Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 18 (Round IV) "In the trenches": "Yaaar!" edition

This past weekend brought the first "away" game for the university's football team, a game with the hereditary great rival school, down east and south of here, and a (football and music) program that is massively better funded and has a much bigger ego than ours. It's always an uphill, unevenly-fought battle, and the odds are usually stacked against our team.

And, in the event, though they weren't embarrassed, they did get beat. Was out in the canyon at friend Coop's adobe on the Friday evening, and watching at least the first few minutes of the game on his big-screen, and after an 80-some-yard punt return by the Bad Guys, we all looked at each other and said "OK, it's time to go out to the studio and play tunes." Which we did, on a beautiful cool evening, looking west over the playa lakes to the infinite West Texas horizon, only enlivened (after full dark) by the stolen car that somebody dumped and torched, while we walked, at the boat landing across the lake.

It was also, ironically, September 19, the latest created holiday, "Talk Like a Pirate" Day, and a unique confluence of calendar phenomena: first away game, against the hereditary rivals, under a coach (ours) who's a pretty darned good amateur historian, and a pirates buff, and with a marching band (ours) whose director, no dummy, has put together a half-time show that draws from "Captain Blood," "Pirates of the Caribbean", and about a half-dozen other pirate movies, and into the maw of the Bad Guys multi-million dollar stadium.

There was never much question that our guys were gonna get beat, and the confluence of Talk Like a Pirate Day didn't really do much for me:

One of my ancestors was a cavalry captain under Oliver Cromwell (here's hoping he was a Roundhead for class reasons, not sectarian ones) who was granted all the land on Long Island he could ride over in one day on the back of a bull, and that was the foundation of the town in whose square there is still a bigger-than-life-size statue of a bull in his honor.

Another was a six-foot-three-inch Tory horse thief and raider who was hanged in the wake of the Revolution and announced, on the scaffold, that he was only called a traitor because he had "chosen the wrong side". That story's probably apocryphal, but the one about him kicking off his shoes on the scaffold, to give the lie to his mother's prediction that he would surely "die with his boots on", knowing my family's personalities, is probably true.

Others fought at Culloden (right side, wrong leader: Dick Gaughan: "Bonnie Prince Charlie did about as good for Scotland as a dose of cholera), were exiled to Ulster, and then homesteaded on the "Old Frontier" in the same era as Hawthorne's Hawkeye and Uncas.

Another was a combat engineer who survived D-Day, the drive into Germany, and my mother.

"Talk Like a Pirate" day, another manufactured marketer's holiday (like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Columbus Day, and Labor Day--the REAL labor day is May 1: Solidarity Forever!), is fun and all (Yaarrr!) but I don't need no fuckin' manufactured excuses to talk (or act) like a pirate.

It's in my bloodlines.

All that being said, and given my historical preference for the underdog, I would not have been sorry to see my home university upset the oddsmakers and steal one out from under their pompous top-dollar price-is-no-object privileged arrogant Boosters 'n' Alumni from that Place Southwest of Here.

Maybe next year.

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