’ve had a constant culinary clash with many of the foods beloved in the South.   It’s not just collards I don’t like, it’s turnip greens, mustard greens, rutabaga and virtually all peas and beans. (Except pork’n. I love me some pork’n beans. Probably because you gussy them up with brown sugar and bacon.)   I don’t like boiled peanuts, either.   Something’s wrong with my wiring. I much prefer Italian food to Southern fare. Given the choice of pizza or fried chicken…   Wait. Bad example. I’d definitely choose the fried chicken. And anything that taste like fried chicken. Frog legs, for example. Yum!   But I love Italian food the most. I’ve wondered if the doctor who delivered me was Italian. Or maybe he had just polished off a pizza and the first breathe I drew on this earth was a whiff of his breathe.   Adding insult to injury, the friend who prepares our collards every New Years Day is Italian. She claims what she cooks are Italian-style collards.   I don’t fight it, but I don’t buy it. If I cook up a possum with pepperoni, does that make it Italian-style possum?   Debate that while you eat your collards. If you can find any.   Personally, I’m hoping to catch a break this year.
  • “Always wear clean underwear. You never know when you might be in an accident, and you don’t want people in the emergency room seeing you in dirty underwear.” - Your mom or someone like her.  ‘Twas the day before Thanksgiving, and I was in the emergency room.   I had been golfing that day and couldn’t shake the uneasiness in my chest, so I quit halfway through the round and headed for the hospital.   Quick background: This had happened before. Seven years ago, I left the golf course, went to the emergency room and was invited to stay for a triple bypass. So I’ve got history. And trust me, that kind of history heaps a whole lot o’ paranoia on you when things start feeling squirrely in your chest.   I will say this: seven years ago, I was given an additional indicator something was amiss. That hot day in July, after finishing my round, I cracked open a cold beer and never took a sip.   There’s your sign.   Now, here I was again.   In the emergency room, the first thing that happens is a check of your pulse and blood pressure. My pulse was fine, but my blood pressure sent a message to Houston: We have a problem.   I’m not a guy that ever fights BP problems, but it was through-the-roof high. And that little piece of news was going to buy me an extended stay to ‘check on things.’   “Let’s get you into a hospital gown,” said the nurse. Oh, yeah… cute nurse. About age 30. Because when you’re a guy in your 60’s and you wind up in the hospital, you’re never gonna get the dude nurse who looks like he might have stayed up all night binge-watching Game Of Thrones and eating nachos. You’re getting the cute, young nurse.   And she’s just asked you to take off your clothes.   This is where UPS sets in. And it ain’t about nobody getting a delivery. (Though you could argue it involves a package.)   UPS = Underwear Panic Syndrome.   It’s real.   Underwear Panic Syndrome is that sinking feeling an older guy gets when the cute, young nurse is going to see his underwear, and he has no idea which pair he has on.   Let’s face it, y’all, we all have underwear that should have found the trash can a long time back. It’s got holes, it’s got a shot elastic band, it’s got (whispering…) stains! You know what I’m talking about here.   To further expound on UPS, here’s some info you didn’t ask for, but I’m a briefs guy. Always have been.   I get that briefs are not particularly cool, but neither am I. With briefs, I get the one thing I demand from my underwear: support for the troops.   Let’s keep everybody together. Nobody needs to be wandering off.   (For the record, briefs used to be cool. Google images of ‘Jim Palmer underwear.’)   In college, I experimented with a few things. One of those was boxers, because a lot of my friends wore boxers. I spent those few days doing a whole lot of… um, adjusting.   As I have lived my life and observed a few things, I’ve never regretted staying with briefs. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Women aren’t the only ones affected by gravity.   At one point in my morning radio show career, I had a mid-20s, male co-host who wore boxers. Because we’re boys, I suppose, underwear was a frequent topic of discussion. Our female partner was proud to proclaim her preference for going commando, so she mostly just refereed our briefs vs boxers arguments.   “You’ll regret boxers,” I would warn him. “Your knees will have playmates when you’re older.”   One day, he texted me from the local YMCA. He had just finished a workout and while in the locker room had encountered a much older man, shaving in front of the lavatory mirror. Nude.   My cohort had just seen his future. And I have never received a text containing so many exclamation points.   He now wears boxer briefs.   And maybe that should be my direction. Boxer briefs tend to keep all the eggs in the basket, as some of us prefer, and are probably considered cooler than briefs. Again though, I’ve experimented and still prefer briefs.   The UPS I suffered the day before Thanksgiving wasn’t as much about just wearing briefs as it was about the color of briefs I might have on.   Underwear multi-packs usually contain various colors: black, gray, blue, red, even white can be included. (Never brown, though. Wonder why? Especially for men of a certain age.)   I rarely wear the white ones, usually opting for another color. But what if I was wearing the blue ones? They’re not a manly dark blue. They’re a baby blue. Carolina blue. Might as well be tighty-whities, really.   As I unbuckled my belt to drop my drawers, I secretly prayed: please no blue, please no blue.   Ta da! Black! Yes!   But they were still briefs, and I still felt some pangs of shame.   To wrap up the hospital story, my blood pressure had gotten whacked out (I had wa-a-a-y overdone salty foods the day before), and I was released 24 hours later after extensive testing determined my heart is actually in excellent condition.   But comfortably back home, I’m thinking I need an undies upgrade. Maybe buy some boxer briefs to keep in the truck. Next time I take myself to the hospital, I can do a quick-change before walking into the emergency room to announce that I may be having a heart attack.   When the cute nurse tells me to undress, she will still see an older man with a ponchy belly, large love handles, a developing turkey neck and gray, thinning hair, but she’ll see I still got style.   She won’t say it out loud, but she’ll be thinking, “Hey, cool undies.”   Winner, winner, chicken dinner, old man!   You take your little victories whenever they come.
  • This is not a story about traveling to Italy. It mentions Italy because that’s where I finally found clarity for my life.   Since clarity is a rarity, it is charity for me to share for thee.    I’m not gonna lie. Since retiring, I’ve struggled.    While comfortably tucked into my career as a morning radio show announcer, I knew how my day would go. I’d finish up work around 10 or 11 am every morning, then go join the old fart golf group that teed off every day around lunchtime. Many years, I would play 150 days or more.    The point is, I knew what I was doing with my days. In retirement, I’m playing maybe 50 rounds a year. That leaves a lot of days in limbo.    To some extent, golf has been replaced by travel. Oh, it’s not all exotic. For example, we’re taking in more live concerts now, so sometimes our trips are just a quick overnighter to hear an artist we enjoy.    We’ve fallen in love with Nashville, Tennessee’s music scene, so we wind up in Music City way more than I would have ever imagined.    Still, we are trying to see some other parts of the world and recently returned to Italy for the second time in two years. And for a second time, we hooked up with a travel guide named Max.    On our first tour of Old Italia, it took Max about one day to figure out what we liked: wine. With lunch.    On our just-completed trip, he didn’t even ask what we wanted to see. Every day, he had arranged a wine tasting at a nice winery, usually with lunch thrown in.    Lunch often lasted for a couple of hours. Afterwards, Max would just drive us around until we fell asleep. When we woke up, he’d tell us of the nice places he had taken us and say something like, “too bad you slept through it.”    In the Tuscany region, we hit a couple of places that are actually referred to as wine castles. Translated to English, that’s a castle with wine.    A castle, y’all. With wine. Take a moment, if you need to.    Besides wine, another thing to love about Italy is gelato. Gelato is actually Italiano for ice cream, but gelato is better. It uses more milk…. something, something, something… so it’s not just like American ice cream.    Gelato is sold in a gelateria. If you think about it, that makes sense. Pizza is sold in a pizzeria; gelato, in a gelateria.    I’m a big fan of gelato. Specifically, coconut, though I’m multi-gelatinous and can swing many directions.    So, the epiphany: I want to open a gelateria in a wine castle.    When I told my wife, she suggested I build the castle from the corks we have in the basement. It was meant as a snide remark, a dig at me for saving corks, even though I have no plan to do anything with them.    But her idea is brilliant. A cork castle!    Enemy bullets would bounce right off the cork walls. And if someone bombed my castle, what’s the damage? Broken cork? No problem.    “Hey, we need more cork!” And out comes a corkscrew.    My cork castle would also be flood-proof. The same rains that floated Noah’s arc would float my castle. When the rain subsided, who knows what country my castle would have landed in? But it wouldn’t matter. The local chamber of commerce would welcome me. Because I’ve got a castle full of wine.    And gelato.    Who wouldn’t want to be my friend?    Beautiful minds like mine – and Steve Jobs – don’t come along that often. I can only imagine that you’re thinking, ‘Dang, I wish I had thought of that first!’    But you didn’t.    Bring money. I will be charging admission.   

Local News

  • New automotive technology that promises enhanced fuel efficiency may have a serious downside, including significant climate and public health impacts, according to research from the University of Georgia College of Engineering.   The gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine is one of the most prominent technologies car manufacturers adopted to achieve the fuel economy and carbon dioxide emission goals established in 2012 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The market share of GDI-equipped vehicles increased from 2.3% in model year 2008 to 51% in model year 2018. The EPA projects 93% of vehicles in the U.S. will be equipped with GDI engines by 2025.   While this technology is credited with boosting fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions, GDI engines produce more black carbon aerosols than traditional port fuel injection engines. A strong absorber of solar radiation, black carbon exhibits significant climate warming properties.   In a study published this month in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, a team of researchers at UGA predicts the increase in black carbon emissions from GDI-powered vehicles will fuel climate warming in urban areas of the U.S. that significantly exceeds the cooling associated with a reduction in CO2. In addition, they believe the shift will nearly double the premature mortality rate associated with vehicle emissions, from 855 deaths annually to 1,599. The researchers estimate the annual social cost of these premature deaths at $5.95 billion.   “Even though emissions from gasoline vehicles constitute a small fraction of the black carbon in the atmosphere, the vehicle emissions are concentrated in regions with high population densities, which magnifies their effect,” said Rawad Saleh (pictured above), an assistant professor in UGA’s School of Environmental, Civil, Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering and the study’s principal investigator.   The increase of black carbon is an unintended consequence of the shift to GDI-equipped vehicles that some scientists suspected was based on experimental data, according to Saleh. He says the UGA study is the first to place these experimental findings in a complex modeling framework to investigate the trade-off between CO2 reduction and an increase in black carbon.   While previous research has reported the shift to GDI engines will result in net benefits for the global climate, the UGA researchers say these benefits are rather small and can only be realized on timescales of decades. Meanwhile, the negative impact of black carbon can be felt instantaneously.   “Our research shows the climate trade-off is much different on the regional scale, especially in areas with high vehicle densities. In these regions, the climate burden induced by the increase in black carbon dominates over the climate benefits of the reduction in CO2,” said Saleh. “The study concludes the social cost associated with the acute localized climate burden and public health impacts induced by GDI vehicles largely overweigh their marginal global climate benefits.”   The interdisciplinary study was a collaboration between the UGA College of Engineering, the department of geography in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and the UGA President’s Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program. 
  • The University of Georgia debuts at No. 4 in the USA TODAY Sports preseason baseball coaches top 25 poll, it was announced Thursday.   Georgia’s No. 4 ranking is its best in the preseason since 2009 when Collegiate Baseball and the USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches poll both had the Bulldogs at No. 4. The 2009 Bulldogs reached No. 1 for several weeks during the regular season.    The USA TODAY Sports voting board is made up of 31 coaches at Division I institutions and all are members of the American Baseball Coaches Association. The 2020 top five featured Vanderbilt, Louisville, Texas Tech, Georgia and Arkansas.    The Bulldogs and Razorbacks are the only two schools to earn a national top eight seed in each of the past two NCAA Championships. In 2019, the Bulldogs went 46-17 including a school record 21 Southeastern Conference wins during the regular season. They were a No. 4 national seed in 2019 and a No. 8 national seed in 2018.    The 2020 season, under the direction of Ike Cousins head coach Scott Stricklin, begins on Feb. 14. Season tickets are sold out but single game tickets are available. Fans can call (706) 542-1231 to purchase tickets or go online at www.georgiadogs.com/tickets.    In 2020, Georgia welcomes back 20 lettermen and 18 newcomers. Seven starting position players return including two 2019 draft picks in Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop Cam Shepherd and infielder/outfielder Riley King. On the mound, Georgia will have a pair of projected first round draft prospects in right-handers Emerson Hancock and Cole Wilcox. Also, junior left-hander C.J. Smith, who was a key member of the starting rotation that helped win series over nationally ranked Vanderbilt and LSU in 2019, is back. Last year, Georgia went 46-17 and set a school record with a .980 Fielding Percentage, and its 3.24 Earned Run Average was the second best in school history.    In other 2020 preseason top 25 polls, Georgia is ranked No. 5 by D1Baseball.com, No. 7 by Collegiate Baseball poll, No. 7 by Baseball America and No. 10 by Perfect Game
  • Police in Gainesville say they have identified the child found wandering in a Wal Mart store, apparently left there by his father. From the Gainesville PD…   Thank you!!! Child has been identified. **Help** Located Child The Gainesville Police Department is seeking the assistance of the public to help identify a child. On January 26, 2020 at around 11:30am officers were called to the Walmart at 400 Shallowford Road, Gainesville, GA in regards to a child being located within the store. The child is possibly 3 years of age and may go by the name Brandon. His father is possibly named Alejandro. He was possibly dropped off by a Hispanic male driving a white Ford cargo van. We are asking the community to call Hall County Dispatch at 770-534-5251 if you have any information regarding this case.
  • The University of Georgia ranked 14th on the list of Best Big Colleges in the U.S. by rankings platform Niche. The rankings compare the best large private and public universities in the U.S. with at least 15,000 undergraduate students along measures of academics, value and student life, among other factors. UGA, the birthplace of public higher education in America, has consistently ranked as a top value university and is the largest institution to place experiential learning as a core part of its undergraduate curriculum. With its comprehensive reach, the university’s 17 colleges and schools enroll more than 37,000 students and have produced over 315,000 alumni living worldwide. The top institution on the Niche’s ranking was the University of Southern California. Other SEC schools on the list included University of Florida at #10 and Texas A&M University at #22. UGA was the only school in Georgia to make the list.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS The Georgia football opening game with Virginia is more than seven months away, but talking season is well underway and Heisman talk has begun. Incoming graduate-transfer quarterback Jamie Newman ranks among the Top 5 among Heisman favorites before throwing his first pass in a formal practice, currently at 14-to-1. Newman is ranked the No. 3 returning quarterback by Pro Football Focus, behind Ohio State's Justin Fields and Clemson's Trevor Lawrence. RELATED: Mark Richt says Jamie Newman can adapt to any kind of offense Fields, who spent his 2018 freshman season at UGA backing up departed starter Jake Fromm, is the co-favorite with Lawrence to win the Heisman, both at 4-to-1. Sophomore tailback Zamir White and sophomore George Pickens are also among the current favorites. White is at 80-to-1, and Pickens is at 100-to-1. The bettable opening Heisman odds are evidence there's plenty of outside buy-in on Kirby Smart's well-documented offensive makeover at Georgia. The Bulldogs hired 'Air Raid' pass game expert Todd Monken to take over as the Bulldogs' offensive coordinator, replacing James Coley who has since departed for Texas A&M. Monken was the offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns last season, but the year, before, he was the OC and play caller for a Tampa Bay Bucs offense that led the NFL in passing yardage. Newman, who transferred to Georgia from Wake Forest, is a dual-threat quarterback with dynamic arm strength and running ability. Smart's past three UGA offenses have leaned more toward a power run game, the head coach intent on utilizing dynamic backfields that included NFL stars Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and projected first-round pick D'Andre Swift the past two seasons. Georgia, however, appears to be intent on a more aggressive pass scheme now that the receiving corps is loaded up with talent at receiver and tight end. RELATED: Georgia top-ranked SEC team in PFF Way-too-early' Top 25 Smart has always professed coaching to the talent, and the hiring of Monken is an indication the Georgia head coach is betting more offensive balance is in order. The Bulldogs return a championship-caliber defense, with nine of 11 starters back on that side of the football from the 26-14 Sugar Bowl-winning team. Georgia's offense can afford to be more aggressive in marquee matchups with that sort of defense behind it. Most notably, in the Sept. 19 showdown with Alabama in Tuscaloosa that the college football world has circled. Favorite Player/School Odds T-1. Justin Fields/ Ohio St. 4-1 T-1. Trevor Lawrence/Clemson 4-1 3. Spencer Rattler/Oklahoma 12-1 T-4. Sam Ehlinger/Texas 14.1 T-4. Jamie Newman/Georgia 14-1 T-6. Travis Etienne/Clemson 20-1 T-6. Chuba Hubbard/Okla. St. 20-1 T-6 Ian Book/Notre Dame 20-1 T-9. Kedon Slovis/USC 25-1 T-9. Myles Brennan/LSU 25-1 11. Mac Jones/Alabama 25-1 12. Bo Nix/Auburn 25-1 13. D'Eriq King/Miami, Fla. 25-1 14. Adrian Martinez/Nebraska 30-1 T-15. Sean Clifford/Penn State 40-1 T-15. Najee Harris/Alabama 40-1 17. Kellen Mond/Texas A&M 50-1 T-18. Tyler Shough/Oregon 60-1 T-18. Brock Purdy/Iowa State 60-1 T-18. CJ Verdell/Oregon 60-1 T-18. Kyle Trask/Florida 60-1 T-18. Charlie Brewer/Baylor 60-1 T-18. Sam Howell/North Carolina 60-1 24. Master Teaguelll/Ohio Sate 60-1 25. Zamir White/Georgia 80-1 DawgNation Georgia football Malik Herring spearheads dominant defense Podcast: How Todd Monken might use Zamir White Georgia offseason has produced fascinating offensive change Football stars endorse Todd Monken hire at Georgia WATCH: 2021 commit Brock Vandagriff shares story with DawgNation Why Buster Faukner a perfect complement to Todd Monken The post Georgia football QB Jamie Newman ranked among Top 5 Heisman Trophy favorites appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS For once, it seemed, Georgia basketball freshman Anthony Edwards was not at ease talking basketball on Saturday evening. The Bulldogs had just dropped their third game in a row, falling at home to an Ole Miss team that had lost six straight and was sitting last in the SEC. Edwards squirmed, he fidgeted, he smiled and he frowned. An 18-year-old young man who should still be in high school by birthdate, Edwards didn't know what to do or what to say in this curious, awkward and pressure-filled situation. Four nights earlier, Edwards was held scoreless in the first half at Kentucky and committed five turnovers. Pressure cooker Every Georgia win and loss seemingly rides on Edwards' shoulders, and the weight of having a program's hopes reliant upon his performances appears to finally be taking a toll. ' I think he handles it pretty well, but sometimes I'll be worried about him,' UGA senior Jordan Harris said last Saturday. 'I'll always check on him like, are you good? Are you going through something? 'He deals with all the outside noise pretty well. I am shocked at the way he deals with it, because it is a lot for him.' But how could Edwards explain his 3-of-12 shooting night against Ole Miss? The Atlanta basketball prodigy nicknamed 'Antman' had taken (settled?) 10 shots beyond he 3-point arc, unable to get his 6-foot-5, 225-pound explosive frame to the rim. 'Teams are trying to defend me differently,' Edwards offered. 'They are trying to take me out of the game and make other people score. I've just got to find ways to help my team win.' That was the hope for Georgia basketball when Edwards signed on, turning down opportunities to go virtually anywhere else in the country to stay closer to his family. Edwards is projected by some to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, but more and more are having their doubts. 'To me, he's prospect, he's not a finished product,' ESPN analyst Seth Greenburg said. 'It's amazing people talk about him as the No. 1 overall pick.' Focus on winning Edwards has said since arriving that his focus is on winning, and he has maintained his confidence that he can help lift a Bulldogs' program lacking notable tradition or recent success. ' As a team, I want us to make it to the (NCAA) Tournament and go deep in it,' Edwards said after the opening exhibition game in November, in what now seems like an entirely difference season. 'Bring Georgia basketball back and have the most fun I can.' The Bulldogs haven't made the NCAA Tournament since the 2014-15 season. The hopes for 2019-20 took a decided downturn with the home loss to Ole Miss, and Edwards' expression suggested he knew it and was helpless to do anything about it. Georgia coach Tom Crean, who developed NBA lottery picks Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo, at Marquette and Indiana, respectively, is working to support Edwards on and off the court. 'If we put this in perspective, who is going through college basketball like he is right now?' Crean said after Edwards' 23 points weren't enough to lead the Bulldogs over Kentucky in front of a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum crowd in the SEC opener. 'I mean, who is? We talk about that all the time, people want to be Anthony Edwards, do you really?' Hard work Edwards' lifestyle as a Georgia student-athlete and as projected multi-million dollar draft pick expected to perform each night sounded like a lonely one as he discussed part of his workout routine after an 80-63 win over Tennessee earlier this month. 'I was in here until 1 o'clock (a.m.) on Monday, and yesterday I was in here until 10:30 or 11 (p.m.),' Edwards said, explaining how he reacted to a 22-point loss at Auburn. 'Most of the time I'm always in here late night, because that's when I like to shoot, that's when I have the most energy because I've got nothing to do.' Fact is, Edwards has plenty of areas to improve his game, even with the hard work and spectacular athleticism that's brought him this far. 'Part of it is not pre-determining, there's a laundry list, not getting fixed on one thing, learning to really see and learn the game,' Crean said. 'Those are all things he's learning. He's learning to put possession by possession together.' And now Crean said it's up to him and his staff to help find Edwards more ways to score and help the team win. Edwards' heart and competitive spirit is in the right place each time he launches his long-range shot, but 'it's not the game plan,' Crean said. Edwards, the leading freshman scorer in the nation (18.6 points per game), is hitting just 31.3 percent from 3-point range. Coaching adjustment Crean has reiterated how important ball movement and player movement is to an effective offense, and Edwards fits square in the middle of that plan. ' We made some real adjustments with him, he's got to continue to cut when they're denying him, he's got to continue to cut rather than stand, because he becomes very, very easy to guard when he's just standing in the slots, right, because they're not coming off him,' Crean said. 'Now, it might create a basket for somebody else, but he's learning a lot about cutting, a lot that he never knew. But we're nowhere near where we have to be with that.' And Edwards doesn't appear to be anywhere near where he was some two weeks ago, when he explained his jubilant sideline antics during the blowout win over the Vols. 'Basketball is always business for me, because I'm trying to make a lot of money playing this game,' Edwards said that night, ' but you never let the fun be taken away from it. That's why you play, because it's fun.' Georgia returns to action at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Missouri. DawgNation Georgia Basketball Georgia comes up short in hard-fought loss at Kentucky Mississippi State wins battle of Bulldogs in Starkville, decisively Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener The post Closer look: Georgia basketball star Anthony Edwards hitting Freshman Wall' like no other appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Tears were shed around the globe as news spread of the tragic helicopter crash that claimed the life of 18 NBA all-star Kobe Bryant and four others in Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday morning. Women's Basketball Hall of Famer and three-time Olympic gold-medalist Dawn Staley heard the news shortly before tipoff of her No. 1-ranked team's game at Georgia. 'Now we get more details, it's horrific for Kobe; since he retired, he dedicated his life to his little girl and her career in basketball,' Staley said, referencing 13-year-old Gianna Bryant, who was among those killed in the crash. Bryant was traveling to basketball practice at the Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks with his daughter, 'GiGi' and three other passengers when the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter crashed amid the foggy conditions some 30 miles Northwest of Los Angeles. In addition to enjoying post-NBA success as an author, producer and Academy Award winner, Bryant was also coaching his daughter's AAU team five times a week, per 'SLAM' basketball magazine. Bryant's basketball skills and competitive fire helped transcend the game, an example for players of both sexes to work to emulate. Staley and Georgia coach Joni Taylor pointed out how Bryant had also elevated the women's game and provided much-needed support. 'It's unfortunate that we don't get a chance to see him coach any more, to see him impact girls' lives,' Staley said. 'He just talked about WNBA players being able to play in the NBA.' Indeed, just last Thursday, Bryant said WNBA players could 'keep up' when asked if one day women could play in the NBA. 'I think there are a couple of players that could play in the NBA right now, honestly,' Bryant said. 'There's a lot of players that have a lot of skill that could do it. Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Delle Donne, there's a lot of great players out there. They could most certainly keep up with them.' Kobe Bryant says there's WNBA players that could play in the NBA right now, including Diana Taurasi, Elena Delle Donne & Maya Moore! pic.twitter.com/4jdCZ282j9 Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 22, 2020 Staley fought to keep her emotions in check as she put the importance of Bryant's in perspective. 'We need more people like Kobe Bryant sticking up for women's basketball,' she said. 'He did it at the highest level, and we're prayerful. Godspeed to his family and all of us who had a connection to him.' Taylor said she didn't personally know Bryant, but like most every other player associated with the sport, she was influenced by him. 'You grow up watching him, he just means so much not only to the game of basketball, but to the game of women's basketball,' Taylor said. 'He was a fan, he was at the Final Four, his daughters played. 'He supported college basketball, the WNBA, all levels. He was a champion for us.' The Associated Press contributed to this story South Carolina coach Dawn Staley Georgia coach Joni Taylor SEC Network Twitter USC women's basketball coach @dawnstaley, who grew up in Philadelphia like Kobe, shared her thoughts on his passing and what he meant to the game of women's basketball https://t.co/sT30v0mnrU Mike Uva (@Mike_Uva) January 26, 2020 The post WATCH: Kobe Bryant death draws strong reactions from hall of famer Dawn Staley, Georgia's Joni Taylor appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The Latest on the death of retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant (all times local): 8:30 p.m. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says his department's helicopters were grounded due to weather in the area where a helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight other people crashed and burned Sunday morning. Conditions were extremely foggy when the NBA great's helicopter went down northwest of Los Angeles on a hillside in the city of Calabasas, killing everyone aboard. The sheriff told a press conference that debris is scattered over an area the size of a football field. The county medical examiner, Dr. Jonathan Lucas, says recovery of remains may take several days. Lucas says investigators will try to make identifications of the victims as quickly as possible. ___ 6 p.m. The Dallas Mavericks are paying tribute to Kobe Bryant by permanently retiring his No. 24. “Kobe’s legacy transcends basketball, and our organization has decided that the No. 24 will never again be worn by a Dallas Maverick,' Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. Cuban's tribute was one of several around the NBA as players, coaches and fans were stunned by the news of Bryant's death. In the Memphis-Phoenix game Sunday, the Grizzlies won the opening tip and immediately took a 24-second clock violation. When the Suns took possession, they stayed in the backcourt for an 8-second violation – the 24 and 8 seconds representing Bryant’s two numbers during his NBA career. ___ 4:40 p.m. A Southern California community college baseball coach, his wife and daughter were among those killed in the crash of the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and his daughter. The younger brother of Orange Coast College coach John Altobelli confirmed the deaths as relatives, friends and players gathered at the school’s baseball field Sunday afternoon. Flowers and baseball caps were placed on home plate. John Altobelli’s brother, Tony, is the sports information director at the school. He said his 56-year-old brother died along with his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, who was about 13 and played on the same basketball team as Bryant’s daughter, Gianna. John Altobelli was entering his 28th season as coach at the community college in Costa Mesa, California. The team won a state championship last year and John Altobelli was named national coach of the year. The helicopter carrying Bryant crashed northwest of Los Angeles around 10 a.m. Sunday. All nine people aboard were killed. ___ 3:45 p.m. The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a team of 18 people to the scene of the helicopter crash that killed NBA icon Kobe Bryant and eight others. NTSB member Jennifer Homendy said at a news conference that investigators will look at the pilot's history, the maintenance records and information on the helicopter's owner and operator. Homendy said investigators were not sure how many people the aircraft was configured to carry. The helicopter that crashed was a twin-engine Sikorsky S-76. ___ 3 p.m. Michael Jordan has reacted to the news about the death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter in a helicopter crash. “I loved Kobe - he was like a little brother to me,” Jordan said. Jordan was the most notable of former and current NBA stars to express how shocked they were at the news. Jordan commended Bryant for his fierce competitive streak and called him “one of the greats of the game.” Bryant's legacy is often compared to that of Jordan. Bryant won five NBA championships, compared to Jordan's six. ___ 2:45 p.m. Authorities say nine people died in the helicopter crash that killed former NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva provided the updated death toll at a news conference Sunday. Initial reports indicated that Bryant was among five people killed in the crash. At the news conference, authorities also described the fiery wreckage and scene that was difficult to access after the crash at 10 a.m. ___ 1:45 p.m. A source familiar with the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant says the former NBA star's 13-year-old daughter was among those onboard who were killed. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the crash had not been released publicly. The crash happened around 10 a.m. Sunday about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Five people were killed in the crash, which remains under investigation. — Tim Reynolds ___ 12:35 p.m. The Grammy Awards pre-telecast ceremony opened with a moment of silence for Kobe Bryant. Interim Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. opened the ceremony where dozens of Grammys are handed out before the main show, telling attendees, “As most of you may know, we lost Kobe Bryant in a tragic helicopter accident today.' 'Since we are in his house, I would ask you to join me in a moment of silence,” Mason said. Artists arriving at the show reacted to Bryant's death and his influence. Blues artist and Grammys nominee Keb' Mo' called Bryant's death “a huge loss.” “He's just a huge role model,' Keb' Mo' said. British artist Labrinth said: “It was insane news to hear this morning. He's been part of my life for a very long time. ... I couldn't believe it.” ___ 12 p.m. Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash Sunday. He was 41. A person familiar with the situation tells the AP that Bryant died in a crash near Calabasas, California. It was unclear if other family members were on the helicopter. Bryant was an 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history and held that spot until LeBron James overtook him Saturday night. — Tim Reynolds
  • Kobe Bryant inspired a generation of basketball players worldwide with sublime skills and an unquenchable competitive fire. He earned Los Angeles’ eternal adoration during his two decades as the fierce soul of the beloved Lakers, and he was respected by basketball fans from every place with a hoop and a dream, including his native Philadelphia and in Italy, his other childhood home. Less than four years into his retirement, Bryant was seizing new challenges and working to inspire his daughters’ generation through sports and storytelling when his next chapter ended shockingly early. Bryant, the 18-time All-Star who won five NBA championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career all with the Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. He was 41. The crash occurred in the foggy hills above Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Bryant was killed, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, and a different person familiar with the case confirmed Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna also died. Both of the AP's unnamed sources spoke on condition of anonymity because few details of the crash had been released publicly. Authorities said nine people were on the helicopter, and all were presumed dead. No names were released. Bryant lived south of Los Angeles in coastal Orange County, and he often used helicopters to save time and avoid Southern California's notorious traffic. He traveled to practices and games by helicopter before his playing career ended in 2016. He continued to use them after retirement as he attended to his new ventures, which included a burgeoning entertainment company that recently produced an Academy Award-winning animated short film. The basketball world and Los Angeles reacted with an outpouring of pain and disbelief. Bryant is all but certain to be elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year, when he is eligible for the first time. “For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary ... but he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.” The crash occurred about 20 miles from Mamba Sports Academy, Bryant’s basketball training complex in Newbury Park, California. A youth basketball tournament — the Mamba Cup — was scheduled for a second day of competition Sunday at the facility, and Bryant had attended the opening day Saturday with Gianna. Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, had four daughters. He had been a vocal booster of women's sports since his retirement, coaching and mentoring basketball players around the world while also backing women's soccer and other endeavors. Bryant retired as the third-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points, all scored in Lakers purple and gold. The self-nicknamed Black Mamba was a prolific, gifted shooter with a sublime all-around game and a relentless, hard-edged work ethic that thrilled his fans and almost everyone else, even those who reviled him. Taking cues from Michael Jordan, one of his idols, Bryant played with a swagger that compelled him to talk trash, to guard the toughest opponents, to play through pain and to demand the ball at the biggest moments of games. He didn't always hit them, but Bryant never stopped trying. “He had zero flaws offensively,” LeBron James said Saturday night. “Zero. You backed off of him, he could shoot the 3. You body him up a little bit, he could go around you. He could shoot from mid-range. He could post. He could make free throws. ... He was just immortal offensively because of his skill set and his work ethic.” Bryant held the No. 3 spot in the league scoring ranks until the day before his death, when James passed him during the Lakers' game in Philadelphia. On Saturday night, James said he was 'happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the all-time greatest basketball players to ever play. One of the all-time greatest Lakers.” Bryant always reacted graciously to the achievements of James, his former on-court rival who joined the Lakers in 2018. “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames,” Bryant wrote in his last tweet. “Much respect my brother.” Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs great who also retired in 2016, is also expected to be part of the Hall of Fame class that will be announced at the NBA's All-Star weekend next month. Duncan, now a Spurs assistant, was visibly emotional on the bench during their game against Toronto on Sunday. Bryant had been spending more time with his daughters since leaving the league. The Bryants' first daughter, Natalia, turned 17 a week ago. Bianka Bella Bryant is 3 years old, and Capri Kobe Bryant was born last June. Gianna, better known as Gigi, had a promising youth career and a competitive pugnaciousness that reminded everybody of her dad. Bryant sat with her courtside at a Brooklyn Nets game late last year, clearly passing along his wisdom to his daughter. Bryant told Jimmy Kimmel in 2018 that Gianna wanted to play in the WNBA and recalled how fans would often approach him saying “you gotta have a boy, you gotta someone to carry on the tradition, the legacy.” Gianna took exception: “She’s like, 'Oy, I got this,’” Bryant recalled. News of Bryant’s death inspired an outpouring of grief around the sports world and beyond, but it was felt particularly painfully in Los Angeles, where Bryant was unquestionably the sprawling city's most popular athlete and one of its most beloved people. Buildings from downtown to Los Angeles International Airport were illuminated in Lakers purple and gold. The Lakers’ next game is Tuesday night against the crosstown rival Clippers, but hundreds of fans — many in Bryant jerseys and Lakers gear — spontaneously gathered at Staples Center and in the surrounding LA Live entertainment complex on Sunday, weeping and staring at video boards with Bryant’s image before the Grammy awards ceremony. “I thought he was going to live forever,” Lakers great Magic Johnson told KCBS-TV. “I thought he was invincible. ... There was nobody who took more pride in putting on that Laker uniform than Kobe. Nobody. He was just special. We will miss him and we’ll remember him for his greatness, but let’s not forget how he impacted the world, too.” Bryant retired as the Lakers' franchise leader in points, games played, 3-pointers and steals — no small feats on a franchise that has employed many of the greatest players in basketball history. The NBA kept its games on as scheduled when the news broke. The Spurs and Raptors both took voluntary 24-second shot clock violations at the start of their game in honor of Bryant, who wore No. 24 for the second half of his career. Several other teams followed up by deliberately taking delays of 24 and 8 seconds, honoring both of his jersey numbers. Many players were seen crying before their games, and James looked emotional on the tarmac when he got off the Lakers’ team plane from Philadelphia. Bryant’s future appeared to be limitless in retirement, whether in sports or entertainment. He opened a production company shortly after leaving the Lakers, saying he was just as passionate about storytelling as he had been about his sport. He won an Oscar in 2018 for his contributions to “Dear Basketball, ” an animated short about his relationship to the game. He also produced content for ESPN. In 2003, Bryant was charged with attacking a 19-year-old employee at a Colorado resort. He had said the two had consensual sex, and the charge was eventually dropped when the women declined to testify in a trial. The woman later filed a civil suit against Bryant that was settled out of court. Bryant went on to become one of the NBA's most popular players and the face of the Lakers. Winning a record four NBA All-Star Game MVP awards, he was the overall league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion, but he also earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams. He teamed with Shaquille O’Neal in a combustible partnership to lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He later teamed with Pau Gasol to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010. A two-time Olympic gold medalist with the dominant U.S. team, Bryant retired in 2016 after scoring 60 points in his final NBA game. In December 2017, the Lakers hung banners retiring his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys in the Staples Center rafters in an unprecedented double honor. Bryant looms large over the current generation of NBA players, most of whom grew up either idolizing Bryant or absorbing his work ethic and competitive spirit in the same way Bryant's generation learned from Jordan. Bryant exemplified and passed on that mentality to James, Stephen Curry and the NBA's current wave of high-scoring superstars. After James passed Bryant on Saturday, he remembered listening in awe to Bryant when the superstar came to speak at a childhood basketball camp. “I remember one thing he said: If you want to be great at it, or want to be one of the greats, you’ve got to put the work in,” said James, who later teamed up with Bryant on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team in Beijing. Bryant was a basketball superstar for his entire adult life, and he grew up from a teenager to a respected veteran in the unforgiving Hollywood spotlight. He entered the NBA draft straight out of suburban Philly's Lower Merion High School in 1996 after a childhood spent partly in Italy, where his father, former NBA player Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, played professionally. Bryant was occasionally estranged from his now-65-year-old father, but reconciled. Bryant spoke four languages and played a major role in the NBA's international growth over his two decades in the league, traveling the world and connecting with athletes in other sports and celebrities. The Lakers acquired the 17-year-old Bryant in a trade shortly after Charlotte drafted him, and he immediately became one of the most exciting and intriguing players in the sport alongside O’Neal, who had signed with the Lakers as a free agent. Bryant won the Slam Dunk Contest as a rookie, and the Lakers gradually grew into a team that won three consecutive championships. Bryant and Gasol, the Spanish star, formed the nucleus of another championship team in 2008, reaching three straight NBA Finals and winning two more titles. Between those title runs and before the quiet final years of his career, Bryant accomplished innumerable feats including an 81-point game against Toronto in January 2006. Bryant's final NBA seasons were dogged by injuries, but he still went into retirement with that jaw-dropping 60-point performance against Utah. ___ AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.