Sunday, September 23, 2012

Your Baby Can Sleep on the Fifty Yard Line

Last week I wrote a little bit about Tennessee football and tried to explain why I like being a part of it, but I left out something important: the carnival sideshow atmosphere of people watching that comes with it. Yesterday was a banner day for football related oddities, which I got to see because I got there early for a tailgate:

hot dogs

That's probably not the best photo of my coworker, Josh, but it shows the huge volume of hot dogs that were coming off the grill. When six residence halls of students are invited to your tailgate, you need a lot of food. You also need festive entertainment, so they booked a band:


I didn't catch their name, but they seemed like great guys.

Right after the band left (they had another gig at a moonshine factory in Gatlinburg), a roving group of girls handed us our first oddity of the day:

stadium crib

Stadium cribs.

As posted at the bottom of the flyer, your baby can fall asleep every night on the fifty yard line of the replica Neyland Stadium that you install in their nursery. It's a Clown Bed for the new millennium. (A word that I can spell without looking it up thanks to the Backstreet Boys.) I can see being a football fan, but I can't decide if making your baby sleep in a fake stadium is adorable or creepy. On the one hand, you could decorate a really awesome nursery with a stadium crib as a centerpiece, but on the other hand, what if your baby doesn't like football? Or (God forbid) likes some other school?

Curious about how much this could cost if they were offering a $50 coupon, my friend Melissa looked it up on her iPhone. (I don't have a phone with internet, and we all know why.) Imagine our surprise when we discovered that for $400, the crib is not included.

It's $400 worth of bedding, specifically a dust ruffle, a fitted sheet, and a foam bumper. Amazon has informed me that similar sets are available at significantly lower prices, but those people who are content to let their babies fall asleep among frolicking teddy bears or smiling clouds and grinning suns are obviously not true Volunteer football fans.

You know, like Jesus was, according to this pamphlet I received yesterday:

a real volunteer

That's General Neyland on the front. Our stadium is named after him, and, according to the pamphlet, "General Robert Neyland epitomized what it means to be a volunteer." He served in World War II and was an actual brigadier general, but he's better known as a former coach of our football team, who produced four national championships for the Volunteers during his tenure.

The pamphlet highlights this, but then goes on to remind us that, "despite all the greatness of General Neyland, he must bow the knee to a greater general and volunteer".

By which the pamphlet means, "Jesus."

I know that people say that football is a religion down here, but this pamphlet is the first thing I've seen that openly twists the two together, and it actually seems a little crazy. For every good point about General Neyland, the pamphlet one-ups him with Jesus:

Just as General Neyland left his home to serve his country, the Lord Jesus Christ laid aside His glory and left the praises of heaven to come to our rescue.

General Neyland left his home to fight for the liberties of his countrymen, but the Lord Jesus left His home to fight for a greater freedom.

General Neyland did not have to die for his country, but the Lord volunteered to lay down His life for sinners.

Unlike the great General Neyland, the Lord came to die for those who were and are his enemies.

I had no idea that General Neyland and Jesus were such competitive rivals, on and off the field. Eventually, though, Jesus brought home the championship:

The Lord Jesus Christ has done something for us that General Neyland could never do.

And then Mary tucked him into his Neyland Stadium crib, away in the manger, and all was right with the world.

Go Vols.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

"So you suddenly like football now?"

Today we are playing Florida, our hated rival. While in the past we have expressed our desire to destroy them via food:

stabby stabby

gator cake

this week we are celebrating it via ESPN:

espn gameday stage

A show called "Gameday" is broadcasting from the lawn in front of my office, and this is apparently a big deal. "Gameday" had to be explained to me because I only watch dodgeball on ESPN 8 (The Ocho!), and am therefore unfamiliar with the programming on the other ESPN channels. People are very excited about this, and were already lining up yesterday for a chance to be glimpsed on camera:

espn gameday stage crowd

and possibly interviewed, if "Gameday" is the kind of show that does that.

Either way, people are excited, and I'm excited, because it's a home game and it's the Florida game and according to the sports section of the student newspaper, which I skimmed for a full two minutes, we might actually win. Winning is exciting!

Last weekend, though, I was apparently too excited. Getting ready to leave for our first home game, I posted this on Facebook:

"Wait, what time is it? Oh, that's right... IT'S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!"

Apparently, for my friends and family this was akin to posting, "I LIKE CHICKEN WITH BONES IN IT NOW! AND SKIN! OH, GOD, I WANT TO EAT CHICKEN WITH SKIN!" or possibly, "Hey, friends... I'VE DECIDED TO VOTE REPUBLICAN! STRAIGHT DOWN THE TICKET!" Shock and horror greeted a status update in which I expressed excitement over a football game. I received a few confused comments on the post, pointing out that I never liked football that much when I was in college, but then received three private messages from friends asking, "Wait, you really like football now? Do you stay for the whole game and paint your body orange?"

I also received two phone calls.

Was it the all caps part that seemed shocking and confusing? Did I express too much excitement?

In order to set my friends and family at ease, let me try to explain:

I have no great affection for "football", the game. I understand the rules about as well as I understood them in college, which is to say almost not at all. I know what kind of things you get points for, and if a field goal is good, but I still have little conception of what the specific people on the field are supposed to be doing (Why are there so many "backs"? There's a quarterback and a runningback and a fullback and a tailback and a cornerback and a halfback and a backback and an in-the-back and I have only the vaguest notion of how they all go together.), and I continuously fail to understand the whole concept of "downs". There might be three? Or four? And if you get five, I think the game goes into multiball?

If it doesn't work that way, it should.

You get the point. I still don't understand the mechanics of the game, and that's mostly because I don't really want to. I find watching football to be crushingly boring, like watching golf.

However, I love "Tennessee Football", which is not just a boring game where guys crash into each other and throw a ball around. Tennessee Football is an institution, a whole greater than the sum of its parts, an experience and a way of life and one of the most exciting things about the fall. Every weekend that I work a home game, I get to go to a party attended by 100,000 people who are wearing matching outfits and happy to be there:

pride of the southland

home game breakfast

inside neyland

And it's not just on campus. All of the registers at Kroger will have orange and white balloons tied to them today. People all over town will put orange and white flags on their lawns. They will decorate their cars:

big orange army


big orange bloodmobile

and their bodies:


vol fans

compelling sweatshirts

and they'll put up tents on their lawns:

greve tailgate

because this is about more than football.

This is about being part of the University of Tennessee. This is about the seven or eight weekends a year when our entire campus comes together with the people around us, when our stadium becomes the fifth largest city in the state, when we are united with one goal, behind one team. And yeah, it happens for basketball and sometimes baseball, and yes, our university is about a lot more than football, but in the fall Tennessee football is about being a Vol and being part of the University of Tennessee.

tennessee flag

So, no, I don't suddenly like football.

But I love being a Tennessee Volunteer.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pinhole, Football, Flowers

Yesterday was the first home game of the season, and I planned to take the pinhole camera to the game with me to see how tailgating and parades and the whole spectacle would look through that lens, but it was pouring for most of the pregame yesterday (and for some of the beginning of the game, too), so I took the camera for a walk today instead.

I'm not really impressed with the stadium pictures, and only two came out decent enough for me to even want to share:

pinhole neyland

pinhole infrastructure

The one of the infrastructure is at least sort of interesting, but in my defense it's not really my fault that the front of the stadium is architecturally bland.

I walked around that side of campus for a little while:

pinhole hesler

pinhole estabrook

(Estabrook actually looks better in dark, blurry focus; that building desperately needs renovation) and then went to the gardens:

pinhole water lilly

Overall, I didn't have a really good day with the pinhole. I wasn't careful about exposure times, and a lot of pictures had light leaks and that annoying red glow. Also, I picked a lot of stuff that just wasn't that interesting. On the other hand, I like the regular pictures I took at the gardens:

water lilly

hungry bee

truck, plants

I'm especially intrigued by this one:

red flower

because that flower looks exactly like a red pineapple. I don't know what kind it is, because the plant didn't have a little info tag in front of it like most of them do.

If anyone knows what it is, please tell me? Thanks.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Taste of Jersey

It's no secret among my friends that I enjoy the finer things in life: good cheese, fine wine, and repeated viewings of "The Real Housewives" of every city except for Miami, Vancouver, and that God-awful boring mess that was the one season of DC. (I have nothing against the Vancouver version; it just doesn't air here and I haven't bothered trying to find it online.)

My favorites are New York and Beverly Hills, but I'm still down with the O.G. Orange County Girls, and I have a love/hate relationship with New Jersey, as passive aggressive toward that section of the franchise as New Jersey Housewife and former Vegas stripper Jacqueline is toward her ambitionless hair-pulling daughter, Ashlee. Sometimes I like the show, and sometimes I want the show to go live with its biological father and never appear on camera again.

Still, I was excited to discover a Real Housewives of New Jersey-related product tonight at Earthfare when I stopped to get that fancy exfoliating relaxation soap that I like:

blk. water (1)

Blk. Water, the beverage that adorable disappointment Albie, hyperactive youngest child Chritoffer, third musketeer and sassy homosexual Greg, and Jacqueline's long suffering husband Uncle Chris have been hawking and promoting on the show for the last two seasons. As a somewhat suggestible shopper (I did, after all, buy Hostess cakes because Green Lantern told me to, and then there's the whole story of the James Blunt CD and VH1 that I'm vaguely ashamed to share), I spent approximately two seconds thinking, "Oh my God! Black water!" and then shoving it into my basket.

I've been curious about the Blk. water since they started promoting it. It's black because it has "fulvic trace minerals" in it. After several minutes of searching on the internet I still have no idea what those are or if I actually need them, but according to the bottle there are "over 77 trace minerals and electrolytes essential to health and wellness" in every bottle.

Oddly enough, though, the bottle also says that it contains 0% of the recommended daily allowance of anything.

I guess they really are just traces of minerals.

On the other hand, it looks exactly like I expect water from New Jersey to look. It doesn't smell like it, though. In fact, it doesn't smell like anything. It's also not black, although it is very dark:

blk. water (2)

It's more of a dark, dark brown, the color of flat Coca Cola. Pouring it into a much fancier glass than it deserved, I swirled it beneath my nose, hoping to catch a hint of the bouquet. Like I said, though, it didn't smell like anything. It also doesn't taste like anything. It's water. It tastes like water. The only interesting thing about it was the hidden writing on the bottle:

blk. water (3)

Overall, I'm not impressed.

Which is often how I feel while watching "The Real Housewives of New Jersey".

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pictures of August

August is one of those months when nothing happens in my world except work. There's work during the week, work at night, work on the weekends, and generally just a lot of work and training and scrambling. Since most of my friends work in higher ed, too, we're all kind of on the same schedule, and we're all used to not going anywhere and not doing anything for the month.

Unfortunately, that means I don't really have many leftover pictures for August. I have a few, which fall into two groups:

1) Action Figures and Flashlights:

After my glow in the dark Mountain Dew experiment I got a little bored one afternoon, and decided to see what would happen if I put some see-through (or mostly see-through) action figures on the flashlight, with mixed results.


Sunfire looks ok, but I feel like there's too much light on the bottom and not enough on the top. His faceplate should still be opaque, but the head around it should be more illuminated if we're going for comic accuracy.

Iceman has a similar issue:


He also has the additional problem of being molded in light blue transparent plastic, which means that when you shine light through him he ends up looking like Dr. Manhattan, not Iceman.

The most successful attempt was the Phoenix:


One of Grant Morrison's better designs from his run on "New X-Men", she looks pretty close to the source material.

2) Around the Office:

Since we spent a whole weekend at the office for fall opening, I attempted to recreate the mood of January's office wasteland pictures, but I don't think I was as successful, and only liked four of the pictures that I ended up with:




stairs man

There's some interest there, but they don't recreate the same mood as the original set, or really much of a mood at all. They look like what they are: random photos around the office.

My goal for September is to get out more, so next month's photo roundup should be a little more exciting.