Voicing my opinion

This letter to the editor appears in Sunday’s edition of the Kansas City Star.


High school wrestling concluded in most states last month with state tournaments. While the four states bordering Kansas all held their championships for all classifications in one location, Kansas held its tournaments in three locales.

Kansas is one of the few states that hold tournaments in more than one location. In fact, only one state, Connecticut, uses more than three sites for its state tournament.

Sadly, this is typical of the Kansas State High School Activities Association, which forces fans to pick and choose one location to watch state championship competition, except for track and field.

I’m sure many coaches in the Kansas City area envy Missouri, where all the wrestling championships are under the same roof at Mizzou Arena, instead of spread out among Park City, Salina and Hays.

The KSHSAA would not have to hunt far and wide for an appropriate site for state wrestling. Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka and the Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina are all excellent options.

Get with it, KSHSAA. The student-athletes and coaches deserve better.

Crying foul over long games

The Phillipsburg-Norton girls sub-state game Tuesday took a little longer than I would have liked. I left Norton’s gym 20 minutes later than I had expected, although I made good time on the drive back to Russell and was home before 10:45.

There an awful lot of fouls called between the Panthers and Bluejays Tuesday, and it so happened most of them resulted in foul shots. Norton ended up winning 45-34, and the Bluejays now head to Colby tomorrow to play Cimarron. The other sub-state semifinal is Scott City vs. colby, and the winners play Saturday for the right to advance to the 3A state tournament in Hutchinson starting next Thursday.

In high school basketball, teams enter the bonus when their opponent commits the seventh foul of a half. On fouls seven, eight and nine, the team which is fouled attempts a “one-and-one”, where the shooter only gets a second attempt if they make the first. The exceptions are on a foul committed on a shot, which is two or three shots if the field goal attempt is not successful, and one shot if the field goal is successful; and on an offensive foul, there are no foul shots.

The double bonus (or super bonus, as the legendary LSU public address announcer Dan Borne coined it) comes into play starting with the 10th team foul of the half. The offended team gets two free throws regardless of the situation, except if the foul came on a field goal attempt, or was on an offensive foul.

The same procedure is in place for college men’s basketball, but in college women’s basketball, the procedures are different since the NCAA adopted four 10-minute quarters for the ladies instead of two 20-minute halves like the men play.

In women’s basketball, there is no “one-and-one”; with the fifth team foul committed in a quarter, the offended team receives two free throws. The difference is the fouls reset each quarter.

The NBA system is somewhat similar, but has many differences. One is offensive fouls do not count towards a team’s limit; and second, within the final two minutes of a half, a team has one “foul to give” regardless of whether they were in the “penalty” (opponent in the bonus) prior to the two-minute mark of the period.

I would like to see the rules changed, at least in high school, to reduce the number of free throws. I propose:

  • Adopt the women’s college/NBA rules on the bonus. Fifth foul puts opponent in the bonus, no one-and-one. No two-minute change like the NBA. Fouls reset at the end of the period.
  • On the seventh foul of the quarter, the offended team does not have to attempt free throws. They may instead opt to inbound the ball at the point of the foul. If the foul occured in the backcourt, the team which was fouled may inbound the ball at mid-court opposite the scorer’s table if they chose to forgo the free throws.
  • When a team reaches the bonus, the team which was fouled may choose its free throw shooter from any player on the court. This would be similar to association football (soccer) when a team is awarded a penalty kick. In association football, the player who is fouled inside the box does not have to attempt the penalty kick. That would make fouling less advantageous.
  • I don’t know if I would advocate bringing back a rule which was in the NBA prior to the 1981-82 season which gave a team in the bonus three attempts to make two free throws. That might hold the game up too much. On the other hand, it might make a team think twice about fouling.

I doubt the rules makers are going to do anything drastic anytime soon. We’ll muddle along with the status quo.

Darts anyone?

I’ve spent a lot of time the last few days playing darts on my iPhone, which is strange because I have hardly watched darts on television. Then again, darts is not popular television fare in the United States. In Great Britain, it’s a different matter.

Some of the greatest darts players on earth are portly, including Englishman Phil Taylor, considered one of the greatest darts players of recent memory. However, I would believe one has to stay in good shape to play darts, especially keeping the arms loose and working. Leg stamina is also important, too.

There is plenty of strategy in darts. The countdown is from 501 to zero, and to “check out”, a player needs to hit a double and bring their score down to exactly zero. Since a player is starting with an odd number, there has to be at least one throw with an odd numbered score, since all double scores will be even. The best strategy to achieve that is to hit the triple 19, which is 57.

The inner bullseye is actually a double, worth 50, so a player could check out by hitting the inner bullseye. From what I’ve seen, most want to get down to 40 and hit the double 20 to check out. For a right-handed player, the numbers on the left side of the board are a little difficult, and it’s the same for a left-handed player on the right side.

I don’t have the room in my house to put up a dart board, so playing it on the iPhone is as close as I’m going to get. It’s a great way to learn the nuances of the game, as well as different variation from the standard 501, the game played in most tournaments.

There is an option on the iPhone to require a double to open scoring, meaning a player is stuck on 501 (or 601 or 701) until they hit a double, then the points can be deducted. Hitting the inner bullseye is optimal, but difficult. I’ve learned that a few times.

It was a good time killer today. I had a noon appointment with Crista, and I played a few games waiting in line in Hays to get my car washed. It was sunny and 75 (24 Celsius), record warmth for Hays, so people were out en masse getting their cars washed. Mine needed it bad, and since I had the time, I could wait the 20 minutes in line.

I played more darts in Norton waiting for Peggy before we ate dinner. Norton plays Phillipsburg in girls sub-state tonight at 7. By eating before, I can leave and not be back in Russell too late.

The Winter Olympics and high school wrestling are over. Not missing either.

Billy Graham, crazy driving, unstately wrestling

The Reverend Dr. Billy Graham passed away Wednesday at age 99. Graham had been a spiritual adviser to every U.S. president from Harry Truman through Barack Obama, and he was particularly close to Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Graham was called “America’s Pastor” by many, and he reportedly preached to live audiences of close to 215 million in 185 countries.

The biggest crusade Graham held in my native Louisiana was in October 1970, when he held court for five nights at LSU’s Tiger Stadium. Close to 200,000 came out to see Graham, many of them from north Louisiana and Mississippi, where he was far more popular than southern Louisiana, which is majority Catholic.

Gee, LSU could let Billy Graham preach in Tiger Stadium for five nights, but it has not allowed Louisiana high schools to play in the stadium since 1966? Come on.

I never watched Graham’s crusades. I’m not a religious zealot to begin with, and I was baptized Catholic, so I naturally was far more interested in what came from John Paul II than anything Graham said. However, it was apparent Graham had a profound impact on tens of millions of Americans, and he has to be considered one of the most influential religious figures in the history of the United States, if not the world.

I was very disgusted to see so many people cheering Graham’s passing. An editor at Teen Vogue posted on Twitter that she hoped Graham “enjoyed his life in hell”. Someone I know said “good riddance” on Facebook.

Sad. Very sad. Nobody is denying these people’s right to disagree with Graham’s teachings. However, keep your vitriol to yourself. Please.

There was quite a bit of nastiness on social media when Benedict XVI unexpectedly resigned in February 2013. I can only imagine, too, what would have been said about John XXIII had social media been around at the time of his papacy. For my non-Catholic friends, John XXIII initiated the Second Vatican Council which led to sweeping changes in the Roman Catholic Church, especially in regards to the liturgy, where Latin was replaced with the local language and the priest faced the congregation instead of facing the sanctuary.

If you want to see just how different the Catholic mass was before the Second Vatican Council, click the link below to watch John F. Kennedy’s requiem mass. It is very fascinating.

JFK funeral mass

Gee, this might be the longest I have ever written on religion.


I pulled off a daring double dip yesterday, driving to Salina to get my hair cut by Amber at SportClips, then racing back to Hays to make my 2 p.m. appointment with Crista. Not recommended.

I only did that because the weather Tuesday was terrible and the roads were iced over, and I knew they would be that way again today. Therefore, I only had a very small window to accomplish this. Somehow I did it, but I would rather not try it again.


I am so glad I will not be attending a state wrestling tournament this weekend.

First, it’s dumb Kansas needs three sites to host four tournaments. If Missouri and Nebraska can host four separate state tournaments in one building, why can’t Kansas?

It’s not like Kansas doesn’t have a building in which to do it. Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita would be great. So would the ones in Topeka and Salina. Heck, if the Missouri State High School Activities Association can work with the University of Missouri and the SEC to host its tournament at Mizzou Arena, and the Nebraska School Activities Association can do the same with Creighton and the Big East to use the Century Link Center, why can’t Kansas work something out with the Big 12 and Kansas and/or Kansas State? It would probably have to be K-State, because I doubt KU would want Allen Fieldhouse in use for anything other than the Jayhawks. It’s probably the reason why the Kansas State High School Activities Association hasn’t hosted a state basketball tournament in Lawrence since 1987.

Is it because the tournaments in Missouri and Nebraska are over three days instead of two? So what? It’s better for the athletes that the tournaments are held over three days. Asking these kids to win three bouts in one day, which you have to do on day one in Kansas if you want to make the championship round, is too much. In Missouri and Nebraska, wrestlers have to win one bout on each of the first three days to reach the final, which is in the evening on day three.

If Kansas is that scared of losing instruction time, then hold the third day of the tournament on a Sunday. Or if Sunday is too sacrosanct, then bite the bullet and start the tournament on Thursday like most states do with a three-day format.

Louisiana won’t hold a three-day tournament for some reason. And the wrestlers in the largest division have to win five bouts, not four, to win the championship. This needs to be pointed out, too.

I shouldn’t complain. I’m  not covering this cluster you know what anymore. But I will write letters to the editor in Kansas City, Wichita, Topeka and Salina to voice my opinion like I did with football.

I know nothing will get done. Kansas still insists on determining state golf champions with a one-round tournament instead of two which most states do (some even do three).

I know one place I will not be this weekend: Fort Hays State. And another: the arena in Salina. And another: the arena in Park City.


Dawn’s last day in Kansas City is tomorrow. Too bad I’m stuck on the prairie. At least I got to see her twice last weekend.

Say no to network “news”

Tonight, I realized just how much I dislike network news.

After eating with my parents, my father turned on the NBC Nightly News. The first thing they showed were students from the high school in Florida where 17 people were killed by a gunamn last week, as well as students from other high schools across the state, marching to the state capitol in Tallahassee, demanding the state legislature adopt gun control laws.

Throughout the piece, Savannh Guthrie, who was substituting as anchor for Lester Holt, was fawning all over the student protestors, implying that they were 100 percent right to demand gun control, and that those who were opposed to stricter gun control laws were dead wrong and supported mass murder.

Are you kidding me?

What ever happened to watching the news and making up our own minds? Savannah and her colleagues think the general public is too stupid to make up their own minds, and that you must believe their position, or else you are an uninformed idiot.

I only had to watch five minutes to realize just how much I cannot stand it. It was five mintues more than I should have watched, and I will do all I can to never, ever watch NBC, CBS or ABC news as long as I live.

I never watched NBC when I lived in Louisiana, nor did I watch it until my parents moved to Kansas 11 years ago. I was never a Tom Brokaw or Brian Williams fan, and I cannot stand Lester Holt, either. And don’t get me started about Savannah Guthrie. She is a confirmed marriage destroyer.

That’s one reason I don’t like eating with my parents on weekenights. I do not want to watch that crap.

I am so angry right now. Really angry. I’m trying my best not to let out a spew of nasty words. It’s not the way to do it. Also, I promised not to do so for Lent, and hopefully carry it over after that.

It was the first time I watched any sort of network newscast since the shooting. I am determined to make it my last, period.

I’m not going to take a side. I don’t want to. There are too many people I see out there taking sides, and I don’t think anything is achieved by spouting back and forth. One person in particular won’t shut up about it on social media. I won’t name this person, but I know who this person is.

For those of you who are watching the network news at 5:30 Central every weeknight, stop. Find something better to watch. Your brain will thank you.

Another reason not to watch NBC, especially right now: THE OLYMPICS.

I don’t watch the Olympics. I haven’t in 30 years, and I admit, I wasted too much time watching them when I was much younger. Then again, I did not know any better. I am sick of my mother talking about it.

Maybe there’s a good reason I’ve been watching Last Chance U, Bunk’d and Jessie over and over when I’m at home or in a hotel room, even though I’ve seen every episode multiple times. And I still have my complete series DVD sets of Monk, The OC and One Tree Hill, plus I can watch all 18 1/2 seasons of Law & Order: SVU on Hulu.

Thank God for streaming and DVDs. Or else I might have gone off the deep end.

Oh well something to talk about with Crista tomorrow. I hope for her sake her daughter hasn’t seen any of this ugliness. It’s not appropriate for children.

Happy birthday Caitlyn! I love you! 


A bit of everything on a February Saturday

I realized something yesterday when I was in Buffalo Wild Wings, something I had forgotten in my post on the opening of the college baseball season.

February 16 is a date which lives in LSU baseball infamy.

It was February 16, 2003 when LSU was swept in a doubleheader at home by….Kansas.

Yes, the same Kansas which is in Lawrence. The same Kansas which is considered a basketball blue-blood. The same Kansas which has a horrible football team right now.

The Jayhawks came to Baton Rouge for a three-game weekend series on the second weekend of the 2003 season. LSU was 4-0 and feeling pretty good about itself, but that good feeling was dampened by a 10-inning loss to Kansas in the series opener.

The second game of the series was rained out, so a doubleheader was scheduled for Sunday.

It was one of the most miserable days I have ever experienced at a sporting event.

It was cold, damp and windy. The old Alex Box Stadium did not have an enclosed press box, and the wind whistled through the “press area” like nobody’s business.

The twinbill started at 9:30 a.m., because the Jayhawks had to make their connecting flight from Baton Rouge to Dallas, and then to Kansas City. No new inning could start after 4 p.m. Yet for some reason, both games were scheduled as nine-inning contests, contrary to the policies of the Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences, which require seven-inning games during conference season when doubleheaders are necessary on Sunday.

That provision is why LSU and Kentucky asked the SEC to play a doubleheader Friday last year in Lexington when rain was forecast for Saturday. Paul Maineri and his Kentucky counterpart, Nick Migione, did not want to play two seven-inning games Sunday. The SEC said okay, and it all worked out.

Kansas ended up winning both games. The second game ended after seven innings due to the curfew. The Jayhawks became the first team to sweep a three-game series in Baton Rouge in three years, the first to sweep a doubleheader from LSU since 1991, and the first to sweep LSU in a doubleheader in Baton Rouge since 1988.

In 2010, Kansas returned to Baton Rouge and won two of three. However, the Bayou Bengals exacted revenge with a sweep in 2016.

Last night, LSU trailed Notre Dame 6-0 going into the bottom of the fifth. However, two home runs, a grand slam by Bryce Jordan and a three-run shot by Josh Smith, lifted the Bayou Bengals to a 7-6 victory.

I texted Bill that I hope every game is not like this. If not, cardiologists might have their hands full in Baton Rouge this baseball season.


Dawn’s going away soiree at Buffalo Wild Wings last night was fantastic. Had a great turnout, with Jeremy Smith, a former manager at two Buffalo Wild Wings in the area, Zona Rosa and Overland Park north, was there, as were Robb, Victoria, Mike Decker (LOWPOP) and Schylar Reed (SLYCKS). Kevin couldn’t make it because his mother underwent surgery in St. Joseph Thursday. Luckily she pulled through.

Dawn leaves next Saturday. Hopefully we do not lose contact like so many I’ve lost contact with over the years. The five I mentioned in the blog post of December 20 still hurt. So do a lot of my old chums from Arabi Park Middle, even though we communicate on Facebook. The only one I have seen since I left in 1989 is Toni LaRocca, and that was in 2000, when she was working at a Hooter’s in Metairie. She rocked the orange shorts.

Brenda LeBlanc is the one I’m really distressed over, at least among those I knew in Louisiana. She always got back to me in the past whenever I e-mailed her. Now, I haven’t heard from her in almost two years. If I go to Baton Rouge next month, I hope and pray I see her. Maybe I need to light a candle in a church or say the rosary.

I worry about Liz drifting away. She has trouble getting back to me. I don’t want to blame her, but it would be nice to hear from her more often.

Lisa is busy with a new home now and with Liam growing up. Hopefully she and Jeff will be adding to the family soon. Losing her would be tough, too.

I would be devastated if Peggy or Caitlyn exited my life for good. Those are the two I really couldn’t afford to lose.

Actually, it would be worse if I didn’t have Dr. Custer taking care of my health for the most part, Dr. Jones taking care of my vision, and Crista trying to keep me on the right path. All three could choose to be full-time mothers, and while it would hurt, I wouldn’t blame them. I think it’s easier for Dr. Custer since she has boys; the other two have girls, and the mother-daughter bond is usually very strong, as I’ve seen with Peggy and Caitlyn, Chelsea and Courtney.

Yes, I have male friends. Robb, Bill and Dan Borne would be the ones I would cry over losing. I’m not as close to Michael and Herb, but I would be upset if they cut me off, too.

Maybe I hold on to things too long. Then again, my memory can be a good thing.


I have never understood why restaurant customers in Kansas City order barbecue flavored wings.

Kansas City is home to some of the best barbecue in the world, according to many. I am not a big barbecue fan, but I have had some good stuff from Arthur Bryant’s, Gates and Jack Stack.

If there are so many good and authentic barbecue joints in Kansas City, then why the heck are people going to Buffalo Wild Wings and ordering honey barbecue? I’m dumbfounded. But it’s their decision.


Many states are holding their high school wrestling state championship tournaments this weekend. Missouri’s is at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Nebraska’s is at the Century Link Center in Omaha (across the street from TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series), and Louisiana’s is at the Century Link Center in Bossier City, across the Red River from Shreveport in the northwest corner of the state.

Don’t get me started on the debate on where to hold Louisiana’s state tournament. When I lived there, it was at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, at the northwest edge of Jefferson Parish. Most schools in Louisiana which wrestle are south of US Highway 190, but apparently Shreveport and Bossier City offered inducements to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to move the tournament north.

Brother Martin, my alma mater, is on its way to the state championship of Division I. There are three divisions for wrestling in Louisiana, one fewer than Kansas and Missouri.

My problem with Louisiana’s tournament is it is compressed into two days. Worse, in Division I, many wrestlers will have to win five bouts to claim a state championship. To ask them to do so in about 36 hours is too much.

Missouri and Nebraska hold three-day tournaments. Why can’t Louisiana?

Kansas’ state tournaments are at three sites next Friday and Saturday. Three sites is two too many.


So far, so good on my Lenten promise of not swearing. I just have to keep it up until the end of March, then hopefully continue after that.

Play ball, college style

Sorry, Peggy. I hope I don’t bore you with this post.

The 2018 NCAA Division I baseball season begins today. Nearly 300 teams open today with dreams of being one of the eight fortunate squads to make it to Omaha and the College World Series.

The reality is, only 20 to 30 teams can realistically expect to have a chance to be one of those eight, even though 64 teams make the tournament. Sure, anything can happen in baseball, and everything has happened, but more often than not, the elite will rise to the top and emerge champions.

There have been exceptions, most notably Fresno State, which won the CWS as a #4 (last) seed in a regional in 2008, and Coastal Carolina, which became the second school from South Carolina to win a national championship in 2016. That has to be a sore spot for Clemson, but I’m sure the national championship Dabo Swinney’s football team won six months later far overshadows any lack of success in Omaha.

Of course, my alma mater is one of the teams which ALWAYS believes it will be forming a dogpile on the mound in Omaha in late June. LSU came close to winning its seventh national championship in 2017, but it was swept in two games by SEC rival Florida in the championship series. Not only was it the first time LSU lost when making it to the final round, but it was Florida’s first championship in baseball. The Gators are one of the few schools with a “trifecta”, national championships in the three major men’s team sports of football, basketball and baseball. Michigan, Ohio State and UCLA are also members of this exclusive fraternity.

LSU, Arizona, Arkansas, Miami, Minnesota, Southern California, Stanford and Texas each have a hole in their championship resumes. For most, it is basketball, but for the Razorbacks, it’s baseball. The Wildcats have never come close in football, and the Cardinal (formerly Indians) have never won a recognized football championship, although the school claims two retroactive, minor mathematical formulas from years before World War II.

The Bayou Bengals open their 12th season under Paul Maineri in Baton Rouge against Maineri’s former employer, Notre Dame. LSU played in South Bend three years ago, but it was two midweek games in May, not a weekend series. Of course, playing in South Bend right now is next to impossible due to the harsh climate of the Rust Belt. Maineri enjoyed tremendous success with the Fighting Irish, taking them to the CWS in 2002 against incredible odds, since Notre Dame won a super regional at #1 Florida State. Notre Dame even won a game in Omaha that year, eliminating Rice, the team which shut out Smoke Laval’s Bayou Bengals in two super regional games at Houston. Laval was fired after a 2006 season which saw LSU go 35-24 and miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1988.

Maineri led LSU to the 2009 national championship, as the Bayou Bengals defeated Texas in the three-game championship series. LSU won its other five national championships (1991, ’93, ’96, ’97 and 2000) under a one-game championship format, one which was grossly unfair, especially if one team went through its bracket undefeated and lost the title game to a team which lost once in its bracket. LSU was a beneficiary of this in ’93, when the Tigers lost to Long Beach State in bracket play, beat the 49ers in a winner-take-all bracket final, then bested previously undefeated Wichita State for the title. In ’97, undefeated LSU beat once-beaten Alabama in the final, so it worked out. The other three times, LSU beat a fellow unbeaten in the final (Wichita State in ’91, Miami in ’96 and Stanford in 2000).

LSU is a mystery in 2018. The Bayou Bengals were hit hard by graduation and the Major League Baseball draft, and Maineri must find replacements at nearly every position. SEC coaches picked LSU fourth in the West division for the upcoming season, behind Arkansas, Texas A&M and Mississippi State. Florida is the favorite in the East and to win the overall title. LSU got a big break in the schedule, since it does not have to play the Gators nor Kentucky, which was picked second in the East. LSU also gets Arkansas and Mississippi State at home.

One month from today, I’m planning on being in Baton Rouge for LSU’s SEC opener vs. Missouri. I usually try to make one series a season. The easy choices are Missouri and Arkansas, since they are closest to Russell. Last year, I chose Kentucky because (a) I had never been to Lexington during my years at LSU; (b) I knew LSU would be going to Fayetteville in 2019, and I had been there three times before; and (c) Kentucky’s current baseball stadium would be replaced in 2019 by a fabulous new park, so I wanted to see the old place. I have NOT seen the current Alex Box Stadium, since I left Louisiana in 2005 and have been back to the Bayou State only once, and that was after baseball season ended in 2010.

My mentor and friend, Bill Franques (Fran-kez) begins his 30th season as public relations director (technically, communications director or sports information director) for the LSU baseball program. Since Bill turns 55 in July, it means he has spent more than half his life in one place, which is remarkable. For three years (July 1997-June 2000), he technically was a member of the baseball staff as administrative assistant, and then-coach Skip Bertman had him doing other things, like team travel and budgeting. Bill also handles the public address for home games and radio color commentary for road games, so the guy wears many hats around campus. Not only that, but he’s a devoted husband to Yvette Lemoine and doting father to boys William and Benjamin, and daughter Madeline.

Here is a very good article from The Advocate (Baton Rouge) about Bill:

Bill Franques doesn’t like to hear it, but three decades at LSU make him an institution

I have many, many stories about how I have angered Bill through the years, and I might share them in the time leading up to the trip to Louisiana. I’m convinced the man deserves sainthood for putting up with me the way he did. So do a lot of other people. At least two of them have the last name Cox. Two used to work at a particular Buffalo Wild Wings. And three ladies from Hays who have tried to keep me healthy, both physically and mentally, as well as making sure my vision doesn’t get any worse.

College baseball season barely registers in these parts. Wichita State is nowhere near as good as it was in the 1980s and 1990s, and Kansas and Kansas State have almost always occupied the cellar of the Big Eight/Big 12. Missouri had its moments in the 1950s, but it is overmatched in the SEC. The only baseball that matters in this part of the world is happening in Surprise, Arizona, where the Royals are holding spring training.

Florida attorney general Pam Bondi said the state will seek the death penalty against Wednesday’s school shooter. Hopefully it doesn’t take 10 years to execute him if he pleads guilty or is convicted by a jury. I say 10 years because that’s how long it took for Ted Bundy to be put to death after his first conviction for the murders of two Florida State sorority sisters.

Speaking of Florida, tonight may be the last time I see Dawn. She’s moving to Florida next week. I’m afraid she’ll go the way of Brenda LeBlanc and many others I knew in Louisiana. Also, the Daytona 500 is Sunday. Not that I’ll watch much, if any, of the so-called Great American Race.

Humanity run amok

More details continue to emerge from the tragic school shooting in Broward County, Florida. And so does the rhetoric on both sides from people who want to blame the “gun culture” of the United States and others who want to blame the mental health industry and say the shooter was mentally unstable.

I’m not wading into that pool. I know many people on both sides of the debate. Robb has posted plenty on Facebook in the last 24 hours from the left-wing point of view. I’m not responding. I’ll let him rant.

The same goes for a lot of people on the right. It’s not worth it. I thought about listening to the talking heads as I drove to Kansas City today, but I instead opted for sports talk.

The main topic on WHB was Kansas State basketball, since the Wildcats won 82-72 at Oklahoma State last night. The host, Soren Petro, made the case that if K-State can finish 11-7 or 12-6 in the Big 12, some fans who have called for Bruce Weber’s firing will begin to embrace him.

Mikaela Shiffrin, the American skier, won gold in the giant slalom last night (Thursday in South Korea), and when the news shows are not discussing the school shooting, they’re discussing Shiffrin and whatever else is going on in Pyeongchang. The Olympics are on one of the big screens at Buffalo Wild Wings, but I’m not really watching. I’ll look up from time to time, but I’m in my own zone with trivia and blogging.

Back to the school shooting. It is hard to fathom people are that deranged they want to end the lives of others. These people may be human beings, but the elephants I saw at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans have more common sense and humanity than people like the school shooter in Florida, the one at Virginia Tech, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from Columbine, and Ted Bundy.

As bad as the killer in south Florida is, he pales in comparison to Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the September 11 hijackings; their supreme leader, Osama bin Laden; and of course, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and the three leaders of North Korea.

I’m glad I don’t have children. I would not want them growing up in such a dangerous world, one where people who don’t get their way will take it out on others, simply because they are miserable sacks of fecal matter who can’t stand someone else’s success.

I worry about my nephew, Lucas, who turns two in March, nor for Peggy’s grandchildren, Finley and Seth. I don’t have much hope for humanity. I hope it gets better. The old saying goes you want the younger generation to have it better than you? Well, that’s not going to be the case if things don’t change.

Sunshine State Sicko

A sick living organism walked into a high school in south Florida today and killed 17 people and wounded many others using an AR-15 rifle. The vermin pulled the fire alarm to force students into the hallway so he could acquire more targets.

The school is in northern Broward County, a little more than 26 miles (42 kilomteres) southwest of where Dawn is moving to. I’m sure this made her shudder.

The walking piece of fecal matter was caputred alive, unlike Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the lowlife scum who perpetrated the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999. Harris and Klebold were yellow-bellied cowards who didn’t want to face justice, so they shot themselves after ruthlessly executing Rachel Scott, Cassie Bernall, Dave Sanders and 10 others, while wounding dozens more and leaving many survivors with permanent damage.

I’m not getting into the gun control debate. I know it won’t change anybody’s mind one way or the other.

Of course, the entertainment industry is all over social media begging for gun cotnrol, while those on the other side like Laura Ingraham, Dana Loesch, Tomi Lahren and the man occupying the White House are all calling this the work of a sick mind, and that gun control would have not stopped him.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said it best when he tweeted that this is not the time or place for politics. The thoughts and prayers should be with the victims of this horrific crime.

It has been said the shooter had exhibited warning signs on social media that he would do something drastic. That’s where the big difference with Columbine lies. If there were Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites in 1999, would Harris and Klebold have been brazen enough to broadcast their intentions? And if so, would authorities in Littleton been able to prevent it? We’ll never know.

I hope Harris and Klebold are rotting in hell, along with the Virginia Tech shooter, the Sandy Hook shooter, Charles Whitman from the Unvieristy of Texas Memorial Tower shooting in 1966, Charles Manson, Susan Atkins (who acutally killed Sharon Tate), Ted Bundy, and the pride of Emporia, Mark James Robert Esssex, the infamous New Orleans sniper.

Speaking of New Orleans, there were two shootings along the parade route Tuesday. One person died, and two others were wounded. Maybe it is time for the major krewes–Rex, Zulu, Endymion, Bacchus, Orpheus, Proteus–to threaten to pull their parades off the street unless things are done to tighten security for the people who attend the spectacle. That might sound like giving in to the criminals, but it has to stop.

How can some human beings be so evil? I wanted to use some really bad language, but I promised Peggy and many others I would not, starting today and hopefully continuing for the rest of time.

The vast majority of humanity chooses good over evil. Sadly, the fecal matter that chooses evil gets all the attention.

Mardi Gras: why did I bother?

It’s just another Tuesday in most of the United States. Most high school basketball teams in Kansas are in action tonight, although Russell High is not one of them. Norton is back on the court tonight vs. Hoxie, and I’m making the 120-mile trek to see Peggy. It means a late night, but I don’t have much work to get done tomorrow morning, so it won’t really put me behind.

In south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast all the way to the Florida panhandle, it is Mardi Gras, the day where people dress in silly costumes and celebrate the last day before Lent, the 40-day period where Christians are supposed to repent for their sins and make sacrifices. It also means no meat tomorrow, nor for the next eight Fridays. It used to be Catholics had to abastain from meat EVERY Friday, but starting in 1967, meat was supposedly okay on most Fridays, especially in the United States and Canada. Some more traditionalist countries still require abstience from meat every Friday, including Ireland and Great Britain.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is two big attractions in the same city.

One is the French Quarter, where hundreds of thousands of strangers from across the world rub elbows–and many more body parts–getting drunk and having a good time. Pretty much anything goes in the Quater during Carnvial, except complete nudity, sexual acts, and violent crime. The police know they’re not going to get anywhere by arresting every woman who flashes her bare breasts, becuase they would make enough arrests to fill every jail in Louisiana, not just New Orleans. I have never understood why women would show their breasts for plastic beads which cost four cents per pair at the Mardi Gras supply store.

The other main attraction are the parades, where the laws apply and are strictly enforce. Don’t try flashing on St. Charles Avenue; if you do, you’ll have free accomodations in the New Orleans lockup. Parades are supposed to be family friendly, with ornate floats decorated around a central theme, marching bands and other groups which are common sights to those who have been to the pagents more than a few times.

I went to many parades during my formative years. Now that I’ve been gone from Louisiana for 12 1/2 years, I look back and wonder what the fuss was all about.

There used to be several parades in St. Bernard Parish (county), the suburban area east of New Orleans where I grew up. I marched in a few of those parades when I was with the Arabi Park Middle School band in the sixth and seventh grades. The worst was marching in one on a Tuesday night, not getting home until after midnight, then having to go to school in the morning. There were also a couple of parades where the temperatures were below freezing, and that was pure misery. In warmer weather, the band uniforms were tortuously hot. I’m glad I got out of marching band in high school, because I would have hated to have to sit in the bleachers at football games in those hot things.

My parents, brother and I used to go to all of the parades in St. Bernard. There was a parade on Mardi Gras, the Krewe of Arabi, named after the westernmost community in the parish, the one where I grew up. Every Fat Tuesday, the four of us would park in an open lot at the corner of Judge Perez Drive and Rowley Boulevard, and we could wait in the car until the parade passed by. When the parade was ready to come by, we walked to the median (called the neutral ground in New Orleans0 and watched the floats and bands passed. We always ate Popeye’s fried chicken, fitting since the first Popeye’s opened in 1972 at the corner of Judge Perez and Rowley.

The last Krewe of Arabi parade was in 1987. In 1988, we started going to the Krewe of Argus parade in Metairie, the largest community in Jefferson Parish, west of the city. Finally, in 1991, we went to the big kahuna, the Krewe of Rex, who is known in the city as the King of Carnival.

My parents were not keen on us going to parades in New Orleans proper. There was much crime on the parade routes, especially at night, and they had seen it first hand in their early days of marriage. We went to Mid-City from 1986 through ’91, but that was a daytime parade in an area of the city which was nowhere near as dangerous as some areas of St. Charles.

We went to the Krewe of Ednymion, one of the so-called “Super Krewes”, for three years in the early 1990s. The first two years, we stood on Canal Street in the same place we held for Mid-City, then shifted to Orleans Avenue near the start of the parade in 1992. In 1993, my dad and I alone went to Poydras and St. Charles to see Endymion, but we left before the first float arrived.

In 1994, Endymion was the first parade I went to alone. I saw a few of my adult friends at a tavern near the start of the parade route, and that is where I had my first taste of alchol, not counting communion wine.

Ray Maher had the bartender at the Parkway Tavern slip bourbon into my Coca-Cola. I tasted something funny right away, and I immediately washed it out. Ray and the older guys hooted and hollered about that one and reminded me of it for the next 11 years. I am grinning about it right now, but 24 years ago, it had me a little concerned.

Ray and several of my adult friends in New Orleans are members of the Krewe of Thoth, which has the longest route of any Mardi Gras parade.

Thoth starts much farther west than most parades that roll along St. Charles Avenue. It starts at the corner of Tchoupitoulas (CHOP-i-TOO-las) and State Streets by the Missisippi River and goes north on Henry Clay to Magazine, and then to Napoleon, where it follows the route taken by Bacchus and most other Uptown parades (not Rex, which starts at the corner of South Claiborne and Napoleon to head south towards St. Charles). The Thoth route takes in numerous hostpitals for people with special needs, and Children’s Hospital, one of the nation’s elite pediatric faciltiies.

I atteneded Thoth in ’92 and ’93 with my dad, then ’94 alone. The good thing about Thoth’s starting potnt was there was plenty of parking at the Audubon Zoo, which was not that far of a walk to Henry Clay Avenue. In those days, the parade started at the corner of Henry Clay and Magazine and headed south towards Tchoupitoulas, so I would go down Henry Clay and see eveyrone I knew before the parade started.

Every time I was at Thoth, I was bombarded with beads, doubloons and cups. There was a scramble among other parade goers for the trinkets. Looking back, I should have let them have most of it.

The 1994 Thoth parade is the last one I ever attended. Two days later, Mardi Gras came and went with me sitting at home. By Mardi Gras 1995, my life was in total turmoil, and I was seriously considering the end. I had a terrible go of it at LSU that year, and I wondered if life was worth living. However, most of it was self-inflicted.

If I ever returned to New Orleans, Thoth would be the ONLY parade I would consider attending. And even then, it would be only 50/50.

Bacchus and Endymion, the parades which feature celebrity guests, are too big for my taste. I can only remmeber John Goodman and Chicago appearing in Endymion one year. I can’t tell you who was there in the other years. This year, Rod Stewart rode in Endymion with former Saints player Steve Gleason and current player Alvin Kamara. J.K. Simmons was King of Bacchus.

Sorry, I don’t need to see celebrities in person to feel my life has meaning. I got my fill in July 1992 when I happened to see Bill Clinton and Al Gore jogging in downtown St. Louis during their campaign.

During the rest of my years in Louisiana, I often had sporting events to keep my mind away from Mardi Gras, whether it be LSU baseball games or high school events. When Mardi Gras fell late in the calendar (late February or early March), it happened to be on a day when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association scheduled basketball playoff games. The LHSAA would grant south Louisiana schools the option to play the game Monday or Wednesday of that week, but in north Louisiana, the games went on as scheduled, and many south Louisiana schools had to give up Mardi Gras to drive four to five hours for a game, then make the long return trip. Fortunately, the players and coaches could sleep in because there was no school on Ash Wednesday.

Sadly, the Mistick Krewe of Comus, traditionally the last parade of Mardi Gras, has not held a parade since 1991, due to a boneheaded ordinance by the late Dorothy Mae Taylor, who insisted all krewes must prove to the city that they do not discriminate based upon race or religious orientation.

Comus and two-other old-line krewes, Momus and Proteus, quit parading, although Proteus returned in 2000 after a seven-year hiatus.

Most of Comus’ members–all male, all white, all Protestant–are also members of the Pickwick Club, one of the world’s most exclusive private clubs. How exclusive? Drew Brees can’t get in after winning a Super Bowl, simply because he’s a native of Texas. Warren Buffett? Nope. Bill Gates? Nope. Donald Trump? Nada.

Rex’s members are members of the secretive Boston Club. Until the ordinance, Rex was also all WASP, but now the krewe admits blacks, Catholics and Jewish men. The original ordinance would have forced krewes who wanted to parade to be coed, but that was removed to allow the all-male and all-female krewes, which are most, to parade as long as their racial barriers came down.

Not that I care. I wouldn’t want to waste my time and money with it anyway.

Zulu has been rolling for over two hours now, and Rex for over an hour. Yippee. It’s just another day for me.