Bucs Blog! 2018 Season, Week 3.

Yeah. That was the reality check we were expecting and probably needed.

Steelers 30 – Bucs 27

At home on a Monday night before a pumped-up crowd and a national audience, with everyone getting to watch (a truncated portion of) former Tampa coach and generally awesome human being Tony Dungy’s induction into the Bucs’ “Ring of Honor” at Raymond James Stadium, and the team off to its best start in eight years? A backup quarterback who seemed to have tapped into something supernatural as he led the team to a pair of impressive wins while racking up no shortage of stats and accoladed for himself?

Well, if you’re a longtime Bucs fan like I’ve been, literally since the day the team’s creation was announced way back when, then you likely have seen some variation of this story before, and you went into last night’s contest with fingers crossed and managed expectations.

First off, new rule: NO MORE RING OF HONOR INDUCTIONS WHEN THE BUCS ARE ON NATIONAL TV. I mean, sheesh…it seems like every time this happens — Every. Time. — the team finds a way to pop the clutch. It’s a curse, I’m tellin’ ya.

All right, all right. Let’s get on with the game itself, which is really the tale of two teams. In the first half, there was the uncertain, indecisive, and just plain saddled-with-bad-luck Buccaneers, unable to stop the Steelers offense or hold their pass rush off their quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started the season on fire during the first two games, had a very rough first half, throwing three interceptions on successful passing attempts, including one deep in Tampa territory that allowed the Steelers to score a defensive touchdown.

Two quarters into the game, Pittsburgh was up 30-10 and it was looking like a route. Given the NFL’s recent propensity for changing rules in what many critics call a “softening of the game,” I was half-expecting someone to yell “Mercy!” at the half so everybody could go home.

Good thing they didn’t, as that’s when things started to get exciting.

The Bucs did a pretty good impression of a roaring comeback in the second half, holding the Steelers scoreless and stuffing their run attack while Fitz and the Tampa offense began chipping away at Pittsburgh’s lead. A couple of heart-breaking plays dangled a full-on come-from-behind victory in front of all our faces. One was an incredible punt return by wide receiver DeSean Jackson which was nullified by a penalty back upfield. Later, a pass play from Fitzpatrick to Chris Godwin, who at first looked as though he’d managed to avoid being touched by any Steelers defenders going to the ground to make the catch, resulted in Godwin getting up and scampering untouched to the end zone for a wacky yet still legal score. But, replay showed his foot tapped the shoulder of a Pittsburgh player. Bummer.

FYI? I was totally cheering and then crying at the TV during both of those plays.

Against some seriously stacked odds, Fitz and the Bucs managed to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to just 3 points, with more than 5 minutes left in the game. The recipe for a comeback was almost complete. However, despite their inability to score during the second half, the Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense still managed to keep drives alive and – more importantly – keep the Tampa defense on the field and the clock running in their favor. A couple of late first downs just before the 2-minute warning were all Pittsburgh needed to take a knee and run out the clock. Game over.

Though he had a rough – and I mean rough – first half, Ryan Fitzpatrick can hold his head up high.30 completions on 50 passing attempts for over 400 yards and three touchdowns help to ease the sting of those three interceptions. He helped the Bucs get off to a great start on this still fresh-smelling new season, and dug deep to damn-near pull off a miracle at the end last night. Not too many people gave him or the team any real chance of starting out in any sort of positive fashion, and most were hoping the season didn’t descend into a 0-3 Dumpster fire before any decision was made about bringing starting QB Jameis Winston back to the lineup.

Besides, Winston’s personal issues need to be dealt with, once and for all. Game suspensions don’t really address the underlying issue which, as the news will show anyone willing to listen or read, rampant throughout the worlds of sports, entertainment, and politics. Anything less than a full-throated denouncing and punishment for that sort of inappropriate conduct is a failure of leadership.

Anyway…..

It’s a sure bet that even as I write this, the QB decision has been made by Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, as the team needs to be in short week prep mode for a road game this coming Sunday against the Chicago Bears. I’d like to see Fitz play at least one more game, if for no other reason than to give Winston time to get back into the regular season rhythm of things. I also know that the team has a lot of money invested in Winston, and they’ll want him doing what they’re paying him to do, plus there’s just no denying the energy he brings when he suits up.

(I’m damned glad I’m not the one having to make that call.)

The loss drops Tampa to 2-1, in a three-way tie for top of the NFC South Division, following wins by Carolina and New Orleans over the weekend. Atlanta, having been on the bad end of that Saints victory, falls to 1-2, but we all know the NFC South is a scrappy group and this ain’t over. Not by a long shot.

Next up? I already told you: the Bucs head to Chicago to take on da Bears, who are also 2-1 and will be playing before their always jazzed up home crowd. Here’s hoping Tampa – along with whoever’s taking the snaps – can shake off this loss and keep on keepin’ on.

Bucs life, yo.

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It’s been a while, so let’s do an “Ask Dayton” thing.

I’m busying myself with a couple of different writing projects, so I’m barricading myself in my office today. Still, that allows a bit of time here and there for these sorts of shenanigans.

So, here’s the deal: Ask me anything, if you’re so inclined, and I’ll do my best to provide a brief yet thoughtful answer. If I’m unable to accomplish this seemingly straightforward feat, I’ll instead craft a wiseass comment, tailored and customized especially for you! It’s sort of like an “AMA” over on Reddit, but without the requirement of me needing to gargle with a bottle of Purell once it’s all said and done.

Asker’s choice, so far as the topic goes. We can talk about writing, pop culture bullshit, deep thoughtful musings on the duality of man and the blurred line between good and evil, how science has finally proven to all those whiny shits that using two spaces after a period isn’t the global calamity they think it is, why KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park deserves to be reimagined with Steel Panther, or how we so desperately need a Star Trek musical episode or film, whatever.

I reserve the right not to answer anything I deem too personal or inappropriate for this particular venue, but this is a rule I’ve only rarely had to invoke. Still, it never hurts to make such things clear up front.

Okey-dokey, then. Who’s got a question?

horshack

Talking Klingons and the Klingon Travel Guide on the Bound By Honor podcast!

You gotta love those Klingons.

I mean, I know I do…enough that I write about them on occasion. Such was the case with last year’s Hidden Universe Travel Guides – Star Trek: The Klingon Empire, in which I did my best to make the Klingon homeworld and various other planets under imperial rule sound like the most awesome vacation destinations you never knew you wanted to visit. My ploy seems to have worked, as I’ve received a number of notes and messages from people who’ve decided that’s where they’re headed for their next anniversary, birthday, spring break, or whatever.

You know…just as soon as there actually is a Klingon Empire, and Southwest Airlines adds it to their routes.

Anyway…

Last week, I sat down with hosts “Juvan,” “Jorn,” and “Ja’Jim” for an interview for Bound By Honor, their podcast devoted to Star Trek and Star Trek books. Our discussion covered several topics, including my early days as a Star Trek fan and my secret writer origin story before we move on to discussing the writing of the Klingon travel guide.

During our talk, I was surprised (and flattered!) that a few Klingon-focused fan groups have actually been using the book along with others such as Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s Star Trek: The Klingon Art of War as resources to help them flesh out various aspects of Klingon culture, world-building, and so on. It’s always fun to hear your work has been well-received by readers, but this is definitely taking things to another level. 🙂

The interview, which runs about an hour, has actually been labeled as “Part 1” of a two-part look at the Klingon travel guide. Part 2, coming in the next week or so, will focus on their review of the book itself. Meanwhile, have a listen to our little chat:

Klingon Assault Group – Bound By Honor Podcast: Dayton Ward Interview

Many thanks to my hosts for having me on. I had a fun time, and perhaps we’ll have reason to chat again sometime in the near future!

Bucs Blog! 2018 Season, Week 2.

Holy hell….Tampa’s 2-0!

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Bucs 27 – Eagles 21

Tampa backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had another solid day, subbing once again for Jameis Winston as the Bucs took on the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles. Fitz collected 27 pass completions on 33 attempts, torching Philly’s pass defense for 400+ yards and touchdown throws to four different receivers. That included a 75-yard beauty to DeSean Jackson on the game’s very first play. Welcome to Tampa, Eagles.

Fitz also got sacked twice and had one pass picked off, but the resulting damage was minimal as the Bucs defense held Philly to three plays and out on the ensuing possession. Elsewhere, Tampa’s running game was, to put it kindly, “subpar,” totaling a measly 43 yards on 23 carries. That’s an area which requires quick and significant improvement if the Bucs want to be in this for the long haul.

On defense? Tampa gave up 350+ yards to Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who completed 35 of 48 passes and notched a TD throw of his own. The D did scrap their way to sack Foles three times, and despite two rushing touchdowns held the Philadelphia running attack to 91 yards on the ground.

So, yeah…not smooth sailing or anything, and for a while it looked like the Bucs might be trying to give away the damned thing. After jumping out to a 27-7 lead early in the 3rd Quarter, Tampa’s last four possessions of the game ended in – in order – a punt, a lost fumble, a punt, and another punt.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia scored 14 unanswered points even though the Bucs defense was doing a decent job keeping things at bay. As is so often the case, it came down to the Eagles’ final possession with quarterback Nick Foles trying to engineer a come-from-behind victory with seconds bleeding away. Thankfully, the Tampa D had enough gas in the tank to thwart Philly’s last, lateral-infested final play to drain the clock once and for all.

It’s a win, baby! I’ll take it, especially when pretty much everyone was predicting how the defending champs would to a fine job disassembling my favorite pirate crew. Hah! HAH, I SAY!

Today’s win moves the Bucs to 2-0, their best start since 2010. They retain the top spot in the NFC South Division. The New Orleans Saints won today over Cleveland, and the Atlanta Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers, so everybody in the division who’s not the Bucs sits at 1-1. These standings mean jack and shit at this point in the season because we all know how these four teams play against each other, and how they generally like to keep us guessing as far into the season as possible.

Next up for Tampa? They’re at home on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who just endured a nail-biting loss to Kansas City today. The Steelers are still searching for their first win of the season, and no way will the Bucs want to give that to them. Not at home in front of a national audience.

So, you know where I’ll be next Monday night.

Bucs Life, amirite?

Your Moment of TrekZen*.

“They were supposed to wear the brown pants. Oh well. Maybe next time.”

Deadpool-Spock

This hilarious gem comes to us by way of Canadian artist Marco D’Alfonso. Be sure to check out his website and his DeviantArt page for all kinds of awesome pop culture mashup goodness.

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)

Reading about writing about war.

Huh?

Yeah, I know. Bit of a tongue twister. I’m such a stinker, ain’t I?

Reading books on various military topics was something I started when I was a teenager, thanks to my uncle and his rather voluminous library. Later, when I was wearing my own uniform, the Commandant of the Marine Corps instituted a rank-specific reading list as part of our continuing “professional military education program. Today, such lists are commonplace across all branches of the service, and individual units even have their own additional lists to foster guided discussions and other education-related activities. They typically include titles focusing on history and leadership including biographies and memoirs, and other topics relevant to the profession of arms and the challenges our military faces, such as strategic and regional studies.

Continue reading “Reading about writing about war.”

Bucs Blog! 2018 Season, Week 1.

Okay, I’m gonna try this again.

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Bucs 48 – Saints 40

My “Bucs Blog” bits have been a part of my blog for going on a decade now. Every week, I’d analyze the latest game and offer up the casual, not-at-all-expert, sometimes giddy and sometimes frustrated viewpoints of just and other Bucs fan. I’ve followed the team since their inception in 1976. Aside from a couple of years when my father and I had season tickets (the early, sucky years), I spent most of my childhood falls and winters working as a vendor at old Tampa Stadium. Aside from my family, it’s one of the few things I still miss about living and having grown up in Tampa.  It’s a little slice of my hometown that I can take with me wherever I go.

Last year was the first time I gave up on the Bucs Blog entries before the season ended. I stopped on Week 12, by which point the Bucs fell to 4-7 on the year. I guess they decided to smack me for my faltering loyalty, as they proceeded to win the next five games and only just missed the playoffs due to a tiebreaker.

All righty, then. I’ve learned my lesson. Onward!

Over the spring and summer, I didn’t pay too much attention to Tampa’s off-season goings-on. I don’t typically get excited by the draft and all the “drama” accompanying it, so I was out of the loop so far as who the Bucs acquired, either through that venue or via other means. I did hear about quarterback Jameis Winston’s 3-game suspension which would kick off this new season and gave brief thought to how that might affect the team’s stated goals of improving offensive production and so on and so forth.

What I did remember was that last year, backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick did a fine job holding the line when called upon to step in for Winston. He’s proven to be a reliable #2 during his time with the Bucs, so I wasn’t too worried but at the same time, I didn’t set my expectations too high so far as getting the new season underway.

Well, hush my mouth.

Fitzpatrick was a beast today during Tampa’s season opener on the road against their NFC South Division rivals, the New Orleans Saints. 21 pass completions on 28 attempts, notching over 400 yards in the air and four touchdown throws? And he ran in another one? No sacks? Who is this dude?

Fitz benefitted from an embarrassment of riches,  completing passes to six different receivers including an absolutely beautiful 58-yard frozen rope to wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Tampa’s ground game was decent, with four different rushers racking up 112 yards. Fitzpatrick was responsible for 36 of those (along with his aforementioned rushing TD. Beast, yo.)

On the other side of the ball? Tampa’s defense had its moments, recovering two New Orleans fumbles, tacking on an extra touchdown for the Bucs’ side of the scoreboard, and managing to claw their way back to Saints QB Drew Brees once. They also stuffed the NO running attack by giving up only 43 yards, though they did allow Saints running back Alvin Kamara to slide into the end zone twice. As for pass defense, well…this might be something that needs addressing in short order, as they let Brees pull down 430+ passing yards along with three TD passes. So, yeah…some things to work on.

But hey! An opening day win on the road against a division opponent? Hell yeah, I’ll take it. Nice job, Bucs.

So, Tampa begins the new season at 1-0, claiming first dibs on the top of the NFC South ladder. The Carolina Panthers are in second place after grabbing a 16-8 win over the Dallas Cowboys, which just breaks my heart. Bringing up the rear are the Atlanta Falcons, who lost on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Next up for the Bucs? At home to face off against those same Eagles. Given the low score Philly grabbed against Atlanta, I’m hopeful that this could be another fun one for Tampa.

Raise the sails and prime the cannons. It’s a Bucs Life, yo!

Happy Birthday, Star Trek!

“Space…the final frontier….”

These are the voyages where the legend began, 52 years ago tonight!

I’ve mentioned this before (about a zillion times), but my earliest memories include Star Trek to some degree. I wasn’t old enough to watch the show during its original broadcast run, but I watched the reruns every day after school. Beyond that, I had the Mego figures and that crazy bridge set. I built the AMT models, and I read the occasional Gold Key comic book or poster book or collection of James Blish episode adaptations.

All of that was just filler of course. Anchoring all of that were the reruns. Always, the reruns.

Back then, before VCRs, DVD, iTunes or NetFlix, you had to wait for your favorite episodes to cycle back around in the rotation. I watched the series on a little black and white television and its crappy little antenna as the show was broadcast on a low-power local UHF station in Tampa. Depending on the time of day and prevailing weather conditions, I might not always get a decent picture. If I was out in the boonies somewhere–like my aunt’s house–I might have to fiddle with the antenna throughout the episode, and as often as not I might be forced to choose between having a picture or having sound.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that today also marks the 45th anniversary of the animated Star Trek series, which premiered on NBC on this date in 1973. I did catch (most of) those episodes during their initial run, and the show helped to spark a lot of the Trek-related toys and other merchandise which came out in the mid 1970s, like those aforementioned Mego action figures.

Today, of course, I have Star Trek literally at my fingertips: Blu-rays on the shelf or episodes streaming over the internet, and I even have my favorite episodes stored on my phone. Then there are the books (Fun fact: I’ve written a few of those, in case you were wondering), comics, role-playing games, computer games, toys, models, websites, and pretty much anything you’d care to name. Today, Star Trek is everywhere. Hold up a picture of the original Enterprise or Kirk and Spock, and most people will know what you’re talking about.

Star Trek looks pretty dapper for 52. Enjoy your cake.

August writing wrap-up.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand just like that, we’re at the months that end with “….ber.”

2018 has just been screaming along, amirite?

The kids are back to school, work continues apace, summer’s pretty much over except for a last gasp attempt by Clan Ward to have a bit of fun over this Labor Day weekend. In and around all of that? There’s a whole lotta writin’ goin’ on around here.

How’d things go, last month? Well, you tell me:

Continue reading “August writing wrap-up.”