Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fantastic Furman...aww, hell...WooHoo!!!!

It's a cloudy, cool fall afternoon at Paladin Stadium. 

Apparently we can't afford long pants for all cheerleaders.
A showdown with the Wofford Terriers is the day's agenda.  Victory will yield a share of the Southern Conference championship.  This and a win by the Samford Bulldogs will bring an automatic bid to the playoffs, ending a nine year drought.

The band is ready
So lets kick this thing off.  Paladins take the field!

Yes! Flawless entrance! Ooo, Sir Paladin looks impressed!
Didn't get thrown today. Boo yah!

Furman gets the ball first.  We've done well on first drives at home.  But today the offense stalls out. a condition which persists for the entire first quarter and most of the second, while Wofford is able to scratch out two long touchdown drives.  A 14-0 deficit is no way to kick off a playoff run. 

Sir Paladin's trusty mount, Fury, is getting anxious.
And then, in the middle of the 2nd quarter,  a long Furman drive.  Smeeling the end zone, the Paladin QB lobs a pass...into the hands of a Terrier defender. (Yap, yap, yap!) Le sigh!

Wait! What's this? Fumbllleee!  Throw it up top! TOUCHDOWNNNNN!!!!

A stop.  A drive.  A field goal.  And Furman trims the margin to 14-10 at halftime.

In the second half, the Paladins add to the momentum. A first drive stop is followed by a touchdown drive, and Furman takes the lead.

Still the Terriers are not the kind to fold their tents.  They drive into Furman territory and attempt a fake punt only to be turned back on an interception.  Furman converts the turnover into 7 points.

Again Wofford drives, threatening the endzone; only to be intercepted there as well.  again the Paladins convert a turnover into points.  A field goal makes the score 27-14 in favor of the Paladins.

Wofford takes the ball with 6:41 on the clock and drive to the Furman 7.  There they face a fourth and two, and gain only one yard! The Paladins take over with just over 2 minutes left.  And facing 3rd and 3, they do this...

In case, you can't tell, that is a 25 yard run!  And down 13 point with under two minutes left, Wofford coach Mike Ayers shows he's a class act and leaves his last time out in his pocket. 

Victory formation!

And now, a brief aside.  Furman is an institution that prides itself on graduating its student-athletes.  Despite its rigorous academic demands, from the late 70's to the early 90's, Furman was a football powerhouse.  Even becoming the first (and until a few years ago only) private school to win the NCAA I-AA (FCS) national championship.  The football team has won more SoCon titles than any other school.  But after a revival in the late 90's and early 2000's (including a national title runner up in 2001) it had not even sniffed a conference title since 2004 or a playoff appearance since 2006.

So I hope you can understand how special this moment is:

Let the flag wave proud.
Any comment, Sir Paladin?
That's right. Go Paladins!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Furious Football Fever

I didn't make it to the Furman home game this week.  I had a sore throat and fever and didn't sleep well.  But I was able to monitor via internet as Furman consistently turned over and turned away the Samford Bulldogs.  While they did allow over 500 yards of offense, the Paladins got the job done 35-17.  And they thereby kept alive the slight chance of a conference championship and playoff berth. Go Paladins!

But my illness did grant me the opportunity to grogily view the "Greatest Thursday in College Football History-y-y-y!!!". (If anyone could fix the exact date ESPN ceased being a sports network and became and endless, inane hype machine, please let me know.)  And the night went swimmingly from my perspective.

1) Baylor looks to be a legitimate contender in the Big 12.
They dominated inferior competition, as great teams should, leading up to the match up with a quality Oklahoma Sooners team.  And then they dominated the game.

2) Oregon lost. 
Don't get me wrong, I like the Ducks.  And had they made it to the national title game, I'd have rooting for them.  But an Oregon victory would have all but guaranteed a PAC 12 championship, meaning the only spots for Oregon in the bowl season would have been Rose Bowl or National Championship Game.

But a non-PAC 12 champion Duck team and Big 12 champion Baylor Bears team can meet in the Fiesta Bowl.  That doesn't mean they will.  Odds are against it.  The Fiesta Bowl would get a champion Baylor team for sure.  But then they choose last.  And if the current Alabama-Florida State national championship tilt holds up, the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl would each get two selections before the fiesta Bowl picked an at large team.

But I want to see the two best offenses in college football on the same field.  I want to see a points total that will exceed most of the upcoming college basketball games.  And I want to see the Bears' "Brass" helmets
on the same field with the Ducks' "Sonic Boom" helmets
and "Lightning" uniforms.

That is what I want.  Odds are against getting that match up.  Odds are against them wearing those helmets and uniforms.  And considering the Oregon-Auburn match up from a few years ago, odds are very much against two teams with long layoffs putting up those kinds of points.

But a man can dream.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fabulous Furman Football

No photos this week.  There was a threat of rain so I eschewed taking my technology with me.


As you may recall, we last left our heroes, the Furman Paladins, struggling on the field, failing to execute their entrance onto the field, and with the paladin laid out on the ground after being thrown by his horse.

I was very miffed this week when, with no camera, the music, band, cheerleader, paladin, and team all expertly choreographed their parts in the entry of the Paladins.  Or I was miffed until the guy behind me pointed out the paladin laying on the ground again with both teams' trainers rushing to him.  (The horse's name is Fury. Indeed.)

And then the announcer declared the score would be kept on the field because the scoreboard wasn't working.  Actually the video screen, the advertising banner, and the opponent side of the scoreboard worked fine.  Only the part where Furman's score would be was down.  No ill omens here; move along people.

This weekend was the farewell to Appalachian State.  The mountaineers and the Georgia Southern Eagles are moving up to the Sunbelt Conference next year.  So the Paladins, of course, want to make a lasting impression by beating them.  Alas, Elon is also leaving, and we didn't do so well there.

A Pondering on Penalties

Coming into this game, Furman was among the nation's least penalized teams.  Only 12 penalties for 99 yards issued over the first 5 games.  The Paladins would amass 80 yards worth of flags in the first half.  And they would come at the worst times, as Furman approached the end zone.

The Paladins would make their so far customary long first drive of the (home) game.  But penalties would force them into a 53 yard field goal attempt.  And it's gooood!
An App State fumble would put Furman inside the Mountaineer 25.  Furman would go backwards and kick another field goal.
Furman would force a punt.  Another long drive.  Another series of penalties.  and this time they would miss the field goal.

And the the purple partisans' stomachs would gurgle as Appalachian state gained momentum.  They would kick a field goal to halve the lead.  A Paladin drive across the 50 would end in a fumble.  And the Mountaineers would drive down to the Furman 2 yard line.  A trick play...a, a reverse pass!  And the receivers throws the ball...directly into the gut of a Paladin defensive end!

Down the sideline he runs!  His teammates swarm to him!  He almost runs out of gas, but the convoy gets him to the endzone.  And he runs through the endzone, almost into the band!  Touchdown!

The band lives here during the game
Both teams would then exchange punts on drives cut short by penalties.  And App State would have a short drive before halftime.  The Paladin's held a (what felt like shacky) 13-3 lead.

First drive of the second half, App State fumbles the ball away!  A long pass inside the 5!  And the Paladins punch it in!

The teams exchange punts.  The mountaineers fumble again.  A long pass to the end zo-o-one! Touchdown! Huzzah! Huzzah! (What? Paladins are olde times. Huzzah is technically correct!)

And that in essence was the game.  The Paladins would punt on the last 3 drives.  App State would fumble, punt, score a touchdown, and have the game end.

There were numerous penalties on both sides.  App State would have 8 for 60 yards, including one that negated a successful onside kick.  Furman would finish with 11 for 112 yards.  In fact, looking at the statistics, Furman was outgained by over 100 yards.  They won the turnover battle and not much else.

But it was a 27 to 10 victory!  Fare thee well App State.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Furman Football Funtime

Another bright sunny Saturday at Paladin Stadium! (I remembered sunscreen this time.)

And the luxury boxes are finished

The band is playing, the helmet and tunnel are ready for the Paladins to take the field.

 And now a word about quarterbacks.  Furman's starter missed the first game of the season due to injury.  His backup was injured in that game and will miss the season.  The starter was hurt again the previous week.  So a true freshmen and the junior "wildcat" quarterback lead Furman into this game.

Let's kick it off!

Another home game.  Another successful first stop, and another successful first drive for a touchdown.  And once again it all fell apart.

Furman was pinned deep all day by some monster punts.  The freshman QB threw an interception for a touchdown on his second drive.  The defense gave up a long touchdown drive.  The wildcat QB threw his first pass of the season...for an interception.  And a tired defense gave up another TD.

Only a field goal kept the game within reach at halftime, 28-10 Elon Phoenix (formerly Fighting Christians) leading.

Sadly many of then probably didn't arrive until 2nd quarter.

Most of these folks won't return.

 Furman Hall of Fame inductees.
 The 3rd quarter also started poorly, as the wildcat QB went out with a season ending injury.  The Phoenix were driving for what looked like a clenching TD.  Fumble!!! recovery by the Paladins!

Still buried deep in their own territory, Furman would drive.  And drive.  And drive.  84 yards later the Paladins would punch in a touchdown and a two point conversion to pull within 10 points.

A stop. Another ridiculous punt.  But the true freshman QB would prove up to the task.  93 yards later, Furman would pull within 3.  the defense would get a stop.  And another stop.  But each time deep punt would pin Furman.  A fourth down pass would fall incomplete.  And Elon would run out the clock.  Elon 28, Furman 25.

Oh, and at the end the Paladin was thrown from his horse.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fabulous Football Fall Saturday

Ah, a clear blue sky, but more to come...

After two close losses and two injuries to quarterbacks, the Furman Paladins rolled(?) into a (mostly) refurbished Paladin Stadium for the first home game of the year.  Unlike most of the home games last year, not cloud was to be seen.

New press box and facilities
Paladin on the plaza seems excited
Concession choices seem limited
Luxury boxes aren't finished yet
Dad checks out new seating
Synthetic turf, looks the same

 The Paladins took the opening kick and drove, drove, drove down the field.  No passing, nothing fancy, they just ran over the visiting Blue Hose.  With half the 1st quarter gone they punched it in for the touchdown.

I got excited, but trust me, they scored here.

 On PC's first drive, after and inital penalty by Furman, it was three plays and punt.  Oh glorious stadium! Oh, glorious performance! Oh, glorious day!

Yeah...about that.

After the PC punt was a drive that should have ended in a Furman punt.  Should have....but a bad snap left the Furman punter diving on the ball.  And giving the ball up inside your own 10 yard line is a bad way to keep the other team out of the end zone.

And so it went.  A fumble coughed up.  A long drive allowed.  A missed field goal.  The half ended with PC up 20 to 7, with only a missed PC extra point keeping the margin from being two full touchdowns.  The normally late arriving Furman crowd began heading for the concession stands, and for some the exits.

The Paladin is not impressed.

At halftime, Furman unveiled it's new paladin logo:

 And a performance by the Paladin Regiment and Paladin Dancers:

With extra xylophones:
Seriously, there's like 5 xylophones.

The second half brought a turn of fortunes.  A PC fumble couple with 2 penalties placed Furman first and goal at the Blue Hose two yard line.  Touchdown!  A very short PC punt led to another Furman
touchdown drive.  And the Paladins entered the 4th quarter with a slim 1 point lead.

Back and forth the ball went.  Short drives. Punts.  Agonizing incompletions. Stagnating offenses.

But with 6:30 left in the game PC got the ball for their final drive.  They converted third downs.  they converted a fourth down.  They had missed 2 field goals, but crept closer and closer.  With 8 seconds left, they were in chip shot range, with the ball in the center of the field.

 And the kick issssss....


And blue skies prevail!

Including my sun burn

Monday, September 2, 2013

Will missiles matter in Syria?

Whether we respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria with military force is ultimately irrelevant.  Our reaction, or lack thereof, will not end the civil war there. It will not reduce the brutality of the Assad regime.  What that regime does not accomplish with chemical weapons, it will accomplish by other means.  The Assad family has proven over decades it will do as it sees fit to maintain its authoritarian control over its people.  A few cruise missiles may change their methods, but not their goals or morals.

This is the way of dictators.  They are the bullies of politics.  They are not interested in discussion or reason.  They are only interested in obtaining and maintaining power by any means necessary.  Whether they accomplish this through rhetoric, intimidation, or outright force of arms is of little consequence in their minds.  

 The Russian and Chinese governments may not (yet) be as outwardly brutal as the Assad family, but that is only because their secrecy and restraint was the price they paid to increase their economic power.  Syria’s much desired oil reserves means that whoever controls Syria will have a place carved out for them in the world economy for those who desire access to those reserves.

Is it outrageous? Absolutely. But by catering to dictators throughout the world we have helped create a world where for many people their choices are to decide between fanatical religious terrorists, strongman regimes, or military takeover – Al Qaeda fighting with the Syrian Rebels, the Muslim brotherhood the clear winners of the “Arab Spring”, the Pakistani and Egyptian armies moving against extreme regimes as democracy fails to bring freedom.

The decisions over decades of the Cold War were based largely on oil reserves and Red/non-Red status.  Promoting the values of individual freedom took a backseat to the realpolitik of that age.  And economic decisions made since the fall of the Soviet Union have served only to strengthen the varied and militant forces of tyranny throughout the world.

The nation with the world’s greatest economy and military freed business, not people.  Look at the world we have wrought.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

JJ and the Jedi Reboot

Big news in the nerding world, JJ Abrams has been chosen to guide* the Star Wars franchise by Disney. (*I almost said 'helm' but that's another franchise.)

Image Credit: Joi Ito/Flickr

<aside>I'm not sure what it bodes for nerds and geeks everywhere that a large chunk of things we love are controlled by Disney, Hasbro, and Funimation.</aside>

My personal reaction is: "Meh."
Part of that is due to the fact I don't really pay attention or care much about producers, directors, etc.  Hell I can't name a lot of the *actors* in my favorite shows and movies.

And part of it is, I find his work a mixed bag of "yay", "ugh", and "what"?  "Lost" had some good moments, but never lived up to its promise/hype. (I put it right up there with "The Matrix" franchise in that regard.)  I really enjoyed "Alias" and "Fringe" (fare thee well, Walter Bishop).  I was not impressed with the "Godzilla" meets "The Blair Witch Project" film "Cloverfield".  "Felicity" was not my genre.  And then there's "Star Trek".


The weakest entries in the "Star Trek" franchise have been the one's that emphasize spectacle.  JJ took the last movie and turned it into "Space Action movie #155".**  There's place for that; but "Star Trek", a show from the 'story first' school of sci-fi like "The Twilight Zone", ain't it.  JJ's touch actually could fit better with the "Star Wars" franchise.

Regardless, your typical remake/reboot fist into one of three categories: completely ignore the source material other than names of characters/places/things (I'm looking at you "Battlestar Galactica" and "Wild Wild West"), extremely devoted to source material (as much as possible, "The Lord of the Rings" movies for example), and capturing the flavor of the original ("Addams Family" and "Brady Bunch" movies).  All three can be done well or poorly.  My personal opinion is if your project falls into the first category, you'll do both your vision and the franchise best by being completely original with your idea even if it's harder to sell that way (comparisons of the two Galactica series are impossible because they start from entirely different premises, and are basically two different series).

File:Battlestar Galactica 1978 - intro.jpg  File:Battlestar Galactica intro.jpg

So will the next "Star Wars" movie be good?  Maybe. It will action packed at the very least.  It's fate will rest mainly on which film(s) of the franchise it's compared to.

 Matching the original "Star Wars" (which I refuse to put a episode number on), not really possible.  That movie changed everything. It set the stage for every blockbuster film that came after. It changed the movies from just what's on the screen to what's on the cup you drink out of the dinner after the movie, what's under your Christmas tree, what your next Halloween costume is.  It did for merchandising and branding what "Star Trek" did for conventions, cosplay, and fanzines. 

Matching most of the rest, it's got a shot, I guess.  And that'll make it successful.

If we're only favorably comparing it to "Phantom Menace" (The Zeppo of "Star Wars" movies), ::shudder::.

So, good luck Disney and JJ.  A precious cargo has been placed in your care. Don't exploit the hearts of nerds just to make a buck.

**I kind of wish the "Star Trek" franchise hadn't been rebooted before "The Avengers" hit the screen.  If anybody could make Gene Roddenberry's vision relevant in today's eye candy world, it's Joss Whedon.

 File:Buffy the Vampire Slayer title card.jpg File:Fireflyopeninglogo.JPG

(Happy Geek Moment: Blogger recognizes 'Roddenberry' as a legitimate word! <3)

Copyrights on the logos in the blog entry belong to really big companies and certainly not me.