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The draw for the opening home game of the 2019 Georgia season wasn't the opponent, Murray State, but the dedication of "Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium."
The dedication was held about 15 minutes before kickoff to a partially-filled stadium. Vince deserved a better crowd, but that's what happens when you schedule something for pregame against a sub-par opponent in 95° heat, the same temp that drove Mom and me from the stadium before halftime on opening day last year. Even football legends are subject to the weather.
As for the game itself, friend Randy — who replaced Mom at the last minute when she said one 95° opening day was enough for her — and I spent most of our time drinking bottles of water and trying to guess whether Georgia, who managed only a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter, could manage to pull out a win against the 49-point spread. They didn't, but only barely. Final score was Murray State 17, UGA 63 (a 46-point differential). And yes, we watched all the way until the last second had run off the clock, a decision I'm sure my poor crispy skin will be paying for tomorrow.
In the past 48 hours, at least 35 people were shot in Dayton, Ohio and another 46 were shot in El Paso, Texas. Those are the headlines, but they're only the tip of the Titanic-sized iceberg that is gun violence in America.
Excluding suicides, over 26,000 people have been shot in the USA this year to date, which puts us on pace for 44,000 by the end of December. By those numbers, an American has a roughly 1 in 74,000 chance of being shot each year. That's only slightly worse than the odds that you'll die in a motorcycle accident. Except, of course, that to die on a motorcycle, you have to first be *on* a motorcycle. The person who shoots you will generously donate the necessary bullet.
Right now, it seems there's not a whole lot you can do to avoid getting shot. Night clubs, bars, and retail stores seem to attract shooters, but so do schools and churches. Outdoor festivals are popular, and your workplace is a death sentence waiting to happen. Sadly, you're most likely to get shot in your own house by a member of your family, so staying home is no help.
About all you can do for sure is stay away from other people entirely, and even that is no guarantee. My friend Randy, who lives a good fifteen minutes from anything I would call civilization, has had people shoot into his house from the street 100-yards away, apparently just to see if they could. Guns are cool!
Personally, I love attending live sporting events. So far, those have been generally bullet-hole free, but that's clearly only a temporary condition. I hope I don't get shot at a football game. I probably won't; many people ride a motorcycle their whole life without dying on one. But if the worst does happen, know that I was shot doing what I loved: running in panic from someone shooting people. U-S-A!
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I helped a friend do some work around his house last week, and I spotted this, the tumbler he uses to hold his 6-year-old daughter's juice.
Normally, when I see this sort of thing, I'm left wondering what the owner could be thinking. However, I've known Randy long enough to know that this isn't a thoughtless accident. He probably gets a kick out of watching his little girl suck shit.
I suppose if you have a child, you get to decide what to do with it. Kids are just pets that can talk!
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I'd been saying for several years that I should just take a day trip over to Legion Field to attend the annual Birmingham Bowl. This year, I finally put my money where my mouth was and bought tickets near midfield. I'm glad I did.
Friend Randy drove. He's always extra fun at football games. He often sees things on the field that I would miss. However, neither one of us spotted the fireworks on the field prior to the National Anthem. We weren't the only ones in the stadium caught off guard when rockets quite literally went off with a red glare, interrupting the poor singer struggling to cope with a bad sound system.
That wasn't the only time fireworks would catch us unaware. There were explosions after every score, it wasn't until halfway through the second quarter (score 28 to 7, Memphis lead) that we finally learned to anticipate the bang.
Dreamland BBQ was one of many vendors brought in just for the event, and we were surrounded by a cloud of delicious meat smoke for most of the game. Considering the warm December sun and enthusiastic (if smallish) crowd, it was an ideal way to watch a game.
All of which was set dressing for the game itself, which was fantastic. Memphis managed both an interception and kickoff returned for touchdown on back-to-back drives, and Wake Forest fell into an early hole which would take them more than three quarters to reverse. Memphis responded, and the game came down to a missed field goal at the final gun. Very exciting.
If every Birmingham Bowl was this good, I'd go every year.
A 7:08 PM kickoff on Saturday meant that I didn't get back home until just before 2 AM Sunday, but it was worth it to see UGA beat down Auburn 27-10.
What I will remember most about this game, aside from the drunk girl to my left who couldn't quite grasp the concept of "personal space," is the cold. It may not be the coldest Georgia game I've ever attended (that would be a Tech game almost a decade ago), but it was pretty darn close. According to the television in the student center, it was 38° at the final whistle.
My usual Auburn-game companion, Friend Randy, didn't think he was going to need anything more than a light jacket. He never did get the hang of the knit cap I let him borrow, but I note he never took it off, either. (You're welcome, Randy.)
As for the football itself, it seems that every year in the annual UGA/Auburn contest, one team out thinks itself. This year, that team was Georgia. UGA tried its best to pretend that it isn't a run-first, second, and third offense in an attempt to beat trick play-happy Auburn head coach Gus Malzhan at his own game. (Blankenship's failed fake field goal springs to mind.) Fortunately, great defense won out. Next year, let's keep it simple, okay, Dawgs?
Walter reviews more movies he watched in April!
71. (1300.) The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)
Disney advertised the shit out of this back when I watched the Disney Channel in the 1980s, and I just finally saw it. (The House of Mouse gets us all in the end.) It's a good-looking adventure yarn for kids in the White Fang vein, and I enjoyed it.
72. (1301.) Isle of Dogs (2018)
Best movie of 2018! No, that wasn't sarcasm. I'm all-in on Wes Andersom movies.
73. (1302.) Warrior (2011)
Warrior is not a winner. Friend Keith loves it, and I guess I can see why. But the schmaltzy ending doesn't work if you don't care for all the characters involved, and I didn't. Go to hell, Tommy.
74. (1303.) Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Best movie of 2017! Friend Mike let me borrow this, and I'm so glad he did. I watched it, like, 4 times. It's really, really funny with a James Carpenter vibe and 80s synthesizer soundtrack. Marvel can't possibly make a movie better than this.
75. (1304.) Battle of the Sexes (2017)
I was expecting less biopic and more sports action, but I'm never disappointed in Emma Stone. Even when she's a lesbian.
76. (1305.) Coco (2017)
Honestly, I don't get what everyone loves about this movie. Beyond the creative set design, it's a predictable snooze-fest populated with stock characters. I would say it is easily Pixar's worst film. (And yes, I've seen Cars 2.)
77. (1306.) The Greatest Showman (2017)
Hey, Randy! I've seen The Greatest Showman. It delivers what it promises: a throwback to 1930s MGM musical spectacular! I agree that it is too light on reality and too heavy on CGI. But who can't enjoy a film with a character named Walter the Dog-Boy? Not me.
More to come.
At the request of friend Randy, who wanted an easier way to find reviews for particular movies, I have updated my movie list (found here or via the link at the bottom of every page) to include links to reviews when they exist. You're welcome, Randy!
Now, on to new-to-Walter movie reviews for February!
21. (1250.) The Shiek (1921)
This is the movie that made Rudolph Valentino a star. A century later, it's hard to see why. The story is that old cliche: arab (Valentino) kidnaps strong-willed woman, she tries to escape and is kidnapped by an even worse arab, and she realizes that she loves her original kidnapper because he was slightly less rapey. *shrug* Make America Great Again, I guess.
22. (1251.) Gleaming the Cube (1989)
Skating! Drugs! Vietnam guilt! Rampant product placement! Christian Slater! It's the eighties in a movie. (And I still don't know what "gleaming the cube" means.)
Did I mention the product placement? It's hard to tell how much of the products and advertisements seen in the film were paid, but Pizza Hit, the (original) L.A. Rams, and Coca-Cola are the big winners here.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. They might as well have been skating inside a bottling plant.
23. (1252.) Goosebumps (2015)
Hey, this children's horror movie isn't bad. Even in this "I've got kids now" stage of his career, Jack Black is still funny.
24. (1253.) Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)
Just fantastic! (Of course. Aardman Animations always brings the quality.) Highly recommended.
25. (1254.) An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
I've never been a big Al Gore fan, but it's a painful reminder to see what science had to say about climate change a decade ago and know that we're still not doing much about it. Ugh. We're all going to die.
More to come.
Auburn was ranked 9. They were favored by 10 points. Yet they haven't won in Athens since 2005. Do I have to tell you what happened next?
The evening started well, with a rare US flag display in one end zone and an F-16 flyover. Then the fellow who sits next to me showed up drunk. A fight broke out between two UGA fans a few rows in front of me, and then a second scuffle erupted when someone spilled his nacho cheese on someone else's jacket. However, things didn't really get ugly until the teams started playing football.
Auburn began the game with a truly dominant rushing attack. Their first drive was derailed only by a fumble. Their second drive resulted in seven easy points. Georgia, on the other hand, had nothing. They couldn't even get a break on a clear pass interference non-call. Bulldogs fans were not happy. Through halftime, the score remained 7-0. It looked like the sun was setting on what was left of our season.
Then, after halftime, Auburn inexplicably moved away from their run game. Instead, they devoted themselves to a passing attack that was more pass than attack. Auburn eked out only 37 yards in 22 passing attempts for the game and never scored another point. (Next time Auburn fans want to make an argument about firing Gus Malzahn, this should be exhibit A. If quarterback Sean White was nursing an injury, why ask him to do more?)
Meanwhile, UGA intercepted and returned a pass 34 yards to tie the game. Auburn continued to struggle while, in consecutive drives, UGA managed one field goal, missed a second, then made a third. UGA won, 13-7, without ever scoring a single offensive touchdown.
In 2016, we'll take what we can get.
(Special thanks to Friend Randy, an FSU fan who bought me a Coke before the game started and another after the game was over. That's friendship!)
EDIT 2016-11-13: I've been informed that television audiences were informed that Auburn stopped running the ball because they ran out of healthy running backs. All I can say about that is that the running back attrition wasn't obvious to those of us in the stands. I still think Malzahn would have had more success calling running plays for the quarterbacks instead of passes, but I'll have to trust he knows his personnel better than I do.
Culver's pulled a sneaky Grand Opening on Monday, August 1. I wouldn't have known about it if not for friend Randy's text notification. That's true friendship. Thanks, Randy.
For future reference, I'll just leave this here. (As a former Boy Scout, I know the value in being prepared. You never can tell when the urgent need for a ButterBurger® may arise.)
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We left the season-opening University Louisiana Monroe/UGA football game with 9:54 remaining in the fourth quarter. But so did everyone else. The game was called after its second lightning delay with Georgia ahead, 14-51.
The first lightning delay was called at 8:35 remaining in the third (ULM 14, UGA 35), and the game wouldn't restart for another hour. Friend Randy and I took shelter in the stadium concourse while it rained. It was hard to tell how long it might last. Even in the middle of the heaviest downpour, Randy's WeatherBug® app insisted that there was a 0% chance of rain in Athens, GA.
The second delay was called completely unexpectedly during a period of sunny skies. The few of us left in the stadium watched as the two head coaches met on the 20-yard line. It was obvious to all of us what they must be talking about. Sure enough, they soon announced that the game was called. UGA win!
I've been a season ticket holder for over a decade, and this was the first time I've seen either a lightning delay or a called game. Just when you think you've seen everything....
(P.S. Today's game was also the unofficial debut of Uga X-elect, Que. I didn't know this before I arrived at the game, but when I saw that the mascot had no brown spot on his rump, I knew it wasn't Russ. I hope that the rest of Que's tenure produces many more games just as memorable.)
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