Archive for the ‘DeJon Redd’ Category

London Calling

January 18, 2007

I’ve got a golden opportunity, and I don’t want to blow it. Therefore, I need a little help from my friends.

Today I put down my first payment on a study abroad opportunity in Europe. While I haven’t seen the itinerary, the focus of the trip is a European perspective on broadcast news. We’ll visit the BBC, and SKY, and also venture over to Paris for a peep at Canal Plus. (I believe we’ll only spend a day or two in Paris.)

The profs will arrange the itinerary from May 15 to June 1. And while that will all be enjoyable, I want to take in all I can. Therefore, I plan to arrive a few days early or stay a few days later.

Here’s where the vast knowledge of the Houseflies applies. I’m considering a six-day itinerary. Not sure if I should just see the sights of London or take the rail to Manchester, Edinburgh, or over to Ireland.

As an aside, I don’t want to be the typical American tourists taking a glance at some of the world’s most treasured sites just to check them of my list of things to do.

If you’ve been (or are dying to go), what things in Great Britain must be done/seen/tried/experienced?

The person with the most helpful comment might receive a cheap tourist shirt upon my return!

”The saints are coming" Its been a long time sinc…

January 16, 2007

”The saints are coming”

Its been a long time since I’ve been as emotionally invested in a sporting event as much as I am this Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.

The Houseflies first video is my new rally cry. (It does give me an Oprah moment every time I watch it.)

But here’s the deal. I need a reality check. I could be swept up in my own frustrated Saints fandom. Or am I less crazy than I suspect? Is this team one of the more transcendent sports phenomenon in American history?

I vote yes.

Whether the Saints win or lose I know there will still be plenty of suffering on the Gulf Coast.

But I really enjoy considering how those people, bruised and broken by the storm and the broken system, will feel when our New Orleans Saints win in Chicago.

It may not take away all of their pain. But I hope the team gives them a feeling of satisfaction — even if it is a bit superficial. If just for a moment, I hope they get to feel victorious.

For all of this I dedicate this space for future discussion of Saints Football and how great it will be to celebrate an NFC (and soon a Super Bowl…) Championship!

Farmers Branch: I wish I never knew you

November 16, 2006

Forgive me for barging in to the Houseflies domain after going so long with nothing useful to contribute. But I finally have something to talk about.

Larry James contributed to our blog some time ago. For those that don’t remember, James serves as the President/CEO for Central Dallas Ministries, “a human community development corporation with a focus on economic and social justice at work in inner city Dallas.”

On his blog today, he put forth a great articulation of my hunch that most Americans are ignorantly nodding their heads in agreement with bigotry, and I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of the pundis that portray “illegals” as greedy, criminals that weasel their way in to our country taking jobs from deserving Americans.

I was repulsed to see the portrayals of immigration in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Does Pennsylvania really have an imminent threat of border jumpers? Take a look at the tone from the front lines of the issue in places like California (this link is well worth the read!) and Arizona. The term “illegals” is almost universally replaced by the moniker “migrants.” In a previous post James questioned, “How can a human being be illegal?”

Enter Farmers Branch, Texas. Growing up I considered Farmers Branch Church of Christ my surrogate church. They hosted a youth leadership conference I attended from 8th grade until my college years.

In James’ post he discusses FB’s new attempt to crack down on these illegals. I find it noisome, this legislation led by FBCoC member, Tim O’Hare.

Where is the compassion? Where is the concern for humanity?

I don’t profess to be the most informed person on the history and origins of our border issues, but I know racism when I see it.

James makes excellent points about the notion that migrants take from “hard working Americans.” Even though, as Larry points out, they pay sales tax, contribute to property tax. If employed, they contribute to social security with no expectation of return.

When it comes to the security concerns of our porous border, our elected officials certainly have a difficult problem on their hands. However, they ran for office to deal with the tough problems facing our country.

When they resort to preying on American jingoism and xenophobia, I don’t know whether to fight, cry or puke.

A great move … 10 years too late

April 27, 2006

Finally! Some news to celebrate! Legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson to retire

Zen Rummy

April 19, 2006

Perhaps this Rumsfeld criticism phenomenon is thoroughly intriguing to no one else but me. Yet I must share. I found this piece in the W-Post sharply incisive. “Meet the secretary of serenity”

Retired General: Iraq was a mistake

April 10, 2006

Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold retired in late 2002 as the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the most recent issue of TIME he has some scathing words for our country’s leaders relating to the Iraq-war decision.

I’d bet anyone with an opinion on the issue will find his words interesting. Read it here.

A Plethora of Sports Notes: "Jefe, what is a plethora?"

February 16, 2006

An NBA note:
What’s worse than being the worst team in the league? (A title the New York Knicks hold with little argument.) … Paying more than $94 million to hold the dubious crown. I mean have you seen what these losers are making?!

Obligatory Olympic Mention:
With Jeremy Bloom placing sixth in the moguls on Wednesday, yet another promising American endorser has failed to medal. That makes zero medals so far for Michelle Kwan, Bode Miller, Apolo Anton Ohno and Jeremy Bloom. All that hype with so little substance.

NL Central Fantasy Round-up: Part II
Houston Astros:
Much of the talk in Houston surrounding this team will be about two players who likely won’t have a role on this team, at least initially. Look, Jeff Bagwell has had a great career, and we can argue about his Hall of Fame stats later. But this team is likely more productive moving Lance Berkman to first base and playing an outfield of Preston Wilson, Willy Taveras and Jason Lane. As for Roger Clemens, he can’t re-sign with the Astros until May. My guess is this story won’t die for another six weeks and he eventually goes back to Houston. Where should you draft him? I think he’s coming back, and even if he misses a month, or five starts, so what? With that ERA, he could be a top-10 pitcher again.
Fantasy questions:
— What happens to Chris Burke? A year ago, this guy was going to be the NL’s top rookie, a 40-steal second baseman with some pop. Has anything changed? It sure has. Burke never really got that chance last season. Outfield liability Craig Biggio was moved back to second base, and Burke actually became the left fielder, but in a platoon. He didn’t hit, he didn’t run, he didn’t win Rookie of the Year. I’d guess Burke is worked into the lineup in the outfield and up the middle occasionally for Biggio and Adam Everett, and if he hits, he’ll play. His numbers from 2005 tell us nothing.
— Does Preston Wilson have anything left? There’s no question Wilson still has power. He hit 25 home runs last year, 15 of them for the Rockies and the rest for the Nationals. Now a gun for hire on gimpy knees and with little chance for a good batting average and any stolen bases, Wilson goes to a favorable park, and if he can play 130 games, he could hit 30 home runs. Yeah, there’s something left, but people have to forget the year he hit 36 HRs and drove in 141 RBIs. That was an anomaly. Wilson is really just a 25-90 guy at this point and, with the health risks, is not a top-50 outfielder.
— Can one of the young pitchers emerge? It appears both Wandy Rodriguez and Ezequiel Astacio will find some time in the rotation. Both are strikeout guys young enough to improve, but I wouldn’t draft either. Rodriguez had a 5.53 ERA, although it was a capable 4.44 after the All-Star break and he started allowing fewer home runs. Astacio had incredible minor league stats but allowed more home runs per start than even Eric Milton, 23 in only 81 innings. Now that’s hard to do. Neither can be relied on yet.

LSU vs. USC: Score one for the idiots.
There seems to be a new rule. If you are an LSU fan, you don’t like USC.

Chalk it up to an inferiority complex, jealousy or the ever-present desire to poke a finger in the eye of your “rival.”

I found humorous. And I’m not surprised the Trojans want to respond. But now the whole thing is turning stupid – “Idiocy turns humor in to intimidation”

The sports contributor sucks

February 10, 2006

College Basketball
Think about this one: It’s not a stretch to see Gonzaga as the fourth No. 2 seed and Duke as the top No. 1 seed. If that occurs, we could get our potential Adam Morrison vs. Redick matchup in the Elite Eight in Atlanta.

Fantasy sports owners are every where. It is with fantasy sports in mind that I begin a series evaluating teams for the upcoming baseball from the perspective of the fantasy franchise owner.First up, the dreaded Cards…

St. Louis Cardinals: Even if Scott Rolen didn’t get hurt last season, St. Louis wasn’t winning the World Series. It’s not as though the Cards lost to the Astros because they had bad play at third base. The Astros played better the final few months. It was like the Steelers never losing again after Thanksgiving, except the Astros ran into dominant starting pitching in the White Sox. Anyway, the Cards are strong again, despite a few losses, and are perhaps the only NL playoff lock at this point. But there are questions.

Fantasy questions:
— Is Rolen healthy, and where should we draft him? That nasty first base collision with big boy Hee Seop Choi pretty much ruined Rolen’s season, and yours if you like Rolen or picked him on your fantasy team. He was coming off 34-124 and a .314 average. Is Rolen that good? Should we expect that again? I’d say no, but don’t forget about the guy, either. He’s not Barry Bonds coming off three knee surgeries. Rolen’s shoulder is getting better, and the Cards expect him to be ready for Opening Day. Maybe he won’t reach 30 homers, but he’s going to knock in runs and hit for average. I’ve seen his average rank among third basemen around Rolen seventh, which seems about right. He’s in the Eric Chavez-Melvin Mora range. I could definitely see him finish in the top five, though..

— Is it time we forget about that Chris Carpenter injury history? Yes, it probably is. Carpenter made 33 starts last season and was a deserving Cy Young winner. That’s two straight seasons he has been terrific, and he has averaged 18 wins in those seasons. Forget about his Blue Jays days. He’s a top-20 player overall and one of the top three pitchers.

— What about Sidney Ponson? You won’t find me drafting him. I looked at that 17-12 Orioles-Giants season from 2003 and wondered why he can’t do it again, but then I looked at his last two seasons, his weight, etc. I think he can get that ERA into the 4s, but in my opinion he’s not worth it.

A few post-Super Bowl random thoughts: I’m not surprised Pittsburgh won, even though I had Seattle going into it, but let me make a few points.

  • Until the fourth quarter, Matt Hasselbeck played as well as I’ve ever seen a Super Bowl QB play whose team was trailing entering the last 15 minutes. Even though I would have liked to see Shaun Alexander running more — except in the last minute of the first half, a dumb call that drained the clock — Mike Holmgren called a good game, and Hasselbeck read Pittsburgh’s defense as you can. If he gets more help from his receivers and refs, Seattle wins this.
  • The position that impressed me most Sunday was Seattle’s offensive line in pass protection. For the most part, Hasselbeck had time to pick the Steelers apart, and Pittsburgh didn’t blitz as much as I expected.
  • Pittsburgh had 181 yards rushing, and 105 of them came in the third quarter. To that point, Seattle’s defense had done well against the Steelers. The Seahawks picked a bad time to fall apart.
  • This was the first time an AFC team had won when ABC was televising the game.
  • Rolling Stones halftime show: Not a fan. And I could really do with out the camera shots behind Mick Jagger as he shakes his octogenarian money-maker.
  • Big Ben’s passer rating of 22.6 is the lowest for a winning QB. No wonder he felt so relieved to win. If he hadn’t played so well during the playoffs, there’s no way Pittsburgh would have gotten past anyone. One more take: His 37-yarder to Hines Ward in the second quarter was Elway-esque: Roll left, throw back right, huge gain. Roethlisberger is the youngest QB to ever win a Super Bowl and will be back, I’m sure.
  • I’m not sure whether Holmgren was miked for the game, but I would love to hear an unfiltered account of what he said after Big Ben’s iffy touchdown stood, after all of Jerramy Stevens’ drops and after the two missed field goals.
  • Wright Thompson had a good account of The Bus’ walk out of football
  • For my money, I preferred the Ameriquest Financial commercials. But I don’t want to “judge too quickly.”

And finally a less Super thought on football from a Saints Fan: USC quarterback Matt Leinart was in Detroit for a sponsorship deal in which a sweepstakes is being held to have a fan go with him to the NFL draft. Most people expect Leinart to be the No. 2 pick to the New Orleans Saints. The good news for the Saints is that Leinart isn’t going to pull an Eli Manning.
“I feel like it’s an honor being drafted,” Leinart said. He said he has no plans to manipulate the draft. He’d been content to be No. 1 with Houston, No. 2 with the Saints or No. 3 with the Titans. Getting a chance to be with former USC coach Norm Chow would also interest him. “If I was reunited with coach Chow, it will be cool,” he said.

First day on the job

January 26, 2006

What follows passed my desk yesterday. I’m often handed things for mass distribution and usually my toughest job is making any one care about the administrivia we’re touting.

Not this time.

I don’t know the fellow’s name that penned the narrative below. I feel comfortable sharing it here since it was intended for public dissemination.

I’m not sure if fits the mold of Thursday’s intended topic — inspiration, but it was written by a Chaplain. However, there’s not much religion … just one person’s reality.
Friday, January 20, 2006

Just 14 hours after my arrival at Kirkuk Regional Air Base in Iraq, I was awakened and startled to hear the rapid bursts of 50 caliber machine guns. It was 0430 and pitch black in my pod and I laid awake, suddenly realizing the gravity of the situation I had been thrust into.

A few hours later, I was grateful to discover that the gunfire I heard was the sound of soldiers going out on patrol testing their weapons. Serving at a Forward Operating Base alongside the 101st Airborne would definitely be a stretching experience for me, but I was relieved to know that our perimeter had not been attacked that morning. My relief was short-lived. A few minutes later a call broke out on the radio indicating that there were casualties inbound. Chaplain Mark Barnes, Chaplain Bob Gallagher, TSgt Trish Winters and I rushed over to the Expeditionary Medical Squadron just in time to witness SSgt Bill Spencer, one of our chaplain assistants, helping transport two patients off the UH-60 medevac chopper.

As I watched the scene reminiscent of the television show, MASH, the adrenaline flowed and prayers for stamina and courage screamed upward as I entered the emergency room and stood by as our valiant medical professionals attempted to save the soldier’s lives. They were partially successful. One lived, one did not. The deceased soldier’s right leg had been blown off and the blood spilled generously onto the starkly white emergency room floor. They tried for what seemed like an eternity to resuscitate him, but were unsuccessful. Just 10 months earlier, the USAF sent me to Wilford Hall Medical Center, San Antonio, for a Professional Continuing Education designed to expose students to “Crisis and Trauma.” I honestly believe that if I had not had that training, I would have been totally unprepared for the graphic nature of what I was witnessing. But God, in his providence, knew that I would need His strength and all the training I could get for what lie ahead.

The mood was somber as the doctor pronounced the soldier dead and medical technicians placed him in a black body bag. Chaplain Mark Barnes, a familiar face around the medical tent, was flying to Qatar next day after over 130 days of phenomenal ministry at Kirkuk. He confidently stepped forward and offered a prayer for the victim, his family and the troops he served with. He demonstrated a confidence I didn’t feel, and inspired me to put my feelings of discomfort aside and to focus on the patient and the staff. Little did I know that I would need that level of confidence just a few minutes later.

A rumor that there was a third victim was whispered around the emergency room tent, but we quickly discovered that it was tragically false—there were three other victims—all three “KIA.” As details emerged, we discovered that they had been blown up by an Improvised Explosive device (IED). I joined a seasoned captain and a young lieutenant from the mortuary affairs team and we drove over to the mortuary together.

Like many of the bases in Iraq, Kirkuk had served Saddam Hussein’s air force before we took over, and remnants of his influence pervade the base. The mortuary was a tiny stone building with two-toned paint peeling off the walls, naked lights hanging from exposed wiring and a variety of stainless steel carts lining the walls. As I arrived I quickly met the senior installation Army chaplain, Ch, Major Scott, and we walked in together. We stood and watched as eventually four bodies were carried in. I saw images too awful to describe that afternoon as soldiers and Airmen removed the personal effects from their fallen comrades. A family picture with a young wife and child, blood soaked dollar bills, ID cards, “dog tags” and pocket knives were removed and placed in clear plastic bags. Each soldier had to be positively identified by a member of his unit and one young identifying soldier took one look at the body and stormed out of the morgue with tears and rage in his eyes. Chaplain Scott hurried out the door after him, obviously delivering crucial ministry in a time of desperate need—precisely what chaplains are called to do…

As they finalized the preparations of the first body, I placed my hand on the body bag and prayed over him in the presence of the joint mortuary affairs team. I thanked God for the soldier’s faithful service and prayed that God would grant divine peace and comfort to his family as they soon heard the dreaded knock on their door from a US Army Casualty Notification Team. While serving in Washington DC, 6,085 miles from Kirkuk, I ministered at the Army’s national casualty notification center in Crystal City, Virginia, and remember my heart sinking as I looked at long tables filled with neatly stacked manila folders bearing the names of soldiers who had perished. The notification center had probably already received the call about this incident and would soon dispatch teams to the soldier’s homes. Those same heart-sinking feelings were coming back to me now with a vengeance…

As I concluded my prayer with a plea that the soldier would rest in peace, “Amen’s” echoed through the small room and the body was lifted onto a cart. Within 24 hours, it would leave Kirkuk and would be transported to Kuwait, then Germany, on to Dover AFB, Delaware, and finally home to meet a grieving family.

When it was all over, the entire mortuary affairs team walked somberly across the street to a run-down building identified by the Army now as the “Bastogne Chapel.” Chaplain Scott and I informally debriefed the team and told them what sort of psychological, emotional and spiritual reactions they might expect in response to what they had just witnessed. The brigade surgeon, Doc Henry, shared about the physiological dynamics of stress and then talked about his own feelings following the incident. His openness encouraged a few more comments from the team and then we shared a moment of silence and prayer together.

It suddenly occurred to me that I had been on the ground in Iraq less than 24 hours. What did God have in store for me this tour of duty? What would the ministry of a chaplain look like in a combat environment? I can’t explain it, but I know now that the power of the “ministry of presence” in times of combat crisis is phenomenal. This is what the chaplaincy is all about and I am honored to play a tiny role in this heroic institution.

At 0315 the next morning I watched a blacked-out C-130 Hercules from Pope AFB taxi and park in preparation for a 45 minute “Ramp Ceremony.” Over 400 Airmen and Soldiers stood facing each other in formation and saluted as four flag-draped body transport cases were loaded onto the plane in before their eyes. As the C-130 lifted into the night sky, our prayers were lifted with the brave men who paid the ultimate price today while securing freedom for a people halfway around the world. And, mercifully, our first 24 hour duty day ended. May God guard and guide us all as we serve here and may God bless “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Woe Nelly! You make my head hurt

January 6, 2006

The Rose Bowl was quite a game. It had drama, stars, controversy and some really bad commentary. Keith Jackson’s pitiful sportscasting during the game inspired me toward today’s topic.

Some rarely consider the sportscaster. A good one doesn’t stand out, but draws a viewer in to the sporting event, provides background and perspective. The best ones accentuate each moment the way an HDTV accentuates the picture.

There have been many a great sportscaster in the past century on both radio and television. There was no specific style to being a great sportscaster. Some would be subtle and say exactly right things at the right times, some would become a bigger spectacle than the game itself. Which one is the one that best suits you?

Its hard to define what makes a good commentator, but its easy to know a bad one when you hear it. I give a pass to athletes that sit in the booth. They can be very bad – see Bill Walton, George Ravling or Sean Salisbury. They aren’t journalists, they’re the meat heads that can say “I know how it feels to…”

For what its worth, I submit my top and bottom five. There have been other rankings in other places, but these are mine. Enjoy.

My top five
Marv Albert, minus the biting
Mike Patrick, must have the patience of Job to regularly tolerate Vitale. A little Dicky V goes a long way, but I credit Patrick with changing “annoying” to “energetic.”
Bob Costas, can be cheesy, but I don’t mind.
Jon Miller, just makes every game better.
Steve Stone He calls a baseball game like he’s already seen it. Pinpoint analysis is almost eerie, and completely shatters the former-athlete stereotype.

My bottom five
Keith Jackson – As good at his craft as Brett Favre will be at his … in 10 years.
Tim McCarver
Harry Caray
Chris Berman – He deserves special recognition.
Reason 1) His “WHOOP!” noise
Reason 2) Lack of preparation. He’s ad-libbing half the time and doing so poorly, stuttering and stammering while barely concealing his head-tracking read of the teleprompter.
Reason 3) Nicknames
Reason 4) He calls himself “The Scwham”

And now for the worst sportscaster of all time… This guy.