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    Sunday, October 02, 2005

    It's Another Big Ten Football Weekend

    It was Homecoming Weekend here in America's Heartland. For me, that means digging out my saxophone and making with the marching. And no, that's not code.

    As most of my Iowa readers know, I was in the marching band in college. Part of the University of Iowa Homecoming tradition is the Iowa Alumni Band, made up of former marching band members willing to shell out $45 for the privilege of killing themselves in the Homecoming parade on Friday night and at the game on Saturday. Trust me. Marching in a parade sucks when you are in college. It's hell when you are in your 40s. But I've done in almost every year since I graduated, missing only three years in that time.

    Three years ago, a new tradition within a tradition was started. Previously, the Alumni Band only took the field to play one song, the Iowa Fight Song, with the (what we affectionately refer to as) Junior Band. That changed, and now the Alumni Band do the entire pre-game show. Needless to say, this really sucks a group ranging in age from recent college graduates to people in their 60s and 70s. We get off the field and we need a quarter to recover.

    But it's worth it. There's no feeling like having some 65,000-70,000 people screaming for you. We get to relive the glory days, see a decent football game, and generally behave in a manner long forgotten for most of us. Here are some thoughts on the day:

    • When the college girls were 10 years younger than me, it was really cool to lust after them. When they were 20 years younger than me, it was way cool to lust after them. Now that they are almost 30 years younger than me, it was really, uhm, creepy to see some that were lustworthy. I'll turn my dirty old man card in now.

    • There's no sarcasm like large group sarcasm. The Illini kicker missed three field goals in the first half. Two blocked, a third that was only two yards longer than an extra point attempt, went wide right by about five feet. As part of the halftime warmups, new Illini head coach and all around dick Ron Zook (Alice, he told me to tell you hi) sent the kicker out to take practice kicks INSIDE THE END ZONE. Because, you know, if they got in the end zone, they would turn down the 6 points for the opportunity to kick the field goal. (Yes, I know the point was to get him to get the ball up higher faster so it couldn't be blocked. But if you really want to nit pick about that, get your own damn blog.) Unfortunately for the kicker, the end zone he was practicing in was right in front of the Alumni Band. So he puts the ball in the kicking tee, takes his steps back, and boots it through the uprights.

      At which point the Alumni Band goes nuts. Cheering, high fives, etc. He gets the ball back, puts it in the tee again, and we start chanting "Two in a row! Two in a row!" He nails it again, more celebration, and then a third attempt. He nails it a third time, then takes the tee back to about the five-yard line. This is greeted with shouts of "No!" and "Come back!" and "It's a trap!" But he puts that kick through the uprights, and the end zone celebration from the Alumni Band is probably louder than what you would have heard if the Iowa kicker had nailed a field goal to win the national title.

      Yep. No sarcasm like large group sarcasm.

    • Adding to that, my best personal line came in the third quarter. Illinois had driven to our two yard line, and were threatening to score. On third down we sacked the quarterback for an eight yard loss. I turned to my friends and said "At least we moved them out of field goal range."

    • There's a post in the archives about a guy from band, a guy we can't stand. It's back in the Englert posts someplace, and it talks about how annoying this guy is to be around. Well, it wasn't any different this weekend. And as usual, a funny thing was said about him, though not by him. See, everytime we would make a joke, he would make the exact same joke about 30 seconds later. One of my friends turned to me and said "Is he on a tape delay?" I said "Yeah, it's in case he says something stupid" which caused my friend to reply "It isn't working."

    • We formed up at 7:00 on Saturday morning, which meant leaving the house around 6:30. Which meant leaving the house before I could find my Alumni Band baseball cap. This was unfortunate on a day with temps in the mid-80s and a high, hot sun. It was particularly unfortunate for a guy who got his head shaved two days previous. Fortunately, I was wise enough to wear shorts. It would have been damn near unbearable without that.

    • I didn't wear pink though. Someone had the bright idea that Hawk fans should wear pink to, you know, support the locker room. (See post below. Although techinically, the locker room is currently painted Dusty Rose, not pink. As one of my alumni friends pointed out, Dusty Rose sounds more like a stripper or a convict, or best of all, a convict stripper, than a color. But I digress.)

      There weren't many who did so. You could see a smattering of pink shirts here and there, but there wasn't more than 4-5% of the crowd that did. I saw some of them close up - they said things like "Get a Grip!" and "Don't Get Stuck On Stupid!" Real well thought out stuff.

      Here's the thing. If the most cogent argument you can muster about something is "Don't get stuck on stupid" or "Get a grip" or "Ram it up your cunt" (see comments to previous thread) then maybe, just maybe, your opponent is right. (Here's a further hint: "Ram it up your cunt" is not a good counter argument to the claim that something is hostile to women. Hard to believe, I know. But true.) If the person you're arguing against is truly wrong, you should be able to muster an argument using facts or informed opinion to counter them.

      Radical stuff, that.
    Anyway, that was my Homecoming weekend. On Iowa!

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