The Marching Band Refused to Yield

Spartan Marching Band Bones

Fifty years ago, I was introduced to Big Ten football in Ann Arbor. I was a kid then. My dad was a fellow at the U of M. I went to high school catty-corner to the Big House. Woody and Bo were headliners then. I met my one true love. She won an all-expense paid trip to East Lansing and I followed her there. College, courtship and marriage ensued. Like I said, it’s been fifty years.

Crisp autumn afternoons bring this all back. These days, football is not a big part of my life, but when I heard that our alma mater was playing the cross-state rivals, I scanned the dial, searching for the big game. I was rewarded, doubly so. Not only did I find the game, but Michigan State was ahead. Heavily favored Michigan (+21.5) was not playing well. State went on to win the game, upsetting Michigan by 27-24. This shouldn’t have come as that big a surprise, because their head coach Harbaugh has a habit of choking for the big home game. Every year Ann Arbor hosts a rival, either Michigan State or Ohio State. Against these two foes, Harbaugh has a dismal 1-5 combined home record. In college football winning the big game often counts more than a winning season. Sorry, Jane.

We had planned on skipping Halloween this year, but our next-door neighbors invited us over. They had setup a firepit in their driveway. We brought key lime bars to share, while they tossed candy bags to the trick or treaters. There was a pretty good turnout, with usually both the kids and their parents in costume. It made for a nice evening, with a fire to ward off the chill, under a full moon.

Party Like It’s 1999!

Sumatran Tiger

The Corwin show got taken on the road today. We went to the Nashville Zoo. I was way more impressed with it than I had expected to be. There were many different species then can be seen at the Saint Louis Zoo, yielding lots of new photo-ops. We scored Mexican for lunch and Indian for dinner and in-between watch some football on TV. The Tennessee Titans faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs for a berth in next month’s Super Bowl. Even though it was an away game, Titan hometown, Nashville, was going crazy over it. The last time that the Titans were in the Super Bowl was 1999, where the then Saint Louis Rams ended up winning. Nashville party like it’s 1999 again, because the Chiefs won.

The Festivus Bowl

Super Bowl Liii…

We as a nation face a national crisis, not at the southern border, but in Atlanta. Riled by politics of division, we are a nation divide, which has taught itself to hate one another. Normally, an event like the Super bowl offers a respite from this partisan turmoil and a brief opportunity to come together again, but not this year. The two contending teams come to this championship with enough tainted baggage to declare any winner forfeit. The only question left, is who should we hate the most? In one corner we have the Rams. In the other the Patriots. Polls show national disapproval of the Pats, but we here in the Lou and now also in New Orleans hold a special enmity towards the Rams. I declare a pox on both houses, but first let me air my complaints. This is the Festivus bowl after all.

The Patriots are most notorious for two scandals, Spy-gate, where they filmed opposing team’s signals and Deflate-gate, where footballs were under inflated to make them easier to catch. But their biggest crime by far are their five Super bowl rings, making them quite a handful. The Rams are most recently notorious for the blown call at the end of their penultimate game this year against the Saints. It is easily argued that had that pass interference call been made, as it should have, we would be watching the Saints meet the Patriots this year. In my mind though, their real crime is deserting Saint Louis and returning to LA. After all, we had stolen them from LA, fair and square. 

Festivus began as a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 as an alternative to the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season. Originally created by Daniel O’Keefe, Festivus entered popular culture after it was made the focus of a Seinfeld episode. It practices the airing of grievances. I’ve aired my grievances here, at least most of them. There is also the inhumanity of the sport of football. The stonewalling of the NFL regarding concussions cannot forestall the inevitable. Even NFL is finding insurance harder to come by and other lesser leagues are in even more dire straights. The Pop Warner little league will likely fold soon for lack on insurance after ninety years of play. Finally, there is the collusion of NFL owners and their unfair treatment of Colin Kaepernick.

So, who will I be rooting for? I could say that I’m only going to tune in to see the commercials, but now-a-days you can already see them online. The bi-polar vortex has fled town, leaving us gorgeous weekend weather. It’s Groundhog day and we were fogged in, so no shadows, which supposedly means that we’ll have an early spring. I hope. To the bike cave! Time to get some miles in. Maybe I’ll be able to wear myself out so that Sunday night I can fall asleep on the couch.

Da Game

Ann Arbor Diag M

Anne and I took Dan to the airport this morning at oh-dark-thirty. On Monday, we’ll do the same for Dave, except on that time, it will be more like uh-oh-dark-thirty. Such are the requirements of holiday air travel. It is difficult getting up so early anymore. One of the side effects of retirement, I guess. When we got back home, I coaxed Anne into going back to bed. We were both rewarded with residual warmth. Anne was able to fall asleep again, but I was unable to do the same. I’ll be in a daze for the rest of the day, but I should get a good night’s sleep tonight. So, I’m up for becoming a couch potato and watching the Michigan-Ohio State football game. The first half was OK, but the second was a disaster. Purdue’s sole defeat of Ohio State is looking kind of special now. 

Super Bowl LII

Sloshing Drinks

If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost…

The day of the big game has arrived and like most of America, I’m wondering who to root for. I say this, because of the 32 NFL teams only two now remain. Leaving so many hometown fans unmoored and if like me you’re from Saint Louis, you never even had a dog in the fight. I could choose the safe bet and go with the Patriots, but what would be the fun of that? Or, I could go with the Eagles and root for the underdog, but I don’t have any rubber dog masks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stoop to rooting for injuries. There have already been enough concussions. Maybe I’ll just take a knee, sit this game out and laugh at the commercials.

If not for the courage of the fearless bartender, the tiki bar would be lost…

While we were dining two-weeks ago in Florida, after New England won its qualifying playoff game, a particularly drunk Patriots fan burst into the bar and tried to lead the house in a cheer for his team. He got nada, crickets. When I pointed out to him that this is after all the south, he took it personally and in retribution stole the roll of paper towels that was serving as napkins. There were quite a few northerners there, but they were all soon to be disappointed Vikings fans. At least their team’s city gets the consolation prize of hosting today’s game and all for the cost of only a billion dollars in new stadium costs. No thank you. In keeping with my ho-hum approach to this Super bowl, we elected to stay home this year, primarily for environmental reasons. This keeps our carbon footprint down to the space on the couch taken up by our butts.

If not for the courage of the fearless quarterback, the big game would be lost…

Welcome to Saint Louis

Cheetah

Cheetah

I went to the Saint Louis Zoo today. It is close to home and is easy for me to visit. From today’s photo safari, I’ve chosen the above picture as the graphic for this post. Interestingly, there were two zoo keepers, both women, in the enclosure. One of them stood guard, while the other one was doing some digging. When I was viewing the cheetah exhibit, another visitor turned to me and expressed his amazement at how great this zoo is. He was even more amazed at the fact that zoo admission is free. I asked if he was from Saint Louis and not unexpectedly he said no. He came to town on business, his meeting ended early, his flight wasn’t until tomorrow, he had the afternoon off and so he went to the zoo. I saw him again later and he was even more excited. He told me that he had already seen three new to him species. I could have told him, you’re welcome, because as a Saint Louis County taxpayer I paid for it, but that would have been rude. We were both having a good time and since there were so few visitors, the animals seemed to also appreciate the extra company.

Another welcoming to Saint Louis is featured in this year’s Budweiser Super Bowl spot, “Born the Hard Way”. This ad tells the Anheuser-Busch origin story. It details Adolphus Busch’s journey from Germany to Saint Louis and culminates in his meeting with cofounder Eberhard Anheuser, over a beer. In this commercial Busch’s immigration is punctuated with travails. Crossing the Atlantic he is thrown from his bunk and requires stitches. In NYC he is met with the angry epithets, “You’re not wanted here” and “Go back home.” Later the riverboat that was bringing him to Saint Louis catches fire and he is forced to abandon ship. This whole story is told in flashback, as we learn later. This casts new light on the ad’s opening line that to any new immigrant would appear threatening, “You don’t look like you’re from around here.” Later, we learn that it was spoken as an introduction by Anheuser to Busch.

AB InBev is the largest brewer in the world and it has been a perennial Super Bowl sponsor. Most of their spots have been of the cute and cuddly sort, think Clydesdales, dogs and frogs. In our current highly charged environment about immigration and the controversy over Trump’s recent immigrant ban, this commercial seems pointedly political, no matter what the brewer says. In this way it feels reminiscent of Chrysler’s 2012 Clint Eastwood Super Bowl halftime spot, “Halftime in America”. I can only hope that “Born the Hard Way” is just as effective. Oh and Budweiser, welcome back to Saint Louis.