Geaux, Saints: The Goodwill of Football Saturday, Jan 30 2010 

At my house, we're officially members of the "Who Dat" Nation!

I’m amazed (but not really) at how a sports team brings people together.

Last night in Lafayette, Sarah bought this Saints Superbowl flag at Academy Sporting Goods in Lafayette.  In the checkout line, about 7 out of 10 customers seemed to be buying Saints stuff.  And everybody was so good-natured and friendly–I struck up the most cordial conversation with a rank stranger in the line behind me about which other NFL teams had never made the Super Bowl (the Browns and the Lions, notably)–Just mention “Saints,” it seems, and “whoever” becomes your bosom buddy.

Hmmmmm . . . how can we apply this sports principle to politics and religion?

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Hey, Who Dat Nation: What’s become of “There’s always next season”?? Tuesday, Jan 26 2010 

I’ve noted before in this blog how I was a Saints fan from the outset in 1967.   As a young adolescent, some of my coolest memories from those days drift across the years, recalling the Saints summer training camp in those early seasons at St. Paul’s School in Covington, Louisiana, about 8 or 10 blocks from where I lived.  I

Doug Atkins, defensive end from the early days

spent hours at the school, watching the practices and then hanging out after-hours around the recreation room and the cafeteria to get autographs and to rub shoulders with legends like Jimmy Taylor, Doug Atkins, Paul Hornung, Billy Kilmer, Danny Abramowicz, and a host of other Saints celebrities from that era. 

One of the St. Paul’s brothers even invited me inside the recreation room one evening where the team was watching an exhibition game between the Chicago Bears and I don’t remember who, but I sat right next to Doug Atkins, the 6’8 270 pound defensive star of the early Saints, as he cheered for his former teammates with the Bears.  Gosh, here I was, watching a professional football game with professional football players!  I was surprised at how they cheered and gufawed and cut up, pretty much like any other group of blue collar guys watching a ball game.  I didn’t hear a lot of football jargon and technical analysis as I expected from a host of professionals.  I remember Billy Kilmer appeared in the doorway for a few minutes that evening, smoking a cigar.  I was surprised that he had smoked and had a pot belly.  Athletes weren’t as buff and trim in that era, apparently.

Anyway, those were my first magical memories with New Orleans Saints.  Dempsey’s field goal stands out in the dry season of the  late 60’s/’70’s, along with wishing Archie Manning would have had the same supporting cast guys like Roger Staubach had in Dallas, because we knew Archie would have been equally great.

Proud moments since then, much less magical moments, have been sparse, although we recognize that the guys from the Dome Patrol/Bobby Hebert/Jim Mora era did provide some chest-swelling moments. (Although they never won a playoff game, at least they made the playoffs a time or two, and don’t we wish we had that set of linebackers today!).   

The Payton/Brees era began setting the stage for magic that first year in the post-Katrina “Domecoming” party as we gleefully routed Atlanta on a Monday night.  Then later, that same year, we made it to the NFC championship where our pride got caught up in the blustery Chicago flurries as our guys took their licks, obviously just not quite there yet.

So across the decades, our perennial, end-of-season sigh became a refrain: “There’s always next season.”    We’d choose some other team to root for in the playoffs and forget about the Saints until the following July when hope re-kindled with training camp updates on WWL as Buddy D. and later Bobby and Deke and Hokey recharged our batteries with their hopeful banter. 

We'll get 'em THIS year!

So earlier today, when I googled “New Orleans Saints” like I frequently do to find the quick link to the Saints home page, I smiled real big as  Google announced the result of the last game and the  opponent for the next game like this:

New Orleans Saints (13-3)  

 

Last game: Jan 24, New Orleans Saints 31 – Minnesota Vikings 28 
Next game: @ Indianapolis Colts, Feb 7 6:25pm ET 

Whoa!  Big difference between “the next game” and “the next season” this time!

Geaux, Saints!

 

Geaux, Saints: Louisiana’s team! Saturday, Jan 23 2010 

Drew Brees jersey on display at the local WalMart

New Orleans loves its Saints, but folks outside of the greater metropolitan area might be a little surprised to see how little the fervor diminishes as one travels to other parts of the state–The Saints are truly Louisiana’s team,  the current insanity prevalent from the Pearl River on the east all the way to the Sabine River on the west.

We went to our local Prairie Cajun Capitol Wal Mart last night where the Saints paraphernalia display is prominent in the main aisle.  Shoppers were scarce yesterday evening, but a disproportionate number of those in the store browsed among the black and gold jerseys and caps and other souvenirs.  The Mardi Gras display on the next aisle contributed audibly to the atmosphere with a spicy rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” tooting from speakers atop the shelves.

My big sister even found some Saints colored M&M’s.   Knowing my extreme fandom, she shipped me a bag of the black and gold candies.  As much as I enjoy M&M’s, I’m reluctant to eat these because they’re so cute.  I think I’ll hang on to them until the Super Bowl and use them for a game-time snack then while we watch Drew take on Archie’s boy  (Aha, now you know my prediction!)

Saints M&M's

I did see some poor dude at WalMart last night wearing a purple and white Vikings jersey with Adrian Peterson’s name and number on the back.  He really stuck out–a wonder, indeed, that he wasn’t rudely confronted by one of many Cajun Saints zealots in these parts who might have suggested that the dude take a drive 80 miles east to Baton Rouge where he shouuld jump in the Mississippi River and swim north as vigorously as possible without stopping for about 2000 miles.  That should put him somewhere close to Minneapolis/St. Paul where he belongs!

Oui, mes amis, nous-autres, on aime nos Saints!

Not a pillow to lay his head? Marley says, “No sweat.” Thursday, Jan 21 2010 

Marley knows how to chill.We get a kick out of our dogs’ predictable routine from evening to evening: After their long day of protecting the back yard from terrorists, squirrels, intrusive birds and lizards, garter snakes, and rogue dogs and cats, they retreat from their labors by crashing on the master bed while their Mommy watches TV.

They strike some rare poses.  Last night I shot this one with Marley adapting Sadie’s fond-fond as a  pillow.   Most interesting in the arrangement is Sadie’s passive nonchalance.  For all her bossy grouchiness, she shows here that she really has a mellow side.

Why I blog Monday, Jan 18 2010 

Why did I start blogging in 2006, and why do I continue today? I think of the same three reasons one becomes a teacher: to be a sadist, to be a masochist, or to be an exhibitionist. And part of me responds to all three!

Sadist: Occasionally, I inflict mediocre and/or random, unfocused writing, including a poem here and there that might be described as uneven at best, on a reading audience. I’m sure more than one reader, at one time or another, has winced “Ouch!” at some less-than-well-turned phrase or clumsy metaphor.

Masochist: The discipline and the investment of time required to maintain the blog at times requires an imposed attitude of servitude. If I haven’t updated the site in three or four days, at times guilt rather than inspired invention drives me to the keyboard: such writing is painfully wrought! (And that’s some of the writing that contributes to the sadistic impulse noted above).

Exhibitionist: This is the main one. The other two categories capture me at my rhetorical worst, but for the most part, I’m a linguistic show-off. I enjoy logging on and checking my WordPress dashboard to see how many hits my blog gets from day to day (all time daily record: 284), which posts get the most traffic, and who has taken time to post comments in response.

Peace and Love in the “Who Dat” Nation: The solace of football Saturday, Jan 16 2010 

Drew Brees (9) and Reggie Bush (25) gave Saints fans a charge today.

The solace of football, especially when my team wins.

Like the Saints did this afternoon in a game I was frankly worried about.  I saw the Cards blast the Packers last weekend, so I suspected our defense might have all they could handle.  I did my best all day long to avoid thinking about the 3:30 game just to avoid the stress.

In the end, though, the Saints did just about everything right.  Our guys made it look easy in the end, making me wonder why I ever worried.  I was gratified, watching them (and us, the fans) get our swagger back for the championship game next week.

Today’s game  came at the end of a trialsome week: the first week of the new year without nightly football!  The week after New Years, the return to work after the holidays was rendered tolerable  by the nightly bowl games leading up to the NCAA championship–a diversion to look forward to at the end of a dreary day in the office.  This past football-less week, in addition to being sick for two or three days in the middle of the period, I found myself riveted from night to night to the earthquake coverage from Haiti.

Depressing!

So football’s return today provided a soothing balm for the earthquake-sick soul.  And since we won, football lives: Peace and love in the “Who Dat?” Nation!

Let’s warm up, Who Dat Nation: Satchmo playin’ our song! Tuesday, Jan 12 2010 

Let’s get crunk, Saints fans!

I found this relic of a video in YouTube a few days ago.  Louie’s singing and playing will get all those Who Dat’s feelin’ good.  Some recall that Armstrong was  New Orleans native–the jazz music style in the video comes unmistakably from the French Quarter.

The Signer and Random Thoughts Not Particularly Patriotic Sunday, Jan 10 2010 

A statue on the east lawn of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, identified as "The Signer"

I resolved since November when I was in Philadelphia to blog this pic of a statue on the grounds of Indpendence Hall called The Signer. I never got around to putting up the pic, and even though I have no profound comments to attach to this posting, I have nothing else to write about on this Sunday night, so why not?

Curious, the dude in the statue appears to be a southpaw (i.e., left-handed).

I wish my brief visit to Independence Hall conjured up richer memories than it does.  After all, Franklin and Jefferson and all those other famous Colonial dudes traversed these grounds.   But what I’ll never forget from this visit was that Philly cop who accosted me while I was taking these pictures (wearing my N.O. Saints cap) to let me know that “We [the Saints] cheated” in the Saints’ early season win against the Eagles.  (That was his opinion, of course–at risk to my personal security in a hostile foreign land, I assured him the game was a fair contest.)

So much for patriotic “higher and nobler” thoughts.

Country Roads Acadiana: The Flatness of the Prairie, Dead of Winter Tuesday, Jan 5 2010 

Landscapes are poems.   Even the flat-but-hardly-featureless plain of the South Louisiana Cajun Prairie resounds with poetic grace.  That grace alters from season to season.

I found this winter view across the street from campus (we’re on the edge of town).  The brown grass, the leaveless trees, the cows eating hay: all indications of the dead of winter in our Gulf Coast region.

Since we’re in the midst of an unusually cold snap, the best improvement I could imagine for this greenless scene would be two or three inches  of white  snow.  The weatherman’s not cooperating, though: He says we’ll get  unusually frigid temperatures this weekend (teens for lows) but not much hope for precip.  Just frigid air, brown grass, blue sky: the Cajun dead of winter.

Anyway, I’ve known country roads: Quaint, country roads traversing the plains of South Louisiana.  Vive la Louisiane!

Another Christmas Past . . . Saturday, Jan 2 2010 

At the end of the holidays, the weekend preceding the resumption of life’s go-to-work routines passes sadly.  The feeling began yesterday (New Years Day) when the kids (and grandkid) left after cabbage and blackeyes for lunch.  We had grown accustomed to having Ann-home-from-college during the season, too, so as her Camry’s taillights disappeared driving Baton Rougeward down the street, Sarah and I looked at one another in the driveway with that, “Well, Mom/Pop, here we are again, just us.”

Payton relaxes in the rocking chair her Honey (Sarah) got Santa to bring for Payton's Christmas.

Christmas 09, like all the ones I recall before, was stunning and magical.  It’s really kind of hard to mess up Christmas, short of sickness or death in the family.  Thank God, we had no such issues.

This year was a little more special, too, because it was our first Christmas with a toddling grandchild.  Last year, Payton was an infant, and she could care less about most of the proceedings.  This year, she was highly entertaining in her own right, truly the center of attention and star of the show anytime she sensed she had an audience.

News reel moments?  The Covington trip, the annual drive-around Christmas lights viewing with the kids, the Christmas Eve morning tornado brushing so close to our loved ones, the Christmas Eve service at church, Christmas dinner at home, after-Christmas-shopping with my girls, running with the dogs, New Years Day meal with all the kids (and grandkid), and several really good football games.

But no sense fretting or pining.  Monday will come and go, life’s rhythms will resume, and onward we move.  Bowl games each evening through Thursday will provide an incentive to reach the end of each day of the first testy week back at work.  I’ve survived 56 of these Christmases past in my lifetime, so this 57th shouldn’t be such an ordeal if I just take it one day at at time.