A strange and unfamiliar feeling

I watched the Civil War with fingers crossed for Oregon, and when they won, it was… what’s the word? Fun.

No strokes, no rage, no elevated blood pressure, just enjoyment of a good game.

But it got worse. I called my brother, an Oregon alum, and we cast aspersions at James Rodgers, and discussed the sheer un-Oregonness of not collapsing at the key moment. I said I was looking forward to the Rose Bowl, and I meant it.

Is this what it was like before the Mongol Horde came roaring out of the Coliseum under the Khan Carroll? I think it was. It’s no bad trade for an exasperating season.

(But they’d better improve next season so I don’t have to maintain the image of mature enjoyment of the sport…)

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a reminder of why I watch futbol

Having missed my one post a month schedule for April (because I’ma kill the developers on my release project, is why), I’m jumping in to note that without a shadow of a doubt, watching El Clasico yesterday was a reminder of why I watch footy in all its glory.

It’s not just that I loathe Real Madrid and Barça handed them their ass on a platter, it’s not that Barça could legitimately have scored 10 goals if it weren’t for Iker Casillas being such a superlative goalkeeper. It’s that Barcelona played beautiful football. Real might not be at their best this season, but periodically they were made to look like a pub side. Some of the best passing moves didn’t make it to the highlight reels, because there was no goal as a result, but the use of space, the passing accuracy, the awareness and sheer elan were something to behold. The clip below doesn’t include my favorite moment – when Messi was maybe 5 feet to the left of the left post and about the same from the touch line, and the cheeky little bastard tried to lob Casillas at an angle of maybe 25° and nearly did it too.

Posting a clip reel is almost pointless – there were so many good moments in this game, it’s worth watching again, in its entirety. Eduardo Galeano wrote in “Football in Sun and Shadow” that as much as he was a fan of a team, or supported Uruguay, he was like a mendicant, seeking occasional moments of beauty in football. Please excuse the purple prose: the begging bowl was filled at the Bernabeu yesterday.

Tommy Smyth was right

It doesn’t happen all that often, so after being rude about the man before, I feel I must publicly agree with his rant during the Manchester United – Inter game last night: Tommy Smyth is absolutely right that John O’Shea is the first Irishman to come through United in years, because Irwin and Keane were bought in from elsewhere.

Just because there’s reason to doubt Mr Smyth in general is no excuse to pile on when he’s right on the technalities even if it sounds a bit off.

Recherche du temps Tuscaloo

Having inherited family traits of depressive moping and obsessive compulsiveness, I make every effort to lead an unexamined life – who needs that constant reminder of everything that’s gone wrong?

And yet this morning, a brief flash of memory while shaving answered two mysteries for me.

The first mystery is my preference for SEC football. Conference rivalries are supposed to be all consuming, but I revel in the madness of the top-end of the SEC, as opposed to the near-random variability of the Pac 10 when teams can completely change their complexion from week to week.

The second mystery is why I am such complete putty in the hands of southern belles. I mean, beyond the obvious fact that so many of them are charming and so on, but still… I used to work with a woman from South Carolina who had deliberately taken on a neutral-ish mid-Atlantic mien to avoid being treated as if she were stupid. Since I’m not dead, I was aware that she was an attractive woman – but when she demonstrated her use of her “actual” accent to persuade people to let her off the hook from something, I was ready to leave home. Fortunately the missus arrived home before I finished packing my bags, I regained my senses, and order resumed.

It’s not that either of these phenomena is unusual in the global sense; it’s the “why me” part that remained unclear – or least it did until I was shaving this morning and something reminded me of the source. When I was but a little DC Trojan and we lived in Holland, my parents had friends (he was a career NCO in the Army) who were from Alabama. They presented me with my first college football t-shirt – though to this day I remember experiencing great confusion about what a Crimson Tide was, and why you would need to involve an elephant. And they had a very cute teenaged daughter who used to babysit me and my brother sometimes… and now that I think about it, the adults were plainly laughing at how I was completely smitten with what seemed like a very exotic blonde southern-ness about her.

So it’s all clear now. The Akins set me on a path, but I was redirected by my father getting a job in California, and I didn’t even know it at the time. Still, given the state of my blood pressure and so on, perhaps it’s as well I didn’t end up in SEC country. Between the football rage and the fried food, I’d be dead already. (Better that than life in the ACC, though.)

credit where it’s due

I wouldn’t ordinarily post a goal scored by Celtic, but wait for the goalkeeper’s view of this shot by Shunsuke Nakamura and you’ll understand why it’s here – what a thing of beauty.