Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thanks to Phil for everything.
I won't be rambling on and on today (you can stop cheering now). I will only leave you with a link to someone who is far more eloquent on the subject.
I've been lurking on his website for a long time now. I was first drawn to it by the football, of course, but keep reading because of how smart and funny and insightful it is. One of the many reasons being the weekly Hail Mary Haiku Contest.
That's right. College football fans, from Tennessee no less, ('cause in case you haven't heard from the rest of the country, we don't do much learnin' down here) spend time each week during football season crafting a poem in the traditional Japanese style. They are often quite hilarious and sometimes touching. This weeks winner is several stanzas and dedicated to Phil. The post also contains the complete letter of resignation Phil read at his press conference. You might not like sports - or am sick of hearing me talk about it - but it's nice to see someone so dedicated to his job, his players, his school and his state.
P.S. AuntieM: yes, I do belong to a local support group. There are several thousand of us in it. Our activity this week is to drive east on I40 and join the other 100,000 in Knoxville :)
Friday, November 28, 2008
I love Peyton Manning - this is certainly not news - but truth be told, he will never occupy the place reserved in my heart for Tee Martin and Al Wilson. Every fall for the next few years after they graduated - and well, even now - we start getting excited about the start of the football season and then I stop and am a little bit sad and think "I miss Al Wilson." Or, especially this year, "I wish Tee Martin was here."
I don't have to miss Peyton - he's on a television commerical at least once a day and NBC reruns his "Saturday Night Live" show whenever they get a chance.
Both Al and Tee went onto the NFL. Tee Martin's career lasted a few years and he has gone on to be a successful quarterback coach. Al's lasted a decade and he retired at the begining of this season from the NFL and the Denver Broncos as a five-time player in the Pro Bowl.
The news media likes jump on stories of either the celebrity football players like our Manning boys or the notorious ones like Michael Vick. But for every player in the NFL that's in a commercial or on trial, there are many more out there just doing there job and going about their business everyday without any fanfare. Yes, I know they're getting paid millions of dollars to go about their business, but it's a side we never get to see and one that I think should get more attention.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
In 1998 Tennessee won a national championship. Good, yes, but not why I'm remembering it at this moment. It's because it was also John Ward's last year announcing the games. Since before I was born - and especially in the days before cable - your only option on most Saturdays was to listen to John Ward announce the game on the radio.
He was one of the all-time best. And you eventually learned, after listening to the radio and then later seeing a replay on TV during the news that night, that he was quite good at extending the drama and increasing the suspense. To hear it on the radio it would be "Tennessee has the ball and it's down to the 20... the 15... he's still on his feet at the 10... scrambling to the 5... 4.... 3... 2... 1... Give... Him.... Six.... Touchdown Tennessee!" Of course, in real time, had you been watching it live on TV, we scored back when John said we were on the 15. But we didn't care.
Early in 1998 John Ward announced that he would retire at the end of the season. Most of my family attended the last home game. We knew there would be some acknowledgement and ceremony to honor Ward's last home game, but we didn't know what it would be. It turned out that instead of the marching band, the halftime entertainment was Kenny Chesney performing a song he'd written for the occasion. And, while my lack of love for Mr. Chesney is no secret, it was a heartfelt tribute. At the end of the song he looked up toward the press box and pointed to John Ward. John stood and waved at the crowd and spontaneously the 100,000 or so fans sitting in the stadium waved back.
Super-cheesy? Perhaps. But in my big coffee table book about the history and traditions of Tennessee football (What? You mean you don't have one in your living room?) I usually can't get past the chapter about John Ward. I can never not read that section and yet when I get to the end and the description of his last game I am always too choked up to continue and just function under the assumption that the rest of the book is good as well.
I tried to find an audio or video clip of John Ward that would embed but no luck. I did of course find the Kenny Chesney song. Here it is. Never doubt the lengths I will go to or the suffering I will endure for the love of my Vols.
Don't Fandango and talk on the phone at the same time!
Because if you're in the process of, let's say, buying two tickets to see Angsty Teenage Vampire Love while talking to your brother on the phone about basketball, you might (almost) accidentally buy the wrong number of tickets. And while you might freely admit to paying $18 to watch Angsty Teenage Vampire Love, chances are good that you WOULD NOT want to admit to paying $36.
Where is your cell phone? pocket
Where is your significant other? imagination
Your hair color? brown
Your mother? home
Your father? golf
Your favorite thing? vacation
Your dream last night? work
Your dream/goal? debt-free
The room you’re in? office
Your hobby? photography
Your fear? math
Where do you want to be in 6 years? self-employed
Where were you last night? babysitting
What you’re not? unopinionated
One of your wish-list items? TiVo
Where you grew up? Tennessee
Last thing you did? email
What are you wearing? khakis
Your TV? dusty
Your pet? crazy
Your computer? Gateway
Your mood? caffeinated
Missing someone? no
Your car? irritating
Something you’re not wearing? makeup
Favorite store? Target
Your summer? humid
Love someone? Eeeeeddddwwwwaaaaarrrddd (sorry, couldn't resist)
Your favorite color? orange :)
When is the last time you laughed? morning
Last time you cried? yesterday
I think my 15 minutes are up and my caffienated mood is starting to wind down so I'm not going to tag anyone else, but if you want to take a crack at the list, please be my guest.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I plan to honor the week leading up to it by listing some of my favorite memories from the last 17 years that Philly's been the coach.
Then Peyton put down the flag, walked over to the drum major for the Pride of the Southland and hugged him. A few seconds later, he climbed the drum major's ladder and proceeded to conduct the band in a round of "Rocky Top" while everyone sang along.
Play smart, try hard, don't suck. That's all I ask. So, win or lose, you've done me proud so far.
And Pride of the Southland broke out the circle drill - at an away game - so if nothing else we did win halftime.
Keep up the good work fellas! Do it for Philly!
Friday, November 21, 2008
But it also asks for your opinion on what issues you think are most important and how you think this administration could best reach out to and involve the public. At the end you're asked to just write a response to various questions. Nothing useless like "On a scale of 1 to 5, how important is it that we improve the economy?" or "Clean air is important to me: True / False."
The cynical part of me wonders just how much our answers will be read, collected and put to use, but I have to say - it was damn nice to be asked.
So, regardless of your opinion on our president or our nation in general, take a minute or two and give it:
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Chunky sweaters that will create a bulkier sillouette....
(My brain likes to gather random bits of trivia so that I can use them to
Turns out today marks the date of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Sadly, when I think "Gettysburg Address" I always think about the scene in Kindergarten Cop where the little class - each in a beard and stove pipe hat made from construction paper - does a dramatic reciting. It is adorable, but I don't know that one of the great presidential speeches of our nation's history needs to be associated in anyone's mind with a B movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and a gratuitous number of poop jokes.
Anyway... I did try to find that clip on the internets, but no luck. What I did find was a reading of the Gettysburg Address by Johnny Cash. And as we all know - especially those of us from the Nashvegas area - Cash is suitable for all occasions. Enjoy :)
P.S. - In case you were wondering... it's also the feast day of St. Elisabeth of Hungary - patron saint of the homeless AND lacemakers (who knew?). And the birthday of the teddy bear.Happy Wednesday.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
My new moleskin notebook. Complete with bookmark, elastic bandy thing so it won't open up inside my giant bag and get all gross, and groovy-feeling cover that also doubles as a mouse pad when using the computer whilst sitting on the couch.
Sweet potato pie. I mean, really, even just saying "sweet potato pie" is delightful. Am I right? Know what's even more delightful than sweet potato pie? FREE sweet potato pie...
... Would Make NFL Football Much Better
A new rule that says if you are such an egotistical asshat that you behave like a 6-year old in the end zone after scoring a touchdown, knowing FULL WELL that your team will receive a penalty for excessive celebration that results in having to back up 10 yards for the kickoff, then YOU should have to be the one to kick the ball while the kicker gets to mock your little asshat dance from the sidelines.
If the Jacksonville Jaguars weren't teal. Not that I'm a big fan of much of anything sports related that comes from the state of Florida, but fellas, do yourselves a favor and get a team color that we can all take seriously.
... Will Send Me To an Early Grave
Having my boss (who lives and works in Maryland) call on a Monday morning, when I've just walked in the door after having been away from my desk for four days, to say that she's on her way over to the office from the airport when I thought she was in South Carolina. Luckily I had decided to put on real clothes and brush my hair. There was a brief window when black yoga pants, public radio t-shirt, green OU hoodie, rubber Adidas sandals with orange striped wool socks, and early-stage dread locks were a serious possibility.
... Will Save Me From An Early Grave
I may not have any need for a sports team from the state of Florida, but I'll take one tiny house on one small barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico for the week of New Years, please.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge Katie, as she receives my newly created "Bad Influence Blogger" award for mentioning that she was reading the Twilight series in a post a few weeks ago.
"Oh, I've heard people talk about these books. Are they really any good?" I asked over the phone after reading the post.
"Ggggaaaaahhhhh Eeeeeedddddwwwaaaaaaaardddd." Was all I heard on the other end.
For those of you who haven't read the book - or those of you who are SANE but don't happen to have a 14 year-old girl in your home - the Twilight books are about Bella, a teenage human girl and Edward, a very old vampire trapped in the body of a hot 17 year old boy. Duhn, duhn, duuhhh...
After a very lengthy work week that didn't end until 5:30 on Saturday evening, I found myself in the magazine and paperback aisle of Target.
"Oh, hey look - there's that book Katie loves," I mumbled out loud to myself in the middle of Target and then followed it with a little imitation of "Eeeeddddwwwwaaaarrrddd."
I picked up the book - the actors cast to play Bella and Eeeeddddwwwaaarrrddd in the upcoming motion picture are already on the cover. It was all of $6 and a fairly sizable read at 500-ish pages in a moderately-sized type face. I considered the likelihood of it totally sucking and the desire I had to do next to nothing on Sunday and tossed it in the cart along with my trouser socks, power strip and dog treats.
Sunday came and as I started a load of laundry and then prepared to get back in bed and listen to a marathon of NPR, I glanced over at the book.
"It's probably easy enough to read for a bit while I listen to the news," I reasoned.
"It's probably got a light and soap-opera-y plot that won't be hard to put down when the next load of laundry needs to be started or I feel guilty enough to go empty the dishwasher," I justified in my mind.
And then I started reading.
"Wow, 'Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!' is on already?!?" I thought when I heard my favorite NPR show start and figured out the morning news was long over.
"Eh. I'll listen to it on-line sometime later this week," I quickly decided.
"Crap. I have to pee," I realized, totally annoyed, and then raced around the house, letting the dogs out, changing the laundry, pouring more coffee, and oh yeah, peeing, all in a span of 30 seconds, before going back to reading.
"Holymarymotherofgod are you kidding me!?! The repeat of 'A Prairie Home Companion' is on! That means it's after 2:00!" I shouted to myself totally appalled at my laziness and the fact that I've been reading about teenage vampire love for SIX HOURS.
"Oh. I only have 40 pages left," I quickly assessed and then realized that it didn't matter if the sun started setting and I had to subject myself to the public radio hell that is "Thistle and Shamrock," I wasn't getting up until it was finished.
"DAMN YOU AND YOUR VAMPIRE BOOK!" I said as Katie picked up the phone when I called after finishing the last delicious page.
I can't remember the last time I read an entire book in one sitting. But really, if I think about it, it's not THAT HARD to believe as what quickly drew me in is that the main character is a clumsy, pasty, awkward, introverted, dark-haired, teenage girl with sarcasm and angst to spare.
Helllooo??? Sound familiar??? (That's me waving at you through the computer...)
And what would this real live angsty teenager have thought if her high school biology lab partner turned out to be a brooding, sullen, complicated, outsider with piercing eyes, impossibly high cheekbones, and told me he was a vampire??? I think we all can guess the answer.
I mean, who are we kidding? My elementary school boyfriend thought he was a dog for all of fourth grade.
So I think it's safe to say that I give Twilight a hearty two thumbs up. I expected the written equivalent of "Beverly Hills 90210." Something I admit to having enjoyed but with full understanding of how ridiculous it was. But this wasn't. This was more equatable to my summer obsession with "Felicity" I admitted to earlier. Unexpectedly enjoyable writing. Compelling stories. Addictive characters.
Felicity with Fangs, if you will.
And Edward is my new Ben.
I'm sorry. I totally misspoke.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
So even though she looked more like she was part werewolf or badger than St. Bernard it was still a nobrainer. She came home with me right before Christmas, was named Elsinore (for the castle in Hamlet) and immediate made herself at home:She was pictured there next to the last stuffed animal ever to be seen in tact in her presence - including a Winnie-the-Pooh ca. Sears 1971 that I'd had since birth. Yeah. It's a really good thing she's cute.
Sleeping is also something Elsie doesn't do a lot of so I often feel the need to document it when it happens. She's also not particularly "laid back" or "easy going" as I had hoped when I found her. Whatever trace of St. Bernard blood can be seen in her coloring, coat and her stocky proportions, but it turns out that her brain is aaaaallllll Border Collie.
Most of her time is now spent - since, as you might imagine, there's a bit of a shortage of sheep in East Nashville - trying to herd her toys, my socks, or my dishtowels out through the dog door in the laundry room and into the back yard.
She's completely insane and barks like you're trying to decapitate her at the slightest imbalance in her universe. If you're hanging out at my house and decide to get up to get something from the kitchen and don't wait to go all together as a group - you should be prepared to be herded promptly back to your seat.
She's hilarious and has the most expressive face of any animal - or most people, for that matter - that I've ever seen. I joke that she is a perpetual teenager as I swear she rolls her eyes at me.
She's very chatty and spends the first few minutes when I get home rambling on in Chewbacca-y noises about, I'm assuming, all that has gone on during the day. If in English, I assume it would be something like "Oliver sucks! People walked through the alley at 10:27am without my permission! I found a new sock! I put it in my favorite hole in the yard at 11:43am! I tackled Oliver and wrestled for 2.3 mintues! I hate squirrels! I took a nap for 4.7 minutes! I rolled around in dead leaves! The mailman came back! Again! I really hate the mailman! I'm hungry! I want peanut butter and string cheese for dinner!"
She's smart as a whip. Most recently she recently she figured out how to open a shut - and locked - dog door. She used to have to ride in the car in one of those dog car harness things. Until she figured out how to unlatch the seat belts. She also once reasoned how to get a toy ball of the top shelf of a 7ft tall bookcase. I could go on and on...
She's a good example for me with her good and not-so-good qualities. When I am in too much of a hurry to get something done. Too sure that I'm right. Too eager to tell someone else what to do. Or too absent-minded and not watching for wolves.
She's extremely dedicated. Her job starts promptly at 6:00 am. I have yet to figure out what that job is, but I know it starts at 6:00 am. It also does not observe daylight savings time.
She's also very dedicated to me. As I am to her. In dog years this birthday makes her older than me. Something I'm sure she has already figured out and takes great joy in because she thinks it makes her even more in charge.
So Elsie, for your sixth year I promise to do a better job of taking you for walks and keeping your busy mind occupied. I promise to pay closer attention when you're airing your grievances and telling me all that Oliver has done to offend you. I promise to take more time and be more patient. And I promise to do a better job watching for wolves.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Right where that little blue star is. The area to the left with the fountains is Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville (the state capital is just on the other side of the street that's running across the top of the photo). It was the location of Al Gore's election night party. It was no Grant Park, but we were a festive bunch. Large TV screens were set up around the area and as states turned blue we cheered and high-fived strangers (ahh, who knew that night would begin our national obsession with color-coded states...). At some point the state of Florida turned blue. The crowd erupted. There was hugging and dancing in the streets. But then, a little later, Florida turned red. We couldn't hear what was going on. So we waited. And waited. And waited. Somewhere in cyberspace is a picture by a Reuters photographer of my sister-in-law and me, tired and sad-faced, resting head-in-hands on one of those metal barricade fence things adorned with a giant Gore/Lieberman sign, as we stared up at a big TV screen waiting and wondering. Then it started raining. And we finally went home without any answers.
That night started a long road for me of anger and disgust - not just because of who ended up as president, but because of what that election exposed about our voting system, the kind of country we had become, and that I apparently hadn't been paying attention to any of it up to now. I was angry at our government and our country, but also at myself for having been so oblivious. Somehow we had become a country that slapped an American flag sticker on one car window while we tossed a McDonald's cup out of the other. We had become a country where patriotism was a sense of entitlement and a justification for condemning others who didn't think or look like we did. We were a country so arrogantly self-righteous about our democracy and yet willing to let our leaders obliterate the separation of church and state on a pretty regular basis. We were a country who felt it had the right to tell the rest of the world how to live and how to govern, while much of the rest of the world quietly and humbly went about providing its citizens a better education, more affordable health care, and a cleaner environment.
So yesterday when I said that I had lived with a sickening feeling for eight years, it really wasn't that much of an overstatement.
But now I feel like there's a nation wide dedication and enthusiasm for voting. That there's a new definition of patriotism. That once again we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Here are some of the people I saw on Tuesday:
The 13-year old from my neighborhood (whose name escapes me at the moment) that I have seen almost daily for the past howevermany months with a tent and folding table out in front of the gas station registering people to vote, volunteering at the Obama office, standing on a street corner before school waving an Obama sign, and on election day, in charge of organizing people to stand on street corners and wave signs.
The guy getting out the vote by deejay-ing on the street corner in front of a public housing complex halfway between my office and the Obama office.
They were three people who could have very easily stayed home and not voted rather than go to the effort to call and ask for a ride to the polls. More than 300 people volunteered to drive people to the polls on Tuesday so I met them all riding shotgun as the navigator for my stepfather and friend Mark who got on the driver list earlier than I did.
For that opportunity, and for the lack of sickness that I woke up with the past two mornings, I have Barack Obama to thank.
But you know what? George W. and all of those other people I told to "suck it" yesterday... I have them to thank too. There is no yin without yang. I don't think I could have envisioned my new sense of pride and optimism, the new possibilities for our country, the hope I have for our relationship with the rest of the world, if I hadn't endured the last eight years.
Thank you for Tuesday. It was a beautiful day.
Tomorrow I pledge to try my very best to live up to the good example our next president has set for us.
But for right now, to mark the glorious end of the sickening feeling of gloom and despair I have felt every day for the past eight years, I would - just for today - like to say that
and, oh yeah, definitely you,
can suck it.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
1. "Democracy is not a spectator sport"
I love to vote. I live for tradition and ritual. It's fairly safe to say that I'm a sap. A proud sap, indeed. My love of voting comes from a love of country as well as a love of state, city and community. When voting in my first presidential election, while in college in Ohio, I made the extra effort to vote absentee in Tennessee. I wasn't going to let my first presidential vote count for any other state. I also made one of my roommates, a Republican, sign as my witness that I voted for Bill Clinton and Al Gore. My love of voting, country, state and city also includes love of irritating the beejeezus out of any Republicans still willing to claim me as a friend or relative.
To mark the occasion I re-watched the Northern Exposure episode "Democracy in America." The quote from this title comes from this episode as does this (from my beloved Cicely radio personality, Chris "in the Morning" Stevens, of course):
"Today every runny nose I see says 'America' to me. We were outcasts, scum, the wretched debris of a hostile, aging world. But we came here, we built roads, we built industry, powerful institutions. Of course along the way... we basically stained our star spangled banner with a host of sins that can never be washed clean. But today we're here to celebrate the glorious aspect of our past. A tribute to a nation of free people. The country that Whitman exalted:
'The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislators, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors or even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people.'I must go out now and fill my lungs with the deep clean air of Democracy."
2. "He Will Always Be My Coach"
I haven't been writing about football much this year, but there hasn't been much to write about that was good. And I spend enough time on here griping and complaining already and goodness knows that there are plenty of other people out there on the interwebs running their mouths with their opinions about what's gone wrong and what should be done. My love and devotion to my state and my team isn't any less, I just didn't want to add my negativity to the mix.
Yesterday, however, Tennessee Head Football Coach, Phillip Fulmer, announced that he would not be returning next season. I don't know what to say. On the one hand I'm not surprised. On the other I am heartbroken. Much like my post a few weeks ago comparing the destruction of Yankee Stadium to a greater dysfunction in our culture, I think this speaks to much the same. I don't know for a fact, but I have a pretty good feeling that on election day, Coach Fulmer and I would not be in agreement, but this I do know:
Coach Fulmer is from Winchester, Tennessee. He was a student and football player at the University of Tennessee and played his first game in 1969. As an adult he was an assistant coach for Tennessee and then has spent the last 17 years as the head coach. His record today is 150-51. During the height of his career in the 90s, his record is 75-5. Student athlete after student athlete has praised Coach Fulmer over the years for mentoring them, for helping them through difficult times, and for being the father that some of them never had.
These days his record is not as good and it has been extremely disappointing. Yes, you could maybe argue that he's off his game. He's past his prime. He's too stubborn and unwilling to change with the times. But you can't argue that he's not a good coach. And more importantly, that he's not a good man, because his love of our state and our university and the boys that come to play for him is undeniable. Many of the people that have been calling for Coach Fulmer to resign are the same people that I spoke of in my earlier post. Those who don't value tradition or history. You're not going to find a new coach with the same knowledge and respect for being a Tennessee Volunteer that Coach Fulmer has. And maybe we'll win more games, but we also may lose a top five recruiting class who is already committed to Tennessee in the face of dismal season because of the kind of person they see in Coach Fulmer. I guess we'll have to see.
There are all kinds of things being written about this right now that have touched my sappy heart and that I'm sure I'll be bombarding you with at a later date. But I think Peyton Manning has said all that needs to be said for now.
"This is a sad day for the Tennessee family. Nobody loves the University of Tennessee more than Coach Fulmer... I will always be indebted to him for the impact he has made on my life and my football career. I know I speak for hundreds of players when I say it was an honor to have played for him at UT. I am fortunate to have played four years for one of the greatest coaches in the history of college football. His legacy at Tennessee will be that he built men and won championships. He will always be my coach."