Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friday Night Lights, The Hog, Movie Review

Over the years I have witnessed the art of watching the game of football evolve in many different directions, i.e. the grass/dirt field, hard wood stands, no cover from the elements or protection of any kind. Now we have the billion dollar stadiums that do not allow the elements to get close to you and God forbid that they play on natural turf and get their uniforms dirty. In the case of the team owner, better known as the master egotist in the mid-cities, you can even watch the game on a giant television screen held high in the air and never have to look at the field. Now that really doesn’t make sense to me since you have just paid $70.00 or more to come into the stadium and watch the game on the big screen. Why not just stay home and watch it for nothing? While you can ponder that for a while I would like to share with you the art of really watching football old fashion style in West Texas. There use to be a television show called “Friday Night Lights” and people would ask me if I ever watched the show since it was based on high school football in Odessa, Texas. Since I do not watch regular TV I actually never saw one episode of the show; however, in real life I lived “Friday Night Lights” so I was not interested in watching some fiction about football in West Texas. My first introduction to West Texas football was when I entered the 7th grade in Littlefield, Texas and it was love at first sight. I had a gift of speed in the running department so the coaches put me in the backfield and I got to carry the ball a lot. I also noticed that the cheerleaders seem to like the guys that scored the touchdowns so I made it a point to score every chance I got. This speed carried me all the way through Jr. High, High School and College, so I was always thankful for that gift. One of the things I learned in Littlefield was that football was king and don’t argue with it. At noon on Friday the town was basically closed down, just the necessary services stuck around, and it was off to the Friday night game. I also noticed at the games that there was an element that watched the game but never went into the stands to have a seat; they just followed the game up and down the field to whatever down line the ball was on. At that time I thought that was kind of weird that we had those nice stands to sit in and these guys (never any women in this group) never sat down. While the guys that carry the down marker chains and down markers themselves are called the “chain gang” I also thought to myself that these guys following the ball up and down the field were also “chain gangs.” Now to bring us to modern times I find that most of the new stadiums, even in high school do not allow the chain gangs and you must go into the stands to watch the game. Well last night I went to see the Littlefield Wildcats play the Idalou Wildcats(since Littlefield has always had a winning football team, and started setting the standards in winning way back in the latter ‘30’s, I really do not think Idalou should be able to use the Wildcat mascot. My reason for this is based on their past winning history which is somewhat shabby compared to the Maroon and White Wildcats of Littlefield, so I plan a blog protest in the coming months) in a very import district game. Littlefield came in the game with a 4-1 record and Idalou was 4-2, so this could be a good game. As I got there I noticed that all of the seats were taken and that led me to exploring the possibility of doing the modern day chain gang and watching the game standing up moving up and down the fence line as the ball moved. While there was a chain link fence to keep us off of the area needed for the bench, players, coaches, etc., the fence was low enough that not only could we see over it, we could also lean on it. Forgot to mention that I paid $3.00 to get in and stand up, but even if I had found a seat it was still $3.00 so I considered this a great bargain on Friday night. As I took my position for the kick off I quickly noted that I could really see how big these high school guys had grown to and realized how much bigger they are now than when I played. I also had the opportunity to smell the grass field, and after the game started I noticed the hitting of the pads, and the grunting, spitting and groaning that goes on during play. My position also gave me an insight as to things the coaches were yelling out to the players. Wow, playing was never like this and it really made the game interesting. Then to my delight I noticed a former classmate that was in my graduating class some 52 years ago, that was following the game on the fence. Fact is this guy is a real authority on chain gang watching football. I have never seen him sit in the stands and he would run, duck under things, move within the crowd and do whatever it took to see what was going on. I didn’t make a move myself to go up and down the field since he was doing it and when he came back to my end I would just get a re-cap. On one play I said, “well it looked like they had moved the ball to the 10 or 15 yard line, but I really couldn’t tell,” he immediately said, “13 yard line.” So, I knew I was in good hands with this fellow chain ganger. As the game progressed I noticed where the hitting sounds seemed to get louder and the coaches were even louder. While Littlefield was winning the game there were times when the “other” Wildcats were making some dent into actually winning this game. So, we all got real serious in watching and felt that we were going to pull it out. The game was not without some drama and at times I was concerned that the Green/Yellow Wildcats were going to get the idea that they should win this game. At half time I did watch the bands play and felt that the performances were very good and as close as the game had been. But what do I know, I don’t know anything about marching bands, except for what Balls has taught me, and I just think they both looked good. The biggest disappoint now in the high school bands that I have seen is that they don’t have the good looking girls twirling the batons like they use to. Possibly another subject for future blogs. Now we are starting the fourth quarter and the Littlefield Wildcats have just scored and made the score 35-16 and they were able to hold on for the victory, moving them into a solid first place. Congrats to the Maroon and White Wildcats and possibly I will see them play again next week.

This past weekend was a great weekend to ride the Hog and I did for two days for a total of 800 miles. Some guy came up to me during one of my rest stops and ask where I was going and how long was I going to ride. I explained that I was not going anywhere in particular, just getting miles in and burning gasoline. Seems kind of stupid I guess, but it is nice to ride new roads and see different settings. One road got me off into the oil patches and the big trucks that carry the platforms for oil derricks became a real pain. This prompted me to find a better road and after getting started on it I was afraid it was going to lead to a sign that would say, “End of pavement.” Since Hogs are not really good for off road I was hoping the asphalt would last, which it did. One thing I noticed is that all of the riders I saw on the road were also riding solo, with no large groups of riders going or coming, must be a trend this time of year. Now with triathlon season in a slumber I will get some more riding in tomorrow and make that Hog a happy camper.

Movie Review: “Marley and Me”, ***, This movie has moved on to cable and I watched it a couple of nights ago. A very good dog story with some very good acting. Sad ending but done very well. I suggest this movie, but if you have an older dog in the house(Buffman is 9 so that is not old) you should be sensitive to the subject matter and ending. Rated PG—nothing bad going on here.



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