My Friday Five: Tar Heels, Stevie Wonder & World Issues

Photo: Chris White
Let's dive right in because I have quite a bit to talk about this week.

1) Carolina Football Keeps Dominating

I mean, what can I say? This Carolina Football team is amazing. Not only for the product on the field but the product off the field as well. The success on the field has been coupled with strong coach and player leadership in the locker room. There's a sense of family with this team unlike anything I've seen before. The attitude off the field is translating into major success on the field as the Heels improved to 9-1 (6-0 ACC) after obliterating the Miami Hurricanes 59-21. The magic number for Carolina is just one - a win or Pittsburgh loss - to clinch the Coastal Division and a date with Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. This season has, undoubtedly, been an exciting one for me since I was a young fella during the Mack Brown days in Chapel Hill. Translation, this is the most success that I've seen from Carolina Football.

The Heels made the biggest move up in the College Football Playoff Rankings of any team - from 23 to 17 - yet I feel the team is still not getting enough credit. Many of the talking heads on ESPN agree. In fact, Trevor Matich of College Football Live said that he believed a Carolina team that won out and won the ACC Championship should make it in the four-team playoff for a national title. Wow. When I heard this, I couldn't help but get excited. Of course, there's still a lot of football left to be played - and several hurdles to jump over - but it's not out of the realm of possibility. In fact, the sky's the limit for this team.

Photo: Chris White
On a more personal note, I attended my second straight Larry Fedora Live radio show at Top of the Hill restaurant in Chapel Hill on Tuesday (pictured right). This is the weekly show where Jones Angell, Voice of the Tar Heels, sits down with head coach Larry Fedora to talk all things Carolina Football. Fans can submit their questions and many of them are read live on-air. Since I was going to be in attendance, I submitted a question.

Well, it was read on-air which was cool, but an even cooler thing happened after the show. I decided to go up and speak to Angell for a couple reasons: 1) He read my question on-air and 2) I look up to him since I'm a sports/journalism grad. So, I walked up, said "hey" and Angell shook my hand, saying "You're Chris, right? Nice to meet you." I didn't think Angell would recognize me but he did. We went on to have a nice conversation. I don't, it meant a lot to me for some reason.

2) Panthers Keep Rolling

Speaking of teams not getting enough credit, that even includes the 9-0 Carolina Panthers. I recall one of the ESPN talking heads saying, despite the Panthers being 9-0 and showing that it can beat big time teams in Seattle and Green Bay, he still thought Arizona (7-2) was the best team in the NFC. Really? On another note, rather than talking about the Panthers being 9-0, some national media outlets were fixated on the discussion of Cam Newton's dancing. Yea, you read that right. This is stemming from a moment when Newton's post-touchdown dance did not sit well with a Tennessee Titans player who actually did a dance himself for making a play on defense earlier in the game. Unlike many of the national media outlets, I won't spend too much time on this non-issue, but it was worth noting. Either way, the Panthers are undefeated and host Washington on Sunday.

3) Reserved Seating at the Movies?

I was pretty dumbfounded by this. One of my mom's co-workers mentioned that she and a friend decided to catch a movie at the Raleigh Grande theater in Raleigh. The co-worker said that she and a friend have frequented the theater numerous times - I did too many years ago. But the co-worker said she was surprised to learn that the theater would no longer sell tickets at the box office day-of-show, opting for a reserved seating model instead. The dated movie theater recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and, with that, came a change in the way it operates. Gone is that spur-of-the-moment "Hey, let's go catch a movie" feeling. Now, if you want to see a movie at Raleigh Grande, you have to go online and reserve a seat ahead of time. Each individual auditorium in the theater now features less seating with leather, reclining chairs and trays as well.

Personally, I think that this is dumb. I, for one, like walking up to the box office and buying tickets in person day-of-show. Although I'm of the younger generation, I've rarely bought movie tickets online. I mean, I can count the times I did so on one hand. Maybe some people like this reserved seating model. Who knows? I know that I don't and will have zero interest in frequenting the Raleigh Grande in the future. I hope other theaters won't pick up on this because, in my opinion, this model will not get more butts in seats at the movies. Rather, it may drive moviegoers like myself away.

4) Stevie Wonder

Photo: Chris White
I promised in last week's post that I would tell you all about finally seeing one of my musical heroes, Stevie Wonder, in concert. The concert was incredible. Lasting for more than three hours, the show featured a collection of songs like "Sir Duke," "Superstition" and "I Wish" as well as a beautiful cover of John Lennon's "Imagine" (pictured left) to reflect and remember the terror attacks in Paris, France. No doubt this concert is on my list of the top five all time that I've attended.

I've seen musicians postpone or cancel their concerts a lot lately for a variety of reasons. It's amazing to me how, at 65, Stevie put on a more than three-hour show, with only about a 20-minute intermission and, as far as I know, Stevie has fulfilled each of his commitments on the current tour with no postponements. Many of today's musicians can learn a thing or two from him, that's for sure.

5) World Events

There have been some crazy things going on in the world not only in the past week but this year in general. It seems like more and more negativity infiltrates the world with each new day - and it's saddening. I turn on the news rarely but, when I do, almost everything I see is negative. That's why I try to stick to watching sports or some of my favorite shows, like Castle, that take me to another world at least for a little while. The Stevie Wonder concert wasn't amazing just for its music but for several messages that were communicated throughout the evening. One in particular will always stick with me. Before performing any music, Stevie took the stage to give his insight into the terrorist attacks in Paris, France and the hatred that's running rampant in our world. In response, Stevie said:

"I may be blind and can't see any of you, but I love every one of you. If you don't love and only hate, you're more blind than me."

Stevie was absolutely right. I'm sick and tired of the hate in this world. Whether it's petty hate from trolls on social media, hate and back-biting in our political system, hate on a larger and more physical scale in the form of terror attacks and everything in between, it breaks my heart to see it. Our country has become so divided that things like caring for our veterans, providing a safe place for all people and bringing in refugees from war-torn nations has turned into one big political battle. It's ridiculous and it must stop. I'm disgusted by how people from government officials on down to common folk act now. This is simply not the United States of America that I'm accustomed to.

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