Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Too funny not to share

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Head Buc needs coaching up

For the first time in over a decade, I made a concerted effort to watch MTV last night, in order to catch the premier of Two-a-Days. It's a behind the scenes look at the 2005 Hoover Bucs, a powerhouse prep football team at my wife's new high school.

The school (officially anyway) has been going gaga over the show's debut, packing out a local movie house at $20 a ticket (gotta pay for that trip to Oklahoma somehow). The show dominated the sports talk radio in town today, a not unimpressive feat considering Bama and Auburn kick off in a little over a week.

But if I were a Hoover honcho, I wouldn't be entirely thrilled. The football players and cheerleaders came across OK. Head coach Rush Probst on the other hand ... not so much. It wasn't the occasional bursts of profanity (they didn't help) but the overall arrogance that made me cringe. At one point, he's shown talking to a football mom who's trying to get her son excused from practice. King Probst decrees that he needs "four different doctor's notes." Good thinking coach. Any three doctors can forge a note.

Probst is a highly successful coach, and a lot of his genius was tapping into a funding model that made the booster club the most powerful in Alabama. But he has rubbed a lot of other coaches the wrong way with his arrogance. More than a few Bucs fans are troubled also, but an awful lot of them excuse it as long as he wins games.

It doesn't have to be that way. As a reporter, I saw coaches who acted like Probst and won, but I also saw other programs that won big with class. And even Probst seemed to sense that in an interview with WJOX this morning, talking about how he didn't like everything he saw of himself.

It would be nice to see him mature. But even if he does, Hoover has seven more episodes of Two-A-Days to endure first.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Regions-AmSouth marriage: Keep it down home cuz

For those who don't follow the business pages, the pending merger of two of Birmingham's banking heavyweights (Regions and AmSouth) is causing plenty of fingernail biting and restless nights around town. Because the banks have nearly identical service areas, the only way it will make much sense is by closing duplicate branches and laying off reams of front office types.

There's been lots of critical commentary about the deal, along with an intriguing brief in today's Birmingham News about a blog called, which was supposed to offer commentary and analysis, along with links to other goodies surrounding the deal.

Trouble is, the site has been wiped clean as of Saturday afternoon. The anonymous author claims he/she wasn't asked to do so, but there is a suspiciously saccharine mea culpa that sounds just like what you'd expect someone to write with a plantiff's attorney standing over your shoulder.

Apparently Big Brother's getting hep to the Web a lot faster these days.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

My so-called job search

It's an article of faith in all of the job-hunt literature I've read that finding a job through advertisements happens way less often than expected. After a couple of months of emails in my inbox, I'm starting to believe.

Most every day, I get an e-mail from the folks at CareerBuilder telling me what windfall openings are available in my area of interest (which at this point consists of Birmingham and anywhere within a tank of gas of there). My two main fields of interest are marketing and communications.

So what gets spit out? It falls into a few predictable categories.

* The scams. People think of the word marketing and decide "Ooh, that's fun!" Then they get sucked in by fly-by-night outfits.
* Out of my league. I just graduated with a bachelor's degree and have precious little experience. Therefore, I must be qualified to be an upper-level manager or analyst (MBA strongly prefered, along with 50+ years executive experience). Might want to tweak the old logarithms guys.
* Sales jobs. I don't want to be a salesman. I spent God knows how much money to get a degree in marketing, and every single day had it reinforced that marketing and sales are not the same thing (although they are related). But 99% of people who don't have marketing degrees are convinced they are the same thing, including job sites. So every day I get come-ons in my mailbox so brazen they'd make a working girl blush. "Earn $100,000 your first year working from home with no prospecting!" Pass.
* The inexplicable. Because deep down, I've always wanted to be a Creek Indian. Or a Wal-Mart photographer.

Good grief.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Predators postmortem

Another season is over for the Predators, and despite tremendous progress, they're no closer to being a true contender than two seasons ago, when all of Nashville was just happy to make the NHL playoffs.

Funny, it doesn't seem like anyone's all that happy now.

With Thomas Vokun going down late in the season, most everybody wrote the Preds off for the playoffs. The gauling part is that the players seemed to agree. The bad old habits (stupid penalties, not enough shots on goal, careless turnovers) came back in spades against San Jose. It was all more of a problem than anyone wanted to admit in the regular season, but Vokun was wonderful at cleaning up messes. Chris Mason is only an average goalie, and average goalies can't overcome dumb play all the time.

And Barry Trotz's gameplan was less than inspired also. Clearly the Sharks had more talent, but there was no reason for Nashville to not try and play a speed game - after all that's what got them this far. Instead the Preds spent a week channeling their inner Charlestown Chiefs, never missing an opportunity to retaliate at a stupid time and in full view of a referee. Memo to Trotz: This isn't 1995 anymore. Outhitting the opponent every game may be cathartic for the soul, but it isn't always the smartest idea. The NHL, after all, is cracking down on penalties. It was in all the papers.

And to complete the unhappy trifecta, Nashville's front office came unglued late in the week, threatening a local TV blackout for Sunday's game (which like Game 2 did not sell out.) Steve Violetta, who was brought in from the Padres because he supposedly had the magic touch with business types, tried to pin the blame on the corporate community, since many businesses with season tickets did not renew them for the playoffs. Uh guys, you're just now noticing this? Did you think about giving those businesses a sound reason to buy, other than "hey, it's the playoffs!" Many places budget months or even a year in advance for entertainment outlays. You need to show them how they'll get a return on their investment before they'll buy.

And it doesn't say much for the acumen of the marketing department that they had 2,600 tickets left as of Wednesday and still came up about 1,000 shy of a sellout. Violetta acknoledged that prices had been raised 10% from the regular season, but then trotted out the "everyone else is doing it" defense.

Didn't work with mom, won't work now. Nashville isn't Detroit, Montreal or even San Jose. You have to know how the market works. And right now, the Preds are a novelty act for all but a small core fan base.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Death of a barbeque restaraunt

The Tuscaloosa News has a story today about the pending closure of Horne's Barbeque (right), the second-oldest restaraunt in the city. They're selling out to another local place (Mike & Ed's) which is in turn losing its location on Greensboro Ave. and Bryant Drive to a new condo development.

I ate at Horne's a few times during my stay at Alabama. It was decent barbeque, but nothing remarkable by local standards (although I'd kill for something that good here.) But it is still sad to see another place bite the dust. Joints like Archibald's with genuine barbeque pits are going the way of the dodo. Now it's all about flash-frozen pork reheated in electric smoker boxes. Blech.

So ... what next?

Great question. Hopefully this place is a way for me to figure that out.

I'm on the cusp of graduating from Kennesaw State University with a bachelor's degree in marketing. I always regretted dropping out the first time through, but I figured I had settled into a decent life as a sports writer and editor. But then life got a little crazy with a new son and an overbearing boss, and before I had a chance to think about how crazy it would be, there I was in business school.

So now I'm 30 years old with a new degree, a lot more student loan debt, and not many solid leads on a new job. A lot of people would probably panic in that situation, but not me. I haven't panicked for nearly one whole week now.

Against all common sense, I'm trying to look at this as a new adventure in life. Maybe I'll get a great job, or maybe I'll be a freelancer/Wal-Mart greeter until the grad school bug hits. Maybe I'll start that book I've wanted to do for years. Maybe I'll go completely insane and start a business of my own. Point is, after 2.5 years of putting life on hold, I'm ready for something new.

What next? No clue. But I intend to have a blast finding out.