Sunday, October 20, 2013

Magnolia Bowl Miracle

With just a few minutes left in the game last night, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, at home babysitting the Hope of 21st Century Civilization, Dashes 1, 2, & 3, called the Colonel as he stood in the hallowed halls of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium frantically anticipating another heartbreaking football finale, to remind him that, "It's just a game."

The Colonel's SEC brethren and sistren will have to excuse the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda for holding that blasphemous opinion.  She can't possibly be expected to understand.

She went to Memphis State.

The Colonel will admit that he allows the gridiron fortunes (more often, misfortunes) of his beloved Rebels to govern his attitude far too much. 

But he feels safe in the knowledge that he is in very large, if not necessarily good, company.

Ole Miss Rebel fans are a long-suffering bunch.  But what keeps us coming back to fill the stands and fill the air with rebel yells, is the occasional instance when our young men play way above their heads, defy all the odds, snatch the roaring lion by its mane and roar back in teammate-loving ferocity, and win

Last night was one of those amazing and all-too-rare instances.

Made even more amazing by the fact that a very capable Rebel defense that began the season full of promise, limped into the stadium to face one of the finest offenses in the country with more than half of its starters not available, and the other half playing hurt.

It was going to be a rout.

Should have been a rout.

The Colonel was resigned to a rout.

As the pre-kick-off cheers faded into the kudzu-clad distance, the Colonel remarked to those sitting near him,

"Whelp, that's probably the last cheering we'll do tonight."

Oh, he of little faith.

When his Rebels took an impossible 10 - 0 lead to the locker room at half-time, the Colonel still lacked even the smallest shred of faith, and remarked to those sitting near him,

"Seen this movie before."

Incredibly, a Rebel D composed of many still digesting high school cafeteria chow, held the mardi gras escapees long enough in the third quarter to allow the Rebel O to extend the lead to 17 - 0.

The Colonel's faith was still missing-in-action, but a small voice began to whisper, in his tinnitus-ravaged ear, the rumor that his faith might still be alive somewhere in a remote POW camp in Manchuria.  

And, just as the Colonel began to believe in miracles, the LSU Tigers came roaring back to life. 

With three minutes left in the game and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's misunderstanding reminder echoing in his tinnitus-ravaged ear, the score was 24 all and the Colonel's Rebels had the ball 75 yards away from the most implausible of victories.

He couldn't watch.

He couldn't not watch.

The Colonel was in intestinal agony.

It could have been the barbecue and jalapeno nachos he wolfed down at half-time...

And then a game-winning field-goal sailed serenely through the uprights.

Pan. De. Mo. Nium.

Mind you, the Colonel ain't much of a hugger.

But, for the next five minutes he hugged everybody in sight.

He even hugged a bewildered LSU fan to whom some traitorous Rebel season ticket holder had sold his ticket.

The Colonel and his sons (and a couple of their friends considered sons) stood in celebratory amazement as delirious Rebel fans rushed the field.

Finally, Son #2 turned to the Colonel and asked, "Hey Dad, wanna go down onto the field?"

"Well..., yeah!"

The Colonel and his son squad made their way down the steps from their seats in the nosebleeds and arrived breathlessly at row 1.

What they saw next caught their breath.

What used to be a four foot high chain-link fence around the playing field had been replaced recently by a very impressive, and much higher, brick wall. 

Son #1, true to his "throw caution to the winds" motto, hesitated not one second and vaulted over the wall to the playing surface.

Son #2, true to his "keep caution under lock and key" motto, turned to the Colonel and asked, "Want me to lower you down to the field, Dad?"

The Colonel looked down at #1, way down on the field, beckoning his progenitor to join in the frolic.  The Colonel looked up at #2 standing attentively at his elbow and considered his offer.

Then a picture formed in the empty recesses of his brain-housing group -- a video of the Colonel, being lowered to the field, running every 14 minutes on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPNU2, ESPNUFO...

You get the picture...

The Colonel gave a hoarse rebel yell and vaulted over the wall.

Somewhere in the 37.3 seconds it took him to fall to the turf, the Colonel simultaneously reached both terminal velocity and the conclusion that he was still going to go into ESPN video history as the old man flailing and screaming to his death at the end of the Ole Miss -- LSU game.

In the latter half of his plunge, the Colonel cobbled together enough widely separated brain-cells to remember something called a PLF -- parachute landing fall.  With feet together, knees together and bent, the Colonel executed a flawless ground contact roll and sprang to his feet with arms raised in what, on ESPN4 & 1/2, probably looked like a celebration of victory, but what was in honest fact, thanks to God for His miraculous protection.

The Colonel turned to encourage #2 to follow and came nearly eye to eye with him -- still standing behind the wall.

"Dad, what are you doing!?!  The wall ain't that high!"

The Colonel glared back and growled,

"It'll look a lot higher on ESPN37HD!" 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Purple Hate

Were you able to view his visage this morning, you would most certainly quickly ascertain by the temporary negative enhancement to the permanent scowl planted on his puss that it is LSU week for the Colonel's Rebels.

There is probably no more anticipated game on the schedule each year -- outside the tilt with our in-state brethren at TSBU (The School Beneath Us, aka, Mississippi State) -- than the century-long grudge match with the purple people from the third world nation masquerading as a state to the south and west of us. 

As any of you who have wasted precious rod and cone time perusing posts hereon will no doubt remember, the Colonel has no hatred for the misguided second-citizens of the great state of Mississippi who matriculated at TSBU.

Slight disdain, perhaps.  But certainly no hatred.

It's just not possible for the Colonel to hate TSBU.

All of his hate is invested in LSU and Bama.

And, for quite different reasons.

The Colonel hates Bama because most Bama fans are in fact Bama Bandwagon Boors -- folks who have never set foot on the campus in Tuscaloosa.

A Bama Bandwagon Boor wears his Walmart-bought "Ninety-Nine National Championships" T-shirt everywhere.




Family Reunions

High School Reunions (even though most tri-B's never even graduated from a bonafide high school).

Probably the greatest reason for the Colonel's hatred of Bama is the insistence by tri-B's that everyone else should love them.  The SEC officials certainly do.

Look, we Ole Miss Rebels don't expect you to love us, or even respect us.  Frankly, we couldn't care less what you think about us. 

The temp-help currently serving as the University's administration and faculty care, but real Ole Miss Rebels don't.

As for why the Colonel hates LSU...

See the word "obnoxious" in the dictionary.           

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Silent Lesson

Forty years ago this week the Colonel learned several lessons that forever changed the way he looked at the world.  It was a fall that destroyed his naivete and ignited a flame that drives the Colonel's boilers to this day.

In October of 1973, the Colonel was scarcely a month into his senior year in high school.  His pedestrian progress through school had finally hit somewhat of a stride, thanks to two most memorable teachers -- Mrs. Sydney Corbett and Ms. Marcia Semans.

Both were primarily English teachers at the now-closed Balboa High School in the then-U.S. controlled Panama Canal Zone. 

The Colonel had Ms. Semans for 11th grade English and she, despite his lackluster performance in her class, saw something hidden in the Colonel and recommended him for Advanced Senior English (a primarily writing course).  Ms. Semans' praise and encouragement was strong fertilizer on the tender shoots of prose poking up from the grimy results of the Colonel's otherwise slovenly educational effort.

Mrs. Corbett was the Colonel's Speech teacher.  And while it has dawned on him since that the Colonel wasn't the only speaker receiving her appreciative chuckles and encouraging smiles, for those moments when the Colonel stood before his ruthless peers, stood down his rampant fears, and bared his soul in spoken tears, her approval was all his. 

The Colonel was never once afraid to address any audience large or small since.  It served him very well in his career and afterwards.

Credit to Mrs. C.

What fires those synapses of memory this week is the fortieth anniversary of the Yom Kippor War.

When the Colonel arrived in Ms. Semans' class on Monday afternoon, the 8th of October 1973, he was struck by two strange anomalies -- a somber look on Ms. Semans' usually smiling face and a short-wave radio on her desk, tuned to a continuous world news broadcast.

Over the previous weekend, the armies of Egypt and Syria had attacked Israel. 

And things were not going well for the Jewish state.

Dang the Arabs!  The Colonel was enjoying school for the first time in his life and one of his favorite teachers, whose seemingly irrepressible light-heartedness was one of the primary reasons, was at the point of tears.  

As any of you who are at all acquainted with him know painfully well, the Colonel ain't smart and you can't make him.  He was infinitely not smarter forty years ago. 

Here's how the Colonel attempted to lighten the mood:

"Hey, Ms. Semans!  What's the big deal?  A bunch of third world nations beating up on each other.  Who cares?

Yeah, cultural awareness and empathy weren't (still aren't) the Colonel's strong suits.

To Ms. Semans' credit, she didn't deliver the tongue lashing the Colonel so richly deserved at that point. 

The look on her face was punishment enough, however.

The Colonel feels his face redden in shame at the memory all these years since.

Suffice it to say, the Colonel's world view broadened significantly over the next couple of weeks.  He hadn't paid particular attention to world events, previously -- it became one of his passions, following.

Over the next several decades the Colonel studied, in detail, the strategic geo-political background, the events leading to, and the operational conduct of that war.  It's lessons shaped his personal concepts regarding war at every level.  And every time he read a recounting or studied an assessment of it, the Colonel remembered the look on a teacher's face.

Some of life's most important lessons are taught in silence.             

Friday, October 04, 2013

Hate Running

The Colonel's alma mater, Ole Miss, is in the national spotlight again this week.  And, as usual, it ain't a good thing.

Seems a crowd of students -- which allegedly included approximately twenty freshmen members of the football team -- attended a campus theatrical production, the "Laramie Project," and allegedly heckled the performers with anti-homosexual epithets.

The hyperventilating reaction in the media and from the jack-booted gender-hustlers leading the political correctness parade has ranged from outrageous to idiotic, with no sane, sensible reactions in between.  

Disappointing, boorish behavior on the part of the hecklers?  Absolutely!

Hate speech?  Absolutely not!

There is no such thing as "hate" speech.

There is ignorant, uncouth, insensitive, impolite, biased, prejudiced, spiteful speech -- all protected under the very first, and most important amendment to the Constitution of these re-United States.

To those who would begin drawing lines beyond which constitutionally protected free speech is no longer protected and, further, illegal, the Colonel would pose the following question:

What makes you think that your currently-considered "politically correct" speech might not one day soon be considered not only politically incorrect but, further, illegal?

Once the precedent has been set by outlawing certain speech deemed "hateful," there is no stopping the slippery slide to absolute Orwellian thought-control.

(For the 'Bama and LSU grads reading this missive and confused by the reference in the paragraph above -- see the book "1984" by George Orwell.  You might have to come to Mississippi to find a library book not already colored in...) 

And while he is on the subject, the Colonel maintains in all sincerity that there is no such thing as a "hate crime." 

All crime is based on hate -- hatred for either God's Law or man's.

The hyperventilating political correctness crowd is calling on Coach Freeze to suspend the errant members of his football team, to "send a message."

Suspension may very well be the appropriate punishment for the boorish, anti-social behavior exhibited by his players, but Coach Freeze must carefully weigh his disciplinary action.

If he suspends the players, the race-hustlers will have a field day.

The Colonel would recommend a far more effective punishment used to great effect by the legendary Coach Vaught and his assistant coaches.

In his book, "Walk Carefully Around the Dead; Ole Miss Football...When the Coaches Held the Players by the...Throats," Page Cothren -- himself a player at Ole Miss and later an NFL standout -- relates in detail the high standards of personal conduct to which the players in the late 40's and 50's were held and the iron-fisted discipline by which they were held to those standards.

Cothren's accounts of players' antics and coaches' responses nearly always end with the same punishment -- running numerous laps up and down the stadium steps.  

If you don't think that's much of a punishment, then you've never had to do it.