AT&T U-verse

I overheard my wife battling over the phone with some foreigner about her problems with e-mail. We made a big mistake three years ago when we bundled everything with AT&T U-verse — phone, internet, television, cable and I don’t know what else. AT&T has us by the gonads.
Our problems started almost immediately. Their equipment was cheap and defective. It took two different repairmen to figure that out.
When we signed up, I told them to cancel one of our two house phones. We no longer needed two phone numbers. Our kids were grown up and gone. I had retired from Fox 8. We all had cell phones. We had too many phones and not enough to talk about. I told them to disconnect one of our numbers and I unplugged that phone from the wall. The next month, the disconnected number appeared on my bill. I assumed they would figure it out. When that number was still there on the next bill, I called them and that began a battle of principle. They screwed up my instructions and did not disconnect the line. “Your mistake,” I insisted. They proposed a compromise. They would forgive one month’s charges. I stood my ground and refused to pay them a dime. I was angry and stubborn. It amounted to about 80 bucks. After about two years the phone calls from the collection agency stopped.
Periodically, our internet goes haywire. We call and AT&T says it’s not their problem and tell us to call Yahoo or whatever outfit they’re blaming and we wind up talking with people who have a red dots on their foreheads. AT&T does not care.
This may sound harsh, but I believe that the CEO of AT&T should go to jail. Look at what’s happening to Jimmy Haslam. His customers didn’t even know they were being swindled. They didn’t feel it. Now I’m told by legal experts that Jimmy might go to jail.
Every time AT&T cheats me, I feel it. The pain and angst is always just a click away. We should not get angry at the poor sap in a foreign country with a red dot who fails to understand our problems, no matter how loud we talk. As football coach Paul Brown once said to the bus driver who lost his way driving the Browns to the airport, “I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at the person who hired you.”
That’s the way I feel about U-verse. I think the CEO of AT&T should spend 30 days in an urban jail sharing a commode with a street thug.
That’s all for today.

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Thoughts of sick minds

Bill Gunlocke passed these along to me. I don’t know where he got them and I don’t care. Just enjoy the wisdom.

Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Give him religion and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish.
~ Timothy Jones
*****
When the white missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.
~ Desmond Tutu
*****
America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real, but the moon landing was faked.
~ David Letterman
*****
I’m not a paranoid, deranged millionaire. God dammit! I’m a billionaire.
~ Howard Hughes
*****
After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box.
~ Italian proverb
*****
Men are like linoleum floors. Lay ‘em right and you can walk all over them for thirty years.
~ Betsy Salkind
*****
The only reason that they say, ‘Women and children first’ is to test the strength of the lifeboats.
~ Jean Kerr
*****
I’ve been married to a communist and a fascist, and neither would take out the garbage.
~ Zsa Zsa Gabor
*****
You know you’re a redneck if your home has wheels and your car doesn’t.
~ Jeff Foxworthy
*****
When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.
~ Prince Philip
*****
A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kickboxing.
~ Emo Philips.
*****
Wood burns faster when you have to cut and chop it yourself.
~ Harrison Ford
*****
The best cure for sea sickness is to sit under a tree.
~ Spike Milligan
*****
Lawyers believe that a man is innocent until proven broke.
~ Robin Hall
*****
Kill one man and you’re a murderer, kill a million and you’re a conqueror.
~ Jean Rostand.
*****
Having more money doesn’t make you happier. I have 50 million dollars but I’m just as happy as when I had 48 million.
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger.
*****
We are here on earth to do good unto others. What the others are here for, I have no idea.
~ W.H. Auden
*****
In hotel rooms I worry. I can’t be the only guy who sits on the furniture naked.
~ Jonathan Katz
*****
If life were fair, Elvis would still be alive today and all the impersonators would be dead.
~ Johnny Carson
*****
I don’t believe in astrology. I am a Sagittarius and we’re very skeptical.
~ Arthur C. Clarke
*****
Hollywood must be the only place on earth where you can be fired by a man wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a baseball cap.
~ Steve Martin
*****
Home cooking. Where many a man thinks his wife is.
~ Jimmy Durante
*****
As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind – every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.
~ John Glenn
*****
If toast always lands butter-side down and cats always land on their feet, what happens if you strap toast on the back of a cat?
~ Steven Wright
*****
America is so advanced that even the chairs are electric.
~ Doug Hamwell
*****
The first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone.
~ George Roberts
*****
If God had intended us to fly, he would have made it easier to get to the airport.
~ Jonathan Winters
*****
I have kleptomania, but when it gets bad, I take something for it.
~ Robert Benchley

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Tough day for Big Ten and “Les Mis”

The Big Ten finished its college football bowl season with a 2-5 record after going 1-4 on New Year’s Day. From what I can tell, that’s the worst record for any conference. Seven bowl games remain but the Big Ten is mercifully finished.

New Year’s Day also was a tough day for me and “Les Miserables.” I loved “Les Mis” on the stage and anxiously awaited its film debut which I saw today (Jan. 1). Clunk! Too long, too many long closeups, too tedious. Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe are actors, not singers, but they were acceptable because most of the songs are in minor chords. Most people who sing in church can sing dirges in minor chords. Nevertheless, you won’t mistake Anne, Hugh and Russell for Gordon McRae and Barbra Streisand.

“You know nothing about music,” scoffed my wife.

She’s right. I only know what sounds good to me. The story is about misery. The songs are about misery. It’s three hours of unmitigated misery.

One other comment and then I’ll get off my theater-critic soapbox. They took realism to a gritty extreme. Victor Hugo’s novel was set in early 19th century France, when poor people went years without bathing. The movie makeup department went to heroic extremes to make the actors look dirty. The interminably long closeups of filthy, unhappy faces wore me out. When we left the theater I wanted to go directly home and wash my face.

That’s all for now. Good luck to Jimmy Haslam.

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Toledo Whitmer slammed by OHSAA

After a 17-month investigation by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, Toledo Whitmer has forfeited all its football and basketball victories from the 2011-12 school year and also paid $50,000 to reimburse the OHSAA for the costs of the probe.

The problem centered around LeRoy Alexander, an illegal transfer, who is now a freshman football player at Nebraska.

Other schools in northwestern Ohio have viewed Whitmer cautiously for years. Although it is geographically located within the Toledo city limits, several years ago it broke away from the Toledo school district and formed its own school board. Whitmer’s current superintendent is Patrick Hickey.

The penalties taint the Division I powerhouse’s all-time greatest athletic year. In football it was a state semifinalist and in basketball it reached the state championship game. Whitmer defeated St. Edward in the state semifinals in Columbus last spring.

Because of the money involved, this represents the harshest penalty imposed by the OHSAA since Canton McKinley football was handed the death penalty in 1962 for recruiting violations. That year McKinley was not permitted to play a varsity football schedule because two boosters recruited a pair of downstate players and moved the families to Canton.

Both Hickey and OHSAA commissioner Dan Ross agree that the $50,000 settlement is not a fine, but reimbursement for the costs of detectives. Whitmer agreed to pay up and abandon its defense because it already piled up legal fees totaling $108,609. The total cost of this case, which has now reached $158,609, will come out of Whitner’s general fund. Superintendent Hickey called it a “sickening punch to the stomach.”

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Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

This is the ballot I have waited for. My baseball Hall of Fame ballot landed in my mailbox today. It always arrives in the first week of December and the deadline for voting is the last week in December. Results will be announced on January 9th at 2 pm.

This year’s ballot is particularly interesting because it includes an unusually large number of new names — 24 first-year candidates — including the notorious Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens.

No, I won’t vote for them. None of the three. Statistically, they’re off the charts — Bonds, the all-time home run king with 762 round trippers and seven National League MVP awards; Sosa 609 home runs; Clemens 354 wins and a record seven Cy Young awards.

But they are forever tainted. They were juicers, headliners in the steroid era.

Keep in mind, the rules for consideration have been modified in recent years. The criterion for election includes playing record, ability, INTEGRITY, SPORTSMANSHIP, CHARACTER AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO HIS TEAMS. Those minor details were not always included.

We are under no deadline to render judgment on anybody. We have 15 years. They’ll be on the ballot for 15 years as long as they receive five percent of the vote each year, which is likely for Bonds, Sosa and Clemens. Last year, for example, 573 sportswriters voted. Roughly the same number will vote this year, so they require only about 30 votes to stay alive. It takes 75 per cent of the vote for election. Last year Barry Larkin was elected with 495 votes.

Fifteen years provides time to understand the steroid era. Already Mark McGwire has been bypassed six times. Last year he received 20 per cent of the vote. Rafael Palmeiro has been ignored twice before. Last year he garnered 13 per cent. Based on numbers alone, they deserve strong consideration. But they were alleged juicers. We need more time before we put an “X” next to their names.

Among the the other first-year candidates, Curt Schilling and David Wells will get some attention, but they are longshots for election.

Four former Indians are on the ballot for the first time. They are Sandy Alomar, Kenny Lofton, Julio Franco and — aghast! — Jose Mesa. I’ll vote for Alomar and Lofton.

I’ll also vote for Lee Smith, the great reliever who is running out of time. This is Smith’s 11th year on the ballot. Last year he got 50 per cent. I fear he’ll never make it. Jack Morris got 68 per cent last year and Jeff Bagwell 56 per cent. Morris has two years remaining. This is his 14th year on the ballot. Bagwell has plenty of time. This is his third year.

Anyway, I’m now going to get started on my homework. I’ll tell you how I voted in a few days.

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Afghan Soldier Saves Browns

Here’s a future scenario for the Browns.

After years of travail, the Cleveland Browns finally had the perfect team. The only missing part was a good quarterback. All the colleges and even the Canadian and European Leagues were thoroughly scouted, to no avail.

Then one night while watching CNN the coach saw a war-zone scene in Afghanistan . In one corner of the background, he spotted a young Afghan Muslim soldier with a truly incredible arm. He threw a hand-grenade straight into a 15th story window 100 yards away.

KABOOM!

He threw another hand-grenade 75 yards away, right into a chimney.

KA-BLOOEY!

Then he threw another at a passing car going 90 mph.

BULLS-EYE!

“I’ve got to get this guy!” Coach said to himself. “He has the perfect arm!”

So, he brings him to the States and teaches him the great game of football. And the Browns go on to win the Super Bowl.

The young Afghan is hailed as the great hero of football, and when the coach asks him what he wants, all the young man wants is to call his mother.

“Mom,” he says into the phone, “I just won the Super Bowl!”

“I don’t want to talk to you, the old Muslim woman says.”You are not my son!”

“I don’t think you understand, Mother,” the young man pleads. “I’ve won the greatest sporting event in the world. I’m here among thousands of my adoring fans.”

“No! Let me tell you!” his mother retorts. “At this very moment, there are gunshots all around us. The neighborhood is a pile of rubble. Your two brothers were beaten within an inch of their lives last week, and I have to keep your sister in the house so she doesn’t get raped!” The old lady pauses, and then tearfully says,
“I will never forgive you for making us move to Cleveland !!!!

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Whitmer favored over Moeller

Toledo Whitmer is a five-point favorite over Cincinnati Moeller in the Division I state championship football game Saturday night in Canton. Here are the official lines for all games this weekend, including halftime lines.

FRIDAY
D-6 Maria Stein Marion Local 4 1/2 (51) Newark Catholic
D-4 Clinton Massie 7 1/2 (71) St. Clairsville
D-2 Toledo CC 2 1/2 (53) Trotwood Madison

SATURDAY
D-3 Akron SVSM 20 (58) Bellevue
D-5 Coldwater 7 (40) Kirtland
D-1 Toledo Whitmer 5 (55) Cin. Moeller

FIRST HALF ONLY
Maria Stein 2 1/2 (26)
Clinton 4 (35 1/2)
Toledo CC 1 (26)
St. V 13 1/2 (28 1/2)
Coldwater 4 (20)
Whitmer 3 (27 1/2)

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High School Football Betting Lines

We’re down to the final four with Mentor and Moeller favored in the Division I semifinal games this Saturday night. Here are the latest lines in all six divisions, for information purposes only. Divisions 2, 4 and 6 will be played Friday night. The odd-numbered divisions — 1, 3, and 5 — will be Saturday night.

D-1
Mentor 6 1/2 (70) Toledo Withrow
Cin. Moeller 13 1/2 (54) Pickerington North

D-2
Toledo Central Cath. 20 1/2 (56) Aurora
Trotwood-Madison 13 (53) New Albany

D-3
Akron St. Vincent 19 (58) Dover
Thurgood Marshall 28 (76) Bellevue

D-4
Dayton Norwayne 13 1/2 (69) St. Clairsville
Col. Hartley 10 1/2 (54) Clinton-Massie

D-5
Kirtland 23 (54) Liberty Union
Coldwater 20 (47) Findlay Liberty-Benton

D-6
Mogadore 4 (51) Newark Catholic
Maria Stein Marion Local 6 (49) McComb

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Notre Dame-USC Revisited

I know what you’re going to think in just a few seconds. He can’t remember where he parked his car but he remembers minute details of a football game played 48 years ago.

I plead guilty, your honor.

Unbeaten and number one-ranked Notre Dame travels to Los Angeles this Saturday to meet the Southern California Trojans in circumstances almost identical to their 1964 clash at the Coliseum.

Forty-eight years ago the Fighting Irish also were unbeaten and ranked first in the nation, needing only a victory over USC to clinch the national championship. Ara Parseghian, in his first year as head coach at Notre Dame, shocked the world with one of the greatest turn-arounds in sports history.

The previous season under interim head coach Hugh Devore the Irish stumbled to a 2-7 record (the Iowa game was cancelled out of respect for the assassinated president John F. Kennedy).

Parseghian arrived in 1964 and performed his first miracle. Notre Dame rolled to nine straight victories. Only one game was close. That was a 17-15 squeaker over Pitt in Pittsburgh (the first Notre Dame game I covered for The Plain Dealer). The other eight winning margins ranged from 19 to 40 points, an average margin of 24 points. Was Notre Dame that good or did the Irish benefit from a weak schedule? None of Notre Dame’s opponents was ranked in the top 20 that year.

Nevertheless, Notre Dame was ranked #1 and needed only one more victory to clinch the national championship. Only Southern Cal stood in the way. In those days Notre Dame did not accept invitations to post-season bowl games for academic reasons. (That changed in 1969 when the Cotton Bowl waved a million-dollar check under Father Hesburgh’s nose.)

Notre Dame held a 17-13 lead and had the national championship in its grasp until USC scored with 1:33 left in the game to upset the Irish, 20-17.

Two years later Notre Dame put the finishing touches on the 1966 national championship by blasting USC, 51-0, in its final game.

A victory over USC will not clinch this year’s national championship for Notre Dame, but a loss would end all hope by knocking the Irish out of the BCS Championship Game.

That’s all for now.

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Wildest Saturday Ever

That headline may be an exaggeration, but not by much. Three overtime football games, each with a bearing on state or national championships. Before getting to the colleges, I’m going to comment on Mentor’s 57-56 playoff victory over St. Ignatius in triple overtime. Mentor advances to next Saturday night’s state semifinal game against Toledo Whitmer.

The ultimate story of the game was Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno’s decision to go for two points after scoring in the third overtime. The conventional one-point kick would have sent the game to a fourth overtime tied at 56. Instead, Mentor elected to win or lose the game right there. It was a wise decision. Both teams were scoring at will because their defenses were exhausted. The chances increased that the game would be decided by an accident or a mistake — a fumble, an interception, a 15-yard penalty, a sack, etc. Trivisonno chose to control his own destiny.

That’s a decision you should make only when you are second on offense in overtime. Trivisonno would have had to wait until the fifth overtime for the same circumstance.

Trivisonno remembered all too well losing the state championship game to Hilliard Davidson in 2006. The circumstances were reversed at that time. Hilliard Davidson coach Bryan White made the decision to go for two points after Mentor scored first in the second overtime. The gamble was successful and Hilliard Davidson won, 36-35.

Mentor has now surrendered exactly 56 points in two consecutive games to the murderer’s row of high school football and won them both.

Now, on to the colleges. Number one ranked Oregon fell from the ranks of the unbeaten Saturday when Stanford shocked the Ducks, 17-14, in overtime. That same day number two ranked Kansas State was crushed by Baylor. All of this elevates unbeaten Notre Dame to first place in the rankings and to the top of the BCS standings with Alabama moving up to second. In the meantime, Ohio State remained unbeaten by beating Wisconsin in overtime. Notre Dame and Ohio State are the last men standing — the only unbeaten teams left in big time college football.

All of this sets the stage for Ohio State to become the first team on probation to win a share of the national championship.

If both Notre Dame and Alabama win their remaining games, they will meet in the BCS championship game in Miami. Notre Dame will be favored over Southern Cal Saturday night in Los Angeles. Alabama still has two monumental hurdles — Friday at home against LSU and following that the Southeastern Conference championship game.

Suppose Alabama beats Notre Dame in the national championship game. That would leave everybody with at least one loss except Ohio State. Continue the supposing. Suppose Ohio State beats Michigan Saturday. The Buckeyes would be all alone as the only major team with a perfect record.

Since Ohio State is on probation due to that little incident in the tatoo parlor, the Buckeyes are excluded from the bowl picture. The Associated Press, however, includes them in its weekly ratings and the Buckeyes have been moving up every week.

When the dust settles, Ohio State could be ranked first in the AP poll and it could rightfully claim to be the national champion.

This is not an unlikely chain of events. I love it when life really gets complicated.

That’s all for now.

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