Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A veteran's reflection; the prelude

  As some of you know, I served for 10 years in the United States Army. Today is one of the most important days of the year to me because it is the one set aside by America for me to reflect on my time in service and to remember the many men and women who wore the uniform with me and before me.
  So for the rest of this week I rant not out of anger, but out of a pensive reverence to my fellow brothers and sisters in arms, and the many great times we shared. I realize that my bio is already contained in this blog, but if you will allow me, I will use the next three days to expound upon my time in the Army.
  It all began on a summer day, when a recruiter called my house and woke me from a nap. I was a junior in high school and was on summer vacation going into my senior year. SSG Reeves introduced himself and asked if he could come out to my house and talk with me.
  My response was more dare than acceptance, see we lived at the end of the levi that used to be called Brookside Rd (those who are from Stockton know what I am talking about) which was so far away from anyone that for him to find us, he was going to have to work for it. But work he did and he found his way, with little help, to our little trailer.
  What happened next was a blur. He started dropping names of people I knew from school that he had already talked to and made contact with. It was idle chit chat as he laid down the company line like a pro, but then came the question, "so what do you do at Lincoln?" to which I relied "oh, I run track and play in the band," he cut me off...What followed were the words that would forever change my life.
  "You know the Army has a could get paid to play. And earn money for college!"
  At that very second I was already reaching for a pen and ready to sign the papers. There was nothing more that man needed to say, he had his recruit, I just wanted to know when I could start.
  Now I feel it necessary to fill you in a little on my plans before I ate that golden carrot. Until I heard the good Staff Sergeant's magical song, it was my intention to attend the University of Nevada with the end goal of getting my degree in music and coming back to Stockton to hopefully become the band director at my high school Alma mater.
  We were not rich, and I had no clue how I was going to get to Nevada to go to school, so it kind of goes without saying that when Reeves told me that Uncle Sam could help me do it...I was sold.    
  So as it went, my senior year in high school was spent preparing to leave Stockton and join the traveling circus otherwise known as the Army, which incidentally has more carnies... but I digress.
  It came to pass that on the 12th of July 1994, Private First Class Rodrigo Villagomez boarded a plane heading for Fort Leonard Wood Missouri.
  Follow me on my journey through basic and onto my AIT (advanced individual training) in tomorrow's post. But to tide you over and for research purposes, here is a brief look at the transition from civilian to soldier. While the uniforms have changed since I went through reception battalion, the same basic concept remains.    

  Tomorrow... from Leonard Wood to Little Creek to Bliss; the early years.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Earth to Vick: Beggars can't be choosers

  So it seems that the sporting world has given me plenty to keep my rant plate full lately. And who better to rev my engines and start the week off than Michael Vick.
  I just read a very disturbing story in which Vick seems to be voicing his displeasure regarding his role with the Eagles. Now this wouldn't be much of an issue with any other player in the NFL, or any sport for that matter, but the fact that it is a player who has just been reinstated from a 23 month prison sentence for running an illegal dog fighting operation, (back story here for non-NFLers) makes me especially ranty.
  You know it's not so much that I care about the whole legal issues, there are hundreds of players out there who have done far worse than he and are still playing. No, it is the fact that he is choosing to complain about his role on a team that had the decency to give him a second chance despite his transgressions.
  But really, what did he expect in the first place signing with the Eagles when he knew full well that the team already had a pro bowl quarterback in the form of Donovan McNabb, who clearly was not going to lose his starting job to a ex-con who hadn't played football in over two years.
  And might I add Mr. Vick, there were not too many other teams knocking at your door holding corsages. The Eagles were pretty much the only team in the league willing to take you, and this is how you repay them? Do the words, ungrateful bastard mean anything to you? If not, they should.
  One last shovel of dirt that I will pile on Vick before I let him off the hook. He said in the article that he "won't be a wildcat guy." Huh? What Atlanta ran while Vick was at the helm may have not been called the wildcat, but when you rush for 1,039 yards as a QB versus only 2,474 passing... I was always told growing up that if it looks like a duck... just saying. Gimmicky much?
   So as you ponder these words, here is a tribute to all the many K-9's who sacrificed their lives so that Michael Vick could complain about his second chance in the NFL...

  Thank you Michael Vick for showing us that criminals have the right to be ungrateful for the opportunity to make millions of dollars playing a game while the rest of your fellow inmates at best get to look forward to making thousands at a dead end job because of their record.
  It's refreshing to know that you learned something from your incarceration and bankruptcy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dr. Dre vs. Lil Wayne (Not a mashup)

     Every generation has produced it's fair share of crap when it comes to music. Even the greatest musicians of their times were not above criticism. But none have earned it more than today's hip-hop artists. Yes I am talking to you Lil Wayne and T-Pain.
     It dawned on me last night when I started listening to Blackstreet's No Diggity which gave me a hankering for some Dr. Dre which naturally led to Snoop, then to Eminem and pretty much right on down the ladder of 90's era rap and hip-hop artists. It was as I was lost in the nostalgic wonder of my high school days that I came to this simple realization...
     "The days of talented rap artists are long gone, and may never return in my lifetime."
     As that thought rolled through my mind, I shed a silent tear and tipped my Pepsi to the true G's that kept my trunk slappin throughout my tender youth.
     Now a moment of clarification for all the "haters" out there who think I have no clue what I am talking about. I completely understand that rap has always, since its invention, represented the culture on the streets and it was a way for those who had it rough to express themselves in a form of art as American as apple pie. I understand that.
     I also know that as long as it has been in existence, there have been rappers who have written songs about drugs, sex, violence, and the overall disdain for the establishment, hell some of the best rap groups wrote nothing but hate music.
    When groups like NWA were telling everyone to "f*@k the police," it wasn't so some big record label would fly them to Europe on a world tour, or even so MTV could play 15 seconds of their song while Carson Daily made little girls scream on Times Square. No, the sang it because they were passionate about the art they created.
     Now it seems that there is no message besides how awesome an artist thinks they are, or how many b*@#$!s they can pull, or how many shorties are in apple bottom jeans, in the rap songs of today. Evey song is about the bling, the fluff, there is no meat to it.
     Besides that everyone is lazy many songs can I stomach that have to do with lollipops before you see my lunch...just saying. And what makes it worse is now with auot-pitch as all the rage, artists don't even have to be talented, just well backed.
     I leave you though with what started this whole thing... Blackstreet's hit, No Diggity.

Blackstreet- No Diggity
Uploaded by ineptique. - Watch more music videos, in HD!\

     Far cry from this right? I know I miss the good old days too!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Have you seen this Offense?

     Missing: Explosive San Francisco 49er offense capable of shredding apart secondaries with pinpoint accurate passes and carve up defensive lines with precision blocking that opened up huge holes in which a running back could run for days.
     Last seen in the mid to late 1990's. They were spotted wearing the number's 16, 8, 33, 32, 82, and 80 among others.
     Reward if found: A trip to the Super Bowl.
     All kidding aside folks, as a Niner fan, I am sick, physically sick, of moral victories like the one this past Sunday as the Red and Gold fell to the Colts 18-14 in a game that could only have been described as gut wrenching at best.
     I grew up in an era of San Francisco football where the West Coast offense was first off the West Coast offense and second was played to perfection by the best team in the league year in and year out.
    Since the departure of Steve Young and even Jeff Garcia, it seems as if the hapless decedents of football royalty have forgotten how to run the kingdom that has been handed to them. The once proud, unstoppable and feared 49er offense had turned into the sputtering little engine that can't on a weekly basis.
     Oh there are sparks...there are great plays like Frank Gore busting loose for a long TD run, or even the occasional long beautiful spiraled throw from Shaun Hill, Alex Smith, J.T. O'sullivan or whatever QB popped up on the carousal, but those sparks have yet to catch fire.
     I am not going to bore you, or depress you as the case may be, with stats.. I could, but for the sake of my sanity and yours, lets just say they are bad when it come to anything to with moving the ball and worse when it comes to putting it in the end zone. Forgive me Dr. Seuss for biting your style but instead of raw numbers that may make your eyes bleed, permit me a short limerick.
     They can no do it on the ground
     A consistent running game they have not found
     They can no do it through the air
     It seems the greatest Niner arms are sitting in an armchair
     They're just plain awful and it seems no answer can be found.

     Really though, I may joke, but the point is that unless they find a way to score more consistently, the 49ers are going to have settle for another "rebuilding" year in which they chalk up all of the 2009 failures to a "growing" franchise.
     But the truth of the matter is something massive needs to be done and done soon if San Francisco can even hope to win the NFC West this season, and it is not out of reach either. What that is, I can not guess. I could say change the quarterback, but that's been done, more than once. I could say go out and get an explosive receiver, but that too has been done.
      It seems, if I want to see a powerful 49er offense this year, I have to watch my old NFL films videos from the glory day with Joe and Steve at the helm. Until then, I am forced to suck down the disappointment that is the 2009 squad.
     Here is one cool thing that happened this Sunday, it was a Colts play, but it was still cool and on the bright side, gave me a few much needed fantasy points with the Reggie Wayne TD catch.

      It might be a long time until we see another dominant offense comparable to the dynasty days, but I for one am willing to weather the storm and hope that one day I will get to see points on the scoreboard that don't belong to the opposition.
     At the end of the day, the fact that you "hung in there" with an undefeated team who on paper should have annihilated you does not put a W on your record, and "moral victories" as much as that term is meant to soften the blow, don't win championships.