Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The cold, icy finger of dread/Roll, Tide!/Intergalactic ‘hoods

The cold, icy finger of dread is one of those things that afflicts those of us who are sports fans. 

We all start out new, fresh, rejuvenated when the team of our choice finally (FINALLY!) looks to be showing signs of life.  We feel that the glory days may once again visit us; that we are once again a “team of destiny”; that the pieces are falling into place once more for us to win the Mythical National Championship, the Tourney, the Supa Bow; that “one shining moment” will feature our team; that the confetti is going to rain down whilst the commish hands the coach the trophy.

This euphoria may last as much as a year or two.  Yeah, so we lost to the Bombers.  They’d better enjoy it now….  We can handle another year or two, knowing that we’re on the rebuild.  We are the Emperors, and we will be BACK, baby!

Then, there comes that game, that one particular moment in time, when the cold, icy finger of dread slithers down your spine.  There’s an interception run back for a TD, or your pitching just completely breaks down, or Barnacle State hammers you 111-60, and you think, “Oh, NO.  No, no no no no.  Not again.  Not now.  Not when we thought we had our breakout team in place.  No, no, NO!”

The first time I actually thought about the Cold, Icy Finger of Dread was in Waaaaar Memorial Stadium, Little Rock, Arkansas.  The previous season, after a great start and fun whupping of texass u (spit) in the Cotton Bowl, Arkansas had had an inexplicably poor outing in Lexington, which, along with several other subpar efforts had led us to the Las Vegas Bowl.  I went.  It was GREAT to be in Vegas again; I couldn’t get enough of the Bellagio; the Golden Nugget welcomed me like an old friend.  I knew we were in trouble that night before the game.  I couldn’t sleep (my buddy had the temp turned up to “Blast Furnace”), and it occurred to me as I flipped and flopped that I was in VEGAS, and I could just head downstairs for a little fun.  So, I arrived in the casino and was considering my options when, to my surprise, I observed 3 of our starting offensive linemen getting into a white stretch limo with three hookers---at 3:30 am.  “Uh oh,” I thought to myself.  Uh-oh, indeed.  But still, boys will be boys….  Of course, we lost miserably.  I figured, “Ok, it was the bowl game atmosphere, it’ll be better next season.”

The first game of the next season happened to be UNLV.  And the game went very badly, including some astonishing coaching moves by Hooty.  And I felt the Cold, Icy Finger of Dread go down my spine as I thought, “He’s clueless.  We’re screeewwwed!” (Lewis Black).

This last Sunday, watching the Cowboys’ haphazard, futile effort vs. a rebuilding Denver team, watching Tony Romo throw still more interceptions, and watching Wade Phillips’ headsets once again hit the Gatorade table, and watching Romo’s pass sail in and out of the hands of Hurd (Hurd?  Who’s Hurd?) (ok, the much-maligned Champ Bailey had a little to do with the pass being knocked down, but it was the GAME WINNING PASS IN THE ENDZONE!  And had it been thrown just a bit better, it would’ve resulted in a TOUCHDOWN.  The GAME-WINNING touchdown!)---and there were the matters of all those passes (to wide-open receivers) that were “Juuuust a bit high” (paraphrasing Bob Uecker, as Harry Doyle, Major League)---and there was the matter of the “deer in the headlights” look Romo had---the combination of all of these produced the COLD ICY FINGER OF DREAD down my spine. 

He ain’t it.  He’s cute, and he’s dashing, and he dated the Simpson skank, and he’s quite the kool kat around town, but on the football field he’s nervous and timid and it shows.  He’s got some big play potential, but he’s got some big downsides.

Wade Phillips…is a great Defensive Coordinator. The Head Coach is comfortably ensconced in the owner’s box, chatting with visiting royalty while consuming tasty snax and calling plays down to Jason Garrett.

Jason---may be Hooty Dale in disguise.  He makes some great calls, but he makes some really boneheaded ones.


I think I’ll adopt the Vikings.  THEY looked like they had it all together, and it’s fun to watch The Old Man take one more tour of the NFL.



You will not hear me say this often, so better listen up:  ROLLLLLLL, TIDE!!!! 

‘nuff said.  GO TO HELL, OLE MISS, GO TO HELL!!!



Houston, Texas is the largest city in the United States with no zoning laws whatsoever.  You can have a Target next to a dry cleaners next to a Stop-n-go next to a residential neighborhood next to a porno palace.  There’s no rhyme or reason to it.  (In fact, our local porno palace---Houston has them everywhere, and in the best areas---is located directly next to The Mattress Store.  One could say that has a certain ironic quality, but one doesn’t need to be TOO ironical…).

At first, you think, “Man, this is some kind of mess!” but the more you live here, the better you like it.  No zoning means there is an HEB/Central Market, a Kroger Signature, and a Randall’s Flagship within walking distance of my house (Ok, better drive to Randall’s).  There are Blockbusters, Walgreens, CVS, veterinarians, pawn shops, porn palaces, gas stations, and 50,000 restaurants within about a 2 mile radius---while in my neighborhood, you’d never know you lived in the city.  Why?

Houston has a huge proliferation of Neighborhood Associations.  These Hitler Youth Concerned and Involved Citizens mostly police the area, making sure you don’t forget to mow your grass to the specified height, or have a shrub out of place, or paint your mailbox a non-approved shade of beige. 

Lately, however, the Association has taken on new missions.  We have crime problems city-wide (Katrina “victims” + Great Recession = lots of people with too much time on their hands and no drug money available), and West Houston is no exception.  The Association has hired us an extra constable (look for those dues to climb next year…) and is in some ways not half bad.

In other ways, however, it’s more than half bad.  They recently tried to assess us all an extra $500.  We went to the big meeting they held (I’m sure they were surprised and dismayed at the size of the crowd).  They had no real plan (other than re-doing the pool and the kitchen at the clubhouse; Ms. Gotrocks decided she needed granite and Thermidor appliances in the clubhouse kitchen to match her own style; the neighbors and I determined that any granite and Thermidor appliances were going in our OWN houses, thanks much.  

We voted their assessment down.  They were apoplectic.

Imagine my surprise this afternoon to get a chirpy email from our chirpy Association Management Professional, advising us that we had joined the Briar Forest Super Neighborhood Council, consisting of Ashford Village (mine), Country Village, ShadowBriar, Walnut Bend, Briargrove Park, Rivercrest, Lakeside Place, April Village, Village West, Marlborough, and several others whose names I disremember.  We have several “stakeholders” (including, but not limited to, the Westchase District, the “Faith-Based” group (Ascension Episcopal, Grace Presbyterian), and a host of other organizations. 

Apparently this group’s function is to wield more “clout” at City Hall, to get “our issues” out there (Rivercrest tried an end-around; they attempted to get the City to close the public street through their neighborhood, to avoid the traffic from Westheimer trying to avoid the light at Westheimer and Beltway 8)---hey, if they get to usurp their public streets, we’re going gated, mmmkay? 

In any event, this is a more or less random observation, but here it is:

Nobody is happier than when they’re mind ANYBODY’S business except their own. 

It’s not enough that we have the Westchase District, which can levy taxes without sanction from voters OR City Hall; Southbriar (Ashford Village + ShadowBriar) Association and a host of other intrusive sorts---now we have to have the Briar Forest Super InterGalactic Neighborhood Council.  Hell, next thing you know, they’ll merge with other organizations and become a City!  Hey, we could name it after the Father of Texas, Sam Houston!!


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