Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dusty Rhodes...

I'm sitting here decompressing from a brutally hot day of state tournament action, complete with an electrical storm with torrential rain, reminded of the sad news of Thursday as "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, aka Virgil Runnels, had passed away at age 69.

Knowing a bit about the professional wrestling lifestyle, and trying to help my son avoid as many of its pitfalls as possible, I can only imagine how many nights closed one bar while Ric Flair and the Four Horseman closed another because, God forbid they be seen "in public...if you will..." together, breaking kayfabe. Rhodes and Flair were killing each other earlier at the Coliseum, they cannot "wine and dine" at the Marriott afterwards.

Boy, was the business different back then. But for many of us in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, for a long time, Dusty Rhodes was a larger-than-life figure we saw mostly in Pro Wrestling Illustrated at Standard Drug Stores. He was mostly in Florida, then in Georgia on Georgia Championship Wrestling on TBS. That's where his legend really grew, then finally coming to the Mid-Atlantic territory in 1984, where he reset the bar for babyface promos.

Before him, you had some great babyfaces in the ring: Ricky Steamboat, Johnny Weaver, Wahoo McDaniel (who I also felt made a terrible heel when cast that way. He always seemed constipated to me), but no Dusty Rhodes.

In under two years, we knew about being the son of a plumber, about hard times, about wining and dining with kings and queens and also eating pork and beans.

Which brings me to my earliest memory of wrestling. 5pm Saturdays on WTVR-TV6. Saturday night was hot dog and baked beans night and we ate watching Rip Hawk, Swede Hanson, the Anderson Brothers and more.

But I digress. While in my top five talkers in wrestling history, Rhodes isn't number one. But he accomplished something no other wrestler, in my opinion, has ever done, and that is be the superstar babyface without a great physique, but compensating by connecting to the fans on the mic and in the ring like few have, or will ever do.

Rest in Peace Dusty. And thank you!

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Surreal Saturday.....

It's early Sunday morning as I get a chance to type this, trying to decompress from a myriad of emotions. This will be done in a stream of conscious matter, just allowing me to get out everything I continue to process.

--Prince George County, where I pastored for nine years, is devastated to learn of the death of a Royals senior who died en route to her graduation at the football field. I cannot imagine the heartbreak her family is enduring right now, and how in the world I could ever serve a family in that deep, deep level of sorrow.

--A 44-year old woman in Hanover that many of my friends knew is senselessly murdered. My heart breaks for her family, and my friends.

--My brother lost his mother-in-law today, as she suffered a massive stroke Friday and never regained consciousness. My heart breaks for my sister-in-law, as I know how it feels to lose your Mama, for my niece and grand-niece. My brother preaches on in the morning, and I agree with his decision. I preached 12 hours after my Mom passed. Had to. Totally therapeutic.

--I'm just sorry we cannot come and support our North Carolina family. Margaret's funeral will be on Rachel's graduation day. There's nothing that can be done about it. It is all in God's timing and He understands, and we trust in His handiwork. We will miss them, but we know how proud they are of Rachel, that is for sure.

--I was honored to officiate a beautiful wedding late this afternoon in Innsbrook as Lee Coe and Rebecca Windle became husband and wife. The weather held out well, the ring bearer and two flower girls, ALL of whom were TWO, played their parts perfectly! I tripped up a couple of times (yes, ministers get nervous, too!), and their sand ceremony was the best I've seen. What a work of art, and great representation of two becoming one. I asked the Lord to hold off the rain until after 7pm. As I left around 7:15, the rain began.



--Off I went to Deep Run as Clover Hill and Douglas Freeman was in a rain delay. I arrived for what would be the final five innings of a ten-inning game that, actually, had already been decided. Clover Hill would score a run in the sixth, Freeman would answer, then we stayed tied until the tenth when Clover Hill scratched one across, then ended things to win 2-1 and clinch a 5A State Tournament berth.

--Only it wouldn't happen. Douglas Freeman filed a protest mid-game about their opponents using a pitcher one inning too long per VHSL rules. I get home, do some dishes, reload Twitter and it has exploded with questions about the protest. I work and work to confirm it independently. I talk w/a local TV station. Finally, we went with a confirmation just after midnight.

--I have a great interview with two elated Clover Hill players, including the one who scored the winning run. The video now stays on my phone. I am so, so disappointed for the Cavaliers, who have to be devastated that in, maybe an hour's time, they went from jubilation to the news that their season was over. Reporting that news is a part of my craft I do not enjoy.

--I also don't like goodbyes. So as news came that both Hanover and Glen Allen softball lost their Region Semifinal games in Tidewater today, I thought of great seniors whose careers are now over. Specifically, I think of Eryn King, Hanover second baseman, who never failed to yell, "HI ROB!" when she would see me approach the diamond on game day as she practiced or warmed up. Hanover softball won't be the same without her. Our loss is VCU's gain.

--Oh, and today was the 30th anniversary of my high school graduation. Standing in Monroe Park across from what was then "The Mosque" in 1985, I can remember a moment standing there, asking myself where would I be, what would I be doing in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years....

--The answer to the "30 years" question is now laid out before you. Some days pack so much in, it may take a day or two to simply process it. And I'd better do it quickly.

Because Tuesday's coming. And I gotta be on my "A" game when my baby walks across the stage at Siegel and gets that diploma.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Thank You Dave.....

I've only attended two television tapings in my nearly 48 years. 

On June 16, 1983, me, my Dad and my brother-in-law Dave got in line in "beautiful downtown Burbank" and witnessed the maestro. It was "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson". His guest that night was Robin Williams. You cannot imagine. The comedy during the commercial breaks was unbelievable.

There it was, the stage, Doc, Ed, the orchestra, Johnny's famous desk. I saw the magic work before my very eyes. At just shy of my 16th birthday, it was nothing short of a phenomenon.

Late night television had a profound effect on me, my attempt at wit, my philosophy on humor (I'm a huge proponent. Jim Valvano was so right: laugh every day. A good laugh, too.) The summer before my trip to California, my weeknight viewing consisted of Benny Hill at 11pm, Johnny Carson at 11:30, then David Letterman at 12:30. 

Ah, David Letterman. 

Now, I can honestly count myself as among the few to loyally watch his ill-fated morning talk show in the summer of 1980. Our Richmond affiliate never aired it, opting for the "Good Morning Movie". So I'd have to run outside, twist the ground-based antenna to the north so I could pick up, with snowy success, WRC-TV Channel 4 in Washington, who did air the program.

Edwin Newman had news updates during the show. Let that sink in for a moment. Want to see one? CLICK HERE.

Alas, it didn't last long, but NBC realized what didn't work at 10am would do pretty well at 12:30am. And here came Dave.

I forget the pundit who said this recently, but as Carson was the quintessential talk show host, Letterman was the "anti-host". He literally turned a genre that had been dominated since its inception for decades by Allen, Paar, Carson, Griffin, Douglas, tore it apart, and rebuilt it from a different set of eyes. And, for me, watching comedy from this prism was mesmerizing.

Example: Out of nowhere, cue an idyllic scene that reminds you of "The Sound of Music", then start that song, but when you get to "Muuu---sssiicccc!", cut to a shot of a stick of butter and have long-time announcer Bill Wendell growl, "Buuuuttttteeeerrrrrrrrrr!". 

Simple. Brilliant. Capable of inducing doubled-over laughter. I was 14 when Late Night premiered. Watching Letterman during my high school years was gold.

Chris Elliot screaming out of the studio. Asking the person at the laundry mat to overfill all the washers with detergent. Oh, and, back to the "The David Letterman Show" for a second, the wedding reception whose last scene was people using fire extinguishers to stop tons of petals that were released but caught fire due to some snafu, all as the credits rolled and the hired band played on.

David Letterman is the very definition of "surreal".

Which is why Dave didn't get "The Tonight Show", though he most certainly deserved it. NBC wanted safe. Traditional. Leno could give you a "Carson-like" performance. NBC wasn't ready for Dave, even after having him for over a decade. He also wasn't a "company guy" (right, GE? Like, you couldn't accept a lousy welcoming gift??).

So, for many people for whom Letterman was their cup of tea, there will always be the shots. Leno beat him, Letterman isn't funny, and, in later years, Letterman is old and bitter.

I'll agree with the latter. I've gone through long periods without a Dave fix. His final years at NBC were part of that "bitter" stage, but could you blame him? It was going to affect his comedy, that should have been a given.

I left Dave, very disappointed, again several years back when his political joking just became downright rude. He should have stuck with his mentor's stand on that issue. Johnny Carson dished it out evenly for decades. Letterman couldn't hide his far-left beliefs. 

I figure if Dave and I ever met for lunch, we couldn't talk 20 seconds about politics, but we would likely spend 20 hours on life, comedy, and observing the human condition.

But there are things about me my own wife doesn't care for, yet, she's still beside me tonight as I write this, patiently waiting for me to scratch her back.  :)

So, despite his flaws, and we all have them, I've chosen to look at all the comedy brilliance he's provided me for 35 years these past few weeks, and I've squeezed every moment out of his final broadcasts.

Man. What I'll remember from Late Night and The Late Show.....

---Jane Pauley on helium
---The rotating screen show
---Larry "Bud" Melman (especially his opening of the first CBS show, busting through the center of the "Eye" to proclaim, "This is CBS!")
---The suit of Alka-Seltzer
---The fastest grocery bagger
---Jay Thomas' Holiday Football Challenge
---Sue Hum
---Racing through the Rockefeller Plaza hallways
---The "water sprayer" along 53rd Street
---Rupert Jee (I ate at his deli. DELICIOUS!)
---Top 10 things that sound cool when sung by an opera singer
---Top 10 things that sound cool when sung by Barry White
---And pretty much every Top 10
---Wahoo, Nebraska
---The two original members of the "World's Most Dangerous Band": Paul Shaffer and Will Lee
---Every word Paul ever uttered to add the punch to the monologue that Ed McMahon did for Johnny
---TV's and Watermelons thrown off the roof
---Viewer Mail
---The revival of "Stump The Band"
---Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler
---Any trip to a drive-through
---"And DOWN the stretch they come!!"
---The Late Night Monkey Cam
---The 9/11 Monologue
---Having his doctors and nurses on his first show after heart bypass surgery
---Jamming the Jamba Juice across the street with superheroes
---Biff Henderson (especially reporting from any sporting event)
---Pies with Dave's Mom
---The Olympics with Dave's Mom
---Frankly, anything with Dave's Mom

and, of course, "Will It Float??" (based on the British game, "Is it Buoyant?")

There's so much more. Dave tapped a side of comedy not seen in 1980 on television, just as my generation was coming of age. The combination and timing couldn't have been more perfect.

I do hope he finally finds some peace in his "retirement", whatever that may consist of. I suspect he'll spend, and cherish, lots of time with his son Harry. He will find much more life value there than in any spat with a woman with just one name (Cher, Oprah, Madonna)...

And I'm just glad I got to experience that other television taping, when, on August 25, 2008, my wife and I entered the Ed Sullivan Theater for the Late Show. I had to be the most animated fan in the crowd that day. 

So I don't need to be at another TV taping. Carson, then Letterman. What in the world could be better than that?

I leave you with my all-time favorite Top Ten list, from his first week on CBS. Again, simple, but brilliant, and Dave being Dave, willing to share in the comedy, as the master of the countdown, Casey Kasem, pays a call.





Saturday, October 18, 2014

Just a few random thoughts....

Wow. I'm on Blogger all the time, but never seem to have time to blog. Well, here.

So, I'm making myself rest after a trip today, first to cover Randolph-Macon volleyball in Ashland, then up to Spotsylvania to perform a wedding ceremony for a fantastic couple.

1) Gotta Walk: It's prime walking season, and I've got to take advantage. Humidity's gone, heat to follow, and before we get to 5pm sunsets, I've got to go find out which houses are for sale in the neighborhood. The Richmond Heart Walk 5K last Saturday was a little easier than last year's. I never walk 5K in my neighborhood, so it's the "annual ultimate test". I'm still a work in progress, 18 months after the heart attack, and 12 years after the sleep apnea diagnosis kicked off this era of "chronic illness".

2) Surprised? For some people who know me, and see me at football, field hockey, volleyball, and other events.....the last part of Item #1 may come as a shock. What you don't see is the scheduled down times where I make myself rest up, the many hours I'm sleeping, or when doing things online, doing them while in bed resting. Otherwise, the still undiagnosed nausea likes to kick in, sometimes in debilitating fashion. Rarely I can fight through it, 98 percent of the time I cannot.

3) A Thousand Kids: Covering high school and college sports helps me stay mentally young, it really does. It makes me have my finger on the pulse of pop culture, as much as I can, helps me understand my two adult kids better, too. Poor Rachel, sometimes she gets jealous of how much some student-athletes appreciate what I do. But I remind her, I feel like I have a thousand kids around the area, and it's an honor to cover every one of them, as well as get to meet their families. BUT....I only have two CHILDREN. They know who they are. :)

4) TV Analyst??: I went to Comcast at the request of the American Heart Association to do a TV interview for their public access channel to promote the Heart Walk. If you know me, you know I chose radio for a reason: I'm NOT television material. Imagine my surprise when I get a Facebook message from Cheryle Rodriguez asking me to come back to tape a segment talking about the NFL and players from the area!

So, Friday morning, we had a wonderful time talking about Russell Wilson, Jake Wells, Antone Exum, etc, etc. I wish I hadn't mentioned Percy Harvin, who was traded to the Jets within hours of taping! (GRRR...)

If you want to see me enjoy a conversation while looking uncomfortable on TV, it's Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 8:30 on Comcast 95, and FiOS 36.  :)  I'd be honored to return sometime.

5) Change: Our cottage industry, HCS Media Network, is undergoing some changes to, hopefully, help it further reach its fullest potential. That'll be my focus Sunday afternoon while watching/listening to Red Zone.

That's my story. For now. What's yours?  :)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Rob's Fearless 2014 NFL Predictions!!

Well, here we go again. The one sport where I take a little time and actually try to make some preseason picks that, normally, look pretty stupid when we finally get to mid-January.

But, hey, it's all in fun, right?  So, here we go....

NOTE: I went through all 17 weeks and predicted winners of every game to come up with these forecasts...

NFC EAST:

1) Philadelphia (11-5): Just too many weapons offensively, especially with Sproles in the mix. They won't miss Jackson like many think they will, with Sproles available to help McCoy breathe (and leave something in the tank for the postseason). Nick Foles will likely be in the top 5 in passing categories, but, unlike a guy like Matthew Stafford, the stats will mean something.

2) Washington (7-9): It's the porridge season of "just quite not right" for the Redskins as they can't make the playoffs, but don't collapse under the weight of a knee brace. They lose a couple they shouldn't, then go build on this for 2015, if they can hear each other due to the hue and cry for a nickname change, which, IMO, will happen in the next one to two years.

3) New York Giants (6-10): We're a year away, if history is an indication, from another Eli December to February ultimate comeback to lead his team to the promised land, though I think that window has long since closed (and I'm a Giants fan! Wait 'till you see what I do with my Raiders!!). Victor Cruz always has some sort of physical problem. Randle isn't a #1 receiver. Loved the Rashad Jennings pickup, though, much to my chagrin on my Raider side. The defense doesn't wow me, either.

4) Dallas (3-13): Their worst season since Troy Aikman's rookie year. Romo to Bryant won't be enough, Murray won't stay healthy. They'll have to put up Madden '15 type offensive numbers because the defense will just....be....terrible.

NFC NORTH:

1) Green Bay (13-3): Imagine a healthy Aaron Rodgers last year. He's back, Eddie Lacy has had an off-season to improve. Lacy will improve Rodgers, as Rodgers won't have to throw for 350 plus a game for victory. Time of possession, too. They'll miss BJ Raji, but they're okay defensively. I like the Packers.

2) Chicago (10-6): And it could've been better than this, but the Bears, in typical recent Bear fashion, will stink up the joint a time or two when they'll be favored to win. This is ALL predicated on a healthy Jay Cutler. That's all we'll say about that.

3) Detroit (7-9): New coach, same result. Lots of yards for Stafford that mean little; Johnson gets triple teamed, still catches balls, but no running game, and holes in the defense put the Lions in, again, the middle of the pack.

4) Minnesota (7-9): Mike Zimmer is a good coach; very good hire for the Vikings. He'll bring discipline and better defensive performance. Now if they had a decent quarterback to throw to Patterson and Rudolph so that AP didn't think he has to save the day every Sunday....

NFC SOUTH:

1) New Orleans (11-5): Many analysts with much higher profiles than mine, reading their Super Bowl picks, think the Saints go to the Super Bowl if they can ever clinch home-field advantage. I'm not sold on that. But if Drew Brees can develop one more receiver to go with Colston and Graham (that offense has always needed that third option to keep the best of defenses on their toes), the Saints could go to a place like Lambeau in January with a shot to win. Whatever happened to Mark Ingram?

2) Atlanta (8-8): They upset the Saints to start the year, but never find a groove. No big winning or losing streaks, and Matt Ryan and company finish 8-8. Jackson is again, Rodgers may not be the RB answer, and there are big questions defensively. But at least, for the sake of the franchise, they bounce back from '13.

3) Carolina (8-8): I see a SLOW start for Carolina, so much so that some will throw in the towel after Week 8 or 9. But Newton will heal, Kelvin Benjamin will have a monster second half of the season to run away with the Rookie of the Year awards (sorry, Johnny!), and they'll go 6-2, 5-3 down the stretch to get ready for '15. Carolina needs to find an Alfred Morris-type RB in the draft, say goodbye to their current group (save Tolbert, the bruiser). Give Cam a 1,500 yard durable back with that defense, and we're talking Carolina in the mix for home-field advantage instead of 8-8.

4) Tampa Bay (5-11): Little Known Fact: No quarterback named McCown has ever won a Super Bowl. Sorry, Lovie.

NFC WEST:

1) Seattle (10-6): As do most "defensive Super Bowl Champions", the Seahawks return to the pack this year. It's only a hot December that gives them the division crown. So the road to the Super Bowl won't go through the 12th Man this year, and the 2014 Seahawks will have happen to them what happened to the 1986 Bears, 2001 Ravens, and 1976 Steelers. Credit to the 1975 Steelers, though, for bucking this trend. It won't be duplicated this year.

2) San Francisco (10-6): This is being generous to the 49ers. Their defense is falling apart due to needing...defense...attorneys. Harbaugh's ability to keep a disciplined team together is in question (and rightfully so), but that's just what ol' Jim will use, the "us against the world, next man up" mentality to nurse the team through a rough season with key late wins to make the playoffs with the final wild card spot. It's time for Colin Kaepernick to start throwing for 35 touchdowns, though, as Frank Gore's "Best By" date quickly approaches....oh, can't wait to see Marcus Lattimore finally get a chance. I hope he's healthy enough to do so.

3) St. Louis (8-8): Yes, 8-8. Shaun Hill is miles ahead of the plethora of backups the Rams had to play last year. If they can get ANY semblance of a running game so Hill could really use Tavon Austin with the full playbook....and their defense is maybe the best in the league. They'd better keep games in the teens, though. The Rams will be the team you won't see on the big screens at Buffalo Wild Wings unless they play glamour opponents (or you live in St. Louis), because the average fan doesn't go nuts for a 13-10 defensive war. I love those games. I'm in the minority.

4) Arizona (6-10): Washington gone, Dansby gone, age a factor, and Carson Palmer can't possibly play like that two straight years, right?  Or be healthy, right?  Last year had to be a case of everything going right, and they STILL missed the post-season (and I felt bad for them, they played some good ball last year). Fitzgerald and Peterson can't do it alone.

NFC EAST: Philadelphia
NFC NORTH: Green Bay
NFC SOUTH: New Orleans
NFC WEST: Seattle
NFC WILD CARDS: Chicago, San Francisco

AFC EAST:

1) New England (12-4): No one comes close. They sweep the division to win by four games and are a threat, yet again, to reach February 1st. What else can you say? Brady will play like Brady until the one opponent he can't defeat, Father Time, catches up to him. Remember, this is his 15th season, 13th as an active starter.

2) Miami (8-8): The first of two division teams that have decent seasons even with quarterback doubts. Charles Clay emerges as one of the best all-around tight ends this year that people DO know, and the Dolphins are in the wild card mix to the end, joining....

3) Buffalo (8-8): Yes, it's finally the year that Manuel, Spiller, Jackson ALL stay healthy. Decent receiving by committee while Watkins gets going keeps them afloat. It's the defense that will need to improve to allow this .500 record to become a reality. On a side note, for the sake of keeping the Bills in Buffalo, Western New York fans NEED to still be in the playoff chase going into Weeks 16 and 17. I'd hate to see the Buffalo Bills become the Los Angeles Whatevers...

4) New York Jets (5-11): The bubble bursts. Geno is a bust, Vick gets hurt, and by Week 14, the Jets are starting Who Knows What at quarterback. Chris Johnson is spent, Eric Decker wonders what he was thinking during free agency, and there's not much defense, either. Time to clean house.

AFC NORTH:

1) Pittsburgh (10-6): A bounce-back season in a tight, tough division. Roethlisberger and OC Todd Haley finally get along. That counts for half off the offensive success of any team. They finally started the youth movement on defense (a year too late, IMO), and in this division, ten wins can get you the title.

2) Cincinnati (9-7): A tough out at home, but poor road performances and a rough first-place schedule (at New England, at New Orleans....) hurt my baby girl's Bengals. On top of that, you cannot underestimate the loss of both coordinators to head coaching positions. Gruden and Zimmer had more to do with recent success, IMO, than Marvin Lewis did. Having said all that, Dalton and A.J. squeeze the 6th and final playoff spot.

3) Baltimore (7-9): Something's just not right here. The talent is there, but, for whatever reason, the Ravens go much the way of last season, not being able to win the big games that they did late in 2012 to start the Super Bowl run. One reason?  Even though they struggled down the stretch that year, they'd already played well enough to be in the January tournament. That won't be the case this season. The NFL's enigma resides in Baltimore.

4) Cleveland (6-10): Browns fans dying for Johnny Football won't like this final mark. It isn't because Manziel comes in mid-season and goes 4-4. It's because Hoyer does just enough every week to keep America's Post-Curfew Darling on the bench. It's the perfect combination to drive Browns fans crazy: Hoyer does enough, the defense is really the reason they win six, but Pettine can't find it in his heart to pull the trigger. Let the off-season of angst begi....no, wait. Browns fans have Lebron to cheer for again, so they're good into spring. They'll get riled up by Draft Day.  :)

AFC SOUTH:

1) Indianapolis (12-4): When you don't have a quarterback....quick, who else is starting in this division after Andrew Luck?  The Colts have another great season from #12, run through most of the division, but won't be a huge threat come playoff time, even though they'll earn the #1 seed thanks to regular season wins over both Denver and New England. They'll be perceived by some as an overrated top seed.

2) Houston (7-9): There's too much talent on this defense not to have Houston turn it around to an extent. Arian Foster stays healthy, too. But the quarterback position.....oh, boy.....

3) Jacksonville (7-9): My surprise team of 2014, and I didn't even know until I did the game-by-game predictions!  The Jaguars have a favorable schedule, and I think Bortles will see the field and do okay. Not Andrew Luck rookie season okay, but okay. No one will take them seriously, and a few teams, after playing them, will wish they had.

4) Tennessee (6-10): I like Ken Whisenhunt, but what does he have in the cupboard to work with? Jake Locker? Quick: name a healthy wide receiving threat?  One reason why all these teams get to six wins is that they'll beat up on each other. Even the Colts will lose one inside the division.

AFC WEST:

1) Denver (12-4): It won't look like last year; no one romps with such precision as the 2013 edition of the Broncos, but they'll get it done, including an early November win at New England to clinch the #2 seed. Defense improves, slightly (big names aren't the answer, a cohesive unit is), but losing Decker, and now Welker for four games, and having Wes a hit away from the IR makes this run more difficult.

2) Kansas City (10-6): I just can't bet against Andy Reid. Such a consistent coach and with Smith, Charles, Bowe, etc, they'll be good again. Not quite as good as last year, as again I see an NFL with 30 of 32 teams closer to each in parity this year, but good enough for a playoff berth.

3) San Diego (7-9): They return to earth after their late run last year. They should sign Ryan Succop to a minimum deal just to say thank you for helping them get that post-season berth. I expect Mathews to return to his fumble-prone, injury-riddled self, and Danny Woodhead can't do everything....

4) Oakland (1-15): Oh, my Raiders. I normally say "4-12" by default, but not this year. Our best RB is gone, we have no receivers, so Derek Carr has no one to throw to. We didn't draft a Matthews for left tackle, so protection is still a concern. Justin Tuck and Lamaar Woodley....remember when the Raiders got so many retreads and got good years out of them?  One of the reasons Al Davis was successful doing it was he could tell which players still had tread on the tires and which did not. Jim Plunkett struggled with injuries and didn't play for a few years, so, once he was healthy and serving as Dan Pastorini's backup, he was healthy with gas in the tank. Dan breaks his leg, Jim takes the Raiders to the first of two Super Bowl titles. We don't judge those decisions that way any longer. Al didn't do it in his final decade, Mark ain't doing it either.

So maybe a #1 pick can help rebuild the future for my Silver and Black. Because they're on track to get it.

AFC EAST: New England
AFC NORTH: Pittsburgh
AFC SOUTH: Indianapolis
AFC WEST: Denver
AFC WILD CARDS: Kansas City and Cincinnati

PLAYOFFS:

AFC:
WILD CARD: New England over Cincinnati, Pittsburgh over Kansas City
DIVISIONALS: New England over Denver, Pittsburgh over Indianapolis
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP: New England over Pittsburgh

NFC:
WILD CARD: San Francisco over Philadelphia, Seattle over Chicago
DIVISIONALS: Green Bay over San Francisco, New Orleans over Seattle
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Green Bay over New Orleans

SUPER BOWL XLIX: Green Bay 31, New England 27

Enjoy the season!!!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

I'm On Thumbtack--UPDATED: LINK WORKS! :)

No, no, not physically ON a Thumbtack..... :)

It's Thumbtack.com!  A place where those in need of professionals in specialty areas look for help!

If couples are in need of a wedding officiant, or someone is in search of a photographer for some work, I am available!

I just began there last week, so working on building the ol' client base, but in the meantime, to view my page and see if there's something there I can help you, a friend, or colleague with, JUST CLICK HERE!

And thanks!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Wow!

Way too many superlatives to consider using in a year with such spectacular highs, unfortunate lows and everything between.....

So, how do we go through the year?  If you know me, you know that means a stream of typing consciousness.....so away we go!

1) 25 Years: In January, Bonnie and I determined we would actually celebrate our wedding anniversary this year, being that this was, according to tradition, the Silver Anniversary.  So off we flew to Las Vegas for her second trip, and my first.  Never figured myself to be a "Vegas" guy, and I was right, except......

...I could live in that suite a long time!  Love the lights at night, and nothing about the rest of the nightlife. Menopause: The Musical?  HIGHLY recommend it if you've never seen it.  :)

(The Monte Carlo was our home for four nights, and yes, we stopped by CVS...)

2) The Wait Is Over: After nearly three long years of nothing but seasonal work, my awesome son, Robbie, who turned legal (21) in April, FINALLY found full-time work in late March.  He enjoys his work at Southeast Frozen Foods, where he's known as "Snowball", auditing orders on the night shift, making sure YOU can find your favorite pseudo-half gallon of ice cream or frozen pizza at your local Food Lion or Dollar Tree.  The pay isn't enough to allow him to break out on his own (as is the case for millions of Millennials right now), but IS enough for him to FINALLY begin the road to his dream.

He began training with GXW Wrestling in early November.  He's in the ring twice a week for four hours in the afternoon before heading to work at night, learning to fall (or "bump" as is the industry jargon), how to armdrag, wrist lock, and soon, suplex and more. He's gone through a few trainers as, sadly, his first lost his Dad and had to move home in Maryland to care for his surviving mom, then, he was being schooled by the head trainer of GXW, Johnny Ringo.  Johnny, VERY sadly, passed on December 19th just days before his 57th birthday.  He spent his entire life wrestling, up to the very end, and was excited to start getting Robbie into the deeper things of the squared circle.  But, as of today, Robbie has another wonderful trainer, and I'm sure 2014 will bring him his first match, though it may be late in the year.  It takes a year (or more for some) for trainees to finally become ready.  I'm looking forward to that night!


3) LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION:  It was another year on the stage for Miss Rachel, who turned "Sweet Sixteen" in late February, then dove straight on into "West Side Story". She was in the ensemble, but also captured the role of the "Somewhere Girl", who stood on a very high platform singing the signature song from the classic musical during a wonderfully-choreographed scene from our incredible Drama Director J. Harvey Stone.  She made an impression, being named "Most Improved Actress" in June at the year-end awards for Jaguar Drama 2012-13.

Over the summer, we learned there would be TWO musicals this year, the first being "Disney's Beauty & The Beast".  Rachel hoped to become Mrs. Potts, but her best friend won that part (and deservingly so!  Lainie's performance brought yours truly to tears...) so my baby took on anything Mr. Stone needed her to do, and the cast put on a show for the ages.  What they do in theatre at the high school level now as opposed to what we did in high school 30 years ago?  NO comparison.

In between, Rachel spent her summer with friends, going to cardiac rehab with me, and spending an impressive number of evenings with me at various events doing photography as part of her two-year internship with the Hanover Herald-Progress. She also took an impromptu tour of the campus of Randolph-Macon College over the summer (and REALLY wants to go), and when she actually WAS home, she loved up on Harry J., who turned 10 back on December 12th, practiced piano (8th year with recital in June), spent a week in Virginia Beach with a friend, and starts 2014 Saturday with an audition for the Summer Governor's School for the Dramatic Arts at Radford University.  If she gets it, it'll be exactly 30 years since yours truly did the same thing at then Mary Washington College.




4) ON THE GRIND: Bonnie spent the year, literally, working. Working all day, every day at Virginia Credit Union inside the DMV Building on Broad Street, which meant, yes, she had to deal with the 166,000 people who showed up across the street over the summer for Washington Redskins Training Camp!  When she wasn't working, she went to lots of Tuesday night movies with her work buddy Margaret at BowTie, and read 5,643 books on her Kindle.  Well, maybe I'm exaggerating just a little..... :)

5) DOWN SOUTH: We had three celebrations with our North Carolina family this year, two of which you'd expect to be called such, while one was unorthodox, but the perfect tribute to a pretty incredible guy.

A) I was deeply, deeply honored to be able to participate in the long, long overdue Ordination Service for my brother on March 3rd!  He is now pastoring a wonderful church in the community of Cove City, NC, not far west from his home in New Bern.

B) We returned to Cove City as my niece got married to start our Memorial Day Weekend!  It was the first time the 3 Witham kids were all together in just over 10 years, which was very cool.  And, it meant time with adorable Cora Jane (who came up to see Rachel in Beauty & The Beast in December!), so that's always a plus.

C) But then, in early August, we discovered my Dad had a brain tumor, an offshoot of his brain aneurysm from 29 years earlier. He's been ready to go for years now, and the treatment options both would deeply accelerate his dementia. After watching my Mom age 15 years in 2 months thanks to chemo back in 2002, I wanted no part of that. Our family was in 100 percent agreement to let nature take its course and God would take him when He was ready.

We made four trips to N.C. in two months, the third was the final time we saw him, a few days before he passed away early on the morning of October 2nd at age 81. We returned the next weekend for the funeral, which was filled with celebration, great remembrances, a sermon (mandatory for my Dad!), and an 80 degree fall day FILLED with gnats in the Eastern Carolina air at graveside.  So I now move on parentless, which is a completely new, and very weird, feeling.
(Dad at his final Christmas one year ago...)

So....I guess that leaves me.  :)

Everything changed on April 8th at 1:50pm ET when I awoke from a nap to intense pressure in my chest, and, a few minutes later, pain radiating down both arms down to the elbow.  It was, so I'm told, 70 minutes from the time I called 911 to the time they inserted the stent into the area entering the aorta, which was 100 percent blocked. By 5:30, I was woozy in my hospital room, picking on a turkey sandwich.

Poor Robbie had just started his new job, poor Bonnie had to fly out of work, then had to go to Glen Allen High and get Mr. Stone to help break the news to Rachel, 10 days out from West Side Story.

Here's how amazing medical technology has changed. In 1975, when my Dad had his first heart attack, he was in the hospital 3 1/2 weeks and was prescribed extreme amounts of rest once finally home.

I left the hospital less than 45 hours after my heart attack, stopped by the school to say hi to Rachel, give her two thumbs up, then come home. 16 days later, I began rigorous cardiac rehabilitation. 36 sessions that took me through the summer, and I enjoyed it so much, it helped so much, I returned on my own December 2nd. I need a group session. Why go to the gym when they have all the equipment I need, all the nurses know my history, they can slap a heart monitor on me whenever they want and I bring down the median age of the rehab session by 15 years?  It's the least I can do....

So a BIG THANK YOU to my doctors, all the nurses at Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center Cardiac Rehabilitation (Junior, Ginny, Susan, Suzi, Stephanie, Bonnie, Rita, and I know I'm missing some names!) for your help this year.

OH, and a huge goodbye to 20 pounds, and to soda.  Haven't had one since April 8th.  :)

Otherwise?  2013 was focusing on getting better, as my second blockage is inside the heart at 50 percent, but they didn't stent it (they used to, but realized stents inside the heart are much riskier, so now they'd rather you treat with diet, exercise and meds, so I am.) as well as improving on the diabetes and sleep issues so I can, after many years, hopefully one day in the not-too-distant future be, once again, 100 percent healthy. :)

Other highlights of 2013:

---Walking 5K at the Richmond Heartwalk September 28th through the streets and bridges of Richmond
---Raising nearly $1,000 for the American Heart Association thanks to Rachel and the team she assembled
---Not breaking the cameras at CBS6 when I was interviewed there to promote the HeartWalk

---52 weeks of articles printed in Section B of the Hanover Herald-Progress (yes, I even wrote and filed an article IN my hospital bed the day after my heart attack...)

---Over 5,000 followers on Twitter as we expanded to three feeds: @hanoversports, @henricosports, and @cfieldsports. As of tonight, 1,637 Henrico followers in under 8 months, 573 followers in just 4 months with little push down in Chesterfield.

---HCS Media Network expanding rapidly!  It's officially an LLC, owned by Bonnie (she's the business brains here, not me!), with the Twitter feeds, two live and one developing web sites, a YouTube channel and a growing online radio presence of live events, and TONS of plans for 2014.

---Getting my new moniker, known as "The Hanover Sports Guy".  :)

---All the student-athletes I covered this year around the #RVA.
---All the Athletic Directors from high schools and Randolph-Macon
 College, the University of Richmond, VCU, etc.

---Rachel getting her learner's permit
---Robbie's 49ers almost making the comeback win in Super Bowl XLVII
---Robbie finally seeing his wrestling idol, Sting, LIVE when we went to TNA in Norfolk in August
---Being at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center for building, dedication, and finally, to cover Redskins camp
---Getting to personally thank to head of Bon Secours at an event on May 20th, just six weeks after his people saved my life.
---The super-mini thunderstorm of doom that cost us 13 hours of power on August 10th.
---The best year of high school football coverage on WHAN Radio yet, complete with a new partnership with the sports department at NBC12 (Marc and Matt rock, as does their news director, Frank Jones!)
---Seriously paring down my sports card collection to make room for other things. Funny how priorities change after a little thing like a heart attack....
---My Road Trips to see sports teams...
         1) Atlee softball in state quarterfinal action in Chesapeake
         2) Hanover baseball the same day in the state quarters in Norfolk
         3) American Legion Post 175 in State Tournament play in Williamsburg
         4) September 21st, going to see Sam Rogers' 2nd home game for Virginia Tech against Marshall, then dropping by Charlottesville that night to watch Karlie Suber play volleyball for UVA!
         5) Multiple trips to the Siegel Center, none better than November 23rd as Atlee girls volleyball WON the State Title.
         6) And a Sunday in Stafford to watch Rockville Softball win Babe Ruth state titles (yep, more than one!)

So, we enter 2014 with Rachel acting, Robbie working (and training for wrestling on the holiday tomorrow!), Bonnie resting, and me wishing YOU and YOURS a WONDERFUL New Year!

Enjoy every moment.  You never know when everything will change.  :)