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Tales from Tibby

    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.   
  • Maybe you’ve seen the post – or email – making the rounds about how ‘old’ people should present themselves? It defines old as 60 or over. So much for 60 being the new 40, eh? If you haven’t seen it, here’s a sample of some pairings it suggests you avoid: A nose ring and bifocals  Miniskirts and support hose Unbuttoned disco shirts and a heart monitor Bikinis and liver spots Thongs and Depends. Cute. But on a more serious note, I’m here today to address the first item, the nose ring.  *GRUMPY OLD MAN ALERT* I’m not good with some current trends. If I’ve not mentioned it before, I hate tattoos. I hate them more on women than men. To me, they look trashy.  I’m trying to adapt. Mainly, because everybody but me seems to have one. Also, I know some really quality, non-trashy ladies with tattoos. By ‘quality’ I mean I’ve Googled them and can’t find any pictures of them without clothes.  I’ve never liked belly button jewelry. (Unless you’re a belly dancer. In that case, you might as well put something shiny in that cavern.) Nose and lip studs? Nope. But I’m trying really hard to be a better person and stop judging the book by its cover. That’s probably my biggest flaw, honestly. But the one decoration I do not get is the nose ring. First thought: are you a dang cow?? If we go out on a date, can I hitch up a rope to that thing and lead you into the theater? I don’t care how otherwise beautiful you are, inside or out, something hanging out your nose does not look good. And there’s nothing – NOTHING – you can do to change that. Make it silver, gold, bejeweled, bigger, petite, or blessed by the Pope, it’s still something coming out of your nose and needs wiping. I know, shut up ol’ man!
  • Just returned from a trip that included a few days in New York City. It wasn’t my first time. We were there just two years ago, so I knew I was getting in to. I love/hate that place.    The over-the-top weirdness of Time Square. Visiting the M&M store and paying $14 a pound for peanut M’s that would cost about $3 at my local grocery store. A truly unintelligible subway system. The fabulous – use your ‘jazz hands…’ fab-u-louus - Broadway shows.    It’s like no other place. It’s also like no other place should aspire to be, really. Especially the subway trains. The subway system there was designed by chimpanzees who then hired kindergarteners to draw the maps and legends explaining it.    Locals eventually figure it out by osmosis; visitors have no chance.    The way we handle the trains is to wander around in the subway station looking lost until someone takes pity on us and helps.    Mostly, we just walk. We certainly don’t attempt to drive in that carnival.    If you do drive in NYC, you need to be fluent in ‘horn.’ It’s the official language of drivers there.    But here’s what I’ve figured out: Honkers are almost always several cars back in the pack.    The first car in line has stopped because it’s illegal to run over pedestrians. The second car can see what’s going on so sits quietly. Get back to about the fourth or fifth car and all they know is that the light is green and they ain’t moving.    *beeeeeep*    Honking changes nothing, but I reckon it gives the drivers a way to vent their frustration of being in a city where a billion people live and having to deal with another billion visitors who know it’s illegal for you to run over them with your car and will therefore cross the street whenever they dang well want, traffic lights be damned.    The other language of New York City is every other language in the world. Except English.    Look, I’m a bumkin in The City, but I’m telling you, it was rare to hear English conversationally spoken. On the streets, in the subways, in the bars (so I’m told), on the elevators, the conversations were almost always in a foreign language.    That’s more observation than complaint.    To start with, we all know that as a country we’ve become heavily reliant on immigrants for service work. The servers, dishwashers, attendants, hotel staff… the list is endless of jobs immigrants are willing to do for the opportunity to live in the States.    Now, couple that with all the foreign visitors who are simply making NYC one of their must-do destinations, and there’s a whole lot of no speak-y English going on.    What if, I thought… what if we passed a law that required everyone in an American city to speak only English. That would probably cut down on the crowds since so many people would have to learn the language instead of relying on a single interpreter to be the English voice for their entire bus.    Then there’s a possible downside. What if that law not only required English, but required the proper use of the language?    That would shut most Americans out of places like New York City.    So, let me just say this, y’all. I ain’t never gonna go back to that place. Not never, not no how. I don’t know what them farners are sayin’, an’ until them people done learned how to tawk like me, I’d just a-soon stay home.    Somebody fetch me a beer.
  • Just heard a song from Dan + Shay called ‘Tequila.’ Wow, a song about tequila. How novel! While that oozes sarcasm, it’s a decent song, and so adds to an every-growing list of odes to a cactus. Off the top of my head, I can probably name 9 or 10 songs about tequila. There are more, I know. Many more. Almost all songs about tequila involve drinking too much. From there, we work on secondary themes, like being lonesome, drinking away a memory or doing something stupid. Tequila songs can also involve a fair amount of promiscuity. “Who is this cowboyWho's sleepin' beside me?He's awful cute, but how'd IGet his shirt on?I had to much Tequila last night.”  - ‘Jose Cuervo,’ sung by Shelly West Anyway… Hello, everybody, and welcome to TEQUILA TALK. As your host, you should know I fancy myself a tequila aficionado (I drink it), a tequila snob (I like the good stuff), and I may be the only person you’ve ever met that has never gotten sick from drinking it. Like, ever. Full disclosure: Oh yeah, I’ve overdone it. I’ve just never overdone it on tequila. And I’ll let my sainthood stop right there. Tequila gets a bad rap, and it’s not to blame. Its smooth, sometimes smoky goodness is a delicious sip, either neat or over a little ice. There are two main problems we have with tequila. First, we’ve made it a barroom game to see how much of it we can drink before we puke. Secondly, and a contributor to the first point, barroom tequila shots are usually done with a low-grade product. While anything calling itself tequila must, by law, contain at least 51% distilled blue agave, that leaves the other 49% to be distilled from something else. That’s very often corn syrup. And in these cheaper tequilas that nice golden color comes not from barrel aging, it comes from caramel coloring. I’m not hating on Cuervo Gold, y’all. Despite it being made from a whole lot of sugar and only minimally-required blue agave, it doesn’t taste bad. But even folks who think it does taste bad are willing to toss a few down so we can part-a-a-a-y!!! I’ll be worshiping at the porcelain alter later, but right now I have never been funnier, prettier, wittier or danced better! The girl who cuts my hair told me she can’t drink tequila. And why? “Well, one night…” …and we all know the rest of that story. Her drink of choice is vodka. Have you ever, I asked, sat down with some friends and slammed shots of cheap vodka down your throat until you went blind? Still, it’s hard to deny tequila has rendered some fun tunes. An all-time favorite became Pee Wee Herman’s dance groove: ‘Tequila’ by The Champs. In fact, that one may be the top tequila song of all time because of Pee Wee’s signature dance – let’s face it, tequila can lead to some pretty stupid dance moves – and because it’s easy to sing. The lyrical content of the song is a total of three words, and they are all ‘tequila!’ Speaking of lyrical content, Joe Nichols had a #1 hit with ‘Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.’ Given its title, I’m not sure why it needed any lyrics. Seems fairly self-explanatory. Click here for more Tales From Tibby!
  • Did you see the recent news story from New Jersey about the woman turned away from a flight because of her emotional support animal? In case you didn’t, the woman had been told in advance by United Airlines that she could not bring her emotional support animal onboard because they couldn’t accommodate the peacock. A peacock, y’all! Her emotional support animal was a feakin’ peacock! She showed up for the flight anyway. With the peacock. Access denied. Most of us watching or reading that story probably rolled our eyes and gave whoever else was around that look. You know the look.  ‘Really?!’ Also known as the ‘is she on crack?’ look. This story originally was going to be about her and others like her, people with emotional support animals (ESA). Specifically, people with unconventional emotional support animals. People wanting to fly with pets has gotten so whacky that Delta has just updated it’s ESA policy, saying, “Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more...” I had planned to write about the peacock lady. I wanted to write: Ma’am, number one, that peacock don’t care about your emotions. And number two, I’m betting you’re single. Then, a couple of things happened.  First, another ESA story emerged involving an emotional-support dog that attacked a passenger on a plane. In this case, though, the dog was a veteran’s ESA. That a veteran is part of the story gave me pause enough. (Gave me pause… get it? Pause… paws… OK, not that funny). Even putting that aside, though, if you’ve ever owned a good dog, you know that dog does indeed care about your emotions.  So, what do I do? Leave out people with dogs? The other incident derailing my original story involves a donkey. On my walk past a nearby farm just this week, I stopped and asked the young woman shoveling out the barn what happened to the white horse that had been there for years. “The white horse died, but we may get another one. That white horse and the donkey were close. The donkey is really lonesome.” What? “When we buried the horse, the donkey stood nearby and watched the whole thing. It was like she was at a graveside service.” The woman spoke of it all very matter-of-factly, like a seasoned farm hand would. On the farm, when a large animal dies, you take your backhoe or whatever implement you have to dig a hole, you dig that hole, then push the animal in and cover it up. The facts of life. She spoke just as stoically about the donkey’s loneliness. No emotion, just ‘yeah… the donkey’s lost her buddy. We may have to do something about that.’ But if a donkey can have an ESA, I knew my story idea-in-the-making, poking fun of people with emotional support animals, was going south quickly. So, I’ve decided to change gears. Let’s look instead at what other animals might make a good ESA. Like, a turkey. If you ever breakdown emotionally and need a meal, voila! And after eating the turkey, you could be thankful. (Thankful… turkey… Thanksgiving…? Is funny still not happening here?) How about a fish? Imagine, a friend comes over. She needs to unload her troubles, so you dutifully sit and listen as she drones on, endlessly. And you finally say, “Why don’t you kiss my bass.” But you mean it. What a friend! How ‘bout a bumblebee? Maybe all you need to pick you up is a little buzz. Speak of buzz, what about a buzzard? If you’re a particularly deep person, a buzzard could pick your brain. (And any other parts. Once you’re gone, of course.) Feel free to offer your own thoughts. There’s gotta be plenty of other animals that would make ESAs. I’m sure you’ve heard about the (true story) incident recently involving a lady with an emotional-support hamster? After being told she couldn’t have it onboard a Spirit Airlines flight, she flushed it down the toilet. You can Google up the details, if you want. It’s a weird story. But I have to wonder what kind of person relies on a hamster for emotional support. I doubt that hamster cared about her emotions. I bet she’s single. Click here for more Tales From Tibby!  
  • I’m not sure when ‘The Season’ begins. Is it Thanksgiving into Christmas, then into New Years? Or do we back it up to Halloween? Halloween into Thanksgiving into Christmas into New Years? And why do we say ‘new years’ like there are several of them? All I know is I eat a lot in ‘The Season.’ I’ve made pecan pies before, but making them this year was different. For some reason, this year I paid attention to what actually goes into making a pecan pie. It may be because I’m trying (in vain) to reverse the slow trend of becoming a slightly larger person every year. I’m still trying to get my brain wrapped around this notion that what I put in my mouth has some direct correlation to the size of my midsection. So... pecan pie: -syrup-sugar That’s your pie: liquid sugar, granular sugar. The sugars need something to hold them together, so let’s toss in a few eggs. Of course there are pecans, but it could be anything. Want a peanut pie? Walnut pie? Use dill chips and it becomes a pickle pie. The point is, we’ve named the pecan pie not after the mainingredients but after the only healthy ingredient in the thing. Rightfully, it should be called a sugar pie. “Oh, you’re making sugar pies for the holidays? Do you do anything special?” “Well, I like to top mine off with pecans. Adds a little crunch to the sugar.” Years ago, I made a ‘dark’ version of pecan pie. Instead of a light corn syrup, I used molasses. Instead of white sugar, I used dark brown sugar. I called it Pecan Mud Pie. I should have called it Pootie Pie. It hung around for days in unfavorable ways. Pecan pie is hard to turn down, especially if you know the reputation of the person or restaurant that is offering it. Once you become known for making a good pecan pie, you are considered an excellent cook for anything else you make. You could prepare an entire meal from canned food, nuke it in the microwave and serve it on plastic plates, and it would be the best meal ever. Because we’re all just waiting on your delicious pecan pie at the end of the meal. My pies this year were a failure. While they looked good coming out of the oven, apparently, I did something wrong. Serving them was serving a soupy, syrupy mess. With pecans. They had good pecan pie flavor and got eaten (with spoons), but I doubt I will be asked to make them again for the family gathering. I’m OK with that. Maybe it’s just to discourage myself from eating something that will only make me a little rounder in the middle, but next time I’m serving pecan pie, I’m gonna call it like I see it. “Alright now, I’m serving diabetes for dessert. Who wants Cool Whip on theirs?”
  • Kids like gross. Always have. Toy makers know this and have been delivering gross toys for decades. Garbage Pail Kids, Burp Balls, Queasy Bake Oven…. do a search for ‘gross toys’ and you’ll find not only the toys currently vying for your kids’ attention, you may also find what appealed to you as a child. Anyone remember making creepy crawlers? Then eating them? Seems like Santa Claus himself brought that one to my childhood house. With no children of our own, our home these days is generally gross-free. (Pay no attention to anything my wife might say about me and Mexican food.) But kids occasionally show up, and the ones we see most frequently know my wife and I are gamers. Ping pong, basketball, board games… we’re usually all in for whatever challenge gets thrown at us. And that brings us to Bean Boozled. For those not familiar with this game, allow me to introduce you. I’ll call it a board game but if it has a board, I’ve never seen it. It does have a spinner. And jelly beans. What could go wrong? The rules, as explained to us by the kids, are simple: Flick the spinner and whatever color it lands on, you eat a jelly bean of corresponding color. That’s it. You now know how to play Bean Boozled. When you eat up all the jelly beans, refill bags are available at places like Cracker Barrel. That’s how wholesome the game is. Except… Each color jelly bean can have one of two flavors. One of those flavors is tasty; the other, not so much. That brown jelly bean might indeed taste like chocolate pudding. But it might taste like canned dog food. The white jelly bean? Could be coconut, could be sour milk. I will attest that while I don’t really know what some of the gross flavors taste like (slimy socks?), they’ve done a pretty good job with replicating the taste of sour milk! My wife and I weren’t the only adult players, but we hung in there longer than the others. One of them got a booger-flavored bean and dropped out immediately. My wife grabbed a trash can after her first bad bean. She was willing to keep going but prepared to unload any further undesirable flavors. She didn’t last long. I became a case study for stupidity. Not only did I hang in there until I had tasted all the flavors, good and bad, but when asked to play again the next night, I agreed. My wife declined. So did the friend who went down on his first bean. “Tasted boogers all night,” was his excuse. Nasty. Which of course is why kids love it.
  • Let’s jump right in. Today’s gripe: Moms who put bows on their babies’ heads. I seriously don’t get this. Every single girl child that pops up on my social media feed has a bow on her head. What’s going on here? Trying to make your baby look like… Dumbo? Minnie Mouse? A rabbit? I have a niece claiming that just as with big hair, the bigger the bow, the closer to Jesus. Yeah, we say that in that South, but it’s only because bad style needs an excuse, if you ask me. A random baby that may or may not be family.   Not only is this a silly trend, some of y’all have pretty rotten tastes in bows.* Somebody needed to say that. What you see in those pictures is your little angel looking so precious. What I see is trouble looming. So let me just go ahead and prepare you for the conversation your surly teenage daughter is going to have with you in about 17 years: “Can I ask why you ruined all my baby pictures by wrapping my head up like you were going to give it away for Christmas?”“Can I get a tattoo? What do mean, you think it will make me look silly? Didn’t seem to bother you when I was a baby.” “What’s with that bow? Had Wal-Mart run out of pretty ones or was Dollar General having a sale?” I have another question. All of the babies I see have known fathers. Where are the fathers? Why are the dads not stepping up and saying something? Be a man! Assert yourself! Or at least claim half ownership of rights to decorating the baby’s head and take the bow off. I’ve never had children but I can assure you if my wife wanted to put a bow on Dumpling’s head, we’d be striking a deal. 'Sure, you can put a bow on her head if I never have to do poopy-diaper duty again for the rest of eternity.' Something like that. I’m a b-a-a-a-d man! Oh, I can feel your eyes rolling, moms. I know what you’re thinking. ‘Grumpy old man.’ But I know what you’re really doing. You’re trying to mask your baby’s fat head.  Look, that’s just the facts of life. Most babies’ heads are too big for their bodies when they are born. What happened to just saying a ‘bless her heart’ and knowing she would grow into it eventually? Has anyone considered that a fat-headed baby with a bow only makes fat-headed baby’s head look bigger? Moms, trust me on this. Do your baby a favor. Buck the trend. #saynotothebow (You can steal that; I stole your baby’s picture.) No need to thank me. Just doing what I can to make you a better parent. Heaven knows, y’all need help. *No specific accusations are intended for the babies pictured in this story. Although if the shoe fits…

Local News

  • A University of Georgia student was killed overnight while driving his car on I-20 just west of Atlanta. The Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as 20-year-old William Whitaker, of Carrollton. Whitaker was driving in the westbound lanes on I-20 when a tractor trailer crashed with two cars in the eastbound lanes. Debris from the wreck was sent into the westbound lanes, striking two vehicles, including the car driven by Whitaker,  who died on the scene.  The driver of the truck has been identified as Mario Polier, 53, of Hialeah, FL. He now faces numerous misdemeanor charges including second degree homicide by vehicle  
  • It's a mild start to Friday but big changes are coming this weekend.  Most people are experiencing fog and light rain this morning. A Dense Fog Advisory has been issued for most of north Georgia until 10 a.m. Some areas have visibility of less than a quarter mile. Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan said that on Saturday, we have a chance to see rain, storms and the coldest temperatures this year. 'As we head through the next 24 hours or so, we've got rain moving into north Georgia, we've got a chance for storms moving into north Georgia and then the coldest air of the season moving in,' Monahan said.
  • Athens-Clarke County Commissioners meet for a rare Friday afternoon work session: they say fair housing is the topic of talk in the session that starts at 1 o’clock at the Government Building on Dougherty Street.  The city School Board in Jefferson signs off on the purchase of a new emergency alert system, one that will be used on all four Jefferson schools. The price tag is $165,000.  There is a new City Administrator in Statham: Statham’s Mayor and City Council has signed off on the hiring of Mai Chang. Chang worked previously as City Clerk in Statham. She takes over for former City Administrator Michelle Irizarry. 
  • Deangelo Gibbs’ time in Athens has been up since December, when Georgia coach Kirby Smart said the defensive back was no longer with the team prior to the Sugar Bowl. And now it seems that he will be taking his talents to another SEC East program.  DawgNation can confirm that Gibbs is enrolled at Tennessee and will move to the other side of the ball and play wide receiver for the Vols. The news was first reported by 247Sports’ Grant Ramey. Gibbs was a major recruit coming out of Grayson High School, as he was rated as the No. 49 overall player in the 247Sports Composite. But he struggled to find playing time at Georgia and he was away from the team last spring as well.  Gibbs has a cousin on Tennessee’s team in safety Nigel Warrior. Another one of Gibbs’ cousins is J.R. Reed, who has become a standout safety for the Bulldogs since transferring from Tulsa. Reed made the decision to return to Athens for his senior season, bolstering what should be a strong secondary, even without Gibbs.  Gibbs had reportedly put his name in the transfer portal, as did Georgia safety Tray Bishop. In Georgia’s 2019 recruiting class, the Bulldogs brought in 4-star safety Lewis Cine, who is rated as the No. 61 player in the class.  Tennessee is coached by Jeremy Pruitt, who was the Georgia defensive coordinator from 2014-15.  Georgia visits Tennessee on Oct. 5. The Bulldogs beat Tennessee 38-12 in Athens last fall.
  • A former Athens-Clarke County police officer is suing the police chief who fired him last June. Former Chief Scott Freeman terminated officer Taylor Saulters for hitting a suspect with his patrol car, but a state investigation later cleared him. It happened after a police pursuit on Athens’ east side. Saulters, his lawsuit, is seeking financial compensation for what he says is emotional distress and slander. He is now working as a part-time reserve deputy in Oglethorpe County. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Georgia sacks leader D’Andre Walker has pulled out of the Senior Bowl, not yet ready to compete on account of what has become a nagging groin injury. Walker has been projected as a third-round NFL Draft pick, but the Senior Bowl offered him an opportunity to improve his draft stock competing against top talent in the annual all-star event. The Bulldogs will be represented by defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter and long snapper Nick Moore. Practices and drills begin on Tuesday before the watchful eyes of hundreds of NFL coaches, scouts and general managers. Unfortunately, I won’t be attending the Senior Bowl. I will be getting a second opinion on my groin this week to ensure I’ll be ready for the combine. I am very disappointed because it’s such a great opportunity to showcase my talent. — D’Andre Walker (@DAndreWalker15) January 21, 2019 Walker was injured early in the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship Game against Alabama with Georgia leading 28-21. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound senior from Fairburn, Ga., was enjoying an MVP performance against the Tide before suffering the injury. Walker had five tackles, two TFLs, two QB hurries a forced fumble and a deflected pass in three quarters, wreaking havoc in the Alabama backfield. Georgia’s backup outside linebackers weren’t able to have the same sort of success. The Bulldogs young outside linebackers lost contain on crucial plays and allowed Jalen Hurts to buy time and make game-winning plays in Alabama’s 35-28 win. Walker practiced on a limited basis and dressed out for the Sugar Bowl, but he declined to play. Bulldogs’ cornerback Deandre Baker also had an invitation to test himself against the nation’s best in the Senior Bowl, but Baker declined his invitation. Baker also skipped the Sugar Bowl, which, coupled with injuries to Walker and Freshman All-American defensive tackle Jordan Davis, severely hampered the Georgia defense in the 28-21 loss to Texas. The post Georgia football OLB D’Andre Walker uncertain of health, pulls out of Senior Bowl appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — If “Genius is patience,” as Isaac Newton once suggested, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart’s I.Q. must be off the charts. Smart has exhibited a deliberate approach at each turn in his young career, from not naming a starting quarterback during the 2018 offseason, to holding off on naming a defensive coordinator. Could there be more staff changes ahead? Perhaps, though it wouldn’t seem likely. The 43-year-old Smart named 41-year-old Charlton Warren his defensive backs coach on Saturday, shortly after crossing paths with him on the recruiting trail and conversing. RELATED: Georgia football adds ‘Mr. Intensity’ to defensive meeting room Warren’s hire comes more than six weeks after Colorado announced former UGA secondary coach and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as its new head coach (Dec. 5). Some speculated Smart would elevate 32-year-old outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning or 28-year-old inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann to defensive coordinator — or both, in a co-coordinator role. Here are three things that are next for Georgia football: Defensive coordinator It’s going to be Smart’s system on defense, regardless who gets the coordinator title, so the key here is how the staff chemistry shakes out with Warren added to the defensive meeting room. Lanning said in New Orleans that there could be an internal promotion to the coordinator position, but also, that Georgia would see how things shook out against Texas in the Sugar Bowl. RELATED: Georgia football assistant Dan Lanning shares insight into DC search Obviously, the Bulldogs didn’t fare well without Deandre Baker in the secondary, D’Andre Walker at linebacker and Jordan Davis on the defensive line. It’s hard to know how much of the defensive dropoff had to do with Tucker’s absence versus the team’s motivation after its gut-wrenching loss in the SEC title game and exclusion from the CFB playoff. It wouldn’t be surprising if Smart made the decision on his DC immediately. But it is also possible the Georgia head coach will wait until after signing day (Feb. 6), or even spring drills to name the defensive coordinator, after he gets a better feel for the chemistry and ability in the room. James Coley confirmation Coley’s promotion to play caller and full-fledged offensive coordinator from co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach wasn’t surprising. RELATED: Kirby Smart pulls trigger on elevating James Coley to OC, as expected It was, however, second-guessed by outsiders overlooking Coley’s experience as Jimbo Fisher’s offensive coordinator at Florida State and his work as Miami’s coordinator. Coley’s stock recently shot up, however, when NFL.com analyst Ian Rapoport reported last Friday that the Dallas Cowboys could consider Coley for their offensive coordinator position. As the #Cowboys dig into possible replacements for embattled OC Scott Linehan, they have one on their current staff — TE coach Doug Nussmeier — and may look to the college game to better utilize Dak Prescott’s talents. UGA OC James Coley will receive some consideration there. — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 18, 2019   A FOIA request for Coley’s new contract last week revealed that he doesn’t yet have one, leaving room for speculation that need soon be answered. Is Coley staying, or might   he be headed for the NFL? Big staff raises The bottom line for the Georgia football coaching staff is there is plenty of money available for raises and the new hires. So far, the Bulldogs’ offensive staff has traded Jim Chaney’s $950,000 salary for new tight ends coach Todd Hartley’s first-year deal of $300,000. RELATED: Details of Georgia football assistant Todd Hartley’s new contract The defense, meanwhile, has the $1.5 million Tucker was making to spread around. Warren was due to make $401,500 at Florida next season, per the USA Today salary database, but he’s sure to get a healthy boost at Georgia. Bulldogs defensive line coach Tray Scott has earned a raise up from $420,000, with Georgia’s defensive line showing more improvement than perhaps any other position group last season. Certainly, linebackers coaches Schumann and Lanning — both previously making $325,000 — will have deals worth more than a half-million annually next season. It’s more math for Smart to do, more pieces of the puzzle, and if the Georgia head coach has proven anything his first three seasons, it’s that he’’ll take his time to make sure he gets things right. Georgia football coaches 2018 annual salaries DEFENSE DC, secondary: Mel Tucker $1.5 million Defensive line: Tray Scott $420,000 Inside linebackers: Glenn Schumann $325,000 Outside linebackers: Dan Lanning $325,000 Special teams Scott Fountain $300,000 * Charlton Warren, new coach was due $401,500 at Florida in 2019 OFFENSE OC, tight ends: Jim Chaney $950,000 Offensive line: Sam Pittman $825,00 Quarterbacks, Co-OC James Coley, $850,00 Running backs: Dell McGee $550,000 Receivers Cortez Hankton $375,000 * Todd Hartley, new tight ends coach, will make $300,000 in 2019 at UGA   The post 3 things: What’s next for Georgia football and ever-patient Kirby Smart? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — The Georgia basketball challenges could be attributed to the brutal league slate assigned by the SEC office. Already, the Bulldogs (9-8, 1-4 SEC) have played the three top-ranked teams in the league in Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn, and next up is a road trip to red-hot LSU. Georgia coach Tom Crean hasn’t mentioned the schedule since it was released in the preseason, instead focusing on what he can control, which would include the roller coaster play of forward Rayshaun Hammonds. The talented 6-foot-8, 235-pounder from Norcoss is the Bulldogs leading scorer this season — except when he isn’t, which would be against the better teams this season. Hammonds has been held scoreless in losses to Tennessee and most recently at home against Florida, running into foul trouble early in both games, offering little help to his teammates in other capacities. Georgia was outscored by 18 points with Hammonds in the game against the Gators, as shown below in the plus-minus category for UGA players: “ I am going to look around and see what we can do to help him and I talked to him a lot,” Crean said. “I am not down on him at all, I want him to continue to learn and want him to understand he is a lot more than just a guy who shoots and scores.” But yes, Crean admitted, “him not scoring and us not scoring are together.” Hammonds has at times shown the sort of growth and ability many projected when he was rated the No. 51 player in the nation by the 247Sports composite. It’s far too early for Hammonds to be considered a bust, especially when others have noted the growth they’ve seen from him under Crean’s direction. “I thought (Nicolas) Claxton and Hammonds have both blossomed this year under Coach Crean and that staff, and I told them both that after the game,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “They ask Rayshaun to do a lot, they don’t have a lot, they are kinda point guard by committee.” Hammonds’ issues involve fundamentals and decision making, Crean indicated. “Sometimes right now he makes the read and people are just lining up for the charge because he is going to go right into their chest,” Crean said following Saturday’s 62-52 home loss to Florida. “He is not low enough when he makes the move. “I am going to have really spend some time and be creative, look for creative ways to get him the ball in better spots than we are right now because we need him to score.” Georgia is 3-1 in its last seven games Hammonds has scored in double figures, and 0-3 when he’s been held to single-digit scoring. Rayshaun Hammonds against SEC teams 0 points Vs. Tennessee 0-for-4 shooting (0-of-2 from 3) 1 turnover 19 points Vs. Vanderbilt 6-for-13 shooting (2-of-6 from 3) 3 turnovers 9 points Vs. Auburn 2-of-6 shooting (1-of-2 from 3) 5 turnovers 11 points Vs. Kentucky 3-of-8 shooting (1-of-5 from 3) 2 turnovers 0 points Vs. Florida 0-for-4 shooting (0-for-2 from 3) 4 turnovers   The post Georgia basketball: Roller coaster Rayshaun Hammonds a key for Bulldogs appeared first on DawgNation.