Friday, August 31, 2012

Backtime Memo-Random: Atlanta 1996 (Part II)

There are moments of serendipity in life. Like Turner Sports scheduling their 1996-1997 NBA production seminar at CNN Center the same week that the Yankees (in their first World Series in 15 years) faced the Bravos in the Fall Classic. It was also the swan song for Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

So I was flown down to the 404 and put up at a hotel on Turner's dime. A buddy at Fox got me face value tickets to Games 3 & 4, and a high school buddy was living in Atlanta at the time. So everything fell into place. It didn't matter that the Yanks were down 2-0 and had looked highly overmatched, I was watching my team in the World Series.

October 22-23, 1996

The Braves were the defending World Series champs. I knew this well because they were selling T-shirts outside the stadium that said "Been there, Done that." I also had worked the '95 NLCS when the Braves swept the Reds and now saw their fans as highly over-confident.

I arrived at my Fox-issued seats, and found we were sitting next to Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Glanville. He was a good guy and there are pictures, but it was before the age of digital images so they're buried on paper somewhere.

Game 3 was about survival and David Cone was all grit, fighting his own control and giving up just 1 run through 6 innings. Bernie Williams' 2-run bomb off Greg McMichael in the 8th pretty much sealed it.

Game 4 is obviously one of the great games in World Series history. You all know the story: The Yanks were down 6-0 and cut the lead in half. Mark Wohlers hung a slider to Jim Leyritz who tied it with a smash that keeps flying to this day. Then in the 10th, Steve Avery walked Wade Boggs with the bases loaded. I know exactly what happened because it was documented properly as a personally-attended World Series game should be.

Game 5 was the last ever game at the old ballpark, but I was already in East Lansing by then and I watched the epic at a Buffalo Wild Wings. On a field that featured such crafty throwers as Phil Niekro and Steve Bartkowski, Andy Pettitte out-gunned John Smoltz in one of the great pitchers' duels of all-time.

Game 6 was Saturday night. I delayed my flight out after the Wisconsin/Michigan State game until Sunday. I wanted to make sure I watched the game and not just the celebration. I sat in the same seat at the bar at the wing joint and celebrated alone. The next day was Daylight Savings Time ("fall back") and I still missed my flight. I didn't feel like a world champion.

December 28-31, 1996

I drew the Georgia Dome double, the 4th different Atlanta venue I worked at in 1996 (5th if you count CNN Center). Peach Bowl on the 28th, Heritage Bowl on the 31st. I was a hungry and energetic associate producer at the time, and both of those adjectives would be tested by the end of this particular trip.

Since I was a young and desperate underling, I took a producing gig on my day off in between games - a college hoop game in Louisville. It was my 3rd ever producer assignment and there was no flight from Atlanta to Louisville that would have allowed me to make my Sunday early-morning call time.

So immediately after LSU (led by Kevin Faulk) beat Clemson 10-7, and Tiger Rag running on an endless loop in my head, I beat the crowd of 63,000+ to my car and launched the 6-hour drive to Louisville.

But it didn't take 6 hours. There was a stretch where the interstate was closed, so I stopped in a Waffle House (way) outside Nashville at 3 AM, and it was like the Star Wars bar scene: A smoke-filled grease pit complete with off-duty strippers, a biker gang, and a waitress with a goatee.

I made it out alive, got to the hotel, slept 3 hours, printed out my paperwork, and produced a Louisville-Boston College Double-OT thriller. That barely gave me time to make a flight back to Atlanta, and certainly didn't give me any time to eat.

I was exhausted and starved, but I needed to hunker down and dig into some research. I grabbed a chicken sandwich from Wendy's and retreated to my hotel. A couple of hours later I was jarred from a nap, and bolted to the bathroom.

My first ever bout with food poisoning had me largely incapacitated for the next 12-18 hours. I didn't go back to Waffle House or Wendy's for several years.

I was useless during the set day, and was even ripped repeatedly by my producer for working on my off day, and not focusing on our show. I couldn't even hold down toast much less fight back. "Quit ridin' me asshole!" was the best retort I could deliver, a surrender flag which I suppose could have gotten me fired. There is one friend of mine in the business who delivers the line back to me every time we reconnect.

On gameday I was marginally better, and performed well on the show. It was another thriller. The Howard Bison edged the Southern Jaguars 27-24 in the then-annual MEAC/SWAC showcase.

Most importantly it was a Noon game on New Year's Eve, and I was able to fly back home to NYC in time for a girlfriend and a party. Atlanta, and 1996 itself, was in the rearview mirror.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Backtime Memo-Random: Atlanta 1996 (Part I)

Some wonder what's the point in keeping a daily weblog "blog." I never really had an answer. Every would-be response sounds self-absorbed like my opinions mean something. Many of the "hits" come from pictures that I post that are received and/or routed through Google images - they don't really read my commentary on "all things," which is my mission.

On the other hand, what's been accomplished on this site in the last 47 days has been the seeds of my memoirs in the television business. I don't know if a collection of my anecdotes would make a good book and I certainly don't know if anyone would read. But the stories resonate for the few, and are now easily accessible to me on the World Wide Web.

Since the Backtime reboot, I've unearthed experiences from my own mind with memories triggered by various people and places, and now: Atlanta 1996.

May 13, 1996

Orlando led Atlanta 3-games-to-0 in the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. So we were going through the motions and we thought the Hawks would as well. The Atlanta-based Turner Sports crew I was working with all had thrown in the towel on their hometown team.

But Smitty and Mookie (one of my favorite backcourts ever) weren't done. 

Steve Smith hit 7 3's and filled it up for 35, inspiring decibel levels that were rarely reached in the old Omni. The series continued. We all had to board a plane to Orlando. And freelancers like me got paid for an extra game. 

August 1, 1996

It was a hot and nasty month to spend in Atlanta at the Georgia State Fair Olympics. Most of the time was spent at horrible Georgia State dorm Carter Hall, that was converted into a crew hotel with third-world amenities. Or it was in the catacombs under Atlanta Olympic Stadium, now Turner Field, slaving away at a graphics desk on the world feed of track & field, for a Finnish producer/director that I could barely understand.

There were a few nights to let off some steam, but each day was grinding misery. Until the action on the track took on a life of its own. 

In our graphics cave, we were chugging constantly. Individual and heat lineups, results boards, schedule of events - what's next up? But don't miss any jumpers, throwers, or medal ceremonies. Was it the preliminary or the semifinals of the women's 400 intermediate hurdles? Was the bulky Romanian on his 2nd or 3rd hammer throw? We were always chasing our tail and my mind was soup. 

Until that transcendent moment. The 200M Finals. Michael Johnson had already won the 400M and was shooting for the unprecedented double. He came out in his gold shoes, stretching and bouncing around. 

And then everything stopped. There were no high jumps or shot puts. The 200M Finalist lineup was on the screen and the individual IDs were locked and loaded. All we had to do was watch history. 

My graphics operator read my mind and simply said, "Go." I sprinted. Not quite as fast as Michael Johnson, but around a couple of bends, up a ramp, and to the corner of the stadium infield just in time for the gun to go off. Johnson made the turn right in front of me. And I saw history.

Michael Johnson shattered the world record. It was one of the great athletic moments in human history, and I saw it with my own eyes. It made the last few days of the Olympics a little more palatable. 

That and the check I received at the end. Thank you very much - first month, last month, security deposit on an Upper West Side bachelor pad. But the Atlanta experiences of 1996 wasn't done. They got even better. Part II tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Atlanta: Destination vs Weigh Station

I don't believe there's an official quotation, but the old phrase goes something like this: "Whether your final destination is heaven or hell, you have to connect through Atlanta."

And that is often my view. As a Savannah-based business traveler, I find myself going through Atlanta much more than going to Atlanta.

I often have 3 minutes to shuttle 3 terminals over, just to find my connecting flight's been delayed 3 hours. Not that it's the end of the world, there are plenty of things to do (eat) in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport. And plenty of places to kill the time with a drink (or four).

But this trip I actually have 3 days in the ATL. It's work of course so I won't be out too much in Buckhead or Virginia-Highland or whatever is fresh since I last set up camp here in 1996 (a lot more on that tomorrow). I don't know if the places I used to frequent even exist anymore. But it's nice for a city guy to look out a 15th floor downtown window sometimes.

And I flew: one segment here, one segment home. What a novel concept. Yes, driving with the satellite radio is nice and you have more flexibility with your departure and arrival times, but impossible to do any reading - homework or otherwise.

So I look forward to actually having more than a night here. And maybe somewhere between the hotel and the Georgia Dome, I might just carve out some time to party like it's 1996.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Attempted Murder of Satire: David Brooks

What I saw today streaming virally was the equivalent of seeing this.
We bicker about 30-second negative adds which are misleading at best, whether it be a SuperPac slamming Bain Capital or Romney torching Obama on welfare. But all the "experts" seem to agree that the spots work - they appeal to the visceral biases of the American voter - the lowest common denominator. Joe Sixpack doesn't get sarcasm.

Which is why today's David Brooks opinion column The Real Romney makes no sense. Not that it wasn't somewhat clever, but what was the point and who is it reaching? New York Times Republicans?

Here are some snippets:

Mitt Romney was born on March 12, 1947, in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Virginia and several other swing states.

He was given the name Mitt, after the Roman god of mutual funds, and launched into the world with the lofty expectation that he would someday become the Arrow shirt man.

The Romneys had a special family tradition. The most cherished member got to spend road trips on the roof of the car. 

Romney also went on a mission to France. He spent two years knocking on doors, failing to win a single convert. This was a feat he would replicate during his 2008 presidential bid.

After Harvard, he took his jawline to Bain Consulting, a firm with very smart people with excessive personal hygiene. While at Bain, he helped rescue many outstanding companies, like Pan Am, Eastern Airlines, Atari and DeLorean.

After a successful stint at Bain, Romney was lured away to run the Winter Olympics, the second most Caucasian institution on earth, after the G.O.P.

OK David Brooks. You aren't as pragmatic as your righty colleague Ross Douthat or as incendiary as your lefty counterpart Maureen Dowd. So I see your point in writing establish some internet street cred.

But I'm not sure what to call it. If Bill Maher spoke or Matt Taibbi wrote those words, nobody would bat an eyelash. But since you're who you are, a conservative columnist at The New York Times, it's so rogue.

There are other places to take that kind There's the blogosphere, which you are eminently qualified for (this site for example). Or there's another publication where the editor could teach you about satire.

Or maybe the part you really wanted us to read was in your final paragraph:

At the convention, where his Secret Service nickname is Mannequin, Romney will talk about his real-life record: successful business leader, superb family man, effective governor, devoted community leader and prudent decision-maker.

But we've got a weeklong pageant from the national media for that. Which will be all but forgotten  by the end of next week.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pat Standing Strong

It was great to see that Pat Summitt gave the pre-race invocation at the NASCAR/Nationwide Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway this past weekend.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!" (The "ladies" reference was to female drivers Danica Patrick and Johanna Long)

College basketball's all-time win leader (1,098) stepped down this season after 38 years coaching the Lady Vols. At age 60, she's been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.

So for the first time in decades she doesn't have her thumbprint all over Tennessee basketball. Now she promotes awareness and education of early onset dementia and Alzheimer's through The Pat Summitt Foundation. The supporting slogan is "We Back Pat."

And for the Nationwide Series race, 2011 Daytona winner and Knoxville native Trevor Bayne rocked the orange "We Back Pat" ride. Bayne finished 16th and the race was won by Joey Logano.

While Summitt has struggles with her memory, it reinforces us to value our own. And one of the greatest memories in my career in television directly involves Pat Summitt. It wasn't the 1997 or 1998 Tennessee NCAA Championships that I covered, or the hospitality we always received on each trip to Thompson-Boling Arena.

In 1999, Pat Summitt was the analyst for ESPN's WNBA coverage. That year we had our final broadcast on August 24th (I had to look that part up). As it was our last show, our "wrap" for the season, we had the wrap party in my Houston hotel room. Nothing special - a couple of cases of Coors Light on ice in the tub.

The moment still gives me chills - Pat Summitt reaching into my bathtub with both hands, pulling out a couple of silver bullets and shouting, "Anyone need one?"

Start your engines, indeed.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Broken Man

We know why the show is called Breaking Bad. It goes back to the very first episode when cancer-afflicted, unfulfilled middle-aged high school science teacher Walter White decides to get into the meth business.

His former student, Jesse Pinkman, becomes a partner in the scheme but fails to understand, "Some straight guy like you, giant stick up his ass, age what - 60? He's just gonna break bad?"

Walt first retorts that he's only 50. He then says, "I am awake."

So we don't know the old Walt (except for a handful of flashbacks), but the current Walt is not only beyond repair, he is beyond belief.

Is it that the character is broken, or have the show's creators made him that way? It's an important distinction. If Walt's behavior is unbelievable to the show's fanatic audience, then maybe the show has jumped the shark.


In Season 5 Episode 6, "Buyout," it all comes the closest to full circle that the show has ever been. It's done through talk - which I don't like, but it's done with Jesse in Walt's living room of all places where his wife could walk in at any moment - which she eventually does.

The scene where Walt pulls a James Bond/MacGyver to escape handcuffed detainment is more believable than the scene where he reaches into his darkened soul to tell Jesse his reasoning behind the refusal of a $5 Million buyout.

It doesn't explain why Walt has decided to live at home while Skyler won't allow the kids to live in the same house, rather than living in the place he had originally moved out to and already owns. Except that we are expected to believe that he is stubbornly going to turn her.

And the same logic applies to Walt's dogged determination to press Jesse and Mike to continue their operation, rather than simply sell out for millions each.

As much as we love the series, we are begging Walt to be sensible. But he's just as obstinate with us.

Jesse references their conversation from the Season 2 premiere "Seven Thirty Seven," when Walt had figured out the math that $737K was all the money he needed, before the cancer killed him, to set up his family.

Jesse asks Walt if they're in the meth business or the money business. Walt seethes that he's in the "empire business." Jesse asks if that's really something to be proud of.

Walt rants about the one time he sold out in his past, trading in his stake in "Gray Matter" for a few months rent, while his partners Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz built a multi-billion dollar business.

So in just a year's time (theoretically), Walt's motivation changed from his family's security to being king. It's an unrealistic transformation. Unless Walt had already broken bad, and the misery inside him was just looking for an excuse to express itself.

That's if the writers can make us believe that the sympathetic anti-hero we've been rooting for is actually, truly evil.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Can This Teenager Save Penn State Football?

ESPN Recruiting lists Fork Union Military Academy's Christian Hackenberg as the #1 senior QB prospect in the nation.

Hackenberg gave his verbal commitment to Penn State and new coach Bill O'Brien on February 29, long after the events of November had shaken the nation's consciousness.

Then on the heels of July's Freeh Report, the NCAA handed down crippling sanctions against Penn State that included a postseason ban and a crippling reduction in scholarships. Hackenberg didn't waver:

"At the end of the day, if there's football at Penn State, I'm going to be there."

He's saying all the right things, and he appears to be the guy to back it up. His family comes from Pennsylvania, though his father Erick wasn't good enough to realize his dream and play for Paterno, so he walked on as a backup QB at Virginia and transferred to lower level Susquehanna (PA) so he could start as a senior.

Hackenberg is enrolled at one of the top military prep schools in the nation, and has a solid family structure behind his decision. There won't be any middlemen brokering him into D1 football.

On the other hand, if Penn State can't put quality personnel on the field with him against Big Ten competition, that would retard his progress to get to the pros. If his receivers can't get open and his O-Line is undersized and can't protect him, then the integrity he showed in riding the storm out would only be a detriment to his future - and his health.

The thing to remember is that no commitment is official until National Signing Day - February 6, 2013. Hackenberg has plenty of time to weigh the options.

If being the QB to lead Penn State out of the wilderness, and learning the offense of a man who mentored Tom Brady is the ultimate goal - is it going to be worth the sacrifice?

Hackenberg and Fork Union Military (VA) begin their season this afternoon vs Hermitage (VA) in Chesapeake, Virginia at 3 PM.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Backtime Memo-Random: Norfolk

I can't remember to take my cell phone with me when I leave the house, or to actually turn the washing machine on after loading it with clothes and detergent. But I remember where I was on a random spring weekend 18 years ago.

When I last landed in the Norfolk International Airport, it was rinky-dink. It's exponentially larger now with the personnel needs of the massive Naval Station Norfolk to be met.

Anyway, it was April 8 1994, and I arrived in Norfolk for the Championship game of the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (the P.I.T.), an annual college basketball postseason all-star game.

But my concentration was shaken when I woke up the next morning with bad news on the doorstep - Kurt Cobain's death three time zones away was on the front page of the Norfolk, Virginia local paper. It was the 1990s version of the day the music died.

It was a pretty ordinary assignment, except it was more of a showcase for all the NBA scouts than an actual game. What lifted the broadcast was the unconscious shooting of Kansas State's Askia Jones. I know the tape exists somewhere, but the game story is a little hard to find.

Jones' performance was a little hard to put into words anyway. He won the championship game practically by himself with 30 points on 8-of-8 3's to follow up a recent 62-point performance against Fresno State in an NIT Quarterfinal.

The NBA people were there, they saw it, they had to take notice. He was as hot coming into the draft as you could get. Yet Jones went undrafted and had just a cup of coffee, 11 games, in the league.

Was it all just a dream? As Kurt Cobain might say, Nevermind.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dad Men

The American family dynamic is in a constant state of flux. The headline of a recent New York Times Sunday section was, "Dads Are Taking Over As Full-Time Parents."

It casts the present-day family against the backdrop of the recession where more men are out of more traditional "male" jobs, and women are more likely to garner a breadwinning type of salary than they were a generation ago. Alex Williams' piece goes on to say this isn't a Leave It To Beaver country anymore:
"In 2011, only 16 percent of American households contained a breadwinner husband and a stay-at-home wife, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Indeed, a modern version of the show might feature June pulling in six figures as a management consultant, while Ward works out of a home office as a Web designer, carving out time between freelance projects to shuttle the Beaver to the skate park."
Freelance projects? I can relate. Though my situation is far from the new traditional. It's a little more...umm...complicated. 

But the result is much the same. Do the math with me:

Take a standard full-time job. 52 weeks times 5 workdays a week. That's 260 days. Strike vacation, holidays, sick days, personal days, etc. and you're probably down to 230-240 if you're lucky.

I work more like 100-120 days a year, but the catch is they're almost all on the road. Yes, there's the occasional day trip to Atlanta, Columbia, or Gainesville, but those are more like a one-off. I am physically unable to be in the same place as my kids on work days.

But the trade-off is all the extra time and attention that is able to be provided when I am home. There's availability with school events, shuttling to-and-from afternoon activities, lots of hang-out time, entire summers, and even the opportunity to coach soccer. And much of my actual professional work is on weekends, when their Mom is off.

It is possible to straddle both worlds though there's always going to be some sacrifice on each end. And the children unfortunately have to do a lot of adjusting as well. But the older and more mature they get, they hopefully realize the plusses outweigh the minuses.

But a Dad can have a great career, be a (mostly) full-time parent, and still have a semblance of a social life. It's difficult to manage, but it's better than droning away at a 9-to-5 job and missing so much of the good stuff. Or maybe it isn't - I wouldn't know.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paper Backtime: Raylan

Finally. It only took 6 weeks. Not that Raylan didn't move, it could've been polished off in 2 days. But getting your book ingestion done isn't about what you read as much as where you read. I haven't been in a school car pick-up lane or in the upright-and-locked position on a plane awaiting takeoff in months.

So while I've been consumed with family activities and feeding this site with dime store opinions, I inched through the latest Elmore Leonard novel - a sturdy companion to the great TV series Justified.

The book is kind of like a TV series in itself, a collection of situations in which our favorite Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens finds himself. There is no over-arching master-criminal like a Mags Bennett or a Robert Quarles on which a given season of the TV series hinges upon.

And the satellite characters aren't really developed, by design. Ava and Winona make brief appearances, and there's backstory, but they don't figure into any of the storylines. Boyd Crowder has a role, but it's more as mining company exec lady's right-hand man, than as Raylan's best "frenemy."

Raylan's conversations with his boss Art Mullen are still priceless.

The characters that are best-drawn are the series of criminals and fugitives that are all clever enough to have some success, but stupid enough to try to get around or through Raylan:

Dickie and Coover Crowe (Bennetts in the TV series), brain-dead sons of Pervis Crowe (the Mags Bennett-type) and bumbling pot dealers.

Layla, the cold-blooded OR nurse that cuts out kidneys in hotel bathtubs and sells them back to the victims as parts.

Delroy, the strip club owner who gets his girls pumped up on oxy to rob banks.

Elmore Leonard is an equal opportunity portrayer of bad guys. Man, woman, rich, poor, white, black, or other - they all fit in Harlan County, Kentucky. And the writer's top-notch dialogue makes them all engaging enough.

Raylan is just as quick-triggered as we know and love, putting down criminals or blasting the hat off some thug muscle just to make a point. And as far as the borderline women go who tempt Raylan, he stays all-business. Strike that, rather primarily business.

There's Jackie Nevada, the 23-year old college poker phenom who skips on the cops after she loses 20 Grand at a raided card game before she winds up on Raylan's radar, makes all her money back and a whole lot more, and gets Raylan to...


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hard Knocks Working Hard To Top Itself

After a one year lockout-forced hiatus, the best reality series in the history of television has returned in a big way. Let's face it, while most reality shows offer some level of staging, an NFL camp is hyper-reality.

I remember the first season of Hard Knocks when the defending SuperBowl champion Baltimore Ravens were featured, and Brian Billick taking the call in his kitchen that the team's leading rusher Jamal Lewis was out for the season.

In 2010, we witnessed ground-breaking TV when Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum gave QB Kellen Clemens the option to accept a demotion and a pay cut, or accept his release. The very last scene of the 2010 season had All-NFL cornerback Darrelle Revis striding back to camp after ending his holdout, calling his teammates in for a 1-2-3-Jets!

In 2012, Hard Knocks visits South Florida, and mashes the glitz and babes of Miami with the sweltering heat of summer into the best opening title sequence yet.

This year HBO and the Dolphins seemed to have no designs toward additional drama, until we saw Dolphins coach Joe Philbin's sit-down with troubled receiver Chad Johnson.

It was the day following Johnson's arrest on a domestic dispute, and the moment was so real it made me  feel uneasy to be in that room. Johnson was as we had never seen him. He wasn't the usual self-promotinal blowhard with 3.7 Million Twitter followers. He was contrite and humiliated after the worst day of his life.

And Philbin handled it professionally and gracefully. As a man who lost a son this year, he showed all the human qualities of a leader. You could see it was hard for him to say the words "part ways." But the Miami Dolphins weren't going to be on board with the drama. The cameras followed as a silent and tattered Johnson was escorted from the facility. Now that's reality.

Now what else could be bigger on a training camp reality show than that? How about a real-life quarterback competition? Check.

The 3-way battle is between last year's starter Matt Moore, veteran David Garrard, and rookie 1st Round pick Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill is obviously the future, but he could be the present as well.

I thought it was strange after Tannehill rocketed up the charts before the draft, that the commentators thought he still needed to be groomed into an NFL starting QB. Here was a guy who was smart enough while at Texas A&M to:

1) Play wide receiver at a high-level for 3 years after not winning the QB job.

2) Move right into the QB spot in the middle of his junior year.

3) Graduate with honors in molecular biology.

4) Marry Lauren Tannehill.

OK, so part four isn't really part of the equation for being the starter. But having your college head coach, Mike Sherman, as your NFL offensive coordinator is. Especially when your NFL head coach Joe Philbin, was hired by Sherman for his first NFL assistant job with the Green Bay Packers.

As a lifelong Jets fan, I have hated the Dolphins. But for the next few weeks I am devoted to them.

Monday, August 20, 2012

What Tony Scott Meant To Backtime

One of the acclaimed action film directors of our time, Tony Scott, ended his life yesterday at age 68 by jumping off a Los Angeles bridge.

The obits headline him as "Ridley Scott's brother" and "director of Top Gun." He also directed blockbusters like Days of Thunder and Crimson Tide. If you look down the list of his directing titles, you'll notice leads like Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, and Denzel Washington.

None of whom appeared in one of the great ensembles of all-time, my single-favorite movie for years, and the first DVD I ever purchased: True Romance.

The production's history is filled with some urban legend. Did Quentin Tarantino really sell the script for just $20K before he was established? How much was ripped off from Terrence Malick's 1973 guy-and-girl crime spree Badlands? How much did Scott himself copy the style of Chinese director John Woo for the final 3-way shootout?

But the film's performances are undeniable and the top scenes are epic.

1. The Pimp's Lair -

Clarence (Christian Slater) goes to the Detroit ghetto to see the notorious Drexl (Gary Oldman) and "negotiate" for call girl Alabama (Patricia Arquette). But neither side has any intention of negotiation, and when Clarence offers an empty envelope all hell breaks loose.

Clarence kills Drexl in cold blood. "Shoot him in the face, put him down like a dog," is the way it was phrased to him by his bathroom apparition Elvis (Val Kilmer). He grabs a suitcase that he thinks is Alabama's things, but it actually contains several hundred thousand in uncut cocaine. That moves the story from Detroit to LA.

2. The Trailer by the Tracks -

Detroit mobster Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken) tracks down Clarence's blue-collar security guard dad (Dennis Hopper), looking for the missing coke. After enduring much intimidation, some physical punishment, and mild torture, Clarence's dad doesn't give him up. In fact he launches into a diatribe about how "Sicilians were spawned by N*****s," and gets himself executed instead of talking. 

"I haven't killed anyone since 1984." So he didn't get the information he came for, but on the way out one of his henchmen finds Clarence's contact in LA posted on the fridge.

3. The Hotel Room

When Clarence goes out to get some burgers, Alabama goes back to the hotel room to find a sadistic mob enforcer (a young and skinny James Gandolfini) waiting for her. He beats her senseless trying to get her to spill on the coke - until he realizes it's under the bed. 

Then he gives her one free shot before he kills her. Bad idea. Alabama uses whatever she can find (a swiss army knife, Elvis paperweight, hotel bath shampoo, hairspray and a lighter) to survive the battle to the death.

The movie is brutally violent, but all the plot lines fit, and the dialogue is superb. The coke deal goes down at the Beverly Ambassador and the shootout between the the movie producer's hired guns, the cops, and the mob was a little too gun-heavy for my taste.

But ultimately it's the story of a couple of imperfect kids trying to make it in an imperfect world by imperfect means. And it's an imperfect movie, but it's great. Thanks Tony Scott.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Breaking Bad and The Business They've Chosen

"This is the business we've chosen" 

In The Godfather: Part II, Hyman Roth didn't ask Michael Corleone who gave the order to kill his friend Moe Greene. It had nothing to do with business.

In Breaking Bad, despite Walt and Jesse's best intentions to run a multi-million dollar illegal meth operation without bloodshed, extortion, and drama, there's nothing that changes the business they've chosen. There will always be innocent blood on their hands.


"Give me a break, you we're gonna murder me. I thought you were professionals." 

Lydia Rodarte-Quayle is quickly establishing herself as a major player in Season 5, as Madrigal's last "man" standing in the U.S. operation. She is frenzied but savvy, and she saved her own life a couple of times already.

She hatches the scheme to rob the train transporting methylamine, but can't understand what the reservations are about killing the train's crew.

"Boosting methylamine from a train is like a major rap. The point is, nobody, other than us, can ever know this robbery ever went down."

Jesse said it, and Walt seconded for their new henchman, Todd from the pest control operation, so they were perfectly clear. Too clear obviously.

Jesse has been the criminal with the heart from the beginning. While Walt and Mike argue incessantly about how much human damage needs to be done, Jesse now stays out and thinks. He came up with the "magnet" plan, and had the insight to turn the train heist from "armed robbery" to just "robbery."

Oh by the way, Skyler noticed the soot on Walt's pants after the dry run and sarcastically asked if he was out burying bodies. Walt said pridefully that in fact he was robbing a train. Don't think that won't come back. There isn't a throwaway scene or line or cutaway in this series.

So the pulsating train heist goes down with some speed bumps along the way. The track interruption ruse gets foiled prematurely and Jesse almost gets flattened when the train gets moving again, but they pulled it off and got all their meth.

Except the poor kid riding his bike in the desert collecting tarantulas, who happened upon the heist celebration. Todd isn't in the operation's inner circle and didn't know the lengths they went to avoid a body count. He figured he was working for "professional" gangsters and promptly shoots and kills the kid, as he thought he was ordered.

So now Walt and Jesse are caught in their own vicious circle. They went against Gus Fring and started a war because of his willingness to make a child (riding a bike no less) expendable, as the cost of doing business.

Now it's their business, and they gave the order. Whether they chose to or not.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Backtime's De-Evolution is Complete

It says it in the Backtime profile: dime store observer on all things. When I started blogging over 4 years ago, I never thought I'd envision the day that a video game review would ever be posted.

Despite having an Atari and the handheld pioneer Coleco Quarterback as a child, and dumping several hundred quarters into Tetris throughout my college years, I never considered my youth misspent on video games. I certainly didn't waste my time with them as an adult. Until now.

The kids love their Wii, and I have been sucked in. And despite the reputation, video games do have some redeeming qualities.

Kids with delayed development in motor skills gain eye-hand coordination. Kids with autism learn to use their imagination to think in the abstract and find shortcuts.

Of course there's the problem of obsession that all kids have whether it's with TV or computer time. A balance needs to be struck.

The 8-year old guy loves his car races whether it be Cars 2 or Mario Kart. The 5-year old girl loves Tangled, a role-play game based on the Disney movie. It's actually pretty exciting to play as Rapunzel (her) and Flynn Rider (me) - they need to partner up to work together to accomplish tasks.

She's a little young to master the car races but the perfect blend has been found in SpongeBob's Boating Bash. Not only does it have the characters that she knows and loves (and could watch endlessly), but the game's main thread is boating school.

The premise is that our friend SpongeBob has failed his boating test at Mrs. Puff's Boating School 78 times in a row and is hopeless. At least until shady shyster Seymour Scales enters the game. He offers SpongeBob the opportunity to take his D.R.I.V.E. classes.

D.R.I.V.E. stands for Destruction, Recklessness, Impairment, Velocity, and Escape. The challenges are a cross-mix of boat races and demolition derby.

The controls are fairly intricate - there are two separate brakes: one to drift to a stop, and a hand brake to make hairpin turns.

But most importantly in Boating Bash whether you're a kid or a novice gamer dad, it's OK to crash - often.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Meanwhile, The Penn State Cleanup Continues

In the spring of 2007, six Penn State football players were arrested and charged for their involvement in an off-campus fight. Joe Paterno decided that the team needed a lesson in accountability - that they were their brothers' keepers.

The entire team was assigned the grunt work of cleaning up Beaver Stadium Sunday mornings after the first five home games that season. The pay they would receive for their labor would be donated to Penn State club athletic programs.

At the time, it seemed to be the outside-the-box type of discipline that Paterno was famous for. But terms like "accountability" and "brothers' keepers" don't ring true today, knowing what we know now. Lessons will still be learned at Penn State, but first the punishments must be handed down for those so grossly unaccountable.

Jerry Sandusky has been incarcerated. The prosecution's case was swift and precise, and heavy justice was handed down.

Joe Paterno is dead. The posthumous fall from grace continues, which is the only recourse since he would have never had his day in court. 

A trial date has now been set for former AD Tim Curley and former VP Gary Schultz, who face perjury and possible "failure to report" charges. Jury selection begins January 7, 2013. They will have high-powered lawyers, and won't be thrown to the wolves as easily as Sandusky was.

As for President Emeritus Graham Spanier (that's his official title), still no charges have been filed. The Attorney General's office is likely doing its due diligence here, as it did with Sandusky where the Grand Jury collected all the testimony it could and they built an overwhelming case.

The AG would have to verify the findings from The Freeh Report, then likely make Spanier the backstop for everything associated with the coverup. That will take time. In the meantime, housecleaning continues in State College.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sublime in Seattle

This is not a reference to one of the late-great alternative music bands of all-time playing in one of the late-great alternative music cities of all time. But rather artistry of a different kind.

It was just a matter of time before Felix Hernandez did something he'd never done before - a perfect game against Tampa. It was also the 4th CG SHO for King Felix in 2012.

The 26-year old Venezuelan already has 96 career wins and is certainly on the fast track for baseball immortality, had he not written his name in permanent marker yesterday.

But I look at this achievement from a different angle, as a baseball wonk. After the game yesterday, Mariners' play-by-play man Dave Sims posted his scorecard online. I argue that there is no greater piece of memorabilia for a historic achievement than having this page in your Bob Carpenter's Scorebook:

I've known Dave Sims for over 20 years. He was a sports radio host in New York before he got started in play-by-play. I was his spotter and stat guy on the Big East Football game of the week in 1992 & 1993, when he was very new and inexperienced at this.

I was also very new and inexperienced at what I was doing, but it didn't stop me from teasing him about his obsessive-compulsive, color-coated charts. He carried around so many different pencils, pens, markers, and highlighters that I joked he knocked over an Office Depot on the way to the stadium.

But this is where it all pays off. The details are what makes this a work of art as well. The green highlights mark the strikeouts (he whiffed 8 of the last 12 Rays) and the circled red numbers indicating how many retired in a row (that's 27 by the way). And all the zeroes, of course.

Having this much information crammed into a small space is what makes a good play-by-play guy have all the stats and info at his fingertips. But as often is the case, it's the empty space you fill in during the game that paints the most telling picture.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Looking for a Hiro? Yanks Look Like They've Found One

That's Hiroki Kuroda, the Yankees starting pitcher, being congratulated by catcher Russell Martin after a complete game, 2-hit, 17-groundout, 109-pitch, 2-hour-and-35-minute shutout masterpiece. And he did it against the Texas Rangers, arguably the best offensive team in baseball.

After a solid, but not stellar career in Japan (103-89 in 10 seasons), Kuroda went to the Dodgers for 3 years. He had flashes of brilliance - a near perfect game against the Braves in 2008, but for the most part he's been a modest MLB starter.

2008    9-10, 3.73
2009     8-7, 3.76
2010   11-13, 3.39
2011   13-16, 3.07

Not too bad. He's an innings eater with a much better than average ERA, but the Yankees took a chance on him anyway as their #2 starter. It didn't look good at first. Through 9 starts, Kuroda was 3-6, 4.56. But the Yankees stuck by their investment and it has been a dream.

In his last 15 starts, he's 8-2 with a 2.30. And he's gone 7+ innings in 11 of the 15 starts in the heat of summer, and is one of the most dominant pitchers in the AL.

Now Kuroda's innings and presence are magnified with C.C. Sabathia headed to the DL for a second time this year. How do you say "ace" in Japanese?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Backtime Tends To Its Garden

Okay- 1 month of Backtime 2.0 and the plants have been watered every day.

It's rare that I go a month straight at home, and even rarer we got as much rain as we had, but every day the plants were watered and the blog was fed. Success? How is that measured exactly? In days? Months? Years?

I can look outside and see the bright patch on the corner of a busy Savannah thoroughfare and then go back to the cave and and see my slice of the internet has a fresh post. And each day there is growth.

I don't write to see how many hits I get or for my resume reel. If I write book reviews or try to define culture or attempt political humor, it's only my mind working overtime. And when the mind stagnates, there's always the Yankees and the Jets.

The spirit has been fed too. Surf lessons, karate, vicious workouts, swimming, rockwall climbing, rollerskating (that didn't go so well), go-karts, golf, plenty of cooking, and lots of video games. And then there are the small creatures that inhabit my property. They were nourished as well. Beds were made. Baths were administered. Laundry and dishes were kept up with.

The only thing that fell by the waste side was the feeding of the mind. I am on the same Elmore Leonard novel I was on 31 days ago. There's nothing wrong with the book, I just don't find myself in the same situations (the car pick-up lane, on planes) where my natural inclination is to read.

It's because I'm in front of the computer. Or in the front yard. Or doing a million other things. You gotta shake the Etch-A-Sketch every day.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ryan Romney: The 6th Son

Come on. As far as handsome, presidential-looking, preppie guys go, we thought the Romneys had already cornered the market. But I guess Tagg, Matt, Josh, Ben and Craig were looking for a sixth for the three-on-three game to play on their own indoor fullcourt gymnasium, so enter their long-lost brother Ryan.

Or is this the shelved remake of The Sixth Sense: I See Rich White People?

I have to admit that I didn't think the Romney camp would go this direction. But everyone seems to have nailed the timing of the move. After a week Mr. Romney sunk in the polls, and he was struggling to get the campaign back on message, they found the messenger. And the timing of the pick was appropriate as well.

The selection could have been made much earlier, but if it took place during the Olympics, that would have shafted NBC News, who was essentially based with all their resources in London. It's another example of the media driving the news cycle, the polls, and everything related to the countdown to election day.

The pick was close enough to the end of the games (or "sport" as Colbert calls it re: Rafalca) that NBC didn't get caught with their pants down. But the exclusive still deservedly went to 60 Minutes and CBS' Bob Schieffer. Fareed Zakaria was next in line, but was waiting for Schieffer to ask the questions first.

The two political parties have differing opinions on the VP candidate, but nobody denies that this is a serious pick. Except for me. The physical similarity and collegial manner of these two is so strikingly similar, I can't get a particular image out of my head.

That's right, the diabolical "Number Two" (apropos for a #2 pick) from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, where Rob Lowe plays a younger Robert Wagner. They laugh at your inferior intellect and resources!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

PGA Sunday: History Repeating?

What are the odds that Ernie Els and Vijay Singh, Hall-Of-Famers but afterthoughts, could each win their 4th major within a month of each other? Singh's comeback would be especially far fetched since he's just 6 months from his 50th birthday and a life of luxury on the Champions Tour. "Glory's Last Shot," indeed.

But there's a long way to go. No bold predictions here. Singh (-6) still has 29 holes to complete on Sunday, while tied with superstar Rory McIlroy who's less than half his age.

3rd round play resumes at 7:45 AM and Final Round threesomes at 11:45. The round and a half to go brings many more from the field into play. Bo Van Pelt (-3) and Steve Stricker (-2) get the morning off. Major championship horses like Graeme McDowell (-2), Padraig Harrington (-1, only 18 left), and Tiger (-1) still lurk.

TNT is a big winner as well with remaining coverage of the 3rd round beginning at 8 AM. And it's not like there's anything important going on with the Sunday morning news programs anyway.

A hundred storylines could develop with all the golf remaining, but one of the best is the roadmap to redemption.

In 2011, Rory McIlroy had a healthy lead going into the final round of The Masters and completely imploded. We'd still be talking about the choke job except he came out in the very next major and lapped the field at The US Open.

Now is it Adam Scott's turn? He's just one shot back with 27 to play, and can quickly erase the debacle of last month's British Open and claim the major he's been ready for for years. He was rolling with 4 birdies in the last 5 holes before Saturday play was suspended.

And of course there's alway's the one no-name who seems to creep up and win the PGA as often as not in the last 10 years:

2002   Rich Beem
2003   Shaun Micheel
2009   Y.E. Yang
2010   Martin Kaymer
2011   Keegan Bradley

You could add Carl Pettersson (-4) to that list, except that he's won 5 times on tour. So how we feeling about Jimmy Walker (OWGR #135) at -1?

So historical precedents have been set, there are footsteps to be followed, glory to be re-claimed, demons to be exorcised, and new names to be etched in history. Sunday should be some pretty riveting TV.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Gold Medal for Confrontational Dialogue

There are some very good conceptual shows out there that really make you think, but the character dialogue is so stilted that you can almost see Joe Writer in front of a typewriter with a lightbulb over his head.

Then there are the gold standards, where the dialogue is so real you are drawn in to the show and forget that anyone ever put words down on paper in the first place. I think of The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, and Justified. And it isn't too much of a coincidence that they all deal in great detail with the criminal's point of view.

So I present Exhibit A: Breaking Bad, Season 5 Episode 4 "Fifty-One." Conceived by Vince Gilligan and written by Sam Catlin. The scene involves only Bryan Cranston (Walter White) and Anna Gunn (Skyler White).


Skyler's very real state of constant fear had just manifested itself in a transparent cry for help, a faked suicide attempt in the Whites' own swimming pool at a dinner party for Walt's 51st birthday. She knows what she now wants: the kids out of this combustible environment. But she doesn't know how to get there, and she finally ditches the passive aggression and strips it down for Walt.

SKY: I'm in it now. I'm compromised, but I will not have my children living in a house where dealing drugs, where hurting people, and killing people is shrugged off as shit happens! We're back at it, fine. The kids stay away and that's that.

WALT: That's that? That's what?

SKY: I got them out of this house.

WALT: To a sleepover at their aunt and uncle's. They spend a day or two, Junior stays up late watching movies, and then what happens?

SKY: We'll see...

WALT: No I'll tell you what happens. They come home to this house to their parents who love them.

SKY: No. I will not let our business endanger them.

WALT: How many times do I have to say they are not in --

SKY: I said No. I swear to god I won't have them back here.

WALT: What are you going to do to stop it?

SKY: Whatever it takes. Everything in my power.

WALT: Like what...I mean specifically? What is your next move?

SKY: My next move is maybe I hurt myself. Make it clear we need more time. Let Hank and Marie see we're still struggling.

WALT: No, more like you're still struggling. So maybe next time I have you committed. Put you in some in-patient facility while I take care of the kids myself. Is that what you want?

SKY: So then maybe I show up with bruises on my neck, give myself a black eye. Say that you beat me when you found out about my lover.

WALT: I see. So you want to involve Ted? Now that would be fun, bringing the police up to speed on all of that. But not as much fun as telling your 16-year old son his father is a wife-beater...Also not a very good plan, what else you got?

SKY: I could send Junior away to school.

WALT: Oh. Here's the conversation: "So Honey I know you've only got one year left in high school, but I would love it so much if you would drop everything, leave all your friends behind and go to boarding school in Arizona." You have any other ideas? Because I am not hearing a solution to your problem...How are you going to save our kids from this terrible environment? What are you gonna do, what're you gonna run off to France? What're you gonna close the curtains, change the locks? This is a joke, come on Skyler. You wanna take me on? You wanna take away my children? What's the plan!

SKY: I don't know! This is the best I could come up with! Okay? I will count every minute that the kids are away from here, away from you, as a victory. But you're right. It's a bad plan. I don't have any of your magic Walt, I don't know what to do, I'm a coward. I can't go to the police, I can't stop laundering your money, I can't keep you out of this house, I can't even keep you out of my bed...All I can do is wait, that's it, that's the only good option. Hold on, bide my time, and wait.

WALT: Wait for what? What are you waiting for?

SKY: ...For the cancer to come back.

Cut to Walt. Scene. Go to commercial. Perfect. And it was all talk.

But the body language made it too. Walt was stalking, menacing, and had all the answers. Skyler was retreating, even to the point of pulling her robe tightly over her chest. She was losing to the superior mind throughout, but hit him with the last word with more force than any weapon. But she's no saint here. Notice how she said "our business" but "your money?"

In the episode's final scene, Walt tries to convince Skyler that she'll come around. Because Jesse had just recently had a gun at his head and was now buying him an expensive watch. She'll come around too. Oh that'll do the trick. Keep reminding her of the constant danger he's in.

It's only the 4th episode of the season and show arcs are a lot like scene arcs, so it's not inconceivable that Walt is right - that Skyler will defy all logic and change her tune. It would be the human thing to do. And that's what separates the truly great shows from just great concepts.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Who be GOP VP? Process of Elimination

It's Friday August 10. It's a week that Mr. Romney has seriously slipped in the polls (Obama +9 in latest FOX News sampling), and it appears more than ever he will need a "game changing" VP pick.

Since it is illegal to make wagers on such things in the US, except for Intrade (but call them contracts), we go to Ireland where you can gamble on anything. Here is the morning line from 

The best way to approach this list is to forensically determine why they won't get picked and see who's left standing.

Paul Ryan (15/8) - Very fashionable of late, but likely a smokescreen. His budget plan can be tied to slashing of Medicare and will be a target for a huge voting bloc. But he's also a prominent member of the House of Representatives, part of the most unpopular congress ever. Out.

Rob Portman (15/8) - Puts Ohio in play for Romney - Nate Silver and 538 says it's GOP's best chance to turn a state, but very low-profile and would be unable to lift ticket in national polls. Doubtful.

Tim Pawlenty (5/2) - Has some name recognition, and a good mouthpiece. Wouldn't enthuse or alienate anybody. Possible but meh.

Marco Rubio (6/1) - I think Dems have been holding out on him, waiting to unload if he is chosen. There appears to be plenty beneath the surface in his personal history as well as his personal finances. Could be more toxic than Palin. Impossible.

Condoleeza Rice (8/1) - Very popular, huge name recognition, bridges race and gender gaps. But stances on social issues would create further rift in GOP than there already is. No way.

Bob McDonnell (9/1) - He's got perfect VP hair, but already been branded "Governor Ultrasound." Risky.

John Thune (12/1) - Very effective surrogate. The American Conservative Union gave him a rating of 100 in 2010. Hardcore Christian. There's been no real buzz about him to this point, so he can make a splash. The smart pick.

Kelly Ayotte (20/1) - Don't know anything about her. A Massachusetts/New Hampshire combo on GOP ticket? Never going to happen.

Chris Christie (22/1) - Political aspirations too high to be in a very likely losing election. Biding time for 4 years. He'll say no.

Bobby Jindal (22/1) - Will be problematic in the post-vet, after having been party to an exorcism in his past. Voodoo is fine in Louisiana, but not for the nation at large. No chance.

So I think Thune is a great play at 12/1, but if you want to look deep on the board consider these two:

Mike Huckabee (50/1) - Conservative, religious former southern Governor who would bring a level of consistency that the campaign has lacked to this point. His radio/TV gig might be a little lucrative to give up, but he probably wouldn't be out of it very long and it would only boost his national profile.

Ron Paul (66/1) - Stranger things have happened. If the "money" part of the GOP can assimilate "the base" it might be their best shot. But Paul is a maverick with steadfast convictions and it's doubtful there's a sweetheart deal he would ever accept.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sweet Tees! Cost Effective Fashion Statements

I don't have some killer wardrobe. I work behind the scenes in television. On-air types have dozens of suits, and women talent have been known to amass much, much more. My fashion statements are made through my T-shirt collection, mostly during the summer when I'm off the job.

Signature tees are an emerging internet industry. Like anything unique, you're likely not going to find it at the local department store. CafePress and Zazzle are two of the leaders in terms of selection, irreverence, and design. Amazon and Ebay are mainstays, but they don't specialize in tees. Be careful as many places have good stuff, but are are fly-by-night. Try to use PayPal whenever possible in those cases.

Anyway, without (much) further ado, here's Backtime's summer rotation Top 5, and where they came from:

5. Yankees ~ Melky Cabrera #28. Yankee Stadium, 2008.

Since the purchase, Melky changed his number from 28 to 53, won a World Series with the Yanks, was traded to the Braves, stunk for a season, and was released after 2010. He signed with KC in '11 and had a great year, was traded to SF - where he's currently batting .355 and is a legit MVP candidate. My faith in him has been well-rewarded.

4. Sesame Street ~ All My Homies are from the Street. Target, 2009.

This one's faded a bit, but it fits great and the kids laugh every time I put it on. Perfect for school events, camp pickups and afternoon activities. Lots of chuckles from young moms of all races.

3. Sportvision ~ 1st & 10. SWAG, 2008.

A real rarity, only received by a few in the TV football community. Sportvision is the technology company behind the incredible innovations in TV sports. In addition to many of the mind-boggling race tracking gadgets in NASCAR and MLB's K-Zone, they created the single greatest invention in TV sports in 1998: The 1st & 10 "yellow line" on football. What did we ever do without it? The T-shirt is beyond a collector's item, it is a historical treasure.

2. Breaking Bad ~ Los Pollos Hermanos. CafePress, 2011.

The establishment is dead, along with its proprietor Gustavo Fring (should I have issued a spoiler alert?), but brand recognition in the meth community and on Tybee is still king. I saw that season 5's new "front," Vamonos Pest Control shirts are already out. Get 'em while they're hot.

1. Mr. Clean. Zazzle, 2011.

Of extraordinary value. It's the moniker bestowed on me by my martial arts Master. I followed through with the shirt when I reached a certain level of achievement. I rarely bust it out for ordinary events, like a lap or two around Forsyth. I almost feel like ironing it before I wear it.

The honorable mention title shirt "Kalamazoo" (some mall in K'zoo, 2006) from the closet is suffering from too much use over the years and frayed around the collar. Treat your tees with respect and they will pay you back handsomely for years!