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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Donald Trumb: The POTUS That Couldn’t Pass The SAT

   Erosion commenced at exactly 11:57 a.m. on Jan. 21, 2017.
   On his first official day on the job, Donald Trump simultaneously tweeted his arrival in The White House and signaled his attack on the English language:
   I am honered to serve you, the great American People, as your 45th President of the United States!
   After 2+ years of being insulted by his fundamental misspellings, grammatical gaffes and unfathomable voids of common sense, I have come to this undeniable conclusion:
   Donald J. Trump couldn’t pass the SAT.
   On the Scholastic Assessment Test there are 96 questions pertaining to writing, language and reading comprehension, punctuated by a written essay. From what we’ve been subjected to, there is zero evidence to suggest the President has anything firmer than a 5th-grade grasp of his country’s prominent communication system.
   After being mocked for his salutatory tweet, he attempted to correct honored … but instead compounded the problem and exposed his intellectual impotence by editing into honoured. Since that episode, the bar has been steadily, sadly lowered toward the movie, Idiocracy. Today, 58 million people rely on Trump’s Twitter feed for the leader of the free world’s thoughts, feelings and actions.
   Frightening because, politics and policies aside, he is unfit to represent the smartest country on Earth. Left may be right and right might be wrong, but correct is bipartisan.
   Trump is Trumb.
   He doesn’t know “there” from “their”, “to” from “too”, “weather” from “whether” or even how to spell his biggest nemesis: collussion. Call me a Grammar Nazi, please. It’s a compliment. I’ve always been amused at how being accused of inflexibility toward proper spelling is intended to come off as genuine criticism. Do those same folks attempt to camouflage their own inadequacies by mocking people with perfect credit, unblemished criminal histories and undefeated records?
   We all make mistakes. I’ve had my share. Usually typos made in haste, rather than blunders fueled by a lack of intelligence. Sloppy and stupid may be related, but they are not identical twins.
   Sloppy: Friend shows up 30 minutes late to Cowboys game.
   Stupid: Friend shows up 30 minutes late to Cowboys game, wearing a Rangers cap and baseball glove.
   I won’t hire a company that has “Your No. 1 With Us!” painted on its van, or eat at a restaurant whose menu boasts “locally sorced ingredients”. Likewise, I’ve declined writing jobs from companies that tried to recruit me in an email that misspelled my name as “Ritchie.”
   If you don’t have enough integrity to get the small stuff right, how am I to trust you with the big stuff?
   Granted, grammar isn’t the top priority for a President. But in screwing it up, Trumb has diluted and dumbed-down his message. His reign of error is a reflection of core values. America’s tone comes from the top. Is it too much to ask that the most powerful man in the world is at least as smart as I am?
   Wrote the influential poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The institution of the office is lengthened by the shadow of one man.”
   Trump’s legacy – and America’s persona – is trending toward a regression to cavemen inarticulately grunting at each other. While his 35-percent(ish) base of supporters revel in Trump being unbothered by “elitist” priorities such as spelling, the most listened to man in the world is – via an unvarnished blend of insanity and stupidity – putting the art of eloquent communication in a sleeper hold.
   Said Trump on the campaign trail, “I love the poorly educated!”
   (Insert light bulb emoji.)
   Again, we can excuse infrequent sloppiness. But we can’t stomach ingrained stupidity, especially when it’s adorned with arrogance. Our current toxic combo: One of the dumbest people in a position of power constantly boasts about being one of the smartest people on the planet.
   Among Trumb’s not-so-humble brags:
   I qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!
   Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest!
   I’m very highly educated. I know words. I know the best words.
   We all have friends and/or family like this. In small doses, their combination of folly, hubris and hyperbole might be entertaining, even endearing. But you wouldn’t put them in charge of a running a Lemonade stand, much less America.
   Forget obstruction and collusion, the President is guilty of heinous crimes against grammar, literacy and common sense. Ironically, today Trumb tweeted at the U.S. intel chiefs that diametrically disagree with his warped world view:
   Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!
   Gold help us. Because Trump’s “school” produced this …

   *Referring to Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel as “council”, “councel” and “counsle”.
   *Respecting the “Marine Core”.
   *Criticizing a foe for being “shadey”.
   *In touting his “ability to write”, chastising the media for liking to “pour over my tweets”.
   *Tweeting his visit to “Oxen” Hill. Oxon Hill is, of course, the home of the National Spelling Bee.
   *Promising to “promote the possibility of lasting peach”.
   *Claiming he invented the phrase “prime the pump”, which has been around since 1933.
   *Tweeting that an opponent got off “Scott Free”.
   *Butchering hereby into “hear by”, “herebye” and “hearby”.
   *Claiming a certain decision played no “roll” in the outcome.
   *Tweeting that Barack Obama had the audacity to “tapp” his phones.
   *Confusing “weather” and “whether”.
   *Confusing “their” and “there”.
   *Same with “too” and “to”.
   *And again with “loose” and “lose”.
   *Tweeting that a first-time occurrence was “unpresidented”.
   *Claiming that a wall would solve America’s “Boarder” security.
   *Inaccurately calling British Prime Minister Theresa May “Teresa”, who is actually a porn actress.
   *Promising – twice in the same tweet – that our great nation will “heel”.
   *Boasting – twice in the same sentence – that there is no “smocking” gun.
   *Bragging that he fed the Clemson football team by paying for “1000 hamberders”.
   *Stating that a “hurricane is coming … a big, wet hurricane”.
   *Depicting Puerto Rico as “an island, surrounded by water … big water … ocean water”.
   *Claiming “If you buy a box of cereal at the grocery store, you have a voter ID”.
   *Misinterpreting “Climate Change” as today’s temperature rather than decades of increased averages. Tweeting it as “Global Waming”.
   *Fumbling, before giving up, on how to operate an umbrella.
   *Walking up the steps to Air Force One with toilet paper stuck to his shoe.
   *Signing his name wholly ineligibly, like a Richter scale having a seizure.
   *Looking directly at a solar eclipse.
   *Keeping the ends of his abnormally long ties together with Scotch tape.
   *Believing that America’s F-35 “Stealth” fighter jet is literally invisible, saying “It wins every time because the enemy cannot see it. Even if it’s right next to it, it can’t see it.”
   *Continually referring to an investigation that has produced the arrests of six close associates as a “Witch Hunt”.
   *Claiming he is a devout “Christian” that has never felt the need to ask God for forgiveness. “I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
   *Expecting us to believe he is “6-foot-3 and 239 pounds”. Or, exactly the same size as Cowboys’ running back Rod Smith.
   *Saying he needs “an anti-Viagra … I’m not bragging. I’m just lucky.”
   *Disliking pets in general, and dogs in specific.
   *Stating that baldness is a weakness, shaking hands is dangerous, “email is for wimps” and “environmentally friendly light bulbs cause cancer”.
   *Estimating that the cost of health insurance for a 21-year-old to be “12 dollars a year”.
   *Tweeting “wind turbines are killing millions of birds”.
   *Long ago stopping any exercise out of a belief that the human body is born – like a battery – with a finite amount of energy.

   Presented anonymously, I would judge those bullet-point traits to belong to a middle-schooler, a pathological liar or a mythical villain soon to be portrayed in a movie. Someone, for certain, that I wouldn't want to spend any amount of time listening to or hanging around.
   But a President? Our current President?! Get outta here!!!
   Evidenced by his random capitalization, idiocy with idioms and irrational, illogical beliefs, Trumb needs help. I am hereby volunteering to be his editor.
   First lesson: No hyphen. One word.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Last time Walso was seen: McKinney motel room Aug. 28, 2017
   I've been attempting to help my long-time friend Wally Lynn for the past decade, and chronicling those mostly failed efforts for the last three years.
   The latest, comprehensive chapter in his sad saga appears on the cover in this week's Dallas Observer.
   As an addendum, I'm offering tidbits, anecdotes and quotes that hit the DO cutting-room floor, but are important in piecing together the puzzle of how talented he really was, and how terrible it really is:

   *After graduating from Lake Highlands High School in 1979 Lynn goes with best friend Jeff Coats to Southwest Texas State in San Marcos. There, fueled by a love of girls and partying but a rabid disgust for rules and formality, they spearhead an infamous anti-social social club: “Spivs”. Light-hearted and self-deprecating, the group revels in cutting corners and bending rules. The Spivs win a campus chili cook-off, only to be disqualified when organizers discover they sneaked into the competition to avoid filing proper paperwork and paying registration fees.
   “We studied hard and did our work, but when it came to fun we weren’t above being a little bit mischievous, a little shady,” Coats recalls, “Before you know it we grew into this fraternity of 40 guys who all had in common a hatred of fraternities. Wally was a driving force of that. When he put his mind to something, it got done.”

   *Lynn’s creativity is never more on display than one summer night in 1999 at Dallas Cowboys’ training camp in Wichita Falls. On the way to the local honkytonk, he wears mismatched shoes – one boot and one sneaker.
   “I don’t know,” Lynn shrugs when a friend quizzes him. “Might be fun to see if people notice, and then see where my story goes from there.”
   In the span of an hour he spins yarns about being “chemically imbalanced”, “fatally forgetful”, a “shoe sales intern”, the “Cowboys’ tryout kicker” and an “alien”. After being met at the club with a combination of skepticism, flirtation and laughs, he then transforms his late-night meal into a one-man comedy. At Whataburger, Lynn pulls from his jeans pockets two miniature Cowboys bobbleheads – because of course he does – and helps himself behind the counter. Ducking down to leave only the toys visible, for the next 20 minutes over the restaurant’s speakers he holds a running dialogue between Irvin and Cowboys’ safety Bill Bates. The two trade barbs, compare condiments, greet guests and abruptly and hilariously become annoyed when forced to pause their sparring to announce, “Customer No. 27, stop interrupting our show and come get your damn burger before we spit in it!”
   By the time he leaves, Lynn prompts a round of applause, $8.50 in tips and an invitation from the manager to perform any time in exchange for a free meal.
   During the drive to his Midwestern State University media dorm, Lynn exclaims, “It’s great to be a dork!”

   *Youngest son, Mitchell: “He was so charismatic. He would walk into a room full of strangers and instantly put everyone at ease and make them laugh. To this day I have an appreciation of people and relationships because of him."

   *In February 2000 Lynn and three close friends – including Dallas millionaire entrepreneur John Eckerd – charter a private jet to the Daytona 500. At their rented mansion, they brazenly toast their lofty status. The quartet tears a $100 bill into four pieces and proceeds to wash it down with four difficult, definitive gulps of champagne.
   The toast: “Here’s to never needing this $100!”

   *Mike Fisher, long-time Lynn friend and radio co-host for 18 months on KLIF 570 AM: Anyone could listen to Wally for five minutes and realize he was uniquely talented; funny man, anchorman, impersonator, smart. But even though he was on the radio, you also knew that like lots of us in this business, there is an ego – in Wally's case, one that made it seem like every day he was starring in his own personal TV show.”

   *Elementary-school friend Anecia Drake: "We visited at his mom’s memorial and it was again like we were peas and carrots. But something was a little off. For one, it’s the first time he smelled like alcohol.”

   *Now all but isolated from friends and family, Lynn continues to deteriorate. During brief interactions he declines job leads, claiming he has money “stashed away” and a job at Google.
   “At one point he said he had a job at a radio station in Tyler and was going to move in with dad in Athens,” says Ben. “No one in the family believed it. We just wondered what he was doing for money.”

   *Coats: "Kim kept the steady job, kept the books. Wally was the creative spirit always swinging for the fences.”

   *Throughout the next couple of years, Coats regularly checks on his friend. He can, after all, see Lynn’s apartment across the Cul-de-sac from his Plano back porch.
   “I mean, he was okay. Surviving,” says Coats. “He had no motivation. No get-up-and-go. I’d see him shuffling slowly to the Tom Thumb across the street. He was like a zombie.”
   Says Mitchell, who visits the apartment during stints home from college, “It was just dark and sad. I’d drag him out to a movie or to get crawfish and he’d just beg to leave as soon as we got there.”

   *Flabbergasted, those around him have a better chance of explaining Net Neutrality to a gnat than of understanding Lynn’s morose mindset.

   *He became a human needle in a homeless haystack.
   Tips lead to the Union Gospel Mission, the Dallas Public Library, an encampment under I-30, random convenience stores and an abandoned building on Cadiz Street. It is gut-wrenching, fruitless stuff, providing no signs of Lynn but instead a pathetic peek into an uncivilization of blank stares, methodical meandering, babbling about nothing to no one and the ambiance of suicide so thick it feels like hot air breathing on the back of your neck. His brother Ben, Coats and a handful of friends find depression and despair, but no Lynn.

   *Lynn refuses to talk about the details about his homelessness or the incidents that led him there. Asked by a friend if he had a nickname on the street, he rolls his eyes.
   “No, that’s stupid,” he says without a hint of subtlety, changing the subject. “Can you believe the Rangers blew another one?”
   During a pause in the conversation, Lynn offers, “I’ll talk about it all someday. I just need some time.”

   *As giddy as it was at the relocation of Lynn and his signs of sober life, the family exudes mixed responses about his time in jail and the corresponding revelations of stealing trust-fund money.
   “I never in a million years thought that man could sink that low,” says his wife, Kim.
   Counters Mitchell, “I wasn’t shocked at all. After he lied to me about what was in his cup, it was clear he was just a stranger in survival mode.”

   *Upon his release from jail, an upbeat Lynn is asked whether he’d rather spend a night in the gutter or a night in the slammer.
   “Thanks for the appealing choices,” he jokes. “Give me the gutter any time.”

   *His post-jail residence is equipped with a pool, hot tub, game room and only two other roommates to share the five-bedroom, six-bathroom, 7,900-square feet of ostentatious space. For $0 rent, Lynn has the run of the house and the luxury of an upstairs bedroom, complete with big-screen TV and private bath.

   *Upon hearing that Lynn is about to wear out his lavish welcome, Drake attempts to re-boot his focus via a June road trip. She drives him to Athens to see his father, making a detour at the Jacksonville Tomato Festival. Though the two semi-sync through light laughter and shallow small-talk, Drake spots troubling signs. Lynn draws a blank about their long, shared, passionate disdain for cheesy songs such as “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero.” During a pit stop at a roadside restaurant, he veers from his stated trip to the restroom ... straight to the bar.
   “I caught him just staring at the rows of alcohol, like he was salivating,” Drake says. “When he finally came back to the table I asked him what he was doing at the bar. He said he was getting some napkins. But that didn’t make sense. We had napkins at our table. Plus, he was just in the bathroom. Something just wasn’t right with him. Not the same old Wally.”
   Drake informs Lynn’s sister about his erratic demeanor and behavior. The two reasons that his previous drinking episodes have prompted a neurological disorder that impedes his ability to perform even the most basic of tasks. And to accept consequences for his actions.
   “He’s like a 14-year-old,” says Drake. “He can’t – or won’t – multitask. Simple things like unloading the car was a major ordeal because he had to carry one item at a time.”
   Drake and Lynn's sister briefly consider an attempt to have the State of Texas declare him mentally incompetent in order to get him a guardian to help manage his affairs. It’s an expensive, complex and heart-breaking process. One especially daunting when Drake isn’t fully convinced Lynn’s aptitude is being mitigated by his attitude.

   *As Ben, and a group of Lynn’s friends prepare one last crutch in the form of housing, money and a plan, they take inventory. Lynn never responded to the invitations from Ralph Strangis, J.D. Ryan or Kevin McCarthy. They surmise he never read the 300 pages of supportive missives. He blew his golden gig with Eckerd. And as he’s chauffeured around McKinney to look for his next address, he recoils at the sight of unsavory, low-income options.
   “I think he’s beyond help,” says Ben. “He won’t lower himself to his reality. Despite all he’s been through and all he’s wasted, he still has this attitude about him.”
   It’s a stiff upper lip, now adopted by many of Lynn’s injured inner circle.
   “I’m pleasantly surprised that he’s still alive, because to me he’s just taking the long road to suicide,” says Leslie. “I hope they find him. He should pay what he can to make it right with our family. That said, it’s not like I’m going looking for him.”
   Says Mitchell, “Even if he found a way to stay sober the rest of his life, he won’t be a part of my life whatsoever. The severe damage he’s done to himself physically and psychologically is irreversible.”

   *Ben continues his successful insurance company. Same with Coats and his real estate business. Leslie works as a CPA in Dallas. Kim moved to Alabama to live with her mom and stepfather. Jake is in restaurant management in Austin. Mitchell lives in Houston, and is deciding between law school at Columbia, Northwestern and NYU. Griff just turned 20. Mae Grace is 17.

   *As for Wally, he's recently called Coats and other college friends asking for money. Texts a friend that he is “Alive. Not in jail yet.” Makes a lunch date with Ben, only to no-show. Randomly sends private messages via Facebook, where his profile features a black header and a youth baseball photo of Mitchell. As we speak, he is - somewhere - simultaneously avoiding his in-laws and running from the law.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


   After 30+ years in this weird, wonderful industry, I’ve pinpointed an undeniable, common thread running through every professional writer:
   They all started out as amateur writers.
   The other day I was doing some mundane grocery shopping when a 20-something recognized me. "Hey, how do I get started?"
   Other than, "How in the heck do you land Sybil?!", it's the question I've been asked more than any other over my career. My answer, invariably, is simple:
   Start writing.
   You’ll likely need a couple breaks to become a professional writer – a friend of a friend already in the business or perhaps just being at the right place at the right time. But something you can’t short-cut is the act of writing. Again. Again. And some more again. If you don’t love it - and if you haven’t done a lot of it - you might as well attempt to open a Lemonade Stand without a single lemon.
   Yes, the demonstrated ability to consistently observe, opine and write is your currency. It's your product. Your main asset.
   So now that I’ve totally empowered you, go get ‘em! Good luck and never give up and … Oh, my story? Well, sure okay.
   Allow me to, um, write it for you.
   No way around it, I was born with the tools essential for writing – creativity, curiosity and a vivid imagination. Mom says I often stretch the truth yet I simply rebut that characterization, based on the fact that she herself has a vivid imagination. While my younger brother would merely dab some peanut butter between two slices and enjoy lunch, I’d get out a piece of paper and spin a yarn about how exactly it came to be that Mrs. Baird herself happened to deliver a loaf of bread to our house. I dunno, somehow it made my sandwich taste better.
   Meanwhile, Dad led me into sports as soon as I could walk. I was always fascinated by big words, which facilitated a decent vocabulary and, voila, my foundation as a writer. So when did I begin?
   When I was about 7 years old I’d go in the backyard with my baseball glove and a tennis ball (I initially used a real baseball, but one shattered window later I involuntarily downsized the danger). I’d throw that ball off the side of the house, off the roof, off the barbecue grill, off the neighbor’s latticework. All the while producing a running commentary in my head, as if watching real baseball players throwing, hitting and fielding.
   After an hour or so I’d go inside and write the story of the “game” I’d just played.
   Hello, amateur writer.
   In high school I idolized Isiah Thomas and Bjorn Borg. But despite my finely-tuned vivid imagination, I eventually realized my 5-foot-8 frame wouldn’t be garnering me millions of dollars playing sports. So, I reasoned, why not get paid instead to go to games writing sports?
   I grew up reading Blackie Sherrod in the Dallas Morning News, Skip Bayless in the Dallas Times Herald and Rick Reilly and Gary Smith in Sports Illustrated. I was the editor of my high-school newspaper in Duncanville, majored in Journalism at UT-Arlington and, upon graduating in 1986, landed an entry-level job at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. (My first assignment was to write a story about a sport I had barely heard of and never seen or attended - Dallas Sidekicks indoor soccer. Imagination, activate!) I’ve been writing – for newspapers, magazines, blogs, books and even radio and TV websites since.
   And, yes, I’m the dork who will still – in lieu of buying a gift – simply write a poem or a story for a friend’s, or my wife’s birthday or special occasion. (Trust me fellas, that trick will come in handy.)
   To me there’s nothing as rewarding as writing. The feeling after nailing a story is the equivalent of a runner’s high. The process of having a thought, processing and refining it in your brain and through your creative filters, bringing it to life through your fingertips, and then having a total stranger both read it and “get it”? Priceless.
   It’s the reason I write.
   So you’re willing to write. On your own time. With zero compensation, for now. But at some point you’ll want to advance your hobby into job, and hopefully a career. From my experience, here are a few things to consider:
   Be Your Own Boss – If you’re resourceful and organized and motivated, you can make a decent living as a freelance writer. Get on the Internet and search job posts. “Writing Jobs” is a simple, solid search to begin with. Spend an entire day doing it. Maybe two. Make a list of contacts. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many websites, blogs, magazines, etc. have a need for unique, original content. No matter fast and far our communication advances, content remains king. Every platform - whether it be cute 140-character takes to long-form 14,000-word exposes - needs fuel to run its engine. And that fuel is content, written by - tuh-dah! - writers.
   You can write about sports, food, electronics, concerts, the likelihood of a major earthquake taking down Dallas. Anything. And you should write about them all, as long as you don’t compromise your quality with too much quantity. Individually, each gig won’t make you rich. But cumulatively, you’ll be able to keep the lights on. The great thing about freelancing is that you’ll also be honing your skills, building your portfolio and making invaluable contacts in the literary world.
   Don’t Hire An Agent – Unless you are an accomplished writer looking to move to a new city (like say, ahem, Hollywood), my experience is that it’s not worth it. Nobody knows you better than you. And nobody will fight harder for you, than you.
   Pay Your Dues – If you’d rather wedge your foot into the door of a newspaper than try to go it alone, it’s doable as well. Most publications accept interns and there are certainly entry-level, fresh-outta-college jobs. Just be prepared to get coffee in the morning and to cover wacky, irrelevant assignments at night. At the Star-Telegram my rookie year included writing stories about a darts tournament, a high-school power-lifting meet and even a tractor pull. But within three years I was at Texas Stadium covering Cowboys games. Was it worth it? You know that answer. When initially commencing your career, nothing is more valuable than sweat equity.
   Degrees of Experience – I loved my college years and I wouldn’t trade my UTA education. Obviously I’d recommend working at your college newspaper and earning a degree in Journalism. A degree will open a lot of doors. But, honestly, you can trump that piece of paper with a quality portfolio of your writing. Most of my editors have cherished experience over education.
   Pad Your Portfolio – Blogs, websites, magazines, etc. are looking for versatility. You'll open more eyes - and doors - if you can write both copy (scripts, ads, marketing brochures, etc.) and content (blogs, stories, features, etc.). The more topics you can write about, the better your chance of landing a gig. So fill your portfolio with variety: Long-form stories. Short featurettes. Opinion pieces. Poems. Maybe even your favorite Tweet.
   Popularity Contest – If you’re a freelancer, it can be difficult to achieve a very important goal en route to becoming a successful writer: Building an audience. These days you can do this via Facebook with some intriguing posts and corresponding “Likes.” But I recommend starting your own blog. I know, but hear me out. It’s cheaper – and easier – than you think. It looks great on a resume. And it’s a way to earn a following of fans that dig what you’re delivering. Don’t go into with grandiose, irrational visions. Just write what you’re passionate about, shove it out via your social media and watch the saplings sprout into Redwoods. Yep, that’s how it starts. Who knows, maybe that blog – at first just a vehicle to tote your writing – will develop and mature into the career you were searching for in the first place.
   Dream Of Success, Prepare For Rejection – One of the most important arrows in your quiver is a thick skin. You will get rejected. You will write horrible stories. You will make embarrassing typos. Writing isn’t for the faint of heart or fragile of ego. Learn from your mistakes. Experiment with your style. Stay true to your passion.
   Because, after all, the best part about amateur writers?
   They grow up to be professional writers.

Monday, December 18, 2017


   Three opponents' touchdowns nullified by penalty or replay.
   A missed 39-yard field goal.
   A game-losing touchdown transformed into a game-winning touchback via the opposing quarterback's fumble inches from the goal line.
   And, of course, the NFL's first ever 1st-'n-10 decided by a 3x5.
   You can root for a sports team an entire season - a decade? even a lifetime? - and never benefit from all of the above. But on an unprecedented, unforgettable night Oakland, the Cowboys were gift-wrapped all of them in one of the wildest wins in franchise history.

   10. Cowboys 34, at Rams 31 (9.18.14) - You know you've had a frenetic ride when the largest comeback in franchise history barely makes the list. Dallas trails in St. Louis, 21-0, before Bruce Carter's interception return for a touchdown with 5:58 remaining seals the deal.

   9. Cowboys 31, at Redskins 30 (9.15.83) - Trailing 23-3 at halftime, Danny White rallies Dallas to an electrifying season-opening win at old RFK Stadium behind three second-half touchdown passes, two to Tony Hill and the game-winner to Doug Cosbie with 1:49 remaining.

   8. at Cowboys 35, Redskins 34 (12.17.79) - Down 17-0 early and 34-21 late, the Cowboys and Roger Staubach stage a rally that gives them the NFC East title and knocks their bitter rivals out of the playoffs. Ignited by a critical third-down tackle of John Riggins by Larry Cole, Staubach throws two touchdowns in the final 2:20 and completes the comeback with a score to Hill with :39 remaining.

   7. at Cowboys 24, Redskins 23 (11.29.74) - All but eliminated from the playoffs, the Cowboys trail 16-3 and are suddenly without an injured Staubach on a bleak Thanksgiving at Texas Stadium. Enter Abilene Christian rookie Clint Longley, making his first regular-season appearance in an NFL game. Down six points with :28 remaining, he finds an inexplicably wide-open Drew Pearson for a 50-yard touchdown that literally nobody saw coming.

   6. at Cowboys 27, Giants 26 (9.13.15) - Can't get much more desperate than trailing by three, out of timeouts and your opponent at your 1-yard line with 1:43 remaining. The Giants deliver a huge assist by stopping the clock with a third-down pass, and settling for a field goal and a 26-20 lead. But the Cowboys - without a timeout or spike or injured Dez Bryant - drive 72 yards in six plays and win when Tony Romo (after corralling a bad, bouncing shotgun snap) finds Jason Witten at the goal line with :07. It's the latest game-winning touchdown pass in franchise history.

   5. Cowboys 30, at 49ers 28 (12.23.72) - This playoff game at Candlestick Park is the unveiling of Captain America. The Cowboys trail 28-13 after three quarters (it could be worse had San Francisco not missed two field goals inside of 40 yards), prompting head coach Tom Landry to replace veteran quarterback Craig Morton with Staubach. He responds with two late touchdown passes in a span of :43, sandwiched around an onside-kick recovered by Mel Renfro. Staubach sets up the final score with a 21-yard scramble and hits Ron Sellers with a 10-yard post pass for the unlikely game winner.

   4. Cowboys 25, at Bills 24 (10.8.07) - The first MNF game in Buffalo in 13 years is impossibly unscripted. The Cowboys trail 24-13 entering the 4th quarter because of six Romo turnovers (1 fumble and 5 interceptions, 2 returned for touchdowns). Romo hits Patrick Crayton for a short touchdown, but Terrell Owens is stripped of a 2-point conversion pass to leave Dallas trailing 24-22 with :20 remaining. After a carom off of Sam Hurd, Cowboys’ tight end Tony Curtis then recovers the onside kick. Rookie Nick Folk boots a 53-yard field goal at the gun for a dramatic win, only to have Buffalo call the last-millisecond timeout. But on the second attempt, Folk is good again. Nine points in :20 will get any heartbeat racing.

   3. at Cowboys 21, Eagles 20 (9.15.97) - Inarguably the luckiest win in team history, Dallas survives when Philadelphia holder Tom Hutton bobbles the snap and aborts what would have been Chris Boniol's chip-shot, game-winning field from the 12-yard line with :04 remaining.

   2. Cowboys 20, at Raiders 17 (12.17.17) - It isn't just the three Raiders' negated touchdowns and the fake punt and the dropped interception by Anthony Brown and the 55-yard interference penalty and the dramatic, folded-card first down. The thing that makes Sunday night so dazzling is that even after all those wacky plays the Cowboys need Derek Carr to fumble into - and out of - the end zone to survive.

   1. Cowboys 17, at Vikings 14 (12.28.75) - Staubach's "Hail Mary" 50-yard touchdown pass to Pearson with :24 remaining won the game, but it was only possible after an improbable series of events in the epic playoff game. Leading, 14-10, with 2:00 remaining the Vikings seemed destined to run out the clock at midfield but instead attempt a pass on 3rd-and-2 and fail when Charlie Waters sacks Fran Tarkenton. The ensuing punt leaves Dallas at its 15 with 1:51 remaining. At that point, Pearson had not caught a pass in the game. On a 4th-and-16, Pearson leaps and catches Staubach's 25-yard pass on the sideline, his feet clearly landing out of bounds. However, in 1975 there is a "force out" rule in play, which gives an automatic reception to any receiver who is shoved out of bounds while his feet are in the air. In today's NFL, the Hail Mary would have never even had a chance to be thrown. Two plays later Pearson catches history. He punctuates the touchdown by throwing the ball over the scoreboard, out of the stadium and into the parking lot. The ball - one of the most iconic plays in NFL history - has never been accounted for.

Friday, December 1, 2017

WHITT'S END: 12.1.17

   Whether you're at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt's end:

   *From the Dept. of Too-Little-Too-Late, the Cowboys last night were ... lucky to be playing the hapless Redskins. Washington committed four turnovers, Dez Bryant crawled out of his grave and even a flimsy rookie draft class looked like Pro Bowl players in a 38-14 victory. Ryan Switzer, Taco Charlton and Chidobe Awuzie all produced positive plays. One win won't turn around a season, but it will temporarily warp expectations. With the awful Giants and reeling Raiders next on the schedule and then Zeke Elliott comes back and if they can only ... Stop it. No. Even 10-6 doesn't guarantee a Wild Card berth in this year's NFC, but it is a guarantee that the Cowboys won't win out.

   *Dez may have lost a step in speed, but his leaping touchdown catch proved he hasn't lost an inch on his vertical.

   *It was only 10 months ago that national NBA pundits were applauding the Mavs for "stealing" center Nerlens Noel from the Sixers in a trade for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut and a first-round pick. Noel, the 6th overall pick in '13, is young and wiry and athletic. He was acquired to both protect the rim defensively and attack it on offense, giving Dallas an aggressive alley-oop option it hasn't had since forever. Noel produced 16 points and 11 rebounds in the season opener. Now? Buried deep in Rick Carlisle's doghouse. Noel, who turned down a $70 million contract offer in the offseason, didn't play in Wednesday's loss to the Nets. That's right, the Mavs' center of the future is now behind Maximilian Kleber, Salah Mejri and Jeff Withey in the rotation. This season is officially all about saying goodbye to Dirk Nowitzki, hello to Dennis Smith Jr., and somehow salvaging Noel.

   *The Mavericks will make the postseason in 2018. My Mavericks, that is. UTA has two legit stars in Erick Neal and Kevin Hervey and will punch its own ticket March Madness.

   *These days I'm semi-retired and - I'll admit - getting real bored, real quick. I mean, I can only play so much golf and tennis. I'm ghostwriting a book. I'm a Senior Consultant at On-Air Media, helping companies launch podcasts with our old radio friend Jagger. But if you have something sorta interesting, then sorta let me know.

   *After a horrible three games and an ugly first quarter, No. 4 suddenly found his Dakuracy.

   *Why Whitt's End now? I dunno (see above?). Maybe it's only because Mike Fisher drew me a fancy logo. Is it back for good, on a regular basis? Probably not. Have I missed writing it? Um, ask me again after about 20 bullet points.

   *If you're wondering about Wally Lynn and missed my update, it's right here. Be warned, though, it may not be the Christmas-spirit pick-me-up you're looking for.

   *Hang in there DFW sports fans, this nightmare year only has one month left. What did the StarsRangersMavsCowboys bring us in 2017? How about a combined record of 151-177 and one - count 'em, 1 - playoff game. And, boy, was it a doozy. On January 15th the Cowboys fell behind 21-3 to the Packers, rallied, but eventually lost 34-31 when Green Bay nailed field goals of 56 and 51 yards in the final 1:33. Otherwise ... hurry 2018.

   *Some days you're on top of the world. Some days you can't open your car door without a bloody incident.

   *To get an idea of where America is and where it's headed, watch the movie Idiocracy. I know, it's horrible. But also telling. We've forgotten how to reason, while perfecting the art of reaction. Rational decisions have replaced by blind tribal loyalty. And where does the decline start? Lack of reading. With Twitter and Facebook and audio books and Netflix and satellite radio and ... everything, our society has simply run out of time to have time. Our attention spans have shrunk as our options have expanded. The 24-hour news cycle has deteriorated into 24 seconds. Where once writers had a couple paragraphs to hook readers, now they have a couple of characters. I still love long-form, in-depth writing. But I also realize that literary foreplay is about as trendy as head lice. Reading is learning. And learning helps us reason, not merely react. Do it. For the good of our future. Otherwise, we'll someday elect a President that doesn't know the nuance between your and you're. Wait ... oops.



   *It is Dec. 1. The Cowboys+Mavs have 11 wins. The Eagles+Sixers have 22.

   *I'm all for equality for females and it's justice that all these women are now coming forward with their tales of being sexually harassed. I hope it is indeed a tipping point, and that the women with momentum help the men in charge to re-draw the lines of acceptable, civil behavior. The bottom line will be less unwanted touching and decreased penis flashes. But - you knew that was coming didn't you? - I fear the reverse chill. The unintended consequence. The sex drives in male CEOs, politicians, Hollywood stars and lower-level employers will not decrease, but their releases will be re-directed. Don't get me wrong. It's a good thing. A great thing. But somewhere soon, if it hasn't already happened, an attractive female will be denied a promotion - or perhaps even an internship - because of her looks. Because of what will be perceived as her danger factor. Attractive females are now Kryptonite to lazy men still in power. To the men, it'll be easier to remove the temptation rather than refuse it. In other words, buy stock in companies that provide escort services. Business will soon be booming.

   *I like blondes. And curves. And fish. And calendars. But I do not want this for Christmas. Because it's weird AF.

   *My better half (Sybil Summers) is twice as good-looking as me and way more than half the writer I am. Add it all up and I win. By losing.

   *Tiger Woods shot a 3-under round. Roger Federer won two Grand Slam tournaments and is No. 2 in the world. Gregg Popovich and Tom Brady are at the top of their professions. 2017 sure looks a lot like 2007.

   *Feel like these days there's more traffic on the roads and less room for your elbows? Here's why: Every day on this planet there are 360,000 births ... and only 151,000 deaths. Every. Single. Day. Scooch a bit, will ya?

   *I babbled earlier about our shrinking free time, but is it just an excuse? If you have a typical 9-5 job you work 40 hours a week, or 2,080 hours a year. Add an hour commute and your "work" load increases to 2,340 hours annually. Sleep eight hours a night? You're up to 5,260 of committed time. Bewildering, right? But, there are 8,760 hours in a year. That leaves you 3,500 hours of totally free time per year. Sooo get to gettin'. By the way, you've wasted about six minutes reading down this far.

   *LaVar Ball deserves Donald Trump. And vice-versa. Watching them Twittfight is like watching the Eagles play the Redskins. You hope it ends in a scoreless tie with numerous injuries.

   *In six years since leaving the Big 12, Texas A&M is 25-23 in the SEC. It has had only one season with a winning conference record and has yet to play in a SEC title game, much less win a conference championship. My question is, therefore, where are all the riled-up Aggies that promised I'd eat crow for writing this?

   *We have a pussy grabber in the White House and we'll soon having a crotch grabber winning the Heisman Trophy. 2017 can't get outta here fast enough.

   *One of the paintings below cost $200 at Pier One. One was done by Sybil and hangs in our dining room. One recently sold for $46 million. Quick, tell me which is which. In a related story, we all chose the wrong profession.


   *You can have one wreck and not be a bad driver. You can be momentarily reprehensible with a woman without being a predator. And you can blurt out a flippant racial comment without being a racist. It's habits and patterns, people. Not one-offs. America has totally lost the art of "context."

   *As I mentioned earlier, On-Air Media is our new media production company. Over by Love Field. 3 studios, complete with 4k cameras, state-of-the-art audio, green-screen backgrounds and A-to-Z podcasting/webcasting. If you or your company wants some attention, hit me up.

   *Recently moved from McKinney to the White Rock Lake area of Dallas. Best thing about it: Lack of traffic. You get accustomed - see: numb - to stop-and-go commutes. But once your 49-minute drive turns into a 9-minute drive, you realize how bad it sucked.

   *If the Tryptophan in your Thanksgiving turkey makes you sleepy, why don't we use turkey pills as sleeping aides? It's as though turkey is a healthy choice for a vibrant lifestyle ... every day of the year except for the third Thursday in November.

   *Similarly to how I feel about Jeff Heath and the Cowboys, I just don't think the Mavs will ever be a legit contender while giving quality playing time to Yogi Ferrell. Both are great guys and try-hard players, but ... no. Just no.

   *I'll never understand our your fascination with British royalty, in particular royal weddings. I think it's the female fantasy of An Officer and a Gentleman, on Molly.

   *Re: Artwork, Sybil's gem is on the left and the middle mishmash - "Ketchup on Canvas" - sold for almost $50 million.Without knowing the value, I wouldn't trade. You?

   *This weekend? Maybe a bike ride around the lake. Maybe put up a Christmas tree. Maybe I'll No way I'm going to pen another Whitt's End. Don't be a stranger.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


   After an entertaining, bizarre, and really bad night in Arlington, there's no way to sugarcoat it:
   Umpire Gerry Davis needs a sense of humor. Because, yep, he's a major league asshole.
   On a sweltering July night at Globe Life Park in which Yu Darvish might have thrown his final pitch as a Ranger, it was the arrogant umpire who decided to inject his pall-bearer gravity into a laugher of a game by ejecting future Hall-of-Famer Adrian Beltre for - I kid you not - standing to the left on the on-deck circle.
   They say you can go to a baseball game and see something you've never seen. Man, are they right.
   Last night I witnessed:
   *A combined 32 runs
   *Yu surrendering 10 runs in 3.2 innings, the 2nd-shortest outing of his career.
   *3rd-string catcher Brett Nicholas mopping up on the mound in the 9th, and offering a 45mph slow-pitch softball.
   *And Beltre, one of the game's greatest and goofiest players, getting tossed for daring to exhibit a moment of levity at his doorstep of history.
   The score was 22-8 and it was approaching 11 p.m. on a Wednesday. The only reason there were a couple thousand of us fans left in the stands was Beltre. He already had 3 hits including a homer and a double off the wall, and was in his usual on-deck position preparing for what we all hoped would be career hit No. 2,997.
   Enter Gerald Sidney Davis, aka Baseball Buzz Killington.
   Earlier in the game my Dad and I had already taken note of Davis. He's been around forever. Crew chief since '99, umped 5 World Series and has the 2nd-longest tenure. He's obviously good at what he does. But he does it despite a surly, smug disposition that would make even our President cringe.
   Davis was the 2nd Base Umpire and on a couple of relatively close plays - a sliding double and a double-play pivot - we were amused, no, make it annoyed, that he made no call. None. Not as much as a shrug in reaction to the plays. Pretty clear to us that the runner hustling for a double was safe, but there was a tag. And similarly routine that the double-play pivot was executed without hiccup for an out.
At least I had a good view of a bad outing.
   But Davis' grandiose delusion caused him to deem neither play worthy of him even lifting a pinkie. He responded to each with ... nothing. He stared at the play and then walked away. The play, his warped ego reassured him, wasn't even close enough for him to stoop to making a hand gesture. "Even the peasants can figure that one out"? Guaranteed with a closer play - with perhaps the game on the line - Davis would get a running start and land the dismount with an exaggerated "Look at me!" out or safe call that would surely grip and enthrall the onlooking commoners.
   My guess is that throughout the stadium little boys and girls with their caps and their gloves and their baseball obsessions watched both plays and were left not impressed by Davis' visible indifference, but rather confused enough to ask "Dad, was he safe or out?"
   With nothing to justify him being a part of the proceedings, Davis decided to shove his sourness into the game in the bottom of the 8th. Beltre - as he has done for, oh, 20 years - was standing about 5 to the left of the on-deck circle. Out of nowhere - totally unprovoked - here comes the jerk of a judge.
   Inexplicably, he yells at Beltre to move to the right and stand on top of the on-deck circle mat adorned with the Rangers' logo. With comic reactions as fast and slick as his Gold Glove, Beltre instead drug the mat to where he was standing.
   To Davis, this was an unpardonable felony. He picked a fight, but when Beltre dared to "fight" back, he threw him out of the game. "Nobody disrespects me!" the giant ego in Davis' little brain was sure to be screaming. In Davis' scenario, Beltre should've moved, stood somewhere he was uncomfortable standing and saluted "Sir, yes sir!" in the process.
   Because, you see, Davis would like us to believe he is baseball royalty. An advanced, decorated professor of the sport. His inner monologue has him being such an expert of the game that we should all bow at his feet while he wows us with his judgments.
   But Davis is not a black-belt in baseball, merely a black eye on the sport.
One I won't soon forget. Thanks, Gerry.
   How are we certain that his 8th-inning temper tantrum was merely a grand personal publicity stunt to get him some needed attention? Because last night - and every night - 1st and 3rd-base coaches stand as much as 20 feet outside their designated box. Because after Beltre's ejection, Mike Napoli's customized on-deck circle was on the grass even closer to home plate than Beltre's. And Jonathan Lucroy stood to the left of the plastic circle. To the left of it, yep, even more left than it was after Beltre's relocation.
   From Davis? Not a peep.
   It's clear he wasn't enforcing any rules, he was merely making himself feel important.
   Never met Davis (nor do I ever want to), but my image is of him dining alone after a game. Sending back the soup because it's too soupy. Customizing his meal with 42 alterations. And then, you guessed it, leaving a $0 tip because such a mundane meal was beneath him.
   Davis was likely very satisfied with himself last night. He had reminded Beltre - and everyone in the stands - who was the real boss. In his world, remember, we paid our money to watch him umpire just as much as paid to see players.
   There will be a day - hopefully sooner than later - when baseball is flawlessly ruled by computers, GPS, laser technology and advanced gizmos equipped with no egos or agendas, and that mercifully will make umpires obsolete. Our kids' kids will laugh at the fact that we once upon a time relied on humans to judge our beloved outcomes.
   And they'll be right, because last night there was nothing funny about Gerry Davis' devoid sense of humor.