Monday, December 26, 2011

Rebel Clipper

The Colonel needs a haircut.  Badly.

Even a bad haircut would do.

The Colonel's had the same hairdo since he was eighteen.  Early on the Colonel paid a weekly visit to his barber for the traditional Marine "high and tight."  Then the Colonel began to notice that there was less and less on top to cut "tight."

The Colonel also broke down and used a little bit of not-so advanced mathematics and discovered that at three or four dollars a weekly barber shop visit, a $20 hair clipper set would quickly pay for itself -- plus give the Colonel some regular practice in case he needed to cut hair to augment his retirement.   

For the better part of the last three decades the Colonel has, each Monday morning, set his trusty clippers, Semper Clip, on the lowest setting, and reduced his meager mane to a barely visible stubble. 

Sometime back in September (that's as specific as his rapidly diminishing collection of viable brain cells will allow him to remember), the Colonel missed a Monday morning meeting with Semper Clip.  It wasn't necessarily intentional, mind you.  He just forgot.

And, it wasn't all that noticeable a week later. 

Nor the week after that.  

The Colonel, being the creature of habit that he is, missed a whole month of Monday morning meetings with Semper Clip, and just that quickly began a new habit.

After about six weeks, there was enough fur around the Colonel's ears for one of his domino buddies to look up from the table, squint at him like there was a big daub of axle grease smeared across his face, and ask, "Growing your hair out, Colonel?"

"Nope.  What makes you think that?"

"I dunno.  Just looks like you and your barber had a fallin' out."

"Nope.  Just giving my follicle's a rest."

"Looks to me most of your follicles have been resting in peace for quite some time now."

Soon, the hair was as long as it had been since just before the Colonel's dad returned from Vietnam.

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda held her peace for as long as she could bear it and finally, in her gentle and loving way, told him what she thought of the Colonel's new 'do.

"Hey, knucklehead!  You look like a hippie gone to seed!  You need to cut that mess off your melon before people start asking you how you came up with E equals MC squared!"

The rest of the Colonel's family displayed even more loving interest in his noggin' wrapping cultivation.

"Daddy, you look terrible!" The Colonel's favorite daughter always knows just what to say to warm his heart, cockles and all.  "When are you gonna cut your hair?"

The Colonel flipped his locks and flippantly declared, "When Ole Miss finally wins a football game." 

"But, Daddy, this season's over!"

"Yep, looks like I won't get it cut until after the Spring Game."

"But, Daddy, didn't they tie the Spring Game last year?"  


Hmmm.  Wonder what the Colonel would look like in dread locks? 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Season Reason

The old man didn't believe in much, and he certainly didn't believe in anything he couldn't prove. He was too intelligent and too learned to indulge himself in beliefs that required faith -- that was just too simple-minded and uneducated for a college professor.

He wasn't completely passionless -- he did love his birds.

As a trained biologist, he knew every detail of the physiology and behavior of animals in general, and, as a ornithological specialist, his knowledge of birds was particularly deep and broad. He was unabashedly vain in the surety that he knew practically everything there was to know about birds -- he was darn near omniscient when it came to feathered fauna. He lived alone and kept several feeders in his backyard to attract the birds he loved so much -- they were his company, and he often, embarrassingly, caught himself talking out loud to them.

He stood at the window as the light of the late December afternoon dimmed to early evening twilight. It had snowed most of the day and several inches had accumulated. The temperature was dropping precipitously -- it was going to be one of the coldest nights of the year. But, that hadn't deterred his neighbors from their annual ritual of asking him to join them at church for Christmas Eve services. He had politely refused, and even wished them "happy holidays," even though he considered it hypocritical to do so.


His principled disbelief in the basis for the holidays prevented him from even recognizing Christmas in any way. There was no decorated tree in his house, no silly lights outside, and certainly no gift giving. He was no hypocrite.

As darkness fell, he heard the bells ringing from the church down the road, and he marvelled at the waste of time, energy, and resources devoted to Christianity. How could anyone with half a brain buy in to the "immaculate conception" fairy tale? If there was a God running this universe, and he was fairly certain there wasn't, why would he waste his time on the insignificant life forms on an insignificant rock circling a nondescript star in a galaxy of billions of stars, in a universe of billions of galaxies?


It was snowing again, and he reached over and turned on the outside light so he could watch the flakes fall. His attention was drawn to the ground just at the edge of the circle of light, where a flock of small birds was huddled motionless in the snow. He was immediately concerned. He had seen this kind of behavior before and it normally resulted in the death of all the birds in the flock. Stunned by the sudden onset of bitter cold, they would just sit there and freeze. He hated to see that happen. He loved his birds and it just tore at him anytime he found one dead. He had to do something for this flock.

He quickly pulled on his coat and boots and stepped outside in the snow. He thought maybe he could scare them into some life-saving activity. Maybe he could chase them into the air and they would fly somewhere safe. He waved his arms and stomped his feet, but the birds just moved out of his way and continued to huddle in the snow.

He walked across the yard to his workshop at the back of the lot, opened the door, turned on the light, and stooped to turn on the space heater in the corner. He propped open the door and then stepped outside and into the shadows. He hoped that if he remained motionless and hidden the birds would see the light and warmth of the workshop and move inside.


After a few minutes, it was obvious that the birds weren't going to take the initiative to move into the workshop on their own. He would have to try to move them himself. He walked over to the flock and bent to pick up a bird, but it fluttered away and landed on the other side of the flock. He tried several times to catch a bird, but the results were always the same. He tried to herd the birds toward the warmth of the workshop by stooping and waving his arms, but the birds just scattered in front of him and then rejoined to huddle in the snow.

Again and again he tried to shoo the birds toward the lifesaving warmth, and he became increasingly frustrated at his failure to save them.

The temperature was dropping perceptively and he noticed that one of the birds had slumped lifelessly. He redoubled his efforts to herd them to the workshop. Another bird slumped in the snow. He was frantic now, speaking to the birds, trying to reason with them, and then caught himself, embarrassed.


He said to himself aloud, "If I could just become a bird for one minute, I could lead them to the light and warmth of the workshop and save them from dying in the snow."

At that moment, the bells on the church down the road began to ring again.


The old man sank to his knees in the snow and understood.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tallahatchie Free State 2012 Gift Catalog

Christmas 2011 will be celebrated here aboard the Colonel's vast holdings at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere with all of the joy and familial...

*** We interrupt the Colonel's latest literary libation to bring you the following crass commercial message.***

Due to overwhelming demand and underwhelming supply, the following Eegeebeegee Christmas Gift and Tallahatchie Free State Souvenir items have been sold out for this season, but will be available for advance ordering beginning in late Spring 2012:

The Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda's Wild Blackberry Jam Sampler.  Spoon a dollop of Miss Brenda's Wild Blackberry Jam on a hot buttered biscuit and take your taste-buds to a whole 'nuther existential plane.  Blackberries lovingly hand-harvested by the citizens and legal residents of the Tallahatchie Free State at the height of their finger-staining ripeness.  A six ounce jar for only $29.99, plus S & H.  A bargain at twice that price!

The Semper Filet Souvenir Sawdust Display Board.  Keep your family, friends, and the many guests in your home entertained with the ultimate conversation piece.  A half dozen samples of the most prodigious product of the Colonel's sapling to sawdust process mounted on a rustic mill-sawn foot-long 1 x 6 board.  All logs converted to lumber and sawdust come from timber harvested by the Colonel on the Colonel's timber plantation at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere.  For a limited time only... $299.99 each, plus S & H.  (The Colonel's signature $0.37 extra.) 

The Colonel's Carbon Creator Special.  For that special person on your gift list who has everything, but needs to leave a lasting legacy for his or her progeny.  Prior to harvesting, the Colonel will name a tree in honor of the giftee.  The tangible gift (in addition to the intangible personal knowledge of making a tree-hugger cry) is a framed collage of photographs depicting the Colonel's death-defying and maim-missing chain-saw dance 'round the base of the standing tree, the Colonel's death-defying and maim-missing chain-saw dismemberment of the fallen tree, the conversion of the tree's logs into lumber and sawdust, and the bonfire consummation of all tree products not converted to lumber and sawdust.  Personalized with placards in each photo on which the giftee's name will be scrawled in a special ink composed of kudzu extract, loblolly pine charcoal, and North Mississippi red clay (aka Confederate Concrete).  $499.99, plus S & H.

The Colonel's Bucket List Headliner.   The trip of a lifetime!  An all expense-paid working vacation aboard the Colonel's vast holdings at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere.  Your stay will include 1/4 star accommodations and a customizable smorgasbord of chores aboard the Eegeebeegee Timber and Wildlife Plantation.  Drive the Colonel's muddy red tractor, Semper Field.  Operate the Colonel's toothy sawmill, Semper Fillet.  Skinny-dip in Lake Brenda.  Attend an ad hoc meeting of the Congress of the Tallahatchie Free State.  Pick-up bed tour (in the back of the Colonel's rusty red pick-em truck, Semper Fillit) of Ole Miss and the cultural center of the southern universe -- Oxford, MS; available.  $1999.99 per day.  Photos with the Colonel at a small extra charge.

*** We now return you to regular programming...***    

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It Ain't Over

Despite the erroneous media hyper-ventilation and political victory lap-taking to the contrary, the announced "end" of US combat operations in Iraq (redux of 2003's "Mission Accomplished"), and the projected end of same in Afghanistan, will not mean the "end" of the war with Islamic extremists and their rogue nation supporters.  It is far from over, and is indeed on the threshold of a far more dangerous phase.  While the people of our nation may believe the war is over, our enemies do not.

If the war was really over, there would no longer be a need for the unconstitutional punishment meted out on the traveling public by the Transportation Safety Administration, in the name of safety and security.

If the war was really over, people throughout the Middle East and Southwest Asia would be governed by, if not a close facsimile of our constitutional representative republic, at least forms of government that respected and protected basic political, economic, and religious freedoms for men and women.

If the war was really over, our nation's hard and soft power-projection capabilities would be focused on the increasing threat from the Peoples' Republic of China (neither of the people, nor a republic -- but, the Colonel digresses). 

As any of the thousands of you who regularly imbibe of the literary libations ladled out in posts hereon will no doubt remember from dozens of treatises on the subject, the Colonel believes with every fibre of his being and without a doubt in his military mind that "the war" could have been over at least five years ago.

Let's spend a little time coming to the correct understanding of just what it is that these re-United States have been involved in for the past decade, shall we?  The Colonel has wasted a great deal of his few remaining brain cells and your valuable rod and cone time in previous posts hereon, explaining, in exacting detail, the correct nomenclature of the diplomatic, economic, and military operations in which our nation and its allies have participated since 9/11.  He won't subject you to a retelling, nor dull the easily-glazed eyes of the Bama and LSU grads who may have accidentally stumbled onto this blog whilst in a frantic search for hound's-tooth hats and Mardi Gras beads.

Suffice it for the Colonel to say, the military operations in Afghanistan since 2001 and Iraq since 2003 are not separate, distinct, and exclusive wars in and of themselves.  They are theater campaigns, in a far larger war.  And, while the American military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan may be ending, the conflicts there ARE NOT. 

Several decades ago, leaders in many countries (primarily in the Islamic world), whose continuance in tyrannical power over their downtrodden and exploited populations was threatened by American-led Western freedom-supporting presence in their region; formed, bank-rolled, and trained irregular para-military formations to carry out asymmetrical attacks against American and Western interests, in order to dissuade those free governments from interfering in their not-so free governance. 

For the Bama and LSU grads, the Colonel will spell out the previous point more simply.  Bad guys like Gaddafi didn't like the fact that Western (American) values and ideals were giving their people "revolutionary" ideas.  Bad guys like Gaddafi paid other bad guys (and gals) to blow up airplanes and nightclubs to send a message to the sponge-spined, weak-willed democrats (little d) to stay out of the bad guy's business.  We call the bad guys (and gals) that blow up airplanes, terrorists.

That war, begun long before 9/11, ain't over. 

And, so far, we're losing it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Freeze Warning

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"     --Paul's letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 11, Verse 1

The Colonel, as his family well knows, and the thousands of you who regularly imbibe in the barely literate literary libations ladled out in posts hereon have surely surmised, enjoys an albeit diminishing reputation for unerring accuracy in his prognostications.  There was a time when, before the ravages of age and mental gymnastics endured attempting to make sense of Ron Paul's appeal to more than three dozen survivalists hiding out in a remote canyon in New Mexico reduced the Colonel's mental faculties and powers of observation to the few remaining synaptic connections still firing across the ever-widening gaps between the atrophying cells lying fallow in the grey goo lodged in forgotten recesses of his bony brain-housing group, if the Colonel told someone a chicken could plow they hooked up a rooster.

That was then, this is now:

The Colonel finds himself, more often than not of late, retracting, retracing, regretting, and otherwise admitting his error on previous predictions and proclamations.  For example, the Colonel was way wrong when at the beginning of the season he predicted that the Ole Miss Rebel football team would stink up the kudzu-clad hills here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere and win only four or five ballgames.

The Rebels went two and ten.  Epic frontal lobe fail on the Colonel's part.    

Predictive failure is happening with such increasing frequency lately that the Colonel is starting to succumb to self-doubt and beginning to make apologies for prognostications and proclamations not yet proven false.  

So it is with the University of Mississippi's hire of Hugh Freeze to remedy the failure of Huston Nutt (and the failure of Ed Orgeron, David Cutcliffe, the despicable Tommy Tuberville, Billy Brewer, Steve Sloan, Ken Cooper, and Billy Kinard before him) to reincarnate the great Coach Johnny Vaught.  A fortnight ago, the Colonel posted the following prediction regarding Archie Manning's mission to find the next Johnny Vaught :

"...So, sometime here in the next couple of weeks, a new head football coach will be announced here in Oxford. He'll be a good guy and all. Young, energetic, positive.

And totally not up to the task of competing in the Southeastern Conference.

Ole Miss football will flounder on, sub-par, for the foreseeable future. That young, energetic, positive coach will last three or four seasons, at most, before giving way to the next young, energetic, positive, and totally not up to the job of competing in the SEC, head coach..."  http://thecolonelscorner.blogspot.com/2011/12/life-at-end-of-tunnel.html


Three days later Archie Manning sent the Colonel a personal message announcing the results of his committee's exhaustive head coach search. 

Okay, it wasn't exactly intended as a personal message for the Colonel -- there were a few tens of thousands others who got the same message.  The Colonel took it personal, though. 

Archie told me, us, that a young, energetic, positive man by the name of Hugh Freeze would be the next Head Football Coach at Ole Miss.

A short time later, the Colonel watched as Coach Freeze made his first speech to Rebel Nation.  The man's faith and fervor was impressive.  The Colonel couldn't help but feel a surge of hope stirring deep within the shriveled cinder that passes for his heart.  The first play from scrimmage was yet unseen, but the Colonel felt a rekindling of the fires of faith.   

Self-doubt crept from hiding deep in the Colonel's soul and whispered compellingly into his tinnitus-tortured ear, "You could be wrong.  Freeze could be Vaught reincarnate.  He's so positive; so likable; so convincingly earnest.  He's been a winner everywhere he's been in charge." 

Oh, how the Colonel wants to be persuaded! 

The Colonel may indeed be proven wrong once again, but in the meantime he'll cling bitterly to his guns and maintain his football faith rooted firmly in what he has seen.   And, he'll offer Freeze the following warning:

You have embarked on the single most challenging endeavor of your young career.  Your on-field foes at LSU, Bama, and the School Beneath Us pale in comparison to the off-field foes arrayed against your success and dreams of retirement here in Oxford.   You'll be tempted to take sides for or against the tradition-trashing insanity that dwells in the hallowed halls of the Lyceum. 

Don't.  (The Colonel will keep up that fight for you.)

Find and bring us players who share your integrity and want to fight for Ole Miss.  No matter the outside pressure, stay focused on your team.  Love 'em and lead 'em.  Like you said in your introduction, it's really all about family.

Oh, and one more thing...

Beat State!
         

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Sawdust Savant

WarningGraphic images of a real tree's conversion from log to lumber contained hereon.   

As the thousands of you who regularly imbibe in the barely literate literary libations ladled out in posts heron will no doubt recall, one of the critical components of the Colonel's sapling to sawdust production system aboard his vast holdings here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere is his trusty sawmill, Semper Filet (not to be confused with his trusty red tractor, Semper Field; nor his rusty red pick 'em up truck, Semper Fillit; nor even his former boat and Redneck Riviera partner in redfish and speckled trout population control, Semper Fish).

It has slowly dawned in the rapidly dwindling collection of cells lying fallow in a small puddle of grey goo lodged in a cavernous crevice of his bony brain-housing group, that the Colonel should consider posting a video of the intricately choreographed ballet that is his death-defying and maim-missing dance round the periphery of Semper Filet as the machine makes manageable boards from barely manageable logs. 

The Colonel is indebted to his lady, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, for her assistance as videographer of the clip proudly presented in this post.  The Colonel is indebted to the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda for a great deal more than her assistance as videographer...but, there's no room in this tome, nor allowance in your patience, for that recounting.

The first scene in the video clip below portrays the Colonel in the final phase of manhandling a log into the waiting arms of Semper Filet.  What is not shown in this clip is the Colonel's death-defying and maim-missing chain-saw-armed dance around the base of the standing tree -- allowing the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda to witness that evolution would result in either her insistence that the Colonel immediately cease all further felling of timber or significantly increase the amount of his life insurance.  The clip also does not show the death-defying and maim-missing chain-saw-armed dismembering and conversion of the tree into ten-foot logs, for the same reason.

Succeeding scenes show conversion of the log into a squared cant, from which boards are cut.  Still shots at the end of the video show 1) boards stacked for drying in the Colonel's Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility and 2) the most prodigious product of the process.

Now, if you will excuse the Colonel, he must begin drafting his Academy Award acceptance speech.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Lessons Infamously Ignored

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941--a date which will live in infamy--the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

With these words, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the predicate for his request that the Congress of the United States formally declare that a state of war existed between the United States and Japan.  

While Japan's attack on the U.S. military bases in the  Hawaiian Islands was the proximate casus belli, the seeds of the conflict were planted decades before, in much the same way as those of the coincident conflict in Europe.  Nationalism, like a phoenix risen from the bitter ashes of defeat and global disapproval (in the cases of Germany and Japan, respectively) had fostered an appetite for, and an acceptance of, militant dictatorships promising geo-political glory under the banner of imperialist expansionism and clad in garments of overt racism and brutish megalomania.

The British and the Russians had already been long at war with Nazi Germany by the time Japan awakened, in Admiral Yamamoto's words, "... a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve."  It took the United States and Great Britain, in a mutual nose-holding alliance with the Soviet Union, nearly four more years to bring the Second World War to a conclusion satisfactory to the Allies.   

The end of that war brought about, for all practical purposes, the end of the British Empire and ushered in the Superpower Age of the competing American and Russian Empires.  Ironically, it was the British Empire's sacrifices and stalwart resistance early-on against Hitler at the Channel and against Tojo in South Asia that bought time for the Russians and Americans to get their logistical and operational acts together.  

And, contrary to much of the revisionist and shallow progressive pablum that passes for history in American schools at even the highest levels today, it was not so much the military build-up for WWII that pulled America out of the Great Depression, as it was the fact that at the war's conclusion only the United States, and to a  lesser degree the Soviet Union, survived without their industrial capacity in ruins.  That, and the fact that the United States' economy was not shackled by central planning like the Soviet's command economy are the primary reasons for America's global economic superiority for the predominance of the second half of the 20th Century.

The point of this missive, for which the thousands of you who regularly imbibe liberally of the literary libations ladled out in posts heron have no doubt reached the uppermost limits of your patience in anticipation of the Colonel's arrival thereto, is that there are several lessons to be drawn from the American experience following her rude awakening seventy years ago, today.  Unfortunately, many of those valuable lessons have already been ignored, to our Republic's loss and its leaders' discredit.  Two of the most important are provided below:

Lesson #1:  War is an ugly business, the wining of which requires great sacrifice at home and the visitation of great and widespread destruction on the strategic home of the enemy.  Example: There were NO civilian vehicles for private ownership built in the United States in 1943 and 1944.  See history of the strategic aerial bombardment of Japan for an example of great and widespread destruction visited on the strategic home of the enemy. 

Lesson #2:  The illusion of victory achieved by a long, protracted, limited war (see U.S. strategic objectives since September 2001) is just that -- an illusion.  A people, any people, grow weary of a war's sacrifice much more quickly than even the most dynamic and persuasive leaders can muster persuasive speeches to prevent; and an enemy, any enemy, can draw increasing strength in the face of  timid military strategy.

Combine the foregoing lessons ignored and the result is strategic failure at the cost of an egregious waste of blood and treasure.  Watch carefully the inevitable fall of Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, et. al. into the hands of the very militant Islamists whose ideology drove 19 young men to use American airliners as guided weapons of mass destruction on 9/11.

And that's all the Colonel has to say about that.        

Friday, December 02, 2011

Life at the End of the Tunnel

The Colonel returned last evening to his vast holdings on the placid shores of Lake Brenda, here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere, after a short trip to the future 32nd through 40th states of Mexico (currently the former Republic of Texas) to briefly reunite the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda with her sister and parental units.  A good time was had by all -- even by the, for all practical purposes, unentertainable Colonel.

The physical distance from Mississippi, provided by the geographical imposition of the not-so great state of Louisiana, and the cyber-space access suspension, imposed by the Colonel's Lady for the duration of the trip, served to isolate the Colonel from the incessant cowbell ringing and bulldog barking that has permeated the state since the on-field collapse and season finale of the worst football team fielded by the Harvard of the South since the Hoover administration.

Worst than the team fielded in 1974 -- the Colonel's first fall of matriculation at Ole Miss -- that went 3 and 8, losing to then-lowly South Carolina at homecoming.

South Carolina went 1 and 10 that season.

(For the errant Bama and LSU fans who have stumbled upon this post in search of tree poison or a good corn dog recipe, the Colonel feels the need to explain the significance of the last sentence.  He'll type slowly.  Ole Miss was so bad in 1974, that the South Carolina Gamecocks' only win that season was against the Rebels.)

Worst than the team fielded in 1942, that was the last (and first) team to lose three in a row to in-state rival, the former Mississippi A & M.

Ole Miss didn't field a football team in 1943, ostensibly due to the country's involvement in World War Two.  The Colonel rather believes that after suffering the shame of losing three in a row to Mississippi State, Ole Miss needed a year break from the game.

The two schools renewed their rivalry in 1944.  Ole Miss won that game, and the next nineteen straight.

Does the Colonel think that history will repeat itself? 

Nope.

Ole Miss football great Archie Manning is heading up the search committee tasked with finding a replacement for former Head Coach Huston Nutt and soon to be (thankfully) former Athletic Director Pete Boone.  The Colonel thinks the world of Archie, but he ain't got the chance Lee had at Petersburg of finding a really good coach for Ole Miss. 

Frankly, there ain't a really good coach in the land, worth his salt and in his right mind, who would subject himself to the tradition-trashing politically correct administration and Grove and Square party-centric fan base extant at the University of Mississippi.

So, sometime here in the next couple of weeks, a new head football coach will be announced here in Oxford.  He'll be a good guy and all.  Young, energetic, positive.

And totally not up to the task of competing in the Southeastern Conference.

Ole Miss football will flounder on, sub-par, for the foreseeable future.  That young, energetic, positive coach will last three or four seasons, at most, before giving way to the next young, energetic, positive, and totally not up to the job of competing in the SEC, head coach.

The University itself will eventually succumb to the inexorable tide of politically correct idiocy.  The nicknames Ole Miss and Rebels will be found by the liberal loonies running the asylum to be socially insensitive, and a once-great tradition-soaked school will become just another cookie-cutter public university.

Not such a bad thing, actually. 

Maybe without Ole Miss, the Colonel can finally get a life.  
   

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mississippi MASH Hero

"When the sun goes down, the tide goes out,
The people gather 'round and they all begin to shout,
'Hey! Hey! Uncle Dud,
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud.'"

During his formative years, the Colonel was a fan of the movie M*A*S*H and the television series of the same name.  Both were adaptations of a book written by H. Richard Hornberger and published under the nom de plume, Richard Hooker.  Hornberger's book was based on his own Korean War experience as a surgeon in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital -- the 8055th.

Ironically, as wildly successful as the movie and television series were, Hornberger profited little from their popularity, having sold the film rights to the story for a pittance.  And, as the left-leaning writers of the TV show increasingly used their medium as a thinly-veiled message against the Vietnam War, Hornsberger is reported to have refused to watch the show. 

The Colonel takes pride in the fact that there is a strong Mississippi connection to the M*A*S*H story -- beyond the above-quoted lyrics to the song sung by the crazy general in the first episode of Season 3, "The General Flipped at Dawn."

The commanding officer of the real MASH unit that was the inspiration for Hornberger's book, was a Mississippian by the name of Dr. Jeremiah Henry Holleman. 

Born in Hattiesburg in 1916, Dr. Holleman recieved his undergraduate degree from Millsaps College in 1939 and his medical degree from the Universities of Mississippi and Tennessee in 1943.  After surgical training at Carraway Methodist in Birmingham and The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Dr. Holleman joined the U.S. Army's 89th Infantry Division in time to participate in their assault across the Rhine in the early Spring of 1945 and the first liberation of a concentration camp.

After serving as a battlefield surgeon and witness to the horrors of the Holocaust, Dr. Holleman would have been entirely justified to have decided to sit out the next war in the civilian surgical practice he had opened in Columbus, Mississippi.  

Only he didn't.

In 1951, as the war on the Korean peninsula settled into a meat grinding impasse, Dr. Holleman rejoined the U.S. Army and was assigned as the commanding officer of the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.  Pioneering the mass casualty concept of triage, and developing new vascular surgery techniques, the 8055th was credited with saving the lives and limbs of over 5000 soldiers, with an amazing 97% survival rate. 

With the signing of the Korean Armistice in 1953, Dr. Holleman returned home to his surgical practice in Columbus, Mississippi where he served as a leading citizen and benefactor for the next half century.

Dr. Holleman, a real American Hero, died earlier this month.  He was 94.  Dr. Holleman was buried on Veterans Day in Columbus' Friendship Cemetery -- the site of the first Decoration Day (later Memorial Day) ceremony.

Entirely fitting.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The "Great Task Remaining"

Tomorrow marks the 148th anniversary of President Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address."  He spoke for only a few minutes.  Others preceded him at the podium with loud, lengthy speeches; and, when Lincoln spoke, many in the crowd struggled to make out his words.  Not until much later, after they were published in the newspapers, did these words strike a chord that resounds even today: 
 

"...The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.  It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

A little over four months had passed since the titanic battle at the quiet pastoral crossroad college town in Pennsylvania.  A few men in the final grey-clad assault against the Union Army's defenses actually reached the rock wall behind which their brothers in blue had poured hot lead into, and decimated, their ranks.  Historians have since marked that spot as the "High water mark of the Confederacy."

Only it wasn't.

At least it wasn't the northernmost invasion of the North by Southern forces.

That distinction actually belongs to the Battle of Salineville, fought in Northeastern Ohio three weeks after the Battle of Gettysburg.  A Confederate cavalry force under Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan struck deep into enemy territory and was eventually cut off and defeated by Union forces under the command of one Brigadier General James M. Shackelford, to whom the Colonel is distantly related on his mother's side.   

The Colonel digresses.

The point of this post, for which the thousands of you who regularly display enormous erudition and enhanced cultural consciousness by imbibing liberally of the literary libations poured out hereon have waited patiently for the Colonel to make, is that the "great task remaining before us" to which Lincoln referred in his remarks honoring the sacrifice of those "who gave the last full measure of devotion" was not accomplished with the end of the American Civil War. 

Lincoln's "Great Task" remains ever before us.  Like God's perfection, it is an unachievable goal toward the achievement of which we must never cease to strive.  

"Government of the people, by the people," and, "for the people" is not an easy thing to achieve.

It is, in the history of man, nearly an impossibility.

Therein lies, the Colonel believes, the true measure of the greatness of our republic.  The American people are world-renown for achieving the impossible.  Need an example?  Just look at the impossible leap made, in less than a citizen's lifetime, from the sandy dunes of Kitty Hawk to the dusty plains of the Sea of Tranquility.  

The Constitution, with which, and on which, the American Republic was founded, is not so much a blueprint of a form of government as it is an aspirational torch lighting the way for Jefferson's inalienable right to pursue freedom.  

It is claimed that the Constitution contains guarantees of our rights and freedoms.

It does no such thing.

In our republic, the people, as Lincoln so clearly understood, guarantee their own rights.

In our republic, the people guarantee their own freedom.

And when a government oversteps the constitutional authority given to it, not by the Constitution, but by the people, the people must guarantee their own rights and freedoms with a box of ballots; and failing that, when due to clearly unconstitutional governmental trampling and usurpation, with a box of bullets.

The Colonel has his hopes on the former and his money in the latter.              

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Catch #2

The Colonel made the grave error the other day of asking the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda for her unvarnished critique of the lucidity, efficacy, and interest of his regularly irregular posts hereon. 

The Colonel's Lady not only laid off the varnish, but the sandpaper as well.

How rough was it?  Well, it was so uncomfortable that the only reason he didn't immediately vacate her immediate presence was because the Colonel was driving. 

He briefly considered exiting the vehicle while on the bridge over the Tallahatchie, but that song's already been written.

The criticism from the Colonel's favorite person in all the world wasn't so much like a sharp stick in the eye...; it was more like multiple thrusts of a rapier under his ribs.  The Colonel was faced with the choice to either face it like a man, or respond like a little girl. 

"...tedious, infantile, sophomoric, redundant," the comely and suddenly, shockingly not-so-kind-hearted Miss Brenda paused twenty minutes into her caustically cruel critique, "Hey, are you crying?!?  Oh, for goodness sake; Man-Up!"

"Ye, ye, ye, yes, dear," the Colonel stammered between sobs.

"And, another thing," the Colonel's Lady continued, "this bit about 'the three dozen who waste rod and cone time reading your posts...'"

"You mean," the Colonel sniffed and corrected, "'the three dozen or so of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon...'?"  

"Yeah, yeah, yeah; whatever.  Hate it."

"But that's one of the Colonel's signature catch phrases," the Colonel whined.

"And, quit referring to yourself in the third person around me.  Hate that, too!"

The comely and suddenly, shockingly, not-so-kind-hearted Miss Brenda was not only repeatedly ramming her rapier under his ribs, but was violently twisting said repeatedly-rammed-rapier at the hilt-deep conclusion of each thrust. 

"But, but, dear," the Colonel defended, "self-deprecation is one of the Colonel's most cherished literary devices."

"Well," the Colonel's Lady retorted, "I don't like anyone deprecating on my hubby; not even my own hubby."

The Colonel thought she might be confusing deprecation with defecation and briefly considered delivering a short lecture regarding the fine art of differentiating the two.

But, then again, she probably already knows the difference -- she's (new Colonel's Lady-approved signature catch phrase to follow) one of the thousands of erudite, discriminating, and culturally conscious readers who closely follow and appreciatively drink up the literary libations provided here at the Colonel's Corner. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Armistice Day Salute

The Colonel never really knew his maternal grandfather.    Eubanks McCrary was not much more than a name, a few faded photographs, and a handful of anecdotes -- the Colonel was a mere toddler when the man died.

The one thing about the man that had always been intriguing was the fact that he had served in the First World War.  Shame on the Colonel, but only of late has he begun to research the history of his grandfather's service. 

The Colonel's mother recently granted him custody of a small clutch of her father's documents.  When she handed them to him in a legal envelope, it felt to the Colonel like being entrusted with a most fragile fragment of our family history.  Of no inherent value in and of itself, but, to this increasingly sentimental soul, a treasure trove of not-so-trivial trivia about a man with whom the Colonel wishes for all the world to have spent acknowlegeable time.    

On the Colonel's desk this morning rests the contents of that envelope: a photograph of Grandmother and Grandfather McCrary taken several years before his death; a copy of their marriage license (married on Christmas Day, 1923); and a non-descript, paper-thin leather envelope with the faint embossing of an eagle and the words "Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Service.

Protected within that folded leather is a two-sided document.  On the front above the seal of the United States (appropriate to this day that the eagle's talons grasp both the arrows of war and the olive branch of peace -- our nation's enemies still have a choice) are the words, "Honorable Discharge from the United States Army."   On the reverse, a summary of Private McCrary's service under the words, "Enlistment Record."
 
There are terse, handwritten blank-fillers to the right of line headings such as Name:..., Grade:...; Date and Place of Enlistment:...; etc..., but from them a quick snapshot of the man can be gleaned.
 
Eubanks McCrary, from Columbus, Mississippi, was inducted into the United States Army on May the 27th, 1918.  He was 22, single, and by vocation, a farmer.  Upon his discharge a year later he was described as in "Good" physical condition and of "Excellent" character.

Near the bottom of his Enlistment Record are four tight lines available for "Remarks." Into that small space the practiced hand of a military professional entered a shorthand account of Private McCrary's service to his nation in the Great War:

No A.W.O.L.  No absence under G.O. 45 WD 1914
Co. D. 4th Tr. Reg Camp Pike, Ark5/27/18 to 7/10/18.  Co L C.P. July ARD 7/10/18 to 9/22/18.
Co. B. 161st Inf. 9/22/18 to 10/7/18. Co. B. 137th INf 10/7/18 to 5/6/19. Cas Det 4th Rc Bn 162nd DB
5/6/19 to date of discharge.  Served in France.  Sailed for France 7/18/18. Arrived U.S. 4/28/19 Entitled to travel pay to Columbus, Miss.  

Immediately following his induction into the Army, Private McCrary reported to Camp Pike, outside of Little Rock, Arkansas and was assigned to Company D, 4th Training Regiment until his completion of basic training on July 10, 1918.  Within the next week he traveled by troop train for the East Coast, from which he sailed aboard a troop ship to France on the 18th of July, 1918. 

From what was known about the casualty rates of the horrific meat-grinder that had gone on in France since 1914, he likely never expected to see home again. 

Upon arrival in France, Private McCrary was assigned to Company B of the 161st Infantry Regiment.  That regiment, in the 81st Infantry Brigade of the 41st Division, had been one of the first units to go to France with the American Expeditionary Force in the fall of 1917.  Upon arrival in France, the 41st Division was designated a "Replacement Division" and its men were subsequently distributed as replacements to other divisions when their ranks were depleted during fighting.  The 41st Division then assumed the role of training new arrivals to France prior to their assignment to the front.
   
The Colonel's grandfather arrived in France just as the great Allied Meuse-Argonne Offensive of the war against Germany was kicking off.  One of the divisions at the forefront of that offensive -- the 35th Division -- had been in the attack for four days when, short of food and ammunition and its fighting strength sapped by heavy casualties, it was counterattacked by the better part of four of the best-trained divisions in the German army.  The 35th Division ceased to exist, for all practical purposes, as a fighting force and its remnants were withdrawn from the line.

Private McCrary was among the soldiers, newly arrived in France, who replenished the ranks of one of the 35th's four infantry regiments, the 137th Infantry.  The 35th Division was sent to the relatively quiet Somme Dieu sector on the southeastern end of the Allied front.  There, it went into defensive trenchworks and so remained until the Armistice went into effect and the guns fell silent...

... ninety-three years ago, today.

For two decades, Americans celebrated the 11th of November as Armistice Day, in remembrance of the victory over Germany and the American fighting men who helped bring an end to "the war to end all wars."

Only, that war didn't do any such thing.

American men in uniform knew little peace during those next two decades.  Combat in defense of American interests in Latin America and even in Russia (grist for a future post) kept a sharp edge on the small cadre of American warriors who would form the backbone and animating spirit of the mighty force called on to defeat the Axis Powers during WWII.

So, after that war, and the one that followed, America began to focus it's remembrances on the 11th of November not so much on the end of what had become known by then as the First World War, but on the living men and women who had honorably served our nation in uniform. 

Armistice Day became Veterans Day.

Eubanks McCrary arrived back in the United States on the 23rd of April, 1919, less than eleven months after joining the United States Army and reporting for training at Camp Pike. Less than two weeks later he was honorably discharged and back on the farm.

He is buried in the small cemetery at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church on the eastern outskirts of Columbus, Mississippi.  Not far from his farm, now a subdivision.

A simple marker reads:

B. Eubanks McCrary
Mississippi 
Pvt Co B 137 Inf
World War I
4 Mar 1896 – 9 Oct 1958


The Colonel knows that the three dozen of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon may indeed be remembering that one of the Colonel's pet peeves is the aggravating and undisciplined habit of a majority of Americans to mix up the meanings and observances of Memorial Day (initially known as Decoration Day, and first celebrated by the fair ladies of Columbus, Mississippi at the conclusion of the War for Southern Independence), Veterans Day, and Armed Forces Day.

For the record: Memorial Day is reserved solely for the solemn remembrance of those who died in battle in our nation's wars, Veterans Day is reserved solely for the recognition of living veterans of the United States military, and Armed Forces Day is reserved solely for the recognition of those currently serving in the armed forces of these re-United States.  Period.  No room for discussion or latitude for mix-matching.

So, the three dozen of you who regularly waste rod and cone perusing posts hereon may mistakenly believe that you have caught the Colonel in a rare mistake  -- recognizing a deceased veteran on Veterans Day.

The operative word in the sentence above is "mistakenly."

The Colonel, sole arbiter of said (and unsaid) matters both in posts hereon and actions hereabout his vast holdings here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere, is exercising the rights vested in him, by him, to declare today Armistice Day, here aboard Eegeebeegee, capital of the Tallahatchie Free State; and, therefore, takes this opportunity to come to the correct position of attention and execute a hand salute to the memory of his grand progenitor.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 November 1775

Prominent in the Colonel's pantheon of personal military heroes is Lieutenant General John Archer Lejeune, 13th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.  Ninety years ago, this week, in his capacity as Commandant -- fresh from the fighting in France, during which he served as the Commanding General of the U. S. Army's 2d Infantry Division -- Lejeune ordered that "a reminder of the honorable service of the Corps be published by every command, to all Marines throughout the globe, on the Birthday of the Corps." 

On this Birthday of the Corps, therefore, in compliance with the will of the 13th Commandant, Article 38, United States Marine Corps Manual, Edition of 1921, is published as follows:

"(1) On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress.   Since that date many thousands of men have borne the name 'Marine.'   In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the Birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

(2) The record of our Corps is one which bears comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history.   During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation's foes.   From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war and in the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres, and in every corner of the seven seas, so that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

(3) In every battle and skirmish since the Birth of the Corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term 'Marine' has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

(4) This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the Corps.   With it we also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation and has long been the distinguishing mark of Marines in every age.   So long as that spirit continues to flourish, Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as 'Soldiers of the Sea' since the founding of the Corps."

To all of his brother and sister Marines, the Colonel hefts this morning his customary mug of joe and wishes each and all "Happy Birthday" on this the 236th anniversary of the founding of our beloved Corps.

Semper Fidelis, Marines! 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Yes, for Life

A week from tomorrow, 8 November 2011, the Colonel and his fellow Mississippians will vote on Initiative 26.  The question on the ballot is, "Should the term 'person' be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof?"

A "yes" vote will amend the Mississippi Constitution to define the word “person” or “persons”, as those terms are used in Article III of the state constitution, to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.

In practice, such a definition of personhood will protect unborn children from infanticide within the territorial confines of the state.

As the two or three dozen of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon can well imagine, Initiative 26 has generated no little controversy and placed the Colonel's state (Sorry, MSU, but it's the Colonel's state, too) squarely in the cross hairs of the sharpshooters on both sides of the abortion argument.

Out-of-state Pro-Choice advocates have flooded the state in numbers not seen since the Freedom Riders of the Sixties, obfuscating the debate with fear-mongering and falsehoods.

And, therein lies the greatest irony of ironies. 

One would think that those who consider themselves the heirs of the righteous Civil Rights movement and wave highest the banner of social justice and defense of the defenseless would hear that the drummer leading this parade is beating out a far different march.

Despite the canards and protestations to the contrary, it is clear to those who think for themselves and fall not in line with the current cultural definition of "cool," that the abortion rights movement is about nothing more than convenience.

Based on a "right of privacy" not found in our Republic's Constitution, and cloaked in the supposedly unassailable right of a woman to decide the future of the child she carries, the practice of pre-birth infanticide has destroyed more American lives than all of the wars in which America has participated -- each and every year, since 1973. 

The Colonel finds no little irony in the fact that the vast majority of those currently climbing the ramparts of class warfare to protest the ravages of rampant capitalism on the defenseless middle and lower classes, will, in the same frame of feckless mind see no contradiction of conscience in their support of a practice that has decimated two generations. 

The Colonel has long-since ceased attempts to debate the issue on its merits with those who oppose his position.  It always ends the same way.  After the Colonel has simply and completely demonstrated the scientific, legal, and moral bankruptcy of the euphemistically-named "Pro-Choice" position, his opponent has either attempted to obfuscate the issue with off-topic canards or resorted to name-calling.  The Colonel, taught by the best, is unbeatable in the latter and has no time for the former. 

Many of the Colonel's friends and acquaintances have taken umbrage with his support of the criminalization of abortion.  Were every one of the small circle of his acquaintances and even smaller circle of his friends to oppose his position, the Colonel would maintain it still.  It is a matter of his most jealously guarded principles of manhood.

Real men -- gentlemen -- know that there are a few very important things worth fighting for, even when others would back off in the ill-conceived notion of "civility" or the inane, suicidal concept of "tolerance."  Real men -- gentlemen -- have no higher calling than to fight to protect the most defenseless among us.

The Colonel votes Yes, for Life.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pigskin Prescience

The Colonel would once again like to thank the Ole Miss season ticket holders in Section H of the hallowed halls of Vaught-Hemingway stadium for selling their tickets to the opposing team's fans.  This week, however, the Arkansas fans were refreshingly different than the Bama Bandwagon Boors who invaded the Colonel's space last week.

Despite witnessing yet another epic gridiron collapse by his Rebels, the Colonel actually thoroughly enjoyed his weekend.

Some of the Colonel's Ole Miss NROTC classmates were in town for our annual reunion to reminesce, catch up, share sea stories, and give stern (and not-so stern) advice to the current middies in matriculation preparing for careers as naval officers.   The revelry was interrupted by a football game, to which the Colonel dutifully marched and assumed his appointed place of duty.

The Hog fans sitting in front of him seemed pleasant enough and the Colonel felt comfortable enough, when his Rebels had jumped out to an early 17 to nuthin' lead, to reassure them that they would indeed enjoy the rest of the game just as much as Rebel fans had enjoyed the initial quarter of play.

"Y'all don't worry, now.  You're gonna win this football game."

The Arkansas fan squinted out from under his hog hat and gave the Colonel a look the picture of which he is quite sure is in the Diamond State Dictionary alongside the definition of the word "quizzical"

On cue, the Rebels imploded.  Arkansas scored 29 straight points and the game ended in their favor, 29 to 24.

As he bade the Hog fans safe travels home, one turned to the Colonel and asked, "Can you really see the future?"

"No," the Colonel responded, "but I got a great view of the past."
 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bama Bandwagon Boors

There is nothing more pathetic to the Colonel, not even fair-weather fans, nor even his own perennial passion for lost causes, than a bandwagon fan. 

The Colonel would like to pause at this juncture and thank the many Ole Miss season ticket holders in his section of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium who sold their tickets to Tide fans for last Saturday evening's game.  Were it not for that contemptible act of cowardice and capitalism, the Colonel would not have had the pure joy of having every one of his beliefs regarding Alabama fans confirmed.

It should be said that after cheering lustily for his Rebels' early first quarter successes, the Colonel settled resignedly into his seat and actually admired the play of arguably the finest football team in the land.  His Rebels were trounced by a far superior team, as he expected.  Alabama is awesome.

Their fans..., not so much.

Call him an old-fashioned sportsman, but on the rare occasions that the Colonel has visited other stadiums to watch his Rebels play, and on the even rarer occasions when his Rebels enjoyed success on foreign turf, the Colonel has never dreamed of mouthing off and acting disrespectful to the home fans.  And, anytime the Colonel has witnessed fellow Ole Miss fans crossing that line, he has been quick to provide corrective instruction.

With all that said, the Colonel would like to expose what he believes is the most odious actor in all of sportsfandom.  The Colonel calls him the "Bama Bandwagon Boor."

The Bama Bandwagon Boor doesn't just cheer for his team, which is expected.  He sits in the middle of the other team's fans and taunts them on every play.  

The Bama Bandwagon Boor speaks about Bama's successes in the first person plural, "We're gonna beat y'all lak a drum."   

Most egregious of all, the Bama Bandwagon Boor never set foot in a classroom at the University of Alabama.   

The Colonel is not referring to the those who for whatever reason did not pursue post-secondary education.

The Colonel refers specifically to the despicably disloyal low-life who went somewhere else for his college education, and cheers instead for Alabama.  Nothing else in his life of viewing a plethora of pathetic sights does more to stir the pangs of pity in the Colonel's hardened, shrivelled, walnut-sized heart.

Case in point is the twenty-something preppie punk in Bama colors seated in much too close proximity to the Colonel and his Lady, and their perpetually spring-loaded for a scrap #2 son last Saturday.

Early in the game, obvious pass interference by a Bama defender was ignored by the refs.  It wasn't a close judgement call.  It was blatant.  The Colonel's #2 son loudly complained, "Here we go again."   

The punk began mocking loudly, "Conspiracy, conspiracy!"

#2 leaned in and opined that "even a moron could see" that it had been pass interference.

To which the punk responded, "Who you calling a moron?  I went to Vanderbilt!

The Colonel and #2 were stunned speechless at this disloyal punk's brazen admission of his Bama Bandwagon Boor club membership. 

#2 might have been speechless, but the Colonel easily detected that he was on the verge of initiating physical hostilities.  As much as the Colonel loves a good scrap, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was in attendance and as the punk had yet to cross any line disrespectful of her personally the Colonel didn't want to subject his lady to the spectacle of her men bloodying this boor.  So, the Colonel resorted to the tried and true method of dealing with errant children.  He cranked his facial features into the scornful scowl mastered by few, but common among Marines, put his vocal chords on the stun setting, pointed his bony finger at the punk and commanded, 

"Siddown and SHUT UP!"

The punk Bama Bandwagon Boor blanched and obeyed.

Which leads us to the Colonel's final observation regarding Bama Bandwagon Boors. 

They are cowards.                

Friday, October 14, 2011

Booing the Bear

Alabama is in town tomorrow and the Colonel is praying for a mercifully quick and huge blowout.   The Tide are four touchdown favorites over his Rebels, but the Colonel believes that is giving the Ole Miss squad far too much credit.  Bama's lead will likely be four touchdowns by the end of the first quarter of play.

There are a few perennially positive proponents among the Colonel's friends who view this particular David and Goliath tilt in the same light as others in relatively recent gridiron history wherein the heavily under-dogged Rebels rode a wave of mediocre play less significant that a ripple on one of the Colonel's farm ponds into a contest with a highly ranked team and emerged a miraculous victor.   

Making Tim Tebow cry in the Swamp three years ago, comes to mind.  Florida, the two dozen or so of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon will remember, went on to win the national championship that year.

But, not even in the Colonel's kindest comparisons can he place the current Rebel football team in league with the '08 nine and four, Cotton Bowl Champions squad.

The Colonel fondly remembers an Ole Miss - Alabama game from the increasingly far distant past that were the halcyon days of his matriculation at the cultural center of the southern universe.  Bear Bryant had achieved great fame (infamy in some quarters) as Bama's coach and he and his team were roundly booed as they took the field at Memorial Stadium in Jackson.  Ole Miss pulled off a 10 - 7 upset and, as it was the Bear's anniversary of the beginning of his air-breathing ride round Ol' Sol, the Ole Miss fans ceased booing the Bear long enough to sing "Happy Birthday" to him.

The Colonel harbors not even the slightest expectation of a similar outcome this year.
  
Oh, and did the Colonel mention that our star running back and half of the starting offensive line have been suspended for the game?  Not that it would have made any appreciable difference against a Bama defensive unit that many pro scouts believe could start in the NFL -- right now.  

The good news for 'Bama is they will be able to save a few bucks this year.  There won't be a need to pay off the refs to steal a close game.

The equally good news for Ole Miss fans is that the game won't be close enough to have it given to the Tide by the refs.  That has happened far too many times and the Rebel fan base's hearts, already stressed by fried chicken clogged arteries and the loss of every beloved tradition that made trudging into the stadium to watch the inevitable second half collapse at least spiritually worth the effort, can't stand many more shocks to the system without suffering complete calamitous collapse.  

However, the Colonel is nothing if not fiercely loyal to his alma mater and its football team; and so, he will trudge into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium tomorrow afternoon, cheer lustily as his Rebels take the field, and remain rooted in his assigned place of duty until the bitter end.

Oh well, at least the Colonel can look forward to booing the bear.   

Monday, October 03, 2011

Microcosm

This past weekend, the Colonel's adopted hometown, the not-so thriving community of Abbeville, Mississippi (Population: 419), held its annual Autumnfest.  The weather obliged with blessedly cooler temperatures worth festing and a good time was had by all.

Abbeville's Autumnfest has something for everyone.  Arts and crafts vendors, food booths selling southern staples from homemade peach ice cream to funnel cakes, bouncy houses for the kiddies, and an after-dark street dance to live music--all packed into space at town center so compact that one can stand anywhere and watch all of the action everywhere.

Yet, after witnessing a handful of Abbeville Autumnfests firsthand, the Colonel has begun to detect the unmistakable texture and taste of a stale cracker.  There is no identity beyond the name of the town, and a palpable sense of going through the motions.

Abbeville is no Mayberry.  It once was.  But "progress" by-passed the town thirty years ago and although residents remain in mostly well-maintained homes, town center is now a hollow shell.  

The Colonel knows full well that the town's leadership will take great umbrage at his descriptions.  They have worked hard to revive Abbeville.  It has thus far failed to respond to resuscitation, despite efforts to refurbish the few remaining buildings that formerly housed businesses.

One could easily say that the poor economy is mostly to blame for Abbeville's plight.  But the truth is Oxford (cultural center of the southern universe and home of Ole Miss), with a plethora of businesses easily serving a relatively prosperous population of permanent residents and university students, is only a fifteen-minute drive down the road which, straightened three decades ago, bypassed Abbeville and left her to dry up like a shallow oxbow cut off from a river's course.  Progress is an unsympathetic beast.

There are some, the Colonel among them, who believe that Abbeville's fires of relevance can be rekindled.  The trick will be to use just enough of the town's history as tinder without burning down all of the traditions and sense of community upon which the present citizens (many of whom have lived in Abbeville their entire, long and short, lives) rest their senses of self.

The problem is that, as with any town, large or small, politics of the personal-power-preservation persuasion all too often displace positive leadership. 

The Colonel doesn't pretend to know the weave of even the first thread of the political tapestry here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere.  There is way too much history, even for this history buff, to understand.  But, he is enough a student of leadership to recognize a people in political paralysis.  

No personal indictments intended by the Colonel.  He knows, loves, and respects many of the actors in the play.  They are good people. 

But the play has no script, no discernible plan for subsequent acts.   

In this, the Colonel's beloved town is no different than most, he guesses. 

And certainly no different than his beloved Republic.

If Abbeville wants to survive it must have a plan to expand. 

So must our Republic.      

Thursday, September 29, 2011

National Coffee Day

By whose proclamation the Colonel knows, nor, frankly, cares not, but today in the good ole U.S. of A. is National Coffee Day.

The Colonel can't speak for the rest of the nation, but here, on the grounds of Eegeebeegee, capital of the increasingly less whimsical and increasingly more plausible Tallahatchie Free State, every day is Coffee Day.  Each and every day, seven days a week, thirty (give or take one or two) days a month, twelve months a year.  No day is gainfully begun until the contents of a steaming cup of joe are coursing through the Colonel's bloodstream.

And, here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere the coffee is consumed without pollutants.  No sissified sippers here.  Straight and strong, thank you very much.

The Colonel's preferred mug?  Of the scores in his collection, he's a mite partial to the red one with the gold eagle, globe, and anchor emblazoned on its side.

National Coffee Day, huh?

That ain't near good enough.

By the power invested in him, by him, the Colonel declares that henceforth here in the Tallahatchie Free State every day from daybreak til noon is National Coffee Morning.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Beary Bad Ball

Writing about the plight of one's college football team is a lot like complaining about a persistent rash.  Friends tend to distance themselves and enemies exult.

So, the Colonel apologizes in advance to the dozen or so of you who persist in wasting valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon for subjecting you to the following. 

Yesterday at church, the Colonel sat with his pre-service coffee klatch and opined that he was actually heartened that after having been away from the cultural center of the universe here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere for 30 years, he had returned to find Ole Miss football right where he left it upon his graduation  --  mired in mediocrity.

Actually, referring to the current state of Rebel football as mediocrity is an insult to mediocre programs everywhere.

Ole Miss football is, well, just awful.

At times like these, and there are times like these all too often in the life of an Ole Miss football fan, the Colonel is reminded of something credited to Robert E. Lee and paraphrases it here: "It is good that Ole Miss football is so terrible, or else I would grow too fond of it."  

The Colonel could be boorishly snide at this juncture and point out that the gridiron slump coincides with the administration's evisceration of every tradition at the University of Mississippi in the name of political correctness.  But, he won't go there.

Okay, maybe just a short side trip over there.

Long-time Ole Miss mascot Colonel Reb has been banished and replaced by a bear.  Supposedly, finding the bear was the culmination of a free and open mascot search.  However, if one peeks out from under his tin-foil hat for a moment he'll have no problem recognizing the signs of a massive conspiracy that perpetrated this fuzzy fraud on Rebel Nation.  One needs look no further than the rallying cry that began to appear in print coincident with the disrespectful disappearance of Colonel Reb: "Be A Rebel!"

The Colonel will pause briefly to help the Alabama and LSU grads among the few of you upon whose screens this missive has materialized to catch up.  Look at the first four letters of "Be A Rebel."

Keep looking. 

Sound the letters out.

Okay, while the tide and tiger alums work on figuring it out, the Colonel will continue.

Back to the sorry state of Ole Miss football.  With a 1 and 3 start to the season (the one win being an anemic effort against an FCS opponent), even the most fervently faithful and perpetually positive fans are having a hard time calculating how the total in the win column will even match last year's.  (For those of you who mercifully don't closely follow the merciless misery that is Ole Miss football, the win total last year was 4 -- the same as five of the last ten years' result.)  

As a result, Rebel Nation is on the cusp of yet another winter of discontent wherein the following questions will be asked ad nauseum:

1. How much longer will the Harvard of the South (by reciprocal agreement, Harvard is allowed to call itself the Ole Miss of the North) be allowed by the Stalinist purveyors of political correctness to use the appellation: Ole Miss Rebels?  

2.  How much longer will incompetence and ineptitude continue to be the two critical criteria by which athletic directors and coaches are hired at the University of [name of school and state found to be offensive and hereby redacted pending politically correct replacement]?

3.  How much longer will the [offensive title of the author redacted] continue to expend his meager treasure on season tickets?

The [offensive title of the author redacted] loves [offensive name of the state redacted], and can think of nowhere else on [offensive reference to a possessive Deity redacted] Green Earth he would rather live.  It's just a good thing the [offensive reference to a militaristic organization redacted] provided him with lots of training at being miserable.