29 April 2008

Reseach is Delightful

Or at least it turns up the unexpected sometimes, which is almost always delightful.

Here are a couple of of shining moments from this morning's readings.

First, in Alison Lurie's Boys and Girls Forever: Children's classics from Cinderella to Harry Potter, there is a chapter about Iona Opie's The People in the Playground and Barrie Thorne's Gender Play. Both books are sociological treatments of playground culture. For those of you who are not familiar--Iona Opie is one half of the most famous child-ologist couple in the world (that totally is not a technical term, by the way). Peter and Iona Opie spent most of the 20th century studying and recording child-lore--playground games and rhymes, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, counting and alphabet games and so on--in Great Britain. Their body of work is incredible--and really useful for the kind of work that I do.

Anyway, as you can imagine, some of the stuff that they collected is really strange and wonderful and sort of embarrassing sometimes too. Lurie quotes the following from The People in the Playground which I think is amazing, and which I have not heard before. (Opie heard it on a North England playground in the 1970s.)

One banana, two banana, three banana, four,
Fifteen skinheads knocking at the door,
Five with machine guns, five with sticks,
Five with hand grenades handing from their---
la la la la la

Lurie uses this rhyme as "[proof] again that it is impossible to shield children from contemporary life." I should say so.

The second piece of show and tell for this morning comes from Richard Hoggart's The Uses of Literacy. He's discussing the fact that "mass media" has been slow to change the habits of oral communication among the British working class (something I've always wondered about in terms of American slang/accents. Why doesn't everyone talk like they do on TV and in the movies? This is, maybe, a question that presents itself most naturally to a girl from the West coast like myself). As an offer of proof, Hoggart supplies several phrases overheard "from a bright, pastel-shade distempered and tubular furnished waiting-room of a children's clinic." Where, "[a] handful of drab and untidy mothers were waiting with their children, and the conversation dribbled on aimlessly but easily about their habits." Here is my favorite of the phrases, along with Hoggart's "translation" in parenthesis.

"Y' don't look at the mantelpiece when y' poke the fire" (a woman doesn't need to be pretty to make sexual intercourse with her enjoyable)

I'm totally going to be on the lookout for situations into which I can insert that gem. I invite you to do the same. Let's bring that one back, people.

27 April 2008

As Promised, I Will Start Providing Images

Behold the Lady E, on her third birthday. I almost missed this, but then Frontier Airlines TOTALLY screwed up my flight back to Austin, so my mom came and picked me up so that I could go to Chuck E. Cheese with my brother, sister-in-law, E, her little brother (call him whatever you want, I prefer "Guy") and my parents.

If you have not had the pleasure of Chuck E. Cheese in the past 15 years, let me assure you that you DON'T really want it. It's actually pretty awful. The only cool thing about it is that they now have these automated ticket counters. You feed them into the machine and you get a receipt in return with the total number of tickets you've entered. It makes the whole choosing-prizes process much easier.

I personally spent the entire night playing skee ball. Since the skee ball machines don't give many tickets (and the ones that you DO get you get by actually being good at it), kids steer clear. Fine with me. I never had to wait for a lane. And I would much rather play 25 consecutive games of skee ball than run around trying to get as many tickets as possible, just to get a lame chuck e. cheese ruler.

25 April 2008


So-----I know that I already wrote today, and I'm starting a dangerous precedent by actually providing some sort of regular content, but I have had a delightful evening, and felt like writing about it.

After a week of temperatures and humidity that were too high, it is finally storming tonight--the air is cool and clean and there is rain (but not too much of it) and some truly amazing lightening, which, once I am done writing this I am going to watch out the skylight from my bed.

Tonight Jennifer and I dressed up and went out to dinner at the Eastside Cafe to celebrate the beginning of her writing successes (some contest wins for her first two novels and acceptance to the Tin House summer program) and to whatever small help I've been to her as her amateur creative editor and literary agent. (Seriously amateur. Since I have no chops whatsoever in either of these fields.) Still, she is on her way to being a serious literary talent, as far as I am concerned, and I'll be awfully happy to be able to say in the future that "I knew her when . . . " and "one time she took me out to dinner."*

We had a lovely meal, and too much wine (which I am sure shows not at all in this post) and we talked about mothers, geniuses, Steve Almond (one of her choices of people to workshop with at Tin House. How jealous am I about that.), the relationship between feminism and hetero sex (a topic about which I have a lot to say), new cars, 12 Angry Men and restaurants that serve Brie appetizers. We both had some costume malfunctions (I was wearing a dress that consistently needed readjustment so that I remained covered and she lost a shoe in a puddle on the way to the car) and her husband called to make sure that we were doing alright in the storm.

All in all, it was a perfectly lovely evening. I don't write much about sort of everyday happenings, but sometimes you have a night that you know that you are going to remember for a long time and that you are going to think back on nostalgically, and this was one of those nights. I think that it is sometimes nice to acknowledge those things when they happen.

I hope that you all had equally lovely Friday nights.

*By the way, if any of you are looking for an amateur (although rather talented) literary agent/creative editor, I do work for cheap. Wine and dine me and I'll make things happen. Just ask Jen. Or Dr. Awesome.

Smell Ya Later

I am on day four of a cold that has left my nose without function (other than to take up room between my eyes and lips on my face. And hold up my glasses). I can't breathe at all, so I only sleep for a couple of hours at a time--which makes it pretty hard to beat the cold, since I can't sleep it off. Last night I put some vicks under my nose in an attempt to 1) soothe the redness and 2) open up some sort of small air passage. I don't think that it helped. And in one way it actually hurt. Because once I put it on I realized that I couldn't smell its menthol loveliness. Not at all. I could feel the tingle, but I couldn't smell it. And then I realized that I actually haven't been able to smell anything all week. And then I started to worry that I was going to end up like Trusty the dog from Lady and the Tramp, dreaming about the days when I used to be able to track animals while out hunting with my master.

Or something like that.

But I did, at three o'clock in the morning, sleep and oxygen deprived, begin to think about my favorite things to smell, and how much I'd miss them if I never could smell them again.

Here is my list:

1) vicks.
2) Playdough. I make Gus play Playdough with me all the time so that I can get that smell on my hands. This usually entails me making very detailed houses and Gus destroying them with tornadoes. Sometimes we play Food Network, which I like better because he does his Emeril impression and I get to be Rachael Ray.
3) Vanilla Amber Musk. This is my favorite thing to wear. Because it smells intoxicating. From Escentials, the shop on Hawthorne. (http://www.escential.net) And it is only $7.00 per 1/4 oz. And it stays good almost forever because their products are mostly vegetable oil based. (This is too heavy, I find, for most of the year in Texas, so I wear it a lot less often here.)
4) A can of freshly opened racquetballs. Reminds me of my childhood. And Bruce. And who doesn't like to be reminded of Bruce?
5) Baking brownies. Mmmm. Warm chocolate.
6) Rosemary. Which is also my favorite herb. For those of you who are taking note.
7) Mr. Sketch markers. But not grape. Artificial grape scent/flavor is disgusting.
8) Morning-after bar. I know it is foul, but I love waking up the morning after having spent a long evening in a bar (you know, a real bar where people actually can smoke inside?) and smelling the aroma of my own transgressions. (Which usually aren't all that transgressive.) Unlike regret, you can wash this smell off of you, which is part of the allure.
9) Coffee. This is, perhaps, the greatest single olfactory joy of all. Freshly roasted, freshly ground coffee. Walking into Stumptown (oh, Stumpdawg!) on a weekend morning and the smell is so pervasive that it sticks to you for the rest of the day. Part of my being-home ritual is that I always go to Stumptown on my last day in town and buy coffee to bring back to Texas with me. It is partially because I hate drinking anything else. And it is partially because I feel less far away when, on the other end of the journey, I open my bags and they are filled with that smell. It's like, for a moment, I get to cheat my senses.

My best scent memory is of some lipgloss I had as a kid. It was orange flavored and colored and it came in a plastic orange slice that was attached to some string for wearing around the neck. I remember keeping the orange slice long after the gloss was gone because I could still open it and smell the smell of it. I can't describe its actual bouquet, but it was something beyond fake orange---something warm, almost baked. It was delightful. I'd kill to find something that smelled like that again . . .

24 April 2008

Oh damn.

You know, Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney? (Sorry, for the uninitiated.)

Eat the Words

Ok, so I have this little inferiority complex when it comes to Carrie Brownstein. Because she is awesome. And because she gets to do things that I wish I could do (did she play on Henry Rollins's show? Yes she did. Rollinssssss). And because Mikey J thinks she is so cool. And if all that were not enough, she has a blog where she shows off the fact that she is smart and funny and down-to-earth, and where she reminds me over and over that she gets to live in PDX and I don't.


The point is, I've been thinking about doing this ever since I read her blog about her favorite Replacements lyrics. And while their probably are some "artists" (I always feel like a tool using that phrase with regard to pop music) who I could mine for a list of top 10 favorite lyrics (Billy Bragg, Frank Black, Stephin Merritt) I thought it would be fun to come up with 10 favorite from different "artists." This is a working list. I am probably totally forgetting others that I love, but these are the ones I've been able to come up with over the last couple of weeks. And I'm writing a little commentary too--some of them might require justification. But all of these are lyrics that I find positively yummy, usually because they express some idea or image that I find yummy. You know, yummy to the brain?

(These are in no particular order.)

1. "Now that you've made me want to die/you tell me that you're unboyfriendable/and I could make you pay and pay/but I could never make you say."
--"All my Little Words" The Magnetic Fields
First of all, this is the best song I know of that expresses heartbreak as simultaneously sad, wistful and angry. Secondly, it includes the single best word in a song pretty much ever.

2. "You know you're semi-good lookin'/out on the streets again./Oh yeah, you think you're really cookin' baby/you better find yourself a friend."
--"Ain't Talkin' About Love" Van Halen
I've talked about this song (and this particular lyric) at length elsewhere. But really, who but Diamond Dave could pull off calling a chick "semi-good lookin'"? It's the best un-compliment ever.

3. "Shirley, your sexual politics have left me all of a muddle/Shirley, we are joined in the ideological cuddle/I'm celebrating my love for you/With a pint of beer and a new tattoo."
--"Shirley" Billy Bragg
Many of you who know me well probably already know that I think this is one of the most romantic songs ever. Which reveals way too much about me. But I love this lyric because 1) I think I would enjoy an ideological cuddle. Or even ideological cuddling. 2) Bragg captures the whole blue-collar, working-class romance thing. Which I am, in fact, very romantic about. I could sigh over a guy who would celebrate his love for me with a tattoo and some beer. (Or even just the beer, actually.)

4. "'O lonely urchin!' the widow cried,/'I've not been swept since the day my husband died.'/Her cheeks a blushing, her legs laid bare/And shipwrecked there I'll shake you from your sleep."
--"The Chimbley Sweep" The Decemberists
This is a super vague, but super hot lyric in the middle of an Eighteenth-century inspired narrative song by a band from Portland. C'mon. What is there for me to NOT love about that?!

5. "It's a beautiful day/No, it's a horrible day/You can see here by my grin I don't give a fuck/It's a beautiful day/No, it's a horrible day/For the first time in my life I don't need the luck."
--"Horrible Day" Frank Black
Next time you are having a bad day, download it and sing along at the top of your lungs. You'll get it.

6. "Now on the bus/Nearly touching this dirty retreat/Falling out 6th and Powell, a dead sweat in my teeth/Gonna walk walk walk/Four more blocks, plus the one in my brain/Down downstairs to the man, he's gonna make it all okay"
--"Needle in the Hay" Elliott Smith
This song makes me cry pretty much every time I hear it. Damn you Elliott Smith. Damn you Wes Anderson. It also instantly conjures up a picture of the Ross Island Bridge. And that makes me want to cry too.

7. "We would shout/And swim about/the coral that lies beneath the waves./Oh what joy/for every girl and boy knowing they're happy and they're safe."
--"Octopus's Garden" The Beatles
Screw all y'all. I love this song. It's the first Beatles song I fell in love with, and the reason that I started listening to Abbey Road, which is the one album I'd take with me if I were stranded on a desert island. And, really, I would like to live under the sea. (Remember--Gus says I'm a mermaid . . . ) Seriously. Screw all y'all. I can have a whimsical side if I want to.

8. " I've known a lot of girls before/What's the harm in knowing one more?/Maybe we could even get together/Maybe you could break my heart next summer /Why bother? It's gonna hurt me/It's gonna kill when you desert me/This happened to me twice before/Won't happen to me anymore
--"Why Bother?" Weezer
I love songs about low self-esteem. And about not having high expectations. Rivers Cuomo, you make the world much less lonely for sad bastards everywhere.


Not everything needs explanation though:

9. "The most tender place in my heart is for strangers/I know it's unkind, but my own blood is much too dangerous."
--"Hold On, Hold On" Neko Case

10. "Like the naked leads the blind/I know I'm selfish, I'm unkind./Sucker love I always find,/Someone to bruise and leave behind."
--"Every Me Every You" Placebo


You can play too---

21 April 2008

Important Correction

The Make-Ready is not a place for misrepresentation. I got the following in an email from Mikey J today, and felt it necessary to set the record straight.

"I didn't think Walk Hard was all that good.  I liked Tim Meadows and
little else. I wouldn't recommend the movie if not for him."

I should have known that he had better taste . . . My apologies.

20 April 2008

"It Doesn't Give You a Hangover!"

This was an all-comedy kind of weekend. I went to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall with Laura and the lady Rebecca on Saturday night. It is funny. Very funny. But I kept having to shush my inner critic who kept saying, "This movie is a little too long, and there are too many extraneous characters." (I get it. Jonah Hill is HILARIOUS, but he is totally unnecessary in this film.)

And then I also watched, finally, Walk Hard which, predictably, I did not like as much as the brother and Mikey. Also predictably, only two things kept me from flat out not liking this film. The first was Tim Meadows, who is a comic genius. I know that those two words get thrown around a lot (mostly in reference to Dane [I-don't-get-what-is-so-damn-funny-about-him] Cook), but Tim Meadows truly deserves the moniker. Actually, he deserves the title "genius" just for getting through any scene he's in without laughing at himself. Because he is THAT funny.

The second thing was the Beatles scene with Jack Black, Justin Long, Jason Schwartzman and Paul Rudd (who makes everything he's in better. As we all know. Refer back to Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He's one of the best things about it.). I know that I probably should not admit to loving this scene, because I should be enlightened enough to have moved past laughing at the sort of self-conscious, ironic, postmodern & meta nature of the scene (and by this I mean the fact that Jack Black can't even sort of fake a Liverpool accent, and all 4 of the guys keep reminding us of who they are "supposed" to be representing because they don't look or sound like the Beatles at all, and we all know that they are that guy from Tenacious D, that guy who is dating Drew Barrymore, that guy who is in the Wes Anderson movies and Paul Freakin' Rudd), but the fact is--it does make me laugh. Call me simple.

Anyway, none of this gets to my point, which is this: since when do we just throw around full frontal male nudity in films? And why does it seem to be MORE ok if the film is a comedy? (Actually, I'm not really asking that question. I understand that a lot of people think that sex in a sexy context is much more damaging or offensive or whatever than sex in a "funny" setting. This is totally dumb. But it is clear that people do believe it.) Anyway, the reason I bring it up is that there is FFMN in both of these films, which I was not expecting when I went to see either of them. And I think that it is interesting how often the penis is now popping up (please excuse the phrase) all over the place in film. I am not, by the way, stating a position on this fact. Just noting it.

OK friends and neighbors. The following comment is for the lil' bro and his housemate Mikey J (who is a new homeowner. Congrats!) and J-bro. But read it if you want--

Brother of mine: If you have not seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, do so immediately. I will tell you why. You know that joke that you keep insisting Jim Jarmusch makes in Broken Flowers, but that he totally doesn't? You know the one. Well, it actually gets made in this film. But it will probably be too obvious and go right over your head. So be sure to take Jamie or Mike with you to explain it.

16 April 2008

C'mon Feel the Noize*

OK, so the following was inspired by the guy who works at the coffee shop, who told me today (in a blatant and sort of sadistic attempt to make me horribly jealous) that he saw Bruce Springsteen in Dallas, and that Jon Bon Jovi (!--Jon Bon freakin' Jovi!?) joined him on stage for "Glory Days." That is awesome. Trying to make myself feel better, I have been reflecting all day on my personal concert highlights. Here they are, in no particular order:

1) M. Ward at the Parish in Austin--my second (?) year here. When it became clear that he was going to end the show without doing "Sad, Sad Song" (which remains my very favorite M. Ward song), his lovely wife (my lovely friend) ran backstage to tell him that he had to do it in the encore.

2) The Donnas, also at the Parish, last fall. The whole show was totally great, as you would expect, but for their encore they covered Ratt's "Round and Round." Listen, haters, if you don't think that those girls are the real deal, then you just don't know. They rocked the hell out of the song. It was downright inspiring. (Blake, J-Bro and Mikey J. also saw this same encore in PDX. They can attest.)

3) Aerosmith at the Rose Garden. I don't know. Like 10 years ago. Actually, the show itself sort of sucked because we had totally crappy seats AND we were sitting by complete asshats, but there was this moment I like to often relive when, about 2 hours into the set, Steven Tyler stopped, stood still for a moment, then jumped straight up into the air and did a forward flip. WHAT?! I mean the guy was like 50, and had been a nearly-dead heroin addict for 20 of those years, and had been running back and forth on the stage for 2 hours and he could still jump up in the air and flip?! From a standing position? No running start even? People, that is an amazing testament to the power of adrenaline.

4) Sting at the LB Day Amphitheatre in Salem. Summer of 1991, or thereabouts. This is actually part of a much longer story (which includes a long digression about this IDIOT that Qwanty was sort of seeing who resembled Jesus. But in looks only), but the night was beautiful, and we were so close that, in Qwanty's words, "we could get sprayed by Sting's sweat" if he shook his head back and forth. We sat next to two middle-aged women who were loving it as much as we were, and who thanked us (or maybe we thanked them?) for being so fun to sit next to. We danced the whole show under a perfect Oregon summer twilight, and then perfect Oregon summer stars.

5) Paul McCartney at the KINGDOME, 1990ish. I was there with Qwanty (again) and my young, converse-wearing friend Jessica. After this huge multimedia pre-show (I think it lasted about 20 minutes) we were whipped into a frenzy so that when Sir Paul (who was, granted, a football field away from us) walked onto stage alone with his guitar the three of us spontaneously began weeping. It was wild. I wouldn't have thought it possible, if I hadn't been there myself. It was, all-in-all, the most amazing concert experience of my life.

Actually, honorable mention should go to most of the concerts I attended with Qwanty, who has always been my favorite person to see shows with. Erasure (when I was 14), Donovan (15--although I don't know if this was one of the best shows I ever saw or worst), Cake (twice, although seeing them outside at the rose gardens with the Violent Femmes was the best), and, of course, The Moops, with Patrick Lunch on drums and "the wad of mod" doing vocals, no doubt in those Velveteen pants he favors.

(Note: I will actually write a blog post about Patrick in the future. He was in my life for a relatively brief time, but his influence looms large.)

*I know this is not how the name of the song is actually written, for all you QR purists. But I think of this as a family-friendly blog. In other words, Bruce reads it.

New Band Name!

Ok, so I doubt that anything will ever truly eclipse "Eyelyd", but this one is pretty good.

In a message to me earlier today, my old friend Qwanty referred to everyone's favorite PDX '80s DJ as a "wad of mod." Terrific, no?

Unfortunately it might best be employed as the band name of that guy's band.

15 April 2008

Note, for the unintiated

I should probably mention that both Hello Kitty toasters toast Hello Kitty's face onto your bread, or onto your poptart. I should probably also mention that I once served Hello Kitty toast at a PSU Writing Center meeting.

It was very popular.

Le musée à ma maison

So I just started reading Even Cowgirls Get the Blues which, strangely, is the first Tom Robbins novel I've ever read. I've had a copy of the book floating around my bookshelves for the past several years and I'm trying to read stuff I already have before I buy any more books. Anyway, I picked up the book and was surprised to find it annotated. I found it hard to believe that I would have bought the book with anyone else's writing in it. But then I remembered--this particular book was NOT one that I had bought for myself. It was a gift. Given to me by Greg Goekjian as a spontaneous congratulatory token when he found out that I had been accepted into my current PhD program.

Then I started thinking about how truly weird it is that I have G's personal copy of Even the Cowgirls Get the Blues. Clearly, I thought to myself, this is one of the strangest things that I own. This has inspired me to consider other strange things I own. Here is a list of my top ten items:

1) The aforementioned copy of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

A "Danielle Steele Book Club" mug. If you ever get a hot drink in this mug while visiting my casa, you know you are special. It's my personal favorite.

3) A framed and signed picture of Tom Selleck, in his Thomas-Sullivan-Magnum-the-IV days. Leaning against the famed red Ferrari, wearing the famed short shorts. This was (along with many of the other items in this list) a gift. But one that was based on an unfortunate misunderstanding. I can't bring myself to get rid of it though.

4) A "Scorpions Across America" tour tee shirt. I wish I could say that someone gave this to me because of an unfortunate misunderstanding. The truth is, I bought it for myself.

5) A pair of size 11 Grumpy slippers that are almost impossible to walk in.

6) A Barnes and Noble nametag that belonged to an actor who has most recently turned up in No Country for Old Men.

7) Not one, but two, Hello Kitty toasters. (One doesn't really work, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it either.)

8) A complete set of one-of-a-kind greeting cards featuring each of the 12 engravings from the Salvador Dali edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, handmade by Dr. Awesome.

9) The book A History of Orgies. This one was a gift, despite what you might have expected.

10) A certificate for "Most likely to become a sixth grade teacher," awarded unanimously by my own sixth grade class.

09 April 2008

Why I love Sports Talk Radio

Lately it has come to my attention that I have no idea how often I talk about certain things, or do not talk about certain things. This leads to me being surprised over and over again in the following ways:

Scenario 1: "WHAT?! How did you know that I am all about _________________ (fill in the blank with whatever thing I love)? Seriously? When did I tell you about that?"

Scenario 2: "WHAT?! You don't know that I am all about ________________ (fill in the blank with whatever thing I love)? Seriously? I have never told you about that?"

I have no sense of what people know about me and what they don't know.

So, I don't know if many of you know this, but I freakin' love sports talk radio. There are various reasons for this. One of them is that, in very general terms, I hate sports, but I like knowing something about them. Another reason is that, as Mikey J has helped me understand, the fact that I have no dog in any sports-related fight means that I can enjoy sports talk radio on a level of pure entertainment. It is particularly entertaining to me because (as you may or may not know), I love dudes. And sports talk radio is filled with dudes having an almost exclusively dude-oriented conversation that I can totally listen in on. Finally, I love the rhetoric of sports talk radio, which you may know if you have ever heard me talk about Jim Rome (who I love above over all other sports guys. Which is something I also have in common with Jim Rome, who loves his own show much more than he actually loves sports and certainly more than he loves all other sports guys).

The language--the lingo--of sports talk radio is what keeps me coming back though. Rarely in the world do I hear more TRUE statements than I hear come out of the mouths of sports guys. Consider:

One of the greatest bonding moments that occurred last year when I was traveling with my youngest brother (who does not like to be named by name in my blogs) from Portland to Austin happened while we were listening to ESPN radio. The topic was the Super Bowl and we were in that weird 2 week time period between the time when we all know who will be playing, and when the game actually gets played. This is my least favorite time in the sports talk radio calendar, because there is, essentially, no news. So guys just jaw over the same questions over and over again until you think, "Just play the g--damn game already!" because you are so sick of the speculation about whether Peyton Manning needs a Super Bowl ring and how he is going to act if he doesn't get it (which WAS the conversation about that Super Bowl). YAWN. Anyway. That is what the conversation was about, and then we heard the greatest thing that either one of us had ever heard before. Two guys are having this totally boring conversation and then one of them dismisses ALL speculation about the strategy and playbooks and everything else by uttering the following:

"Well, you know, this all probably doesn't really matter. Cuz what it comes down to is that football isn't about the Xs and the Os--it's about the Willies and the Joes."

This statement is so awesome on so many fronts that I don't even know how to begin to parse it for you. But if you read it, and you intuitively KNOW why it is awesome, then you get it. And if you need me to parse it, well, you probably won't ever get it. It was all that Blake and I could talk about for the next several hours.

My second example comes from just about a month ago. It was the Friday before St. Patrick's Day, and I was listening to Dan Patrick's show. I don't love Dan Patrick, necessarily. But he was talking about some college basketball player and how much he didn't like the guy. His reason? "He seems like a total Eddie Haskell. I mean, he is all about the fake hustle. [Long Pause] And I hate fake hustle."

As Patrick went on to discuss what he meant by fake hustle (a discussion that I didn't need--as I knew EXACTLY what he meant), I felt like I had been hit by a freaking lightening bolt. Dan Patrick had uttered a truism that I have FELT all my life, but that I had never been able to fit into such a compact and pithy linguistic package. I DO hate fake hustle. I hate it when students try to cover up the fact that they aren't keeping up with the work by acting SUPER interested in everything that happens in class. Or c0-workers who up their game when there is a boss around. Or basketball players who dive on a ball that is going out-of-bounds when they know that it won't make a damn bit of difference. It's all about the effect. It is spectacle. Ass-kissing spectacle. Love me, because I hustle, these people seem to say.

Dan Patrick, I hate fake hustle too.

Now we're all on the same page. I love sports talk radio. I hate fake hustle. I like listening in to dude's conversations, particularly when I don't care about the topic. And I like knowing what other people do know about me and don't know about me--although I am not particularly good at figuring it out.

01 April 2008

My Day at the NCAA Men's Basketball Tourney

Yes, that is right sports fans. You can be eating your hearts out right about now because I, non-sports lover and non-UT fan, was in attendance at the Texas/Memphis game in Houston on Sunday. Thanks are due to my good friend Nikki (who also deserves thanks for the lovely purple nails I'm sporting this week), who took me with her on this adventure.

If you saw the game on CBS you already know that it was dismal. Texas was thoroughly outplayed. If that wasn't bad enough, the officiating was downright offensive. By 5 minutes into the second half the Texas fans had stopped even reacting to bad calls. Perhaps the worst and most overtly egregious call came then--a Memphis player very obviously swatted a ball away from a Texas player. The Texas player wasn't even close to actually touching the ball. The ball went out of bounds and the call went to Memphis. Although there was almost no verbal reaction to the call, heads were shaken and eyes were rubbed all around me. The reactions indicated the extreme weariness of the fans.

In spite of the outcome of the game itself, the experience of going to the game is one that I'm awfully glad that I got to have. As we all know, large-scale sporting events can really bring out the crazies, so it is a place for great people-watching. Since you didn't get to see this part on TV, consider this your insider look:

1) As we got out of the car in the parking lot of Reliant Stadium, a huge white SUV-type (you know, Suburban-sized) vehicle pulled in next to us. Inside there were 2 gentlemen who I would guess were both in their late 30s (or early 40s) and were surely frat boys at UT twenty years ago. Before they got out of the car they pulled out a fifth of something (I'll guess vodka) which they then poured mixed with Sprite in their Starbucks coffeemugs. Nikki pointed out the conspicuous carseats in the back. (This is, by the way, the exact moment that I started to get excited about the 2 and a half hour drive back to Austin after the game.)

2) Once inside the stadium, we visited the vendors and then sat at the empty bar (NCAA rules prevent the selling of alcohol at most or all[?] NCAA-sponsored events) to eat and chat. Mid-story Nikki interrupted me and told me to look over my shoulder. About 20 feet away stood a man who must have been 75 dressed in Memphis blue. He was doing some very elaborate calisthenics. He seemed to be counting as he went. After a period of time, he began doing a different routine. This went on almost until the playing of the National Anthem.

3) Since Austin was really, by proximity, the "home team", the stadium was packed with burnt orange. Those of you who are not in Austin, or who have not been in Austin, can only really imagine seas of burnt orange--because they do have to be seen in person to be believed. Sometimes I wonder what the more awe-inspiring perspective on the burnt orange phenomenon is because, in case you don't know, there are two perspectives. The first is the "forest" perspective: when viewed this way, your wonder is piqued by the sheer amount of burnt orange that can be assembled in one place at one time. It's overwhelming. Like standing at the edge of the Pacific Ocean for the first time. The other perspective (and perhaps you have already anticipated it) is the "trees" perspective. If you look at the crowd as a huge group of individuals, you soon become dizzy with the variety of expression of burnt orange possible. Button-downs, polos, tee shirts (representing every sport, every UT logo, every academic discipline, every extracurricular interest), tank tops, sweaters, jackets, shorts, jogging suits, Hawaiian shirts, and skirts with rhinestone longhorns on the back pocket. And flip flops. LOTS of burnt orange flip flops.

4) Since the UT fan base seemed to outnumber the Memphis one about 10-1, it was not surprising that the noise generated by the UT attendees in the first half was considerable. But, by just a couple of minutes into the second half, the crowd had been almost entirely hushed. (Not just in reaction to bad calls, but in reaction to anything that happened during the game.) By the time that the second half was half over, the stadium began bleeding streams of orange. At one point the announcer said, "We invite you to stay seated for the rest of the game. The game is not yet over." The reaction by most Texas fans seemed to be, "We invite you to kiss our burnt orange asses." By the last 2 minutes of the game, the roar of the tiny Memphis team was deafening, while the (loyal and sportsmanlike) remaining Texas fans sat in what can only be described as stunned silence.

5) Lest I leave you on a sad note--let me assure you that the spirit of the Longhorn is one not easily squashed. Losses are easily forgotten, and victories loom large in the imagination of the people of Tejas. As we pulled out of the parking lot, Nikki spotted a truck in front of us about to enter the freeway, a can of Bud Ice perched precariously on the back bumper as if to say, "speed and wind, I defy you." The car had a Texas license plate and a Longhorn medallion.

Hook 'em.