Friday, September 25, 2009

Diner Football Picks, Week #4



Oh, man. Never before has The Diner been off to such a lousy start in the weekly football picks. And, the last few weeks have started off with all sorts of bravado about going undeterred into this weeks picks. Well, this week, I'm going in a LOT more gun-shy than that. And with good reason.

So, with a mild degree of trepidation and a huge dose of humility, on with this weeks picks!

Ball State (+33) at Auburn: Auburn can name their score in this one, and they will. That's the problem. Tennessee looms next weekend, and they'll do everything they can to establish a lead, keep their thin starters healthy, and get their youth some experience for down the road. Chizik is managing an entire season here, and he will. But I think 5TD's is enough and Auburn will cover. You know what's funny? With the new ESPN agreement with the SEC this game is on television here, while the local TCU game against Clemson isn't. Diner Prediction: Auburn 49, Ball State 14.

Arkansas (+17.5) at Alabama: There's a lot of focus on Ryan Mallet and his talented sophomore receiving corps. But what people aren't noticing is that when Saban sniffs blood, his teams get vicious. Ole Miss went down. LSU looks beatable. The Gators even look vulnerable. The Tide might just be the best team in the SEC this year--while everybody was just waiting for Tebow to graduate and Urban Meyer to go to Notre Dame. I don't think 17.5 is near enough in this one. Tide defense and bruising running game will get it done in a big way in Tuscaloosa. Diner Prediction: Alabama 38, Arkansas 13.

Arizona State (+11.5) at Georgia: Usually, these things are a done deal when the SEC steps out against the Pac-10. Georgia found their offense in the last couple of weeks after the disaster in Stillwater, but they don't have a very good defense--which is very rare for Georgia. Still, my guess is that Georgia's depth will matter late and I think they'll extend the lead late...especially at home where Richt needs to calm the fears of the UGA faithful to keep them from lighting the fire under his hot seat. Diner Prediction: Georgia 31, Arizona State 17.

California at Oregon (+5.5): Who would've thought the national media would anoint the Cal Bears as next in line for the PAC-10 throne? With USC's debacle at Washington last week the title seems to be Cal's for the taking. And that's the problem. The Ducks have enough talent and now enough motivation, and they seem to have steadied the ship after the early season chemistry problems. This one will be a track meet and in this setting, I like the Ducks to cover, and they might not even need the points. I do think Rogers can get the job done, though. Diner Prediction: California 35, Oregon 31.

T.C.U. (+2.5) at Clemson: TCU is looking to carry the Mountain West banner to the BCS bowl game this time around, and last year they gave Utah all they wanted and was a game away from the big time. Well, not Utah has lost and TCU has the chance to step on the national stage...if only some television network would let them get seen. The reality is that the Horned Frogs have a lot riding on this game and Clemson doesn't. I think the down ACC is an indication that Clemson is basically a favorite only because they're the home team. I think TCU gets it done on the road. Diner Prediction: T.C.U. 27, Clemson 21.

Texas Tech (+1) at Houston: I think Houston's win in Stillwater was a fluke, and that Oklahoma State, much like Ole Miss, has been ranked higher than they should've been. My guess is that Texas Tech is pretty strong and played well against Texas in Austin. Well, strolling into Houston is a much easier task and I think the Red Raiders might be throwing Taylor Potts' national coming out party. Casey Keenum's good, too, but I think the Big 12 team should win a high scoring affair. If they don't, well, it might signal that the entire Big 12 is down this year...they've lost some winnable out-of-conference games. Diner Prediction: Texas Tech 42, Houston 35.

Miami at Virginia Tech (+2.5): Miami has played a pretty tough early schedule, as has Virginia Tech. What we've learned is that Virginia Tech has the weakest defense he's had this decade and their offense has trouble scoring points. That's not too good since the Hurricanes have no trouble scoring points and is playing pretty stout on defense. I like the 'Canes, big, even on the road. Diner Prediction: Miami 31, Virginia Tech 13.

L.S.U. at Mississippi State (+13): L.S.U.'s win at Washington is looking pretty good these days, even though the Tiger faithful seemed worried about their lackluster showing. Then they played Vanderbilt in awful conditions and didn't cover...which again has L.S.U. fans raising eyebrows about their defense. Don't worry. If L.S.U. can put 31 on a team that shut down U.S.C., and Auburn can hang half a hundred on the Bulldogs, even in the wacky world of the SEC upsets, then the Tigers will have smooth sailing in Starkville. Diner Prediction: L.S.U. 42, Mississippi State 21.

Iowa (+10) at Penn State: Forget last year's upset in Iowa, please. Penn State now has a chance to make a statement and get a stranglehold on the Big 10. I think Paterno will do everything he can to make that statement, and the revenge factor, playing at home, should be enough against a team that struggled early and hasn't been relevant since Chuck Long when I was in college. Diner Prediction: Penn State 27, Iowa 14.

Notre Dame at Purdue (+7): The Irish are an enigma this season. They had Michigan on the ropes and let them off the hook and then let Michigan State--a bad football team--stick around and if not for a stupid play call the Spartans could've at least sent the game into overtime with a chip-shot field goal. I think Michigan isn't as good as their hype, which means that Notre Dame isn't either. My guess is that they'll allow Purdue, who is better than MSU, hang with them, too, and on the road, I like getting a TD with the Boilermakers even if they don't win. Diner Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Purdue 27.

Well, there you have it...even if there's a lot of soul-searching about my prognostication abilities this week! What do you think?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Gallery Showing

The students in the visual arts department of the senior class at Kid1's high school each get their moment in the sun. They divide the class into 4 or so groups of about 10 artists who've put in their time over their high school tenure and they get to have a gallery gives them experience to do that very thing in the future.

And, it's a pretty big deal.

It's pretty cool, too. The seniors stand around and greet people and discuss their art and such. And, yes, there have been plenty of "proud dad alerts" about Kid1's art over the years so I won't bore you this time around with that. Even though I thought her pieces were very good...and they're much more impressive in person.

Here's the only photo I took last night of Kid1 with some of her work. Sorry I only took it with the camera phone, but I was trying to enjoy the night...not preserve the event.

And, yes, the night was about her and her friends. They had fun.

But what I enjoyed most was the reality that family and friends came drove all the way downtown (or, in the case of the higher-order life-liver sister Jilly flew in yesterday afternoon to be there and flying back to San Francisco this morning to take care of her own children) to show love and support for my daughter.

That means a lot more than many of you, thanks to everybody that showed up and browsed the art! If you didn't have the chance, the exhibit (featuring 9 of my daughter's friends as well), entitled "Primary" will be showing at the Hudson Gallery on the campus of Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts at 2501 Flora Street in Dallas, during school hours, through October 15.

And, if you can't make it, you can check out some of the stuff at
Friday Football Picks, Week #3

Dismal, man.

Absolutely dismal.

I feel like I owe the patronage some sort of apology. 3-7 the first week against the point spread. 3-6-1 last week. I'm not that strong in math, but 6-13-1 in two weeks ain't too impressive. I mean, the only possible excuse could be that since The Diner started making football picks I haven't had the added sports distraction of the Rangers playing September baseball that matters...and, with this week's stumble, we won't be worrying about that anymore. Alas, we persevere. We press on, undeterred, to this week's slate of games...

West Virginia (+7) at Auburn: There's a feel-good story developing at Auburn. Two backs, two games, two 100-yard rushing performances, which has never been done before...not by Bo/Lionel, Bo/Brent, Brent/Stephen, Cribbs/Brooks, Brooks/Andrews, Danley/Joseph...Never. And now Tate & McCalebb? Over 1,100 yards of offense in two games for the first time since 1970. And West Virginia hasn't exactly played lights-out against Liberty and East Carolina, either. Something tells me they've been holding back, and this one should be a track meet. Unfortunately for Auburn, special teams are awful, and that's what usually decides games like this. Auburn at home might be enough, but this one will be closer than 7 points. Diner Prediction: Auburn 35, West Virginia 31.

Texas Tech (+17.5) at Texas: The marquee game of the week with 100,000 strong in Austin, where they've gotten awfully tired of watching Harrell-Crabtree game-winning touchdown highlights. Tech, as always, has another good quarterback to plug into their system (who threw for 7 TD's last week), but Texas is way too strong for them this time around and has a LOT to prove. And people forget that the Longhorns scored 35 last year in a losing effort. My guess is that Texas will score a little more than that this year and the Red Raiders will struggle, but that half-point means something to me. Diner Prediction: Texas 38, Texas Tech 21.

Boston College (+6.5) at Clemson: At first glance, it looks like Clemson is the better team here, taking Georgia Tech to the wire on the road. BC has throttled a couple of stiffs and looked impressive, but they haven't played all that well and their backs still didn't average 100 yards. Clemson's been off for 9 days, they're at home, but after Miami handled Tech last night, all of a sudden that tough battle doesn't look so impressive. Still, there's something about Clemson playing in Death Valley that leads me to believe that they can take care of business at home. And, yes, they are the better team, largely because I don't think BC's qb Tuggle scares any defense. Diner Prediction: Clemson 28, Boston College 20.

Michigan State (+10.5) at Notre Dame: Notre Dame played tough on the road and could've easily have beaten Michigan (who, frankly, surprised me with their win under a lot of heat in Ann Arbor) in the Big House. Michigan State lost to Central Michigan. Yep. To the Chippewas. Gave up 29 to a team a Pac-10 defense held to 6. So, I think Notre Dame's a lot stronger than 10 points better than the Spartans...especially at home. Diner Prediction: Notre Dame 31, Michigan State 17..

Florida at Tennessee (+29.5): Lane Kiffin actually said he couldn't wait to sing "Rocky Top" in Gainesville after beating the Gators. He accused Urban Meyer of illegal recruiting publicly before he contacted him personally (a long standing breach of SEC etiquette that dates back to Bob Neyland and Bear Bryant). Oh. My. Gosh. The Gators don't need a chip on the shoulder and this one will be ugly. Somebody must've forgotten to tell Lane Kiffin that his team only put 15 points up against home. Sheesh. Diner Prediction: Florida 45, Tennessee 13.

Georgia (+1) at Arkansas: This is a very important game for both teams. Georgia NEEDS this one after losing to Oklahoma State and barely escaping against South Carolina. Arkansas has Bobby Petrino with a year under his belt and Ryan Mallet to lead the offense. A lot of people think the Razorbacks are a sleeper team this year and will surprise a lot of people. I'm one of them. And if Georgia can't stop South Carolina, who doesn't have as many weapons as Arkansas, no matter how much heart they've got, winning in Fayetteville is tough to do. Diner Prediction: Arkansas 27, Georgia 21.

Florida State (+7.5) at Brigham Young: On the opening week I heard how the Seminoles' defensive coordinator said his defense was the very best he'd ever coached--in 44 years, and I saw them up close and personal in the 80's when their defenses were scary good. Then, the Hurricanes hang 5 TD's on 'em and last week Jacksonville State had the 'Noles on the ropes for a half. And did somebody mention that Brigham Young beat Oklahoma...and they were doing just fin BEFORE Bradford got hurt. If this game was in Tallahassee, I'd like the points, but on the road I'm not sure they'll be enough. Diner Prediction: Brigham Young 24, Florida State 13.

Nebraska (+4.5) at Virginia Tech: This is where the Big 12 north has a chance to boost the stock of the Big 12 conference. If the Huskers win, they'll raise eyebrows all over the nation that the Big Red is finally back. And, let's be honest, college football is better when Nebraska is on the map. Virginia Tech is trying to rebound after a hard-fought loss to Alabama and playing at home, where they haven't lost a non-conference game in 31 tries. Nebraska's racked up nearly 1,000 yards of offense in two games but against VERY weak competition. Something tells me Nebraska is a year away from winning games like this one. Diner Prediction: Virginia Tech 27, Nebraska 20.

Navy (+7.5) at Pittsburgh: I don't know whether Navy is really good in taking Ohio State to the wire, or if Ohio State isn't as good as we were led to believe. Pittsburgh has been impressive against Youngstown State and Buffalo, but what does that prove? Navy, on the other hand, scored 27 on the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe and beat La Tech last week, scoring 32. I'm not too sure they won't win this one outright with their option attack, especially since they've learned to throw the ball...well, throw it by Navy standards, anyway. Diner Prediction: Navy 30, Pittsburgh 24.

U.S.C. at Washington (+19.5): I have no idea what to think about USC. They showed a lot by driving the ball the length of the field in the waning minutes to beat the Buckeyes. With a freshman at quarterback, nonetheless. But the old USC offensive coordinator is coaching at U-Dub now and they've got a new attitude. They held #9 LSU in check at home, and when you combine that with the reality that USC always manages to blow a game they should win it makes you wonder if this is the week they'll do it. If anybody'll have the ability to dissect the Trojans offensive scheme and rattle the freshman, it's Sarkisian. I just don't think he's got the talent level to do it consistently, and I'm hedging that this won't be the week USC falters. Diner Prediction: USC 31, Washington 13.

Here's hoping to winning more than 3 games this week!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Suburban American Conundrum

She was smart.
She was outgoing and funny.
She was well-liked and popular at her high school.
She was the kind of girl everybody liked, and everybody had a different reason.
She was serious about her walk with Christ and couldn't seem to get enough advice, insight or teaching.
She was a girl who had bows in her hair, and like the Talking Heads told us, nothing is better than that. Is it?

And, I'd never met her.

I'd only heard of her from the girls who attended the junior/senior girls' Bible study group that met on Wednesday nights. And that Bible study was stacked with girls who were smart, outgoing, funny, popular, likable, seriously growing young women. There was a lack of bows among them, but the other stuff was better than that. To this day, that group remains as one of my favorite group of young ladies that were a part of my ministry, and this girl stood out among them.

Eventually, I met her, though. And, asked her where she'd been going to church. Her response was the first time I'd heard someone actually say something like this out loud: "Well, I go to [insert Huge Area Megachurch here] on Saturday night because they have such a great worship time. I go to [insert First Traditional Denominational Church here] because they have such a great focus on missions and service. I go to [insert Church Plant of First Traditional Denominational Church here] because they have such fun fellowship stuff. And I come here to [insert Token Area Bible Church here] because, well, everybody knows your small group Bible studies are the place to come if you want to dive deep into what the Bible says."

I knew it was going on. It simply had never been laid out there that plainly.

She considered herself a part of the Body of Christ.
She considered herself a part of four different churches.
She was active.
She was serving.
She was growing.

But yet something rubbed me the wrong way.

Now, before I go any further, you need to know that I'm a traditionalist by nature. I believe National League baseball is the way the game SHOULD be played. I believe in picking a team and sticking with them your whole life. I like family, nuclear and extended. I stick with my friends through the good and bad. I believe in brand loyalty. I believe in patriotism, and especially when it looks like dissent...hence I'm a firm believer in the U.S. Constitution. God, country, and family. Baseball, football, apple pie and Chevrolet (yes, I know I drive a Toyota) and all that jazz.

So, the idea of grabbing the best parts of all the available area choices to help you grow spiritually was foreign to me. I mean, I always picked a church and viewed it as a family. Sure, there were parts of every church I was involved with that I didn't like or didn't seem important to me at the time. I mean, I've NEVER been in a church where I liked the music, but the reality is that unless some church has a worship band that is equal parts Stavesacre/Foo Fighters/Cold War Kids/Son Volt/Nirvana/Ramones/Clash/U2 then I'm not going to like it. But these congregations were my family and we were growing together and sharpening each other and that's the way I took it. I mean, everybody has things they don't like, but it's THEIR church. THEIR family, warts and all.

And, if podcasts of several churches are any indication, this "smorgasbord" approach to the Christian life is becoming pretty popular. Over the last two months, I've heard sermons from both coasts, my own seminary, as well as local friends who have pulpit ministries address this with varying degrees of intensity.

On one hand, I see the pragmatism of it all. If you have children and a local church has an excellent children's ministry, then you grab that. While that's going on, if another area church lets you use your talents as part of the worship team, you grab that. If there's an excellent women's ministry that fits your schedule, you grab that. If another area church has a men's golf fellowship, you grab that. If your teenager enjoys his friendships with people that go to a good area student ministry, you let them plug in there. If this pastor teaches in a way you feel like you learn, you find a way to get to that service. If another solid church has a better offering of service times that fits your schedule better, you take advantage of that.

And, I've seen that "smorgasbord" approach yield results, too. In the case of the bow-headed standout, well, she plugged into various ministries while in her undergraduate work, and she also spent some full-time years on the mission field. She recently got married, and I'd guess she's still using her gifts and talents in various ways, and that her husband believes that nothing is better than his bow-headed wife.

On the other hand, I see some downsides. That approach seems to have a focus on "me" and "getting what I/my family" need, which is difficult for me to reconcile. That approach takes you away from one particular congregation in that, say, if you attend one church and use the men's golf fellowship of another, that's time away from your home church. Kind of like spreading yourself too thin in a lot of places rather than deep involvement at one place. That approach hinders a focus on doctrine and philosophy of ministry--I mean, there's a reason there are different denominations and church styles and if you're seeking programming you tend to avoid seeking to learn about any particular place's doctrine or what they value or how they go about implementing that doctrine and their values.

And, I've seen that "smorgabord" approach fail, too. I've seen teens who were in persistent, public sin start attending [insert Large Megachurch here]'s youth ministry meeting because they could "get lost" in the numbers, keep their parents happy, and still live the lifestyle they wanted without much (if any) accountability. I've seen area ministries have financial issues because people's attendance was causing one church to fund that ministry while someone's money was being given somewhere else. I've seen lots of ministries talk about how a particular area of ministry was "growing" but they were full of folks from other churches. I've seen folks tell me that they didn't care about the theological leanings of a particular place because their convenient service times fit their family's lifestyle better. I could go on.

So, there are pragmatic "wins."

So, there are pragmatic "losses."

And, it IS happening, and my guess is that this approach is increasing. Largely because there are so many healthy churches offering a variety of meaningful ministry opportunities.

What I'd like to hear is for the patronage to give their thoughts on this reality.

And, yes, I have my own opinions on the matter, which I'll give you at some point in the future...

...but the coffee is brewed, and as you know, The Diner is the only establishment in town with no TV's blaring, just some background music (the Talking Heads is in the player this morning, but it's very low), and we're going to have a nice, civil discussion on the topic at hand...

...have at it, kids.

Monday, September 14, 2009


It's been very Pacific Northwest-like in Big D.




All day.

For the last three days.

Looks like one more today.

I hear Texans starting to grumble about wanting their Texas weather back. Pronto.

And, all I can say is that I haven't missed Texas weather.

At all. Not one iota. 100 degrees, even in September? After 90 days over 90 every day? Good riddance.

Like all consistent weather patterns, I guess I'd get pretty tired of it if this overcast & wet weather if it went on for months at a time.

But highs in the 80's? Drizzle? Cloudy?

Oh, man.

Consider me thankful and happy on this deal. I cannot tell you how happy this has made me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yep...This Is How Tracy Must Feel

(click on the image to make it larger)

Non Sequitur, by John Wiley, Sept. 7, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Diner Football Picks, Week #2

Diner Prognosticators were feeling pretty smug coming off last season's impressive picks. Strong regular season. Strong bowl season. Big pick in the championship game.

And then we were reminded that Vegas ain't building those hotels and casinos because it's easy for folks to win.

Oh, man. Dismal start to 2009's season. Last week, 3 wins against 7 losses. Ugh. And, really, looking back on it, I still like most of my picks.

But, we learned a few things: That OU's offense (even in the first half before Bradford got hurt) depends a LOT more on offensive linemen than we might've been led to believe. That there's no question the Big 12 and the SEC are virtually the same talent level in the top half of their respective leagues (but it's the bottom half of the conferences, re: Big 12 North, where the SEC appears a little stronger). That the Big 10 is as far from the Big 12 and SEC as the Big 12 North is from the Big 12 South--which is miles away. That the ACC is bad, too. And, that the Gators have everyone else chasing them.

Undaunted by last week's disaster out of the starting blocks, on to this week's picks.

Mississippi State (+14) at Auburn: Question marks still remain at Auburn, but there's a quiet optimism with an offense that put 556 balanced yards against a team that went to a bowl game last year. However, that bowl team was in the game late in the 3rd quarter until a 93-yard 3rd down TD took the wind out of opposition sails. State beat a SWAC team handily, which any SEC team should do. The question is whether or not they have the personnel to run the Florida offense the new coaching staff installed this season. No matter what, this game will have to be better than last year's 3-2 final score. I think Auburn has better players and playing at home will be the difference. Diner Prediction: Auburn 27, Mississippi State 17.

U.S.C. at Ohio State (+7): The only danger in my mind is the freshman U.S.C. quarterback starting in the Horseshoe. Granted Ohio State struggled in their opener but I think they intentionally had a conservative game plan and some fluke plays kept it closer than it might've been. Still, I think the only Pac-10 team that could compete in the Big 12 or SEC is more than 7 points better than the 2nd best Big-10 team, even with youth at quarterback on the road. Diner Prediction: U.S.C. 35, Ohio State 20.

U.C.L.A. (+10) at Tennessee: Every year U.C.L.A. goes against quality opposition in their pre-conference schedule, so you gotta admire them for that. And, they pulled off the upset at home against Tennessee last year. However, going into Knoxville, with over 100,000 fans and Lane Kiffin bringing a mouthy swagger back to the Vols should be enough to keep another upset from happening. It'll be close at the half, but I'm guessing the Vols pull away late. Diner Prediction: Tennessee 24, U.C.L.A. 13.

South Carolina (+7) at Georgia: South Carolina only scored one TD last week and it was a 20-yard drive after a fumble. They played GREAT defense and only gave up 3 points. Georgia had to travel to Stillwater and didn't have the horses to overcome turnovers and youth on the road. The Dawgs are at home. They're inexperienced at quarterback. Spurrier's Gamecocks have struggled on the road his entire tenure at South Carolina. I think this'll be low scoring, and in a low scoring game I'll take the 7 points. Diner Prediction: Georgia 17, South Carolina 13.

Vanderbilt (+14) at L.S.U.: I think L.S.U. took their road trip to Washington lightly. They gave up 23 points to a team that won 1 game last season, and let them hang around all night...escaping with an 8-point win. Vanderbilt is still an unknown with last year's stars graduating, but something tells me that Vandy doesn't replace graduating players as quickly as other teams. L.S.U. at home with something to prove? I think Les Miles will do everything he can to squelch any questions the Tiger faithful might have. Diner Prediction: L.S.U. 31, Vanderbilt 13

Notre Dame at Michigan (+3): The hot-seat bowl. Both coaches have something to prove, and Michigan's Rodriguez certainly has the most to having lost 9 games last season. AT MICHIGAN. Notre Dame has quietly been rebuilding after having dropped from relevance of the college football landscape the last couple of years. Simply put, I think Notre Dame has better players and positive momentum, and I think Rich Rodriguez may have lost his football team with former players making accusations of NCAA rules violations. In effect, the oddsmakers say the game is even, but gives Michigan the advantage playing at home. I think Notre Dame gets the win in a game that will have dramatic effects on the future of both teams. Diner Prediction: Notre Dame 21, Michigan 17.

Purdue (+12) at Oregon: What a disaster the Ducks were against Boise State. New coach. Poor chemistry because of bad sportsmanship. They've had a week to get it together. Purdue, on the other hand, beat a good Toledo team that throttled Colorado last night. I like a team getting 12 points on the road against a team that may have some internal problems (even if that team might be better talent-wise). Diner Prediction: Oregon 24, Purdue 20.

Syracuse (+28.5) at Penn State: People seem to be concerned that Penn State's offense didn't get any points in the 2nd half against Akron last week as some sort of evidence that they're struggling. Folks, you think they might've called off the dogs so as not to get folks hurt or show anything once the game was well in-hand? Syracuse has a young quarterback having to stroll into Happy Valley. Penn State has Darryl Clarke. Enough said. But I'd feel better if the line was 3 points smaller. Diner Prediction: Penn State 41, Syracuse 10.

T.C.U. at Virginia (+11): Virginia struggled against William & Mary. Not even kidding. T.C.U. has been on the cusp of getting a B.C.S. bid for 3 years. The Frogs have an All-American defensive end that will likely be the first defensive player taken in the NFL draft next spring. Give me the Horned Frogs even on the road against a BCS conference opponent. Diner Prediction: T.C.U. 27, Virginia 14.

Texas Tech at Rice (+27.5): Leach's Red Raiders are a question mark. They always play a VERY soft pre-conference schedule and they roll up points against 'em like crazy. Last week they took it easy and still scored 38. However, they had some turnovers with a new quarterback getting used to new receivers. It happens. And, I think the Rice running the option has the potential to do what the service academies do: shorten the game and keep it close. So, the question is whether or not the Red Raiders will correct the mistakes. They will, but I think Rice will BARELY cover the spread. Diner Prediction: Texas Tech 41, Rice 14.

There ya go...a day late, but still ahead of ESPN's GameDay!

Friday, September 11, 2009


A Diner moment of silence in remembrance.

*head bows*

Thursday, September 10, 2009


This week, The Diner football picks will be posted on Saturday morning first thing. Surely, given the date, you understand why management will be focused on issues of more import.
Proud Dad Alert

Kid1 has become a "Student Voices" columnist for the Dallas Morning News, which means she learns the journalism ropes as a volunteer. she has deadlines, an editor, and gets the chance to see how it really works. She thinks she might want to do this as a career, so this is a good way to discover if it'd be a good choice for her or not. Lots of teens appliy for this each year and her submission/interview landed her one of the spots on the Student Voices team.

At any rate, she had her first blog posting on the DMN website yesterday.

Very cool.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Kid1 Was On The Local News!

Apparently, it's big news when the President of the United States can address students and tell them to stay in school and work hard. I don't get it.

Anyway, at Kid1's high school today, former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk (who was appointed to a national position by President Obama's) held a Q&A with the juniors & seniors after the president's speech. The local news was there and they interviewed several teens.

Kelsey's at about the 1 minute mark!

P.S. I don't know why this is on twice. I'm not good enough with the code to fix it. Sorry.

Monday, September 07, 2009

So, Today I'm Thinking...

...that it's funny to me how many people asked yesterday if Kid1 won anything with her birthday Lotto ticket purchase. Just so we're clear: She didn't.
...I had a dream last night that I was at a casino with a LOT of people from my church and I was losing cash big time, which even in my dreams was $60. I have no idea what any of that means.
...Auburn's offense was surprisingly efficient and they won the season opener, but I think it's going to be a 6-6 year nonetheless. Maybe 7-5.
...I've learned to stay off Facebook if you've taped a show you want to watch. And I have one show that I'm behind a LOT of episodes that kinda got spoiled via somebody's status update last night. Dangit.
...14 days done in the 2nd round of P90X. Exercise is starting to fall into that "looking forward to it" habit rather than the "I hate doing this habit." Also, doing relatively well with the diet program, too. I don't expect to lose the 16 pounds or 3 inches of waistline I did the first round, but we'll see how it goes.
...It's really getting annoying getting criticized for being me. There are things about me that are peculiar for sure. Like I loathe dancing. I detest singing. That I am a homebody, and, all things considered, I'd rather be at home than doing most anything else. That I'm actually happy being irritated by the ups and downs of whatever sports teams I'm watching. That I like the destinations, but can't stand the travel it takes to get there. That I'm a creature of routine. That if napping were an Olympic sport I could represent the United States and probably medal-even in the grueling Hammock Event. I love reading, which is generally a solitary endeavor. I like writing, which is also a solitary endeavor. I like early punk and late grunge music. I could go on. What I don't like is when people ask what's "wrong" with me for my personal preferences.
...that the flap over President Obama speaking to children is silly. What people don't see, as most of them decry socialized medicine and whatever alleged agenda he allegedly has, is that their children are in public schools. Ironic, isn't it? I mean, if there was ever an endeavor in socialism, it's public education. In fact, at Kid1's school, there's a member of Obama's cabinet coming to have Q&A with the students after the speech. Rock on, I say. Why do some people fear differing opinions? Besides, when I was in school and we got a break to watch anything, the only agenda that got furthered was maybe how far I could kick a paper football in the dark without getting caught. A close second on a furthered agenda: My friends' agenda trying to tell me that Kim Markovich was NOT crush-worthy. That was hours of spirited interaction. I think sometimes we fail to remember what we actually retained from our school days.
...oh, the fading hopes of the Texas Rangers. We better get serious about making up 3 games on Boston in 26 games. If they play .500 ball, we've GOT to go 16-10.
...there's an excellent article in this month's Rolling Stone about how drug cartels operate.
...if there's a more enjoyable Sunday/coffee read that the Sunday New York Times Magazine, I don't know what that might be.
...when I hear from former students who tell me what ministry activities they've been involved in, well, I'm not sure there's a more enjoyable reward in my line of work.
...that I'm tempted to go to the high school football games today that are being held at the new Cowboy's stadium. Tickets are $15, and parking is $10. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to get in the building for less.
...that I'm a firm believer in the return of the crock pot. The family gets a good meal at home, plenty of leftovers, and minimal fuss. Plus I have, like, 100 recipes. So, it never gets old.'s been a while since I've seen a really good movie.
...I have a big day of nothing planned, so I should probably get on with it.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

All Or Nothing

On her 18th birthday, Kid1 went with Retrophisch to purchase 18 Lotto tickets. Registering to vote, buying cigarettes and buying lottery tickets is about it when it comes to stuff to do on the 18th. I mean, it's nothing like 15 when you get your driver's permit. Or 16 with the license. 21 is obvious. 25 is when the car insurance rates go down, etc.

Anyway, she was kinda bummed that the sales clerk didn't "card" her. So, she flashed the license to make it official.

Well, in the McKinney household, we have a rule that we only purchase a lottery ticket once it gets over $80 million. I mean, we don't want to waste our 1 in 25.8 million chance of winning on a paltry $4 million starting drawing, right? Half the time we don't even know what the lotto winning amount is, so we've missed a few of those. But the dollar we spend usually results in over an hour of conversation about what we'll do with all the money. Hence, the entertainment is worth a buck.

Well, in lieu of the birthday, Kid1 has waived that rule for a prize roughly half that...the drawing is tonight.

So, wish Kid1 well on her last day among us middle class folks!

Or, on behalf of some classroom in West Texas, thanks for the crayons and construction paper and staplers!

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Diner's College Football Picks, Week #1

The Diner has been picking college football games against the point spread for years, and we're coming off one of our better seasons...last year we went 65-57-1 against the point spread, and 18-16 in the bowl season. We'll see how we do this year, and surprisingly, there are a lot of good matchups to start things off (and, as usual, last night we learned that a middle-to-lower tier SEC team can win against the upper echelon of the ACC. Not to mention that the PAC-10's 2nd best team can't even beat the best of the WAC--doing nothing to help their reputation as USC +9 spares):

On to the games:

Louisiana Tech (+13.5) at Auburn: Auburn's rebuilding, kids. New coach and 22 freshmen/redshirt freshmen are on the two-deep roster. The entire secondary is starting true freshmen. Only 75 guys on scholarship. Granted, there's been lots of positive buzz about new coach Gene Chizik (a very curious hire) but the cupboard is apparently bare on the plains. LaTech fired off 8 wins last year and went to a bowl. In fact, Auburn interviewed their coach before hiring Chizik. So, here's the deal: I think Auburn has more talent, but it's young. This team will struggle (they scored 7 touchdowns in 8 SEC games last season and have the quarterback they demoted as their starter), and may even be behind in the 4th quarter. I think Auburn will squeak out a win, but there's not a chance they'll cover the point spread unless things aren't as bleak as the faithful have been led to believe. Diner Prediction: Auburn 20, Louisiana Tech 17.

Virginia Tech (+6.5) vs. Alabama in Atlanta: There's a lot of Hokie hype as there always is, just like last year when some ACC team is paraded out as a media darling (like Clemson) and ABC tries to sell us on the idea that this game has early national title implications. It doesn't. Tech is overrated, and while Bama has question marks like an inexperienced offensive line and a new starting quarterback, it's safe to say that Bama's defense (returning 9 starters) is scary good. This one will look a lot like last year when the Tide took Clemson to the woodshed and it was over by halftime. This one won't be over that early. But it will be by the end of the 3rd quarter. Diner Prediction: Alabama 28, Virginia Tech 10.

B.Y.U. (+22) vs. Oklahoma in Dallas: OU is legit. There's a lot of talk about their young offensive line, but with returning Heisman winner Sam Bradford and their propensity to run up points against the Big 12 defenses (which have a ways to go before they get to SEC status), and well, BYU's defense isn't as good as 3/4 of the Big 12's. They moved this game to the coolest stadium mankind has ever seen for recruiting purposes and those recruits will get to see HD replay after HD replay on the 60-yard long, 20-yard high video screen that hangs over the field. Diner Prediction: Oklahoma 49, B.Y.U. 21.

Georgia (+5) at Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State is getting a lot of hype for being the 3rd best team in the Big 12 South. And no question that Dez Bryant is the best college receiver in the country, with an experienced quarterback at the helm in Zac Etheredge. And they're at home. But there has been turmoil this week in Stillwater, and Georgia is known for being road-warriors under Richt (30-4 in his tenure). Granted, they lost Moreno and Stafford, but something tells me that this'll be the week the Cowboys fall from the national pedestal. Diner Prediction: Georgia 24, Oklahoma State 20.

L.S.U. at Washington (+17.5): Seriously? The 2nd best team in the S.E.C. this year against a Pac-10 lower-tier team? L.S.U. hasn't lost to a Pac-10 team in 30 years, and they won't Saturday night. Even on the road, this one's over early. Diner Prediction: L.S.U. 35, Washington 10.

Navy (+21.5) at Ohio State: I think Ohio State will ride Terrell Pryor for all he's worth. And he's worth a lot now that he's got some experience under his belt. Navy will try to keep the ball away from Ohio State with their option offense and shorten the game, but the Buckeyes will score when they get it. The question is how often will they get it, and my guess is enough to rout the Midshipmen. Diner Prediction: Ohio State 45, Navy 17.

Baylor (+2) at Wake Forest: Baylor has hope, and his name is Robert Griffin. Watching him play last season was great and he's to Baylor what Pryor is to Ohio State. He makes things happen and he can win with his arm or his feet, and he'll enjoy the chance to showcase what he can do against a subpar Wake Forest defense. I really like getting points on the road for these Bears. They're better than most people might think. Diner Prediction: Baylor 30, Wake Forest 24.


Colorado State (+10.5) at Colorado: This one was moved to the Buffs home stadium rather than the Broncos' field in Denver. And the Rams are livid about it. Their fan base will be very small and while the Buffaloes struggled against them last year, this is still a case of better talent top-to-bottom. Even though neither team has announced who will start, talent will win out over gamesmanship. Diner Prediction: Colorado 28, Colorado State 17.

Ole Miss at Memphis (+17): Jevon Snead. An Ole Miss team ranked in the top-10 to start the season for the first time. Enthusiasm is extremely high in Oxford, and while I think the Rebels will fall a couple of times to better SEC west foes, the enthusiasm is for real. They're looking to make a statement, and while Memphis would win in a basketball game, this ain't basketball. Look for Ole Miss to try to wow the voters in this one. Diner Prediction: Ole Miss 41, Memphis 20.


Miami (+6) at Florida State: Remember when this game mattered? Both teams are down, and when both teams are down, go with experienced coach and big-time home environment. I maintain that the Seminole throwing the flaming spear into the 50-yard-line logo before kickoff is the most underrated college tradition going...which sets the faithful into a frenzy. Nothing more than a hunch here, but...Diner Prediction: Florida State 20, Miami 10.

There you have it, patrons. What do you think?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Stereotypical Middle-Age Man Statement

Kid1 turns 18 today.

I'm very proud of her and enjoy my relationship with her very much. All those things people tried to say about "wait until she's a teenager" haven't proven true in this case...she's actually made our parenting lives pretty easy, all in all.

And, as much as I tried to fight it, this morning my first thought was, "Where did all this time go? Tracy and I aren't old enough to be the parents of an 18-year-old."

Stereotypical, I know.

Self-centered, I know. I mean, it's about her today and my thoughts were about me today.

But I'm not sure I really know where all the time went.

And I'm pretty sure we're not old enough to be the parents of an 18-year-old.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

I showed up for my first day at work on this date in 1996. I became the fourth pastor on our church staff.

Today, I'll show up for my 4,749th day of work. For those of you needing that deciphered, including leap years, that means today is my 13th anniversary of serving the local body of believers in Christ who show up in our building.

Not too shabby for somebody who had a grader on a paper at seminary say that I'd never be in one church very long if I was insistent on teaching teenagers exegetically from Scripture, from a grace-based perspective, and had the sincere belief that teenagers are not part of the church of the future but rather gifted believers in Christ who should strive to help the local body of believers mature using those gifts and talents NOW. He also said that I'd never be able to get the ministry to a place where high schoolers led the middle school small groups. Yep. That's what he said. Think words aren't powerful? I remember them vividly and that was almost 15 years ago.

Anyway, a very heartfelt THANK YOU goes out to the really nice people at Crossroads Bible Church for making the choice to love me, warts and all--and we all know there are many--

...for these last 13 years.