Bucs Blog! 2018 Season, Week 9.

Y’all are going the wrong way!

Panthers 42 – Bucs 28

Here’s the deal: having the NFL’s #1 offense only takes you so far when you’re giving up an average of 30+ points per game to your opponent. It means every game ends up being a shoot-out, something the Bucs have never been built to do. They’ve come close a few times, but over the long haul Tampa’s just never been that kind of team, and they really shouldn’t have to be. Once possessing a hungry, opportunistic, punishing defense, when the Bucs were on their game they could hold an opposing team to 17 points or fewer. With the offense they currently wield, that would be more than sufficient for the offense to carry the day.

Sometimes I really miss you, Monte Kiffin.

Instead, Cam Newton and the Carolina offense had their way with the Bucs defense during the first half of yesterday’s contest. Fakes, reverses, double reverses, runners who seemed to be coated in baby oil as they zipped and darted through the Tampa secondary, and a quarterback all but unchallenged in the pocket were enough for the Panthers to run up 35 points during the first two quarters of play. At one point during the early going, I wondered on Facebook and Twitter if the Bucs had actually made the trip, or if the Tampa coaches just found 11 eyes wandering the concourse and stuck them in uniforms. The first quarter in particular was a brutal outing for the D. Carolina had their number and just kept curb-stomping them at every opportunity.

It was, to put it mildly, embarrassing, but then the Bucs offense, guided by Ryan Fitzpatrick who started in place of the still-struggling Jameis Winston, finally started to put things together. They fought their way to two touchdowns of their own before the end of the half. There was that bit of business with an attempted fake punt that ended up about as horrible as you might imagine. It was a little trainwreck, nicely setting up the Panthers do add to their already daunting lead. I’m already trying to scrub it from my brain.

Then, as has been the case in recent weeks, Fitz and the Bucs started to click. Motivated by the good goings-on, the Tampa defense responded in kind, holding the Panthers scoreless throughout the third quarter and well into the fourth. Meanwhile, the Bucs ate into Carolina’s lead, pulling to within 7 points with almost the entire fourth quarter left to play. It only took 5 minutes of game clock for Newton and the Panthers to get back in the groove, tacking on another touchdown to extend their lead. The Bucs last two drives ended with a stall/punt and an interception to seal the deal. Unable to prevent the Carolina offense from advancing and out of time-outs, the Bucs let the Panthers get far enough so that they could run out the clock. Game over.


Their second straight loss drops Tampa to 3-5 and a commanding grip on the bottom rung of the NFC South Division ladder. New Orleans, Carolina, and Atlanta are all on winning streaks and picking up speed as they head in the opposite direction, with the Saints on a 7-game run with no signs of slowing down.

Next up? The Bucs are back home to host Washington. At the season’s halfway mark, all games are important from here on if Tampa holds out any hope of post-season play.

Bucs life, ain’t it?


Your Moment of TrekZen*.

From the Annals of Knock-Off and Even “WTF?” Merchandising comes Mr. Rock, Space Adventurer from Another Planet!

“What the hell?” I can hear many of you asking. According to the MegoCollector.com, this figure was produced and distributed by a company called Lincoln International during the 1970s, right about the time Mego was running and gunning with their super-slick and very fondly remembered line of 8″ action figures based on a number of comic, film, and TV characters, including the original Star Trek crew. Once the Mego’s version of Mr. Spock hit the market, this one pretty much disappeared, almost certainly in the hopes of avoiding a lawsuit.

Finding an original Mr. Rock figure – with or without his original packaging – is likely a Holy Grail item for serious collectors. Be sure to check out the page devoted to Mr. Rock on MegoCollector.com to see more/better pics of this little bit of hilarity.

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

Headless and Other Improbable Excitations of The Muse, a Kickstarter project by Michael Jan Friedman.

My pal Mike Friedman is up to something, again.

For those who don’t know, Mike is a salty author. He’s got a list of publishing credits about a mile long, including novels, short stories, comics, and TV, so yeah…he’s been around the block a few times.

About once a year or so, he gets a wild hair…uh…someplace, and decides it’s time to undertake the challenge of bringing to life some kind of writing project without the benefit of a traditional path to publication. In recent years, he’s turned to crowdfunding to help him acquire the money necessary to bring these plans to fruition. His typical mode of operation is to set modest fundraising goals in order to cover the expense of bringing the project to life, and in every case (five, so far), he’s hit his mark and delivered on everything promised.

He’s also one of the genuinely good, decent guys in this whole writing business thing. He’s been a friend and supporter from the first time I met him 15-odd years ago at my first Shore Leave convention appearance, and he’s on a very, very short list of people to whom I can never say “No,” such as when he asks a favor like promoting his latest project.

What’s he got brewing this time? Another collection of short stories and a followup to his earlier collection of short fiction, Cabal and Other Unlikely Invocations of The Muse. Having apparently not learned his lesson when it came to considering the virtue of a shorter title (the other book did fine, regardless), Mike’s new anthology of more of his own short tales is to be called Headless and Other Improbable Excitations of The Muse.

(I can already hear that book’s spine bending under the weight).

What’s it all about? Well, I’ve learned it’s best to just let Mike tell you:

Headless has all the kinds of stories I’ve become known for in books, in comics, and on TV–fantasy, science fiction, and superhero yarns. And as I said of Cabal, my first short-fiction collection, I really like the work I’m doing in these stories. I’m PROUD of it.


* In Headless, the title story, a crewman aboard a starship does his best to carry out his duties without a critical portion of his anatomy.

* In Cold Case, a private investigator tries to find the killer of a most unusual victim–the son of a winter deity–as we revisit The City of A Thousand Gods.

* In The Company of Failed Beings, a teen-aged superhero searches for a cure to a bizarre malady that keeps him from using his powers.

* In Anteater, Doughnut, Casino, we travel to a diner beyond time to see the forces of good and evil compete for the ultimate prize. 

* In Connections, a woman with remarkable intellectual powers finally appears to have met her match.

* In The Garvin Street Ghost, a man returns to his old neighborhood to resurrect the best part of his past.

* In Geocachers, a sister and brother find themselves taking the long–very long–way home.

* In The Spirit of Lost Women, a businessman in provincial Mexico must bargain with a devil to get his wife back.

Sounds cool, amirite?

For the complete rundown on Headless and Other Improbable Excitations of The Muse and all the delicious rewards and stuff waiting for those  who boldly choose to opt in, run on over to Kickstarter and check out the project’s page:

Headless and Other Improbable Excitations of The Muse
by Michael Jan Friedman


Good luck, Mike!

Happy 80th Anniversary to the War of the Worlds radio broadcast!

Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News.

At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving toward the Earth with enormous velocity.

Professor Pierson of the Observatory at Princeton confirms Farrell’s observation, and describes the phenomenon as, quote, “Like a jet of blue flame shot from a gun,” unquote.”



On the evening of October 30th, 1938, 80 years ago tonight, Orson Welles did no less than scare the unfettered crap out of a whole bunch of people who had done nothing more than tune in to listen to the latest weekly episode of Welles’ Mercury Theatre on the Air.


Adapting H.G. Wells’ seminal novel of the same name while updating it for the “modern” era of 1938 and moving the action from London to Grovers Mill, New Jersey, Orson Welles presented The War of the Worlds as a series of radio news broadcasts pretending to interrupt other “regular” programming. Many of those who missed the announcement at the start of the show or Welles’ remarks at the end of the broadcast actually thought they were hearing real news interruptions reporting on disturbances in and around Grovers Mill, along with frightening descriptions of the otherworldly machines and the destruction they were wreaking as they advanced across the countryside.

The actual impact of the show, so far as how many people might’ve believed it to be real or with respect to any ensuing public panic, has been the subject of debate pretty much since that night, but there’s no denying the broadcast’s contributions to pop culture. The War of the Worlds remains a staple of Halloween programming on radio stations to this day. Schools and radio stations often perform their own versions of the play, and it has been officially updated/remade on at least two separate occasions, including one performance by L.A. Theatre Works and featuring Leonard Nimoy, John DeLancie and a host of other actors from the different Star Trek series.

The original broadcast has been referenced and parodied or provided story springboards in numerous films, television series, books and comics, and the events of the invasion at Grovers Mill even were included into the backstory of the War of the Worlds television series, itself a sequel to the 1953 film and which celebrates its own milestone this year, having premiered 30 years ago on October 10, 1988. During festivities to observe the 50th anniversary of the radio broadcast, a permanent monument marking the “Martian Landing Site” was unveiled in Grovers Mill:

Roadside America: 1938 Martian Landing Site Monument


Also in 1988 as part of the anniversary festivities, AT&T video newsmagazine Directions interviewed telephone operators from across the United States who were working that evening, and dealt with the huge influx of calls from terrified listeners. Decades before cell phones or even 911, operators were the first point of contact for those seeking emergency assistance. Needless to say, those folks had a rough night. Check out an archived version of the video at the AT&T Archives: “Operators Help Save the World from Martians.”

Meanwhile, the Newseum (among other sites) has the entire broadcast available for free listening. What? You say you want to listen to this for yourself, and see what all the fuss is about? BOOM. Here you go:

Newseum: “The Original Broadcast That Panicked the Nation”

Enjoy. I plan to. It’s a Halloween tradition for me, too.

Strange to watch the sightseers enter the museum where the disassembled parts of a Martian machine are kept on public view. Strange when I recall the time when I first saw it, bright and clean-cut, hard and silent, under the dawn of that last great day….”

Bucs Blog! 2018 Season, Week 8.

Almost, but not quite.

Bengals 37 – Bucs 34

You wouldn’t know it to look at their record, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers actually have — as of this writing — the #3 offense in the NFL. That ranking takes into account a number of factors such as rushing and passing yards accumulated for the season and averaged per game, and total number of points for the season so far along with average number of points per game. Wins and losses don’t factor into the ranking.

Of course, wins and losses determine which teams get to the playoffs, so you know….perspective, and shit.

It was a rough day for Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, who despite completing 18 of 35 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown throw also tossed four — count ’em, four — interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. To be fair, the Cincinnati defense was on point most of the day, sacking Winston five times in and around all their other mischief. All of it was enough for the Bucs to bench Winston in the third quarter and sent in backup Ryan Fitzpatrick.

We all remember how Fitz started the season on fire before reality reasserted itself. However, for the second time in three games since Winston’s return, he was called upon to help dig the Bucs out of a pretty deep hole and damn if, as before, he didn’t almost pull it off. With Tampa down 34-16 following Winston’s pick-six, the Bucs defense managed to hold the Bengals at bay as Fitz went to work. He engineered three scoring drives (a field goal and two touchdowns, including a 2-point conversion to go with the second TD) to tie the game with just over 2 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. Now the stage was set for a possible defensive stop and either a go-ahead field goal or overtime, the Tampa D unfortunately couldn’t hold Cincinnati’s final offensive drive or their own field goal to seal the deal. Game over.

Damn. I mean….damn. That’s just a dick punch, right there.

The biggest question swirling around One Buc Place is whether Tampa has a “quarterback controversy.” Lots of people are down on Fitzpatrick over the long haul, and sure, the dude’s had his share of issues over his career, but the simple fact is that his stats right now are better than Winston’s. The numbers don’t lie, and at the season’s halfway point they should be weighing heavily on the minds of the Bucs coaching staff. I mean, I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d certainly like to be seeing my guys playing football in January. Anybody else?

Whoever ends up under center next week is going to need some help, namely from the Tampa offensive line. The Bucs defense, once among the most feared in football, is a shadow of its former self. No longer the hungry, opportunistic squad of warriors who forced fumbles, antagonized quarterbacks and reduced them to tears by picking off their best passes, the Tampa D is there and fits and starts but otherwise acts like it’s hanging on by its fingernails. Something needs to change and damned fast.

Yesterday’s loss drops Tampa to 3-4 on the year and into the basement of the NFC South Division. New Orleans is about to run away with it, on a 6-game winning streak with no sign of stopping.

Next up? The Bucs travel to Charlotte to take on their division rival Carolina Panthers. To say a division win at this point in the season is vital would be an understatement. We’re already getting to the nitty gritty, y’all.

Bucs life, etc.

UPDATE: After I posted this, it was reported that Ryan Fitzpatrick will start this coming Sunday against the Panthers.

October 23, 1983. Semper Fi.

In early 1983, the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit was deployed from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to Beirut, Lebanon. They were sent as part of the peacekeeping force originally inserted the previous year into the conflict raging there between Christian and Muslim factions.

On the morning of October 23, 1983, 35 years ago today, an explosives-laden truck driven by a suicide bomber destroyed the headquarters building of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, killing 241 Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers and wounding more than 100 others. Minutes later, a second truck drove into a barracks building housing French peacekeeping forces and detonated, killing 58 French paratroopers and wounding 15 others.

The bombing resulted in the highest single-day death toll for the Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II, and the costliest day for U.S. military forces since the first day of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. The harsh lessons imparted on that fateful Sunday morning in 1983 resonate today. They remain relevant even as American military personnel continue to stand in harm’s way around the world.

The following poem is cast in bronze at the official national Beirut Memorial near Camp Lejeune:


It does not stand in Washington
By others of its kind
In prominence and dignity
With mission clearly defined.

It does not list the men who died
That tyranny should cease
But speaks in silent eloquence
Of those who came in peace.

This Other Wall is solemn white
And cut in simple lines
And it nestles in the splendor
Of the Carolina pines.

And on this wall there are the names
Of men who once had gone
In friendship’s name offer aid
To Beirut, Lebanon

They did not go as conquerors
To bring a nation down
Or for honor or for glory
Or for praises or renown.

When they landed on that foreign shore
Their only thought in mind
Was the safety of its people
And the good of all mankind

Though they offered only friendship
And freedom’s holy breath
They were met with scorn and mockery
And violence and death.

So the story of their glory
Is not the battles fought
But of their love for freedom
Which was so dearly bought.

And their Wall shall stand forever
So long as freedom shines
On the splendor and the glory
Of the Carolina pines.

— Robert A. Gannon

Bucs Blog! 2018 Season, Week 7.

So, the Bucs lost agai……..wait. SAY WHAT???

Bucs 26 – Browns 23

That’s right! My Pewter Pirates snuck in a win before a home crowd in sunny Tampa on Sunday. Yeah, I’m lagging a bit with these the last couple of weeks. Blame it on the book deadline, which is looming as I write this.

It was one of those teeter-totter type games plagued by weirdness from different angles, from the Browns scoring a safety in the first quarter after stuffing the Bucs offense to a missed extra point and field goal by Tampa kicker Chandler Catanzaro. Throw in a couple of interceptions thrown by Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and him getting sacked four times, and a couple of fumbles for flavor, and you start to wonder why the team didn’t just chuck the whole thing and adjourn to Hooters to watch the late games.

There were a few bright spots, though. Winston still threw for over 350 yards, and the Tampa rushing attack netted 115 yards and two running touchdowns. The defense held Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield to 186 passing yards (but two TDs) and indeed helped keep the game close, providing Winston and the offense opportunities to grab the win. Even special teams stepped up, recovering a fumble during a critical punt in overtime which set up the Bucs offense to seal the deal. The whole thing was capped by Catanzaro, who after his earlier misses was able to redeem himself with a 59-yard field goal (the longest in overtime) to give Tampa the win.

Yeah, it was sloppy, but I’ll take it.

The win brings the Bucs to 3-3 on the year, snapping a 3-game losing streak. They’re still two games behind New Orleans in the NFC South and just one behind Carolina. Both teams won on Sunday, as did Atlanta on Monday night, so things remain as knotted as ever in the division. Yep. Gonna be a wild ride.

Next up for Tampa? A road game to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals, who despite being first in their division are still stinging after getting thumped by the Chiefs on Sunday. They’ll be looking to get back on track with a home crowd to cheer them on, so this could be a fun one.

Bucs life, yo.

Today is “National Day On Writing!”

Wait, isn’t that supposed to be every day? Did I get a different memo from everybody else? Hmph.

Launched ten years ago by the National Council of Teachers of English, the “National Day On Writing” seeks to increase awareness about writing and its critical connection to literacy in our everyday lives. As posted on the NCTE’s website devoted to this day:

“You see, people tend to think of writing in terms of pencil-and-paper assignments, but no matter who you are, writing is part of your life. It’s part of how you work, how you learn, how you remember, and how you communicate. It gives voice to who you are and enables you to give voice to the things that matter to you.”

My wife and I are very fortunate in that both our daughters seem to have taken an interest in writing, whether it’s keeping a personal journal or writing stories and other papers for school. They’re also big readers, so you can bet I’m knocking on every piece of wood within reach.

Instilling an appreciation of writing as a necessary skill to navigating life is essential. For kids, this means both in school and at home, and includes challenging perceptions that some writing is somehow “better” or “more valuable” than others.

When you consider how much “casual writing” we all do every day (texting, e-Mail, Tweeting, Facebook, blogs, notes to self or others, etc.), and how much of it is dismissed for one reason or another, it starts to put things into perspective. Learning to appreciate all of that along with more traditional or “accepted” forms of writing as having its place when it comes to developing strong writing skills is important. Connecting it to the ability to read and research and to think and convey one’s thoughts is vital, especially when it comes to teaching our kids the value of writing not just as something “writers do” but what we all do in order to better communicate with others and even ourselves.

For more information about the National Day On Writing initiative and its goals, along with resources such as writing tips and other references and how to get involved furthering the message, be sure to visit their website:

Why I Write.

Oh, and check out the #WhyIWrite hashtag on Twitter to read inspiring (and sometimes humorous) insights from various folks about….well, why they write. Example:

So, you know, that’s me. Your mileage may vary. Tell me why! 🙂

Write on.

It’s Jupiter 2 Launch Day!

October 16th, 1997:

“This is the beginning. This is the day. You are watching the unfolding of one of history’s greatest adventures–man’s colonization of space beyond the stars. The first of what may be as many as ten million families per year is setting out on its epic voyage into man’s newest frontier, deep space. Reaching out into other worlds from our desperately overcrowded planet, a series of deep thrust telescopic probes have conclusively established a planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri as the only one within range of our technology able to furnish ideal conditions for human existence.

Even now the family chosen for this incredible journey into space is preparing to take their final pre lift off physical tests. The Robinson family was selected from more than two million volunteers for its unique balance of scientific achievement, emotional stability, and pioneer resourcefulness. They will spend the next five and a half years of their voyage frozen in a state of suspended animation which will terminate automatically as the spacecraft enters the atmosphere of the new planet.”

Lost In Space, “The Reluctant Stowaway”