Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Quote of the day

"Are you telling me that you don't see the connection between the government and laughing at people?" -- unidentified actor in the film Head starring the Monkees.

Remember that the next time you see somebody laughing at you.

Monday, June 29, 2009

When in Antioch, try Pancho Mexican Restaurant on Bell Road

In general, I react to Mexican food in a lukewarm way. I enjoy a quesadilla as much as the next guy, but I usually do not eat this type of food very often.

I may have to re-think this approach after a co-worker and I enjoyed the lunch buffet at the Pancho Mexican Restaurant on Bell Road in Antioch. It offered a nice array of Mexican food that was well prepared and at a reasonable price.

Chicken, spicy beef, and other delicacies that I am not sure what to call filled up my belly nicely. After I was finished, I wanted to take a long nap, which is usually the highest praise I can thrust upon a lunch buffet.

The restaurant is located just off I-24 at the Bell Road exit. It is located in the EconoLodge hotel near Snooker's.

For more information, our friend Joltin' Django posted a longer review on his blog A Man's Gotta Eat last month. Click here to read his thoughts.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Iranian political chaos won't go away soon

If people needed yet another reason why we should be grateful to be Americans, Iran's recent presidential election provided it.

The June 12 election was disputed almost from the moment it ended. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected by a landside, but cries of corruption quickly spread the nation.

Protesters hit the streets, and there was a whiff of anarchy in the air. This was incredible especially when a person considers the type of society there. It is nothing like what we experience here in America.

The conservative Islamic leadership that has been in place since the revolution in 1979 rarely allows any type of dissent. Constitutional rights that we take for granted are only a dream for many of the people there.

Because of this, the protesters deserve a lot of respect for putting their necks on the line. In that society, it is not uncommon for people to disappear after criticizing the government.

However, the election was a farce in one respect. The real powerbroker in Iran is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who many refer to as the country's supreme leader. Since he is a supporter of Ahmadinejad, do not expect the midget president to leave the Iranian political stage any time soon.

Still, it is hard not to be fascinated by the protests that have gone on there. If the current government could be overthrown and be replaced by one that is friendlier to the United States, it could ease many of the Middle East's problems.

Of course, it has been a long time since Iran has had a government friendly to the United States. We supported the Shah of Iran and his leadership for decades. In doing this, we conveniently overlooked the Shah's human rights' abuses.

Then, when the Islamic revolution took place there, many of the people blamed us for the problems they suffered under the Shah. Eventually, the U.S. embassy was attacked and hostages were held for more than a year.

This was one of the factors that wrecked President Jimmy Carter's administration. Since then, the United States and Iran have been bitter adversaries.

How bitter has it gotten? When Iran and Iraq engaged in a war throughout most of the 1980s, we indirectly supported Iraq in the conflict. In one of the best examples of the cliché 'politics makes for strange bedfellows,' we were giving support to Saddam Hussein as he led his country in the disastrous conflict.

The war basically ended in a draw as hundreds of thousands were killed.

As for current day Iran, anything is possible. I know that is difficult to believe, but when I was growing up, I never believed the Soviet Union would fall apart and the Berlin Wall would come down.

Though it often seems like it takes forever for large-scale change to take place, it often happens quickly when the acts of a few resonate throughout a nation.

Have we seen that happen with the current protests in Iran? Only time will tell.

Twenty years ago, student protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing appeared to be the springboard to widespread social change in China, but it never happened. One man famously stood in front of a tank there, and if he is still alive, we likely will never hear from him again. The government there is as oppressive as it has ever been.

However, if another revolution took place in Iran and it favored the United States, the irony would be that the citizens there would have accomplished what he have tried to do in Iraq for years.

And that would be remarkable.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tullahoma becoming Manchester's suburb

I have lived in Manchester for almost all my life, and during this time, I have seen the town grow. Before the recession, there was a boom in housing, plus Manchester is an international player on the music scene with the Bonnaroo festival. Strategically located along Interstate 24, it is only a half-hour drive from Murfreesboro, which has been a city of enormous growth during the last decade or so.

Toss in quality of life perks like a blossoming park system, and Manchester is a town with a strong heartbeat.

Because of all this, I can't help but think of the role reversal Manchester and Tullahoma have seen. When growing up, the towns were opposites in many ways. Manchester is the county seat of Coffee County, but Tullahoma has the bigger population. Because of this, a natural rivalry exists between the towns.

However, the moods of the towns are different now. While Manchester has grown, Tullahoma really has not. When I was a teenager, it was very common to go to Tullahoma to see a movie or cruise around Northgate Mall. Today, Northgate Mall appears virtually empty and the movie theater is second rate. Why go see a movie there when just a little longer drive to Murfreesboro lets a person see a film in the comfort of stadium seating?

Bobby Dylan wrote: "The times, they are a-changin.'" He was right, but I don't think he had Coffee County in mind when he wrote it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Prediction: MTSU will upset Mississippi State in football on Oct. 17

For college football fans, a fun way to kill time during the heat of the summer is to look at the upcoming schedules of teams and try to pick upsets. An upset I see coming is when the SEC's Mississippi State Bulldogs travel to Murfreesboro to play the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on October 17.

First of all, kudos to the Blue Raiders schedule maker for continuing to make progress when it comes to getting teams from big name conferences to visit Murfreesboro. Home field advantage means a lot as we saw when the Blue Raiders knocked off Maryland from the ACC last year.

MTSU has a ton of experience returning from last year's 5-7 team, including 10 starters on offense. True, the only non-starter returning is quarterback Dwight Dasher, but he has the supporting cast to put points on the board.

Mississippi State was one of several SEC teams that had big problems scoring last year. Former Florida assistant Dan Mullen has been brought in as new head coach. He will be installing Florida's spread offense, but as we have seen, it is difficult to be successful in that scheme if a team does not have the talent to run it. Even Urban Meyer struggled when implementing it at Florida in his first year. Therefore, expect the Bulldogs to have problems scoring again this year.

While the Bulldogs defense will be good this year, the Blue Raiders should be able to squeeze out enough points to win.

Monday, June 22, 2009

MSNBC clueless during Iranian protests, riots on Saturday

For those interested in global politics, last Saturday was a memorable day. The unrest and riots in Iran made for fascinating watching on the 24-hour television news networks.

FOX and CNN found themselves in difficult situations because Iran was actively trying to censor any images coming out of its country. Because of this, verifying information had to have been difficult. However, they both did commendable jobs in a challenging situation. They served the public very well.

On the other hand, MSNBC came off looking like a laughingstock. They did not re-arrange their normal programming schedule. Therefore, viewers who watched that network were left with a steady diet of programs about prison life and murder mysteries (most of which had already been shown multiple times).

Whatever remaining credibility the network had was lost on Saturday. I guess the "stars" of the network like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow couldn't be bothered to cover such an important story.

If you are watching this network to get news and commentary, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Find something better to watch. Like watching paint dry.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Being Sarah Palin

There were many intriguing results from last year's presidential election. Of course, the biggest was the election of Barack Obama as the nation's first African-American president.

After that, ranking number two on that list might be the emergence of Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) as a possible presidential candidate in 2012. Her position as the Republican's vice presidential nominee last year certainly had its ups and downs, but she will have support if she runs in 2012.

At this point, Palin is a polarizing figure. People seem to either love her or loathe her. She is not a person that generates wishy-washy opinions.

The big question is: Why?

For those doubting she is a lightning rod, her recent skirmish with comedian and talk show host David Letterman provides ample evidence.

As the host of a late night talk show, Letterman often skewers political leaders that are in the news. In this case, Palin and her family were making an appearance in New York where Letterman tapes his program.

On each night of her visit, Letterman poked relentless fun at her, but he went over the line when he made a joke about her daughter attending a New York Yankees' baseball game.

Palin has several children, but the daughter who attended the game was her 14-year-old, Willow. In the joke, Letterman made a wisecrack about one of the Yankees' players getting her pregnant.

Even though our society is incredibly jaded, most Americans showed that some limits still remain when it comes to humor. Letterman was roundly criticized by the Palins and the public. The next night he made a half-hearted apology on his program.

The biggest mistake Letterman made was ridiculing a child of a politician. These children should never be served up as cannon fodder when it comes to political humor.

These kids did not ask to be put in the position they find themselves. It was wrong when conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh made fun of Chelsea Clinton during President Bill Clinton’s time in office. It was wrong when Letterman made his jokes.

Let's hope the media will leave the children of President Obama alone. Think about the pressures we all went through when we were growing up. Now, think about those pressures if we had gone through them with the whole world watching.

In my case, it would not have been a pretty sight. The bottom line is the children should be left alone.

As for Palin, I believe there is a simple reason why she is such a lightning rod. She is an attractive woman who is charismatic, and she can deliver a strong performance when reading a prepared speech.

She still has to improve her chops when it comes to interviews and other events that are not well scripted.

Charisma can carry politicians a long way. It was certainly an important aspect of President Obama’s victory last year. We’ve seen it with other politicians in recent years, most notably President Clinton and President Ronald Reagan.

However, the primary reason some hate her is because she is pro-life when it comes to abortion, and she is a supporter of gun rights.

For many feminists, these positions (especially the one on abortion) scare them. Therefore, they feel they have to neutralize her as quickly as possible.

This is why we see many trying to portray her as a dumbbell. Letterman even referred to her personal appearance and her make up as 'slutty.' I have not heard many male politicians attacked for their personal appearance.

Sexism is alive and well in 2009. Get ready for more as Palin advances her career.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The miracles of Jesus

Something to consider.....

Jesus told us to believe in Him, if for no other reason than the miracles He performed. Here is a list of the miracles of Jesus. I forgot where I got this list, so I apologize in advance for not crediting the source.

For more information about Jesus, click here.

"Many healings" – Matthew 4:23 and Mark 1:32
Healing the leper – Matthew 8:1, Mark 1:40, Luke 5:12
Healing of the Centurion’s servant – Matthew 8:5 and Luke 7:1
Healing Peter's mother-in-law – Matthew 8:14, Mark 1:29, Luke 4:38
Calming the storm – Matthew 8:23, Mark 4:35, Luke 4:38
Healing the men of Gadara – Matthew 8:28, Mark 5:1, Luke 8:26
Healing the lame man – Matthew 9.1, Mark 2:1, Luke 5:18
Healing the hemorrhaging woman – Matthew 9:20, Mark 5:25, Luke 8:43
Raising Jairus's daughter – Matthew 9:23, Mark 5:22, Luke 8:41
Water turned into wine – John 2:1
Healing two blind men – Matthew 9:27
Healing a demon possessed man – Matthew 9:32
Healing the withered land – Matthew 12:10, Mark 3:1, Luke 6:6
Feeding over 5,000 – Matthew 14:15, Mark 6:35, Luke 9:12, John 6:1
Walking on the sea – Matthew 14:22, Mark 6:47, John 6:16
Healing the Syrophoenician's daughter – Matthew 15:21, Mark 7:24
Feeding of 4,000 – Matthew 15:32, Mark 8:1
Healing of the epileptic boy – Matthew 17:14, Mark 9:14, Luke 9:37
Healing the two blind men – Matthew 20:30
Healing the man with an unclean spirit – Mark 1:23, Luke 4:33
Healing the deaf, speechless man – Mark 7:31
Healing the blind man at Bethsaida – Mark 8:22
Healing the blind Bartimaeus – Mark 10:46, Luke 18:35
The miraculous catch of fish – Luke 5:4, John 21:1
Raising the widow’s son – Luke 7:11
Healing the stooped woman – Luke 13:11
Healing the man with dropsy – Luke 14:1
Healing the ten lepers – Luke 17:11
Healing Malchus’s ear – Luke 22:50
Healing the royal official’s son – John 4:46
Healing the lame man – John 5:1
Healing the blind man – John 9:1
Raising Lazarus – John 11:38

Monday, June 15, 2009

What? No Air Jordans?

Though I love nature, I don't claim to understand a lot about it. Consider the actions of a fox in Germany as recently reported by the Reuters news agency:

BERLIN (Reuters) -- A fox has been unmasked as the mystery thief of more than 100 shoes in the small western German town of Foehren, authorities said Friday.

A forest worker stumbled upon shoes strewn near the fox's den and found a trove of footwear down the hole which had recently been stolen overnight from outside locals' front doors.

"There was everything from ladies' shoes to trainers," said a local police spokesman. "We've found between 110 and 120 so far. It seems a vixen stole them for her cubs to play with."

Although many were missing laces, the shoes were in good condition and their owners were delighted to reclaim them, he said, adding that no reprisals were planned against the culprit.

You know, it's a good thing that fox never met Imelda Marcos (upper right).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

John Fogerty to release 'Blue Ridge Rangers' follow-up later this year

John Fogerty recently announced that he will release a new album titled John Fogerty: The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again later this year. The album has a late summer/early autumn release date. It is a follow-up of sorts to his original Blue Ridge Rangers album he released in 1973 (the cover art of that album is shown to the right). I reviewed that album last November. Click here to read that review.

However, there is one big difference this time around. Instead of it being another one-man band album, many big names participate on this one, including Bruce Springsteen and Don Henley.

If nothing else, this should be an eclectic album. Here is the track listing along with the songwriters: 'Paradise' (John Prine), 'Never Ending Song of Love' (Delaney Bramlett), 'Garden Party' (Rick Nelson), 'I Don't Care Just As Long As You Love Me' (Buck Owens), 'Back Home Again' (John Denver), 'I'll Be There If You Ever Want Me' (Ray Price, Rusty Gabbard), 'Change in the Weather' (John Fogerty), 'Moody River' (Gary Bruce), 'Heaven's Just a Sin Away' (J. Gillespie), 'Fallin', Fallin', Fallin'' (D. Deckleman, J. Guillot, J.D. Miller), 'Haunted House' (Robert Geddins), 'When Will I Be Loved' (Phil Everly).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bonnaroo: It's early Saturday and all appears well

It is hard to believe it has been seven years since the first Bonnaroo festival. When Manchester folks first heard this festival was coming, most of us did not understand what a big deal this is.

However, we quickly got educated because cars clogged every major road heading into our town for days. I remember trying to drive home from Nashville the first day the traffic crunch hit.

Fortunately, I had been tipped off about the problems, so I had an opportunity to come up with an alternate travel plan. I drove many country roads that day and felt fortunate that it only took me two extra hours to get home.

Thousands of people spent the night in their cars as the throng of fans slowly got into the festival site.

Since then, event organizers and our local officials have done a great job managing this event so that the impact on Coffee County residents is minimal.

Even after all this time, I know many still have reservations about having this here. Drugs are a constant issue at events like this, and tragically, there have been deaths in the past.

However, we have gotten off a lot easier when compared to other events.

The Woodstock 1999 festival probably takes the prize for catastrophic music events in the last decade or so. Everything that could go wrong happened there.

The weather did not cooperate because extreme heat plagued the festival throughout. This compounded the plight of the attendees who did not bring sufficient food or water. Vendors sold single-servings of pizza for $12, and 20-ounce bottles of soft drinks and water for $4 each.

Blazing hot weather and price gouging are often a volatile mix. Throw in toilets that did not work, long lines to water fountains, and other inconveniences and violence was inevitable. That happened during the weekend as looting and other criminal behavior took place.

According to published reports, at least four rapes occurred, and law enforcement personnel were able to arrest several through the use of video footage.The irony is that this festival was held to pay tribute to the original Woodstock festival held in 1969. People of that generation romanticize that event by saying it was about peace and love.

I am a bit cynical about that, but at least it was not the rip-off the one 30 years later was. If the original was about peace and love, then the 1999 one was about commerce at any cost. I think that says a lot about how our country has changed in just a few decades.

Despite the problems of Woodstock 1999, perhaps the single most tragic event that happened at an American rock concert occurred in 1979.

The English band The Who played a concert in Cincinnati. It was not part of a festival, but it was a tragedy of immense proportions.

Eleven fans were trampled to death as people stampeded into the concert hall to get good seats. Most of the seats at the show fell under the category of 'festival seating' or 'general admission.'

In other words, there were few reserved seats, so the earlier a person could get into the concert hall the better. Not enough doors were opened as the crowd surged in, and people got crushed.

Fortunately, nothing like that has happened at Bonnaroo, and we should pray that it never will. Let's hope for a safe weekend.

With so many new faces in town, Manchester citizens can greatly assist this event by helping people when necessary.

And be nice, for heaven's sake.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Did Utah expose Alabama during the Sugar Bowl?

(Editor's Note: The NCAA placed Alabama's football program on three-year's probation today. According to published reports, this could result in the Tide vacating up to 21 wins earned from 2005-07. Since the sanctions did not result in any loss of scholarships or a ban from appearing in bowl games, the punishment is pretty toothless. Still, it must be considered an embarrassment to the program and the Southeastern Conference).

Talk to any Alabama football fan, and they will enthusiastically talk about how last year's team marked a return to dominance for the program. After all, the team started 12-0 and was ranked number one for most of the season. Head Coach Nick Saban was living up to the expectations created by his $4 million a year contract.

However, what did the Crimson Tide really achieve? True, they did win their first 12 games and beat Auburn. After that, there was no dream ending to the magical season. Bama was clearly overmatched by Florida in the SEC championship game. More surprisingly, they were not competitive in their 31-17 loss to Utah in the Sugar Bowl.

The loss to Florida was excusable, but the loss to Utah was a stunner. Star offensive left tackle Andre Smith was suspended for the game, and by the time the offense found some rhythm, it was too late.

Did Utah expose Alabama? Bama's offense appeared only average without Smith. Mix that in with the loss of quarterback John Parker Wilson this year, and the Tide has a lot of questions to answer on offense.

If Bama's offense could not be competitive against Utah without Smith, how will they fare without him against SEC competition this year?

It is one of many compelling questions to be answered this fall.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

'New' Marilyn Monroe photos are lovely

Even though she died before I was born, I have always thought Marilyn Monroe was a beautiful woman. I know she was packaged as a sex goddess, but when a person strips all the Hollywood hype away, she comes across as a pure beauty.

Last week, it was revealed that never before seen photos of her had been discovered. These were taken when she was 24, which was a couple of years before she hit the big time.

They are good photos. They have an innocence to them that makes her all the more appealing. For those interested, they are on Life.com's web site. Click here to access the photos.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Manchester ready for Bonnaroo invasion

Well, I went to Walmart to do my weekly grocery shopping, and I can attest that Manchester is ready for Bonnaroo. Pallet after pallet of beer, soft drinks, and bottled water lined the store. I did not realize Pabst Blue Ribbon was still so popular. If the weather is hot, I expect merchants like Walmart to do very well.

At this point, I do not plan on attending Bonnaroo, so I probably will not blog much on the event. I have a couple of ideas, but I am undecided on whether I will write about them or not.

So, if you are heading this way, be safe and have a good time. If you are not attending Bonnaroo, my advice is not to drive down here. Traffic jams aplenty will occur in the next few days.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Martin Scorsese film festival

On Friday, I surveyed my agenda for the weekend and realized that I did not have much to do. Because of that, I dedicated my weekend to watching the films of my favorite director, Martin Scorsese. I had wanted to do this for quite a while. Everything began Friday night.

Friday night
Raging Bull – For some reason, I can only watch this film at night in a darkened room. Since it was shot in black and white, I assume I do this to enhance the sharpness of the colors. Robert De Niro won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of the explosive boxer Jake LaMotta. However, Scorsese made it all possible. I particularly like the boxing scenes. The scenes were shot from an innovative array of angles. The use of wild animal sounds as part of the crowd noise elevated the savageness of the fighting. Scorsese lost the Oscar for Best Director to Robert Redford for Ordinary People. I don't understand it either.

GoodFellas – This is my favorite Scorsese film. It reunited him with De Niro and Joe Pesci (who played De Niro's brother in Raging Bull). However, this film is mostly told through the eyes of Ray Liotta's character (Henry Hill). Scorsese used narration and a rich musical soundtrack to advance the story through a generation of mobsters in New York. Especially effective was the use of the piano instrumental from 'Layla' to guide the viewer through a series of murders orchestrated by De Niro's character (Jimmy Conway). Conway had used those victims for a multi-million dollar robbery, and he killed them so he would not have to pay them. Pesci won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.

Casino – De Niro and Pesci re-teamed with Scorsese on this one. When it was released in 1995, some unfairly panned this as a sequel to GoodFellas. It obviously was not, but it was another behind the curtain look at the Mob. This time, it dealt with the Mob's operations in Las Vegas back in the 1970s. Scorsese coaxed the performance of a lifetime out of Sharon Stone who portrayed a hustler who married De Niro's character. Stone won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama.

Stroker Ace – Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. Actually, a double feature of Stroker Ace and Road House would make for an entertaining night (if you know what I mean).

The Departed – Of course, this is the film that got Scorsese his Oscar for Best Director. Though it ranks down the list somewhat of his great films, it was good that he won. For a while, it looked like the Academy would give him the Alfred Hitchcock treatment. In this one, Jack Nicholson played a crime boss, Leonardo DiCaprio played an undercover cop trying to nail him, and Matt Damon played a cop who was a rat for Nicholson. DiCaprio has grown a lot as an actor, and he was smart to align himself with Scorsese. He is no longer a pretty boy teen idol.

The Aviator – Of his films, I believe this is Scorsese's most underrated one. DiCaprio was also in this, and it chronicled the early life of aviator Howard Hughes. It included some exciting flying scenes, but most importantly, the film captured the paradox of Hughes. The things that pushed him to greatness were the things that destroyed him. His obsessive-compulsive drive brought him success in Hollywood and in the air. However, he became a bed-ridden recluse late in life. The movie's best scenes are the filming of Hell's Angels, and the plane crash that resulted in serious injuries for Hughes.

The Last Waltz – As I close this weekend, I am watching The Last Waltz. It is the greatest rock and roll documentary ever made. Scorsese's talent is matched by The Band as this film chronicles their final concert. It's fantastic.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Johnny Cash's 'American IV: The Man Comes Around' is a brilliant, astonishing album

I was going through a stack of albums that I had not listened to in a while, when I uncovered Johnny Cash's great American IV: The Man Comes Around. The album was part of a series of recordings he made with Rick Rubin that led to a resurgence in his career before he died.

Think about it. How many artists produced memorable music over a span of almost 50 years? Beginning in the 1950s at Sun Records through his final albums earlier this decade, Cash defied the odds.

Most of the album features Cash covering songs of artists he admired. Though Cash is most associated with country music, the songs here are really all over the road. The song list includes: Hank Williams' 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry,' The Beatles' 'In My Life,' Simon and Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water,' and The Eagles' 'Desperado.'

Other songs include: Roberta Flack's 'First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,' the Irish ballad 'Danny Boy,' and the nostalgic 'We'll Meet Again.' Although many of these songs are quite well known, Cash breathes life into them and makes them his own.

The song from this set that got the most radio and television airplay was his version of Trent Reznor's 'Hurt.' The accompanying video was chilling, as Cash revealed his frailties for all to see. Cash knew he was nearing the end of his life, causing the song's images to resonate even more deeply. His artistic honesty remained in tact until the end.

The most interesting song on the album is the opening track 'The Man Comes Around.' Cash wrote this one, and his liner notes provide fascinating insight into the tune. It also provides insight into the creative process.

"I wrote and recorded 'The Man Comes Around' early on in this project," Cash wrote, "and for three or four months I recycled that song, over and over, until I'd have to get up out of bed, and turn on the radio. It worked for a while, but my inner playback system always went back to 'The Man Comes Around.'

"I spent more time on this song than any I ever wrote. It's based, loosely, on the book of 'Revelation' with a couple of lines, or a chorus, from other biblical sources. I must have written three dozen pages of lyrics, then painfully weeded it down to the song you have here.

"The initial idea for the song came from a dream I had seven years ago. I was in Nottingham, England, and had bought a book called Dreaming of the Queen. The book talked about the great number of people in that country who dream that they are with Queen Elizabeth II. I dreamed that I walked into Buckingham Palace, and there she sat, knitting or sewing. She had a basket of fabrics and lace. Another woman sat beside her, and they were talking and laughing. As I approached, the Queen looked up at me and said, 'Johnny Cash! You’re like a thorn tree in a whirlwind.' Then of course, I awoke. I realized that 'Thorn tree in a whirlwind' sounded familiar to me. Eventually, I decided that it was biblical, and I found it in the book of 'Job.' From there, it grew into a song, and I started lifting things from the book of 'Revelation.' It became 'The Man Comes Around.'

"'Revelation' by its mere interpretation says that something 'is revealed.' I wish it were. The more I dug into the book the more I came to realize why it's such a puzzle, even to many theologians. Eventually, I shuffled my papers, so to speak, drew out four or five pages, and wrote my lyrics."

Indeed, the whirlwind is in the thorn tree. Cash has gone to another life now, but he certainly left his mark here. This is a powerful album.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky, which has a checkered NCAA past

It has been a week since the story broke that the NCAA is looking at the University of Memphis' basketball program regarding possible rules violations. The charges are considered major. The most serious allegation is that an unknown person took a SAT exam in place of a player, according to the Associated Press.

Of course, new University of Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari was the coach at Memphis when the alleged incident took place. Calipari is not considered at risk in the probe, but the NCAA required him to take part in a hearing this week.

Even though he is not accused of any wrong doing, it is interesting that his new job is at a school known almost as much for its corruption as for its championships.

Want proof? Here is some information courtesy of the Lexington Herald-Leader:

The aftermath of a severe point-shaving scandal made UK, in effect, the first school to get the death penalty. In November, the NCAA asked its member schools not to play Kentucky in men's basketball during the 1952-53 season. The NCAA cited at least four instances over a four-year period of UK supporters giving Kentucky players money. As a result, UK canceled its basketball season. Had the Wildcats been allowed to play, a team with stars Cliff Hagan and Frank Ramsey probably would have led Adolph Rupp to his fourth NCAA championship in six seasons. The examples of illegal subsidization of players came to the attention of the NCAA after they arose in court documents relating to the massive point-shaving scandal of the late 1940s. That national scandal ensnared at least 31 players from around the United States. Adolph Rupp, who had publicly vowed that gamblers "couldn't get to our players with a 10-foot pole," was embarrassed when ex-UK stars Ralph Beard and Alex Groza admitted accepting cash.

Kentucky hit the daily double of cheating, going on probation in both football and men's basketball at the same time. Among violations the NCAA cited were cars and cash apparently offered to UK players, as well as some recruits who chose other schools. At the time, 12 Kentucky boosters were ordered to disassociate themselves from UK athletics. The basketball program, which was deemed to have the least serious offenses, was given two years of probation and limited to signing three new players in both 1978 and 1979. Coach Joe B. Hall's Wildcats were on probation when they won UK's fifth NCAA title in 1978.

In a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative series, the Herald-Leader reported that 26 former UK basketball players said they accepted either cash or gifts from boosters. After investigating for almost three years, the NCAA said in March 1988 that it had been unable to substantiate the infractions reported by the newspaper. The NCAA reprimanded UK for not cooperating with the investigation.

Some 28 days after the NCAA concluded its previous investigation, an air-freight package sent by UK to the father of a basketball recruit "popped open" in Los Angeles, revealing $1,000 in $50 bills. In addition to that infraction, the NCAA subsequently alleged that a UK player cheated on his ACT to earn a score high enough to qualify for eligibility. Ultimately, Kentucky was hit with three years of probation, including a two-year tournament ban and a one-year live TV blackout. Only the cooperation of then-UK President David Roselle in the investigation kept Kentucky from getting the death penalty, the NCAA said.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bonnaroo 2009 canceled; event organizers, city officials say stay away from Manchester

In a stunning announcement Monday afternoon, Bonnaroo organizers and Manchester city officials jointly announced that this year's festival has been canceled. The event, which brings at least 70,000 people to the small Tennessee town each year, was scheduled to begin on June 11. Until today, there had been no hint that the festival might not go on as scheduled.

Officials said...well, if you have not figured it out by now, this is all a joke. Bonnaroo has NOT been canceled. The event will go on as it normally does each year. I am just having a little fun with the folks who will be coming my way in a few days.

I have lived in Manchester almost all my life, and I still have a little trouble believing that my small home town hosts such an important event. For those of you attending, please make sure to spend lots of money. We need every dollar we can get. Please ease my tax burden.

So, come down and have a good time.

Just stay out of my yard.