Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Madison to Ft. Worth; Recap of Big Ballgame

Madison to Ft. Worth was not as much fun. Hung around to see my niece and nephew off on their days, and still hadn't showered, and didn't get off until almost 9:00. Decided to drive through southwestern Wisconsin and eastern Iowa on 151, which is a trip I normally love. Within a mile of my brother's house, I took a wrong turn and got lost. Bad omen.

The trip included a 50 mile detour around construction and through several 25 mph towns; three long slow drives through construction; and an extended 5 mph creep for a traffic accident. I had pinched a muscle under my right shoulder blade, and could not get it comfortable. It hurt more and more as the day went on. By the end, the pain was killing me, yet I was still getting drowsy. I was singing, chewing gum, and sucking mints to stay awake, and finally got home at 3:00 AM. Thank God it ended. Ann Althouse, if you're reading this, forget the Corvette and buy a Lear Jet.

Did enjoy listening to Wisconsin Public Radio. The hosts and the callers were in a lot of post-election pain, and I don't blame them. If Bush had lost, I would be devastated and distraught. That said, both the hosts and the callers were, ummm... Uninformed? Out of touch with reality? Its hard to find the right description. There's what is, and there's the claptrap they were saying on the radio. The two are mutually exclusive.

Heard a spunky PBS radio babe reporting, I suspect, from a Baghdad hotel:

American forces will be conducting night operations in Fallujah, using night-vision goggles, which most of them have.

THEY'VE ALL GOT NIGHT VISION GOGGLES, YOU AIR-HEAD! And a bunch of heat imaging equipment the enemy can only dream of.

"Cuba City, Wisconsin. Home of Presidents."
25 MPHering through Cuba City, I spot a teacher leading a line of students. I pull over and jump out, keeping the car between me and her, so she won't be scared by the crazy man:

Me: Why is this the Home of Presidents?
She: That's just our theme.
Me: Have any Presidents ever lived here?
She: Well, President Bush came through last week!

Cuba City has red, white, and blue shields lining their main street, each listing the name and term of a President. In a choice between this actionable theme, and some forgettable theme, like: "Friendship, Service, Community," I'd choose "Home of Presidents." I'm down with Cuba City.

Welcome to Hazel Green, Wisconsin.

Iowa: Fields of Opportunity. Welcome! From the People of Iowa!
Warms the heart.

Tourist break: National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa. Worth $5 and a 45 minute diversion.

Kansas City has Riverboat Gambling! Wish it wasn't so late in the day. Downtown Kansas City is BIG! Didn't realize it was this big.

Emporia, Kansas has a National Teacher's Hall of Fame. Perfect. I've spent time in Emporia. They are proud to be an oasis of literacy surrounded by miles and miles of corn.

If you're me, driving through Oklahoma in the dark of night, you'll get all choked up over this song: "Have You Forgotten," by Darryl Worley. Sample lyrics:

Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
Too see your homeland under fire and her people blown away
Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going through a living hell
Have you forgotten all the people killed?
Yeah some went down like heroes in that Pennsylvania field
Have you forgotten about our Pentagon?
Yeah all those loved ones that we lost
And those left to carry on
Don't you tell me not to worry about Bin Laden
Have you forgotten?

The Southpark hipsters made fun of Darryl Worley for pandering with this song. I heard Darryl Worley interviewed just before I heard his song. I think he's a sincere guy, trying to inject a dose of emotion into a national conversation in which one side is desperately trying to tamp down all emotion. I don't think he is pandering. My neighbors were vaporized on 9/11, and its a valuable thing for us to look that reality in the face.

You want pandering? I submit Lee Greenwood's "I'm Proud to Be An American."

As promised:

Big Ballgame at Camp Randall!

The Wisconsin Badgers kicked butt: 38-14! Wiconsin is strong, and fundamentally solid. I would not want to play them.

This was a game for men. Everyone on the field was big, strong, and perfectly willing to sock you in the mouth. The Big 12 and SEC have more skinny speed guys. There were no skinny speed guys on the field for this game. Real men only.

We watched the end of the second quarter from the field level walkway behind the Minnesota bench. The noise! The noise! Its louder and more jarring at field level. Its the Roman Coliseum, the crowd wants blood, and these young men are giving it. Bruising, adrenaline, pain, glory-- see it all from behind the Minnesota bench!

The Wisconsin Band has a signature bow-legged knee-raising jump-step. They do a different routine every week. The crowd adores them.

The stands at Camp Randall angle sharply upward-- the way all stadium stands ought to. The crowd is well-focused and well-attuned to the unfolding game. They create walls of noise. Its a big home team advantage. The suites atop the East stands help to entrap and enhance the noise.

The East stands have wonderful quirky stairs and walkways and tunnels, and cramped ancient bathrooms. They have doors(!) swung open between the stands and the tunnels. The West stands' architecture is more generic. The West stands honor Wisconsin's Heisman Trophy winners: Ameche #35; Dayne #33.

Wisconsin does two things every school in America ought to do:

1) On three consecutive breaks near the beginning of the fourth quarter, they play three energetic favorites of the student section. Eight thousand students leap to their feet and begin waving their arms in the air, singing, and jumping up and down energetically.

When the students first leapt into action, I was standing near the student section at field level, and I involuntarily exclaimed "Oh my God!" Eight to ten thousand dancing, arm-waving students is an awesome sight. The students love it, the crowd loves to watch the student section dance, and it gets everybody fired up for the fourth quarter.

The first song is "Shout,"(lyrics below) by Otis Day and The Knights, made famous in the movie "Animal House." The second song was a rap type of song called "Jump and Shout." The students especially loved this song. Ann Althouse blogs that the third song was "Twist and Shout," which was once recorded by the Beatles, and was lip-synched by Ferris Bueller in the St. Patrick's Day parade.

2) The Fifth Quarter: Put 15 minutes on the clock. Bring the band onto the field to sing and dance. Bring cheerleaders and pom pom girls out to dance with the band. Bring some football players out of the locker room to dance with the band and the cheerleaders. Allow the band to play and dance with increasing independence and individualism as the Fifth Quarter goes on. By the end, let the field be like a big Mardi Gras.

The Fifth Quarter was completely charming and fun. Every school should do this. The band gets some glory. Everybody gets to celebrate and party. Thirty or Forty thousand fans(or more) stayed to watch this.

No Wisconsin game could've been more perfect: score, weather, fan happiness, everything. It was wonderful.


Written by The Isley Brothers
Made famous with version by Otis Day & The Knights in the movie "Animal House" from 1978

Weeellllllllll,You know you make me wanna shout
Kick my heels up & shout
Throw my hands up & shout
Throw my hands back & shout
Come on now, shout
Don't forget to say you will
Don't forget to say yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Say you will

Say it right now, baby (say you will)
Come on, come on (say you will)
Say it, eeeee (say you will)
Come on now (say)
Say that you love me (say)
Say that you need me (say)
Say that you want me (say)
You wanna please me (say)
Come on now (say)
Come on now (say)
Come on now (say)
I still remember

When you used to be 9 years old
Yeah yeah I was in love with you
From the bottom of my soul
Yeah now that you've grown up
& old enough to know yeah yaeeah
You wanna leave me
You wanna let me go
I want you to know

I said I want you to know right now
You've been good to me, baby
Better than I've been to myself
Hey hey,
& if you ever leave me
I don't want nobody else
Hey hey, I said I want you to know
Yeah, I said I want you to know right now
You know you make me wanna shout

Yeah yeah (shout), yeah yeah yeah (shout)
All right (shout), all right (shout)
Come on now (shout), come on now (shout)
A little bit softer now

A little bit softer now
A little bit softer now
A little bit softer now
A little bit louder now

A little bit louder now
A little bit louder now
A little bit louder now
Heeeeyyyyy (Heeeeyyyyy)

Heeeeyyyyy (Heeeeyyyyy)
Heeeeyyyyy (Heeeeyyyyy)
Heeeeyyyyy (Heeeeyyyyy)
I'm gonna shout, now

I'm gonna shout, now
I'm gonna shout, now
I'm gonna shout shout shout
I'm gonna shout shout shout
I'm gonna shout shout shout
You know I love

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Wisconsin vs. Minnesota: Pregame

First-- the big game in the front yard:

Most boys don't become competitive until age 10 or so. My 6 year old nephew is competitive now. He kept a close tab on the score of the game. Luckily, his team won. Less chance of tears that way. I am tired and grass-stained. Perfect. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Off to the big game at Camp Randall Stadium:

Me and my brother and sister-in-law parked near a bike trail, and walked in for about a mile. We emerged near the corner of Regent and Breese, to a sensory overload of red clad fans, the smell of grilled brats and beer, plus that Autumn sunshiny smell, and the sight of Camp Randall off to our left, silhouetted against a clear blue sky. Also perfect. All of it.

To my knowledge, there's barely any parking close to Camp Randall. The stadium is bordered on the south by a classic gymnasium, now used by Wisconsin Wrestling and Volleyball. Soon beyond the gym is a few restaurants, and then residential housing. Across the street to the west is residential housing. To the north is a football practice field, with the UW campus spreading out just beyond. To the east is a bit of campus, and a neighborhood of restaurants and bars and shops, et al. The stadium is wedged into the middle of it all. On game day, the area all around the stadium is a sort of giant neighborhood/street party.

A bar is blasting music into the street: Head East, "Never Been Any Reason", circa 1978. I flashback to my freshman year at Baylor. Was in Austin at a campus party the night before the Texas-Baylor game. Was some beers into the night, away from home for the first time(for all of about 6 weeks), and was surrounded by women that-- Jesus Christ and Oh My God—they could not have been any more beautiful. They were dropped down from Heaven as God’s personal gift to man. And this great song with these driving lyrics was playing really loud. I was so happy to be away from home and at that party with that music and those girls-- I could’ve cried out in joy and gratitude.

Back to the sunshiny day. We moseyed up Breese and past the stadium, passing house parties filled with people-- except for one house party with poor turnout. We felt sorry for those guys.

Badger fans are unapologetically proud of their team and excited to root for them. I'm wearing red. I'm proud of the Badger team. I'm excited to be here. Yea! I've got about 80,000 new best friends.

We circle the north end of Camp Randall, and my mechanical-engineer sister-in-law begins describing a professional tour she took of the stadium with an engineering group:

She: Camp Randall has Field Turf, and the manufacturers had a dickens of a time matching the correct color red in the endzones. They applied various shades of red to the Field Turf, but it would not come out the correct Wisconsin color. The end zone red is still just a smidgen too dark.

The visiting locker room is very spartan. No need to lavish luxury on the enemy. There was controversy over the color of the visiting locker rooms. Red is an aggressive color. No need to help the visitors' aggression. Pink is a passive color, and they considered that. Pink apparently depresses testosterone levels for 2 hours after exposure. Wisconsin finally settled on baby blue, feeling that created a sufficiently pacifying environment for the visitors.

Me: Did you learn any engineering on that tour?

She: Really, we didn't. But we had fun!

We pass through the Camp Randall Arch and circle back towards Regent St. We pass the trombone section circling the stadium and playing "On Wisconsin." We turn into a mosh pit of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of 35-40 year olds in the beer garden of "Big Ten Pub". Its 90 minutes before game time, and who knows how many identical mosh pits exist within 500 yards of where we are? 10? 20? More? I've been to some fabulous pregame scenes. I've been to Baton Rouge and College Station, and lots of other places. This is as amiable and fun of a scene as you could find anywhere. I'm having a fine time.

Two beers and two brats for me. My sister in law is balancing a beer and eating a brat and chattering along happily with a girl friend. They notice Penn St. on a TV, and they begin earnestly discussing when Joe Paterno will be forced to leave his coaching position. I suddenly love both of them intensely: beer-drinking, football-talking women. Their husbands are lucky men.

Kickoff approaches, so we fight our way out of the mosh pit. There are still hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of beer drinking, happy, smushed together people in the beer garden. I'm a two beer kind of person. These Madisonites are way tougher than I am. As we leave, a police officer surveys the mosh pit and pronounces:
"This is ridiculous."

My sister in law begins the mile long trek back to the car because I'm using her ticket! She hiked a mile in and a mile out just to make the scene and visit with her friends. It was worth it.

Next Post: Ballgame!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

That Madison Vibe

Its Saturday morning, and this was just yelled through the house down to the basement:

"If you don't turn off TV now you don't get to watch TV later when its time for your animal shows."

On Friday, I went by the UW campus at the 2:00 class break. I get on a college campus at a class break about 3 or 4 times a decade. I love it. I love to watch the students. Youth has its own beauty. Love to observe the clothing and the latest looks. Its also inspiring. The UW students were carrying books. They walked with a sense of purpose. They looked like they just finished paying attention in class.

Miraculously found a parking place. Strolled through the Student Union. Parents in town for the football weekend. Video games. Students huddled over Lap Tops. There's a focused young man who's angry about corporations, et al. I can tell this just by watching him read his text book. He reads it angrily, with an anti-corporation attitude! The truth about this guy is that he's merely shy. He needs the affection of a good woman. The repeated affection of a good woman. She can bring him into a world of people who like to laugh and love and crack jokes, and not take themselves so seriously.

I walk past a girl bent over her lap top, with hip hugger jeans running low, and 1/3 of her buttocks exposed to me. She has intentionally accessorized her buttocks crack with hot pink thong underwear that says "Victoria's Secret" in big advertisement lettering. Just like Audrey Hepburn accessorized her neck with a choker, and Mae West accessorized her cleavage with a necklace, this girl is accessorizing her buttocks with thong underwear. I've got absolutely no problem with looking at 20 year old's buttocks' cheeks. If this is the next big thing, you won't see me protesting it.

I venture into the sunlight, and begin moseying through a quadrangle towards the library. Come face to approaching face with a professor rushing himself and his books through the quadrangle, towards an oh-so-professorly important meeting at the Student Union, or maybe at his office. His personal presentation, there's no other way to say it, is exactly like Lenin. Same beard. Same Russian-Lenin-coat. "Peasant coat," maybe its called. You had to see him to understand the full effect. If Che Guevara came back from the dead and ran for Governor, he'd get this guy's vote. Course, if Che came back from the dead, I'd vote for him too.

The professor and I face off as we approach each other-- like gunslingers in the Old West-- Lenin's cousin, and me: Homer Simpson in Nikes and a Dallas Stars sweatshirt. We each could not possibly have less respect for the other. As we pass shoulder to shoulder, we each have the identical thought: "Sheesh. What an asshole."

Fun stroll.

Picked up the kids at 4:00, went to the greatest neighborhood playground ever. Felt guilty, b/c I let the 3 year old run around, even though she developed a cough. Ah, well, we were having fun. And I'll be gone on Monday. Can leave the cough for my poor brother and sister-in-law to deal with.

Now its Saturday, and I'm listening to a 3 year old's song about ice cream scoops, and we're all gearing up to go outside and play. Big game today! But only after the big game in the front yard! Gotta go!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Ft. Worth, TX to Madison(Fitchburg), WI

Thursday: Departed 5:30 AM. Arrived 10:00 PM. Traveled 1030 miles in 990 minutes, breaking mythic "1000 minute" barrier. Woo hoo!

Gear: 2 turkey sandwiches, 2 Peanut Butter and Red Plum Jam sandwiches, carrots, Tootsie Pops(orange), Snickers, Dr. Pepper, water, ice chest, road atlas(w/route highlighted).

"Waggoner, OK: Home of Tommy Biffle, Bass Fishing Champion"

"Pryor, OK: A Town for All Seasons"

"Shop and Stay With Us in Lebanon, Missouri"

Hospitable, welcoming Lebanon!? Hard to get your mind around that.

Bible verse highway billboards in Missouri, interspersed amongst Adult Bookstores. In between the billboards and the Adult Bookstores, Missouri is beautiful.

Friday: Walked Niece(3) and Nephew(6) to his bus stop. When bus appears in the distance, all 10 kids at bus stop start yelling: "Bus! Bus! Bus!" When you're 6, the arrival of the bus is a gleeful occasion. And then they line up, on their own initiative, and before the bus has even arrived and stopped. Their line is neat, orderly, perfectly composed. They wait expectantly for the bus. We are trying to spread consensual democracy into a world in which our 6 year olds consensually organize better than their 36 year olds.

Walking home from bus stop:
Me: Are you going to learn to read when you go to "big kid school"?
Niece: No.
Me: What are you going to learn?
Niece: To play, and take naps, and eat snacks!
She's obviously visited a public high school.

Niece to her upscale daycare. Front door has one adornment: Photo of John Kerry, former Presidential Candidate. Kerry won 85% of the vote in the daycare's mock election. Course, this is the suburb of Fitchburg. A daycare in Madison might've produced a Hussein-like 100% of the vote for Kerry.

One daycare teacher has magenta-pink hair. I think that is perfect for the kids, as she looks like a cartoon character come to life. Other daycare teacher is a UW student from Boston. We reminisce about the Sox' big victory. She went to the Springsteen-Kerry concert. It sounds like it was a really fun event.

Home. Walk the family golden retriever to park. Its an impossibly beautiful and sunny day. Ft. Worth had its first crisp days before I left, but they were rainy. This is maybe 55 degrees, with a playful breeze blowing. Its the prettiest crisp day I've seen since March or April.

Check Madison newspaper. A pair of psychos held Madison residents hostage for days, murdered two of them, dumped their bodies in separate locations, then went to the police station and turned themselves in. If it wasn't so grisly and tragic it would be funny. Madison is easy to lampoon: "Get some real desperate criminals!" Except citizens are murdered and families are bereaved. Silent prayer for the families and loved ones of the dead. And the murderers. One of the victims looked like Mia Sara in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Sad.

Zip around internet. Fallujah is heating up. Republicans homophobed their way to winning the election-- yawn. Peggy Noonan is back!! I LOVE that woman!

Write this post. In two minutes, I'm heading out the door and into this perfect day to shop for some long underwear for the game tomorrow. Its so pretty, I might stroll through the UW Campus and watch the students enjoying a sunny Friday afternoon. I might eat an ice cream cone. Life goes on. On a sunny November Friday in Madison, it doesn't get any better.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Post-Mortem: Where Did My "Electoral Landslide" Prediction Go Wrong?

From The End Zone:

"If the unreasonable happens, and Minnesota and Wisconsin both go to Kerry, Bush still wins: Kerry 251 v Bush 287."

The unreasonable happened: Kerry 252 v Bush 286. Bush still won by 34 Electoral Votes, which is more than a lot of experts predicted. Still, where did I go wrong?

Analyzing the math, Bush could've won the election by winning any one of these hotly contested states:

New Hampshire

Since Bush did win one of these: Ohio, victory was his. Kerry won five of the six by very small margins. Amazing, and statistically fortunate- kind of like winning the daily double at the horse track. All five of Kerry's victory margins were equal to or smaller than Bush's victory margin in Ohio.

In retrospect, Kerry's only legitimate chance of victory was to sweep all six of these close states. I predicted Bush victories in all six states, reasoning that pollsters had underestimated the post 9-11 Republican turnout. I based that on the pollsters missing trends in the 2002 mid-term elections, and that is where my prediction went awry.

If Bush had swept all six states, my 352-186 prediction would've almost come true, as Bush would've won 348 electoral votes (Kerry won Hawaii's 4 EV's by a comfortable margin). I figured, if I was wrong, these states would follow pollster predictions and split about three and three for each candidate. Instead Kerry won five of the six. Again: Amazing.

So, the election was close, but not that close. Bush was equal or closer to winning any one of the other five contested states than Kerry was to winning Ohio. Overall, with the Republicans picking up seats in both the Senate and the House, and with Bush winning the popular vote by a significant margin of 3.5 million, this election was a very solid victory for Bush and the Republicans.

Talk of the nation being "divided" is starting to look a bit like bull**** carping by a minority party that is only now beginning to vaguely sense the reality of their circumstance. In the last forty years, only one Democrat President has won at least 50% of the popular vote:

Jimmy Carter. 1976. 50.5%.

Bill Clinton won two elections with about 45% of the popular vote. The nation is trending conservative. If it was not, Bush would've been bounced out of office yesterday. Conditions were ripe. Powerlineblog:

The country is divided, but the division is in favor of President Bush and his party. If the goal is to decrease division in the context of a democratic society, the Democrats will have to accept this voter-imposed reality to a much greater degree than they have shown any past willingness to do.

Its a shame, for the Democrats, that the election wasn't a big blowout. The close result will allow the Democrats to believe they need a simple bandage, when they really need surgery to remove the moonbats, followed by full courses of chemo and radiation.

Here are the numbers from the six states. If Bush had won any of the first five, including New Hampshire, he could've lost Ohio and still won the election:

  • New Hampshire 1% margin; 9,000 vote margin
  • Pennsylvania 3% margin; 122,000 vote margin
  • Michigan 2% margin; 165,000 vote margin
  • Wisconsin 1% margin; 12,000 vote margin
  • Minnesota 2% margin; 98,000 vote margin
  • Ohio 2% margin; 147,000 vote margin

What about Florida? Kerry could've won if he had won Florida. However, Florida was a small but solid Bush victory, and wasn't as close as the above six:

Florida 5%; 377,000 votes

I'm off to mow the lawn, pack, and drive to the heart of "Moonbats in mourning" country: Madison, Wisconsin (a town which can only be properly represented by Communist Red!). I shall visit my niece and nephew, and attend the big Wisconsin Badgers vs. Minnesota Gophers football game at Camp Randall Stadium, hoping that my seats are in the end zone. Go Badgers!