Prayer Warrior (or worrier)?

It’s getting harder and harder for me to pray. Whether not prioritizing the time, or not knowing exactly what to say, or just not thinking it’s worth the effort, this vital spiritual discipline has me completely perplexed. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a lot of praying over the years, and I’ll continue to pray in the years to come. It’s just that in hindsight, I can’t really see any direct correlation between my prayers and certain people I’m praying for. I’m frustrated and discouraged.

There have been a few times when a sick person I’m praying for has been healed. But more often than not, it seems my prayers don’t “work” and that person doesn’t get any better. In the course of my lifetime, I’m probably batting well below .500 and I don’t like those odds at all. I’ve even prayed the same prayers for two people at the same time and one of them lived and the other died. What’s up with that?

I guess I’m just puzzled by the randomness of it all. One person recovers from a near death illness while at the same time several innocent children die in a bus crash. One family gets a favorable diagnosis at the same moment another person is told he has 3 months to live. Over the past five years, I can’t possibly pray any more fervently than I have for my wife and yet, there’s apparently no progress to her recovery. I’d be lying if I said my faith wasn’t affected.

I know that prayer involves more than a “wish list” to God. Our Creator is not just a cosmic Santa Claus rewarding us based on whether we’re naughty or nice. Regardless of whether we think God answers our prayers or not, there are still a multitude of other legitimate reasons to pray. How better to communicate directly with God than by talking and listening to him through prayer? A compassionate God invites us to bring our burdens and needs to him in prayer and that same God frequently reveals himself more transparently to us when we petition him in a humble manner. Furthermore, when we pray, we’re demonstrating our faith and trust in God. In return, God imparts to us wisdom and understanding. Through our prayers, we can often discern and validate God’s will for our lives. And perhaps finally and most importantly, we pray because God commands us to pray. It’s what we do as part of who we are.

I know in my head that God’s timing is different than ours. With the Lord, a thousand years can be like a single day. Abraham waited 24 years after God’s promise for his first-born son. Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years before seeing the Promised Land from the heights of Mt. Nebo. I’m told I have the patience of Job but honestly, I’m no Job. I’m fearful that I don’t have it in my heart to wait much longer.

I also know that healing comes in many forms. We all celebrate when a cancer goes into remission or when someone recovers completely from a serious illness. However, we often fail to recognize the more divine aspects of healing such as “grace extended” or the “miracle of victorious death.” Ultimately everyone will be healed when Christ returns in victory. God’s ways truly are higher than our ways and the wonder of God’s healing may not be readily apparent while we’re living here on earth. If Scripture is indeed true, then our light and momentary troubles in this life may just be a temporarily blip along our path to eternal security. I’ll take that tradeoff any day of the week.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself as I continue to pray. I’ll confess, nowadays I pray more out of obligation and obedience rather than out of pure faith. I hate myself for having such unbelief, but I’m weary, burdened and disillusioned by the physical toll and emotional turmoil inflicted by the daily onslaught of a devastating mental illness. I’m sure there are others who are enduring far worse suffering than I am, but it’s hard to fathom when you witness your loved one in such daily, open-ended torment. Walk a mile in my shoes and see if you think differently.

Don’t worry about me though. I’ll soldier on because there really is no other alternative. I don’t want Satan to win. I also love my wife and I’ll continue to rejoice in gratitude for all of God’s numerous blessings even as I simultaneously cry out to him in anger and despair. I guess it’s all a part of the mystery of life. Who am I to question it? In the meantime, I’ll covet your prayers—with the hope that your batting average is much better than mine.

I welcome your comments (and especially your prayers). If you enjoy my writing, please continue to visit me at and follow me on Twitter @KYHuangs


Ruined By Bruins

My first memories of basketball other than UK were of the mighty Bruins of UCLA. As an inquisitive 8-year-old, I remember my dad introducing me to the likes of Lew Alcindor, Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, the Wizard of Westwood and their slew of championship banners hanging from the rafters in their fabled Pauley Pavilion. Imagine my excitement last year when I was finally able to complete a long-awaited pilgrimage to the storied west coast venue to watch my #1 ranked Wildcats take on the homestanding Bruins. There was only one problem. The Cats never really showed up. Due to some anemic outside shooting, Marcus Lee’s mystery concussion and forgettable performances from Skal Labissiere and Alex Poythress, UCLA put an 87-77 whoopin’ on the Wildcats. The game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated as UK’s interior weaknesses were fully exposed from the get go. The lopsided contest represented a microcosm of the struggles of the entire season and a harbinger of difficulties to come.

Not only did the Wildcats not show up but neither did the LA crowd. Jessica Alba, Steve Urkel and Shaq were in the front row but I sat in a half empty upper arena with mostly other displaced Big Blue fans. C’mon now, Kentucky was the top ranked team in the country and UCLA couldn’t even come close to filling their home arena. It was sad to experience first-hand how such a once proud and storied program had fallen so far from their pinnacle glory years. I left the arena somewhat disillusioned—not only at UK’s performance, but also at the general apathy of the Bruin fanbase. John Wooden would not have been pleased.

Fast forward one year and you would think it would be payback time. UK fans were packed to the rafters for UCLA’s first ever appearance on the hallowed hardwood of Rupp Arena. Bruin fans evidently don’t appreciate their own history and tradition as much as Cat fans do. No chance for no shows on this occasion as over 24,000 appeared in force, together with a national television audience and a plethora of NBA scouts to watch UCLA outgun Kentucky 97-92. The Bruins arrived in time for the 9:30 am pacific time tipoff but it was the Wildcats who were still asleep.

Fans were treated to a highly entertaining fast paced game—a virtual 40-minute high speed composite of full court running, gunning and funning. Both teams looked to score in transition, relegating the shot clock to a mere afterthought. UCLA hung 49 points on a supposedly stout defensive team as they took a surprising four-point lead over UK into the half. The hot shooting continued in the second stanza as the Bruins shot 53% from the field and 43% from the 3-point line for the game. The Cats appeared lost defensively throughout the entire contest as Steve Alford’s team pretty much got any shot they wanted–as if playing against a rag tag team of intramural 9th graders.

Blue hued expectations were already sky high after the 115-69 shellacking of Arizona State in the Bahamas earlier in the week. Some analysts claimed it was the most impressive early season showing they had ever witnessed. This latest setback today, although against a quality opponent, sends another realistic reminder to hit the brakes. Kentucky’s defense needs work, outside shooting is a bugaboo, rebounding is a concern, there’s still a lack of a dominant post presence, our bench isn’t as strong as we thought, we’re young and not quite the basketball geniuses Cal led us to believe they were. Bam needs to learn how to hit one-footers, Briscoe needs to avoid stepping on the baseline and UK players need to watch their body language when the calls go against them. An early season loss won’t kill you, but it sure hurts. It not only hurts emotionally but seeding wise for the real season in March.

Hats off to the Bruins. Coach Wooden would be pleased.

This blog posting was originally submitted as a UK Basketball Column for Nolan Group Media publications.

If you enjoy my writing, please continue to visit me at and follow me on Twitter @KYHuangs.

Cardinal Grudge

The annual football clash between UK and UL is more than just your typical rivalry game. It not only gives the winning school undisputed bragging rights for the rest of the year, but it also allows either Lexington or Louisville to claim urban supremacy over the other. The two cities are separated by a mere 77 miles along the I-64 corridor, but when it comes to cheering on their respective teams, their fans might as well be worlds apart. Out-of-staters are completely clueless to our differences—they wouldn’t know the distinction between The Galt House or the Campbell House, the Yum Center or the Hope Center, Freedom Hall or Joe B. Hall. But all Kentuckians are fully aware that when choosing between the Cats or the Cards, you best know exactly where you stand and make absolutely sure that you never cross over to the other side.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a life-long Wildcat fan. I grew up in Lexington and spent 11 years attending UK—the last 3 years in a graduate program after my application for admission into a comparable program at UL was inexplicably denied. So you see, I still hold a big grudge against the University of Louisville Cardinals. It’s a bit petty after a quarter of a century but it still remains very personal to me. I want to beat the dirty birds senseless in every endeavor no matter the occasion.

This is only my second foray into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The last time I was here was on opening day in 1998 as the Cats unmercifully pummeled the Cards 68-34. Tim Couch threw for nearly 500 yards and seven touchdowns as UK fans went berserk celebrating in enemy territory. As magnificent as that performance was, the thing I remember most about that day was the relentless heat. It’s the hottest I’ve ever been in my life as the plastic from the freshly lacquered red stadium seat bleached into my sweat soaked jorts (yes, even then I was ahead of the fashion curve).

The game time temperature for this regular season finale was about 50 degrees cooler as we made our way into downtown Louisville. It’s a bit of a challenge negotiating the streets of the dilapidated urban neighborhoods enveloping the stadium—a world away from the bucolic pastures surrounding Commonwealth Stadium that we too often take for granted. Tailgating was virtually nonexistent at this early hour in advance of the noon kickoff. I find my way to my perch in the press box, with panoramic views out toward the state fairgrounds and the roller coasters of Kentucky Kingdom. I’m cozy and warm, anticipating a shocking Wildcat upset over the evil Cards.

After UL’s quarterback Lamar Jackson directed the Cards on a 5 play 84-yard scoring drive right down UK’s throat to open the game, few gave the Cats much of a chance. When you consider what the Heisman Trophy frontrunner did the rest of the afternoon—dashing, thrashing, and gashing the Kentucky defense for 281 yards through the air, 171 yards on the ground, and 4 touchdowns, it’s a wonder the Wildcats were even in the game. What you may have failed to consider was that Stephen Johnson matched him pass for pass (338 yards through the air and 3 touchdowns) and stride for stride (83 rushing yards) as Kentucky prevailed 41-38 on an Austin MacGinnis 47-yard field goal with 12 seconds left in a rootin’ tootin’ shootout of a contest. The Kentucky offense, led by two Stephen Johnson to Garrett Johnson touchdown bombs overcame some familiar penalties and dropped passes to pull off the glorious upset. With the victory, the Wildcats capture the Governor’s Cup for the first time in six years and they now lead the overall series against the Cardinals 15-14. Woohoo!

I know it’s unhealthy to harbor such decades-long resentment, so I’m going to be a gracious winner and bury the hatchet by giving “Little Brother” his due. Louisville has a good football team (but they’d be just another also ran in a real conference like the SEC). I’ve never spoken to Coach Bobby Petrino (and know nothing first-hand about his slimy indiscretions) –but by all accounts, the guy can coach. Louisville fans, (although preoccupied with insecurities and a Big Blue inferiority complex), are quite passionate about their team. Throughout the afternoon, the 55,000-seat pizza palace was rocking and rolling (cheering for the team that just last week choked away their golden chance to make the College Football playoffs). For this particular 60-minute scuffle, Kentucky was a tad better and deserved to win (despite some questionable officiating and overcoming a 29 point Vegas spread). In the end, Cat fans came to Louisville feasting on cardinal and Card fans left the stadium eating crow. The demons have been exorcised. I feel liberated. Permit me to say “I told you so.” The Wildcats are going bowling for the first time in six years and I’m proud as heck to be there to cover it all.

This blog posting was originally submitted as a UK Football Column for Nolan Group Media publications.

If you enjoy my writing, please continue to visit me at and follow me on Twitter @KYHuangs.


Let’s Play Two!

“Let’s play two!” I know Ernie Banks was referring to his beloved sport of baseball when he uttered the famous phrase, but who says we can’t apply it also to our Basketball Cats. I’m putting in overtime this week and taking all of you on a Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving doubleheader extravaganza. The UK Men’s Basketball team will take on Cleveland State in an early afternoon tip and the UK Hoops Women’s team will follow-up with their contest against Morehead State later that evening. Let’s go courtside and dissect the action.

Ever since Title IX, the chasm between men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletics has narrowed significantly. However, the practical differences in a major sport such as college basketball remain markedly evident. For the average fan, just walking into the two iconic venues supporting the two UK teams makes these differences crystal clear. Let’s compare and contrast.

Over 22,000 packed Rupp Arena during the middle of a work day for the 1:00 pm start to the men’s game. Courtside seats were lined with bigwigs and rich boosters. The eRUPPtion zone was buzzing together with the “real” fans banished to the upper deck bleachers. The SEC Network broadcast the game nationwide. I sat among the distinguished long-time, gray bearded reporters forever looking to outdo each other with their voluminous knowledge about the sport that so many Kentuckians have worshipped since birth.

Later that evening in prime-time, Memorial Coliseum was home to about 4,700 fans—mostly families and couples looking for wholesome entertainment and a cheap date. Anyone could sit close to the court, regardless of income or social status. Coverage was provided by internet streaming and the occasional videotape by a local TV station. I looked around the reporter pool and sadly realized that I was the only gray bearded scribe. Unfortunately, I had no voluminous knowledge to dispense to the fuzzy cheeked interns around me.

The most obvious difference in the on-court action in the men’s and women’s games is the disparity in athleticism. The men’s game is played primarily above the rim with high flying Fox jams, Bam slams, and Monk dunks stuffing the scoresheets. The women play with a bit more finesse, relying much more on the basic fundamentals of a Murray dribble, an Epps pass, and a Morris 3-pointer.

The contrast in head coaches is also startling. John Calipari struts along the sidelines like the king of his castle, shouting instructions to his players and constantly keeping the refs on their toes. He’s in complete control, comfortable in his multiple roles as basketball coach, circus promoter, and distinguished diplomat of an adoring nation. He is indeed the master of his domain. During his press conferences, he answers questions on his own terms, spinning the media like a carnival tilt-a-whirl.

Coach Matthew Mitchell is more like your favorite uncle or a friendly next-door-neighbor. You’d feel comfortable borrowing his lawnmower. He’ll still throw the occasional tantrum on the court but is always composed and thoughtful answering your questions courteously and directly. Plus, the guy sure can sing and dance.

The one indisputable similarity on this particular day was that both teams dismantled their opposition. The UK men easily took down the Vikings 101-70 while the UK women outlasted the Eagles 74-47. The men had five players in double figures led by the two-headed monster of Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox with 23 and 16 points respectively. Wenyen Gabriel added 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists—and is quickly becoming a crowd favorite with his “high motor” energy. The men are now 5-0 to start the season and should hold on to their #1 ranking until they lose. For the #20th ranked women, the guard combo of Makayla Epps and Taylor Murray poured in 18 points apiece to lead the team to their current 4-1 record. Evelyn Akhator just missed out on her 6th consecutive double-double with 11 points and 9 rebounds.

De’Aaron Fox summed up this doubleheader day perfectly when he was asked what he was thankful for in this season of thanksgiving. “I’m thankful for God and for this position that he’s put me in. I’m thankful for my teammates, my coaches, and my family. I can’t really ask for much else.”

Me neither. I’m thankful for De‘Aaron, all the other players on the UK men’s and women’s basketball team, and the opportunity to share and report on all their on-court experiences this year. It’s shaping up to be quite an exciting season. Here’s hoping that everyone has a happy and blessed Thanksgiving holiday.

This blog posting was originally submitted as a UK Basketball Column for Nolan Group Media publications.

If you enjoy my writing, please continue to visit me at and follow me on Twitter @KYHuangs.



Senior Day Sendoff

There are three things in life you can still count on with absolute certainty–death, taxes, and a Senior Day victory over Austin Peay. Barring an upset of historic proportions rivaling the likes of Chaminade, Buster Douglas, or the Miracle on Ice, a Wildcat win over the hapless Governors was all but guaranteed. Fortunately, after sleepwalking through the first quarter and falling behind 13-0, UK didn’t make history, rallying back to crush the Governors 49-13 and sending the overmatched OVC visitors back home on the last train to Clarksville. I’ll let others nitpick the negatives on this one. A win is a win and the Cats are 6-5 and bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.

I’m a sucker for Senior Day sendoffs. Prior to kickoff, fourteen upperclassmen and their families were honored one final time in an emotional ceremony before the homefolks at Commonwealth Stadium. It’s easy for fans to view these players as nothing more than chess pieces on the gridiron—just necessary cogs to be manipulated, cheered and jeered. The reality, however, is that behind every nameless facemask and random jersey is a real live human being–someone with genuine feelings and emotions, an individual with friends and family who support them regardless of performance, and a person passionately pursuing their football dreams and chasing their life aspirations.

Wins and losses define a football team but a football program is defined by the character of its players. This year, the Kentucky football team has been mediocre at best, but its senior class* has been exemplary by nature. Just four short years ago, these fourteen student athletes signed on to make Kentucky Football great again and I’m proud to have covered them all.

I’m especially proud of someone like Ryan Timmons. Most everyone remembers that Ryan was an All World player at Franklin County High School and was heavily recruited by all the big-name schools. Yet, he wanted to come to Kentucky. “I was a Kentucky fan growing up. All my family were UK fans. I grew up watching UK games, wearing UK gear all the time. I came here to change the program and be part of something special.” Throughout his tenure at UK, the program did change to the tune of three different offensive coordinators in a four-year span. Times were tough, and yet Ryan persevered.

Head coach Mark Stoops frequently singled out the speedy wide receiver for his positive attitude and leadership skills during times of adversity. When asked where he learned those qualities, Ryan stressed the importance of his family’s influence. “The positive attitude comes from my mom. My twin sister comes over to my house every Friday to leave me a note of inspiration and motivation. That helps me a lot.”

While other star players often think “me-first”, Ryan’s humble team-first attitude is refreshing and contagious. “I’m part of this team,” he said. “If this team does good, then at the end of the day, it’s going to make me look good because I’m part of this team and part of this program. And I want to make guys around me better because it’s only going to make me better and allow me to get better opportunities. This is the team, the University of Kentucky. I can’t do this by myself and I need others to help.”

Now that’s the kind of young man I want representing my university. The guy oozes class, humility and respect for his coaches, his teammates and for the entire UK program. The Wildcats may only have six wins on the football field this season, but in Ryan Timmons, they’ve had a bon-a-fide champion for the past four years.

“It’s crazy to think my last game in Commonwealth Stadium will be this week. It’s gone by so fast. The highlight of my career will be for us to get a win and to become bowl eligible—something this program hasn’t done in a while. I want that to be the standard.”

My hopes for Ryan are much more grandiose. Next week the Wildcats travel to Papa John’s Stadium attempting to upset the once high and mighty Louisville Cardinals. Bobby Petrino will no doubt be looking to put a million points on the board in an effort to erase the recent embarrassment in Houston. Lamar Jackson will most likely be looking to score fifteen touchdowns in his quest for the Heisman. The Cat’s only real chance to win is for the offense to keep pace and post huge numbers. I’m predicting that the football gods will finally reward Ryan Timmons and teammates with a true career performance worthy of his #1 jersey number. In a shocker, UK 42-UL 40.  Now that’s a real Senior Day sendoff that all of BBN will treasure forever.

*Will Thomas Collins, Tanner Fink, J.D. Harmon, Jojo Kemp, Blake McClain, Marcus McWilson, Courtney Miggins, Zach Myers, Ryan Timmons, Jon Toth, Zane Williams, (Alex Montgomery, Dylan Greenberg, and Ramsey Meyers—juniors forgoing their senior season)

This blog posting was originally submitted as a UK Football Column for Nolan Group Media publications.

If you enjoy my writing, please continue to visit me at and follow me on Twitter @KYHuangs.

A Life Willing to Die For

A Life Willing to Die For

During my first tour of duty as an Army dentist, I was stationed at Ft. Jackson, SC—a basic training post where one of my responsibilities was to process in new recruits.  Each of these incoming enlistees was given a dental exam as part of their indoctrination into Uncle Sam’s Army.   I’m proud to say that over the course of three years, my nimble fingers painstakingly caressed the molars of thousands of new soldiers, many who were seeing a dentist for the first time.  My army issued stamped signature was permanently affixed to their official army dental record as proof of our encounter.

Several years later as I was laboring through another bureaucracy induced record audit, I came across my signature in the chart of a patient who was killed in Operation Just Cause—the invasion of Panama.  I wish I could say I remembered this brave individual when I treated him, but in reality, his memory to me at that time was nothing more than my signature on his dental chart.  It’s hard for me to describe, but nevertheless, that small connection sadly reminded me that a part of that dental record once belonged to a live human being—a person with a family who grieves daily for their loss and a person with a country who should be forever grateful for their sacrifice.

I’m sure all of you have your own personal remembrances of family members who served valiantly in the military, and I encourage you to reflect back upon them today.  We may gripe about taxes, health care, the economy and such but the United States is still the model of freedom—a democracy founded on Judeo-Christian values proclaiming God as our creator and espousing the liberty and holiness championed by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.  That life is something that we should all guard and treasure in our hearts, souls and minds.  A life we should all be willing to die for.

This blog posting was originally published in the May/June 2011 edition of the Kentucky Dental Association Today Journal.

If you enjoy my writing, please continue to visit me at or follow me on twitter @KYHuangs

Anchor Up!

After the less-than-expected beat down by Bama on the road in Tuscaloosa, a date with the Vanderbilt Commodores makes for the perfect homecoming. A bounce back UK victory over your perennial fellow SEC “dore”mats would be a necessary soothing salve to a team looking to restore their season. The Cats need to permanently delete the mistake-prone memories of last week and focus entirely on the current task at hand. After a one game reprieve, it’s back to the pressure packed world of must-wins, coaching hot seats, and hopes of bowl eligibility. Because if you lose to Vanderbilt, there simply are no more second chances. Never mind that the Commodores have taken 4 of the last 5, for Coach Mark Stoops the stakes in this game are extraordinarily high. If the Vandy loss last year was haunting, a homecoming loss this year against the Black and Gold will be absolutely terrorizing. The prospect of another losing season with the specter of Les Miles hovering in the shadows are what lame duck coaching nightmares are made of.

Speaking of nightmares, if a tie is like kissing your sister, then UK and Vandy are like ugly kissing twin SEC step sisters. The two hard-luck programs are tied with each other with identical records of 42 wins, 42 losses and 4 ties in their head-to-head meetings. Of Kentucky’s 172 conference victories, nearly a quarter of them have come at the expense of our music city rivals.

Vanderbilt scholars may be smarter than us in the classroom but as with all Ivy League wannabees, intelligence is often overrated on the football field. On this particular afternoon, it’s brawn over brains as UK topped VU 20-13. With Citrus Bowl officials in the house looking on, the Cats took the opening kickoff, marched right down the field and scored on their way to a commanding 17-3 halftime lead. I was feeling pretty confident but Oscar Combs told me to “settle down because this game is going down to the wire.”

Kentucky’s ever improving defense kept Vanderbilt and their one-eyed quarterback in check for most of the windy afternoon, but a scoop and score after a Boom Williams fumble to start the third quarter finally gave the twenty or so Commodore fans in attendance something to cheer about. Kentucky tried to play the part of gracious hosts throughout the remainder of the second half but Vanderbilt couldn’t quite fully capitalize. An anemic UK passing attack, an untimely interception and a muff of a fumbled punt recovery had the raucous Commonwealth Stadium crowd shaking its head and fearing the worst. However, a climactic final potentially game-tying Vanderbilt drive fell just short as the Cats held on for dear life. Kentucky was led in rushing by a beast of a performance by Benny Snell who finished with 94 yards on 20 carries. JoJo Kemp and Stephen Johnson had one rushing touchdown apiece as UK improved to 3-3 on the season.

Afterwards, Coach Stoops appeared pleasantly pleased as his team regains some much-needed momentum. “I could not be more proud of our team and the victory. We overcame a lot of adversity and that’s what you have to do. You have to dig down and make plays to win sometimes.” This team has shown that it can take a punch which bodes well for surviving the remainder of the season.

Coaches always claim that they approach the schedule one game at a time. Well I’m no coach, so permit me to look way ahead and ride this wave of optimism for everything that it’s worth. Mississippi State and Missouri are games that are certainly winnable. Throw in the automatic Austin Peay victory and you can already start packing for that long awaited bowl trip. As die-hard fans, let’s not stop there. A victory at home over a struggling Georgia team doesn’t appear out of the question. A road victory at Tennessee is a bit more improbable, but Butch Jones has been seen recently dancing with the devil and The Vols may come crashing back down from Rocky Top just in time for a shocking Kentucky upset. And strange things can certainly happen in season ending rivalry games with Louisville. I’m not saying, I’m just ……STOP! GET A GRIP! WE ONLY JUST BEAT VANDERBILT! OK, what I AM SAYING is that the Cats have an open date next week to recuperate for the beginning of the stretch run featuring another upcoming “must-win” showdown. I’m saying UK 24, Mississippi State 14. Can anyone else say Citrus Bowl?

This blog posting was originally submitted as a UK Football Column for Nolan Group Media publications.

If you enjoy my writing, please continue to visit me at and follow me on Twitter @KYHuangs.


Jobless, Jeopardy and Jolted

There’s something to be said for being completely jobless–of suddenly having minimal responsibility or accountability to anyone anymore. It’s really quite liberating to be at a stage in life where you’re able to just hop on a plane at any time and travel to anywhere you decide to go on a whim. That kind of explains why I’m sitting here in Sony Studios watching a taping of the long running TV game show Jeopardy. After years of watching host Alex Trebek and his smarmy smile read off the questions to all those impossible answers, I decided I wanted to try and meet with the man in person. While here in TV Land, I thought it might be fun to drop in on Dr. Phil as well. Boy, was I wrong on that one.

I didn’t just come to see Alex or Phil. As many of you know, my daughter Katie lives in Los Angeles so I’m here meddling in her life for a couple of leisurely midweek days between hectic UK football weekends. Frontier Airlines offers a non-stop flight from Cincinnati for the ridiculously low price of $78/one way. I’m taking full advantage of the offer by traveling ultra light. I’ve got no checked baggage and no carryon. I strut through security with my toothbrush and underwear stuffed into my computer case, my running shoes laced around my neck, and a bag of Chex mix for my mid-flight snack. It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago I was still a rather productive member of society.

Enough about that. All of you aren’t here to read about me—I know you’re here for the good doctor himself. What is it about human nature that draws us all to shows about dysfunctional families, weight loss solutions, and mothers who dress too far from their age? Dr. Phil’s immensely popular program specializes in solving all these pressing life issues, and Katie and I are here as part of his live studio audience ready to watch him weave his magic. We were told in advance to dress in upscale business attire for the filming. Sorry, I only packed for “retirement chic” so I throw on a pair of dark colored socks, tuck my shirt in for good measure and get ready to smile for the camera.

Dr. Phil’s guests today include a young delusional woman claiming to be pregnant with the baby Jesus and a former pastor who left his family and ran off with his massage therapist. I realize there is a certain element of Hollywood theater involved in all these reality-based talk shows. However, sitting there live listening to the pain and dysfunction emanating from the parties on stage made me extremely uneasy. You feel much like a voyeur, peering into the private emotions, thoughts and dirty laundry of those who are truly suffering. Dr. Quack’s—er Phil’s scripted attempt at counseling and mediation only made for further mockery of such serious issues as mental illness, infidelity and suicide. At the end of the sessions, as he smugly pranced off the stage hand-in-hand with his wife, I felt like I needed to shower. After nearly 7 hours in the studio, I had my fill of Dr. Phil.

The Jeopardy production stirred up a different set of emotions. They’re taping five episodes today on a familiar looking soundstage that somehow appears much larger and more vibrant than on my TV screen back home. I’m envious of the contestants–the usual assortment of nerdy accountant types who effortlessly answer every question on the board correctly before my little pea brain is even able to process the categories. Sure, all three of them may be geniuses but two of them are guaranteed to lose while potentially humiliating themselves in front of a national TV audience. I guess the lure of winning big bucks and becoming the next Ken Jennings is a powerful elixir to those seeking to disrupt the tedious routines of their wearisome lifestyles.

Alex spends a few seconds during commercial breaks engaging in banter with the studio audience. There are so many questions I want to ask the man I’ve rendezvoused with at 7:30 pm for the past 30 years. “What’s with the mustache? What do you know about Kentucky? Hillary or Trump?” Instead, just like if I were a contestant on stage, my brain suddenly freezes, my tongue becomes completely tied and my golden opportunity for chitchat with Alex Trebek is lost forever. Just like weird Al, I lost on Jeopardy and fanboyed out. Oh well, there’s always Pat and Vanna in the studio right next door spinning that glitzy wheel. I’d like to buy a vowel please.

If you enjoy my writing, continue to visit me at and follow me on Twitter @KYHuangs



Oh Brother

I’m pretty particular about who I let post on this blog. So when my brother Michael asked me if he could use this forum to whine a little bit, I was a bit hesitant. But after reading his narrative describing his shocking realization about himself, I’m fully convinced that he is Huangswhinings worthy. After all, he is a Huang—still Chinese but ever so slightly tainted by the ways of the West. Just remember, the following piece was written by a guy who wouldn’t think twice about donning a Chairman Mao costume for Halloween and who cheers for China when they play the United States in basketball. Oh Brother!

Although I was born and raised in Kentucky, I’ve always embraced my Chinese culinary heritage. My mother was a fabulous cook, and before the age of the internet our meal time was our most treasured family time. Growing up we ate rice using chopsticks almost every meal, and as I’ve grown older I’ve often longed for the good old days of eating pig’s ears, chicken feet and fish heads with my family. I was not allowed to leave the table until I cleaned my plate, but with my mother’s cooking, that was rarely a problem.

In the past 10 years, I’ve made my first two trips to the Motherland. Going to China has surprisingly reminded me of my childhood in Kentucky. The food simply reminds me of home, and what my mother used to cook. I’ve developed an even greater appreciation of my heritage through these journeys. I’ve enjoyed nearly all the food I tried, from grilled squid sold by street vendors to fermented tofu, shark’s fin soup and beef tongue, I’ve loved it all. My thought was that my Chinese DNA was strong, and I was a “real” Chinese person despite my American education and never stepping foot in China until I was 40. You know what they say, “You can take the boy out of China, but you can’t take the China out of the boy.” Or something like that. 

At least that’s what I thought until this morning.

This week, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting my sister in Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities in the world and a cosmopolitan gastronomical destination where you can go to many mom and pop hole-in-the wall Chinese establishments, close your eyes and really imagine that you are in China. My cousin Linda also joined us here, and she truly qualifies as a real Chinese person who immigrated from Taiwan in her 20s.

This morning Linda and I decided to venture out to a Chinese food court for breakfast. We had a traditional Taiwanese breakfast of delicious baked flatbread called Shao Bing, fried pastry sticks known as You Tiao and soy milk. Once again, I felt like a real Chinese person as I enjoyed the heck out of it.

We had taken the train to the food court, so we decided that since we went so far to get some authentic food, we might as well try some other food while we were there. After all, everything smelled and looked so delicious. We came upon a place that specialized in soups for breakfast. And their specialty was a Tofu and Pork Viscera Soup that had been cooking for over 24 hours to draw out all the flavors. My cousin Linda asked if I liked pig intestines and thinking back to my childhood, I remembered my mom fixing them (they are the equivalent of chitlins), and I actually really liked them. So we decided to try the soup. After all, here we are, two real Chinese people wanting to taste some real Chinese food.

The broth was delicious. Slightly spicy, slightly sweet, very savory, and loaded with meat. My first taste of a piece of intestine was good. Nothing I hadn’t tasted before, and I liked it pretty well. I fished out some other pieces of meat from the bowl. I immediately recognized a piece of lung from my medical school gross anatomy days. Then a piece of stomach. And congealed blood. And fat with skin. And more intestine. I thought about eating all the innards of a pig which had been boiling together for 24 hours. Suddenly I didn’t really feel like eating any more and I didn’t feel like a true Chinese person. I let Linda enjoy the rest of it , and she loved it like the true Chinese person that she is.  Where can I find the McDonald’s?

(If you enjoy my writing, please continue to visit me at and follow me on Twitter @KYHuangs.)