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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

  • 21 faculty members across UGA’s schools and colleges met to discuss the development of UGA’s Innovation District on Dec. 3 in the Peabody Board Room of the Administration Building. The Innovation District Faculty Advisory Council will meet throughout the year to provide input on the Innovation District initiative, with particular focus on programming, resources and support for research commercialization and university-industry engagement. The council will be led by the Innovation District leadership team: Kyle Tschepikow, special assistant to the president and director for strategy and innovation; David Lee, vice president for research; and Rahul Shrivastav, vice president for instruction. The members of the council are: Jenay Beer, Insitute of Gerontology Karen Burg, College of Veterinary Medicine Justin Conrad, School of Public and International Affairs Andrew Crain, Graduate School Joseph Dahlen, Warnell School of Forestry Naola Ferguson-Noel, Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center Chris Garvin, Lamar Dodd School of Art Chris Gerlach, New Media Institute Kristina Jaskyte, Institute for Nonprofit Organizations Kirk Kealey, Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center Eileen Kennedy, College of Pharmacy William Kisaalita, College of Engineering Kevin McCully, College of Education Sergiy Minko, College of Family and Consumer Sciences Michael Myers, Small Business Development Center Jonathan Murrow, AU/UGA Medical Partnership Usha Rodrigues, School of Law Pejman Rohani, Odum School of Ecology Christine Szymanski, Complex Carbohydrates Research Center Amitabh Verma, College of Environment and Design Dee Warmath, College of Family and Consumer Sciences
  • U.S. Rep. Doug Collins was as pugnacious as ever as he delivered his opening remarks during Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachment. The Gainesville Republican repeated his critique that the Democratic-led investigation was primarily fueled by contempt for President Donald Trump. He described the probe as a rushed attempt to ram through charges without evidence that the president had done anything wrong. “This is nothing new, folks; this is sad,” said Collins, the ranking Republican on the committee. There were some points of levity — including when Collins joked about the room’s chilly temperature and uncomfortable chairs — but most of his comments were pointed and biting, both toward the Democrats on the committee and the three constitutional law experts who backed impeachment. Collins also used his opening statement to criticize the decision to invite four constitutional law experts to the hearing, three of whom were recommended by Democrats and one called by Republicans. One of them, Stanford University law professor Pamela Karlan later said she took offense at his insinuation they had not reviewed the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment report before testifying. “Mr. Collins, I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts,” she said. “So I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.” Throughout the meeting, Collins and other Republicans forced procedural votes on requests varying from postponing the hearing to requiring House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and an anonymous whistleblower to testify. Democrats, who are in the majority, objected each time.
  • The Athens Symphony will perform the first ever public performance of a new arrangement of “O Holy Night” at their annual Christmas concerts on December 7 and 8.    The piece, arranged by Hollywood film scorer Chad Rehmann, was initially featured in the 2018 film A Christmas Arrangement. Following rave reviews, Rehmann re-arranged the score for orchestral performance and dedicated it to his wife Kari.    “After reaching out to a few regional orchestras known for their holiday concerts,” said Rehmann, “Brad Maffett (Athens Symphony’s Associate Conductor) contacted me expressing interest in performing the work. The more we corresponded, the more excited I became about the Athens Symphony premiering this work, especially given the ensemble’s commitment to family-friendly programming and its focus on a relationship with the Athens community. “   The Symphony will host Rehmann at the December 7 concert with a red-carpet welcome planned for 7:30 p.m.    A Christmas Tradition   A longstanding tradition, the Athens Symphony’s annual Christmas Concerts bring Athenians and Northeast Georgia residents together to celebrate with classic Christmas favorites, a sing-along, and even a visit from Santa.    “The Athens Symphony Christmas Concerts are known for being premier events of the holiday season in our community, bringing people from all walks of life together to celebrate the season,” said Symphony Executive Director Dr Richard Hudson. “It’s a privilege that the Symphony is able to continue its mission of providing free concerts that are open to everyone, knowing that the power of music is a unifying force.”   Complimentary tickets will be available at The Classic Center Box Office beginning Nov. 25 and are required for entry into the concerts, which will be held Saturday, December 7 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 8 at 3:00 p.m.
  • Oconee County says the new traffic signal at the three-way intersection of Mars Hill, Virgil Langford, and Rocky Branch roads will become operational next week. Crews have been working for the past several weeks to reconfigure the busy intersection off Highway 316.  The Georgia DOT is partnering with Georgia State University to conduct a survey, looking to find out what drivers think about new express lanes on I-85.  MARTA might see rate hikes next year: that word comes from the CEO of the transit system in Atlanta, who tells a state legislative panel that fare revenue is below the 35 percent threshold required to put towards operating expenses. The last time the authority raised the price was in 2011, when the fare for a one-way ticket increased by 50 cents. Any rate hike would take effect next summer. 
  • The Georgia Bulldogs don’t have the only big game this weekend. There is high school playoff football tonight in Watkinsville: the Oconee County Warriors host the Sandy Creek High School Patriots in a game that will kick off at 7:30 tonight in the last game of the season at Warrior Stadium.  Both teams come into the game with 12-1 records. The winner advances to next week’s state championship game. 

Bulldog News

  • DawgNation has four staffers who cover Georgia football from every angle: Beat, live streams, photos, podcasts, recruiting, etc. The 'Cover 4' concept is: 1) Present a topic; 2) Offer a reasoned response; 3) Share a brisk statement on that opinion. 4) Pepper the page with photos for the big picture. For this edition, we discuss the big matchups to pay attention to for Saturday's Georgia-LSU game. DawgNation continues with the 'Cover 4' concept. The focus is always a timely look with each of our guys manning the secondary on a pertinent topic. The quick in-and-out game remains. It is designed to come out quicker than former Bulldog Nick Chubb scored his third touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens earlier this year. The latest 'Cover 4' question is of the fill-in-the-blank variety: What is the one matchup which will largely decide the SEC Championship game? Brandon Adams: The UGA secondary vs. LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase The 'why' from 'DawgNation Daily' here: ' It's not easy to identify LSU's best receiver, but Chase might win the Biletnikoff Award. The Bulldogs also faced the Biletnikoff winner in last year's SEC championship game and held Alabama's Jerry Jeudy to three catches for 24 yards (including a touchdown) .' Mike Griffith: Georgia offensive line vs. LSU defensive front The 'why' from 'On the Beat' here: ' Georgia has to run the ball effectively on first down to have success against the LSU defense . ' Connor Riley: Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs Georgia's linebackers The 'why' from 'Good Day UGA' here: ' Edwards-Helaire has been phenomenal this year. When Georgia saw him in 2018, he rolled up 145 yards on the Bulldogs. Georgia's group of linebackers have to be better and win that matchup for the Bulldogs to win the game . ' Jeff Sentell: Kirby Smart, Dan Lanning, J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte III versus Joe Burrow, Joe Brady and Steve Ensminger. The Intel here: 'Plays + players. That's the winning equation here. Can Lanning and Smart make the calls that lead to big stops on the back end from Reed and LeCounte? If so, the Bulldogs can limit the LSU quarterback and the game plans laid in place by Brady (passing game coordinator) and Ensminger (offensive coordinator) which have transformed LSU football in 2019.' The 'Cover 4' topics of late: The most pro-UGA stat to pay attention to versus LSU The way Georgia beats LSU is .. How much will the first-half suspension of George Pickens hurt? What's the desired outcome for the Alabama-LSU game? Who is coaching Georgia when Ohio State comes to town in 2030? The Florida Gators who can do the most damage against Georgia are Name the Bulldog who delivers a key supporting role against Florida What's the big area where the Bulldogs must 'do more' to beat Florida? Cover 4: What will Georgia's record look like at the end of the regular season? What is the toughest game left on the schedule? What is the biggest edge that Georgia will have on Notre Dame? Who has already opened our eyes after just two games? What is your take on the legendary Vince Dooley? Who has the biggest day against Murray State? The most improved Bulldog since last season is . A few big non-score predictions for Georgia-Vanderbilt Which returning Bulldogs impressed the most in fall camp? The players set to become the new fan favorites for 2019 are . What will convince you the Bulldogs are throwing the ball more this fall? What kind of numbers will D'Andre Swift put up in 2019? Jake Fromm 's best quality? The Cover 4 crew chops that one up The post Georgia football: What one matchup with LSU could swing the SEC championship game? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA Georgia and LSU both had their walk-through session as Mercedes Benz-Stadium on Friday. The programs offered two different examples of what the experience means to them. Unbeaten LSU had a lot of cell phones out soaking up the moment as they walked onto the turf on Saturday. Georgia did not. That's indicative of the Bulldogs now making their fourth appearance in that venue since December of 2017. Kirby Smart and his Bulldogs will compete on Saturday afternoon in their third straight SEC championship game. That's a feat that has only been matched by Alabama and Florida in conference play. Alabama matched that feat earlier this decade. The Gators (1992-1996) and the Crimson Tide (1992-1994) also both did that during the first decade of the game. LSU Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Burrow and his splendid tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire both took a seat for almost all of the 15-minute media viewing period for their Friday walkthrough. Smart did the same while his team first hit the turf on Friday afternoon. There were a couple of moments in the LSU session which entertained. The first was an impromptu volleyball match among the LSU offensive line. Choose your conclusion A) Check out this new 'play' the LSU offensive line was working on Friday or; B) This just about sums up the pageantry of the media walk-through period at the SEC championship or; C) This really means more. pic.twitter.com/OGC364WFwg Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) December 6, 2019 The champions of the SEC West also tossed up passes among their receiver group, too. LSU sophomore WR Ja'Marr Chase. 70 catches for 1,457 yards and 17 TDs so far. That's 20.8 yards per catch. pic.twitter.com/A3YoQMAXhj Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) December 6, 2019 Check out the DawgNation.com photo gallery below from the rest of the events of the day. The post PHOTOS: Walkthrough day for Georgia-LSU at the SEC championship appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA Georgia football legend David Pollack has proven to be as aggressive and direct with his analysis as he once was as an All-American pass rusher, and Friday was no different. Pollack emphasized the importance of UGA tailback D'Andre Swift and dished out criticism aimed at Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm on Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. RELATED: Kirby Smart Friday press conference in Atlanta, updates D'Andre Swift Asked to rate the importance of Swift in Georgia's game against LSU at 4 p.m. on Saturday on a scale of one to 10, Pollack replied, '15,' and explained why. 'One of the keys would be to get him and Brian Heroine the ball out of the backfield, because LSU is not covering backs,' said Pollack, a two-time SEC Player of the Year and three-time All-American during his UGA career (2001-2004). 'I think (Swift) has to have an enormous game if Georgia wants to win, and it needs to be inside and outside. It needs to be screens, it needs to be finding ways to get him the ball he's the best back in the country in space.' Pollack also said Fromm, the first quarterback since Florida's Danny Wuerffel to lead his team to three straight SEC title game appearances, is 'not playing his best football' this season. Here's more from Pollack's Q&A on Friday: Can Georgia hold LSU's offense? POLLACK: Define hold?Kirby and Company are going to have to check their egos at the door and understand that from 20 to 20, have all the yards you want, make it a slow death, and then make them be really efficient in the red zone and kick field goals. I don't think anybody can stop this offense. I think Joe Burrow is operating on a level that, his worst game is 71 percent, I think. It's not human. It's an offense where it has great answers for everything you do and great weapons and a running game. And not only that, there's a quarterback who buys time and scrambles and breaks tackles and makes big plays. There are gonna get theirs, and Jake is going to have to play really well. What would you say to Georgia fans who have had questions about the Bulldogs' offense? POLLACK: You should. I Tweeted about being excited about old school versus new school, because it used to be defense wins championships. I don't think it's defense wins championships anymore. I think you have to have a great offense to win a college football championship, and the game has changed so much. We'll get to see if old school defense can still reign supreme. This is a Big 12 offense. This is not an offense that reinvented and does new amazing things that nobody else does. It's just an offense that has answers that spread out so it can throw the football to a lot of different weapons. They are gonna get theirs.' What role do you think Jake Fromm plays for Georgia's offense? POLLACK: He's not playing his best football. I can look at him and watch him, his mechanics need to improve. He's fading away throwing the football way too much. That's the kind of stuff for a three-year starter, where you can't do that. He's definitely culpable. He's missed a lot of throws that are wide open. I think the system and the scheme is getting to know each other still and hasn't really clicked together great yet, and it needs to do that this week. It will change a little bit more. It has done well at times, but it hasn't put together a complete game and it needs to do that.' The SEC West has had three teams in three years, Georgia has won three straight in the East, what does that say? POLLACK: Florida is doing OK. Florida is back to back 10 win seasons for the first time since 2008, so Florida is doing their share and doing well But Georgia is three times in a row here, that's pretty dad gum good. If you had told Georgia fans that when Kirby got hired, they would have said sign me up for that. How about three straight years ending where you're in the conversation for the college football playoff? That's pretty dad gum good. It's still a pretty good young team, that's not going to lose much on defense, offensive line who leaves early? Who leaves early, Swift will leave early. When he leaves, how many leave will be the better questions. So it shows a lot about Kirby and how he has been able to recruit and restore. What is the trick about this LSU offense that has made it that unstoppable? POLLACK: 'There ain't no trick, Bro. It's not a trick, they know how to execute, they know exactly if you blitz them, they have their answers, and if you want to play Cover One they are going to hit deep overs and they are going to hit fades, and gos they do a good job if you are going to pay dime and nickel they are going to run duos all day and run the football at you. They do a really good job of knowing how to attack every level of a defense. The offense (once) trended toward Golden State, it was threes and dunks, it was gos and screens and they do a good job with their mid-range and attack. They do everything well. That's why it's hard to say I'm going to take this away, or that away. Every time you do, they have an answer for it. I think Kirby, as brilliant as he is defensively, can up with something to make a few plays. Tua (Tagovailoa) last year had a roll going coming into the Dome, and cooled off big time, got hurt too. It's what can you find that can slow them down for a possession and you win. Auburn tried the tower approach tried to go with three down and bring in a bunch of speed, it kind of worked, but what can you bring in and slow down just for a little bit, and hold the rope and hopefully your offense makes plays and hold the ball a little bit and works together. Could Coach Orgeron win Coach of the POLLACK: Year? POLLACK: In the league, or nationally? Yeah, Ryan Day, he's done a heck of a job, and you look at P.J. Fleck and Baylor's Matt Rhule, he's definitely in there. How about his record against Top 10 teams, and the hire of the offseason, nobody can debate that. I know who the Broyles Award winner is, I don't think anybody else is nominated, it's just go ahead and give it to Joe Brady. Can Joe Burrow lose the Heisman Trophy? POLLACK: Sure, I mean people have those moments when they start to have doubts and questions. He's by far and away commanding the lead, but what if he struggles mightily and limps to the finish and then all the sudden, you see a huge game from Justin Fields, or somebody like that, it can jump up, maybe. It's a small, small chance. I think Joe Burrow has done enough throughout the season. But it's a big-time stage where you have to prove things, but I think some people could have some doubts, still. I find it very hard to believe he'd lose it. LSU's Grant Delpit says he's close to 100 percent, is that what you've seen on film from him? POLLACK: I'm trying to measure my words here. He hasn't had his best year, this year. I think the secondary on a whole, you see a ton of talent, but you've also see more big plays than you're accustomed to seeing, more missed tackles than you're accustomed to seeing. Yeah, they are getting healthier, but they've got to play better. That's why Ohio State is No. 1. You can nitpick and say Cincinnati is a Top 25 team, or whatever, Ohio State has been more dominant, their defense has been more dominant. That's the difference between LSU and Ohio State. I could also swing the pendulum and say who has Ohio State played offensively that's any good? Even Cincinnati is not very good, Penn State is not very good, Wisconsin's offense, those all leave a lot to be desired. Michigan is a pretty good, and had some success. I think defensively it's very interesting we are sitting on championship weekend and we're pointing the finger at LSU and it's at their defense.' How important is it for Georgia to keep Joe Burrow in the pocket? POLLACK: 'I don't know, it doesn't matter. You better cover really well, and you better get him to the ground. I don't care about where you keep him, when you get your hands on him, you got to get him to the ground. He's strong, he's physical, but he's so dad gum tough. He doesn't give up. He's not like a Manning back in the day, you saw people get close to them, they would kind of take a dive. That's not a shot at them, but Joe Burrow is going to physically go through anybody he needs to. When he runs the football, he lowers his shoulder, he's going to make plays. So when Georgia gets here, whoever that is, get your hands on him and get him to the ground. I think another key will be batted passes. You want to take away some of those throws over the middle, when I'm a pass rusher and I know I can't get to the QB, I get my hands up and knock the ball down. Now maybe it's second-and-10 and you've got a better chance.' Is this game important to determine if Georgia has the right offensive identity? POLLACK: 'We'll see. I think that it's pretty proven now that offenses win, and you have to score. You have to win a championship game, a playoff game and another playoff game to be a champion. And to do that, you're going to play offensive juggernauts, and you better be able to score points. If you can't score points, and you can't be an explosive offense, it's very hard to win that many games in a row. It's like the NFL being in the playoffs, and you have to string three together, that's a tough thing to do.' #Georgia has named Jake Fromm, J.R. Reed and D'Andre Swift as game captains seemingly a good indication that Swift (shoulder) will play, although.. But, Brian Herrien was a game captain for South Carolina and he didn't play in that game (back spasms). Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) December 6, 2019 Georgia football DawgNation Kirby Smart compares Jake Fromm to Tim Tebow CBS analyst Gary Danielson says key for Georgia not Jake Fromm 7 Georgia players to watch vs. LSU Why D'Andre Swift is the most important player for UGA vs. LSU LSU coach Ed Orgeron brings great confidence into matchup Georgia aware of Tigers dangerous running back Kirby Smart relays how LSU represents greatest challenge James Cook could provide offensive spark vs. LSU Statistical comparison of Georgia-LSU in SEC title game VIDEO: Kirby Smart shares feelings on George Pickens WATCH: Jake Fromm zeroes in on LSU David Pollack The post David Pollack Q&A: D'Andre Swift has to have an enormous game if Georgia wants to win' appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA Kirby Smart said the expectation at Georgia was to be back back at the SEC Championship Game for a third straight season, but by no means is it taken for granted. 'I'm excited to be here because I love the venue and the opportunity to play in it,' Smart said Friday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 'It means you accomplished something and won your division, you don't ever take that for granted. 'It's earned, it's not something we take lightly or for granted, it's something we expected to do, and we're going to always set that as a bar, because this is where you go to take the next step.' The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (11-1) are a touchdown underdog against No. 2 LSU (12-0) in the 4 p.m. game on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Tigers feature Heisman Trophy front runner Joe Burrow along with two 1,000-yard receivers. 'They've broke about every record there is in the SEC, and I know our guys are excited,' Smart said. 'It will be a challenge for us.' LSU beat Georgia 36-16 last season in Baton Rouge, but Smart said the Tigers' offense has undergone a complete makeover. 'It's extremely different, you can see remnants, small elements, but the unique thing now is they are doing whatever they want to do,' Smart said. 'Last year they were a little bit more predictable and had more of a run element.' Georgia's offense, meanwhile, is largely the same. The Bulldogs look to be efficient throwing the football and feature a power element on the ground. Smart didn't offer much of an update on tailback D'Andre Swift, who left last Saturday's game with a shoulder injury but hasn't missed any practice time. 'It's hard to measure from practice, because at this point of the season you don't go live and hit,' Smart said. 'He's practiced and done everything we asked him to do.' LSU coach Ed Orgeron said the Tigers expect to see Swift. 'We're planning for him to play,' Orgeron said on Friday. 'Just like other great players we play, I'm assuming this guy is a great competitor, and I'm assuming he's going to play.' Smart said he's confident his team can handle playing on the big stage 'In the SEC, these games are championship games every week,because if you don't win them, you're not in the championship game,' Smart said. 'It's another week you have to go out and play, and you're playing the best from the other side in LSU.' Georgia football DawgNation Kirby Smart compares Jake Fromm to Tim Tebow CBS analyst Gary Danielson says key for Georgia not Jake Fromm 7 Georgia players to watch vs. LSU Why D'Andre Swift is the most important player for UGA vs. LSU LSU coach Ed Orgeron brings great confidence into matchup Georgia aware of Tigers dangerous running back Kirby Smart relays how LSU represents greatest challenge James Cook could provide offensive spark vs. LSU Statistical comparison of Georgia-LSU in SEC title game VIDEO: Kirby Smart shares feelings on George Pickens WATCH: Jake Fromm zeroes in on LSU The post Georgia coach Kirby Smart: SEC Championship Game an expectation, but not taken for granted appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Closely matched games have a tendency to come down to four or five plays, moments when a given team takes or is handed momentum. Turnovers, special teams plays and explosive plays are all capable of triggering emotional swings and changing a team's game plan or preferred personnel in a flash. Georgia and LSU have battled their way to the SEC Championship Game by handling those moments and overcoming obstacles. The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (11-1) are a touchdown underdog to the No. 2-ranked Tigers (12-0) and figure to need their 'A' Game to pull off the upset. Here are seven Georgia players that will be key against the Tigers. 1. Rodrigo Blankenship Every point will count, every kickoff will count, and the Bulldogs will be relying on their all-time leading scorer to come through in the clutch. Blankenship's third quarter miss against Alabama in last year's SEC title game was an opportunity for Georgia to make that a three score game. This time, UGA may need Blankenship to salvage stalled drives and connect from long distance, as well as hit the pressure-packed kicks. 2. Jake Fromm It's so obvious, but so true, Georgia relies on Fromm to do so much more than complete passes. The junior must change plays at the line of scrimmage, adjust protections and manage the huddle in the midst of chaos and emotion. Fromm has avoided interceptions in 11 of 12 games this season, but against LSU, he'll also need to tuck and run for the offense to be at its best. 3. Richard LeCounte This junior play-making safety has been a ball hawk of late, forcing fumbles in each of the past two games and picking off a pass against Missouri in a 27-0 win on Nov. 9. LeCounte's has also developed into the most fierce hitter in the secondary and an excellent open-field tackler. He'll be relied on to handle speedy receivers as well as powerful runner Clyde Edwards-Hellaire in one-on-one open-field tackling matchups. 4. D'Andre Swift It has been said and written at each turn that Swift is UGA's X-factor, and that is because he is the most explosive skill position player on the team. Swift can run heavy or fast, depending on the situation. Swift has shown home run speed once in the open field, but his sharp cutting is what separates him from other backs. Bumps and bruises have slowed the junior, but this will be a legacy game and an opportunity for Swift to take a place alongside recent greats Todd Gurley, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. 5. Monty Rice The heart and soul of the Georgia defense and designated tough guy, Rice is going to need to get to Edwards-Helaire before the LSU running back can get momentum. Rice has proven adept at stepping into gaps, but his pass coverage skills will be tested on first and second down. Young Nakobe Dean often comes on the field on third downs, but the Tigers are a threat to score on every play, and Rice will need to be on top of his game in pass coverage as well as run stoppage. 6. Tyler Simmons Simmons was limited by a shoulder brace most of the season, but he has had it off the past few games and evolved into Georgia's leading receiver over the past two games. The senior has the speed to get open and make things happen, and he's showing consistency with his hands. Perhaps most importantly, Fromm trusts Simmons to be where he's supposed to be and carry out his assignments. It has been a tough year for the UGA receivers, but they have an opportunity for redemption on Saturday. 7. Trey Hill Hill was roughed up at center and his snaps were late in Georgia's only loss to South Carolina, and that can't happen again. In truth, it's going to take Georgia's best collective effort on both sides of the line of scrimmage to win this football game. The last time these teams met, LSU won both sides of the line of scrimmage and was the stronger, tougher and more well-drilled team. The Bulldogs have it all on the line, quite literally, in Atlanta. Georgia football DawgNation Kirby Smart compares Jake Fromm to Tim Tebow CBS analyst Gary Danielson says key for Georgia not Jake Fromm Why D'Andre Swift is the most important player for UGA vs. LSU LSU coach Ed Orgeron brings great confidence into matchup Georgia aware of Tigers dangerous running back Kirby Smart relays how LSU represents greatest challenge James Cook could provide offensive spark vs. LSU Statistical comparison of Georgia-LSU in SEC title game VIDEO: Kirby Smart shares feelings on George Pickens WATCH: Jake Fromm zeroes in on LSU The post 7 key Georgia football players against LSU in SEC Championship Game appeared first on DawgNation.