Sunday, August 24, 2008

Football Time; or, The Bear is Smiling

Wow, so it's been how long since I posted something? Yeah, well, this past week was crazy busy. I was finishing up our 56-page preseason football magazine. Somehow I got stuck with most of the writing and most of the layout. Now that the football season starts in full this week, things will get even crazier. Yay!

But I do love football season. I don't give it the kind of reverence that many Southerners do. I would disagree with the late Bear Bryant – both in principle and theologically – who said, "If you want to walk the heavenly streets of gold, you gotta know the password: 'Roll, Tide, roll!'" That's actually three words, but Bryant also said, "It's kind of hard to rally around a math class." Or a grammar class.

Nevertheless, there is something sweetly sentimental about a Friday night or a Saturday afternoon in the fall. Friends gather, succulent food is prepared – screw the calorie count – and the players trot out in their bright, crisp jerseys. As the weeks pass and the games become more important, autumn continues its slow, cool descent, until it's November and we're washing down those burgers with hot cocoa. The uniforms become dirtied and torn, and the helmets become colorful palettes marking the season's grinding progression.

I've often wondered how football became the preeminent sport in the South (and in other places). It's fun to watch, of course, and whether we are willing to admit it or not, we love the controlled violence of it. But I think the game's popularity can also be traced to the fact that there are only a few games, and teams play only once a week. Every game becomes an event, and the stakes are higher than in, say, a typical baseball game. In football, there are no rematches, no best-of-whatever series. You get one shot, and that's it.

A football game is not just a football game in the South. It is an event not only on the field, but off it. It's a social affair, which partly explains why Ole Miss coeds are bedecked in their Sunday finest every Saturday. I'm not sure I want to know the other part of the explanation.

The high school and college seasons start in full this coming weekend. I actually covered a private school game on Friday, and even though it was muggy and buggy, and the crowd was small (and not paying much attention), it was football. And it was good.

Today's Redneck Thought: "In Alabama, an atheist is someone who doesn't believe in Bear Bryant." – Wally Butts, former Georgia coach

Friday, August 15, 2008

Another Tall Tale; or, A Great Idear

So some guys in Georgia claim they've found Bigfoot. Well, a Bigfoot. Because they say they saw a whole Sasquatch family. Yeah, they happened upon the beasts during a picnic volleyball match.

The intrepid adventurers held a news conference Friday but didn't bring the corpse with them, or much else in the way of solid evidence. So this is looking even more like a sham. I'm the least shocked person.

Let's think about this. Rednecks and tall tales go together like butter and grits. Over the years, the fish we've caught grow to enormous proportions, the deer we kill keep gaining extra points, and Bear Bryant is a minor god. I suppose those are more examples of hyperbole than flat-out tall tales, but we're good at taking an event or person and stretching the truth beyond the bounds of exaggeration. This is what's probably happening here.

See, these fellas were hiking through north Georgia when they came upon some badgers kicking around a pine cone (you might not know that this is a common badger game, and it helps explain why they're so ornery). Anyway, one of the guys – we'll call him Earl, since I didn't bother noticing their real names – says to Pete, "Pete, what are them raccoons doing?" "Them ain't raccoons," Pets says, "them's badgers." "Oh," says Earl with a blank expression. "Hey, that gives me an idear. Let's take that old gorilla suit I wore to the Christmas party and fool a bunch of cynical journalists and expert scientists into thinking it's Bigfoot." "Shewt, Earl! That's the best idear you've had since you took that deposed Nigerian prince for all his money! By the way, when's that check supposed to come?" "Uh, yeah," Earl says, "I'll go alert the media."

Pretty sure that's how it went down. Bigfoot says he agrees.

Today's Redneck Moment: When I came home at lunch, my wife was sweaty and filthy from pulling weeds. And I thought it was really sexy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Smashing Moments; or, Eat It, Frenchy

Did you see the men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay the other night in Beijing? Did you see that Frenchman crying in the pool like someone had just put Tabasco sauce in his bidet? Oh, how sweet it is to shut up a jaw-jacker like that Alain Bernard ("We will smash the Americans."). Jason Lezak, you are forever my hero.

The Olympic Games have never failed to provide indelible moments such as that one. Whether it's Kerri Strug vaulting on one leg, or Michael Johnson blowing away the field in his shiny gold shoes, the Olympics always give me reason to celebrate like the American homer that I am. Am I jingoistic? You bet your sweet sushi I am. It's not politically correct to be so, which is all the more reason to be so.

I would not normally watch a swim meet, but since there's a chance for the U.S. to kick some serious tail I'm all over it. I hope Michael Phelps beats them all. I got so excited when Lezak beat Bernard to the wall, I … well, I can't really tell you what I did. Would've gotten me a night in the can if I'd done that in public.

Heck, I'd cheer like a madman for a Tiddlywinks competition if Americans were involved (although I draw the line at synchronized swimming). This is one of the easiest ways for me to show my patriotism. I don't mean to come off as arrogant – although Americans did perfect the art of arrogance; the French invented it – I'm just very proud of my country and those who compete for it. Any non-Americans who don't like it, guess what: Our basketball team could smash yours.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Frozen Up; or, Cursed Technology

I have not been meaning to neglect my blog. But my faithful Mac froze
up last Sunday; it's now in a better place. OK, it's actually in our
tech guy's office.

I am supposed to get a new one this week. I've been able to make do at
work, but not so much at home. I'm writing this post on my phone,
which is a very tedious process.

'Tis the curse of our modern blessing, technology. We go as it goes,
for better or worse. Like Bret Michaels of Poison sang so long ago
(1988), "Every rose has its thorn." I often marvel at those who once
had only a typewriter or pen and paper as their tools of composition.

Although I'm sure both methods are faster than typing on a tiny cell
phone keyboard with one hand.