You haven't lived until you've been puked on by a Volunteer.
The Flash knew the weekend would be an eventful one when, while picking up a visitor at Sky Harbor Airport on Friday, two large contingents from Florida and Tennessee arrived on charter flights. At the baggage area, the two groups heckled each other, and the sky caps--no doubt hoping for tips--led the Seminole backers in their familiar, and obnoxious, tomahawk chop.
Over the loudspeaker came the announcement that the group from Florida could retrieve its baggage at carousel No. 1.
"Did you hear that?" a man bedecked in maroon shouted in the direction of the visitors from Tennessee. "Florida State baggage can be picked up at carousel NUMBER ONE. Tennessee baggage can be picked up at carousel NUMBER TWO."
Ah, the hilarity. By Saturday, the Valley was filled with more Southerners than a demolition derby.
The Flash hiked to the upper levels of Sun Devil Stadium Monday night to sit through the four-hour television commercial, interrupted by a few minutes of sloppy football action, known as the Fiesta Bowl.
Sitting amid a sea of orange-clad, sweet-natured people who punctuated their backwoods twang with frequent bursts of inanity, the Flash settled in for a great game between college football powerhouses.
But that wasn't what happened. Instead, after being reminded about 400 times that this was--all together now--the First True National College Football Championship, a mediocre contest between seemingly confused footballers lurched along in short bursts between endless interruptions to a 23-16 finish in favor of the Tennessee Volunteers.
The Vols were hailed as national champions even before the final gun, as Mesa Tribune workers outside the stadium hurriedly delivered special editions of the outcome while the fourth quarter wasn't half over. (The Flash suggests the Trib's new motto should be: "We Print Real Fast--And It Might Even Be Right!")
Despite the hype, most folks seemed to realize that the vaunted Bowl Championship Series is only slightly less artificial than the completely unsatisfying old way of selecting a national champion--by voting. Since football is a sports contest, and not a political race, fans had grown weary of the system. But with bowl games protecting their multimillion-dollar interests, the BCS is supposed to satisfy the obvious need for a playoff tournament. Don't believe it. The Ohio State Buckeyes or the Arizona Wildcats--both of whom played one bad quarter all season--could have whipped either of the teams that limped onto the field Monday night.
Perhaps the players were feeling the effects of having spent more than a month enduring the hype of a capitalist orgy.
Monday night, both players and fans endured the excesses of corporate greed in what should have been a spectacle dedicated to sport, not profits.
But after every offensive drive, no matter how short, an ABC Television rep took his position on the field and kept referees from continuing the game as at least a dozen advertisements (it seemed) ran for the benefit of home viewers. Meanwhile, whatever momentum either team or its fans had been able to generate dissipated into the cool wind that chilled the stadium.
Unable to generate any kind of rhythm, both Seminoles and Vols never got into sync. False starts, blown plays and sloppy tackling produced a disappointing game that was punctuated by occasional flashes of brilliance.
The game did threaten to become interesting early in the fourth quarter, but just at that moment the Tennessee fan sitting behind the Flash decided to upchuck what he'd been eating and drinking since about noon. (Lunch at Hooter's, eight Miller Genuine Drafts, red vines, two bags of Tostitos, a mess of pork rinds, grits, guacamole, dinner at Hooter's, and a few slugs of moonshine, judging from what was left on the Flash's sweater.)
Tennessee fans, being the agreeable people that they are, offered the Flash another, vomit-free seat, but the Flash had seen enough.
The Bar Bowl
Something weird was happening in the smoky innards of Dan Ryan's Sports Bar on Saturday--people were actually rooting for the Arizona Cardinals.
The telecast of the Cards' first playoff game since Dick Clark started shaving had fair-weather Phoenicians going absolutely mild, huzzahing the good plays and groaning collectively the near misses.
The Flash must give credit where credit is due. The Cardinals impersonated a well-coached team on Saturday. The defense, in particular, seemed prescient--blurs of red converging wherever Troy Aikman threw.
But let's keep things in perspective. By slapping the Cowboys on their home turf (and actually defeating a team with a winning record), the boys in red merely earned the honor of being spindled by the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday.
Paul Maguire, who for the Flash's money is the best NFL color man around, was on-point when he opined that Aikman's only weapon was Michael "White Line" Irvin. But Irvin is a mere flashback of his former self. So are Emmitt Smith and Aikman, for that matter.
The Vikes, on the other hand, have a full stable of fuel-injected leopards who will simply overwhelm the Cards' best intentions.
As time ticked down on the Texas Stadium clock, Cards owner and resident raccoon Bill Bidwill showed up on the sidelines. He looked grossly out of place, like a babushka on a Paris runway. His visage evoked some tepid cheers from Dan Ryan's throng, but the undercurrent of boos and hisses reminded this Burst of Light of the aphorism about a roomful of monkeys at typewriters eventually replicating all the great works of William Shakespeare.
Even transgenerational incompetence endures its lapses.
Vikings 33, Cardinals 10.
George magazine, the glossy gossip organ of political infotainment, outdid itself with its rendition of Arizona's five elected female executives as Spice Girls. They are, clockwise from left, Governor Jane Hull (Cranky Spice), Secretary of State Betsey Bayless (Ambitious Spice), Attorney General Janet Napolitano (Litigious Spice), Treasurer Carol Springer (Stingy Spice), and Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Graham Keegan (Perky Spice).
Al Lindsey, a 79-year-old Youngtown resident who in 1998 was found guilty of a criminal violation--littering--and slapped with a $120 fine for allowing a few blades of grass to grow beneath his evaporative cooler ("Scourge of Youngtown, December 31), has a renewed faith in humanity.
A New Times reader who asked to remain anonymous paid Lindsey's fine in full.
Dozens of other readers called and e-mailed the writer of Lindsey's story, Terry Greene Sterling, offering to pay Lindsey's fine. They expressed their outrage at Youngtown's callous treatment of Lindsey.
Says Lindsey: "I didn't know there were so many nice people in the world."
They're out there, Al. It's just that none of them work for Youngtown.
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